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Genesis Questions III

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Question #1:  

When explaining the meaning of the word raqi (firmament), Lambdin in his Introduction to Biblical Hebrew says that it was 'apparently considered as a solid barrier by the cosmographers of Genesis'. Could you please clarify this? Also, who does he mean by 'cosmographers of Genesis'?

Response #1: 

Lambdin doesn't believe that the Bible is the Word of God but subscribes to the cracked theory that the Pentateuch was put together by a variety of editors working with a variety of "documents" over many centuries; so the "cosmographers" would be the hypothetical "sources" which talked about the creation of the world from which these (non-existent) "editors" drew their material. There is much that is not correctly understood about the Genesis account which could be easily understood just by reading it carefully. The "firmament" is a "plate" in terms of its appearance, and it is common beyond comment for all human beings at all times to describe things and especially to name things by their appearance or some aspect of appearance without at the same time feeling that they are being held to the standard of the "thing named" having to possess every aspect and characteristic of the "name for the thing" to a perfect degree. So even though the firmament "looks like a plate" – which indeed it does – that does not mean it is a plate – which in fact it is not. After all, as early as verse 14 we see God placing the heavenly lights "in" the firmament – not possible if it were a plate (cf. also v.20).

Question #2:  

Why was the spirit of God hovering over the face of the deep in Genesis 1? What is the deep?

Response #2: 

The "deep" or tehom is the cosmic sea that God used to obliterate all life from the universe after Satan's revolt. The entire universe was filled up with this "sea", and that explains why the waters had to be parted into the "waters below" and the "waters above" before the sun, moon and stars could be "rekindled": they are set in the "expanse", which is the spatial universe which, as a result of this reconstruction, now holds off the two sets of waters. The Spirit has many important ministries, and one of these is that of the Restrainer. He was acting as the Barrier between the third heaven of God and the desolated and sinful heavens and earth beneath, deluged by the tehom, thus blocking all unrighteousness and darkness from the third heaven. He is still the One whose job it is to preserve the sanctity (i.e., His role in sanctification) of the place of God. Please see the link: "Waters Above, the Firmament, and the Genesis Gap".

Question #3:   

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

I was reading last week in Genesis 1, and was confused by the wording of the text regarding the Firmament. I have been seeking answers ever since, and I feel like I've found it on your Ichthys site, so I would like to thank you for your work. I always thought that the waters above were the clouds, and the waters below were the sea, but your site says this is incorrect, and I hope that you're right, because the way I was reading it created a significant flaw that made it sound like God put the stars in Earth's atmosphere, which is obviously false. You say that the Firmament refers to both the Earth's atmosphere and the universe. From the original Hebrew text, can you explain how I was wrong and why the Firmament refers to both the universe and Earth's atmosphere? Thank you for your time and work. You have no idea how much this means to me. I am a worship leader, and I have been going through a time of testing in my faith based on my misunderstanding of this passage. I know the Word says not to lean on my own understanding, that the testing of my faith produces endurance, and to live by faith as opposed to sight, but it can be difficult sometimes. I know the Lord is faithful, and that His Word is true, so I look forward to the clarity that your response will bring. Thanks again!

Response #3: 

Very good to make your acquaintance. I would like to begin by saying that I appreciate your attitude of dogged determination to get to the whole truth of the Word of God. That is the only way to achieve any sort of significant spiritual growth in this life, and very little to be found in our time, late as we are now in the era of Laodicea (see the link). Every single truth of scripture is important, and often in ways we cannot realize until we have built a sound and extensive superstructure of truth in our hearts by learning what the Bible actually says and means, and by accepting that truth into our hearts by faith. I do wish to put your heart at ease a bit, if I may. To take my own example, I have been working away at these things for many years, and there are still some questions that have yet to resolve themselves. One principle I have seen repeated over and over again, however, is that for those who truly keep on knocking, God does open the door in His own good time and in His own perfect way. As in all things in our lives, we have to trust Him that He will give us the answer in just that right way and time – and He always does. So I would encourage you to take heart whenever you encounter something in scripture that does not seem to add up. This happens to all Christians, and to those who really do thirst for the truth of God's Word, it will happen more often for three main reasons: 1) positive believers find themselves asking more questions and doing more searching than lukewarm ones do; 2) there are increasingly fewer places to go to find sound doctrinal answers to anything beyond traditional boiler-plate; and 3) the evil one always opposes those who are determined to draw closer to the Lord through His truth (the only real way to do so).

And, after all, we all have our own gifts. Not everyone has the time or the resources or the inclination to learn Hebrew well, for example. This is why the Lord has mixed into His Body the Church all of the gifts essential for the proper functioning of the Body. Just as everyone cannot be expected to have the musical talent or organizational skills to conduct group worship, so not everyone is given the gift of pastor/teacher. And of course most Christians in our day neither prepare nor apply themselves in a way that would lead to the full and proper function of their gift of gifts, whatever they may be. A long way of saying that no Christian should torment him or herself about bumping into a passage that challenges the framework of truth in their heart which they have so far established. The proper approach is the one you are adopting: 1) trust the Lord that His Word is the truth; 2) trust the Lord that He will give you the answer in due time; 3) patiently seek a solution without allowing your faith to be overthrown. There are times when a person has a fundamental realization that some doctrine he/she has accepted is wrong and needs then to make a major shift in approach, but more often than not what is needed is a "minor repair" to the edifice of truth in the heart. The more we engage in this necessary process as we seek to know "the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27), the better we become at handling this pressure and delighting instead to come closer and closer to "the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness" (Titus 1:1) – and the more solid the structure of truth we build (cf. Matt.7:24-27).

To put it in all in a nutshell, your previous initial impression of what the firmament ought to be is probably precisely the same as 99-100% of everyone who has read the passage. It is not until a person starts to dig into the details and ask questions that the problems you encountered begin to become clear. Ideally, especially for Christians in our day and age now that nearly 2,000 years have passed since commencement of the Church, it would seem that there ought to be plenty of Bible teachers around well-rehearsed in understanding all the intricacies of scripture and explaining them to others. As it is, of course, few can since few care. So here we are.

Part of the issue in this passage is that the phenomenological language used by Moses (and most other Old Testament writers) presents these matters in a way that is understandable from the human, visual perspective. For an audience not steeped in "modern science", that is most understandable. After all, we still speak today of "the sun coming up and going down" even though we know that this is only the way it appears. What is commonly missed in even conservative circles, however, is that the biblical descriptions are also exactly correct. That is to say, they present an accurate picture of the truth, however considered. That does not mean, however, that it doesn't take some hard work at times to get to the bottom of certain issues – like this one.

In Genesis 1:1 God created the world, but the picture of the universe we find in Genesis 1:2 is of the world following the judgment of Satan and his angels for their rebellion against the Lord (covered in The Satanic Rebellion series). Often missed here is that the catastrophic post-judgment situation finds the tehom, the "deep" not only covering the earth but filling the entire universe, something that should be clear enough when one considers "biblical geography" as it is actually described: directly above these "waters" or tehom is the third heaven (see the chart: "The Waters Above"). The Spirit is "hovering over" the waters which fill the universe (no doubt frozen in the absence of any light or heat) to maintain the sanctity of God and the third heaven in the wake of the corruption and subsequent judgment of the earth and the physical universe (the Spirit often acts in His capacity of Restrainer; see the link). Once the above is understood, the creation of a "divider" (aka firmament) on the second day to clear out the "sky" or spatial universe makes perfect sense. The Hebrew word, translated "expanse" in the NIV, refers to something "hammered out" like a bronze plate – and that is the way the twin heavens of the sky/universe do appear to us as we look up into the night sky. What pre-"scientific" generations of believers could not know was the vast depth of this plate which exceeds our perception. Still, on the other side of this plate/expanse/firmament are the "waters above", seen in Revelation, for example, in the form of a "Sea" and represented that way in the brazen sea of the tabernacle temple (wherein everything, after all, is meant to be a pattern of the heavenly things: e.g., Heb.8:5), directly on the other side of which we find the present place of God, the third heaven (see the link: "The Three Heavens").

So your observation that in Genesis 1:17 God's "lighting up" of the heavenly bodies within the firmament (for the purpose of illuminating the earth and separating the light from the darkness) being a potential problem is spot-on: the plate/expanse/firmament here cannot be merely the sky. But it can be the twin heavens (with the spatial part beyond the atmosphere now being in view; see the previous link).

It says in 1st Peter 1:10-12 that "the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you . . .", and this aspect of progressive revelation seems clear to me in this issue you ask about as well. There is no way we can expect Moses to have understood when the Spirit gave Him to write these words that there was something we now call "outer space" and that the difference between the first and second heaven was, spatially speaking, very significant. But it is a blessing and a matter of great wonder that God had him so write these words that they not only were communicative of the truth to him and others every after, but that they also "work" when it comes to a more precise understanding of these things as we delve ever deeper today into the truth of the Word of God.

In case you missed one or the other of the main links in question, I will repeat them all for you here.

The Sea and the Waters Above (in CT 2B)

The Heavenly Sea (in CT 2B)

The Sea in Genesis 1:2

The Waters Above

The Waters Above, the Firmament, and the Genesis Gap (especially Q #7 onward).

Do feel free to write me back about any of these matters in any case.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #4:   

Bob, thank you so much for your time and explanation. Once again, The Lord has shown Himself to be faithful, as He always does and always will. I really appreciate your ministry and work. We're it not for your ministry, I would likely still be holding to blind faith, which is very feeble and discouraging. Faith equipped with understanding enables confidence and effectiveness in ministry. I would love to keep lines of communication open with you, because I feel that I can trust you and can grow spiritually under your mentorship. I am about to enter into ministry, and my main focus when it comes to which church I'll choose has now become where I feel I can grow the most, because I know that if I'm growing, then so will my effectiveness in ministry and my impact on the Kingdom will be greater. Thank you so much once again, and I hope to continue this new friendship in Him! God bless!

By the way, from your experience in Biblical linguistics, is there a particular translation that you favor? Thanks again for your time and ministry!

Response #4: 

Your are most welcome, my friend – feel free to write me any time. I will definitely say a prayer for you to find just the right church.

As to your question, all of the versions have their own particular strengths and weaknesses (please see the link: "Bible versions" and for some other more specific comments: ESV, NASB, KJV, NIV, AMP). I generally advise readers to make use of more than one version, and to make a habit of double checking between versions whenever something strikes them as odd or inconsistent with what they understand about scripture overall. Most of the major versions are good; none of them is perfect. I read my Hebrew and Greek Bibles every day, read some in the NIV every day (my favorite version for leisure reading), a little in the NASB, and regularly listen to the KJV on tapes. The problem with any translation is that by definition, since it is not the reproduction of the actual words of the original language, it has to be to some degree interpretative. Ideally, a good translation will capture both the correct meaning of the original and also render it in a way that is understandable and just as powerful in the target language. That, however, is an ideal which is impossible to achieve. Whenever a point is not brought out sufficiently by any English version I translate the verses in question myself in my articles, and when I do I am usually interested in the meaning rather than the style (whereas versions always have to be cognizant of the latter). So I would advise you to find one that speaks to you and check it with another one. Generally speaking, the versions which "bring it home" better tend to be wrong more – precisely because they are interpreting more and sometimes missing the point. Finally, because of the nature of whole-Bible translations, there is, even in the more daring versions, a herd mentality, so that one often finds even versions such as the NIV, AMP, NLT failing to "put the pieces together" and just printing a version of what everyone else has always done when it comes to passages which are not absolutely clear on the face of it. That argues for having a good study Bible and access to good Bible teaching to be able to make the jump to the next level necessary for spiritual growth.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5:  

Dr. Luginbill,

Your website has been an incredible blessing to me since I discovered it several months ago. I want to thank you for this ministry of encouragement in the word. I do have a small question at the end of this email , but let me first give you a little bit of background ramble, just by way of introduction.

Three things coincided for me this past year that led me to investigate God’s historical timeline. First, I began studying Daniel and was introduced to the idea that "God has declared the end from the beginning." One way he has done this is by telling his intentions for humanity through the days of creation, each day representing 1000 years of human history. This was the first I had heard of this concept or at least come to understand it in a significant way. Second, I began reading Genesis 1 and was halted in verse 2 by the realization that the world was chaotic and dark. This did not seem like the pre-eden paradise that I had constructed in my head with the help of Sunday school flannel graphs. Something here was inconsistent with what I understood of God’s character. Third, I began teaching my 5 year old daughter the creation account from Genesis and was again halted by her question "If God made the moon and stars and sun and planets on the third day, when was the earth created?" My response was "Huh, good question. The bible just says the earth was created in the beginning whenever that was."

These examinations of scripture led me to really dive deep and decide to see for myself what the bible actually says about our beginning, our end, and the purpose of the in between. All of this led me to see, really for the first time, that God’s intention for humanity is to have a canvas on which to demonstrate his redemptive love, his power to restore the broken, and his worthiness of being worshiped. All of this answers the question I began asking a year ago, "God if you are powerful at all, you need to save the innocent, abused, and neglected children who are being victimized by evil men. If you are just and loving, you need to do something." That was my prayer a year ago, and the answer is that God has always been about restoring the broken. And that’s what he’s doing, and one day the kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of our God. And we will all acknowledge Christ as Lord. It’s not like it ever just slipped out of his control and now he’s trying to get it back. The story needed to be told in this way so that we (along with the angels and demons) could understand that God is at the same time powerful, and just and loving. I never saw how this fit together, until I understood Satan’s rebellion, his role as the prince of the power of the air, and even the fact that in the new heaven and new earth there will be no more sea (from the moment I became a Christian this fact truly saddened my heart, as surfing is a great passion of mine and there is nothing on earth that gives me more joy than riding a wave, but I get it now- the sea is separation, maybe I can learn to river surf in heaven.) Anyhow, your studies have helped me to see God’s character and my purpose in his plan. So thank you for that.

Now, to my question. I am teaching my daughter again, this time ancient history and reading through the genealogies in Genesis. I do have some questions as to how you arrived at the year of creation and the fall, and your thinking that Adam and eve were in the garden for 47 years before the fall. This quote is from one of your recent email responses:

"According to the way I read the genealogies of Genesis, Adam and Eve were in the garden 47 years before the fall (specifically, 4112-4065 B.C.). Please see the link: "The Seven Millennial Days of Human History"."

Please know that my tone here is not antagonistic but I do want to understand how you reached these conclusions. I know that Jewish tradition has one date for the year of creation, and the genealogies of the KJV lead us to another date, and more recent texts lead us to a different number. As a bit of a math head, I get really uptight when things don’t add up. So could you spell out how you arrived at these numbers?

Thanks

Response #5: 

Good to make your acquaintance. Thank you for your encouraging words and for your powerful testimony. For what it is worth, I loved body-surfing and ocean swimming when I was blessed to live in California during my time in the USMC and later during seminary and graduate school. And before I forget, I love that your five year old daughter can see so clearly what entire seminary faculties miss – by taking the Word to mean what it actually says! Your reasoning (and hers) are a joy to my heart. It is the purpose of this ministry to "equip the saints", so that ideally those who make use of these materials will have faith in the Word, know what it says and where it says it and what it means, based not upon one person's interpretation but upon what they can see for themselves in scripture (even if it takes a little help to get there: we are a Body of many parts, after all, and we all help each other in many ways – or should).

As to your question, the details for these calculations are contained at the link in SR 5: "The Specific Chronology of the Seven Days". I will try to give you the gist of the argument here, but please keep in mind that there is much more to be found at the link, including footnotes, some of which are important for those who want to get to the nitty-gritty (and by the way, I am the furthest thing from a "math-head" there is, so apologies in advance if you find any numerical inconsistencies: be sure to let me know if you do!):

Working back from the birth of Christ, it is possible to posit Abraham's circumcision, the commencement of the Jewish Age, as occurring in 2065 B.C. That being the case, positing 2,000 years for the Age of Gentiles (i.e., two millennial days paralleling the two millennial days of Age of Israel and of the Church Age), we would arrive at 4065 B.C. as the date when Adam and Eve were ejected from Eden. The question, "how do we know how long they were in Eden" is answered by recourse to the genealogies in Genesis which ultimately go back not to Adam's fall and ejection from Eden but to his creation – which happened a number of years earlier:

1. We first travel back 99 years from Abraham's circumcision in 2065 to Abraham's birth and arrive at 2164 B.C.

2. Then, by adding the intervals between the generations from Abraham to Shem contained in Genesis 11:10-26, we travel back 292 more years to the flood in 2456 B.C.

3. Then, we travel back 600 more years to the birth of Noah in 3056 by adding the intervals between generations from Shem to Noah, based upon Genesis 7:6 and 7:11 - 8:14.

4. Then, we travel back a further 1056 years to the creation of Adam in 4112 B.C. by adding the intervals between generations from Noah to Adam, based upon Genesis 5:3-29.

5. Finally, by subtracting 4065 from 4112, we conclude that Adam was in the garden 47 years before the fall.

There are a number of "ins and outs" as to how these calculations are to be made and reckoned. For example, here is footnote #80:

Genesis 7:6 states that Noah was 600 when the flood occurred, while verse eleven of the same chapter says that the flood began in his 600th year (suggesting he had not yet attained 600). The answer to this apparent contradiction, however, is that, due to the long duration of the flood (compare Gen.7:11 with 7:24-8:5), Noah turned 600 years old while still in the ark (Genesis 8:13).

I am certainly happy to discuss any and all of the details with you. Two things to look out for: 1) inclusive counting, and 2) study Bible notes which "add up" the numbers for you (since they often depend upon interpretive applications which may be incorrect): there really is nothing for but to add the numbers up yourself in most cases.

Thank you again for your inspiring email – and for your brilliant daughter!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #6: 

Awesome, thanks for your prompt reply. This is exactly what I needed. It'll take me some time to digest- but thanks for taking the time to answer my question. Also, another question- completely unrelated: I have a friend who is kind of new to the faith. She immerses herself in (what I consider to be) good solid bible teaching- she listens to like 3 sermons a day. But, she is hesitant to read and study the word for herself. She doesn't think she understands it. She is not analytical and has never been a student and does not have training in disciplining herself to study. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can encourage her to get in the word, and what might be a good method for beginning to learn how to study?

Thank you for your helpful insight-

Response #6: 

You are very welcome. I do think you are absolutely right to encourage your friend to read the Word for herself. Following the example of the Bereans (Acts 17:11), this is a critical and essential step for personal spiritual growth (as well as for protection from inaccurate or downright false teaching).

I would suggest that you recommend to her for reading the special study I have on this subject where all of the reasons for reading the Bible for oneself, problems people are likely to encounter with developing the habit of personal Bible reading, and commentary on versions and procedures for making this a part of one's life are all discussed:

Read Your Bible: A Basic Christian Right and Responsibility

Perhaps you could print it out for her from the PDF or Word formats (its only 16 pages long)?

Feel free to write me back with your questions any time.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:  

Why does God use the word us in Genesis 1:26 when creating man? is he conversing with himself (Jesus and the Holy Spirit)? or is he speaking to the Angels also?

Response #7: 

Angels do not and cannot create. The verbs in Genesis chapter one are a clear indication that the entire Trinity is involved in the process of rendering the earth once again habitable in order to raise up a new species of free-will creature (to demonstrate that God was just in condemning Satan). Link:  response #3

Question #8: 

Specifically Adam.

Dr. Luginbill, I perceive that you have been blessed by the Lord GOD with great insight into things about the Lord GOD through the Holy Spirit. At least I hope so.

I love your work.

Now to the point of this question; you believed that Adam was not present when the serpent offered up the lie to Eve but, reading from NIV, Genesis 3, chapter 6 it states ‘She also gave some to her husband, who was with her’.

Is it possible that Adam liked the idea of being ‘Like God’ even though NOT deceived by the serpent?

Response #8: 

Good to make your acquaintance – and thanks for all your encouraging words! Whatever I know I know because of scripture (and the help I have received over the years from other believers and the Spirit). God provides truth for all of us who are really interested in receiving it.

As to your question, I do see your point, and there are some who subscribe to that view. Not only NIV but other versions too (e.g., NASB) translate the last part of Genesis 3:6 the same way. Here is what I find in RSV, however: "and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate". So the translation makes a big difference to this question, because while the suggestion that Adam may have been present all along may seem to flow from NIV/NASB's rendering, the same is not true of RSV. Why the difference? Here is what NKJV has in a fairly literal rendering of the Hebrew text: "She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate". In other words, the words "who was" are not present in the Hebrew. Also, if we translate without full stop periods, it gives the impression that Adam was present; if we translate as two simple sentences instead of one compound sentence, it may seem otherwise. If we add "[who was]" to "with her", it leans to the former meaning; if we leave it out, Adam's initial presence is more in doubt. Here is how I render the verse:

When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and was attractive to the eye, and that the tree was desirable for bestowing insight, she took some of its fruit and ate it, then gave it also to her husband with her and he ate.
Genesis 3:6

Since the "who was" added by some versions to "with her" is not in the Hebrew text, in my view it is very misleading to translate in the way the NIV and NASB do. The Hebrew is really pretty simple here, and consists of a standard narrative chain based on verbs introduced with the so-called "waw consecutive": "and she took; and she ate; and she gave". In this construction, any number of consecutive actions can be strung together without regard to the time element between them (only with the stipulation that one follows the other chronologically). So there is no reason from the Hebrew to suppose that there was not some more substantial time lag between "ate" and "gave" than between "took" and "ate". The key is "with her". In my view, this information is added to demonstrate not that Adam was present all along but that he had now shown up (which is why I translate the waw in a very conventional way, "then gave it").

If we were going to expand this translation a bit to show what the "with her" really means, my suggestion would be "gave it to her husband [who was by that time] with her". So as long as we are adding words for readability, I would expand NIV this way: instead of "She also gave some to her husband, [who was] with her, and he ate it", better would be adding one more word: "She also gave some to her husband, [who was then] with her, and he ate it".

Theologically speaking, Adam was not deceived. We know that from e.g. 1st Timothy 2:14. But how would he qualify for not being deceived if he let his wife have this conversation with the serpent and then go ahead and sin without so much as a "wait a second, honey"? It seems clear from the narrative of Genesis chapter three (as well as from everything else we know about the temptation, the judgment, and the methods of the evil one) that Satan attacked Eve while she was alone because he knew that he would not be able to seduce Adam (or Eve either if Adam were present) – all of which argues for the translation suggested above.

Thanks again for your good words.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #9:  

Dear Sir,

I have some confusions in my mind which I'd like to rule out of my mind. The explanation you have given until now are satisfactory in my books. Now I'd like you to clear some more queries. Isn't it true many things in the bible (Old testament & New) are in form of parables? Things were said in comparison to other things so people better understood what was being said or so that people don't. Its clearly been stated in the bible as people saying "What is HE talking about"(When Jesus taught people many things) misunderstand & get upset about it? Or just so as to keep, what seems dirty in the eyes of people out of the holy bible? God created us Naked & He liked & loved our nakedness (Or did he?), Now it is out of my understanding, as you know God's understanding is much, much higher than our's, what is dirty in our eyes is very, very beautiful in our LORD's eyes.

Response #9: 

There certainly are many things in scripture which are not obvious at first glance, and deliberately so. Jesus' use of parables, for example, was deliberate so as to cull out those truly interested in the truth from those who were merely interested in His miracles and His power, hoping that He would begin His reign as Messiah immediately (as is often said, they wanted "the crown without the cross"; cf. Jn.6:15). In the same vein, the Bible is not written as a textbook in language that cannot possibly be overlooked or misunderstood partly for the same reason: God preserves the free will of us all, and only those who "knock" have it opened to them. That is also why there is a need for teachers in the Body of Christ, to illuminate scripture on the one hand and to exemplify this principle of legitimate authority corresponding to empowered effort on the other.

The original status of Adam and Eve is often termed "innocence" in English. In truth, they were sinless, and needed no coverings for their bodies which had no sin nature as yet. When they fell, the leaves they sewed together to cover their now sinful bodies represent human effort trying to solve a problem only God can solve (i.e., satanic legalism and false salvation by works). The coats of skin of the slaughtered animals wherewith our Lord covered them after their expulsion from Eden, however, represent the one thing that really can cover our sin, namely, the blood of Christ, i.e., His spiritual death whereby He atoned for all of the sins of mankind (represented before the cross by animal sacrifice). There is no indication from scripture that Adam and Eve's bodies changed in any way in their outward appearance. The change came within. When they ate of the fruit of that tree of knowing good and evil, their bodies acquired a sin nature and their consciences were activated so that they recognized their now sinful state. The shame we feel at being naked is a indication of that universal conscience which all human beings descended from Adam and Eve now possess as well. God has put into the universe all manner of signs to demonstrate the basic truths of natural revelation: we are mortal, we are sinful, and there is a perfect all-powerful and completely holy and righteous God before whom we will have to stand and be condemned – absent Christ standing in as our Substitute. This basic calculus of life ought to turn everyone in the direction of the gospel as the only way to be saved from the impending judgment we all know is coming. Sadly, however, just we can harden our hearts against the natural inclination to see our nakedness as something shameful, so human beings are capable of hardening their hearts against God and His truth in every other respect as well – and in fact the vast majority of the human race has done so and continues to do so. All of these issues are covered in the Basics series at the following links: on natural revelation, BB 4B Soteriology; on the conscience , BB 3B Hamartiology; and on the tree of knowing good and evil, BB 3A Anthropology.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #10:  

Where did the serpent that tempted Eve come from? Was the serpent part of Satan's fall. Based on the BIBLE everything was good at the end of the seventh day. How could this happen in a perfect world? That is the Garden of Eden.

Response #10: 

Good to hear from you again. The serpent was possessed by Satan. So there was nothing wrong with the serpent per se; rather, the serpent was used by the devil to accomplish his objective in tempting Eve. One of the things that is often missed in reading Genesis is the gap between verse one of chapter one and verse two:

(1) Before all else, God created the heavens and the earth. (2) But the earth came to be ruined and despoiled – darkness lay upon the face of the abyss while God's Spirit brooded over the surface of its waters.
Genesis 1:1-2

So while the new creations on the reclaimed earth were perfect, the universe itself had already become a battleground between good and evil. Genesis 1:2ff. recounts God's repairing of the earth, not His original creation of it (all this is covered in the Satanic Rebellion series, part 2: "The Genesis Gap"). As one five year old remarked, "How can this (i.e., verse 2) be God creating earth if earth is already there?" Good point.

Mankind is – at least chronologically in the all-encompassing plan of God – a response to the devil's rebellion (in truth of course everything is part of the Plan of God and God has taken everything into account). Satan was watching all that was done in refurbishing the earth and creating a new species of free-will creature upon it. Had he not interfered, before long the earth would have contained enough perfect human beings in paradise to replace him and his legions of fallen angels one for one. The devil thought he was defeating God's plan by luring our first parents into sin, but in fact he was only furthering what God had in mind all along, namely, the demonstration of His matchless love and grace by rescuing the "second species" possessing the image of God through the sacrifice of His own dear Son our Lord Jesus Christ. There is more about all this at the following links:

The Purpose, Creation, and Fall of Man (part 3 of the Satanic Rebellion series)

"The Plan of God" (in part 4B of the Bible Basics series)

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #11:  

Hi Bob,

After reading Genesis 3, verse one tells us that the serpent is not an animal which God has created. "Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made," does not make sense if the serpent is interpreted as a snake, because it implies that God originally created snakes as talking and endowed with enough intelligence to outwit humans. However, it does make sense if God is signaling out this "serpent" as being /distinct/ and /totally unlike/ any of the creatures which God has made. So I suggest that the devil never possessed a snake, or had anything to do with snakes, but was, in fact, himself present in a diminished form when he tempted Eve. Genesis 3:15(a) tells us that the devil will be (figuratively) on his belly, for man will get dominion over him. And Genesis 3:15(b), about eating dust, is actually about consuming humans. Since the devil consumes people (1 Peter 5:8), and since people are dust (Genesis 3:19), it follows that this verse is indirectly saying that the devil shall eat people.

Sincerely,

Response #11: 

Good to hear from you as always. I get this sort of question/observation quite often (not in all the same particulars, but people love to speculate about the temptation). In my reading of the Hebrew, Genesis 3:1 implies exactly the opposite. This phrasing is a fairly straightforward way to distinguish one unique member of a larger category in any language, and is typical in Hebrew (e.g., 1Ki.4:30; 10:23; cf. Deut.7:14; 1Ki.4:31). Were the intent here to mean that the serpent did not belong to the category of creatures that the Lord had made, my sense is that the word col, "all", would have to have been left out.

The words serpent and snake are synonyms (see the link: q/a 12 and 13 in "Genesis Questions"); also "Antichrist and his Kingdom"; "The Genesis Serpent"; and "Serpent vs. Snake"). Also, the word "crafty", while not a bad translation, can be misunderstood if it taken to assign an actual and inherently negative characteristic to the serpent not meant to be assigned by the text (it is an apparent characteristic, not an actual one; cf. assigning "wisdom" to owls). This is all discussed in detail in BB 3A: Anthropology: under "The Fall".

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:  

Now let me prove that Cain is Satan's son. "Mary accepted Gods Tidings". In other words she accepted what God said & She became pregnant. Eve also on the other hand accepted Satan's Tidings, Now this calls for Understanding, Couldn't she get pregnant also the same way Mary became pregnant, after accepting Gods Word? Now, God is a spirit, so is Satan, so cant it be likewise in both the cases? I also believe that God created us in his image, now this calls for understanding also, As God is a spirit we were also in spirit form just like God. It is only after (having sex) eating of the forbidden fruit, that both of them attained the destructible bodies. For real we would also be born miraculously just like Jesus was born. By Jesus' birth, it was Gods way of showing us how we would have been born, had Adam & Eve not Sinned (had sex). God didn't want us to be born the way animals are conceived & born. He had other plans for us. But EVE DESTROYED IT ALL & now we too are born like animals.

Response #12: 

Dear Friend,

Scripture says that there was a tree of "knowing good and evil", and gives its physical location: "in the middle of the garden" (Gen.2:9). It also says that this tree produced fruit. It also says that Eve actually looked at the fruit, evaluated the fruit, took hold of the fruit, ate the fruit, and later gave the fruit to Adam and that he ate the fruit of that tree. Scripture also describes the "tree of life" and also says that "the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food" (Gen.2:9 NKJV).

If trees which exhibit all the properties of trees are not really trees, 1) what are they then, 2) how is anyone supposed to know that when the Bible says "tree" it really means something else? Since the trees are literal, the rest of the description must be taken at face value here as well (especially as the alternative theory you suggest is not only baseless but also contrary scriptural principles).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #13:   

In Genesis 3, are the serpent and Satan one or separate? why was there an introduction to the serpent being the more crafty than the other beast of the field? is this the same type of beast reference as in revelations? like a personification of a person or an actual literal beast type animal?

Response #13: 

Satan and the serpent are most definitely different. The serpent was possessed by the devil. And, yes, I believe that the characteristics attributed to the serpent may be termed personification (although I like "shrewd" better as a translation of 'arum; see the link following). However I will note that animals do have personalities and emotions – because they have spirits. What they do not have is the image of God and the corresponding free will to make their own moral decisions. Human beings have this blessed gift (angels too), but sadly most use it to reject the gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ. For more on the description of the serpent in Genesis see the link in SR 3: "The Temptation".

Question #14:   

I'm not certain but I'm leaning toward Cain being Astana actual seed. I know chapter 4 gen says Adam.......then Cain. We all know its medically possible for frat twins to happen from 2 dads and a lot of people say serpent means snake. In fact, serpent, se ra p gent, se rafa p him, seraphim means shinny one among similar things. Eve slept w an Angel of light. Serpent. Fiery serpent isn't just a myth. My question deals with the difference in the narrative from gen 1 to 2. Did God....is it possible God created mankind in gen 1. Then Eth ha Adam. The 1st ruler of earth from. Gods garden. The reason I ask is where did caiman wife in nod come from. If it was so heartbreaking for Cain to have to go there, why was she there. I could go a million years w this but ill stick. Any comment? Thanks

Response #14: 

Good to make your acquaintance. I'm afraid I don't know what "Astana" is. Did you perhaps mean to write "Satan's actual seed"? If so, I would have to disagree as I suppose you know (here is a link on that: "Cain is not Satan's literal offspring").

In my view, the biblical narrative in Genesis 1-3 is quite clear. I am aware of all manner of allegorical interpretations of these chapters but none of them will pass basic hermeneutic muster for those of us who take the Bible to be God's inspired Word. The word for serpent used in Genesis is nachash (נָּחָש), so the fact that there is a Hebrew root saraph which in one form means "seraph" and in another "flaming [serpent]" is neither here nor there. After all, seraphim are a particular office of angel, aka the cherubim, and these are only given this alternative name by Isaiah where it is clearly descriptive of their appearance (see the link). Likewise, when saraph is used of snakes, these are always literal snakes (Num.21:6; 21:8; Deut.8:15; Is.14:29; 30:6). The "fiery" part therefore is much more likely to be descriptive, not of appearance perhaps but of the inflammation and fever produced by their bite. For this reason saraph is often translated "venomous" in modern versions. The common application of an adjective to two separate things can never provide solid proof of the identity of those two substantives. All it does is show that the two things have some common characteristic which, in this case, is the fiery appearance of the seraphs and the fiery effect of the bite of these desert snakes.

In any case, as you note, Cain is said to be Adam's son in scripture. Also worthy of note here is that the Bible quite clearly states that Eve took fruit from the tree and ate the fruit from the tree. The only role the serpent had in the process was tempting her (through the devil's words) to eat that fruit from the tree. The Bible is certainly not at all shy when it comes to describing sexual relations, even when they are bizarre and do involve fallen angels (e.g., Gen.6:1-4; cf. Jude 1:5-7). In short, on the one hand I see no way to connect the serpent of Genesis 3 to any physical activity with Eve from the text, and on the other hand the biblical narrative itself is completely consistent in what we are told.

As to Cain's wife, clearly, if all of humanity came from only two individuals, then at least in the early going there would have to be a good deal of intermarriage between siblings and also very closely related parties. This certainly happens in the animal kingdom, and the prohibitions against such things come later in the Bible when circumstances change. Moreover, in the days before the great flood, people lived many hundreds of years and were apparently fertile through most if not all of their lives. All this makes possible a very rapid population boom which could easily have resulted in the situation described when Cain departs, marries, and founds a city (see the link: "Cain's Wife").

I do hope this answers all of your concerns, but please feel free to write me back about this.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #15:  

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I've read several commentaries and even Christian scholars that are divided on their opinions as to whether Cain was Abel's twin, or simply just brothers. One commentary stated that the word "again" in the Hebrew as in bore again meant immediately born after, indicating that they were twins. Then I heard other theologian say that they were simply brothers and not twins. Does the bible indicate in the original language as to whether they were twins?

God Bless,

Response #15: 

According to my reading of scripture, the wording of Genesis 4:1 and 4:2 make it next to impossible that the boys were twins. Twins are a "big deal" in scripture (cf. Perez and Zerah in Gen.38), and the Bible is not shy about making distinctions between them, as in the case of Jacob and Esau. I think the idea that in-between bearing twin boys Eve made this declaration is not only unlikely (she would have been otherwise occupied), but makes little sense if another child were coming. Wouldn't she say something about them both, or something about #2 as well? Furthermore, the Hebrew verbal sequence in verse two suggests to me that the burden of proof ought to be on those who want to make them twins to demonstrate that this was the case. What we have here usually indicates the passage of time rather than an immediate secondary action. Since scripture never calls them twins – something that would be a bit remarkable if they were, it seems wiser not to assume (or accept) that they were.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16: 

Dear Dr. Luginbill,

My Hebrew professor said that Genesis 6:3 cannot possibly mean that God will destroy humanity in 120 years, because the word "days" is , which (according to him) is always used in the sense of lifespan (i.e: "Your days are numbered"). Is this true?

Sincerely,

Response #16: 

I find the objection invalid because to the extent that this passage is talking about "life span" (which indeed I believe it also is, in addition to setting the time for the great flood), well, after all, the "life span" of mankind came to an end with that flood. Furthermore, even if this were the only place the phrase meant this, that would not invalidate the meaning here if that is what it actually means. Just because a word or phrase is only used once to mean something in the OT is not a decisive argument for it not ever being able to mean "that". After all, the Hebrew OT is a very small corpus. But in this case there are parallels for more flexible use. For example, at Genesis 25:24, the phrase "her days" refers to the period of Rebekah's pregnancy, not to her life span. Also, in an interesting parallel to Genesis 6:3, at Isaiah 13:22 it is said of Babylon "her days will not be prolonged" in a context indicating termination by divine judgment rather than a natural end. This is a close parallel too, because, as at Genesis 6:3 we also have to do with a collective group rather than with a specific individual possessing a particular, individual life span.

Yours in Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #17:  

Why, in the book of GENESIS did Isaac not take his blessing from Jacob and bless Esau, when he found out that Jacob and Rebekah had been dishonest?

Response #17: 

Good to make your acquaintance. To answer your question, Isaac was a prophet. He had apparently been told through divine revelation that the son he blessed would possess the blessings he would confer. This was a special gift given to him to impart by way of the formal blessing he would pronounce. So it was not something that could be taken back. The reason for that, of course, was that his blessing he was merely predicting what God had planned to do for Israel through Jacob's line and not Esau's from before the beginning of time (and God foreknew not only Isaac's intention but also Rebecca and Jacob's deception). Isaac should have known this too – and perhaps he was attempting to circumvent the prophecy because he favored Esau.

The LORD said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger."
Genesis 25:23 NIV

No doubt Isaac came to accept this too (at least after he got over his initial anger). He certainly realized the immutability of the blessing he had given as can be determined by the fact that he did not try to do what your question very understandably asks. If he were in any doubt about the fact that once pronounced this special blessing could not be changed he probably would have done what you suggest, but his conversation with Esau makes it clear that he knew that once this "round was fired" it was "down range" forever. As I say, this was a special circumstance and very unlike what we think of today as receiving someone's "blessing".

M.F. Unger in his Commentary to the Old Testament suggests that this blessing had the force of an oath (and explains its immutability that way). Unger also points out that Isaac should have known better since it had been prophesied from the birth of the twins that "the older shall serve the younger" (Gen.25:23).

Please do feel free to write back about any of the above.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #18: 

Hello Bob,

I have a question in regards to Abraham and Isaac, who is recognized by God as Abraham's ONLY son. What about Ishmael?

Thanks for your help and I do pray you are doing well.

In Christ,

Response #18: 

Good to hear from you. Abraham had many biological sons in addition to Isaac, not just Ishmael:

Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan; the descendants of Dedan were the Asshurites, the Letushites and the Leummites. The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah. Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines [plural] and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east.
Genesis 25:1-6 NIV

The example of Abraham and Isaac (as well as of Jacob and Esau) demonstrates that God is concerned with the spirit, not the body. Isaac was the "son born as the result of God's promise" (cf. Gen.17:16-21; 18:10-14; 21:1; Gal.4:24). Abraham "believed God" and God "credited that to him for righteousness" (Gen.15:6) – and this promise had to do also with his progeny (Gen.15:1-5). And God can do this for Abraham, that is, guarantee him a progeny who will like him be heirs of God forever, because He foresaw that Isaac and Jacob and all who are truly "of Israel" would have faith like the faith of Abraham. That is how we too share in the promises of eternal life and reward and are heirs of God in the same manner of Abraham, not by being of his physical seed by sharing his spirit of faith:

Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring--not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.
Romans 4:16 NIV

Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise.
Galatians 4:28 NIV

Thus it is that we gentiles who are in no manner the physical seed of Abraham are yet his spiritual seed – through sharing Abraham's faith in the Lord – whereas many of those of Jewish stock who are most definitely of Abraham's physical seed are not his heirs because of their lack of faith in Jesus Christ. No doubt Ishmael and his descendants along with all of Abraham's seed have been and are being blessed according to our Lord's promises to Abraham – but, absent faith, only in this life. The spiritual blessings, the ones which really count, only accrue to those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation precisely as Abraham did. Believers are the only "Sons of God" and so are Abraham's only true seed.

If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 3:29 NIV

In anticipation of that great day to come when all promises will be fulfilled in the presence of Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior.

Bob L.

Question #19:  

Hello Bob,

Thank you for all this information. I really do appreciate all you do to inform us when we have questions.

I do not think I made myself clear( I usually do not) as I was referring to Genesis 22:2 "Then God said, "Take your son, your ONLY son Isaac, whom you love"

I was curious as to why he at this time referred to Isaac as Abraham's ONLY son as I know Ishmael had already been born. I know Ishmael is referred to as Abraham's son at various times but curious as to why God does not recognize him as such.

Once again thanks again for your help; my husband asked me at Bible Study and no one could respond to this.

Also, are you aware of a good book or study that would be suitable for teaching new converts about God, creation, Salvation, and etc. – something basic that would be thorough, the truth , and give all the ability to understand? I have come across several (adults) who after accepting Christ are at a point as to "What do I do now" How do I learn about God and everything that comes with Him. I am sorry to say we do not offer a "Basic" class for new believers and I feel there is a great need for this. I know even for myself it has been and still is a journey but it could have been better if I too had been able to get into some Basic classes to get you started on this wonderful journey.

Thanks!

In Christ,

Response #19: 

On "only begotten", this is a problem with the English translation of Genesis 22:2. Most of the versions have "only son", but that is clearly incorrect. The Hebrew word here, yachidh, means something more like "one's very own" or even "one and only" in the sense of being "special" and "unique". That is to say, the word does not imply that Abraham had no other physical offspring but that this child was somehow special and unique. The word in the Greek New Testament used for our Lord Jesus at John 3:16 translated by the KJV "only begotten" (monogenes) is the same word that the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, uses for yachidh. Jesus was uniquely born in every way – including especially His virgin birth. Isaac was clearly a type of Christ. In this chapter, Genesis 22, he is nearly sacrificed by his father on the very spot, Mt. Moriah, where Jesus would later be sacrificed by His heavenly Father for the sins of the world. So it is the specialness of Isaac that is in view in the word "only": he is the "only" child of promise, uniquely born, as Abraham and Sarah were well past the time of being able to have children, so that Isaac's conception and birth were miraculous. For more on this please see the links:

Only Begotten

Monogenes

As to your question on basic Bible study books, I like to think of the Peter series (see the link) as doing much to fulfill that role: even though it is not abjectly simple, the available 27 lessons are meant for entry-level Christians, explaining anything difficult from the ground up. This series also has the advantage of being free. There is a book by Dr. Charles Ryrie entitled A Survey of Bible Doctrine which is not too terrible for this purpose (and that is compliment given what else I have seen out there in print). I couldn't say I agree with everything in Ryrie's book by any means, and I find the approach a little too basic (to the point of not really providing anything much to sink one's teeth into). There are two theories about learning how to swim: 1) spend about six months teaching your kids the theory on a blackboard and eventually wean them into the water come summer; 2) throw them off the dock. I am a believer in the second approach, at least when it comes to learning what the Word of God has to say. Generally speaking, it is the desire to learn God's truth which is the key factor on the demand side, just as it is the availability of the solid meat of detailed, orthodox Bible teaching on the supply side. Only when the two come together do we see rapid and substantial spiritual growth.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:  

I find it hard to interpret Genesis 32:25-33. Who specifically did Jacob fight with? Is it God, is it one of His angels? And in either case, how come could human being prevail?

Response #20: 

The interpretation is Genesis 32:25-33 is not a simple one to come to. In brief, the "Man" is the Lord Jesus in Christophany (see the link), and Jacob's "prevailing" is the "victory of his faith" (cf. 1Jn.5:4) in "holding on tight" to the Lord in spite of original resistance (represented by the wrestling) and doing so until he wins his blessing (a model for all believers). The entire interpretation is written up at the following links:

Jacob wrestling with the Angel: Meaning and Significance

Jacob and the Angel

Question #21:  

My Hebrew professor and I were talking about the Ham vs. Noah incident in Genesis 9. Apparently "saw the nakedness of his father," whenever it is used in the OT, means having a sexual relation of some sort. According to him, counter-intuitively, "saw the nakedness of his father" actually means "slept with the father's wife," since, according to him, this phrase refers to the /opposite/ gender when it is used. In other words, this verse implies that Ham slept with his mother, and Canaan is the offspring. The traditional rabbinical interpretation is even more gross, and says that Ham had relations with his father!

Which of these, if any, is correct?

Response #21: 

I have heard these things too. It is true that "look upon [someone's] nakedness" is a standard OT euphemism for sexual relations. However, it seems to me that in this passage it is more likely to be literal, especially given the context here. Noah was drunk (surprised by the new phenomenon of fermentation which apparently did not take place before the flood), and came to be literally naked in his drunkenness. We know the latter is true because Shem and Japheth took pains to cover their father up and in a such a way they would not be, literally, "looking on his nakedness" (Gen.9:23). Since that is what the phrase means in the second instance, it is to be preferred as what it means in the first instance as well, and we will then have a case of highly disrespectful behavior on Ham's part (rather than the second interpretation you report). The first interpretation seems impossible since the woman in question is nowhere present in the story as would have to be the case for that view to be viable.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #22: 

Today's email post, "Salvation, the Gospel, and Unbelief" brought to mind some questions. In Genesis 10:25 it says, "...Peleg; for in his day was the earth divided..." Bullinger's marginal notes indicate that it means "cleaved." Strong's seems to support that notion defining the word as split. Since I can see no context for a parceling out of territories, I understand this verse as describing either serious earthquakes tearing apart land or the separation of continents which scientists believe took millions of years. Am I off base on this? How would you translate this verse?

Response #22: 

Good to hear from you again. As to your question, I take the dividing of the earth in Genesis 10:25 to refer to the division of humanity into its separate areas (i.e., "the earth") on account of the separating out of the languages at the tower of Babel. For the verb palagh in that sense see Psalm 55:10; also, Peleg was born just about the time of that incident, whereas we have no record of any other sort of division. Since scripture seems to assume that we will know what is meant by this reference, the language division resulting in the racial and territorial dividing of the human race after the tower of Babel would seem to be the best way to take this passage.

Question #23:  

Why did God create Eve in the way He did - from Adam's rib, using his body as a 'basis'? He could have created a compatible helper without it.

Response #23: 

That is true, but I think this is to make the intimate connection be man and woman not only more clear but more existentially vibrant. This also has ramifications for the Church which is "Christ's Body", showing us in this model just how close to Him and just how precious to Him we are.

Question #24:  

In your response to my question about faith and works you wrote: "Works" are things "we do /for/ God". That whole mentality is sinful because God doesn't need anything from us (contrary to what pagan religion assumes: Acts 17:25). God doesn't need us – we need God. This principle is seen clearly in the example of Cain and Abel. Cain offered God some vegetables: "Look at what I did! And now I'm giving you some!" What you wrote here is clear to me and what really made the difference in my understanding of the issue of salvation coming through the faith is that 'God doesn't need anything from us'. One question regarding this point you make here relates specifically to Cain and Abel - could you explain how can we discern from the scripture that Cain's attitude was what you describe ("Look at what I did! And now I'm giving you some!"), and Abel's attitude was correct (Abel understood and accepted what Cain would not have. His "offering" was a symbolic representation of what Christ would do – die for all sin to open the way for mankind's salvation. Abel's offering was not "work"; Abel's offering was "worship".)?

Response #24: 

Scripture calls Abel "righteous" (Matt.23:35), but blasts Cain's sinful approach (Jude 1:11), and characterizes their respective actions in this same way:

Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous.
1st John 3:12 NIV

We can get this also from the context of Genesis. It says at Genesis 4:4 that "the Lord looked with favor" (NIV) on what Abel brought, but God "did not look with favor" on Cain and his offerings. Cain was upset, but God said to him, "If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it" Gen.4:7 NIV). So God Himself calls what Cain has done "wrong". Why was it wrong? Just doing what we want to do when it is not what God wants us to do is wrong. And it makes no difference if we say "I'm doing it for you, God!" God cannot be deceived. Doing what He says is right; doing it our way is wrong; proclaiming our wrong way to be right is evil. That is the essence of why Abel's offerings are "better" (Heb.11:4), because they are what God required as the context of Genesis 4 more than implies. Beyond that, we are in a position to know more about the symbolism too, seeing in animal sacrifice the non-meritorious principle of faith. Something else is slaughtered for us and gives up its life. Vegetables, on the other hand, do not even have a spirit.

Question #25:  

When you write ". . . merely that the story of Abel's proper sacrifice in pleasing God is still a witness to us today, even though he was the first person to die", does that mean that Abel died before Adam and Eve?

Response #25: 

Yes. That is certainly what I get from the Genesis narrative.

Question #26: 

You wrote: Laidlaw, however, took image and likeness to represent this distinction collectively, and it falls to the great credit of R.B. Thieme to have first seen "image" as mankind's common spiritual essence (analogous to the divine essence which is common to all three members of the Trinity), and "likeness" as the individual personality of distinct human beings (analogous to the different persons of the three members of the Trinity). What is the origin of this idea? Is it to do with etymology of the Hebrew words for 'image' and 'likeness'? How did R.B. Thieme arrive at his concepts of essence and personality?

Response #26: 

I can't speak to Col. Thieme's method (he always responded "I study" to those who asked such questions). I do think it is a brilliant deduction. The image of God in my view is essentially the ability to choose (free will) to believe the truth or not (faith). That is clearly something all human beings have in common, and it is thus what defines our spiritual essence and distinguishes it from that of the animals. Since we have this characteristic of essence in common, essence would seem to be the point of comparison for "image": analogous to God, human beings share a common essence . . . which is called here the "image of God". But while God is "one" in a way we cannot even fathom, and thus united in purpose entirely, human beings use the image to make different choices, so that in this respect we are only "loosely like" God – in that we all do choose, but not all choose the same things.

Question #27:  

Regarding the 'in His likeness', I probably didn't make my point very clearly, I will try to explain it (although I accept that my proposition is likely to be wrong considering my level of knowledge, it just occurred to me when I was thinking about this passage). You make a point that in Genesis 5:1, the part 'in His likeness' as a deliberate conflation of two phrases from Genesis 1:26. A way of interpreting this phrase occurred to me which explains it, but not as a conflation and this is how it goes: In Genesis 5:1, mankind is being discussed. Mankind refers to plurality of human beings. Since it refers to plurality, the multiplicity can be taken as a line of direct comparison - Multiple human beings = Multiple persons of the Trinity. And if that line of comparison is direct here, then that's why 'in' could be used here, as opposed to 'according to'. If we take this multiplicity as a line of comparison, then maybe that could explain why in Genesis 1 we've got 'in His image, according to His likeness', where it's the 'image' that forms the closer comparison (based on the assumption that in Genesis 1 God speaks about Adam only, which I'm not sure whether it's the case or not). I'm not sure if I made myself clear here, it is just a thought and I wanted to know your take on it.

Response #27: 

I would agree (assuming I am understanding you completely). I wrote before: "In this respect [i.e., in relation to mankind outside of the garden as described in Genesis 5:1], mankind in its multiplicity most certainly was "made in the likeness of God", because, "like" God, there most definitely "were" multiple human beings". I think perhaps you have just stated the same thing more expansively than I have.

Question #28:  

What does 'Shiloh' mean in Genesis 49:10?

Response #28: 

As a geographical place later in the Bible, Shilo was the place of the pitching of the tabernacle when the Israelites first conquered the land. The name means "place of rest", and for that reason the verse you ask about is often taken to means "until Messiah reestablished rest in the land" (along the lines of Acts 3:19). However, it is also possible without changing the consonantal form of the Masoretic text to construe this word as a phrase (i.e., shiy-loh instead of Shiyloh; n.b., many Heb. mss. have she-loh, a reading which makes this interpretation even more likely). The messianic nature of the interpretation is retained in both cases (and indeed in virtually all cases) but then the NIV's rendering will be correct (this is the one I generally quote on this verse): "until he (i.e., the Messiah) comes to whom it (i.e., the scepter of rulership) belongs and the obedience of the nations is his" (cf. Ezek.21:27).

Question #29:  

Could you then please explain precisely what she-loh means?

Response #29: 

I take the she- to be the alternative Hebrew relative pronoun (the main one now in MH), and -lo to be the third singular masculine pronominal suffix, with the resultant "dative" expressing possession: "Him (-she) to whom it belongs (-lo)".

Question #30:  

A question on Genesis 19:6-8. How could Lot even consider giving out his daughters to these men?

Response #30: 

Lot clearly had some "issues". Living in Sodom so long explains some of it. The low regard in which women were held in the ancient world explains some of it too. To put the best possible "spin" on this for Lot's sake we might suppose that he was hoping that his prospective sons in law would prevent anything from happening to their "brides to be", but that is speculation. What this passage shows me beyond all else is that when we compromise with evil we are going to find that we have only bad choices going forward – just as in the case of Lot.

Question #31:  

Would you say that Lot's main compromise was that he accepted the live in Sodom and Gomorrah?

Response #31: 

Yes, I would say that his desire for "the good life" as exemplified in what he chose and how he went about assimilating to his new community argue for that to be the case.

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