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Biblical People and Places:

Eve, Cain, Noah, Abraham, Hagar, Esau, Joseph and more

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Question #1:

Is there any indication from scripture that Eve was surprised that the snake started talking to her? Had they had previous conversations so this exchange was normal at this point? Or maybe the bible just omits the part where Eve and the snake converse about how it’s able to talk. While the garden of Eden was amazing, I’m willing to bet that animals talking wasn’t a normal thing.

Response #1:

It's also not possible to say definitively that the serpent was unable to talk before being possessed, or that the devil hadn't possessed it for a long prior period and hadn't thus laid the ground work for this critical exchange. What should have surprised Eve in any case was the fact that on that occasion the serpent was speaking and reasoning more like Adam and herself than like a pet animal.

Question #2:

Good day

Trust you are well. I was reading the story of Cain and Abel. I was a bit disturbed by the punishment of Cain. Does this mean when Christ died Cain was not atoned for? And does it also mean he was the first person in hell?

Thank you

Response #2:

Good to hear from you again, my friend! Hope all goes well with you and yours.

As to Cain, the fact that the Lord did not put him to death for committing the first murder in human history and even gave him a mark of protection to keep him from being killed for this crime demonstrates our Lord's great mercy. Jesus Christ died for every single sin of every human being who has or will ever live, including those of Cain. Had Cain repented and called upon the name of the Lord he would have been saved. His killing of his brother and lack of repentance indicate his true nature, however. We do not know that he was the first to arrive in torments (the holding pen for unbelievers none of whom have yet been judged; the lake of fire is their destiny after the last judgment but that is still more than a thousand years away at the end of history), but it hardly matters. Cain went on to "found a city" (Gen.4:17) and no doubt lived a very long life as almost all of the pre-flood generation did. But some, like Abel, died from violence (e.g., Gen.4:23), and no doubt from other assorted causes as well, so it is more likely that torments was well-populated by the time Cain arrived.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Good day

Wow. Thank you for your answer. But now I am not sure whether I understand. So there is a pen of souls that are already being tormented and yet await the second judgement? If that's the case then that's deep. So if unsaved you get no peace here on earth, you don't die to sleep (tormented) and awaiting torment? Now that leads me to the next question. There is a book by Fredrich Zundel: The Awakening. So it true that he could pray for tormented 'once Christian souls' are at rest on the other side?

Many, many thanks

Response #3:

The present location of all departed unbelievers is generally called "Torments" after our Lord's description of the place in Luke 16:19-31 (see the link: "The Lake of Fire"). The last judgment, also called the Great White Throne judgment (discussed at Matt.25:31-46 and Rev.20:11-15) takes place at the end of history. No one has been judged (or, in the case of believers, evaluated) at present. Please see the link: "The Last Judgment".

Unbelievers are not interested in God's peace; they want their own. They receive what comfort they can scratch out in this life while believers are often persecuted for our faith (cf. Lk.16:25). After death, there is no sleep for anyone ever again, but while believers enter into joy and glory, for unbelievers there is "no rest day or night" (Rev.14:11).

I am not familiar with this gentleman or his book. What I can tell you is that there is no point in praying for the departed, believers or unbelievers, since their situation cannot be changed after death – a wonderful thing for believers, horrible for unbelievers (but they received what they wanted, namely, an eternity without God). If a person is not a believer at death, that person is lost, and it doesn't matter if he/she "once believed"; similarly, if a person was once an unbeliever, but believes, even at the end of life, that person is saved (cf. Ezek.18:1-32). Believers are saved; unbelievers are not saved (Jn.3:18). And we don't have to worry that it's all a matter of "good timing" or "bad timing". God has designed the perfect plan which is perfect in every single aspect large and small. The purpose of life is to bring out the true inner desires of heart of us all and demonstrate them in what we think, say and do. So we can rest assured that God is not letting anyone be lost "by accident". For those who "believe for a while" but then fall away, that is only life bringing out the fact that they never really wanted anything to do with the Lord in the first place, and their willingness to cast faith aside upon encountering trouble merely demonstrates that fact.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Was Cain Satan's Literal Seed?

YOU STATE: The second part of your question is more difficult to answer. Cain was the son of Adam and Eve. Scripture is very clear on this point and deliberately so, for it is very important for all to see that sin resides in the entire human race and not to blame evil upon a particular "satanic" genetic strain (Gen.4:1). In a spiritual sense, however, Cain was "of the evil one" (1Jn.3:12).

The Hebrew states "not like Cain WHO was OUT OF that wicked one" this is quite a difference in the translation... 1st John 3:10-12 "By this (the Scriptures just before this verse) it can be seen who are the children of God and who are the children (G5043 'offspring') of the devil: whoever does not righteousness is not of God..neither he who does not love his brother. This is the message you have heard from the beginning that we should love one another...AND NOT LIKE CAIN, who was out of that wicked one and killed his brother"...Here the words " out of" Greek G1537 (out) used with (of) G3688...when used together implying a person, it means "son of" or "offspring". Cain, like so many of his kindred in the history of the human race, chose evil deeds (1Jn.3:12; cf. Jude 11), but he did so of his own free will, not because of any predisposed family relationship to the devil. Sin does reside in the entire human race but it is not because Eve ate an apple. It is because she was told not to eat from the fruit tree of the knowledge of good and evil....neither to TOUCH it and she did it anyway. But the sin was not that satan has children (G5043 offspring, progeny 1st John 3:11-12) in the world.....the sin was that Eve allowed satan to impregnate her before she became pregnant with Abel. The sin is not sex in of itself. Because in Gen. 1:28 God tells Adam and Eve to be "fruitful and multiply." right when He made them...and well before the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They could not "be fruitful and multiply" without being intimate. The sin in the Garden of Eden, was NOT Adam having sex with Eve...as this shows in the first chapter of Genesis as they were given "permission" to have sex by Elohim Who made them.....the sin was Eve having sex with satan...the serpent (Gen. 3:15; 1st John 3:10-12; Gen. 3:3; Gen. 5:3) God allowed the creation of satan's children on the earth just as He allows evil for this age...because of evil God can see who would love and follow Him.. and who would not..........the sin of Eve, was basically, committing adultery, as she had a husband. disobeying God AND learning learning the difference between Good and Evil. Gen 3:3 The Hebrew is as follows... "God said "but the FRUIT [ Fruit (Heb. #6529) produce from the ground, offspring, progeny, actions. (seed)] of the tree in the middle of the garden Elohim is saying "you shall not eat from him (him...Heb. #6086 means to be firm from Heb.#6095 to shut the eyes ) ...NEITHER shall you TOUCH in him lest you shall die.." [Touch (Heb.#5060 "naga" to touch, to lay hand upon... euphemism (a substitute for an offensive word or a word that might offend) for: to lie with a woman. ) ] This word 'touch' was also used in Genesis 20:6 when Abimelech took sarah as a wife thinking she was Abraham's sister...and God in a dream went to Abimelech and said "because of the integrity of your heart...it was I Who kept you from sinning against Me.....therefore I did NOT let you TOUCH her." (Heb.#5060). Gen. 3:15 the seed of God and the seed of satan have come down through the generations. How else can there be enmity between two races unless they are there. These translations of the Hebrew words clear up the Scriptures in Genesis chapters 1-5.

thank you for your time

Response #4:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but you don't seem to have a question.

Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, "With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man."
Genesis 4:1 NIV

No satanic involvement here. In fact, the Bible makes Adam the father of Cain . . . in the Hebrew text.

1st John 3:2 does not say that the devil begot Cain. The Greek (not Hebrew) text states only that Cain was "of the evil one", which neither in Greek (nor Hebrew) can be taken to mean "physically begotten by" but rather "under the influence of" as shared earlier. Here is what our Lord says to the Pharisees:

"You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies."
John 8:44 NASB

The Greek phrase used here ek tou patros tou diabolou is precisely the same as the one John, the author of 1st John as well as of the gospel, used in the passage you quoted. It's very clear that Satan is not the literal, physical father of all the Jews with whom our Lord was remonstrating at the time in the verse above – and in this verse here He actually names the devil as their father. Of course our Lord means that they have chosen for Satan, exactly as Cain did – so that the devil is their authority and the "father" of their lies and evil actions. But that has nothing to do with physical parentage. As is always the case, it is the spiritual side of things which is important, not the physical side (Jn.6:63). Who we are in the heart is who we really are (Prov.23:7).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5:

bob,

I do have questions more than one as your email seems to have left out some things: Are you saying the seed of satan is not a physical EARTHLY seed but the seed of Jesus is from physical EARTHLY seed so He would be able to die and be resurrected? How do you rectify 1st John 3:10 that says: en toutO phanera estin ta tekna tou theou kai ta tekna tou diabolou by this seen is the offspring of the God and the offspring of the down-caster (devil) an offspring is from a real seed. Why is Cain not in Adam's geneology? Why did the Bible start Cain's own geneology?

Why did God tell Adam and Eve not to TOUCH him "naga" (means: to lie with a woman) and why did God (in Gen. 20:6) say He kept Abimelech from sinning against Him by keeping him from TOUCHING Sarah? this is the same word (naga, ngo, naw). Can you tell from Matt. 1:16 and Luke 3:23 that Joseph was NOT Jesus' father? Neither can we tell from Gen. 4:1 that the twins were of only one man..it doesn't say.

Awaiting the answers to my questions

Response #5:

Dear Friend,

I have already explained that 1st John 3:10 cannot be taken to mean that Cain was physically begotten from Satan. That is because 1) Genesis 4:1 states explicitly that Cain was Adam's physical son, and 2) the phraseology used by John here, "of", means "under the [spiritual] influence of" not "physically descended from" as is clear from how John uses this phrase elsewhere, notably John 8:44: "You are of your father the devil" (NASB).

The genealogies of the Old Testament are largely concerned with the line of faith, the line of the Messiah, and the line of Israel. There are others too, of course, but these special ones demonstrate the divergence between the life of faith and all other lines. Also, there are many more possible genealogies which could have been included, but only a few are. Cain is not present in the line of Adam (and most of the other children of Adam and Eve are not even mentioned in scripture at all) because he is not part of the line of faith through whom the Messiah was to come.

The word "touch" in Hebrew (nagha') is not a "magic" word. It does not have as its essential meaning "have sexual relations"; it means "touch". As in English or Greek or any other language, context will sometimes expand the basic meaning of the word to another sometimes specialized sphere (as in your Abimelech example), but it does not work "backwards" in every case. For example, just because "touched" in English occasionally means "crazy", that does not mean that every time we use the word "touch" we are referencing insanity. Adam and Eve, moreover, were not told by God not to "touch" the tree of knowing good and evil; they were told not to eat from it – and it is a literal tree (Gen.2:17). Eve got that part wrong, possibly because she wasn't paying close enough attention to the Lord and/or her husband.

Cain and Abel were not twins (see the link). And as explained above and before, Genesis 4:1 says very clearly that Adam was Cain's biological father. As to our Lord, Matthew 1:16 says "And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ." (NKJV) – the phrase in bold, "of whom" is feminine in the Greek, meaning that this verse says explicitly that Christ was born of Mary, but does not make Joseph his physical father – which of course He was not. Luke 3:23 says that Jesus was Joseph's son "as it was thought" – an important qualifier put here to make sure we understand that Jesus was not actually Joseph's biological son (though people naturally assumed so).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6:

bob,

Did you notice that the Bible translation in Matt, 1:16 says "....of whom. (feminine because Jesus' origin was Mary. Mary is the "whom" )? ...but in the Greek it says "..OUT of whom..." Jesus was out of Mary that was His origin (EK - G1537). Can you see in 1 John 3:12 that Cain was "....OUT of.,,,"EK" this is masculine because Cain's origin was OUT of the wicked one, a male ?

"EK"...out.......G 1537....in the Greek denotes origin. Look in the concordance yourself and see. or look up "out of" in Webster's it says "showing direction from within to the outside." I won't bother you any more and I know you will say that "means" something different. And that is ok...we all do our best to understand what God is trying to teach us ....He did say in Matt. 13:35 "I will open my mouth in parables. I will utter things that have been hidden since the foundation of the world." and this definitely happened at the foundation of the world...however we understand it.

Response #6:

Hello Friend,

I do understand something about ancient Greek. I have a Ph.D. in it and teach and research in that language for a living.

In the context of a genealogy, of course we are talking about physical birth. Also, did you notice there actually is a verb here which makes it clear that we are in fact talking about physical birth?

. . . of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
Matthew 1:16b KJV

So here we are talking about physical birth as both the broad context (genealogy) and near context (the verb directly references it) demonstrate very clearly. Not so in the other case. There is no such verb present in 1st John 3:2 where we are not talking about physical procreation but spiritual influence.

Context cannot be completely ignored in translating and exegeting scripture purely by assigning almost "magical" properties to words and phrases which even the native speakers at the time would not have recognized. The preposition ek in Greek always takes the genitive case, so that wherever the word occurs – and it is one of the most common words in the NT – it will always be followed by an "of/from". It's incorrect to load more meaning into that simple fact than it can possibly have been meant by John (and the Spirit) to bear. I understand that this is what many people who don't know much about the Greek language do all the time. This sort of approach is a very common error even among "Bible exegetes" who ought to know better but who never learned enough Greek to understand basic issues. It's the sort of mistake some of my first year students might make, but probably not my second year or higher level students.

Yes, we all do our best to understand the Word, but the Lord has put teachers in the Church for a reason. There are many bad teachers out there, many who are teaching incorrect things, and many who are woefully unprepared to teach. On top of that, few are doing any actual teaching. But any believer who is really interested in learning the truth beyond what they can easily get just from reading scripture themselves (which is not enough to make the headway the Lord wants in spiritual growth, progress and production) will be lead to the right ministry to do so. If we keep knocking, we will be helped to find.

So I will stop bothering you now. Apologies if the above seems somewhat brusque or condescending. It does happen to be true, however, and without accepting the truth, no one can grow and serve the Lord the way He means them to do.

(11) Christ Himself appointed some of us apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers (12) in order to prepare all of His holy people for their own ministry work, that the entire body of Christ might thus be built up, (13) until we all reach that unifying [goal] of belief in and full-knowledge (epignosis) of the Son of God, that each of us might be a perfect person, that is, that we might attain to that standard of maturity whose "attainment" is defined by Christ; (14) that we may no longer be immature, swept off-course and carried headlong by every breeze of so-called teaching that emanates from the trickery of men in their readiness to do anything to cunningly work their deceit, (15) but rather that we may, by embracing the truth in love, grow up in all respects with Christ, who is the head of the Church, as our model. (16) In this way, the entire body of the Church, fit and joined together by Him through the sinews He powerfully supplies to each and every part, works out its own growth for the building up of itself in love.
Ephesians 4:11-16

You are most welcome at Ichthys any time.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #7:

I don't have a phd but I am Greek. If you are talking about 1st John 3:12 (not 1st John 3:2) there IS a verb 'was' in the Greek....you may have missed it because of how the sentence reads in my Greek Bible.

" Not according as Cain out of the wicked one was and slays the brother......."

Response #7:

Dear Friend,

I didn't say there was no verb present in 1st John 3:12; I did say that there was "no such verb" present, i.e., a verb which specifically indicates physical birth (i.e., "begotten"). I said this the way I said it because in your analysis of Matthew 1:16 you overlooked that critical verb entirely. Yes there is also a verb in 1st John 3:12 but it is not the verb "to give birth to" as in Matthew 1:16 but rather merely the verb "to be". If you will open up that concordance of yours and look through the very long list of the uses of ek in the New Testament, you will see that it seldom means "born from" and never means "born from" unless there is a certain signal in the context that such is its meaning in a particular passage – that is far from normal situation (ek is the "of" in e.g., Jn.1:40; 2:15; 3:1; 4:14; 4:22; 4:30; 4:39; 6:13; 6:26; 6:71; 7:31; 7:48; 8:59; 9:16; 9:40, etc., etc.) – a signal, that is, such as a verb of giving birth. That is not the case in 1st John 3:12 and so that is not the meaning in 1st John 3:12 – which is no doubt why no version of the Bible I have been able to find (English or any other language) renders that verse as making Cain the physical descendant of Satan . . . which clearly he is not, at least, that is, if you accept the testimony of scripture: "Now Adam had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain" (Gen.4:1).

I'm happy to know that you are Greek. However, even if Modern Greek were your first language, it wouldn't mean that you knew anything whatsoever about ancient Greek. I have had plenty of students who were native Modern Greek speakers but who only knew the small bit of ancient Greek they had learned in school. The modern language is different enough that even for native speakers ancient Greek has to be learned anew as a separate language.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Comment on your Study on Sin document: In your study you make the following comment:

"Before the existence of the Mosaic Law, there was sin in the world (exactly as is said in the first part of the verse), but sin was not being considered (or recognized) in the absence of the Law which delineated it."

My question: Why did God consider Cain's sin which was before the Law? He punished him for murdering his brother and he left the presence of God. Need some clarification on this, so that I can understand correctly. Thanks again,

This is wonderful study as always. God continue to bless you as you complete the work He has called you for.

Response #8:

Romans 5:13 means that sin is sin, regardless of whether or not it is delineated as such in the Law. The punishment for any sin is spiritual, physical and eternal death; we are relieved from the latter by the blood of Jesus Christ. The Law uniquely blends regulations for personal, private behavior and group, public behavior. Most legal codes do this to some degree, but not to the extent that the Law does because it was meant for a community of "believers only" (though Israel never came close to this in fact). So the murder of Abel, as well as the jealousy, plotting and lying which preceded it, were all sins; and under every criminal code murder is a (if not the most) serious crime. These two categories are not mutually exclusive. But when Cain killed Abel, there was not only no Mosaic Law but no "law" at all as yet. God has always "punished" sin – not as our sins deserve, mind you; however it is Christ who paid the full penalty for every sin. So there is nothing unique about God punishing Cain for his sin of murder – and since it is perhaps the worst sin, a serious punishment was necessary. But since there was as yet no law of any kind to warn people off of such behavior as making them liable for capital punishment, God did not put Cain to death. As civilization grew up, legal codes were established which prohibited murder usually on pain of death as the most effective sort of prevention.

Romans 5:13 affirms that regardless of written regulations, divinely given or humanly instituted, doing wrong, speaking wrong, and thinking wrong have always been and will always be wrong – sins for which Christ had to die in order for anyone to be saved.

In the grace of the One who died for us all, our dear Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Hi Bob,

According to the Book of Romans, there were no such thing as Jews before the circumcision of Abraham, so all of the first human beings were gentiles. But why do the gentiles that comprise Genesis 5 have Hebrew names?

Before you answer this question, keep in mind that Moses' name (according to Exodus) has a Hebrew meaning (to draw out), but we know for certain that an Egyptian woman named him (along with the fact that names with the suffix "-mose" were very common in Ancient Egypt, aka "thutmose") So any answer you give has to explain non-Jews giving Jewish names in both instances.

Sincerely,

Response #9:

Perhaps because Hebrew was the original human language. Which names did you have in mind, anyway? Regarding Moses, the Egyptian queen named him that "because I drew him out of the water" – an appropriate name for a Hebrew child found in this way. Perhaps she knew enough Hebrew to understand the connection.

Question #10:

Noah, which means rest, for one.

I don't buy the Hebrew-as-primordial theory, because Isaiah says that Hebrew is a Canaanite language, not the language of humanity. The names may have been semantic translations (like how Didymus is the Greek equivalent of Thomas). And I assume that people will still read and study the Greek New Testament in the Millennial Jerusalem, and possibly in the New Jerusalem as well.

Response #10:

The Isaiah passage is speaking about events in the Millennium, and the word Hebrew is not used in that context because the language has changed since Isaiah's day. I certainly agree that now that languages have developed, even in the Millennium there will be no going back to what existed before Babel. As I say in CT 6:

The official language of Christ's government will be Hebrew. Not only does this make a certain amount of logical sense, for He will be ruling from Jerusalem with the Jewish nation as His unique possession, but there is scriptural evidence for this probability as well. The Lord states at Zephaniah 3:9 that, after unleashing His fury on the nations during the Tribulation (v.8), "I will give to the peoples a pure lip/language (saphah berurah), that they all may call upon the name of the Lord and serve Him of one accord". While this purification of the lips does not exclude forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus Christ, the context clearly suggests appropriate ceremonial behavior as well, and it is thus very likely that Hebrew will be the requisite language for the (sometimes mandatory; cf. Zech.14:17) worship at Jerusalem (see section III.2.c below). Isaiah 19:18 further informs us that "five cities of Egypt will be speaking the language of Canaan" (i.e., Hebrew). From this we may deduce that there will be an eagerness in some pockets of exceptional responsiveness to the Lord and His truth to assimilate to the perfect standard as much as possible and in every way. However, the fact that this development is deemed remarkable also shows us that while Hebrew will be the official legal and ceremonial language, no attempt will be made to enforce its use worldwide. In all other instances, the nations will retain their own languages. Rather than stifling free expression, we may expect a flourishing of legitimate conversation, with only evil communication being restrained.

According to scripture, there was one original language before the tower of Babel. What language has a better claim to be that one original one than Hebrew does? Most scholars who study Semitics assume an "Ur-Semitic" language along the lines of the ancestor of all Indo-European languages. Even if this were not the Hebrew of the Old Testament, it is certainly possible that it was so close as to explain the name "problem".

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Hey Bob,

Thank you for your follow up on my previous questions. I am taking this weekend to catch up on your links. Today, just now, I had a thought about Noah. Scripturally, we read Noah was a man of 'perfect generations'. I think, I understand Noah as the direct lineage of Adam, but what does the term 'perfect in his generations' really mean and with the definition of that, what is the identifiable difference of ALL the world of living human beings, considering Genesis 6:1-4. (sons of God mating with the daughters of men)? How can or can we know the difference among the children of Adam? Is there any physical trait differences to be seen or known? Or am I on the wrong track?

Genesis 6:9(KJV)
These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

Response #11:

This phrase means that Noah (and his family) were not polluted genetically and so were in no way tainted by the nephilim. Thus, the human race was saved from an otherwise complete contamination, as these corrupt genes would have made their way eventually through the entire pool and apparently almost had done so by the time of the flood – which is the reason for the flood. This is all written up at the link: Satan's antediluvian attack on the purity of the human line (the Nephilim)

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Hi Bob,

You know that Rabbis have traditionally believed that Genesis 9 depicts Ham sodomizing Noah after intoxicating him with alcohol. I am discussing this interpretation with a fellow Christian and I would like for you to give me examples in Hebrew where the phrase "see his nakedness" means what it means literally, and does not allude to forbidden sexuality.

Thanks,

Response #12:

I don't know of a single passage (including this one) where "see nakedness" means "have sexual relations". The idiom for sexual relations is not "see" but "uncover (galah) nakedness" (Lev.18:7-17; 20:11-21). "Seeing nakedness" is literal, not a euphemism (as "uncover" is), and speaks to the issue of shame, as in, for example:

Jerusalem has sinned greatly and so has become unclean. All who honored her despise her, for they have all seen her naked.
Lamentations 1:8 NIV

Even if it is argued that in this passage (and others such as Ezek.16:37; 23:18) sexual situations can be inferred in the context, that is still not the meaning of the "seeing naked" part – which is a shameful thing (the language being used to highlight the shame). Sexual relations, if any are actually present, have to brought out by other verbiage (as in the Ezekiel examples). In Genesis 9:22, there is no indication of any other action besides "seeing". Finally, the nail in the coffin here is that the remedy taken by the other two brothers is a "covering" the literal nakedness of their father (so as to avoid further literally "seeing"), and doing so in a way whereby they will not be able to "see" it as Ham did.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #13:

From http://www.tektonics.org/af/earthshape.php#high

Genesis 11:4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.

This verse was once popular among critics, but not much any more. The words "may reach" are an insertion of the KJV. The reference is now recognized as meaning that the tower was to be dedicated unto heaven, not built to reach it.

How accurate is this explanation? This is not a trivial change.

Response #13:

Here is how I translate the verse (where I deal with the Tower of Babel in SR 5; see the link):

Then they began to say, "Come, let's build a city for ourselves – and a tower whose top will reach to the heavens. That way we can establish our identity and not be scattered over the face of the entire earth".
Genesis 11:4

The KJV does insert the words "may reach"; the MT merely says "with its head in the heavens". Saying that this is a dedication instead of a spatial description is something only someone who can't read Hebrew (or refuses to see what is written) could possibly say. In any correct rendering, the idea was indeed to build a tower to access / assault heaven – not to honor God! 

See the link: "Satan's Antediluvian attack on the human race"

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Dear Bob,

First of all, I'd like to joyously report that my fiance' has started to read the Bible recently and actually come to me with questions she has concerning what she has read. I have told her to start with the New Testament, but she insists on reading the the Word "cover to cover", starting from the Old Testament and the reading up to and through the New. I will continue to suggest to do the 'two new and two old' plan I did, but until then, she will be looking to me for explanation on some things.

I will be the first to admit I am not as wise as I wish to be, so I thought you might help me with this?

Firstly, she was wondering why Abraham lied about Sarah being his sister, instead of acknowledging her as his wife, which subsequently led to the cases of her being 'taken' and the Lord warning them. I believed it was because it was a time where there was very little law, and Abraham may have indeed been killed for his wife, but I am not entirely sure. Could you elaborate on this for us?

Response #14:

It's good news, my friend!

Your argument to the effect that since there was no law and order nor "fear of God" in these places (Egypt and Gerar) that Abraham was somewhat justified is about the best defense that can be made; and if fact this is what Abraham did say to justify himself to Abimilech in the second of these two instances (Genesis 20:11; cf. Gen.12:11-13 for Abraham's concocting of this plan with Sarai when entering Egypt). In war, for example, we are not required to be honest and straightforward with the enemy, even as believers. But the way these events are reported it does seem to be the case that Abraham was off-base to do what he did. He had been told by God to go where he went – so one would think that a little faith in trusting the Lord that everything would be OK because of the Lord's protection would have been in order, and this behavior does not seem to evince faith. Abraham was one of the greatest believers in history, but even he was not perfect (Is.43:27) – something that should give all believers pause.

Best wishes for both of you for continued spiritual growth and progress in our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Hi Dr. I pray everything is going well with you and your family. My prayers like always are with you and this ministry. Quick question, why did God not put more emphasis on Isaac's obedience when his father tried to sacrifice him? I understand Isaac is a type of Christ in this situation but I would think along with Abraham's unwavering faith in God, Isaac had that as well at such a young age. Could it be that Isaac was a byproduct of his father's obedient lifestyle and therefore God's focus was on Abraham. I am just curious. I would have put Isaac in the so called "Hall of Faith" in Hebrews 11 not because of the blessing of Jacob but because of the ultimate obedience till death. But God knows best and just wanted your take. Also, was Hagar a believer?

In Christ our Lord

Response #15:

I think there is plenty of emphasis on Isaac (personally): he obeyed his father even in ignorance, and even when most individuals would have been terrified or resisted being tied up in the manner of a sacrifice, he did not resist. You are correct that he is a type of Christ in this, and I think that comes through loud and clear. As a result, scripture consistently speaks of "Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph", and I have no doubt about his exalted status in eternity. The main point of the story for us, however, is Abraham's obedience. He wanted one thing more than anything in the world, an heir. After many setbacks, and after waiting many years – past the point of normal procreation for himself and Sarah, he was finally given just what he always wanted. But now, just when Isaac was on the point of carrying on the line – so important to Abraham – he was told by God to sacrifice him. I wonder if there has ever been a single other believer in the whole history of the Church who would have even been willing to do this, let alone go along with the Lord's command without any demurring whatsoever. How could he do that? Because he didn't really love Isaac? God knows he loved him more than his own life. This willingness to obey the Lord even under these circumstances sets him apart as a man of faith beyond all others. And why faith? Because, as Hebrews tells us, "Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead" (Heb.11:19 NIV); and that was why "by faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice" (v.17), faith that whatever God commanded him to do must be the right and thing and would work out for good, even if he didn't see how at the moment. This is true of course for us as well. There are many things we bump into in this life which are hard for us to handle, hard to take, things where we want to scream "why, God?" or "aren't you paying attention to my plight, God?". But if we were truly following the example of Abraham we would remember that whatever is going on with us is the will of God, and remember that we can trust Him absolutely to work it all out together for the God for us who love Him (Rom.8:28). Remembering this truth . . . and applying this truth consistently under pressure is no easy thing, even when what we are facing is nowhere near as great a sacrifice as what Abraham was asked to make.

On Hagar, I don't believe it is possible to say one way or the other. She did not ask the Lord for help in other of the two cases when she was exiled, but in the first instance we do read this:

She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me."
Genesis 16:13 NIV

Paul's treatment of Hagar in Galatians, while symbolic, also casts some doubt on the matter. I would place Hagar in the category of friends and family members we care about and who we hope are saved, and for whom there is some measure of encouragement since they have some facility with the things which related to God, but about whom we have no clear assurance based upon what they say and how they live. We will have to wait and see.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Good afternoon Professor! How are you this Fall Season? Our Bible Study is studying Romans. And Paul was referring to Abraham. One asked what the role of women was during the time of Abraham? Besides: Culture, men were leaders and taught God's Word, and women would provide an heir; what was their role? During Christ's time we know they followed him.

Response #16:

Good to hear from you. Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised, the event that initiated the Jewish race, and this event took place, as best as can be determined through the chronological information in the Bible, about 2065 B.C. Now there are no written records of any kind delineating any aspect of life in Palestine at that time . . . except for the Bible. There are records from Egypt and Assyro-Babylonia regarding their civilizations (but these tend not to give us the kind of information you are asking about except through deduction, the same method we would have to employ from scripture). So if the question is, what was the cultural role of women in this time and place, that seems fairly clear from the biblical descriptions in Genesis which are consistent with the role of women throughout the ancient world – which role continues in many if not most places around the world today in spite of modernizing trends.

If the question is about the spiritual role of women, that is to say, their role in the plan of God, then I would have to say that said role has been the same since the expulsion from Eden and will continue the same until the resurrection just as it does for men. All human beings are responsible for deciding for or against the gospel; that is "why" we are here. Once a person does believe, male or female, it is then our duty to grow up spiritually, then progress in our walk with the Lord, then engage in the ministries the Lord has for us. Thus has it always been. Things are different in the Age of the Church in that previously no one had permanent spiritual gifts, but today all believers have them, and the ministries Christ assigns us correspond exactly to those gifts (for those who actually do grow and progress to the point of being useful). In Abraham's day and throughout Old Testament times, the absence of spiritual gifts meant that the "divine economy" or "dispensation" of the truth – which is what all spiritual gifts and all true ministries are concerned with – was much different than today. Very few men today are gifted to be pastor-teachers (and far fewer ever get to the point of proper preparation so as to be truly useful in this role); even fewer in Abraham's day were used in this respect. There was a priesthood (as in the case of Melchizedek) based upon the patriarchy. But when it came to teaching, this seems to have been done in a family way. So on the one hand, there were no official "teachers"; on the other hand, everyone who knew any truth was free to share that truth with others – that is still the case today. And just as in antiquity it would be thought unseemly for women to instruct adult men, so Paul tells us that this is also inappropriate today. But there was no universal rule. Individual believers were instructed through an oral tradition of the truth and supernaturally guided by the Lord according to their willingness and desire to "seek Him". He has never allowed anyone to go without the water of the Word, no one, that is, who truly thirsted for it, man or woman. So we do see that there were women prophetesses in Israel (Debra and Hulda come to mind), and this reflects well on those women who wanted to know the truth just as it reflects poorly on the men of their day who were not interested. When we read the Psalms of David, we see how deep and rich a relationship it is possible to have with the Lord even without the volumes of truth we have in the entire Bible today – for someone who really wanted that relationships – and so has it ever been.

So on the one hand the role of women was the same as that of men in God's eyes, always has been and always will be as long as this seven thousand year human history continues to run its course: we are all here to accept or reject Christ, and then grow, progress and serve if and when we do believe. And on the other hand the relationship in general between men and women for this brief span of human history was laid down in Genesis chapter three based upon the actions of Adam and Eve in the fall. Each of us has clear roles and responsibilities which in general terms have always been the same; but as believers, each of us also has unlimited spiritual opportunity to grow and progress and serve just as much and as well as we are willing to do. This will be the basis for the eternal rewards Christ will distribute, and there will be no such role distinctions based on gender in eternity. No doubt many women will end up outranking their husbands.

Apologies for the generalized nature of the answer. Please feel free to write back if you have questions.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Thank you this will be a guide to print out. I think maybe she was wondering like Deborah was a Judge, Miriam; I felt like she might be wondering if they had things they did that was allowed during that period of time. So would women have a job description, even though their husband (if married) was the leader in the home. Thanks

Response #17:

You're very welcome. Miriam clearly had a leadership role vis-a-vis other women in the camp. Deborah had a leadership role as a prophetess and by the default of men who refused to do their jobs a role in national leadership as well (cf. Jdg.4:8). As to job descriptions, the best thing I can think of, though it is later than Abraham of course, is the one in Proverbs 31:10-31.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Dear Mr Luginbill

I wrote to you September 2014 about the prophetess MDM whom you sharply warned me against. I must admit that I am still of the belief that she speaks words of God. But that is not why I am writing, even though I am willing to discuss her authenticity if you have the time and interest. But don't worry. I am trying to be sceptic and discerning. And I am thankful for the answer you gave me. I write to you because in my personal studies I have come across that KJV in Gen 27,39 writes:

And Isaac his father answered and said unto him, Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above;

Whereas the latest Danish translation, which is the ones I have in hard copy, writes (my translation from Danish):

Then his father Isaac said to him: "Far away from the fertile lands shall thy dwelling be and far away from the dew of heaven above"

Could you, with your knowledge of the original scriptures, indicate to me which you find is the most correct? Personally I tend to believe KJV, because I know many scholars believe late translations have had many mistakes incorporated.

Thank you very much in advance.

May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob continue to bless you.

Response #18:

Good to hear from you. The newer translation is better. Even the "New" KJV includes a critical word left out twice by the KJV, namely "of":

"Behold, your dwelling shall be of the fatness of the earth, And of the dew of heaven from above."
Genesis 27:39 NKJV

This sounds very awkward in English, and so it is. But at least it clues readers in to the fact that there is a problem with the translation (which the KJV glosses over). The Hebrew preposition min, translated "of" in the NKJV, does mean "of", very often, but it is also the Hebrew way to express separation, as expressed by the English preposition "from". That is what is meant here. Clearly, Isaac's "blessing" on Esau is not much of a blessing; we can tell that from Esau's negative reaction to it. Esau would inherit the land of Edom as a result of his rejection of his own birthright which was the land of Israel in geographic terms. And while Israel is a land "a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven" (Deut.11:11), Edom was and is, relatively speaking, a land "[far] from the fatness of the earth" (engendered by bountiful precipitation) precisely because it is, relatively speaking, "[far] from the dew of heaven".

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Hey Bob can you explain why Hebrews 12:16 emphasizes the fact that Esau sold his Birthright for a "single" meal and than later couldn't get his birthright tho he sought it with tears. What is the point of this passage? Is it saying one mistake you can forfeit your birthright/eternal life. That doesn't seem right with scripture so why would Paul emphasize the "single" meal part?

Thank you, in our Lord and Savior

Response #19:

Esau was not a believer. Taking Jacob's "deal" merely served to show the disdain he had for his spiritual heritage. The Lord meant nothing to him. And God's plan is perfect – it can never be put "off track" even to the slightest degree. It was always determined that Jacob would be the heir, even though he was the younger (Gen.25:23; Rom.9:12). If hypothetically this incident hadn't happened, God would have worked things out another way. God "hated Esau" because Esau hated God (as all unbelievers do); this was clear to the Lord ahead of time and that is why things were decreed in this manner. Esau used his free will, his image of God, to go his own way and be a god unto himself as all unbelievers do. The incident with the meal only serves to show his absolute disrespect and lack of concern for the Lord. When Jacob returned, he was terrified that Esau would exact revenge; but Esau by that time could have cared less. He was "blessed" plenty by the Lord in material terms and felt himself superior to his brother in every way. His anger and "remorse" – really feeling slighted – had to do only with sibling rivalry and superstition. Unbelievers try to bribe God (or god/gods) all the time in search of material blessing and no doubt Esau thought he was being deprived of these things when Jacob "stole" what was his. But the true value of the heritage of faith is the blessing of the truth which bubbles up unto life eternal, spiritual blessings in this life and the as yet unknown "things which God has prepared for those who love Him" (1Cor2:9).

Misunderstanding this and reading an English translation which doesn't make the passage clear can result (and often has, if my correspondence with readers is any indication) in getting the wrong idea. Salvation is not a "pins and needles" thing. We are absolutely secure – as long as we maintain our faith in Jesus Christ. Naturally, straying from Him by not giving attention to the Word on the one hand and engaging in a degenerating course of conduct on the other can damage our faith. But that is not what this passage is talking about. Esau was never a believer in the first place. Moral of the story: don't be like Esau; value your spiritual heritage and let that show in your spiritual growth, progress and production, and in a sanctified way of life. The end of the opposite course is the death of faith . . . and we know what happened to Esau who never had any faith – not a role model for us.

Here are a few links that may be helpful to you:

Esau and the blessing

The blessing on Jacob

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #20:

So him selling his birthright was just a an outward showing of him always being an unbeliever. Reading about him it seems his life was characterized by rebellion and unbelief. So author is not emphasizing the single meal aspect he just using that image of what would happen if we go the opposite way. Is that correct?

Response #20:

I certainly agree with the first half of what you say. This transaction, soup for birthright, demonstrated what Esau really thought deep inside:

Thus Esau despised his birthright.
Genesis 25:34b KJV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Any insight on why God would bring Joseph to 2nd in command in Egypt and not 1st?

Response #21:

On Joseph, God certainly accomplished all He meant to accomplish by having Joseph be the power behind the throne, and in most large kingdoms the sovereign him/herself is usually not the one who carries the primary load in domestic governance and administration. So while this worked perfectly for the sustenance of the people of God, I can imagine any number of problems that would have resulted from Joseph becoming Pharaoh. God could certainly have done that (He can do anything), but then how, for example, would the Jewish people have ever been separated from the Egyptian people thereafter and been led to the land of promise? As in all things, God has ordained everything perfectly to the last detail even in ways we probably will never get around to considering even after the fact. That ought to be a great encouragement to us as we face any future trouble, especially the Tribulation.

Question #22:

Why do some Bible translations state that Joseph practiced Divination?

Response #22:

Scripture doesn't state that Joseph practiced divination. Joseph, while pretending to be an Egyptian and not yet willing to reveal himself to his brothers, does also say "Do you not know that a man like me can indeed practice divination?" (Gen.44:15 ESV). But Joseph was not the Egyptian "man like me" his brothers thought, and he never practiced divination either. This was part of the subterfuge employed to keep his brothers in the dark and so bring his brother Benjamin back down to Egypt to him.

Question #23:

Hi Bob,

If the Israelites crossed the Red sea proper, wouldn't have they ended up in Arabia? I think the "Red sea" is actually the Gulf of Suez.

Response #23:

The Gulf of Suez is part of the Red Sea – as the Bible sees it. The important thing in this discussion is what the Hebrew term yam suph meant at the time of writing; it is translated in the LXX as erythrios thalassa, literally, "red sea", and refers, as we know from ancient usage elsewhere, to the entire body of water separating Egypt from Arabia, including the various inlets. The description in Exodus which gives the Egyptian place names also makes it clear that you are correct about the location – but it is still "the Rea Sea" (in biblical terms). Here are a few links on this:

Identification of the Red Sea

Hardening Pharaoh's heart (pt. 4; vv.8-10)

Sea of Reeds?

The route of the Israelites in crossing the Red Sea

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #24:

Hi Bob,

Ezekiel 47 describes the boundaries of the Millennial Israel, but the boundaries do not fulfill the extent of the promised land given to Abraham. Why aren't the boundaries in Ezekiel 47 from the River Euphrates to the River in Egypt?

Ah, I think I found the answer: the course of the rivers in question (namely, the easternmost branch of the Nile and the Euphrates) changed greatly from Abraham's day to now, and the boundaries described in Ezekiel 47 approximate the boundaries of the two rivers in question as they existed when God promised the land to Abraham.

Response #24:

The "brook of Egypt", the nachalah Mitzraiym (נַחְלָה מִצְרָיִם), is the wadi which runs into the Mediterranean just south of Gaza.

Question #25:

Hi Bob,

Sometimes Calvinists make it sound like that God specifically hardened Pharaoh's heart for the sole purpose of destroying him (and at first glance this seems to be what Romans 9 is talking about), but it makes perfect logical sense to suppose that Pharaoh (1) had to give in to God (2) deeply resented having been shown impotent and ceding his will to God.

So the hardening of Pharaoh's heart was a consequence of the fact that Pharaoh deeply resented having to obey God.

In Jesus,

Response #25:

You are essentially on the right track. To put it in a nutshell, Pharaoh was given a special empowerment of his free will so as to have the intestinal fortitude to do what he really wanted to do but otherwise would not have been able to bring himself to do under the intense pressure of the undeniably miraculous divine judgments that were laying Egypt low. As the Lord says,

"But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain (i.e., in willful opposition), in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth."
Exodus 9:16 NASB

You will find this issue written up in detail in the "Exodus 14" series (at the link).

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #26:

Greetings Professor, how are you doing? I've been doing a great deal of studying on the Exodus and oddly enough why isn't there any evidence of the Exodus? I mean there is absolutely none. No records, no archeological evidence of any kind. How can we defend the word against this? Saying, "The just shall live by faith," doesn't quite work on the unjust.

Response #26:

I'm doing pretty well; I hope that's true of yourself as well!

As to your question, I rather think instead it would be odd if there were any evidence (and would be skeptical of it). The Indo-Europeans are the ancestors of almost all of the western nations and also of most of those in the Asian subcontinent (and many other now extinct peoples as well), and yet there is absolutely no evidence of their migrations until many centuries after they expanded, split up, and formed the languages / cultures we now know something about. The Celts occupied most of northern Europe and also the British isles, and yet we have only a few pots and trinkets for a thousand years of civilization, and without Julius Caesar's commentaries we would know almost nothing about them. So the fact that a forty year event wherein no permanent habitations were established has left no evidence is not at all remarkable. I would think that is what we should expect. The Israelites founded no cities on this journey, after all, so I'm not even sure what someone would be looking for. After all, the ancient world is replete with mass migrations of peoples which are known to us only from small snippets in later, written literature. Pace archeology, it is the written word that has always held the key to what may have happened in antiquity (not some pot found buried on some tel). No evidence? We have the Bible. Even if a person is not a believer, the evidence of the exodus in the Bible with all its specifics is very difficult to explain away. That is why unbelieving secular historians do posit the wanderings of the Hebrews as historical; they would only dispute the details and advance alternative theories about times, places, events, etc. In any case, most of what the Bible has to say to us today is not verifiable through physical evidence. Looking for such is a mistake and can be a stumbling block to faith. We know it's all true because God has told us so:

(1) It is faith [in the Living and written Word], moreover, that substantiates what we hope for. [Faith] provides proof of things unseen. (2) For it is by this [very faith] that believers of old received their divine approval. (3) By faith we understand that the ages have been constructed by the Word of God, so that what we see (i.e., the material world) has not come into being from the things presently visible.
Hebrews 11:1-3

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #27:

Hi Dr,

I hope all is well. I have a quick question about why was Moses highly regarded in Egypt even after all these plagues that was administered by him through the Lord? It seems ironic and the wording seems like a praise. Can you elaborate on the use if this term or phrase in light of recent events?

Thank you and In Christ our Lord.

Response #27:

Good to hear from you as always, my friend. On Exodus 11:3, I think part of the problem here is the way that all the English versions I have been able to consult translate the second half of the verse: "Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh's servants, and in the sight of the people" (KJV). This makes it sound as if there is no direct connection between the second half of the verse and the first half: "The LORD made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people" (KJV). While the standard translation is not absolutely wrong, it is clear from the Hebrew where there is no conjunction between the two parts and no verb in the second half of the verse that the Lord is responsible for the favor Moses received as well; in his case the favor was "great" and it extended not only to the Egyptian people but also to Pharaoh's officials as well. I would prefer to render the second half something like this: "And [the Lord] also [gave] the man Moses very great [favor] in the land of Egypt in the eyes of the servants of Pharaoh and in the eyes of the people". So while we may speculate about human reasons why the officials of Pharaoh might respect a man who clearly had God's ear, the fact that God Himself intervened directly to give this favor to Moses is the real reason:

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.
Proverbs 21:1 NKJV

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #28:

Hi Bob,

What are the etymologies of the names the Egyptian magicians, Jannes and Jambres?

Sincerely,

Response #28:

As you know, these names occur in the NT (2Tim.3:8), but not in the OT. They occur in rabbinic literature but in different forms (i.e., sometimes Yohanan and Mambres). According to Schuerer (v.3, p.781), "Whatever the original form, the names are almost certainly Semitic". In other words, no one really knows.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #29:

Hi Bob,

I brought this up because I woke up one morning with a burning question: shouldn't Jannes and Jambres, if these are the names of Egyptian magicians, have Egyptian etymologies?

PS: As for Schuerer, keep in mind that it is sometimes very difficult to distinguish Semitic proper from Afro-Asiatic (which includes Egyptian) general, given that both have similar roots and tend to prefer an ablauting morphology.

Response #29:

Of course you're right. However, the original Egyptian names of these two are unknown to history, and they were unknown to Paul and not, for whatever reason, divinely revealed to him (perhaps because if he had used their actual at-that-time-unknown names no one would have had any idea who he was talking about). So using the received names was not a problem. This is much the same as our calling of a certain country by its Latin derived name, "Germany", when the people who live there call it something entirely different (Deutschland) – and, after all, the NT uses Greek names for the words God and Lord.

Question #30:

I have been looking for an answer and came across your website. Though I am grateful for having found it and something similar to what I am looking for, it still wasn’t quite what I needed. Here’s MY question: I was told by a minister (a trusted friend) that the reason God was angry with Moses is because when Moses struck the rock he was hitting Jesus and because the bible reads that Jesus would only be struck a certain number of times…. Blah blah. I can’t remember all of the discourse but I haven’t been able to get away from it so I am searching for the answer. I know Paul refers to this in the NT but I keep coming up with Moses didn’t sanctify God in front of the people…he didn’t obey God in front of an already rebellious people. I think he made God look as if He didn’t know what He was doing or something of this nature.

Please Help me if you can

Response #30:

Good to make your acquaintance.

I think what you say at the end of this email is correct – and it is completely in consonance with what I have written on the subject at the links you mention. Just in case you missed one, here they all are:

Moses and Aaron not sanctifying the Lord

Water from the Rock

Christ the Rock of Meribah

Moses Striking the Rock

The point as you rightly notice was not the number of times the Rock was struck in the second instance but the fact that Moses disobeyed the Lord's very precise instructions on that occasion to speak to the Rock (which now symbolized the resurrected Christ not the suffering Christ) – but he struck it instead, doing so obviously out of a burst of anger. This confused God's message of mercy and deliverance for His people, a serious thing for someone charged with speaking the truth and representing it to others in a correct and godly way.

Do please feel free to write me back about this.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #31:

God Appointed a Woman (not a "female") for a leader!

"I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam." (Micah 6:4)

Response #31:

Indeed. Women need female leadership at times (so that, for example, teaching restrictions within the Church only apply to women in regard to teaching adult men: 1Tim.2:12):

Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.
Exodus 15:20 NKJV

However, NIV is "fudging" here in your version. The Hebrew of Micah 6:4 only says "I sent before you" – which deliberately does not say "lead" (even though semantically the two phraseologies are similar, they are not identical). The "NET" Bible is the only other version I can find which translates "lead" here.

Also important to remember is that when Miriam and Aaron oppose Moses, the Lord straightens them out very quickly – and Miriam is stricken with leprosy (Num.12:1ff.). Miriam, very importantly, is mentioned first in introducing the episode, not Aaron (Num.12:1), indicating that she was in fact doing the "leading" on this occasion, and to no good purpose.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #32:

Hi Bob,

"But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day."
Joshua 6:25 NIV

I was contemplating this verse, and isn't it really the case that Rahab lives among the Israelites today?

"But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel." (Hebrews 12:22-24)

Response #32:

Indeed, along with the Moabitess Ruth, and other women of note such as Tamar and Bathsheba, Rahab is part of the Davidic royal line, and specifically in the line of the Messiah (Matt.1:5; cf. Lk.3:32). This panoply of "female heroes" shows that God is no respecter of persons: neither gender nor nationality is important in the end; rather, it is what kind of a heart we have for the Lord that counts.

In our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #33:

Hi Bob,

Recently a friend emailed me with a question concerning Rahab in the Bible:

I was talking to someone this week about Rahab, and there is a point of confusion I was wondering I could clear up with you. Apparently, the spelling of Rahab's name is different when she is mentioned in Matthew (Jesus's genealogy) than when her name is mentioned in Joshua. It is spelled the same everywhere else, but how can we be so sure it's the same Rahab? Or is everything I said wrong?

And, after a brief response wherein I noted that Joshua was written in Hebrew and Matthew in Greek (so obviously the names won't be "spelled the same"), I dug down a little deeper and actually figured out what her question related to. While I really don't need any specific questions answered, it would make me feel more comfortable if you "okayed" my response since I'm still relatively new at this sort of thing and don't want to misguide people. This would also give you a good opportunity to see how I'm progressing and to give me some constructive criticism if you feel it necessary. Of course, get to this at your leisure since I am by no means in a rush here; this is more or less just a "progress report" and a double-check on my thinking because I don't quite trust myself yet.

Anyway, my (not so short) second response:

####

I did a bit more research and this seems to be the prototypical opinion of those who would wish to have "another" Rahab. Note that me refuting this argument does not necessarily refute the position in toto, but since I think this is a fair and representative sample of the position, I do not find it to be too much of a straw-man. What correspondent was likely referring to was not the difference between the words for Rahab in Joshua and Matthew, but rather the difference between the Greek word used in Matthew 1:5 (Ῥαχάβ, transliterated Rhachab) and the Greek word used in James 2:25 and Hebrews 11:31 (
Ῥαάβ, transliterated Rhaab). Ῥαχάβ only occurs in some mss., as we shall see, so this "problem" is actually not present if you are using the earliest witnesses to the GNT (א, B, etc.). The likely reason why correspondent ran into it is that most English speakers use Strong's exhaustive concordance for so called "word study", which is based off of the KJV's Textus Receptus (TR), a critical edition of the GNT that draws primarily from late Byzantine texts. With the exception of a few people who try to defend the manuscript tradition of the TR, most scholars accept that the TR has some inferior readings from earlier witnesses, and my guess is that this is one of them.

Part I: Refutation of the Main Argument

The main argument of the "2 Rahabs" fellow:

"But Matthew 1:5, Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25 cannot be classified as being 'in the same context'. Therefore more positive methods have been used in these passages to identify the person concerned precisely and exactly, and to distinguish between one person and another. Thus in Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25, the reader is told explicitly that these passages refer to Ra'ab the harlot of Jericho:

a. by stating her name,

b. by repeating her designation of a harlot,

c. by mentioning the action which she took to help the two spies. These are all positive marks of identification.

On the other hand, in Matthew 1:5 Rachab the wife of Salmon is clearly distinguished from ANY identification or association in any way with the harlot of Jericho:

1. by the different spelling of her name in the 'original' Greek,

2. by the different pronunciation of her name,

3. by the absence of any offensive designation attached to her name,

4. by the absence of any reference to Jericho or any activity that took place there."

"Therefore more positive methods have been used in these passages to identify the person concerned precisely and exactly, and to distinguish between one person and another."

This is an outright assumption. Unless the writer claims to know the mind of James and the writer of Hebrews (you can make a good case for Paul), there is absolutely no possible way he can make the argument that "this is what they really meant when they wrote this." He can certainly take this position (i.e., that they used these things to identify Rahab the harlot specifically), but it requires exegesis and evidence from context, neither of which was provided [and neither of which can be provided sufficiently to make this claim].

Part (a.) in the first set is invalid because Matthew 1:5 also "states a name." This is an entirely bogus reason, and I can't fathom how it is supposed to aid in drawing a distinction. Parts (b.) and (c.) are valid points; when Rahab is mentioned in the "heroes of faith" section in Hebrews 11 and in the "faith that works" section of James 2, she is mentioned both times as being a prostitute, and also complimented both times for her faith and legitimate production (i.e., action) from that faith.

I'll take the second set backwards. (3.) and (4.) do not necessarily imply that this is a different Rahab, even though the passage doesn't directly mention Jericho or her (former) status as a prostitute. To put it in more logical terms: "the absence of proof [statements that identify her with Joshua 2] is not the proof of absence [that this is actually a different Rahab]." So once again, the claim that this Rahab is "clearly distinguished from ANY identification or association in any way with the harlot of Jericho" is an unproved assumption. Notice the wording of that quote: "clearly", "ANY", "in any way"; this is all rhetorical flourish. Your argument does not become valid by capitalizing words.

(1.) and (2.) are more complicated, especially since we don't really know Greek and this fellow at least seems to claim he does. (2.) actually doesn't add anything to his argument since of course a name that is spelled differently is going to be pronounced differently: if you add Chi (χ) to a Greek word, you introduce a "K sound", and thus Ῥαχάβ is pronounced differently than Ῥαάβ. As to (1.), I touched on it in the introduction, but I'll go into more depth here since it really is the crux of the matter.

The big issue here is that we have textual variance between manuscript editions: The TR uses Ῥαχάβ in Matthew 1:5 (see this link), while more recent versions of the GNT (NASB95 is based on one of the Nestle-Aland editions, if I am not mistaken) use Ῥαάβ in Matthew 1:5 (see this link). In the newer critical editions, there actually is no difference between Matthew 1:5, James 2:25, and Hebrews 11:31 -- they all use Ῥαάβ (and you can verify what I'm saying: NASB concordance for α β). So this "problem" only exists if you believe the TR is the correct tradition, which, guess what, is another unproven assumption in this fellow's argument. Now certainly, there are those who make that argument, but it must be backed up with evidence and textual analysis (sometimes called textual criticism). In short, without being fully convinced that the TR has the right reading here (in fact, I am almost certainly convinced that it is the edition that errs, as it does in other places), I would give this reason approximately zero weight when making a decision about the validity of the positions.

So at this point, the only things out of (a.), (b.), (c.), (1.), (2.), (3.), and (4.) that still hold water are (b.) and (c.), but just because Rahab was identified in these ways in other parts of the Bible does not mean that she must always be identified in this same way (and to believe such would be another assumption that is effectively without a shred of evidence). Thus, this particular argument falls flat, and we conclude that there was one and only one Rahab, that she became the wife of Salmon, and that she, though formerly a prostitute, was in the lineage of our dear Lord Jesus Christ, as made clear in Matthew 1:5.

Part II: Comments on Other Arguments

Hopefully the above convinced you that the main argument of the link I supplied was incorrect, but I didn't address everything in that piece since it would take a while and I'm sure you have other things to do than read lengthy analyses of false theological positions. But I think several other false arguments merit comment, so I'll include another section as well. I'll try to keep it brief.

1) "There could never be a harlot in the line of Jesus Christ! How heretical!"

I must confess that this one always baffles me. Tamar is in the lineage of Christ, and she seduced and had sex with her father in law (i.e., Judah) after he failed to supply a third husband for her. Bathsheba is in the lineage of Christ, and she very obviously committed terrible adultery with King David after he had her husband killed intentionally. Ruth is in the lineage of Christ, and she was a Moabitess. So the fact that Rahab, a prostitute who likely converted to monotheistic Judaism after her inheritance in Canaan with the Israelites (cf. Joshua 6:25), is in the lineage of Christ, does not surprise me at all, nor it should it surprise anyone. In fact, one might go so far as to say that the onus is on those who want to make Rahab the wife of Salmon out to be some sort of unrealistic virginal figure to give examples of females listed in the line of Christ that didn't receive grace in bounds. Actually, in Matthew 1, the only other women explicitly mentioned are the three above, so to claim that Rahab "has to be" someone other than a prostitute is to create a glaring double standard.

2) "[L]et us assume for a moment that Salmon did marry Rahab the harlot within a year or so of the fall of Jericho, and that Boaz was born a year or so after that. If such were the case, then Boaz would have been about 115 years old when he married Ruth! On the other hand, if we assume that Rahab was about 30 years of age when Jericho fell, and that Salmon did not marry her till 30 years or more later, then not only would Rahab have been at least 60 years of age and no longer able to bear children, but Boaz, even if born 30 years after the fall of Jericho, would still have been 85 years of age when he married Ruth. ... Thus all the evidence confirms the fact that Salmon did not marry Rahab the Canaanite harlot."

This is an argument that deals with the chronology of Israel before the Davidic Kingdom. While scholars still debate some, the time spans are greater than normal life spans by our standards, but of course that means very little. Here is what a friend of mine has to say about the matter (please see this email posting, question/answer #8):

"The chronology here has bothered some in the past, and some have tried to solve the "problem" of too much time between Salmon and David by suggesting that some names have been left out of the list and only the famous included. That, I think, is a questionable approach. Extremely long life-spans among Old Testament believers are certainly not unprecedented, even after the flood. Jacob lived to be over 130 years old (Gen.47:9), and given that Benjamin still seems to be a fairly young lad during the episode of Joseph's time in Egypt, it seems that he must have been at least a hundred when Benjamin was born. We should therefore understand that the generation which entered into the land of promise and those immediately thereafter must likewise have been blessed with exceptional length of days and continued fecundity into old age (at least among the godly believers) which would be remarkable by today's standards. After all, even before he entered into the land, Caleb could say in truth "So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then" (Josh.14:10-11 NIV). And Caleb was still active in the period of conquering the land for many years to come thereafter (cf. Judg.1:12-15). So the fact that between Salmon (who I would argue must have been one of the two spies whom Rahab protected) to Solomon's reign we have well over four hundred years but only four additional males in the line (i.e., Boaz, Obed, Jesse, David) only seems problematic for those who wish to overlook these other biblical facts. David, for example, was the youngest of eight brothers (1Sam.16:10), so we are safe to conclude that Jesse sired him in his old age. And of course Boaz was also an older man when he married Ruth (cf. Ruth 2:1; 3:10). As I say, while this sequence would be remarkable in our day and age, it would have been much less so at the time – and what genealogy, after all, is more remarkable in every way than that of our Lord?"

3) "Joshua 6:25 states that Rahab was given land in the midst of Israel in return for risking her own life by hiding the two spies that were sent to Jericho. Josephus in his "Antiquities of the Jews", Book 5 chapter 1, sections 2 and 7, records the same story but neither he nor Joshua make any reference to a marriage taking place between Rahab and Salmon. That deafening silence is itself the strongest proof that no such marriage did take place. ... "

First off, Josephus is hardly a paragon of historical accuracy (ask any Classicist worth his salt). People always like to pull in Josephus as "proof" for something or other (most commonly, actually, to combat the ridiculous notion that Jesus Christ was not a historical person), but in fact it does not really matter what Josephus says or does not say because Josephus was not writing under the influence of the Holy Spirit (i.e., his writings aren't in the Bible, so we can't rely on them unconditionally). Like all historians, he is only as good as his sources, and he happens to be a bit more biased than most.

Disregarding the above, this is another classic example of the statement "the absence of proof is not the proof of absence." Silence on an issue does not mean that you get to make the Bible mean whatever you want it to mean. For example, the Bible does not explicitly condemn abortion or torture, yet most Christians have no problems identifying these things as gross sin even though "the Bible doesn't say so".

Hopefully all this has answered your Question. Do feel free to email back if you have more questions!

In Christ,

####

Thanks for taking the time, Bob, I really appreciate it. Especially as I am trying to figure out where my specific calling lies (e.g., this is more apologetics than anything else), I find having someone knowledgeable looking over my shoulder gives me a great deal of peace in the matter.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,

Response #33:

Good to hear from you, my friend. It has been clear to me from the first that you have a very logical turn of mind and are also quite adept at putting your thoughts into a very organized and understandable form. These are necessary qualities for any sort of teaching ministry (whether apologetics or evangelizing or teaching the Bible in whatever setting). This is a nice job (I even liked the part about you quoting Luginbill – but I may have a bias there).

I want to encourage you to "keep on keeping on" in your efforts in ministry. You are clearly cut out for it. Where the Lord will lead you in terms of specifics I doubt anyone but He could say at this point. That would be true in normal times. With the rapid pace of change in the world on seemingly all fronts and with the soon to come end times waiting in the wings, it would probably be best to stay flexible on that point and to keep doing just what you are doing, namely, continuing to grow and progress yourself while at the same time making the most of these ministry opportunities that are cropping up. You are "cutting you teeth" for whatever comes next.

The one thing about which I have no doubt is that the Lord has something important in mind for you.

Yours in our dear Master and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #34:

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the kind words. I would encourage you to try and be at least a bit critical if it is at all merited to avoid me getting a swelled head. I realized after I sent this that this was going to be hard because of how long it is, but I am legitimately looking for weaknesses that I am blind to rather than praise or approbation. If it would help, imagine me as a young recruit that needs to go through boot camp to be prepared for battle. It would do me little good in such a situation if all the drill sergeants complimented me on my outstanding ability rather than being hard on me. While it would make training less painful, I wouldn't stand a chance when I got out to the real battlefield. So too here. (I need some drill sergeants in my life).

I realize that this "what can I get from Bob" mentality is a bit selfish, especially considering your schedule, so please understand that this (i.e., talk of my ministry progression) is something that you need to set the pace in, not me. I'm young and naive, and will have questions for years to come, I'm sure. There is a time to lean on others, and time to struggle through some of this on one's own with the help of the Spirit and a heavy dose of humility. After honest introspection, it seems I should probably do a bit more struggling and a bit less leaning. Especially with regard to choices that are mine to make and mine alone.

As I have started to have others rely on me it has made me feel a degree of guilt in how much of your time I must have taken up over the last several years. I still haven't gone through the studies in a systematic way yet, and I think this is contributing to my tendency to ask questions instead of seeking truth you've already put forth on my own. Bob, if I ever become too burdensome, please tell me. And remind me to go read the thousands of pages you've already written.

------------------------

With respect to the actual email, I guess there actually is one thing I want to know myself. From some comparison of interlinears, it appears that the Textus Receptus has αχ β in Matthew 1:5 instead of α β like NASB95's textual base (Nestle-Aland 27 ed., I believe). I guess I just assumed this is what Sinaiticus must read since it seemed to make sense that the name would be the same in James 2:25, Hebrews 11:31, and Matthew 1:5, but when I checked the first chapter of Matthew, Sinaiticus reading seems to match the TR, and goes against my whole argument. (I checked and it's Ῥαάβ at the the other two occurrences in Sinaiticus). Is this right or wrong? How should I explain the occurrence of the χ in Rahab's name to my friend if it is actually the correct reading?

In Christ,

Response #34:

Trust me, my friend – I will be happy to point you in the right direction when/if I see you going in the wrong one. This struck me as a very thoughtful and well constructed apology. We can always second-guess ourselves about the way we do anything. In my experience it's pointless to worry about getting things perfect (whatever that would mean in a situation like this); better to ask only whether or not we accomplished our objective. That is hard to know without reference to the audience/recipient – and even here we "are who we are" and are no doubt going to have a certain basic way of approaching things like this which can't be entirely redone for the sake of every unique individual we meet. Still, we do our best to get through to whomever we are speaking with on their terms – as long as there is no compromise with the truth.

On the text and the appearance of the names, it's not at all unusual for there to be multiple spellings in Greek of less than common Hebrew names. Matthew, James and Hebrews were all written by different authors, so we have to allow for various transliterations – there was no absolute system. "Megiddo", for example, is rendered dozens of different ways in the LXX. And even in the gospels we find different place names spelled in a variety of ways (sometimes causing confusion, as in is it Gadarenes or Gerasenes or Gergesenes?). The name in question involves the transliteration of the Hebrew cheth; since the Greeks don't really have this sound, leaving it out is at least as common as trying to reduplicate it with the letter chi. In short, for anyone who has observed from much reading of the Greek and Hebrew the flexible way in which names of all kinds are rendered into the former from the latter, the difference here is not necessarily significant. That was what I took to be the gist of your argument, namely, that because different renderings are commonplace, we can't necessarily make any hay off the difference here so as to posit two Rahabs from this variation alone. After all, there are a number of spelling variations between the genealogies in Matthew chapter one and Luke chapter three (it would be interesting to see how Luke would have spelled "Rahab"). Were I to venture a reason for the discrepancy here it would be to suggest that Matthew is trying to more closely duplicate the sound of the Hebrew original (which appears to happen at other places in his genealogy too, e.g., Boes vs. Boos and Salmon vs. Sala), while James and Paul have opted to go with the more traditional spelling of the name occurring in the LXX.

To the point of your request, I wouldn't necessarily include the above paragraph in an apologetic text if the recipient were open to the idea of the truth. When it comes to the issue of communication, simplification is usually a superior strategy to overly detailed argumentation.

Keep up the good work, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #35:

Hi Bob,

When Balaam goes with Balak's officials, it was because God told him to go, but then in the next verse God is angry with Balaam for going with them. Why is God angry at Balaam for obeying his command?

Response #35:

As I've written elsewhere: "God could have stopped Balaam from coming to Balak, but instead gave him a lot of latitude to figure it out for himself. And, truth be told, Balaam knew he shouldn't go, but was determined to get the money regardless of what God thought about it – and we see the end of this behavior very clearly". God telling somebody to go ahead and do something wrong which they've already decided they're going to do it regardless of God's opinion is just a way of Him preserving the person's free will to choose (since being addressed directly by God is a unique situation, after all).

You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?" But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, "Why have you made me like this?"
Romans 9:19-20 NKJV

We see this same sort of rationalization whenever people struggle with their consciences when presented with a temptation to which they would dearly love to succumb – and like Balaam often do. For Christians, the Holy Spirit does not pound on us whenever we are considering right and wrong; once we've decided to do wrong in spite of His still, small voice, He lets us proceed (free will); what the Lord did in speaking these words to Balaam amounts to the same thing because He had spoken audibly to Balaam so that without this "command" Balaam would never have been able to exert his free will and make the (horribly bad) choice he really wanted to make. So this is a good lesson for all of us to learn: the fact that God lets us do things even after we have been led by the Spirit to see that they are mistakes and/or wrong doesn't mean that should be emboldened by the fact that the pressure of is off – rather we should take a step back and get back into the will of God.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #36:

I guess what I'm wondering is why is it clear that Balaam was determined to do whatever he wanted to do when he said earlier that he wasn't going to do the deed if God said no.

Response #36:

He didn't mean it. He only said this because he was speaking with God – sort of like the way people say one thing to their significant other because they know the way he/she will react if they were to say "the other thing" . . . except of course that God knows all things.

Question #37:

Hi Bob,

Abimelek was crowned king by the "great tree" and Jotham gave his fable of the olive tree, fig tree, vine, and thornbush. Do you think this was deliberate on Jotham's part?

Sincerely,

Response #37:

It might have influenced his thinking in making up this story. Certainly something to point out if teaching this passage.

In Jesus our dear Savior and Lord,

Bob L.

Question #38:

Hi Bob,

This is a passage of Judges that I don't really understand. Everything is confusing, but one verse is more confusing than others: Judges 9:13 says that wine makes the gods (or God, depending on how you interpret the word elohim) happy. But I doubt that the angels drink wine.

Sincerely,

Response #38:

I'm sure that it wouldn't surprise you to learn that vines and trees et al. don't have such conversations either. Those of us in the western tradition are so well-familiar with the Fables of Aesop and like compositions that we are willing to accept this "parable" too uncritically if not careful. As in the case of the book of Acts where Luke under the inspiration of the Spirit correctly records what actually happens without endorsing it, so the author of Judges correctly reproduces what Jotham said to the men of Shechem. That does not mean that Jotham was given the details of this story by God or that the story/parable he tells is in itself divinely inspired (just because this is a parable recorded in the Bible does not give Jotham's words the authority of those of Jesus – obviously). God was certainly behind Jotham's protection, and he does seem to be given insight as to how things were going to play out – but given the nature of the world and the just desserts that fall upon the wicked disaster coming to evil-doers was a reasonable expectation. So this fable/parable is not divinely inspired. It is also quite different from anything else we find in the Bible. In His parables, our Lord Jesus never represents non-humans as speaking as if they were human – and I can't think of another biblical parallel (e.g., Balaam's donkey actually did speak). So I think the fact that pagan gods are described by the vine as delighting in its produce is the least of our problems, should we attempt to see more in this fable than is really there. I think we are right to conclude that the spiritual state of all involved was very low (cf. Jdg.17:6; 21:25).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #39:

Is Samuel a descendant of Elihu? (cf. 1 Samuel 1:1)

Response #39:

I am aware that in 1st Chronicles 6:34, Samuel's grandfather is called Eliel, whereas at 1st Samuel 1:1 he is called Elihu. These names are very similar, meaning "God is my God" and "He is my God" respectively (with the "He" in the second instance clearly being "God"). It is not uncommon for people in the Bible to be known by more than one name – that is true of a number of the disciples. Peter is known also as Simon, for example, and also Cephas. And Joshua's name in the Old Testament is alternatively spelled Yeshua and Yehoshua (a very similar case since these names mean "the Lord is salvation" and "the Lord, He is salvation" respectively). So while occasionally such differences may be the result of scribal confusion (all ancient texts have such "issues", after all, and all Bible scholars have to know something of the art and science of textual criticism in order to put the occasional textual error right), more often than not in such instances we have to do with alternative names. I am known to my friends as "Bob", but I am occasionally called "Robert", and in all legal documents my formal and "proper" name is used, often with my middle initial. Add to this the fact that our scruples about how one "ought" to construct a genealogy are not necessarily the same as the ones they operated under nearly three thousand years ago in Israel. It's the same person, that is to say, identified by an alternative name (or alternatively spelled variation).

Question #40:

Why was a Hittite in the army of David? (e.g. Uriah)

Response #40:

While the children of Israel were supposed to exterminate all of the Canaanites once they entered the land, they never came close to doing so, with the result that there were numerous enclaves of non-Jewish people still in the land in David's day (Jerusalem was a Hittite enclave before David captured it). There was intermarriage between the Jews and these people as well. We know, for example, that Ruth was one of David's ancestors, and she was a Moabite. Moreover, David's special royal bodyguard was composed of Philistines (i.e., the Cherthites and the Pelethites; cf. 2Sam.15:18). Uriah was not the only one of the thirty "mighty men" who was a foreigner: Zelek was an Ammonite (2Sam.23:37). When David was forced into the wilderness by Saul, we are told that a number of men gathered around him from all over (1Sam.22:2); this would have been a good opportunity for someone like Uriah with military talents to advance his career (though at a very great risk), and David no doubt was not in a position to prefer national or religious scruples over gaining a good soldier.

Question #41:

Hi Bob,

(1) Why was Solomon so insulted when Adonijah asked for his wife?

(2) Did Adonijah die?

Response #41:

Solomon was smart – smarter than I am for sure. It wouldn't necessarily have occurred to me – just like it didn't occur to Bathsheba – that Adonijah's motives in asking for Abishag as wife were ulterior in the extreme. And after all, if it were an obvious ploy Adonijah wouldn't have tried it. But Solomon understood instantly that this was an attempt by Adonijah to link himself to David as an equal (they would then both have "slept" with Abishag, even though David never had relations with her), and would give him an angle to begin undermining Solomon's authority going forward; if nothing else, this would have been seen upon reflection by those who preferred Adonijah as a sign of strength on his part an weakness on Solomon's part – and of stupidity. So I wouldn't say "insulted" is the right word. No king in consolidating his reign can allow outright resistance to endure, and conspiratorial resistance is even worse because it can grow and eat away at one's rule like a cancer. Adonijah would have become thereby the focal point for all opposition to Solomon's rule, and that could only be eradicated in the future by the same method actually employed here by Solomon – but with much more trouble and danger to the extent that Adonijah had strengthened his position. And if Solomon waited too long, conspiracy might break out into an open coup. By making this request, Adonijah made it very clear (to someone as bright as Solomon) that he didn't intend to go off and live a peaceful life – he intended to become king himself some day, one way or another. So, yes, Solomon had him executed, and justly so.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #42:

When you get a minute, can you give me your thoughts on

1. If you think king Manasseh was forgiven and saved

2. Why did God still punish Israel for the evil Manasseh did?

3. Scripture doesn't say anything about Solomon's repentance (if he did). Do you think he did, and that Ecclesiastes was his repentance? Do you think he was saved or do you think God rejected him forever as David said? The Lord was angry with Solomon.

Just finished reading through Samuel and Kings carefully.

Blessings,

Response #42:

Good to hear from you.

1) We are told that he did repent, that he did confess, that the Lord did accept his prayer, and that he did thereafter evidence "fruit worthy of repentance" (2Chron.33:12-16; cf. Lk.3:8; 2Chron.33:23). So, yes, he was forgiven and saved.

2) There are a number of passages which attribute the judgment upon Judah to king Manasseh specifically (2Ki.23:26; 24:3; Jer.15:4), but he had repented and changed his ways, and in the days before the judgment the Lord says over and over again in the prophets (specifically in Jeremiah) that if Israel would repent, He would relent. Therefore Manasseh – who did suffer terrible personal judgment for his sins – is a perfect paradigm for Israel, whether contemplating future judgment or looking back on previous judgment. God's policy is completely consistent: mercy on the repentant when they repent, judgment on the arrogant when they refuse to relent.

3) At Matthew 12:42 (Lk.11:31), our Lord mentions Himself as "greater than Solomon" in wisdom. It may not be definitive proof but this reference (and others in the NT) do not contemplate an unsaved Solomon – even if we have to do with a reverting-to-the-world-Solomon. Just how far he went down the wrong road (i.e., whether or not all the way to apostasy or alternatively the sin unto death), scripture does not say, nor whether or not he repented. The suggestion about Ecclesiastes is a good one, albeit necessarily speculative in the absence of scriptural proof. Both accounts of Solomon's death seem to fall into the category of "good king" rather than "apostate king" (1Ki.11:41-43; 2Chron.9:31), so based upon all scripture says I think there is no doubt that he will be in heaven (though whether he turned back to the Lord with all his heart in old age and whether or not Ecclesiastes reflects that – which it well may – I don't think we can say for sure).

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #43:

Thanks. Do you believe Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes? Many think a date around 300 BC instead of 900 or so.

Response #43:

Yes indeed I do. That is the traditional position, and there is no external evidence to suggest that it is not correct. The internal evidence, that is, what we may glean from what is said in the book, certainly points in that direction as well (e.g., Eccl.1:1; 12:9). Finally, the linguistic evidence seems to me to argue strongly for an earlier rather than a later date inasmuch as the Hebrew resembles that of the other wisdom books (Proverbs, Psalms, Song), and not so much the post-exilic Hebrew that became more and more influenced by Aramaic.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #44:

Hi Bob,

The repentance of Manasseh is perhaps my favorite story in the Bible. Not only did the most wicked apostate king that ever lived repented, but he became devoted to the worship of God and was included in the lineage of the Messiah.

I worship God because of his grace.

Response #44:

It is wonderful reminder that where there is life, there is still opportunity for repentance. Few people actually come to the Lord once they've gone down a dark path, but it does occasionally happen (one also thinks of Paul). Manasseh is a tribute to the grace and mercy of God – and we all need that grace and mercy.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #45:

Hi Bob,

In Hosea 1:4, God condemns Jehu for his slaughter as Jezreel. But in 2 Kings 9:7, it says that God commanded Jehu to exterminate the house of Ahab. Did God punish Jehu for following his explicit command?

Sincerely,

Response #45:

Jehu was zealous for the Lord when it came to destroying the house of Ahab and the prophets of Baal, it is clear, but one act of righteousness does not absolve a person prophylactically from any future rebellion against the Lord. I think the answer is to be found in this passage:

The LORD said to Jehu, "Because you have done well in accomplishing what is right in my eyes and have done to the house of Ahab all I had in mind to do, your descendants will sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation." Yet Jehu was not careful to keep the law of the LORD, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam, which he had caused Israel to commit.
2nd Kings 10:30-31

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #46:

Can you explain this passage?

"Then Elisha said, 'Hear the Word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord, "At this time tomorrow, a seah of flour for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel in the gate of Samaria"'. And the officer upon whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God and said, 'Behold, if the Lord were to make sluices in the heavens, could this thing come to pass?' And [Elisha] answered him, 'Behold, you are going to see [it] with your eyes, but you will not eat of it.'" (2 Kgs. 7:1-2)

Response #46:

This incident (2Ki.6:24 - 7:20) demonstrates a number of things: 1) God's protection of His people (this officer had been sent to threaten Elisha as somehow responsible for the famine because of his relationship with the Lord); 2) God's complete foreknowledge and direction of everything; 3) the unexpected nature of life from the worldly perspective – whereas from the godly one we don't have to worry about that at all since the Lord is our refuge; and 4) the just desserts of the wicked who won't believe that what the Lord says about their perilous future (near and long term) is absolutely true.

Hope in the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it. I have seen a wicked and ruthless man flourishing like a luxuriant native tree, but he soon passed away and was no more; though I looked for him, he could not be found. Consider the blameless, observe the upright; a future awaits those who seek peace. But all sinners will be destroyed; there will be no future for the wicked.
Psalm 37:34-38 NIV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #47:

Hi Bob,

Which James was present at the transfiguration? Was it the James that wrote the epistle or the other one?

Also, I've become convinced that when Paul talks of those who were "sawed in two," he is alluding to the martyrdom of Simon the Zealot.

Response #47:

The James of the transfiguration is the brother of John the apostle. The James of the epistle is one of Jesus' half-brothers.

Why do you think this is Simon? Most commentators refer this to a tradition about Isaiah. Also, the references and tenor of the chapter seems to require all of these individuals, named or unnamed, to be mentioned in the Old Testament. I'm not sure anyone can say for certain.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #48:

Hi Bob,

I thought it was Simon because I was unaware of the tradition of Isaiah's death, so I figured that the only other reference could have been Simon's death.

Response #48:

It is one of the later traditions about Simon's death and martyrdom.

I don't think we can say for sure one way or the other to whom Paul is referring in Hebrews. It's also possible he has more than one person in mind ("they" is the verbal pronoun in context).

Yours in our dear Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #49:

Hi Bob,

Who was Darius the Mede?

Sincerely,

Response #49:

Hope you are doing well, my friend. I'm keeping you in my prayers daily.

Darius the Mede was the governor of Babylon, no doubt appointed by Cyrus the Great – who was a Persian and not to be confused or conflated with king Cyrus (as some have tried to do). As far as I am aware, all we know about this individual is what is recorded in the book of Daniel (unless he is one and the same with Gobryas; see the link).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #50:

Hi Bob,

Do we know more about the conditions surrounding the rebuilding of Jericho?

I was unable to hold my job, and I have the flu (as of writing), and a very disrupted sleep cycle. Things got better and worse in different ways. I believe that the Lord will deliver me through it all.

Sincerely,

Response #50:

We don't know much more than what is found in scripture. Archeology detects a massive destruction of the early site in what I would deem close enough proximity to the biblical record to be the one in Joshua. Apparently there was a NT "Jericho" founded by Herod the Great different from the one destroyed and then rebuilt in OT times (and then perhaps destroyed again by the Babylonians [?]); with scholars assigning these places to different tels in the neighborhood (although this is also an archeological "thing" so to be taken with at least a grain of salt). In my opinion, the curse had to do with the walls – since Jericho itself apparently continued to be inhabited before the "re-founding" (cf. Josh.18:21; 2Sam.10:5).

I'm sorry to hear about your job, but since it wasn't ideal, perhaps this is because the Lord has something better for you. I do pray for your recovery of health in every way, and I am confident that the Lord will be with you to "will and to do" once you are back on your feet and able to "go forth with vigor". I appreciate your good witness in relying on Him.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #51:

Did the people of Sodom rebuke Lot for his hypocrisy in Genesis 19:1-9 since he told them to not rape the visitors but he was living among them?

Response #51:

Despite moving to Sodom, and despite the fact that the people there were only still there because Lot's uncle, Abraham, had rescued them after being captured by the invading army, they were even so evil, ungrateful, sinful, and unwilling to allow Lot to provide the basic hospitality than anyone in the ancient world who was of any decency would provide. Just desserts, is the phrase which comes to mind.

Question #52:

Where Is the Land of Uz?

Response #52:

Exact location unknown, but perhaps we can speculate from the collocation of the name in Genesis with other peoples close to NW Palestine and the fact that Job's three friends are also apparently from these neighboring peoples. Today that would put Uz somewhere in the desert (though not a desert in Job's time, e.g.) of southern Syria, eastern Iraq, western Jordan, and/or northern Saudi Arabia (best guess).

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #53:

What about this verse in Lamentations?

"Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz" (Lamentation 4:21)

Response #53:

Edom is roughly contiguous with eastern Jordan, so this fits the previous profile. Edom's territorial dominance ebbed and flowed over time. Note that "land of Uz" here is not Edom but somebody else' land. At this particular point that is, prior to the Babylonian invasion, Edom had apparently usurped the territory of Uz at least in part – just as Israel had control over the Philistine coast from time to time and the Philistines likewise of Israeli territory; and just as Israel had control of much of Syria at one time and Syria likewise later over that of the northern kingdom.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #54:

"Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!" (Psalm 120:5)

I don't understand this verse very well. Can you help me? What is the significance of these two towns/nations that the psalmist feels the need to associate them with the liars in the first half of the stanza?

Response #54:

These are both gentile nations of course, Meshech being Japhetic and situated in the far north, Kedar being Semitic (of Ishmael) and situated in the remote desert country east of Palestine. There is no way a person could literally be in both places at once; but by using these two places which exemplify very far removed gentiles the Psalmist conveys his sense of isolation based on the unloving and non-brotherly actions of his fellow Jews among whom he lives. He feels estranged living in his own land – as if he were in Meshech or Kedar – because those who surround him are not really believers acting in the brotherly way believers should act but more like remote gentiles. So this Psalm exemplifies the principle that Israel, which should have been a nation consisting only of believers who were actively seeking the Lord, was often anything but.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #55:

Hi Bob,

In the Pentateuch, a scarlet cloth item called in Hebrew "sheni tola'at" - literally "crimson of the worm" - is described as being used in purification ceremonies. Do you think the ancient Hebrew people knew of silk, which was only a Chinese product? Well, that is, until the famous smuggling of silk eggs by the Byzantine monks.

Sincerely,

Response #55:

Apologies for the delay. Difficult week and weekend.

On your question, while I wouldn't rule it out (שֵׁשׁ is sometimes translated "silk"; and cf. Is.49:12 "the land of Siyniym", סִינִים, sometimes identified as China), the phrase you ask about is referencing scarlet dye derived from a particular worm (analogous to the purple dye of Tyre derived from the murex mollusk).

Hope you are getting on well, my friend. I'm keeping you in my prayers.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #56:

Hi Bob,

"Some came from Ephraim, whose roots were in Amalek; Benjamin was with the people who followed you." (Judges 5:14)

Amalek was the worst nation of all of them, yet some of their descendants fought for the Lord.

Response #56:

This refers to their territory only, originally belonging to Amalek (Judg.12:15). This is poetry; in prose we might expect "whose roots are in [the territory previously belonging to] Amalek".

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #57:

Is Isaiah 18:2 about Babylon or Cush?

"Which sends envoys by the sea, Even in papyrus vessels on the surface of the waters. Go, swift messengers, to a nation tall and smooth, To a people feared far and wide, A powerful and oppressive nation Whose land the rivers divide." (Isaiah 18:2)

Response #57:

As mentioned in SR 1, commentators . . .

. . . often fail to take into account that the mention of "Cush" (Gen.2:14) can be (and most probably is) a reference to the land of the Kassites (modern day southern Iraq),(22): cf. 2Chron.20:16; Nimrod, son of Cush, operates in Babylonia, not Ethiopia. See "The Rivers of Paradise," by E.A. Speiser, in Festschrift Johannes Friedrich (Heidelberg 1958) 473-485.

I think the references to papyrus and rivers makes it likely that Cush here in Isaiah 18:2 is Babylon / Mesopotamia, not Ethiopia.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #58:

Hi Bob,

This verse in Ezekiel gives me a lot of trouble:

"On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of Egypt into a land I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most beautiful of all lands." (Ezekiel 20:6)

I think the pacific northwest is more beautiful than Israel. A good portion of Israel is ugly desert, for one. Was Israel more fertile/green in the days Ezekiel wrote this?

Sincerely,

Response #58:

I've never been to "the land" myself personally. I grew up in the Midwest and loved all things green. When I first set foot in California as a newly minted 2nd Lieutenant, I thought it was ugly – brown and dry. Over time, I came to think of it as the most beautiful place in the world. Imagine the millennial Israel with its deserts blooming like a crocus in accordance with all the wonderful prophesies about it. I'm sure it will appear the most beautiful place in the eyes of all who are blessed to journey there – and not least because it will be the residence of the most beautiful One, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In Him,

Bob L.

 

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