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Old Testament Interpretation II:

Urim and Thummim, the Bronze Serpent, the Ark, et al.

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Question #1:

Dear Dr. Luginbill,

Thank you for your in depth responses! They are greatly appreciated. My latest question revolves around Urim, Thummim, and the casting of lots (to discern God's answer to a question) in the Old Testament. Does the Bible provide any indication as to why God chose to communicate with priests and various biblical characters in this manner? It seems as though they were mentioned a few times (initially in Exodus, I believe), however, their utilization method seems mysterious. Do you have any insight on this? Thank you very much for sharing the wisdom with which God has blessed you!

In Christ,

Response #1:

You are certainly welcome. This is a much debated issue since, as you correctly surmise, scripture never gives us a direct and detailed explanation, leaving us to deduce these matters from the narrative where these things are discussed. In my estimation, the phrase urim and thummim refers to two prominent onyx stones which were placed on the high-priest's ephod (in addition to the panel of twelve gemstones representing the tribes of Israel). The two words ought to mean "lights and perfections" respectively. Exodus 25:7 mentions onyx stones particularly as necessary for the breastplate (cf. Ex.35:9). Further, after already speaking about the twelve gemstones, Exodus 28:30 then says "Also put the Urim and the Thummim in the breast-piece". In my view these would be the stones on the shoulder pieces which are an essential part of the ephod/breastplate:

"Take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel in the order of their birth--six names on one stone and the remaining six on the other. Engrave the names of the sons of Israel on the two stones the way a gem cutter engraves a seal. Then mount the stones in gold filigree settings and fasten them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel. Aaron is to bear the names on his shoulders as a memorial before the LORD."
Exodus 28:9-12

This ephod/breastplate is "for making decisions" (Ex.28:15). It has been proposed and I would agree that when the question was "which tribe?", the answer came through the Lord illuminating the appropriate gemstone. When, however, it was a question of "yes or no", the urim and thummim came into play. Whether this happened through right = yes; left = no; or vice versa, or "one" for yes and "two" for no; or vice versa (the first is the most likely in my view), we can't really say.

The Israelites went up to Bethel and inquired of God. They said, "Who of us shall go first to fight against the Benjamites?" The LORD replied, "Judah shall go first."
Judges 20:18 NIV

David said, "O LORD, God of Israel, your servant has heard definitely that Saul plans to come to Keilah and destroy the town on account of me. Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me to him? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O LORD, God of Israel, tell your servant." And the LORD said, "He will."
1st Samuel 23:10-11

The first passage above would be an example of the Lord causing one of the tribal gemstones to illuminate, the latter an example of the Lord causing the "yes" onyx stone to illuminate. Finally, as to the names, which as I say ought to mean "lights and perfections", this is a hendiadys of the sort we see with the two pillars of Solomon's temple: Boaz and Jachin significant names of significant symbolism (see the link), but functionally similar and both vitally necessary: they are lights, and together they give a perfect answer from God. So "lights and perfections" = "the lights which [together] give the perfect answer".

Therefore Saul said unto Jehovah, the God of Israel, Show the right (Heb. thumim). And Jonathan and Saul were taken [by lot = consulting the ephod]; but the people escaped.
1st Samuel 14:41 ASV

Hope this helps!

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Hello again Dr Luginbill. I hope and pray you are doing well.

I was wondering about Numbers 21:4-9. Why did God command Moses to use the bronzed serpent as a way to save Israel at the time? With most connections to serpents being evil, I just wonder why God would choose this method.

At the heart of the matter, why is it that the majority of mankind does not want to love the God that made them? How can they not be the least bit interested in who gave them life and why they are here?

Thank you in advance

Response #2:

Hello Friend,

Always good to hear from you thank you very much for your prayers!

As to your first question, my understanding of this is that the pole represents the cross and that the serpent represents the collective sin of mankind (which came about originally via the deception of the serpent, really the one possessing him, the "serpent" Satan). So the symbolism would be of God providing a means to be forgiven (looking at the symbol He provides representing having faith in the One He provides and His work Jesus Christ), and that means being the bearing of all sin (represented by the bronze serpent) on the cross (represented by the pole). Bronze always speaks of judgment (cf. the brazen altar where the sacrifices were immolated), so that is an additional factor here. So someone who has a fatal problem (representing all human beings who are mortal and sinful and have no way to be saved without God's gracious intervention), looks to God for the solution (viewing the bronze symbol representing faith), and is healed (saved from sin), through responding to and accepting the substitute God has provided (representing Christ being judged for us all and bearing all of the sins of the world).

As far as why human beings are so ungrateful, all I can say is that this is a matter of personal choice. Satan was made to be the most beautiful, most powerful, most influential, and most privileged creature in the universe, but instead of being thankful to God for His grace, he rebelled against Him and has been trying to replace Him ever since. I think it is fair to say that if Satan had it in his power to kick God out of the universe (a ridiculous notion, of course, since time and space only have their continued existence through our Lord's conscious maintenance of the cosmos: Col.1:17), he would do so. That is just how it is with unbelievers. They like what God has given them; but they are in no way grateful to Him and want absolutely no part of Him, and they certainly don't want to be "controlled" by Him or to cede to Him the tiniest measure of their free will, even though the consequences of such arrogance are eternal and enormous. Once this decision has been made and attitudes harden, all sorts of degeneration and further hardness follow.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Romans 1:21

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Why were cherubim on the covenant of the ark? Why does God dwell between them?

Thanks again so much

Response #3:

Cherubs attend the Father and His throne (as a sort of "royal bodyguard"; e.g., Rev.4:6-9). The ark is a representation of the throne of God the Father, and we know (from Rev.4-5, for example) that these cherubs surround His throne so that it is good and proper to represent them on the mercy seat of the ark which constitute a representation of that throne (see the link).

Question #4:

Regarding the cherubs from 2 Chronicles 3:10, could you explain how do we know they face north and south?

Response #4:

As to the orientation of the cherubs, the temple itself is oriented east to west with Solomon's added cherubs on the west interior wall. The orientation of the ark has often been misunderstood, but it was positioned length-wise with its long access was parallel to the long access of the temple. The two cherubs on the mercy seat were on the outsides of the cover (otherwise they would have obscured the view of the "chariot" ark and also would have prevented the high priest from directly pouring out the blood on the Day of Atonement). So the two cherubs on top of the ark face each other north and south, while the two on the back wall represent the east-west looking cherubs (in accordance with the 3-D representational convention of the time). Here are some links on all this:

The Cherubim


The faces of the cherubim

The Four Living Creatures (in CT 2B)

The Ark of the Covenant

The Appearance of the Ark

Questions about the Ark of the Covenant

The Earthly Tabernacle and Temple as a Type of the Heavenly Temple

Question #5:

What is the meaning of Ecclesiastes 11:4?

He who observes the wind will not sow, And he who regards the clouds will not reap.

Response #5:

I take Ecclesiastes 11:4 to be a truism that if a person is fixated on waiting until everything is 100% absolutely "right", that person will end up never doing anything at all. As Napoleon is famously recorded as saying, in order to make an omelet, one has to break some eggs. To use a personal example, if I had been inclined to wait until everything was absolutely "favorable" before getting on with the preparation for this ministry many years ago, I might have served out my 20 years in the Marine Corps (or more) in order to retire with a nice pension so as to have no economic difficulties in what was sure to be a long dry period. I didn't do so, and, even though things have been more dry than wet ever since, I don't regret it a bit. Life is uncertain. We have to trust the Lord that if we are willing to do the right thing, He will take care of the rest, even it means holding us up on the water in the midst of a stormy sea. Nothing is impossible for Him.

Question #6:

A question regarding 2 Samuel 24:1: Now again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and it incited David against them to say, " Go, number Israel and Judah."

What is meant by 'it' in 'and it incited David against them to say'? Is it the anger of the Lord?

Response #6:

On 2nd Samuel 24:1, in the Hebrew here is no difference between masculine and neuter 3rd singular verb forms. Most versions have "He" instead of "it", but your version probably has "it" to avoid saying that the Lord "incited David". I suppose that is understandable since the companion passage, 1st Chronicles 21:1, has Satan as the one who incited David to conduct this ill-conceived census. While it is true that the text of Samuel is the most problematic in all of the Old Testament, the fact that the verse leads off with the Lord's anger makes it difficult to make an argument that the word 'Satan' has fallen out here as the true subject. Translating "it" is an unhelpful way to avoid the issue, in my view. Passages such as 1st Kings 22:19-23 make it clear that the Lord uses everything in His creation to carry out His perfect and complete plan, and that includes the actions of the evil one and his minions. So while there is an apparent contradiction between the two passages there is no actual one.

Question #7:

What then would in your view be the best way to render the passage so as to prevent the reader from thinking that it's the anger of the Lord that incites David to number Israel (as I now assume it's Satan, if I understood you correctly)? Also, why is text of Samuel problematic?

Response #7:

I like NIV: "Again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, "Go and take a census of Israel and Judah." The confusion comes when people are not taught about these matters in a doctrinal way. I would rather translate correctly and explain what is going on, than "fudge" the translation. The latter was the historical R.C. position: "better for people not to have Bibles" but that is a sure path to spiritual oblivion.

On the text of Samuel, we don't know why it has such "issues" (the textual history of the various books is not something about which we have much information), but it is a fact that there are more problematic readings in Samuel than in any other OT book. That is to say, any ancient manuscript or text tradition will have its problems, some more than others. The number of times we are led to question and consider emending the text in, say, the book of Genesis, is much less frequent than in the book(s) of Samuel. There are places where the text as it stands probably cannot be correct so that it is standard practice to emend it (e.g., 1Sam.13:1). Happily, even here this is a 1% situation wherein no serious doctrinal issues are affected, so that prepared men with the proper tools and sufficient thoughtful consideration can easily bridge this gap.

Question #8:

Regarding 2 Samuel 24:1: Is my understanding of you wrote correct here: God was angry with David, but it's Satan who tempted David to complete the census. So God was angry and allowed Satan to tempt David to complete the census. Is this correct? If so, my questions:

I) How do we know for certain that the book is canonical?

II) What is the basis for the emending of the text and when is it legitimately done (since God inspired the Bible)?

Response #8:

God was "angry with Israel", so this census, instigated by the devil, was merely the means God allowed to bring on the judgment that Israel in general had earned (please see the link: "The Lord's Employment of Evil Spirits"). If the nation had been walking as righteously as David, no doubt the Lord would have prevented the evil one from this course of action or else would have restrained David from carrying out this mistaken census. As to your further questions:

I) First, tradition: the book occurs in every manuscript tradition and translation, and is considered canonical by every test of inclusion ever devised in Church history. Second, the book is consistent with scripture in all places and in every respect (apocryphal material is always clearly lacking in this regard). Third, the book reads as biblical (the internal test). Fourth, the book is quoted as scripture elsewhere in the Bible (e.g., at Acts 13:22; 2Cor.6:18 [twice]; Heb.1:5; Rom.15:9). So, in my view, there is absolutely no doubt about the canonicity of Samuel.

II) Textual criticism is as much an art as it is a science. When there is a specific problem in a manuscript, that has to be taken into account in proper exegesis by weighing all witnesses to the original text. So we are really never "emending the text"; we are always trying to answer the question "what was the original text?". None of the autographs (i.e., the texts actually penned at the time by the original authors) exists today. What we possess today are witnesses to those original documents. Since even at the time it was clear to all writers of scripture that the Spirit was using them to write scripture, these documents have always been given a very great degree of respect and care and unquestionably the Lord has superintended the process of the survival of a bountiful store of witnesses to these original documents, more than enough to put the issue of specific questions to rest in the vast majority of cases for anyone who has looked into these matters systematically. Naturally, since these books of the Bible have different dates and provenances, and were not compiled into a single large codex/book until many years later (in the case of the Old Testament), there will be relatively better and relatively "worse" preserved books. I qualify "worse" since even in the case of Samuel, the most "challenged" text, we are talking about a very small percentage of the book where we are not supremely confident of the original reading. But there are places where it is fairly clear that there have been problems with the transmission, and in those instances we have to consider all the evidence in order to come up with the correct reading. In my view, this does not challenge the truth of inspiration; rather it confirms it. The fact that the Bible alone of all ancient manuscripts is so close to being nearly 100% complete and an absolutely clear and faithful reflection of its original form, and that even in those few cases where there are problems these can actually be worked out with confidence (based upon the plethora of witnesses and the internal consistencies of scripture), is nothing short of a miracle in my view. But it is true that it is the original document which is inspired. All we are trying to do in our textual work is to get back to that original so as to teach the truth of the Word of God aright.

Question #9:

You wrote: As to the 273, sometimes odd numbers like this don't mean anything of significance. I am not saying that is definitely the case here, only that I know of no obvious significance to this number. One can speculate. I would not be surprised to find something like "273 is the product of the numbers 13 x 7 x 3 which would represent the thirteen tribes including the Levites, multiplied by the number of perfection and the number of the Trinity" . . . but I don't find this convincing. We can think about it.

So should we just read that God knew the exact number of 'the firstborn who are in excess of the Levites' and wanted ransom for them (with the number possibly being of no significance)?

Also, what is meant by ' the firstborn of the sons of Israel who are in excess beyond the Levites'?

Response #9:

That would be my "default". Sometimes these numbers are significant. It's just that over the millennia the number of ludicrous interpretations suggesting significance where there is none (or the wrong meaning where there is some) have done much damage to biblical interpretation. If one becomes enamored of this sort of thing, then allegory, kabbalah, and "Bible codes" are usually the next step. So I try to maintain some reserve on this sort of thing.

The "ones remaining" are the shortfall in the number of the Levites as compared to the number of the firstborn males from the rest of Israel. All the firstborn belong to the Lord, and the Lord took the Levites to be His special possession in place of the other firstborn but 273 were still needed to make up that number, and this deficit was made good by a redemption payment instead.

The teaching of necessary redemption through this command is very important. Everyone has to pay the same, rich or poor representing the Messiah's sacrifice for the sin of the world, the only redemption price that the Father will accept. "Numbering" is symbolic of God's judgment of all of us after death, so that no one who has not been "paid for" will be able to stand before Him. This, by the way, is one reason why David's unauthorized census was such a sin: it called down premature divine evaluation absent atonement something no one can stand.

Question #10:

What does 'Selah' from the Psalms mean?

Response #10:

Selah is much debated. Most take it as a musical pause with the translation "rest"; that works nicely in most of the Psalms where it occurs from a theological point of view as well.

Question #11:

Regarding Isaiah 53 I asked about what is meant by 'His posterity'? You wrote: Jesus had no children, and hence no inheritance in Israel, something extremely important to the entire Jewish nation ever since Abraham (cf. the Levirate marriage rule), and a measure of the intensity of the appalling loss He incurred. Of course our Lord has in fact through the cross won "the Name which is above every name", and has won us, the Church, His Bride, as well.

How should we understand 'His posterity' then? Why do you explain our Lord's rulership with reference to the cross, if what is Father's was His from eternity past?

Response #11:

Posterity means offspring which our Lord, being single, did not have. Viewing Him as suffering and dying on the cross would cause any sympathetic person of that day to lament the fact that He had no heir. This is another measure of our Lord's suffering and self-sacrifice.

Question #12:

One more question on 'posterity' from Isaiah 53 - would you say it could be understood in the sense of our Lord's disciples and followers?

Response #12:

Yes. Compare:

But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, "Who is My mother and who are My brothers?" And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, "Behold My mother and My brothers! "For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother."
Matthew 12:48-40 NASB

So while from the human point of view the Messiah was "cut off" without offspring, from the spiritual point of view He has won the Bride.

(12) Therefore I will allot to Him [the plunder] among [His] many [brothers], and He will apportion plunder to the mighty [among them].
Isaiah 53:12a

And the same principle holds true for us as well, even though we may leave no physical seed:

"I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields--and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life."
Mark 10:29-30 NIV

Question #13:

I had one more question about the Old Testament forbidding the drinking of blood. I was wondering, what if the blood was your own? I don't mean in an actual drinking sense but, say, from a scratch or cut. Does this count? Would this still be a sin?

I hope to hear from you soon.

Response #13:

The prohibitions against drinking blood are made in scripture because blood represents life. The sacrifice of Christ is represented in Mosaic (and prior) animal sacrifice by literal animal blood. So by drinking the blood of slaughtered animals instead of considering it holy, a person is demeaning the work of Christ. The symbolism is the important thing here. The things you mention don't appear to me to fall into this category.

Question #14:

The Amplified bible uses the phrase "living creature" to describe the serpent in Genesis 3. Is this reference to a living creature the same type of living creature in Revelation?

Response #14:

In Hebrew the word at Genesis 3:1 is nachash, and the word means "serpent" or "snake". It is a very specific word and does not mean "living creature" in a generic sense. The latter is what we do find in Revelation (where the term refers to the cherubs, and is no doubt employed because of the special appearance of their faces). I do not know why the Amplified Bible translates in this incorrect way. My suspicion would be that it does so in order to allow for the wildly erroneous but very popular false theory that the snake was really not a snake literally but only so metaphorically (i.e., that it was really Satan instead of an actual snake possessed by Satan though in truth the passage is very clear that this was an actual snake). See the link: "The Genesis Serpent".

Question #15:

Dear Bob,

Awhile ago I just finished Judges, and I must admit as to being confused by the last three chapters of it. A lot went on in those last three chapters, and I could use a little bit more background on what was going on during those times, if that's alright to ask?

1) The Levite And his Concubine

- Why did the people of the town of Gibeah want to have 'relations' with the Levite man? This reminds me of Sodom and Gomorrah.

- Why did the those men abuse her all night?

- Was she still alive when she reached the doorway, or was she already dead? Did the Levite kill her and lie about it or was his story true? I'm probably most confused about this.

2) The War with Benjamin

- Why did the other tribes of Israel go to war with Benjamin? Had they fallen into sin like the people of Sodom?

- Was the entire tribe at fault, even the nearby towns and villages? I thought the rapists were only a few troublemakers?

- Why did Israel attack the town of Jabesh-Gilead? They mentioned them not participating at the assembly at that time, so were they sinners?

- And when they did take enough women from the town, Israel let the remaining men of Benjamin take some women from Shiloh during a celebration. Why would they allow this?

I hope to hear from you about this.

Response #15:

Always good to hear from you, my friend.

Let me answer your questions this way. I take the descriptions in Judges you ask about literally and at face value. Clearly, much went on in these chapters (and elsewhere in the book) that would disturb any person who is trying to live a good and godly Christian life. But as 21st century citizens of a very sick world, it is not as if we are unacquainted with all manner of horrible events. Here is how this section book of Judges begins and ends: "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit" (Judg.17:6; 21:25). So the Bible anticipates that we will find all this disturbing and outrageous, and that we will find few actions taken by anyone here which seem to comport well with scriptural standards. Just as the book of Ecclesiastes gives us a way of looking at the world from the human viewpoint apart from God (and is correct from that viewpoint so that we who have a different one, a divine one, may benefit from the comparison), so this section of the book of Judges gives us a way of looking at the world on the part of people who, whether they are believers or not, are not walking with God and as a result have all sorts of strange and un-sanctified attitudes and behaviors (so that we who have learned something of what God thinks about such things can benefit from the negative comparison). So the lesson is not that we should attempt to rationalize, reconcile or even try to understand why these people did what they did. Far from it. We are meant to be appalled (both by the truly evil and their opposites who also act in bizarre and sometimes outrageous ways), and to take the lesson that but for the knowledge of the truth we believe, we too might fall into all sorts of abominable behavior even though it would be different from this behavior, it would likely be just as alienated from God and His truth if we, as was the case with almost everyone in the entire era of the Judges, were likewise spurning the Word of God and doing instead "as we saw fit".

When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel. Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals; and they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them; and they provoked the LORD to anger. They forsook the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel. So He delivered them into the hands of plunderers who despoiled them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. Wherever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for calamity, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn to them. And they were greatly distressed. Nevertheless, the LORD raised up judges who delivered them out of the hand of those who plundered them. Yet they would not listen to their judges, but they played the harlot with other gods, and bowed down to them. They turned quickly from the way in which their fathers walked, in obeying the commandments of the LORD; they did not do so. And when the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed them and harassed them. And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they reverted and behaved more corruptly than their fathers, by following other gods, to serve them and bow down to them. They did not cease from their own doings nor from their stubborn way.
Judges 2:11-19 NKJV

Sound familiar?

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:


I never thought of it that way: I forgot all scripture is meant to teach, especially those which tell of the seemingly horrible events and actions of people. I kept on wondering why, but didn't take into account the first and last thing said in each chapter that at the time the land was without kings, and men did as they pleased. This does answer most of my questions, though I am still confused by the fate of the concubine: was she dead at the doorway, or did her Levite husband kill her when he cut her up? I only wished to knew because scripture doesn't state quite clearly which is which, although the NLT does refer to her as a 'body' rather than a 'woman' when you get to the part where he took a knife to divide her.

One more quick question: what's your opinion of the New King James version, when compared to the NASB, NLT, and KJV?

Response #16:

I think it's pretty clear from the context that the woman had died first.

As to the NKJV, yes, it's a good version. I would say it is an improvement on the KJV because it is much more readable but preserves the essential style and translations of the KJV although I have come across some instances where the NKJV makes substantive changes . . . and not always for the better at that. I have had good things to say about NASB, and will stick by most of them, but I have been reading Psalms in that version of late and I have to say that they have done a very poor job of that book, making some of the Psalms almost unreadable in their attempt at being overly "literal". If it doesn't make any sense in English when it makes perfect sense in Hebrew that is clearly a problem.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hello Sir,

How are you today? Do these verses apply to "Israel"? Could a Nazirite eat honey?

Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion's carcass, and in it he saw a swarm of bees and some honey. He scooped out the honey with his hands and ate as he went along.

He replied, "Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet."

Thanks a lot Sir

In Him,

Response #17:

This is an excellent point. I have never noticed this before and most commentators pass over the issue too. Unger points out that touching the dead carcass was also a violation of the rules for the Nazarite given in the book of Numbers. Despite the apologies of the commentaries that do deal with the issue, it seems clear to me that this was a mistake, one of many that Samson made (clearly). After all, there is much about his conduct that while not particularly mentioned as wrong or questionable for a Nazarite would have been wrong or questionable for anyone. By the time he is shorn by Delila, he has already wandered far from the Lord in many respects.

I suppose it all goes to show that for anyone who stops following the Lord closely, the first violation and the first couple of mistakes which are not corrected will not necessarily lead to immediate and catastrophic trouble. But if a person continues to estrange him/herself from Jesus, the day of reckoning will eventually come.

Everyone has to figure out what their own spiritual gifts are, but you continue to show me a lot in the area of analyzing scripture. Perhaps the Lord has it in mind for you to be a teacher of His Word some day.

In anticipation of all of the wonders to come, the resurrection, the reward, the reunion with all who love Jesus, and eternal life with Him.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Hello Dr.,

I just love to know the deeper meaning. This is one of the reason why I spend a lot of time on your website. I really have no idea what my spiritual gift is. I definitely can't be a full fledged teacher like you. I can help one willing learner at a time, that too face to face, to understand a few basic things. I am not very articulate, and sometimes this weakness frustrates me a lot. There was a time when I was "brilliant" and very witty. But now I am mentally and physically very tired.

I definitely want to do the work that Jesus has planned for me. My spirit is willing but my flesh has become very weak.

Thanks for everything Sir,

In Him,

Response #18:

You have a large load on your shoulders, my friend, but the Lord is capable of lightening it and putting a new one on there as well. He will let you know the time and the place. One on one is not a bad way to encourage and lead others forward, especially in the promulgation of the gospel. We do what we can with what we have where we are and leave it to Jesus to change the times and places and circumstances.

We will get plenty of rest on the other side!

Your friend in carrying the load for Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

The Hebrew word transliterated as Ichabod is decomposed as אי and כבוד which is interpreted in 1 Samuel 4:21 as meaning "no glory". However, the usage of the vowel [i] as a negation particle does not occur anywhere else in Hebrew (that I am aware of), and is prevalent in nearby Greek and Latin.

Is this evidence that Ichabod is a Greek/Latin loanword? And if so, then is 1 Samuel 4 much newer than the rest of Samuel?


PS: I am well aware that כבוד is not of Indo-European origin, and when I ask whether "Ichabod" is a Greek/Latin loanword, I really mean whether "Ichabod" is a Latin-Semitic amalgamation.

Response #19:

I'm not aware of anything like that (and nothing is "ringing a bell). BDB has אי as a negative particle with attestation in Rabbinic Hebrew, Phoenician, and Ethiopian. The particle also means "alas" and that would yield a good meaning too ("alas for the glory!"). Finally, the consonants are consistent with the prefix being from the Grundform of the word "where", so that in my opinion "where is the glory?" might also be possible (given the liberties taken in name-forms with the vocalization).

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Hello Dr Luginbill, I pray you are doing better and that you are using these difficult situation as God sees fit.

There are a few questions I hope u can help me with.

Why was a ram sacrificed after Abraham past his test to sacrifice Isaac?

Response #20:

Dear Friend,

Good to hear from you as always. Thanks so much for your prayers! God is faithful, and I wait on His deliverance day by day. As to your questions:

The sacrifice of the ram completes the typology. The ram represents Christ's sacrifice as our Substitute for sin. The only reason that Isaac (or anyone) could be delivered from judgment and death is because Someone else paid the price. Before the cross, it was important that this truth be illustrated in the most graphic way, by blood sacrifice. Blessedly, today we see Jesus as the One who stood behind all of those shadows.

For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
1st Corinthians 5:7b NKJV

Question #21:

What tribe was Elijah from?

Response #21:

Jewish tradition has Elijah being from either Gad, Benjamin, or Levi. He is described in scripture as "the Tishbite", which may refer to the town of Tishbe which was a village in Gilead according to 1st Kings 17:1 (and Gilead belonged to the tribes of Gad and Reuben, with, of course, some towns and territories having been given to the Levites; but on that cf. 2Chron.11:13-17). There is also a scholarly opinion that he may have been from Naphtali and a similarly named village there, but I can't square that with 1Kng.17:1. In my opinion, Gad is the most likely answer, but we do not know for certain.

Question #22:

Have you considered publishing a revision of the Bible with study notes? Our society seems to be too liberal and compromising as time passes. It is hard to find good conservative teaching.

Response #22:

I certainly agree with you on the last point! However, I'm not in any sort of position to do a Bible translation or a full Bible commentary with notes. We all have our gifts and our ministries (and resources), and this is not something to which I feel I have been called (either, let alone both, would be such a mammoth project so as to knock out anything else I'm doing even if I did not have the necessity of working full time). But I certainly appreciate your vote of confidence!

Question #23:

What is the meaning of El in Hebrew? as in Micha-el, Gabri-el, Dani-el?

Thanks again.

2 Timothy 3:12

Response #23:

'El in Hebrew means "God" (or "god"); it's plural is 'Elohiym, and, outside of proper names where the short-form is used (as in the examples you mention) and where conciseness is a virtue, this plural form is most often the way God, meaning our God, is described in scripture, with 'el sometimes referring to pagan gods. However, the short or rather singular form is also often used of our God in poetry (compare Yah used in poetic contexts instead of the full form Yaweh). 'El means literally "might one", and so is also sometimes used of angels, and occasionally also of human beings (famously Ps.82:6 quoted and applied by our Lord at John 10:34).

Hope this helps! Keep running the good race of faith in Jesus Christ!

Bob L.

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