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Question #1:

Yet You, O Lord, know
All their deadly designs against me;
Do not forgive their iniquity
Or blot out their sin from Your sight.
But may they be overthrown before You;
Deal with them in the time of Your anger!
Jeremiah 18:23 (NASB)

What is your take on the interpretation given here by Keil and Delitzsch? Are Jeremiah’s words to be taken as spoken “from the pure spring of a zeal”, but not actually being a prayer inspired by God? This is an interpretation that many commentators take here and I’m not sure if it’s correct or not. There are some prayers recorded in the book of Jeremiah which do flow from his own heart (Jeremiah 12:1-6, 15:15-18) and display, for example, his doubts about God’s plan and His faithfulness, like Jeremiah 15:18. We have discussed the imprecatory Psalms and I wonder if the same principles apply here, or are we dealing with a prayer that is actually not inspired by the Holy Spirit. There seems to be at least some merit in the explanations by Hitzig: "The various curses which in his bitter indignation he directs against his enemies are at bottom but the expression of the thought: Now may all that befall them which I sought to avert from them"; and the Hirschberg Bible: "It is no prayer of carnal vengeance against those that hated him".

Response #1:

This is part of scripture and so it is inspired. Jeremiah is writing as a prophet, so I think that it is very dangerous to want to eject this passage from consideration as is, especially when it is completely consonant with other imprecatory passages. I don't see this as any different from any of the imprecatory Psalms wherein we have a prophet writing an inspired curse which hands the matter over to the Lord and thus is the opposite of taking things into one's own hands. For the rest of us who are not inspired to say such things, we best not say such things. But we can read these passages and take comfort in the justice of God which has commissioned such prayers and know that any and all who have unjustly attacked us will suffer the consequences of the justice of God – if only we stay out of it:

If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.
Romans 12:20 NKJV (Prov.25:21-22)

Question #2:

Understood about Jeremiah. I knew that the account of the prayer was inspired, but what I didn't know is whether it was inspired as, let's say, a historical account of what Jeremiah said - without this necessarily implying that the prayer is legitimate (as is the case with any historical account in the Bible, such as the Book of Acts), or whether it's content was inspired also. From your answer I understand that the latter is correct.

Response #2:

I did understand the basis for your question – and it was a good one (much better than what was in the commentaries you cited). It's not uncommon for prophets to include historical sections as with the book of Acts (Isaiah does this too, e.g.), so we do have to ask ourselves occasionally whether or not the prophet is speaking qua propheta or merely recording what happened. A similar issue is to be found in the speeches in the book of Acts. In my estimation, when the speaker is an apostle, we generally should understand them to have that same authority as I've argued for in the case of Jeremiah here.

Question #3:

1 Samuel 17:55-58 (NASB)
55 Now when Saul saw David going out against the Philistine, he said to Abner the commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is this young man?” And Abner said, “By your life, O king, I do not know.” 56 The king said, “You inquire whose son the youth is.”57 So when David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul with the Philistine’s head in his hand. 58 Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” And David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.”

NIV SB: 17:55 whose son is that young man? The seeming contradiction between vv. 55–58 and 16:16–23 may be resolved by noting that prior to this time David was not a permanent resident at Saul’s court (see v. 15; 18:2; see also note on 16:21), so that Saul’s knowledge of David and his family may have been minimal. Further, Saul may have been so incredulous at David’s courage that he was wondering whether his family background and social standing might explain his extraordinary conduct.

How should the relationship between 1 Samuel 16:16-23 and 1 Samuel 17:55-58 be explained in your view?

Response #3:

As to this supposed contradiction in 1st Samuel, it is not at all uncommon for kings and other "greats" with large retinues to take little notice of the people who provide services for them. Come to think of it, I am probably waited on at the supermarket by folks I wouldn't recognize if and when they became friends through this ministry (e.g.). Saul, by the time he needed David's "musical therapy", was also very much self-absorbed by that point, so that the idea of him not expressing gratitude for what seems to us to be something very much deserving of it fits where he was at spiritually, at that point. The fact that WE know David was great when first he came to Saul's court does not mean that Saul was concerned about him at all – he obviously wasn't, and that explains why he didn't recognize or know anything about him when he took on Goliath. This is a good lesson to us all on two fronts: 1) we ought to be more appreciative of those with whom we interact, because you never know what God may be doing in their lives (or what He may want us to help them begin to do), and 2) even if we are lowly esteemed by those in this world, the Lord knows us, knows who we are, knows what we are doing for His Church, and the truth of who is important in His eyes will "out" on that great day of days; therefore we should continue to fight confidently forward in the Spirit every day for the sake of His Kingdom in the sure and certain hope of being justly rewarded before His judgment seat. What kings and rulers and the "mighty" of this world think before that time is of absolutely no moment.

Question #4:

If I read this correctly you are saying God participated in A séance/conjuring of Samuel?

Response #4:

Dear Friend,

Good to make your acquaintance.

I wouldn't put it that way at all (and did not put it that way).

There are no such things as séances – at least in terms of such performances doing what they claim to do. No demon, not even Satan himself, has the power to make the dead appear. I'm not saying that demon possession of the medium might not produce a "good show" able to convince the naive and spiritually deficient. That was how this woman made her living, after all. But this occurrence (at 1Sam.28:7ff.) is unique in the history of the world – and it happened just like the Bible says it happened. God has the power – and the right – to bring back from the dead. Our Lord and the apostles did so on a number of occasions (cf. also Matthew 27:52-53). The next prophesied example of that will be the two witnesses of the Tribulation (Zech.4:14; Rev.11:3ff.), Moses and Elijah (see the link).

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L

Question #5:

Hey Bob interesting concept. God allowed a women with a familiar spirit to conjure a prophet; although the Lord did not speak to Saul by dreams or Urim or prophet he spoke to him via a witch.

Bob I appreciate your time

Response #5:

Hello Friend,

Thanks for your good words.

I wouldn't say "conjure" because the woman had nothing to do with it – God had everything to do with it.

You make an excellent point! Saul was unwilling to seek God in the right way so God used alternative means which showed up the folly of Saul's actions. This is analogous to what happened in the case of Balaam's donkey (another "one time" occurrence as well).

They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness. But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—an animal without speech—who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.
2nd Peter 2:15-16 NIV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6:

"Michal told him, 'He said to me, "Let me get away. Why should I kill you?"'"
(1 Samuel 19:17)

Did David really threaten to kill his wife, or was Michal lying?

"Then Michal took an idol and laid it on the bed, covering it with a garment and putting some goats’ hair at the head."
(1 Samuel 19:13)

This struck me as a "huh?" moment: I didn't think this was a widespread time of apostasy, so that idols were common household items.

Response #6:

Saul had in his initial zeal for the Lord attempted to stamp out such things, but he ended his life by finding a witch at Endor just before his death. This is an excellent example of how beneath the surface even in apparently "good" spiritual times there can be all manner of foul things beneath the surface. The elect are always in the minority, even on those rare occasions when they are given to rule. Consider:

So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes. Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.” So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods they had and the rings in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the oak at Shechem.
Genesis 35:2-4 NIV (cf. Gen.31:32-35).

As to Michal's comment, of course David didn't do so and had no intention of harming her, and that is clear from the narrative. Michal only says this to keep herself out of hot water with her father – which lets us see that she has much more respect and concern for him than for her husband (a clear indication that this was a bad marriage – as later events confirm).

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Hello--I hope all is well with you. I don't remember if I ever asked you this before--I couldn't find it in my archives--but you know in Exodus and at the end of Deuteronomy, where it says that Moses and God talked "face to face" like friends in Exodus, and "whom the LORD knew face to face" at the end of Deuteronomy. Yet, elsewhere, when Moses wanted to see God's face, He told Moses he could not, as it would kill him.

So, is this "face to face" thing an idiom in Hebrew or what? A Mormon claims there are bad errors in the Bible, since Paul says God is invisible and Jesus said in John 4 that "God is spirit."

Thanks for your help. God bless you. If this is a repeat, then I apologize.

Response #7:

Good to hear from you. I've addressed the issue before but I'm not sure whether or not it was in response to a question from you. Links:

Cases of Christophany in the Old Testament

Old Testament Appearances of Jesus Christ

Christophany in Exodus

It is very typical of all who have no real respect for the Bible that they will dictate to the Bible what it must mean, and then find fault with that meaning (which is in fact only their own misunderstanding).

God frequently represented Himself in the Old Testament as "THE Angel of Lord" and these theophanies occur from the book of Genesis onward. In most cases, a theophany will also be a Christophany because Christ is the visible member of the Trinity – and that is the case even when at first glance it may seem as if THE Angel is an angel (e.g., reading Ex.3:2 without Ex.3:4), or that the theophany is the Father (for example, without John 12:41 we might assume that Isaiah 6:1ff. is speaking of the Father). It should also be noted that believers do occasionally see the Father in heaven, but not while "in the body" but only through dreams or prophetic visions (Dan.7:9ff.; 2Cor.12:1ff.; Rev.4:1-3). So while there are no instances of anyone in a physical human body seeing God "face to face" as He is in His glory, there are a good number of cases of 1) those in the body seeing a Christophany / theophany, and 2) some of those in visions or dreams seeing God in His actual glory (previously cited passages).

Moses speaking "face to face" with the Lord would fall into the Christophany category, seeing a manifestation of Christ but not the full glory of Him in His deity. Even Moses could not see God in His glory and live. That, after all, was what Moses asked for and had to be turned down:

Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
Exodus 30:18-20 NIV

Some people would only be happy if the Bible had footnotes: "glory" (1): the actual effulgence of God unveiled and not intermediated by temporary human appearance; "my face" (2): in this instance the unveiled manifestation of God in His glory; (3) "face to face": a phrase describing a uniquely intimate encounter; an anthropomorphism inasmuch as God in His spiritual glory does not possess a human face; therefore a figure of speech.

But then these sorts would find fault with the footnotes even if (unlike my attempts above) they were inspired.

Happy to give you some more links on all this if desired.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Is my understanding correct, Professor, that the Old Testament priesthood originated with the Lord sparing the firstborn of Israelites in Egypt while killing the firstborn of the Egyptians (Exodus 13:2), because of which later all the firstborn were to be consecrated to the Lord and this consecration was then transferred onto Levites after the calf incident (Numbers 3:44-45), while the rest of the congregation was to pay a redemption price for their firstborn? I'm just trying to understand how being the firstborn and priesthood are linked together.

Response #8:

As to the priesthood, irrespective of the ins and outs of the Levitical priesthood, Christ's royal priesthood, his combining of the kingship and the high priesthood in one, has nothing whatsoever to do with the Levites. Christ in His humanity is of Judah, "of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood" (Heb.7:14 NKJV). The Levitical priesthood is one of the shadows of the Law which represents what the real Priest would do. So I don't see the firstborn issue has having to do with that specifically. Happy to talk about it further.

Question #9:

Dear Bob,

I'm rereading the Old Testament with a specific focus on 1st, 2nd advents and post. I'm finding that a specific focus is a beneficial approach; reading the Old Testament with this focus is like I'm reading it for the first time.

Questions that have come up:

1. Most sacrifices are reasonably well understood. But – what were the wave and heave sacrifices used for? Their description is reasonably clear, but I don't understand their purpose. How does it relate to our Lord?

2. Jephthah's vow in Judges 11:30 strikes me as crazy; I wouldn't have done such a thing. The question becomes, why wasn't this murder? Why was there no punishment? Unlike Abraham, it was not ordered by God.

3. In fact, much of what went on under David and Solomon would be considered murder today. Why wasn't it back then? Death, apparently, had an entirely different meaning.

4. On contemporary trends: is the conflict between Arabs and Jews today not a result of Israel failing to obey the Lord's command to destroy them all?

I'm sure there will be more questions, but, for now, these are the ones that have lingered for some time.

I hope all is well with you and yours.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #9:

Good to hear from you. As to your questions:

1) The "wave and heave" procedures within the different types of offerings are methods of preserving the offerings themselves for Aaron's sons and the other Levites to eat (i.e., they are "lifted" and "raised" respectively rather than burned up); the symbolism is the same: the Person and work of Christ represented by slaughtered animals, poured blood and burned up offerings.

2) It is unclear what actually happened. See the link: Jephthah. But if he did sacrifice his daughter, it was the wrong thing to do (clearly). As with the book of Acts, Judges relates what actually happened without necessarily putting God's seal of approval on it, even if the actor is a godly person (cf. Judg.17:6; 21;25).

3) I'm not sure what you are referring to here. There were many battles – but the same is true today. Murder was murder then just as it is today. Did you have a specific example?

4) Since "Israel" today is a secular state wherein are virtually no believers whatsoever, we can't say that this nation has anything to do with God. All Jews are the seed of Abraham and blessed because of the patriarchs (Rom.11:28), but they are alienated from God as we all are until the turn to Jesus Christ. As a result, we can't expect them as unbelievers, proud heritage though they have, to be blessed without troubles in an unbelieving state.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Dear Bob,

Thank you for the clarification on the wave and heave offerings. I would never have picked up on that. I had images of people running around waving a leg of lamb in the air. What did the offering expiate?

Every man doing right in his own eyes, seems to describe today. If Jephthah did sacrifice his daughter, which it seems he did (Judges 11:39 KJV) I don't understand why no divine reaction was recorded. Perhaps the point raised in the link is actually what happened and I'm hung on the translation. I don't see how he would have expected a cow, sheep or goat to come out of his house. I got no sense of "or" in reading 11:31 and assumed that Jephthah understood what his vow meant.

As for #3 and murder, Solomon had Adonijah killed for what I understood to be the flimsiest of reasons with no repercussions. It seems to me the same as Cain killing Able. I understand why Solomon didn't like Adonijah but asking for David's servant doesn't seem like a good reason to kill him. What did I miss?

Rereading Judges 11 to make sure I understood what I had read, raised another question. In the past, I took the numbers of troops and slain as a statement without dwelling too much on the magnitude of those numbers. This time, I did. If Moses could field 600,000+ men at arms between 15 and 50 (if I remember right) then that means there must have been 2-2.5 million people with wives, children and elderly in the Exodus. With livestock to be able to sacrifice daily and carts and wagons, that number would have decimated the land. It's no wonder the Ammonites and Edomites, et. al., didn't want them crossing their land. The Israelites would have destroyed everything in their path. That would have been equivalent to the population of the Austin metroplex and vehicles marching up I65 through Louisville. The fact that the Israelites could lose 25,000 to 35,000 or more in various battles seems to confirm that estimate. Am I understanding this correctly?

I appreciate you taking the time out of a busy day to answer my questions. Thank you.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #10:

It's my pleasure.

"Wave and heave" weren't particular categories of offerings (as with fellowship or sin, etc.) but a procedure indicated within certain offerings (such as the consecration of the priests and fellowship offerings, etc.).

Jephthah is an interesting case. It certainly reinforces the command our Lord gives us not to swear at all. Oaths seem to be another one of those concessions to the people of that time (as in regulating slavery), so there is a "right way" to do it, but it is far better never ever to do it in the first place. I'm sure Jephthah understood what he had said and what his vow entailed – what he actually did about it is not necessarily that clear (see prior link).

Adonijah was caught red-handed attempting to launch a subtle conspiracy to overthrow Solomon – who was thus justified in having him executed. The king has the power of capital punishment and is judge and jury rolled into one. Hence better not to offend the king. Do kings act unjustly? Often that is the case. But in this case Solomon was clever enough to see through Adonijah's duplicity. If he were married to the last woman to whom David was "married" in a sense, it would indicate to all who were watching the new king closely that he was not wise and would also signal that he was weak and could be easily toppled. That is why Adonijah launched this plan – but he hadn't counted on Solomon's wisdom.

I think your estimations of the numbers are certainly in the ballpark. And that is no doubt one reason why Edom, Moab and Ammon wanted no part of them.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Hello, Bob,

Thank you for the explanation of Solomon and Adonijah. I just don't think like that; naive, I guess. It seemed reasonable that Adonijah would assume the right, as first born, of assuming the succession to the throne. I can see where he would see Solomon as the usurper. Near the end he seemed to accept Solomon's right to the throne though that could have been sheer flattery. Those people were as devious as people today.

Your explanation makes perfect sense since Solomon flared immediately when Bathsheba broached the subject -- and she isn't recorded as objecting unless I missed that too.

Thanks for your insight.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #11:

You're very welcome.

Yes, I should have mentioned that Adonijah already had a claim on the throne – and had been on the point of being anointed king while David was confined to his bed. I'm sure that if David had died without settling things Adonijah would have Solomon killed without any further consideration.

Devious is exactly the right word. No crown is ever totally secure.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Hello, Bob,

At the bottom of it all, I'm still trying to come to an understanding of Solomon vs. Adonijah in comparison to David vs. Uriah. David committed three sins, coveting, adultery and murder. David paid a price. Solomon killed Adonijah and paid nothing as far as I can tell.

Your earlier explanation was clear enough and I accept it; though I can't see a conspiracy. I see dislike. Possibly even hatred - but not death. I don't see how Solomon would have lost by simply laughing and sending him away -- or possibly exiling him to Egypt and keeping the young lady for himself. While I accept your earlier explanation, I still don't truly understand.

Sorry to keep kicking a dead horse, but I'm having trouble coming to grips with this one.

The link was helpful.

Thanks for your patience.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #12:

To take these in reverse order, it would be good to study the history of the Plantagenets or the Tudors (or the Byzantines). When it comes to power at the highest levels, things work a good deal differently than is true for us little people in our normal and daily lives. It's not for nothing that new dictators – and new monarchs in true monarchies – dispatch all their enemies as the first order of business. This Solomon did not do, but he would have been foolish not to have reacted decisively when provoked because it would have sent a signal to all that he was weak and actually could be deposed.

Adonijah had powerful friends, Joab for one, Abiathar for another (the leaders of the military and religious establishments), and had nearly gotten away with being installed as king previously – it would have happened absent David's timely intervention. With David gone, things could easily have reverted. Adonijah still has his supporters, and this request on his part was not innocent but was instead very deviously conceived and implemented – putting the request into the mouth of Solomon's naive mother, Bathsheba whom Solomon would be loath to say no to, especially given how it happened: "I desire one small petition of you; do not refuse me" (1Ki.2:20 NKJV).

There is no way that Bathsheba cared personally about this issue except that Adonijah was able to flatter her (and otherwise deceive her) into making the request; and it is very clear that these words – the way she put it – came not from her but from Adonijah. Had Solomon accepted the request, giving Adonijah the last woman who belonged to David, it would have sent a signal to all who observed from the outside that Adonijah was powerful enough to take this woman for himself – a somewhat outrageous thing since she had belonged to his father (cf. Lev.18:8; 20:11; Deut.22:30; 27:20), and that Solomon was either so weak he couldn't prevent it or so stupid he didn't see the threat.

Within a few days, the previous conspiracy, heartened by this success, would be ready to strike. Solomon might not have lasted out the week, or at least might have had to begin his reign with a civil war. If the request seems risky, well it was, very risky. But neither Adonijah nor those who had supported him earlier had any reason to believe that Solomon was going to be a benign ruler and not immediately kill them and their families at the commencement of his reign in any case. That is what absolute rulers to do persons who are perceived as threats – and no doubt what they themselves would have done. But these individuals had already demonstrated that they were threats. After all, David had promised the kingship to Solomon before Adonijah and company tried to wrest it from him . . . and while David was still alive at that, albeit infirm. If they were brazen enough to try this while David was alive, how much more so now that he was dead. Indeed, the fact that they attempted this ruse instead of a violent coup was no doubt a blessing from God because it gave Solomon the opportunity to nip this conspiracy in the bud right away with no qualms about doing so: the request is proof positive that Adonijah and his followers intended to replace Solomon. There was no other possible motive for this bizarre request. The fact that Solomon is commended for his wisdom and is never censured for this action and not disciplined for it is also strong circumstantial evidence that it was the right thing to do – unpleasant, perhaps, but provoked and unavoidable if Solomon were to remain king.

Without being in the situation oneself it is easy not to clue into its true dynamics. It's a little like censuring soldiers prima facie for shooting prisoners under exceptional circumstances, not realizing that on some occasions the alternative is essentially risking committing suicide – if the small unit has no way to take them along and if they take up arms again as soon as they are released and end up killing you and yours, and that has happened in every major war (notably on a large scale at the battle of Antietam).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Dear Bob,

You raise convincing points. The point that the ruse as opposed to a violent coup was a blessing along with references to the Tudors (with which I'm more familiar) and Plantagenets, reinforced the point though much of what both the later dynasties did was evil.

1 Samuel 8:9-18 summed it up well and we've had them ever since.

Thankfully, it's all about to end.

Thank you.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #13:

You're very welcome. Write any time.

Indeed, no such shenanigans will be possible during Christ's millennial rule – but even that kingdom will be subject to an attempt at overthrow at the end (Rev.20:7-10).

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hi Bob,

Compare this passage in the Old Testament:

"But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, 'Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.' But the Lord replied, 'Is it right for you to be angry?’”
(Jonah 4:1-4)

With this one in the New Testament:

"The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ 'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
(Luke 15:28-32)

Perhaps the older brother’s name was “Jonah…."

Response #14:

You're quoting from the "new" NIV. Even the 1985 NIV has "it displeased Jonah" – along with all the other versions. Jonah was prone to losing his temper (as the rest of chapter shows), so displeasure is what is meant, not some careful evaluation of the Lord's actions and finding fault with them.

On the comparison, the older brother repented of his initial angry refusal of his own accord and then went and did his father's will from the heart. Jonah, on the other hand, had to be turned around by a series of astounding miracles which nearly cost him his life. Even so after that, while he did do what he was sent to do, he was unhappy with the result – because he apparently feared and hated the Assyrians (threats to his country) and would have preferred that they paid him no attention so that God would destroy them. His pique and his trouble in coming to terms with the will of God – and with the love and grace and mercy of God – had still not resided at the end of the book. Great man and prophet that Jonah was, I think it is much better to behave like the older brother in the parable, whatever his name was.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15:


Thanks for the answer. I figured it was something that simple. My next question has to do with:

"The portion of Jacob is not like these; For the Maker of all is He, and of the tribe of His inheritance; The Lord of hosts is His name." (NASB)
Jeremiah 51:19

Mostly I’m concerned with the best way to interpret the “portion of Jacob”. In the context of judgement against Babylon, verse 14 says “The Lord of hosts has sworn by himself.” Then verses 15-16 discuss the Lord’s creation of the heavens and earth and his sovereignty over the natural world. Then in verses 17-18 the sovereignty of the Lord is contrasted with “every man” being “without knowledge” and the worthlessness of idols. It is these idols that are the direct antecedent to verse 19, which begins “not like these [is the] portion [of] Jacob.” I see two possible ways of looking at this.

The simpler one would be to see the “portion” of Jacob as the “award/reward” of Jacob (which is included in definition 5 of חֵלֶק in BDB, pg. 324). That would mean this is a reference to YHWH being Jacob’s reward, and YHWH is not like the idols of verses 17-18. However, I’m not sure what that would mean for verses 20-24, which is clearly YHWH saying “with you” He will do all the things listed, and the “you” is singular. In verse 25 and following the object changes and YHWH is now speaking to Babylon as “you” (singular). So, in this case, who would YHWH be speaking to in verses 20-24?

The other interpretation would be that the “portion of Jacob” is a righteous remnant of Israel. This seems more along the lines of the main definition of חֵלֶק, which comes from a root having to do with division, and seems to be most commonly used to refer to a portion/division of territory or material goods. If the “portion of Jacob” is indeed a righteous remnant, in order to fit in the rest of the context, it would have to be a righteous remnant of one: the messiah. Thus it would be the messiah who is being contrasted with both the knowledge-less people and the ruach-less idols doomed to perish (vs. 17-18), the messiah who is also identified as the creator and explicitly called YHWH (vs. 19), and the messiah who is the “you” of verses 20-24. It makes sense to me that verse 19 would be referring to messiah Jesus because He is of Jacob in His humanity, through Him was everything created, Israel (the tribe) was created by Him and is His inheritance, and the New Testament writers had no problems identifying Jesus as YHWH. There’s also something that could be said about the martial sense of the title “Lord of hosts”, and the role of the Son as the commander of YHWH’s armies (comparing Joshua 5:13-15 and Revelation 19:14).

The main reason I’m asking about this is because I want to know if this is indeed referring to the messiah, and if it can therefore be used as a proof text from the Tanakh that the messiah is identified as YHWH (I’m sure you see the potential apologetic application). So, how should the “portion of Jacob” be understood here? Have I gone too far and tried to read things into this verse that aren’t there? Your input is greatly appreciated.

Yours in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,

Response #15:

To take these in a bit of a reverse order, the "you" in Jeremiah 51:24, that is, "before your eyes" refers to the remnant of Israel (the suffix is masculine plural, the default for a mixed group of people). The destroyer in Jeremiah 51:20-24 is Babylon, an instrument which has been used by the Lord for His own purposes (in the same way as Assyria was):

Does the ax raise itself above the person who swings it, or the saw boast against the one who uses it? As if a rod were to wield the person who lifts it up, or a club brandish the one who is not wood! Therefore, the Lord, the LORD Almighty, will send a wasting disease upon his sturdy warriors; under his pomp a fire will be kindled like a blazing flame.
Isaiah 10:15-16 NIV

So "the Portion of Jacob" in Jeremiah 51:19 is a title for the Lord (and thus for the Messiah). Compare:

He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these, for he is the Maker of all things, including Israel, the people of his inheritance— the LORD Almighty is his name.
Jeremiah 10:16 NIV (cf. Ps.16:5; 73:26; 119:57; 142:5)

Yours in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the response. I had been reading Jeremiah 50-51 in the context of judgement of eschatological Babylon, and didn’t realize the exact same verses are in chapter 10. I’m a little disappointed in my NIV study bible for not including that in the center column references as well. And I missed the switch to plural in verse 24. On that note, my study of Hebrew is progressing slower than I would like. I was hoping to do at least one lesson in Lambdin’s Introduction to Biblical Hebrew each week and I would finish the whole thing in a year. It’s been more like one lesson each month. I’m understanding it surprisingly well, but I just can’t seem to find the time to do it more often with all the other things I’m juggling.

So, to sum it up (and please correct me if I still get any of this wrong), it’s really the first option I laid out where the “portion” is like an “award/reward” and is thus a title of YHWH. Then the “you” singular in verses 13-14, 20-23, and 25-26 are referring to Babylon, and the “you” plural in verse 24 is referring to Israel.

I assume classes have started for you for this semester, and I pray that’s going well. My office move I mentioned to you got pushed up by two weeks so I’ve been sorting through a mountain of paperwork, drawings, calculations, etc., and trying to figure what I need to keep and what I can throw out. I'm settling into the new space nicely though.

In our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Response #16:

Yes, things are in full swing here. Hard times at our university, but my classes all went very well this first week (thanks).

It's certainly not easy to commute and work a full time job and still get around to serious academic studies – so good for you that you are hanging in there with it.

And, yes, I think you've got it. The only thing I will say is that when I, for example, say and think "the Lord is my portion", I don't really mean it as I title – I mean it very literally. He is my all and my everything and sufficient for me, even if I were to lose everything else.

Thanks for your prayers, my friend! I'm keeping you and your family in mine too day by day.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hi Bob,

Joab is the most interesting character in Samuel-Kings, because he was David’s most trusted leader, and yet described as a wicked and brutal man who is guilty of murdering innocent people…


Response #17:

Joab was exceptionally brave and an extremely competent commander, but I don't know if I'd call Joab "most trusted" since he did a number of major things that were out of line: Off the top of my head: 1) murdering Abner; 2) cooperating in the murder of Uriah instead of refusing to have anything to do with it; 3) facilitating the return of Absalom (which resulted in revolution); 4) trying to make Adonijah king instead of Solomon both after and before David was dead. Here is what David did say about him on Abner's death:

Then the king said to his men, “Do you not realize that a commander and a great man has fallen in Israel this day? And today, though I am the anointed king, I am weak, and these sons of Zeruiah are too strong for me. May the LORD repay the evildoer according to his evil deeds!”
2nd Samuel 3:38-39 NIV

In the name of our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

In know that Genesis 3:15 is a prophecy concerning the Messiah but, can you give a simplified brief explanation of this verse . Someone asked me to give them an explanation as they do not understand that Jesus if referred indirectly in this verse.


In Psalm 103 the following verses state:

"Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word".

There is this false teaching among some Charismatics and Pentecostals that believers can command angels to do their bidding by them merely declaring God's Word and then commanding angels to perform the quoted word. I know that this is pure heresy but would you agree that the reference to "the voice of His Word" is speaking about God declaring His Word and not us.

There are, as I have found in my studying your Website, that there are many, many, false teachings n the Church I have discovered from material contained in your Website. It makes me sick to think of what I had been taught, and what is really the truth. You have been a tremendous help to me and I have much to still learn. I thank God for the day that I discovered your Website.

May He bless you abundantly as you continue the work He has given you. Thank you immensely for your great help and kindness.

Your friend,

Response #18:

Thanks for all your good words as always, my friend.

As to your questions, here is what I say about the passage in SR 3:

The Lord God's further promise of future hostility between the woman's Seed (Jesus Christ: cf. Gen.22:17 with Gal.3:16) and the serpent's seed (all who follow Satan, and, in particular, antichrist) is a further confirmation that this judgment has broader implications. The prophecy of Christ's direct assault upon the devil (accomplished at the cross), and Satan's continuing tactics of sneak attack against Christ preeminently, and also His followers (in all generations of human history, and especially during the Tribulation under antichrist) is often called the protevangelium, because it constitutes the first occurrence of the gospel message (i.e., a promise that God would Himself provide His own Seed to right mankind's wrong and crush the adversary in the process). As the Seed of the woman, Christ is here clearly foreshadowed as taking on true humanity in order to attack the serpent head-on. This prophecy to destroy in a most direct fashion the devil's power over sinful mankind by striking at the serpent's head was fulfilled at the cross, where the hold Satan had won over mankind at the fall was finally broken.

In a nutshell, in this prophesy the serpent is the devil. The Seed is Christ. The promise of the Seed is the promise of the incarnation.

"And I shall place hostility between you and the woman, that is, between your seed and her Seed. He will attack you head-on, but you will attack Him from behind".
Genesis 3:15

The head-on attack is the cross which destroys the power of the devil – since we no longer fear death having been rescued by Christ's spiritual death for us in paying for our sins (Heb.2:14-15). The "attack from behind" is the assault of the devil on Christ (ineffective but part of the massive suffering He endured to get to the cross), and also the attack on us who represent Christ (sharing His sufferings). All the elements of the gospel are thus present here in what has been called as noted above the protoevangelium or "first giving of the gospel", a gospel / message of good news of deliverance from sin and death confirmed to Adam and Eve by the gift of the coats of skin which meant the slaughtering of animals which in turn represents our Lord's spiritual death on our behalf.

On Psalm 103:20, it is very clear in any English version I know of and also in the Hebrew that the three uses of "His" here all refer to the Lord. It is His voice that commands them. So clearly we do not command angels; God is the only one who can do that. This is a good example of the exact opposite way of how to use the Bible. We ought to go to the Bible in humility to be instructed by it, to be "quick to listen, slow to speak" (Jas.1:19); whenever someone goes to the Bible only in search of ammunition to support some (crazy) idea, that approach always results in error. Over-fascination with angels was a problem that plagued the Jerusalem church during the time of the apostles, and a large part of what Paul has to correct in the book of Hebrews – and we see from that epistle how a little leaven has leavened the whole lump and resulted in all manner of doctrinal errors.

Do feel free to write me back about any of the above.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Is it this one?

"Now when this people or the prophet or a priest asks you saying, 'What is the oracle of the Lord?' then you shall say to them, 'What oracle?' The Lord declares, 'I will abandon you.'"
(Jeremiah 23:33)

Or this one?

"Suppose one of the people or one of the prophets or priests asks you, 'What is the burden of the LORD?' You must reply, 'You are the burden! The Lord says he will abandon you!'"
(Jeremiah 23:33)

The first translation is saying something along the lines of "stop asking for oracles, because God is going to abandon you," while the second translation is more cheeky and snarky, saying something along the lines of "Oh, so you want to know what my 'burden' is? Well here's a newsflash: it's you! You are the burden that I'm going to relieve myself of!"

Response #19:

Inexplicably (from my point of view), the NLT (which you quote from second) and some other versions (also the ESV, RSV and NET) have chosen to follow the LXX, the Targums, and the Latin Vulgate instead of the very clear Hebrews MT text. Admittedly, the Hebrew (represented fairly well by your first quote from NASB) is capable of several translations; I would prefer, "You shall tell them what oracle: "I will abandon you!" (as opposed to "What oracle? 'I will abandon you!"); but there is no justification for not following the MT here.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Hi Bob,

Jonathan Safarti translates Genesis 4:1 to say this:

"And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man: the LORD (YHWH/Yahweh/Jehovah).”

He then goes on to interpret Genesis 4:1 in light of this updated translation as meaning this:

In her great joy and reverence she did not want to call her offspring a son, for she believed that he was to be much more, the Man who was to bruise the serpent’s head. Therefore she called him “the Man, the Lord.” She thought that he (Cain) was the one whom the Lord had meant when He said, “Thy Seed shall bruise the serpent’s head.” Though Eve was mistaken in her hope, her words show that she was a pious woman who believed the promise of the coming salvation by the blessed Saviour. Therefore she did not call him a son, but the Man, the Lord, whom God promised and gave (to her). Her faith in the promised seed was laudable. By faith in this promised Saviour all saints (in the OT) were justified and saved. But her faith that Cain was the one who would end the misery of sin was misplaced, for this she believed without a definite sign and Word (from God) by her own conviction. Just because she was so sure of the promise that she regarded her first son as the one who would carry out what the Lord had promised. Her mistake was that she did not know that from (sinful) flesh nothing could be born but (sinful) flesh, and that sin and death could not be overcome by flesh (corrupt nature).

Response #20:

Just shows you can get anything published (especially electronically).

The Hebrew preposition 'eth is usually the object marker but oftentimes also a preposition meaning "with" – in this case "with the help of".

For this odd interpretation to hold water Eve's words would have to mean that she had actually given birth to Yahveh. There is nothing in scripture to suggest that anyone ever thought that possible. That would be something very different from "the SON of God" or "God with us" (rather than YHVH). Furthermore, there is no parallel I know of where the object marker is used in apposition like this to indicate a personal name or reference. Without one, this would make for a very forced reading grammatically . . . as well as the theological problems. In other words, this a load of nonsense – as anyone who can read the Hebrew for themselves can easily see.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Can you explain this verse?

“But there they are, overwhelmed with dread, where there was nothing to dread.”
(Psalm 53:5)

Response #21:

I take this in the sense of the dread the Lord causes to fall upon the enemies of those He loves (compare Num.10:35; Deut.28:10; Josh.2:9-11; 2:24; cf. Deut.28:7).

Your friend in Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Dr. Luginbill, why did sacrificing to God in the high places so often led to idol worship in ancient Israel?

Response #22:

On high places: the pagan religions of this region and time used hill-tops for their sacrifices to the gods. In the Law, there is only one place in which it is legitimate to sacrifice, and that is the altar in front of the tabernacle/temple (in Jerusalem from Solomon's temple onward). Sacrificing "to the Lord" on a high places was only occasionally godly (e.g., Elijah's "competition" with the priests of Baal), but doing to accommodate to previous religious activities or the way other nations acted as a rule contributed to religious syncretism rather than to a pure-hearted devotion to the Lord. After all, this is exactly what the Roman Catholic church did in adopting pagan festivals, e.g., and slapping Christian names on them (and we can see that this also was not helpful to advancing the true faith).

Question #23:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I have a simple question on the following verse which translates like you study says, it is taken from the ISR (Institute for Scriptural Research which is the only translation which is the same as you translate.

Genesis 2:15 which says:

"And יהוה Elohim took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and to guard it.

Question: What was it that Adam had to guard the Garden of Eden from?

Thanks as always,

His Word is always precious.

Your friend

Response #23:

Good to hear from you as always, my friend. The verb in Hebrew here is shamar, and it is a very plastic verb much used in the OT with a variety of related meanings. It is, for example, the verb used for "keeping the Law" – which certainly does not mean "guard" in the sense indicated by the translation you provide. There was nothing for Adam to guard against – nothing he could guard against, in any case. So it's a bad translation. "Keep" or "tend", both of which renderings are often the best way to translate the verb in a given context would be better here as well – otherwise we are wrongly reading something into the word which isn't actually there.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24:

Hi Bob,

Can you tell me how Nebuchadnezzar saw these men walking around in Daniel chapter three? I would think this furnace was enclosed.

Response #24:

Long time no hear, old friend – hope things are going well for you.

It's a good point. Reconstructing what this furnace looked like is not an easy task. It also apparently was elevated because the three believers had to be "taken up" into it (Dan.3:22). My only thought in the absence of any scriptural detail is that it must have been an extremely large contraption with a huge door and perhaps a ramp leading up to it. For the men to be seen from outside would seem to have to mean that the opening was very large and wide, perhaps as big as two double doors – a big oven, possibly heated by charcoal from below; heating it "seven times", even if that is a euphemism, would probably mean using bellows to super-heat it. If the door were large enough, Nebuchadnezzar may have been able to see in from his own elevated throne. And in fact that was probably all by design. This oven was made for the express purpose of him enjoying the sight of the destruction of anyone who refused to worship him, a sort of cruelty not at all uncommon in the ancient world, especially in the near east.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #25:

My second favorite verse in Ecclesiastes

"For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.”
(Eccl. 1:18)

Response #25:

Yes, and it is so true – for unbelievers (that is the authorial perspective of Ecclesiastes). But there is nothing better than knowing the truth for believers.

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
John 8:32 KJV

In Jesus our dear Lord who is the truth, the very Word of God.

Bob L.


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