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Old Testament Interpretation XVIII

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Question #1:

All the prosperous of the earth
Shall eat and worship;
All those who go down to the dust
Shall bow before Him,
Even he who cannot keep himself alive.
Psalm 22:29 NKJV

Who are "the prosperous of the earth", "those who go down to the dust" and "he who cannot keep his soul alive"? In the last, the NASB footnote says, "did not" as an alternative to "cannot". What is the right reading?

Response #1:

This verse splits humanity into two parts: 1) "those who have made a covenant with Him (i.e., a "fat sacrifice"), that is to say, believers; and 2) those who lick the dust being but dust themselves and who are unable to find life without Him. The key point is that the Hebrew dhashan here does not mean "prosperous" but "having made a sacrifice of fat", and that is a reference to "getting right with God" by accepting the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God slaughtered for us to take away our sins that we might have life eternal.

Question #2:

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
Psalm 23:2

Is it "quiet waters" or "waters of rest"? The latter is in the NASB footnote.

Response #2:

This refers to the Lord taking care of our spiritual needs, even as the pastures refer to His taking care of our physical needs. Once we have everything we need to live physically and to grow spiritually, then the Good Shepherd, having thus restored us, guides us forward in this life.

Question #3:

How do rod and staff comfort us? In my thinking, God's discipline are a sure protection from the condemnation of the world. That is comforting. I personally feel secure in the fact that I can't sin with impunity without feeling some pain for it. Then again, the unpleasant experiences of life often serve to drive me closer to God. Is that what rod and staff here mean?

Response #3:

He is the Good Shepherd and He is packing "all the gear" He needs to carry out His task so that we have no need to worry at all, just as a sheep might (if sentient) be comforted by the fact that shepherd is prepared and equipped for all that might come. He guides us, He protects us, He disciplines us when necessary, and He wards off all wolves and other threats, as long as we stay close to Him. He has the power and "all necessary gear" to do so, so that we can completely trust Him and put aside all fear and worry – as long as we are walking with Him.

Question #4:

What does verse 5 mean?

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Psalm 23:5 NKJV

Response #4:

This refers to the Lord blessing David (and us by extension) with bounty beyond measure. Even though David was and we are under attack constant attack, both visibly and invisibly, we have this pledge of provision, material (table) and spiritual (through the oil of the Holy Spirit), even to the end when we will find ourselves dwelling "in the house of the Lord forever" (Ps.23:6; cf. Jn.12:26; 14:3).

Question #5:

For He has founded it upon the seas,
And established it upon the waters.
Psalm 24:2

What does it mean that the Earth was founded on the seas or established on the rivers? Is this a reference to the actual seas and rivers we have on the planet?

Response #5:

The preposition 'al is what we have here in Hebrew. Rather than "upon / upon", the meaning is that "He founded it against the seas" and "beside the rivers" – with the idea being that the sea will not encroach against the land (and we are assured of that after the flood) and that there will be abundant water sources for sustaining life even so (rivers = fresh water).

Question #6:

I think I've read something you said about the gates in this psalm (Ps.24) before but I don't remember it now. What are these gates?

Response #6:

These are the gates of Jerusalem through which the Messiah was prophesied to enter. Jesus did so and He will so . . . again when He returns. "Who is this King of glory?" Answer: "The LORD of hosts (i.e., Jesus Christ), He is the King of glory" (Ps.24:10).

Question #7:

Psalm 29:1ff. This psalm speaks of the majesty and power of God. But I also get the feeling that it may be speaking of Armageddon. Is that true? The feeling is because of the repeated emphases on what the voice of the Lord does. And always in terms of destruction and humiliation.

Response #7:

As with many Psalms, it does presage the Lord's mighty second advent return. And it certainly demonstrates that we can rely on Him for protection, even if we find ourselves in the Tribulation, even on the cusp of Armageddon.  His power is without parallel; He is the Judge of all.

Question #8:

Isaiah 23: I don't understand a thing here.

Response #8:

From CT 1: "Isaiah 23: here Tyre [is represented as / is representing] antichrist's Babylon; their destruction is herein foretold" (in the near term and in eschatology according to what I call the Day of the Lord paradigm (that is, a very typical trope in biblical prophecy whereby the prophet is given to compare near term contemporary events to their counterparts in future prophecy, with judgment now analogous to judgment then, and with deliverance now analogous to deliverance then).

Question #9:

Isaiah 24: is this The Day of the Lord paradigm? Or is this speaking specifically of the Tribulation? What is this everlasting covenant spoken of in verse 5?

Response #9:

The former. From CT 1: Isaiah 24: [describes] "the Tribulation and 2nd Advent judgments [used] as a paradigm for the Assyrian invasion".

The "everlasting covenant" is the only covenant / agreement / testament there is: eternal life based upon accepting God's substitute for sin, seen in shadow in the Old Testament/covenant, and fully revealed in the New. Links:

What is a Biblical Covenant?

Dispensations, Covenants, Israel and the Church I

Question #10:

Dr. Luginbill,

I had two questions on Hosea if you could answer them.

Could you explain the association between having Hosea name his son Jezreel in 1:4-5 and Jezreel being a territory or location? Is this another designation for Israel in some sense?

Second, was 2:3-13 fulfilled prophecy, or is it just a threat from the LORD for repentance?

In our Lord,

Response #10:

Jezreel was a place, but it also has a significant name. The first part comes from the verb zara', meaning to sow/scatter; the second part 'el, means God.

1) This was where Naboth the Jezreelite had his vineyard; he was the one falsely accused and murdered through Jezebel's machinations so that Elijah was given to prophecy the destruction of her and Ahab's household in that very same place (later fulfilled by Jehu). Hosea 1:4 is referring to the subsequent judgment on Jehu for his own acts of violence.

2) The broken bow in the valley of Jezreel (Hos.1:5) is looking forward to the time before the second advent when antichrist breaks Israel's power just before the Lord's return.

3) The "day of Jezreel" in Hosea 1:11 refers to the Millennium when the Lord will "sow" Israel herself.

4) Hosea 2:22 also refers to the Millennium and the material "sowing" in abundance for Israel.

All of these future prophecies are good examples of the Day of the Lord paradigm (link), as Hosea makes the points of judgment and eventual deliverance, keying off of contemporary events in the Spirit to look forward to the future deliverance for comfort (and looking back to the present impending disaster for warning as well).

Hosea 2:2-23 is similar. Here we have the near term and far term judgment and restoration of Israel: she is judged then and later for her rejection of the Lord, but in the end she will be delivered and restored (at the second advent).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Okay. For each of these points:

So Jezreel the name could mean "the Lord sows/scatters"? In this context, the Lord scatters Israel (Northern Kingdom) but will also sow her eventually in the Millennium?

1) Could you maybe give me the scripture references on this. That might be helpful. Sorry.

2) Where does the end times reference come from here? Couldn't it just refer to a near term fulfillment?

3) Understood

4) Understood

When you talk about the far term judgment in Ch.2, would that refer to Israel's desolation after the destruction of the temple in 70 AD? And the near term fulfillment would be the scattering of the Northern Kingdom?

Let me know

Response #11:

By "far term", I'm referring to the eschatological future of the ultimate battle for the land of Israel (at Armageddon) and our Lord's victory at the second advent followed by the Millennium.

1) That's in 1st Kings chapter 21 and also in 2nd Kings chapter 9, verse 21 and following.

2) The set of prophecies in Hosea chapter one begins with judgment and "scattering" and ends with restoration and regathering in vv.10-11, the latter of which ends, "For great will be the day of Jezreel!" (NKJV).

So the word "Jezreel", a prophetic name in that it is used here for the Lord's actions in the future, connects both parts of the prophecy in this chapter. Add to this that there is no biblical indication elsewhere of the valley of Jezreel being involved in the Assyrian conquest of Israel (2Ki.17:5 says that there was a three year siege of the capital, Samaria, but that city is south of the valley of Jezreel on the slopes of a different range of hills.

It's not impossible that there was a battle there at the time of the last Assyrian incursion but the Bible doesn't say so (except possibly here); however, the conjunction with verse eleven and the future prophesy of deliverance makes this chapter a perfect example of the "Day of the Lord paradigm" wherein near contemporary events are explained by future eschatological events: this gives warning to believers then as well as encouragement (there would be eventual deliverance . . . of believers), as well as teaching us now about future history: Israel's attempt at that future time to resist antichrist's final invasion (from the north) would be equally futile and for similar reasons (not relying on the Lord), until the Lord's return (see the link). So all indications are to me that this is meant as at least also a prophetic reference.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Hi Dr,

Can you please explain to me how Prov 23:29-35 isn't an explicit command on abstaining from alcoholic beverage?

Thank you very much for your help.

Response #12:

The passage doesn't say anything about not drinking wine at all. It says that a person shouldn't become preoccupied or infatuated with it – "gazing at its beauty". Also, in the context of the time written, we know that everyone drank water mixed with wine (for health; disinfecting the water) – but of course drinking pure wine to excess was a sin. And as Solomon's mother told him (Prov.31:4-7).

However, it's not a bad idea to refrain nowadays (since our water is better), and for lots of reasons, including a good Christian witness. And it's always a bad idea to overindulge, since that is a sin (and has all manner of negative consequences, including sullying one's Christian witness).  Here's a link on this which will lead to more on the subject.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Hola, Bob,

I rarely read "news" anymore beyond scanning headlines, but this one caught my eye:

"2,600 years ago, new deadly weapons changed wars in biblical Israel"


I'm a little suspicious of this man's conclusions. I would think that after the Egyptian and Babylonian captivities, the Israelites would have been familiar with enemy weaponry. From the Bible, I understand the Israelites had smelters and copper (they made bronze, after all long before) and could have reasonably reproduced what they learned in Babylon if that's where these new designs originated. They certainly knew about bows. Too, bronze would have been superior to copper for arrow heads. I wonder if this technology originated in Israel?

Curiously, the arrow heads pictured are essentially the same as modern arrow heads. (There are some things that ain't broke and shouldn't be fixed:) The one on the far right is what I would use to get through the tough side of a feral hog or, I imagine, armor. On game, an arrow is devastating. The animal will bleed out and die without ever knowing where the threat came from, so. they don't run far. Given the current milieu, I wonder if we should we relearn old technology?

On another note, I've read that Alexander spread yarrow all over the known world -- at least the world he conquered. It was used to treat wounds. From my current experience, it's magnificent at closing cut and stopping bleeding. One of the reasons I'm so interested in how things were done in Biblical times is that so many seemingly peripheral illustrations/analogies in the Bible are accurate and of practical use. For example, taking the highest shoot of a cedar - or juniper in my case -- and planting it in a new location actually works. It certainly works with bay laurel, figs and lavender as well as many other plants. So much to learn and so little time.

So my questions are: 1) what do we know about Assyrian/Babylonian/Israelite light arms in Biblical times outside of the Bible (pointers are welcome) and 2) does this article have any basis in known fact?

I pray all is well with you and yours and your summer research is progressing nicely.

Yours in our lord,

Response #13:

This article is typical of archaeology. They find a pot . . . and begin pontificating on how it represents a new breakthrough in our understanding of ancient history. Or . . . maybe it's just a pot.

These are just arrowheads. When they were made, who made them, and how they were used are entirely matters of conjecture. Dating of some things may be possible within a broad range (pottery, for example), but the "scientific" dating methods are all seriously flawed (see the link). Add to that the wild speculative tendency of archaeologists and we get to the point where "anything can mean anything". I still remember reading in seminary about "catapult stones" being found – they bear a strong resemblance to round rocks, however. And in this case I'm guessing that an arrowhead, regardless of the material it's made of, will do some serious damage if it hits you with enough force. Seems to me the Apache did pretty well without metal.

Never had any luck with yarrow in Louisville. But fennel is doing very well – TOO well (the stuff in my backyard is over ten feet tall at the moment).

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hi Bob,

This doesn't surprise me. I remember a "scientist" back in the 60s found a small bone fragment in Africa and determined it was a new type of human unknown before. Is there any difference between hubris and "science?"

I was an avid archer in the 60s and 70s. Most arrows were cedar with a tapered end that fit in the ferrule of the head. That taper was doable back them but a pain in the neck. (It still was in my day.) These looked like modern heads. They may have dated from the iron age, but if so, why make them of copper? Probably because it was fast? I don't think military contractors have changed over the centuries.

I also saw an article some time a ago that CERN determined that radio carbon isotopes didn't always decay at the same rate. For me, it makes all dating suspect.

Sorry for the noise. But thanks for your patience.

Yours in our Lord,

Response #14:

Any time!

Always a pleasure to hear from you.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Greetings Dr. Luginbill from Wyoming! It’s very dry here with several fires in the area. I hope you are doing well. I pray for you and your family often. Question: do you have some writing on Cain and Abel. I have a person wondering why Cain’s offering was not accepted…. Thank you sir,

Response #15:

This is a "hot one" of late – for reasons I've never quite understood. Blood sacrifice represents the cross. Vegetables grown in one's garden are human effort pure and simple with no greater symbolism – and can be arrogant as well if people take credit for God's giving of growth as Cain did.. Abel's sacrifice says "I trust in you for saving me from my sin through your sacrifice for me"; Cain's says "Look what I am doing for you!" Here's a previous posting:

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

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

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

Hope you and yours are doing well. We've heard about the fires. Hoping and praying nothing of the same scale happens in your area.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Hi Bob,

This may be a nonsense question, but -- fine flour, which I take to mean sifted flour, mingled or mixed with oil that was required for sacrifices seems strange. That combination would only make water crackers at best if it wasn't old and oxidized, which would happen in 6 months or so -- an unleavened bread? Was this what was intended? Flour and oil would degrade quickly. Perhaps like the Israelite's promise to obey God?

I'm beginning to get an inkling of the symbolism of the sacrifices but this one is a bit elusive. Perhaps a warning of mixing the truth with the leaven of unbelief or false doctrine and letting it go stale?

Yours in our Lord,

Response #16:

Never seen this sacrificial process myself, but even a pancake thrown onto a blazing fire would burn, right?

The "fine flour" is probably flour which is coarser than what we use in the states. If you go to Europe they consider our flour "cake flour" and have a number of different grades which are coarser for making bread et al. I doubt that they had "cake flour" (our "flour" in the states) in ancient Israel.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hi Bob,

I don't understand the "fine flour mingled with oil" being a burnt offering -- but yes, it would certainly burn. My understanding of the sacrifices that weren't burnt offerings were for the priesthood and maintenance of the temple. Have I misunderstood? If for the priesthood, they would have to make crackers/matzo of it quickly unless there was divine intervention.

American flour has a few advantages but I mill my own flour fresh; a reasonably course grind for pasta, mostly. I don't make much bread anymore. Bread as I understand it back then was nothing at all like the bread we have today -- not even today's "artisan breads." They were more flat breads than loaves. The Romans though, as I understand, did make risen loaves. I don't know what the Greeks made.

I'm coming to see that the Levitical sacrifices were all -- or mostly all -- foreshadows of Christ. The "charger" referenced in Numbers (Num 7, 13 e.g.) as I understand was a shallow bowl-like serving platter. I'm not sure what the bowl was like but it held a little over twice the charger. 30 shekels seems to be a lot of flour. Once baked, though, it would last for days.


Yours in our Lord,

Response #17:

There were kitchens which were part of the temple complex (and will be again: Ezek.46:24). My concept of this is that they made pancakes which were either burned or else eaten or given to the priest to eat immediately.

They had bread in ancient Greece of course – that was THE main food. For us, the bread is a conveyor for the "relish" (stuff in the sandwich); for the Greeks, the "relish" was unnecessary – and often unavailable. Lack of bread was the worry.

By the fifth century, the Athenians were importing almost all of their grains (wheat was by far the dominant import), much of which came from the Ukraine (Scythia) and the Greek colonies on the Black Sea coast. Odessa was originally a Greek colony from this time period (Odessos was the name at that time); this place and plenty of other Greek colonies along the northern coast of the "Euxine sea" shipped out wheat to Athens in particular. The Athenians had a special set of officials whose job it was to ensure that the straits of the Hellespont remained open and that the trade remained unimpeded. Bread has always been "the staff of life" (we find a good deal about "millstones" in the Bible also).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Hi Bob,

I learn so much from your comments to me and to others in the weekly email posting. Thank you. Not to pick nits, but Ezekiel 26:24 doesn't exist in my bibles.

Pancakes has to be right or close. The oil in the flour would quickly go rancid exposed to air so it would have to be prepared quickly. I would like to learn how the Israelites made their bread -- particularly on the Exodus which is where the requirement first shows up I believe.

I realize these questions have nothing to do with salvation or the coming kingdom, but an understanding of the milieu helps me understand the people. (Though, I have to tell you, from what I understand so far of the ancient Israelites they and people today seem about the same.)

Interesting history, thank you. We could probably use those Greek officials today. I'm still unsure of the symbolism of the fine flour mingled with oil. Also, unleavened bread has always been a mystery to me though I think I understand the symbolism. Whole grains have a yeast that's naturally on the grain. Ergo, that's where (real) sourdough comes from. It can't really be eliminated. Added leavens could and I think that's part of the symbolism.

Thanks and thanks for the history.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #18:

Here a verse apropos of cooking flour (though this is manna):

The people went about and gathered it, (i.e., the manna) ground it on millstones or beat it in the mortar, cooked it in pans, and made cakes of it; and its taste was like the taste of pastry prepared with oil.
Numbers 13:8 NIV

And here's one regarding yeast:

So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing.
Exodus 12:34 NIV

It is good to know what we can about that time so as to understand what they wrote and why they wrote it that way better (generally called "isogogics"). But you're right when you say, "they and people today seem about the same". Yesterday, today and tomorrow, people are, generally speaking, "no damn good" – or in Calvinistic terms, the doctrine of "total depravity". Without being whipped into shape by a good up-bringing, and without a system of law and order and social pressure to do the right thing, we would all be in a "state of nature" – and that "nature" is the old sin nature! Of course we who have been saved by the blood of Christ have had that fleshly nature crucified (in principle), so that we are eager to do what is right "for conscience sake" to please our Lord. Harder and harder not to over-react to the things we're being exposed to nowadays, however. All the more reason to concentrate on the Word . . . and on the world to come.

On the symbolism, the fine flour represents the sinless body of Christ (no sin nature) and the oil represents the anointing of the Spirit. Yeast, on the other hand, represent the infection of sin (cf. 1Cor.5:6; Gal.5:9).

Question #19:

Dear Dr. Luginbill,

Thank you for keeping me abreast of the Peter Series. Your commentary on "Lust of the Flesh" is especially appropriate in this day and age of loosening of moral standards in our culture.

My question today is not spiritual in nature but a technical one. Can you determine when cotton was first used in ancient Israel? I am studying Proverbs 31 and spinning wheel components are mentioned such as spindle and distaff. Assuming King Lemuel was alive during Solomon's lifetime (930-960 BC) the author might be describing the process of spinning flax.

In Esther 1:6 the CEV version refers to the cloth as cotton but most translations call it white (or fine) linen.

Yours in Christ,

Response #19:

Weaving and spinning go back all the way to the beginning of human post-Eden technology, before the flood no doubt (it's difficult to conceive of metallurgy without weaving, e.g.). But of course all manner of fibers can be spun and woven, and hair as well (wool of sheep and goats – the latter of which shrinks and expands with moisture and heat respectively so that it is ideal for tents).

As to the particular fiber of the cotton plant, there is apparently evidence of this in the 6th cent. B.C. (from Herodotus) and possibly also in Assyrian annals going back several more centuries. I don't know of anything going back as far as Solomon's time, but it is safe to assume that where this plant was common, it was used for spinning and weaving. It only gained prominence much later.

The Esther passage which has כַּרְפַּס (karpas) coming into Greek as κάρπασος (karpasos), is used for sails made of linen in Greek; this may refer to cotton in this context but that is debatable.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Hi Bob,

Another, "Say what?" In Ex 28:11 the KJV uses the term "ouches" to set the onyx stones. NIV uses "filigree" which makes no sense -- at least to me. "Ouches" I've understood to be the setting of, for example, a pearl necklace or cameo - none of which, in my experience, has been a filigree.

Which translation is more accurate?

On another note, the resources needed to build the tabernacle and the priest's attire according to the Lord's instructions is staggering. With the israelites in the desert or wilderness around Sinai, where did they come up with the flax and the means to macerate it for fiber? Whence looms? How did they get the furnace to melt the metals? Built of rocks? Where did they get the plants for all the dyes; purple is a rare and not common dye to derive from plants. A combination of red and blue dyes? Where and how did they get the lumber? There was a lot of gold and silver in the temple. How did they carry it there from Egypt?

I understand the shittim wood requirement, acacia is a relative of mesquite which is quite sturdy and would be available in the desert. But how did they cut it. They must have brought a large amount of tools. Cutting a raw trunk to the sizes specified would be a major undertaking.

I believe what scripture says. I just don't understand it. Any thoughts would be helpful.

Also, is the cubit in the Bible 27" or one of the other variations? There seems to be several.

Sorry for the long winded confusion. The real question is, "How on earth did they manage all that in the wilderness."


Yours in our Lord,

Response #20:

That's right. These are the settings for the stones on the breastplate, settings made of gold. The word misehebetz comes from the root shabatz which means "to weave", so this is talking about the plaited network of gold ("filagree") into which these twelve memorial stones were to be placed. Got no idea what an "ouch" is except when I stub my toe!

On the experience of Israel in the wilderness, the first thing always to keep in mind is that they were miraculously provided for.

Yet the LORD says, “During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet. You ate no bread and drank no wine or other fermented drink. I did this so that you might know that I am the LORD your God.”
Deuteronomy 29:5-6 NIV

Second, they left Egypt with a great many animals, pack animals among them capable of carrying a great deal of gear. The Jewish people, we may expect, encompassed all possible trades, and so bringing their respective tools with them makes sense.

Third, they also "plundered the Egyptians" on the way out (e.g., Ex.3:22), so that in addition to whatever wealth they had collectively stored up over the generations, they received a large input of additional prosperity at the exodus (so as to be able to buy the materials mentioned).

Fourth, they weren't entirely alone in Sinai. Moses had lived there as a nomad with his father in law Jethro, and had convinced him to be the "eyes and ears" of the people. So we may assume that there were contacts with other peoples, even if these are not included in the narrative (as much was not).

Lastly, we have here over two million very talented people with little to do, most of the time. Human beings of less industry and talent than the Jewish people with forty years of time on their hands could be expected to accomplish much with little.

So while there is much we don't know, there is no reason to find the events recorded in the narrative as in way "impossible".

The "cubit" is a general measure, like the "foot". How much is a "foot"? Just look at your foot. Of course this measurement became regularized over time, and so did the cubit. It appears to be about a foot and a half, 18", roughly the distance between the elbow and the tip of the middle finger. In Israel there was also the "long cubit" or "cubit of the sanctuary" (around 21", or "a cubit and a hand-breadth"; Ezek.40:5). There are always variations on measurements, it seems. In my youth I remember being shocked to learn that in Canada a gallon was more than in the US – an "imperial gallon". Now they use liters (whatever that is).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Ah, thanks Bob,

An "ouch" in 1611, as far as I know, was an hammered setting for a jewel or stone in rings and broaches. I assumed it was shortened from couch. Your explanation makes both KJV and NIV almost correct. How would you translate it? If you know of anyone with a firm handle on Elizabethan English, I'd really appreciate an educated definition of ouch.

I understand the miraculous nature of the Exodus, but it still boggles my mind. The Lord's instructions were for them to make it. I was under the impression the temple was made before moving on to the next encampment; an assumption since I know of no scripture that identified a time frame. (I need to stop jumping to conclusions!)

Do you have any idea how many encampments there were?

A liter, BTW, is 39 fl. oz. -- a quart is 32 fl. oz. Nearly interchangeable when making brine for kraut or pickles. At least that's the conversion I use. Metric is much easier to use when it comes to prepping food.

In our Lord,

Response #21:

Thanks – so a liter is an imperial quart? It's sure not the "quart of the sanctuary".

"Settings" seems to fit the bill.

I don't think it took very long to construct the tabernacle:

So the tabernacle was set up on the first day of the first month in the second year.
Exodus 40:17 NIV

On encampments, you'd have to count up the listings in Numbers chapter 33 (math is not my strong point).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Hello Bob,

My tabernacle question answer was there all the time and I was too blind to see it. Thank you for the pointer. Sinai is a good distance from Egypt. If it was started at Sinai and finished in the beginning of the second year, it was accomplished at lightening speed and I assume at Sinai. Apparently only two men did the work or so Exodus 31:1-6 indicates. I don't recall any other scripture that tells how many they supervised for getting supplies and lifting, etc. Now it's even more amazing to me.

"Quart of the sanctuary?" For what it's worth, I rather like podunkery and plan on ending my days as a podunk. Your comments about that in the "Eschatology Issues LXXXVI" post highlighted how out of touch and old I am. I come from a time before television and internet. I have almost nothing in common with lettered generations. C'est la guerre...

Thanks for your patience.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #22:

There's always something more to see and find out in scripture – for us all. While Bezalel and Oholiab were indeed the chief artisans, they didn't do the work all by themselves:

"All who are gifted artisans among you shall come and make all that the LORD has commanded"
Exodus 35:10 NKJV (cf. Ex.35:26ff.)

And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers.
Exodus 35:34-35 NIV

In terms of the logistics of gathering materials, that was definitely of the Lord:

"Take from among you an offering to the LORD. Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the LORD: gold, silver, and bronze; blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, and goats’ hair; ram skins dyed red, badger skins, and acacia wood; ‘oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense; onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate."
Exodus 35:5-10 NKJV

Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought the LORD’s offering for the work of the tabernacle of meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments. They came, both men and women, as many as had a willing heart, and brought earrings and nose rings, rings and necklaces, all jewelry of gold, that is, every man who made an offering of gold to the LORD. And every man, with whom was found blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, and goats’ hair, red skins of rams, and badger skins, brought them. Everyone who offered an offering of silver or bronze brought the LORD’s offering. And everyone with whom was found acacia wood for any work of the service, brought it. All the women who were gifted artisans spun yarn with their hands, and brought what they had spun, of blue, purple, and scarlet, and fine linen.
Exodus 35:21-25 NKJV

Then all the craftsmen who were doing all the work of the sanctuary came, each from the work he was doing, and they spoke to Moses, saying, “The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work which the LORD commanded us to do.”
Exodus 36:4-5 NKJV

It is astounding – but nothing is impossible for the Lord.

My daffodils are already a foot high, so it won't be too long now!

Keeping you in my prayers, my friend.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #23:

Hi Bob,

Why cannot I connect these dots? Thank you. You have brought my understanding far beyond where I would have been otherwise. I am truly thankful for you and your teaching.

I hope your daffodils aren't killed by frost. The bees need them this time of year. Weather has been screwy for the past three years down here. We had highs in the mid 80s for a couple of days then highs in the low 30s. It may be historically reasonable but I've not seen this in my 38 years here.

Thank you for your prayers. I keep you in mine as well.

Yours in our Lord,

Response #23:

It's my great pleasure, my friend.

The only time I ever remember the daffodils getting "nuked" in this neck of the woods was just after I moved here over thirty years ago. It was, otherwise, a surprisingly mild winter (didn't know that at the time – I thought ALL future winters here in L-ville would be much the same!), but we got a nasty frost in March. The huge acre-wide patch of daffodils and jonquils on the freeway median on the way down town went from yellow to brown overnight. Maybe they were early on account of the previous nice weather. Mine are a small bunch, pretty well protected.

Thanks for those prayers, my friend! You're in mine daily too as you know.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #24:

Hello, Bob,

I just finished rendering fat for lard. (Great sautés.) Sadly it wasn't all caul but back and other fats. (Too much trouble for the packers, apparently.) It reminded me of the question, "Why was the fat and specifically the caul (fat around the kidneys which makes the best pasteries, etc.,) forbidden?" Was it simply that it was the best and reserved for the Lord?

Yours in Christ,

Response #24:

I believe because the aroma of the burning fat represents the "sweet savor" of the cross (cf. Eph.5:2; Phil.4:18).

For whoever eats the fat of the animal of which men offer an offering made by fire to the LORD, the person who eats it shall be cut off from his people.
Leviticus 7:25 NKJV

So it is really the fat of the offerings we are talking about here in any case – for the Law (under which we no longer serve). Of course eating blood is still something I personally avoid – and not eating a lot of fat would be good too. So as my Jewish-convert scoutmaster and Sunday school teacher taught us, there are usually salutary health results from the dietary provisions of the Law.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #25:

Greetings Dear Friend,

I hope you are well. I trust Our Savior has His Hand on you.

I have an interpretation question re: the word "fool".

Proverbs seems to use it as someone who knows better but acts without the knowledge they have gained through training and life's lessons.

I can't remember the Book or verse that says that we are not to call someone a fool.

I pray Dear Brother for your continued health and strength as you continue to be a good & wise teacher for your flock.

My sister's situation is no better, however I am happy at least I know the children are safe and out of that horrible environment.

Please pray for my dear friend. She had leukemia 2 years ago & it's back. She has to have a bone marrow transplant and her only sibling is not a match. She is my oldest friend, our Mother's we're expecting us at the same time. She's 2 months older than me.

Pray for me, Dear Friend, as I too am having a health crisis. I have complete faith in Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior and will walk with Him any path He chooses for me.
*[our friend had a major operation yesterday, 6/17/22 – still waiting to hear from her; prayers appreciated].

May Our Blessed Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, protect you, keep you safe and in His Loving Care,

Response #25:

I will definitely be praying for your friend – and for you (added and updated requests at Ichthys too).

Sorry to hear that your sister has still not escaped this awful situation. I'm praying for that too (good to hear that at least the children are out of harm's way).

The New Testament verse you're probably thinking of is this one:

But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire.
Matthew 5:22 NKJV

As to the word "fool", in the Old Testament, the most common word for that is nabhal. You may remember Abigail complaining about her first husband to king David:

"Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him."
1st Samuel 25:25 NIV

Biblical "fools" are not purveyors of mirth but generally wicked individuals with no regard for God or His truth. That really is the definition of folly – in God's eyes (the only perspective that matters).

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.
Psalm 14:1b NIV

The root of this word has to do with decay and decline. So, etymologically speaking, a fool by this definition is someone who has become insipid – through turning away from the truth. Of course, it's not wise to press etymologies too far since words mean what they mean in context, regardless of original derivation. But if you look at the word "fool" in a concordance you will see that in the Bible it is reserved mostly for those who are wicked enemies of God.

When you say, "Proverbs seems to use it as someone who knows better but acts without the knowledge they have gained through training and life's lessons", I think that is a fair assessment, just adding that in the Bible there is a spiritual dimension that is always present. Also, Proverbs often uses the more poetic word for fool, Hebrew 'e'vil. (n.b., nothing at all to do with the English word "evil"). Proverbs also occasionally uses chesiyl, meaning foolishness in lacking common sense. Louis Goldberg in the Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, a standard reference for Hebrew vocabulary studies, says "If one can posit a graduation in the words for fool, 'e'vil is one step below a chesiyl and only one step above a nabhal". I'm not sure I'd agree with that. In my reading of these things, the words are synonyms, each with their own particular "flavor" – and it's not good to be tagged with any of these labels.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #26:

Hi Bob,

Interesting post this week. Particularly on giving.

I have a snag that I can't reconcile. In Deuteronomy 14, Moses tells the Israelites to not eat unclean meat reinforcing the laws from Mt. Sinai. Yet in Deuteronomy 12:15 & 22, he tells them the opposite. Is there a translation issue or am I missing something?


In Jesus,

Response #26:

The words are different. In Deuteronomy 14:3 the command is not to eat anything which is "detestable" or, more literally, "an abomination". In Deuteronomy 12:15 and 12:22, the contrast is between "clean" and "unclean" where we are talking about ceremonial uncleanness. It was never appropriate to offer a deer in sacrifice – but, as long as it was slaughtered properly, venison could be eaten (the animal is not "detestable" such as a pig is under the Law).

Of course under the New Covenant, everything is "fair game" (no pun intended):

“Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)
Mark 7:18-19 NIV

[Peter] saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.”
Acts 10:11-15 NKJV

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
1st Timothy 4:1-5 NIV

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #27:

Dear Bob,

These are more translation questions.

Was the grain Joseph stored for the seven year famine all an ancient variety of wheat, like Emmer, Einkorn or Spelt, or a combination of grains like rice and millet along with wheat? I've read some translations (NIV particularly) where "wheat" is translated as Spelt.

Also, was the garlic the Israelites missed and complained about (KJV) specifically garlic or did it encompass other alliums (onions, shallots, chives, etc.?) Logically, I would think the latter; high nutrient content and simple prep.

Having had to cook for myself these past years, I understand why they would be needed and missed, These may also have future implications.

Yours in our Lord,

Response #27:

"Corn" in the KJV, of course, does not mean "maize" (our "corn" here in the USA), but other grains such as wheat, barley, etc.

Genesis 41:35 parallels the Hebrew word bar with the phrase "all foods" – which indicates to me that "corn" is a good British-English way to translate the word here (i.e., meaning here edible grains of all kinds). It's often difficult to distinguish between cereal grains in the ancient world based on vocabulary used. Spelt is a particular "issue". Barley is usually distinguished from wheat in particular because 1) it would grow where other grains would not, but 2) has only about half the nutritional value of other cereal grains such as wheat.

As to garlic, here's what I read:

“We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic;"
Numbers 11:5 NKJV

The word translated "leeks" could be spices generally; the words translated "onions" and "garlic" are reasonably taken to be their namesakes (the LXX translates them with the better documented Greek words which do mean this in both cases and for garlic too – in Modern Greek today skordalia, from the same root, is garlic infused mashed potatoes – very tasty), but both words are hapax legomena in the OT (meaning they only occur here). It's fair to say from the verse above that we are not to take this as a complete list but as representative of the things the rebellious people missed.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #28:

Hello, Bob,

Thanks for the explanation. I suspected as much but wasn't sure. It's interesting, though, that the original words for onion and garlic are specific. Two thoughts prompted my questions. You explained to me sometime in the past that pulses of Daniel were vegetables in general rather than what we understand as pulses and I just got through dehydrating onions so I wouldn't be without. (The grocery is a longish drive.) I would miss them, too.

There are an incredible variety of special diets cooked up by people hoping to make money on the web. I recently saw a blurb about "The Carnivore Diet" only animal protein which Daniel completely refutes. Then, there's "The Paleo Diet." Both claim to duplicate the diet our ancient ancestors ate which they couldn't possibly know.

I think this is another example of peripheral information in the Bible being there to guide us. While salvation is central, I believe the Bible in all its aspects is mankind's owner's manual.

Yours in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Response #28:

It's a sign of the times for sure. I read this is scripture too:

(1) The Spirit explicitly says that in the end times certain men will rebel from the faith, giving their allegiance [instead] to deceitful spirits and demonic doctrines. (2) With their own consciences seared away and speaking with the hypocrisy of men [who peddle] lies, (3) they will [instruct their victims] to refrain from marriage, and to keep away from certain foods – which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and fully understand the truth. (4) For everything God has created is good, and nothing is to be rejected [out of hand if it is] received with thanksgiving, (5) because it is sanctified [for our use] through God's Word and [our] prayers.
1st Timothy 4:1-5

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #29:

Dear Bob,

Just one follow-up question. Were the "bread and fishes" Jesus distributed to the thousands actually bread (unleavened, most likely) and actual fish? Or were these also general terms translated as "bread and fish?"

Are the raisins mentioned in several places actual dried grapes or is the original synonymous with grapes? 1 Samuel 25:18, e.g.

Paul was right on the money. I always thought that passage was talking about the RC church but other "denominations" are peddling the same beliefs, (As the friend I wrote you about some time ago.)

I think I've finally understood why we are constrained from eating blood or things strangled. Blood in a dead body quickly mortifies and turns black or nearly so within minutes. If life is in the blood, to eat anything strangled, which of practical necessity, would have been dead for some time would be to eat and take into ourselves death. We are instead taught to have faith in our Lord and eternal life.

A common method of harvesting small game like rabbits was to use a snare. The game would have been dead for hours. Experienced hunters know that you gut and bleed game as soon as possible because the meat is soon tainted. In a commercial packing plant, the animal is bled and gutted within about a minute. To eat blood, as in blood pudding or sausage, is to take that dead blood into our bodies to be incorporated in us.

That may not be a correct understanding, but it certainly makes sense to me.

Yours in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Response #29:

There are all manner of reasonable bases for the Mosaic Law provisions (as my old Jewish scoutmaster and convert to Christ always taught us in Sunday school); blood symbolizes the blood of Christ, and that is why it is not to be eaten.

The fish and bread in the feeding of the ten thousand are the generic words for fish and bread (not unleavened bread).

The fig and raisin cakes in 1st Samuel 25:18 are just that, raisins and figs pressed into cakes as the best way to preserve and store them in those days.

The main point of 1st Timothy 4:1-5 in respect of our conversation is that we have to be on the alert against people who say what we eat has any spiritual significance. We need to eat; God provides; this world means nothing. But people fixated on fasting or careful regimes when it comes to food are to be viewed with suspicion – if they are attributing any spiritual significance to what they are doing.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #30:

I thought about the blood of Christ, but there seemed to be more. Can't say I attach any spiritual significance to food choices, Paul certainly didn't, but I can say that, the older I get, the more vegetarian I become. While I can afford meat and still enjoy it, I feel better when I don't eat so much. That suggests to me that Daniel was right. In my experience, Biblical food choices are better and more wholesome in general.

Having seen and smelled the blood of corpses, whether prohibited or not, I couldn't eat it. The smell and the thought of eating it is repulsive -- to me, at least. Some love blood pudding and/or
blood sausages but I would sooner eat earth worms. Of the four things Paul prohibited to us gentiles, all were obvious except the eating of things strangled. It took me quite a while to grasp that one. Realizing how quickly blood mortified, it made sense. It happens within and hour or two which makes Christ's crucifixion and resurrection even more miraculous.

Shortly, I hope, my grapes and figs will bear and I'll have a chance to try fig and raisin cakes -- which sounds pretty good to me. I can imagine it with roast pork or lamb. Maybe in a stuffing for goose or turkey. I must admit, my interest in Biblical foods is far more mundane than spiritual. From what I've understood and tried of food from Biblical times, it was quite good and satisfying. Even some Roman food. (Garum in particular.) Even bread and fishes. Fresh bread (leavened, of course) with smoked herring (kippers) is a delightful lunch. Particularly with a little ricotta (milk and honey) and olive oil.

I apologize for rhapsodizing so far off topic. I don't want to be a burden, but what convinces you that the bread Christ distributed with the fishes was leavened? I don't get that sense from either

Why was caul, or the fat around the kidneys prohibited to the Israelites? That fat, or leaf lard as it came to be known is/was the most prized for pastries and as a spread in place of butter. (It does make a difference!) At least 100 years ago if not today. (The lard you find on the grocery shelf was hydrogenized by Std. Oil of NJ is not fit to eat.) Home rendered pork or beef fat is my preferred oil for frying but I still can't understand why it was prohibited. The answer may be,
"it just was." If so, I can accept that. But if more is known, I'd like to know.


Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #30:

Unleavened bread was only necessary to employ during Passover – a symbol of the haste of departure from Egypt (and also of the purity of Christ's body which had no sin nature which the yeast also represents). Otherwise the Israelites ate leavened bread like everyone else. The word for unleavened bread is azymos; the word for bread in Greek is artos; it's the latter we have in the context being discussed.

All fat of sacrificial animals was prohibited for use because it was to be burned on the altar as a "sweet savor" to represent the Father's satisfaction with the work of the Son (Lev.3:16-17).

Of course, "fat" and "blood" are to some extent relative in application. It's impossible to eat a piece of meat that on a micro level has neither. Eating either as pure elements is what is prohibited for those under the Law because of the symbolism.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #31:

Dear Bob,

Again I ask about translation (and food) issues. In Exodus 9:32. Isaiah 28:25 and Ezekiel 4:9 I read "spelt." In the KJV, the same word is translated variously as rie and fitches,

Are any of these accurate translations? Do we actually know what the grain was? (Triticum spelta) The Italians call spelt farro grande which lumps it in with emmer and einkorn. All ancient grains. Khorasan (Kamut) also is an ancient grain likely grown in Egypt. (If we believe archaeologists:)

Of course, that begs the issue of did the KJV translators know anything at all about spelt? It appears the Hebrew made a distinction.

I ask because I use a lot of spelt that I mill fresh. (Excellent pasta!) I believe all these peripheral issues are there for a reason.


Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #31:

As I've written before, linking up modern and ancient terms for any sort of flora or fauna (minerals too) is always problematic, and there are various levels of issues involved. I.e., even things with the same names as the names for things we refer to today mean something different in antiquity (e.g., what they called a "topaz", we call a "peridot", and our "topaz" is something completely different: this happens with flora and fauna as well).  We often can't be sure that's not the case in other instances as well. So some things we know. About others we are only guessing. In Ezekiel 4:9, KJV has "millet" and "fitches" for Hebrew dochan and cusemet respectively; the first word is a hapax legomenon – meaning it only occurs here in the entire OT, and there aren't any convincing parallels (so "millet" is a guess); the second word is more common and is the one translated "rie" at Isaiah 28:25 in the KJV. So KJV is inconsistent in their rendering of the terminology. It is clearly a cereal grain, and seems to come from a root meaning "shorn off", based upon all of which (in addition to parallels in other languages) "spelt" is what most commentators / lexicographers have posited for this word.

In Jesus Christ – the true Bread of Life.

Bob L.

Question #32:

Bob, you've always been a great help. I wish you had more concrete answers at times -- like what is it really that was translated as spelt? Or another, what was the plant translated "hyssop"? Because it certainly wasn't the plant we call hyssop today.

You've answered those questions as best they can be so no need to rehash. Comments only:

Daniel 1 made and continues to make an impact on me today. Without any serious intent I've drifted toward a more vegetarian diet. I still like meat though I don't particularly like the cleanup. I do feel better for eating less meat. Perhaps just getting old.

"A land flowing with milk and honey" is portrayed as good and I've discovered that honey is a far better sweetener than cane sugar. It actually benefits your body where cane sugar doesn't. And I
do love cheese. That I keep bees doesn't play much into that choice but, again, I feel better avoiding processed sugar. Family also are drifting toward honey and away from sugar and feel better for it. I intend to increase the colonies.

As far as dunging my vines, and I do have grapes growing, but I still haven't convinced my neighbor to let me collect some. One day, maybe.

Horticultural examples in the Bible are accurate. E.g., taking the tip of a cedar and planting it in a new location is not only valid, it's the way I propagate a number of plants.

None of this has anything to do with salvation, but it never ceases to amaze me that these seemingly incidental parts of the Bible are so instructive. And so true. Perhaps of we weren't so "smart" we could learn much from the Bible.

I could rhapsodize at length but you get the point. There is so much to learn from the Bible and I have so little time left it saddens me.

Thanks for being willing to field my crazy emails.

Yours in our Saviour Jesus Christ,

Response #32:

Don't be sad, my friend. The other side will be so much better in every way. It says in Isaiah 11:9 that during the Millennium "the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea". If that is true for those still in the first body while time is still progressing, think how much more will there be for us to know and know for certain once we see the Lord face to face in resurrection!

And during the Millennium with the curse removed from the ground, the blessings upon agriculture will be profoundly increased beyond present imagination (see the link). So think how much more wonderful such things will be in the eternal state when the new earth is watered by the crystal waters of the river of life which flow forth from the very throne of God!

Whatever we are enjoying now through God's gracious bounty is just a small foretaste of the blessings soon to come. Bread from whatever grains is good, but we have the very Bread of Life (Jn.10).

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #33:

Hello Brother Bob

Blessings I have a question about glutton the reason why I asking I know a senior lady is so concerned about glutton her eating habits she believes she's going through so much trouble because of being a glutton. Thing is she is skin and bones so to speak I told her she needs to really fully understand what glutton is so I'm asking if you have a lesson pertaining to it.

God bless

Response #33:

From your description, you are clearly correct in your analysis, and I would counsel such a person to eat healthy. Under-eating is unhealthy just as over-eating is. Most of the idea of "gluttony as a sin" comes from the Roman Catholic church. Here is a link to an extensive discussion on this topic I have posted to the site: "Gluttony"; but I'll give you the gist here:

The Proverbs 23:1-3 passage doesn't have anything to do with how much a person consumes. Rather it is concerned with the greed of the wealthy. The other Old Testament passages on "gluttony" use the Hebrew word zalal, a word which is not really directed at the amount consumed but at the expense in consumption. A "glutton" according to these and other biblical passages is someone who, like the prodigal son, squanders his/her resources of pleasures and other things of no account, one who is not a responsible steward of what God has given. So there is no Roman Catholic deadly sin of "gluttony" in the Bible where "gluttony" means eating too much. I can't think of any biblical passages which condemn a person simply for eating more than the next person or for weighing more than the next person (i.e., for every Jer.5:28 there is an Is.10:27). I think that it is indeed a correct biblical application to suggest that prudence and moderation in consumption is appropriate just as it is in all other areas of life. But where to draw the line here is (as in all those other areas where sin is not spelled out) between the individual concerned and the Lord. Conscience will have to dictate what is really too much. As long as we approach such questions honestly and with a tender conscience, we won't have to worry about falling into the category of gluttony (even though as I say this is not really a biblical "sin" but a Roman Catholic invention based upon failure to understand the above).

So I would say that while excessive over-eating to the point of dangerous obesity is obviously not something to recommend, and that while lavish and conspicuous consumption beyond any reasonable norm is also something to avoid, beating oneself up over an anniversary dinner out to eat is ridiculous, and criticizing other people for the like is the worst sort of legalism. We who are trying to follow the Lord carefully and who make it a point to weigh out everything we do have little to worry about in these respects. But those who put on massive daily banquets and indulge themselves in all the lusts of the flesh to an extreme degree would clearly be out of line – especially if they are doing so from the proceeds of "ministries"! And those who spend their time in nosy consideration of the details of other Christians' lives while failing to take the log out of their own eye are equally likely to have a lot of explaining to do before the judgment seat of Christ.

In Him,

Bob L.

Question #34:

Dear Teacher

I have a question. In Ecclesiastes 4, there is the following passage:

13 A poor yet wise lad is better than an old and foolish king who no longer knows how to receive instruction. 14 For he has come out of prison to become king, even though he was born poor in his kingdom. 15 I have seen all the living under the sun throng to the side of the second lad who replaces him. 16 There is no end to all the people, to all who were before them, and even the ones who will come later will not be happy with him, for this too is vanity and striving after wind.
Ecclesiastes 4:13-16 (NASB)

The text is a little vexed for me. I can assume that "he has come out of prison" is just additional information about the lad rather than a necessary interpretation of "a poor yet wise lad," but is verse 15 still referring to this poor yet wise lad and is he replacing the old and foolish king? Both seem fairly obvious to me, but I want to be sure. What is verse 16 talking about though? It's hard to think through for me. Is it saying that there is no end of predecessors or kings before the old king and the young king and that the kings who succeed the young king will not be happy with him? That's a thought I just had writing to you. I was thinking at first that the "people" in that verse referred to the people that he ruled over, but if it refers instead to kings that preceded and will succeed him, it makes a bit more sense. In that case though, I still wonder why it says that there is no end to those who were before him. Was it just saying that no specific rulership lasts forever so that it is foolish to build one's life around that as if that were the point of life: to follow a ruler whether a good one or a bad one? As for those who succeed him, my thinking is that the standard that he sets for them will make ruling that much more difficult for them especially if they are not inclined to follow his example. What do you think, Sir?

Any news?

Keeping you in our prayers here, Sir.

Your student in Jesus

Response #34:

First, on the news front, I don't have much to offer as there have been no major developments – still waiting to see what develops on both fronts (I expect that by mid-August I'll know about classes; not sure about the timing on the pregnancy; prayers appreciated for both!).

On the Ecclesiastes passage, to me it makes the point that people are fickle. They may be provided with a good ruler and not appreciate him. And a good application of this is that therefore there is little point in getting involved in politics because whether the side you back is supporting a foolish king (no profit there) or even a good one, even in the latter case his popularity won't last – and by implication any of the good he does will also be fleeting.

Keeping you and your families in my daily prayers, my friend!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #35:

Hi Bob,

Hope all is well with you. I had been in touch with you a bit ago regarding a question about the multitude in Revelation 7:9. Thanks for your emails regarding that.

I had another question if that's ok!

I've been doing a Bible study with a group over zoom. We got onto... who is the man Jacob wrestles with?

So I had been checking into it. I'd checked the Hebrew etc, looked at commentaries etc. And it seemed to be an angel - God's messenger. I figured it can't be Jesus as some may think, as Jesus had to be born of a woman and it was for our salvation. So I figured it couldn't literally be God as no one sees God's face. Also initially it says it was a man specifically.

Also Jacob couldn’t prevail against God. But could against an angel. There's also Hosea 12 which talks of an angel.

In the womb he took his brother by the heel, and in his manhood he strove with God. He strove with the angel and prevailed; he wept and sought his favor. He met God at Bethel, and there God spoke with us—
Hosea 12:3 - 4 ESV

But others in the group felt it was literally God. I think due to Jacob being given the name Israel. (God strives, wrestles with God etc)

And Jacob being blessed there. Jacob then says he saw God face to face, but to me he seemed to just surmise that? But he didn't get an answer to his question of what the man's name was.

I think I'm just trying to get my head around it all! Also with saying... 'striving with God'. And Jacob saying he saw God face to face. I guess I'm just trying to understand it etc.

Many thanks, and hope you take good care.

Response #35:

This is a bit of a complicated issue. In essence, the "angel" is the Angel of the Lord, a Christophany (that is, a pre-incarnate appearance of our Lord; see the link).

In a nutshell, Jacob first resisted – meaning he was reluctant to trust God cross the river even though the Lord had told him that He would take care of him, and that was a mistake (presaging the people of Israel's reluctance to trust the Lord for the most part throughout their history); but then, after the Lord "touched him", he now wouldn't let go – meaning that after discipline he was desirous of having the Lord with him continually (presaging many of the greats of the Jewish nation who would set the standard for what it means to stick close to the Lord; cf. as a good example the apostle Paul who, once disciplined [blinded], thereafter "worked harder than them all" for the Lord).

There is application for us all here. Better not to wrestle with the Lord – we're not going to win that one! But once He's lamed us (with discipline), from then on it, best to hang onto Him for all we're worth.

For the details, please see the following links (and do feel free to write me back if you have further questions):

Jacob wrestling with the angel

The Angel who wrestled with Jacob

Jacob's wrestling III

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.


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