Ichthys Acronym Image

Home             Site Links

Old Testament Interpretation IX

Word RTF

Question #1:

How should Psalm 119:89 be translated? I noticed that the main Polish renderings say that the word of the Lord is "immovable like the heavens", but the verse doesn't say "like", but rather that it is established "in the heavens". I'm not sure, however, if we should keep the verse continuous, as does the NASB:

Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.

Or rather, to break it into two parts, as does the NIV, adding a copula in the first part.

Your word, LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.

Response #1:

On Psalm 119:89, you're correct on the meaning. I don't think it matters much whether or not one splits the two ideas. The verse tells us that the Word is eternal, and that it "stands firm in the heavens" (completely consistent with Jn.1:1ff.). My preference based on the rhythm is to take this all as one.

Question #2:

Should we take the word as "standing firmly in the heavens" as a metaphor of its eternal and unbreakable character or do they have a literal application also?

Response #2:

I don't know that I would want to put this issue in these terms. The Word is eternal in every way, both the written Word and the Living Word whose thinking that Word represents. It has always existed and always will – just as He has and always will.

Question #3:

I've been reading about the subject of the ephod which Gideon made.

Judges 8:27 (NASB)
27 Gideon made it into an ephod, and placed it in his city, Ophrah, and all Israel played the harlot with it there, so that it became a snare to Gideon and his household.

Keil and Delitzsch have two following notes on this subject:

Verse 24: Gideon resisted the temptation to put an earthly crown upon his head, from true fidelity to Jehovah; but he yielded to another temptation, which this appeal on the part of the people really involved, namely, the temptation to secure to himself for the future the position to which theLord had called and exalted him.

Verse 27: The further remark of the historian, “and all Israel went thither a whoring after it, and it became a snare to Gideon and his house,” does not presuppose the founding of a sanctuary or temple in Ophrah, and the setting up of a golden calf there. In what the whoring of Israel after the ephod, i.e., the idolatry of the Israelites with Gideon's ephod which was kept in Ophrah, consisted, cannot be gathered or determined from the use of the ephod in the worship of Jehovah under the Mosaic law. “The breastplate upon the coat, and the holy lot, were no doubt used in connection with idolatry” (Oehler), and Gideon had an ephod made in his town of Ophrah, that he might thereby obtain revelations from the Lord. We certainly are not for a moment to think of an exposure of the holy coat for the people to worship. It is far more probable that Gideon put on the ephod and wore it as a priest, when he wished to inquire and learn the will of the Lord. It is possible that he also sacrificed to the Lord upon the altar that was built at Ophrah (Judges 6:24). The motive by which he was led to do this was certainly not merely ambition, as Bertheau supposes, impelling the man who, along with his followers, and maintained an independent attitude towards the tribe of Ephraim in the war itself (Judges 8:1.), to act independently of the common sanctuary of the congregation which was within the territory of Ephraim, and also of the office of the high priest in the time of peace as well. For there is not the slightest trace to be found of such ambition as this in anything that he did during the conflict with the Midianites. The germs of Gideon's error, which became a snare to him and to his house, lie unquestionably deeper than this, namely, in the fact that the high-priesthood had probably lost its worth in the eyes of the people on account of the worthlessness of its representatives, so that they no longer regarded the high priest as the sole or principal medium of divine revelation; and therefore Gideon, to whom the Lord had manifested himself directly, as He had not to any judge or leader of the people since the time of Joshua, might suppose that he was not acting in violation of the law, when he had an ephod made, and thus provided himself with a substratum or vehicle for inquiring the will of the Lord. His sin therefore consisted chiefly in his invading the prerogative of the Aaronic priesthood, drawing away the people from the one legitimate sanctuary, and thereby not only undermining the theocratic unity of Israel, but also giving an impetus to the relapse of the nation into the worship of Baal after his death. This sin became a snare to him and to his house.

So the issue seems to be an usurpation of the position of an Aaronic priest.

Pulpit adds the point of him being the head of the state and as such it was his prerogative to inquire of the Lord, something which the commentary states he could have been doing through a different appointed priest:

What, then, was Gideon's purpose in making this costly ephod? We may infer from his proved piety that at all events his intention was to do honour to the Lord, who had given him the victory. Then, as he was now at the head of the State, though he had declined the regal office, and as it was the special prerogative of the head of the State to "inquire of the Lord" (Numbers 27:21; 1 Samuel 22:13; 1 Samuel 23:2, 4, etc.; 1 Samuel 28:6, etc.), he may have thought it his right, as well as a matter of great importance to the people, that he should have the means ready at hand of inquiring of God. His relations with the great tribe of Ephraim may have made it inconvenient to go to Shiloh to consult the high priest there, and therefore he would have the ephod at his own city of Ophrah, just as Jephthah made Mizpeh his religious centre (ch. Judges 11:11). Whether he sent for the high priest to come to Ophrah, or whether he made use of the ministry of some other priest, we have no means of deciding.

What is your take on this issue? What was Gideon's error?

Response #3:

Gideon made an idol (Ex.20:4-6; cf. Jdg.17:1-6); he shouldn't have done so and that is the long and short of it. The negative consequences of this poor decision are clearly evident from the narrative.

God's purpose in forbidding idolatry in the second commandment (Ex.20:4-6) is for us to be holy and treat Him as holy and stay away from the polluted in every way and not be a means to (falsely) identifying Him with the polluted. Everything in the restrictions placed upon the gentiles in Acts by the council at Jerusalem have to do with pagan idolatry (Acts 15:29).

In terms of idolatry generally, for which there are many parallels in our day, an idol is it's something YOU like, something fun and interesting to you LAYERED onto the truth; that is how idols were employed in antiquity, but how about any number of artistic practices engaged in by the contemporary church visible? This also applies to one's personal life: putting anything on an idol's pedestal to the point where it blocks our relationship with the Lord it deadly (cf. Ezek.14:3-7; Eph.5:5; Col.3:5).

Question #4:

On Gideon - since he has witnessed Lord's help in a wonderful way and has in fact delivered Israel, I thought that perhaps the ephod was a sign of his weaknesses (usurpation and establishment of power not assigned to him, maybe greed) and it has become an idol, particularly in a nation as prone to idolatry as Israel was at that time. But I found it hard to accept that he could actually, after all he has experienced, make this ephod with the intention of committing idolatry. In both cases Gideon actually makes an idol, but I wanted to ask what is your take on this - did he make an error which resulted in idolatry, or did he actually intend to make the ephod a god of his?

Response #4:

That is a good question and I don't know that we can answer what was in Gideon's heart or his head when he did this. It may be (the most likely thing in my opinion) that he meant this as a memorial to his victory – that is weak thinking in that it seeks to glorify self and finds value in the opinions of others contemporary and historical. Every strong believer knows that craving fame is madness, but we all have our weaknesses. So while this was a bit of "worshiping self" that in today's non-pagan not-under-the-Law world would be bad (but perhaps not idolatry), in that day and age creating a golden image of any kind (in light of the golden calf and cf. the example of the Danites and their priest cited earlier) it is clearly a much more serious offense.

Question #5:

Some questions on Isaiah 65:16:

So that he who blesses himself in the earth
Shall bless himself in the God of truth;
And he who swears in the earth
Shall swear by the God of truth;
Because the former troubles are forgotten,
And because they are hidden from My eyes.
Isaiah 65:16 NKJV

a) How to best render the 'asher at the beginning of the verse so as to present the link to the previous verse in the best way. Could "so that" be used here?

b) How the verb in the first part of the verse be translated in Isaiah 65:16? There seem to be no agreement among the versions, with different expressions being used - "invokes a blessing", "blesses himself", "he who is blessed".

c) In the second part of the verse, would you use future or past tense with this sequence?

d) Would you say the verse is poetic and so could be presented as a stanza rather than continuous text?

Response #5:

a) Yes, I think "so that" is fine; 'asher is a subordinating particle/pronoun ("he who" works as well, or a combination of the two).

b) The hithpael is usually reflexive as you know. Rather than "bless himself" better would be "asks a blessing [for himself]" in my opinion.

c) I take this as a prophetic perfect (use the English future tense).

d) Much of Isaiah is just that – poetry – so it's a legitimate thing to do (that is how BHS text displays it in the Hebrew as well).

Question #6:

A question about Micah 7:9: Most English versions went with "indignation" for and this word seems to fit quite well. We haven't got an equivalent in Polish, but from what I read in BDB it does seem to perhaps require a word slightly stronger than "anger"? How should both of these expressions be understood? As the end of the judgment and vindication, which is the interpretation of some versions (NIV - "until he pleads my case and upholds my cause", NASB - "Until He pleads my case and executes justice for me"), or rather should it be rendered more neutrally (ESV - "until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me")? The neutral rendering seems to fit the fact that people of God are undergoing deserved discipline rather than suffering a difficult test like Job and awaiting deliverance. The meaning could thus be "until He has pleaded my case and executed the judgment over me, having put me through all that I deserved". What is your take on this?

Response #6:

My sense is that za'ph is synonymous with anger but tends to the more expressive side of things; cf. the "raging of the sea" in Jonah 1:15.

On the alternative translations, other than the last one (which goes a bit too far), they all seem pretty close to me. The idea is, "until He takes up my cause and gives me the justice I've been waiting for". I think this is speaking not of the deserved discipline but of the hoped for vindication from the enemies who delivered it (cf. the next verse: "then my enemy will see it and be covered with shame"). We find this continually in David's psalms too where he acknowledges his wrong doing but then very aggressively asks for the destruction of the implements of his discipline. This is an important lesson, it seems to me. We do trust in God's forgiveness; and the measure of how much faith we have is the confidence with which we ask for deliverance . . . as not being dependent upon us or who we are or what we have done or may in the future do . . . but entirely on the Lord.

Question #7:

I'm having some difficulty interpreting certain verses in the book of Psalms. It seems that Psalmists' emotions come to the fore at places and it may look as if that was happening through doubt creeping in, certain reactions being reminiscent of Job's impatience with God's judgement or through the Psalmist putting forward his own idea on how the evil done to him or Israel should specifically be avenged. For example, in Psalm 42:9 Psalmist asks the question "Why have you forgotten me?", when we know, and probably so does he, that God hasn't forgotten, but in His long-suffering patience hasn't yet repaid the oppressors. Trust is again expressed in verse 11 "Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.", but that does seem to support the idea that the whole Psalm is a reflection of Psalmist's emotions and a faithful account of the spiritual battle he is undergoing, a battle in which there are moments of doubt which need to be overcome through faith. It is one thing to say "God, although you haven't yet delivered me or repaid the evildoers, I trust in you", and another to say "God, you have forgotten me" (Psalm 13:1, 42:9, etc.). Similarly with the so-called "imprecations". I understand that they are Psalmists' urging for God to execute His justice, but the same question could be asked here also - why do they take the form they take. I understand that we have to pray and it is legitimate for us to do so, even though God's will will be done, there are different ways in which the request to Him can be submitted. It's one thing to say "God, you haven't repaid the oppressor yet, but I know you see their evil and I believe you will not let it go unpunished, so I wait for your judgment. I also know that in your perfect justice you know how exactly their evil should be repaid, so I leave it with you and wait for you". And another to say (Psalm 109:8-13):

8 Let his days be few;
Let another take his office.
9 Let his children be fatherless
And his wife a widow.
10 Let his children wander about and beg;
And let them seek sustenance far from their ruined homes.
11 Let the creditor seize all that he has,
And let strangers plunder the product of his labor.
12 Let there be none to extend lovingkindness to him,
Nor any to be gracious to his fatherless children.
13 Let his posterity be cut off;
In a following generation let their name be blotted out."
Psalm 109:8-13


"How blessed is the one who dashes your little ones against the rock"
Psalm 137:9

In these examples the Psalmist asks for specific repayments to the evildoers, as if God didn't know how they should be repaid. God knows and no doubt knows better than the Psalmist himself (Deuteronomy 32:35). I'm not sure if it is legitimate to ask that oppressors' "children wander about and beg", because I don't know if his children are believers or not. And I don't know if the Psalmist knows that or not. I know that the Psalms are inspired word of God, but I'm not entirely clear about the character of at least some of them. Taking the above into account, I'm not sure if all of them record perfectly legitimate prayers, as it's evident that at least some of them express Psalmists' emotional reactions to events, perhaps some impatience or being shaken in faith and in others God is asked to repay the enemy in the way the Psalmist wants it, rather than just leaving it with God. I may be wrong here and hence this question, if Psalms can be interpreted as a faithful recording of prayers and poems content of which we have to assess (similarly as with the book of Acts). No question can be asked about the prayer that our Lord gives us to pray (Matthew 6:9-13)- it is evident it's perfectly legitimate in all it's content, but numerous questions come to mind when going through the Psalms, which often look like an account of their battles, doubts which needed to be overcome by faith, difficulties where faith was shaken, emotional reactions creeping in when talking about their enemies, etc. Job received a reply from God for similar attitude to which he yielded in his suffering (Job 38-41), so although we are all human beings who can stumble in faith, such stumbling definitely doesn't please God. Your view will be much appreciated.

Response #7:

You've written a lot here, so apologies in advance if I don't treat everything. On imprecatory psalms, please also see response #18 below.  I think there is much in Jacob's wrestling with the Angel of the Lord which explains not only human spiritual experience but also the ways in which that experience is expressed in scripture. In the first instance, Jacob wrestled in resistance, but once he was humbled, he wrestled in hope. Similarly, many human beings who eventually come to the Lord (or come back to Him) wrestle with the truth they don't want to accept, but once they do accept it, have from thereon a struggle wherein they wrestle to hold fast the truth and its application in their lives: "I know God is faithful, but my circumstances make me emotionally upset and I would like to be delivered now not later" – to put it in a nutshell. Seeing the great believers of the Psalms engaged in identical struggles in their hearts and coming out victorious with an acceptance of the truth and an acceding of all judgment to the Lord ought to be an encouraging rather than a confusing thing. After all, we all do or at least have done these sorts of things. And that is why they are in scripture, in my view, namely, as encouragements when we see that others struggled too but, like Jacob, the great ones responded when humbled and wrestled through all their doubts to the victory of faith in the end, becoming worthy of the name "Israel" ("he who struggles with God"). Here are some important links on this:

Jacob wrestles with the Lord

Did Jacob actually wrestle with God?

The name "Jacob"

Question #8:

An interesting view developed by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing is presented by Walker on page 625 of his history:

Just as the individual passes through the successive stages of childhood, youth, and manhood, so does the race. The Scriptures have been given by God to meet these needs. Childhood is moved by immediate rewards and punishments. For men in that condition, the Old Testament is a divine book of training, with its promises of long life and temporal blessings for obedience. Youth is ready to sacrifice present ease and lesser goods for future success and happiness. For it, or for men in that state, the New Testament with its present self-surrender and eternal rewards is a fitting guide. But manhood is ruled by duty, without hope of reward or fear of punishment as its motives.

Of course much can be debated here, but I wanted to ask you about this because some time ago similar thought occurred to me regarding God's progressive revelation. God perhaps "needed" to show people that He is the one and only Lord of creation and establish Himself and did so by providing more short-term "gratifications" for the faith of those who believed - material blessings, enlarged families, etc. This is not quite so in the New Testament. Similarly, I remember your reply on vows, for which there was room in the Old Testament time (e.g., Jacob's vow), but now, when God has proved His faithfulness so many times, there is no need for it.

Response #8:

It's an interesting quote. One thing with which I would take great exception is the idea that duty has replaced reward as a motivation. That is contrary to scripture since we are seeking eternal rewards (e.g., Heb.10:34; 11:6; 13:14). And that was true in the Old Testament as well, even before the Law:

And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.
Hebrews 10:39-40

Question #9:

Psalm 19:6-7 (NASB)
6 Its rising is from one end of the heavens,
And its circuit to the other end of them;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

How should we understand the link between the creation as a testimony to God's glory (verses 1-6) and the rest of the psalm? The transition seems quite sudden.

Response #9:

The first part deals with truth related to the gospel and being saved in the first place (natural revelation); the second part deals with truth beyond the gospel, necessary information for believers after being saved – inasmuch as we grow and advance by giving attention to the truth and believing it just as we believed the truth of the gospel when we were saved (Phil.3:16; Col.2:6-7; cf. 1Pet.1:22-25).

Question #10:

Psalm 19:12 (NASB)
12 Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.

Whose errors is David here referring to?

Response #10:

As Paul assures us, "all sin" (Rom.3:23). David is talking about himself here and also about everyone else: sins of ignorance (which is what "errors" are: "wandering" in the Hebrew) abound in the human experience since we really don't appreciate how wide and deep sin is. But we can be assured that when we confess our sins to the Lord, He forgives us all:

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1st John 1:9

Question #11:

Ecclesiastes 7:17 (NASB)
17 Do not be excessively wicked and do not be a fool. Why should you die before your time?

This verse seems even more difficult than the previous - since wickedness is bad enough in any form and to any degree, why is this a warning against being "excessively wicked", as if a certain amount of wickedness could be justified? Do you agree with how Keil and Delitzsch explain this difficulty:

The correct meaning of "be not wicked over-much" may be found if for ????? we substitute ????; in this form the good counsel at once appears as impossible, for it would be immoral, since "sinning," in all circumstances, is an act which carries in itself its own sentence of condemnation. Thus ???? must here be a setting oneself free from the severity of the law, which, although sin in the eyes of the over-righteous, is yet no sin in itself; and the author here thinks, in accordance with the spirit of his book, principally of that fresh, free, joyous life to which he called the young, that joy of life in its fulness which appeared to him as the best and fairest reality in this present time; but along with that, perhaps also of transgressions of the letter of the law, of shaking off the scruples of conscience which conformity to God-ordained circumstances brings along with it. He means to say: be not a narrow rigorist, - enjoy life, accommodate thyself to life; but let not the reins be too loose; and be no fool who wantonly places himself above law and discipline: Why wilt thou destroy thy life before the time by suffering vice to kill thee (Psalm 34:22), and by want of understanding ruin thyself (Proverbs 10:21)?

This explanation does make some sense, most others I've read don't shed much light here.

Response #11:

The apparent problem in my view is misunderstanding "wicked" which is a loaded term in English. "Bad" is a better word for our purposes here; or in a verbal sense "do wrong" or even "sin" – which is what KD come down to; but there is no justification (or need) for textual emendation. All of us sin; sinning not at all is preferable, but "there is not a man who doesn't sin" (1Ki.8:46; Eccl.7:20; Rom.3:23; Jas.3:2); sinning as little as possible is the best course – that's what this verse is saying.

Question #12:

I have to say, Professor, that among a plethora of interpretations, I found one which particularly appeals to me. Based on the Hithpael form of the verb - תִּתְחַכַּם, meaning of which is often reflexive, the author proposes that what is meant here is one's estimation of oneself. I'm aware that other verbs in verses 16-17 are not in Hithpael, but I have to say that it is the most appealing interpretation I have come across:

Since we can't possibly understand God's decisions, Solomon's conclusion in 7:16-17 is, "Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise.286 Why should you ruin yourself? Do not be excessively wicked and do not be a fool.287 Why should you die before your time?" These verses have been terribly misunderstood. Some have dubbed these verses "the golden mean," which suggests we should not be too righteous or too wicked. Rather, we should strike a balance and achieve a happy medium. Yet, if Solomon is telling us to be moderately godly, he is contradicting the Bible which clearly teaches us to seek righteousness and holiness with all that is within us.288 I believe, therefore, Solomon's concern is not with godly character, but with godly character in one's own eyes. His point is that we should not depend on our righteousness or wisdom to guarantee God's blessing in our lives.289 In other words, if you are a particularly righteous person don't be too confident that you will live to see your 120th birthday. The verb translated "ruin yourself" is better rendered to "be appalled, astounded."290 Solomon is saying, "Don't assume that God owes you anything for your righteousness." If you do, you might be confounded or disappointed like the righteous person who dies at a young age.291 The truth is, no matter how righteous or wise we attempt to be we are still sinners in need of God's mercy and grace. The apostle Paul understood this. Early in his ministry, he called himself the least of the apostles. Later on he said he was the least of all Christians. Then he said he was the chief of sinners. The older he got, the more he saw of God, the lower he became in his own estimation.292 In the same vein, John Newton, the former slave trader and author of "Amazing Grace," said, "When I get to heaven, I will be amazed at three things. I will be amazed at those I thought would be there who are not there, those I did not think would be there who are there, and the fact that I am there at all."293 The Chinese are reported to have a saying, "The shoot that grows tall is the first to be cut."294 Biblically and practically, it makes sense to be humble. There is just too much we don't understand. There are too many questions, too many tragedies, and too much sin. The only solution is to wise up by going low. But what does this look like practically? It means you take a close look at how you think, speak, and act. When you think of Christian self-righteousness, you most likely think of a person who sees the faults of others, but is oblivious to his or her own condition. Tragically, this may be the most frequently used reason for not becoming a Christian. In the past, I used to dismiss this by saying, "There are hypocrites in every profession and sphere of life." But now I agree with statements relating to hypocrisy among Christians. I will even acknowledge that I have been guilty of hypocrisy as well. I empathize with people who quote the common bumper sticker, "Jesus, save me from your followers." Don't get me wrong, we need to be authentically righteous, but we also need to be especially humble. Not only is Solomon opposed to self-righteousness, he is also opposed to wickedness. Although we are sinful and will always have remains of hypocrisy and self-righteousness, we need to be careful not to use our sinfulness as an excuse to sin even more. The fact that we aren't perfect should spur us on toward holiness, not toward moral compromise. It's easy to see how this line of reasoning might work. "I've already told one lie. What difference will another make?" Or "I know I shouldn't have used foul language, but why stop now?" All such reasoning is evil. Why compound your troubles by continuing to sin? When you're in a hole, stop digging. If you can't make things better, at least make sure you don't make them worse. This applies to all of us because everyone struggles with sin to one degree or another. You don't have to take another drink, you don't have to cheat a second time, you don't have to keep on swearing, and you don't have to lose your temper over and over again. By the power of God, and with the help of a few good friends, you can stop the patterns of sin and replace them with habits of holiness.295 If we choose to disregard God's Word and play the fool we may die before our time. The truth is, God does sometimes punish the wicked in this life. There have been times over the course of my life when I have wondered what would happen if I attempted to steer off a cliff while driving my car. I have thought to myself, "Would God send an angel to steer my car away from imminent danger? Would God Himself slam on the brakes before I drove off the cliff? Would He keep my steering wheel from turning in the direction of the cliff?" The answer to these questions is, "NO, NO, NO!" This is not to say that the Lord would not work a miracle, but the odds are against it. If I make a foolish decision, I may pay for it with my life. Young people, please don't play the fool. One experiment with drugs could end your life. One sexual encounter could cost you dearly. One suicidal attempt could be your last. It's not worth it. Live in light of eternity. Exercise wisdom and self-control. Wise up by going low. The final verse of this section is rather interesting. Solomon writes in 7:18, "It is good that you grasp one thing and also not let go of the other; for the one who fears God comes forth with both of them." The "one thing" that you are to grasp is the teaching of 7:17. The "other thing" that you are not to let go of is the wisdom of 7:16. In other words, it is good in life to grasp 7:17-don't be wicked and foolish and blow life; be holy and wise. But at the same time, remember 7:16-you are a finite sinner who can't control God or even understand what He's up to. Obey God and what you know. Trust Him in what you don't.296 Wise up by going low.

Response #12:

It's good to be humble. But that's only part of what this verse is saying. It says what it says and only seems in this person's estimation to be a contradiction of scripture by saying what it says. If we think we can be totally righteous we are going be either disappointed (resulting in despair and unnecessary fear) or we will be tempted to redefine righteousness to our own benefit as the Pharisees did. This passage does not excuse anything, rightly understood; but it does point out that assuming one can gain total wisdom or total sanctification is wrong. This is not "golden mean" thinking (that is a straw-man); this verse merely counsels keeping within the bounds of reality and sticking as close to the truth and to the Lord as possible – the very thing we are called to do throughout scripture.

Question #13:

On the Ecclesiastes 7:17 interpretation - do you think then there could by any merit in the interpretation that what Solomon is referring to in verses 16-17 is our perception of ourselves (hence the hithpael in verse 16 for being "excessively righteous")? I might be wrong here, of course, but I thought that it could be quite a good interpretation. The way I understood it would be:

"Do not be excessively righteous in your own wise and don't think that you are overly wise - you might end up like a hypocrite and ruin yourself. Do not also think of yourself as totally wicked and by that justifying further wickedness - as if it made no further difference. In that way you might die before your time."

Response #13:

It's an interesting suggestion vis-à-vis תִּתְחַכַּם. However, I can't see any way to make verse seventeen become about one's evaluation of oneself instead of actual behavior; that's hard for "don't be overly righteous" too (it requires supplying "in your own mind"); that might be possible, but being wicked and being a fool are not mental states, especially in earthy Hebrew culture.

Question #14:

Isaiah 6:9-10 (NASB):
9 He said, "Go, and tell this people:
'Keep on listening, but do not perceive;
Keep on looking, but do not understand.'
10 "Render the hearts of this people insensitive,
Their ears dull,
And their eyes dim,
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
Understand with their hearts,
And return and be healed."

NIV SB: Is.6:9-10 Quoted by Jesus to explain why he taught in parables (Mt 13:14-15; Mk 4:12; Lk 8:10). See also Ro 11:7-10, 25 and notes. this people. In 1:3; 3:15; 5:13 the Lord refers to Israel as "my people." That their persistent and pervasive rebellion (1:1; 66:24) has begun to alienate them from him is indicated by numerous references to them as "this/these people" (e. g., 8:6, 12; 29:13-14; cf. Ex 17:4 and note).

Do you agree that God calling Israel "this people" should be taken as a contrast to "my people" and denotes distance and alienation?

Response #14:

I would be careful about making too much of it in light of the identical phraseology in passages such as Ex.3:21; 5:22-23; 18:23; etc.

Question #15:

Could you explain why does God say "render" at the beginning of verse 10? Since God wants all to be saved, should it be taken as what you call the "empowerment of error"?

Response #15:

It's similar. When you tell people the truth, it has an effect, and that effect might not be the one you wanted or intended in your heart of hearts . . . because it depends on how they react in their hearts. God has the advantage of knowing ahead of time how we are going to react, and that is the case here. If they would have responded positively to Isaiah's message, He might well have had him say "soften the hearts of this people".

Question #16:

Hello Professor,

I'm adding a few questions from Psalms, but please look at them whenever is convenient for you.

Psalm 2:9 (NASB):
9 ‘You shall [a]break them with a [b]rod of iron,
You shall shatter them like [c]earthenware.’”

a. Psalm 2:9 Another reading is rule

b. Psalm 2:9 Or scepter or staff

c. Psalm 2:9 Lit potter’s ware

Curt Omo at Bible Academy discusses the issue with “break” versus “rule” in verse 9 and how the New Testament references use a different word. I need to say that this problem did make me think – what is your take on it and how should we interpret the difference in Old and New Testament readings?

Response #16:

Psalm 2:9: Here is a link to the latest posting which deals with LXX / Hebrew / NT translation, quotation, citation issues: "Rules" for quoting the OT in the NT. The gist is that just as we might quote the KJV a) because we know it, b) because others know it, c) because it is handy and we have other things to do than spend an hour or so coming up with our own translation which might not be as nice and not really too much different, so it was that NT writers used the LXX ofttimes when quoting / citing the OT. The biggest difference is that we don't have to worry that they were "wrong" to do so because the Spirit's inspiration insures that, in the instances where the Septuagint was actually employed, what is said is true – even if what the version itself says in that place is not exactly what the Hebrew Masoretic text actually says. So in cases of the NT quoting the LXX, it doesn't mean that the MT of the OT is wrong if different; it merely means that the LXX is theologically correct, even if it missed something in translating.

A couple of other observations on this particular psalm. First, while it is alluded to (not exactly quoted), in Revelation 2:27, 12:5 and 19:5, it is only this part which is used in the last two reference, and it comes first in the first reference. In the psalm, the context is of breaking pottery (so r'a'a is appropriate), and this idea comes first so that there is a smooth transition of meaning. In the context of the Great Shepherd "ruling", "shepherding with a rod of iron" is smoother than "breaking". Of course we do understand that our Lord's regime will be intolerant of evil and will commence with a great deal of "breaking" (at the second advent and afterwards). So both verbs mean essentially the same thing, just providing a different emphasis that suits the context. Therefore it was appropriate for John to use the LXX phrasing – even though it was not really a correct rendition of the Hebrew text. "Scholars" get into the mix when they notice the similarity between r'a'a' "to break" and r'a'ah "to shepherd" – and that is no doubt also the origin of the LXX's mistaken translation in my opinion; but John has the Spirit's approval to use it anyway and the result is the Word of God.

Question #17:

Psalm 4:4-5 (NASB):
4 Tremble, and do not sin;
Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness,
And trust in the Lord.

Could you explain verse 4? Firstly, who are the words from both verses directed to? According to Unger, they are addressed to the faithful:

“Be upset and “tremble” with anger or fear at the fierce persecutions of your enemies, but do not sin by distrusting the Lord to come to your aid. Nurse your faith in Him by “communing with your own heart” (Lit, “looking into your heart,” in the sense of “examining your conscience”;

But according to Keil and Delitzsch, to the rebellious:

He warns his adversaries against blind passion, and counsels them to quiet converse with their own hearts, and solitary meditation, in order that they may not imperil their own salvation.

Response #17:

Here is my comparative translation from the link where this passage is explained ("In your anger, do not sin"):

(26) When you are upset, don't give in to sin; don't let the sun set while you are still upset (i.e., don't brood over this irritation). (27) That will only give the devil an opportunity.
Ephesians 4:26-27

(4) When you are upset, don't give in to sin; speak words [of comfort and wisdom] to yourselves (lit., "in your hearts") while you lie on your beds (i.e., put the irritation aside before you let the day slip away; cf. Eph.4:26b above), and be still (i.e., wean yourself from irritation to peace).
Psalm 4:4

Paul's quote in Ephesians follows the LXX. The Septuagint does a good job providing a literal rendering which is fine; however it fails to take into consideration that Hebrew, especially Hebrew poetry, often has two ideas linked by the connective waw where one is really the apodosis of a temporal or conditional protasis – a fancy way of saying that it means "when / then" here and not really "do x AND y". That is where the confusion comes in, in my estimation (see prior link), but it is cleared up as often by a translation which better reflects the meaning.

Question #18:

Psalm 5:10 (NASB):
10 Hold them guilty, O God;
By their own devices let them fall!
In the multitude of their transgressions thrust them out,
For they are rebellious against You.

NIV SB: 5:10 The presence of so-called imprecations (curses) in the Psalms has occasioned endless discussion and has caused many Christians to wince, in view of Jesus' instructions to turn the other cheek and to pray for one's enemies (see Mt 5:39, 44), as well as his own example on the cross (see Lk 23:34). Actually, these "imprecations" are not that at all; rather, they are appeals to God to redress wrongs perpetrated against the psalmists by imposing penalties commensurate with the violence done (see 28:4) —in accordance also with God's norm for judicial action in human courts (see Dt 25:1–3; see also 2Th 1:6; Rev 6:10; 19:2). The psalmists knew that those who have been wronged are not to avenge that wrong by their own hand but are to leave redress to the Lord, who says, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay" (Dt 32:35; see Pr 20:22; Ro 12:19). Therefore they appeal their cases to the divine Judge (see Jer 15:15). Banish them. From God's presence, thus from the source of blessing and life (see Ge 3:23). rebelled against you. By their attacks on the psalmist.

What is your take on the "imprecations"? How should we understand them? The note in the SB above does make sense, but what I'm unsure about is the nature of these appeals to redress wrongs perpetrated against the psalmists. Instead of saying "God, repay them accordingly", we have some numerous and specific supplications given, like in Psalm 109:6-20. Is it not the case that had Psalmists only appealed to God, they would have left to Him the nature of the punishment, as vengeance is His (Deuteronomy 32:35) and He knows exactly how to repay the wicked? 

What is your take on Unger’s comment:

Here occurs the first imprecatory prayer recorded in the Psalms. It is not that the psalmist, living in a semibarbaric age, knew no better, as some critics maintain, nor are such prayers evidence against their divine inspiration, as others maintain. Nor would it be right for a Christian to pray these prayers during this age, in which the church is to suffer and endure rejection with Christ. But seen in the light of correct interpretation, they are fully inspired and perfectly in order when the time comes for them to be answered, namely, when man’s iniquity in his rejection of the Lord’s anointed King has come to the full (Psalm 2) and God’s judgments are ripe and ready to be unloosed on the earth (Rev. 6:1-19:11).

Response #18:

Imprecatory psalms are part of the Word of God. So if anyone is being directed by the Holy Spirit to curse someone, they should do it. That is not happening today anymore than speaking in tongues is. But it is a blessing to have them, because in every case we see (usually David) handing the problem over to the Lord, letting Him deal with the trouble-maker rather than taking vengeance into his own hands. Instead of complaining about such psalms as somehow un-befitting, naysayers should follow this example of putting all issues where they / we have been wronged into the Lord's hands. And the result in David's case in particular is that the result of letting God handle instead of rushing to handle it himself if blessing for himself and cursing for the ones who deserved it – not because of David demanding a curse but because of God honoring David's trust in Him to deal with things. That is the essence of imprecatory psalms – pretty much the opposite of what people who have "problems" with them think. "Vengeance is mine", says the Lord (Deut.32:35; Rom.12:19), and these psalms give us the model of how we should apply that important principle whenever we are upset and leaning toward retaliation: turn it over to the Lord in prayer – just like David did.

Telling the Lord precisely how to handle things is a bad idea of course (so we should stay away from asking for X to happen to person Y), but having this all in the psalms is wonderful because we see therein that God does take care of the evil-doers who attack us, and that their end is slippery and destructive, just as David calls for in the Spirit, just as we can have confidence will be the case for us for all those evil-doers who are used by Satan to attack us – as long as we trust the Lord to handle the problem and refrain from getting involved ourselves (cf. Rom.12:20). Knowing and appreciating this from the scriptures, we can be mentally and emotionally more at ease when we face such challenges as unfairness and persecution. So these are blessed psalms to have – except for humanists (who are no doubt not saved). See also the link: "Imprecatory passages". I agree with you on the note. Unger is skirting around the answer; he just needed to take it a step or two deeper.

Question #19:

Hi Bob,

After thinking about this passage, I think Vashti may have done the right thing by refusing to appear before Xerxes.

Think about it: Xerxes is drunk with a gathering of drunken men, and he calls his wife to come into the royal palace. The detail "with her royal crown on" seems to be a superfluous detail, but it could be possible that Xerxes wanted Vashti to appear wearing only her royal crown on, so to entertain the drunken guests. In that case, Vashti would have been morally obligated to disobey her husband, as not even a woman's husband can demand her to sexually gratify other men by voyeurism.

Response #19:

The Bible merely records what happened. Neither of these individuals were believers. I'm not sure I would subscribe to this interpretation (I think scripture would have made it clear if that important detail were a part of the picture). Also, as I recall, the women were having their own "bender" at the same time.

In any case, God used the sequence of events for the deliverance of the Jewish people at that time – an important thing to consider whenever we may feel that odd events are just random occurrences. As Mordecai said to Esther:

"And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?"
Esther 4:14 NASB

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Hello Professor,

I will be praying for this issue daily, as for your ministry and professional matters. And I appreciate your prayers too.

I was asked me two interesting questions today and I wanted to forward them to you. I have my thoughts on them, but they are not easy and your guidance will be appreciated.

Genesis 8:21 (NASB)
21 The Lord smelled the soothing aroma; and the Lord said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.

1. I was firstly asked how is it that the Lord said "I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done" when the Tribulation is coming during which destruction will take place. I'm not sure if I'm correct here, but it seems to me that it could be important that God says "I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done" - meaning - through the flood. In Genesis 9:11 He is specific about it:

11 "I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth."

So the words in Genesis 9:11 could be taken as referring and specifying the statement in Genesis 8:21. We know that this world will be destroyed - but by fire:

2 Peter 3:10 (NASB)
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

And we know that nothing will be left of this earth in eternity, when we will dwell on the New Earth:

Revelation 21:1 (NASB)
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.

So it seems that the word "as I have done before" - referring to the flood - could be taken as a key to explaining this. During the Tribulation the earth and its almost exclusively unbelieving population will be judged with many judgments and not just deluged with the flood, as it was in the days of Noah.

And then secondly, I'm not sure if we should attach importance in the context of this question to the fact that "I will never again destroy every living thing" could refer to the destruction never again being as total - there will be more survivors of the Tribulation than there were of the flood.

Let me know your thoughts.

2. The second question exercised me - he said that God's words in Genesis 8:21 sound as if He regretted sending the flood. So why is it that He sent it in the first place and what caused the change of attitude expressed in this verse?

Firstly - all God's judgments are perfect and in His infinite wisdom He never errs. The key issue here is that God "smelled the soothing aroma" of Noah's sacrifice. This sacrifice is a sign of man seeking reconciliation and fellowship with God, despite His sinfulness. And every true Old Testament sacrifice was a foreshadowing of our Lord's payment for humanity's sins on the cross (and it would seem that this is something that the early believers could have known - judging from Abel, for example, although I'm not sure) - He is the "fragrant aroma" of the propitiation offering.

Ephesians 5:2 (NASB)
2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

So God smelling this aroma and deciding to never destroy the earth in this way parallels how we are saved - by grace through faith. The sacrifice itself is the prophecy of the ultimate provision of grace through Christ and the fact that a man performs it stands for his faith in the coming Messiah and His desire to be in fellowship with the Lord. This means that the man can be saved and delivered out of the punishment he deserves, although "his intent of heart is evil from his youth" - despite being a sinner by nature. So God's words could be explained as meaning:

"I have smelled the aroma of this sacrifice and it shows your faith and desire to be in fellowship with me and foreshadows the sacrifice of My Son which will provide an actual payment for all sin - so although you are a sinner and evil by nature - from the day you're born - I will show you mercy because of this sacrifice".

Now the question remains how is it, that God showed mercy after the flood despite the fact that "the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth" and yet proclaimed this judgment in the first place because "the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually"

Genesis 6:5 (NASB)
5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

This is a difficult question and it's hard to find any clear answer in the commentaries. I'm inclined to think that the fact that Noah himself showed this initiative to build an altar and sacrifice right after the flood ended cause this change. Unrepentant and unbelieving sinners are rightly judged. Repentant and believing sinners are shown mercy. Now the world was corrupt before the flood and it is corrupt now too - except the remnant - but perhaps what made the difference is that Noah, at that time the main representative of the whole humanity - sought the mercy of the Lord, did so out of His own free will, without compulsion or commandment. Before the flood in the almost entirely corrupted world there was no sign of repentance anywhere and perhaps even Noah himself, although he was "blameless before God" may not have been moved to go as far as this sacrifice - until he actually experienced God's mercy in the most spectacular manner and was delivered through the flood.

Professor - let me know what you think. These are difficult questions and above you have my thoughts. I searched the commentaries, but it's been hard to find a good answer.

In the grace of our Lord,

Response #20:

Thanks so much for your prayers.

As to your questions, on the first one, I like what you say. I will make a few observations:

1) The words "never / forever" and the like in scripture are directed to human beings and are talking about our time here on earth which we call "history" – in other words, the 7,000 years. It "goes without saying" that this doesn't apply to eternity and the lead in to it.

2) This is in fact literally true within the bounds of #1. Even during the Tribulation there will not be a total destruction of animal life as there was at the time of the great flood (excepting the animals saved through the ark).

On the second question, we first need to understand that whenever emotions are attributed to the Lord, or any sort of consideration that suggests that He is reacting to events, we necessarily have to do with an anthropathism (see the link), that is, His assigning to Himself of human-like thoughts and feelings in order to help us understand His motivations and actions. Obviously, God knew all this before He even initiated creation – and all things have been decreed.

In light of the above, I don't see a contradiction between the "before and after" passages. On "before", God has more than enough reason to judge the world (and we know from other places that if He had not done so in the way He did so, the truth human line would have been wiped out and the cross made impossible). On "after", the cross pays for everything, so that God is just in offering mercy to mankind based on Jesus' sacrifice (anticipated then / a reality now), regardless of any other considerations. So I think linking the cross to the mercy extended is the right idea, but I would stay away from any transactional cause and effect with animal sacrifice. It seems to me that here we have the heart of the confusion: wiping out the world at that time was an act of physical judgment; saving all of mankind who want to be saved is an entirely spiritual thing. The two sides, physical and spiritual, do of course interact, but they are also always importantly separate. The world of Noah's day wanted no part of God – except for Noah and his family: they were "saved" (spiritually) and so they were "saved" (physically). Going forward, whatever mercy in terms of physical judgment the world of that day until now received makes little difference absent a spiritual dimension of repentance leading to salvation.

I hope I've answered your concern here, but do feel free to write me back about any of this.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Hello Professor,

Question 1:

In 1 you raise a valid point which I will remember in the future. It is good to delineate the limits of statements such as these in Genesis 8:21.

2 - understood also, but would you say we can not only literally take the point that the destruction of this earth will never be as total as it was during the flood, but also the point that such a flood would not occur again either (Genesis 9:11)? I know these are closely related here, but that would also help me understand whether I was correct in linking God's words in Genesis 8:21 to His words in Genesis 8:11.

Question 2:

A useful reminder of anthropopathism and I will keep that in mind next time a similar issue arises. As for other aspects of this question, I'm still not clear, so your help and patience will be appreciated here. On the one hand, I understand that we have an anthropopathism here and it is something I didn't take into account originally. However, I'm still wondering how we should interpret the words in Genesis 8:21. Anthropopathism explains what we may interpret as a humanly reaction of remorse - which certainly isn't there with an all knowing God - but at the same time I would assume it doesn't make the words spoken by God become meaningless - and I just don't know what they mean here. I understand your point about the judgment on the world being righteous, but if Noah's animal sacrifice is not the reason for the apparent change in God's attitude, then how should we explain it? I know that the described reaction of God contains anthropopathism, but at the same I would think there must be some sort of reason why He says what He says and I don't know what this reason is here. Also, although I understand your point about the physical judgment and spiritual deliverance, I'm not clear about how this links to the issue of God deciding not to judge in that way again - could you explain that again?

I appreciate you patience on this, Professor.

In the grace of our Lord,

Response #21:

On Q#1, yes I do think that is also valid: 1) no more total destruction (until the end of time); 2) no more global inundation.

On Q#2 questions:

1) On Genesis 8:21, while the "smelling of the sweet savor" is followed in sequence by the Lord's declaration, it is not connected by scripture as cause and effect. And we certainly know very well that the making of a burnt offering is not the motivation for the Lord to bless in any case, especially not something so profound as this (cf. Ps.50:7-15). All burnt offerings represent the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, so that the significance of our Lord being pleased with this offering (it is regarded as a sweet savor by Him) certainly has to do with that underlying meaning – just as it always has and always will. I will say that it is the case sometimes (possibly here) scripture will provide a connection between burnt offerings and blessings – but, again, this always in fact goes back to underlying spiritual realities: the act of offering represents the faith and the gratitude of the person presenting the offering and their trust in the One who is providing the Substitute for them. So what does the verse mean? a) Noah offered a sacrifice; b) God was pleased with it because He was pleased with Noah and his faith (which the sacrifice represents); c) God made His declaration. Why did He do so? God has the right to make all manner of declarations, and it is often the case that the "why?" always resolves into the perfect plan of God. Clearly, the plan going forward did not lend itself to another such cleansing; and also just as clearly such a cleansing would be unnecessary because the problem of angelic infiltration of the human gene pool would not be allowed ever again to be repeated en masse.

2) The anthropopathism provides the motive from the human viewpoint: God is displeased with the world; God judges the world; God is mollified and given that Noah is a man of faith makes His declaration. If you are asking about the part of the verse which says (NIV) "every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood", NIV correctly takes this as an adversative clause, "even though every inclination . . . ". In other words, we have the same chain of motivation; but, given the severity of the judgment and the fact of only a community of faith remaining, God forswears future judgment of this sort – but in His communication of this episode even so does not want anyone to misunderstand: man remains the same (with a sin nature), and God's forbearance from judgment upon what we are and what we are doing is always a matter of grace. Does the sacrifice enter into that? Yes – if one understands it as the sacrifice of Jesus Christ – which is the basis for all the favor of God we ever receive.

3) On physical vs. spiritual, what I mean to say is that the anthropopathic narrative present things as outlined above (God angered; God judges; God mollified), spiritually speaking we know that God does not get angered, that judgment is not a venting of His anger, and that He doesn't need to be mollified so as to change His mind (declaring not to do "that" again). Instead, God knew very well all about the angelic attack before He made the world, allowed it to play out as He did to demonstrate the depravity of evil one, the innate depravity of the human race, and the fact that even so some (if only a small number) would respond to Him in faith and trust – Noah did, and was supernaturally saved. The judgment itself was necessary to remove completely this contamination of the human race. And in the aftermath there is no place for another universal flood in the (at that time) five or so thousand years of human history remaining.

Keeping you in my prayers my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Hello Professor,

So in summary:

Firstly - it's important to take anthropopathism into consideration here and keep in mind that God did foresee all that would happen.

The fact that a severe judgment was necessary because of the contamination of the human race - which could have been total without the flood.

God's decision needs to be placed in the context of the entire plan of God rather than being seen only in the context of immediate events (which links to point 1) - He chose to show mercy and had the right to do so, just as He had the right to judge and exercised it also. He didn't see the need for another whole earth flood (which was needed on this occasion due to angelic cohabitation - point 2) and so said that it wouldn't happen again.

God chose to express His mercy after the flood and made the proclamation after Noah's sacrifice. The sacrifice itself cannot be considered the main reason for the change here, because: a) Human is still a sinner, as before the flood; b) the basis of all God's mercy is Christ's sacrifice which was foreordained from eternity past rather than any single offering. Still, this sacrifice does represent the faith of Noah and His trust in God's substitute for His sin and even though it may not be a direct cause-effect relationship here, there is at least a temporal coincidence.

Could we conclude that Noah offering the sacrifice was as good an opportunity in temporal terms as any other to make the proclamation?

Response #22:

I think your summary is fine (my comment had more to do with emphasis than anything else). The aftermath of the flood is a good punctuation point for many things since so much changed as a result (see the link). Following the flood the character of life on earth was altered significantly with seasons being introduced and life-spans drastically reduced. Also, shortly thereafter we have the dividing of mankind into various nations and languages – so this is the point where "history" as it is secularly understood really begins.

Question #23:

Hi Bob,

I do not quite understand the part about flies in this passage in Isaiah 7:

"In that day the Lord will whistle for flies from the Nile delta in Egypt and for bees from the land of Assyria. They will all come and settle in the steep ravines and in the crevices in the rocks, on all the thornbushes and at all the water holes. In that day the Lord will use a razor hired from beyond the Euphrates River—the king of Assyria—to shave your head and private parts, and to cut off your beard also. In that day, a person will keep alive a young cow and two goats. And because of the abundance of the milk they give, there will be curds to eat. All who remain in the land will eat curds and honey. In that day, in every place where there were a thousand vines worth a thousand silver shekels, there will be only briers and thorns. Hunters will go there with bow and arrow, for the land will be covered with briers and thorns. As for all the hills once cultivated by the hoe, you will no longer go there for fear of the briers and thorns; they will become places where cattle are turned loose and where sheep run."
(Is. 7:18-25)


Response #23:

On Isaiah 7:18-25, I think the use of "fly" in Isaiah 7:18 for is a mistake and misleading for the interpretation of the entire passage. The word זְבוּב (zebhubh) is an onomatopoetic term for buzzing, and is in this context a synonym for bee; so this is the first sign of a shift from intensive cultivation back to more pastoral conditions. The point is that the flood tide of the Assyrian army was going to sweep through the northern kingdom and destroy it, but also would devastate a good deal of the southern kingdom (before the Lord destroyed the entire Assyrian army and saved Judah). The result would be deliverance, but with much of the highly productive the agricultural land left greatly depopulated so as to turn cultivated areas into pastoral ones; in such circumstances bees flourish as do flocks (rather than crops).

Hope this helps.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24:

(1) Why did Isaiah bring his son to the king earlier in this chapter?

(2) The symbolism of having the head and pubic hair shaven is a very strange one for modern Westerners. What is the significance of having both of these regions of the body shaven?

Response #24:

1) He did so because he was instructed by the Lord to do so in verse three; that was no doubt because of the prophetic significance of his son's name: Shear-Jashub = "a remnant will return", indicating that in spite of the invasion, there would be survivors (and this is prophetic of the two later "returns", one past and one future at present, as well).

2) Regardless of culture, it is viscerally evocative of a narrow escape. As we say in English "it was a close shave" – how much more so if ALL the hair everywhere is removed.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #25:

What is the etymology of the name Jerusalem?

Response #25:

Hope the move is going well – also your course work.

The name is composed of two parts, yarah ("shoot/cast/throw") and shalom ("peace/wholeness/prosperity"); the first is in an imperative form and the second is in a dual (of intensity): "disseminate perfect peace!" would be the way I would take it.

In Jesus Christ our Lord, the God of "double peace".

Bob L.

Question #26:

Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world, and it is said that ancient Mesopotamian tablets record the name of Jerusalem as Urusalima, which apparently means "City of Salem," an ancient Canaanite deity.

Does this contradict your etymology? Not necessarily, as Semitic languages (along with Chinese) often take in loan-words through a process known as phono-semantic matching. So Urusalima may have been matched with yarah-shalayim.

Response #26:

I am aware of the prior history of Jerusalem and its name as found in the Tell el-Amarna tablets. The etymology for the name under pagan control you report may be correct (hard to tell). But just as pre-blessing Abram was renamed by the Lord "Abraham", and just as pre-blessing Sarai was renamed by the Lord "Sarah", so this once pagan city which is destined to become the Messiah's world capital, the capital of "the Prince of Peace", was renamed by our Lord "[the place to] Cast forth double blessings of Peace]". For this is its name in scripture.

This exercise is very revealing about the way that even Christian "scholars" have been trained to look at such issues – the wrong and worldly way, that is, instead of the right spiritual way.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #27:

Hi Bob,

In one of your emails you offhandedly mentioned that the only true divine pardon for the death penalty for murder was given to Cain. However, in my reading of Genesis, the death penalty wasn't "made official" until after the Flood ("Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image." Genesis 9:6) So there could have been many murderers who were not sanctioned to be killed.


Response #27:

That doesn't ring a bell as something I would say and I can't find anywhere that I've written anything like this. Would you send me a link to the posting you're thinking of?

In any case, remember that the mark given to Cain was to protect him from being killed – and that shows clearly that people being who we are, law or no law, there are things we are going to do in reaction to certain situations absent the restraint of law. If you found yourself in a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific with several others and only a sip of water a day, and if one of your compatriots drank up all the remaining H20 in the middle of the night he/she would probably be ejected from the raft – once guilt had been established – even though there is no such law or penalty, officially speaking. Anything considered outrageous is going to be revenged in the natural order of things, even if it is an over-reaction (cf. Lamech: 4:23-24). Law prevents the over-reaction as well as self-avenging without legal process (cf. the cities of refuge set out to prevent the "avenger of blood" from killing someone who only committed manslaughter as opposed to premeditate murder).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #28:

Hello again Dr Luginbill. I pray you are well.

What is the Biblical meaning of the word multiply in the OT and how does it differ from the word add in the context of what God commanded both Adam & Eve and Noah & his family?

Also, what can we make of the word fruitful in this same context?

Thanks as always

Response #28:

Hello Friend,

Both the word/verb translated "be fruitful" and the one translated "multiply" the same in both contexts you mention, and together they have the same basic meaning, that is, they are a command for procreation / reproduction.

Certainly we are right to see a spiritual parallel: Paul thought of those he ministered to his "children in Christ", after all (1Cor.4:15). So anything we do to further the kingdom by adding to it through evangelism or fostering it through other spiritual production would be a spiritual fulfillment of this, so to speak.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #29:

Your dwelling will be away from the earth’s richness,
away from the dew of heaven above.
You will live by the sword
and you will serve your brother.
But when you grow restless,
you will throw his yoke from off your neck.
Gen 27:39-40

Didn't Esau get Earth's riches? He was a very wealthy man on Earth.

Response #29:

Edom is a "good place"; it's just not anything close to "the land" – the way it was during the time of the patriarchs and the entrance into it by Joshua and co. Israel today is not even a shadow of its former self in this regard – but it will be again during the Millennium the veritable "center of the earth" (Ezek.5:5; cf. Ezek.38:12).

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #30:

Hi Bob,

On 1 Samuel 12:2, this verse is where Samuel says that it would be a sin for him to cease praying for them. However, when reading it in context, it seems that Samuel is saying that the betrayal implied by the leader of Israel not praying for his people is the sin, not simply failing to pray.

Response #30:

Samuel connects this in the second half of the verse with the necessity of doing his job as a prophet – the pastor-teacher of OT Israel. So we have to see prayer in that connection here. As the representative leader of the Lord (in the manner of Moses) before Saul would become king, Samuel had the responsibility for the people based on his leadership role as well. Now that this role was about to end, Samuel is telling the people (and us) that he understands that his responsibility to pray for his spiritual charges wasn't going to end with the end of that prior leadership role. Just as Paul says it is his duty to preach the gospel (1Cor.9:16), and is constantly affirming his prayer for all in the churches (e.g., Col.1:9), so here we have the OT equivalent.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #31:

When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, "Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle."
(1 Samuel 17:28)

What was so "conceited" about coming to watch the battle? This request doesn't make sense.

Response #31:

Eliab was mad at David for showing him and his other brothers up (1Sam.17:26-27); David was asking everyone why no one had challenged Goliath and what would be "done for the man" who did – clearly trying on the idea of facing the giant himself and greatly annoying his brother in the process. Eliab's words were only meant to express his ire at this little brother (whom apparently neither he nor his brothers nor his father thought much of at all) who was "acting big" and embarrassing him in front of his comrades. The words were also chosen rashly with the intent to wound as much as possible with no regard for the truth or the sense of them: 1) David had been sent on the mission by his father, and did not come of his own accord to "watch the fun"; 2) he hadn't abandoned his sheep and they were no doubt a quite sizeable flock and caring for them a big responsibility despite his brother's attempt to diminish him; 3) David was not being insolent or presumptuous (a better translation for the Hebrew word zadon than "conceited"), nor was he "wicked in heart" – quite the opposite.

So the entire diatribe is nonsense, but it does tell us a good deal about David's family relationships and also about his spiritual status. On the one hand, David is not surprised by this sort of rot coming from his brother (he's no doubt heard it all before many times), and on the other he does not rise to the bait and give the sort of obvious refutation I have just provided above, getting into a fight on these terms, ridiculous terms as the premise of your question recognizes. Rather, he deftly deflects the insult without backing down or giving ground but also without engaging in the specifics, and instead claims a very reasonable position as a defense, then moves on immediately – all of which things are indicative of great spiritual growth and trust in the Lord.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #32:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I have a question for you as usual, Just a small one. In Proverbs chapter 1, verses 20 and 21 "Wisdom" is referred to in the feminine gender; can you give me some insight into why this is done?

Thanks so much for your prayers and concern for my family; I truly do appreciate your kindness as always.

Your friend,

Response #32:

As to your question, the word "wisdom" in Hebrew (Greek too, for that matter) is a feminine noun (nouns in other languages which are not referring to people but things often given them masculine or feminine gender even so, quite unlike English). So, given the personification of Wisdom which takes place here and later in the book, it's understandable that some translations will say "she/her" instead of "it" ("he/him" would be wrong). I do note with some bemusement that the NIV, a version which has just been completely redone to excise all the "he's and him's" – substituting "person" and the like to avoid making the Bible appear sexist – does indeed even so have "she" and "her" here.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #33:

"For I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them. And therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever."
(1 Sam. 3:13-14).

The question is that if Jesus bore the sin of everyone who ever lived, then why is the house of Eli's sins never to be atoned for?

Response #33:

First, please note that this is a collective judgment (on Eli's "house") along the lines of the third/fourth generational curse; which is to say it has to do not with the salvation of individuals but with the cursing of certain families based upon the continuation of wrong-doing over generations.

And as the last part of the verse says, "by sacrifice or offering" it will not be atoned for; meaning that in this life, in this world ("to the end of history unto the beginning of eternity" is the meaning of 'olam here as is frequently the case), the violations of this house were so egregious that there would be nothing anyone could do to reverse the previously prophesied judgment that the priesthood would be taken away from this part of the family (1Sam.12:27-36).

But it doesn't mean that Christ did not die for all the sins involved (He did) or that Eli and his family present and future were precluded from being saved (they weren't – though I consider it doubtful if his two sons were). KJV's rendering makes this all a bit clearer:

And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever.
1st Samuel 13:14 KJV

For more on atonement, see the link.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.


Ichthys Home