DIFFICULTIES OF THE BIBLE
How can 2 Chronicles 16:1 (thirty-sixth year of Asa) be reconcled with 1 Kings 16:8 (Elan began to reign in the twenty-sixth year of Asa)?
If Asa began his reign in 911 B.C., the thirty-sixth year of his reign would have been 876 or 875. He reigned for forty-one years (1 Kings 15:10); so this would have been a possible date— except for the fact that Baasha himself reigned from 909 to 886. Therefore he could not have built a fortress at Ramah in 875, eleven years after his death. Here we have a clear discrepancy in the Received Text. There are two possible solutions.
One solution is that the phrase mal-ku-t 'Asa in 2 Chronicles 16:1 does not refer to Asa's own reign but rather should be understood as "the kingdom of Asa," i.e., the southern kingdom of Judah as distinguished from the northern kingdom of the Ten Tribes. Since the southern kingdom began under Rehoboam in 931 or 930 B.C., the thirty-sixth year would come out to 895 for the expedition of Baasha— which is the correct year, in all probability. (Leon Wood, Israel's History, p. 346, dates it as occurring in the sixteenth year of Asa, or 895.) This would mean that the Chronicler copied out his information from an older official record in Judah that at first used 931 as the "era" date rather than a regnal date. Later on, however, the Chronicler's sources seem to have shifted to a regular regnal system of dating; for there are no other examples of such an era date except 2 Chronicles 15:19, which puts the war between Asa and Baasha in the thirty-fifth year of his reign. Jamieson (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown, Commentary, 1:274) favors this solution, saying, "The best Biblical critics are agreed in considering this date to be calculated from the separation of the kingdoms, and coincident with the sixteenth year of Asa's reign. This mode of reckoning was, in all likelihood, generally followed in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel, the public annals of the time (v. 11), the source from which the inspired historian drew his account."
In defense of this theory it should be said that male kut is often used even in the post-Exilic books to mean "kingdom" or "realm" rather than "reign" (e.g., 2 Chron. 1:1; 11:17; 20:30; Neh. 9:35; Esth. 1:14, etc.) In 1 Chronicles 17:14 it is used of "royalty" as belonging to Yahweh; in Esther 1:2 and 5:1 as the "kingdom" of Persia. But it is without parallel to refer to the kingdom of a nation as a whole and identify it thus with one particular king who comes later on in the ruling dynasty. And the fact that in its account of the later history of Judah no such usage can be instanced in Chronicles raises a formidable difficulty to this solution, even though it does avoid the necessity of textual emendation.
The other solution, presented by Keil (Keil and Delitzsch, Chronicles, pp. 366-67), prefers to regard the number "thirty-six" in 2 Chronicles 16:1 and the number "thirty-five" in 15:19 as a copyist's error for "sixteen" and "fifteen," respectively. There is no way in which such an error could have arisen if the Vorlage recorded the number of words fully spelled out (for "sixteen"— sissah ‘asar—cannot possibly be misunderstood as "thirty-six”—s’losim wases). But if the number was written in numerical notation of the Hebrew alphabetic type (rather than the Egyptian multiple-stroke type used in the Elephantine Papyri), then "sixteen" could quite easily be confused with "thirty-six." The reason for this is that up through the seventh century B.C. the letter yod (= 10) greatly resembled the letter lamed (= 30), except for two tiny strokes attached to the left of the main vertical stroke. That is to say, yod was Z [like] and lamed was L [like]. It required only a smudge from excessive wear on the scroll-column to result in making the yod look like a lamed—with a resultant error of twenty. It is possible that this error occurred first in the earlier passage, in 2 Chronicles 15:19 (with its "thirty-five" wrongly copied from an original "fifteen"); then to make it consistent in 16:1, the same scribe (or perhaps a later one) concluded that "sixteen" must be an error for "thirty-six" and changed it accordingly on his copy.
If this is the true explanation for the discrepancy, then it would bear a similarity to the problem arising in 2 Kings 18:13, in which the relevant data compel an emendation of the "fourteenth year of King Hezekiah" to the "twenty-fourth year of King Hezekiah." Another example of this involves 2 Chronicles 36:9, which gives the age of Jehoiachin as eight at the time of his accession, whereas the parallel in 2 Kings 24:8 indicates the true number as "eighteen." Still another instance is 2 Chronicles 22:2, which gives the age of Ahaziah son of Jehoram as "forty-two" when he began to reign, whereas 2 Kings 8:26 gives it as "twenty-two" (which is more probably the correct number).
How could Jehoram of Judah receive a letter from Elijah long after his departure from this life (2 Chron. 21:12-15)?
Obviously he could not have done so. But the question presupposes something that never happened, namely the demise of Elijah at some time prior to the reign of Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat. The reader is invited to consult W. Crockett, A Harmony of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, p. 247. There he will see that "The Translation of Elijah" is placed in the reign of Jehoram the son of Ahab. Therefore it was perfectly possible for Elijah to compose a letter of warning and rebuke as late as 847 B.C., for the reign of Jehoram of Judah (848-841) largely overlapped the reign of Jehoram of Israel (852-841).
Elijah was certainly still active in the reign of Jehoram's immediate predecessor, Ahaziah of Israel (853-852), who also was a son of Ahab. We know this because of the exciting encounter Elijah had with Ahaziah's platoons of soldiers sent to arrest him but who were destroyed by fire from heaven in answer to Elijah's prayer (2 Kings 1:3-16). In all probability the aged prophet would have lived on for another four or five years until the character and policies of Jehoshaphat's unworthy son had become apparent. (Second Chron. 21:4 relates how Jehoram had all his own brothers put to death as soon as he became king. Probably his bloodthirsty wife, Athaliah daughter of Jezebel, encouraged him to this fratricide. She herself later tried to kill off all the survivors of Ahab's house after her son Ahaziah was slain by Jehu in 841.)
It is true that the account of Elijah's translation to heaven is given in 2 Kings 2:1-11, whereas the reign of Jehoram of Judah is not spoken of until 2 Kings 8:16. But it should be remembered that the narrator of First and Second Kjngs continually shifts from the careens of reigning kings to the adventures of the principal prophets, Elijah and Elisha. On occasion he carries a theme through in a proleptic way when he is describing the exploits of Elijah, not desiring to leave off that theme until he is through with it. So it was with the story of Elijah's departure to heaven. This was closely related to the enduement of Elisha with the charismatic power of his revered teacher. Elijah had first called him to discipleship back in the reign of Ahab, after he had symbolically cast his mantle on him (1 Kings 19:19-21), not long after the memorable contest on Mount Carmel.
As Elijah later came near the end of his earthly career during the reign of Jehoram son of Ahab (852-841), the most important theme from the author's standpoint was the prophetic succession. Therefore he very logically related that first (i.e., the bestowal of Elijah's cloak and a double portion of his spirit on Elisha at the time of their parting). Not until then was it appropriate for the author of Kings to backtrack and pick up the narration of the national affairs of Israel and Judah in chapter 3. (A similar proleptic procedure is followed in 2 Kings 19:37, which relates the assassination of Sennacherib, which took place in 681 B.C, before the illness of Hezekiah, which occurred in 714.)
So far as the narrative in 2 Chronicles is concerned, there is no notice at all of Elijah's demise, whether before or after the accession of Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat; so there is no problem of apparent anachronism to deal with. In all probability the letter of Elijah to Jehoram was composed in 847 and delivered to him that same year, shortly before Elijah was taken up into heaven by the celestial chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11).
[THIS IS ALL GOOBIDI-GOO JUSTIFICATION TO BELIEVE ELIJAH WAS TAKEN UP INTO THE HEAVEN WHERE GOD LIVES, SO NEVER HAVING EARTHLY DEATH, AND WENT STRAIGHT INTO IMMORTALITY TO HEAVEN. THIS WOULD BLATANTLY CONTRADICT A NUMBER OF NEW TESTAMENT PASSAGES, AS WELL AS WHAT JESUS SAID ON THE MATTER. AND JESUS BEING THE “FIRSTBORN” OF ALL HUMANS TO IMMORTAL LIFE VIA A RESURRECTION. SEE THE VERY FIRST STUDY UNDER “LIFE, DEATH, AND RESURRECTION” ON THIS WEBSITE - Keith Hunt]
Why is there no mention of Manasseh's repentance in 2 Kings?
Second Chronicles 33:13-16 tells of King Manasseh's repentance and dedication to God after his release from captivity in Babylon (cf. v. 11). In despair Manasseh cast himself on the mercy of the God he had hated and mocked during the decades of his wicked reign. Amazingly, the Lord responded to his cry and released him. According to vv.15-16, Manasseh then removed all the idols he had installed in the Jerusalem temple and all the pagan altars throughout the city and cast them into the trash heap outside the city walls. He then restored the worship of Yahweh in the temple according to the law of Moses and ended his days in restored fellowship with God.
But why was this final conversion of that wicked king not mentioned at all in the account in 2 Kings 21? The first nine verses of this chapter detail his sinful violation of God's covenant and the baneful influence he exerted for the spiritual downfall of his people. The next six verses record God's stern sentence of total destruction for Jerusalem and the southern kingdom because of Manasseh's unparalleled wickedness. The account closes (vv. 16-18) with a summary of the unchecked bloodshed and crime that afflicted Jerusalem under his rule and makes no mention whatever of a change of heart before his death and burial.
It seems a bit strange that such an important development as the latter-day repentance of this long-reigning king receives no mention whatever in 2 Kings 21. But the reason seems to lie in the different focus of interest that guided the author of Kings. He was not quite so concerned with the personal relationship of individual leaders to the Lord as he was with the response of the nation as a whole to its responsibilities under the covenant. From the standpoint of lasting results, Manasseh's reign added up to a severe spiritual setback for Judah; and even his personal reform and restoration to fellowship with God came as too little and too late, so far as influencing the nation was concerned. Under his son and successor, Amon, the people reverted to their immoral, idolatrous lifestyle, just about as they had done before Manasseh's return from captivity. The curse of God was not lifted from the city, and the disaster of 587 B.C. came upon them just the same.
The author of Chronicles, however, takes more of a personal interest in the relationship each leader or king maintained toward God. Thus in 1 Kings 15:9-24 there is a relatively short account of Asa's reign, which centers attention on Asa's grave blunder in bribing Benhadad of Damascus to invade Israel from the north, thus compelling Baasha of Israel to give up his fortification of Ramah on his southern border. The maneuver seemed successful, and Baasha's fortress was later completely dismantled by Asa's troops; but there were sinister consequences for the future. In 2 Chronicles 16:7-9 God's prophet Hanani had to rebuke Asa for relying on the king of Syria for deliverance rather than on God. Hanani reminded Asa of the wonderful way Yahweh had come through for him in his combat with the huge army of the Ethiopians and Egyptians, when he had cast himself wholly on God's faithful mercy (an episode described at length in 2 Chron. 14:9-15 but entirely omitted in 1 Kings).
Going still further back, we find in 2 Chronicles 13:2-20 a long, detailed account of a victory won by Abijah son of Rehoboam over Jeroboam I. This was completely omitted by 1 Kings because it had no lasting results for the political struggle between the divided kingdoms. But for the Chronicler it was important because it showed how wonderfully God delivers those like Abijah who trust in Him in the presence of great difficulties and discouraging odds. Thus we can discern a pattern of selection as between the two historians. First Kings focused on the overall result of each king's reign, in the light of his faithfulness to the covenant. But the Chronicler was interested in recording great moments of faith, even when no lasting consequences ensued for the nation as a whole. Omission of an event in Kings is therefore not to be regarded as casting doubt on its historicity in Chronicles—anymore than the omission of an event in one synoptic Gospel justifies doubt as to its historicity when it appears in another gospel
How do we resolve the statistical discrepancies between Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7?
In Ezra 2:3-35 and Nehemiah 7:8-38 there are about thirty-three family units that appear in both lists, starting with the sons of Parosh (2,172 in both cases). Of these thirty-three there are fourteen that differ; two of them differ by 1 (sons of Adonikam, sons of Bezai), one differs by 4 (sons of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, 725 as against 721), two by 6 (Pahathmoab of the sons of Joshua and Joab, i.e., 2,812 as against 2,818; and the sons of Bani or Binnui—note the variant vocalization for the same consonants—642 as against 648). For the men of Bethlehem and Netophah, the total is 9 less for Ezra 2:21-22 (179) than in Nehemiah 7:26 (188). The sons of Bigvai are 11 less in Ezra 2:14 (2,056) than in Nehemiah 7:19 (2,067). In the case of the sons of Zattu, Ezra reports 945, which is exactly 100 more than the 845 given by Nehemiah 7:13; similarly, the men of Bethel and Ai (223 in Ezra 2:28 vs. 123 in Neh. 7:32). For the sons of Adin, Ezra 2:15 has 201 less (454) than in Nehemiah 7:20 (655); 105 less in Ezra for the sons of Hashum (223 in Ezra 2:19 vs. 328 in Neh. 7:22). Ezra 2:35 gives 300 less for the sons of Senaah than Nehemiah 7:38 (3,630 vs. 3,930). The largest difference of all is found between Ezra's figure for the sons of Azgad (1,222 in 2:12) and Nehemiah's (2,322 in 7:17). The other nineteen are identical in the two lists.
How, then, are we to account for the fourteen discrepancies? There are two important factors to bear in mind as we deal with these various discrepancies in the Received Text. The first is that consideration adduced by Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown (Commentary, 1:289):
It is probable that all mentioned as belonging to this family repaired to the general place of rendezvous, or had enrolled their names at first as intending to go; but in the interval of preparation, some died, others were prevented by sickness or insurmountable obstacles, so that ultimately no more than 652 [sc. of the family of Arah] came to Jerusalem.
Later, the same writer observes:
The discrepancy is sufficiently accounted for from the different circumstances in which the two registers were taken: that of Ezra having been made up at Babylon, while that of Nehemiah was drawn out in Judea, after the walls of Jerusalem had been rebuilt. The lapse of so many years might well be expected to make a difference appear in the catalogue, through death or other causes (ibid., 1:297).
To be sure, regardless of the date when Nehemiah recorded this list (ca. 445 B.C.), his expressed purpose was to give the exact number of those who actually arrived at Jerusalem under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Jeshua back in 537 or 536 (Neh. 7:7). So also Ezra (in the 450s, apparently) recorded their numbers (2:1-2). But it may well be that Ezra used the earlier list of those who originally announced their intention to join the caravan of returning colonists back in Babylonia, whereas Nehemiah's list reproduces the tally of those who actually arrived in Judea at the end of the long trek from Mesopotamia.
In some cases there may well have been some individual families who at first determined to go with the rest and actually left their marshaling field (at Tel Abib, or wherever it may have been in Babylonia) under Zerubbabel and proceeded to the outskirts of that province before new factors arose to change their mind. They may have fallen into disagreement as to the advisability of all of them going at once with the initial group; others may have discovered business reasons to delay their departure until later. In some cases there may have been illness or death, as Jamieson suggested in the quotation cited above. In other cases there may have been some last-minute recruits from those who at first decided to remain in Babylonia. Perhaps they were caught up in the excitement of the return movement and joined the company of emigrants after the official tally had been taken at the marshaling grounds. Nevertheless, they made it safely back to Jerusalem, or wherever their ancestral town in Judea was, and were counted in the final list made up at the completion of the journey.
Only four clans or city-groups came in with shrunken numbers (Arah, Zattu, the men of Bethel and Ai, and the men of Lod, Hadid, and Ono). All the rest picked up last-minute recruits, varying from 1 (in the case of Adonikam and Bezai) to 1,100 (in the case of Azgad). It would be fascinating to know what special, emotional, or economic factors led to these last-minute decisions. At any rate, the differences in totals that do appear in these two tallies should occasion no surprise whatever. The same sort of augmentation and attrition has featured every large migration in human history.
A second consideration should also be kept in mind, and that is the difficulty of preserving complete accuracy in the copying out of numerals as between the Vorlage and its would-be duplicate. Numbers are very difficult to verify; and if the Vorlage was by any chance worn, smudged, or even worm-eaten (as most of the Qumran manuscripts were, for example), it is very easy to see how uncertainty as to the digit might join with absentmindedness on the part of the copyist to produce an inaccuracy in reproducing the figures. (A similar difficulty arises in the copying of rare or unfamiliar names, especially if they are non-Israelite names.)
Strong confirmation of this type of copyist error is found in various pagan records that have been preserved to us for the purposes of comparison. For example, in the Behistun Rock inscription set up by Darius I, we find that #38 gives the figure for the slain of the army of Frada as 55,243, with 6,572 prisoners—according to the Babylonian column. In a duplicate copy of this inscription found at Babylon itself, the number of prisoners was 6,973. But in the Aramaic translation of this inscription discovered at the Elephantine in Egypt, the number of prisoners was only 6,972—precisely the same discrepancy as we have noted in the comparison of Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7 (cf. F.W. Konig, Relief und Inschrift des K'dnigs Dareios I am Felsen von Bagistan [Leiden: Brill, 1938], p. 48.) Similarly in #31 of the same inscription, the Babylonian column gives 2,045 as the number of slain in the rebellious army of Frawartish, along with 1,558 prisoners, whereas the Aramaic copy has over 1,575 as the prisoner count (ibid., p. 45).
How can we reconcile Ezra 3:8-13; 5:13-17, which say that the second temple was begun in the reign of Cyrus the Great; Ezra 4:24, which says it was begun in the second year of Darius I; and Haggai 2:15, which implies that the work had not yet begun in 520 B.C.?
Ezra 3:10-11 speaks only of the laying of the foundation of the temple in the seventh month of the year, when the fifty thousand returnees from the Babylonian captivity recommenced sacrificial worship on the site of Solomon's temple. Presumably this occurred in 537 or 536. But as Ezra 4:4 makes clear, the Samaritans and other neighboring nations brought such influence to bear on Cyrus's court at the imperial capital that the government suspended their building permit.
Ezra 4:24 informs us that because of this opposition, all further work on the building of the temple was suspended until the second year of Darius the Great, about 520 or 519 B.C. While the wealthier members of the Judean colony were busily building nice homes for themselves, they made no effort at all to pursue the task of rebuilding the temple of the Lord (Hag. 1:3-4).
In the year 520 or 519, Haggai was directed by the Lord to stir up the people of Judah and Jerusalem to start building on the foundation that had been laid sixteen years before. In response to this challenge, the Jewish governor Zerubbabel and the high priest Joshua rallied to this undertaking with their whole heart, along with the rank and file of the people (1:14). This new beginning was made on the "twenty-fourth day of the sixth month" that same year (1:15).
On the twenty-first day of the seventh month, almost a month later (according to 2:1), Haggai gave them an encouraging prediction about the glory of the second temple as surpassing that of the first (v.9). Two months later still (v. 10), the prophet called attention to the fact that their farming activities had been beset with blight, mildew, and hail, ever since they discontinued building the temple sixteen years before ("the day when the foundation of the Lord's temple was laid" [v. 18]).
Despite the interference of Tattenai, the governor of Trans-Euphrates, Shethar-bozenai, and their colleagues, King Darius himself had a search made for King Cyrus's original decree back in 537; and after it had been located at Ecbatana, he issued a rescript ordering the Jerusalem temple to be completed without any interference on the part of the neighboring nations (Ezra 6:3-12). The happy result was that the second temple was finished in 516, "on the third day of Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius" (v.15).
Thus we see that when all the scriptural data are properly sorted out and compared, there is no discrepancy whatever among them, nor any difficulty at their reconciliation.
What was the real reason why the rebuilding of the temple was delayed?
Ezra 4:7-23 states that it was foreign interference (Rehum and Shimshai) that caused the delay in rebuilding the temple, after a hopeful beginning had been made by Zerubbabel and Jeshua in 536 B.C. But Haggai 1:2 accuses the Jerusalem leaders themselves of indifference towards the project and lays the blame on them for making no attempt to renew the building campaign. Haggai's message came in 520, or a good fourteen years later than the suspension of the work late in the reign of Cyrus.
Actually, both statements are true. Back in the time of Cyrus, the surrounding nations became alarmed at the establishment of a new settlement of Jews in Jerusalem; and they hired counselors at the Persian court to persuade the king to suspend the building license. But later on, after the death of Cambyses in 524 and the assassination of Gaumata (Pseudo-Smerdis) in 522, followed by the rise of Darius I to a position of power, the situation was somewhat more favorable to the Jews' renewing their efforts to get their temple built. Yet by that time the leading classes in Jerusalem had become so preoccupied with their own interests and concerns that they felt no zeal to renew the building project—especially if there was any danger of their getting in trouble for rebuilding the temple without a permit.
There has been much misunderstanding, however, concerning the sequence of events in Ezra 4; Rehum and Shimshai were not even around when Haggai's building campaign began in 520. Note that the date of their letter was later than 464, since it was addressed to Artaxerxes (464-424 B.C.) Nor does either their letter to the king or his reply to them make any mention of the building of the temple as such, but only of the rebuilding of the city walls and outer defenses. The temple itself had been completed back in 516 (Ezra 6:15). In the course of the campaign to rebuild the temple, there was a remonstrance raised by Tattenai, governor of Trans-Euphrates, and Shetharbozenai and their associates; and they actually wrote to King Darius to see whether the claim of the Jews that Cyrus had originally given them official permission was actually true (Ezra 5:3-17). His researches finally located the decree, and he cordially validated their right to go ahead with the completion of the temple without interference from anyone—and with royal subsidies to help them meet expenses (Ezra 6:1-12).
The opposition of Rehum and Shimshai was several decades later (even though it is mentioned earlier in Ezra), and it had only to do with rebuilding the walls of the city. It was apparently the concern of Ezra himself to aid in the repair of the city walls (cf. Ezra 9:9) as well as the religious reformation of the city. But for reasons not given in the Bible record, Ezra's efforts were frustrated; and it remained for Nehemiah to complete that important task.
What was the real name of Nehemiah's Arab opponent, "Geshem" (Neh. 2:19) or "Gashmu" (Neh. 6:6)?
Arabic names preserved (and still do, in modern literary Arabic) the original Semitic three-case inflectional endings (u for the nominative, i for the genitive, and a for the accusative). The Arabic pronunciation of the man's name is given with the u ending in 6:6. But the usual practice of the Hebrew-speaking and Aramaic-speaking populations of Palestine was to omit the short-vowel ending for all nouns, including proper names. Hence Gashmu would more normally be referred to as Geshem, as was the case in Nehemiah 2:19.
Was it right for Esther to take part in a pagan beauty contest and become part of Xerxes' harem?
Even though God's name is not explicitly mentioned in the Book of Esther, the providential guidance of the Lord is marvelously attested throughout all ten chapters, from beginning to end. No time was more fraught with peril for the Jewish nation; for it was then that Haman, the prime minister of Persia, undertook to have the entire population of the Hebrew captivity wiped out in a geno-cidal massacre. To thwart this evil purpose, God raised up a woman—a very beautiful, intelligent, and courageous woman—who made herself totally available for the deliverance of her people. The only way she could achieve this goal was by presenting herself before the king as a candidate in the beauty contest held in the royal palace.
Whether Esther actually volunteered to participate, or whether she was compelled by the king's agents to join with the other contestants, we have no way of knowing. Esther 2:8 simply says, "Esther was taken to the king's palace" (NASB). This could well imply that she had no freedom to refuse. At any rate, there can be no doubt that she was to serve as God's instrument to frustrate the purpose of the vengeful premier, Haman, and to entangle him in a web of guilt as one who plotted the death of Xerxes' new queen. Because of all the special factors, we may say with assurance that in this particular case Esther acted completely within the will of God. She was willing to risk her life for the sake of her people, saying, "If I perish, I perish" (4:16).
Yet on the other hand, this remarkable adventure of Queen Esther can hardly be said to offer a precedent for young Christian women to follow at the level of a modern beauty contest. It is true that God used Esther's beauty to deliver His chosen people from total destruction. No such issues, however, are at stake in beauty contests as we know them in our modern civilization; and young believers are well advised to avoid them.
Was Job a historical person or just a fictional hero?
Because of the poetic form in which 39 of the 42 chapters of Job are composed, and because of the supernatural forces involved in the hero's disasters and afflictions (as well as in his restoration to good fortune), some scholars have questioned the historicity of the whole episode. Was there ever such a person as Job; and, if so, where did he live and when? Many have speculated that he was a mere fictional character, somehow representative of the Hebrew people during their period of deep affliction in the Babylonian captivity. They allege that the high frequency of loan words from Aramaic and the high level of pure monotheism reflected in the viewpoint of all five persons—or six, if we include Yahweh Himself—involved in the dialogues indicate a post-Exilic date of composition.
In answer to this skeptical theory of a late, fictional origin of Job, we should observe that ample grounds may be found to support the complete historicity of both Job himself and the details given concerning his life experiences. First, it should be observed that Job 1:1 states very positively that "there was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job." This is expressed in just as truly a matter-of-fact way as 1 Samuel 1:1: "Now there was a certain man from Ramathaim-zophim,... and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, etc." (NASB). Or again, in Luke 1:5 we read, "In the days of Herod, King of Judea, there was a certain priest named Zacharias" (NASB). If Job is part of the sacred canon of Scripture, it logically follows that the same credibility must be granted to its opening historical statement as is accorded to 1 Samuel or to Luke—or to any other book in Scripture that affirms the historical existence of a character whose career it records.
Second, the historicity of Job is definitely confirmed by the references to him found elsewhere in Scripture. In Ezekiel 14:14 he is grouped with Noah and Daniel as a paragon of godliness and an effective intercessor before God: "Even though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in its [i.e., Israel's] midst, by their own righteousness they could only deliver themselves, declares the Lord God" (NASB). Here we find God Himself affirming the factual existence of Job on the same level with the existence of Noah and Daniel. If, therefore, no such person as Job ever lived, the historicity of both Noah and Daniel is likewise called in question. And actually it would follow that God Himself must be understood as deceived about the whole matter and in need of correction by the present-day scholars of skeptical persuasion! In this connection it is significant that even W.F. Albright, who inclined to a late date of the composition of Job, entertained no serious doubt as to the actual existence of Job himself. In his chapter on "The Old Testament and Archeology" (H.C. Alleman and E.E. Flack, eds., Old Testament Commentary [Philadelphia: Fortress, 1954]), Albright suggested that Job may have been a contemporary of the patriarchs in the pre-Mosaic age. He supports the credibility of Job by the authentic second-millennium employment of the name 'Iyyob.. (It should be noted that in the Berlin Execration texts, ‘Iyyob appears as the name of a Syrian prince living near Damascus; in the Mari documents of the eighteenth century B.C., Ayyabum is mentioned; and in the Tell el-Amarna correspondence from about 1400 B.C., Ayab is referred to as a prince of Pella.) Albright also certifies the credibility of the name of Bildad (one of Job's three "comforters") as a shortened form of Yabil-Dadum, a name found in the cuneiform sources of the early second millennium.
Third, objections based on the confrontation between Yahweh and Satan recorded in the first two chapters of Job are no more soundly based than those regarding Christ's temptation by Satan in the wilderness, as recorded in Matthew 4 and Luke 4. If the Bible cannot be regarded as trustworthy in such matters as these, it is difficult to say in what respect it retains any authority or credibility as a document of divine revelation.
Fourth, the linguistic argument based on the presence of terms more characteristic of Aramaic than Hebrew is tenuous indeed. The Aramaic language was evidently known and used in North Arabia for a long period of time. The numerous first-millennium inscriptions of the North Arabian Nabateans are almost invariably written in Aramaic, and commercial relations with Aramaic-speaking peoples probably began before 2000 B.C. Jacob's father-in-law, Laban, was certainly Aramaic speaking (cf. Gen. 31:47). Commercial contacts with the great Syrian center of Ebla were very extensive as early as 2400 B.C. (though the Eblaites themselves seem to have spoken an Amorite dialect, rather than Aramaic).
Furthermore, it should be pointed out that the extent of Aramaic influence has been somewhat overrated. A. Guillaume ("The Unity of the Book of Job," Annual of Leeds University, Oriental Sec. 14 [1962-63]: 26-27) has convincingly argued that there are no demonstrable Aramaisms in the speeches of Elihu (Job 32-37), which reputedly have the highest incidence of them. He contends that nearly all of them are terms existing in Arabic that happen to have cognates in Aramaic as well. He deals with no less than twenty-five examples of this, citing the Arabic originals in every case. Since the setting of the narrative is in Uz, located somewhere in North Arabia, this admixture of Arabic and Aramaic vocabulary is exactly what should be expected in the text of Job, whether it was originally composed in Hebrew (which is rather unlikely), or whether it was translated out of an earlier text written in the language prevalent in North Arabia during the pre-Mosaic period.
In view of the above-mentioned considerations, we must conclude that there are no tenable grounds for the theory of a fictional Job. The apostle James was therefore quite justified in appealing to the example of the patriarch Job in his exhortation to Christian believers to remain patient under tribulation. James 5:11 states: "You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful" (NASB, an allusion to Job's ultimate restoration to health, wealth, and happiness as the father of a large and God-fearing family). It is needless to point out that the Lord could hardly have been merciful and compassionate to a fictional character who never existed.
In Strong's Concordance we are told that the word translated "curse" in Job 1:11 and 2:5 is berak, a word that elsewhere is translated "bless." How can the same Hebrew word mean two such opposite things?
It is true that barak in the piel stem (berak) normally means "bless," "greet with a blessing." It occurs very frequently throughout the Old Testament with this meaning. But in Job 1:5,11; 2:5,9, and possibly also in Psalm 10:3 (where it is coupled with ni'es, "despise," "reject"), it seems to have the very opposite meaning to "bless." This is explained by Brown-Driver-Briggs (Lexicon, p. 139) as follows: "Bless with the antithetical meaning curse ... from the greeting in departing, saying adieu to, taking leave of; but rather a blessing overdone and so really a curse as in vulgar English." In this connection, 1 Kings 21:10,13 may also be cited.
The verb berak means "say goodby to" in Genesis 24:60; 32:1; 47:10; Joshua 22:6, 2 Samuel 13:25; and 1 Kings 8:66, generally with the connotation of invoking a parting blessing on the person taking his leave. From this usage we may surmise that an insolent sinner might say goodby to God Himself, with the intention of dismissing Him from his mind and conscience, of totally abandoning Him (so Zorell, Lexicon, p. 130, and this seems as satisfactory an explanation as any). Delitzsch (Keil and Delitzsch, Job, 2:51) calls this use of berak an antiphrastic euphemism. He feels that in Job 2:9 it clearly means valedicere ("say goodby to") as a benedictory salutation at parting. But in his general handling of these negative usages, he prefers to render it "dismiss God from one's heart" (ibid., 2:49).
The statement of Eliphaz in Job 5:13 is quoted in 1 Corinthians 3:19 as valid and true; does this mean that the words of Job's three comforters were also inspired?
In Job 5:13 Eliphaz says of God, "He captures the wise by their own shrewdness and the advice of the cunning is quickly thwarted" (NASB). The first portion of this is quoted in 1 Corinthians 3:19: "He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness" (NASB). But if Eliphaz was right in this affirmation about God, how are we to understand the Lord's reproof to Eliphaz, Zophar, and Bildad as expressed in Job 42:7: "The Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, 'My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has'" (NASB)? This adverse judgment calls into question the reliability of any statement made by any of the three.
While it is true that the basic position of the three "comforters" was seriously in error (that all misfortune and misery that befalls an apparently righteous believer must be the consequence of unconfessed, secret sin), nevertheless 42:7 does not go so far as to say that nothing else they ever said about God was true. On the contrary, even Job himself conceded the correctness of some of their teachings about God, for he rephrased many of the statements they themselves had made and wove them into his own eloquent eulogies of God.
On the other hand, it hardly seems doubtful that some of Job's own sentiments were incorrect and subject to the rebuke of both Elihu and Yahweh Himself. In fact, Job is led by God's direct teaching to see the presumptuous folly he had shown in criticizing God for unfairness and unkindness toward him. Job even says of himself in 42:3: "Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know" (NASB). Later on, in v.6, Job adds, "Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes" (NASB). Obviously, if Job had to retract things that he had said amiss in criticism of God's treatment of him, then not everything Job himself said about God is to be received as true.
Therefore we must rely on the context in each case in order to discover which of Job's sentiments were divinely inspired and approved of, and which expressed the distortions of insight to which grief and provocation had driven him. After all, the inerrancy of Scripture assures the truthfulness and accuracy of the record of what was said and done, according to the intention of the author within the context of his message. If by careful, objective exegesis it can be ascertained that the scriptural author meant to give a faithful record of what men said mistakenly or untruthfully, the inerrancy inheres in the accuracy of the report; it does not necessarily vouch for the truthfulness of what was said. No reader would imagine, for example, that what Satan said to God in Job 1 and 2 is to be received as truthful.
There is, however, one other significant observation to be made. Concerning Job's comforters, in all the New Testament this one statement from Eliphaz in 1 Corinthians 3:19 is the only quotation to be found from them. Nothing said by Bildad or Zophar is ever quoted, nor is any other comment from Eliphaz. Similar sentiments may be found elsewhere in the New Testament, but never any quotations—only vague allusions. (For a fuller discussion of this point, see 1 Cor. 3:19.)
In Job 2:1-2, Satan presents himself before the Lord. Does this mean that Satan has access to heaven and is able to go freely between heaven and earth? Also, who are the "sons of God" referred to in v. l?
In Ephesians 2:2, Satan is spoken of as the "prince [archdn] of the power [or 'authority'—exousia] of the air" (air, the atmosphere surrounding the earth, not the outer atmosphere or "space" indicated by aither). His sphere of action, even in his fallen and confined state (cf. 2 Peter 2:4), seems to be extensive enough so that he comes in contact with the archangel Michael (Jude 9) and even has communication with God over his administration of judicial authority.
Thus in Zechariah 3:1, the prophet sees a vision (admittedly symbolic) of the contemporary high priest of Israel standing before the judgment throne of God: "He showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of Yahweh, with Satan standing on his right to accuse him. The angel of Yahweh said to Satan, 'May Yahweh rebuke you, Satan!'"
This establishes quite clearly the fact that Satan, prior to the Cross at least, had occasional access to the court of God in situations where man's sinfulness gave him the right to interpose the claims of strict, retributive justice, or where the sincerity of believers' motives toward the Lord might be called in question. For this cause Satan is called "the Accuser" (Greek ho diabolos), who accuses Christians before the Lord night and day (Rev. 12:10). There is ample support from Scripture that Satan does have at least occasional and limited access before God in the presence of the angels of heaven— referred to as "the sons of God" (both in Job 1:6 and 2:1; cf. also Job 38:7— "when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy," i.e., back in the primeval beginning, long before the creation of the human race).
Present in this scene are some unexpected features that are not easily explained. If this celestial court session is held in heaven, in what part of heaven might this have taken place? There are at least three levels according to 2 Corinthians 12:2, where Paul mentions being caught up to the third heaven to behold the glories above. Presumably the scene of Job 2 would not be the highest and holiest level, as nothing abominable or profane is granted admittance to the City of God (Rev. 21:27). But perhaps in some lower level, on occasion at least, the Lord holds sessions of His celestial council; and to such gatherings Satan may come as an uninvited guest.
The other puzzling feature about this confrontation is that God seems to treat the Prince of Evil in such a casual and relaxed manner, asking him what he has been doing recently, and whether he has observed the consistent godliness of Job. We have no way of knowing whether Satan still puts in such appearances before the judicial throne of God; but it is certainly true that he later challenged and tried to tempt the Son of God in the wilderness at the commencement of His active ministry (cf. Matt. 4; Luke 4).
Satan's doom is sure; he is destined to be bound for a thousand years during the Millennium (Rev. 20:2-3). And after the final revolt against Christ at the close of that period (vv.7-10), Satan will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, there to undergo the endless torment of all the cursed and condemned (21:8).
[THE GOD OF THE OLD TESTAMENT WAS THE ONE WHO BECAME JESUS THE CHRIST; IT IS PROBABLY JESUS GOD THAT SATAN CAN APPEAR BEFORE. THIS GOD, JESUS, HAS A TYPE OF THRONE THAT CAN MOVE ABOUT THE UNIVERSE — SEE THE FIRST CHAPTERS OF EZEKIEL. GOD THE FATHER DOES NOT APPEAR WITH HIS CHILDREN UNTIL THE NEW EARTH HAS COME—— REV. 21:1-4 ETC. SO SATAN IT WOULD SEEN CAN APPEAR BEFORE THE CHRIST GOD, IN THE PAST AND IN THE PRESENT. YES SCRIPTURE SAYS JESUS IS ON THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD THE FATHER, BUT IT DOES NOT SAY HE IS “GLUED” TO BEING THERE EVER SECOND OF EVERY ETERNAL MINUTE. FALLEN ANGELS—DEMONS AND SATAN, ARE YET BE TO JUDGED— 1 COR. 6:1-3. THEIR EXACT FATE IS YET TO BE DETERMINED— JUDE 13 MAY BE ALLUDING TO IT; STARS CAN REPRESENT ANGELS— REV. 1:20 - DEMONS AND SATAN ARE FALLEN ANGEL BEINGS - Keith Hunt]
Does Scripture use mythology from pagan sources (e.g., Leviathan Job 41:1; Isa. 27:1], Rahab [Isa. 30:7], Behemoth Job 40:15], Tartarus [2 Peter 2:4])?
The poetic books, such as Job and Psalms, and occasionally the poetic passages of the Prophets contain references to mythological figures. There is a far more sparing use of them than appears in the hymns and religious poetry of the non-Hebrew literature of the ancient Near East, and there is furthermore a basic difference in their use. The pagans for the most part believed in the real existence of these mythological characters, whereas the biblical authors employed them in a purely figurative and metaphorical way.
The same practice can be observed in English literature as well, especially in the seventeenth century and earlier, when frequent allusions occur in the works of the great masters who were trained in the Greek and Latin classics. Thus in the opening lines of John Milton's "Comus" (11.18-21) we read:
Neptune, besides the sway
Of every salt flood, and each ebbing
Took in by lot 'twixt high and nether
Imperial rule of all the sea-girt Isles.
Or, again, we read in lines 46-53:
Bacchus, that first from out the purple
Crushed the sweet poison of misused
After the Tuscan mariners transformed
Coasting the Tyrrhene shore, as the
On Circe's island fell (who knows not
The daughter of the Sun? Whose
charmed cup whoever tasted, lost his
And downward fell into a groveling
It would be a very naive and ill-informed critic of English literature who would imagine that John Milton, that notable Christian apologete who composed the most outstanding of all English epics pertaining to the Fall of Adam and the redemption of man by Christ ("Paradise Lost" and "Paradise Regained"), betrayed a taint of pagan belief in his references to the Roman and Greek deities and demigods of Vergil and Homer. And yet many a nineteenth-century higher critic of biblical literature has fallen into this obvious fallacy in his attempt to link up the religion of ancient Israel with the superstitions of their idolatrous neighbors. A careful study of the religious documents of the Egyptians, Sumerians, Babylonians, and Canaanites (as set forth in Pritchard's Ancient Near Eastern Texts, for example) will show the distinction clearly and underline the fact that the attitude of the biblical authors towards Behemoth, Leviathan, and Rahab was very similar to the Miltonian references to Jove, Bacchus, Neptune, and Circe cited above.
To be more specific, "Leviathan" refers to an aquatic monster of great size and fearsome power. In Psalm 104:26 it is described in such a way as to suggest a whale. In Job 41 it probably refers to a monster-sized crocodile, as a prime example of an untamable beast too fierce and powerful for man to deal with—and yet perfectly cared for by Yahweh its Creator. In Isaiah 27 it symbolizes the empires of Assyria (the "fleeing" or "piercing" serpent—possibly suggestive of the winding Tigris River) and of Babylonia (the "crooked" or "twisted" serpent of the River Euphrates). In Psalm 74:14, on the other hand, Leviathan is used in parallelism with the tannin ("sea monster," "whale," or even perhaps "river monster"), referring to the Nile River or the Red Sea. In Ezekiel 29:3-5 it clearly refers to the crocodile of Egypt, with its scales and gaping jaws.
[THE AUTHORS FAIL TO SEE THAT IT MAY WELL HAVE BEEN A CREATURE THAT WE DO NOT HAVE TODAY—— IT BECAME EXTINCT, AS SAD TO SAY MANY OTHER CREATURES HAVE BECOME, BY THE EXPLOITS OF MAN, OR SOME OTHER REASON - KeithHunt]
"Behemoth" (a plural of intensity derived from behemah, a large quadruped, whether domestic or wild) appears in Job 40:15 as a fierce, huge beast that also frequents the water. On the whole it seems best to identify it with a giant hippopotamus, native to the upper reaches of the Nile. (An Egyptian etymology has been suggested: p- ih mw, "the water-ox," but this presents serious phonetic problems and was never so used by the Egyptians themselves, so far as we know. The three commonest terms for hippopotamus in Egyptian were h'-b, db, or nhs [cf. R.O. Faulkner, "A Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian," handwritten lithographed (Oxford, 1962), pp. 184,311,136 respectively].)
[AGAIN THEY FAIL TO NOTE IT MAY HAVE BEEN A CREATURE NOW EXTINCT, AND NOT AT ALL AS ONE STILL LIVING WITH US - Keith Hunt]
"Rahab" (Hebrew rahab—not the same as Rahab the harlot, which is Rahab, a different root) is a term meaning "pride," "arrogance"; but it appears in Job 26:12 and 38:8-11 as a personification of the turbulent forces of the raging deep. It serves as a symbol of Egypt at the time of the Exodus, as employed in Psalm 87:4, or as the loud, blustering do-nothing Egypt of Isaiah's day in Isaiah 30:7.
Tartaros, the Greek term for hell as a place of torment, appears only in the verb form tartaroo ("consign to Tartaros") and refers to no deity, only a place.
[IT IS A PLACE OR CONDINTION OF TORMENT UNTIL THE TIME COMES TO JUDGE THEM. REMEMBER SOME OF THE FALLEN SPIRITS SAYING TO JESUS, “ARE YOU COME TO TORMENT US BEFORE THE TIME” — MAT. 8:28-29. THEY ARE NOW IN A TYPE OF TORMENT SPIRITUALLY, KNOWING THEY WILL FACE A DAY OF JUDGMENT AS TO THEIR ULTIMATE PUNISHMENT - Keith Hunt]
Does Job 19:26 envision a resurrection body or not?
Job 19:25-27 was uttered by Job in an exalted moment of faith, as he turned away from his wretched circumstances and fastened his gaze on God: "But as for me, I know my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand on the earth [lit., 'dust']; and after they [i.e., the worms] have consumed away my skin, yet from my flesh I shall behold God—whom I shall behold and my eyes shall see—I and not another, [when] my inward parts have been consumed within me." The passage is highly poetic and capable of minor variations in rendering here and there. But the most discussed matter of interpretation concerns the word-cluster umibbesdri (composed of the waw-connective—"and" or "yet," the preposition min—"from" or "away from," and basar—"body" or "flesh," plus -i, meaning "my."
The question at issue is the real significance of min: does it mean "in [my flesh]" as KJV and NIV render it? Or does it mean "from [my flesh]" as RSV and JB have it? Or does it mean "without [my flesh]" as ASV and NASB have rendered it? If Job intends here to say that his soul or spirit will behold God in the Last Day, then the min should perhaps be rendered "without." But no other passage uses min to mean "without" in connection with a verb of seeing; rather it is only used in combinations such as Job 11:15—"Then you will lift up your face without spot [mimmum]"; Proverbs 1:33—"when they are at peace without fear [mippahad]"; Jeremiah 45:48—"They stand without strength [mikkoah]" (cf. Brown-Driver-Briggs, Lexicon, p. 578b).
It is poor exegetical procedure to prefer a rare or unusual meaning for a word when a common and frequent meaning will agree perfectly well with the context. Therefore, it is far better to take min here in its usual sense of the point of reference from which an observation is taken, a vantage point from which the spectator may view the object of his interest. (Thus min is often used in specifying a compass direction or a relative location of one person in reference to another.)
In this case, then, it is hard to believe that the Hebrew listener would gain any other impression from mibb'sdri 'ehezeh 'elah than "from [the vantage point of] my flesh [or 'body'] I shall behold God." Taken in this sense, the passage indicates Job's conviction that even after his body has moldered away in the grave, there will come a time in the Last Day—when his divine Redeemer stands on the soil (‘apar) of this earth—that from the vantage point of a post-resurrection body he will behold God. It is for this reason that the rendering of RSV and JB ("from") and of KJV and NIV ("in," which expresses the same idea with the preposition more agreeable to our idiom) is much to be preferred over the "without" of ASV and NASB. Construed as "from" or "in," this passage strongly suggests an awareness of the bodily resurrection that awaits all redeemed believers in the Resurrection.
[THE TRUTH IS IT CAN MEAN BOTH VERY CORRECTLY. THE DAY OF THE RESURRECTION WILL COME, WHEN THE CHILD OF GOD WILL BE RESURRECTED TO ETERNAL LIFE, WHEN THE REDEEMER COMES TO EARTH AGAIN. THE RESURRECTED BELIEVER WILL HAVE A PHYSICAL BODY (WITHOUT BLOOD, IT AIN’T NEEDED IN ETERNAL LIFE) AND A SPIRITUAL BODY (1 COR. 15). THE BELIEVER WILL BE AS JESUS WAS AFTER HIS RESURRECTION TO ETERNAL LIFE—— A PHYSICAL BODY OF FLESH AND BONE WHEN NEEDED OR WANTED, AND A SPIRIT BODY OF GLORY AS NEEDED OR WANTED. JESUS HAD BOTH. WE SHALL SEE THE REDEEMER BOTH IN A PHYSICAL BODY, OR A SPIRIT BODY. SO “IN” OR “OUT OF” IS CORRECT IN THE ULTIMATE TRUTH OF IMMORTALITY AND OUR REDEEMER WHEN HE COMES TO EARTH - Keith Hunt]
Do not Psalms 5:5 and 11:5 contradict the teaching that God loves the sinner but hates the sin?
Psalm 5:4-6 reads: "For Thou art not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; no evil dwells with Thee. The boastful shall not stand before Thine eyes; Thou dost hate all who do iniquity. Thou dost destroy those who speak falsehood; the Lord abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit" (NASB). Psalm 11:5 reinforces this as follows: "The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, and the one who loves violence His soul hates" (NASB). To this may be added the often-cited passage in Malachi 1:2-3: "'Was not Esau Jacob's brother?' declares the Lord. 'Yet I have loved Jacob; but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation, and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness.'" (NASB).
From such passages as these we learn that God makes a difference between good and evil and between good men and evil men. Evil does not really exist in the abstract (except as a theoretical idea) but only in the evil nature and wicked deeds of ungodly men and the demons of hell. Scripture describes the wicked and immoral as those who love sinners in their defiance of God and in their contempt for His moral law. Thus the prophet Hanani rebuked even good King Jehoshaphat for his alliance with Ahab, saying, "Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord and so bring wrath on yourself from the Lord?" (2 Chron. 19:2, NASB). The apostle John warns in his first Epistle (2:15): "Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If any one loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (NASB). We are not to love the wicked as sinners in rebellion against God, lest we become involved in their guilty ways and attitudes of mind. Therefore, we are to recognize that only Satan loves sinners in their transgression and opposition to the moral law. God does not love them in that way; rather, He condemns and punishes them in His capacity as righteous Judge over all the universe.
There is yet another aspect of God's attitude toward sinners that reflects His unfathomable mercy and matchless grace. He so loved the wicked, sinful world that He gave His only Son, Jesus, to die as an atonement for sin. "All we like sheep have gone astray, ... but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him" (Isa. 53:6). This means that even though God opposes and hates the sinner as a co-worker with Satan and a tool of his malice, God's love reaches out in compassion and grace to all sinners everywhere, seeking to deliver them from sin by the Atonement and the New Birth [CONVERSION - Keith Hunt], and to adopt them as His children in the family of the redeemed. Here, then, we find to our amazement that while God hates and condemns the unrepentant, unconverted sinner, yet His heart reaches out to him in mercy and love—a holy love operating through the Cross, "that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus" (Rom. 3:26, NASB). In other words, God is able to love the one whom He hates; but His hatred is of the sinner in his sin, and His love is for the sinner who repents of his sin and puts his trust in Jesus. Why is this so? Because from the moment he sincerely turns from his wicked way and puts his trust in Jesus, he becomes united with Christ by faith—and the Father cannot hate His Son, or anyone who is a member of His body and a temple of His Spirit.
How can the superscription to Psalm 30 be accurate, when it seems so inappropriate for the contents of the psalm?
The title for Psalm 30, according to the Masoretic text, is "A Psalm; a Song at the Dedication of the House. A Psalm of David" (NASB). The substance of Psalm 30 deals largely with a very personal experience on the part of the poet himself—an experience of rescue from the hand of his enemies— together with an earnest plea that the Lord will not allow him to be killed by his enemies, but will rather preserve him for further years of fellowship and service for God on earth. There seems to be nothing in the twelve verses of this psalm that would lend itself to use in tabernacle or temple by way of public worship. It should be added that the titles of the psalms, informative and illuminating though they often are, do not enjoy the status of inspired and authoritative Scripture. Only the words of the psalm itself as originally composed are included in the inerrant text.
The titles are at best to be considered as highly reliable notations added sometime subsequent to the composition of the poem itself.
However, we observe one significant fact about Psalm 29, which immediately precedes the title of Psalm 30. Psalm 29 is eminently suited for use in public worship and shows some of the grandeur and exalting sublimity that we associate with the Hallelujah Chorus. This brings to mind a treatise by J.W. Thirtle (The Titles of the Psalms, their Meaning and Nature Explained, 2d ed. [London: H. Froude, 1905], ad loc.). In this discussion Thirtle suggests that many of the Psalms had not only a prescript but also a postscript. Some of the ancient Egyptian and Akkadian hymns have been preserved to us with a final notation. This makes it quite possible that in the later compilation of the canonical Psalms the scribes became confused by the presence of postscripts and assumed that they should be taken as part of the prescript for the psalm following. This establishes a certain likelihood that the first part, at least of the title of Psalm 30 ("A Psalm; a Song at the Dedication of the House") was originally a closing notation attached at the end of Psalm 29. This would leave only "A Psalm of David" as the true heading for Psalm 30. If this was the case, then the problem of inappropriateness disappears completely.
Should not the name in the title to Psalm 34 be Achish rather than Abimelech?
The title to Psalm 34 reads: "A Psalm of David; when he feigned madness before Abimelech, who drove him away and he departed" (NASB). This is probably a reference to the episode related in 1 Samuel 21:13, when in order to escape arrest as an enemy of the Philistines, David pretended before King Achish of Gath that he had become insane. Reluctant to treat him like a responsible wrongdoer, King Achish ordered him to be expelled from the city and sent away. The appearance of the name "Abimelech" instead of "Achish" may be an error on the part of the editors of the Psalter, who added the titles to the Psalms for which titles are supplied. On the other hand, the biography of King David was known to the Hebrew people better than that of any other king of Israel; and it is most unlikely that this kind of a blunder could have been made by a knowledgeable editor of a later generation.
It is far more likely that the reference to Abimelech was no blunder at all, but actually refers to a second name of King Achish. Just as Gideon also bore the name of Jerubbaal (Judg. 6:32; 7:1, etc.), Solomon was also named Jedidiah (2 Sam. 12:25), and Zedekiah was also called Mattaniah (2 Kings 24:17), so also the kings of the Philistines may have borne more than one name. Actually the earliest Philistine king ever mentioned in Genesis was King Abimelech of Gerar (20:2), followed later in the time of Isaac by Abimelech II (26:1). It would seem that Abimelech became a kind of recurrent dynastic name, a little like "Darius" in Persia (the first Darius actually bore the name Spantadata before his coronation in 522, and the personal name of Darius the Mede [Dan. 5:31; 6:1; 9:1] was probably Gubaru [Dareyawes was probably a throne-name meaning "Royal One"]). All the kings of Egypt bore at least two names (the nesu-bity name, which was a personal name; and a sa-Ra' name, which was a dynastic title, often recurring in the titulary of members of the same dynastic chain); so it should occasion no surprise if some of the Philistine kings, profoundly influenced by the culture of their neighboring super-power, followed a similar practice.
No other names of Philistine kings are given in the Old Testament except the two already mentioned, Abimelech and Achish. Assyrian sources, however, mention an Aziri or Azuri, king of Ashdod (Pritchard, ANET, p. 286), whom Sargon II replaced by his younger brother, Ahimiti, and Sidqia, king of Ashkelon, preceded by Ru-kibtu and succeeded by Sharrulu-dari (ibid., p. 287), along with Padi, king of Ekron, whom Sennacherib restored to his throne as a loyal vassal. At the same period Sillibel was king of Gaza (ibid., p. 288). Essarhad-don mentioned Mitinti as king of Ashkelon (ibid., p. 291) and Ikausu as king of Ekron—and very significantly, also, an A-himilki (the same name as Ahimelech, and very close to Abimelech in formation) as king of Ashdod. This furnishes a strong degree of likelihood that names like Abimelech persisted among Philistine royalty from the eleventh to the eighth century B.C.
What is the significance of "O Lord, when thou awakest" in Psalm 73:20? According to Psalm 121:3-4, God does not sleep.
The verb translated "awakest" is ba’ir, meaning "to awake," "to act in aroused manner." It is used here figuratively for bestirring oneself into action appropriate to a situation. In this context no Hebrew would draw the inference that God had to be literally asleep before He could rouse Himself into action. This is anthropomorphic language when applied to God; that is, God is represented as behaving or reacting in terms appropriate to humans with bodily parts and limbs. In His essential being, God is spirit and therefore does not have a "body, parts or passions," as traditional theology defines it. (Yet the Bible definitely teaches that He does feel the emotions of love, sorrow, or anger, when the occasion calls for it.)
[SO IT WOULD SEEM THE AUTHORS ARE FROM THE GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO THINK GOD IS A SPIRIT “NOTHINGNESS”— I DO NOT WORSHIP A GOD THAT HAS NO FORM OR SHAPE, WHO HAS NO BODY, OF SPIRIT. GOD CLEARLY TELLS US HE HAS FORM AND SHAPE, HE HAS A BODY OF SPIRIT; THE LAST CHAPTERS OF REVELATION TELLS US WE WILL ONE DAY SEE THE FACE OF GOD THE FATHER. HUMANS WERE MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD. REVELATION CHAPTER 1 TELLS US HOW JESUS LOOKS IN HIS GLORY FORM. THERE IS BASIC FORM AND SHAPE TO GOD. HE DOES NOT NEED EYELASHES, FINGERNAILS, TOENAILS; HE DOES NOT NEED A SKIN TO COVER HIS BODY; HE DOES NOT NEED A HEART OR LUNGS OR DIGESTIVE SYTEM AND SO FORTH. BUT THE BIBLE MAKES IT VERY CLEAR GOD DOES HAVE FORM AND SHAPE, HE IS NOT A “NOTHINGNESS” OF SPIRIT. WE ARE BACK TO THOSE WHO SAY GOD AND THE TRINITY CAN NOT BE UNDERSTOOD SO DON’T TRY TO UNDERSTAND. HOGWASH GOOBID-I-DOO-POO—— GOD THE FATHER IS A REAL PERSON, JESUS THE CHRIST IS A REAL PERSON, THOUGH IN SPIRIT FORM WHEN IN HEAVEN, BUT WITH FORM AND SHAPE AS I PROVE IN OTHER STUDIES - Keith Hunt]
So in this case, while it is true that God "neither slumbers nor sleeps" in the sense of losing consciousness or contact with the reality about Him, He may remain unresponsive or inactive in situations where we might expect Him to act decisively. When He finally bestirs Himself to display His power and enforce His will, it is as if He had aroused Himself into action, like a man awakening out of slumber and confronting a situation demanding his immediate response. (Compare the similar language in Ps.35:23: "Stir up yourself [using the same verb as above] and awake [haqisah from the verb qis, meaning 'awake' in the hiphil stem] to the justice due me.")
How could a true man of God, as the psalmist in Psalm 137:8-9, rejoice at the prospect of dashing infants against the rocks?
Psalm 137 was composed by a member of the captivity of Judah, who had witnessed the sadistic brutality of the Chaldean soldiers in the time of the capture of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. He had seen how those heartless monsters had wrenched away helpless babies from their mothers' arms and then had smashed out their brains against the corner of the nearest wall, laughing uproariously in their malicious glee, and uttering the grossest blasphemy against the God of Israel as they carried on their wanton butchery. The challenge to the sovereignty and honor of the one true God, which they hurled at Him as they massacred His people, could not forever go unanswered. As the guardian and enforcer of His own moral law, God could manifest His glory only by visiting a terrible vengeance on those who had so dealt with their unresisting captives and poured contempt on their God.
The captive exile who composed these words, therefore, felt altogether justified in calling on God to enforce the sanctions of His law and mete out appropriate retribution to those malevolent brutes who had committed these atrocities. Only thus could the pagan world be taught that there is a God in heaven who requires all men to regard the basic standards of right and wrong as truly binding on their consciences. They needed to learn that bloody violence practiced on others was sure to come back on themselves. The only way the heathen world could learn this lesson was to experience the fearsome consequences of trampling on the sanctions of humanity and have done to them what they had done to others.
The time was to come when the victorious Medes and Persians would deal with the Babylonian babies just as the Babylonians had dealt with the Hebrew babies at the time the Jews went into captivity. The Babylonian babies would meet up with the same brutality the Babylonians had inflicted on others. Only thus could they be convinced of the sovereignty and power of the God of the Hebrews. So the chief motive for this prayer is not a vindictive desire for revenge; but, rather, it is an earnest wish that Yahweh would manifest Himself before the jeering world by cata-strophically overthrowing the Chaldean power that had wrought such misery and needless woe back in the days of Jerusalem's demise.
It should, of course, be added that in our present age subsequent to Calvary, God has another way in which to show His terrible judgment on sin. He sacrificed His only beloved Son in order to atone for the guilt of all sinners everywhere. The overthrow of wicked, bloodstained political leaders and their degenerate followers still goes on even down to our present generation; but it is not quite so necessary now as it was before the coming of the Lord Jesus that God vindicate His righteousness and justice by spectacular strokes of retributive justice. Moreover, since the sinless Son of God has supremely manifested God's wrath against sin by offering up His own life on the cross as an atonement for the sins of mankind, it is not so imperative as it was in the Old Testament age for God to manifest His righteousness through penal judgments of a catastrophic kind.
It is less appropriate for New Testament believers to offer up the same call for vengeance as this psalm expresses. Nevertheless we must not ignore the passages found even in the latest New Testament book of all, Revelation, which in 6:10 articulates the appeal of the martyred saints from the time of the Tribulation: "How long, O Lord, holy and true, wilt Thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" As the arrogant godlessness of the End Time mounts to a Satan-inspired climax of brutality and bloodshed, it is appropriate to pray with great earnestness that God will intervene to crush the wicked and visit on a rebellious world the destruction that it so richly deserves.
Does the Bible class abortion with murder?
Surgical abortion was hardly possible until the development of modern techniques in the operating room; in ancient times the babies were killed in the womb only when their mother was also slain. An example is Amos 1:13: "Thus says the Lord, 'For three transgressions of the sons of Ammon and for four I will not revoke its punishment, because they ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead in order to enlarge their borders'" (NASB). But now that the United States Supreme Court has questioned the human status of a fetus in the womb until it reaches an advanced stage of gestation, it becomes essential to establish from Scripture what God's view is on this matter.
At what stage does God consider the fetus to be a human being, so that the taking of its life may be considered manslaughter?
Psalm 139:13 indicates very definitely that God's personal regard for the embryo begins from the time of its inception. The psalmist says, "For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb" (NASB). Verse 16 continues, "Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Thy book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them" (NASB). It is reassuring to know that even though many thousands of embryos and fetuses are deliberately aborted every year throughout the world, God cares about the unborn and takes personal knowledge of them just as truly before they are born as after their delivery. He has their genetic code all worked out and has a definite plan for their lives (according to v.16).
In Jeremiah 1:5 the Lord says to the young prophet on the threshold of his career, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations" (NASB). This certainly implies that God foreknew this lad even before he was conceived in his mother's womb. Apparently we human beings have an identity in God's mind that is established "from everlasting"—long before conception as an embryo. Second, the verse teaches that it is God Himself who forms that fetus and governs and controls all those "natural" processes that bring about the miracle of human life. Third, God has a definite plan and purpose for our lives, and each of us really matters to Him. Therefore anyone who takes the life of any human being at any stage in his life's career will have to reckon with God. "Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man" (Gen. 9:6, NASB). When does an embryo begin to be a creature made in the image of God? From the moment of conception in the womb, Scripture says. Therefore God will require his blood at the hands of his murderer, whether the abortionist be a medical doctor or a nonprofessional.
In Isaiah 49:1, the messianic Servant of the Lord is quoted as saying, "Yahweh has called Me from the womb; from the body of My mother He named Me." This raises the interesting question for the Supreme Court to answer: At what point in the gestation period of Christ in Mary's womb did the Lord Jesus begin to be the Son of God? At what time between conception and birth would an abortion of that Baby have amounted to heinous sacrilege? After three months? After three days? After three minutes? The angel said to Mary at the Annunciation: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; so the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). When did the miracle of the Incarnation take place? Was it not at the very moment of conception?
Luke 1:15 brings out a similar point concerning John the Baptist: "For he will be great in the sight of the Lord ... and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth." We are not told at what stage in his mother's pregnancy that greatest of all human prophets (Matt. 11:11) began to be filled with the Third Person of the Trinity; [OH THERE YOU ARE THE THIRD PERSON OF THE TINITY, SO JESUS PRAYED TO THE WRONG FATHER; NOT REALLY, BUT TRINITARIANS WOULD BY THEIR TEACHING HAVE TO TEACH IT SO, THEN THEY WILL TELL YOU THAT YOU CAN’T UNDERSTAND THE TRINITY ANYWAY, SO I GUESS THEY TEACH WHAT THEY WANT - Keith Hunt] but it may well have been earlier than the stage set by the Supreme Court as being "viable." What we do know for certain is that at about six months of gestation John's mother, Elizabeth, felt him leap in her womb when Mary entered the room (Luke 1:41,44); for Elizabeth cried out with joy after Mary greeted her: "When the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy." The Third Person of the Trinity responded with joy when the future mother of Jesus Christ, the Second Person, came into the same room. How fortunate for the hurnan race that no abortionist's knife came near either of those two embryos!
[WAS NOT JESUS ALSO FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT FROM CONCEPTION? YES FOR IT SAYS SO IN MATTHEW 1:18. SO THE HOLY SPIRIT WAS THE FATHER OF JESUS, AND SO ALSO OF JOHN THE BAPTIST. HOW THEN COULD THE THIRD PERSON KINDA JUMP FOR JOY IN ELIZABETH’S WOMB, WHEN HE SAW HIMSELF AS FATHER ALSO OF JESUS….THE THIRD PERSON OF THE TRINITY JUMPS FOR JOY AT SEEING THE THIRD PERSON OF THE TRINITY IN MARY’S WOMB. I MEAN WHAT SILLY THEOLOGY IS BEING VOICED HERE, THEN AGAIN I SUPPOSE WE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO USE HUMAN LOGIC, FOR WE ARE TOLD THE TRINITY CAN’T BE UNDERSTOOD - BALDERDASH TO THAT IDEA OF MEN - Keith Hunt]
In earlier years of the current abortion controversy, it used to be said even by some Evangelical scholars that Exodus 21:22-25 implied that the killing of an unborn fetus involved a lesser degree of culpability than the slaughter of a child already born. This was based on an unfortunate mistranslation of the Hebrew original. Even the text rendering of the NASB perpetuates this misunderstanding, quite as much as the KJV: "And if men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no further injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him; and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, etc."
In the margin the NASB acknowledges that ue yase u ladeyah (which it renders "so that she has a miscarriage") literally means "her children come out." The same term used for a child from infancy to the age of twelve is used here: yeled in the singular, yeladim in the plural. (The plural is used here because the woman might be regnant with twins when this injury bealls her.) The result of this blow to her womb is that her child (children) will be aborted from her womb and (if she is fortunate) will come forth alive. The second important observation is that the "further" inserted by NASB (in italics) does not appear in the Hebrew, nor—in the opinion of this writer—is it even implied in the Hebrew. The Hebrew as it stands (for the third clause) is perfectly clear: "and there is no injury" (we lo' yihyeh ‘ason). Thus the whole sentence really should be translated "And when men struggle together and strike a pregnant woman [or 'wife'] and her children come forth, but there is no injury, he shall be certainly fined, as the husband of the woman shall impose on him, and he shall give [or 'pay'] in [the presence of] the judges; but if there shall be an injury, then you shall pay life for life [nepes tahat napes]."
There is no ambiguity here whatever. What is required is that if there should be an injury either to the mother or to her children, the injury shall be avenged by a like injury to the assailant. If it involves the life (ne-pes) of the premature baby, then the assailant shall pay for it with his life. There is no second-class status attached to the fetus under this rule; he is avenged just as if he were a normally delivered child or an older person: life for life. Or if the injury is less, but not serious enough to involve inflicting a like injury on the offender, then he may offer compensation in monetary damages, according to the amount prescribed by the husband of the injured woman. Monetary damages usually are required when a baby is born prematurely, for there are apt to be extra expenses both for medical attention and for extra care.
If, then, the taking of the life of a human fetus is to be classed as homicide—as the Bible clearly implies—the question arises as to whether such homicide is ever justifiable. Naturally we are not talking about the imposition of public justice against offenders who have been officially tried and convicted of such crimes as the worship of false gods, infant sacrifice, witchcraft, blasphemy against Yahweh, first-degree murder, adultery, incest (execution for these crimes was to be by stoning, the sword, or burning at the stake [cf. Lev. 20:2-5,14,20,27; 24:15-17; Deut. 13:1-5, 15; 17:2-7; 22:22-24]). Such punitive measures are to be classed as execution rather than homicide. But in a case of self-defense or of defending the home against a burglar during the night (Exod. 22:2), the taking of human life was considered justified in order to prevent an even greater injustice by allowing the criminal to victimize or slaughter the innocent.
There is no specific treatment in the Bible of the problem posed when the continuance of the fetus in the womb means a serious threat to the life of the mother. It may be reasonably concluded that an actual life is of more intrinsic value than a potential life— especially if the well-being of other children is at stake.
In most cases it turns out that babies who would have turned out to be so defective as to be incapable of a meaningful life die at childbirth or soon afterward. Nevertheless, there are some who never achieve human rationality and survive for a period of years. Unlike the ancients, we now have diagnostic techniques that can warn the obstetrician or the expectant mother that the uterus contains such a freak and that only a harrowing heartbreak is in store for the family and parents if the fetus is allowed to come to full term. Conceivably a case can be made out for the termination of its life by abortion. But this is a very dubious procedure to follow unless the malformation of the embryo is established beyond all doubt. It is usually better to let "nature" (i.e., the good providence of God) take its course.
[LIFE MUST GO ONWARD, SOME TECHNICALLY “DISABLED” LIFE HAVE DONE WONDERS IN THE WORLD. SOME GENIUS PEOPLE HAVE BEEN BELOW “AVERAGE” IS SOME AREAS MOST OF US CONSIDER “NORMAL” BUT HAVE BEEN ABOVE AVERAGE IN MANY OTHER AREAS. SO ON CONCEPTION LIFE MUST BE ALLOWED TO CONTINUE. CHRISTIAN PARENTS SHOULD LEAVE SCIENCE OUT OF CONCEPTION AND THE 9 MONTHS OF A BABY IN THE WOMB. I CAN ONLY SAY THAT IF THE MOTHER’S LIFE IS IN DANGER THEN SHE SHOULD BE SAVED; PRESENT LIFE TAKES PRECEDENCE OVER FUTURE LIFE - Keith Hunt]
In the case of involuntary conceptions such as rape or incest, while the injustice to the pregnant woman is beyond question, it is more than doubtful whether the injustice done to the unborn child is not even greater, should its life be terminated by surgery before it is born. The psychological trauma to the mother may be severe, and yet it is capable of being successfully handled by one who is innocent of wrongdoing and has no consciousness of personal guilt in the whole affair. It can be coped with by a submissive faith and trust in God for ability to handle the new situation created by the arrival of the baby. If the mother should feel unwilling to raise the child herself, there are many other childless couples who would be glad to adopt the little one and raise it as their own.
In the case of incest, adoption is almost obligatory, since it would be almost impossible for a child fathered by its grandfather or uncle to maintain any kind of self-respect if it should later find out the truth. Nevertheless this tragic consequence can be avoided through adoption, and it is very questionable whether abortion would be justified even under such an extreme circumstance as incest. [IT IS NOT JUSTIFIABLE - Keith Hunt]. The child's right to live should remain the paramount consideration in almost every instance. (Perhaps it should be pointed out in this connection that according to Gen. 19:36-38, the ancestor of the Moabite nation and that of the Ammonite nation were both born from an incestuous relationship)— though in that special case the father, Lot, was hardly responsible for this offense.)
[IT WAS HIS DAUGHTER’S PLANNING THE WHOLE THING - Keith Hunt]
In view of Solomon's personal life, how could his writings be part of Holy Scripture? How could the Bible call him the wisest of men?
Solomon began his career on the basis of high ideals and lofty principles. First Kings 3:3 states: "Now Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David, except he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places" (NASB)—as well as at the Jerusalem sanctuary of Yahweh, where he should have carried on all his altar worship (Deut. 12:10-14). In his solemn dedication of himself to the Lord for service, he modestly asked nothing for himself but the gift of "an understanding heart" (lit., "a hearing heart") so as to "judge Thy people to discern between good and evil" (1 Kings 3:9). God said He would give him "a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you" (v. 12, NASB). In 1 Kings 4:29 [MT: 1 Kings 5:9] we read, "Now God gave Solomon wisdom [ho-kmah] and very great discernment and breadth of mind [roha-b le-b], like the sand that is on the seashore" (NASB). Verse 30 then states, "And Solomon's wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the sons of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt" (NASB). Verse 31 affirms that he was "wiser than all men"—even wiser than the most famous sages before his time (Ethan, Heman, Calcol, and Darda), and his reputation spread throughout all the Near East.
The gift of wisdom bestowed on Solomon pertained particularly to matters of government—as a judge between quarreling litigants (1 Kings 3:16-28), as the builder of architectural and artistic masterpieces, as an inspired leader in public worship (at the dedication of the temple), as fortifier of city defenses and the formation of large armies with advanced military equipment, and as the promoter of worldwide commerce and a thriving domestic economy. The Lord also gave him wisdom in matters of science (all branches of botany and zoology), according to 1 Kings 4:33, and in the mastery of poetry and proverbial literature (v.32 speaks of 3000 proverbs and 1,005 songs).
The Book of Proverbs contains some of the finest teaching ever written concerning a godly and fruit-bearing life, and it contains repeated and eloquent warnings against sexual license and toleration of crime and collaboration with ruthless criminals. It teaches the fine art of getting along harmoniously with others, yet without compromising moral principle. There can be no doubt of the high caliber of Solomon's surpassing wisdom and skill as a teacher and as a leader in government. There is no good reason to doubt the inspiration of his three great works: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon.
On the other hand, we read in 1 Kings 11 how he engaged in plural marriage to utter excess, partly on the basis of diplomacy with foreign nations. Verse 1 says, "Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women" (NASB). Verse 2 goes on to point out Solomon's sin in contracting all these marriages with pagan women, referring to Exodus 34:12-16 and its prohibition of marrying or covenanting with unbelieving heathen. Verse 3 records his enlargement of his harem to seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines and his consequent toleration of—or even cooperation with— the worship of the false gods that his foreign wives brought with them. His particular attention went to Ashtoreth of Sidon and Milcom of the Ammonites (v.5). Verse 6 concludes with this depressing report: "And Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not follow the Lord fully, as David his father had done" (NASB). He even built a shrine for Chemosh, god of Moab, and one for Molech "the detestable idol of the sons of Ammon" (v.7).
Quite clearly, then, the gift of wisdom did not include the gift of faithfulness to moral principle, so far as his personal relations were concerned. He knew perfectly well that Deuteronomy 17:16-17 had sternly warned against the very vices he had indulged in: multiplying of horses, wives, silver, and gold. He was well able to instruct others in the wisdom of moderation and self-control, and he had a fine mental grasp of the insight that the "fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom" (Prov. 1:7). But as he found himself invested with absolute power, boundless wisdom, honor, and limitless wealth to acquire or pay for whatever he wanted, he began to indulge his carnal desires without restraint.
In Ecclesiastes 2:10 Solomon confesses "And all that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor" (NASB). He condemned himself to a life of experimentation with every pleasure or advantage that spells happiness to the child of this world. And yet, as he testifies in Ecclesiastes, he found that all this "satisfaction" brought neither contentment, happiness, nor a feeling of meaningful accomplishment after it was all over. Hence he was driven to see on the basis of his own personal experience, as well as on the basis of theory and revelation from God, that no activity or accomplishment "under the sun" (i.e., relating to this present sin-ridden, transient world, without reference to God above or the world beyond) amounts to anything but frustration, futility, and despair. "Vanity of vanities! all is vanity," says the Preacher.
The life of Solomon is a solemn reminder that wisdom is an attainment quite distinct from a sincere heart animated by a real love for God's will. Wisdom is not equivalent to godliness— "the fear of the Lord." And yet without godliness no wise man will use his wisdom to a consistently good purpose, so far as his own life is concerned. There is a radical evil in the human heart (Jer. 17:9), and it can coexist with a perfect knowledge of God's truth. There is no logical reason for Solomon to have defiled his personal life the way he did. It was simply that he allowed himself to be corrupted by his wealth and power, and he gradually sank into a state of alienation toward God without fully realizing it.
Nevertheless, at the end of his life, Solomon came to see that no attainment or enjoyment brought any real or lasting satisfaction if it was done for self and for this world—"under the sun." He found it all meaningless and empty, and he ended up with one big zero. From the tone of Ecclesiastes and its clear warning that it is profitless to gain the whole world and lose one's own soul, we are led to believe that Solomon tried to get right with God and repented of his unfaithfulness and folly in sinning against the light that had been given him. His legacy to all believers with a wandering, willful, self-centered heart was that any life not lived for God turns to dust and ashes, heartbreak and despair. Solomon concluded by saying, "Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man" (Eccl. 12:13).
Our conclusion is this: The three books Solomon wrote are true and profitable because he was inspired by God as he wrote them. He was a man of surpassing wisdom but also of surpassing folly so far as his private life was concerned. And he himself came to recognize and bitterly regret this before he died.
[THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES IS NO DOGMATIC PROOF THAT SOLOMON REPENTED OF HIS LATTER LIFE SINS. YOU WOULD HAVE TO BE ABLE TO PROVE ECCLESIASTES WAS WRITTEN AFTER HE HAD LEFT OFF SERVING GOD. AND THERE IS NO WAY OF PROVING IT WAS. THE KINGDOM WOULD BE RENT FROM SOLOMON, BUT ONE TRIBE FOR DAVID’S SAKE (AND TWO OTHERS TRIBES FOLLOWED THE JUDAH TRIBE - BENJAMIN AND LEVI). SO IF SOLOMON WILL BE IN THE FIRST RESURRECTION IS ONE HUGE QUESTION, THAT ONLY THE COMING OF JESUS AND THE RESURRECTION WILL ANSWER - Keith Hunt]
Does Proverbs 22:6 always work for the children of believers?
Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it" (NASB). NIV renders the second line thus: "And when he is old he will not turn from it." Before discussing the practical application of this verse, we should examine quite carefully what it actually says. The literal rendering of the Hebrew ha nok lanna'ar is "Initiate, train the boy" (na'ar refers to a young male from childhood until he reaches majority); the verb hanak does not occur elsewhere in the Old Testament with the meaning "train up." Normally the verb means "dedicate" (a house or a temple [Deut. 20:5; 1 Kings 8:63; 2 Chron. 7:5], or else a dedication offering [Num. 7:10]). This seems to be cognate with the Egyptian h-n-k ("give to the gods," "set up something for divine service"). This gives us the following range of possible meanings: "Dedicate the child to God," "Prepare the child for his future responsibilities," "Exercise or train the child for adulthood."
Next we come to what is translated "in the way he should go." Literally, it is "according to his way" ('al-pi darko); 'al-pi (lit., "according to the mouth of) generally means "after the measure of," "conformably to," or "according to." As for darko, it comes from derek ("way"); and this may refer to "the general custom of, the nature of, the way of acting, the behavior pattern of" a person. This seems to imply that the manner of instruction is to be governed by the child's own stage of life, according to his personal bent, or else, as the standard translations render it, according to the way that is proper for him—in the light of God's revealed will, according to the standards of his community or his cultural heritage. In this highly theological, God-centered context ("Yahweh is the maker" of both the rich and the poor [v.2]; "The reward of humility and the fear of Yahweh is riches, honor, and life" [v.4]), there can be little doubt that "his way" here implies "his proper way" in the light of the goals and standards set forth in v.4 and tragically neglected by the "perverse" in v. 5. Yet there may also be a connotation that each child is to be reared and trained for God's service according to the child's own personal and peculiar needs and traits.
[THAT IS ALL VERY FANCY FOOTWORK AIMING AT SOMETHING YET TO COME - Keith Hunt]
The second line reads gam ki ("even when") yazqin ("he gets old"—zaqen is the word for "old" or "an elder"), lo yasur ("he will not turn away") mim-menndh ("from it," i.e., from his derek), which seems to strengthen the interpretation "his proper way," "behavior pattern," or "lifestyle" as a well-trained man of God or good citizen in his community.
What this all adds up to, then, is the general principle (and all the general maxims in Proverbs concerning human conduct are of this character, rather than laying down absolute guarantees to which there may never be an exception) that when a godly parent gives proper attention to the training of his child for adult responsibility and for a well-ordered life lived for God, then he may confidently expect that that child—even though he may stray during his young adulthood—will never be able to get away completely from his parental training and from the example of a Godfearing home. Even when he becomes old, he will not depart from it. Or else, this gam ki may imply that he will remain true to this training throughout his life, even when he gets old.
[HUGELY OUT OF WACK WITH THE FACTS OF LIFE, AND THE STATISTICS OF CHURCH ATTENDANCE, AFTER THE CHILD IS AN ADULT, AND GOES HIS OWN WAY. THEY DID MENTION “GENERAL PRINCIPLE” AS “ALL THE GENERAL MAXIMS IN PROVERBS CONCERNING HUMAN CONDUCT ARE OF THIS CHARACTER." THEY SHOULD HAVE STOPPED RIGHT THERE - Keith Hunt]
Does this verse furnish us with an iron-clad guarantee that all the children of conscientious, God-fearing, nobly living parents will turn out to be true servants of God? Will there never be any rebellious children, who will turn their backs on their upbringing and fall into the guilt and shame of a Satan-dominated life? One might construe the verse that way, perhaps; but it is more than doubtful that the inspired Hebrew author meant it as an absolute promise that would apply in every case. These maxims are meant to be good, sound, helpful advice; they are not presented as surefire promises of infallible success.
[NOW COMMON SENSE SHOULD COME INTO PLAY, FOR IT IS A STATISTIC FACT THAT CHILDREN RAISED IN A CHURCH AND WITH GOLDY PRINCIPLES RAISING THEM WITH THE BIBLE AT HOME; DOES IN NO WAY GUARANTEE THEY WILL FOLLOW GOD AND ACCEPT JESUS AS THEIR SAVIOR. CHURCH STATS QUICKLY PROVE THAT FACT - Keith Hunt]
The same sort of generality is found in Proverbs 22:15: "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him" (NASB). This surely does not mean that all children are equally willful and rebellious and that all of them stand in need of the same amount and type of discipline. Nor does it guarantee that a person brought up in a well-disciplined home will never stray off into the folly of sin. There may be exceptions who turn out to be worldly minded egotists or even lawbreakers who end up in prison. But the rate of success in childrearing is extremely high when the parents follow the guidelines of Proverbs.
[MAYBE IN SOME QUARTERS, BUT SURE WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE STATS OF ALL MAJOR POPULAR CHURCHES ON THAT REMARK - ABOUT 15 YEARS AGO A SURVEY WAS DONE ON ALL MAIN-STREAM CHURCHES—— THE ONLY CHURCH ORGANIZATIONS THAT WERE IN THE PROCESS OF GROWING—— WERE: THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH AND THE SEVENTH DAY ADVENTISTS - Keith Hunt]
What are those guidelines? Children are to be accepted as sacred trusts from God; they are to be trained, cherished, and disciplined with love; and they are to be guided by a consistent pattern of godliness followed by the parents themselves. This is what is meant by bringing them up "in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4)." This type of training implies a policy of treating children as even more important than one's own personal convenience or social life away from home. It means impressing on them that they are very important persons in their own right because they are loved by God, and because He has a wonderful and perfect plan for their lives. Parents who have faithfully followed these principles and practices in rearing their children may safely entrust them as adults to the keeping and guidance of God and feel no sense of personal guilt if a child later veers off course. They have done their best before God. The rest is up to each child himself.
[THIS WOULD BE SIMPLY UNDERSTOOD AS A “GENERAL” STATEMENT.” THE BOOK IS FULL OF GENERAL STATEMENTS; WE USE IN OUR ENGLISH LANGUAGE “GENERAL STATEMENTS”
“WE GO OUT TO EAT AT A NICE RESTAURANT ONCE A WEEK” IT IS A GENERAL STATEMENT FOR THERE ARE TIMES WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS AND YOU CANNOT MAKE IT - Keith Hunt]
How could such a skeptical book as Ecclesiastes be canonical?
It is often alleged that Qahelet ("the Preacher," the Hebrew term rendered by the Septuagint as Ekklesiastes) represents a cynical departure from normative Hebrew faith. Solomon, the Preacher, expresses an agnostic attitude about what happens to a man after he dies: "For who knows what is good for a man during his lifetime, during the few days of his futile life? He will spend them like a shadow. For who can tell a man what will be after him under the sun?" (6:12, NASB). Or again, "I have seen everything during my lifetime of futility; there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his wickedness. Do not be excessively righteous, and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself?" (7:15-16, NASB). Extreme pessimism in the face of death seems to be conveyed by 9:4-5: "For whoever is joined with the living, there is hope; surely a live dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten" (NASB).
Taken in isolation, these above passages do indeed sound skeptical about the spiritual dimension of human life and the worthwhileness of earnest endeavor. There are some statements that sound almost hedonistic, such as "For what does a man get in all his labor?…. Because all his days his task is painful and grievous.... There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good" (2:22-24, NASB). But this work is a masterpiece of philosophical insight that must be taken together as an organic whole, rather than its being taken out of context. Only then can its real contribution to the whole counsel of God set forth in Scripture be properly and intelligently evaluated.
A careful synthetic study of Ecclesiastes brings out the true purpose and theme of its author. After he has tried every other avenue to the highest value in human life, Solomon gives his personal testimony as to the emptiness and disgust that resulted from his tasting to the full all that the world could offer him in the way of satisfaction and pleasure. It all turned out to be futile and unworthy, completely lacking in ultimate satisfaction. "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity" (1:2). The announced purpose of his search for the summum bonum was to try out every type of pleasure or practical achievement possible (2:2-8), even including the achievement of top distinction in philosophy and knowledge (v.9). "All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my [temporary and evanescent] reward for all my labor. Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun" (vv.10-11, NASB). In other words, it is as if this wise, wealthy, and powerful king had undertaken a trial of Jesus' later challenge: "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" (Matt. 16:26). And so he set about gaining the whole world and the full enjoyment of all the pleasures and satisfactions that this life could give him, and he found that in the long run they added up to zero.
The key term throughout this book is tahat hassemes ("under the sun"). The whole perspective is of this world. The natural man who has never taken God seriously falls into the delusion that "this world is all there is." Well then, replies the Preacher, if this world is all there is, let us find out by experience whether there is anything ultimately worthwhile in this world— anything that yields real satisfaction. The result of his extensive experiment, carried on under the most favorable conditions possible, was that nothing but meaninglessness and profound disappointment await the secularistic materialist. All his ambitions, though fully achieved, all his lusts, though fully indulged, lead only to revulsion and nausea. For him life is "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
The message that comes through loud and clear in Ecclesiastes is that true meaning in life is found only in a relationship with God. Unless there is in man's heart a sincere regard for the will of God and an earnest desire to carry out His purposes, man's life will end up a meaningless tragedy. "Although a sinner does evil a hundred times and may lengthen his life, still I know that it will be well for those who fear God, who fear Him openly" (8:12, NASSB). This life takes on real meaning only as an arena of opportunity for man to serve God before he steps out into eternity.
It is true that death overtakes the wise man and the fool alike, and all living creatures end up in the grave. After we are dead and confined in Sheol (or Hades), we have no more knowledge of what goes on in the world; there is no longer any opportunity for earning rewards (9:5), and our memory may be forgotten by future generations on earth.
[OH WOW…..THEY SAY WE HAVE NO MORE KNOWLEDGE IN THE GRAVE AS TO WHAT GOES ON IN THE WORLD— YET WE KNOW THESE AUTHORS BELIEVE WE HAVE AN IMMORTAL SOUL THAT GOES OFF TO EITHER HEAVEN OR HELL AT DEATH. I GUESS THEY WOULD USE THIS “NO KNOWLEDGE” ABOUT WHAT GOES ON IN THIS WORLD, TO SAY WE ARE NOT ALLOWED IN HEAVEN TO KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THIS WORLD. THEY PROBABLY WOULD SAY THAT IS WHY OUR LOVED ONES IN HEAVEN CANNOT CONTACT US AND TELL US THEY ARE JUST FINE, AND HOW WONDERFUL HEAVEN IS AND WHAT IT IS LIKE BEING WITH THE FATHER AND SON AND THE ANGELS. THE ONLY OTHER WAY TO TAKE THEIR PASSAGE IS TO THE TRUTH ABOUT DEATH—— WHILE OUR SPIRIT GOES TO GOD (ECCL. 12:7) WHO GAVE IT, WE LIKE DAVID REMAIN IN THE SLEEP OF DEATH (ACT 3). THE “SPIRIT IN MAN” AND DEATH AND RESURRECTION ARE FULLY EXPOUNDED FOR YOU ON THIS WEBSITE UNDER “LIFE, DEATH, AND RESURRECTION” - Keith Hunt]
But the only conclusion to draw before we pass off this earthly scene is the need of coming to terms with God and His will for our lives. "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man" (12:13). "Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come" (12:1). "Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and ... the pitcher by the well is shattered ... then the dust [of your body] will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit [or 'breath'] will return to the God that gave it" (vv.6-7). Otherwise, "all is vanity" (v.8), for "God will bring every act to judgment, everything that is hidden, whether it is good or evil" (v. 14; cf. Matt. 10:26; Rom. 2:16).
[IN THE HEBREW “CREATOR” IS “CREATORS” - PLURAL. “REMEMBER YOUR CREATORS”— SHOWING IN THE OLD TESTAMENT THERE IS PROOF THAT GOD IS MORE THAN ONE PERSON.
THE IDEA OF JUDGMENT DAY BY MOST CATHOLIC AND PROTESTANT TEACHERS IS—— ALL YOUR GOOD AND EVIL THINGS YOU DID IN THIS PHYSICAL LIFE WILL KINDA COME UP ON A SCREEN FOR YOU AND EVERYONE TO SEE. THIS IS SILLY AND TEACHING FROM PLANET PLUTO, AND IS AGAINST MANY MANY SCRIPTURES THAT SHOW NOTHING LIKE THIS WILL HAPPEN. I HAVE WRITTEN A FULL IN-DEPTH STUDY ABOUT THIS FALSE DOCTRINE ON THIS WEBSITE - Keith Hunt]
If Solomon was not really the author of Ecclesiastes, how can 1:1 be correct?
Ecclesiastes 1:1 affirms that the book was composed by "the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem" (NASB). Yet many modern biblical scholars (Delitzsch, Hengstenberg, Leupold, Young, Zoeckler, etc.) believe otherwise. For example, G.S. Hendry states, "The author does not really claim to be Solomon but places his words in Solomon's mouth" (in Guthrie, New Bible Commentary, p. 571).
While it is true that the author does not call himself "Solomon" but only refers to himself as Qohelet (related to the word qahal, "assembly," "congregation"), it does violence to the rights of language to assert that the author of this philosophical discourse does not claim to be the son of David, king in Jerusalem. While "son" (ben) occasionally is used of later generations (such as a grandson, great-grandson, or even remoter descendants than that), the other details the author gives concerning himself leave no doubt that he presents himself to his readers as being King Solomon himself. He refers to his unrivaled wisdom (1:16), his unsurpassed wealth (2:8), his tremendous retinue of servants (2:7), his unlimited opportunities for carnal pleasure (2:3), and his very extensive building projects. No other descendant of David measures up to these specifications except Solomon, David's immediate successor.
Most modern scholars admit that the purported author of Ecclesiastes is Solomon; but they maintain that this was simply a literary device employed by a later author, now unknown to us, who wished to teach the ultimate futility of a materialistic worldview. If this could be accepted as valid, it would certainly put in question almost every other affirmation of authorship to be found in any other book of the Bible. Some later, unknown author might equally well have pretended to be Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, or the apostle Paul, simply as "a literary device to express his own views." If it were any other book than the Bible, this would have to be classified as forgery, a mere product of deception, which would render the actual author of such a spurious work liable to damages in a court of law. It is more than doubtful that a Bible that holds to such high standards of integrity and honesty and that was certified by the Lord Jesus and His apostles as being the infallible Word of God could be composed of spurious work by authors who paraded under assumed names.
The chief argument against the authenticity of Ecclesiastes as a work of the historic Solomon is drawn from the data of linguistics. It is urged that the language and vocabulary of this book differ markedly from other tenth-century B.C. works composed in Hebrew and contains many terms found in Aramaic documents (such as Daniel and the Talmud) or in late biblical or postbiblical Hebrew (such as Esther, Nehemiah and the Mishnah). Delitzsch drew up a list of ninety-six words, forms, and expressions found nowhere else in the Bible except in Exilic and post-Exilic books like Ezra, Esther, Nehemiah, Chronicles, Malachi, or the Mishnah. Zoeckler claimed that there are Aramaisms in almost every verse, but Hengstenberg found only ten demonstrable Aramaisms in the entire twelve chapters. From the standpoint of possible political and social allusions, the fifth century B.C. is suggested as a possible time of composition. But these scholars fail to discuss the problem that Ecclesiastes no more resembles fifth-century Hebrew works than it does those of the tenth century (apart from the Song of Solomon and Proverbs).
James Muilenberg ("A Qohelet Scroll from Qumran," Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 135 [October 1954]: 20) comments on the discovery of mid-second-century fragments of Ecclesiastes discovered in Qumran Cave Four:
Linguistically the book is unique. There is no question that its language has many striking peculiarities; these have been explained by some to be late Hebrew (discussed by Margoliouth and Gordis) for which the language of the Mishnah is said to offer more than adequate support (a contention effectively answered ... in the Jewish Encyclopedia V, 33, where he points out the linguistic affinities of Qohelet with the Phoenician inscriptions, e.g., Eshmu-nazar, Tabnith). The Aramaic cast of the language has long been recognized, but only within recent years has its Aramaic provenance been claimed and supported in any detail (F. Zimmerman, C.C. Torrey, H.L. Ginsburg)... Dahood was written on Canaanite-Phoenician influences in Qohelet, defending the thesis that the book of Ecclesiastes was originally composed by an author who wrote in Hebrew but was influenced by Phoenician spelling, grammar and vocabulary, and who shows heavy Canaanite-Phoenician literary influence (Biblica 33, 1952, pp. 35-52, 191-221).
In weighing the force of the linguistic argument, it should be noted that a comprehensive survey of all the data—including vocabulary, morphology, syntax, and style—indicates that the text of Ecclesiastes does not resemble the literary style or vocabulary of any book of the Hebrew Bible, or indeed of any later Hebrew work preserved to us up into the second century B.C., when the earliest fragments of Ecclesiastes from Qumran are to be dated paleographically. The sole exception would be the apocryphal Book of Ecclesiasticus, which is admittedly composed by an author (Jesus ben Sirach) who was profoundly influenced by Qohelet and tried to imitate its style and approach in many passages.
In the judgment of this writer, the only convincing case of affinity is that advanced by Mitchell Dahood, referred to by Muilenberg as quoted above. The reason for the peculiar vocabulary, syntax, and style seems to be found in the literary genre to which Ecclesiastes belonged—the genre of the philosophical discourse. If this particular genre was first developed in Phoenicia, and if Solomon was well read in this whole area of wisdom literature (cf. 1 Kings 4:30-34), there is every reason to believe that he deliberately chose to write in the idiom and style that had already been established for that genre. Dahood's evidence is quite conclusive. Qohelet shows a marked tendency toward Phoenician spelling (which omitted vowel letters even for inflectional sufformatives), distinctively Phoenician inflections, pronouns, particular, syntactical constructions, lexical borrowings, and analogies of various sorts. The alleged Aramaisms turn out to be employed also in the Phoenician inscriptions as well; so they prove little in the way of a late date of composition.
As for Dahood himself, he tries to account for this close affinity to Phoenician by supposing that some sizable colony of Jewish refugees settled up in Phoenicia after the Fall of Jerusalem in 587 B.C, and then he suggests that it was this 'emigre' group that composed Qohelet. But this theory is well-nigh untenable in view of Nebuchadnezzar's relentless pursuit of all Jewish refugee groups, even to the point of invading Egypt in order to massacre the Jews who had fled there.
Only one reasonable alternative remains. That period when Israel enjoyed the closest relations with Tyre and Sidon, on both the commercial and the political levels—and cultural as well (it was a Phoenician Jew named Hiram who designed and produced all the art work connected with the temple in Jerusalem, and large numbers of Phoenician artisans and craftsmen worked under his supervision)—was unquestionably the age of Solomon, that period when wisdom literature was most zealously cultivated. This was the era when Solomon composed his Proverbs, and he may have had a hand in popularizing the venerable Book of Job. From the standpoint of linguistics, then, and from the standpoint of comparative literature and the known proclivities of the age, Solomon's period in the tenth century B.C. must be regarded as the most likely time for the composition of Ecclesiastes. (For the various arguments from internal evidence and "telltale expressions" advanced by advocates of the late date theory, see my A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, pp. 484-88.)
Does Ecclesiastes 3:21 teach that animals have a spirit just as man does?
Ecclesiastes 3:21 reads, "Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?" (KJV). Since it is usually understood that the spirit of man is the focal point of the divine image in man that enables him to reason and respond to God religiously, it sounds a bit startling to hear that the "spirit" of an animal goes downward, as its body (like man's body) turns to dust in the grave (v.20). NASB alleviates the problem by translating it as "breath": "Who knows that the breath of man ascends upward and the breath of the beast descends downward to the earth?" But the basic problem still remains, for the term ruah ("breath," "spirit") is used for both man and beast. This is true whether we understand v.21 as a question implying that there is real doubt as to where the "spirit" of man or beast really goes after death; or whether we are to take it as a regretful question, implying, "How many people really know this fact, that the breath of man goes upward and the breath of the beast goes downward, when they die?" (I personally incline to the latter interpretation, but it is possible that the author meant the question skeptically.)
[THIS IS NOT TALKING ABOUT “BREATH” AS IN WIND, BUT ABOUT A PART OF MAN THAT IS SPIRIT, THAT DOES GO BACK TO GOD AT DEATH (ECCL. 12:7). THERE IS INDEED A “SPIRIT IN MAN” THAT IS UNITED TO THE BRAIN THAT MAKES MANKIND UNIQUE ABOVE ALL OTHER CREATURES. BUT THERE IS ALSO A SPIRIT IN ANIMALS THAT MAKES A UNIQUENESS AMONG THEM. THE DOLPHIN HAS MORE INTELLIGENCE THAN A COD FISH. THE DOG IS UNIQUE IN MANY WAYS AS IT INTERACTS WITH MANKIND. AND SOME WITHIN A SPECIES LIKE HORSES, HAVE DEGREES OF ABILITY. AND ALL THIS CANNOT BE JUST A MATTER OF THE LITERAL BRAIN PER SE - Keith Hunt]
In this use of ruah, we face a familiar phenomenon in the history of the development of transcendental terms in almost every language. From the observation that a living man or animal breathes in and out as long as it is alive, it is natural to derive a term such as "breath" and make it a symbol of life. Thus we have quite frequently in the Flood narrative the phrase ruah hayyim ("the breath of life") as attributed to animals, both those that drowned in the Flood (Gen. 6:17; 7:22) and those that were preserved in the ark (Gen. 7:15). In Genesis 7:22 it is even combined with nismat ruah hayyim ("the breath of the spirit of life"—nesamah being a word used almost exclusively for literal breathing and nothing beyond). The Egyptian phrase t',w nh ("breath of life," conventionally pronounced tchau 'anekh) occurs very frequently in Egyptian literature, and it is possible that Moses had this expression in mind and translated it into the Hebrew equivalent.
Here, then, we have a general, nontechnical use of ruah as applied to animals possessed of life. I am not aware of any other passages where ruah is used with respect to animals. Apart from the 100 times where ruah is applied to "wind" or "winds," the rest of its 275 occurrences pertain to human beings, angels (who are essentially ruah without any real, physical body), demonic spirits (who were formerly angels of God, before Satan was cast out of heaven), or God Himself: the Third Person of the Trinity is spoken of as ruah 'elohim ("the Spirit of God") or ruah Yahweh ("the Spirit of Yahweh [or, as mispronounced, 'Jehovah']").
As is so often the case with terms that began with a primitive and general meaning, it later became specialized so as to acquire a technical, figurative meaning on a metaphysical level. The observation that living creatures breathe leads to the use of "breath" as a term for "life-principle." From that point on it becomes a matter of usage whether to employ ruah, nesamah, or some other word referring to air in motion as a symbol for the spiritual element in man's being—that which makes him distinctively human, as opposed to subhuman creatures that also have lungs and breathe. It is not because of some inherent root meaning, then, but because of established usage that ruah became the technical term for the image of God in man, that capacity for thinking of God and responding to Him, that ability to comprehend the difference between right and wrong and make moral decisions, that ability to reason in a generalizing, philosophical manner, which distinguishes man from beasts. The corresponding term for this in the Septuagint and in the New Testament is pneuma. In biblical usage, then, pneuma became equivalent to ruah. Appropriately enough, pneuma also was derived from the verb pneo ("to blow").
A closely related term for the non-physical element in man was nepes ("soul"). This too was derived from a root idea of breathing (napasu in Akkadian meant "breathe freely," then, "become broad or extended"; the noun napistu meant "breath" or "life"). But it became specialized to mean the individual identity of any living, breathing creature, whether man or animal (for both nepes and psyche, its Greek equivalent, are used freely for beasts as well as men). The nepes is the conscious center of emotions, desire or appetite, or inclination or mood. It is the locus of each man's personality and the point of reference for his self-consciousness. Gustav Oehler defines nepes as springing from the ruah and as existing continually through it (a statement that could not be applied to animals, however); individuality resides in it, that is, in the man's ego or self. It is interesting to note that nepes with the appropriate possessive pronoun is the most frequent way of expressing the reflexive pronoun in a specific way. Thus "he saved himself" would be expressed by "he saved his nepes [or 'soul']" (cited by J.I. Marais, "Soul," in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 5 vols., ed. by J. Orr [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1939], p. 2838).
It is to be noted, therefore, that there is a distinction between "spirit" (ruah) and "soul" (nepes) in the Old Testament, just as there is between pneuma and psyche in the New Testament. These, in turn, are differentiated from the term for "body" (basar), which also (when used figuratively) has a psychological meaning as well as the basic physical idea of a literal, flesh-and-blood body. The basar is the seat of all sensations and the data supplied by the five senses: but it is also used in Psalm 84 in parallelism with nepes as the vehicle of a spiritual longing for the living God. The same is true in Psalm 63:1: "My soul [nepes] thirsts for Thee, my flesh [basar] yearns [lit., 'faints'] for Thee, in a dry and weary land where there is no water" (NASB). Again, in Psalm 16:9 it is used in parallelism with "heart" (leb) and "glory" (kabod—a surrogate for ruah, which is the divine element in man): "Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will dwell securely" (NASB). Thus the "flesh" is capable of feeling satisfaction in a state of security in the loving presence of God.
The triune makeup of man is brought out even more clearly in the New Testament. In 1 Thessalonians 5:23 Paul expresses this prayer for his readers: "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit [pneuma = ruah] and soul [psyche = nepes] and body [soma = basar] be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ..." (NASB). Quite clearly the spirit and the soul are differentiated here as distinct elements of the human psyche, and man is represented as triune in nature. This is exactly what we should expect, if man was really created in the image of the Triune God (Gen. 1:26-27).
[INDEED MAN IS A BODY, A SOUL (LIFE) FROM BREATH AND BLOOD, AND THERE IS ALSO A “SPIRIT IN MAN” UNITED WITH THE BRAIN. THE THIRD PART MAKES USE UNIQUE FROM ALL OTHER CREATURES. THIS IMMORTAL SPIRIT GOES BACK TO GOD WHO GAVE IT (ECCL. 12:7). IT CONTAINS THE CHARACTER OF THAT PERSON— A CHRISTIAN’S CHARACTER WOULD BE FULLY PERFECT RIGHTEOUSNESS, AS ALL SINS ARE WASHED AWAY IN THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB. BUT THAT SPIRIT OF MAN IS NOT A MAN INSIDE OF A MAN; IF WE LOOSE AN EYE OR BOTH EYES IN BLINDNESS, THE SPIRIT IN MAN DOES NOT SEE FOR US. IF WE LOOSE IN THE BRAIN OUR SHORT TIME MEMORY, THE SPIRIT IN MAN DOES NOT REMEMBER FOR US. WE CAN LIKEN THE SPIRIT IN MAN AS A BLANK DVD THAT GETS FILLED UP WITH OUR PERSONALITY AND CHARACTER. AS STATED, FOR A CHRISTIAN AT DEATH, THE SPIRIT DVD RETURNS TO GOD FILLED WITH OUR PERSONALITY AND RIGHTEOUS CHARACTER, OUR SINS ARE NOT THERE AS THEY ARE WASHED AWAY BY THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB - Keith Hunt]
A clear distinction between pneuma and psyche is unquestionably implied by 1 Corinthians 2:14-15, which defines the difference between a believer who is dominated by the pneuma (the pneumatikos, "spiritual man") and the once-born "natural" man (the one dominated by his egoistic psyche): "But a natural [psychikos] man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually [pneumatikos] appraised" (NASB).
Similarly, in 1 Corinthians 15:44,46, the same distinction is maintained in reference to the transformation from a merely physical body (prior to death and resurrection) and a spiritual body (i.e., a body especially adapted to the needs and desires of the glorified spirit of the redeemed believer): "It is sown a natural [psychikon] body, it is raised a spiritual [pneumatikon] body" (NASB). In v.46 we read, "However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual..." (NASB). Quite clearly then, the spirit is distinct from the soul, or else these verses add up to tautological nonsense. We therefore conclude that man is not dichotomic (to use the technical theological term) but tri-chotomic.
[YES THE SPIRIT IN MAN IS NOT THE BODY OF MAN; IT IS NOT THE LIFE (SOUL) OF MAN WHICH IS IN THE BLOOD AND BREATH OF AIR; IT IS AN INVISIBLE SPIRIT FROM GOD UNITED WITH OUR BRAIN TO MAKE HUMANS DISTINCT FROM ALL OTHER CREATURES. BUT THE ANIMALS ALSO HAVE A SPIRIT FITTING FOR THEM AND THEIR BRAIN, WHICH LIKE HUMANS CAN MAKE SAY ONE HORSE DIFFERENT IN NATURE AND ABILITY FROM ANOTHER HORSE. SOME ARE EASIER TO TRAIN SAY FOR DOING “TRICKS” THAN OTHER HORSES. SOME DOGS ARE MUCH MORE TRAINABLE FOR SPECIFIC THINGS THAN OTHER DOGS. YES TO A DEGREE IT IS HOW THE GENES FALL TOGETHER, BUT WITHIN A SPECIFIC BREAD THERE CAN BE DIFFERENCES OF ABILITY AND EVEN WHAT WE MAY CALL AS COMMON SENSE. WE IN THE HORSE WORLD MAY SAY “WELL THAT HORSE IS PRETTY DUMB” OR “THAT HORSE IS MIGHTY SMART.” I’VE KNOWN SOME HORSES LEARN BY THEMSELVES HOW TO UNDO A GATE THAT JUST NEEDS A BAR TO BE MOVED, THEY JUST FIGURED IT OUT WITH NO TEACHING FROM MAN.
THE QUESTION SOLOMON ASKED IS “WHO KNOWS THE SPIRIT OF MAN THAT ASCENDS AND THE SPIRIT OF BEASTS THAT DESCEND.” THE ANSWER FOR MAN HE TELLS US IS IN CHAPTER 12:7. AS FOR THE BEAST—— WE ARE NOT TOLD, IT MAY JUST VANISH AT DEATH - Keith Hunt]
Song of Solomon
How did such a book as Song of Solomon get to be part of the Bible?
There is no denying that the Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs, or Canticles, as it is variously called) is a very different book from the rest of the Bible. Its theme is not doctrine but inner feeling—that most exciting and uplifting of all emotions, the emotion of love. Love is that which knits two souls together into a larger unity, an organic partnership that responds to and reflects the love of God for His children and the love of Christ for His chosen bride, the church. The importance of Canticles is that it is a book about love, especially love between husband and wife as a paradigm of the love between the Savior and His redeemed people.
Many times this sacred, typical character of marriage is referred to in Scripture. In Isaiah 54:4-6 the Lord addresses His sinful, straying, chastened people Israel in terms of an aggrieved but graciously forgiving husband: "Fear not for you will not be put to shame... and the reproach of your widowhood [i.e., the period of alienation from Yahweh during the Babylonian exile] you will remember no more. For your husband is your Maker, whose name is Yahweh of hosts; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.... For Yahweh has called you, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, even like a wife of one's youth when she is rejected."
In other words, the deep, emotional commitment of a good husband toward the wife he adores bears a typical relationship (albeit a faint and finite one) to the inexhaustible and eternal love that God has toward His redeemed (cf. Eph. 3:18-19). This is spelled out most fully in the classic passage from Ephesians 5:21-27 (NIV): "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior....Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless" (NIV).
From this perspective, then, we turn to the Song of Solomon and its lyric, emotional imagery, which is constructed like some mood-creating symphony, written by a musical genius and performed by a magnificent orchestra. It is a heart-stirring account of Solomon's romance with a humble but surpassingly beautiful girl from the country, perhaps from Shunem up in the territory of Issachar (the Septuagint renders "Shulamite" in 6:13 as Sounamitis, "Shunemite"). It may be that Solomon originally wooed her in the garb of a shepherd and thus came to know her as she was tending her sheep in an adjacent field.
It is quite possible that in the earlier part of his reign, at least, Solomon took time off from his official duties to enjoy a vacation in the country (apparently in an estate at Baalhamon— 8:11). His preference was for the tending of sheep, vines, and flowers, rather than golfing, fishing, boating, or tennis (such as our modern executives enjoy). So he spent a few weeks away from Jerusalem incognito. (Some scholars prefer to introduce some local swain who was a shepherd by profession and who became a successful rival to the king for the girl's affections; but this is very hard to sustain from the wording of the text itself, and it is most unlikely that Solomon, the apparent author of this production, would have written up this episode as a monument to his own defeat in love.)
As he picked up an acquaintance with this charming young shepherdess, Solomon found himself unexpectedly falling in love; and she apparently became deeply enamored of him before she discovered his true identity. As he secured her hand in marriage, he took her off with him to Jerusalem and the splendors of his court. There she was faced with the sixty wives and eighty concubines who already made up his harem, and in these palace surroundings she felt abashed at the unfashionable deep tan she had picked up from her outdoor life, to which she had been compelled by her own brothers (1:6).
The memoir Solomon wrote of this deeply meaningful episode in his life, in which he experienced the most authentic relationship of love he was ever to know, has been recorded for us in an amazingly beautiful way by this consummately gifted poet. Although through his foolish self-indulgence this misguided polygamist failed to live up to the exalted insights to which this lovely girl had brought him, he gave us an unsurpassable expression to the glory of a love that reflects the incomparable love of God. "Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned" (8:7, NIV).
The poet has not followed a strict logical or chronological order in the way he has brought his material together; rather, there is an emotional stream-of-consciousness technique throughout these eight chapters. This greatly resembles the recurrent flashback technique followed by certain television shows of our own day. But if the basic guidelines and presuppositions we have suggested above are borne in mind, the various components come together in a coherent and convincing way. Try it again, dear reader, maybe you will like it! And please bear in mind, as you go through passages like 4:1-5 and 7:1-9, that a beautiful woman who loves the Lord is God's supreme masterpiece of artistry; and external though that beauty may be, it serves as a fitting symbol of the spiritual loveliness of the temple of the Lord to which the body of every true believer has been transformed as a habitation of the Holy Spirit of God. The woman's viewpoint finds expression equally eloquent in 2:3-6 and 5:10-16 —although a male reader may not find himself emotionally attuned to respond to those passages as well as a woman can.
The Song of Solomon serves as a reminder to all believers that God rejoices in His handiwork and knows how to invest it with thrilling beauty that deserves a full and proper appreciation. Yet along with this warm response to all that God has made beautiful—whether landscape, sky, sea, the magnificent trees, gorgeous flowers, or the transient charms of human loveliness, we must never forget to give all the glory and worship to the One who fashioned them so. We must always remember to exalt the Creator above all His creation and above all His creatures.
SEE THE SONG OF SOLOMON EXPOUNDED ON THIS WEBSITE. IT IS GOD’S INSTRUCTION BOOK FOR SEXUAL EXPRESSION WITHIN MARRIAGE - Keith Hunt