Category Archives: Genesis

Genesis 6:4: Nephilim

Demons having sex with human beings?

(The Sons of God Saw the Daughters of Men That They Were Fair, sculpture by Daniel Chester French, image courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

The meaning of ‘Nephilim’ has caused quite a bit of theological uneasiness down through the centuries.

William Cook stated the issue well:

The interpretation of Genesis 6:1–4 is difficult and controversial. The debate centers on the interpretation of the phrase “sons of God.” Who are they? The crucial question concerns whether the phrase refers to human beings or to spiritual beings (demons) [Cook 2020].

I refer particularly to Genesis 6:4 (ESV), ‘The Nephilim[1] were on the earth in those days, and also afterwards, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown’.

The Geneva Bible (1599), Douay-Rheims Bible (1609/1899), KJV (1611),The Good News Bible (1992), NKJV (1982), Wycliffe Bible (2001) unfortunately gave the primary meaning as ‘giants’. I say, ‘unfortunately’ because that diverts readers away from attempting to discover the essential meaning of the Nephilim.

Most contemporary English translations leave the Nephilim in its transliterated form as the meaning is somewhat obscure.

A few issues emerge from this verse:

clip_image002Who are the Nephilim?

A NET Bible footnote states:

The Hebrew word ????????? (nefilim) is simply transliterated here, because the meaning of the term is uncertain. According to the text, the Nephilim became mighty warriors and gained great fame in the antediluvian world. The text may imply they were the offspring of the sexual union of the “sons of God” and the “daughters of humankind” (v. 2), but it stops short of saying this in a direct manner. The Nephilim are mentioned in the OT only here and in Num 13:33, where it is stated that they were giants (thus KJV, TEV, NLT “giants” here).[2]

clip_image002[1]Who are the sons of God?

clip_image002[2]Are the ‘daughters of man’ female human beings?

clip_image002[3]Who are ‘the mighty men … the men of renown’?

1. The Nephilim

Adam Clarke stated that the Nephilim referred to those who

fell… Those who had apostatized or fallen from the true religion…. the word when properly understood makes a very just distinction between the sons of men and the sons of God; those were the nephilim, the fallen earth-born men, with the animal and devilish mind.[3]

Regarding the translation of ‘giants’ (KJV), Clarke’s exegesis was that the translation as ‘giants [was] without having any reference to the meaning of the word, which we generally conceive to signify persons of enormous stature’.

This is a contemporary interpretation that demands a response. It’s from Bill Perkins of Compass International (2020):

There was one specific and creepy sin that God pointed out:

… that the sons of God [angels] saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Gen. 6:2

The “Sons of God,” referring to angelic spirits (Job 1:6), took the form of humans (Heb. 13:2) and began mating with earthly humans and producing children. Ostensibly, the children had their human DNA compromised.

The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. Gen. 6:4 (Perkins 2020).

Perkins’ interpretation seems to be a throw-back to his view of what the preceding verses mean. If one has the premonition of angelic marriages, then ‘sons of God’ is a read phrase to flow in with that interpretation.

Verse 4 is not that difficult to interpret. The nephilim were the front-line men who stirred up fear as the only other OT passage that uses nephilim indicates: ‘And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them’ (Num 13:33 ESV). The men of Anakim were of great stature.

Therefore, Kaiser Jr., et. al. (1996:108) conclude, ‘The meaning of nepilim/gibb?r?m is not “giants,” but something more like “princes,” “aristocrats” or “great men”’. Leupold favours an ‘awe-inspiring’ translation such as:

Following the Hebrew root naphal is by far the simplest. One meaning of this verb is to “fall upon = attack”: see Jer 48:32; Josh 11:7; and without any preposition, Job 1:15. This verb could readily yield this noun in the sense of “attackers,” “robbers,” “bandits.” So we have the thought: So we have the thought: the descendants of the godly patriarchs abandoned their spiritual heritage (v.1, 2) so that God was moved to determine upon their destruction (v.3); and there were also violent attackers and robbers abroad in those days (v.4) [Leupold 1942:258].

Luther translated nephilim as ‘tyrants’ (in Leupold 1942:258).

2. Were the ‘sons of God’ angels?

So, are the ‘sons of God’ really angels who had sex with human beings, according to Gen 6:4? In addition to the challenge of the meaning of nephilim, to what does the ‘sons of God’ refer?

The view of Jewish ancient historian, Josephus, was:

For many angels[4] of God accompanied with women, and begat sons that proved unjust, and despisers of all that was good, on account of the confidence they had in their own strength; for the tradition is, that these men did what resembled the acts of those whom the Grecians call giants (Antiquities 1.3.1).

There are times in Scripture when ‘sons of God’ refer to angels (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Daniel 3:25; Psalm 29:1; 89:7). Perkins concludes that is the meaning here.

Cook’s (2020) conclusion of the meaning of ‘sons of God’ is that

in light of examples we see in the New Testament [Mark 5:1-20; John 13:27] it seems best to assume that these evil spirits took possession of the bodies of wicked men and used them for their own sinful purposes.

The New Testament gives us clear examples of demons—and even Satan himself—indwelling human beings and causing them to act in horrific ways.

However, he notes the oldest and most widely held interpretation is that ‘sons of God’ refers to demons (fallen angels). This interpretation was accepted by ancient Judaism and the early church.

Justin Martyr (c. 100 – c. 165)[5] wrote:

Justin Martyr (image courtesy Wikipedia)

Justin Martyr.jpg

The angels transgressed this appointment, and were captivated by love of women, and begot children who are those that are called demons; and besides, they afterwards subdued the human race to themselves, partly by magical writings, and partly by fears and the punishments they occasioned, and partly by teaching them to offer sacrifices, and incense, and libations, of which things they stood in need after they were enslaved by lustful passions; and among men they sowed murders, wars, adulteries, intemperate deeds, and all wickedness (Second Apology, ch 5).

I find it strange exegesis of the passage that angels have sex with human beings and produce demons, especially when the context of 6:1-4 makes it clear who the ‘sons’ are. They are the Sethites from chapter 5, among whom were godly men such as Enoch (Gen 6:22) and men like Lamech who worshipped God, even when the going was tough (Gen 4:26).

It is appropriate these men should be called ‘sons of God’, a designation given to true followers of the Lord God (cf Deut 32:5; Hos 1:10). In this latter verse, there is a stronger emphasis:

Yet the number of the Israelites
will be like the sand of the sea,
which cannot be measured or counted.
And in the place where they were told:
You are not my people,
they will be called: Sons of the living God (Hos 1:10 CSB).

So, the description, ‘sons of God’, refers to those who truly follow the Lord God.

Yes, ‘sons of God’ is used to refer to angels in Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7 and Dan 3:25. It is erroneous to state that in the OT ‘sons of God’ refers only to angels. As the above examples indicate, that is not so.

Hebrew, like English, can use the one word with several different meanings. Take the English, ‘wave’: I can move my hand back and forth to wave goodbye; the trees waved in the wind; my hair has waves in it (curly); he rides the monster waves at Hawaii on his surfboard, and a wave of sadness swept over me.

3. Did the angels have sex with each other?

No, the ‘sons of God’ were not angels but godly Sethites and others. They were godly men.

4. Who are the mighty men?

It is regrettable the KJV and some other translations read ‘giants’ for nephilim as the word refers to ‘the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown’. Angelic marriages are not indicated to produce this offspring.

The mistranslated ‘giants’ are villains – robbers, attackers, bandits, even tyrants (Luther).

5. Conclusion

clip_image003The nephilim were the conquering men who stirred up fear. They were the bandits who were mighty men. However, the exact meaning of the term is not yet fully understood by scholars and others.

clip_image003[1]The sons of God were not angels but were godly men, probably Sethites.

clip_image003[2]The godly men had sex with women who produced ‘mighty men … men of renown’.

6.  Appendix

(Image Chester Beatty XII, Greek manuscript of the Book of Enoch, 4th century, courtesy Wikipedia)

As I was concluding this article, I became aware of recent research by Cavan W. Concannon, Associate Professor of Religion, University of Southern California – a scholar of early Christianity. In The Conversation (12 August 2020) is found the article, The belief that demons have sex with humans runs deep in Christian and Jewish traditions. He cites ancient and contemporary supporters of this view, including Tertullian of Carthage who, in the third century BC, cited the “Book of the Watchers”[also called Book of Enoch, 1 Enoch] an apocalyptic vision written in the name of a mysterious character named Enoch mentioned in Genesis’.

Tertullian wrote: ‘I am aware that the Scripture of Enoch, which has assigned this order (of action) to angels, is not received by some, because it is not admitted into the Jewish canon either’ (On Apparel of  Women, 1.3). Further,

And for a very long while wickedness extended and spread, and reached and laid hold upon the whole race of mankind, until a very small seed of righteousness remained among them and illicit unions took place upon the earth, since angels were united with the daughters of the race of mankind; and they bore to them sons who for their exceeding greatness were called giants. And the angels brought as presents to their wives teachings of wickedness (Irenaeus, Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, 18)

It is evident that Tertullian and other early church fathers relied heavily on a book from the Pseudepigrapha – false identification of the author – Book of Enoch (chs 6-9) for their teaching on the interpretation of Gen 6:4.

Should it be included in Scripture? See:

7.  Works consulted

Cook, W F 2020. The Gospel Coalition, U.S. edition (Online). Who are the sons of God in Genesis 6? 6 January. Available at: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/who-are-sons-of-god-genesis-6/ (Accessed 7 August 2020).

Josephus F 2017. Project Gutenberg The antiquities of the Jews (online), W Whiston (ed), 2017. Available at: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2848/2848-h/2848-h.htm#linknote-11 (Accessed 14 August 2020).

Kaiser Jr, W C, Davids, P H, Bruce, F F & Brauch, M T 1996. Hard sayings of the Bible. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press.

Leupold H C 1942. Exposition of Genesis 1942. The Wartburg Press, also London: Evangelical Press. Also available online at CCEL at: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/leupold/genesis.i.html (Accessed 14 August 2020).

Perkins, B 2020. Compass International (online), The return of the Nephilim, 28 July. Available at: https://compass.org/the-return-of-the-nephilim/ (Accessed 7 August 2020).

8.  Notes

[1] The ESV has the footnote, ‘Or giants’.

[2] Available at: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Gen+6%3A4&version=NET (Accessed 13 August 2020).

[3] Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible: Genesis 6:4. Bible Hub. Available at: https://biblehub.com/niv/genesis/6-4.htm (Accessed 7 August 2020).

[4] At this point in the translation by William Whiston has the note: ‘This notion, that the fallen angels were, in some sense, the fathers of the old giants, was the constant opinion of antiquity’.

[5] Dates from Encyclopaedia Britannica (2020. s.v. Justin Martyr). Available at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Justin-Martyr (Accessed 7 August 2020).

PPT - Genesis 6:4 PowerPoint Presentation, free download - ID:2127343

(image courtesy SlideServe)

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 15 August 2020.

clip_image004

How a KJV-only supporter stuffed up biblical interpretation

(photo courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

How do we communicate Scripture to a world that does not speak like this?

Loo! a virgyne ?hal haue in wombe, and ?he ?hal bere a ?one, and his name ?hal be clepid Emanuel, þat is interpretid, or expounid, God wiþ us. Soþely Jo?eph ry?ynge vp fro ?leep, did as þe angel of þe Lord comaundide hym, and toke his wijf; and he knewe hir nat, til ?he had boren hir fir?t bygoten ?one, and clepide his name Jhe?us (Early Wycliffe Bible, Maþeu, Capitulum I:23).[1]

This is how I got into trouble by quoting a contemporary Bible translation in place of the King James Version (KJV):

17 For forty days the floodwaters grew deeper, covering the ground and lifting the boat high above the earth. 18 As the waters rose higher and higher above the ground, the boat floated safely on the surface. 19 Finally, the water covered even the highest mountains on the earth, 20 rising more than twenty-two feet above the highest peaks (Gen 7:11-20 NLT).[2]

What is wrong with that contemporary translation?[3] It is:

A false, altered version which adds to God’s Truth. Here is the KJV,

Gen 7:17 And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth.
The “add to” in your version is in lifting the boat high above earth. The altered view preacher is getting ready to put his thoughts into God’s words.
Gen 7:18 And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters.
The water deepened and the Ark floated on the water. Your version agrees.
Gen 7:19 And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.
The “add to” here is claiming the highest mountains were covered instead of the high hills.
Gen 7:20 Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.
The “add to” here is that the flood was 22.5 feet ABOVE the “mountain peaks” and the less altered version shows that Adam’s FLAT Earth was covered when the flood reached a depth of 22.5 feet PERIOD. No wonder so many people are confused when they read what they THINK was written. That’s religion/belief and not Scripture.

How should I respond to this KJV-only supporter? I took up only one verse, Genesis 7:17.

1.  KJV-only promoter relies on KJV as his standard of measuring an accurate Bible translation.

Let’s check the Scripture to see if he is correct in his correction of me for adding to God’s truth.

He spoke of ‘Adam’s FLAT Earth’.[4] I asked him to please prove that from Genesis 6-7. I’m waiting with baited breath! It hasn’t come yet.
You complain about the modern translation I used, New Living Translation, adding to the Bible with ‘high’ in Gen 7:17. By the way, the KJV you quoted is not the original KJV of 1611 (which I’ll quote below) but probably a parallel to the 1769 revision. Why is he not using the 1611 edition as the standard by which to judge all other translations?

2.  Various English translations

Let’s examine various English translations of Genesis 7:17:

Green_AtomWycliffe’s Bible appeared 2 centuries BEFORE the KJV of 1611: ‘And the greet flood was maad fourti daies and fourti niytis on erthe, and the watris weren multiplied, and reiseden the schip on hiy fro erthe’.
Green_AtomThe Great Bible (BEFORE KJV): ‘And the floude came fortye dayes vpon the earth, & the waters were increaced, and bare vp the Arke, whiche was lyfte vp aboue the erth’.
Green_AtomBishops’ Bible (BEFORE KJV): ‘And the fludde came fourtie dayes vpon the earth, and the waters were increased, and bare vp the arke, whiche was lyft vp aboue the earth’.

1609 Doway Old Testament.pdf
Green_AtomDouay-Rheims Bible was BEFORE the KJV: ‘And the flood was forty days upon the earth: and the waters increased, and lifted up the ark on high from the earth.
Green_AtomThe Geneva Bible (BEFORE KJV) with modern spelling, ‘Then the flood was forty days upon the earth, and the waters were increased, and bare up the Ark, which was lifted up above the earth’.
Green_AtomThe Coverdale Bible (BEFORE KJV): ‘Then came the water floude fourtie dayes vpon the earth, and the water increased, and bare vp the Arcke, and lift it vp ouer ye earth’.
Green_AtomKJV of 1611, ‘And the Flood was fortie dayes vpon the earth, and the waters increased, and bare vp the Arke, and it was lift vp aboue the earth’.
Green_AtomNKJV: ‘Now the flood was on the earth forty days. The waters increased and lifted up the ark, and it rose high above the earth’.
Green_AtomESV: ‘The flood continued forty days on the earth. The waters increased and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth’
Green_AtomNRSV: ‘The flood continued for forty days on the earth; and the waters increased, and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth’.
Green_AtomNLT: ‘For forty days the floodwaters grew deeper, covering the ground and lifting the boat high above the earth’.
Green_AtomNIRV: ‘For 40 days the flood kept coming on the earth. As the waters rose higher, they lifted the ark high above the earth’.
Green_AtomNET: ‘The flood engulfed the earth for forty days. As the waters increased, they lifted the ark and raised it above the earth’.
Notice the difference between the KJV and the NKJV. Why has the KJV translated as ‘lift vp aboue‘ and the NKJV, ‘rose high above‘? It’s because that’s the meaning of the Hebrew. The modern versions convey it in a clearer way. It’s really the formal equivalence translation of the KJV (1611) that has left out the ‘high’. It is NOT that the modern translations have added ‘high’, but they have given us an accurate rendition into English of what the Hebrew language means for this verse.

3.  High on rûm

Hebrew scholar, H C Leupold, explained the meaning of ‘lift vp aboue‘ vs. ‘rose high above‘. His exegesis from the Hebrew language of this verse was,

Naturally “the waters mounted” (rabbah?”grew great”). It was not long before sufficient water was displaced to “lift up” (nasa’) the ark. So it “went high” (rûm?“be high“) above the earth (Leupold, 1942, Exposition of Genesis 7:17).?

Therefore, it is the KJV and earlier translations – except the Douay-Rheims – and your support for the KJV translation of Gen 7:17 – that demonstrates that it is the KJV and you that got it wrong with the translation of the Hebrew, rûm, in Gen 7:17. It means ‘be high’ and ‘high’ must be in the English translation of the Hebrew OR some word that is a synonym of ‘high’.

4.  A word to KJV-only supporters

I do wish KJV-only supporters like yourself would get your facts straight about the exegesis of the biblical text. Your accusation against me regarding Gen 7:17, that I used an ‘altered version which adds to God’s Truth’, is untrue. This was a false allegation. Shame on you!

This was an example of a Christian who delivered a red herring fallacy against me. What does a red herring fallacy do to a conversation? It is

attempting to redirect the argument to another issue to which the person doing the redirecting can better respond. While it is similar to the avoiding the issue fallacy, the red herring is a deliberate diversion of attention with the intention of trying to abandon the original argument.[5]

5.  A better example

What has happened in this exchange with me is that this person assumes the KJV is the standard of Bible translations and any changing of the wording of a phrase or ‘adding’ of a word that opposes the KJV, is an example of adding to Scripture.

A better example would be to follow Paul’s instructions in 2 Tim 2:15 (NIRV), ‘Do your best to please God. Be a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed. Teach the message of truth correctly’. Other translations of the last sentence are, ‘rightly handling the word of truth’ (ESV) and ‘teaching the message of truth accurately’ (NET).

Which Bible translations are inspired or breathed out by God? Second Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV) states:

‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work’.

Or, if you prefer the KJV of 1611, 2 Tim 3:16-17 reads:

All Scripture is giuen by inspiration of God, & is profitable for doctrine, for reproofe, for correction, for instrution in righteousnesse,

That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished vnto all good workes.

This is the 1383 Wycliffe translation of these verses:

For al scripture inspirid of God is profitable to teche, to repreue, to chastice, to lerne in riytwisnes, that the man of God be parfit, lerud to al good werk (John Wycliffe’s Translation).

I prefer the NIV which translates more accurately the archaic into modern English.

6.  Which Bible is inspired by God?

Is it the KJV of 1611, the NIV of the twenty-first century or some other translation?

None of these translations is God-breathed. Only the original manuscripts are inspired by God. In fact when 2 Tim 3:16-17 was written it is highly probable ‘all Scripture’ refers to the OT only.

Evangelical theologian Wayne Grudem explained:

Here “Scripture” (graphe) must refer to the Old Testament written Scripture, for that is what the word graphe refers to in every one of its fifty-one occurrences in the New Testament.[6] Further, the “sacred Scriptures to which Paul has just referred to in verse 16.

Paul here affirms that all of the Old Testament writings are theopneustos, “breathed out by God.” Since it is writings that are said to be “breathed out,” this breathing must be understood as a metaphor for speaking the words of Scripture. This verse thus states in brief form what was evident in many passages in the Old Testament: the Old Testament writings are regarded as God’s Word in written form (Grudem 1994:74-75).

By implication, this does not refer to Old Testament translations but to the original documents of the OT.

So, who is adding to or subtracting from Scripture? The 1611 KJV added verses such as Mark 16:9-20 and the Apocrypha. So who is adding to Scripture?

For a list of the verses supposedly added by modern Bible translations, see: List of New Testament verses not included in modern English translations.

That’s not what modern translators have. The oldest surviving NT manuscript of the entire NT is Codex Sinaiticus:

Codex Sinaiticus is one of the most important books in the world. Handwritten well over 1600 years ago, the manuscript contains the Christian Bible in Greek, including the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. Its heavily corrected text is of outstanding importance for the history of the Bible and the manuscript – the oldest substantial book to survive Antiquity – is of supreme importance for the history of the book (Codex Sinaiticus).

It includes many variants (like typos) when compared with other early MSS but the variants do not change any major Bible doctrines.

7.  Works consulted

Grudem, W 1994. Systematic theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

8.  Notes


[1] This is the Bible, translated by John Wycliffe from the Latin Vulgate in the 1380s, Matt 1:23. Available at: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Bible_(Early_Wycliffe)/Ma%C3%BEeu#Capitulum_I (Accessed 25 December 2017). At this stage in Bible format, there were chapter divisions but no verse divisions in the English Bible.

The first English New Testament to use the verse divisions was a 1557 translation by William Whittingham (c. 1524–1579). The first Bible in English to use both chapters and verses was the Geneva Bible published shortly afterwards in 1560. These verse divisions soon gained acceptance as a standard way to notate verses, and have since been used in nearly all English Bibles and the vast majority of those in other languages (Wikipedia 2017. Chapters and verses of the Bible. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapters_and_verses_of_the_Bible#cite_ref-5 (Accessed 25 December2017).

[2] Christian Forums.com 2017. Proving evolution is just a theory. OzSpen#6099. Available at: https://www.christianforums.com/threads/proving-evolution-as-just-a-theory.8028023/page-305 (Accessed 23 December 2017).

[3] Ibid., Aman777#6145. He wrote the KJV quotes in blue font.

[4] This was the phrase of Aman777 in ibid., #6145.

[5] Logically Fallacious (2017. s v red herring). Available at: https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/150/Red_Herring (Accessed 23 December 2017).

[6] Grudem notes, ‘In at least two cases, 1 Tim. 5:18 and 2 Peter 3:16, graphe also includes some of the New Testament writings along with the Old Testament writings that it is referring to’ (Grudem 1984:74, n. 4).

Copyright © 2019 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 15 September 2019.

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Are camels recorded in Genesis ridiculous?

(image courtesy, (Google, public domain)

By Spencer D Gear

It is not unusual to hear or read the secular media hacking into biblical Christianity.

Near the beginning of 2014, some of you may have been exposed to what seems like a tirade of derogatory comments in the mass media about camels recorded in the Book of Genesis; Genesis can’t be trusted, and the Bible is unreliable. This is a sample of what I’ve read:

  1. Camels had no business in Genesis‘, New York Times, 10 February 2014.
  2. Camel bones suggest error in Bible, archaeologists say‘, Fox News, 6 February 2014.
  3. Earliest Camel Bones Contradict Bible, Archaeologists Say‘, (Nature World News, 5 February 2014).
  4. Camel bones discovery suggests biblical inaccuracies‘ (Statesman, 6 February 2014).
  5. Camel archaeology contradicts the Bible‘ (The Times of Israel, 5 February 2014).
  6. ‘Will camel discovery break the Bible’s back?’(CNN, 11 February 2014)

From these articles, there are statements such as these:

clip_image002 ‘There are too many camels in the Bible, out of time and out of place’.

clip_image002[1] ‘One should be careful not to rush to the conclusion that the new archaeological findings automatically deny any historical value from the biblical stories’.

clip_image002[2] ‘Archaeologists from Israel’s top university have used radiocarbon dating to pinpoint the arrival of domestic camels in the Middle East — and they say the science directly contradicts the Bible’s version of events’.

clip_image002[3] ‘In addition to challenging the Bible’s historicity, this anachronism is direct proof that the text was compiled well after the events it describes’.

clip_image002[4] ‘Scientists say a new discovery involving camel bones is calling the accuracy of the Bible into question’.

clip_image002[5] ‘The more precise dating puts domesticated camels in Israel “centuries after the patriarchs lived and decades after the Kingdom of David,” according to the researchers’.

clip_image002[6] ‘A scientific report establishing that camels, the basic mode of transportation for the biblical patriarchs, weren’t domesticated in Israel until hundreds of years after Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are said to have wandered the earth’.

We could go on and on with examples trying to disprove the accuracy of the Bible. But, what’s the truth? Should we chuck out the Book of Genesis as an unreliable piece of literature that should be treated as containing myths? Or should we treat it as Jesus did? You’ll find some of Jesus’ evidence in the articles,

clip_image004Jesus, the New Testament and Genesis‘;

clip_image004[1]The use of Genesis in the New Testament‘; and

clip_image004[2]Genesis: Real, reliable, historical‘.

I recommend equipping yourself for a rebuttal of these mass media anti-Genesis views by becoming acquainted with the issues in these articles:

But there were camels in ancient Egypt

clip_image005Lita Cosner’s article, ‘Camels and the Bible‘ (Creation Ministries International, 11 February 2014) provides evidence to contradict the Israeli archaeologists. I’m grateful for those who know their Bible and the scientific literature and have material available to demonstrate the futility of the anti-Genesis charges.

Cosner wrote,

The first mention of camels in Scripture is in Genesis 12, after Pharaoh took Sarai into his palace. “He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels” (12:16). Job, widely regarded as living around the same time as Abram, had 3,000 camels at the beginning of the book, and twice as many at the end. He lived in Uz, which was in Arabia.

So the biblical evidence is that there were camels in Arabia around 2000 BC, and that Pharaoh had some too. This matches what we see from the archaeological record. A paper titled ‘The Camel in Ancient Egypt’ stated, “The proposed time of camel entry into Egypt after its domestication in Arabia was found between 2500 and 1400 BC”.[1] So not only did domesticated camels exist, they were in Egypt when Abraham was there. So this fits the biblical account perfectly.

(image courtesy Google, public domain)

clip_image005[1] See another refutation of the anti-camel stance in, ‘Camels in Genesis Prove Old Testament is ‘Very Accurate,’ Professor Claims as He Refutes Archaeologists’ Findings‘ (Christian Post, 16 February 2014). It stated:

“What these archaeologists are doing… is when they read about somebody like Abraham having camels, they’re saying, “Aha! The Bible is saying that camels were widespread in Palestine during this period of time, and there’s no archaeological evidence for that,” Dr. Andrew Steinmann of Concordia University-Chicago tells Issues, Etc., a Christian radio station….

Steinmann agrees there’s no archaeological evidence for widespread use of camels in Palestine at this time, but adds that that’s not what the Bible is saying.

Amy Hall, a staff with the Christian group Stand to Reason, has transcribed the professor’s interview on her blog.

“What it is showing is that somebody who originally came from Mesopotamia, like Abraham, he did have some camels,” she quotes the professor as saying. “And then the other mentions of camels in Genesis and in the early part of the Bible have to do with either people related to Abraham that were living in the Arabian Desert (for instance, the Ishmaelites…have camels when they come and buy Joseph and take him down to Egypt), or other peoples like that, associated with the Arabian Desert-the Amalekites…who live on the edge of the Arabian Desert are mentioned a number of times having camels. But there’s no mention of Israelites owning camels….”

Here is some more evidence in support of camels at the time of Abraham:

clip_image007Theology professor counters claim that camel bones disprove Bible, explains Abraham owning camels‘ (Global Dispatch, 17 Feb 14).

clip_image007[1]Abraham, Camels and Egypt, or, Where did Abram get his Camel from?Genesis 12:1‘ (Studylight.org).

clip_image007[2] ‘Is the Bible Wrong about Camels?’(Stand to Reason).

I pray that you will be equipping the people in your church to provide a defence of the Christian faith when this kind of opposition comes. Here I’ve attempted to provide enough links to get you started with a few opportunities for equipping. We are blessed that there are equipping ministries who have researchers and writers to deal with these issues – and provide us with ready information to pass on to our church people.

In addition, these ministries make their material freely available on the Internet.

Again, it’s the problem of [the archaeologist’s] assumptions’ (Stand to Reason)

Notes:


[1] Saber, A. S., The camel in ancient Egypt, Proceedings of the Third Annual Meeting for Animal Production Under Arid Conditions 1:208–215, 1998, p. 208.

 

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 18 July 2018.

Camel capers at the time of Abraham – baloney!

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/55/Camels_at_Giza.JPG/330px-Camels_at_Giza.JPG

Camels at Pyramids, Egypt (courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

In February 2014, some of you may have been exposed to what seems like a tirade of derogatory comments in the mass media about camels recorded in the Book of Genesis; Genesis can’t be trusted, and the Bible is unreliable.

6pointblue Genesis 24:64 records this: ‘And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel’ (ESV).

6pointblue Leviticus 11:4 makes is clear: ‘Nevertheless, among those that chew the cud or part the hoof, you shall not eat these: The camel, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you’.

Was it a camel or not? Verses like these have come under criticism by the archaeologists who are saying that

camels were first introduced to Israel around the 9th century BCE, centuries after they were depicted in the Bible as Patriarch-era pack animals, new carbon dating of the earliest known domesticated camel bones found in Israel shows.

The research, conducted by Erez Ben-Yosef and Lidar Sapir-Hen of Tel-Aviv University, challenges ”the Bible’s historicity.” The discrepancy “is direct proof that the [Biblical] text was compiled well after the events it describes,” according to a statement released by the university on Monday.

The researchers examined ancient copper smelting sites in the Arava Valley, in southern Israel, and discovered that “camel bones were unearthed almost exclusively in archaeological layers dating from the last third of the 10th century BCE or later,” and that “all the sites active in the 9th century in the Arava Valley had camel bones, but none of the sites that were active earlier contained them.”

(The Times of Israel, 5 February 2014)

This is a sample of the negative comments I’ve read in the mass media online:

  1. Camels had no business in Genesis‘ (New York Times, 10 February 2014).
  2. Camel bones suggest error in Bible, archaeologists say‘, Fox News (6 February 2014).
  3. Earliest Camel Bones Contradict Bible, Archaeologists Say‘, (Nature World News, 5 February 2014).
  4. Camel bones discovery suggests biblical inaccuracies‘ (Statesman, 6 February 2014).
  5. Camel archaeology contradicts the Bible‘ (The Times of Israel, 5 February 2014).
  6. Will camel discovery break the Bible’s back?(CNN, 11 February 2014)

Abram’s Journey from Ur to Canaan (József Molnár, 1850) (courtesy Wikipedia)

 

We could go on and on with examples trying to disprove the accuracy of the Bible, especially the camels at the time of Abraham. But, what’s the truth? Should we chuck out the Book of Genesis as an unreliable piece of literature that should be treated as containing myths? Or should we treat it as Jesus did? You’ll find some of Jesus’ evidence in the articles,

cubed-iron-smJesus, the New Testament and Genesis‘;

cubed-iron-smThe use of Genesis in the New Testament‘; and

cubed-iron-smGenesis: Real, reliable, historical‘.

I recommend equipping yourself for a rebuttal of these mass media anti-Genesis views by becoming acquainted with the issues in these articles:

Here’s some more evidence in support of camels at the time of Abraham:

I pray that you will be equipping the people in your church to provide a defence of the Christian faith when this kind of opposition comes. There are enough links here to get you started with a few opportunities for equipping in your church over the next few weeks. We are blessed that there are equipping ministries who have researchers and writers to deal with these issues – and provide us with ready information to pass on to our church people.

Let’s not miss the opportunity.

 

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 18 November 2015.

Did God create the world in 6 literal days?

 (image courtesy opednews.com, public domain)

 By Spencer D Gear

This is the type of question that thoughtful Christians sometimes ask:

This sounds like a dumb question but if in God’s time 1 day is 1,000 years, does that mean that He created the world in 6 days or 6,000 years? I know that God created the world in 6 days and rested on the seventh, but I was wondering that. If he literally created the world in six days then where does the 1 day = 1,000 years come from?[1]

The topic being addressed on this Christian forum was, ‘Did God literally create the world in 6 days?’

A.  Is a day compatible with a thousand years?

My initial response[2] was to ask, ‘Why don’t you quote the verse? It’s in 2 Peter 3:8,

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (NIV). This has to do with God, the eternal One, and time. I urge you to read D Martyn Lloyd-Jones sermon on 2 Peter 3:8-9, ‘God and time‘.

These verses seem to indicate that God created in six literal days because of the parallel with 6 days to labour and to rest on the 7th, as in Exodus 20:8-11 (ESV),

8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labour, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

B.  Days, long periods of time or   figurative language?

Scarlet Time and Dates Button

There was another response to an issue raised about the creation of the sun:

No where in Genesis does it say God created the sun, you are reading into it and changing the sentence by trying to understand it on your terms and not Gods [sic]. God created light, you just assume he speaks of the sun. The first day is when light was created on the fourth day the stars were aligned into the zodiac we know today to give us signs to go by.
You my friend are not rightly dividing the word of God, with that said look at the verses I cited earlier in a KJV bible and explain them please if what I have been shown is wrong.[3]

How does one respond to such claims? This was my attempt:[4]

I think you are trying to split hairs.

Genesis 1:1 is VERY COMPREHENSIVE as to what God created, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’.
Are you saying that this does not include God’s creating the sun? I find that to be straining at a gnat!
Exodus 20:8-11 is specific as to the meaning of ‘day’ in comparison with the days in the creation of the heavens and the earth:

8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labour, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy (ESV).

Or do you want this to mean:

8 “Remember the Sabbath [long period of time or figurative day], to keep it holy. 9 Six [long periods of time or figurative days] you shall labour, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh [long period of time or figurative day] is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six [long periods of time or figurative days] the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh [long period of time or figurative day]. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath [long period of time or figurative day] and made it holy.

The comparison with the work week of 6 literal days and 1 literal day of rest, with the 6 days of creation and 1 day of rest by God makes the parallel very obvious. God is speaking of 6 literal days of creation and 1 literal day of rest.

I have a hunch that if it were not for the theory of evolution, the 6 literal days of creation would not be creating issues for us. What was Darwin’s aim when he proposed the theory of evolution? I invite you to read, ‘Darwin’s arguments against God‘. Darwin wanted God out of the picture with the creation of the world.

I invite you to consider how worldly science – in many areas – wants God eliminated from the creation events so that He can be replaced with a human ‘origin of the species’.

I have a high regard for empirical science that depends on repeatability to experiment with various products. My mechanical heart valves depend on daily doses of the drug warfarin and vitamin K when needed to reverse warfarin’s excessive impact on the blood.

C.  The nature of ‘days’ doesn’t really matter?

Another view was, ‘I don’t think it’s a dumb question but does the answer really matter? None of us will know for sure till Abba answers us HimSelf or gives divine revelation’.[5]

Does it really matter?[6] For consistency of interpretation it does matter. Does it matter that ‘day’ as a long period of time or a figurative day conflicts with Exodus 20:8-11? Yes it does! I want to be a consistent biblical interpreter when comparing Genesis 1 with Exodus 20, for example.

Alister McGrath has an interesting assessment in ‘Augustine’s Origin of Species‘.

D.  What about ‘day’ in Genesis 2:4?

Today

(image courtesy ChristArt)

Another fellow wrote:

The days in Genesis 1 are literal days, 24 hr or less. Both the Exodus passage agrees that God made everything in 6, 24 hr days. There is a problem though, and I think it’s in Gen 2:4 “in the day” the Lord made heavens and earth. Is this still 24 hour? Because here the author does not say what day it was. This is like saying “back in my youthful day” etc. What do you guys think?[7]

This question has been asked many times over by questioning people as the use of ‘day’ in Gen 2:4 seems to have a different meaning to ‘day’ in Genesis 1. My response[8] was that evangelical commentator on Genesis, H C Leupold (1942), divides Gen 2:4 into two verses and joins the second part with v. 5.

His translation of Gen 2:4a is, ‘This is the story of the heavens and the earth at the time of their creation’. He explains that his translation, ‘at the time of their creation’ is rendered literally: ‘in their being created’. He further wrote that ‘since it is a temporal phrase, we have rendered it: “at the time,” etc. It marks the occurrences that are to follow as practically a part of the creation story’ (Leupold 1942:111).

Then, Gen 2:4b, 5 he translates as, ‘At the time when Yahweh God made earth and heaven, then no shrub of the field was as yet in the earth and no plant of the field was as yet sprouting forth; for Yahweh God had not caused rain to descend upon the earth, nor did man exist to till the ground’.

He explains that verses 4a and 4b are usually translated

‘as a whole, with the result that two temporal clauses of nearly identical meaning appear within the sentence, calling forth artificial attempts at distinctions. By keeping 4a separate as a title and by combining 4b with 5, this trouble is removed, and a very natural rendering results. For the two initial clauses of v. 5, introduced by waw, may be correlative…: ‘when God made heaven and earth neither was there shrub … nor had any plant sprouted’. At the same time the complicated sentence structure which the critics make of v. 5-7 is shown to be quite unnecessary and quite cumbersome: v. 5 protasis; v. 6 rather parenthetical, or a concessive clause; v 7 apodosis – all of which calls for a very artificial rendering…. Nor is terem the conjunction ‘before,’ but the adverb ‘not yet’ (Leupold 1942:112, emphasis in original).

He explains that Gen 2:4b ‘takes us back into the time of the work of creation, more particularly to the time before the work of the third day began, and draws our attention to certain details, which, being details, could hardly have been inserted in chapter one: the fact that certain forms of plant life, namely the kinds that require the attentive care of man in greater measure, had not sprung up. Apparently, the whole work of the third day is in the mind of the writer’ (Leupold 1942:112).
The specific question asked by this person related to the meaning of ‘in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens’ (Gen 2:4 ESV).

Leupold explains that

it is not important to the author to mark the point of time within the creation week when this condition prevailed. Consequently, the opening phrase of 4b, beyom, is to be rendered as it so often is “at the time” and not “in the day” (1942:113).

I found this explanation helpful as it gives the meaning of the ESV’s translation of ‘in the day’ to be ‘at the time’. This clears up the confusion for me.

E.  Some resources

For some penetrating, thought-provoking articles on creationist topics, I have found Creation Ministries International (CMI) to have some targeted answers to questions about origins. And some of them are by Christians who are scientists.

[img]

I am somewhat guarded in recommending this CMI website because of  its short-sighted view that one has to be a Young Earth Creationist (YEC) to be regarded as having a high view of creation. This is not the case.

The YEC theory is only one view among Christians. There are other evangelical Christians who are as committed to the Gospel and the authority of Scripture as CMI staff and writers, who are convinced of Old Earth Creationism (OEC). One such person is Dr. Norman Geisler. He wrote:

There are unprovable presuppositions in most, if not all, the scientific arguments for an old earth…; that is, an earth that is millions or billions of years is biblically possible but not absolutely provable…. Given the basics of modern physics, it seems plausible that the universe is billions of years old. And as shown [in what he presented] there is nothing in Scripture that contradicts this…. There is no demonstrated conflict between Genesis 1-2 and scientific fact…. A literal interpretation of Genesis is consistent with a universe that is billions of years old (Geisler 2003:648, 650).

See these articles on the nature of creation:

blue-arrow-small Did God create plants on Day 3 out of nothing?

blue-arrow-small Does yom with a number always refer to 24-hour days?

blue-arrow-small Answering 10 big questions in detail;

blue-arrow-small Geology and the young earth;

blue-arrow-small Distant starlight and the days of Genesis 1;

blue-arrow-small William Lane Craig’s intellectually dishonest attack on biblical creationists;

blue-arrow-small The dating game;

blue-arrow-small Evolution vs God;

On another website, Ken Ham deals with the question,

blue-arrow-smallCould God Really Have Created Everything in Six Days?

That should get you started on some Christian answers to the origin of the world.

Geisler lists these orthodox Christians who held to a universe of millions or more years old. These included: Augustine, B B Warfield, C I Scofield, John Walvoord, Francis Schaeffer, Gleason Archer, Hugh Ross, and most of the leaders who produced the 1978 Chicago Statement on the inerrancy of the Bible (Geisler 2003:650).

F.  Bibliography

Geisler, N 2003. Systematic theology: God, creation, vol 2. Minneapolis, Minnesota: BethanyHouse.

Leupold, H C 1942. Exposition of Genesis, vol 1, chapters 1-19. London: Evangelical Press (originally by The Wartburg Press).

G.  Notes:


[1] Lik3#1, Christian Forums, Apologetics, ‘Did God literally create the world in 6 days?’ http://www.christianforums.com/t7775833/ (Accessed 26 September 2013).

[2] OzSpen#3, ibid.

[3] Godssontoo#10, ibid.

[4] OzSpen#13, ibid.

[5] HisSparkPlug#12, ibid.

[6] This was my brief response at OzSpen#14, ibid.

[7]Faith24#15, ibid.

[8] OzSpen#18, ibid.

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 22 September 2018.

Did Moses write the Pentateuch?

By Spencer D Gear

The Pentateuch consists of the first five books of the Bible – Genesis to Deuteronomy. Here is an overview of the JEDP theory:[1]

clip_image002

(courtesy www.cs.umd.edu)

The JEDP theory (sometimes called the Graf-Wellhausen or Documentary Hypothesis) was developed in the 18th and 19th century by critical scholars of the Bible. Under this view, the Pentateuch was not written by Moses. Instead, it was the result of a later author/editor, who pieced multiple sources together. Among these sources were:

J: From the German “Jahweh” or Yahwist source (dated ~950-850 BC).

E: From the Elohist source. Northern kingdom (~750 BC).

D: From the Deuteronomistic source. Southern kingdom (~650 BC).

P: From the Priestly source. Post-exilic (~587 BC).

An online discussion re JEDP

I engaged in discussion online with Jim, a promoter of the JEDP theory. Here is a copy of the discussion:[2]

OZ: The biblical evidence is right before us of Mosaic authorship.

JP: Does that evidence include Moses referring to himself in the third person and writing about his death, burial and 30 days of mourning AFTER he died?  believe it is from Moses’ time but not necessarily from his hand. (He was rather busy, you know.)

OZ: The Pentateuch claims in many places that Moses was the writer, e.g. Exodus 17:14; 24:4–7; 34:27; Numbers 33:2; Deuteronomy 31:9, 22, 24.

JP: It also has many places where Moses is referred to in the third person. So what? That means that Moses is reported to have written portions of “the Book of Moses.” It does not require that he wrote the whole thing. (Unless you are willing to hold to his continued, post-mortem, writing.)

OZ: Many times in the rest of the Old Testament, Moses is said to have been the writer, e.g. Joshua 1:7–8

JP: “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you”.That does not say Moses wrote the entire Pentateuch. It says he commanded Israel to keep the Law.
Joshua 8:32–34 Ditto.  Judges 3:4 Ditto.

Here’s what the Bible DOES say Moses wrote:

Exodus 24:4, And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD. (The Laws)  And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel (NKJV).

Numbers 33:2, Now Moses wrote down the starting points of their journeys at the command of the LORD. And these [are] their journeys according to their starting points:

Deuteronomy 31:9, So Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel.

Deuteronomy 31:22, Therefore Moses wrote this song the same day, and taught it to the children of Israel.

OZ: In the New Testament, Jesus frequently spoke of Moses’ writings or the Law of Moses,

JP: This is a very common and simplistic “proof.” The Torah was referred to as “The Book of Moses.” That name does not carry with it a statement of authorship. I have a “Webster’s Dictionary.” I have no misconception that it is a copy of what Noah Webster personally wrote.

OZ:   it seems likely that a sole author was responsible. Their exhaustive computer analysis conducted in Israel suggested an 82 percent probability that the book has just one author.

JP: I think Genesis is the work of a sole author. And a sole author can include more than one tradition and relating of the same story. It takes a great deal of skill and sophistication to do it well. I believe it was written by a sole author, most probably a contemporary of Moses and probably at the direction of Moses.

You seem to be rejecting out of hand, without consideration, the possibility that there could be more than one version of the creation and flood stories among these ancient people. That flies in the face of the existence of a variety of creation and flood stories among the ancient Mesopotamian people.

You also seem to be hung up on the idea that one author would, of necessity, have only one view to relate. That is not only unnecessary but, considering the text, it is unreasonable.

Further, you seem to assume that if I can see more than one tradition reflected in the text that I must agree with the whole of the documentary hypothesis, lock, stock and barrel. I do not. I think it is the result of over-analyzation combined with fertile imaginations and the need to publish.

I do see the two traditions, both representing valid recitals of the story of beginning from God’s creation of the heavens and earth through the dispersion. (Gen 1:1 – 11:9).

The dispersion is followed by a genealogy which connects the creation story to the story of the Hebrews who are the sons of Abraham, the descendant of Shem (SHem means “Name” and apparently refers to those who called upon Ha-Shem) the descendant of seth the son of Adam.

There is a felt need among many people that only Moses be allowed to be the author of the Pentateuch. It is an irrational need that flies in the face of the words of which Moses is demanded to be sole author. It is an imposition of man’s desire upon the word of God which detracts from it by restricting our understanding of His message to the views of one sect among God’s people.

Let my people go.

The Pentateuch and the JEDP theory

See my brief article, ‘JEDP Documentary Hypothesis refuted’.

This is not the place for a detailed critique of JEDP, but a few criticisms given by R. N. Whybray, who is certainly not a conservative, are in order:

1. While those espousing the documentary hypothesis assume that the biblical writers avoided repetitions, ancient literature from the same period reveled in repetitions and doublets as a mark of literary artistry.

2. The documentary hypothesis breaks up narratives into different sources thereby destroying their inherent literary and artistic qualities.

3. The source critics assume that variety in language and style is a sign of different sources, but it could just as well be a sign of differences in subject matter that carry with them their own distinctive vocabulary and style.

4. Inadequate evidence exists to argue for a sustained unique style, narrative story line, purpose and theological point of view in each of the four main documents that are thought to be the sources for the contents and message of the Pentateuch (cited in Kaiser 2001:137).

This we know from Scripture

The Pentateuch often refers to Moses as the author (eg Ex. 17:14; 24:4; 34:27; Num. 33:1-2; Deut. 31:9). Christ and the apostles gave unequivocal support for Moses as the author of the Torah (Law), eg John 5:46-57; 7:19; Acts 3:22 [cf. Deut. 18:15]; Rom. 10:5.

Works consulted

Kaiser Jr., W C 2001, The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable & Relevant? Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press.

Notes:


[1] This summary of JEDP is provided by James Rochford of Xenos Christian Fellowship, ‘Authorship of the Pentateuch’, Evidence Unseen, available at: http://www.evidenceunseen.com/authorship-of-exodus/ (Accessed 31 July 2013).

[2] This is based on an interaction I (ozspen) had with Jim Parker on Christian Fellowship Forum, Contentious Brethren, ‘Dawkins won’t debate creationists’, FatherJimParker #41, 5 June 2012, available at: http://community.compuserve.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?msg=121081.41&nav=messages&webtag=ws-fellowship (Accessed 6 June 2012).

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 3 November 2015.

Genesis 6:2, The ‘sons of God’ and ‘the daughters of men’

God Spoke

ChristArt

By Spencer D Gear

Genesis 6:2 reads:

  • ‘the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose’ (NIV);
  • ‘the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose’ (ESV);
  • ‘The sons of God saw the beautiful women and took any they wanted as their wives’ (NLT);
  • ‘the sons of God saw that they were fair; and they took wives for themselves of all that they chose’ (NRSV);
  • ‘the sons of God saw that the daughters of humankind were beautiful. Thus they took wives for themselves from any they chose’ (NET).

Who are ‘the sons of God’ and the ‘daughters of men’?

1. The sons of God

Let’s canvas a few commentaries. H. C. Leupold wrote:

But who are these “sons of God”? Without a shadow of doubt, the Sethites – the ones just described in chapter five as having in their midst men who walked with God, like Enoch (v. 22), men who looked to higher comfort in the midst of life’s miseries, like Lamech (v. 29), men who publicly worshipped God and confessed His name (4:26). Such men merit to be called the “sons of God” (benê ‘elohim), a title applied to true followers of God elsewhere in the Old Testament Scriptures (Leupold 1942:250).

John H. Sailhamer stated that ‘historically there have been primary interpretations of vv. 1-4’. These understandings of the meaning of the ‘sons of God’ are: (1) Angels, which is the oldest view; (2) Royalty, also very old, meaning ‘sons of lords’, sons of judges, kings; and (3) Pious men from the ‘line of Seth’. He rejects the ‘angels’ interpretation as it conflicts with Matthew 22:30 [‘For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven’ (ESV)]. ‘The commonly accepted view is that the “sons of God” refer to the godly, pious line of Seth’ [Calvin, Scofield Bible]. His preferred understanding is that it is a summary of chapter 5 and

there is little to arouse our suspicion that the events recounted are anything out of the ordinary. As a summary of the preceding chapter, this little narrative is a reminder that the sons and daughters of Adam had greatly increased in number, had married and had continued to have children. The impression it gives is that of an interlude, a calm before the storm. For a brief moment we see a picture of man in the midst of his everyday affairs: “marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away” (Matt 24:38-39) (Sailhamer 1990:76).

Harold Stigers is adamant: ‘The “sons of God” of v. 2 cannot be angels, not even fallen angels, for that matter, for their fall would not change their physical character or any other limitations that would prevent their marrying. The emphasis is one of contrast: the “sons of God” stand opposed to the “daughters of men”…. It is a contrast of the followers of God and the followers of the ways of sinful men. Out of the marriages of those opposing groups arose the final corruption’ (Stigers 1976:98)

Stigers’ assessment seems reasonable that the ‘sons of God’ represent the followers of God and Sailhamer’s understanding that it refers to everyday marrying of people that led to the Flood.

2. The daughters of men

Some understanding of this is in the above description. So, briefly, Stiger’s understanding of ‘daughters of men’ is a referral to ‘the followers of the ways of sinful men’ (Stiger 1976:98). For Sailhaimer, ‘this little narrative is a reminder that the sons and daughters of Adam had greatly increased in number, had married, and had continued to have children’ (Sailhamer 1990:76). I do not find this a very adequate explanation.

As for Leupold, ‘”daughters of men” refers indiscriminately to all “daughters of mankind,” which were unfortunately lumped together by the sons of God without regard to their classification, whether Sethite or Cainite. When God’s children lose sight of such basic distinctions and look about only for the pretty faces and the shapely forms, then, surely, degeneracy has set in’ (Leupold 1942:252).

3. Conclusion

While there are differences in understanding the meaning, there seems to be a thread of the godly intermarrying with the ungodly and this ultimately led to the pollution (degeneracy) of the human race that led to the destruction of Noah’s flood.

References

Leupold, H C 1942. Exposition of Genesis, vol 1 (chapters 1-19). London: Evangelical Press.

Sailhamer, J H 1990. Genesis, in The expositor’s Bible commentary, 1-284, F E. Gaebelein (gen ed). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Stigers, H G 1976. A commentary on Genesis. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 May 2017.

Did Genesis 6:3 get it wrong?

https://i1.wp.com/www.creationism.org/images/DoreBibleIllus/aGen0724Dore_TheWorldDestroyedByWater.jpg?resize=308%2C417

(image courtesy Gustave Dore)

By Spencer D Gear

This verse reads, ‘Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not abide in[1] man for ever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years”’ (Gen 6:3 ESV).

These are the kinds of objections that sometimes come:

I was reading my bible earlier and finally finished Genesis.

Anyways there were a few bits in there that caught my eye; it`s to do with Jacob’s, and Joseph’s lifespan, and well I remember in the first few chapters of Genesis god said he would make man mortal and … found the quote: ‘Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not put up with humans for such a long time, for they are only mortal flesh. In the future, their normal lifespan will be no more than 120 years”’ (Gen 6:3 NLT).

And so then I found this quote: ‘Jacob replied, “I have traveled this earth for 130 hard years. But my life has been short compared to the lives of my ancestors”’ (Genesis 47:9 NLT).

And there`s, ‘Jehoiada lived to a very old age, finally dying at 130’ (2 Chron 24:15 NLT).

Also: ‘Job lived 140 years after that, living to see four generations of his children and grandchildren (Job 42:16 NLT).

There are probably more but I can`t be asked to look. Can a Christian please explain, why god said people won`t live more than 120 years, yet they’ve lived for 130+ years.

This to me makes the bible sound like one big story, I`m hoping someone can change my mind.

Please also can you quote from the bible or just say the passage that`s relevant.[2]

These were reasonable objections from Jahleel. On the surface, it does look like the Bible is contradicting itself.

How to deal with the apparent contradictions

H. C. Leupold Commentary Collection (7 vols.)

Courtesy Logos Bible Software

Hebrew exegete, H C Leupold (1942), in his commentary on Genesis translates Genesis 6:3 as,

And Yahweh said: My spirit shall not judge among mankind forever, because they also are flesh. Yet shall their days be one hundred and twenty years (1942:254).

He gives the Hebrew grammatical reasons for this translation and then his commentary states:

Entirely in harmony with our rendering is the concluding statement of the verse, which marks the setting of the time limit of divine grace. For these words, “yet shall their days be one hundred and twenty years,” are to be taken in the sense of the traditional interpretation: one last period of grace is fixed by God for the repentance of mankind. The previous word indicated (3a) that God might well have cut off all further opportunities of grace. This word (3b) shows that grace always does more than could be expected. Before disposing of the guilty ones a time of grace of no less than one hundred and twenty years is allowed for their repentance. This use of “days” (v3) is established by the use of the same word (v4) “those days.” Consequently, the modern interpretation that takes this word to mean that God here decreed that in the future the span of man’s life was not to exceed one hundred twenty years is quite unfounded. This view is proved untenable by the fact that quite a few after the Flood lived in excess of this limit: 11:11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25; 25:7; 35:28; 47:9. The evasions of the critics in meeting this argument need not be mentioned, being too palpable (Leupold 1942:256-257).

Hebrew exegetes, Keil & Delitzsch (n d, 1:136) also reach the same conclusion:

Therefore his days shall be 120 years:” this means, not that human life should in future never attain a greater age than 120 years, but that a respite of 120 years should still be granted to the human race. This sentence, as we may gather from the context, was made known to Noah in his 480th year, to be published by him as “preacher of righteousness” (2 Pet. ii.5) to the degenerate race.

Conclusion

We know from the following context of Genesis 6:5-8 that God is preparing for the judgment of the Flood. So the 120 years has nothing to do with the longevity of a person’s life after that time, but the time given to the people until the judgment by destruction in Noah’s Flood will come.

Isn’t it amazing how people can come to the wrong conclusions of Genesis 6:3 when they don’t know how to carefully exegete the Hebrew text? To overcome a wrong interpretation of Genesis, we need three tools:

  • Knowledge of the Hebrew language so we can engage in exegesis of the text;
  • If such knowledge is not available to a Bible reader (which is the case for me), a sound commentary, based on the Hebrew, is needed. What do I mean by ‘sound’? I am referring to commentaries that accept and promote biblical authority and are not written by theological liberals who want to denigrate or destroy the Bible.
  • All verses must be read in context to obtain the best interpretation. By the way, verses were not included in the original Hebrew of the OT or Greek of the NT (see ‘Who divided the Bible into chapters and verses?’)

A sound commentary, based on the Hebrew language, helped me to overcome these difficulties.

(Noah preaches to the people, image courtesy Ultimate Bible Picture Collection)

References

Keil, C F & Delitzsch, F n d. Commentary on the Old Testament: The Pentateuch, vol 1. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Leupold H C 1942. Exposition of Genesis. 1942. The Wartburg Press, also London: Evangelical Press. Also available online at CCEL at: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/leupold/genesis.i.html (Accessed 19 October 2012).

Notes:


[1] Or My Spirit shall not contend with.

[2] Christian Forums, Christian Scriptures, ‘Can a Christian please explain this?’ Jahleel #1. Available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7695361/#post61587089 (Accessed 19 October 2012). Some grammatical and spelling corrections have been made to this quote.

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 2 September 2015.

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Circumcision and masturbation

Customs of Central Asians. Circumcision. Photograph shows a group of men seated on the ground near a small boy who is being circumcised. Album print. Illus. in: Turkestanskii al’bom, chast’ etnograficheskaia, 1871-1872, part 2, vol. 1, pl. 71. Batga [sic] buri translated from Persian as circumcision. Photo credit: Unknown – Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikipedia Commons

By Spencer D Gear

I read Macro Torres’ article with interest, ‘When, how & why do we continue to let this happen‘ (online), Prevent Disease, Oct 25, 2011. In this article, Torres stated:

Circumcision is one that still baffles many. When was it that men (and women) decided it was ok to actually start cutting the skin of babies’ and young boys’ penises in an attempt to curb masturbation? Again, why was there always such an interest in curbing masturbation and why resort to such barbaric rituals in an effort to reduce this natural instinct in boys? Why does it still continue today when there is absolutely no accepted and established scientific evidence for any benefits?

This article has many excellent points to make about what is happening to our environment, but it has one major flaw and that has to do with the origin and nature of circumcision. The origin of circumcision had nothing to do with cutting skin off babies’ and young boys’ penises in an attempt to curb masturbation.

This writer shows a gross lack of knowledge about how circumcision began in the Jewish nation in calling them ‘barbaric rituals’. There is a brief overview of the origin of Jewish circumcision in the BBC article, “The circumcision ceremony: Judaism and circumcision“. The BBC article rightly stated, ‘According to the Torah (Genesis 17:9-14), Abraham was commanded by God to circumcise himself, all male members of his household, his descendants and slaves in an everlasting covenant”. For the Jews, this was God’s command to them re circumcision as a sign of an everlasting covenant he made with them:

9And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, 13both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant” (Genesis 17:9-14 ESV).

As a non-Jew, but a committed Christian, I can assure you from 65 years as a circumcised male that it has not had the effect of curbing masturbation.

Torres states that ‘there is absolutely no accepted and established scientific evidence for any benefits’. Really? NO EVIDENCE? Let’s check out the evidence.

Please observe some of the health benefits of circumcision. See the article, ‘Circumcision: Medical Pros and Cons’. This article stated:

“Recently, however, several large studies revealed a 60% decrease in HIV transmission in circumcised males compared to uncircumcised males”.

Professor Brian Morris provides this evidence-based appraisal of circumcision. Here is the summary:

Circumcision of males represents a “surgical vaccine” against a wide variety of infections, adverse medical conditions and potentially fatal diseases over their lifetime, and also protects their sexual partners. In experienced hands, this common, inexpensive procedure is very safe, and can be pain-free. Although it can be performed at any age, the ideal time is infancy. The benefits vastly outweigh risks.

The public health benefits are enormous, and include protection from urinary tract infections, that are common over the lifetime, inferior genital hygiene, smegma, sexually transmitted HIV, oncogenic types of human papillomavirus, genital herpes, syphilis and chancroid, penile cancer, and possibly prostate cancer, phimosis, paraphimosis, thrush, and inflammatory skin conditions such as balanitis and balanoposthitis. In women circumcision of the male partner provides substantial protection from cervical cancer, genital herpes,  bacterial vaginosis (formerly termed “gardnerella”), possibly Chlamydia (that can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and ectopic pregnancy), and other infections.

Circumcision has socio-sexual benefits and reduces sexual problems with age and diabetes. It has no adverse effect on penile sensitivity, erectile function, or sensation during sexual arousal and is reported to enhance the sexual experience for men. Most women prefer the circumcised penis for appearance, hygiene, lower infection risk and sexual activity. At least half of all uncircumcised males will develop one or more problems over their lifetime caused by their foreskin, and many will suffer and die as a result. The benefits exceed the risks by over 100 to 1, and if fatalities are taken into account in men and their sexual partners the benefit is orders of magnitude higher than this. Given the convincing epidemiological evidence and biological support, routine circumcision should be highly recommended by all health professionals.

See Professor Morris’s articles:

Who is Professor Brian J Morris?

Professor of Molecular Medical Science
Physiology, School of Medical Sciences
Bosch Institute

F13 – Anderson Stuart Building
The University of Sydney
NSW 2006 Australia

It is not unusual to have secular people object to a quote from Genesis, calling it myth and that it can not be believed as fact. Here I mention Abraham from Genesis 17:9-14. Is Abraham a real historical person? Is Genesis a reliable historical source? I’m not a specialist in this area, so I rely on those who know this field well. I refer to two who know their product:

  • Professor Emeritus of Egyptology at the University of Liverpool (UK), Dr. K. A. Kitchen (2003) and
  • Professor of Old Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (USA), Dr. Walter C. Kaiser Jr (2001).

Here I present their views based on a study of history and a study of the Old Testament.

Professor Kitchen, based on his research, has answered these kinds of questions in his 500 pages of research:

Whether or not the existing Old Testament writings were composed (and their contents originated) entirely within the brief and late period of circa 400-200 B.C., or whether or not their contents are pure fiction, unrelated to the world of the Near East in circa 2000-400 B.C.

To pursue such questions, the only practical method of inquiry was to go back to those ancient times and compare the data in the Hebrew Bible with what we have from its putative world. Merely theorizing in one’s head can achieve nothing. Looking back, we do have some definite results. On the independent evidence from antiquity itself, we may safely deliver a firm “No” to both questions as posed above. Namely, the Old Testament books and their contents did not exclusively originate as late as 400-200 B.C.; and they are by no means pure fiction – in fact, there is very little proven fiction in them overall.

What can be said of historical reliability? Here our answer – on the evidence available – is more positive. The periods most in the glare of contemporary documents – the divided monarchy and the exile and return – show a very high level of direct correlation (where adequate data exist) and of reliability. That fact should be graciously accepted by all, regardless of personal starting point, and with the firm conclusion of alien, hence irrelevant, modern “agendas”….. The primeval protohistory embodies early popular tradition going very far back, and is set in an early format. Thus we have a consistent level of good, fact-based correlations right through from circa 2000 B.C. (with earlier roots) down to 400 B.C. In terms of general reliability … the Old Testament comes out remarkably well, so long as its writings and writers are treated fairly and evenhandedly, in line with independent data, open to all (Kitchen 2003:499-500).

Professor Kaiser stated:

The claims for the historical accuracy of the patriarchs, despite the rich archaeological finds in the middle of the twentieth century, have not found smooth sailing in this twentieth century ever since Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918) declared around the turn of the century that “no historical knowledge” of the patriarchs could be obtained from Genesis, for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were a mere “glorified mirage” projected backward into Hebrew history. However, from the 1940s to the 1960s a successful challenge was made to Wellhausen’s estimates of the historical worth of the patriarchs. Two scholars set the stories of the three ancient worthies into the background of the ancient Near East: William Foxwell Albright (1891-1971) and Cyrus Herzl Gordon (1908-2001)….

W. F. Albright, Cryus H. Gordon, and Ephraim A. Speiser mounted an impressive number of parallels between the patriarchal stories and second millennium laws and social customs. The effect was so strong that the evidence seemed to support the essential historicity of the narratives found in Genesis 12-50. A consensus did occur in identifying many of the poems in the Pentateuch as being very early, such as Genesis 49, Exodus 15; Numbers 23-24; and Deuteronomy 33.

Given this mounting evidence, Roland de Vauz declared “that these traditions have a firm historical basis,” while John Bright concluded, “We can assert with full confidence that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were actual historical individuals”….

It must be acknowledged that there is no direct external evidence supporting the existence of any one of the three patriarchs. However, the data does exist to demonstrate the fact that they are correctly located in the Middle Bronze setting beginning approximately 2000 B.C…. An increasingly high degree of probability and corroborating evidence continues to mount up from the external evidence to such a point that the case for the genuineness of the patriarchal stories is strong indeed (Kaiser 2001:84-85, 96).

Let’s go back to the first two chapters of the first book of the Bible, Genesis. How do we know whether these two chapters are poetic, figurative, mythological or historical? See Kaiser Jr, et al (1996:89f), Hard Sayings of the Bible for a refutation of the mythological, poetic view and support for the language containing figures of speech in affirming its recording of actual events in the space-time world. Here are a few points made:

  1. Genesis 1 and 2 do not contain the mythic, poetical style of ancient Near Eastern stories. But, like much writing, it contains figures of speech, with God depicted with hands, nostrils, etc. Bullinger lists 150 examples in Genesis 1:1-11:32 of figures of speech used.
  2. It is an error to think that because figurative language is used in Genesis 1-3 that it is not a straightforward presentation of real events.
  3. The biblical account of creation does not demonstrate the forms and substance of myth as ‘nothing has been found in the biblical narrative of creation to tie it to the mythical ancient Near Eastern cosmogonies’ (Kaiser et al 1996:89).
  4. We can’t link Genesis 1-2 to a poetic form as the the Hebrew form of the verb is the same as that used in Hebrew narratives. There are other grammatical and syntactical forms in these 2 chapters that conform to literary genre and are not those used in poetry.
  5. Gen. 1-2 provides a closely reasoned narrative of events ‘in almost a dry didactic form’ with emphasis on ‘definition, naming, evaluating and a general ordering of events. As such the accounts have more in common with narrative prose than anything else’ (Kaiser et al 1996:89).
  6. Based on the available evidence from ancient history, we can rely on the Book of Genesis as a reliable historical document.
  7. While we cannot say that Gen. 1-2 is ‘historical’ in the ordinary sense that facts can be independently verified through other sources and witnesses, ‘it certainly appears to be claiming to record actual events in the stream of happenings in our kind of space-time world’ (Kaiser et al 1996:89).

We can conclude with Professor K.A. Kitchen that “the Old Testament comes out remarkably well, so long as its writings and writers are treated fairly and evenhandedly, in line with independent data, open to all” (Kitchen 2003:500).

Notes:

Kaiser Jr., Walter C.; Davids, Peter H.; Bruce, F. F. and Brauch, Manfred T. 1996. Hard sayings of the Bible. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press.

Kaiser Jr., Walter C 2001. The Old Testament documents: Are they reliable & relevant? Downers Grove, Illinois /Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press.

Kitchen, K A 2003. On the reliability of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan / Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Copyright (c) 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 15 May 2018.

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The creation of the sun on day 4: Actual days or day-age of millions of years

Sunset

(image courtesy ChristArt)

By Spencer D Gear

If the common evolutionary perspective is accepted, then the days of Genesis 1 are considered very long periods of time. An example of this explanation is that of Rich Deem, with his support for the Day-Age theory,

I believe in what has been called the “day-age” interpretation of Genesis one – that is, that each “day” is actually a long period of time during which God created life. This interpretation is not figurative in any way, but adheres to the scientific method in its analysis of the biblical texts. At its foundation is a literal translation of the Hebrew word, yom, which can mean a twelve hour period of time, a twenty-four hour period of time, or a long, indefinite period of time. The biblical basis for the translation of the word yom as long periods of time appear on another page.

Evidence to believe’ claims the following:

Based on the evidence, we submit:

  •  That the Day-Age interpretation is the more reasonable interpretation
  •  That when one properly reads Genesis 1, going back to the original language, one find(s) no contradiction with the findings of modern science.  In fact, one finds confirmation of the Biblical record in modern scientific findings!
  •  That one can fully accept from a literal perspective the Genesis 1 record, accept the proofs from science of an old universe and old earth, and still be consistent in their beliefs about God and science

Consistency between the Bible and science is what we should expect.  For if the Creator of the heavens and the earth also inspired the writers who penned the words of the Bible, why shouldn’t we expect the discoveries of science to support the Bible?  It would be surprising if they did not.[1]

Brad Bromling gives a contrary view:

The ancient Hebrews hardly could have imagined that the creation week was any different from theirs. Thus when the Ten Commandments were issued, requiring them to observe a day of rest, it was natural for the creation week to serve as their model (Exodus 20:11). It is doubtful that any of the Jews who heard this command raised a hand to inquire about the duration of either their week or God’s. Regardless of what the astronomers and cosmologists may say about the age of the Universe, Genesis describes a creation week comprised of ordinary days. Contemporary efforts to reinterpret these days succeed neither to enhance confidence in the truthfulness of Scripture nor to accommodate current age calculations.

For a similar view that supports literal 24-hours for the days of Genesis 1, see ‘How long were the days of Genesis 1?’ from Creation Ministries International.

An exegetical understanding, based on Genesis 1 grammar

There is an explanation that harmonises Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:14-19 that John H. Sailhamer (1990:33-34) has suggested. This is involved with the meaning of ‘the heavens and the earth’ in  Gen. 1:1  which reads, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’ (NIV)

If the phrase, ‘the heavens and the earth’, refers to the universe or the cosmos (which seems to be the most likely understanding), then it is taken in the same sense as throughout the Bible as in passages like Joel 3:15-16. Thus, the creation of the universe would include the sun, moon and stars according to Gen. 1:1.

This is the kind of objection that is commonly raised:

According to the Bible, on what day was the sun created?[2]…. I’ve read conflicting opinions. Most of which say the 4th day but that begs the question “How can you have 3 days without a sun?”[3]….

[4]Sailhamer’s exegesis and exposition stated that the place to begin with an understanding of the fourth day of creation (Genesis 1:14-18) is to view the whole of the universe (including the sun, moon and stars) to have been created ‘in the beginning’ (Gen. 1:1) and NOT on the fourth day.

If we try to understand the syntax of Gen. 1:14 and it is compared with the creation of the expanse in 1:6, the verses have two different senses. The syntax of 1:6 suggests that God said, ‘Let there be an expanse’. God was creating an expanse where there had not been any previously. So the author of Genesis clearly wanted to state that God created the expanse on the first day.

But when we come to 1:14, the syntax in the Hebrew is different though in English the translations are often very similar to 1:6. Gen. 1:14 states:

And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years (NIV).

In 1:14, God did not say, ‘Let there be lights … to separate’ in the Hebrew language, as if there were no lights before that and the lights were created. Instead, the Hebrew text reads, ‘And God said, “let the lights in the expanse of the sky separate”‘. So, instead of the syntax of 1:6, in 1:14 God’s command is assuming that the lights were already in the expanse and that in response to the command of 1:14 they were given a purpose, ‘to separate the day from the night’ AND ‘to mark seasons and days and years’. However, this grammar is not seen in the English translations. Let’s look at a few of them:

  • NIV, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night….’;
  • ESV, ‘And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night….’
  • NLT, ‘Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night….’
  • KJV, ‘And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night….’
  • NASB, ‘Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night….’
  • NRSV, ‘And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night….’
  • New Jerusalem Bible, ‘God said, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of heaven to divide day from night….’
  • NET, ‘God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night….’

None of these actual translations conveys the grammatical difference that causes us to understand the Hebrew grammar, ‘Let the lights in the expanse of the sky separate…’ The New Living Translation (NLT) comes closest with, ‘Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night….’

What is the grammatical difference? The syntax of Genesis 1:6 uses hayah alone, while in Genesis 1:14, it is hayah + l infinitive (Sailmaher 1990:34).

Conclusion

The exegetical response, with God’s revelation (Scripture being the decider), is that if we are to understand the grammar of Gen 1:14 correctly, the author does not state that this was the creation of the lights, but the narrative assumes that the heavenly lights were already created. What is the assumption? The lights were created ‘In the beginning’ as stated in Genesis 1:1.

I’m indebted to John Sailhamer for this explanation and it makes sense when the grammar is considered.

I leave that for your consideration. I do not find the regular secular, scientific, and doubting argument about literal days to hold much theological ‘water’. It is designed to create doubt when the Hebrew grammar seems to solve the supposed problem.

Works consulted

Sailmaher, John H 1990. Genesis, in Frank E Gaebelein (gen. ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 2, pp. 1-284.

Notes:


[1] This conclusion is based on science being the final arbiter over the Bible’s exegetical statements from Genesis 1. The alleged scientific, evolutionary conclusion is the decider. Human reason usurps the role of God’s revelation. It makes Scripture fit into the scientific framework, which is intolerable for biblical revelation.

[2] RayComfort #1, 9 September 2012. Christian Forums, Christian Apologetics, ‘On what day was the sun created’, available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7686289/ (Accessed 10 September 2012).

[3] Ibid #8.

[4] Much of the following response was given by me as OzSpen at ibid #16.

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 25 April 2018.

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