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                                                                                             Genesis

 


There are far and away much better commentaries on the book of Genesis in existence than ours, but we seriously doubt there's any that are more personal. Although not all that scholarly; the Webers' version easily serves as an adequate introduction to one of the most important— if not the most important —books in the Bible.

As of today's date, Aug 14, 2017, I'm 73 years old; and an on-going student of the Bible since 1968 via sermons, seminars, lectures, Sunday school classes, radio Bible programs, and various authors of a number of Bible-related books. Forty-nine years of Bible under my belt hasn't made me an authority; but they've at least made me competent enough to compose this commentary.

Genesis is a one of those things that are called "foundational". What that means: there's some pretty serious ground work laid in this book and a poor knowledge of it will handicap your understanding of the rest of the Bible; most especially the New Testament portion.

All the really cool stuff is in Genesis: the origin of the cosmos, the origin of human life, Adam and Eve, the origin of marriage, the Devil, the first lie, the first transgression, the origin of human death, the origin of clothing, the first baby, Cain and Abel, the first murder, the Flood, the tower of Babel, and the origin of Yhvh's people.

Big-name celebrities like Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Ishmael, Rebecca, Jacob and Esau, and Joseph are here too.

Not here are Moses vs. Pharaoh and the parting of the Red Sea. That story is in Exodus; Samson and Delilah are in Judges, David and Goliath are in 1Samuel; and Ruth and Esther are in books of the Bible named after them.

 

        Gen 01                                Gen 14                                Gen 27                                Gen 40
        Gen 02                                Gen 15                                Gen 28                                Gen 41
        Gen 03                                Gen 16                                Gen 29                                Gen 42
        Gen 04                                Gen 17                                Gen 30                                Gen 43
        Gen 05                                Gen 18                                Gen 31                                Gen 44
        Gen 06                                Gen 19                                Gen 32                                Gen 45
        Gen 07                                Gen 20                                Gen 33                                Gen 46
        Gen 08                                Gen 21                                Gen 34                                Gen 47
        Gen 09                                Gen 22                                Gen 35                                Gen 48
        Gen 10                                Gen 23                                Gen 36                                Gen 49
        Gen 11                                Gen 24                                Gen 37                                Gen 50
        Gen 12                                Gen 25                                Gen 38
        Gen 13                                Gen 26                               
Gen 39

 

Genesis 01
 

The author of Genesis is currently unknown; but commonly attributed to Moses. Seeing as he penned Exodus (Mark 12:26) it's conceivable that Moses also penned Genesis; but in reality, nobody really knows.

Scholars have estimated the date of its writing at around 1450-1410 BC; which is pretty recent in the grand scheme of Earth's geological history— a mere 3,400 years ago.

Genesis may in fact be the result of several contributors beginning as far back as Adam himself; who would certainly know more about the creation than anybody, and who entertained no doubts whatsoever about the existence of an intelligent designer since he knew the Creator himself like a next door neighbor.

That would explain why the book begins with an in-your-face theological account of the origin of the cosmos, rather than waste words with an apologetic argument to convince agnostics that a supreme being exists. I mean: if the complexity of the cosmos— its extent, its objects, and all of its forms of life, matter, and energy —isn't enough to convince the agnostic; then the agnostic is pretty much beyond reach.

As time went by, others like Seth and Noah would add their own experiences to the record, and then Abraham his, Isaac his, Jacob his, and finally Judah or one of his descendants completing the record with Joseph's burial.

Genesis is quoted more than sixty times in the New Testament; and Christ himself authenticated its Divine inspiration by referring to it in his own teachings. (e.g. Matt 19:4-6, Matt 24:37-39, Mk 10:4-9, Luke 11:49-51, Luke 17:26-29 & 32, John 7:21-23, John 8:44 and John 8:56)

Gen 1:1a . . In the beginning God

The word for "God" is from the Hebrew 'elohiym (el-o-heem'). It's a plural word and means, ordinarily: gods. 'Elohiym isn't really the creator's personal moniker, rather, a nondescript designation that pertains to all sorts of gods, along with, and including, the supreme one.

The "beginning" is mentioned again at 1John 1:1 which I believe safe to assume compliments John 1:1-2

Gen 1:1b . . created the heaven and earth—

The word for "heaven" is from the Hebrew word shamayim (shaw-mah'-yim) and means: to be lofty; i.e. the sky; perhaps alluding to the visible arch in which the clouds move, as well as to the higher ether where the celestial bodies reside, i.e. the universe.

So the word "heaven" is ambiguous and can mean the breathable air in our planet's atmosphere as well as the stratosphere and the vast celestial regions of space.

The Hebrew word for "earth" is 'erets (eh'-rets) which is yet another of the Bible's many ambiguous words. It can indicate dry land, a country, and/or the whole planet.

Anyway; Genesis 1:1 merely reveals the origin of the cosmos without going into detail. It's a "Once upon a time" sort of statement with a story to follow.

Gen 1:2a . . the earth being unformed and void

That statement reveals the earth's condition prior to the creation of an energy that would make it possible for its particles to coalesce into something coherent.

Curiously, scientists have not yet been able to figure out what gives particles their mass. In point of fact, the multi-billion-dollar Large Hadron Collider was constructed for the specific purpose of finding a special particle called the Higgs Boson (a.k.a. the God particle) because it's believed that the Higgs particle "creates" a field that somehow grants other particles their mass.

Gen 1:2b . . and darkness was over the surface of the deep

This particular "deep" I believe can be safely assumed to be the void; viz: the seemingly infinite space housing the known universe.

Gen 1:2c . . and Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.

The "waters" at this point in the earth's history probably weren't the liquid commonly known as H2O. It's just a "place-holder" name; viz: a convenient label for the colossal soup of freshly created particles that would eventually be utilized to construct the universe's physical properties.

The Spirit's job, therefore, was as a sort of cattle wrangler circling the herd and keeping all the various particles together so they didn't drift away and get lost because as yet there were no forces at work keeping things together.

Gen 1:3 . . Then God said "Let there be light" and there was light.

The creation of light was a very, very intricate process. First God had to create particulate matter, and along with those particles their specific properties, including mass. Then He had to invent the laws of nature to govern how matter behaves in combination with and/or in the presence of, other kinds of matter in order to generate electromagnetic radiation.

Light's properties are a bit curious. It exists as waves in a variety of lengths and frequencies, and also as theoretical particles called photons. And though light has no mass; it's influenced by gravity. Light is also quite invisible. For example: you can see the Sun when you look at it, and you can see the Moon when sunlight reflects from its surface. But none of the Sun's light is visible in the void between them and that's because light isn't matter; it's energy.

The same laws that make it possible for matter to generate electromagnetic radiation also make other conditions possible too; e.g. fire, wind, water, ice, soil, rain, life, centrifugal force, thermodynamics, fusion, dark energy, gravity, atoms, organic molecules, magnetism, color, radiation, refraction, reflection, high energy X-rays and gamma rays, temperature, pressure, force, inertia, sound, friction, and electricity; et al. So the creation of light was a pretty big deal; yet Genesis scarcely gives its origin passing mention.

2Cor 4:6 verifies that light wasn't introduced into the cosmos from outside in order to dispel the darkness and brighten things up a bit; but rather, it radiated out of the cosmos from inside— from itself —indicating that the cosmos was created to be self-illuminating by means of the various interactions of the matter that God made for it; including, but not limited to, the Higgs Boson.

You know it's curious to me that most people have no trouble readily conceding that everything else in the first chapter of Genesis is natural, e.g. the cosmos, the earth, water, sky, dry land, the Sun, the Moon, the stars, aqua life, winged life, terra life, flora life, and human life.

But when it comes to light they choke; finding it impossible within themselves to believe that Genesis just might be consistent in its description of the creative process. I mean, if all those other things are natural, why wouldn't light be natural too? In point of fact, without natural light, planet Earth would become a cold dead world right quick.

NOTE: The interesting thing about the laws of nature is that they're not absolute laws. No; they are created laws— created as a companion to the created cosmos to regulate how the cosmos, with all of its forms of life, matter, and energy, behaves. Seeing as how God designed and created those laws, then He knows the secrets to manipulating them in order to make things in our world behave quite contrary to common sense.

Take for example the floating axe head in 2Kgs 6:5-6. Solid chunks of iron don't float. That's unnatural. Another example is the fire-proof bush of Ex 3:2. A bush that's impervious to fire is unnatural. It should have flared up and Moses knew it too but it didn't because God can easily modify the natural behavior of everything He ever created.

Gen 1:4a . . And God saw the light, that it was good

God declared that light is good; but He didn't declare that darkness is good. In point of fact, darkness typically represents bad things in the Bible; while light typically represents good things. It's been an axiom from the very beginning.

Parenthesis                     

According to 1Tim 6:16, creation's architect is shrouded in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. Since the Master Architect himself in person is somehow untouchable, it's necessary to provide a viable link between the Forbidden Being and His earthly creations.

One of the important links regarded in ancient rabbinical thought was The Word, called memrá in Aramaic (from the Hebrew and Aramaic root, 'mr which means: to say).

The memrá concept— that of a Divine Verbal Mediator between the Forbidden Being and the creature Man— occurs hundreds of times in the Aramaic Targums.

The Architect's voice has been of utmost importance ever since the first day of creation week. It's the primary way that the Forbidden Being implements His will. It's also how the Mysterious Life communicates and interacts with human life, and how The Life reveals itself in a way human life can understand.

On the one hand, the Forbidden Being has done this somewhat through inspired writings. But there is much more to the Untouchable speech than just ink and letters. Those materials merely constitute an inert, man-made record. On many occasions, when The Life's words were actually expressed, they effected far more power and impetus than that of a mere page of transcript.

Why did The Life even bother to speak during creation? Why didn't The Architect just do His work silently without utterance or sound? To whom, or for whom, was He speaking when He said: "Let there be light."

There's a creative, dynamic force in The Almighty's voice, a power and energy in His words, a tangible release of Divine life. His voice is an extension of His nature, a movement of His will— alive, powerful, and effective— not just letters, syllables, and sounds. There is vigor and activity in the Mysterious Being's voice extending far beyond the applications of thought and communication.

According to the Targums, which were at one time accepted as sacred Jewish beliefs, God's voice is a sentient being; actually The God himself. So then, the Memrá is to be worshipped, and served, and obeyed, and spoken to as the Ultimate Sovereign.

The Targums taught that God's voice— the Memrá —reigns supreme upon The Almighty's throne.

T. Deut 4:7 . . For what people so great, to whom the Lord is so high in the Name of the Word of the Lord? But the custom of (other) nations is to carry their gods upon their shoulders, that they may seem to be nigh them; but they cannot hear with their ears, (be they nigh or) be they afar off; but the Word of the Lord sits upon His throne high and lifted up, and hears our prayer what time we pray before Him and make our petitions. (Targum Jonathan)

According to the Targums, Jacob, an important progenitor of the people of Israel, worshipped God's voice as his own divine sovereign.

T. Gen 28:20-21 . . And Jacob vowed a vow, saying: If the Word of Yhvh will be my support, and will keep me in the way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the Word of Yhvh be my God. (Targum Onkelos)

More about the Word of Yhvh when we get to the forbidden fruit incident.

Gen 1:4b-5a . . and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night.

Day and Night simply label two distinct physical conditions— the absence of light, and/or the absence of darkness. Labeling those physical conditions may seem like a superfluous detail, but when analyzing crucifixion week in the New Testament, it's essential to keep those physical conditions separate in regards to Christ's burial and resurrection if one is to have any hope of deducing the correct chronology of Easter week.

Anyplace there's light, there is no true darkness because light always dispels darkness. However, darkness is powerless to dispel light. In other words; science and industry have given the world a flashlight; but they have yet to give the world a flashdark. Man can produce artificial lighting, but he can't produce artificial darkness. Anyway, point being; light is the superior of the two and rules the dark; for example:

"And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." (John 1:5)

The koiné Greek word for "comprehend" is katalambano (kat-al-am-ban'-o) which basically means to take, seize, or possess eagerly. At 1Thess 5:4 it's translated overtake (as a thief, in a sudden and/or unexpected way). At Mark 9:18 it's translated seizure (as in demon possession).

The idea is: darkness is powerless to stop light from dominating it. Even a little kid with a candle can conquer darkness; because light, even the light from a candle, is impervious to darkness, and darkness has no way to fight it off and/or beat it back. However, where there is no light, then darkness definitely has the advantage.

Gen 1:5b . . And there was evening and there was morning, a first Day.

In accordance with a normal, strict chronological sequence; evening and morning would indicate overnight; viz: a day of creation would take place entirely in the dark; which fails to comply with the definitions of Day given at Gen 1:4-5a and Gen 1:14-18

Seeing as how it says evening "and" morning instead of evening to morning, then we're not really looking at a chronological sequence but merely the Am/Pm portions of daytime because evening and morning is all the same as morning and evening.

In other words: morning represents the hours of daylight between sunup and high noon, while evening represents the hours of daylight between high noon and sunset; viz: afternoon.

Just exactly how long were the days of creation? Well; according to Gen 1:24-31, God created humans and all land animals on the sixth day; which has to include dinosaurs because on no other day did God create land animals but the sixth.

However; the fossil record, in combination with scientific dating methods, has thus far easily proven that dinosaurs preceded human life by several million years. So then, in my estimation, the days of creation should be taken to represent epochs of indeterminable length rather than 24-hour calendar days. That's not an unreasonable estimation; e.g.

"These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that Jehovah God made earth and heaven." (Gen 2:4)

The Hebrew word for "day" in that verse is yowm (yome) which is the very same word for each of the six days of God's creation labors. Since yowm in Gen 2:4 refers to a period of time obviously much longer than a 24-hour calendar day; it justifies suggesting that each of the six days of creation were longer than 24 hours apiece too. In other words: yowm is ambiguous and not all that easy to interpret sometimes.

So then, why can't some people accept an epochal explanation? Why are they so insistent upon 24-hour calendar days? Because they're hung up on the expression "evening and morning".

The interesting thing is: there were no physical evenings and mornings till the fourth day when the sun was created and brought on line. So I suggest that the expression "evening and morning" is simply a convenient way to indicate the simultaneous wrap of one epoch and the beginning of another.

Anyway; this "day" thing has been a chronic problem for just about everybody who takes Genesis seriously. It's typically assumed that the days of creation consisted of twenty-four hours apiece; so people end up stumped when trying to figure out how to cope with the 4.5 billion-year age of the earth, and factor in the various eras, e.g. Triassic, Jurassic, Mesozoic, Cenozoic, Cretaceous, etc, plus the ice ages and the mass extinction events.

NOTE: Galileo believed that science and religion are allies rather than enemies— two different languages telling the same story. In other words: science and religion compliment each other— science answers questions that religion doesn't answer, and religion answers questions that science cannot answer; viz: science and religion are not really enemies; no, to the contrary, science and religion assist each other in their respective quests to get to the bottom of some of the cosmos' greatest mysteries.

Gen 1:6a . . God said: Let there be an expanse

The word for "expanse" is from raqiya' (raw-kee'-ah) and means: a great extent of something spread out, a firmament, the visible arch of the sky.

Raqiya' is distinct from shamyim in that it indicates the earth's atmosphere; which is sort of sandwiched between the surface and the vacuum of space.

Gen 1:6b-8 . . in the midst of the water, that it may separate water from water. God made the expanse, and it separated the water which was below the expanse from the water which was above the expanse. And it was so. And God named the expanse Sky.

At this point in time, I think we can safely assume that "water" is no longer a place-card name for the colossal soup of particles God created in Gen 1:2 but the molecular combination commonly known as H2O.

We can easily guess what is meant by water that's below the sky. But is there really water that's above it? Yes, and it's a lot! According to an article in the Sept 2013 issue of National Geographic magazine, Earth's atmosphere holds roughly 3,095 cubic miles of water in the form of vapor. That may seem like a preposterous number of cubic miles of water; but not really when it's considered that Lake Superior's volume alone is estimated at nearly 3,000.

Our home planet is really big; a whole lot bigger than people sometimes realize. It's surface area, in square miles, is 196,940,000. To give an idea of just how many square miles that is: if somebody were to wrap a belt around the equator made of one-mile squares; it would only take 24,902 squares to complete the distance; which is a mere .00012644 the surface area.

Some of the more familiar global warming gases are carbon dioxide, fluorocarbons, methane, and ozone. But as popular as those gases are with the media, they're bit players in comparison to the role that ordinary water vapor plays in global warming. By some estimates; atmospheric water vapor accounts for more than 90% of global warming; which is not a bad thing because without atmospheric water vapor, the earth would be so cold that the only life that could exist here would be extremophiles.

How much water is below the expanse. Well; according to the same article; the amount contained in swamp water, lakes and rivers, ground water, and oceans, seas, and bays adds up to something like 326.6 million cubic miles; and that's not counting the 5.85 million cubic miles tied up in living organisms, soil moisture, ground ice and permafrost, ice sheets, glaciers, and permanent snow.

To put that in perspective: a tower 326.6 million miles high would exceed the Sun's distance better than 3½ times.

Gen 1:8b . . And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.

Gen 1:9 . . God said: Let the waters below the sky be gathered into one area, that dry ground may appear. And it was so.

Shaping the earth's mantle in order to form low spots for the seas and high spots for dry ground was a colossal feat of magma convection and volcanism combined with the titanic forces of tectonic plate subduction; all of which require beaucoup centuries to accomplish.

At the ocean's deepest surveyed point— the Challenger Deep; located in the Mariana Islands group, at the southern end of the Mariana Trench —the water's depth is over 11,000 meters; which is about 6.8 statute miles (36,000 feet). That depth corresponds to the cruising altitude of a Boeing 747. At that altitude, probably about all you're going to see of the airliner without straining your eyes is its contrail.

Africa's Mt Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain on earth at 19,341 feet above its land base. If Kilimanjaro were placed in the Challenger Deep, it would have about 16,659 feet of water over its peak. Were the tallest point of the Himalayan range— Mt Everest —to be submerged in the Challenger Deep, it would have about 7,000 feet of water over its peak.

The discovery of fossilized sea lilies near the summit of Mt Everest proves that the Himalayan land mass has not always been mountainous; but at one time was the floor of an ancient sea bed. This is confirmed by the "yellow band" below Everest's summit consisting of limestone: a type of rock made from calcite sediments containing the skeletal remains of countless trillions of organisms who lived, not on dry land, but in an ocean.

"He established the Earth on its foundations, so that it shall never totter. You made the deep cover it as a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. They fled at your blast, rushed away at the sound of your thunder— mountains rising, valleys sinking to the place you established for them. You set bounds they must not pass so that they never again cover the Earth." (Ps 104:5-9)

Psalm 104 is stunning; and clearly way ahead of its time. It says that the land masses we know today as mountains were at one time submerged; and it isn't talking about Noah's flood. The speech of "mountains rising, and valleys sinking" isn't Flood-speak, no, it's geology-speak.

I seriously doubt that the Psalmist knew about the science of tectonic plates, magma pressure, and the forces of subduction, but he was clearly somehow aware that the Earth's crust is malleable. And that's true. With just the right combination of temperature and pressure, solid rock can be made to bend; even forced to hairpin back upon itself like taffy.

Gen 1:10 . . God called the dry ground Land, and the gathering of waters He called Seas. And God saw that this was good.

"good" meaning not that the dry ground and seas are morally acceptable, but rather, perfectly suitable for the purposes that God had in mind for them.

NOTE: There are Hebrew words in the Bible for marshes, impoundments, rivers, and streams; but I've yet to encounter one for natural lakes and ponds. In other words "seas" suffices not only for oceans; but also for all the smaller accumulations of naturally occurring water.

Gen 1:11a . . Then God said: Let the land produce vegetation

This is the very first mention of life on earth; and what's interesting about it is that life on earth wasn't created from nothing, rather, by means of ingredients taken from the earth itself; e.g. aqua life and winged life were made from water and terra life was made from land.

Gen 1:11b-12 . . seed-bearing plants, fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it. And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: seed-bearing plants of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that this was good.

According to Gen 2:4-5, the land's plant life was dormant in the beginning; it didn't actually flourish until the atmosphere began producing precipitation.

NOTE: It's believed by science that there was an era in Earth's youth called the Carboniferous period when it was blanketed by dense jungles and forests. As those plants and trees died, and were buried beneath layers of sediment; their unique chemical structure caused them to be "cooked" into solid coal; and there is really a lot of it.

Why isn't the Earth currently blanketed by dense jungles and forests? Well; the earth's conditions today cannot produce enough humidity, nor enough rain, nor enough global warming to sustain the kinds of heavy vegetation that once existed in the Carboniferous era. In other words: the earth, over time, has managed to give itself a remarkable make-over; and at least one element of its make-over are the mountains.

The ranges now in existence; e.g. the Andes, the Himalayas, the Rockies, the Urals, the Appalachians, the Cascades, the Brooks Range, the Alps, etc; and the various minor inland and coastal ranges didn't always exist. Those were shoved up over time by the forces of tectonic subduction, volcanism, and magma pressure. Even Yosemite's massive granite monoliths haven't always been there. They were formed deep underground and then somehow shoved up to where they are now.

Anyway, point being; those ranges have a very great deal to do with the earth's current weather systems.

Gen 1:13 . . And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.

Gen 1:14a . . God said: Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky

On the fourth day, God spent time up in celestial regions. It might seem odd that He began work on the surface of the Earth, and then before finishing, stopped short and moved off into space. Why not finish building down here on the planet first?

Many types of plants and animals need sunlight if they're to be strong and healthy. At this point in the creation, planet Earth was very dark and freezing cold. For example: the dark side of the Moon gets down to like 279º below zero; so it was time to turn the earth into a greenhouse.

A major player in the earth's water cycle is evaporation, which is driven by the Sun. By means of evaporation, the earth's atmosphere gets enough water vapor to form the clouds that produce precipitation.

The Sun also plays a role in temperature variations that make conditions like humidity and fog possible. Temperature variations also play a role in the process of erosion; which assists in soil formation.

Many varieties of vegetation depend upon the annual cycle of the four seasons of Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter; seasons which would not be possible without the Sun.

Oxygen is a must gas for sustaining life on earth and a very large percentage of it is produced by photosynthesis which is a chemical process that works best in sunlight. No doubt the original atmosphere contained oxygen enough, but would eventually be absorbed by oxidation and other kinds of chemical activity. Plant life plays a major role in both filtration and replenishment; hence the need to get a Sun shining as soon as possible.

The atmosphere contains about 19.5 to 23.5 percent oxygen at any given time and even with all the fossil fuel burned around the world, along with the destruction of savannas, prairies, woodlands, wetlands, and rain forests, coupled with volcanic activity; the percentage remain fairly stable.

We today are aware that the Moon doesn't generate its own light; but prior to that discovery, people no doubt regarded the Moon as a sun; especially seeing as how from the perspective of Earth, the Sun and the Moon appear to be exactly the same size in diameter, and both appear to circle the Earth.

Gen 1:14b . . to distinguish Day from Night;

On the first day; God defined Day as a condition of light; and defined Night as a condition of darkness. Here, it's further defined that Day, as pertains to life on Earth, is when the Sun is up; and Night is when the Sun is down.

These definitions occur so early in the Bible that they easily escape the memories of Bible students as they slip into the reflexive habit of always thinking of Days as periods of one earth rotation of 24 hours. That's okay for calendars but can lead to gross misunderstandings when interpreting biblical schedules, predictions, and/or chronologies.

Gen 1:14c . . they shall serve as signs for the set times— the days and the years;

The word for "signs" is from 'owth (oth) and means a signal; viz: indicators. For example: the mark that God put on Cain was an 'owth. (Gen 4:15)

The Sun and the Moon are very useful time keepers. The Sun of course marks off days and years; and if you were to tell somebody your intention to visit them in five Moons, they would have a pretty good idea when to get ready for your arrival; so long as you both used a common definition of "moon". To some, a moon is new moon, while for others a moon indicates full moon.

Gen 1:15-18a . . and they shall serve as lights in the expanse of the sky to shine upon the earth. And it was so. God made the two great lights, the greater light to dominate the day and the lesser light to dominate the night, and the stars.

. . . And God set them in the expanse of the sky to shine upon the earth, to dominate the day and the night, and to distinguish light from darkness.

For the third time now in Genesis, "day" is defined as when the sun is up, and "night" is defined as when the sun is down; and yet people still don't think God means it.

Stars require some special consideration because of their apparent distances and the apparent time it takes for their light to reach the Earth.

For example: this past decade, Hubble telescope detected a galaxy at a distance of 12.8 billion light years; which was subsequently given the label A1689-zD1. Chronologically; the cosmos' creator began constructing the Earth before He began constructing the stars; which indicates that as a physical structure, the Earth should be older than A1689-zD1.

But geologists have pretty good reasons to believe the Earth to be only something like 4.5 billion years old; while A1689-zD1 appears to be a minimum 12.8 billion years old. So then, it seems reasonable to conclude that A1689-zD1 is Earth's senior by at least 8.3 billion years; but there's a rub. Light's journey through space is complicated by some yet-unsolved mysteries.

1• The available data suggests that the universe is expanding in all directions. In other words: it's stretching out— every galaxy in the cosmos appears to be moving away from every other galaxy (with the exception apparently of the Milky Way and Andromeda, which astronomers— according to an article in the Mar/Apr 2013 issue of Science Illustrated —predict will collide in 4 billion years).

And not only is the cosmos expanding; but the velocity of its expansion isn't steady, nor is it slowing down as might be expected; but rather, contrary to common sense and Newton's laws of gravity; the velocity of the cosmos' expansion is accelerating due to a mysterious force which, for convenience sake, has been labeled dark energy. Plus, the expansion isn't uniform. Galaxies farthest from the earth appear to be moving away faster than those closer in.

Ergo: the stars that God created on the fourth day are now quite a bit farther away from Earth than when He first made them. How much farther away I don't know; but if the age of the Earth is really and truly 4.5 billion years then it's my guess the difference is significant.

2• Electromagnetic energy has no detectable mass, yet is effected by gravity; so that light's path through the cosmos is not always the shortest distance between two points; nor even the quickest.

3• Although the speed of light is constant in a vacuum, the void is a bit more complicated. There are properties and forces in space influencing not only light's path, but also its velocity. For example; when light passes through mediums such as gas and water, it slows down and oftentimes deviates from its path due to refraction.

4• Light doesn't decay. In other words: there is no detectable difference in age between the cosmos' first light, and the light emitted by a television screen.

All the above suggests to me that A1689-zD1's apparent distance has no bearing upon its age; viz: the estimated age of the cosmos is only loosely theoretical rather than actual. In other words: current dating methods are subject to revision, and it's very possibly true that the Earth really did precede the stars just as the Bible says.

The final say of course is the Bible's. According to Gen 1:15, stars illuminated the earth on the day that God made them, which was prior to His creation of humanity. In other words: it's not unreasonable to believe that God didn't wait till starlight reached the earth on its own, but punched it straight through in order to begin illuminating the earth immediately.

But what's the point of putting all those objects out there in space? Well, for one thing, they're not only brain teasers; but they're actually quite pretty. Celestial objects decorate the night sky like the ornamentation people put up during holidays. The night sky would sure be a bore if it was totally black. Decorated with stars; the night sky is like a beautiful tapestry, or a celestial Sistine Chapel.

"The heavens declare the glory of God, the sky proclaims His handiwork." (Ps 19:2)

Stars makes better sense that way than to try and find some other meaning for them. The universe is simply a magnificent work of art— just as intriguing, if not more so, than the works of Picasso, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Monet, Vermeer, and da Vinci —testifying to the genius of an engineer-artist without peer. I doubt the stars were ever meant to be a home for Mr. ET.

Sadly, a number of very intelligent people like Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson look to the sky for the wrong reasons. Personally, I think it's futile to look to the sky for SETI reasons. Why not just look to the sky for inspiration instead of intelligent extraterrestrial life? What's so bad about visiting the sky as a Metropolitan Museum of your maker's many-faceted talents?

"For what can be known about God is evident to them, because God made it evident to them. Ever since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what He has made." (Rom 1:19-20)

Gen 1:18b-19 . . And God saw that this was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.

Gen 1:20 . . God said: Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and birds that fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.

The Hebrew word for "birds" is 'owph (ofe) which just simply means covered with wings rather than covered with feathers. It's a rather unusual word because it includes not only creatures with feathers, but according to Lev 11:13-23, 'owph also pertains to bats and flying insects. The English word "birds" was obviously an arbitrary translation since owph is ambiguous.

What did those early winged creatures look like? My money is on the Pterosaurs (pterodactyls). Precisely when God phased out those early skin-winged creatures and replaced them with feather-winged creatures isn't stated; but since no winged creatures are reported created on the sixth day, then we have to give the birdies a share of the fifth; so I think we're talking about a pritt-tee long fifth day. What I mean is; I don't think it prudent to rule out the possibility that those early skin-winged creatures were the ancestors of later-to-come feather-winged creatures.

How can water be used to create both winged creatures and sea creatures? Well, it can't be any harder than creating terra creatures from the dust of the earth seeing as how the very same elements are dissolved in earth's waters; and in point of biological fact, land creatures are composed of not only dust, but also water. Dehydrate an air-breathing land creature, and it will die.

"bring forth swarms" is derived from sharats (shaw-rats') and means: to wriggle, i.e. (by implication) swarm or abound. Sharats, strictly speaking, simply indicates large numbers; like in Ex 1:7 where Yhhv's people multiplied like rabbits, and in Ex 8:3 where ka-zillions of frogs infested the land of Egypt.

It's important to note that winged creatures were just as distinct a creation as aqua creatures. So winged creatures didn't evolve from creatures who once lived in the sea. Winged creatures are a separate genre of life in their own right, and absolutely did not evolve from some other order of life.

The word for "creature" is from nephesh (neh'-fesh) which distinguishes conscious life from non-conscious life. For example: though saguaro cacti are alive, they aren't nephesh because saguaro cacti aren't sentient beings; viz: they aren't self aware.

Nephesh shows up first in Gen 1:20-21 as sea creatures and winged creatures.

Next it shows up in Gen 1:24 as terra creatures; viz: cattle, creepy crawlies, and wild beasts.

It shows up again in Gen 2:7 as the human creature.

It shows up again in Gen 2:19-20 as the creatures to whom Adam gave names.

It shows up again in Gen 9:8-16 as all conscious life aboard the ark, including Noah and his family.

Some say that animals are people too. Well . . they're certainly not human, but according to the Bible, they are very definitely just as much a nephesh as a human being. So I guess we could consent, at least to some degree, that critters are people too; in their own way.

Gen 1:21a . . God created the great sea monsters, and all the living creatures of every kind that creep, which the waters brought forth in swarms,

"sea monsters" is from tanniyn (tan-neen') and/or tanniym (tan-neem') which mean: a marine or land monster. Tanniyn is sometimes translated "dragon" as in Isa 27:1

It wasn't a tanniyn, however, that swallowed Jonah. That creature was either a dagah (daw-gaw') a dag (dawg) or a da'g (dawg). All three words mean a fish.

NOTE: The reason I quoted the three Hebrew words for "fish" is because to tell the truth, translators are not always confident how best to represent a Hebrew word with the English alphabet. In point of fact, there are ancient Hebrew words that nobody really knows what they mean so translators are forced to take educated guesses here and there.

"of every kind that creep" in this case regards only aquatic creatures that creep e.g. starfish, lobsters, crayfish, newts, clams, and crabs et al. The terra creepers are coming up in a little bit.

But what about aquatic dinosaurs? Well . . according to Discovery's web site "Walking With Dinosaurs" paleontologists believe there were some amphibious reptiles such as plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs, but those creatures didn't have the gills necessary to be truly aquatic like Nemo and his dad Marlin.

Gen 1:21b . . and all the winged creatures of every kind.

"kind" is from miyn (meen) and means: to portion out: to sort; viz: species.

In other words: God created a variety of winged species all at once, rather than just one specie like He did with man.

"From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth" (Acts 17:25-26)

Man is a one-of-a-kind specie. From just one man's genetic chemistry came all the other variations of Man; ranging anywhere from Pygmies to Eskimos; and has to make you wonder how that works if evolution is total bull. Well; I don't think it's wise to relegate Darwin to the category of total bull. I mean, just look at how well pathogens adapt and mutate in order to cope with antibiotics. That's a natural process and the pathies don't even have to give it any thought. I believe Darwin was on to something, but shot himself in the foot by leaving intelligent design out of the equation. An origin of living species theory is incomplete without an originator of life.

God built mysterious genetic reactions into living organisms that give them the ability to make adjustments to themselves in order to survive— adjustments that are triggered by conditions in their respective environments. It's because of those kinds of involuntary adaptations and mutations that I'm very curious sometimes what the original humans really looked like.

Gen 1:21c . . And God saw that this was good.

In other words: He was satisfied.

The Hebrew word for "good" in this instance is towb (tobe) which is horribly ambiguous. It's meanings range from morally good, to good looking, to a job well done, to something that's good to the taste; and to a whole lot of other things in between; e.g. a good show, good food, as good as it gets, satisfactory; etc, etc.

Gen 1:22a . . God blessed them, saying: Be fertile

The blessing of fertility is pretty amazing. It not only enables creatures to reproduce their own bodies, but also to transfer the breath of life from one generation to the next.

Gen 1:22b . . and increase, fill the waters in the seas, and let the winged creatures increase on the earth.

Aqua creatures exist in the most unlikely places. When the crew of the bathyscaphe Trieste descended into the 35,761 feet Challenger Deep located in the deepest part of the Mariana Trench in 1960, they didn't really expect to find anything living down there; but to their surprise, they saw a flat fish similar to sole and flounder.

The video camera on board the Kaiko probe spotted a sea cucumber, a scale worm and a shrimp at the bottom.

The Nereus probe spotted a polychaete worm (a multi-legged predator) about an inch long.

Gen 1:23 . . And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.

Gen 1:24-25 . .Then God said: Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind— cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind, And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.

We've come now to the sixth day when all terra life was created; including dinosaurs and humans.

This grouping of creatures (except for Man) isn't specifically given the blessing of fertility. But if God would bless aqua creatures and those with wings, why ever would He not bless the terra species too who are just as important? But since they've been reproducing all this time, then I'd have to say there is sufficient empirical evidence to support the assumption that that they were equally blessed with fertility just like everything else.

The Hebrew words for "living creature" are chay (khah'-ee) and nephesh (neh'-fesh).

Chay makes it first appearance at Gen 1:20 in reference to aqua creatures and winged creatures; and many times in the Old Testament thereafter; including fifteen times in reference to God; e.g. Jer 10:10, indicating that the originator of life actually exists as opposed to a totem pole or a mythical fantasy. There is a very large number of instances recorded in the Old Testament where God speaks of Himself as "I am".

Nephesh first appears in Gen 1:20-21 in reference to sea creatures and winged creatures; again at Gen 1:24 as terra creatures; viz: cattle, creepy crawlies, and wild beasts; and again in Gen 2:7 as the human creature.

Terra critters consist of the very land masses upon which they live. They, like Man, weren't created out of thin air; but rather, God used earthly materials and ingredients already at hand to construct them. Neat-O. Not only are the various plants and animals indigenous to planet Earth; but they are part of it too and blend right back in when they die and decompose.

The word for "beasts" (of the earth) is chay, which, in this instance, simply refers to wild life as opposed to domesticated life.

The word for "cattle" is behemah (be-hay-maw') and means a mute beast (a.k.a. dumb animal). Behemah are the herd species from which came those that can be domesticated for Man's uses. They can pull plows and wagons, provide tallow for candles and soap, and hide and wool for clothes, meat and dairy for table, carry loads on their backs, and give people rides.

Not all herd animals can be tamed. Zebras, for instance, and male elephants are not particularly suited to domestication.

The plural of behemah is behemowth (be-hay-mohth') a word which some have construed to indicate dinosaurs; citing Job 40:15-24 as their proof text. However, it's easily proven that the era of monster reptiles was long gone before Mr. Job was even born.

It's no accident that some of the animals are so useful to Man. God made them for the express purpose of serving people. Although they're nephesh, same as Man, that doesn't make them equals with Man. However, although beasts are below the rank of the image and likeness of God, people have no right to be cruel to animals. But Man does have the right, by the Creator's fiat, to take advantage of them; and to induct them into slavery for Man's benefit.

"creeping things" is the word remes (reh'-mes) and means: a reptile; or any other rapidly moving animal. Dinosaurs would've been included in this grouping.

Some Bible students suffer anxiety over dinosaurs because paleontologists have easily dated them extinct a good many thousands of years prior to the emergence of humans; but that's not really a problem if we but permit creation's days to be epochs of indeterminate length rather than 24-hour events.

Parenthesis                            

When I was a little boy, my dad bet me that he could make a dollar bill stand on edge. Well, I passed on the bet because I didn't own any money at the time. So my dad proceeded to fold a dollar bill in half into a vee and it easily stood on edge like that. When I protested, he replied: You didn't say I couldn't fold it.

We have a really interesting museum in the Portland Oregon metro area called OMSI with lots of interesting exhibits, a real Navy submarine (it had a brief role in the movie Red October) and some brain-busting puzzles too.

One of the puzzles consists of maybe five large jig-saw looking wooden pieces that when correctly arranged depict a jockey riding a horse. Try as I might, I could not make those pieces come out right. Well, a museum volunteer came by and asked me if I had tried stacking the pieces. I replied by telling him that the instructions don't say I can stack the pieces. He responded by asking me : Do the instructions say you can't stack the pieces one on top of another? No, they don't, and that's the secret to the puzzle. My mind assumed all the pieces had to be arranged side by side but in reality, the instructions don't say one way or the other.

As a follow up to reinforce the reality of the human mind's propensity to make assumptions; the volunteer told me he had two coins in his pocket adding up to 55¢ and one of them wasn't a nickel. He then proceeded to extract a half dollar and a nickel from his trouser pocket. When I protested that he said one of the coins wasn't a nickel, he calmly replied: That would be the half dollar. You see; he said "one" of the coins wasn't a nickel, rather than neither coin. The volunteer then proceeded to lecture me on the importance of paying attention to words and grammar.

Moral of the story: It's just as important to discern what words do say, as well as discern what they don't say; thus avoiding false conclusions derived from a so-called "argument from silence" a kind of logic which essentially believes that if something isn't clearly stated, then it's inferred from the silence that there was nothing to state.

It was a humiliating experience, but a valuable one too because in time; I began applying that principle to the Bible in regards to what it does say, and in regards to what it doesn't say; and one thing it does not say right from the outset is that creation's six days consisted of twenty-four hours each; but most of us assume the terms evening and morning insist upon it; when even those terms only define daytime rather than daytime plus nighttime.

This has been a chronic problem for just about everybody who takes Genesis seriously. We assume the "days" of creation consisted of twenty-four hours apiece; so we end up stumped when trying to figure out how to cope with the 4.5 billion year age of the earth, and factor in the various eras, e.g. Triassic, Jurassic, Mesozoic, Cenozoic, Cretaceous, etc, plus the ice ages and the mass extinction events. It just never seems to occur to us that it might be okay in some cases to go ahead and think outside the box. When we do that— when we allow ourselves to think outside the box —that's when we begin to really appreciate the contributions science has made towards providing modern men a window into the Earth's amazing past.

Gen 1:26a . . And God said: Let us make Man in our image, after our likeness.

Because of the terms "image and likeness" there are some who believe that man's creator is a human being; or at least resembles one. But according to Christ, creation's God is non physical.

"God is spirit" (John 4:24)

Spirits don't have solid bodies. (Luke 24:36-39)

Moses instructed Yhvh's people to avoid making any kind of mannequin, figurine, totem pole, or statue representing God since no one has any true concept of what creation's God actually looks like in person. (Ex 4:10-19)

There exists absolutely nothing in nature physically resembling its creator; except maybe the air in front of your face— neither Man, nor beast, nor plant, nor bird, nor bug, nor reptile nor anything out in the void (Rom 1:21-23). Concepts that portray creation's God as a human being are purely fantasy. (Rom 1:25)

The introduction of the plural personal pronouns "us" and "our" into the narrative at this point has given rise to some interesting speculation regarding the identities of the antecedents.

Gen 1:26b . . let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.

Humanity's right to dominate the earth is where we find its image and likeness of God. In other words: Man's image and likeness of God is all about sovereignty, power, control, and authority. (cf. Gen 44:18)

The word for "rule" is from radah (raw-daw') and means: to tread down, i.e. subjugate; specifically: to crumble off.

I saw a pretty interesting bumper sticker some time ago that went like this:

We are not above the Earth;
We are of the Earth.

Well . . I respect the Native American cultural feelings behind that statement; and must admit that I agree with it whole-heartedly. But creation's creator decreed that though Man is of the earth; he is very definitely above it too, and has the God-given right to subjugate every living thing on the planet including its forests, its grasses, its rivers, its seas, its soil, its rocks, its air, its minerals, its mountains, its valleys, and even its tectonic plates and the earth's very atmosphere itself. According to Heb 2:8, humanity is on track to take control of even more.

Gen 1:27 . . So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

The language of that verse is inconsistent with verse 26. In that location Man was created in "our" image. In this verse Man is said to be created in "His" image. It appears to me that the difference is due to the word "own". In other words; "our image and likeness" is not quite the same as "His own image". There seems to be a subtle difference between "us create" and "He created"; or maybe it's just my imagination.

NOTE: The pronoun "them" in Gen 1:27 is a bit ambiguous. It can refer to the first male and the first female; but it can just as easily refer to the human race in total. In other words: Gen 1:26-27 is where we all began.

Some women would be offended to be called a "him" but it's a biblical designation nonetheless. Regardless of one's gender, all human beings are of the Adam species and can be legitimately referred to as a him or as a he because all of us, regardless of gender, are extensions of Adam; including Eve because she was made from a human tissue sample amputated from Adam's body. Bible students really have to watch for that because when they run across the word "man" and/or "men" in the Bible, it doesn't eo ipso indicate males

Gen 1:28a . . God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and increase,

Some interpret that verse to be an edict requiring married people to have children; and that they have no business getting married for any other reason. But the wording is so obviously a blessing rather than a law; especially since God said the very same thing to the winged creatures, and the fish, and the reptiles, and the bugs, and the beasts.

It's always best to regard blessings as benefits and/or empowerments unless clearly indicated otherwise. Some blessings have to be merited (e.g. Deut 28:1-13) but not this one. It was neither requested nor was it earned— it was freely given without any strings attached and nothing asked in return.

NOTE: The belief that couples should enter marriage for no other reason than procreation is an invention right out of an ascetic imagination; and if truth be known, it's in defense of a celibate clergy. According to Gen 2:18-24 and 1Cor 7:7-9, marriage is primarily for the purpose of companionship rather than procreation. If in fact deliberately childless marriages are wrong, then Catholicism's platonic union of Joseph and the Lord's mom would be a sinful relationship.

Without the empowerment of fertility, Man would be just as sterile as a soup spoon. So it was a very essential blessing. And a very interesting blessing it is because the blessing of fertility empowers living things to pass their own kind of life on to a next generation. God quit creating after six days. So unless creatures were enabled to reproduce, all would soon die out and become quite extinct in a very short time.

Libido therefore, is an essential element of the blessing of fertility. God intended for His creatures to reproduce; and to ensure that they did, He wired them all with libido rather than instilling within them a sense of duty. It isn't necessary to cajole creatures to mate; no, they will do so on their own, propelled by built-in sensual proclivities and predilections.

Gen 1:28b . . fill the earth and master it; and rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and all the living things that creep on earth.

The Hebrew word for "master" is from kabash (kaw-bash') which emphasizes coercion and force; and means: to disregard; to conquer, and to violate.

The word for "rule" is from radah (raw-daw') and means: to tread down; to subjugate.

kabash and radah are very strong language. Those two words combined leave no room for doubt regarding Man's supremacy in the sphere of things. God blessed humanity with the authority to dominate and to violate planet Earth at will, and exploit it to his own advantage. Man answers to no plant nor animal on this entire globe. The whole Earth is within the scope of humanity's purview. If aliens ever come here unannounced, they can be arrested for trespassing, and/or charged for parking because this earth is Man's domain.

But the interesting thing is; the Adam species is also the monarch of the whole cosmos; not just the dinky little third rock from the Sun where he hangs his hat.

"For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him." (Heb 2:6-8)

Gen 1:29-30 . . God said: See, I give you every seed-bearing plant that is upon all the earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit; they shall be yours for food. And to all the animals on land, to all the winged creatures of the sky, and to everything that creeps on earth, in which there is the breath of life, I give all the green plants for food. And it was so.

Prior to the Flood; man, beast, bug, and birds too— even the lions and tigers and hawks and eagles and vultures and crocodiles —subsisted on fruits, nuts, grains, and vegetables. Precisely what kind of diet God intended for sea life is not stated.

That raises an interesting question: why do carnivores have teeth so uniquely suited for killing other creatures and ripping their flesh? Well, I think it's obvious that they didn't use their teeth like that at first.

For example; buck-toothed beavers have incisors that could take your hand off but they don't use them for that purpose. Male musk deer have saber-like upper canine teeth and their diet is moss and grass and sometimes twigs and lichen. And everybody knows about Wally the walrus' big ol' tusks; which he doesn't use to kill his food, but rather, to plow up the sea bottom in search of his favorite mollusks.

Though the fossilized remains of a therapsid, named Tiarajudens eccentricus, exhibits saber tusks, it is believed to have efficiently chewed leaves and stems with interlocking incisors and cow-like molars.

In the kingdom of God, carnivores won't be carnivorous any more, and nothing in the animal kingdom will any longer pose a danger to either Man or to each other. (Isa 11:6-9)

Gen 1:31 . . And God saw all that He had made, and found it very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Some feel that the cosmos— all of its forms of life, matter, and energy —was created incomplete, not quite up to snuff: that it was to Man that God entrusted the task of putting on the finishing touches. But that is very doubtful. Why ever would God, after an overall inspection, conclude His work by pronouncing it all good— and not just good, but "very" good. Why would He say the creation was very good if in truth it was incomplete?

In reality, Man hasn't improved the planet at all. He has actually ravaged it and left it with terrible damage— leveled mountains, dried up rivers, emptied lakes, drained marshes, indiscriminately obliterated habitat, wiped out animals to extinction, scraped away perfectly good cropland and replaced it with warehouses and factories and malls and residential communities.

Plus denuded water sheds thus causing unnecessary erosion and stream sedimentation, dammed rivers thus disrupting ancient fish migration routes, over-exploited natural resources, filled the atmosphere with toxins and greenhouse gas emissions, poisoned aquifers, contaminated soil and waterways with chemical fertilizers, pesticides, GMO vegetation; and made possible super germs, and seriously upset the balance of nature.

It seems that everything Man touches, it ruins; and as if the earth isn't enough, he's moved out into space where in the years since Russia launched its first Sputnik into low earth orbit on Oct 04, 1957, humans have littered the sky around their planet with 13,000 catalogued pieces of space junk, which is only a fraction of the more than 600,000 objects circling the globe larger than one centimeter (a centimeter is a little over 3/8ths of an inch). Humans have even discarded 374,782 pounds of litter on the Moon, including Alan Shepherd's golf balls.

So; when God looked over His work and "found" that it was very good, does that mean He was surprised it came out like it did? (chuckle) No. It would be a strange craftsman indeed who couldn't look over their work with pride and satisfaction in a job well done.

I believe creation's creator knew precisely what He was doing, and where He was going with creation; and was highly pleased that it came out exactly as planned. I seriously doubt that God was feeling His way along like experimenters in medicine and rocket science. Nobody could build a fully functioning cosmos and all of its forms of life, matter, and energy unless they knew what they were doing from beginning to end.

"O Yhvh! . . what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. (Ps 104:24)

NOTE: The information disclosed in the first chapter of Genesis is incorporated in the text of a gospel labeled as "everlasting".

"And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, announcing with a loud voice: Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." (Rev 14:6-7)

The everlasting gospel is very elementary. Pretty much all it says is:

1• There's a supreme being.

2• He deserves respect.

3• There's a frightful reckoning looming on the horizon, and

4• The cosmos— all of its forms of life, matter, and energy —is the product of intelligent design.

Of particular interest to me is the inclusion of water in the everlasting gospel. Scientists theorize the origin of the earth's amazing quantity of water without really knowing exactly where it came from, nor how it got here. Well; that is one of the things that I like about Genesis. It takes an essentially unsophisticated, uneducated blue-collar welder like myself and gives him answers to questions that people much brighter, and better educated cannot answer.

Giving "glory" simply indicates giving someone credit where credit is due; and "worship" can be roughly defined as reverence, i.e. honor and respect.

It's quite natural to admire celebrities, pro athletes, and super achievers— to give them credit where credit is due —but not quite so natural to do the same for their creator.

Anyway, point being: people either believe in intelligent design, or they don't. If they do believe, then they will admire both the designer's genius and His handiwork. If they don't believe; then they will neither admire nor respect anything about Him: simple as that.

 

Genesis 02
 

Gen 2:1-2 . .The heaven and the earth were finished, and all their array. On the seventh day God finished the work that He had been doing, and He ceased on the seventh day from all the work that He had done.

Thrice it's stated in that passage that the creator finished His work and ceased creating things for the current cosmos; yet people are still under the impression that He creates new souls every time a baby is conceived in its mommy's womb. But the seventh day isn't bounded by an evening and a morning; ergo: it has not yet ended; which means God hasn't gone back to creating things for the current cosmos.

Adam's progeny— you and I and all the others —are not direct creations; no; we're reproductions; viz: there's no need for mankind's creator to take a hand in producing baby souls, or any other souls for that matter— either birds, bugs, beasts, or fish —because He created all life on earth as sustainable, transferable kinds of life. The blessing of fertility is a remarkable blessing because it enables living things to reproduce themselves sans divine micro management. That's pretty amazing when you think about it.

In the future; after the current cosmos is destroyed, God will once again roll up His sleeves, and go back to work creating things.

"For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind." (Isa 65:17)

"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up . . . we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." (2Pet 3:10-13)

"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea." (Rev 21:1)

Gen 2:3 . . And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because on it God ceased from all the work of creation that He had done.

The phrase "declared it holy" is from the word qadash (kaw-dash') which means: to be clean, or to make, pronounce, or observe as clean; viz: sanitize. Pronouncing something clean, or observing something as clean and/or conferring upon something the status of clean and sanitized, doesn't mean it's intrinsically clean. It's just regarded as fully dedicated to God's purposes; which is exactly what the word "sanctified" implies. The Hebrew word for "sanctify" is also qadash: the very same word as for "declared it holy".

NOTE: Seeing as how God grabbed the seventh day for His own purposes, then we have to respect His prerogative to determine how that day is used. For example: at Mark 2:28, Jesus claimed to be lord of the sabbath; which anyone familiar with the Old Testament easily understands that he claimed to be the God written up in Genesis 2:1-3. That's a pretty serious claim.

Gen 2:4 . .These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that Jehovah God made earth and heaven.

The Hebrew word for "day" in that verse is yowm (yome) which is the very same word for each of the six days of God's creation labors. Since yowm here refers to a period of time obviously much longer than a 24-hour calendar day; it justifies categorizing each of the six days of creation as epochs of indeterminate length.

Gen 2:4 is the very first time in Scripture where the name Yhvh appears. The correct pronunciation is currently unknown. Sometimes it's pronounced Yehovah and sometimes Jehovah.

Up to this point, The creator has been identified by 'elohiym (el-o-heem') which is a nondescript label for any and all kinds of gods; both the true and the false and/or the real and the imagined. The noun is grammatically plural but doesn't necessarily indicate creation's God is a plural being. Sheep, fish, and deer are plural too but don't always indicate more than one of each. So plural nouns don't eo ipso denote more than one item. There are other gods in the Bible, such as Baal and Dagon, to whom the word 'elohiym is applied and those gods aren't composite entities; e.g. 1Kgs 18:25-29 and Jgs 16:23.

Yhvh's appellation is so sacred among pious Jews that they make every effort to avoid speaking it except under very special circumstances. In some of their writings, in order to avoid using the four sacred letters comprising the tetragrammaton, they write instead "The Name" and/or sometimes "Hashem". So Ex 20:3 could be written: "I, The Name, am your god" or "I, Hashem, am your god."

NOTE: The Bible's God is commonly referred to with masculine pronouns because Yhvh is a king; and kings are always males rather than females; for example:

"Thus testifies Yhvh, the king of Israel, and His redeemer, Yhvh of hosts: I am the First and I am the Last; other than Me there is no god." (Isa 44:6)

Gen 2:5 . . and every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for Yhvh God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.

Bible students have to exercise caution when reading that section in order to avoid making the mistake of concluding that human life was created prior to vegetation; when we know for a fact from the day-by-day account in the first chapter that humans were the very last to be put on earth. Gen 2:4-7 is only saying that when God created vegetation on day three, it wasn't permitted to flourish right away.

Gen 2:6 . . a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.

The word "mist" is from 'ed (ade). It's a very rare word and appears only one more time in the whole Bible at Job 36:26-30 where translators render it to mean water vapor; viz: fog. California's coastal redwood trees derive much of their moisture from fog.

The reason for the mist is something I learned in a high school science class. Had God brought rain prior to flourishing ground cover, the land would have eroded something awful and millions of cubic yards of perfectly good dirt would have washed into creeks, and streams, and rivers to be carried out to sea where it would be lost in perpetuity.

Gen 2:7a . . And Yhvh God formed a man's body

Mankind's creator didn't give birth to man like women give birth to children or baby chicks hatch from eggs; no, humans aren't God's biological progeny —humans are God's handiwork like the glass products manufactured by craftsmen in Murano; where they make things from scratch using mostly sand for their base material.

Gen 2:7b . . from the dust of the ground

The Hebrew word for "dust" is a bit ambiguous. It essentially refers to powder, but can also be translated clay, earth, mud, mortar, ashes, and/or rubbish.

A major ingredient in the human body's construction is water, without which his "dust' wouldn't coalesce. Water is essential to complex organisms; which is why scientists get really excited when they discover it out in in the universe.

Gen 2:7c . . and breathed into it the breath of life

The word for "breathed" is from naphach (naw-fakh') and means; among other things: to kindle; which Webster's defines as (1) to start (a fire) burning: light, (2) to stir up: arouse, (3) to bring into being: start, and (4) to animate.

Naphach is sort of like what Indy Car drivers do when they're given the order to start their engines.

The word for "breath" is neshamah (nesh-aw-maw') which means: a puff. Neshamah is a bit ambiguous and has been variously translated air, soul, spirit, blast, and inspiration.

What we're looking at here is a kind of artificial respiration, but not the regular kind because it doesn't do a bit of good pumping air into the lungs of a corpse. They won't come alive like that; it's been tried.

However, there's abundant evidence in the Bible, starting here in Genesis, indicating that it's possible to pump life into a corpse. But in order to do that, one first needs a source of life just as in regular artificial respiration one first needs a source of air.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. (John 1:1-4)

That says pretty much the same thing as Gen 2:7, and then adds the fact that God himself is the source of life from which He drew the life He used to fire up the man's body.

Gen 2:7d . . and man became a living soul.

The Hebrew word for "soul" is nephesh (neh'-fesh). Its first appearance is at Gen 1:20-21 in reference to aqua creatures and winged creatures; again at Gen 1:24 as terra creatures; viz: cattle, creepy crawlies, and wild beasts; and again in Gen 2:7 as the human creature.

Soul is somewhat ambiguous. In the beginning, it refers to sentient life-- both human life and animal life --as opposed to non sentient life, i.e. vegetation. In other places, soul refers to the bottom of one's heart, i.e. the very core of their being; e.g. Gen 27:4 and Gen 34:3.

Souls exist as individuals, i.e. beings with a sense of self; viz: a sense of personal identity; which is more or less permanent.

For example: when Abraham, Lazarus, and the rich man of Luke 16:19-31 passed away, they all left their organic bodies behind, yet on the other side they are perceptive; fully conscious, and fully sentient.

I don't know for sure in what form they exist on the other side, but one thing I do know is that they have not ceased to exist as individuals, nor have they lost their identities-- Abraham is still Abraham, Lazarus is still Lazarus, and the rich man is still the rich man.

Gen 2:8a . .Yhvh God planted a garden in Eden,

The remainder of Earth's flora was planted in a large scale, landscaping manner. But the garden was specially prepared for Man like someone might build a home for their family. It's true that Man is a creature and Yhvh isn't his actual biological kin. But Man is much more than just another nephesh like as if he were a pet canary or a gerbil. No, human beings were given the honor of God's image, and are as close to being God's kin as a creature can possibly get in the natural world.

The Hebrew word for "garden" is from gan and means: a garden as fenced. So the garden wasn't just a nondescript parcel of acreage with apricots and turnips growing wild on it. The garden (which very likely was a full-blown farm complete with orchards) was meant to be tended.

Gen 2:8b . . in the east

"east" in that verse was an east that the author(s) of Genesis understood. Out west here in Oregon, we consider east to be New York and Chicago; while the world considers the Orient to be east. For the purposes of modern navigation, everything towards sunrise from the meridian of Greenwich England around the world to Samoa is East longitude, and everything towards sunset around the world to Samoa is West longitude.

So if you were standing in Mexico, then Greenwich would be to the east; but if you were standing in Iran, then Greenwich would be to the west. It's all a matter of perspective.

For Bible purposes, the State of Israel is oftentimes regarded the geo-political center of the Earth. Its position is spiritually elevated too. So whenever you go to Jerusalem, you go up. And when you leave, you go down. It was from the east (east of Jerusalem) that magi came to pay their respects to the young Jesus. (Matt 2:1)

Just exactly where "the east" was in Adam's day is hard to tell. But the garden itself is not to be confused with Eden. The garden was located "in" Eden; an ancient pre-Flood unspecified geographic region. Some people think Eden was somewhere in Africa but that's just a shot in the dark.

The word "Eden" is from 'eden (ay'-den) and/or 'ednah (ed-naw') and means: pleasure, and delight. So Adam's farm was in a very nice location and we could, if we had a mind to, name his spread Happy Valley or Pleasant Acres.

Gen 2:8c-9a . . and placed there the man whom He had formed. And from the ground Yhvh God caused to grow every tree that was pleasing to the sight and good for food,

The exact site where God did the work of creating Man is unknown but there's no reason to doubt he wasn't created right there in his intended home. And I think we can safely assume the garden was already viable and productive when Man arrived. God didn't just throw him in the water to sink or swim. He gave the man a suitable habitat right from the get go. Adam wasn't a hunter-gatherer like some sort of rootless nomad; no, he had a place to settle down and call home.

Man came into being by the designs of a Superior Intelligence who looked out for the unique little creature made in His own image right from the first, and got him off to a good start; which was a good thing because at this point in history, humans were an endangered species seeing as how there was only one breeding pair in existence.

Gen 2:9b . . with the tree of life in the middle of the garden,

The tree of life doesn't give life; but rather, according to Gen 3:22 has something in it that sustains life: indefinitely. Exactly how the chemistry of any plant could be so rich in nourishment as to stop the human body from getting old and falling apart is currently unknown.

A very active field of modern scientific research in our own time is gerontology— the study of the phenomena of the aging process. As yet, gerontologists have no significant understanding of the aging process, and therefore no clue as to what treatments, or nutrients might be employed to stop it.

Gen 2:9c . . and the tree of knowledge of good and bad.

The Hebrew word for "good" in 2:9 is from towb (tobe). It's an ambiguous word and isn't restricted to morals, ethics, or scruples. Even a tasty meal or an entertaining movie can be towb.

The word for "bad" is from ra' (rah) It's another ambiguous word; and includes anything that's bad for us like poison ivy, playing with matches, E.coli 0157-H7, toxic chemicals, salmonella, eating without washing your hands, bungi jumping, investing in penny stocks, walking on train tracks, pimples, a sore throat, and going to bed without brushing your teeth.

From the gist of upcoming verses, it's readily apparent that the knowledge of good and bad implies an intuitive sense of right and wrong. Though Man was created intelligent; he was basically uneducated. A sense of right and wrong wasn't programmed into his intuition. He was supposed to learn right and wrong via Divine tutelage; not by trial and error nor by self initiative— and certainly not by doing something patently foolish like eating from a tree known to be toxic to humans.

I mean: how smart is it to experiment with Meth after you've been adequately instructed that it will ruin your skin, permanently damage blood vessels in your brain possibly causing a stroke, rot your gums and loosen your teeth, and make you look haggard and repulsive?

Gen 2:10a . . A river issues from Eden to water the garden,

The verb "issues" is in the present tense; indicating whoever wrote Gen 2:10, did so while the land of Eden yet existed. The authorship of Genesis has yet to be positively established. A verse like 2:10 strongly suggests that the data used to compile Genesis, was progressively accumulated in hand-me-down journals or in oral rote, generated by people who lived prior to the final compiler's input.

The Hebrew word for "river" is nahar (naw-hawr') which is another of those ambiguous Bible words. It can indicate a stream or a sea and/or metaphorically: prosperity. It was stated previously in Gen 2:6 that the face of the whole ground was watered by fog; which suggests that the Eden river was either an aquifer or something similar to the slow-moving water of the Florida everglades.

Gen 2:10b-11 . . and it then divides and becomes four branches. The name of the first is Pishon, the one that winds through the whole land of Havilah where there is gold,

The Pishon river has yet to be positively identified.

The Hebrew word for "Havilah" is Chaviylah (khav-ee-law'); which means circular. It's not only a place-name but also a person-name (e.g. Gen 10:7, Gen 10:29) which may indicate that the land of Havilah was named after an antediluvian individual who settled in that area.

Gen 2:12 . . (The gold of that land is good; bdellium is there, and lapis lazuli.)

Again, the author used a present tense verb. The gold "is" good, not was good— strongly suggesting the author actually lived in the period he wrote about.

As a money; gold has intrinsic value, whereas fiat currency as a money is worth little more than the good faith and dependability of the country that issues it. In other words: the US Government could, if it wished, simply outlaw the currency you have on hand and in an instant your paper money would be totally worthless. But gold will never be totally worthless.

Gold is valuable no matter where it comes from but some gold is easier to mine than others and some is a whole lot more plentiful. Placer gold for example is usually in the form of dust and requires dredging, sluicing, and washing. Hard rock gold is better; but requires boring tunnels, rock crushing, and refinement in smelters. I'd say the really good gold is that in the form of nuggets.

However, rather than the quality of Havilah's gold, the author's use of the word "good" might just be saying that its gold is bountiful; as opposed to scarce. Gold can be found just about everywhere, but concentrations of it exist in only a relatively few places.

Bdellium is a gum resin similar to myrrh; obtained from various trees. The author could have been referring to amber; a hard yellowish to brownish translucent fossil resin that takes a fine polish and is used chiefly in making ornamental objects like beads and such. Bdellium was the comparison Moses used to describe the color of manna in Num 11:7.

In ancient Egypt lapis lazuli was a favorite stone for amulets and ornaments such as scarabs; it was also used in ancient Mesopotamia by the Sumerians, Akkadians, Assyrians, and Babylonians for seals and jewelry. Lapis jewelry has been found at excavations of the Predynastic Egyptian site Naqada (3300–3100 BC), and powdered lapis was used as eye shadow by Cleopatra. In ancient Mesopotamia, lapis artifacts can be found in great abundance, with many notable examples having been excavated at the Royal Cemetery of Ur (2600-2500 BC).

Gen 2:13 . .The name of the second river is Gihon, the one that winds through the whole land of Cush.

Cush of the post-Flood world is associated in Scripture with both a region of Arabia and the present-day land of Ethiopia. But the exact geographic site of the Cush of antediluvian days is impossible to know. If it's the same, then we can be pretty sure that the Earth underwent some dramatic geological events in the distant past because it is now impossible for any river in Ethiopia to connect in any way at all with the Tigris and Euphrates rivers of today's world.

Gen 2:14a . .The name of the third river is Tigris, the one that flows east of Asshur.

According to Assyrian monuments, the Tigris was known to the post Flood ancients as the Chiddekel, or the Hiddekel. Asshur was located in modern-day Iraq south of Mosul on the western bank of the Tigris river in between the Great Zab and the Little Zab rivers.

Gen 2:14b . . And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

The Tigris and Euphrates rivers of today headwater not too far from Elazig Turkey; flowing roughly (very roughly) parallel to each other from out of Turkey, past Syria and Mesopotamia, and down into modern-day Iraq before joining together and emptying into the Persian Gulf.

The general picture in Genesis 2 is that of a major watercourse (the Eden River) feeding an immense aqua system supplying water to a very large geographic area comprising parts of Turkey, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Nubia, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Iraq.

It would appear that the Eden River itself head-watered possibly in what the world today knows as Russia; but it is impossible to tell exactly where it came from because that region no longer generates a south flowing monster river system such as the one from Eden described in Genesis 2.

The third and fourth rivers no longer connect to a larger river that elsewhere branches off and flows to Ethiopia. It's pretty obvious from the author's geographical descriptions that the world's current topography didn't exist prior to the Flood. The antediluvian world was shaped quite different than the one we live in now. The Tigris and Euphrates of today are but remnants of an ancient irrigation system that at one time made the entire Middle East a very beautiful and fertile region; but to look at it today; you'd never guess it.

Gen 2:15-17 . .The Lord God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden, to till it and tend it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying: Of every tree of the garden you are free to eat; but as for the tree of knowledge of good and bad, you must not eat of it; for in the day you eat of it, you shall die.

That passage is a favorite of the Bible's critics because Adam didn't drop dead the instant he tasted the forbidden fruit. In point of fact, he continued to live outside the garden of Eden for another 800 years after the birth of his son Seth. (Gen 5:4)

So; is there a reasonable explanation for this apparent discrepancy?

Well; first thing to point out is that in order for the threat to resonate in Adam's thinking; it had to be related to death as Adam understood death in his day, rather than death as modern Bible thumpers understand it in their day. In other words: Adam didn't expect to die spiritually. No, he expected to die normally; viz: physically; like as in pass away.

How can I be so sure that God meant normal death instead of spiritual death? Because according to Gen 3:19 that's how it worked out; and to make sure Adam stayed normally dead, God blocked his access to the tree of life. (Gen 3:22-24)

Anyway; the trick is: Adam wasn't told he would die the instant he tasted the fruit. God's exact words were "in the day"

According to Gen 2:4, the Hebrew word for "day" is a bit ambiguous. It can easily indicate a period of time much, much longer than 24 hours; viz: the day of everybody's death began the moment Adam ate the fruit.

"Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men." (Rom 5:12)

Well; like Jack Palance's character Curly in the movie City Slickers said: The day ain't over yet.

"It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of gaiety, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this seriously." (Ecc 7:2)

   Parenthesis   

The ban on the tree of the knowledge of good and bad, was tempered by a carte blanche to eat fruits from all the rest of the trees; including the tree of life. So it's not like God pigeonholed Adam and forced him to eat from the wrong tree in order to survive.

Earlier, in Gen 1:29, God gave Adam permission to eat all manner of plant life. So he had lots of options. An abundance of other nutrition was available. Therefore, if Adam ate from the wrong tree, he had no excuse for it. And that is what really made eating from that tree so serious— it was willful, and done in full understanding of both the ban and the consequence.

Compare Num 15:27-31 where willful sin is described as a category of sin for which there is neither atonement nor forgiveness under the terms and conditions of the covenant that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God as per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

Q: Why on earth would God plant a deadly tree in an otherwise perfect environment? Was that really necessary? What real purpose does a tree serve that has the potential to kill? Why even create such a tree in the first place?

A: The tree wasn't a bad tree. When God finished creating, He looked over His work on the 6th day and pronounced it all not just good, but "very" good.

The tree of the knowledge of good and bad wasn't a bad tree per se; any more than toad stools, poison ivy, lightening, rattlesnakes, scorpions, avalanches, gravity, tornadoes, typhoons, hurricanes, cactus needles, tsunamis, earthquakes, electricity, fire, lava, lead, cadmium, and arsenic and hemlock are bad in and of themselves. Those things are hazardous, yes, but they all fit into the natural scheme of things. When people willfully cross over boundaries, ignoring the dangers, and start messing around, then they get hurt and it's really no one's fault but their own. For example:

San Francisco was once destroyed by an earthquake related to the San Andreas fault; but where did they rebuild San Francisco? Right back in the same place.

Los Angeles is at risk of the same San Andreas, and are even now as I write this preparing for a major quake. Are there plans to evacuate Los Angeles and relocate the city? No. They plan to ride out whatever the San Andreas and/or any of the other faults throw at them and city planners and disaster control specialists have already calculated the body count because the Andreas is overdue for a massive slip and so is the Puente Hills Blind Thrust System. City officials know big quakes are coming but nobody is getting out of the way.

All around the island of Japan are ancient monoliths, some as much as 600 years old, with the inscription "Do not build your homes below this point". The monoliths testify to past tsunamis. People back then set up those monoliths to warn future generations; but do future generations listen? No; they don't. 25,000 Japanese are listed as dead and/or missing from the tsunami of 2011 because they settled in communities below those ancient water marks.

The below-sea-level city of New Orleans was flooded by hurricane Katrina in 2005. Did city planners wise up and relocate the city to higher ground? No; they rebuilt right back in the same place.

On the eastern edge of the Democratic Republic of the Congo rumbles Mount Nyirangongo; one of the most active volcanoes in the world. The city of Goma, consisting of something like one million people, will be pelted with falling rocks and lava splatter, and buried by molten rock and pyroclastic flows of superheated dust just as sudden as the city of Pompeii if that mountain should ever decide to get serious about its business. Past eruptions bear this out.

And as if the volcano itself isn't threat enough, 2,590 hectares Lake Kivu nearby conceals an enormous underwater concentration of carbon dioxide and methane which could be released by a major eruption, spreading a lethal cloud across Goma that would spare no one.

Are Gomites concerned? No. Thousands of homes— shacks constructed of hand-hewn eucalyptus boards and sheet metal roofs —have been built right on top of the solidified lava of past eruptions. In other words; the Gomites are knowingly living at ground zero; right in Mt. Nyirangongo's known kill zone.

The Cumberland River inflicted major flood damage throughout the city of Nashville in 2010. Pete Fisher, manager of the Grand Ole Opry needed a canoe to get across the parking lot and enter the theater. He reported that had someone been sitting in the front row seats, they would have seven feet of water over their heads. Did the owners move the Opry to higher ground? Nope, the Opry is still right there on the banks of the Cumberland targeted for the next flood event.

City planners have known for years that Manhattan is so few feet above mean sea level that any sizable tsunami at all would flood both the city and its subway system; but have the Sand Hogs stopped boring tunnels or have construction workers stopped erecting buildings? No, they keep right on boring and erecting; and in 2012 hurricane Sandy pushed a surge of sea water inland and crippled the city's public transportation and much of its electrical power.

Adam was given fair warning what would happen if he ate from the tree. It was just as fair a warning as parents give their kids not to poke paper clips into wall sockets or lean over too close with their face when they pet a strange dog. Consequences for spurning a parent's instructions in those cases can be very terrible.

"A prudent person foresees the danger ahead and takes precautions; the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences." (Pro 22:3)

Gen 2:18 . .Yhvh God said: It's not good for Adam to be solitary; I will make a fitting helper for him.

"a fitting helper" is from two Hebrew words. "Fitting" is from neged (neh'-ghed) which means: a front, i.e. part opposite; specifically a counterpart, or mate. The word for "helper" is from 'ezer (ay'-zer) which means: aid.

Note that aid isn't spelled with an "e" as in aide; so that Eve wasn't meant to be either Adam's servant, nor his assistant; but rather, his assistance— in other words; his aid as in first aid. Note that assistance is not spelled the same as assistant nor are the two words synonyms. An assistant does what they're told, while assistance is supportive.

You know what that suggests to me? It suggests that Adam didn't really have it all that easy in his world, and that Eve's companionship made his life a lot more tolerable and worth the living. The helper that God made for Adam would be both his counterpart, and his crutch. In other words: wives are really at their best when they strengthen their men to go out that door and face the big, bad, mean world.

In making a statement like Gen 2:18; God made it very clear right from the beginning that human beings were not intended to live a celibate life. If male human life was packaged in a box of software, one of its system requirements would be Companion. Woman's potential for companionship is the primary reason that God made her— not for her sex appeal nor for her reproductive value; no, for companionship.

Before God introduced the man to a woman, He first gave the man an opportunity to seek appropriate companionship from among the creatures of the animal kingdom. That route proved futile.

Gen 2:19-20a . . And the Lord God formed out of the earth all the wild beasts and all the birds of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that would be its name. And the man gave names to all the cattle and to the birds of the sky and to all the wild beasts;

Adam's task would have been overwhelming if as many varieties existed in his day as ours; which I honestly don't think did because, for one thing, prior to the existence of humans the earth underwent some mass extinction events. I'm sure Adam loved animals; I mean look: he gave them all names; which is something that people who make their living in animal husbandry try to avoid because the practice can lead to attachments; thus making the situation very difficult when it's time for sale and/or slaughter.

My wife's kindergarten class visits a working dairy farm every year where all the cows and the calves have number tags stapled in their ears. On the books, those numbers are the bovines' names; but in a matter of minutes, my wife's kinders give the little calves real names because it's just in human nature to do that. (I named one White Shoulder because it had an epaulette of white hair on its right shoulder)

But as cute and cuddly as creatures are, they just don't have what it takes to be the kind of companion that a human being really needs.

Gen 2:20b . . but for Adam no fitting helper was found.

That's telling me that people who seek companionship from a pet are out of kilter because pets are unbefitting— they're a lower form of life than people; and God didn't create them to be people's personal companions, no, according to Gen 1:26-28 He created them to be people's servants. I think that even to this day, were most people given a choice between human companionship and that of a lower form of life; they would opt for the human.

Gen 2:21a-22a . . So the Lord God cast a deep sleep upon the man; and, while he slept, He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that spot. And the Lord God fashioned the rib that He had taken from the man into a woman;

The Hebrew word for "rib" is tsela' (tsay-law') and Gen 2:21-22 contains the only two places in the entire Old Testament where it's translated with an English word representing a skeletal bone. In the other twenty-nine places, it's translated "side"

Eve wasn't constructed directly from the dust of the earth as was Adam. She was constructed indirectly; viz: from a human tissue sample amputated from Adam's body; ergo: Eve got her human life from Adam; consequently any and all human life produced by Eve's body is Adam's human life.

The woman completed the creation of Man; so that Man is actually a composite unity— a male part and a female part.

It was apparently the creator's deliberate design that all human life be biologically related to a sole source of human life— the one and only human life that God created directly from the earth's dust; viz: Adam.

Why wasn't Eve given a chance to fit in with the animals before introducing her to Adam? Well, I think it's because men can make do with a soccer ball named Wilson if they have to; but normal women, as a rule, can't. Men and Women share a lot of similarities; but the resolve to go it solo, to be a rugged individual, is not one of them. There are exceptions, of course; but as a rule, women do not care to live alone and unloved in the world. It's curious, but when we think of hermits; our minds typically think of them as male because female hermits just seem so contrary to nature.

Gen 2:22b . . and He introduced her to the man.

Upon seeing Eve for the very first time, Adam didn't exclaim: Hot diggity dog! Now I can get laid! No he didn't say that at all.

Gen 2:23a . .Then the man said: This one at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.

In other words: finally somebody Adam could relate to; and the expression became a colloquialism, e.g. Gen 29:13-14)

Eve's primary purpose in life was to be her man's best friend; and that is precisely why God made women: to be their husband's buddy. Therefore wives who aren't their husband's buddy are seriously maladjusted; and can only be accepted as cheap goods rather than top-of-the-line quality.

The one who designed a man said it is not good for a man to live alone. And if it's not good for a man to live alone, then it goes without saying that it's not good for a woman either. If men are supposed to be happier with a woman, then women should be happier with a man. In other words: mankind's designer didn't intend men and women to function independently of each other. They were created to be together; as couples.

So Adam saw in Eve his true counterpart— a blood relative who was just as human as himself; and one who could truly relate to him, be sensitive to his feelings, and understand his thoughts; something no other creature ever yet has been able to do.

POP QUIZ: How many friends do people need to dispel feelings of isolation and loneliness? Answer: Just one— if that one is a supportive spouse.

They say dogs are Man's best friend. No they aren't; dogs are beasts. They might bring a man his slippers; but a dog lacks the capacity to nurse a man when he's down with the flu, or sympathize with him when his job is outsourced to cheap labor in India. No; a human being's best friend is a spouse that looks out for them.

Gen 2:23b . .This one shall be called Woman, for from Man was she taken.

The Hebrew word for "woman" is from 'ishshah (ish-shaw') which is the feminine form of 'iysh (eesh) which means a human being as an individual or as a male person. So 'ishshah doesn't indicate another species of human life (e.g. Lilith) it just simply indicates the opposite side of the same coin.

It's also important to note that the woman wasn't constructed from the dust of the earth. She was constructed from Adam, therefore women are just as much Adam as Adam; ergo: children born of women are just as much Adam as Adam: whether virgin-conceived or normally-conceived makes no difference— they're all just as much Adam's progeny as Eve's.

Gen 2:24a . . Hence a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife,

Clinging implies need. Most people don't care much for needy spouses because they're so high maintenance; but I don't think Genesis is talking about that kind of clinging. It seems to me more like reliance; and if a man can't rely on his wife; who can he rely on? Reliance implies faithfulness: day in, and day out. You know, people who indulge in starter marriages have got the wrong idea about what it means to hook up with somebody.

There are no specific Hebrew words for "wife". The word for wife in that verse comes from the very same word as woman— 'ishshah. What makes an ishshah somebody's wife? The possessive pronoun "his" So Eve became Adam's woman; and Adam of course became Eve's man. They quite literally owned each other.

Adultery is very serious not only because it's immoral, but also because it's an act of theft. Spouses that cheat on their partners are no different than carjackers taking an SUV that doesn't belong to them and selling it to a chop shop.

There comes a time in every youth's life when it's time for him to grow up, sever the apron strings, leave home, become his own man, and take up residence with his own woman.

Sometimes it's difficult for a young man to accept that his mother is another man's woman. When my son was around 29 years old and home for Christmas one year, his mother and I were having a disagreement and he stuck up for her. I had to take my son aside and school him that it is a serious breach of male etiquette to come between a man and his wife. I let him get by with it that time; but in another man's home his meddling just might cost him a broken nose. He never did it again.

● Gen 2:24b . . so that they become one flesh.

The term "one" indicates unification. According to Matt 19:6 and Rom 7:1-3, this particular unification is permanent till death, which, according to 1Cor 6:15-16 isn't limited to marriage; it takes effect even when people sleep around; ergo: when a man sleeps with a woman, any woman, he's stuck with her for life, and she with him, whether they agree to it or not because that is what God has decreed.

Gen 2:25a . .The two of them were naked, the man and his wife,

It's very difficult to believe that God fully intended for people to always live without clothing. So how come early Man didn't need protection for his skin? Nobody really knows for sure; maybe because human beings had fur, or that human skin was a whole lot tougher and thicker than now; and far more resistant to abrasion and sunlight.

Still; nudity seems so impractical. And I would imagine that Adam and his wife needed to bathe pretty often too. Without clothing to protect their skin from dust and grime, in no time at all they would be as funky as two pigs in a puddle.

Gen 2:25b . . yet they felt no shame.

Webster's defines shame as: 1) guilt, or disgrace, 2) a feeling of inferiority or inadequacy, and 3) inhibition.

In other words, there was absolutely nothing in early Man's psyche restraining him from parading around in full frontal nudity; and actually, neither was there anything in his psyche encouraging him to. Adam was a product of nature; hence he was comfortable au naturel. They weren't exhibitionists by any stretch of the imagination because in their innocence, Adam and his wife simply were neither proud of, nor humiliated by, their appearance in the nude.

Adam and his wife felt neither naughty nor perverted by frontal nudity at first, nor were they self conscious in the slightest respect because as yet they knew no cultural boundaries, nor were they infected yet with a guilt complex about sex and the human body; and concepts like vanity and narcissism had no point of reference in their thinking whatsoever. They had absolutely no natural sense of propriety, nor were they even aware of any because their creator hadn't taught them any proprieties yet at this point.

That was an interesting time in early human development. They had neither intuition nor conscience as yet to moderate their dress code. Some expositors label this era in the human experience as the age of innocence; which implies not just an ignorance of ethics; but primarily a lack of self consciousness— which Webster's defines as uncomfortably aware of one's self as an object of the observation of others. Had somebody criticized the first couple about their appearance, they would no doubt have stared at their critic like a man taken leave of his senses.

 

Genesis 03
 

Gen 3:1a . . Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.

Probably no other creature in the Bible provokes so much skepticism as the Serpent. It just smacks of mythology.

But this particular serpent was no ordinary reptile. It was indeed a remarkable creature. Not only was it capable of language, and able to communicate on a very sophisticated level with human beings, but it had an exceptional IQ too. It grasped the significance of a supreme being, and totally understood the workings of human nature and the human mind. No mere animal is capable of that degree of insight, cognition, and communication.

The final book in the New Testament confirms the Serpent's true identity, and it is none other than the dark spirit being well known to everyone as the Devil and Satan. (Rev 20:1-3).

According to Christ, Mr. Serpent was in the world from the very beginning; and his stock in trade was murder and deception right from the get go. (John 8:44)

Since Rev 20:1-3 has not yet come to pass, then the Serpent remains at large and very active in today's modern world. It is highly skilled at mental suggestions: secretly guiding mankind along a road to self destruction. It is the source of much of the world's political tensions, and certainly the impetus behind all large scale anti-Semitic agendas.

I have never seen the Serpent myself; nor would I care to. But I know from Matt 4:1-11 that Christ saw it, and spoke with it. From that passage it's obvious that the Serpent is capable of human speech, understands human needs and weaknesses, believes in the existence of God, understands the concept of worship, a master of sophistry, understands the Bible, and understands the advantages of manipulating human minds, and world power.

The Serpent certainly wasn't squeamish about tempting the Son of God to sin; so it should come as no surprise that it wouldn't hesitate to entice a little nobody like Eve. But Eve was extremely strategic; she was the high ground in the battle for men's minds, because Eve was destined to be the mother of all subsequent human beings. If the Serpent could get to the root of humanity, it would surely gain control over the entire human race; and it did. (Eph 2:1-3)

The Serpent seems possessed with a strange, criminal mentality: beyond comprehension. But then, so are pedophiles, serial killers, unabombers, ISIS extremists, terrorists, and men like Son of Sam, Ted Bundy, Paul Bernardo, Karla Homolka, Ted Kaczynski, and Jack the Ripper. Those kinds of criminals are prisoners of dark minds clouded with anti-social inclinations. The Serpent, though surely an incredible genius; is nonetheless an evil genius; not unlike the nefarious masterminds in action comics.

Psychopaths are a cunning breed of predators who lack empathy, remorse, and impulse control; readily violating social rules and exploiting others to get what they want. Curiously, psychopaths are often so charming and manipulative that they are well-concealed behind a mask of normalcy sometimes for years and even their entire lives.

Five common elements of psychopathy are evident in the Serpent's behavior.

1• Callous unconcern for the feelings of others.

2• Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships.

3• Reckless disregard for the safety of others.

4• Deceit and dissembling; viz: repeated lying and conning others for profit.

5• Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors.

If those elements sound familiar it's because they're the all-too-typical management practices of corporations the likes of ENRON, Nike, Nestlé, Bechtel, Union Carbide, Shell Oil, and Monsanto.

Wall Street is especially brutal. I watched a trader interviewed in a documentary who said that his first reaction— upon seeing the Twin Towers aflame in 2001 —wasn't concern for the families and friends of the 2,300 killed and missing; but rather he inwardly exclaimed: Oh m' Gawd! What will that do to the price of gold?! In that man's mind, a catastrophe isn't a tragedy, no, it's an opportunity. Futures traders are very attuned to things like that; and in their world: nice guys really do finish last.

The garment and textile industry in particular, stands out as the poster child of psychopathic management practices: a veritable jewel in the Serpent's crown.

What we see in human nature often mirrors the Serpent's own dark personality. But the origin of the Serpent's twisted mind is really puzzling. How did it get that way? Was it a birth defect? Did it bump its head?

I don't know; but one thing is for sure though: the Serpent's fondness for deceit is living proof that angels are not mindless robots created to obey the will of God without thought or question. No; they too have a mind of their own, and the freedom of choice between good and evil— the very same choices that Man is at liberty to exercise. Satan chose poorly, and his human counterparts oftentimes do too.

The event recorded in this third chapter is a bit of an enigma. The reason being that not only can God see the future as if watching a video recording, but He's also fully capable of manipulating it. In other words; the event in this chapter wasn't unexpected; and God could have, had He wished, easily prevented it.

People get upset with creation's God for not stepping in and preventing the so-called fall of man. But they need to remember that humanity holds the rank of a king on this earth and has the God-given authority to conduct its own affairs as a sovereign (Gen 1:26, Gen 1:28, and Ps 82:6). Besides; does anybody really want to live in a micro-managed Big Brother society? I don't think so. But that's the logic behind just about every product liability lawsuit.

Rather than taking the bull by the horns and doing something to cure humanity's propensity to destroy itself, product liability lawsuits go after suppliers who provide the means for humanity to destroy itself.

God gave humanity  the liberty to destroy itself; and actually, that's the way many of us prefer it because we want to make our own choices rather than have I-know-what's-best-for-you fanatics limit the choices available to us.

Gen 3:1b . . He said to the woman,

A characteristic of Eden's world was not only a lack of human death, but also a lack of fear. Man feared neither himself, nor the other creatures, nor the dark, nor the boogie man.

The woman displayed no recorded astonishment whatsoever when the Serpent spoke to her; which suggests it had associated with the Adams on other occasions before this incident; and possibly had become a close family friend. Before making its move to wreck their life, the Serpent more than likely spent some time in advance nurturing a rapport with the Adams so the woman would have no cause for alarm when it approached; and would. therefore not suspect its intentions.

That's actually a pretty effective sales approach. Many years ago I sold vacuum cleaners for a little while. I was trained to engage potential customers in chit-chat, a.k.a. small talk, to break the ice and get them to let their guards down. In other words; to build some trust before I got down to the predatory business of talking them into buying something expensive that they could easily get by without.

Being an innocent who had never been exposed to evil, the woman would certainly never suspect one of God's creatures to be anything but honest and truthful. Up to this point, Eve wasn't even aware that something called a lie existed. And actually, she didn't even know what honesty was either because nobody had taught her anything about it yet.

Gen 3:1c . . Did God really say: You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?

Catching the woman alone, away from her husband's oversight, the Serpent began subtly introducing a concept which neither she nor Adam had even imagined before: it is actually possible for a creature to question its maker. However; that is not a particularly good idea.

"Shame on him who argues with his Maker, though naught but a potsherd of earth!" (Isa 45:9)

"All the inhabitants of the earth are of no account. [God] does as He wishes with the host of heaven, and with the inhabitants of the earth. There is none to stay His hand or say to Him: What have You done?" (Dan 4:32)

Why didn't the Serpent attempt to trick the male before turning to Eve? Well, Adam was a tougher nut to crack because he got his intel straight from the horse's mouth and knew the truth very clearly and without ambiguity. But the woman quite possibly was instructed second hand, in conversations with her husband; who was, in effect, her personal rabbi. So it would be fairly easy to convince Eve that maybe she didn't hear her husband correctly; or worse; that he didn't know what he was talking about. I mean: isn't there more than one way to interpret the Bible? How do you know your way is the right way?

Of course it was ridiculous to suggest the humans were forbidden to eat of "any" tree. But the Serpent was slowly sneaking up on the woman with subtle suggestions. Probing for weak points, the Serpent tested her understanding of God's instructions by asking a question that she should have been able to answer with relative ease. In response; the woman bounced right back and quoted God like a pro (or so she thought).

Gen 3:2-3 . . The woman replied to the serpent: We may eat of the fruit of the other trees of the garden. It is only about fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said: You shall not eat of it or touch it, lest you die.

Is that really what God said? No, that's not what God said. He forbad their eating the fruit, yes; but said nothing about touching it. (Gen 2:16-17)

Eve failed to repeat what God said, rather, she interpreted what He said. Apparently, in her mind's eye, the ban on eating the fruit implied not touching it. Consequently; Eve's humanistic reasoning put a spin on God's instructions so that instead of following them to the letter, the woman revised them to mean something that God didn't actually say.

Eve fell prey to a very human weakness— not only of revising God, but of a tendency to make the laws of God more cumbersome and more strict than they really are.

Revisions in the form of interpretations change the meanings of God's sayings and inevitably leads people into error. While often containing a kernel of truth, revisions are nevertheless not pure truth, rather, amalgams of truth and human error that falsify God's teachings and direct people off in the wrong direction; leading them to believe, and to repeat, things that aren't true.

Revisions are also very useful for manipulating people to favor the Serpent's wishes rather than their creator's. Thus, without their knowing it, they fall in line and become the Serpent's sheep instead of Christ's.

Gen 3:4 . . And the serpent said to the woman: You are not going to die,

Here we have the beginnings of what's known as a half-truth; which Webster's defines as: a statement that is only partly true and that is intended to deceive people. In other words: a half-truth contains a kernel of truth but not the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Having already tested the woman's understanding of God's instructions, and found it in error, the Serpent was encouraged to push on and attempt to influence her thinking a bit more.

The woman's fall is typical. First she revised God's instructions. Then she listened to someone refute them. Next, she will accept the refuter's argument, and then she will break with God.

NOTE: Something that Christ's believing followers have to be constantly on guard against is sophistry; which Webster's defines as subtly deceptive reasoning and/or argumentation (Eph 4:11-14). Cults typically sustain themselves by means of sophistry; which of course they call reasonable and/or sensible. But faith isn't built upon only what makes sense to it; rather, faith is built upon what's revealed to it.

So be careful out there; most especially with door-to-door missionaries armed to the teeth with humanistic reasoning, semantic double-speak, and clever half truths.

Gen 3:5a . . but God knows that as soon as you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like divine beings

The Hebrew word for "divine beings" is 'elohiym (el-o-heem') which is the very same word for man's creator in Gen 1:1. If someone presented you with an opportunity to be a god; wouldn't you take it? I think so; especially if you didn't know any better.

The thing to note is that the Serpent's prediction wasn't altogether untrue. In time they did become gods (Gen 3:22, Ps 82) but his prediction was a half-truth. In other words; he withheld a very important aspect of god-ism; and that is there is only one true god (2Chron 15:3, Jer 10:10, and John 17:3) so that by default, Eve and her husband became false gods since in the Bible there is no intermediate layer of gods sandwiched between the true and the false.

Anyway: the Serpent insinuated that their creator was withholding the tree, not because it was poisonous or anything like that; but to keep the humans in check: much in the way that some of the world's despots utilize illiteracy, control of radio and television programming, restricted contact with foreigners, and limited internet access to keep their citizens subdued.

In effect, the Serpent was saying that God got His wisdom from that very same tree and that's why He didn't want to share the fruit with them; because then they might become savvy enough to go out on their own without depending so much upon their maker.

In her defense; the woman was inexperienced, and certainly no match for the Serpent's intelligence nor his powers of persuasion. But her defeat wasn't inevitable. She could have easily resisted the Serpent by simply sticking to her guns and parroting God's instructions over and over again until the Serpent got disgusted and gave up. But no, she dropped God's instructions early on; and thus set the stage for the utter ruin of her own posterity.

Gen 3:5b . . who know good from evil.

I think it safe to assume that good and evil in this instance wasn't limited to morality, rather, included the difference between smart and dumb, e.g. it's smart to set aside something for the future, while its dumb to spend every penny from payday to payday. It's also dumb to marry the first person you meet, while smart to make some comparisons.

The Serpent was correct about one thing though. Eve would know good from evil after eating from the tree alright; only he didn't tell her that the knowing would be humanistic rather than divine, i.e. hers would be a natural knowing rather than an enlightened knowing. In other words; man wasn't designed to be a god; but rather, the student of a god.

"I know, O Yhvh, that a man's way is not in himself; nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps." (Jer 10:23)

Gen 3:6a . . When the woman saw that the tree was good for eating

By watching what birds and animals eat, people can often tell what's safe for human consumption. That's not always true of course, but it's a pretty good rule of thumb. So the woman could safely assume the tree wasn't poisonous if there wasn't a growing pile of sick and/or dead critters at the base of the tree.

Gen 3:6b . . and a delight to the eyes,

Most fruits and vegetables are appealing— just look at bananas and pears and apples and oranges and watermelon and cantaloupe and grapes and carrots, and radishes, and plums and mangoes and strawberries and whatever. God doubtless made them that way so Man could not only nourish himself, but also enjoy his food; viz: not only eat because he has to, but also because he'd like to.

Gen 3:6c . . and that the tree was desirable as a source of wisdom,

The Hebrew word for "wisdom" is sakal (saw-kal') which essentially means circumspect, which Webster's defines as careful to consider all circumstances and possible consequences, i.e. to be smart and/or prudent.

People with a high degree of circumspection make fewer mistakes in life while those of us with a low degree oftentimes fail to do, say, or decide what's best for us. So we end up seeking advice and guidance from experts because us dummies just aren't sharp enough to go it alone.

Sakal shows up no less than thirteen times in the book of Proverbs alone, and is always depicted as desirable; so it's not like Eve was wanting something that was bad for her.

Anyway, Eve probably figured that a fruit as attractive to the eye, and appealing to one's mind, as that of the forbidden tree couldn't possibly be as bad as God led them to believe. I mean, if it at least had some sharp needles like cactus pears, or maybe a prickly surface like a pineapple, then it would at least have been a bit intimidating; but the forbidden fruit was nothing like that; no, it looked very benevolent.

NOTE: Ironically, Eve's first step towards obtaining wisdom was to do something really stupid.

Gen 3:6d . . she took of its fruit and ate.

You can just see Eve's eyes brighten from the sugar rush as she realized the Serpent was right after all— she didn't drop dead. So the woman brought it home and convinced her man to try it too.

Gen 3:6e . . She also gave some to her husband, and he ate.

Did Eve first deftly dice the fruit and camouflage it in a tasty parfait so her husband wouldn't know what he was eating? No. Adam knew exactly what he was doing. He went into it with eyes wide open.

"Adam was not the one deceived" (1Tim 2:14)

I have to wonder why the husband followed his wife's lead and did something he knew full well to be breaking God's edict and putting himself at risk of death. Genesis doesn't reveal why Adam chose to eat the fruit. I suppose he had his reasons, but apparently God didn't think they were sufficient to excuse the man's defiance.

I think Adam was cautious at first, and kept a wary eye on Eve for some time waiting to see if she would get sick; and when she didn't, he surely had to wonder if maybe God was wrong. I think most husbands would sympathize with Adam. I mean: here's your wife sitting right beside you happily munching away on something that you were led to believe was toxic, and she's still healthy, lucid, and exhibiting no ill side effects. How is a reasonable man supposed to argue with empirical evidence as good as that was?

Adam was told by a competent source that the forbidden tree was lethal. Though he could see for himself that Eve was experiencing no ill side effects; he should have refused to taste it until at the very least he consulted with somebody who knows what they're talking about: which in his case was the maker of the fruit.

There's a useful lesson to be learned from it. In other words: Faith doesn't rely entirely upon empirical evidence, but instead; believes what's revealed to it rather than only what makes sense to it.

Eve's apparent immunity to the fruit's toxins wasn't really reason enough to assume that God's instructions were unreliable. But even had they been unreliable; it was still wrong of Adam to brush them aside and do as he pleased. He was told not to eat the fruit. Whether it was actually toxic or harmless is unimportant. This episode is primarily about the quality of Adam's attitude towards authority rather than about the quality of the fruit.

Gen 3:7a . .Then the eyes of both of them were opened

According to 1Tim 2:14, Eve was in violation of Gen 2:16-17 when she tasted the fruit. But curiously, her eyes weren't opened right away. In other words: up till Adam tasted the fruit, its effects upon Eve's health were nil; and in point of fact, there's really no good reason to believe that Adam's eyes were opened the very instant he tasted the fruit; it's effect upon him may have been delayed too.

Gen 3:7b . . and they perceived that they were naked;

Shazaam! Their newly acquired knowledge of good and bad kicked in with an intuitive sense of propriety; which Webster's defines as the quality or state of being proper or suitable, i.e. conformity to what is socially acceptable in conduct or speech.

In other words: Adam and his wife took it upon themselves to initiate a dress code due to finding themselves slaves to a humanistic conscience so powerful that even if Almighty God himself told them it was okay to remain disrobed; they would not have believed Him.

Gen 3:7c . . and they sewed together fig leaves and made themselves loincloths.

I seriously doubt they had a needle and thread. The word for "sew" is taphar (taw-far') which just simply means to fabricate clothing. If taphar were used to strictly mean needle and thread; then it would appear that Job stitched fabric directly to his own skin. (Job 16:15)

But why not bosom coverings? Why not derrière coverings too? Why only loin coverings? Well it's not too hard to figure out is it? The moment Adam tasted the forbidden fruit, they developed a guilt complex over sex and the human body that continues to this day; and I sincerely believe that complex is the very reason why so many people feel that the male libido is naughty and sinful. (Those same people rarely, if ever, condemn the female libido.)

Some say there were no agents in the fruit to cause the changes in human nature that occurred in the Adams. But I'm not so sure. According to an article in the Oct 8, 2011 issue of the Oregonian; new research reveals that some, if not all, the plants we eat actually change the behavior of human genes in ways never before imagined.

A new study led by Chen-Yu Zhang, of Nanjing University, found that fragments of plant genetic material survive digestion and wind up swimming in the bloodstreams of humans and cows. Those tiny strands of RNA that somehow make it through the toxic acids and enzymes in the gut come from rice and the plant family that includes broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage. Zhang found that they can muffle or amplify human gene expression in various ways. The discovery could lead to ways of designing plants that act as medicine or even change our own genetic structure for the better (or the worse).

And it's well known what happens to kids when they move into adolescence. Hormonal chemicals kick in, and their childish innocence vanishes; right out the window. They lose interest in kid's toys and begin to take an interest in things more appropriate for their age; including a very noticeable interest in themselves, and in the opposite sex; and most especially in what others think about them. In other words: they become self-conscious; which Webster's defines as: uncomfortably aware of oneself as an object of the observation of others.

Those adolescent changes aren't miraculous changes— they're totally natural, hormonally induced, organic changes. So if kids undergo a natural kind of change because of the chemicals generated by the glands in their own bodies, then there is good reason to believe that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil actually did contain something that caused Adam and his wife to morph and develop an intuitive sense of propriety; and that "sense" can't help but influence people's interpretation of Matt 5:28. In other words they want male libido to be naughty because their forbidden-fruit intuition compels them to "feel" it's naughty.

At any rate, the pending dialogue, between God and Man in the next few verses, implies that God himself had no hand in making those two people change. On the page of scripture, their altered human nature is directly related to the fruit and to nothing else— though I've yet to figure out the delay in Eve's case nor how Adam's tasting the fruit triggered its effect upon Eve.

So instead of stretching our imaginations to construct a complex spiritual explanation, I suggest it would be better to stick with the biological one and let it go at that.

Gen 3:8a . . They heard the voice of the Lord God moving about in the garden at the breezy time of day;

The Hebrew word for "voice" is somewhat ambiguous. It can not only indicate a vocal sound, but lots of other kinds of noises too; e.g. horns, crackling, snapping, cackling, bleating, tweeting, roaring, whooshing, hissing, barking, thudding, whistling, and booming, et al.

The breezy time of day is a bit difficult to figure out without really knowing the climate conditions under which Adam and his wife lived. The breezy time may have been a routine part of their day when the mist was gently blown around to irrigate the garden.

The Lord God may have conducted school for the Adams every day at just about that time; so His arrival was likely expected. It was an opportunity to share their experiences and ask questions about things in nature that they didn't fully understand. And maybe they even talked about intelligent life on other planets, and how to make hot cocoa and pop corn.

Can you imagine the incredible advantage of being in a classroom with the undisputed expert on everything? You would never need a second opinion, nor go away wondering if the speaker really knew what he was talking about.

Gen 3:8b-9a . . and the man and his wife hid from Yhvh God among the trees of the garden. Yhvh God called out to the man

Why did God call out to the male? Answer: the principle of primogeniture. In other words: the male was created first, and the female second; ergo: Adam held the rank of firstborn and also the paterfamilias of his race; which included his wife who, in a manner of speaking, was his first child.

NOTE: The rank of firstborn is always, and without exception, a male position. No woman has ever held that rank in the Bible simply because women are the wrong gender; which explains why the Bible's God has permitted women neither in the Levitical priesthood nor the Christian pastorate.

Gen 3:9b . . and said to him: Where are you?

Since God is omniscient, "where are you" can be taken to mean: Adam; come out, come out, wherever you are!

But the important thing to note in this incident, is that God took the initiative to seek Man, not the other way around.

Gen 3:10 . . He replied: I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.

Adam wasn't totally naked; just partially. But even that degree of undress lacked adequate propriety to his newly acquired sense of right and wrong. I mean: how many of us would feel comfortable opening the door to guests while wearing nothing more than a pair of Haynes briefs? Well; prior to the forbidden fruit incident, everybody could've opened the door dressed like that without giving it a second thought; but now? It would definitely raise eyebrows; at least in America anyway.

Gen 3:11a . .Then He asked: Who told you that you were naked?

In other words: where'd you get the idea that undress is indecent? Well; nobody had said undress is indecent, nor even suggested that it's indecent— the concept of a dress code was unheard of at that time. No; they just "felt" it's indecent. In other words; it was their intuition telling them that undress is indecent. Where did they get that? Not from their maker, that's for sure; no, they got it from that tree.

Gen 3:11b . . Did you eat of the tree from which I had forbidden you to eat?

Seeing as how God created the chemistry of that tree, then He knew in advance how it would alter the human consciousness if people were to ingest some of it.

That incident easily verifies that humanity's current moral compass is maladjusted and can't be trusted to provide him with absolutes; which is precisely why there are nine justices on the US Supreme Court instead of just one; because one justice alone can't be trusted. In point of fact, it is extremely rare for all nine justices to agree because they don't render absolutes; no, they render opinions; and the majority's opinion isn't eo ipso right; no, it's just the one we have to live with until such a time as it's overturned by a future majority's opinion.

Gen 3:12 . .The man said: The woman You put at my side— she gave me of the tree, and I ate.

Adam attempted to get himself off the hook by accusing God of product liability.

Like: "This wouldn't have happened if you hadn't imposed that female upon me. Did I ask for a wife? NO! And what kind of person is this woman you gave me anyway? She has managed to ruin my life in very short order. Is this your idea of suitable aid?"

Gen 3:13 . . And Yhvh God said to the woman: What is this you have done? The woman replied: The serpent duped me, and I ate.

That's a very popular excuse even still today; like when it turned out that Iraq didn't have any weapons of mass destruction to justify an invasion; President Bush said he was given some bad information.

The first couple exhibited early-on a very common aspect of human nature of which all of us are so familiar— blaming others for the way we act. I once worked in a boatyard with a very hot tempered man. Previous to his employment with us, we had another with just about the same temperament who quit right before the second one signed on. Some time later, the new guy got irate about something or other and said: Now I know why that other guy was difficult. You made him that way. (chuckle) Wasn't that a perfectly natural excuse?

I dated a girl like that once. When I pointed out one day that she was behaving peevishly; she retorted: "I'm only responding to you". (chuckle) Ms. Peevish employed the age-old excuse of blaming someone else for the way she acted when really the blame was just simply her own lack of self-control; which can be roughly defined as inadequate restraint exercised over one's own impulses, emotions, and/or desires.

Gen 3:14a . .Then the Lord God said to the serpent:

A marked departure in procedure is very evident here. God gave the humans an opportunity to defend themselves; but not so with Mr. Serpent. On the page of scripture, the trial phase was skipped and proceedings went straight to the sentencing stage just like Osama Bin Laden's assassination. It's almost as if the Serpent had already discussed with God how it planned to turn the humans against Him; like when it later moved against Job.

One thing for sure about the Serpent; it is an utterly condemned individual. Repentance is out of the question and definitely NOT an option. Its destiny was determined long, long ago.

"Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand: Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels" (Matt 25:41)

The apostle John saw the Serpent's fate; like a video clip from the future.

"And the Devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever." (Rev 20:10)

It is only too obvious that the Serpent crossed over a line somewhere in the past and now there is no going back. Humanity is redeemable; but the Serpent is beyond hope. The scary part is: the Serpent is not only doomed, but busy making every effort to take as many people down with it as possible— like a disgruntled postal worker coming in one day and cutting loose on everybody with a shotgun.

Gen 3:14b . . Because you did this, more cursed shall you be than all cattle and all the wild beasts:

The Hebrew word for "curse" is from 'arar (aw-rar') which means: to execrate. Webster's defines execrate as: to declare to be evil or detestable; viz: denounce. Synonyms listed for execrate are: hate, abhor, abominate, detest, and loathe. When the Bible's God has those kinds of feelings for someone; they are really in trouble.

But what really caught my attention is that God implied cattle and beasts would be cursed too. Up ahead we'll see that even the soil would be cursed. In other words: Adam's progeny would never live on the planet as it was when their ancient grandparents were created. We today exist on a cursed planet.

In point of fact, an article in the January 15 edition of Scientific American magazine said: "Earth is past its prime and the biosphere is nearing its end. All things considered, our planet is only marginally habitable."

The third chapter began by stating that the Serpent was more cunning than any of the beasts of the field, a creature that began with a level of dignity way over and beyond the land animals; but fell to a position of esteem far below them because of what it did to the Adams family. In other words, the Serpent is now lower than the lowest thing on the face of the earth.

Gen 3:14c . . On your belly shall you crawl and dirt shall you eat all the days of your life.

Ancient Jews thought maybe the Serpent was originally equipped with feet.

T. Upon thy belly thou shalt go, and thy feet shall be cut off, and thy skin thou shalt cast away once in seven years; and the poison of death shall be in thy mouth, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. (Targum Jonathan)

It's probably best to interpret Gen 3:14c as poetic language because I have never seen, nor yet heard of, a species of snake that eats soil for its food. True, snakes crawl on their bellies; but they probably always did; because that's the way they're designed. Some snakes live in trees and others live in water. Those kinds don't spend a whole lot of time on the ground so not all snakes are alike. I really don't think snakes crawl because they were condemned to crawl. Nor was every species of snake condemned; just the one snake in verse 14.

A person who crawls and eats dirt is typically someone held in very low regard; in other words: a worm. And "all the days of your life" is saying that God's low opinion of the Serpent will never be rescinded.

Serpents will eat dirt in the kingdom of God; possibly as a perpetual reminder of Man's first great mistake.

"The wolf and the lamb shall graze together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and the serpent's food shall be earth." (Isa 65:25)

Today, snakes don't eat earth, they eat prey. How serpents will survive on dirt is unclear, unless their digestive system will be changed to that of a night crawler.

Serpents are never portrayed in the Bible as beneficial to Man. They are always of the poisonous variety and a serious threat to Man's health and well being. That will all be different in the kingdom of God.

"A babe shall play over a viper's hole, and an infant pass his hand over an adder's den. In all of My sacred mount nothing evil or vile shall be done; for the land shall be filled with devotion to the Lord as water covers the sea. In that day, the stock of Jesse that has remained standing shall become a standard to peoples— nations shall seek his counsel and his abode shall be honored." (Isa 11:8-10)

Gen 3:15a . . I will put enmity between you and the woman,

I don't think the kind of enmity that God spoke of was the kind where friends fall out of harmony; but rather, He decreed a sort of poetic justice; viz: "You caused her downfall; and now I'm going to make it so that she causes yours."

Gen 3:15b . . And between your offspring and her offspring.

The word for "offspring" is from zera' (zeh'-rah) which is an ambiguous Hebrew word that technically means: seed; but can also mean a product and/or a result, and also fruit, plant, sowing-time, and/or progeny and posterity.

For example: the 53rd chapter of Isaiah predicts that Yhvh's servant would "see seed" in spite of the fact that Isaiah also predicted Yhvh's servant would die and leave behind no posterity. In that case; zera' can't possibly mean that Yhvh's servant would see biological seed; but rather, see the fruits of his labor; which within the context of the 53rd chapter of Isaiah consists of bearing the sins of many and thus shielding them from the wrath of God.

Zera' is one of those words that can be either singular or plural, depending upon the context. Other words like that are deer, sheep, Man, and head (as in head of livestock). Every kid in a family can be called the parents' zera' whether there's eight kids or a lone child.

Gen 3:15c . . He will pound your head, and you will bite his heel.

The Hebrew word translated "he" isn't gender specific. It can mean either he, she, and/or it. So that Gen 3:15c could be— and in some translations is —translated: "It will pound your head, and you will bite its heel". The decision to use "he" was an arbitrary choice; but seeing as how the Serpent, to my knowledge, is unable to reproduce itself with biological offspring, I'd recommend going with "it".

Anyway; from that point onwards the Serpent has made it his mission in life to prevent Eve's seed from doing the very thing God predicted; eventuating in Herod's slaughter of Jewish toddlers and Christ's execution.

Who are the Serpent's seed? Liars and Murderers; for starters (John 8:44). Additional Serpentary seed are people who exist solely to satisfy their passions and desires (Eph 2:1-3). And people given to rivalry and strife (Jas 3:14-15). Those kinds of seed are seed from the aspect of being products of the Serpent's handiwork.

Gen 3:16a . . And to the woman He said: I will make most severe your pangs in childbearing;

For many women, the pregnancy stage of motherhood is often characterized by bloating, illness, nausea, depression, anxiety, insecurity, and irritability. For them, pregnancy is more like a curse than the intended blessing of Gen 1:28.

Gen 3:16b . . in pain shall you bear children.

It's difficult to imagine childbirth without pain because that's the way it's always been right from the beginning, even with Eve's very first child. Apparently before Man's fall, having a baby would have been no more painful than doing one's business in the ladies room— and just as lacking in danger to mom and baby.

Gen 3:16c . .Yet your urge shall be for your husband,

The Hebrew of that passage is very difficult; not even the great rabbis Rashi and Ramban were in agreement how best to interpret it. But it appears to me simply the very first prohibition against adultery.

Gen 3:16d . . and he shall rule over you.

That is probably one of the most hated verses in the whole Bible. Eve's daughters do not like to be subjugated to and/or dominated by men. It really goes against their grain; and if the women's suffrage movement that took place in America's early 1900's were to be thoroughly analyzed, it would not surprise me that women's right to vote wasn't really an equality issue: it was a rebellion against male domination.

That rule isn't restricted to marriage. It regulates women's place in church tooall churches.

"As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church." (1Cor 14:33-35)

"Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression." (1Tim 2:11-15)

How long the Adams lived together sans the imposition of a gender hierarchy isn't stated; but evidently there was no need for it prior to the tree incident. But the incident aptly demonstrates that manipulative women can quickly lead men to ruin in no time at all because it's all too easy for them to persuade men to behave themselves in ways contrary to their own better judgment; which reminds me of a really cute line from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding".

Toula Portokalos complains to her mother: "Ma, dad is so stubborn. What he says goes. Ah, the man is the head of the house!"

Toula's mom, Maria Portokalos, responds: "Let me tell you something, Toula. The man is the head, but the woman is the neck; and she can turn the head any way she wants."

That's humorous but it's not a laughing matter. Many a man has been led like sheep to the slaughter by women who got them to do things contrary to their own better judgment.

Gen 3:17a . .To Adam He said: Because you did as your wife said, and ate of the tree about which I commanded you; "You shall not eat of it"

A portion of God's gripe with Adam was that he put a creature's wishes over and above His own; thus making one of the things that God created a competitor for humanity's loyalty. (cf. Mark 12:28-30)

Gen 3:17b . . Cursed be the ground because of you

Not only would Man himself be effected by a curse upon the ground, but every living thing that depends upon the ground for its survival would be effected too; from lowly nematodes and earthworms right on up to the top of the food chain. The whole animal world, and all the seed-bearing plant life too, would suffer collateral damages for Adam's mistake.

God somehow manipulated the soil's fertility so that it now no longer produces as well as it did in the beginning. The abundant swarms of life that God created in the beginning would, at that point, begin to thin out as the competition for available natural food-stuffs intensified.

Gen 3:17c . . By toil shall you eat of it all the days of your life

Adam was no stranger to work because God already had him tending the garden. But matters worsened with a new ingredient. The word for "toil" is from 'itstsabown (its-tsaw-bone') and means: worrisome-ness.

Webster's defines worrisome-ness as: causing distress or worry or inclined to worry or fret; viz: Man became anxious, insecure, and perhaps somewhat melancholy. 'Itstsabown is the very same word used in verse 16 to describe the physical and emotional discomfort that Eve was doomed to endure during pregnancy.

Gen 3:18a . . thorns and thistles shall it sprout for you.

God finished the entire cosmos in six days; and no more creating took place after that: so thorns and thistles already existed prior to the events of chapter 3. But in the beginning, noxious plants doubtless weren't so dominant. Today they're a nuisance because if ground is left fallow, it will soon be covered with dock, mustard, dandelion, chaparral, wild flowers, brambles, reed canary grass, and stuff like that. Those kinds of plants may be okay for wildlife, but Man needs something a little more substantial.

Gen 3:18b . . and your food shall be the grasses of the field;

Apparently Adam was a fruitarian at in the beginning, and then his diet later expanded to include other kinds of vegetation. However, I don't think Man is supposed to graze on pasture like buffalo or deer and elk. Many of the grasses God intended for him to eat fall into the food group we call cereals; which are raised primarily for their grain; e.g. corn, wheat, and rice; et al. In their natural form— whole grain —cereals are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, oils, and protein. After refinement grains are pretty much good for nothing but carbs.

Gen 3:19a . . By the sweat of your brow shall you get bread to eat,

Whereas the Adams before had a beautiful productive farm complete with orchards that required minimal maintenance, they became faced with stubborn soil that needs plowing and sowing, and weeding. Very few natural grains exist abundantly in nature. These days; if he wants them in any sizable amount, Man has to farm.

Those of us who live in 9 to 5 leisure-intensive America really don't appreciate just how laborious and time consuming the work is to grow your own food. Early Man's days were hard. They're still hard in many developing countries. Adam had to get out there with a hoe and a plow to provide for his family. Today, only about 2% in the USA work the ground.

Gen 3:19b . . until you return to the ground— for from it you were taken. For dust you are, and to dust you shall return.

Did God have to kill Adam in order for him to stop living? No; all He had to do was deny Adam access to the tree of life and let nature takes its course; in other words: it was only a matter of time before Adam simply passed away of old age.

It's often assumed that Adam was created immortal; but no so. Adam was created an air-breathing creature. Smother him and he'd die. Hold his head underwater and he'd die. But as long as Adam supplemented his diet with nutrients form the tree of life, he'd not die of natural causes.

But what happened to Adam when his body returned to dust? Did he return to dust too? No; And that's because Adam wasn't entirely organic. His body came from the ground but his life came from God. According to Jonah 2:1-6, human beings survive the death of their bodies, and go to a place called sheol; which, in Jonah's day, was sited at the roots of the mountains; viz: the depths of the earth.

Gen 3:20 . .The man named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all the living.

Though Eve became the mother of all the living she isn't the source of life for all the living: Adam is.

There's an important parallel to this in the New Testament where Christ is depicted as the source of eternal life for all the living in him; just as Adam is the source of human life for all the living in him. (Rom 5:12-21)

There is one "living" that Eve did not produce and that's her own self. She was constructed from a human tissue sample amputated from Adam's body; ergo: Eve got her human life from Adam; hence any and all human life produced with Eve's body is Adam's human life.

NOTE: Most everybody on both sides of the aisle agrees that Gen 3:15's prediction refers to Christ; so we are on safe ground to believe that he obtained his human life from Adam too just the same as the rest of us. (Luke 3:23-38)

The word for "mother" is from 'em (ame) which can mean a mother in an immediate family, or the matriarch of a blood line, or the mother (as the rootstock) of an entire nation.

The word for "Eve" is from Chavvah (khav-vaw') and means: life giver.

Some people have a problem with Eve. They just can't believe she's the mother of the entire human race; which would include Christ too. But Genesis says Adam named his wife Eve because she was the life giver of all the living, not just a portion of the living.

According to the Bible, humanity wasn't created in groups nor in swarms like the other nephesh. The human race was created in its entirety a singular, solo, male specimen. Every human being since, including the first woman, came from the constituents of that one lone male.

"He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth." (Acts 17:26-28)

Gen 3:21 . . And the Lord God made garments of skins for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.

The exact cut and design of their garments isn't specified, and the words kethoneth (keth-o'-neth) and/or kuttoneth (koot-to'-neth) just indicate a shirt, or covering; as hanging from the shoulder.

Modern shirts aren't long enough to provide an adequate covering of Man's body. Theirs were probably more like a knee or calf-length dress. A shirt implies that Eve's topless days were over; although that wouldn't necessarily rule out the possibility that she may have become the Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel of her day and created some interesting necklines.

The garments were for their sake rather than the Lord's. Undress per se isn't forbidden in the Bible, nor does God himself feel particularly offended by it. Exposure is forbidden during religious services like in Ex 20:26 and Ex 28:42; but that's not really for God's sake but rather for the worshippers. After all, God created Man totally disrobed; and that's the way Man lived for an unspecified time in the garden until he tasted the fruit and found himself inhibited with a humanistic sense of propriety.

The garments actually facilitated the people's association with God. They were unbearably uncomfortable around their creator in the buff and that was principally the reason they hid from the Lord when He came calling. However, fig leaves aren't very durable; they're merely an expedient. God showed them a much better way— and actually, a way they would never have thought of all by themselves because nobody had ever killed an animal before and who would have guessed their skins could be used for clothing until God showed them how?

That day, humans learned something about the advantages of leather goods. Most leather is produced from cattle hides: calfskin, goatskin, kidskin, sheepskin, and lambskin. Other hides and skins used include those of the horse, pig, kangaroo, deer, crocodile, alligator, seal, walrus, and of late; python. Human beings have used animal skins for a variety of practical purposes since ancient times, and to this good day leather is still a useful material all around the world. Precisely what species of animal God killed in order to make Adam his first suit of leathers is unknown.

The point to note is that the clothing man's maker crafted for the Adams didn't cost them one red cent nor did they have to contribute even the slightest bit of labor to its construction. God slaughtered the animals, treated their hides, and fabricated the garments Himself; and gave the clothing to them for free, out of kindness; and free of charge. I believe God went to all that trouble because He didn't want anything coming between himself and Adam. In other words, Adam's felt-shame over undress was a barrier between him and his creator so God showed him a really good way to overcome it: a way much superior to Adam's limited experience.

Gen 3:22a . . And the Lord God said: Now that the man has become as one of us

The mystery of the pronoun "us" was touched upon back at Gen 1:26.

Man didn't become one of the us, he became as one of the us; in other words: human life became a race of gods.

"I said: You are gods" (Ps 82:6a)

Man's status as a god is problematic because there is only one true god (Deut 6:4, John 17:3, 1Cor 8:4-6). Therefore Man is a false god, i.e. a fraud.

Gen 3:22b . . discerning good and evil,

We could paraphrase that a bit to say "discerning the good and the not so good" and/or "discerning the best, the adequate, and the worst"

In other words: people have the ability to make choices based upon information; but alas we too often make choices based upon our feelings instead of our intellect; i.e. based upon what we want rather than what's sensible.

Well; gods are supposed to be eternal; but humans die like flies.

"I said: You are gods, and all of you are sons of the Most High. Nevertheless you will die like men, and fall like all other princes"  (Ps 82:6-7)

Gen 3:22c . . what if he should stretch out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever!

The Old Testament Hebrew word translated "forever" doesn't always indicate infinity. Normally it just means perpetual as "in perpetuity" viz: indefinitely; which Webster's defines as: having no exact limits. In other words: it's not unusual for something said to be forever in the Old Testament to be subject to an end; for example the law of the Passover as per Ex 12:1-14. The Passover is to be observed by pious Jews until such a time as God says not to; and so far, He hasn't.

The tree of life didn't contain enough nutrients to give Adam eternal life. It couldn't even give him immortality. But the tree could have given Adam perpetual youth; but even then, only so long as he supplemented his diet with regular doses of it; for example: I have an under-active thyroid gland that if left untreated would eventuate in my untimely death. But so long as I continue to supplement my diet with a prescribed daily dose of a medication called levoxyl, I can expect to live to a normal old age.

However; I can't get by on just one dose of levoxyl, nor can I take a lifetime of doses all at once. Levoxyl has to be taken a little at a time on a daily basis. What I'm saying is: as long as Adam supplemented his diet with nutrients from that tree on a regular basis; he wouldn't die of natural causes; thus he had the potential to remain forever twenty-one. But that was not to be since God had already decreed that man must die for eating the forbidden fruit.

Gen 3:23-24 . . So the Lord God banished him from the garden of Eden, to till the soil from which he was taken. He drove the man out, and stationed east of the garden of Eden the cherubim and the fiery ever-turning sword, to guard the way to the tree of life.

This is the Bible's first mention of cherubim. They show up now and again in the Old Testament upwards of 90 times. Their description as per Ezek 1:1-28 and Ezek 10:1-22 suggests that they may be symbolic visions rather than realities.

Another classification of celestial beings are the seraphim (e.g. Isa 6:2).

The cherubim and the fiery sword didn't actually guard the tree— they guarded the way to the tree. That's a curious situation and strongly suggests that there is but one route to the tree rather than a variety of routes.

The sword itself almost seems to be a sentient form of life, turning in every direction, threatening and warning all who dared approach. At night its eerie glow lit the sky, and in the daytime, passersby observed its eternal flame burning perpetually like the bush Moses saw in the desert. Brrrr. What a creepy sight that must have been.

 

Genesis 04
 


Gen 4:1a . . Now the man knew his wife Eve,

There is more to knowledge than just information. Some kinds of knowledge can't be learned from a book or a lecture; they can only be learned by personal experience. Carnal knowledge is one of those kinds of knowing. It's one thing for a young man to learn things about girls from looking at their pictures and reading about them in biology books and/or in magazines like Cosmopolitan, and Maxim; but it's quite another learning experience to actually cuddle with a girl and sleep with her skin to skin. Throughout the Old Testament, "knew his wife" is a common colloquialism for people sleeping together.

Genesis records no human intimacy in the garden prior to Man's eviction; but that doesn't prove none occurred; it just proves that none is mentioned till the fourth chapter.

Gen 4:1b . . and she conceived and bore Cain, saying: I have gained a male child with the help of the Lord.

God wrapped creation on the seventh day (Gen 2:2) and rested after that. Not because He was tired, but because He was all done. At that time, the human race was all done too. Everyone since then has just been a reproduction of Adam.

"It was you who created my consciousness; you fashioned me in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am awesomely, wondrously made; your work is wonderful; I know it very well. My frame was not concealed from you when I was shaped in a hidden place, knit together in the recesses of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed limbs; they were all recorded in your book; in due time they were formed, to the very last one of them." (Ps 139:13-16)

The writer of that Psalm believed that God saw him way before he was ever conceived in his mother's womb. In fact; saw his substance in the recesses of the earth before his mom even conceived: which attests that everyone pre-exists in Adam because he alone was actually created directly from "the recesses of the earth". Everyone else stems from Adam's organic tissues and it's just a matter of time before the right combination of genes brings them out.

"Just as you do not know how the spirit of life passes into the limbs within the womb of the pregnant woman, so you cannot foresee the actions of God, who causes all things to happen." (Ecc 11:5)

No act of creation takes place when babies are conceived. No, man's creation took place back when Adam was created. Babies are merely reproductions of Adam via the blessing of fertility.

Adam received life from God on the sixth day of creation. When God formed the woman, He didn't breathe the breath of life into her nostrils like He did Adam. God simply used Adam's already-existing life to energize Eve. And ever since then, parents have been passing their life onto their children. In other words: human life— like bird life, fish life, bug life, reptile life, and beast life —is a transferable kind of life; passing from one generation on to the next. It's not a miraculous process; no, it's a perfectly natural process; and it's a pretty amazing process too.

According to ancient Jewish thought, Eve thought Cain to be a very special boy.

T. "And Adam knew Hava his wife, who had desired the Angel; and she conceived, and bare Kain; and she said: I have acquired a man, the Angel of The Lord." (Targum Jonathan)

Apparently Eve expected her firstborn son to be "the God-sent one" who was supposed to fulfill the promise of Gen 3:15 and crush the Serpent's head. But alas, Cain was just an ordinary kid; he wasn't the Angel of The Lord.

NOTE: The Hebrew word for "angel" is mal'ak (mal-awk') which doesn't especially indicate a celestial being. The word is a bit ambiguous and essentially means a dispatched deputy or a messenger; viz: someone who speaks for another; e.g. a courier and/or an ambassador. The New Testament equivalent is aggelos (ang'-el-os) and means pretty much the same thing.

Gen 4:2a . . She then bore his brother Abel.

Abel's name is from hebel (heh'bel) and means: emptiness or futility. Figuratively: something transitory and unsatisfactory. Poor Eve; she's only had two kids and already motherhood has lost its appeal. Cain was her very first pregnancy. It was a new, exciting adventure. Well, Abel's birth was no big deal. He was redundant; just another bun in the oven. The first one is the best. After that, they're all Same-O, Same-O.

Cain and Abel are very interesting and share a lot in common. In fact, they share so much in common that their individual personalities must be an enigma to behavioral scientists.

Neither man came from a large gene pool because there were no grandparents. Their genealogy stopped abruptly right in their own home with mom and dad and went back no farther. They both had the same parents, lived in the same home in the same neighborhood, grew up with the same customs, ate the same food, associated with the same people, breathed the same air, survived in the same environment, went to the same church, and worshipped the same God.

Yet those men were noticeably very different from each other. Abel was an inspired man (Luke 11:50-51) but Cain, though religious; was not. And he was violent too. (1John 3:11-12)

Both men were living souls as per Gen 2:7, and both men existed by means of the breath of life as per the same verse. But souls are not the result of cookie-cutter manufacturing processes. Souls are individuals with a mind of their own.

Individuality is one of the unsolved mysteries of life. How does the human brain's three-pound lump of flabby organic tissue produce self awareness and a sense of being unique? I don't know; it's very curious.

Gen 4:2b . . Abel became a keeper of sheep, and Cain became a tiller of the soil.

The Hebrew word translated "sheep" is either tso'n (tsone) or tse'own (tseh one') which mean: a flock; which Webster's defines as a group of birds or mammals assembled or herded together. So you can see there that "sheep" is an arbitrary choice of words. Abel could just as easily have been a cowboy wrangling bovine and/or tending goats rather than sheep; but I won't argue the point. Sheep will do.

Both men worked at honorable professions and their skills were essential to the Adams' survival. Man at this time was a vegetarian so Cain farmed and raised the family's food; while Abel kept them clothed and shod by tending flocks for leather; and possibly fleece too.

NOTE: The Hebrew language didn't exist in Adam's day; nor would it exist till some time after the Flood and the tower of Babel. Ancient names given in Hebrew aren't the native-tongue names of people prior to Babel; but rather: Hebrew equivalents of those names.

Gen 4:3-4a . . In the course of time, Cain brought an offering to The Lord from the fruit of the soil; and Abel, for his part, brought the choicest of the firstlings of his flock.

There's no indication in this scene suggesting their oblations were sacrifices for sin. The Hebrew word for their offerings is from minchah (min-khaw') and means: to apportion, i.e. bestow; a donation; euphemistically, tribute; specifically a sacrificial offering (usually bloodless and voluntary).

Since the offerings were minchah type offerings— which are essentially gifts rather than atonements —it would be wrong to insist Abel slew his firstling and/or burned it to ashes. In point of fact, holocaust offerings go by the name of 'olah (o-law') instead of minchah; for example Gen 22:2.

Ancient rabbis understood the brothers' offerings to be a "first fruits" kind of oblation.

T. And it was at the end of days, on the fourteenth of Nisan, that Kain brought of the produce of the earth, the seed of cotton (or line), an oblation of first things before the Lord; and Habel brought of the firstlings of the flock. (Targum Jonathan)

Seeing as how Cain was a farmer, then in his case, an amount of produce was the appropriate first fruits offering, and seeing as how Abel was an animal husbandman, then in his case a head of livestock was the appropriate first fruits offering.

I think it's safe to assume the brothers were no longer boys, but rather, responsible men in this particular scene because God is going to treat them that way.

This incident is not said to be the very first time they brought gifts to God. The brothers (and very likely their parents too), probably had been bringing gifts for many years; ever since they were kids. And up to this point, apparently both men were doing everything right and God was just as much pleased with Cain and his gifts as He was with Abel and his gifts.

But where did they get this religion of theirs? Well; wasn't Abel a prophet?

"Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary." (Luke 11:50-51a)

It's evident then that the offerings were a legitimate part of a God-given religion. (cf. Heb 11:4)

Gen 4:4b-5a . .The Lord paid heed to Abel and his offering, but to Cain and his offering He paid no heed.

Cain was of a good family. He wasn't the product of poverty or an inner city barrio or dilapidated public housing. His mother wasn't cruel and/or thoughtless, nor did she neglect him or abandon him. He wasn't in a gang, didn't carry a church key, a shank, an ice pick, or a gun; didn't smoke weed, drink, snort coke, take meth, gamble or chase women. He was very religious and worshipped the exact same God that his brother worshipped, and the rituals he practiced were correct and timely.

Cain worked for a living in an honest profession. He wasn't a thief, wasn't a predatory lender, wasn't racist, wasn't a Wall Street barracuda, a dishonest investment banker, or an unscrupulous social network mogul. He wasn't a cheap politician, wasn't a terrorist, wasn't on the take, wasn't lazy, nor did he associate with the wrong crowd. The man did everything a model citizen is supposed to do; yet he, and subsequently his gift, were soundly rejected.

It's common for poorly-trained Bible students to trip up on the nature of the men's offerings and totally miss the role that the nature of the men themselves played in their worship; in other words: they assume Cain was rejected because his offering was bloodless and they attempt to justify their theory by citing the below:

"It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. God accepted Abel's offering to show that he was a righteous man." (Heb 11:4)

The focus in both Genesis and Hebrews is not really upon the offerings because it's okay for a minchah to be bloodless. The focus is actually upon faith and righteousness; viz: Abel was a man of both faith and righteousness whereas his brother wasn't. In a nutshell: Cain's association with God was strictly via ritual.

It's not uncommon for John Q and Jane Doe pew warmer to associate with God like that. On Sunday they go through all the proper motions; while the rest of the week they think, feel, speak, and act like secular humanists with little concern as to how God might feel about their conduct.

Gen 4:5b . . Cain was much distressed and his face fell.

Cain was a whole lot worse than distressed. He was blazing mad. The word for "distressed" is from charah (khaw-raw') and means: to glow or grow warm; figuratively (usually) to blaze up, of anger, zeal, jealousy. Cain is actually in a passionate rage over this and certainly in no mood for a lecture.

Gen 4:6 . . And The Lord said to Cain: Why are you distressed, and why is your face fallen?

God made an honest effort to talk things over with Cain and resolve their differences; but Cain didn't respond; he was too busy sulking in a black pout.

Gen 4:7a . . If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?

That is an irrevocable principle, and comes out very early in the Bible because it is so foundational to humanity's association with its creator. Well; Abel did do right and that's why his gift is said to be offered in faith.

Cain's lack of faith is well illustrated at Isa 1:11-20. Yhvh's people were offering all the required sacrifices, they were praying up a storm, and observing all the required feasts and holy days. But God rejected all of it, even though He himself required it, because His people's conduct was unbecoming.

"The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to Yhvh." (Prv 15:8)

Perhaps the classic example is the one below.

"You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings." (Ps 51:16)

When David wrote that; he had only just committed the capital crimes of adultery and premeditated murder. There was just no way that God was going to accept his sacrifices and offerings on top of that; and David knew it too.

The principle didn't go away. It's still the Lord's way of doing business with people; even with Christians.

"God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another." (1John 1:5-7)

Gen 4:7b . . But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door;

This is the very first instance in the Bible of the word "sin". The Hebrew word is chatta'ah (khat-taw-aw') and/or chatta'th (khat-tawth') which are ambiguous words that technically mean an offense; as in repeat offender. In other words; not just an occasional slip-up, but a life style; viz: a habit.

Whatever it was that God found displeasing in Cain's life at the time of the minchah disaster was moved to the back burner at this point because something far worse is looming on Cain's horizon; and it wasn't his kid brother's murder; no, it's something far more fatal to one's spiritual welfare.

It's a perpetual unwillingness to talk things over with God and get some things straightened out between the two of you. This is not just serious— it's extremely serious and apparently quite common among people with Cain-ish attitudes.

"But they refused to pay attention, and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears from hearing. And they made their hearts like flint so that they could not hear the law and the words which the Lord of legions had sent by His spirit through the former prophets" (Zech 7:11-12)

That attitude is one of the very reasons why some people are sent to hell.

"This is the condemnation: that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God." (John 3:19-21)

Gen 4:7c . . it desires to have you, but you must master it.

This is the first mention of self control in the bible. In other words; yes, God created humanity with the capability to choose the wrong paths for itself, and the capability to choose the wrong behavior too; but that's only half the story. God also created humanity with the capability to choose the right paths for itself, and the capability to choose the right behavior.

Gen 4:8a . . Now Cain talked with Abel his brother;

Cain probably complained to his brother that Yhvh was unfair. But the poor man couldn't have picked a worse sounding board because Abel was a prophet (Luke 11:50-51). In Cain's dispute with the Lord, Abel no doubt took Yhvh's side in it. That was too much. There's no way a man like Cain was going to take a lecture from his own kid brother. Abel's popularity with God was bad enough, but preaching only made it worse and added insult to injury.

No doubt Cain was very jealous of his kid brother's on-going popularity with God. Poor Abel lost his life just because he was a pious man.

"Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you." (1John 3:12-13)

One of the boys involved in the April 20, 1999 Columbine High School shooting incident shot and killed a girl in the cafeteria just because she believed in God. Isn't that amazing? That boy was nothing in the world but a twentieth century Cain with a gun.

Gen 4:8b . . and when they were in the field, Cain set upon his brother Abel and killed him.

Whether or not Cain premeditated his brother's death that day is difficult to tell. The word for "killed" is from harag (haw-rag') and means: to smite with deadly intent. So the attack on his kid brother, whether premeditated or not, was definitely meant to end Abel's life rather than to just rough him up and teach him a lesson.

How Cain planned to explain Abel's death to his parents isn't stated. He couldn't very well blame it on a carnivorous predator since man and beast were on friendly terms prior to the Flood. It's my guess he set up the crime scene to make it look like an accident.

Gen 4:9 . . Yhvh said to Cain: Where is your brother Abel? And he said: I don't know. Am I my brother's keeper?

The Hebrew word for "keeper" indicates, in this case, a guardian; viz: responsibility for someone or something put in one's care; for example: Abel was a keeper of the sheep: a shepherd. (Gen 4:2)

Cain worshipped the True God, same as his brother, and he practiced the very same rituals; yet responded to his maker's simple question with a lie and a sarcastic rejoinder. Those who are the Serpent's progeny often act like that because the Serpent's progeny have a Serpent's tongue.

"You are of your father the Devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it." (John 8:44-45)

Gen 4:10 . .Then He said: What have you done? Hark, your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground!

The Hebrew word for "cries out" is from tsa'aq (tsaw-ak') and means: to shriek; which can be defined as a wild, involuntary scream.

Whether or not human blood actually has an audible voice isn't nearly important as to what it might be saying. And in this case, it certainly couldn't be good.

In civil law, it's handy to produce the corpus delicti in a homicide case because it's very useful for proving the reality of a death, and for establishing the cause, and the time, of its occurrence. It's interesting that God didn't produce Abel's body for evidence. He could have, but instead relied upon the voice of his body's blood. So a murder victim's blood can be introduced as a witness in the courts of Heaven. That is very interesting.

Abel's blood accuses. In contrast, Christ's blood defends (e.g. Rom 5:6-11, Heb 12:24, and 1Pet 1:18-19). That's a whole lot more to people's advantage.

Gen 4:11 . .Therefore, you shall be more cursed than the ground which opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand.

The original curse upon the soil reduced its agrarian productivity. But the curse upon Cain brought his agrarian productivity to a complete and irrevocable end.

Gen 4:12 . . If you till the soil, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. You shall become a ceaseless wanderer on earth.

Ceaseless wandering was an inevitable consequence of the inability to raise an adequate amount of your own food in that day and age. Nobody was eating meat yet, so the soil was pretty much it as far as nourishment went.

Cain went on to become a very hungry, very overworked man. Wherever he tried to farm, the ground would respond in such a way as to act infertile. The curse was leveled right at his diet and the source of his food. Up till now, Cain had been a successful, independent farmer. But no amount of agricultural wisdom would ever restore his independence, nor his once green thumb no matter how hard he tried to overcome it. Cain had crossed over a line and there was no going back.

Since Cain could no longer sustain himself by farming, it would be difficult to settle down and build himself a home; so he was forced to become migratory and forage for seasonal foods like the uncivilized beast that he was. It was poetic justice. The punishment sure fit his personality. If he was going to act like a brute, then he deserved to live like one.

Though the Bible doesn't say; it would seem to me a reasonable assumption that the curse upon Cain extended to his posterity (cf. Num 14:18). Up ahead we'll see that they became renowned as a commercial/industrial society rather than agrarian. As time went by, and the Adams family multiplied and spread out; Cain's community no doubt traded with them using income from the sale of manufactured goods to barter for the foods that they themselves were unable to grow. Dependence upon imported food may not be ideal; but it's certainly better than going hungry.

Gen 4:13 . . Cain said to the Lord: My punishment is too great to bear!

His punishment was actually very lenient. In point of fact, it wasn't punishment at all, it was discipline. It's true that Cain would struggle to survive; but at least he was allowed to live. His kid brother was dead. How is that fair?

Q: How did Cain get off with only a slap on the wrist? Why wasn't he executed for murder since God himself mandates capital punishment for murderers as per Gen 9:5-6, Ex 21:12-14, Lev 24:17, Lev 24:21, and Num 35:31-34? Does God practice a double standard?

A: Murder is intrinsically evil, yes; however; according to Deut 5:2-4, Rom 4:15, Rom 5:13, and Gal 3:17, law enacted ex post facto is too late; viz: law can't be enforced until after it's enacted, not even divine law; which is precisely why God didn't, and couldn't, prosecute Cain for murder.

Gen 4:14a . . Since You have banished me this day from the soil, and I must avoid Your presence and become a restless wanderer on earth—

Who said he must avoid God's presence? Somebody can be a ceaseless wanderer without losing touch with God; I mean, after all: He's everywhere at once. (Ps 139:7-12)

Estrangement was Cain's decision, just as it was Judas' decision to break with Jesus. Both men could've turned it around if they wanted; but didn't. Cain walked out on God of his own volition. Now he would face life very insecure.

Gen 4:14b . . anyone who meets me may kill me!

I'm curious as to who Cain feared might slay him. The Adams family were the only people on earth at that time. It appears to me that Cain did not believe his father Adam was the only man that God created.

Gen 4:15a . .The Lord said to him: I promise, if anyone kills Cain, sevenfold vengeance shall be taken on him.

God didn't promise to be Cain's body guard; only to severely punish anyone who slew him. This event highlights one of the problems associated with domestic tranquility. Law works to protect you only when people obey it; so that fear of retribution becomes the only really practical deterrent.

Gen 4:15b . . And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest anyone who met him should kill him.

The nature of Cain's mark is totally unknown. However, the "mark" wasn't so people would hoot at Cain wherever he went. It was a "No Hunting" sign so future generations of the Adams' family would know the real Cain from imposters who might be inclined to give themselves a sort of diplomatic immunity by impersonating Abel's brother.

God allows ignorance as an excuse; to a point. However, information creates responsibility. When a person knows an act is wrong, and goes ahead and does it anyway, they are in much deeper trouble than one who did not know that a particular act was wrong.

No one had been forbidden to kill Abel, nor forbidden to kill any other man for that matter. But soon it would become widespread public knowledge that God strictly forbade killing Cain. Therefore, anyone who ignored God would pay dearly for knowingly, and willfully, ignoring His wishes; just as Adam died for tasting the forbidden fruit because the tasting was willful, and done in full understanding of both the ban and the consequence. (cf. Num 15:30-31, Matt 11:20-24, Luke 12:47-48, Heb 10:26-27)

Gen 4:16a . . Cain left the presence of The Lord

Cain's departure from the presence of the Lord wasn't a forced eviction as had been the Adams' departure from the garden. And even though the Adams were driven from the garden, they weren't driven from God. The family kept that connection and brought up their boys to keep it too.

Cain's self-imposed exile has the aura of a dreadful finality. He renounced God, and his native religion, and was content to forego its privileges so that he might not be under its control. He forsook not only his kin but also their worship, and cast off all pretenses to the fear of God— apparently putting out of his mind God's statement: "If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?"

Gen 4:16a is a terrible epitaph upon the tombstone of Cain's life, and you can almost feel the concussion of a dreadful thud as the mighty doors of perdition close solidly behind him; sealing his passage into permanent darkness.

Why didn't God plead with Cain to stay in touch? Well, that would be like throwing good money after bad. God had already tried at Gen 4:7; and like Einstein once remarked: Insanity can be defined as doing the same thing the same way over and over again and expecting a different result. Well; God's not insane; He knows when to say when. Sadly, there are people for whom it can be said: That was the last straw.

Of all the things that Cain had done up to this point, walking out on God was his worst mistake. Yes, he would have to scrounge for food; but that was just a bump in the road; not the end of the road. People need to think that over. No matter how harsh your circumstances are, and no matter what life has thrown in your face, loss of contact with your maker is much worse. It is wise to stay in touch with God even if your life is a train wreck and God seems oblivious to your circumstances.

"The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love. He will not contend forever, or nurse His anger for all time . . As a father has compassion for his children, so The Lord has compassion for those who fear Him. For He knows how we are formed; He is mindful that we are dust." (Ps 103:8-14)

That Psalm's encouragement is restricted to "those who fear Him". The Cains of this world are of course eo ipso excluded.

Gen 4:16b . . and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

The Hebrew word for "Nod" is from nowd (node) and means: wandering, vagrancy or exile. Precisely how Nod got its name, or where it was located is unknown. The only other place in the entire Old Testament where nowd is found is at Ps 56:9.

Gen 4:17a . . Cain knew his wife,

Adam was created directly from the dust of the earth. Not so Eve. She was constructed from a human tissue sample amputated from Adam's body. In other words: Eve's flesh was biologically just as much Adam's flesh as Adam's except for gender; viz: Eve wasn't a discrete species of human life, rather; she was the flip side of the same coin.

After God created Adam and Eve, He wrapped creation and has been on sabbatical every since.

According to the Bible, all human life thereafter came from Eve's flesh.

"Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living." (Gen 3:20)

Bottom line: The flesh of Cain's wife descended from his mother's flesh.

NOTE: Seeing as how Eve was the mother of all living, then she was the mother of Christ; ergo: if Mary was the mother of God, then so was Eve.

An even more convincing example of prehistoric incest is Noah and his three sons and their wives. Nobody else survived the Flood; ergo: Shem's, Ham's, and Japheth's children married amongst themselves— brothers with sisters and/or cousins with cousins.

"Now the sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem and Ham and Japheth. These three were the sons of Noah; and from these the whole earth was populated." (Gen 9:18-19)

Obviously the human genome was very pure back in those days. The proof of it is pre-historic human life's amazing longevity— Adam lived to be 930, and Noah to 950.

According to Acts 17:26 it was the creator's deliberate design that all human life descend from a solo specimen. Well, in order for that to happen, people had to sleep with close relatives in the beginning.

Now as to the "sin" of incest; according to Rom 4:15, Rom 5:13, and Gal 3:17, Bible laws enacted ex post facto are too late; viz: law can't be enforced until after it's enacted. Well, laws forbidding incest weren't codified until the covenant that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God as per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

Gen 4:17b . . and she conceived and bore Enoch. And he then founded a city, and named the city after his son Enoch.

The "city" probably wasn't the kind of city we're used to thinking. The word for it is from 'iyr (eer) and simply means a community— a place guarded by waking or a watch —in the widest sense; even of a mere encampment or post.

Whether Cain actually lived in a permanent settlement is doubtful since he was stuck with vagrancy and wandering. Cain's city was very likely nothing more than a rudimentary village like the towns in the Old West and the Klondike that grew up around rail heads and mining camps.

Some of those were little more than a village of tents, and that's probably all that Enochville amounted to. Just a nomadic assembly of Cain's clan where they could pool their resources, and watch each other's back as they wandered from place to place in the land of Nod searching for sustenance.

Gen 4:18-19 . .To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad begot Mehujael, and Mehujael begot Methusael, and Methusael begot Lamech. Lamech took to himself two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other was Zillah.

Adah is from 'Adah (aw-daw') and means: ornament. It's not unusual for people to name their little girls after jewelry like Pearl, Ruby, Jade, Sapphire, and Amber. Zillah is from Tsillah (tsil-law') which is derived from tsel (tsale) and means: shade (or shadow), whether literal or figurative. Shade is a good thing in sunny locales so Zillah's name may have been associated with shelter, protection, peace, serenity, and rest— as in Song 2:3.

Lamech's marriages are the very first incidence of polygamy in the Bible, and I have yet to see a passage where God either approved or disapproved of it other than the restrictions imposed upon New Testament church officers. (e.g. 1Tim 3:2, 1Tim 3:12, and Titus 1:6)

Aside from the obvious sensual benefits men derive from harems; polygamy does have its practical side. The gestation period for human beings is nine months. At that rate, it would take a man many years to build up his clan to a respectable size. But with multiple wives, he could speed things up considerably. In primitive cultures, large families are very influential, and their numbers crucial to survival and self preservation.

"Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are sons born to a man in his youth. Happy is the man who fills his quiver with them; they shall not be put to shame when they contend with the enemy in the gate." (Ps 127:4-5)

Gen 4:20 . . Adah bore Jabal; he was the ancestor of those who dwell in tents and amidst herds.

This is the Bible's very first mention of man-made portable shelters. Tents, teepees, wigwams, etc; make it possible to roam long distances in relative comfort while searching for foods and pastures.

Abraham and Sarah were housed in portable shelters the whole time they lived in Canaan. With portable shelters, Enochville could be a very mobile community, staying in one place only long enough to deplete its natural resources before moving on to better diggings to invade, plunder, exploit, pollute, and depredate.

Jabal wasn't the father of animal husbandry as the passage seems to suggest. Abel was already tending flocks before Jabal was born (Gen 4:2). Dwelling "amidst" herds describes the lifestyle of North America's early plains Indians; whose livelihood depended a great deal upon wild buffalo. Though they followed the herds, the Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, Crow, Blackfoot, Comanche, and Shoshone, et el; didn't actually raise any of their own buffalo like on a ranch.

Dwelling amidst herds is a nomadic way of life rather than one that's domesticated; hence the need for portable shelters; and the herds (e.g. deer, elk, wild goats, antelope, wildebeests, et al) would provide fabric for not only the tents, but also for shoes and clothing; which would need replacement quite often.

One of Lewis' and Clark's complaints, when they were passing through the Oregon territory, was that moccasins rotted off their feet in the Northwest's climate. Even without rot, the soles of moccasins are not all that resistant to wear. Buckskins, manufactured from Elk hide and/or deerskin, fared little better.

Gen 4:21 . . And the name of his brother was Jubal; he was the ancestor of all who play the lyre and the pipe.

The word for "ancestor" is from 'ab (awb); a primitive word which means father, in a literal and immediate, or figurative and remote application. In this particular case, 'ab wouldn't mean literal kin, but likely analogous to an inventor who is the first to introduce a new concept which then later becomes widely adopted.

The word for "lyre" is from kinnowr (kin-nore') and means: to twang. So the actual instrument itself is difficult to identify. It could have been a harp. But then again, it may have even been something as simple as a string stretched between a washtub and a broom stick.

The interesting thing about an ancient twanging instrument is its string. How did the Cainites make them? Of what material? A stringed instrument is a pretty advanced musical tool and certainly not something you would expect to find among so primitive a people as the antediluvians.

The word for "pipe" is from 'uwgab (oo-gawb') and means: a reed-instrument of music.

A modern reed instrument is typically a woodwind that produces sound by vibrating a thin strip of wood against the mouthpiece; like clarinets and saxophones (hence the classification: woodwinds). But in that culture, it could very well have been something as simple as a tube whistle made from a single hollow section of plant stem; or several of those bundled together like a Pan flute.

Gen 4:22a . . As for Zillah, she bore Tubal-cain, who forged all implements of copper and iron.

Copper, in its natural form, is too soft and pliable for practical purposes; but it's a classification of metals called work-hardening. In other words, by pounding or rolling cold copper, its mechanical properties can be greatly improved. It probably didn't take Mr. Tubal-cain long to figure that out.

Adding a little tin to copper produces bronze, which is much stronger and tougher than pure copper.

Copper's advantage in cooking is its natural heat conduction, which is very fast as compared to iron and/or steel. It's also an excellent conductor of electricity, but unless they were bottling lightening in those days, copper's electrical properties would have to wait for future exploitation.

Iron, though stronger and harder than copper, is relatively soft and pliable in its natural condition too; but with the addition of small amounts of carbon, it becomes steel, which is quite a bit tougher than natural iron. Whether Tubal-cain figured that out is difficult to know for sure.

Gen 4:22b . . And the sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.

Her name is from Na'amah (nah-am-aw') which means pleasant, amiable, or agreeable. A girl named Joy would probably fit that category. Na'amah suggests that the people of Enochville were content with their way of life.

So all in all, Enochville, though unproductive in agriculture, prospered through manufacturing and commerce instead; trading the goods and services of their industrial base for much needed produce; the same way that most urbanites still do even today. People in towns and cities typically don't support themselves directly from nature. They earn a medium of exchange in some sort of skill or profession, then trade it with merchants to buy the things they need to survive.

The technological, and cultural, level of early Man was very high. It's interesting that the identifying marks which evolutionary anthropologists use to denote the emergence of a stone age culture into a civilized society were evident in Cain's day— animal husbandry, agriculture, trades, urbanization, music, and metallurgy. All these civilizational technologies emerged very early: within just a few generations of Adam; rather than thousands upon thousands of years of human development.

I'm not saying there were never any "stone-age" peoples. Obviously there were. But though Cain's community may have started out as cave men, by Noah's day they were past primitive conditions and actually pretty advanced.

It's too bad the Flood wiped early Man off the map. Who can tell what he might have accomplished had his progress not been interrupted (cf. Gen 11:6).

Gen 4:23-24 . . And Lamech said to his wives: Adah and Zillah, hear my voice! O wives of Lamech, give ear to my speech! I have slain a man for wounding me, and a lad for bruising me. If Cain is avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.

Brag, Brag, Brag boy, I tell you some men sure love to show off and glorify themselves in front of women; no doubt about it.

Apparently ol' Lamech figured the homicide he committed wasn't nearly as severe as Cain's because he killed in retribution; whereas Cain killed in a rage. Also, Cain killed his kid brother, whereas Lamech killed his relative a little more distant. So to Lamech's way of thinking, Cain's killing was a much more serious crime; and if a dirty rotten scoundrel like gramps was under divine protections, then, in Lamech's mind, he certainly deserved to be under them even more so.

It almost appears that Lamech killed two people, but really it was only one; and in fact a person younger than himself. Two words describe Lamech's opponent. The first word is from 'enowsh (en-oshe') and simply means a mortal; viz: a human being (of either gender), in general (singly or collectively); viz: someone and/or somebody. The second word reveals the person's age. The word for "lad" is yeled (yeh'-led) and means something born, i.e. a lad or offspring— boy, child, fruit, son, young one and/or young man.

Apparently Lamech got in a disagreement with somebody and they settled their differences in a fight. The injury Lamech received in the ensuing scuffle could have been something as simple as the man biting his ear or kicking him in the groin. It's my guess Lamech over-reacted and stabbed the man to death with a spiffy hunting knife that his son Tubal-cain made for him over in the blacksmith shop.

Lamech's sense of right and wrong reflects the humanistic conscience of a man void of God's mentoring. In his earthly mind, revenge was an okay thing; which is a common attitude in many primitive cultures.

But his opponent only wounded him. In return, Lamech took his life. The scales of justice don't balance in a situation like that they tip. Pure law says eye for eye, tooth for tooth, burning for burning, stripe for stripe, life for life, and no more. If the lad's intent was obviously upon great bodily harm; Lamech would probably be justified to kill in self defense since his opponent was a younger man and had the advantage in age. However, according to Lamech's own testimony, he killed the man in revenge; not self defense.

Cain's side of the Adams family is characterized by technology, invention, boasting, achievement, commerce, and violence. But not one word is recorded concerning its association with, nor its interest in, their maker. Cain's entire community was impious and went on to be completely destroyed right down to the last man, woman, and child in Noah's flood. No one survives him today.

The Bible doesn't record even one single incident of a Cainite blessing God for His goodness; nor for His mercy, nor for His providence. There is no record that any of them ever said even one single prayer not even a simple lay-me-down-to-sleep kind of prayer. Every one of the little kids in Enochville went to bed each night without the slightest assurance that humanity's creator cared at all for the well being of their little souls.

How many homes right here today in modern America reflect that very same Cainish culture? The parents and the children are unthankful, unholy, and irreligious; caring little or nothing for things of eternal value: moving towards an inevitable head-on rendezvous with death and the hereafter, and totally unprepared to meet their maker.

Gen 4:26a . . And to Seth, in turn, a son was born, and he named him Enosh.

Sometimes the record shows the mother naming a child, and sometimes the father; which suggests that in all cases there was very likely mutual consultation between husband and wife on this important decision. But it's always important for the father to take a hand in naming the children because the act testifies that he has legally, and officially, accepted them as his own (e.g. Gen 15:16, Gen 21:3, Matt 1:21, Luke 1:13, Luke 1:63, Rev 2:17).

"Enosh" is from 'enowsh (en-oshe') and means: a mortal; hence a man in general, singly or collectively— thus differing from the more dignified 'adam (aw-dawm') which is the proper name of the human race (Gen 5:2). There's really nothing special about an 'enowsh— just a feller. Sometimes boys are named Guy, or Buddy, so 'enowsh would be a common enough name.

Gen 4:26b . .Then men began to call on the name of The Lord.

The Hebrew word for "Lord" in this case is Yhvh; which always, and without exception, refers to the one true god.

Apparently up to this point in time, people addressed God in a sort of general way instead of a personal way.

According to a note in the Stone Tanach, the four letters of this name are those of the Hebrew words "He always was, He always is, and He always will be" signifying that Yhvh is timeless, perpetual, and infinite; ergo: self existent.

 

Genesis 05
 

Gen 5:1a . .This is the record of Adam's line.

I suspect that Adam's genealogy would be better defined as "a" record rather than "the" record because the Bible's version isn't exhaustive.

Adam's genealogy includes every natural-born human being who ever lived and/or will live, but the only branch in his tree that really counts is the one leading to Jesus of Nazareth: the Bible's central figure.

Gen 5:1b-2 . .When God created man, He made him in the likeness of God; male and female He created them. And when they were created, He blessed them and called them Man.

As a preamble to Seth's line, Genesis reminds the reader that Man's origin was by intelligent design and special creation, and that he was made in the likeness of his creator, and that he's been an h.sapiens right from the get go. Man didn't begin his existence as some sort of pre-human hominid named Ardi who lived in Ethiopia's Afar Rift some 4.4 million years ago.

Some people take issue with Genesis because it seems to them so unscientific and contrary to the (known) fossil record. But they need to be cautious because science doesn't have perfect understanding of everything yet, nor has it discovered everything there is to discover, and it often has to be revised to reflect new discoveries, and to correct outdated theories and opinions.

But to be fair, Bible students don't know everything yet either so I would advise watching the sciences for new discoveries that help fill in some of the Bible's blanks.

Gen 5:3a . .When Adam had lived 130 years, he begot a son

Adam lived to be 930. If we compare that age to that of the average life expectancy of American men today, Adam would have been an eleven year-old kid when Seth was born.

Eve understood Seth to be Abel's replacement. But that doesn't necessarily mean Seth was the very next boy born into the Adams family after Abel. It doesn't even mean Seth was her third child. Bible genealogies often have very large gaps in them, omitting insignificant male siblings; and typically all of the girls. In one instance (1Chrn 1:1) the record skips Abel and jumps right to Seth.

Taking advantage of this rather strange Bible practice; critics are quick to point out generational gaps in Christ's genealogy with the intent of invalidating the entire New Testament. But gaps are to be expected or otherwise the list would be cumbersome and require a book all its own. For example; a sizeable quantity of time passed between Noah's ark and the arrival of Abraham on the scene; and probably a couple of ice ages too. We're talking about a lot of generations there, and naming them all to a man would be just as useless as it would be impractical.

Gen 5:3b . . in his likeness after his image, and he named him Seth.

Seth's image and likeness of his father Adam testifies that he was not made in the image and likeness of another species of human being. No; he was made of Adam's organic human tissue just as his mother Eve was. Thus Seth was an extension of Adam.

That may seem a trivial matter, but it's very important because it reflects upon the kind of human being that Christ was born as. His human body wasn't a celestial human body nor the human body of another species of human being: no, his human body was an extension of Adam through and through just as Seth's and just as Eve's.

Adam's image and likeness of God was obtained via the process of creation; while Seth's image and likeness of Adam was by means of procreation; which Webster's defines as reproduction; viz: biological progeny.

Gen 5:4-5 . . After the birth of Seth, Adam lived 800 years and begot sons and daughters. All the days that Adam lived came to 930 years; then he died.

Well, there goes grandpa Adam, just as God predicted at Gen 3:19. But hey? Where's the listing of the rest of his kids? Didn't God bless him with the words "be fruitful, increase in number, and fill the earth". Well, I seriously doubt that he and Eve stopped after just three kids. But the rest of his progeny for reasons I can only guess didn't make the cut.

But when did Eve die? Did she outlive Adam? Who died first, Adam or Eve? Nobody really knows. But supposing Eve died quite a while before Adam? Did he remarry? And if he remarried, who did he marry? One of his own grandchildren?

Well . . in Adam's case, what's so bad about that? I mean, after all, his first wife was constructed from the organic tissues of his own body; so that in reality, Eve was his first child which means that by today's social standards; Adam practiced the worst kind of incest. At least his grandkids would have been several times removed.

Gen 5:6-7 . .When Seth had lived 105 years, he begot Enosh. After the birth of Enosh, Seth lived 807 years and begot sons and daughters.

No doubt some people envy the longevity of the antediluvians; but I don't. Their life was hard, and for the most part, pretty boring too. Would you want to live for 912 years in pre historic conditions without a single modern convenience? Not me.

Was Enosh the first of Seth's children? Maybe, but probably not. However, he is the only child that counts because it's through him that we're moving towards Noah; and ultimately Abraham, David, and Christ.

Gen 5:8 . . All the days of Seth came to 912 years; then he died.

(sigh) The story of our futile lives. So and So was born, he got married and reproduced; he lived X number of years after that, and then died— same O, same O. The weary circle of life.

"Meaningless! Futile! complains the Teacher. Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless. What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever." (Ecc 1:2-4)

The earth is dumber than a brick; yet easily outlives its human potentate; whose IQ is infinitely greater.

Gen 5:9 . .When Enosh had lived 90 years, he begot Kenan.

Kenan's name in the Hebrew is Qeynan (kay-nawn') which means fixed or permanent; sort of like birds' nests, homes; and drifters finally ending their nomadic life and putting down some roots. Fixed can also mean that someone's life has a noble purpose and that their mind is focused upon that purpose rather than looking two ways at once. Or it can also mean somebody's life is a dead end; for example "this is as good as it's ever going to get". Kind of pessimistic; but had I lived back then, I would have agreed; heartily.

Gen 5:10 . . After the birth of Kenan, Enosh lived 815 years and begot sons and daughters.

You know, some of these guys really didn't accomplish very much. All they seemed to do was reproduce. But the important thing is: they made a line to Messiah and, as is the duty of patriarchs, preserved whatever sacred teachings were handed down from their fathers.

Gen 5:11 . . All the days of Enosh came to 905 years; then he died.

(yawn) Over and over again. Just about everybody reproduces in chapter five. And just about everybody dies too.

Gen 5:12-20 . .When Kenan had lived 70 years, he begot Mahalalel. After the birth of Mahalalel, Kenan lived 840 years and begot sons and daughters. All the days of Kenan came to 910 years; then he died. When Mahalalel had lived 65 years, he begot Jared. After the birth of Jared, Mahalalel lived 830 years and begot sons and daughters. All the days of Mahalalel came to 895 years; then he died.

. . .When Jared had lived 162 years, he begot Enoch. After the birth of Enoch, Jared lived 800 years and begot sons and daughters. All the days of Jared came to 962 years; then he died.

Four of those men— Enoch, Jared, Mahalalel, and Kenan (Cainan) —are listed in Christ's genealogy at Luke 3:37-38.

Gen 5:21 . .When Enoch had lived 65 years, he begot Methuselah.

Methuselah's name is Methuwshelach (meth-oo-sheh'-lakh) which is a compound word made up of math (math) which means an adult (as of full length or full size), and shelach (sheh'-lakh) which means a missile of attack, i.e. a spear, sling stone, or perhaps an arrow. Methuselah was a man-size weapon rather than one that might be employed by little children.

Today our preferred missile of attack from a hand held weapon is the bullet. A Methuselah bullet would probably be known today as a magnum. Magnums cost more than normal ammo but hit harder, go further, and cause more damage (they're louder too). A modern name that might correspond to Methuselah is Long Tom— a nickname often given to very large canons. Maybe they meant to call him Big Guy because he was such a heavy newborn.

Gen 5:22-23 . . After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years; and he begot sons and daughters. All the days of Enoch came to 365 years.

Enoch was a fiery preacher, speaking the words recorded in Jude 1:14-15; warning people prior to the Flood that Almighty God intends to hold people's feet to the fire some day.

Gen 5:24a . . Enoch walked with God;

Enoch was the exact opposite of Cain: he walked with God rather than away from God.

This is the very first man on record who is actually said to have walked with God; though no doubt Abel did too.

Those who are outwardly religious, but don't actually walk with God, might be wise to give this next little saying some thought.

Ye call me Lord and respect me not.
Ye call me Master and obey me not.
Ye call me Light and see me not.
Ye call me Way and walk me not.
Ye call me Life and choose me not.
Ye call me Wise and heed me not.
Ye call me Kind and love me not.
Ye call me Just and fear me not.
If I condemn thee, blame me not.

On the page of Scripture, Enoch isn't said to walk with God until after his little boy Methuselah was born; suggesting perhaps that parenthood gave him cause to ponder his manner of life thus far.

Gen 5:24b . . then he was no more, because God took him away.

The Hebrew word for "no more" is 'ayin (ah'-yin) which is primarily a negative indicating that one minute Enoch was on earth, and the next he wasn't.

It's difficult to ascertain from so little information in the book of Genesis whether Enoch died of natural causes or the hand of God; but according to Heb 11:5, he didn't undergo death at all but was instantaneously transferred from this life to the next; apparently leaving behind no remains for his family to bury.

It's assumed by many that Enoch was taken to heaven; but according to Christ; no man had been to heaven prior to himself. (John 3:13)

Gen 5:25-27 . .When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he begot Lamech. After the birth of Lamech, Methuselah lived 782 years and begot sons and daughters. All the days of Methuselah came to 969 years; then he died.

Ol' Methuselah holds the record for longevity. He outlived his son Lamech, dying five years after him in the very year the Flood came; when Methuselah's grandson Noah was 600.

Whether or not Methuselah died in the Flood or by natural causes is not said. However, he may indeed have perished in it right along with all of the rest of Noah's relatives. Just because men are listed in Messiah's genealogy doesn't necessarily mean they were righteous. In point of fact, some of the Davidic kings in Jesus' line were totally incorrigible men beyond remedy. (e.g. Jer 22:24-30)

Gen 5:28-29 . .When Lamech had lived 182 years, he begot a son. And he named him Noah, saying: This one will provide us relief from our work and from the toil of our hands, out of the very soil which the Lord placed under a curse.

The word for "Noah" is from nuwach (noo'-akh) and means: rest or quiet. But not the kind of quiet one might find in a sound-proof room. More like the tranquility a person would experience by getting away from anxiety, fear, conflict, and toil.

Lamech speaks as one fatigued with the business of living, and as one grudging that so much energy, which otherwise might have been much better employed in leisure, entertainment, or self improvement, was unavoidably spent in toil and labor necessary simply to survive back in that day.

Lamech undoubtedly saw that Noah was a very special boy; the next patriarch after himself. Perhaps he hoped Noah was the promised seed of the woman; the one who would crush the Serpent's head, remove the curse, and restore the Earth to its former prosperity and glory; thus making for Man a much more enjoyable experience than the one he is subjected to for now.

"I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its slavery to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God." (Rom 8:18-21)

"Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began." (Acts 3:19-21)

According to Acts 3:19-21, men have been pounding pulpits since the very beginning, and all of the prophets, ever since Abel, have looked ahead in anxious anticipation to Messiah's intervention in world affairs and bringing into existence a much better world than the one that is now.

Gen 5:30-32 . . After the birth of Noah, Lamech lived 595 years and begot sons and daughters. All the days of Lamech came to 777 years; then he died. When Noah had lived 500 years, Noah begot Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Lamech escaped the Flood by a mere 5 years. It came when Noah was 600 (Gen 7:6).

Shem was the next patriarch after his dad Noah. But the names of all three boys are given probably because of the role they will play in re-populating the Earth after the Flood. The Bible doesn't say that Shem, Ham, and Japheth were especially good men. They survived the Flood in spite of their character only because they got aboard the ark with their dad when it was time for the rain to begin. If they had mocked, and remained on land with the rest of the world, then they would have certainly drowned right along with everyone else in spite of their ancestry.

So; were Mr and Mrs Noah childless until Noah was 500 years old? Probably not. The other kids, if there were any, didn't count as far as God was concerned, and, if there were any, they perished in the deluge. Being related to holy men like rabbis, pastors or deacons doesn't guarantee a ticket to safety. Everyone has to make their own personal decisions in that regard (e.g. Gen 19:12-14). God commands all people everywhere to repent. Refuse, and it's curtains; no matter how important, nor well connected, your relatives might be.

 

Genesis 06
 

Gen 6:1-2 . . Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were good; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.

The Hebrew word for "good" in that passage is towb (tobe) which is the very same word that Genesis utilizes to evaluate God's handiwork in creation; e.g. Light (Gen 1:4) Land and Seas (Gen 1:10) Vegetation (Gen 1:12) Sun, Moon, and Stars (Gen 1:18) Birds and Aquatic Life (Gen 1:21) Beasts and Bugs (Gen 1:25) and the finished product. (Gen 1:31)

Towb is one of those ambiguous Hebrew words that can be utilized as either a noun or an adjective in a wide variety of applications. It can indicate morality, it can indicate a tasty meal, it can indicate a job well done, it can indicate a nice man, it can indicate a pretty dress, it can indicate a shapely woman and/or a handsome man, and it can indicate an expert musician and/or a really groovy song like Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance"

In my judicious estimation, when God's handiwork turned out "good" towb indicates that the cosmos— and all of its forms of life, matter, and energy —came out just the way God wanted it to; perfectly suited to the purposes He had in mind when He designed everything. But in this case; I think it's pretty safe to assume towb indicates a woman's looks.

NOTE: Ambiguous Hebrew words like towb serve to illustrate why it's virtually impossible to translate Hebrew into English with 100% verbatim precision. No linguist in his right mind would dare to say that English versions of the Hebrew Old Testament are perfect word-for-word renditions of the original manuscripts— no; they can't even be certified perfect word-for-word renditions of the available manuscripts let alone the originals.

The precise identity of the "sons of God" has been debated. Some say they were the sons of the aristocracy of that day who married attractive women from among the commoners. Others say they were renegade spirit creatures who cohabited with humans to produce a hybrid strain of hominid freaks. Others say they were believing men who threw caution to the wind and built themselves harems of irreverent women instead of marrying believing women of like faith; viz: the men married infidels— implying that "daughters of men" were  women who didn't fear the Bible's God. (e.g. Gen 26:34-35)

Intermarriage between men of faith and infidel women is as old a practice as adultery; and a proven tactic for watering down, compromising, and even extinguishing Bible beliefs and practices (e.g. Num 31:7-16). The people of God are strictly, unequivocally, and clearly forbidden to marry outside their faith. (Deut 7:1-4, 2Cor 6:14-18)

In a mixed relationship— one a believer and the other an infidel —the believer will be forced to compromise their convictions in order to keep the relationship going. Compromise in the area of spiritual values is not a good thing for God's people. It's not only bad for the conscience, but will quickly ruin a believer's relationship with their Lord. (1John 1:6)

Most people want love, romance, companionship, and a family of their own. According to Gen 1:27-28, and Gen 2:21-24, those things are Divine blessings, they're perfectly normal and nothing to be ashamed of; nor is there anything intrinsically naughty or sinful about them. But a believer has to be self controlled, and not permit their base nature to make them lose their heads and ruin their chances for happiness.

Adult dating is where it starts. And adult dating isn't harmless. It leads to other things, and it leads into commitments and promises that are not easily reneged. The end result of adult dating is ultimately marriage and children (quite possibly illegitimate children). Whose spiritual philosophy will prevail in the marriage? Whose spiritual philosophy will be taught to the children? The believer's or the infidel's? And ultimately, who will get the children's souls— God, or the Serpent?

Some couples try to accommodate each other's beliefs by teaching their children the concepts of both religions. For example, a marriage between a Buddhist and a Christian. The children are given a choice between the Bible and the Four Noble Truths; and between Christ and Siddhartha Gautama, and between resurrection and reincarnation. That may seem like a good idea, but it only creates confusion in the minds of the children. Why are mom and dad not in agreement? Whose religion is right? Can both be right? Does it mean that one religion is just as good as the next?

Teaching their children more than one system of spiritual beliefs and practices is out of the question for Christians because the Lord and Master of New Testament Christianity demands their exclusive devotion.

"I am the path and the truth . . No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and humanity; the man Christ Jesus" (1Tim 2:5)

Wives can be very effective in influencing an otherwise pious man to compromise his convictions (e.g. Gen 3:6). All too often, in a mixed marriage, the mother's religion will be taught to her children because husbands, as a rule, put a higher priority on sex and peace in the home than religion, so they won't risk alienating mama by forcing the issue.

The sons of God in Noah's day— whose wives were chosen based solely upon sex appeal sans any spiritual prudence whatsoever —all perished in the Flood right along with their infidel wives and children. Not a one of them had the good sense to go aboard the ark with Noah.

It's never wise for believers to marry outside their faith. A good example is Solomon. He got off to a good start but down the road accumulated a harem of foreign women who led him into idolatry; which subsequently caused The Lord to engineer rebellion in the kingdom. (1Kgs 11 & 12)

Gen 6:3a . . And Yhvh said: My Spirit shall not strive with man forever

Some translations have "abide" instead of strive. But the Hebrew word is diyn (deen) which means: to rule; by implication: to judge (as umpire); also to strive (as at law). It can also mean to plead the cause of; or to contend in argument.

So. How did "My Spirit" accomplish this striving with man? In person Himself? No; just like He always has: via a holy man.

"Noah, a preacher of righteousness" (2Pet 2:5)

According to 1Pet 3:18-20, the Spirit of Christ and My Spirit are one and the same spirit. In point of fact; according to 1Pet 1:10-11, all the Old Testament preachers (a..k.a. prophets) were motivated by the Spirit of Christ. (cf. Rom 8:9 and 1Cor 6:19 where the Spirit of Christ and The Spirit are again seen as one and the same spirit)

Anyway, point being: there does come a time when God's patience runs out. Not because He can't take it anymore, but because when human beings become too decadent and too incorrigible, then any more reasoning with them would be like throwing good money after bad; and risky too.

"Do not give what is sacred to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." (Matt 7:6)

It's sad but true: there are people out there so devoid of spiritual values that they're practically feral.

Contrary to the mushy, sob-sister brand of Christianity going around like swine flu, there is a time when forgiveness is not only impractical, but it's also unreasonable. Hell is populated with people who will never, ever be forgiven. They crossed a line and now there's no going back; ever. God no longer has any interest in their welfare. They are forgotten and ignored; and can expect neither pity nor sympathy from God ever again.

Gen 6:3b . . for they are only mortal flesh.

The Hebrew word for "flesh" is from basar (baw-sawr') which essentially indicates that human life is not celestial; no, it is terrestrial; viz: meat on the hoof. Compare Gen 3:21 where God used a meaty portion taken from Adam's body to construct Eve's.

The word "mortal" isn't really mortal. It's from shagag (shaw-gag') which means: to stray; viz: sin. The phrase "they are only mortal flesh" is actually huw' bshagam baasaar which means: they are sinful flesh.

That is one of the most striking statements in the Bible; straight from God Himself— His own judicious estimation that man isn't basically good; no, au contraire; man is quite basically evil.

Some feel that the doctrine of "The Total Depravity Of Man" is a wholly Christian invention. Far from it. Here in Genesis, the very first book of the Bible, in man's prehistoric years, prior to the Flood, prior to Abraham, prior to Jesus, and prior to the New Testament; God said: they are sinful flesh.

Gen 6:3c . . yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.

Some feel that God set the limits of human longevity in that verse. But people still continued to live long lives for a great number of years afterwards. Even Abraham, who lived many, many years after the Flood, didn't die till he was 175 years old. It's far more reasonable to conclude that God was announcing a deadline; viz: they had 120 years left to get ready to meet their maker. But you think that alarmed anybody? Heck no. They went right on; business as usual.

"And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all." (Luke 17:26-27)

The time of God's patience is sometimes long; but never unlimited; viz: reprieves are not pardons— though God bear a great while, He never bears forever.

Gen 6:4 . .There were giants 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.

The Hebrew word for "giants" in that passage is nephiyl (nef-eel') or nephil (nef-eel') and I have no clue why the KJV's scholars translated it giants because it doesn't mean that at all. For one thing; it's an ambiguous word with more than one meaning. It can indicate someone who cuts, knocks, or brings things down, or a killer; and/or bullies and tyrants.

Now; granted that some bullies are big guys; but not all tyrants are big guys. Take for example Kim Jong-Un of North Korea, He isn't especially imposing but Mr. Jong Il sure knows how to exercise power excessively and brutally.

In other words: nephiyl doesn't necessarily indicate a special race of people; but simply people whose ambition is to dominate others; even if they have to completely destroy their culture and kill them all off to do it; viz: nephiyl personalities are not good followers nor are they very good team players. It can be accurately said of nephiyl personalities that they would rather rule in hell than serve in heaven. In other words: if they can't conquer God, then they would just as soon have nothing to do with Him.

Historical examples of nephiyl types would be men like Genghis Khan of Mongolia, and Alexander the Great of Greece; Napoleon of France, Peter Alekseyevich Romanov of Russia, Chandragupta Maurya of India, shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo of Japan, conquistador Hernando Cortes of Spain, Timur: founder of the Timurid dynasty, and Zahir-ud din Muhammad Babur: founder of the Mughal dynasty that ruled the Indian subcontinent for over three centuries.

Q: If all the nephiyl types drowned in the Flood; then how did their characteristics manage to resurface down the road?

A: Well; from whence did nephiyl types originate in the first place? Same place every other personality type originated: from Adam's genes; viz: since Noah and his wife, and his sons and their wives, were Adam's descendants, then nephiyl characteristics survived the Flood by riding it out in the DNA of the people aboard the ark.

Gen 6:5 . . And the Lord saw that the evil of man was great in the earth, and every imagination of his heart was only evil all the time.

Man's descent into depravity didn't catch his creator by surprise. After all; not only can God see the future but He can also manipulate it; so He was well aware even before Gen 1:1 that the people He was about to create were destined from day-one for a global deluge.

Also, when God inspected His handiwork at Gen 1:31, He evaluated it not just good, but "very" good. So as far as He was concerned; everything was going smoothly and according to plan— nothing was broken, and nothing was maladjusted.

Gen 6:6 . . And the Lord regretted that He had made man upon the earth, and He became grieved in His heart.

I seriously doubt that the regret and grief that God felt was somehow related to His thinking that creating human life was a big mistake. It's difficult to discern from the language and grammar of the text; but it's far more likely that the regret God felt in Gen 6:6 was directly related to what He was about to do next: the destruction of a major portion of the life that He himself put on earth.

In other words; the destruction of life is not something God enjoys as if He were an outdoor guy who kills fish and wildlife for sport with no more sensitivity than a kid blasting aliens in a video game. Man's creator knew the day was coming when He would have to do what He was about to do next, and clearly wasn't looking forward to it.

But to be quite forthright; it seems insane to me that God would go forward with plans to create life on earth knowing in advance that He would one day be destroying so much of it. Where's the logic in that? I just don't get it; but then, no surprise there.

The human mind is organic— produced by a three-pound lump of flabby organic tissue; and not even all three of those pounds are utilized for cognitive processes. 60% of the human brain's mass is fat. All considered: the human mind is practically that of an insect in comparison to the mind of the inventor who created human life.

Gen 6:7 . . And the Lord said: I will blot out man, whom I created, from upon the face of the earth, from man to cattle to creeping thing, to the fowl of the heavens, for I regret that I made them.

The destruction of earth's birds and beasts was unavoidable; they became collateral damage in God's war against the sinful antediluvians.

The Hebrew word for "blot" is from machah (maw-khaw') which means: to stroke or rub; by implication, to erase; also to smooth (as if with oil), i.e. grease or make fat; also to touch, i.e. reach to.

God intended to not only remove the antediluvians from the face of the earth, but also to scrub off all of their works too so that when He was done, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to even be able to tell the antediluvians were ever here at all.

It's always been a mystery to me why paleo-anthropologists have managed to find so few fossilized remains of pre-historic human beings.

In 1992, Tim White of the University of California at Berkeley, discovered the fossilized skeletons of human-like creatures in Ethiopia's Afar Rift who lived 4.4 million years ago but those are not the remains of h.sapiens; but rather, of beasts that resemble h.sapiens. To my knowledge; no truly human remains have been found from that era.

While mysterious; that lack of remains isn't exclusive. Take for instance the Passenger Pigeon. That bird at one time numbered an estimated four to five billion individuals; which is a number equal in quantity to the current year-round population of all North American birds combined. Yet an archeological search for the pigeon's bones left behind by people who ate the bird for food, through all pre-Columbian times, has thus far yielded very few remains; at only two sites.

But my point is: where are the remains of the antediluvians? They're gone; lock, stock, and barrel— no metal implements from Tubal-Cain's blacksmith shop, no musical instruments from Jubal's work shop, no dwellings, no footprints, no bones, no pottery, no cave art, not even any geological evidence of a world-wide deluge: nothing. It's like they were never here.

God moved against the antediluvians like a relentless newspaper editor deleting superfluous words and sentences so skillfully that the reader cannot even tell those superfluous words and sentences ever existed in the original copy.

Why would God do that? I would hazard to guess that His purpose in doing so was to prevent people from believing too easily that the Flood actually happened.

The funny thing about the Bible is that portions of it are just as effective at driving people away from God as they are at attracting them. No doubt it is God's wishes that everybody believe the Bible; but at the same time it seems He's thwarted His own wishes by taking steps to ensure that a substantial number of people don't. For example:

"Moses summoned all Israel and said to them: You have seen all that The Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and all his servants and all his land; the great trials which your eyes have seen, those great signs and wonders. Yet to this day The Lord has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear." (Deut 29:2-4)

"No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." (Matt 11:27)

"A natural 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 discerned." (1Cor 2:14)

Gen 6:8 . . But Noah found favor with The Lord.

The word for "favor" is from chen (khane) and means: graciousness. Translators sometimes render chen as grace. But the important thing is that The Lord didn't find chen with Noah. No, just the opposite— Noah found chen with The Lord.

Webster's defines graciousness as: kind, courteous, inclined to good will, generous, charitable, merciful, altruistic, compassionate, thoughtful, cordial, affable, genial, sociable, cheerful, warm, sensitive, considerate, and tactful.

Those are all good qualities, and the very things you would expect to see in someone you loved and trusted— like your spouse or a very close friend.

Gen 6:9a . .This is the line of Noah.— Noah was a righteous man;

The Hebrew word for "righteous" is tsaddiyq (tsad-deek') which means: just.

Webster's provides several definitions of "just", but perhaps the ones best suited for our purpose are: conscientious, honest, honorable, right, scrupulous, true, dependable, reliable, tried, trustworthy, dispassionate, equal, equitable, impartial, nondiscriminatory, objective, unbiased, uncolored, and unprejudiced. So then, Noah was not only religious to his fingertips; but he was a pretty decent guy to boot.

The kind of righteousness spoken of in Gen 6:9a is a personal kind of righteousness. There's also a spiritual righteousness, but I don't think that's in view here. The emphasis is upon Noah as a man rather than a believer; though according to Heb 11:7 he was that too.

Gen 6:9b . . he was blameless in his era; Noah walked with God.

Is that verse saying Noah was flawless? No; perfection in the Bible means something altogether different than what you'd expect. The Hebrew word for "blameless" is tamiym (taw-meem') which just simply means entire; in other words; no pieces missing and everything in working order; indicating that Noah was not only a man of faith, but also a man who put his faith into practice.

The most incredible thing about Noah was his degree of piety in a world gone mad with evil. He was actually a nobody in his day; eclipsed by the nephiyl types. They got all the press, the publicity, and the notoriety while God's man went marginalized and largely ignored. Yet he persisted; and continued pounding a pulpit right up to the end.

Gen 6:10 . . Noah begot three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Were those the only kids Noah had? And no daughters? I seriously doubt it. Noah was six hundred when the flood began. It is unlikely that a healthy, hard working, robust man would live that long without engendering a much larger family than three; especially in those days without birth control. But these three boys are the only ones that count now because they're going on the ark with their dad.

Gen 6:11a . .The earth became corrupt before God;

The word for "earth" is 'erets (eh'-rets) which technically refers to the planet (Gen 1:1).

I think we're going to see that the planet wasn't corrupt due to itself going bad, rather, the activities of its human inhabitants.

The word for "corrupt" is shachath (shaw-khath') which means: to decay, decompose, and/or disintegrate; viz: to become decadent.

The perspective "before God" indicates the Almighty's own personal estimation. No doubt the antediluvians disagreed with God's evaluation of their spiritual condition just like people today disagree with His evaluation. And again, this disparity of evaluations has its roots all the way back in the garden when humans became their own Gods; discerning right and wrong from within a humanistic system of values instead of their creator's.

Gen 6:11b . . the earth was filled with lawlessness.

Crime is pretty much inevitable in a world of sinful beings sans cops and courts. Nobody was accountable for a single thing in those days. The only rules that may have existed were those among clans or in towns. But those rules wouldn't be universal. Rules like that would be different from clan to clan and from town to town. And primitive clans are known to war with each other on a regular basis like the Native Americans did here in America's early years.

I just hope I don't live to see the day when some sort of nationwide disaster, like a nuclear holocaust, occurs in America. Nobody will be safe. Electrical power will be out, the banks won't be open, ATM machines won't work, and everyone will be so desperate to survive.

Roving gangs of thugs will prowl the rubble looking to scavenge and to steal anything not nailed down or protected by guards. Law enforcement and medical services will be so overwhelmed that dialing 911 will be no more productive than writing a letter to Santa Claus; that is, if telephones even work. If hurricanes Katrina and Sandy taught us anything in New Orleans and Manhattan, it's that large-scale disasters produce large-scale anarchy and chaos.

The criminal element has neither honor nor sympathy for its victims. After the September 29, 2009 tsunami subsided in Samoa, residents returned to neighborhoods only to find that their homes had been looted.

According to the 2016 World Almanac, in the year 2013, there were a total of 1,163,146 violent crimes committed in the USA . The number of property crimes totaled 8,632,512. Those totals exclude crimes like arson, perjury, forgery, insider trading, contempt of court, bail jumping, internet hacking, traffic violations, J-walking, trespassing, animal abuse, feeding parking meters, cheating on taxes; et al.

And to think the USA and its territories are a society of law abiding citizens. Just think what it must have been like in Noah's day with no law enforcement whatsoever to control crime. All I can say is; if something really bad should ever happen here in the USA, you'd better own deadly weapons like swords and guns plus lots of pepper and/or bear spray because neither your life nor your possessions will be safe after dark.

Gen 6:12-13a . . God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah: I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them.

Some people would probably like to translate some of that verse like this: "for the earth is filled with violence through God." But Genesis doesn't say it was filled with violence through God; no, God said it was filled with violence through them.

Gen 6:13b . . I am about to destroy them with the earth.

Here is set a precedent of God forewarning His own when He is about to execute a disastrous event upon the earth. The Passover was another such example. God forewarned Moses, and Moses' people, of the imminent annihilation of all the firstborn of Man and Beast in Egypt; which would also impact Moses and his people if they didn't do exactly as God said and paint the blood of a lamb on their door jambs (Ex 11:1-13).

And our man Noah, super-duper righteous man that he was, would have drowned right along with the rest of the antediluvians had he neglected to construct an ark. When God gives a warning, it is best to respond accordingly.

"A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it." (Pro 22:3)

Gen 6:14a . . Make yourself an ark

The Hebrew word for ark is tebah (tay-baw') and just simply indicates, not a ship, but a nondescript box. The only other place tebah is used again in the Old Testament is of the little watertight container Moses' mom constructed to hide her little boy from Pharaoh's assassins. (Ex 2:1-10)

Gen 6:14b . . of gopher wood;

Nobody really knows for sure exactly what kind of trees Noah used to make the ark. The word for "gopher" has nothing to do with little subterranean rodents. It's a transliteration of the Hebrew word gopher (go'-fer) which only suggests a kind of tree suitable for building structures out of wood. Some think it was cypress because the wood of those trees is so resinous that it resists rotting even after prolonged submersion in water. Others think it may have been cedar or spruce; which are good too.

Unfortunately, this is the one and only occurrence of gopher in the entire Old Testament so there's no other passages that might help identify a specific kind of tree.

Gen 6:14c . . make it an ark with compartments,

The word for "compartments" is from qen (kane) which means: a nest (as fixed), sometimes including the nestlings; figuratively, a chamber or dwelling. The construction of nests (and stalls) indicates the animals weren't just herded or jammed together like the crowds attending an outdoor Metallica rock concert. They were neatly stowed aboard in their own areas and apparently made to feel quite comfortable.

Gen 6:14d . . and cover it inside and out with pitch.

The word for "pitch" is kopher (ko'-fer) which means: a cover. It can also mean a village (as covered in); and also bitumen (as used for coating) and the henna plant (as used for dye).

Kopher is a common word in the Old testament for "atonement" which is like pitch as a coating, or a covering, which not only serves the purpose of a sealing compound like the stuff people apply to weatherproof their patio decks, but also a concealment coating like paint and/or tar and feathers.

NOTE: Old Testament atonements, while gaining offenders a pardon, do nothing to exonerate them; viz: atonements don't expunge their history, i.e. their offenses stay on the books like a rap sheet, and available to God as a means of evaluating peoples' character. This is pretty serious because according to Rev 20:11-15, those books are going to be opened for examination to determine whether people qualify for a pass to heaven. (God has figured out a way to expunge people's records so that they can be legally adjudged innocent, but it's not within the scope of a study in Genesis.)

Anyway; coating the ark with bitumen not only served to waterproof it; but also preserved the wood for future uses after the Flood subsided and Noah no longer had need of a titanic water craft.

NOTE: Bitumen is a naturally-occurring kind of asphalt formed from the remains of ancient, microscopic algae (diatoms) and other once-living things. In order for bitumen to be available in Noah's day, the organisms from whence it was formed had to have existed on the earth several thousands of years before him. In point of fact, I read somewhere that the biomass that gave us fossil fuels existed even before the dinosaurs. That's really going back a ways.

Gen 6:15a . .This is how you shall make it:

What if Noah had some ideas of his own? Would that have been alright? No; when God says "you shall" and/or "you shall not" then that's the law.

Some object that since paper and writing were not yet invented in Noah's day, then God couldn't possible have provided him with plans for the ark. But any pictograph, even one on a clay tablet or a rock face, qualifies as a drawing. That objection infers that God was illiterate until Man learned to read. (chuckle) I guess it just never occurs to them that holy men like Noah were far more advanced than your average cave-dwelling hominid.

Other skeptics object that a wooden vessel the size of Noah's ark couldn't be built because the timbers required for its structural strength would have been so massive that Noah would never have managed to assemble its pieces and parts.

But ancient craftsmen were far more ingenious than most people living today realize. For example, nobody yet has really figured out how the Egyptians built the pyramids nor how the people of Easter Island cut, carved, and moved all those big stone heads around. And the Egyptians aren't the only ones to mystify us. There are ancient stone structures around the world that seem impossible to be erected by human hands prior to the age of heavy industrial machinery; but nevertheless, there they are.

And not to forget that Noah's God was in the project. Since that's the case, it's not unreasonable to assume God also provided Noah the tools necessary to complete the task He assigned; and very, very possibly chipped in to help out with the construction too. When people fail to factor in God, they invariably end up mystified. To this day scientists are baffled about the origin of the cosmos, with all of its life, matter, and energy, because they refuse to factor God into their thinking.

How did Noah cut the logs that went into constructing the ark? Well; according to the Bible, Cain's people were proficient with metals. If nothing else; it's probably pretty certain that Noah had at least a metal hammer and an axe; maybe several metal hammers and axes; and quite possibly saws too.

"And Zillah she too bore Tubal-cain, who sharpened all tools that cut copper and iron" (Gen 4:2 courtesy of Chabad.org)

How did Noah join the logs and other wooden pieces that went into constructing the ark? Well; you know, a good cabinet maker can assemble a very nice armoire without using nuts and bolts by the strategic use of dowels and clever joinery like grooves, rabbets, dovetails, mortises, and tenons.

Others object that a wooden vessel the size of the ark would never hold up on the open sea without steel reinforcement; especially when the super storm of Gen 8:1 began blowing to mop up the water. But again; those objectors typically fail to factor in God's involvement in the Flood. You really think He left the only surviving humans and the only surviving beasts on the whole planet to the mercy of the elements?

No; with God's oversight, even a house of cards would have survived the Flood had He wished it to because the strength of natural materials isn't fixed; they can be greatly enhanced, e.g. Samson (Judg 13:2-16:31). He was just an ordinary man of flesh and blood; but via God's intervention, Samson became strong enough to do things that no one man alone could possibly attempt unassisted.

Gen 6:15b . . the length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits.

There was a cubit among the Babylonians, and one in Egypt too. But there seems to have existed double standards in both countries. Because of that, there exists no undisputed example of the cubit that remains to the present time; so the length of the cubit has been variously estimated.

One of the ancient cubits was the length of a man's forearm, from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger, as is implied from the derivation of the word in Hebrew and from the Latin cubitum. It seems to be referred to also in Deut 3:11 as "after the cubit of a man." But that's too vague, and unsuitable for a scientific standard because not all men's arms are exactly alike.

The Babylonians employed two different cubits: the so-called royal cubit and the common cubit. From the remains of buildings in Assyria and Babylonia, the royal cubit is made out to be about 20.6 inches. A cubit of similar length was used in Egypt. This was probably the cubit mentioned by Ezk 40:5 and possibly that of Solomon's temple as "cubits after the first measure" (2 Chr 3:3)

The commercial cubit was shorter, and has been variously estimated at between 16 and 18 inches or more, but the evidence of the Siloam inscription and of the tombs in Palestine seems to indicate 17.6 inches as the average length. This was the cubit of six palms, while the longer one was of seven (Ezk 40:5). The cubit mentioned in Judges 3:16 is from a different word, the Hebrew gomedh, and was probably shorter.

The cubit of Noah's day remains a total mystery. We have no way of knowing exactly how long it was. Maybe Noah and his boys passed on their antediluvian knowledge of weights and measures to the post-flood world and it stayed pretty close to the original standards over the years; but it's impossible to know for sure.

If we use an 18-inch cubit as a close approximation, then the ark would have been in the neighborhood of 450' long x 75' wide x 45' high. The ark's beam was 30 feet wider than its height, so should have proved very stable, and difficult to capsize even in rough seas— especially since it had a flat bottom, which was good too for the purpose intended.

Nothing fancy. Since the ark didn't have to navigate; then it didn't require a means of propulsion nor was there any practical use for a bow, or a stern, or a wheel house, a rudder, sails, engine room, anchor, windlasses, or masts— not even a handrail around the main deck. Since the ark didn't have to cut through the water like a schooner, then it didn't need tapered undersides. All the ark really had to do was float. It was really nothing in the world but a barge: and a very crude barge at that. Really little more than a very large watertight crate.

Compared to modern ships, 450 feet is not all that big. Oil tankers are around 1,500, and the Nimitz aircraft carrier is about 1,092 feet. The distance from home plate to the center field fence in major league baseball, averages 400 feet or better. So the ark would just about fit into Yankee stadium. The main playing area of a football field is 300 feet. Add 26 more for the end zones, and the total is 326; which is still 124 feet short of the ark's length but at least gives some idea of its scale.

Gen 6:16a . . Make an opening for daylight in the ark, and terminate it within a cubit of the top.

The ark was probably capped with a steeply sloped roof so the immense volumes of water falling from the sky during the rain stage of the Flood wouldn't impinge it perpendicularly; but rather strike a glancing blow; and the eves were likely quite considerable so water running off the roof wouldn't find its way to the window. Whether or not the window was shuttered isn't stated, but was very likely a practical consideration. The first forty days of the Flood were extremely inclement; and later on down at the end of the voyage there was a howling wind to reckon with.

The dimensions of the window aren't stated, and it's design is a bit of a mystery because later we'll see that Noah was apparently unable to look out and see for himself whether the ground was dry. It could have been as wide as six feet and extended the full length and width of the ark— all the way around it; who really knows. The only requirement was that it be adequate for light; but undoubtedly served for ventilation too. With all that respiration going on in there, Noah's air supply would become foul in very short order.

Gen 6:16b . . Put the entrance to the ark in its side; make it with bottom, second, and third decks.

A hatch in the hull was practical. Its cover could be let down as a boarding ramp.

The very bottom of a ship is normally not counted as a deck. The lowest deck is usually somewhat above the bottom and separated from it by a void called the double bottom. That way if the actual bottom is pierced, the ship won't sink because the void is sealed.

Whether or not Noah's craft had a double bottom is unknown; but likely it had at least a bilge because the lowest deck needs to be above the bottom a bit so the passengers and crew don't have to slosh around down there in the lower parts of the ship where fetid water and other unsavory liquids typically collect.

The spaces between decks were fairly tall. If we divide 45 by 3 we get roughly 15 feet apiece not counting a bilge, nor the thickness of the deck planks and their beams. Fifteen feet can accommodate pretty tall animals; and provide enough room for the birds to exercise now and then too.

An ark 450 feet by 75 feet, with three decks would have provided 101,250 square feet of living space. If Noah were resourceful, he might have installed shelves and cabinets on the hull and the bulkheads, plus more on the overheads, and the underside of the ark's roof for even more storage/living space. thus he would have taken advantage of not just the ark's square feet; but also its cubic feet.

Critics insist there wasn't enough space aboard for all the various creatures in Noah's day, but they fail to take into account a few facts. For one, nobody really knows how long the cubit of Noah's day was and, most importantly, nobody really knows how many species of life existed in his day.

By the time h.sapiens appeared on this old earth of ours, some colossal mass extinctions had already taken place; and on top of that, the species that exist on earth in our day, may not have existed in Noah's day, but instead what we are seeing in our day is the result of millennia of somatic mutations and adaptations.

Larger creatures could have shared their spaces with smaller creatures, even permitting the ones smaller than themselves to climb up and rest on their backs. Life finds a way.

They say there are seven wonders of the ancient world, but that is not quite accurate. There's actually eight if we include Noah's ark. Sure, building a giant floating barn like Noah's would be child's play for a modern shipyard like Northrop Grumman Newport News; but in his day, it had to be quite a feat.

Gen 6:17 . . For My part, I am about to bring the Flood— waters upon the earth— to destroy all flesh under the sky in which there is breath of life; everything on earth shall perish.

Some think the Flood was merely a local event rather than a global deluge. But that is not the way Genesis describes it. The author quotes God saying; to destroy "all flesh under the sky" and: "everything on earth" shall perish.

If the Flood were to be local, then it would only be necessary for Noah and his family and the animals to simply migrate to a different region rather than go to all the trouble of building an ark. No. The idea of localized flooding is totally unacceptable because "the sky" is everywhere.

Ironically, and perhaps even humorously, many of the people arguing for a localized Flood are convinced it's a myth anyway so I have no clue where they see the point of arguing its extent.

The word for "waters" is from mayim (mah'-yim) which is a plural noun that can be used either in a plural sense as here in Gen 6:17, or in a singular sense as in Gen 21:14.

Were the waters of the Flood fresh or salt? It doesn't matter, since the one who created the physical requirements of all life is easily able to adapt it to suit His purposes. But the sea's saltiness isn't static; it's increasing all the time, and always has. Which means that if you were to go back in time, the sea was a lot less salty in Noah's day than it is today; ergo: aquatic life's adjustment to dilution back in his day wouldn't have been as extreme as aquatic life's adjustment would be in our day.

Gen 6:18 . . But I will establish My covenant with you, and you shall enter the ark, with your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives.

Biblical covenants are legally-binding contracts; and may include stipulations for all parties involved; and then again may stipulate responsibilities for only one of them with the other simply being along for the benefit; sort of like an irrevocable trust. Covenants may, or may not, include penalties for breach of contract; and sometimes those penalties are very severe; e.g. Lev 26:3-38, Deut 27:15-26, and Deut 28:1-69.

Gen 6:19-20 . . And of all that lives, of all flesh, you shall take two of each into the ark to keep alive with you; they shall be male and female. From birds of every kind, cattle of every kind, every kind of creeping thing on earth, two of each shall come to you to stay alive.

Apparently one pair of each kind was a minimum; I mean; Noah took four pairs of humans aboard; and he was later given updated instructions to take seven pairs of some species.

Fortunately Noah didn't have to go on safari to round up his passengers. The Bible says two of each "shall come to you." which implies of course that species who failed to come got left behind and went extinct in the Flood.

There was plenty of time for them to make it because Noah was 120 years building the ark and getting it ready. Since the animals selected were cooperative and docile, then the smaller beasties could hitch rides on the larger ones and thus save themselves some steps.

A man named Dave Kunst walked across today's world in just a little over 4 years from June 1970 to October 1974. Kunst walked a total of 14,450 miles, crossing four continents and thirteen countries, wearing out 21 pair of shoes, and walking more than 20 million steps. That was an odd thing to do, but does prove it can be done in a relatively short time; so 120 years was plenty enough for all the critters to make it on over to Noah's place in time for the Folly's maiden voyage.

If the ark were to launch in 2015, critters would have been on the move towards it since 1895— eight years before the Wright Brothers historical flight, and seventeen years before the Titanic foundered —and probably reproduced many times along the way since there are not all that many species that live to see 120 years of age.

But how did they cross oceans? In the past that was doubtless a thorny theological problem. But with today's knowledge of the geological science of plate tectonics, the answer is as simple as two plus two. Scientists now know that continental land masses can be shifted, and in point of fact the dry parts brought so close together as to form one single super continent.

Scientists also know about magma hot spots and pressure points that can raise and lower the earth's crust like a service elevator. Subduction no doubt played a role by pushing sea beds up above sea level and made to form land bridges; thus expediting migration.

This idea is by no means novel. For example: in 2014, a 9,000 year-old stone structure used to capture caribou was discovered 120 feet below the surface of Lake Huron; and is the most complex structure of its kind in the Great Lakes region.

The structure consists of two parallel lanes of stones leading to a cul-de-sac. Within the lanes are three circular hunting blinds where prehistoric hunters hid while taking aim at caribou. The structure's size and design suggest that hunting was probably a group effort, with one group driving caribou down the lanes towards the blinds while another group waited to attack.

The site— discovered by using sonar technology on the Alpena-Amberley Ridge, 35 miles southeast of Alpena Michigan —was once a dry land corridor connecting northeastern Michigan to southern Ontario.

Ten miles off the coast of Alabama in 60 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico, are the remains of a Bald Cypress grove that's estimated to be eight to fourteen thousand years old; testifying that the earth's topography was quite a bit different in the ancient past.

Actually the Earth's mantle is one continuous (albeit fractured) mass anyway, although its profile is so irregular that dry land sticks up above sea level at various high spots; which is a good thing because if the mantle were smooth, the world would be quite flooded all the time. In point of fact, if the Earth's mantle were perfectly smooth, like a billiard ball, there's enough water present even today to cover the land to a depth of 9,000 feet of water. That would be equivalent to a global ocean approximately 1.7 miles deep.

Normal geological processes take thousands of years to accomplish, but when you factor in the creator's participation in the Flood event, it's no problem at all for the supreme being who has absolute power over not just the earth's geological processes; but all the rest of nature's processes too.

What about dinosaurs? Did they go aboard with Noah too? No; too late. Paleontologists are pretty sure the Jurassic era was over and gone by means of a mysterious mass extinction event several millennia before the entrance of human life on the earth; which, in my layman's opinion, is pretty good proof that the six "days" of creation were quite a bit greater in length than 24 hours apiece.

Gen 6:21-22 . . For your part, take of everything that is eaten and store it away, to serve as food for you and for them. Noah did so; just as God commanded him, so he did.

Noah was every supervisor's dream. He did just what he was told and all with nary an argument; nor a single protest.

God didn't specify precisely how much food to load aboard. He only instructed him to store things that are edible; but not their quantity. Nobody can be sure whether or not Noah knew just how long the Flood was going to last. If he didn't, then of course he would have no idea how much food he needed to bring along.

It began to rain on the 17th day of the second month of the 600th year of Noah's life. The Earth was dry on the 27th day of the second month of his 601st year. So, reckoning time according to prophetic months of 30 days each, and not counting the final day, Noah's crew and passengers were aboard the ark for a total of 370 days; which is roughly 5 days over a solar year, and 10 days over a prophetic year.

So what about the carnivorous animals that came aboard with Noah— the lions and tigers and hawks and eagles and meerkats and alligators and crocodiles? Carnivores can be domesticated when the situation calls for it. Take for example Daniel in the den of lions. None tried to eat him. And according to Isa 11:6-9 and Isa 65:25, there's a day coming when the nature of carnivores will be changed to that of herbivores.

Some have proposed that the animals hibernated so they wouldn't have to be fed very often nor require much room for exercise nor would they generate much manure to clean up. That's actually a very plausible explanation. For example: arctic ground squirrels can lower their body temperature below freezing and avoid serious head injuries while hibernating for as long seven months. Why the little guys don't freeze to death is a mystery.

Others have proposed that Noah didn't actually load an entire year's supply of food aboard the ark. Just a minimum amount that God then miraculously sustained. That too is a very plausible explanation.

For example: there are incidents in the Bible where small amounts of food stuffs were miraculously extended. One example is 1Kgs 17:8-16 where a tiny bit of flour and oil nourished Elijah and a widow woman, and her son, for a good many days during a time of prolonged drought.

Another incident is at 2Kgs 4:1-7 where a certain widow's husband died and left her deeply in debt. God extended her last pot of oil sufficiently to sell off enough to retire her debts, thereby saving her two sons from slavery.

At 1Kgs 19:5-9, when Elijah was running away from that horrible Jezebel, he was fatigued and napping under a bush when a messenger of God woke him up to eat a single biscuit and drink some water. Elijah survived on the nourishment of that measly little snack for the next forty days.

I'm not insisting that God sustained everyone aboard the ark via hibernation and/or like He did Elijah and the widows. But in the light of nature's examples, and the Bible's examples, it isn't unreasonable to believe that's exactly what happened. Many details remain a mystery and apparently God didn't feel it was important for everybody to know how He and Noah did it. Well; that's His decision and I respect it; but I still wish Genesis told us more.

Another logistics problem was feeding everybody when the Flood was over. What would they eat then? Well, that was no problem. The olive leaf that a dove had in her beak at Gen 8:10-11 indicates that earth's flora was spared mass extinction by the Flood.

The Hebrew word for "plucked-off" at Gen 8:10-11is from taraph (taw-rawf') which means: recently torn off; in other words: the dove didn't pick up an old dead leaf lying around on the ground; no, it was fresh-cut and green right off the tree. But didn't God predict the mass extinction of all life on earth? Yes; He did; but the prediction was limited to creatures within whom was the breath of life. (Gen 6:17)
 


Genesis 07
 

Gen 7:1 . .Yhvh then said to Noah: Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation.

Noah is sometimes criticized for not utilizing more of the ark's cargo space to take human life aboard instead of animals. But it wasn't for Noah to say. Passage aboard the ark was by invitation only; and to qualify for an invitation, the passengers had to be righteous. Well; only Noah was righteous, so he alone was invited to go aboard with his family.

The antediluvians weren't left on their own to figure out what's righteous and what's not righteous. According to 2Pet 2:5, Noah was a preacher; and he wasn't the only one at it. Prior to him, Enoch pounded a pulpit. (Jude 1:1)

So then, the people who died in the Flood had no one to blame for missing the boat but themselves. Had they listened to the preaching and changed their ways; the Flood wouldn't have been necessary to begin with.

Gen 7:2-3 . . Of every clean animal you shall take seven pairs, males and their mates, and of every animal that is not clean, two, a male and its mate; of the birds of the sky also, seven pairs, male and female, to keep seed alive upon all the earth.

Official specifications for identifying clean, and unclean animals, are located at Lev 11:1-46, and Deut 14:3-20. Those specs were written many, many centuries after Noah; so precisely which animals he regarded as clean in his day, and which not clean is impossible to tell. But I think we can safely assume that "clean" animals were those designated for ceremonial purposes rather than for diet since God had not yet given man the green light to eat meat.

In some cases a creature's intrinsic nature seems a factor. For example vultures and bats are obvious choices for the unclean category. But how is a cow any more sanitary than a bunny? Or a locust any more sanitary than a swan?

The specific species that Noah took aboard were limited to the ones that God said in 6:20 "shall come to you". Any, and all, species that failed to come to Noah, went extinct in the Flood. He didn't go out and hunt them down, nor take them by force against their will. No; they had to show up on their own, or be left behind; and I have a sneaking suspicion that many were.

Gen 7:4 . . For in seven days' time I will make it rain upon the earth, forty days and forty nights, and I will blot out from the earth all existence that I created.

The expression "all existence" is from yequwm (yek-oom') which means: standing (extant) i.e. a living thing. Yequwm appears in only three verses of the entire Old Testament. Two of them are here in chapter 7, and the other one is in Deut 11:6.

God's prediction didn't include vegetation; because when the Flood ended, at least one olive tree was still standing. So "all existence" only meant creatures; in particular those that live on land and need air to survive; like birds, bugs, and beasts; whether subterranean or on the surface. (Gen 7:21-23)

The seven-day deadline hung over the world's head like a sword of Damocles; and the Flood was now imminent. But a final warning was issued probably just in case somebody might change their mind about going along with Noah. Compare this moment of silence to the one at Rev 8:1 just prior to sounding the seven trumpets.

Gen 7:5 . . And Noah did just as the Lord commanded him.

Not many people can say, with all honesty and a good conscience, that they do "just as" the Lord commands. It is a very unusual person who is careful to comply with God's will to the letter. (cf. John 8:29)

Gen 7:6a . . Noah was six hundred years old

Years of life in Noah's day were expressed in what's known as prophetic years; which consist of twelve equal months of thirty days each. So in astronomical time; Noah was but 591.8 years old.

Noah died at 950. So the Flood came at roughly 63 percent of the way through his life. According to the US Department of Health, an average American born in 2013 can expect to live to about age 78. Using that as a point of reference, Noah would have been roughly the equivalent of 49 years old when the Flood started.

Gen 7:6b . . when the Flood came, waters upon the earth.

The word for Flood is from mabbuwl (mab-bool') which means: a deluge. There's another word for "flood" in the Old Testament, but the Hebrew is different. Mabbuwl appears twelve times in Genesis regarding Noah's worldwide cataclysm. The only other place in the entire Old Testament where that word is shows up again is Ps 29:10; and even there it relates to Noah.

Gen 7:7-9 . . Noah, with his sons, his wife, and his sons' wives, went into the ark because of the waters of the Flood. Of the clean animals, of the animals that are not clean, of the birds, and of everything that creeps on the ground, two of each, male and female, came to Noah into the ark, as God had commanded Noah.

Again it's mentioned that the animals came to Noah rather than he and his sons going on safari to get them.

It was right about there that I would have become very nervous had I lived next door to the Noahs. Up till then, he probably seemed like an ordinary crack pot— a nice enough guy, but kind of kooky. I mean: who builds a great big barge on dry land? But when all those birds and animals showed up out at his place, and started boarding Noah's Folly all by themselves, in neither chaos nor confusion, and without Noah and his boys having to herd them in— that was definitely cause for alarm.

It's true that wildlife at that time was not yet afraid of humans; and it was probably a very common sight to see them mingling with people all over the place— maybe even assisting Noah to construct the ark —but not on such a scale as this. People had to wonder why all those bugs, and beasties, and birdies were migrating out there to Noah's spread. What's that all about? Did they maybe think to themselves that old fool might know something after all?

Well; maybe they did; but according to Jesus they didn't really take Noah seriously but went about the business of their daily lives as usual. (Matt 24:38-39)

Gen 7:10 . . And on the seventh day the waters of the Flood came upon the earth.

Back in verse 4, God gave Noah seven days to get moved into the ark. The water came right on time, just exactly when God said it would. God's word carries different force in different circumstances. Sometimes He makes predictions, sometimes He makes promises, and sometimes He even makes threats.

Threats are often negotiable; sort of like an "or else". Like when Jonah went to Ninevah and walked around town heralding in the streets that within forty days they would be overthrown. When the people changed their ways, God backed off.

But a prediction isn't negotiable; nor is it open to discussion. When God makes a prediction, you can make bank on it because He's seen the future. The Flood was predicted. He said it was coming in seven days; and sure enough it showed up.

NOTE: The apostle John saw the great white throne event depicted at Rev 20:10-15. That event is now inevitable because John's vision is a revelation; viz: a glimpse into not just one possible future; but the future.

Gen 7:11a . . In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month,

The Flood isn't dated according to a calendar; but rather, relative to Noah's life. In other words: let's say that Noah was born in the month of July. Had that been the case; then the second month of his life would have been August. More about this later.

Gen 7:11b . . on this day, all the springs of the great deep were split, and the windows of the heavens opened up.

The word for "deep" is from tehowm (teh-home') which indicates an abyss (as a surging mass of water) especially the deep (the main sea or the subterranean water-supply). Tehowm occurred very early on in the Bible's texts at Gen 1:1-2.

The difference is that this deep is the great deep. The word for "great" is from rab (rab) which means abundant (in quantity, size, age, number, rank, quality), so that this particular deep could be thought of as bottomless; viz: an abysmal source of water beyond human imagination.

The atmosphere alone holds about 2,900 cubic miles of water at any given time; with the balance of Earth's 340 million cubic miles of water stored in oceans, rivers, lakes, ice caps, glaciers, permafrost, and the ground. Relatively little ground water is stored in subterranean voids. Most of it is soaked in tiny pores and cracks in soil and rocks. Almost all ground water resides within five to ten miles of the surface. Water below that depth is chemically bound in the rocks and minerals and not readily accessible; but can be released as a result of geologic processes such as volcanism. But for the Flood, water above and beyond the earth's indigenous sources was necessary.

There's an abundance of water out in the cosmos. In an article I found on the internet dated July 22, 2011; astronomers have discovered the largest and oldest mass of water ever detected in the universe— a gigantic cloud harboring 140 trillion times more water than all of Earth's oceans combined. Well; I'm pretty sure that's a sufficient quantity of water to inundate the earth to the depth required by the Flood.

Gen 7:12 . . (The rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.)

Gen 7:13-16a . .That same day Noah and Noah's sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, went into the ark, with Noah's wife and the three wives of his sons— they and all beasts of every kind, all cattle of every kind, all creatures of every kind that creep on the earth, and all birds of every kind, every bird, every winged thing.

. . .They came to Noah into the ark, two each of all flesh in which there was breath of life. Thus they that entered comprised male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him.

Again it's reiterated that the critters "came" to Noah; he didn't have to go on safari to round them up; and then they entered the ark on their own without Noah and his boys having to herd them in. That is really remarkable. It's like those critters somehow knew that there was something terrible brewing and Noah's ark was the only safe haven.

That's another example where a "day" can be longer than twenty-four hours; in fact, the day here in Gen 7:13-16 is a whole week plus forty more days and nights. Thus from the time of God's invitation to come into the ark, and up until it stopped raining, was a day period consisting of 47 calendar days.

Gen 7:16b . . And the Lord shut him in.

The Lord not only shut him in, but sealed him in too. The hatch to hull mating surfaces had to be waterproofed with bitumen the same as all the rest of the hull.

The Hebrew word for "shut" actually means to shut up; like as when a corral gate is closed to pen livestock and/or the door of a jail cell is locked to confine a convict. In other words, Noah was locked inside the ark by a door that could be opened only from the outside. That's interesting. It means that once the ark's door was sealed, Noah became a prisoner; and were he, or anybody else inside, to change their mind about going, it was too late.

From that point on, Noah had no more control over his salvation. From thence, it was up to the ark, and up to God, to protect him from the Flood. There's a parallel to this in the New Testament.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. if anyone enters through me, he shall be saved" (.John 10:7-9)

In other words; once a sheep is in Christ's fold, it is no longer up to the sheep to keep itself safe and cared for. From thence, the onus is upon the shepherd; and he will not fail.

"My sheep . . . My Father has given them to me" (John 10:27-29)

"This is the will of the one who sent me; that I should not lose anything of what He gave me" (John 6:39)

"The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to Him." (John 8:29)

Were Christ to perchance lose even one head of the sheep given to him by his Father, he would fail to "always" please Him. Christ might succeed in pleasing his Father a percentage of the time; but certainly not always.

Gen 7:17-18 . .The Flood continued forty days on the earth, and the waters increased and lifted the ark so that it rose above the earth. The waters swelled and increased greatly upon the earth, and the ark drifted upon the waters.

That was no week-end sailing trip. The ark drifted; viz: it was completely at the mercy and the whims of the elements. It had no means for steering, no navigational equipment, and no means of propulsion; it floated about like flotsam.

Gen 7:19-20 . .When the waters had swelled much more upon the earth, all the highest mountains everywhere under the sky were covered. Fifteen cubits higher did the waters swell, as the mountains were covered.

Is it possible that the Flood was local rather than global? Well; the problem is: the waters breeched the highest mountains by 22½ feet. So then, if perchance Noah lived in a geographic basin, the waters would have overflowed the mountains surrounding him and kept on going.

But the water would start spilling past Noah's area long before it breeched the tops of the highest mountains surrounding him because mountain ranges aren't shaped smooth, level, and even like the rim of a domestic bath tub. No; they're very irregular and consist of high points and low points; viz: peaks, valleys, canyons, saddles, and passes.

Thus mountain ranges make poor bath tubs because you would lose water through the low points before it even had a chance to fill to the peaks. In point of fact, were the sides of your bathtub shaped like a mountain range; you could never fill it. And in trying to; just end up with water all over the floor.

Fifteen cubits may not seem like a lot of water but when you consider the diameter of the Earth, that is an enormous amount. If cubits were 18 inches in Noah's day, that would be about 22½ feet above the highest mountains that existed on Earth at that time. How high were the highest mountains in Noah's day? Nobody really knows. But just supposing the tallest at that time was about equal to California's Mount Laguna east of San Diego; viz: 5,738 feet above sea level— about 1.1 miles. Adding 22½ feet to that comes out to approximately 5,761 feet.

The amount of rain it would take to accumulate that much water in only forty days would be something like six feet of depth per hour.

To put that in perspective: the lobby of the Empire State Building in New York city is approximately 47 feet above sea level. At 6 feet per hour, the lobby would be under water in less than eight hours. The whole building, lightening rod and all; would be under water in just a little over ten days. The new One World Trade Center would be gone in about thirteen.

NOTE:  Skeptics sometimes argue that the heat created by kinetic energy created by 6 feet of rainfall per hour would exceed the boiling point by hundreds of degrees, and so it would not only boil the oceans; but also Noah's boat.

Whether their allegation is true or not makes no difference seeing as how one of the creator's names in the book of Genesis is derived from the Hebrew word Shadday; which means: all powerful; viz: having more power than all of the life, matter, and energy in the entire cosmos combined. In other words; there is nothing that God created that He cannot manipulate; including the laws of physics; for example:

In the book of Daniel; three Jewish guys named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were sentenced to be executed by roasting to death in a pit that was fired so extra hot that the guards who threw the guys into it were slain by its radiant heat. What happened to the three guys? Nothing: they were unscathed; and in point of fact, not even their clothing caught fire, nor even smelled like it had been in a fire.

In the book of Exodus; Moses encountered a bush aflame while tending his father-in-law's sheep. Though the bush was blazing, the fire had no effect on it.

Skeptics are alike in that they're typically reluctant to factor God into miraculous events.

Gen 7:21-23a . . And all flesh that stirred on earth perished— birds, cattle, beasts, and all the things that swarmed upon the earth, and all mankind. All in whose nostrils was the merest breath of life, all that was on dry land, died.

. . . All existence on earth was blotted out— man, cattle, creeping things, and birds of the sky; they were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.

All "existence on earth" was limited to fauna life on land. Apparently flora life and aqua life were spared.

Gen 7:24 . . And the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days.

One of Webster's definitions of "prevail" is: to triumph. In other words; the Flood won and humanity lost. Man can dam rivers; he can divert streams, he can build sea walls, dikes, and channels, he can drain swamps and wetlands; but every one of those kinds of hydraulic engineering feats would have failed to control the Flood.

 


Genesis 08
 

Gen 8:1a . . God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark,

Does that mean God forgot all about the ark's passengers until He realized why there was a string tied around His finger? (chuckle) No; it reaffirms that they were always on God's mind. He isn't forgetful. God doesn't need reminding.

But what about Noah's sisters and brothers, and/or his aunts and uncles? Did God think of them too? No. Noah's kin, except those aboard the ark; were all wiped out in the Flood. He and Mrs. Noah may have had other children too; and grand children. If so, then those also perished: and their family pets too right along with them.

Out ahead, at the final judgment, many of us are going to have to watch as our own kin are condemned to eternal suffering; and thrown alive, wild eyed, shrieking, yelping, bellowing, and bawling like little children into the impoundment of flaming sulfur depicted at Rev 20:11-15 and Rev 21:8. We might even be called up as witnesses to testify in the prosecution's case against them. That will be an awful ordeal.

Gen 8:1b-3a . . and God caused a wind to blow across the earth, and the waters subsided. The fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky were stopped up, and the rain from the sky was held back; the waters then receded steadily from the earth.

The Old Testament Hebrew word that the editors of the NIV translated "receded" is shuwb (shoob) an ambiguous word that can mean draw back, return to the beginning, or simply diminish. The very same word is used in the NIV's translation of Gen 3:19 thusly:

"By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return."

In that example; shuwb indicates that Adam went right back where he came from; viz: the dust.

According to Gen 7:11 the waters of the Flood came from the springs of the great deep and from heaven. So then, I take shuwb to mean that the waters went right back to heaven and the great deep as the Flood dried up so that the waters didn't drain off, they were pulled off; which is a good thing because had the waters drained off, they would have caused quite a bit of erosion; but actually, there was nowhere for them to drain; they had to be removed.

Gen 8:1-3 strongly suggests that the Flood's waters were removed by the process of evaporation. But there's just no way that much water got absorbed by the earth's atmosphere or it would still be here. No, I'm convinced those waters were pulled back out into space from whence they came in the first place. How were they pulled back out in space? Well; if I could explain how God got the Flood's waters off the planet with wind power; then I would be able to explain how Jesus levitated off the ground in Acts 1:9. People think walking on water is amazing? Try walking on air.

Gen 8:3b-4 . . At the end of one hundred and fifty days the waters diminished, so that in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.

The Hebrew word for "Ararat" is from 'Ararat (ar-aw-rat') which appears three more times in the Bible: one at 2Kgs 19:36-37, one at Isa 37:36-38, and one at Jer 51:27. Ararat is always the country of Armenia: never a specific mountain by the same name.

The Hebrew word for "mountains" in Gen 8:4 is haareey which is the plural of har (har). It doesn't always mean a prominent land mass like Everest or McKinley; especially when it's plural. Har can also mean a range of hills or highlands; like the region of Israel where Miriam's cousin Elizabeth lived.

"At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth." (Luke 1:39-40)

In California, where I lived as a kid, the local elevation 35 miles east of San Diego, in the town of Alpine, was about 2,000 feet above sea level. There were plenty of meadows with pasture and good soil. In fact much of it was very good ranchland and quite a few people in that area raised horses and cows. We ourselves kept about five hundred chickens, and a few goats and calves. We lived in the mountains of San Diego; but we didn't live up on top of one of its mountains like Viejas, Lyon's, or Cuyamaca.

The ark contained the only surviving souls of man and animal on the entire planet. Does it really make good sense to strand them up on a mountain peak where they might risk death and injury descending it?

When my wife and I visited the San Diego zoo together back in the early 1980's, we noticed that the Giraffes' area had no fence around it. The tour guide told us the Giraffes' enclosure doesn't need a fence because their area is up on a plateau 3 feet high. The Giraffes don't try to escape because they're afraid of heights. There's just no way Giraffes could've climbed down off of Turkey's Mount Ararat. It's way too steep and rugged. Those poor timid creatures would've been stranded up there and died; and so would hippos, elephants, and flightless birds like penguins.

Gen 8:5 . .The waters went on diminishing until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first of the month, the tops of the mountains became visible.

Gravity assists rain to fall. But to get the Flood's waters off the planet required overcoming gravity enough to get it up off the planet. The mechanical nature of that wind would be an interesting study. Was it a global hurricane, or was it more like a global tornado, or a combination of both: one for evaporation, and one for sucking it all out into the void? Well, whatever; it must have howled and roared like the sound of a thousand World Trade Centers collapsing at once.

Gen 8:6-7a . . At the end of forty days, Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made and sent out the raven;

Although the Raven is listed in Israel's covenanted law as an unclean bird, sometimes it's an excellent choice for assisting in a divine task; for example 1Kgs 17:1-6.

The word for "Raven" is 'oreb (o-rabe') which is not a specific species of bird, but a whole family of birds now classified as Corvids; which includes Crows, Jackdaws, Jays, Magpies, Nutcrackers, and Rooks.

Ravens are classified in ornithology as song birds; although Crows don't seem to carry much of a tune. They're intelligent, sociable, and highly adaptable. Although they don't usually trust Man, they have been known to associate with him in remarkable ways.

One morning I was out in front weeding the yard when some crows down the street were raising a serious ruckus and dive-bombing back and forth across the street. One of them flew to where I was weeding and landed on a streetlight above me and cawed its fool head off; the meanwhile fluttering its wings and leaning forward and rocking as it cawed. Then it flew back and rejoined the others. Then another one, a really big barrel-chested crow, came and landed on our roof. It too cawed like mad (only louder).

Then it occurred to me they might be trying to get my attention. So I walked down to where the others were, and there in a driveway was a fledgling Crow who couldn't fly well enough to get back up in the trees from whence it fell; and a big cat was harassing it. So I brought the young Crow home and put it up on a limb in our backyard and pretty soon the others heard its cries and came to take care of it. We had to assist the fledgling back up to his limb a few more times after it soared down to the food and water we put out for its friends; but eventually its wings became strong enough to do it alone.

BTW: That event took place quite a few years ago and as time went by, young crows began little by little making our backyard their playground and today, it isn't unusual to see twenty or so of all ages walking around out there like chickens in a barnyard helping themselves to the peanuts we put out for squirrels, and pecking cracked corn and sunflower chips out of the bird feeders.

Gen 8:7b . . it went to and fro until the waters had dried up from the earth.

Ravens will eat just about anything, including carrion; and there was probably plenty of that floating around out there. With all the dead stuff to feast on, the raven could spend the whole day out on its own. However, no tree tops were above the water yet and crows need to get off the ground at night so it probably returned to the ark in the evening to roost. The very fact of its return was evidence to Noah that the waters were still pretty deep out there.

Gen 8:8-9 . .Then he sent out the dove to see whether the waters had decreased from the surface of the ground. But the dove could not find a resting place for its foot, and returned to him to the ark, for there was water over all the earth. So putting out his hand, he took it into the ark with him.

The word for "Dove" is from yownah (yo-naw') which is a general term for either a Dove or a Pigeon. Pigeons are well known for their homing instincts. So why didn't the Pigeon roost up on the roof of the ark instead of letting Noah take it inside? Well . . a Pigeon's nature is different than a Raven's. The big guys are somewhat independent, but Pigeons readily take to human care. That's probably why they are so much more common in cities than Crows; where people can feed them popcorn and bread crumbs.

Pigeons and Doves don't eat carrion; but prefer to forage on the ground for seeds. But bare ground was inaccessible at this point in time. The yownah no doubt became very hungry; and certainly knew Mr. Noah had plenty of grain on board with him back at the ark. Pigeons also prefer a roof over their heads; like docks and wharfs, and bridges and roadway overpasses. It almost seems they were actually made to live in coops; and what better coop than the ark?

Gen 8:10-11 . . He waited another seven days, and again sent out the dove from the ark. The dove came back to him toward evening, and there in its bill was a plucked-off olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the waters had decreased on the earth.

The word for "plucked-off" is from taraph (taw-rawf') which means: recently torn off; viz: fresh. A taraph leaf is alive; which of course the skeptics are only too happy to point out is impossible seeing as how olive trees cannot survive under water very long before they die. But wasn't the Flood itself impossible? (sigh) Some people are just naturally miracle-challenged; what can I say?

It is just unbelievable that any trees survived. Even ordinary flooding is very destructive.

Just southeast of Mount Ste. Helens is an area called the Lahar. It was a totally denuded region caused, not by the volcano's blast, but by water that poured down from the mountain's side when glacier and snow pack melted during the eruption in 1980. In the water's path, whole pine trees were uprooted and swept away, like hot-waxing a woman's legs; leaving nothing but bare skin.

However, the Flood wasn't a rush of water, but rather a pounding of water. But even so the pounding would have been relatively brief, at least in the low lands. As the water began to rise, its increasing depth would cushion the impact of the rest that fell.

Old-world olives prefer a Mediterranean climate, which is probably why olives do so well in southern California. Anyway, that olive leaf is pretty good empirical evidence that the ark did not come to rest on Turkey's Mt. Ararat. It's seriously doubtful any kind of trees have ever grown up on that mountain; which is a snow-capped dormant volcano consisting of two peaks : Lesser Ararat @ 12,782 feet, and Greater Ararat @ 16,854 feet.

High mountains like Ararat have what's called a timberline; which is an elevation beyond which no trees grow. The elevation of Mt. Hood's timberline here in Oregon is right around 6,000 feet.

Gen 8:12 . . He waited still another seven days and sent the dove forth; and it did not return to him any more.

Apparently the dove finally found some dry, bare ground to forage for seeds, and minute gravel for its craw.

Why didn't Noah just look out the window and see for himself? Well; the structural location of the ark's window is a bit a mystery. For one thing, it wasn't cut into the sides like the windows in an airplane, rather, it was located up on top.

The horizontal dimension of the window is unknown, but its vertical dimension is known to be only a cubit; roughly 18 inches.

Imagine a structure on top of the ark similar to the windowed portion of the cab of a large pick-up truck; for example a Ford 350. If a structure like that were situated in the middle of the top of the ark, whose top deck dimensions were 450 feet by 75 feet, the angle of Noah's view would be pretty much limited to the portion of sky that he could see above the horizon.

Gen 8:13-14 . . In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, on the first of the month, the waters began to dry from the earth; and when Noah removed the covering of the ark, he saw that the surface of the ground was drying. And in the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry.

Calculating the duration of the Flood is not only an interesting exercise but also an opportunity to get the hang of prophetic time keeping.

It began to rain on the 17th day of the second month of the 600th year of Noah's life. The Earth was dry on the 27th day of the second month of his 601st year. So, reckoning time according to prophetic months of 30 days each, and not counting the final day, Noah's crew was aboard the ark for a total of 370 days; which is roughly 5 days over a solar year, and 10 days over a prophetic year.

Where did I get a prophetic month?

The Flood began on the seventeenth day of the second month of Noah's life, and it rained for forty days. Then the rain stopped so the water could begin draining off and leave the ark aground. A period of exactly five months went by. Those five months are recorded as exactly 150 days. If we were to try and use the months of the Jewish calendar, the number of days would not add up to 150. Here's why.

The months of the Jewish calendar supposedly equivalent to the months of the Flood are:

lyar . . . . . . . .  29 days
Sivan . . . . . . . 30 days
Tammuz . . . .  29 days
Av . . . . . . . . . 30 days
Elul . . . . . . . .  29 days
Tishri . . . . . . . 30 days

Using the Jewish calendar, it would begin raining on the 17th of lyar, thus flooding a total of 13 days during that month. Following would be 30 in Sivan, 29 in Tammuz, 30 in Av, 29 in Elul, and lastly 16 in Tishri. We can't count the 17th of Tishri because the ark would have gone aground on that day. The total number of days from the beginning of the Flood until the day the ark went aground, would have been, according to the Jewish calendar, 147; which is three days short of 150.

However, we can safely ignore the Jewish calendar, and just reckon the elapsed time relative to Noah's birthday. The 150 days then average out to five months of 30 days apiece. That doesn't really cause any problems because a dating method of that nature is not intended to mark off the actual passage of astronomical time in a calendar year; only the days of time elapsed during an important event such as the Flood.

So; here in Genesis, very early in the Bible, a precedent is set for specifying the length of a special kind of year: the prophetic year. Since the months in a year of this type are of thirty days apiece, then twelve such months add up to 360 days; which is 5¼ days less than a calendar year.

The prophetic year is sort of like a baker's dozen. Though a baker's dozen is not a dozen of twelve; it is nonetheless a dozen in its own right. As long as students of the Bible are aware of the existence of such a thing as a prophetic year, they won't be tripped up when they run across it in prophecy, such as Daniel's prediction regarding the time of Messiah's official arrival on the world scene (a.k.a. Palm Sunday). Here's another, yet future.

"And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days." (Rev 12:6)

"And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent." (Rev 12:14)

Those two passages speak of a 3½ year period of exactly 1,260 days. Well, 3½ solar years is 1,274+ days; which is almost 15 days too many. But if we reckon those 3½ years as prophetic years of 360 days each, then it comes out perfectly to 1,260 days.

Gen 8:15-17 . . God spoke to Noah, saying: Come out of the ark, together with your wife, your sons, and your sons' wives. Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you : birds, animals, and everything that creeps on earth; and let them swarm on the earth and be fertile and increase on earth.

Gen 8:18-19 . . So Noah came out, together with his sons, his wife, and his sons' wives. Every animal, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that stirs on earth came out of the ark by families.

The word for "families" is from mishpachah (mish-paw-khaw') and means: a circle of relatives; figuratively, a class (of persons), a species (of animals) or sort (of things); by extension: a tribe or people.

Verse 19 strongly suggests that already in Noah's day living things were ranked by type because they came out of the ark according to their species. How they were ranked is uncertain. It may have been according to intelligence, and then again, maybe by usefulness to Man. Some might put the primates first because they are so smart; but I would put a higher value on beasts of burden, and any other creature that best serves Man's domestic needs; I mean, chimps are cute but what were they really good for in Noah's day?

It must have been a stirring sight. Everyone soaking up the sun, stretching their legs, and feeling brisk and cheerful. Like astronauts back from a long, tedious space mission; they were all so happy to be home at last.

No doubt the rats and mice probably were content to remain in the ark where it was nice and cozy, and I bet they eventually moved in with the Noahs after their new home was built.

Many of the smaller creatures, like non winged insects and moles and centipedes, can't really travel very fast so it must have taken them a pretty long time to multiply and spread out; unless they found a way to hitch a ride aboard the larger animals.

The big guys would take a considerable amount of time to get back up to numbers. The gestation period of a meadow mouse is about 21 days and they can have anywhere from four to six babies at a time. At the extreme are the African elephants. Their gestation is about 660 days. So they don't multiply very fast. White rhinoceros take 480 days, cows 284, giraffes 457, zebras 365, moose 240, hippos 238, gorillas 258, and camels 406. Most of the domestic birds— turkeys, pigeons, geese, ducks, and chickens —all incubate within a month or less.

Critters with the longest gestations usually have the fewest number of babies in a litter— typically only one; and two at the most. Since many of the clean type animals are of the larger species, and therefore would take longer to multiply, it was wise to take along seven pairs of those.

So; how did all the various species end up in their respective environs— e.g. arctic, rain forests, deserts, and tropical islands? Nobody really knows, but we can take an educated guess.

According to an article in the October 2011 issue of National Geographic, around 56 million years ago, the Atlantic Ocean had not fully opened up and it was possible for animals to migrate from Asia through Europe and across Greenland to North America. They wouldn't have encountered a speck of ice because the earth was quite a bit warmer than today.

We suggested previously that with the knowledge we have today of the science of plate tectonics, it isn't unreasonable to assume that God simply crunched all the dry land together in order to facilitate migrations to the ark, and left the land that way until the Flood was over and it was time for the animals to go back where they came from.

Sometimes when I contemplate the earth's crust consisting of solid stone like granite, schist, and gneiss; its seems impossible to me that any force could crunch it; but in the hands of the earth's creator, what's solid to me is little more than modeling clay to its maker.

As the planet's topography underwent continual alteration by enormous geological forces, resulting in a variety of global climatic conditions, many species became isolated and underwent some interesting adaptations and mutations in order to become the highly specialized creatures that we find living around the world today.

Classical evolution per se, is, I believe, a spurious fantasy because it discounts intelligent design and an outside source of all life. But Bible students have to allow for a least a degree of genetic and somatic adaptations and mutations or Genesis won't make any sense at all. It is just too unreasonable to assume that the incredible variety of life existing in our world today all existed during Noah's too.

After all, every known variety of Man existing today came from just eight people. If those eight are responsible for producing all the different kinds of human beings in our world today, then why couldn't the creatures aboard the ark have been the foundation for all the varieties of non human life?

So; what happened to the ark? Well; according to the dimensions given at Gen 6:15, the ark was shaped like what the beautiful minds call a right rectangular prism; which is nothing in the world but the shape of a common shoe box. So most of the lumber and logs used in its construction would've been nice and straight; which is perfect for putting together houses, fences, barns, corrals, stables, gates, hog troughs, mangers, and outhouses.

I think it's safe to assume that Noah and his kin gradually dismantled the ark over time and used the wood for many other purposes, including fires. Nobody cooked or heated their homes or their bath and laundry water using refined fossil fuels and/or electricity and steam in those days, so everybody needed to keep on hand a pretty fair-sized wood pile for their daily needs.

There was probably plenty of driftwood left behind by the Flood, but most of that would be water-soaked at first. But according to Gen 6:14 the ark's lumber was treated. So underneath the pitch it was still in pretty good shape and should have been preserved for many years to come.

Gen 8:20a . .Then Noah built an altar to the Lord

This is the very first mention of an altar in the Bible. I don't really know if anyone else constructed one before this. Abel and some of the others may have, but it's very difficult to be certain. At any rate, Noah's altar was dedicated to Yhvh rather than to one of the heathen deities people worshipped prior to the Flood— and according to Rom 1:22-23 there were many.

The tree of the knowledge of good and bad was supposed to make Man wise; or so Eve was led to believe. But in eating it, Man became a jackass who eventually abandoned the only true god and went on to invent his own.

The ancient Egyptian elite, who were otherwise a very bright and well educated people, regarded Scarab beetles as sacred and somehow associated with resurrection and immortality. Their chief deity was Ra; who was nothing more than our solar system's primary source of light: the Sun. There's just no excuse for that kind of nonsense.

Gen 8:20 . . and, taking of every clean animal and of every clean bird, he offered burnt offerings on the altar.

This is the very first mention of the burnt offering. The Hebrew word is 'olah (o-law') which means: a step (or collectively, stairs, as ascending); or a holocaust (as going up in smoke).

The burnt offering was the very first sacrifice of any kind involving worship in the new world; and it set the tone for Yhvh's future association with mankind in the years to come. How Noah knew about the 'olah can only be attributed to revelation. But what's odd about the 'olah is that the word itself doesn't show up in Scripture again until the Akedah scene in the 22nd chapter. (the Akedah is the traditional title of Abraham's offering of his son Isaac)

Although 'olah can indicate a step (or collectively, stairs, as ascending); it's improper to construct an altar with stairs (Ex 20:24-26) so that the ziggurats that man eventually constructed were of course offensive to God not just because ritual murders were conducted on them but also because they were essentially stairways to heaven.

Killing and burning an animal may seem a strange way to worship God, but the ritual did in fact have spiritual significance. It instructed the offerer that were it not for his offering going up in smoke: he himself would be. In other words: an 'olah sufficed to ransom a soul from the wrath of God. A ransom of that nature is of course limited in scope. It actually only purchased the worshipper a reprieve; which Webster's defines as: a delay and/or a postponement; viz: temporary respite.

Gen 8:21a . .The Lord smelled a pleasant odor,

Anyone who has ever been in the kitchen when something is burning on the stove knows that overcooked meat does not give off a pleasant odor. A scented candle smells a whole lot better. But the chemical odor of the burnt offering really has little to do with it. The expression "a pleasant odor" is a biblical colloquialism that means just the opposite of something that's objectionable; for example: "I hate that woman's opinions about men. They stink."

Because of the extraordinary large number of 'olahs Noah offered, I think it's safe to assume that Noah not only offered them for himself and his family, but also to dedicate the new world to God in a manner similar to that which Solomon dedicated Israel's fresh, new Temple as per 1Kgs 8:62-64.

Gen 8:21b . .Then the Lord said in His heart: I will never again curse the ground for man's sake,

True, Yhvh never again cursed the ground; but neither did He lift the original curse that was pronounced in the third chapter. The first curse remains, but at least God hasn't put additional burdens on the soil. According to Rev 22:3, the first curse is slated to be removed once and for all.

Gen 8:21c . . although the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth;

Had God encumbered the ground with additional curses He would have been entirely justified in doing so because the Flood did nothing to rectify the intrinsically evil condition of the post-Eden human heart. So we can all thank grandpa Noah for those 'olahs because they're all that's standing between us and world-wide starvation; at least for the time being.

However, 'olahs only obtain a reprieve; never an acquittal (cf. Ex 34:6-7 and Heb 10:4). There are a number of passages in the Old Testament saying that certain peoples' sins were forgiven, but David put it best by saying they were actually covered; viz: hidden. (Ps 32:1)

So what happened to Old Testament sins if they weren't actually absolved by 'olah's? They were lain upon the servant depicted in the 53rd chapter of Isaiah and justice was satisfied there. In other words: 'olahs don't satisfy justice; in point of fact, they're little more than posting bail.

Gen 8:21d . . nor will I ever again destroy every living being, as I have done.

All the living things in this case refers to that which survives by means of the breath of life. (Gen 6:17, Gen 7:22)

The promise is qualified by the phrase "as I have done"

So Gen 8:21 doesn't mean God will never again destroy all the living, nor that He will never again destroy the Earth— only that He won't repeat the method He employed the first time. (Gen 9:11)

In point of fact, next time, it's by fire rather than water.

"The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

. . . Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness; looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?" (2Pet 3:10-12)

NOTE: The blackball temperature produced by a thermo-nuclear device is something like 180,000,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Just imagine if God were to turn the atomic structure of the entire universe into one great big self-destructing thermo-nuclear device. The noise, and the heat, generated by such a detonation would be beyond one's comprehension.

Gen 8:22 . . So long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease.

The promise of Gen 8:22 was prefaced by "so long as the earth endures." Well; the Earth is definitely not permanent. It is in fact running out of time. But until the Day Of The Lord, everything will proceed as normal; which can be dangerous because people are easily lulled by the routine of status quo and fail to look far enough ahead and get ready for the future. (cf. Luke 21:33-36)

— Parenthesis —

Although I don't fear "that day" I do fear another.

The current world consumption of oil is something like 25 to 30 Billion barrels per year. If the current expansion rates of world population and economic development continues, the world's projected oil needs before the end of the current century will be something like 225 Billion barrels if the world expects to sustain its current standard of living. Energy experts are well aware, even if the general populace isn't, that it is not only impossible to produce 225 Billion barrels per year right now; but will be utterly unrealistic in the future.

2012's graduate students might legitimately ask: Will my grandchildren ever be able to ride in an airplane? The answer may very well be not. That's just one of the grim realities of the inevitability of oil's decline. Quantities of oil that remain by the time of their grandchildren, will be so expensive, so difficult to extract, and so limited, that only the very rich will be able to afford to travel by air. Gasoline for cars? Tightly rationed of course; that is, if internal combustion engines of any kind, either conventional or hybrid, are even legal by then.

The world is moving towards a drastic transition from the industrial age to an age I can't even begin to imagine without oil; and the transition is really not all that many years away from now. Will the world decline into a Mad Max society? I don't know; but of one thing I'm pretty sure. Nation will go to war with nation to secure for themselves whatever oil reserves remain. How do I know that? Because America is, and has been, already doing that very thing.

Incidentally, there are no mechanized conveyances mentioned anywhere in the book of Revelation. What might that suggest? Well, it suggests to me that factories as we know them today will not exist down towards the end; and it's not all that difficult to figure out why. Coal, oil, and natural gas will be so depleted by then that current manufacturing— its products and its methods —will be a thing of the past. You know who I think might do very well in the future? People who know how to garden, and those who know how to make and to maintain things by hand.

I hate sounding like another crazy alarmist; but I'm pretty sure in my own mind that the grandchildren of 2012's grads won't be looking at just another spurious Y2K meltdown that got all the survivalists excited at the turn of the last century; no, they'll be looking at the irreversible collapse of their parents' way of life, wherein their biggest worry won't be paying back student loans and maxed out credit cards: no, their biggest worry will be finding enough to eat because not only will industrial farming methods grind to a halt; but also food imports will stop as every nation on earth circles the wagons and tightens up both its belt and its defenses against foreign invasion. And that's just hazards associated with declining oil supplies. I haven't even mentioned the storms brewing on the horizon associated with shrinking aquifers and declining access to sanitary water.

 

Genesis 09
 

Gen 9:1 . . God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: Be fertile and increase, and fill the earth.

Divine blessings should never be construed as laws, rules and/or commands. They're typically expressions of good will and/or empowerment. God included Noah in the blessing so that he and his wife could have more children if they wanted; but there's no record of any additional progeny.

The blessing God bestowed upon Noah's family is the very same blessing bestowed upon the Adams in the very beginning. Here in chapter nine is the beginning of a new generation. This new generation— springing from Shem, Ham, and Japheth —has continued for a good many years and won't end until everything Christ predicted in Matt 24:1-44 comes to pass.

The word for "fill" is from male' (maw-lay') and as-used in Gen 1:22, Gen 1:26-28, and Gen 6:11-13 doesn't strictly mean refill or replenish. It just means to fill or to be full of; and can apply to a bucket that's never been used as well as to a bucket that's just been emptied; or to a bucket that's half empty (or half full, depending upon one's outlook).

Here in chapter nine, male' is indicative of a pioneering family that would start afresh under different circumstances than those of the antediluvian world. The Noahs were essentially a transition team, bringing human life from the old world to the current one. The new conditions effecting Shem, Ham, and Japheth's generation include a change in Man's diet, his alienation from the animal world, and the introduction of criminal justice.

Gen 9:2a . .The fear and the dread of you shall be upon all the beasts of the earth and upon all the birds of the sky— everything with which the earth is astir —and upon all the fish of the sea;

In the beginning, the animal world was willingly subordinate to Man's sovereignty. But no longer. I don't know how He did it, but God instigated anarchy in the animal world so that now all is in chaos; and most, if not all, species do not respect Man as their ruler; no, they view Man as a predatory beast whose existence is a threat to their own,

But the animal world isn't so mistrusting of Man that it cannot overcome its fears enough to co-exist with him; even to the point of utilizing humans for nourishment; as Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend Amie Huguenard discovered firsthand in 2003 when they were devoured by a Grizzly bear.

Gen 9:2b . . they are given into your hand.

On the surface, this doesn't appear to be a new turn of events since Man was put fully in charge of the animal kingdom right from the gun (Gen 1:26-28). However; I believe the phrase "given into your hand" indicates that nature would no longer be passive and submissive; but that Man would have to conquer nature if he wished it to bring it under his control.

Gen 9:3 . . Every creature that lives shall be yours to eat; as with the green grasses, I give you all these.

Man doesn't have to eat every living thing if he doesn't want to it's optional; since Gen 9:1-3 is clearly a blessing rather than a commandment.

Apparently the inclusion of meat in Man's diet after the Flood was intended primarily as a source of natural supplements to make up for the human body's gradually lessening ability to manufacture all it's own essential vitamins; much the same reason that modern vegans resort to synthetic supplements in order to avoid contracting deficiency diseases.

According to an article in the Dec 10, 2013 Science section of the New York Times, scientists believe that the early human body was able to manufacture all of its own essential vitamins; but over time gradually lost the ability to manufacture all but K and D.

That seems plausible to me seeing as how Noah lived to be 950 years old, but by the time of Abraham, the human life span had decreased considerably to 175; which the Bible describes as a ripe old age (Gen 25:7-8). Well, Noah at 175 was about equivalent to Abraham at 32; so the human body was obviously a whole lot stronger back in Noah's day than it was in Abraham's.

Incidentally, the Hebrew words for "green grasses" includes tender young shoots rather than only the adult plants. An excellent example of a shoot is asparagus. We typically only harvest the spears because the adult plant is not only a hideous bush, but it's not even tasty.

NOTE: Bible students are often curious about the disparity between what was right and wrong for Noah and what was right and wrong for Moses since the laws of God are supposedly absolutes in any era. But God-given diets are what's known as "dispensational" which means they're in effect for only a specific era, and oftentimes only for a specific people. For example: it's wrong for Moses' people to eat vultures, pigs, and/or lobsters, octopus, and clams; while for Christ's people, it makes no difference.

Dispensations are an important aspect of Man's association with God; and failure to discern them can sometimes lead to unnecessary confusion in peoples' minds.

Gen 9:4 . .You must not, however, eat flesh with its life-blood in it.

That restriction is against life-blood; so then blood that cannot support life— dead blood —is exempt.

Life-blood, is actually blood that's alive; blood that hasn't begun to spoil; viz: it's still fresh enough for a transfusion and contains enough active ingredients to carry oxygen and heal wounds.

Ancient Jews understood that verse to mean it is unlawful to eat meat that isn't dead; viz: it isn't merely uncooked; it's still viable— fresh enough for a successful graft.

T. But flesh which is torn of the living beast, what time the life is in it, or that torn from a slaughtered animal before all the breath has gone forth, you shall not eat. (Targum Jonathan)

The way I see it: Man isn't forbidden to dine upon raw meat; only that it absolutely has to be dead with no chance of recovery. Same with blood. This law is the very first law God laid down in the new world after the Flood. It has never been repealed, and remains among the list of primary laws imposed upon Christians.

"It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Fare well." (Acts 15:28-29)

A strangled animal still has all of its blood in it. The animal might be brain dead, and its heart may have stopped beating, but its flesh will remain alive for some time by reason of the viable blood still in its veins. Recent changes to CPR procedures include no longer giving victims mouth-to-mouth respiration for the first few minutes because the blood in a victim's system still contains useful oxygen that can save their life merely by pumping the chest as before.

Noah's Law #1 forbids Man to eat living flesh and living blood; and Christians are no exception. Because of the danger of pathogens, it was quite possibly necessary to add this limitation to the grant of liberty to eat meat, lest, instead of nourishing his body by it, Man should inadvertently destroy himself; and in this day and age of E.coli 0157:H7, 0104:H4, and salmonella; adequately cooking meat can be considered a form of self defense.

The prohibition against eating living flesh and blood is neither Jewish, nor is it Christian. It's universal; because God enacted that law long before there were any Jews or Christians. All human beings are under its jurisdiction. Man can eat all the raw meat he wants; and he can eat blood too; but he has absolutely no permission to eat either blood or meat that's still alive.

The animal world isn't so fussy. They routinely devour their prey alive all the time. Hopefully no one reading this will ever stoop that low. The very best way to assure that meat and its blood are dead is to cook it— thoroughly; and double check it with a meat thermometer.

At issue with the prohibition against eating blood are the feelings of some that modern slaughter houses don't always kill animals properly. Many use a device called a captured-bolt to stun the animals and then workers slit the animals' throats while they're unconscious. Sometimes the bolt kills an animal instead of knocking it out and then all that the slaughter house has to work with is gravity because the animal's heart isn't pumping to assist. So there are those who feel no one should eat common meat because you can't guarantee the animal's blood was properly drained.

Exactly what the definition of "properly drained" is I don't know because it's impossible to drain every last drop of blood out of meat no matter how you might go about it; so the prohibition against eating blood has got to be interpreted from a practical perspective rather than from a purist's perspective.

There are cultures that poke holes in cows' necks in order to drink blood straight out of the animal utilizing its own blood pressure like a tap to fill their cups. Other cultures cut open the thorax of animals freshly taken in hunting in order to take blood-soaked bites of the animal's heart. Those examples are probably about as close to vampirism as one can get without actually joining Edward Cullen's family and undergoing the conversion process.

Gen 9:5 . . But for your own life-blood I will require a reckoning: I will require it of every beast; of man, too, will I require a reckoning for human life, of every man for that of his fellow man!

Noah's Law #2 mandates capital punishment; viz: eye-for-an-eye retribution for the unjustified killing of a human being. This law is also a universal law and applies to every family of Man and Beast that descends from the ark; no exceptions.

God requires an investigation into the death of a human being whenever it is caused by another human being or by a member of the animal kingdom. If the killing cannot be justified, the perpetrator has to be executed at the hands of human beings: no exceptions.

Gen 9:6a . .Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed;

The death penalty here in Gen 9:6 is mandatory only for murder; which Webster's defines as: the crime of unlawfully killing a person; especially with malice aforethought. The key word in that definition is "unlawfully"

Capital punishment for murder isn't optional. The word "shall" indicates an edict: and anybody who thinks they're in step with God while actively opposing the death penalty has another think coming.

Q: Don't you think it's better to lock all murderers away for life rather than risk taking the lives of those who are innocent?

A: It is never better to disobey God. The first couple did, and you see what that got them.

Disobedience is on a scale with dark arts and the worship of Shiva and Vishnu.

"Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. (1Sam 15:22-23)

In war, commanders expect a percentage of casualties by human error and/or friendly fire; and those kinds of casualties are usually factored in as acceptable losses. But it isn't wise to turn off a war off just because somebody might get hurt by friendly fire. Accidents happen; even under ideal conditions.

It's the same with the war on crime. Just because a percentage of innocent people get executed for something they didn't do, is no excuse to get in bed with the Devil and oppose God's edicts as per Gen 9:5-6.

America's justice system, although far from perfect, has a pretty good batting average. The overwhelming majority of people dead from executions fully deserved what they got. Only a tiny percentage are victims of error; and those percentages should always be considered acceptable losses in any legitimate endeavor to protect domestic tranquility.

Gen 9:6b . . For in His image did God make man.

Interesting. So then; indiscriminate killing wasn't banned because it's immoral, but rather, because it demeans the honor and dignity of God. Apparently, were humanity lacking His image, people could go on safari and stalk each other like game animals and mount human heads as trophies of the hunt.

"People can tame all kinds of animals and birds and reptiles and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is an uncontrollable evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it breaks out into curses against those who have been made in the image of God." (Jas 3:7-9)

James criticized the cursing of humans not because it's immoral, but because it demeans the honor and dignity of God.

The image of God lends humanity a measure of divinity that it wouldn't have otherwise.

"You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet." (Heb 2:7-8)

Without that measure of divinity, humanity would just be another among many air-breathing species.

Refusal to pursue the death penalty for murder denigrates the sanctity of Almighty God. So don't ever let anyone tell you capital punishment for murder is wrong. No; capital punishment for murder isn't wrong; au contraire, capital punishment for murder is divine.

Gen 9:7 . . Be fertile, then, and increase; abound on the earth and increase on it.

The idea conveyed here is that Man was not supposed to unite and stay in one place, but to scatter, diversify, and establish communities all over the globe.

Gen 9:8-10 . . And God said to Noah and to his sons with him: I now establish My covenant with you and your offspring to come, and with every living thing that is with you— birds, cattle, and every wild beast as well —all that have come out of the ark, every living thing on earth.

Noah's covenant is an especially interesting covenant because it was made with both Man and Beast: all living things wherein is the breath of life.

Are people today Noah's offspring that were to come? Yes they are. So we should pay attention to what God told Noah and his sons. "My covenant" applies to everyone; and all the critters too. In fact, all living beings in the post-Flood world are under the jurisdiction of the covenant God made with Noah and his family.

Gen 9:11 . . I will maintain My covenant with you: never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.

Noah needed to hear that so he wouldn't get jumpy the next time it started to rain really hard in his neighborhood. There is still flooding going on in the world, but certainly not on the same scale as the Flood.

Gen 9:12-17 . . God further said: This is the sign that I set for the covenant between Me and you, and every living creature with you, for all ages to come. I have set My bow in the clouds, and it shall serve as a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.

. . .When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears in the clouds, I will remember My covenant between Me and you and every living creature among all flesh, so that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.

. . .When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures, all flesh that is on earth. That, God said to Noah, shall be the sign of the covenant that I have established between Me and all flesh that is on earth.

Some people say Noah had never seen a rainbow before because they don't believe it ever rained in the antediluvian world. But even if it didn't rain, rainbows aren't restricted to rainy weather. They can be seen in water falls, fog, and even in icy air. Since the antediluvian world got some of its irrigation from mists, there's a pretty good chance Noah had seen at least one rainbow by the time he was six hundred years old.

Noah's covenant is still in force; as evidenced by the significant presence of rainbows in prophetic visions. (e.g. Ezek 1:27-28, Rev 10:1-4)

Next time you see a rainbow, think of ol' grandpa Noah and think of God's promise— to Noah, to his progeny, to all peoples on this side of the Flood, and to every creature —that the Earth will never again be destroyed by water. And remember capital punishment for murder, and remember that the animal world is accountable for taking human life.

And when you jeopardize your innocent children's future by risking their exposure to E.coli 0157:H7 and/or 0157:H4 by feeding them a fast food hamburger made with chicken-poop-fed, over-crowded, antibiotic-treated, up-to-their-knees in manure, industrially produced beef; or by risking their exposure to salmonella by feeding them a tasty dish of under-cooked, salmonella-infected Teriyaki chicken made from mass-produced, genetically-altered, antibiotic-fed, overcrowded, factory-farmed broilers; remember it was God's blessing that gave your world the green light to eat flesh so that beginning in the last half of the 20th century, everyone from thenceforth could dine on tainted meat.

Gen 9:18 . .The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth— Ham being the father of Canaan.

Whoever wrote this section of Genesis, wrote it long after the Flood because the Canaanites didn't exist in Noah's day; nor would they exist at all until many, many years later.

Gen 9:19 . .These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole world branched out.

It's remarkable that every ethnic, every tribe, every color, and every language, is rooted in just those three men. Every existing human being is alive today from the gene pool of Noah's boys and their wives— Caucasian, Negro, Mongol, Asian, Semite, Aleut, Indians of the Americas, Pacific Islander; and even the Pigmies. Everybody is related to one of those three boys, and also related to each other in Noah.

Whenever there is war, it is truly brother against brother. The phrase "fellow man" is not just a feel-good, slap on the back acceptance of someone you might normally feel superior to or despise beyond reason; no, it's an expression that identifies human beings you are verily— though possibly quite distantly —related to.

All the physical characteristics of the different nations and various tribes, must, therefore, have been present in the genetic constitutions of just those three men and three women. Somehow, by the regular mechanisms of genetics— variation, adaptation, mutation, and recombination —all the various groups of nations and tribes developed from that meager post-Flood human beginning.

But what about Mr. and Mrs. Noah? Didn't they have any more children? After all, Noah still had about three hundred years left to go in his life. Well . . if the Noah's did have any more children, they must have been all girls because the writer said the world was populated by only those three brothers.

So if indeed there were Noah girls, they had to find husbands from among their cousins. Those early post-Flood conditions fostered very close intermarriages; but it was harmless in those days because the human genome was still yet relatively young, strong, and uncontaminated.

Gen 9:20a . . Noah, a tiller of the soil,

There was a time when a large percentage of Americans grew their own food, but it's come to the point when some kids don't even know that where their food comes from.

For example; as a young graduate student, Steven L. Hopp, co-author of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, lived in an urban neighborhood where his little backyard vegetable garden was a howling curiosity to the boys who ran wild in the alley. One day, as Steven pulled a nice long fresh carrot out of the ground, one of the boys asked him how it got in there.

So after explaining some fundamentals of farming, Steven asked the boy if he could think of another vegetable that grows in the ground. After consulting with his posse, the boy responded: spaghetti?

Later in life, Steven's wife used to take her children's friends out back to the family garden to warm them up to the idea of eating vegetables; but the strategy sometimes backfired. They'd back away slowly saying: Oh maaaaan! those things touched dirt! Ewwww!

Accustomed to shopping with their moms in a well-lit, shiny supermarket stocked with pre-washed, pre-sorted, neatly piled vegetables, the kids were brought up to believe that all dirt is 100% unsanitary; and really, how could you blame them when every advertisement they see on television for sanitizers, cleansers, and detergents always portray dirt as bad?

It's not just kids who are uninformed about agriculture. When author Barbara Kingsolver once submitted some material to an editor, the editor nixed the part in the story about pineapples growing out of the ground. The editor insisted they grew on trees.

In another incident, one of Barbara's friends expressed amazement when told that peas, potatoes, and spinach were "up" in Barbara's garden. The friend wanted to know how potatoes could be "up" since to their knowledge potatoes grew down in the ground rather on the surface. The friend was seriously taken aback to discover that potato plants have stems and leaves.

Gen 9:20b . . was the first to plant a vineyard.

Was Noah the first ever to plant a vineyard? I strongly suspect verse 20 means that he was just the first one to raise grapes in the new world; not the first ever in all of human history.

Gen 9:21a . . He drank of the wine and became drunk,

How often did Noah drink and pass out? I ask because the wrath of God isn't upon drinkers per se; but upon heavy drinkers.

"Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine. They have harps and lyres at their banquets, tambourines and flutes and wine, but they have no regard for Yhvh's deeds, no respect for the work of His hands." (Isa 5:11-12)

I'm unaware of any woe to those who've had too much to drink. No; it's the people who subsist on alcohol that get the bad marks; for example:

"It happened, as she continued praying before Yhvh, that Eli watched her mouth. Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her; How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!" (1Sam 1:12-14)

Eli suspected that Hannah was a wino; which is very different than just getting hammered now and then. In other words: I seriously doubt that Noah was a candidate for AA. He was just a guy who let his wine sneak up on him.

I once knew a girl in high school with such a low tolerance for alcohol that just one can of ordinary beer made her start acting silly. She was by nobody's definition either a wino or an alcoholic; just a regular girl who liked to have fun on Friday night with the other kids.

"Joseph took servings to them from before him, but Benjamin's serving was five times as much as any of theirs. So they drank and were merry with him." (Gen 43:34)

The Hebrew word for "merry" in that verse is from shakar (shaw-kar') which means to become tipsy; viz: to satiate with a stimulating drink. It might surprise some people that God gave Man grapes for that very purpose.

"You make the grass grow for the cattle, and herbage for man's labor that he may get food out of the earth— wine that cheers the hearts of men" (Ps 104:14-15)

Some folk object that the Bible doesn't say Joseph and his brothers drank wine at that meal. Well; if those with that objection can come up with another beverage in the book of Genesis besides wine that had enough wallop to make Joseph and his brothers tipsy; I might be persuaded.

NOTE: Noah's episode with the wine didn't disqualify him from becoming one of three most righteous men in the Old Testament. God still placed him right up there alongside Job and Daniel at Ezek 14:12-20.

So apparently some people's idea of a righteous man is not same as God's idea of a righteous man. The focus in this incident isn't upon Noah's conduct anyway; it's upon his son Ham's.

Gen 9:21b . . and he uncovered himself within his tent.

Noah wasn't a flasher. And he was indoors; passed out in the privacy of his own home. Plus the Bible only says he was uncovered; it doesn't say whether it was his front side or his backside that Ham is about to gaze upon.

Noah's home at this point in time was a tent; which isn't the typical domicile of a man who farms. Nomads live in tents, farmers live in houses. Vineyards take time to grow to maturity and a nomad isn't likely to wait around long enough for that. So why was he living in a portable shelter instead of a permanent building?

At this particular time, Noah's home was probably under construction. No doubt he put a higher priority on his livelihood than on his quality of life. A nice home is a senseless luxury when there's no food on the table.

"Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that, build your house." (Pro 24:27)

Gen 9:22a . . Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father's nakedness

What if Ham had barged in on his mother like that? Didn't anybody ever teach that man to knock or call out before entering someone's bedroom? What was he doing sneaking around in there anyway?

Gen 9:22b . . and told his two brothers outside.

Ham wasn't just a little kid who stumbled into his parents' bedroom. He was a grown man, married, and quite possibly by this time his son Canaan was already born. Catching his dad naked was probably an innocent enough accident; but Ham couldn't let it go. No, he just had to broadcast it and make sport of his dad. Good grief, you'd think he would at least pull the covers so no one else would see his dad in that condition.

Ham didn't seem to respect his dad very much. It's a very black-hearted demon's seed who takes pleasure in opportunities to mock their parents. I wonder if that's what Ham felt as he gazed down at his dad. Did it actually make him feel good to see the old gentleman wallowing in disgrace?

So although the Flood wiped out sinful people, it didn't wipe out sin did it? No, sin survived, and stowed away aboard the ark within the very family of Noah; the most righteous man on Earth; before the Flood and after the Flood. (cf. Ezk 14:13-20)

Gen 9:23 . . But Shem and Japheth took a cloth, placed it against both their backs and, walking backward, they covered their father's nakedness; their faces were turned the other way, so that they did not see their father's nakedness.

Good lads! Those two men respected their dad and did the right thing by him. It's only too clear that Ham despised his father. You know, when you love people, you won't demean them, nor ridicule them, nor wish them disgrace, nor do anything at all that might tarnish their reputation. Love reveals itself by always looking out for the best interests of others.

Ham's act is seen even more reprehensible when juxtaposed with the Flood. Noah's ark saved Ham's bacon, and this is how his son repaid the favor? When Noah got off the ark, he reciprocated God's kindness with gratitude and burnt offerings. Ham reciprocated his father's kindness with mockery and public disgrace. There are those among the Serpent's seed, as were Cain and Ham, who hate good simply for the very good's sake; viz: good disgusts them.

Gen 9:24-25a . .When Noah woke up from his wine and learned what his youngest son had done to him, he said: Cursed be Canaan;

I'd imagine that Canaan objected very strongly upon hearing a curse pronounced upon himself when it was not him but his dad who embarrassed grandpa. What did Canaan do to deserve a curse? Not a thing. Then why did Noah curse Ham's son instead of cursing Ham? The answer to that is located in the passage below:

"Yhvh, Yhvh: a God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and faithfulness; extending kindness to the thousandth generation— forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; yet He does not remit all punishment; but visits the iniquity of parents upon children and children's children unto the third and fourth generation." (Ex 34:6-7)

Parents' progeny aren't imputed guilt for their parents' conduct, but they do sometimes become collateral damage when God goes after the parents. For example the Flood. No doubt quite a few innocent children drowned in that event due to their parents' wickedness. The same happened to the children in Sodom and Gomorrah. And during Moses' face-off with Pharaoh, God moved against everything that pertained to the man; including, but not limited to, his economy, his land, his livestock, his citizens, his citizens' children, and his own children. It's a very disturbing biblical fact of life that sometimes God gets back at the parents by going after things that pertain to them.

For example; God took the life of David's innocent little baby boy to get back at his father for committing the capital crimes of premeditated murder and adultery.

Another example is located in the 16th chapter of Numbers where not just the rebels were punished; but their entire families and all their belongings were swallowed by a fissure that God opened in the ground beneath their feet.

A close call is recorded in the book of Jonah. Had not the adults in Ninevah changed their ways, something like 120,000 little children would have perished; not to mention all the cattle. According to Jonah 4:11, taking out children and dumb animals is not something that God enjoys. But there is a mysterious element to absolute justice that apparently compels Him to do it.

The antediluvian's case, Ham's case, Sodom and Gomorrah's case, David's case, Pharaoh's case, Korah's case, and Ninevah's case lead me to suspect that God's chosen people caught up in the Holocaust weren't caught up as retribution for their own sins; but rather; as retribution for the sins of past generations; which also tells me that the status of God's chosen people isn't something to be proud of; but rather; something to be afraid of because moths that fly too close to the flame risk getting their wings burned seeing as how the covenant's God doesn't practice favoritism.

"You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth; therefore, I will punish you for all your iniquities." (Amos 3:2)

In other words: among the various human communities on earth; Yhvh's people have the least excuse for their impieties due to their privileged association with God and their ready access to the knowledge of His will.

Gen 9:25b . . the lowest of slaves shall he be to his brothers.

That's a very derogatory remark, and more likely a colloquialism or a metaphor rather than a literal prediction; sort of like the one God made regarding the Serpent; that it would crawl on its belly and eat dirt; viz: henceforth be regarded the lowest sort of filth imaginable. Well, that was Noah's prediction regarding Canaan; and it came true. The people of the land of Canaan became so abhorrent that God, in Deut 7:1-5 and Deut 18:9-14, commanded Yhvh's people to drive them out, to exterminate them, to reject their religions, and to avoid assimilation.

Gen 9:26a . . And he said: Blessed be Yhvh, the god of Shem;

Yhvh (The Lord) is said to be Shem's god. But Yhvh is not said to be the god of either Ham or Japheth. Shem is the only one of the three brothers of whom it is said "Yhvh, the god of" perhaps implying that the Bible's God didn't become Shem's god just because the family he was born into worshipped that particular god, rather because Shem personally chose the Bible's God to be his god. A lot of adults are in a religion simply because that's the one they grew up with.

Gen 9:26b . . let Canaan be a slave to them.

The pronoun "them" would refer to the peoples that would descend from Shem.

Gen 9:27a . . May God enlarge Japheth,

That seems more a prayer than a prediction. Japheth is generally regarded as the father of several Gentile nations, most particularly the Romans and the Greeks, who became mighty world powers. Japheth seemed like an okay kind of guy who at least had a sense of propriety. People like him; even though maybe not particularly God-fearing, will listen to reason, and can often be persuaded to do the right thing. He proved at least that much when he assisted brother Shem to cover their dad's exposure in a discreet way. It is so cool to see someone wishing good for non-Jews so early in human history.

Gen 9:27b . . and let him dwell in the tents of Shem;

That doesn't necessarily mean Shem's people and Japheth's people would mingle and assimilate. The expression "dwell in the tents of" is a colloquialism sometimes used to denote compliance or conformity. Here's an example of just the opposite of what we might call dwelling in the tents of Shem.

"Better one day in Your courts than a thousand [anywhere else]; I would rather stand at the threshold of God's house than dwell in the tents of the wicked." (Ps 84:11)

The "tents of the wicked" regards a life style that has no place in it for the Bible's God and doesn't allow His spirit an influence in one's personal life. The remainder of that Psalm is dedicated to the kind of people of whom we could say: dwell in the tents of Shem.

"For The Lord God is sun and shield; The Lord bestows grace and glory; He does not withhold His bounty from those who live without blame. O Lord of hosts, happy is the man who trusts in You." (Ps 84:12-13)

People who live in the tents of the wicked, and walk where the wicked walk; sure don't walk where Shem walks. Not all of Japheth's people would dwell in the tents of Shem of course. But the idea is that Japheth's people weren't totally a bad apple like Canaan's. Many of them would become God-fearing, moral, scrupulous, and upright though not all of course; but at least Japheth's progeny wouldn't prove 100% incorrigible.

Gen 9:27c . . and let Canaan be a slave to them.

Not all of Ham's descendants would become subservient to the people of Shem and Japheth. Only those in Canaan's line.

Gen 9:28-29 . . Noah lived after the Flood 350 years. And all the days of Noah came to 950 years; then he died.

Another righteous man bites the dust. Noah lived twenty more years than Adam, but nineteen less than Methuselah— no doubt a great role model and a tremendous influence upon the minds of all his grandchildren. He surely must have had a huge brood of them in the new world by the time his 350 post-Flood years ended.

Guys like Noah prove a point. Just because someone is righteous is no reason to think that they shouldn't have to die. The human body has its limits. No matter how righteous somebody is, their body will eventually give out.

 

Genesis 10


Gen 10:1 . .These are the lines of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah: sons were born to them after the Flood.

Chapter ten is a tiresome list of genealogies that some have found interesting enough to devote entire books; generating a catalogue of nations connecting Noah's descendants to the ancient civilizations and even today's. But I'm going to comment upon only a few salient features.

Gen 10:5 . .These are the descendants of Japheth by their lands— each with its language— their clans and their nations.

Diverse languages didn't appear right away. First came the tower of Babel. It was after that when people's languages became what we might call "foreign".

Gen 10:8-9 . . Cush was the father of Nimrod, who grew to be a mighty warrior on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before The Lord; that is why it is said: Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before The Lord. The first centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Erech, Akkad and Calneh, in Shinar.

At first, mankind was scattered out in individual clans, and leadership was pretty much restricted to local patriarchal Dons and Sheiks.

But Nimrod wasn't content with local rule. He was resolved not only to be head and shoulders above his neighbors— not only to be eminent among them but to lord it over them.

The same spirit that actuated the mighty men and the men of renown prior to the Flood, (by reason of whom the Flood came) now revived in Nimrod. There are some in whom ambition, achievement, and affectation of dominion seem to be bred in the bone. Nothing short of hell itself will humble and break the proud, domineering spirits of men such as those.

Nimrod is interesting. He's a Nephilistic personage with humble beginnings: first as a professional hunter; probably supplying meat to frontier towns and selling pelts at trading posts. That was likely Nimrod's career path up until his exploits became famous and he began to realize it was far more profitable to go into politics.

Lots of great men, some good and some bad, had humble beginnings— Abraham Lincoln, King David, and even Hitler. Timely circumstances, and fortuitous events, catapulted those blokes up to very high levels of control over their fellow men.

A contemporary case in point is US President Barak Hussein Obama: a man who had little to no chance of winning a US Senate seat had it not been for his shoo-in opponent's carnal indiscretions.

From thence, the voting public's disgust with the Republican party, coupled with their infatuation with the color of Mr. Obama's skin (he's not really Black, he's mulatto), practically assured his election to America's highest federal office. He was but a junior senator with like zero executive experience; yet there he is flying around the world in Air Force One.

To this very day Nimrod is still known as the outdoorsman who would be king. He was such a famous icon of that day that his example became descriptive of others who worked their way to the top like he did— men of vision, daring, energy, strong personal ambition, and dogged perseverance.

The common personality trait, among such men, is their strong desire not just to govern, but to quite dominate people. There are those for whom it isn't enough to win; no, it isn't enough for people like that to win: everyone else has to lose. They don't want 50% market share, nor even 90% no, they're content with nothing less than 100%

Actually, Nimrod was one of the great men of history, though so little is written about him. He was one of the first statesmen to successfully create a sort of European Union; and it was such a solid alliance that only divine intervention could bring it down.

Gen 10:21a . . Sons were also born to Shem, ancestor of all the descendants of Eber

Descendants of Eber (most notably Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) became known as Eberites: a.k.a. Hebrews.

Gen 10:32 . .These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the Flood

What I find very interesting about the nations divided in the earth is their diversity of progress. When Europeans came to the continental US, they found indigenous peoples who were, from all appearances, perpetual cave men. They never had an iron age. Heck, no metal age at all; except maybe copper here and there.

Long, long after the Neanderthals and the Cro-Magnons evolved into Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Spaniards, and Portuguese; the American Indian was still using stone tools, living in rudimentary shelters, and walking everywhere he went. His greatest obstacle to travel was distance because they had no horses. It was like they were a people whom time forgot.

 

Genesis 11
 

Gen 11:1 . . Everyone on earth had the same language and the same words.

The Hebrew word for "language" is from saphah (saw-faw') which means: the lip. The one for "words" is from dabar (daw-baw') which means: a word (as spoken or written)

Spoken languages are a combination of words and lips; viz: vocabulary and pronunciation; viz: accent. It's one thing to know the words of a language, but it is quite another to speak them with the correct pronunciation. In that day, everyone used the same words and spoke them with the very same accent.

Gen 11:2 . . And as they migrated from the east, they came upon a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there.

The name "Shinar" was of course given later because these early migrations were to lands heretofore uninhabited. According to Gen 10:10, Shinar became Nimrod's turf.

The amount of time elapsed between Noah's bender and this migration isn't stated in the Bible— plus; there's really no way to tell which part of the world was "the east" in the author's day.

Here in the USA, the Great Continental Divide is an east/west determinant. Funny thing is, if you're located in Phoenix Arizona, then Billings Montana is to your continental east even though geographically, it's almost directly north; so when you see directions like "east" and/or "west" in the Bible, it's probably best to NOT think compass directions.

For example in the case of the Magi of Matt 2:1. As best as we can tell, their city was somewhere east of the meridian that runs north/south through the Jordan River Valley but that kind of an east is continental rather than geographical so there's really no telling where they came from.

This particular migration was "from" the east; which means pioneers from among Noah's progeny, whose numbers at this point are totally unknown, went out west looking for greener pastures. Although the region of Shinar has not yet been precisely pinpointed, we can take a relatively educated guess at it.

"In the third year of the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and laid siege to it. The Lord delivered King Jehoiakim of Judah into his power, together with some of the vessels of the House of God, and he brought them to the land of Shinar to the house of his god; he deposited the vessels in the treasury of his god." (Dan 1:1-2)

The "Shinar" of Daniel's day is apparently the region where ancient Babylon was located. Babylon's location today is marked by a broad area of ruins just east of the Euphrates River, approximately 90 km (56 mi) south of Baghdad, Iraq. It's part of an area commonly known as the Fertile Crescent; a very large region arching across the northern part of the Syrian Desert and extending from the Nile Valley to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. In the early post-Flood years, this region was very lush. But today much of it is arid wasteland.

Gen 11:3a . .They said to one another: Come, let us make bricks and burn them hard. (Brick served them as stone).

Brick are blocks of clay or other ceramic used for construction and decorative facing. Bricks may be dried in the sun but are more usually baked in a kiln. They cost relatively little, resist dampness and heat, and can actually last longer than some kinds of stone.

Brick was the chief building material of ancient Mesopotamia and Palestine. The inhabitants of Jericho in Palestine were building with brick about 9,000 years ago (7,000 bc). That's about 5,000 years before Abraham's day.

Sumerian and Babylonian builders constructed ziggurats, palaces, and city walls of sun-dried brick and covered them with more durable kiln-baked, often brilliantly glazed brick, arranged in decorative pictorial friezes. Later the Persians and the Chinese built in brick, for example, the Great Wall of China. The Romans built large structures such as baths, amphitheaters, and aqueducts in brick, which they often covered with marble facing.

Gen 11:3b . . and bitumen served them as mortar.

According to Webster's, bitumen is any of various mixtures of hydrocarbons (as tar) often together with their nonmetallic derivatives that occur naturally or are obtained as residues after heat-refining natural substances (e.g. petroleum).

The stuff can be deadly if one isn't careful because once your feet become stuck, they are very difficult to extract; as the museum at the La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles attests. But it's a handy building material too. Noah sealed the ark with a bituminous material, and Moses owed his life to it. (Ex 2:1-10)

Gen 11:4 . . And they said: Come, let us build us a city, and a tower with its top in the sky, to make a name for ourselves; else we shall be scattered all over the world.

Magnificent cities have a way of attracting tourism, commerce, and industry. People want to come and visit, and to live there. Politically, their scheme made good sense. More people equals more prosperity; resulting in more power and control over the region— and of course the larger their tax base the more city services they could provide citizens; including an effective civil defense program.

There's nothing really intrinsically wrong in building a large beautiful city. But in their case, it wasn't the right time for it. God wanted the post-Flooders to move out and populate the entire globe, rather than accumulate in one local region.

Towers served a variety of purposes in the ancient world. Some were used as look-outs, others were used as tombs, and yet others were used as bloody altars for human sacrifices.

The purpose intended for the tower of Gen 11:4 isn't stated but guessing from the wording, I'd say it was intended to be a grand monument; sort of like the 630 foot stainless steel Gateway Arch in Ste. Louis Missouri, or a magnificent minaret like the 239-foot Qutab Minar in Delhi India. Something like that would certainly go a long ways towards getting the Shinarians the renown they sought.

But their wish that the tower's top be in the sky suggests their primary motive was to use its facade to display a variety of gods popular in that day. There's towers like that right now that in the city of Madurai in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, located on the banks of River Vaigai.

The towers are literally festooned with hundreds of gods. So if your favorite god is up there somewhere, there's no need for you to leave town and go on a pilgrimage elsewhere to worship. People love their religion. So if you give them the liberty and the means to practice it; they'll love you forever. Tolerance is good politics. If only Islamic fundamentalists understood this.

Gen 11:5 . .Yhvh came down to look at the city and tower that man had built,

That verse presents an interesting theological problem. Wouldn't it make better sense by saying Yhvh looked down, instead of saying the Yhvh "came" down? Why bother to come down? Doesn't the Bible's God see all and know all? Isn't God omniscient? Can't He see everything from right where He is?

Yes, the Bible's God can do that alright; but a certain celestial being in the Old Testament scriptures— often labeled Yhvh —is never God in person. It's a divine agent who goes by the name of God, stands in for God, speaks for God, speaks as God, reports to God, and takes care of God's business in this world of ours; for example:

"I am sending an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have made ready. Pay heed to him and obey him. Do not defy him, for he will not pardon your offenses, since My Name is in him; but if you obey him and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foes." (Ex 23:20-22)

The name of that angel is his master's name, and actually, the words Moses heard spoken at Ex 23:20-22 were spoken by that heaven-sent messenger on behalf of his master. That mysterious being is not only an enigma; but also quite frightful as anyone who's studied its activities in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy can attest. In other words: wherever the name Yhvh appears in the texts of those books; it's that mysterious angel.

"Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: and they saw the God of Israel: and there was under His feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel He laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink." (Ex 24:9-11)

Did they really see the actual God? No.

"He said: thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see Me, and live." (Ex 33:20)

"You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form." (John 5:37)

What Moses and his entourage saw was the mysterious celestial messenger whose name is his master's.

Gen 11:6 . . and Yhvh said: If, as one people with one language for all, this is how they have begun to act, then nothing that they may propose to do will be out of their reach.

I don't think Yhvh objected to the people's unity per se. I mean, after all; it's Christ's wish that his church be unified (John 17:1-26, 1Cor 1:10). I think what He objected to was the direction that humanity's unity was taking; and it was no doubt similar to the direction depicted below.

"Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against Yhvh and against His anointed. Let us break their chains— they say —and throw off their fetters." (Ps 2:1-3)

To whom was Yhvh speaking when He spoke those words? Well; there's been a lot of theory and speculation in that regard. Apparently Yhvh has associates and companions; which we might label courtiers and/or bureaucrats. They're the competent behind-the scenes "gophers" that keep government business running smoothly. I think that God rather enjoys delegating a great deal of His business to trusted underlings rather than doing it all Himself.

Gen 11:7 . . Let us, then, go down and confound their speech there, so that they shall not understand one another's speech.

"let us" is the language of Gen 1:26 when God created man. Exactly who accompanied Yhvh on this mission isn't stated; but it's difficult to imagine Him traveling solo without an entourage of some sort. (cf. Gen 28:12 and Matt 25:31)

Gen 11:8 . .Thus the Lord scattered them from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city.

The language barrier was only a temporary delay because later on the city of Babylon was eventually built. But at this point in time, the world had no choice. It was just impossible to continue. Incidentally; the entire world has never again been unified in a singular endeavor like it was on that tower.

Gen 11:9 . .That is why it was called Babel, because there the Lord confounded the speech of the whole earth; and from there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

In time, men did branch out and colonize the whole planet. But barely anything is said in the Bible about the world in the years between Babel and Abraham. On the pages of scripture, it seems but a brief interlude, but in reality, it's truly a millenniums-wide quantum leap when taking into consideration the ice ages and regions that today are now deserts (e.g. Sahara) which were once pluvial with abundant water resources and arable soil able to support developing civilizations.

Relative to the grand scheme of things; Abraham was practically a modern man though he lived something like 4,000 years ago. But 4,000 years is merely a tick-tock on the earth's geological clock that's been ticking for something like 4.5 billion years. If we let 4.5 billion years represent 24 hours, then 4,000 years is about equal to .0768 second. That amount of time is somewhere in the neighborhood of half of what the human eye takes to complete a blink.

According to the January 2015 issue of National Geographic Magazine, human artifacts as old as 100,000 years have been discovered in a cave located on the southern tip of Africa. Those years represent just under two seconds on the earth's 24-hour geological clock.

Gen 11:10a . .This is the line of Shem.

Well; that's pretty much about it for the other brothers. From now on, the Bible will direct its focus mainly upon Shem's line. But not all. Just specific ones that are connected to Abraham's covenant; and ultimately to Messiah.

Noah was a pretty simple kind of guy. He probably tore apart the ark for its wood and built a home, and barns, and whittled fence posts and split rails to corral his livestock. The rest of the ark's lumber he could distribute to his sons and grandchildren for their own ranches after setting aside enough firewood for many years to come.

He more than likely stayed pretty close to where the ark went aground and remained behind when the others migrated out west. After all, if Noah could raise food right where he was, plus his grapes, then why move away? He'd seen it all anyway and lived the adventure of a lifetime.

Gen 11:10b . . Shem was 100 years old when he begot Arpachshad, two years after the Flood.

That would make Shem about 97 years old when the flood began.

Gen 11:11 . . After the birth of Arpachshad, Shem lived 500 years and begot sons and daughters.

Each of the patriarchs probably had at least as many daughters as well as sons even though girls' names are rarely listed in the record.

Gen 11:12-25 . .When Arpachshad had lived 35 years, he begot Shelah. After the birth of Shelah, Arpachshad lived 403 years and begot sons and daughters . .When Nahor had lived 29 years, he begot Terah. After the birth of Terah, Nahor lived 119 years and begot sons and daughters.

Included in the genealogy of Gen 11:12-25 was a man named Eber. His name carries on to this day in a people well known as Hebrews; for the Old Testament word for Hebrew is 'Ibriy (ib-ree'); which means an Eberite; viz: a descendant of Eber.

At that point in time, the human life span was beginning to decrease.

Noah lived 950 years (about the same as his antediluvian forebears), but Shem lived only 600. It became even worse by the time of Nahor; who only lived to 148. Today, even the healthiest among us begins to decline as early as our mid thirties; with an average life expectancy of not even 80. This problem has baffled scientists for years and no one seems to know yet just why our body cells age and deteriorate so fast. Whoever solves that problem will get very rich from it, that's for sure.

NOTE: Love will endure forever, but speaking in unknown languages will all disappear (1Cor 13:8)

God introduced tongues during the Tower Of Babel incident to break up world unification. Apparently it was God's judgment that world unification in those days was not a good thing. Well; the language barrier remains in place today; so I'm assuming that world unification in our day is still not a good thing.

In other words: today's world is an imperfect world. But according to 2Pet 3:1-13 and the 21st chapter of Revelation, a new world order is on its way; a perfect world that can be trusted with unification so there will be no need for a control measure to thwart global rebellions against God and all that He stands for.

Gen 11:26-27 . .When Terah had lived 70 years, he begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Now this is the line of Terah: Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begot Lot.

By the time of Terah, Shem's line had slipped away and no longer worshipped Yhvh in spite of their solid spiritual heritage.

"Then Joshua said to all the people: Thus said the Lord, the God of Israel; "In olden times, your forefathers— Terah, father of Abraham and father of Nahor —lived beyond the Euphrates and worshiped other gods." (Josh 24:2-3)

Because their dad worshipped other gods, the two brothers, Abram and Nahor, grew up as idolaters until Noah's god stepped in and broke the chain: appearing to Abram, and instructing him to leave his relatives, and get out of Ur.

One has to wonder what happened with Terah. His grandfathers Shem and Noah actually came off the ark and saw the Flood for themselves but that was waaaaay back when. Time has a way of turning history into legend, and anon, into myths and folklore.

NOTE: One of the problems associated with the credibility of the Flood is finding evidence for it; and a significant portion of that problem is related to the Flood's duration. The actual downpour lasted a mere forty days; and the standing water was gone within a year; which just isn't enough time. It takes water millennia to erode permanent features in the earth's lithosphere.

And on top of that, once the rain stopped, the Flood's waters were essentially static like a lake or a swimming pool. In order to cause erosion of any significance, water has to move; as a river or a stream, or as waves along the sea shore; not stand still.

When I was a kid, the presence of sea shells and fossils way up on the sides and tops of mountains was thought to be evidence of the Flood, but now we know that they got up there by tectonic forces rather than by the Flood.

You know it hasn't been all that long ago that people began putting some faith in continental drift. It's been barely a century since German meteorologist Alfred Wegner proposed that Earth's dry land had once been a single continent then gradually began separating. He was soundly mocked and dismissed by his contemporary scientific community.

Not anymore they don't. Now pretty near all the geological scientists are in agreement that the earth's prominent mountain ranges were produced by the grinding, colliding, buckling, and subduction of massive sections of the earth's crust.

Gen 11:28 . . Haran died in the lifetime of his father Terah, in his native land, Ur of the Chaldeans.

The Grim Reaper cares not for the age of its victims, whether young or whether old. Haran died before his dad. Many a parent has buried their children before they even had a chance to live.

You know, anybody can die; it's not all that difficult; and people don't have to be old nor do they have to be especially intelligent. Even the young, the inexperienced, and the stupid do it all the time.

"For the wise man, like the fool, will not be long remembered: in days to come both will be forgotten. Like the fool, the wise man too must die." (Ecc 2:16)

"For the time of mischance comes to all. And a man cannot even know his time. As fishes are enmeshed in a fatal net, and as birds are trapped in a snare, so men are caught at the time of calamity, when it comes upon them without warning." (Ecc 9:10-12)

"Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets: do they live for ever?" (Zch 1:5)

Gen 11:29 . . Abram and Nahor took to themselves wives, the name of Abram's wife being Sarai and that of Nahor's wife Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah and Iscah.

Nahor married a niece; the daughter of his brother Haran. And Abram, according to Gen 20:12, married a half sister; the daughter of his father Terah. Such close marriages were later forbidden in Israel's covenanted law.

But as Genesis has shown all along, at this early date close marriages were neither forbidden nor particularly dangerous from a genetic point of view, and so were not uncommon. Adam's family married among themselves; and so did Noah's. They really had no choice about it. There just weren't any other people available for spouses at the time.

Close inbreeding was neither a sin nor a problem in those days. But it sure is now. You wouldn't dare engender children with a sister or a brother or a niece nowadays. The risk of birth defects is just too high. It's notable that as longevity decreased, so did the margin of safety in marrying relatives. The quality of the human body was seriously deteriorating.

Gen 11:30 . . Now Sarai was barren, she had no child.

This is the very first recorded incident of a human reproductive malfunction. Other than the reduction in longevity; the human body seems to have been running on all eight cylinders up to this point. But who was the problem; was it Abram or Sarai? It was Sarai because Abram later engendered a child by one of Sarai's servant girls.

One of the first horrors the human family witnessed was Abel's death. No one had ever seen a human being dead before. And now this. A woman who couldn't conceive. It must have been stunning and unbelievable. All the women in history up to this point were cranking out babies like rabbits and mice.

But this was double bad for Sarai. Not only could she not have a family of her own, but you know how the tabloids feed on unusual events. Well . . this was one for the books. Sarai, in her day, was a true freak of nature. Everyone would point at her and whisper in hushed tones: Look! There she is! That's the one we saw on 20/20.

She must have felt terribly inferior, and you can just imagine what that did to her self esteem too. Sarai was a gorgeous piece of work, but her womb had no more life in it than a stack of 8x11 Xerox paper.

I'm a man; so how can I possibly understand Sarai's personal grief? Only another barren woman can understand what Sarai must have felt. There are women who don't care about children. But Sarai doesn't strike me as one of those. And even if she didn't care for children, it would have still been a comfort in her mind to know that at least she could have some if she wanted to.

"There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not; "It is enough" — the grave; the barren womb, the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire." (Pro 30:15-16)

Gen 11:31a . .Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and they set out together from Ur of the Chaldeans for the land of Canaan;

Ur's ruins are located approximately midway between the modern city of Baghdad Iraq, and the head of the Persian Gulf, south of the Euphrates River, on the edge of the Al Hajarah Desert. The site of Ur is known today as Tall al Muqayyar.

In antiquity, the Euphrates River flowed near the city walls; and thus Ur was favorably located for the development of commerce and for attaining political dominance. The biblical name "Ur of the Chaldees" refers to the Chaldeans, who settled in the area about 900 BC. By the 4th century BC, the city was practically forgotten, possibly as a result of a shift in the course of the Euphrates River.

Water played an important role in the location of ancient civilizations. The Sahara desert, for example, was once a pluvial region with lakes. When geological forces caused the loss of rainfall and surface water, the Sahara became the dry waste it's famed for today and consequently its inhabitants had to relocate.

Ur was enclosed by oval walls thirty feet high, which protected not only the city, but two harbors as well. Sir Leonard Woolley discovered that the inhabitants benefited from well-planned streets, and houses with high standards of sanitation. They appear to have been constructed to remain cool in the hot summers and some may have been two-storied. House walls adjoined the streets. Homes featured an inner courtyard onto which their rooms faced; just like Judah's home in the Charleton Heston movie Ben Hur.

Gen 11:31b . . but when they had come as far as Haran, they settled there.

According to Gen 12:1, God took an interest in Abram while he was in Ur, before he left with Terah to travel to Haran. After sharing his vision with Terah, the dad quite possibly became interested in a new life himself, having recently lost a son. The land where he then lived held bad memories and, probably not wanting to lose touch with any more of his family if Abram were to move away, he suggested that they all travel together; which is a perfectly good idea considering the dangers they were likely to encounter en route.

But the dad didn't have the heart for it really. The old gentleman decided to settle in Haran instead of going all the way to Canaan like the original plan called for.

From Ur, Canaan is dead west and just about the same distance as Haran. But instead of going directly to Canaan, they went north, following the trade routes. I think I would have too. Terah's family was a lot safer going from town to town along the fertile crescent. It would take longer to get to Canaan, but they would be in better shape upon arrival.

There are some who like to keep their foot on the gas and push on through when they travel. But that is very tiring. It's far better to stop often, eat, and rest before moving on. The towns along the northern route could provide them with needed supplies for the journey too.

But Haran (modern Charran or Haraan) is too far out of the way really. It's clear up in Urfa Turkey on the trade route to Ninevah. Terah could have turned south a lot sooner and gone on down to Canaan via Damascus. But I think that by then, he'd lost interest in Canaan and decided that Haran was the place for him. And Abram, probably not wanting to leave his dad alone there, stayed on too.

Gen 11:32 . .The days of Terah came to 205 years; and Terah died in Haran.

Terah lived a relatively long life for his day. His son Abram only lived to 175.

But I sometimes wonder if Terah didn't cut his life short by staying in Haran. Did he forget about God's call to Abram to go to Canaan?

Actually, Terah didn't worship Noah's god, rather, other gods; pagan gods. So it's only natural that he wouldn't take Yhvh's call seriously. Noah's god wanted Abram to live down in Canaan. But because of his dad, Abram didn't go there. How sad that parents can actually be a hindrance to their children associating with God whole heartedly.

My own dad was a very bad influence upon my spiritual life. It wasn't until after I moved out, and he passed away, that my association with God really took off and went somewhere. He used to get so upset with me for taking the Bible too seriously; even blaming it for keeping me from getting ahead in life. And he constantly pressured me to marry women who were of a different religion than my own.

 

Genesis 12
 

Gen 12:1. .The Lord said to Abram: Go forth from your native land and from your father's house to the land that I will show you.

Stephen said Abram was still living in Ur, and hadn't moved up to Haran yet when God called him to leave his kin (Acts 7:2-3). There's no record of any interaction with God all the while that Abram lived in Haran. Yhvh was silent, and waiting for Abram to get with the program and do as He said— leave his kin and head on out to a country of God's choosing. When he finally departed, Abram was not yet informed of his precise destination. (Heb 11:8)

The Lord made several promises to Abram at this time.

Gen 12:2a . . I will make of you a great nation,

Greatness is arbitrary. Some say numbers best represent greatness, while others feel that accomplishments, prosperity, health, and contributions to mankind define greatness. In that last aspect; no other nation on earth has contributed more to the benefit of mankind than the people of Israel. It is through them that sinful men of all nations may obtain a full ransom from the wrath of God. Israel is also destined to become the seat of world power, economic prosperity, and the center for religious studies.

Gen 12:2b . . And I will bless you;

Abram became a very wealthy man; with enough male servants to field a respectable army. He also enjoyed long life and good health; and the admiration of his neighbors.

Gen 12:2c . . I will make your name great,

Nobody is more famous than Abram. Even people who never heard of George Washington, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, or Genghis Khan, know about Abram. He is connected to the three most prominent religions in the world: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. And his name is always held in the very highest regard. Abram isn't known for nefarious deeds nor bloody conquests. He is known as the friend of God, and as a role model for all decent God-fearing people everywhere all over the world.

Gen 12:2d . . And you shall be a blessing.

There are some people that the world is well rid of like conceited entertainers, neighbors from hell, thin skinned defensive people with raging tempers, habitual liars, cry babies, people who falsify information, sully reputations, ruthless businessmen, con and scam artists, unscrupulous lawyers, crooked cops and dishonest politicians, insurance frauds, Wall Street sociopaths, managers on a power trip, hackers, and the like.

But Abram was none of those. He was a very gracious, honorable man; the kind of guy you would thank God for. But most of all, Abram is the progenitor of Messiah— the savior of the world.

"A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham" (Matt 1:1)

Messiah is the one who makes it possible for sinners to escape the judgment of God. You can't be a better blessing than that.

"Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so cared for the world that he donated His one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but to rescue the world through him." (John 3:14-17)

NOTE: The reference to Moses' serpent is located at Num 21:4-9

Just as Moses' people were spared certain death by doing no more nor less than looking to Moses' serpent; so believers today are spared certain death in the reservoir of brimstone depicted at Rev 20:11-15 by doing no more nor less than looking to Christ's crucifixion.

Gen 12:3a . . I will bless those who bless you, and curse him that curses you;

That curse works both ways; viz: it prevents God from cursing Abram. This is very important because were God to curse Abram, for any reason, any at all; He would have to level a curse right back at Himself.

God as much as granted Abram immunity from any, and all, of the curses listed at Ex 34:6-7, Lev 26:3-38, Deut 27:15-26, and Deut 28:1 69 that God is obligated to slam Yhvh's people with for breaching the covenant that they agreed upon with God as per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

Modern Judaism insists that Deut 29:14-15 retroactively binds Abraham to the covenant. But Deut 5:2-3 clearly exempts him.

Gen 12:3b . . And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

The Hebrew word translated "in you" is a bit ambiguous. It can also mean "through you" and/or "by means of you".

Abram eventually found out that the above prediction concerned a great grandson of his.

"Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad." (John 8:56-57)

The "blessing" in focus is no doubt the one below.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be spared through Him. (John 3:16-17)

"And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2:2)

Gen 12:4a . . Abram went forth as the Lord had commanded him,

Although Abram didn't "went forth" exactly when God told him to; he finally did; and that's what counts. Jonah didn't "went forth" when he was told to go either, but God prepared a large fish to persuade him to stop fooling around and get a move on; and he finally complied.

Gen 12:4b . . and Lot went with him.

That was an err on Abram's part. He was told to leave his native land and to leave his father's house. He wasn't supposed to take any relatives along with him: and Lot wasn't a child; he was a grown man capable of operating a ranch on his own so it's not like Abram would have abandoned Lot an orphan.

Gen 12:4c . . Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran.

That hardly seems like a sensible age to reinvent one's self and begin a new life; but Abram was relatively young yet in his own day, and still had 100 years of life left to go.

To give a perspective on just how long 100 years is: from today in 2016; it would be only four years after the sinking of the Titanic, two before the end of WW1, seven years before Poncho Villa's demise, and three years till the ratification of the 18th Amendment— horse and buggy were common in New York City, and Annie Oakley and Wyatt Earp were still alive.

I was born in 1944. The average life expectancy of a man born that year is roughly 62. Abram lived to the ripe old age of 175 (Gen 25:7-8). So, at the time of his migration to Canaan, Abram was about the equivalent of me at 26.

Abram's wife Sarai was even perkier. She was nine years younger than Abram (cf. Gen 17:1 and Gen 17:17). But Sarai only lived to 127; forty eight years less than her husband (Gen 23:1). The average life expectancy of a woman born in 1944 is about 67 years. So Sarai would have been the equivalent of a female version of me at 25 when they migrated to Canaan had she survived to her husband's ripe old age of 175. Precisely why Sarai's life was cut short is unknown; but I think it's okay to assume it was just natural causes.

Gen 12:5 . . Abram took his wife Sarai and his brother's son Lot, and all the wealth that they had amassed, and the persons that they had acquired in Haran; and they set out for the land of Canaan; and they arrived there.

I'm pretty sure Sarai anticipated this move. Abram had probably been talking about it ever since God appeared to him in Ur so I seriously doubt it disrupted her life like a bolt out of the blue.

From Haran (Haraan Turkey) it's well over 400 miles south to the West Bank in Palestine. You can imagine the difficulty of making such a trip what with no automobiles, no trains, no buses, no taxi cabs, no airplanes, no paved-surface highways, and no graded roads. It was all trails and dirt paths; and all on foot, or on the back of an animal, or in a cart pulled by an animal.

People traveled like that for millennia before powered conveyances were invented and became widespread. Practically all modern means of travel were invented in the 20th century AD.

In only just the last 120 years or so of Man's existence has there been airplanes and horseless carriages. Man went from the Wright Brothers to the moon in just sixty-six years.

The previous thousands of years before Karl Benz's production of gasoline-powered motorwagens; people were very slow moving, and travel was arduous, inconvenient, and totally earth-bound. In those days, a pioneer's greatest obstacle to migration was distance.

It's significant that Abram wasn't required to dispose of his worldly goods in order to follow God. Abram later became an exceedingly rich man and God never once asked him to give it all away to charity.

Riches are bad only if they have such a hold upon a person that they must compromise their integrity to hang on to it. For that person, it's better to be poor. But it would be wrong to impose poverty upon everyone because not everyone is consumed with survival, avarice, and greed.

Gen 12:6 . . Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land.

The Canaanites were Canaan's descendants— Noah's bad-apple grandson.

The Canaanites probably didn't have complete control of the land at this time, merely a presence, same as Abram. But they were definitely in progress of getting control. By the time Joshua invaded, roughly four hundred years later, Canaan's clan was pretty well rooted in Palestine.

Abram's welfare wasn't improved by coming out west to Canaan. His home town Ur was a modern city with decent accommodations. But out on the frontier, it was rugged. Palestine in that day was no Utopia. It was more like the conditions which faced our own early day American pioneers and settlers. There were communities scattered here and there, but for the most part, it was wild, wooly, and untamed.

Abram, now paying attention to God, is going where he's told and moving in all the right directions. The next two moves are preceded by altars; upon which, we can safely assume, were offered the traditional Noah-style burnt offering. Altar sites were hot-spots; viz: locations for making wireless contact with God; sort of like what the Temple at Jerusalem became in later years.

Gen 12:7a . .The Lord appeared to Abram

Exactly how or in what form God appeared to Abram isn't said. God's appearances aren't always visual. Sometimes an appearance is merely an audible voice; or a dream, an angel, a burning bush, a breeze, a column of smoke, or even an eerie glow.

Gen 12:7b . . and said: I will assign this land to your heirs.

This is the very first instance of a Divine promise made to Abram regarding ownership of Palestine; and it probably bounced right off his skull like a sonar ping. But later on, God will repeat that promise again and again until it finally sinks in. Repetition is, after all, a proven learning aid.

Gen 12:7c-8 . . And he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him. From there he moved on to the hill country east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and he built there an altar to the Lord and invoked the Lord by name.

Eusebius Onomasticon, placed Bethel twelve Roman miles north from Jerusalem, on the road to Neapolis. The site today is represented by the modern town of Beitin, a village which stands on a knoll east of the road to Nablus; roughly 2½ miles northeast of Ramallah El-Bira.

Ai hasn't really been pinpointed yet but is identified either with the modern Haiyan, just south of the village Deir Dibwan or with a mound, El-Tell, to the north.

This is only the second time in Scripture where it's said human beings called upon God by a name. The first was Gen 4:26. What name might Abram have used to invoke God? The name Yhvh was well known by this time, and Abram addressed God by it on numerous occasions (e.g. Gen 13:4, 14:22, 15:8, 21:33, and 24:3).

God's demeanor towards Abram was sometimes that of an officer in wartime who doesn't tell his troops in advance the location of their next bivouac. Instead he orders them to march in a certain direction, only later telling them when to stop and set up camp. So Abram went in the direction he was commanded to go; not really knowing his destination or the why. For the time being, Abram didn't need to know the why— he only needed to know which way.

Free now from the harmful influence of his dad's pagan idolatry, Abram revived the religion of his sacred ancestors and began calling upon God the same way they did; and he got his travel orders that way too. Each time he worshipped at the altars, God told him what to do, where to go next; and sometimes even shared some personal data along with His big plans for Abram's future.

Abram was doing pretty much what Adam did in the garden; meeting with God in the cool of the day; so to speak. Only Abram did it differently because he was a sinful being, whereas, in the beginning, Adam wasn't; so he didn't need an altar, at  first.

Gen 12:9 . .Then Abram journeyed by stages toward the Negev.

"Negev" is from negeb (neh'-gheb) and means: to be parched; the south (from its drought); specifically, the Negev or southern district of Judah; occasionally Egypt (as south to Palestine). The Negev is generally considered as beginning south of Dhahiriya; which is right in between Hevron and Be'ér Sheva; and as stretching south in a series of rolling hills until the actual wilderness begins, a distance of perhaps 70 miles.

To the east, the Negev is bounded by the Dead Sea and the Arabah, and to the west the boundaries are generally Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. It's a land of scanty springs and sparse rainfall. The character of its soil is a transition from the fertility of Canaan to the wilderness of the desert— essentially a pastoral land, where grazing is plentiful in the early months and where camels and goats can survive, even through the long summer drought.

Today, as through most periods of history, the Negev is a land for the nomad rather than the settled inhabitant, although abundant ruins in many spots testify to better physical conditions at some periods. The east and west directions of the valleys, the general dryness, and the character of the inhabitants, have always made it a more or less isolated region without thoroughfare.

The great routes passed along the coast to the west or up the Arabah to the east. Against all who would lead an army up from the south, this southern frontier of Judah presented a tough obstacle in the old days. The Negev is slated for a make-over when the Jews return to their homeland.

"The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of The Lord, the excellency of our God." (Isa 35:1-2)

"Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow." (Isa 35:6-7)

Lebanon's glory of old was timber; especially cedars (1Kng 4:33). Sharon was known for its flowers (Song 2:1) and Carmel for its orchards (Isa 33:9). How God will get timber, flowers, and orchards to flourish in the Negev should be interesting.

Gen 12:10 . .There was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land.

Famines were usually the result of things like low humidity, lack of rain, and/or plagues of insects and plant diseases.

Abram fully intended to return to Canaan just as soon as the famine ended. The move to Egypt was a temporary expedient, rather than the result of irrational panic. Famine might seem to some as an excuse for Abram to return to Haran. But Abram wasn't retreating. His destiny did not lie in Haran. It lay in Palestine— period! —no going back.

I've heard more than one commentator say that Abram was out of God's will when he left Canaan and moved to Egypt. It is really impossible to know that for sure. Compare Gen 46:2-4 where God instructed Jacob to migrate to Egypt during a severe famine.

So, I'm inclined to give Abram the benefit of the doubt. Back at Shechem, Abram began the practice of erecting altars and calling on grandpa Noah's god. Each time he moved, he built a new altar. And each time he did that, God gave him new travel orders. Since the text doesn't suggest otherwise; it should be okay to assume Abram went down to Egypt under the very same divine guidance as the other places he moved to.

Gen 12:11 . . As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai: I know what a beautiful woman you are.

Abram was about nine years older than Sarai; so she was over 66 years-old when this event occurred because according to Gen 12:4, Abram was seventy-five when they left Haran. Sarai was amazing. Even at 66+ years she drew admiring glances.

Abram's acknowledgement of Sarai's beauty appears to have been somewhat out of the ordinary; but that's no surprise. After a number of years of marriage, it isn't uncommon for men to take their wives for granted; and to stop taking notice of them after a while.

Gen 12:12 . . If the Egyptians see you, and think "She is his wife" they will kill me and let you live.

Egypt had an active presence up in and around Canaan prior to Abram's day and perhaps the conduct of their frontier consulates was somewhat less than honorable at times. So of course the people of Canaan would quite naturally assume all Egyptians were pigs just like many people today assume that all Muslims are vicious because of the Muslim terrorists who flew airplanes into the World Trade Center.

Gen 12:13 . . I beseech you; say that you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that I may remain alive thanks to you.

Abram didn't have to entreat Sarai to go along with his scheme. According to Gen 18:12 and 1Pet 3:6, she regarded her husband's position above her own.

This scene is useful for exemplifying the gracious nature of this amazing man of God. Though he was a king in his own home, Abram wasn't a callous despot like Kim Jong Un and/or Robert Mugabe who care little for either the feelings or the welfare of their citizens.

Abram was shrewd. He was not only concerned about saving his skin, but also about taking advantage of his being Sarai's kin; and actually that part of it did work out pretty well. However, I would have to scold him on this point because his conduct reveals a lack of confidence in God's promises back in Gen 12:2-3 and Gen 12:7.

He has to be kept alive to engender heirs so God can make good on His promise to give them the land of Canaan. No one could kill Abram at this point; not even a Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Not even The Almighty God Himself could kill Abram at this point because it was too late for that.

God passed His word back at Shechem that he would make of Abram a great nation and He can't go back on it without seriously compromising His own integrity. Some people might be inclined to call that a character weakness; but to those of us relying upon God to honor His word, His integrity is the very basis of our confidence. God's promises— especially His unconditional promises —are not only human-proof; but God-proof too.

Gen 12:14 . .When Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw how very beautiful the woman was.

When men talk about a woman's beauty, they're not talking about the sterling character of a woman like Ruth; no, they're talking about the physical attributes of a woman like Queen Vashti in the book of Esther. (cf. Gen 6:1-2)

How did the Egyptians see Sarai was a looker? Well, the dress code for women in her day was nothing like the totally unflattering burqas that Islam imposes upon women in the Mid East.

Depicted in a wall painting in the tomb of an Egyptian nobleman named Khnum-hotpe, at Beni-Hasen on the Nile river, dating from about 1900 BC, is a Semitic troupe passing customs to enter Egypt. The women are wearing form-fitting, highly colored, sleeveless wrap-around dresses whose hems stop at mid calf. Their décolletage swoops from the left shoulder to just under the opposite armpit, leaving that side's shoulder completely bare.

Their hair— fastened by a thin white ribbon around the forehead and covered with neither a shawl, nor a scarf, nor a hijab —falls loosely over bosoms and shoulders, and there are stylish little curls just in front of the ears. Adorning their feet are dark brown, half-length boots. In attire like that, a woman filled out in all the right places would be very easy to notice.

Gen 12:15a . . Pharaoh's courtiers saw her and praised her to Pharaoh,

Webster's has a couple of definitions for "courtiers". They are people in attendance at a royal court; and they are also people who practice flattery. Apparently Pharaoh's toadies kept their eyes out for appealing women to add to their sovereign's harem; and thus gain for themselves his favor and approval.

Their sighting of Sarai wasn't just happenstance. Entry into Egypt in those days was tightly controlled and the only way in was past specified check points. At one time in Egypt's past, there existed a long chain of forts, watchtowers, and strong points designed to watch over immigration and possible invasions by the Sand People from the east. The "wall" stretched north and south across the desert approximately along the same path as today's Suez Canal. Each check point was manned by armed soldiers accompanied by officials of the Egyptian government; sort of like the customs agents and border patrols of the modern world today.

Gen 12:15b . . and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's palace.

Not good. A woman in the harems of that day would never have a home of her own nor freedom to travel. Never would she be allowed to pursue romance nor to associate with her friends and relatives ever again.

Gen 12:16 . . And because of her, it went well with Abram; he acquired sheep, oxen, jack donkeys, male and female slaves, jenny donkeys, and camels.

Life is much better when you're connected. Because of Sarai, Abram was a bit of a celebrity and thus treated very well.

So Abram is getting rich. After all, his sister is in the White House. You think anyone is going to cheat him or make him pay full price for goods and services? No way. If anything, people were more than willing to give him lots of expensive gifts and deep discounts, hoping to remain in Pharaoh's good graces by doing so.

But what's going on in Pharaoh's boudoir at night? There is just no way Abram could block that out of his mind. If only he had believed God's promise, Sarai's honor wouldn't be in such immediate danger of compromise. Abram could have swaggered into Egypt totally fearless of Pharaoh and his country; and kept his wife within her own camp, safe and snug among her own people.

Gen 12:17 . . But the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his household with mighty plagues on account of Sarai, the wife of Abram.

I, for one, don't blame Pharaoh for any of that. It was totally Abram's fault. Pharaoh and his courtiers were duped into thinking Sarai was available. How could they have known she was spoken for?

Our hero didn't tell the Egyptians about his adventures with The Lord. All he could think about was how to survive and stay alive. ¡Error! If he had instead been a faithful witness for God, rather than looking out for his own skin, I think things would have gone much better for Abram and Sarai down there in Egypt.

But now they will be forcibly deported; in shame and disgrace. So, instead of being a positive influence for their god, they became a very bad one. God's people are supposed to believe in their god, and reflect that confidence to others; and at the very least they ought to be honest. And God's people should never be reluctant to tell others about their religion even if those others appear to be pagan heathens.

Gen 12:18-20 . . Pharaoh sent for Abram and said: What is this you have done to me! Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say "She is my sister" so that I took her as my wife? Now, here is your wife; take her and begone! And Pharaoh put men in charge of him, and they sent him off with his wife and all that he possessed.

One can scarcely blame Mr. Pharaoh for blowing his top. Nobody likes to be duped, especially monarchs.

Just exactly how Pharaoh found out that Sarai was Abram's wife is not said. Probably the very same way King Abimelech discovered the truth about her in a later incident. Here's how that will go when we get there later on. (Gen 20:1-7)

From a totally humanistic point of view, it would appear that God is terribly unfair. I mean, after all, Pharaoh and Abimelech couldn't possibly have known that Sarai was married, especially when both she and her husband were telling people otherwise. But these incidents are valuable to reveal that sin is just a wee bit more complicated than Man's inadequate little sense of right and wrong is able to fully comprehend.

Well anyway; as the texts says: Abram acquired female slaves during this brief stopover in Egypt; and quite possibly one of their names was— you guessed it —Ms. Hagar: the mother of Ishmael, the father of the Arab world; from whence ultimately came Muhammad and the religion of Islam. Just goes to show that chaos theory may not be 100% right, but it isn't 100% wrong either.

 

Genesis 13
 

Gen 13:1-2 . . From Egypt, Abram went up into the Negeb, with his wife and all that he possessed, together with Lot. Now Abram was very rich in cattle, silver, and gold.

The word for "rich" is from kabad (kaw-bad') which means: to be heavy, i.e. in either a bad sense (burdensome, severe, dull) or in a good sense (numerous, rich, honorable); causatively, to make weighty (in the same two senses); viz: which is why, I guess, we call the rich "loaded"

So the rich are not only wealthy, but weighted down too. It was a piece of cake for Abram to pull up stakes and move around wherever God wanted before he got so wealthy. Now it will be an undertaking especially without power tools and mechanized conveyances.

NOTE: Though it's not stated, I think it's probably pretty safe to assume that Lot enjoyed the very same privileged status in Egypt that his uncle Abram did due to their mutual relationship to Sarai; so that Lot came up out of Egypt a very prosperous cattle baron.

Gen 13:3-7a . . And he proceeded by stages from the Negeb as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been formerly, between Bethel and Ai, the site of the altar that he had built there at first; and there Abram invoked the Lord by name.

. . . Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, so that the land could not support them staying together; for their possessions were so great that they could not remain together. And there was quarreling between the herdsmen of Abram's cattle and those of Lot's cattle.

Grazing land can support only so many head of cattle per acre, and the land was just recently recovering from a famine. Lot's drovers were squabbling with Abram's over available grass; and probably the available water too. If those men had barbed wire in that day, I'm sure they would have strung it. Then the shootin' would have really started up!

Gen 13:7b . .The Canaanites and Perizzites were then dwelling in the land.

How do you suppose Abram's and Lot's squabbling looked to the pagans? When God's people can't get along, outsiders become disgusted with them and they sure won't be influenced for God in a good way when Yhvh's people are fighting amongst themselves like that.

Years ago, when I was a young welder just starting out on my own, I rented a small room in a daylight basement from a man who was the senior pastor of a medium-sized Seventh Day Adventist church in the Portland Oregon area. He and his wife radiated the luster of polished spirituality whenever I spoke with them out in the yard, but in my location under the floor of the house, I could overhear their bitter quarrels upstairs behind closed doors. Was I favorably inclined to attend his church? No.

Gen 13:8-9a . . Abram said to Lot: Let there be no strife between you and me, between my herdsmen and yours, for we are kinsmen. Is not the whole land before you?

Palestine was still pretty much a wild frontier in the 20th century BC. Actually very little of it was private property. And what with no Bureau of Land Management, the land out west from Ur was pretty much up for grabs to anyone who had the moxie to take it. Abram and Lot remind me very much of early day American pioneers and cattle barons.

Gen 13:9b . . Let us separate.

It wasn't an easy thing for Abram to be firm with his kin, and it was a weakness in his spiritual life from day-one. He and Sarai were supposed to leave their kin and come to Canaan alone. He wasn't supposed to take along a nephew. But Abram just couldn't leave Lot behind. So now he and Lot are separating with bad blood between them. And Lot's future is very uncertain down in that God-less country away from his uncle Abram's patronage.

Gen 13:9c . . if you go north, I will go south; and if you go south, I will go north.

Even though there was some bad blood now between Abram and Lot, the old boy remained a gracious man. Being the senior of the two, Abram could have claimed first dibs on the land. But he waived the privileges of rank, and gave his nephew the choice. But, in point of fact, Abram made Lot a promise that he could in no way guarantee to honor; because it was God who ultimately dictated where Abram was to dwell in the land.

Gen 13:10 . . Lot looked about him and saw how well watered was the whole plain of the Jordan, all of it— this was before the Lord had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah —all the way to Zoar, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt.

The Jordan Valley slopes southward like a ramp from an altitude of roughly 685 feet below sea level at the Sea of Galilee to an elevation of 1,384 feet below sea level at the Dead Sea. Water was Lot's primary concern and there was plenty of it down there in that valley 4,000 years ago. Along with overflow from the Sea of Galilee, was an abundance of wadis and streams draining into the Jordan Valley from the highlands.

In its heyday, the Jordan poured about 1.3 billion cubic feet of water per year into the Dead Sea. Today— due to dams, diversions, and pumping —only about 2 or 3 percent of those ancient billions reach the sea. In the last century alone, the Sea's level declined 80 feet in just the sixty years between 1939 and 1999.

Eighty feet may not seem like much depth, but when it's considered that the surface area of the Dead Sea is roughly 235 square miles; we're looking at something like 3.56 cubic miles of water. If all that water were to be packed into a single cube, it's sides would be 1.527 miles in length, i.e. 8,062 feet. There are currently no man-made structures on earth that tall.

In Abram's day, the Jordan Valley in the region between the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee was well watered, fertile, and very appealing to a cattle baron like Lot. It had some pretty good jungles too: home to lots of fierce lions at one time.

NOTE: The Israel of today is just a dried up husk of its former environmental glory. For example: Israel's lions, now extinct, once inhabited forests (Jer 5:6) mountain caves (Nahum 2:12) and the Jordan Valley (Jer 49:19). Israel's bears (2Kgs 2:24) were eradicated in the early 20th century. The closest kin to the bears that once roamed wild there are the Syrian brown bears kept in the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem.

What the world sees today in Palestine little resembles the land of milk and honey into which Joshua brought Yhvh's people some 3,500 years ago; and there's their own breaches of the covenant to thank for it.

"Even all nations shall say: Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger?

. . .Then men shall say: Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord God of their fathers, which He made with them when He brought them forth out of the land of Egypt: for they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom He had not given unto them: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book" (Deut 29:24-27)

A menu of the curses is on public display at Lev 26:3-38, Deut 27:15-26, and Deut 28:1-69.

Gen 13:11a . . So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward.

Today a descent down to Jericho from Bethel (modern Beitin) would be close to a 4,000 foot drop in elevation. Whooee! That'll sure make your ears pop!

Gen 13:11b . .Thus they parted from each other;

To me, it would have made better horse sense in a foreign land to consolidate their holdings— sort of an Abraham & Lot Inc. —instead of maintaining two separate independent enterprises. But I guess Lot had ambitions and wanted to be his own man.

Either Lot had more mettle than uncle Abram; or was just downright reckless because he had the moxie to go off on his own into a totally strange region with absolutely no assurance that God would travel with him.

Explorers like Columbus, Cortez, Balboa, and Magellan have that kind of nerve: they're strong, arrogant, and confident. But I don't think Abram ever was like that. I seriously doubt he would have left Haran at all had not God called him to it. I believe it was only the assurance of divine patronage that gave Abram the courage to travel far from home in that day.

Gen 13:12a . . Abram remained in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the Plain,

Cities in that day didn't in any way resemble the huge sprawling metropolises of the present. We would no doubt regard them as little more than fortified hamlets. Some of the cities of the plain were Sodom, Admah, Zeboiim, Gomorrah, and Bela; which is Zoar. Jericho was in existence then too and no doubt a major population center in that region.

Gen 13:12b . . pitching his tents near Sodom.

Logistically that was a pretty sensible arrangement. By living amongst those cities, Lot had a ready market for his livestock; and a source of goods and services he could use out on the ranch. There was something special about Sodom that magnetized him though because he eventually moved his family into town.

I think Mrs. Lot may have had a little something to do with that. Not too many women enjoy rough-country living out in the middle of nowhere. Most prefer being near the conveniences of neighbors, shopping, and services.

Gen 13:13 . . Now the inhabitants of Sodom were very wicked sinners against the Lord.

The precise location of ancient Sodom is uncertain. Some feel it was sited at the south end of the Dead Sea; but it's difficult to know for sure. According to Gen 14:1-3, the communities of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Zoar were situated in an area of the Jordan Valley the Bible labels "the vale of Siddim; which is the salt sea". Meaning of course that it was the salt sea when somebody wrote that section but wasn't always inundated in the ancient past.

The Hebrew word for Siddim means flats; viz: a flood plain; for example river valleys; which are of course subject to seasonal flooding. Personally, if it were me; I would have emplaced my community at the north end of the vale rather than south since the north end was the better location for a ready supply of fresh water from the Jordan River for homes and farming.

The author's choice of words is curious. The flatlanders weren't just sinners; they were "very wicked" sinners; and not just very wicked sinners, but very wicked sinners "against" the Lord; which suggests outright insolence, impudence, and defiance; viz: standing up to God and asserting one's independence.

NOTE: Everything in Genesis occurred quite a few years prior to the institution of the Ten Commandments so God couldn't prosecute the vale's people for breaking any one specific law as per the covenant that Yhvh' people agreed upon with God in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. He actually came down on them for pretty much the same reason He came down on the antediluvians: for ignoring Him.

"And Yhvh said: My Spirit shall not strive with man forever (Gen 6:3a)

"And this is the condemnation: light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." (John 3:19)

John 3:19 is pretty much a blanket indictment that God can use any time He wishes to justify coming down on people.

How could the people of the vale be adjudged defiant if they had no clue God disapproved their lifestyle? Well; it's interesting that we today tend to count only published men like Isaiah and Jeremiah as prophets. But God has had numbers of prophets out and about in the ancient world whose names we've never heard of.

For example: at 1Kgs 19:14, Elijah complained that he was one man alone standing for God in Israel; but unknown to him, Obadiah had hidden a hundred prophets in a cave. (1Kgs 18:4 and 18:13)

Abram is listed as a prophet (Gen 20:7). And in point to fact, God has had prophets out and about ever since Abel (Luke 11:50-51). But the most notable prophet in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah was a priest named Melchizedek. (Gen 14:18-20. According to Mal 2:7, priests aren't just for rituals; but also for teaching.

Malachi labels priests Yhvh's "messengers" which is from the very same Hebrew word for angels; which tells me we should never assume that the word "angel" eo ipso indicates a celestial emissary. It could just as easily be a human agent on a divine mission.

Gen 13:14-15 . . And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had parted from him: Raise your eyes and look out from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west, for I give all the land that you see to you and your offspring forever.

Oh the irony of it! If Lot went off only to the Jordan Valley to stake a claim for his own progeny, then he didn't go far enough away because from Abram's vantage he could see eastward clear across the Jordan valley and over into Moab (the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan) and far past the five cities of the Plain. So Abram, and his progeny, were promised eternal ownership of not only the highlands of Canaan, but in addition, also the whole Jordan Valley where Lot moved— and beyond.

Gen 13:16 . . I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, then your offspring too can be counted.

I just hope Abram remembers what God said the next time he feels inclined to fib in order to save his skin. Will he never catch on that he cannot die until God makes good on the promises regarding his progeny?

Abram's biological progeny descend not only from Isaac, but also from Ishmael and the other boys too. But his progeny shouldn't be construed to be exactly equal to the number of bits of dust that make up the earth's soil. The expression is a common Old Testament colloquialism for very large quantities (e.g. Gen 41:49, Josh 11:4, Judg 7:12, 1Sam 13:5, 2Sam 17:11, 1Kgs 4:29, Job 29:18, Ps 78:27; et al).

The meaning is that they would simply become too numerous to count. Later God will liken the number of Abram's offspring to the sand at the beach. Same thing there too— not the precise number of grains, but a number so great that any attempt to count them would be futile; and the stars too.

Abram lived somewhere in the neighborhood of the 20th century BC; roughly five hundred years after completion of the Pyramid of Khafre at Giza. So Abram lived about 4,000 years ago. Millions and millions of Abram's kin have lived and died since then. And it's not over yet, not by a long sea mile.

NOTE: Not only were civilizations in Egypt great at this time, but elsewhere too; for example the ancient city of Harappa that was once located in the Indus River Valley of northwest India: a site now located in Pakistan. Harappa was a fairly large city of something like 23,500 people; and still in its heyday during the time of Abram. And the Maya, famous for their apocalyptic calendar; were blooming in and around what is now the Yucatán Peninsula. By the time of Abram, people had really spread out from the tower of Babel; and world development was happening by leaps and bounds.

In Messiah's future millennial kingdom, Abram's people will multiply exceedingly because they will all enjoy very long life spans and engender large families. The Bible says that a man of 100 years age in Israel will be regarded as a mere child in that era. (Isa 65:20)

Abram's offspring truly cannot be tallied; not now or ever. Only The Almighty could ever get the number right because all the souls belonging to Abram, among both the dead and the living, have become so numerous.

Gen 13:17 . . Up, walk about the land, through its length and its breadth, for I give it to you.

It's notable that God said: I give it to you. The land was Abram's possession right then and there and no one can ever take it away from him. Not even Almighty God can take it away from Abram now because once The Lord gives His word, He is bound to it like a ball and chain (Rom 11:28-29). That should be a comfort to Yhvh's people, throughout all the ages, that once God gives His word on something, He has to make good on it.

"May your steadfast love reach me, O Lord, your deliverance, as you have promised. I shall have an answer for those who taunt me, for I have put my trust in your word." (Ps 119:41-42)

Although Abram lacked sovereign control over his real estate at the time, it was his possession nevertheless.

Gen 13:18a . . And Abram moved his tent, and came to dwell at the terebinths of Mamre, which are in Hebron;

Hebron (Hevron) itself is today a city of over 70,000 people located about 20 miles south of Jerusalem at an elevation of 3,050 feet above sea level. Hebron is sacred in Jewish history; but a very dangerous place to live today what with all the Palestinian troubles going on in Israel.

The word for "terebinths" is 'elown (ay-lone') which means: an oak, or other strong tree. Oaks, especially the very old large ones, were important meeting places. Near where I live in Oregon, there's a site called Five Oaks, named after the five oak trees that once thrived there. In pre white man days, local native Americans met at those trees for pow-wows.

Mamre, an Amorite named up ahead in Gen 14:24, was one of Abram's allies. The oaks of Mamre were apparently named after him; who some believe was a local sheik or a chieftain.

In Abram's day; Canaan was thinly populated. It was in fact a land of no law and no order. The inhabitants lived in a state of constant readiness. The widely scattered townships were veritable islands in the middle of nowhere; and vulnerable to daring attacks by the desert nomads. Suddenly, and when least expected, those predatory nomads sprang upon unwary people with indiscriminate butchery, carrying off cattle and crops. It was probably for that very reason that Abram was allied with Mamre.

Gen 13:18b . . and he built an altar there to the Lord.

Abram's altars testify to the fact that his worship wasn't restricted to a special location. Later; Israel's covenanted law would do that very thing; but Abram wasn't under its jurisdiction so he was at liberty to sacrifice wherever it pleased him. This is an important Bible axiom; viz: law cannot be broken where it doesn't exist. (Rom 4:15, Rom 5:13, Gal 3:17)

NOTE: It was in the interests of trade that Egypt, in 3000 BC, was the first great power to stretch out its tentacles towards Canaan. A hard diorite tablet, listing the details of a ship's cargo of timber for Pharaoh Snefru, is stored in the museum at Palermo. Its date is 2700 BC. Dense woods covered the slopes of Lebanon then. The excellent wood from its cedars and meru (a kind of conifer) were just what the Pharaohs needed for their elaborate building schemes.

Five hundred years prior to Abram's day, there was already a flourishing import and export trade on the Canaanite coast. Egypt exchanged gold and spices from Nubia, copper and turquoise from the mines at Sinai, and linen and ivory for silver from Taurus, leather goods from Byblos, and painted vases from Crete. In the great Phoenician dye works, well to do Egyptians had their robes dyed purple. For their society women, they bought lapis-lazuli blue— eyelids dyed blue were all the rage —and stibium, a cosmetic which was highly prized by the ladies for touching up their eyelashes.

The coastal communities of Canaan presented a picture of cosmopolitan life which was busy, prosperous, and even luxurious; but just a few miles inland lay a world of glaring contrast. Bedouin attacks, insurrections, and feuds between towns were common.

A much more profitable enterprise than pillaging villages in malicious and barbaric fashion, was to hold them hostage; kind of like the plight of the villagers in the movie: The Magnificent Seven. To avoid being murdered and ravaged, the villagers gave the lion's share of their Gross National Product to the bullies. It was just that sort of scenario that resulted in the capture of the cities of the Plain while Lot was living down there among them.

Aside: though I would not care to live in Abram's day; I can't help but envy some of his advantages. There was no light pollution, no air pollution, no water pollution, no soil pollution, and no aquifer pollution. All his fruits and vegetables, all of them, were 100% organic.

Nobody fattened pigs, sheep, fowl, and cows with genetically modified grains-- overcrowded and standing ankle deep in their own droppings --in an intrinsically unsanitary concentrated animal feeding operation; so there was no E.coli 0157:H7 to fear. All livestock was grass-fed outdoors on open pasture lands, which produces a medically, and nutritionally, superior grade of meat compared to grain. The cattle themselves were healthier too and had no need of antibiotics to keep them from getting sick in nasty, dirty feed lots.

NOTE: Most kinds of cattle are herbivores, i.e. they are not designed to subsist on grain. If they are fed too much grain for too long a time, cattle develop digestive and intestinal problems; possibly even death. However, seeing as how grain fattens cattle faster than roughage, grain is the preferred fodder in feed lots where cows are on their final steps to the slaughter.

 

Genesis 14
 

Gen 14:1 . . Now, when King Amraphel of Shinar, King Arioch of Ellasar, King Chedorlaomer of Elam, and King Tidal of nations.

Shinar was the whole of Babylonia; Ellasar was the leading tribe in its southern part; and Elam was the original kingdom of Persia.

The Hebrew word for "nations" is gowy (go'-ee) a word wielded by some Jews as a racial epithet to indicate non-Jewish peoples. But gowy isn't really all that specific. The people of Israel are called gowy at Gen 18:18, and Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes, is called a gowy at Gen 25:23. Gowy really just simply indicates a massing; e.g. a herd of animals and/or a horde of locusts; which when extended, indicates a particular people; e.g. Iroquois, Maya, Inuit, Chinese, Pacific Islanders, Japanese, and/or Arabs, et al.

Mr. Tidal was probably the chief of a large confederacy consisting of mongrel, multi racial people; possibly a tribal area in northeastern Babylonia. America is a perfect example of Tidal's confederacy because it's a melting pot of assimilation, intermarriage, and diverse races, cultures, languages, and nationalities. The only true Americans in America are its indigenous peoples. Everybody else is either an immigrant or the posterity of an immigrant.

At one time, Amraphel was thought to be Hammurabi; the great king of Babylon. But it's now widely agreed that Hammurabi didn't arrive on the scene until many years later. The other kings remain a mystery too, having not yet been archaeologically identified.

Gen 14:2 . . made war on King Bera of Sodom, King Birsha of Gomorrah, King Shinab of Admah, King Shemeber of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar,

None of these men were "kings" in the fashion that we today think of royalty. They were more like mayors, sheiks, or chieftains. And they didn't actually have extensive realms; nor very much jurisdiction beyond the very community each one dominated.

Canaanite cities weren't really serious municipalities; but rather more like fortified hamlets— much like the strategic villages in Viet Nam; except that just about all Canaanite towns were enclosed within stone walls made of rough boulders about six feet in diameter. Archaeologists call this type of wall a Cyclops wall. The boulder walls were usually combined with an escarpment and reinforced with earthen revetments.

Canaanite towns doubled as forts; places of refuge in time of danger, whether from sudden attack by nomadic bands or from civil wars among the Canaanites themselves. Towering perimeter walls invariably enclosed small areas, not much bigger than Ste. Peter's Square in Rome. Each of these town-forts had a water supply, but weren't really suitable for housing large populations in permanent homes.

Inside the walls lived only the chieftain, the aristocracy, wealthy merchants, and even sometimes Egyptian representatives. The rest of the inhabitants of the township— the ranchers and farmers, the vassals and the servants and the serfs— lived outside the walls; often in tents or simple mud hogans or wattle huts. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all lived in tents; viz: pavilions.

In Tell el-Hesi, probably Eglon, the town proper was just over an acre. In Tell es-Safi, formerly Gath, it was twelve acres. In Tell el-Zakariyah, formerly Megiddo, the same amount. Gezer, on the road from Jerusalem to Jaffa, occupied just over twenty acres. Even in the more built up area of Jericho, the inner fortified wall, the Acropolis proper, enclosed a space of little more than five acres; yet Jericho was an important city and one of the strongest fortresses in the country.

So the five cities of the Plain were nothing to brag about— well, maybe in their day they might have been notable enough amongst their contemporaries.

Gen 14:3 . . all the latter joined forces at the Valley of Siddim, now the Salt Sea.

In its early history; the valley was home to the Sedom Lagoon. In those days, water from the Red Sea was able to ebb in and out of the lagoon because the region hasn't always been land-locked like it is today. At one time the earth's crust south of the valley was lower; allowing the Jordan River an outlet; but over time, tectonic forces altered the region resulting in the river, and the lagoon, losing access to the waters of the Mediterranean.

Gen 14:4a . .Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer,

Apparently El Ched was the instigator behind the extortion scheme holding Sodom and its neighbors economically hostage. The other kings who came along with him to Canaan were just reinforcements to back his play. You have to wonder how The Ched ever found the Valley of Siddim in the first place and what in the world motivated him to travel so far from home.

Ched's home turf, Elam, is a well-known tract, partly mountainous, whose western boundary, starting on the northeast side of the Persian Gulf, practically followed the course of the lower Tigris. It was bounded on the north by Media, on the east by Persia and on the west by Babylonia. The Assyro-Babylonians called the tract Elamtu, expressed ideographically by the Sumerian characters for Nimma or Numma, which seems to have been its name in that language. As Numma, or Elam, apparently mean height, or the like, these names were probably applied to it on account of its mountainous nature.

Another name by which it was known in early times was Ashshan— or Anshan —or Anzan, (Anzhan) —one of its ancient cities. The great capital of the tract, however, was Susa (Shushan), whence its Greek name of Susiana, interchanging with Elymais, from the semitic Elam. Shushan is famous for its stories of Esther and Nehemiah.

The modern-day city of Ahvaz Iran is a pretty good locator for the region of Elam. If you have a map handy you can readily see just how far The Ched traveled to reach the Jordan Valley. Even if he came straight over by helicopter, it's at least 780 miles.

It's amazing the distances that conquerors traveled on foot and the backs of animals in ancient times. Hannibal crossed the Pyrenees and the Alps, with elephants no less, to attack northern Italy. But even just getting to the far sides of those mountain ranges from Carthage was itself an arduous journey sans mechanical conveyances It's no surprise then that the Second Punic War lasted nigh unto seventeen years.

In the past; it took armies a long time just to get to the battlefields before they even did any fighting. Invaders from China thought nothing of skirting the Himalayas and entering India via the Khyber Pass in order to conduct campaigns in the Ganges River Valley. I really have to wonder sometimes how commanders kept their armies from becoming discouraged by all that travel and by all that time away from home.

That situation actually befell Alexander the Great. After eight years and 17,000 miles, his weary army refused to campaign anymore in India and mutinied at the Hyphasis River (today's Beas). Abandoning his ambition to conquer lands and peoples more distant to the east of Greece than any man before him, including his father Philip, the young commander had no choice but to turn back.

Gen 14:4b . . and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.

El Ched wouldn't get wind of that right away of course. There was no email, no radio, no sat-com, no land line, no snail mail, no cells, nor television, nor telegraph, nor aircraft, nor motorized conveyances in that day so it would take some time for an overland caravan to return and tell him how the federation of five towns in the Valley refused to cough up their payments.

Meanwhile the local sheiks had some time to prepare themselves for attack while The Ched organized an expeditionary force.

Gen 14:5-7 . . In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him came and defeated the Rephaim at Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim at Ham, the Emim at Shaveh-kiriathaim, and the Horites in their hill country of Seir as far as El-paran, which is by the wilderness.

. . . On their way back they came to En-mishpat, which is Kadesh, and subdued all the territory of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who dwelt in Hazazon-tamar.

Ched took no chances that any nearby clans would come to the aid of the Valley people. So before launching his attack against the Federation, he first subdued everyone in the region roundabout who might be sympathetic to their cause. The Ched was a very shrewd commander.

Dr.Nelson Glueck, a leading Palestine archaeologist, has this to say about El Ched's conquest:

"A punitive expedition developed into an orgy of annihilation. I found that every village in their path had been plundered and left in ruins, and the countryside laid waste. The population had been wiped out or led away into captivity. For hundreds of years thereafter, the entire area was like an abandoned cemetery, hideously unkempt, with all its monuments shattered and strewn in pieces on the ground."

The invasion first crushed all the sheiks north, east, and then west of the Dead Sea before it reached the communities of Siddim, against whom the invasion had been mounted in the first place. The purpose was no doubt to eliminate the possibility of an attack from the rear while Ched was occupied fighting the Federation.

Dr.Glueck identifies Ashtaroth Karnaim, where The Ched encountered the Rephaim, as two adjacent cities in southern Syria, Tell Ashtarah and Sheikh Sa'ad, which was called Carnaim in New Testament times. The name Ashtarah comes from the name of the Greek moon goddess Astarte , equivalent to the Babylonian god Ishtar and the Canaanite goddess of sensual love Ashtaroth, whose worship was one of the sources of gross immorality among the Canaanites.

After defeating the Rephaim, Ched smashed the Horites in Mount Seir— a mountainous region somewhat to the southeast of the Dead Sea —Esau's future turf. Then he went to El-Paran, in the southern wilderness, and then returned to Kadesh, on the western side of the Dead Sea where he crushed the people in a region that would later belong to the Amelekites. He also defeated a contingent of the Amorites, who were very probably the dominant tribe in Canaan at that time.

Some identify Hazazon-tamar as En-Gedi. If this identification is correct, then Hazazon may be Wady Husasah, northwest of 'Ain Jidy.

Another suggestion, which certainly seems very likely true, is that Hazazon-tamar is the Thamara of Eusebius, Onomasticon (85:3; 210:86), the Thamaro, of Ptol. xvi. 3. The ruin Kurnub, 20 miles west-southwest of the south end of the Dead Sea— on the road from Hebron to Elath— is supposed to mark this site. My maps aren't too detailed in that area but Karnub seems to be in a region triangulated by Dimona, Arad, and Be'er Sheva.

Anyway, after thus neutralizing all who might stand in his way, Ched's confederated army then turned its full attention to the five communities in the Plain. And woe and behold, Abram's nephew Lot was right smack in the middle of it all.

Gen 14:8-9 . .Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar, went forth and engaged them in battle in the Valley of Siddim: King Chedorlaomer of Elam, King Tidal of Goiim, King Amraphel of Shinar, and King Arioch of Ellasar— four kings against those five.

That was probably a wise move. If each town had remained behind its own walls, defending against El Ched individually on its own, he could have conquered them very easily one at a time. By combining their forces, and meeting him in the open, they stood a much better chance. But valley dwellers were no match for a seasoned expeditionary force. The men from Babylonia were battle-honed veterans.

Gen 14:10 . .The Valley of Siddim was full of slime pits. The kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled and fell into them while the rest fled to a mountain.

The Hebrew word translated "slime pits" is be'er (be-ayr') which is everywhere but maybe three places translated "well" as in water wells and/or cisterns. Some Bibles translate it "bitumen pit" but bitumen and slime are interpretations rather than translations. The pits apparently were natural features in the valley; viz: random sink holes.

NOTE: The level of the Dead Sea dropped a record five feet in 2012; and in the years between 1939 and 1999 it dropped eighty feet. The Sea's shrinkage has been a major problem for decades, with it's shoreline retreating as much as a mile in some spots. The process destabilizes the ground surrounding it, causing massive sink holes that have actually devoured whole villages.

The Hebrew word for "fell" is very ambiguous and could just as easily be translated "got down". Compare Gen 17:3 where Abraham fell on his face. In other words: the chieftains of Sodom and Gomorrah jumped down into some of those naturally-occurring pits like Army fox holes for cover and concealment.

Gen 14:11-12 . . The invaders seized all the wealth of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their provisions, and went their way. They also took Lot, the son of Abram's brother, and his possessions, and departed; for he had settled in Sodom.

Talk about riches to rags! Lot went from a prosperous cattle baron to a slave in sixty minutes (so to speak).

The word for "provisions" is 'okel (o'-kel) which means: food. Victuals were an important spoil of war in those days when supply lines were totally nonexistent. There were no heavy-drops from cargo planes, nor helicopters to ferry in MRE's, medicine, FNG's, ammo, potable water, and things of that nature. When El Ched's army needed re-supply, they had to take it from their vanquished— ergo: they were highly motivated; because if they wanted to eat, then they had to fight; and they had to win.

Gen 14:13a . . A refugee brought the news to Abram

It was a trek from Sodom to Abram's camp. He was way up in Mamre; and a goodly portion of it uphill— very uphill. At any rate, news of Sodom's overthrow meant that Lot was captured; or maybe even dead. One way or the other, Abram had to find out if his nephew was still alive— kind of like John Wayne looking for his two nieces in The Searchers.

Gen 14:13b . . the Hebrew,

This is very first appearance of the word "Hebrew", which is 'Ibriy (ib-ree') and means: an Eberite; viz: a descendant of Eber. It can also mean "the other side" which implies that Abram may have been known as one who came from the other side of the Euphrates river— sort of like Mexican, Central, and South American immigrants who cross the Rio Grande from Mexico into Texas. But more likely he was called Eberite because of his family's lineage. Eber was first mentioned back in Gen 10:21.

NOTE: Hebrews weren't Jews in Abram's day; no they were Gentiles. It was Abram's eventual progeny who became Jews— specifically people genetically and/or religiously associated with Judah: Jacob's fourth son: patriarch of the Messianic tribe (Gen 49:8-12, Heb 7:14).

The word for "Jew" is yehuwdiy (yeh-hoo-dee') which means Judah-ite; and doesn't appear in the Bible until 2Kgs 16:6; many, many years after the Exodus.

Gen 14:13c . . who was dwelling at the terebinths of Mamre the Amorite, kinsman of Eshkol and Aner, these being Abram's allies.

Abram had become a shrewd sheik. The best way to survive on the frontier is to team up— especially with someone that all the others know and fear. That way most everyone will leave you alone because they don't want to deal with your friends. The terebinths (oaks) belonged to Mamre, a well known Amorite in that region. His kin, Eshkol and Aner, were Abram's friends too.

That tactic pays off in many of America's penal systems too. First thing a new inmate has to do is join a gang or otherwise he'll be prey for all of them.

Gen 14:14a . .When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he mustered his retainers, born into his household, numbering three hundred and eighteen,

The word for "retainers" is chaniyk (kaw-neek') which means: initiated; i.e. practiced. This is the one and only place in the entire Old Testament where chaniyk is located so it's difficult to know precisely what Genesis means by it; but seeing as how the retainers' origin is mentioned, chaniyk probably refers to their unusual degree of loyalty (cf. John 10:30). In other words: it's my guess those men comprised Abram's personal body guards; viz: his retinue— a sort of ancient Secret Service.

Abram was their sheik by birth, rather than by conscription. So these particular men weren't mercenaries; but rather more like his very own sons. They were men of deep gratitude for their master's providence; and every one of them, to a man, were more than willing to die for him.

Though Abram was by nature a man of peace, he was prepared to fight in the event it became necessary. In the wild untamed land of Palestine 4,000+ years ago, men without mettle didn't survive very long. And even today, it's still true that a strong man armed, keeps his goods. (cf. Luke 11:21)

They numbered 318. If we assume that each one was married, then the number of persons doubles to 736. If each man had at least one child, then the number triples to 954. A plausible scenario is that Sheik Abram's camp was a community of at least 1,000 people— a fair sized town. When this man broke camp, it was a serious caravan.

Gen 14:14b . . and went in pursuit as far as Dan.

At this early date, there was neither a region, nor a town, in Canaan colonized and named after Jacob's son Dan. There wasn't even one in Moses' day. It wasn't until Joshua 19:40-48 that Dan's tribe received their portion of Canaan. So Dan's name could very well be a later editorial insertion.

It's unthinkable that Abram would leave his camp and his wife, and all the women and children unprotected while he and his warriors traveled miles from home. So it's reasonable to expect that some of his Amorite allies remained behind to reinforce Abram's camp while he was out of town.

Gen 14:15a . . At night, he and his servants deployed against them and defeated them;

Not too shabby for a former city slicker. Abram, no doubt coached by Mamre, employed excellent Bedouin guerrilla tactics against a well-armed, seasoned foe of superior numbers. After his scouts located The Ched's caravan, Abram dogged him, waiting for an opportunity to attack in circumstances to his advantage. When the time came, he did it under cover of darkness, rather than in daylight; and came at them from more than one direction, which would help to create confusion, chaos, and panic amidst Ched's army.

El Ched's men were probably laid back, stuffed full of stolen food and sleepy with booze; and proud of themselves for their victories; totally unsuspecting anyone remaining in Canaan would have the moxie to take them on. Having no flares, nor Claymores, nor barbed wire, mines, nor flashlights, night vision capability, nor motion detectors, or early warning systems of any kind; Ched's forces were easily surprised and routed.

Gen 14:15b . . and he pursued them as far as Hobah,

Unfortunately this is the only place in the entire Old Testament where Hobah is mentioned; and archaeologists have had no luck so far in discovering its exact location.

Gen 14:15c . .which is north of Damascus.

Many, many years later, in 1918, the Hejaz Arab Army led by T.E Laurence (Laurence of Arabia) would fight the Turks in this very region and drive them out of Damascus.

Ol' Abram sure didn't want those guys to forget Canaan none too soon. It wasn't enough to beat them at Dan; no, he ran them all the way out of the country. The survivors of the invading army no doubt straggled back to their homelands as best they could, amazed at this sudden, unexpected humiliating end to what had been up till then a mighty wave of victory and conquest.

No mention of this battle has ever yet been found on any of the Babylonian or Elamite inscriptions— which is understandable. Ancient kings were accustomed to boast only about their victories since defeat usually left them dead or in slavery.

Gen 14:16 . . He brought back all the possessions; he also brought back his kinsman Lot and his possessions, and the women and the rest of the people.

If Abram had left the Federation's people in enemy hands and rescued only his nephew, no one would have faulted him for it. They were, after all, total strangers and had nothing in common with either Abram or Abram's religion; being "very wicked sinners against the Lord." But that would have been a terribly ignoble show of charity; not to mention downright politically stupid in a land where you needed all the friends you could get.

It's easy to imagine the tremendous amount of respect this campaign won for Abram in the eyes of all the Canaanites. He was a great sheik in that land, no doubt about it now. Abram beat a Babylonian army.

That was an impressive accomplishment; and a testimony to his cunning, his dependability, and to his courage under fire. Everyone in Canaan knew now that Abram wasn't a man to be trifled with. He's a perfect example of the old proverb: Walk softly, and carry a big stick. Abram was no bully, yet didn't allow others to bully him. Now if only he would quit lying to people about his relationship to Sarai.

NOTE: US President Theodore Roosevelt is famous for his comment about walking softly, but the way he went about obtaining the Panama Canal zone was not what I would call "soft".

Gen 14:17 . .When he returned from defeating Chedorlaomer and the kings with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh, which is the Valley of the King.

The location of the Shaveh Valley is a total mystery; this being the only place in the entire Old Testament where it's mentioned. "Shaveh" is a transliteration of Shaveh (shaw-vay') which means: plain or level or equal.

Some feel that the Shaveh Valley was some sort of neutral zone, like a Geneva Switzerland; where rival sheiks could meet and talk turkey without fear of reprisal or assassination. The Valley of the King is thought to be a special location where kingships were publicly bestowed upon individuals— which, if true, would imply that Abram may have been offered an opportunity to rule a portion of Canaan.

It's not unusual for victorious military commanders to be politically popular. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the USA's 34th president, was one of those; and so was the great Shawnee chieftain Tecumseh. (had the British not reneged on their commitment to support Tecumseh's hard-won coalition of eastern tribes, the United States east of the Mississippi river might be half its size today)

Gen 14:18a . . And King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine;

Melchizedek's name is Malkiy-Tsedeq (mal-kee-tseh'-dek) which means: king of right or possibly just simply righteous king; in contrast to the wickedness which was the stock in trade of Bera, king of Sodom. I tend to think that King Mel was a widely-accepted circuit judge in that region; a sort of one-man Supreme Court in his day like Samuel was in his.

"Salem"— an early name of Jerusalem —is from Shalem (shaw-lame') which means: peaceful.

Some make a big deal out of the bread and wine; relating it to the elements of the Christian Eucharist. However, the word for "bread" is lechem (lekh'-em) which isn't strictly limited to bakery products. It just means food (for man or beast), especially bread, or grain (for making it).

A good example of the ambiguity of lechem is the feast that Joseph ordered prepared for his brothers. (Gen 43:25-31)

The "bread" Joseph ordered wasn't a basket of Focaccia al rosmarino; it was a whole banquet. In contrast, the bread that the Lord broke at his last passover was the koiné Greek word artos (ar'-tos) which always, and every time; specifically indicates nothing else but bakery products.

There's really nothing especially symbolic about the wine either; it was a common dinner beverage introduced to the post Flood world by none other than grampa Noah. (Gen 9:20-21)

Mel's catering service probably brought enough food and drink for Abram's entire detachment. They certainly deserved to be feted for their efforts, not just the old boy himself. Mel's feast was a celebration; no doubt instigated by Mel, but participated in by the whole region as a gesture of deep gratitude to Abram and his men for ridding Canaan of that awful Ched person. In other words: I think that what we're looking at here is a fiesta.

The wine that Mel brought to this event was capable of making everybody quite drunk if they imbibed an amount beyond their tolerance. The word is yayin (yah'-yin) which means: to effervesce; wine (as fermented); by implication, intoxication. It's the very same word used of the beverage that hammered gramps in chapter nine.

Mel was not only a political figure in that region; but a religious figure as well.

Gen 14:18b . . he was a priest of God Most High.

"Most High" is a brand new superlative for God at this point in Genesis. It's 'elyown (el-yone') which means: an elevation, i.e. lofty. As a title it means: the Supreme, or the Very Highest.

We might have thought that Abram's camp comprised the only God-fearing people in all of Canaan. But surprise of surprises. There was another man in the land who was a God-fearing sheik just like Abram. But Mel went one better. This man was not just a sheik, but also a priest of the Supreme God; and he holds the honor of being the very first official priest of God in the entire Bible; many years before Aaron.

Abram was a prophet, a great sheik, and a great man of God; and although he did the part of a priest for his clan— as did Job, Noah, and others— he was never really an official priest nor was he ever really a true king. So Mel easily outranked Abram. (cf. Heb 7:4-7)

True priests are mediators between God and Man; and in that capacity, have the authority and the wherewithal to effect a reconciliation between the two whenever there's a breakdown in diplomatic relations. Priests also have a knowledge of God; which they have a sacred duty to dispense to their constituents. (Mal 2:7)

The Bible is completely silent about Mel's origin. It doesn't list his genealogy; no, not even so much as his mother and father; which is very unusual because Aaronic priests have to prove their lineage before being permitted to take office. So that, in reality, a priest like Mel doesn't have to be related to Aaron, nor does he even have to be particularly Jewish; nor any other specific ethnic for that matter. He just has to be a human being.

However, humanness doesn't eo ipso qualify someone for the office of Melchizedekian priest because it's an appointment rather than a career track. (Ps 110:4, Heb 5:4-6)

Mel was definitely a Gentile because Abram (himself also a Gentile, from the region of Iraq) had yet to engender Isaac; the father of Jacob, who was to become the progenitor of the twelve tribes of the people of Israel; viz: the Jews. So; though Christ was a Jew, a number of his ancestors weren't.

NOTE: The most important thing to note about Mel is that he was a priest prior to the institution of Israel's covenanted law. Therefore, since Bible law isn't retroactive— viz: doesn't have ex post facto jurisdiction (Deut 5:2-4, Gal 3:17) —then Mel's constituents weren't obligated to comply with the Commandments; ergo: the Commandments cannot be used to prosecute them in heaven's court of law (cf. Rom 4:15, Rom 5:13).

This rather outstanding advantage carries over to Christ's constituents too because the Lord's priesthood is patterned after Mel's. (Ps 110:4, Heb 5:4-6)

Another thing to note about Mel's priesthood is that according to the letter to Hebrews; it's a high-priest priesthood; which means that only one man at a time can hold the office.

That right there totally invalidates Mormonism's order of Melchizedek. It also invalidates Mormonism's Aaronic order too because Aaron's is also a high-priest priesthood. In other words: the high priest's priesthood doesn't consist of a panel of priests like the nine justices comprising the US Supreme Court. No, the high-priest's priesthood is a one-man show.

Gen 14:19-20a . . He blessed him, saying: Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your foes into your hand.

At this point in time, Abram's relationship with God was very satisfactory. 'Elyown had nothing critical for Mel to say of Abram; and Mel verified that God was the reason behind Abram's success in battle. David's too.

"In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall (2Sam 22:30)

"He prepares me for battle; he strengthens me to draw a bow of bronze. (2 Sam 22:35)

"Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle" (Ps 144:1)

etc.

There are Christians who, allegedly for conscience sake, are totally against all war and violence. They fail to appreciate that peace, liberty, and human rights are preserved in an evil world only by force of arms.

Conscientious objectors— while refusing to put themselves in harm's way standing guard over their family and their country, and to lend a hand in keeping the world a relatively safe, stable place to live, sacrificing their own lives and futures if need be —don't seem to mind taking advantage of the abundance of benefits purchased by the blood of others whom they despise as baby killers and war mongers.

Gen 14:20b . . And [Abram] gave him a tenth of everything.

According to Heb 7:1-4, this particular tenth regarded only the recent spoils of war; not of all Abram's estate in its entirety. So then, tenths should be reserved for times when you know in your heart that it was God who engineered your success.

Just exactly how King Mel disposed of Abram's tenth isn't stated; but typically contributions back then went towards a local priest's support. This principle would apply of course only if Mel was useful to Abram as a priest; viz: a source of spiritual counseling and/or a mediator between himself and God, otherwise Abram would owe him nothing.

But enough of that. A comprehensive dissertation on the Melchizedekian order is located in the New Testament's open letter to the Hebrew people.

Gen 14:21 . .Then the king of Sodom said to Abram: Give me the persons, and take the possessions for yourself.

Sheik Bera was very grateful to Abram, and asked only for the return of his fellow citizens; but not for the return of their stolen goods. Abram was more than welcome to keep it all as his reward for rescuing the people of the Plain. Although Bera and his citizens were very wicked, this is one time I have to give him some credit for showing excellent propriety.

But Abram refused. There was just no way he was going to get rich by exploiting his own neighbors' misfortunes. Although he had a perfect right, within the customs of that day, to all the spoils of war, (a tenth of which he already gave to Melchizedek) he waived it in favor of looking out for Sheik Bera's best interests. I tell you, this man Abram was incredibly gracious; and his manner of life, as a rule, made his religion, and his god, look pretty good.

Gen 14:22-23 . .But Abram said to the king of Sodom: I swear to the Lord God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth; I will not take so much as a thread or a sandal strap of what is yours; you shall not say: It is I who made Abram rich

When you get down to it; a person's reputation is all that really matters in life; because it's really the only thing we take with us when we pass on. Abram didn't want to be known as someone who got rich through the misfortunes of others. And that is exactly what would have happened had he agreed to Bera's suggestion. You can imagine what that would have done to his influence for God in that region; and how it would have ruined Abram's own self respect. It would be awful indeed if people round about gossiped that Abram's only motive for rescuing his nephew was for profit.

Abram didn't need Bera's stuff anyway. What the heck; he had plenty back home already. Why be greedy? I mean: how much does it really take to satisfy? Does a man really have to own every skyscraper, every square foot of real estate, every drop of water, every cow, pig, and chicken, every inch of agricultural land, every fruit and vegetable seed sold around the world, every watt of electricity, every telephone system, every share of stock in a blue chip company, every software program, every car dealership, every oil well, every refinery, every electric generating plant, every natural gas supplier, a monopoly on insecticide and weed killer, every utility, and every hotel and apartment building before he feels he has enough?

When will Walmart's corporate managers finally say "Lets stop expanding. We have enough market share". They never will because Walmart's greed and its predatory nature knows no bounds.

As I watched a NetFlix documentary about corn production; the producers visited a chemical plant that makes high fructose corn syrup. The manager of the plant was asked how much market share his product had. After answering, he was then asked how much market share he would like to have; and he answered "all of it"

The Supreme Almighty God, who had so blessed Abram thus far, would surely continue to do so. Abram had far more personal honor and self respect than the predatory ENRON traders who took advantage of forest fires in California to raise that State's electric rates.

Gen 14:24 . . For me, nothing but what my servants have used up; as for the share of the men who went with me— Aner, Eshkol, and Mamre —let them take their share.

Abram's only request was replacement of his own provisions that his troops consumed during the mission. He didn't permit them to take a share of the spoils; and since they were his slaves; they had no say in it. But his Amorite allies spoke for themselves. If they wanted anything, it was their own decisions about it and Abram didn't interfere. I mean, after all; the cities of the plain owed the Amorite guys at least a little something as compensation for saving their bacon.

 

Genesis 15
 

Gen 15:1a . . Some time later, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision.

This is the very first record of a vision in the Bible. The Hebrew word is machazeh (makh-az-eh') and it appears in only four places in the entire Old Testament; which is pretty amazing considering the volume of prophecy the Old Testament contains.

Visions aren't always visible scenes, but sometimes contain only audible words; and this is one of those instances. It wasn't the Lord who came to Abram in a vision: it was His word; viz: this vision was something heard rather than seen i.e. a message.

Gen 15:1b . . Fear not, Abram, I am a shield to you;

The vision informed Abram that Yhvh intended to protect him; which was a good thing because quite possibly Abram at this time was feeling a bit anxious that a counterattack might be organized up in Shinar and return to Canaan for revenge with a much larger force than the one recently defeated.

Gen 15:1c . .Your reward shall be very great.

In other words; his reward would be much greater than the one he just recently forfeited. In those days, it was winner takes all; but Abram had not exercised that option.

Below is an ancient take on the event.

T. Thereupon was the word of the Lord with Abram in a vision, saying: Fear not; for if these men should gather together in legions and come against thee, My Word will be thy shield: and also if these fall before thee in this world, the reward of thy good works shall be kept, and be prepared before Me in the world to come, great exceedingly. (Targum Jonathan)

Gen 15:2a . . But Abram said: O Lord God, what can You give me, seeing that I shall die childless,

Apparently Abram misunderstood God back in Gen 12:2 when He promised to make of Abram a great nation; even though God restated the promise at Gen 12:7 and Gen 13:15 and clearly meant Abram would engender biological progeny. However, I think the man had grown so accustomed to Sarah's sterility that it just never occurred to him that God's promise might actually be for real.

Gen 15:2b . . and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?

Eliezer wasn't Abram's blood kin; however, by common law in Canaan, he was Abram's default heir apparent in the absence of legal progeny.

Gen 15:3 . . Abram said further: Since You have granted me no offspring, my steward will be my heir.

When a man without children died in that day, common law stipulated that his chief steward got it all and had a legal right to pass it all on to his own son. Abram had no real estate, but if he did, then Eliezer would get that too in the event Abram died with no heir. Sarai? Well, she'd probably stay on as Eliezer's concubine.

But the real danger at this point wasn't to Abram's gold, silver, slaves, herds, and women; but to the promises that God made to Abram concerning his heir. Those would pass to Eliezer too.

Gen 15:4-5 . .The word of The Lord came to him in reply: That one shall not be your heir; none but your very own issue shall be your heir. He took him outside and said: Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them. And He added: So shall your offspring be.

Critics insist that God's promise couldn't possibly be literal. However; if you examine the wording of the promise closely, you'll see that God inserted a caveat: "if you are able to count them".

Prior to optics, about the only stars that people could see with their own eyes were those in our home galaxy; the Milky Way. On a good clear night, it's possible to see roughly 6,000; but don't bother to try and count them because you will certainly lose track before you're done; especially if the Milky Way is directly overhead.

Well . . it finally sank in that God's promise was for real and that's when one of the most significant events in history took place.

Gen 15:6 . . And he believed in Yhvh; and He counted it to him for righteousness.

That is the very first time anything "righteous" was said about Abram in Genesis; and it resulted not from piety, but rather, from belief.

The Hebrew word for "belief" is horribly ambiguous. 'Aman can mean, among other things: (1) to build up or support, (2) to foster as a parent or nurse, (3) figuratively to render (or be) firm or faithful, (4) to trust or believe, (5) to be permanent or quiet, (6) to be morally true or certain, and (7) to rely upon.

Any choice I make from that list would be entirely arbitrary; but my money is upon trust and reliance because at that moment, Abram began seriously pinning his hopes on God to do something about his childless situation.

The thing to note is that Abram's hope wasn't based upon wishful thinking. No; he had a testimony from God to justify his confidence.

According to the first chapter of Genesis; the cosmos— all of its forms of life, matter, and energy —is the result of intelligent design. Do people gain a degree of righteousness when they believe that chapter is true? No; I mean, even demons believe that chapter is true; and fat lot of good it does them because there are no personal guarantees in that chapter; it's entirely academic.

But how about this?

"I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the One who sent me. And this is the will of the One who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what He gave me, but that I should raise it [on] the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him [on] the last day." (John 6:38-40)

Whether people do or don't rely upon and/or trust that statement will have no effect upon its outcome; viz: it is going to happen. However, their doubt will cost them a degree of righteousness because John 3:38-40 isn't academic; no, it's a personal guarantee.

. Gen 15:7a . .Then He said to him: I am The Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans

God here identifies Himself as Yhvh. That may seem unimportant but there are those who claim Abram was unaware of that name because of Ex 6:3. But it just goes to show you that sometimes the Bible is not all that easy to understand.

One thing we should never overlook about Abram is that, although he was a Hebrew, he was never a Jew. He and his wife Sarai were both Gentiles whom God selected to engender the people of Israel. There was nothing particularly special about Abram. In fact he came from a city, and a family, of idolaters. (Josh 24:2)

So God began by reminding Abram of his roots. Abram was a Babylonian; and it was God who took an interest in him, and the one who got him out of there and gave him a future. It wasn't Abram's idea to re-invent himself; nor was it Abram's idea to pack up and leave his native country. Actually, if not for God's interference, Abram would've still been back at Ur, living like a pagan.

Gen 15:7b . . to assign this land to you as a possession.

God gave this man a future. Abram was a nobody, going nowhere in Ur. Of His own sovereign volition, God moved into Abram's life and made a difference. He'll do the very same thing again later on with Jacob.

Some Gentile Christians are way too puffed up with religious pride. It wouldn't hurt a few of them to consider their own roots once in a while too because they have absolutely nothing to brag about.

"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

. . . But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions— it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus." (Eph 2:1-7)

"Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ." (Eph 2:11-13)

Gen 15:8 . . And he said: O Lord God, how shall I know that I am to possess it?

When men struck deals in those days, they gave each other a token of their word. What Abram requested was sort of akin to a notarized signature. That's interesting because though Abram believed God's promise of a biological heir; he didn't really have all that much confidence in God's promise of the heir possessing Canaan. In other words: Abram wanted a token of God's good faith.

During this dialogue, Abram has been calling God by the title 'Adonay (ad-o noy') which means Lord, Sovereign, and/or Master (as a proper name for only God) This is, in point of fact, the very first instance in the Bible of somebody addressing God by that title. It is precisely what everyone should call God only when they are serious about living in compliance with His will.

So please don't ever address your maker as Lord, Sovereign, and/or Master unless you mean it. It is very insulting, and quite meaningless, to refer to someone as your commander when you have no intention of doing what they say or if you're going about it in a half-hearted manner.

"And why do you call me Lord and Master and do not what I say?" (Luke 6:46)

"A son honors his father, and a servant his lord. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a lord, where is the respect due me?— protests the Lord of Hosts." (Mal 1:6)

Gen 15:9-10 . . He answered: Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old she-goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young bird. He brought Him all these and cut them in two, placing each half opposite the other; but he did not divide the [young] bird.

A full grown "turtledove" is a towr (tore). Young birds are a gowzal (go-zawl'); a nestling, quite possibly still covered in chick down. Of all the animals that God specified, the gowzal is the only one that wasn't mature. How Abram knew to cut the mature ones in two pieces is not stated.

The ritual that is about to take place amounted to a notary public. Abram wanted God's name on the dotted line and this is the way God chose to do it. This ritual may look silly and barbarous to modern Man, but it was serious business and may very well have been a common custom for sealing pacts in the Canaan of that day.

Gen 15:11 . . Birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.

The only responsibility that Abram had in this ritual was to set it up. So it was his job to protect the carcasses from damage and keep the scene clear of interference from people and critters who had no business there.

Gen 15:12 . . As the sun was about to set, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a great dark dread descended upon him.

At this point, Abram is placed in a condition that is much more powerful than a trance. It's the sleep of anesthesia— the very same kind of sleep that God put Adam into when he amputated organic tissue from his side to make the woman at Gen 2:21-22.

In this condition, Abram is totally powerless to either participate or to interfere; nor would he want to anyway. It's God who's putting His name on the dotted line; not Abram. This entire ritual is for Abram's benefit; and his alone, because Abram didn't have to reciprocate and promise God one single thing in return. God is the one who voluntarily obligated Himself, and now He is going to notarize his word per Abram's request; to set Abram's mind at ease regarding a biological heir, and the heir's possession of Canaan.

This pact, that God made with Abram, is totally unconditional. No matter what Abram did from now on, nothing would place himself in breach of contract because God alone is in obligation. There is nothing in the pact for Abram to live up to; therefore it was impossible for Abram to endanger either his own, or his posterity's, permanent possession of the land of Palestine. They may lose their occupation of it from time to time, but never their possession. And best of all, the contract that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God as per Deut 29:9-5 cannot endanger the security of this covenant because theirs was introduced too late to make a difference.

"And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham as a promise." (Gal 3:17-18)

Law grants blessings on condition, but promises grant blessings with no strings attached and nothing asked in return.

"As far as the gospel is concerned, [God's people] are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God's gifts and His call are irrevocable." (Rom 11:28-29)

Gen 15:13 . . And He said to Abram: Know well that your offspring shall be strangers in a land not theirs, and they shall be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years;

God predicted three things concerning Abram's offspring (not Abram himself) that would occur over a 400 year period:

(1) They would be resident aliens, (2) They would be oppressed, and (3) They would be slaves.

From the time Jacob moved his family down to Egypt, until the day Yhvh's people left under Moses' leadership, was only about 210 years. But according to Ex 12:40-41 the people of Israel were supposed to have dwelled in Egypt 430 years.

Paul said that Israel's covenanted law, (enacted about a month after the people of Israel were liberated from Egypt) came 430 years after Abram's covenant. (Gal 3:16-18)

The data is somewhat sketchy, but from what exists, it appears that an all inclusive 430-year period began with Abram's covenant scene in Gen 15. But God didn't say Abram himself would be effected by the prediction. He said Abram's progeny would be. Ishmael doesn't count as Abram's progeny in respect to the land. So the holy progeny began with the birth of Isaac; which occurred about 30 years after Abram's covenant was ratified. So the 400 year period of Gen 15:13 apparently began with Isaac. Even though he himself was never a slave in Egypt, Isaac was nevertheless an alien in lands not belonging to him; and later, his son Jacob would be too.

Abram's holy progeny were resident aliens in at least three places— Canaan, Egypt, and Babylonia. Jacob lived, not only in Canaan and Egypt, but also on his uncle Laban's ranch in Haran; which is up in Turkey.

Precisely why the entire 430 year period is reckoned in Ex 12:40-41 as "the length of time that the Israelites lived in Egypt" is totally unknown; except that it reflects the Septuagint's version; which is a Greek derivative of ancient Hebrew texts no longer available.

Gen 15:14a . . but I will execute judgment on the nation they shall serve,

That of course refers to the famous plagues that occurred in Egypt during Moses' confrontation with one of its Pharaohs; culminating in the death of the firstborn of man and beast during the Passover.

Gen 15:14b . . and in the end they shall go free.

Actually they didn't "go" free like the English text suggests; but rather, were set free— viz: liberated —because on their own, they would never have been able to do it. It was at that time that the people of Israel learned the true connotation of the name Yhvh. It's not just another divine moniker. It identifies God as a savior; which Webster's defines as a rescuer.

"God also said to Moses: I am Yhvh. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as 'El Shadday, but by my name Yhvh I did not make myself known to them." (Ex 6:2-3)

Those three men knew the moniker; but their association with 'El Shadday was not on the basis of a savior. Their association was on the basis of a provider; viz: providence; which can be defined (in their case) as God's kindly patronage.

Gen 15:14c . . with great wealth.

The "great wealth" was in the form of voluntary plunder. (Ex 11:1-3, Ex 12:33-36)

Gen 15:15a . . As for you,

Abram must have begun to wonder if maybe he too was in danger of oppression and slavery.

Gen 15:15b . .You shall go to your fathers in peace;

Have you ever wondered how you'll die— by accident, poison, in a violent mugging, disease, cancer, car wreck, a fall, hit in the head by a tree limb, or from a random bullet in a drive-by shooting? People often die suddenly and totally unexpected. Many people die a very unhappy death— miserable, alone, unloved, and unfulfilled.

God promised Abram that he would not die like that. His death would be tranquil and calm and actually quite satisfactory. He would experience no fears, no anxiety, and no regrets.

Gen 15:15c . .You shall be buried at a ripe old age.

Death stalks each and every one of us like a hungry predator, waiting for its chance to do us in. We just never know.

"Jesus told them: The right time for me has not yet come; but for you any time is right." (John 7:6)

Abram had the envious advantage of knowing he would live a full life before he died. Everyone should be so lucky!

Gen 15:16 . . And they shall return here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.

God mentioned only one of the nations living in Canaan. Why was He going to delay transferring possession of the land until the iniquity of the "Amorites" was brimming— why them and not the others? Probably because God promised Abram that He would bless those who blessed him.

Well . . the Amorite men— Mamre, Eshkol, and Aner —were Abram's friends and allies during the recent military campaign to rescue Lot; so that the ultimate destiny of Canaan hinged upon the decadence of just one tribe: the Amorites. Sometimes it really pays to have God-fearing friends in this world; for example:

Jacob:

"And Laban said to him: Please stay, if I have found favor in your eyes, for I have learned by experience that Yhvh has blessed me for your sake". (Gen 30:27)

"The little you had before I came has increased greatly, and Yhvh has blessed you wherever I have been". (Gen 30:30)

and Joseph:

"When Joseph's master saw that Yhvh was with him and that Yhvh gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned.

. . . From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, Yhvh blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of Yhvh was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field". (Gen 39:3-5)

Gen 15:17 . .When the sun set and it was very dark, there appeared a smoking oven, and a flaming torch which passed between those pieces.

The Hebrew word for "oven" is tannuwr (tan-noor') which means: a fire pot. But it's not just a simple bucket of coals. It was actually portable kitchen equipment, especially for baking fresh bread. There are several passages in the Bible where ovens are connected with Divine judgment. (e.g. Ps 21:9-10, Mal 3:19-21, Matt 13:40-43)

Gen 15:18a . . On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram,

This is now the second covenant that God made with His creation. The first one was with every living creature back in chapter nine. That one is often called Noah's Covenant. But this covenant, well known as Abraham's Covenant, is somewhat different. It's not made between God and every living creature, but between God and one specific human being and his progeny.

Gen 15:18b . . saying: To your offspring I assign this land,

The word for "offspring" is zera' (zeh'-rah) which means: seed; figuratively, fruit, plant, sowing-time, and progeny. Zera' is one of those words that is both plural and singular— like the words sheep and fish. One sheep is a sheep, and a flock of them are called sheep too. So the context has to be taken into consideration; and even then there can still be ambiguity

Here's an instance where the meaning of zera' is obviously one child.

"Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, meaning: God has provided me with another offspring in place of Abel. For Cain had killed him". (Gen 4:25)

Here's an instance where the meaning is clearly more than one child.

"And He said to Abram: Know well that your offspring shall be strangers in a land not theirs, and they shall be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years" (Gen 15:13)

Sometimes the context contains both the singular and the plural.

"Abram said further: Since You have granted me no offspring, my steward will be my heir. The word of the Lord came to him in reply: That one shall not be your heir; none but your very own issue shall be your heir. Yhvh took him outside and said: Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them. And He added: So shall your progeny be". (Gen 15:3-5)

Gen 15:18c-21 . . from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates: the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgasites, and the Jebusites.

If you have a map handy, it's instantly apparent just how huge a piece of real estate that God assigned to Abram and his offspring. It's very difficult to precisely outline the whole area but it seems to encompass a chunk of Africa east of the Nile, (including the delta), the Sinai Peninsula, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Onan, UAE, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.

The "river of Egypt" is very likely the Nile since there was no Suez Canal in that day. The Euphrates is Iraq's eastern border. The distance from Cairo Egypt to Al Basrah Iraq is about 983 miles as the crow flies.

That's roughly the distance from San Diego to Abilene Tx. The distance from Aden Yemen to Hilab Syria is about 1,698 miles as the crow flies; which is just a tad under the crow-distance from Los Angeles to Chicago.

I'm talking about some serious square mileage— roughly 1,538,370 of them; which is more than Ireland, United Kingdom, Scotland, Spain, France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, and Finland combined! Currently, Israel, at its widest east to west dimension, across the Negev, is less than 70 miles; and south to north from the Gulf Of Aqaba to Shemona, about 260; comprising a square mileage of only 8,473: a mere half of 1% of the original land covenanted to Abram.

God has yet to give Abram's seed complete control over all of his covenanted land. In point of fact, the boundaries were very early on temporarily reduced for the time being. (Num 34:1-12)

The temporary boundaries run from the Mediterranean Sea eastward to the Jordan River; and from the southern tip of the Dead Sea northward to a geographic location which has not yet really been quite accurately identified. Ezk 47:15 says the northern border passes along "the way of Hethlon" which some feel is very likely the valley of the Nahr al Kubbir river which roughly parallels the northern border of modern day Lebanon, and through which a railroad track lies between An Naqib on the Mediterranean coast to Hims Syria.

The next event in Abram's life has repercussions all the way to the World Trade Center— September 11, 2001. The son produced by his union with Hagar went on to become the father of the Arab world; and ultimately, Muhammad: the inventor of Islam.

 

Genesis 16
 

Gen 16:1 . . Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. She had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar.

It's entirely possible that Abram purchased Ms. Hagar while they were all down in Egypt during the famine back in chapter 12.

The word for "maidservant" is shiphchah (shif-khaw') which is a female slave (as a member of the household). So, Hagar wasn't just another skull in the slave pool. As a member of the household staff, she merited a measure of respect. Hagar probably seemed like a daughter to ol' Abram in spite of her slave status.

It's my guess that Hagar was Sarai's personal assistant similar in status to that of Anna: lady Mary's maid in the popular television series "Downton Abbey".

The duties of a lady's maid typically include helping her mistress with make up, hairdressing, clothing, jewelry, shoes, and wardrobe maintenance. I think all-in-all; Hagar had it pretty good; that is, until this fertility issue came along to spoil everything.

Gen 16:2a . . And Sarai said to Abram: Look, the Lord has kept me from bearing.

Sarai's logic, at least from a certain point of view, was reasonable. She was likely familiar with Gen 1:22 and 1:28, where fertility was stated to be a blessing; therefore, in her mind at least, infertility was an evidence of God's disfavor.

There's a rare defect in women that is just astounding. I read about it in the Vital Signs column of Discover magazine. The defect, though rare, is most common in otherwise perfectly gorgeous women— girls like Sarai —and seems to be somewhat hereditary. Their birth canal is a cul-de-sac; viz: a blank pouch. There's no ovaries, no fallopian tubes, no uterus, and no cervix. One of the first clues to the presence of the defect is when girls are supposed to start menstruating, but don't.

The story I saw was of a young Mexican girl (I'll call her Lupé). Young, beautiful, and filled out in all the right places; Lupé came to a clinic for an examination to find out why she wasn't having periods and that's when they discovered she didn't have any generative plumbing.

Lupé was devastated, not only with the news that she would never have any children of her own, but to make matters worse; in her home town's culture, fertile girls are highly valued and respected, while the sterile ones are treated like expendable grunts— char-girls and slave labor. Lupé left the clinic with the full weight upon her heart that in spite of being a ten, and in spite of her feelings to the contrary, she would have to spend the rest of her youth solo because no man in her community would want her; and even among her own kin Lupé would be looked upon as cursed and untouchable.

I'm not insisting Sarai had the same problem as Lupé. It's only one possibility from any number of fertility problems; e.g. hostile womb, anovulation, tubal blockage, uterine issues, etc. But unbeknownst to Sarai, God wanted her biological progeny to be a miracle baby rather than a natural baby; and why God didn't keep Abram informed about that I can only speculate: but won't.

Gen 16:2b . . Consort with my maid; perhaps I shall have a son through her.

This is the very first instance in the Bible of the principle of adoption. According to the customs of that day, a Lady had the right, and the option, to keep a female slave's children as her own if the Lady's husband sired them. No one bothered to ask Ms. Hagar how she might feel about it because slaves had no say in such arrangements.

Gen 16:2c . . And Abram heeded Sarai's request.

Sarai wasn't specifically named in God's original promise of offspring; so Abram may have figured that any son he produced could qualify as the promised seed. This is one time he really should have gone to one of his altar and inquired of The Lord what to do. But it was an innocent mistake, and totally blindsided Abram because what he and Sarai did wasn't out of the ordinary in their own day.

Gen 16:3 . . So Sarai, Abram's wife, took her maid, Hagar the Egyptian— after Abram had dwelt in the land of Canaan ten years —and gave her to her husband Abram as concubine.

Hagar no doubt was attracted to any one of a number of fine unattached young men in Abram's community; but due to circumstances beyond her control, she was doomed to a lonely limbo of unrequited love. Her lot in life, though no doubt very comfortable and secure, was, nonetheless, probably tainted with an unfulfilled longing that robbed her of true peace and contentment.

Abram was ten years older than Sarai; so he was 85 at this point in time; which is equivalent to about 43 of our own years of age.

The word translated "concubine" is 'ishshah (ish-shaw') a nondescript word for women (cf. Gen 2:22-23) which just simply indicates the opposite side of Adam's coin.

Concubines in those days weren't adulteresses. They had a much higher status than that. Webster's defines a concubine as: a woman having a recognized social status in a household below that of a wife. So they weren't quite as low on the food chain as a mistress or a girl toy. They at least had some measure of respectability and social acceptance; and they had a legitimate place in their man's home too. But, at the same time, they were not a real wife. They were, in fact, quite expendable. When a man was tired of a concubine, he could send her away with nothing. They shared no community property, nor had rights of inheritance.

If Hagar had truly been Abram's wife, then she would have enjoyed equality with Sarai as a sister-wife. But she didn't. Hagar continued to be a slave, and there is no record that she and Abram slept together more than the once. She didn't take up a new life married to Abram; and Abram never once referred to her as his spouse. He always referred to Hagar as Sarai's slave. The tenor of the story is that Sarai gave her maidservant to Abram as a wife, but not to actually marry him. Sarai's intention was that Hagar be a baby mill; nothing more.

Gen 16:4 . . He cohabited with Hagar and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress became lower in her esteem.

Before this incident, Hagar knew her place and was humble and self effacing around Sarai, but afterwards she regarded her mistress as somewhat less of a woman than herself. There's no record of Hagar gloating over Sarai, but sometimes women communicate just as effectively with "looks" as they do with words.

Gen 16:5 . . And Sarai said to Abram: The wrong done me is your fault! I myself put my maid in your bosom; and now that she sees that she is expecting, I am lowered in her esteem. The Lord decide between you and me!

Sarai attempted to take the high moral ground by insinuating that had Abram been a real man, he would've seen that sleeping with Hagar was a bad idea and refused. Therefore it was his fault for not putting a stop to her idea before things got out of hand.

People accuse God of the very same thing all the time. In their mind's eye, if God were really as wise, loving, omniscient, and all-powerful as He's alleged to be, then He would never have put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden to begin with; and when the Serpent tempted Eve, He would have stepped in and put a stop to it before things got out of hand. Therefore, they conclude, it's not the human race's fault for being what it is: it's God's fault for not protecting us from our own stupidity.

Gen 16:6a . . Abram said to Sarai: Your maid is in your hands. Deal with her as you think right.

Abram should never have given Sarai carte blanche to do as she pleased with Hagar. In her mood, it would surely get out of hand and go too far. But he was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Abram had to live with Sarai. He could get by without Hagar's good will; so hers was sacrificed to keep peace in the home.

Most men would do the very same thing in his place because it isn't easy for a man to live with an indignant woman. In point of fact, I would put an indignant woman even higher on the graph of difficulty than a weeping woman.

Note that Abram didn't refer to Hagar as "my wife"; nor even as "my concubine". He referred to her as "your maid". It's sad, but obvious that Abram was ashamed of himself for sleeping with Hagar just to make his wife happy; and took care to distance himself from Sarai's maid so she wouldn't get any ideas that Abram had an attachment for her.

Gen 16:6b-7 . .Then Sarai treated her harshly, and she [Hagar] ran away from her. An angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the road to Shur,

Old Testament angels aren't necessarily celestial beings; seeing as how the Hebrew word simply indicates a deputy and/or a messenger.

The road to Shur went south from Abram's camp; so possibly Hagar's intent was to return home to Egypt. At this point, she was a runaway slave and must have been feeling very lonely, very unimportant, and very unsure of her future. No one cared for her soul, whether she lived or died— and, where was she to go? Maybe her parents would take her back in when she got home. But how was she to explain the baby?

Genesis doesn't say, but Hagar could have hitch-hiked a ride with a caravan. It's hard to believe a woman in that day would dare attempt a journey that far on foot, and all by herself.

Shur is the name of a desert region east of the Suez Canal and extending down along the eastern shore of the Gulf of Suez. Shur means "wall" and may refer to the mountain wall of the Tih plateau as visible from the shore plains. The position of Shur is defined as being "opposite Egypt on the way to Assyria" (Gen 25:18). After crossing the Red Sea, the people of Israel entered the desert of Shur (Ex 15:22) which extended southward a distance of three days' journey. The region is referred as being close, or adjacent, to Egypt. (1Sam 15:7 and 1Sam 27:8)

Gen 16:8a . . the angel said: Hagar, slave of Sarai,

It should be pointed out that the angel didn't refer to Hagar as Abram's wife; but as Sarai's slave— additional clues that Hagar and Abram were never married otherwise her status would be that of Abram's spouse rather than Sarai's slave.

This is the very first instance in the Bible record where somebody addressed Ms. Hagar by name. What I like best is that although her human masters aren't recorded calling her by name, a messenger of God— higher in dignity and rank than either Abram and Sarai —did call out to her by her own name.

Gen 16:8b . . where have you come from, and where are you going?

At first the angel probably impressed Hagar as just another friendly traveler. But there was something very unusual about this mysterious stranger. He knew Hagar's name, and he knew she was a slave; and he knew her mistress' name too. And he also knew Ms. Hagar was preggers. That had to break the ice quite nicely don't you think?

Gen 16:8c . . And she said: I am running away from my mistress Sarai.

Somehow the angel won Ms. Hagar's confidence, and she was comfortable talking about herself. There's a very real possibility that the angel was the first person to take a genuine interest in Hagar's feelings for a long, long time.

In my 72+ years journeying through this life, I've discovered there are lots of people out there aching for someone to take them seriously. They don't like being marginalized; they don't like being made to feel unimportant, inferior, unnecessary, expendable, mediocre, and stupid— they want to count; they want to matter, they want to be noticed and they want to be heard. I've no doubt that is the very reason behind the success of social networking; e.g. blogs, twittering, online forums, FaceBook, MySpace, and Instagram, et al.

One of the four common characteristics of seemingly level-headed Muslim men who become suicide bombers is the wish to devote themselves to a cause higher than themselves; viz: they desire to make their lives count for something. Those kinds of personalities are good candidates for martyrdom.

NOTE: An extreme case of what we're talking about here is Ted Kaczynski, a.k.a. the Unabomber. Ted isn't an especially violent man. He has some ideas and the only way the friendless, isolated loner could think of to get the world to listen was blast people to pieces at random.

Ted's frustration kind of reminds me of a friend who, when he was in grammar school, had a crush on the little girl sitting in front of him. My friend couldn't think of a way to talk to the girl, so he spit on her hair. It sure got her attention, and that right quick.

Gen 16:9 . . And the angel of the Lord said to her: Go back to your mistress, and submit to her harsh treatment.

That was no doubt the last thing Ms. Hagar would consider doing; even in a pinch. But the Lord had plans for Hagar's baby about which she was unaware up to this point.

Gen 16:10-11 . . And the angel of The Lord said to her: I will greatly increase your offspring, and they shall be too many to count. The angel of Yhvh said to her further: Behold, you are with child and shall bear a son; you shall call him Ishmael, for Yhvh has paid heed to your suffering.

I don't think any of us can possibly imagine just how incredulous Hagar must have been at the stranger's words. He as much as assured her that the pregnancy would go well and she would deliver safely. He even suggested a name for her baby; which the angel predicted would be a boy. His name, by the way, would be Yishma' e'l (yish-maw-ale') which means: God will hear; or just simply: God hears; or: God is aware. In other words: God had a sympathetic awareness of Hagar's distress; together with a desire to alleviate it; which is pretty much the definition of compassion.

What a great day for Hagar! She actually met a divine being who cared about her state of affairs and was favorably inclined to do something about it. And every time she called out little Ishmael's name, it would remind her to pray and share her feelings with the god she met on the road to Shur. The angel would make it possible for her to endure Sarai's harsh treatment; so He sent her straight back to it. (cf. Gen 24:40, Gen 48:16, 2Cor 12:7-9)

And besides; though the circumstances weren't perfect, little Ishmael would fare better under his father Abram's kindly patronage and mentoring than among the irreverent polytheists down in Egypt. Abram was also very wealthy, so that Ishmael lacked nothing during the approximately 17 years of his life in Abram's home.

Gen 16:12a . . He shall be an untamed-burro of a man;

Some people just can't be domesticated— right fresh out of the womb, they're mustang-defiant to the bone. Poor Hagar. Her boy was going to be difficult.

My wife is a kindergarten teacher and every so often she gets kids in her class— just little five year olds, and almost always boys —that cannot be controlled. Their parents fear them, and they frighten the other kids. They're demon seeds— stubborn, strong willed, totally self centered, self absorbed little Czars who see no sense in either doing as they're told or concern for the feelings of others. They are dangerous, and thank God my wife gets them while they're small. Heaven help the teachers who cope with them in the upper grades.

Gen 16:12b . . his hand against everyone, and everyone's hand against him;

T.E. Laurence (Laurence of Arabia) discovered for himself the truth of that prediction. After all of Laurence's work to unite the Arabs and lead them in combat to drive the Turks out of Damascus, the various tribes simply could not come to terms upon a central government for managing the city. So the task defaulted to the British; viz: the Arabs won the conflict, but England won the city.

Anyway, Mr. Ishmael was definitely not a team player by nature. This is the kind of guy that supervisors dread. They're defensive, assertive, confrontational; and don't do well in groups always generating friction and discontent. It's either their own way, or the highway; and they do not like to be told what to do.

That's not always a bad thing if people like that are channeled into occupations that require rugged individualism. Nowadays these people can be enrolled in sensitivity classes and taught how to be civil. And there are seminars available for those who have to work with difficult people. Unfortunately, most of the problem is hereditary so it's not an easy thing to make go away. However, it's not impossible for these strong-willed, toxic types to learn a measure of civility and self discipline when they put their minds to it.

Ishmael's personality— which was engendered by one of the most holy men who ever lived; not by some evil minded career criminal —must have passed along to his progeny because the Arab world has never been famous for uniting and getting along amongst themselves. No one would ever dream of criticizing Abram's parenting skills, but here is a difficult child that came from the old boy's own genes; thus demonstrating again that otherwise good parents can produce a demon seed and shouldn't be blamed for the way the seed ultimately turns out.

Ishmael is well known as the father of the Arab world. But does that mean each individual Arab is a wild burro? No, of course not. Stereotyping and/or profiling, is a very bad thing because it's an oversimplified opinion, and fails to take into account individual qualities. The Arab people as a whole could safely be characterized as Ishmael-ish, but certainly not each and every one.

Gen 16:12c . . He shall dwell alongside of all his kinsmen.

Ishmael would dwell "alongside" his brethren, but not necessarily amongst them. This was no doubt a portent of the difficulty of uniting Arabs; which has been attempted a number of times with The United Arab Republic, The Arab Federation of Iraq and Jordan, the Federation of Arab Republics, the Arab Islamic Republic, and the United Arab Emirates.

Probably the religion of Islam has done more to unite Arabs than any political arrangement of the past has managed to do. Unfortunately, Muslims themselves can't even get along all that well and their regional differences have become a major impediment to peace in the Mid East.

I can't lay all the blame for the Mid East's troubles at the door of Arabs; but of one thing I am totally convinced: there is never going to be peace in that part of the world until (1) the religion of Islam is eradicated; and (2) the Arabs' wild-burro personality is neutralized.

"They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Yhvh, as the waters cover the sea." (Isa 11:9)

Gen 16:13a . . And she called Yhvh who spoke to her: You Are El-roi

The author of Genesis was privy to the identity of the mysterious person speaking with Hagar but she wasn't, and that's why she gave him a name of her own. But I cannot be certain what it is because there seems no consensus among translators how best say it in English; neither in Jewish bibles nor in Christian bibles. In Hebrew; the words are: 'Ataah 'Eel R'iy

The 1985 JPS Tanakh translates it: You are El-roi

The Stone Tanach translates it: You are the God of Vision

Chabad.org translates it: You are the God of seeing

The KJV translates it: Thou God seest me

The NIV Translates it: You are the God who sees me

The 2011 Catholic Bible translates it: You are God who sees me.

Hagar, familiar with many gods in the Egyptian world, was unsure of the identity of this particular divine being speaking with her so she gave it a pet name of her own. I like it because her god is a personal god, one that meant something just to her— rather than some scary alien way out in space who doesn't care one whit about individuals. Hagar's god knew about the baby and gave the little guy a name. That is a very personal thing to do and must have been very comforting to a girl at the end of her rope.

What took place between these two travelers is very precious. They met as strangers, but before they parted, one named the other's baby and became godfather to a runaway slave's child. The other gave her new god a pet name to remember him by. Hagar's experience was very wonderful.

Gen 16:13b . . by which she meant: Have I not gone on seeing after He saw me!

The rendering of 16:13b is more or less an educated guess because the Hebrew in that verse is very difficult. She could have said: Have I here seen him here who sees me? In other words: The god who knows me is in this place? I can appreciate her surprise. You might expect to find God in a grand Italian cathedral, but certainly not along a dusty road in the middle of nowhere. And you might also expect a divine being to speak with a President Barak Obama or a Pope Benedict, but certainly not to an insignificant nobody who meant very little to anybody.

Gen 16:14 . .Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it is between Kadesh and Bered.

Heretofore, this particular source of water had no specific name. Beer-lahai-roi is another Hebraic toughie. It could mean: The well of him who knows me.

Kadesh is located nearby El Quseima Egypt about 15 miles south of the border town of Nizzana. Just northeast of there is the wilderness of Shur; a region adjoining the Mediterranean to the north and the Suez canal to the west. Shur extends somewhat south along the eastern shore of the Gulf of Suez.

But the well wasn't there. It was between Kadesh and Bered. The Onkelos Targum renders Bered as Chaghra', which is the usual equivalent of Shur, while the Jerusalem Targum renders it Chalutsah, which is also Shur (Ex 15:22). So precisely where Hagar's well was located is totally unknown so far. It was just somewhere between Kadesh and Shur.

FYI: I don't think those of us living in modern industrialized countries like the U.S.A. appreciate the importance of water in Hagar's part of the world. Those of us in the Pacific Northwest and/or Hawaii sure don't. But without water; people die, plants wither, birds fall out of the sky, and livestock eventually drops dead.

Water, in the form of humidity, fog, and/or liquid is literally life itself in some parts of the world; ergo: to have that celestial being meet with Hagar at a source of water in the Mideast is very significant; and only one of many such meetings people in the Bible experienced with God and/or His designated messengers.

Gen 16:15 . . Hagar bore a son to Abram, and Abram gave the son that Hagar bore him the name Ishmael.

Hagar must have told her master about the experience and darned if the old man didn't believe her story and comply with God's choice of name for the boy. Taking part in naming a boy was serious business in those days. In doing so, Abram officially and publicly accepted Ishmael as his legal son. The boy was supposed to be Sarai's son too, but there's no record she ever really accepted the lad.

Gen 16:16 . . Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.

That was about eleven years after Abram entered Canaan (Gen 12:4) and 14 years before Isaac's birth (Gen 21:5). Both of Ishmael's parents were Gentiles. Hagar was an Egyptian and Abram was a Babylonian.

According to ancient Judaism, the angel who spoke with Hagar was God's word— The Memra' of sacred Jewish literature.

T. And she gave thanks before the Lord whose Word spake to her, and thus said, Thou art He who livest and art eternal; who seest, but art not seen! (Targum Jonathan)

T. And Hagar gave thanks, and prayed in the Name of the Word of the Lord, who had been manifested to her, saying; "Blessed be You, Eloha, the Living One of all Ages, who has looked upon my affliction." For she said; "Behold, You are manifested also to me, even as You were manifested to Sara my mistress." Wherefore she called the well: The Well at which the Living and Eternal One was revealed. And, behold, it is situate between Rekam and Chalutsa. (Jerusalem Targum)

So then, it's pretty well established in the Old Testament book of Genesis, in the New Testament book of John, and in the Targums, that God's mysterious Word is actually the Yhvh of the Old Testament.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." (John 1:1-3)

 

Genesis 17
 

Thirteen years go by since Ishmael's birth; enough time for Abram to easily forget God's covenanted promises. Abram was prospering materially, Ishmael was growing into young manhood, the land was at peace, and quite possibly Abram and Sarai had by now given up all hope of ever having any children of their own because Sarai, at 89, is past the age of bearing children.

Abram had no way of knowing, but God was just insuring that Sarai couldn't possibly have children of her own except by a miracle, rather than via natural reproduction. In other words; it appears to me that it was God's wish that He be the paterfamilias of Sarai's one and only son; and therefore the paterfamilias of the special line that descends from the son; viz: Jacob.

Till now, God spoke of a covenant with Abram only one time (Gen 15:18). In this chapter God will use that word no less than thirteen— nine times it will be called "My" covenant, three times it will be called an "everlasting" covenant and once it will be called the covenant "between Me and you"

Gen 17:1a . .When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him: I am El Shaddai.

"Shaddai" is from Shadday (shad-dah'-ee) which means: almighty. The word "El" is not actually in the original Hebrew text but was penciled in by translators. God's declaration could just as well be worded: I am all-mighty.

Webster's defines almighty as: having absolute control over everything; which of course includes power over not just money and politics; but also power over all that there is; e.g. magnetism, electricity, gravity, inertia, wind, thermodynamics, pressure, fusion, radiation, light, and of course the power of life; which is a power that nobody yet as of this date has been able to figure out. Humanity knows even less about the power of life than it knows about the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

Anyway; this is the very first occurrence of the word Shadday in the Bible; and from here on in, from Genesis to Malachi, without exception, it will always refer to the supreme being; and used to identify no other person. Almighty became a name of God (cf. Rev 1:8) and was God's special revelation of Himself to Abram.

Although Abram was aware of God's other name Yhvh it was not by that name that Abram became familiar with his divine benefactor. Abram's progeny would get to know God better by the name Yhvh because it's a name of God with special emphasis upon the aspect of rescue; whereas Shadday has special emphasis upon providence.

Gen 17:1b . .Walk in My ways and be blameless.

Walking with God was introduced back at Gen 5:22-24. Enoch had it down pat; but apparently Abram had a ways to go. Very few qualify as the kind of people with whom God prefers to associate. He's picky that way.

A principle woven throughout both the Old Testament and the New is that worship is meaningless when it's unaccompanied by pious conduct. Take for example the first 23 verses in the first chapter of the book Isaiah.

Yhvh's people were attending Temple services on a regular basis. They were bringing sacrifices and offering. They observed all the feasts, and all the holy days of obligation. They prayed up a storm; and they kept the Sabbath. But Yhvh rejected every bit of their covenanted worship because their personal conduct was unbecoming. In other words: their conduct didn't compliment their worship. Yhvh was disgusted with their hypocrisy: they made Him angry and gave Him a headache; so to speak.

Gen 17:2-3a . . I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will make you exceedingly numerous. Abram threw himself on his face;

The Hebrew word for "threw" is naphal (naw-fal') and first appeared in Gen 14:10. It doesn't mean Abram dropped like a sack of ready-mix concrete. It just means he lowered himself face down into a prone position.

This is the very first time it's recorded that Abram (or anyone else) got into a face-down prone position in the presence of God. But why would Abram do that? In what way did God appear to him that motivated that reaction? The institution of the covenant of circumcision is, in point of fact, the only other instance where it's recorded that Abram met with God in the (deliberate) prone.

When Moses met God at the burning bush (Ex 3:2) he only turned away so he wouldn't look at God; but didn't lie down. He stayed on his feet; but was told to remove his sandals: a requirement which is seen only twice in the entire Old Testament: once at Ex 3:5 and the other at Josh 5:15; the reason being that Moses and Joshua met with God on holy ground.

The Hebrew word for "holy" is qodesh (ko'-desh) and it has no reference whatsoever to sanitation. It simply means consecrated; viz: a sacred place or thing dedicated to God for His own personal uses.

In many homes in the Orient; it's the custom to remove your shoes before entering people's domiciles because shoes track in filth from the outside that hosts want neither in their homes nor on their floors and rugs. True, holy ground is dirt; but it's God's dirt, and apparently He doesn't want somebody else's dirt soiling His: thank you very much.

Abram may have ordinarily met with God via voice only; but this instance may have been a close encounter of a third kind. Some have suggested God appeared to Abram as the Shekinah of 1Kgs 8:10-11; which, even that can be quite disturbing for some.

I don't think Abram learned the prone posture in church, Sunday school, yeshiva, or synagogue. It was a spontaneous, voluntary reaction on his part. Apparently God was okay with it because He didn't scold Abram nor order him back up on his feet.

People react differently to the Bible's God. Some, like Abram, Daniel, and Jesus sometimes get down prone on their faces. We needn't worry too much about it though. Most of us will never have a close encounter with The Almighty. But if it ever happens, I don't think you'll need someone to tell you what to do. Unfortunately though, there are people inclined to stare at God like a curiosity. That is not wise.

"Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke, for the Lord had come down upon it in fire; the smoke rose like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled violently. The blare of the horn grew louder and louder. As Moses spoke, God answered him in thunder. The Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain, and the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain and Moses went up. The Lord said to Moses: Go down, warn the people not to break through to the Lord to gaze, lest many of them perish." (Ex 19:18-21)

Word to the wise: If God appears? Don't look . . . unless invited to.

Gen 17:3b-4 . . and God spoke to him further: As for Me, this is My covenant with you: You shall be the father of a multitude of nations.

That announcement regards nations rather than individuals. Abram is well known as the father of the Jews, but he is also father of more than just them. The majority of Abram's progeny is Gentile and a very large number of those are Arabs.

Besides Ishmael and Isaac, Abraham also engendered Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. Over the years millions of people have descended from those eight men who are all Abram's blood kin; both Jew and Gentile.

Gen 17:5 . . And you shall no longer be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I make you the father of a multitude of nations.

Abraham's original name was 'Abram (ab-rawm') which means: high, or exalted father. In other words: a daddy; as the respectable head of a single family unit. Abram's new name 'Abraham (ab-raw-hawm') means: father of a multitude of family units. In other words: not just the paterfamilias of a single family unit; but the rootstock of entire communities.

Abraham is a father on two fronts. He's a biological father to the people of Israel due to their natural association with Jacob; and he's a non-biological father to Christians due to their supernatural association with Christ.

"If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Gal 3:29)

Some people try to construe Gal 3:29 to mean that Gentile Christians are somehow spiritual Jews. But according to Eph 2:11-22 and Gal 3:26-28 that just isn't true. And besides: Abraham was a Gentile.

Gen 17:6 . . I will make you exceedingly fertile, and make nations of you; and kings shall come forth from you.

The only king who really matters is Messiah.

"The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham." (Matt 1:1)

Gen 17:7a . . I will maintain My covenant between me and you, and your offspring to come,

The word for "maintain" is quwm (koom) which means: to rise (in various applications, literal, figurative, intensive and causative). The very first instance of that word is Gen 4:8.

"Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him."

That's kind of negative. Here's a passage that really says what God meant.

"Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters. They came to draw water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock; but shepherds came and drove them off. Moses rose to their defense, and he watered their flock. When they returned to their father Reuel, he said: How is it that you have come back so soon today? They answered: An Egyptian protected us from the shepherds; he even drew water for us and watered the flock." (Ex 2:16-19)

The "offspring to come" was Isaac's and Jacob's rather than every last one of Abraham's posterity.

Gen 17:7b . . as an everlasting covenant throughout the ages,

Abraham's covenant is permanent; has never been annulled, deleted, made obsolete, abrogated, set aside, given to another people, nor replaced by another covenant. In point of fact, even Christians benefit from Abraham's covenant. (Eph 2:11-22 and Gal 3:26-28)

God promised Abraham He would guard the safety of this particular covenant Himself personally. The covenant God made with Yhvh's people as per Deut 29:9-15 neither supersedes, amends, nor replaces the covenant God made with Abraham in this chapter (Gal 3:17). Attempts been made to package all the covenants into a single security like a Wall Street derivative similar to a collateralized debt obligation (CDO). But that just creates a bubble and is really asking for trouble.

Gen 17:7c . . to be a god to you and to your offspring to come.

This part of the covenant is somewhat conditional. It will only include those among male Hebrews that undergo the circumcision coming up in the next few passages.

Gen 17:8a . . I assign the land you sojourn in to you and your offspring to come,

Ownership of the land is realized not only in Abraham's progeny alone. God said He assigned the land not only to his offspring, but to "you" too. Abraham didn't get to take possession of his promised holdings while he was here, but in the future, he will.

"You will keep faith with Jacob, loyalty to Abraham, as You promised on oath to our fathers in days gone by." (Mic 7:20)

"And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven." (Matt 8:11)

"By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God." (Heb 11:8-10)

Gen 17:8b . . all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting holding.

Abraham's progeny may not always occupy the land, and they may not always be in control of it; but it remains deeded to them forever.

Gen 17:8c . . I will be their god.

The wording of the covenant thus far hasn't been specific regarding the identity of Abraham's offspring for whom El Shaddai will be their god. Later on it will become clear that only the line through Isaac is effected. Neither Ishmael nor any of the other brothers were granted rights to the land.

Gen 17:9a . . God further said to Abraham: As for you,

The next covenant is totally a guy thing; and incorporated into Israel's covenanted law (Lev 12:2-3, John 7:22). The ladies are not a part of this one because Abraham's progeny isn't engendered by the ladies; it's engendered by the guys. The ladies are just baby mills. In the Bible, children inherit their tribal affiliation and their family names from the fathers rather than the mothers.

This creates an interesting legality in Christ's case since there was no immediate male involved in his conception. So then, the closest male in his biological family tree defaults to Eli, his mother's father; which is how the Lord obtained his biological position in the line of David and the tribe of Judah. (The Lord's connection to the line of Solomon was via adoption rather than genetics. I'll elaborate that issue when we get to Jacob's precedent in chapter 48)

All other considerations aside, the men of Abraham's line don't even have to mate with women who are biologically related to Abraham because the ladies don't perpetuate Abraham's line; the guys do. A Hebrew woman who bears the children of a Gentile perpetuates Gentiles. Kids born in that situation are not Abraham's offspring. Those are a Gentile man's offspring.

"That when an idolater or a slave cohabits with an Israelitish woman; their child is illegitimate." (Yevamoth 99a, v36)

In other words, the child of a foreign man is not Abraham's biological progeny. That fact alone should be very sobering for any Hebrew woman intent upon marrying a Gentile. Her children won't be identified with Abraham. They will be non Hebrews with no Divine connection to either Abraham, or to Abraham's covenant. Her grandchildren will be Gentiles too; and on and on.

Every Hebrew woman who willingly, and willfully, bears the children of a Gentile is nothing in the world but a traitor to Abraham's community, and spits upon the sacred covenant that God made with her ancestor. She is no better than Esau who valued his birthright on a par with a lousy bowl of soup.

Gen 17:9b . . you and your offspring to come throughout the ages shall keep My covenant.

The word "keep" is from shamar (shaw-mar') which means, properly: to hedge about (as with thorns), i.e. guard,  to protect, attend to. The general meaning in this particular instance is: to preserve.

Gen 17:10 . . Such shall be the covenant between Me and you and your offspring to follow which you shall keep: every male among you shall be circumcised.

Circumcision didn't begin with Abraham. It was practiced in Egypt as early as 2400 BC.

Circumcision doesn't serve to improve a man's physical appearance. Men were created whole; and after God finished the six days of creation, He inspected everything and graded it all very good. So circumcision doesn't correct design errors; but actually mars a man's natural appearance. It renders him somewhat disfigured so that he no longer bears a precise resemblance to his ancestor Adam— nor will he ever again. A circumcised man is still a human being; just altered somewhat.

The surgery doesn't impair sexual function so we can rule out the possibility that God imposed circumcision on Abraham and his male progeny for the purpose of discouraging romance. After all if a man's genital nerves were to be disabled, it would be very difficult for men to procreate— and that would conflict with God's promise to Abraham that he would be fruitful and become very numerous.

Gen 17:11 . .You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and that shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.

The word for "sign" is from 'owth (oth). It's the very same word for the mark upon Cain, and the rainbow of Noah's covenant. An 'owth not only labels things, but also serves as a memory preserver; like the Viet Nam war memorial. Abraham's circumcision, like rainbows and war memorials, is one of those "lest we forget" reminders of important events.

Gen 17:12-13a . . And throughout the generations, every male among you shall be circumcised at the age of eight days. As for the home-born slave and the one bought from an outsider who is not of your offspring, they must be circumcised, home-born, and purchased alike.

Home-born slaves were those born while Abraham owned its parents. The classification was reckoned Abraham's offspring; viz: his sons; thus indicating that the Hebrew word zera' is ambiguous and doesn't always identify one's biological progeny.

The Bible doesn't call ritual circumcision a baptism but it sure looks like a species of baptism to me. Take for example the crossing of the Red Sea. The New Testament calls it a baptism (1Cor 10:2) yet none of the people under Moses' command got wet; they never even got damp. So baptisms come in a variety of modes, and for a variety of purposes.

The implication is obvious: all males in Abraham's community (viz: his kingdom) have to resemble Abraham in order to be bona fide registered members; which means that a male Jew's genetics alone are not an eo ipso connection to Abraham. He has to undergo the surgery too.

Gen 17:13b-14 . .Thus shall My covenant be marked in your flesh as an everlasting pact. And if any male who is uncircumcised fails to circumcise the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his kin; he has broken My covenant.

The "kin" in this regard is primarily Abraham but in later years came to include one's tribal identity. Say a man's biological father was a biological member of the tribe of Issachar, and for one reason or another never got around to circumcising his son.

Well; until the son submits to the ritual, he cannot be counted among Issachar's progeny. In point of fact, he cannot be counted as anybody's progeny; not even Abraham's though Abraham is his biological ancestor.

This may seem a petty issue but in matters of inheritance, can have very serious repercussions for the un-circumcised man. He's not only cut off from his kin, but also from Abraham's covenant guaranteeing his posterity ownership of Palestine and points beyond to the north, the south, the east, and the west. The little piece of turf now occupied by the State of Israel is but a parking lot in comparison to what God promised Abraham back in Gen 13:14-15.

To give an idea of just how serious God is about this ritual: After Moses was commissioned to represent God in the Exodus; Yhvh rendezvoused with him and came within an inch of taking his life over this very issue.

"Now it came about at an inn on the way that Yhvh met him and sought to put him to death. Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son's foreskin and threw it at Moses' feet, and she said: You are indeed a bloody bridegroom to me. So He let him alone." (Ex 4:24-26)

That should be a sobering warning that anyone representing God is supposed to set the example in all things. It's not do as I say, nor even do as I do; but do as I have done.

Anyway, non-circumcised Jewish males aren't counted among Abraham's community; and that was a law way before it was incorporated into Israel's covenanted law as per Ex 12:48-49 and Lev 12:2-3.

Gen 17:15 . . And God said to Abraham: As for your wife Sarai, you shall not call her Sarai, but her name shall be Sarah.

Sarah's original name was Saray (saw-rah'-ee) which means: dominative.

Webster's defines "dominative" as: to exert the supreme determining or guiding influence on— in other words: bossy. Dominative isn't a desirable female personality. Being assertive and confrontational is nothing to be proud of.

Sarah (saw-raw') means: a female noble; such as a Lady, a Princess, or a Queen. It's much preferable for a woman to be known as a lady or a princess than as a dominatrix.

Changing Sarai's name didn't actually change her personality; but it certainly reflected her new God-given purpose. It was like a promotion to knighthood. The child she would produce for Abraham became a very important, world-renowned human being out of whom came kings and statesmen; and ultimately the savior of the world.

If I were required to pick just one woman in the Bible to venerate, it wouldn't be Christ's mom; no, it would be Isaac's mom. Sarah is the supreme matriarch over every one of the Messianic mothers who came after her.

Gen 17:16 . . I will bless her; indeed, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she shall give rise to nations; rulers of peoples shall issue from her.

Sarah now had a calling from God just like her slavette Hagar; who herself was given a calling from God on the road to Shur. Sarah's calling was not much of a calling. She wasn't called to go off to some foreign country as a missionary, nor to open and operate hostels and orphanages in impoverished lands, nor head up a local chapter of the March Of Dimes, nor muster an army like a Joan of Arc. All in the world Sarah had to do for God was just be Isaac's mom.

I once heard a story about a lady who summarily announced to her pastor that God called her to preach. The pastor thought for a second and then inquired: Do you have any children? She answered: Yes. So he said: My; isn't that wonderful? God called you to preach and already gave you a congregation.

Motherhood isn't a marginal calling. It is a serious calling that carries tremendous responsibility, because the hands that rock the cradles quite literally do rule the world. A mother can either ruin a child's potential or enhance it; she can raise a decent human being, or raise a sociopathic monster.

The media typically focuses on physical child abuse while usually overlooking the kind caused by mental cruelty. There are children out there whose self esteem and sense of worth are in the toilet just by being in the home of a thoughtless mother.

One child can enrich the lives of millions of people, and it's the moms who bring them into the world, pick their boogers, change their dydees, teach them how to brush their teeth and say their prayers, stay up late with their fevers, get them in for their shots, pack them off to school, take them to the park, drive them to ToysRus a thousand times, and cry at their weddings.

The dads have it easy. It's the moms who really pay the price for a child's future. But a mom can just as easily destroy her child's future by abuse and neglect. There are moms who have about as much love for their children as a dirty sock or a broken dish; and regard them just as expendable.

But Sarah won't be like that. When she gets done with Isaac, he will be a well adjusted grown-up having a genuine bond of love and trust with his mom and zero gender issues with women. Isaac will see in Sarah the very kind of girl he would like to marry; and when that one does come along, he won't let her get away.

Gen 17:17 . . Abraham threw himself on his face and laughed, as he said to himself: Can a child be born to a man a hundred years old, or can Sarah bear a child at ninety?

NOTE: I suspect that Sarah was not yet adult enough to be a mother back when she initiated the tryst with Hagar and Abraham; because of the immature way she reacted to Hagar's gloating in Gen 16:4-6.

God had previously promised Abraham an heir but this is the first time He actually specified who the biological mother would be. Was Abraham skeptical? Not this time. No; he just thought it was hilarious for two old sag-bottomed, bloated cod-fish gasbags like he and Sarah to have children. In other words: You've gotta be kidding!

"Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead— since he was about a hundred years old —and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised." (Rom 4:19-21)

Gen 17:18 . . And Abraham said to God: O that Ishmael might live by Your favor!

Ishmael is sometimes thought of as a sort of red-headed step child, but I tend to think that Abraham really did love the boy. I can see that love at work here when Abraham requested God's providence for him lest he become marginalized and forgotten.

Gen 17:19a . . God said: Nevertheless, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son,

God had nothing personal against Ishmael; but he was not quite what The Lord had in mind for the covenant's future. The one to perpetuate it had to be special; viz: he couldn't be a "wild-burro of a man" nor "his hand against every man's hand". In other words: God much preferred a peaceable man.

Gen 17:19b . . and you shall name him Isaac;

Isaac's name is Yitschaq (yits-khawk') which means: laughter or mirth; sometimes in a bad way such as mockery. In other places in the Old Testament, Isaac's name is Yischaq (yis-khawk') which means: he will laugh, or, he thinks it's funny. (perhaps as a memorial to Abraham's mirth at hearing the news of Sarah's imminent pregnancy.)

Gen 17:19c . . and I will maintain My covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring to come.

Much of the covenant is of little interest to the average Gentile; but one portion of it is very significant. It's this:

"And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed" (Gen 22:18)

The blessing is generally related to the people of Israel.

"Salvation is of the Jews." (John 4:22)

And specifically related to Christ.

"And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." (1John 2:2)

Gen 17:20 . . As for Ishmael, I have heeded you. I hereby bless him. I will make him fertile and exceedingly numerous. He shall be the father of twelve chieftains, and I will make of him a great nation.

That quite literally came true. Ishmael really did engender twelve chieftains. (Gen 25:12-16)

I don't know why so many people seem to think that Ishmael was only so much trash to throw out and discard, like as if he were second-hand dish water or something. No one should ever forget that he was Abraham's flesh and blood; his first son and Abraham really loved that boy. God blessed him too; and took care of him. He was circumcised in Abraham's home, which made him a permanent member of Abraham's community; so modern Arabs do have a legitimate claim to Abraham as their patriarch; but of course they have no such claim upon Isaac, or upon Isaac's blessings.

Gen 17:21a . . But My covenant I will maintain with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this season next year.

Looks like the Abrahams will be going shopping for a crib, a stroller, and a car seat. Nothing like news of a baby to make the daddies start looking at their budgets. :-)

Gen 17:22 . . And when He was done speaking with him, God was gone from Abraham.

Don't you just hate it when a supervisor lays down the law and then turns on their heel and leaves the room? It immediately tells everyone that their boss's agenda is not open to discussion.

Gen 17:23 . .Then Abraham took his son Ishmael, and all his home-born slaves and all those he had bought, every male in Abraham's household, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins on that very day, as God had spoken to him.

That was well over 300 grown men; not counting boys (Gen 14:14).

Gen 17:24-27 . . Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he circumcised the flesh of his foreskin, and his son Ishmael was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. Thus Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised on that very day; and all his household, his home-born slaves and those that had been bought from outsiders, were circumcised with him.

Abraham was typically very prompt and did things in a timely manner. Trouble is; every male in camp was disabled all at once. Thank goodness nobody attacked right then or the PowerPuff Girls would have been forced to man the guns.

NOTE: Ishmael was thirteen when he was circumcised. It would be another year before Isaac was born, and possibly three after that before Isaac was weaned; making Ishmael at least seventeen or eighteen when Abraham emancipated his mom.

 

Genesis 18
 

Gen 18:1a . .The Lord appeared to him by the terebinths of Mamre;

The Hebrew word for "appeared" is ra'ah (raw-aw') which doesn't necessarily indicate a visible apparition. The word is really ambiguous. It has several meanings; one of which simply indicates a meeting. That the Lord was present during this meeting is certain but whether He is physically present is uncertain; though not impossible. (cf. Ex 24:9-11)

The three men upon whom we are about to eavesdrop are said by some to be angels; but the Hebrew word for angel is nowhere in the entire narrative.

This visit occurred very shortly after the last one because Isaac wasn't born yet and his birth had been predicted in 17:21 to be little more than a year away.

Mamre's terebinths were a grove of oak trees situated near modern day Hebron about 20 miles south of Jerusalem at an elevation of 3,050 feet above sea level.

Gen 18:1b-2a . . he was sitting at the entrance of the tent as the day grew hot. Looking up, he saw three men standing near him.

It wouldn't be accurate to think of Abraham's tent as something akin to a hiker/camper's basic portable shelter. Bedouin sheiks lived in pavilions, since they served as the family's home.

The entrance of the tent likely had a large canopy over it like a roofed porch so that Abraham wasn't sitting out in the sun, but rather in the shade. Poor guy's heart must have stopped when he looked up at these three guys just standing there saying nothing. I'm not sure if Abraham was aware at this point that one of those men was Yhvh. So his next reactions are very interesting. They reveal just how hospitable this rich and famous sheik was to total strangers.

Gen 18:2b-3a . . As soon as he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them and, bowing to the ground, he said: My lords,

Abraham was 99 so I don't think he actually sprinted. The word ruwts (roots) can mean either to run or just simply to hurry.

The word for "lords" is from 'adown (aw-done') and/or the shortened 'adon (aw-done') which mean: sovereign (human or divine. 'Adown is a versatile word often used as a courteous title of respect for elders and or superiors; for example Sarah spoke the very same word of her husband at Gen 18:12, Rachel addressed her dad by it at Gen 31:5, and Jacob addressed his brother Esau by 'adown at Gen 33:8.

Gen 18:3b-5a . . if it please you, do not go on past your servant. Let a little water be brought; bathe your feet and recline under the tree. And let me fetch a morsel of bread that you may refresh yourselves; then go on— seeing that you have come your servant's way.

There was a custom in the Olde American West that when travelers came by your spread, it was considered neighborly to offer them a meal and some tobacco, along with water and provender for their horses. This sometimes was the only means of support for off-season, unemployed cowboys known as drifters and saddle bums; but what the hey, you took the good with the bad; no questions asked. Traveling was neither a tourist's vacation nor a Sunday drive in Abraham's day. No cushy motels, no gas stations or convenience stores. It was very far in between communities and few people along the way so a camp like Abraham's was a welcome sight in that day.

You can imagine how refreshing it would be on a hot day to soak your feet in a tub of cool water and recline in the shade of a big oak tree. In an era without refrigeration, electric fans, and/or air conditioning, that was just about the best there was to offer. Anyway it all just goes to show that Abraham was a very hospitable man, and really knew how to make people feel at home.

Gen 18:5b . .They replied: Do as you have said.

There is something here important to note. Although the text says "they" replied, it doesn't mean all three men spoke at once, nor spoke in turn. If only one in a group speaks, and the others are silent, it's understood to mean the others are consensual; and that the one speaks for all if no one objects or has anything to add.

Gen 18:6-8a . . Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said: Quickly, three seahs of choice flour! Knead and make cakes! Then Abraham hurried to the herd, took a calf, tender and choice, and gave it to a servant-boy, who hastened to prepare it. He took curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared and set these before them;

The word for "calf" is from baqar (baw-kawr') which means: beef cattle or an animal of the ox family; of either gender.

It's interesting that Abraham served beef. In the early days of olde California; the Spanish Franciscans raised cows primarily for their hides and tallow; and found a ready market for those products in the east. Tallow of course was used for candles, soap, and lubricants; and the hides for leather goods like shoes, gloves, saddles, reins, and hats. In those days, pork and fowl were the preferred table meats. It was actually the change-over from pork to relatively cheap Texas longhorn beef that fueled the cattle baron era of the 1800's.

The word for "curds" is from chem'ah (khem-aw') which means: curdled milk, or cheese. Later to come Kosher laws would forbid serving dairy and meat together; but in Abraham's day it didn't matter.

The only ingredient listed for the cakes (which probably resembled English muffins) is choice flour, suggesting that Sarah made them with fresh dough rather than from a batch of dough that's been sitting around for a while.

With a little imagination, one could confect a pretty decent deli sandwich from what Abraham put on their plates. Anyway, all this took an appreciable amount of time; like preparing a thanksgiving dinner from scratch; including butchering the turkey. Plus, they cooked in those days by means of open flame and/or wood-fired ovens so it's not like Abraham served the men packaged meals warmed up in a microwave oven.

Poor Sarah; she must have been stressed due to the unexpected guests messing up her daily routine. She probably hadn't planned to do any serious cooking that day till later on towards evening when it was cooler. Women of that day literally did slave over a hot stove, and many still do today in parts of the world. In point of fact, the September 2017 issue of National Geographic Magazine contains an article about this very thing.

Gen 18:8b . . and he waited on them under the tree as they ate.

Targum authors— convinced the men were celestial beings —couldn't believe they would actually partake of food. According to them, the foods were before them, but they didn't actually eat it.

T. and [Abraham] served before them, and they sat under the tree; and he quieted himself to see whether they would eat. (Targum Jonathan)

In major English versions of the Hebrew Bible— e.g. The JPS and the Stone —Gen 18:8 is translated "they ate". It isn't translated that Abraham stood by to see if they would eat, nor is it translated they pretended to eat, nor that they appeared to eat. Genesis is quite clear: the men actually dined on the food that Abraham set before them. (cf. Chabad.org)

Gen 18:9a . .They said to him: Where is your wife Sarah?

So far, Sarah has been hearing about her impending child only from her husband. But now, the speaker is intent that she should hear the news from somebody a little higher up the food chain.

Gen 18:9b . . And he replied: There, in the tent.

At this point, the speaker no doubt intentionally raised his voice a bit to ensure little Miss Eavesdropper would hear what he had to say.

Gen 18:10 . .Then one said: I will return to you next year, and your wife Sarah shall have a son!

Some versions read: "The Lord said". But the word Yhvh is nowhere in the Hebrew of that verse.

NOTE: Some translations of the Bible are not purely translations. They're actually amalgams of translation + interpretation. Caveat Lector

So on the face of it, the stranger is making two predictions. 1) he'll be back around again, and 2) Sarah is going to have a son.

Gen 18:11 . . Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years; Sarah had stopped having the periods of women.

Some things can't be postponed indefinitely.

"To everything there is a season: a time for every purpose under heaven" (Ecc 3:1)

There is a time in life for children: if it's missed, there's no going back and making up for lost time. Many an independent woman has been painfully awakened by her biological clock— putting off children to get ahead in her career, and then one day; it's either too late, too inconvenient, or too difficult.

Let's say that a girl puts off conception until she's, say; 32-34. Think about that. By the time her first child is ready for kindergarten, she'll be pushing 40. Mothers that old could actually be classified as late bloomers because the average age of first-time mothers, depending upon where they live, is around 20-24; and in many cultures; it's a lots earlier than that. Let me tell you something that should go without saying: it's much easier to be a young mother than an old one.

And age makes a difference for the children too. As women age, their minds mature bringing them ever closer to that dreaded generation gap; viz: it is much easier for a young mother to relate to her young children than an older woman; who oftentimes can no longer hear the bell, if you know what I mean.

Some things wait for no man. Sunset is one of those things. Relentlessly, hour upon hour, the sun moves across the sky towards its inevitable rendezvous with the western horizon. Our lives are just like that. Sunrise - Sunset. Game over.

Gen 18:12a . . And Sarah laughed to herself, saying: Now that I am withered, am I to have enjoyment

Sarah was no doubt thinking to herself that if this stranger knew how old she was; he wouldn't be making such a ridiculous prediction.

Gen 18:12b . . with my lord so old?

Actually, at this time in his life; Abraham himself had some problems and probably could benefit from a little Viagra; if you know what I mean. (cf. Rom 4:19, Heb 11:12)

There's another problem associated with the aging process that doesn't get a lot of press these days in an era of older parents. Men aren't born with all their sperm cells at once the way women are born with all their eggs at once. The men's little guys are manufactured fresh on a daily basis, so as men age, their sperm cells are progressively of a lower quality than the previous batch because the men's bodies are deteriorating with age; subsequently there's a higher risk of birth defects in children fathered by aging men.

There's also the reality of a progressively decreasing sperm count in aging men so that even if their little guys are viable, it's increasingly difficult to put enough soldiers on the front lines to win the battle. But even that's only if elderly men's wells haven't run dry; if you know what I mean. The people in Sarah's day probably knew all this by practical life-experience rather than by scientific study and discovery.

Gen 18:13-14 . .Then Yhvh said to Abraham: Why did Sarah laugh, saying; Shall I in truth bear a child, old as I am? Is anything too wondrous for Yhvh? I will return to you at the time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.

Yhvh didn't quote Sarah verbatim— He actually paraphrased her words to say what she meant; rather than what she spoke. That's important to note; and tells me that it really isn't all that important to quote Scripture precisely so long as you don't lose, or change, its meanings. There's a lot of that in the New Testament; and certainly in the Targums too.

It isn't said exactly from whence the voice of Yhvh came: whether it was one of the men speaking or a voice in the air. However, Yhvh did show up and do "as He had spoken." (Gen 21:1)

Gen 18:15a . . Sarah lied, saying; "I didn't laugh" for she was frightened.

Sarah hadn't actually laughed out loud, but "to herself". When she realized that one of the men could read her thoughts, she became nervous: and who wouldn't?

Gen 18:15b . . But He replied: You did laugh.

Most men would have jumped right to their wife's defense. Abraham had at least 300 armed men in his camp who would do anything he asked; but knowing by now exactly who these men really were, Abraham kept his cool.

The word used to describe Abraham's visitors is 'iysh (eesh) which is a gender-specific word that means: a man as an individual or a male person. It is also the word used to specify the male gender among the animals taken aboard the Ark. (Gen 7:2)

This passage strongly suggests that Abraham and Sarah saw Yhvh as a fully functioning man. As to whether the person they saw was an actual human being or a human avatar; I don't know and I'm afraid to even hazard a guess.

Gen 18:16 . .The men set out from there and looked down toward Sodom, Abraham walking with them to see them off.

Looking down towards Sodom is probably just another way to say aiming for Sodom.

Many of us just see our visitors out the front door. But, you know, it wouldn't hurt to see them out to their cars too. Maybe even carry a few things for them.

The site of Sodom has never been found. Some believe it was at the south end of the Dead Sea; but that's really only a guess. The destruction was so severe and so complete that it's just impossible now to tell where it was.

Gen 18:17 . . Now the Lord had said: Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do,

Now there's a pretty good yardstick of your standing with God. Do you know what is on His agenda for tomorrow? Me neither. God doesn't confide in me for the slightest thing. I don't even know what brand of toothpaste He uses in the morning let alone His daily schedule.

Gen 18:18 . . since Abraham is to become a great and populous nation and all the nations of the earth are to bless themselves by him?

Divine purposes for Abraham elevated him to a very high degree of importance above ordinary human beings; and God regarded the old boy not as a servant, but as a member of Yhvh's inner circle of confidants. In point of fact; one of His buddies (Isa 41:8). That is amazing.

Gen 18:19 . . For I have singled him out, that he may instruct his children and his progeny to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is just and right, in order that the Lord may bring about for Abraham what He has promised him.

In order for Yhvh's statement to be meaningful it has to imply that Abraham possessed a knowledge of what is just and right in harmony with what Yhvh feels is just and right rather than a humanistic knowledge. The US Supreme Court's justices obviously don't have a knowledge of what is just and right in harmony with Yhvh's because they seldom agree on anything and their rulings are opinions rather than absolutes.

Getting all of Abraham's progeny to do what is just and right has been a bit of a challenge for Yhvh down through the centuries. Some have; but typically not all.

NOTE: Yhvh's prediction no doubt included Ishmael, so I wouldn't be surprised if by the time Abraham emancipated his mom, the boy had more of "the way of the Lord" under his belt than quite a few modern pew warmers.

Gen 18:20 . .Then the Lord said: The outrage of Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave!

It's true that the people of Sodom indulged in sexual impurity; but that's not the only thing about their manner of life that chafed God.

They weren't just your every-day, average garden variety of sinners. According to Gen 13:13, they were not only very wicked sinners; but very wicked sinners "against The Lord"; in other words: they were insolent; which Webster's defines as: exhibiting boldness or effrontery; viz: impudence.

People like that are defiant to the bone— they make a point of standing up to others and asserting their independence and they don't care whose feelings get hurt by it.

Some of The Lord's statements, spoken to shame His people, shed additional light on the nature of Sodom's wickedness.

"For Jerusalem has stumbled, and Judah has fallen, because their speech and their actions are against The Lord, to rebel against His glorious presence. The expression of their faces bears witness against them, and they display their sin like Sodom; they do not even conceal it." (Isa 3:8-9)

"What I see in the prophets of Jerusalem is something horrifying: adultery and false dealing. They encourage evildoers, so that no one turns back from his wickedness. To Me they are all like Sodom, and [all] its inhabitants like Gomorrah." (Jer 23:14)

"Only this was the sin of your sister Sodom: arrogance! She and her daughters had plenty of bread and untroubled tranquility; yet she did not support the poor and the needy. In their haughtiness, they committed abomination before Me; and so I removed them, as you saw." (Ezk 16:49-50)

Sodom is widely reputed for its carnal depravity. but as you can see from those passages above, they were a whole lot more unrighteous than that. One of the most interesting of their sins was that they did nothing to discourage wickedness. They actually applauded evildoers and encouraged them to keep it up. Added to that was arrogance, and a lack of charity— indifference to the plight of the poor —and haughtiness, dishonesty, partiality, insulting the glory and dignity of God, and bragging about all of it.

Since God had not yet proclaimed any official laws specifically prohibiting the Sodomites' conduct, then He really couldn't prosecute them in that respect. So then, what was His justification for nailing them? It was for the very same attitude that nails everybody; both pre Flood and post-Flood.

"This is the condemnation: that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed." (John 3:18-21)

So then, the Sodomites were not only indifferent to God's wishes; but they deliberately avoided knowing them just as Yhvh's people themselves did in later years to come.

"But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law and the words which The Lord of hosts hath sent in His spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from The Lord of hosts." (Zech 7:11-12)

Gen 18:21a . . I will go down to see whether they have acted altogether according to the outcry that has reached Me;

The word for "outcry" is from tsa'aqah (tsah-ak-aw') which means: a shriek. The same word was in chapter 4 to describe the cry of Abel's blood from the ground and also in Exodus to describe the cry of Moses' people under the heel of Egyptian slavery.

Have you ever been so annoyed by someone's speaking that you wanted to cover your ears, close your eyes, grit your teeth and just yell out: SHUT. . . UP!

Sodom was so bad that even the Earth itself couldn't tolerate them any longer; it just wanted to cover its ears, close its eyes, grit its teeth and shout ENOUGH ALREADY! Sadly, there are some people of whom it can be honestly said that the world is a much better place without them.

But isn't Yhvh supposed to be omniscient? Then why does He have to go investigate for Himself to see if the reports coming across His desk regarding Sodom are true? And isn't He supposed to be omnipresent? Then why is Yhvh talking as if He hasn't been down to visit Sodom lately? Because . . Abraham wasn't talking to The True God in person nor is he talking to God's Spirit in person. He was talking to a messenger who has authority to act on God's behalf: to speak for God, to speak as God; and to use God's name for itself.

The Old Testament's Yhvh is a most surprising, enigmatic being.

"God spoke all these words, saying: I Yhvh am your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage: You shall have no other gods besides Me." (Ex 20:1-3)

Israel has to worship Yhvh as their god, and they must obey Him as their god. But the divine being who spoke to them in the past as Yhvh, and for Yhvh, was not the actual True God himself in person. No, it was a divine messenger of God. The being named Yhvh whom they dealt with was a reflection of the actual True God; a Supreme Ambassador who mediates between God and Man— authorized to use God's name for itself —and merits all the worship and prayer, and respect and veneration and fear due to The True God.

The actual person of The True God is remote, and removed; concealed within a forbidden city where sinful flesh can neither see Him, approach Him, nor relate to Him, nor even so much as listen to His actual voice. The Old Testament's Yhvh fills Man's need for someone who relates well to Man, and also relates well to the hidden Sovereign, so that Man and the inaccessible, hidden Sovereign can maintain a viable diplomatic relationship with each other.

Targum authors, at a loss to explain the existence of what they perceived as two persons named Yhvh, labeled the second one "The Word of the Lord God" which is a pretty good expedient since words are used to communicate, and to convey thoughts and ideas. Talmudic writers identified the second Yhvh as the angel Metatron— a celestial being whose name is his Master's. The New Testament follows the thinking of the Targums in identifying one of the Yhvhs as God's word.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." (John 1:1-3)

Gen 18:21b . . if not, I will take note.

Doesn't everyone have a right to face their accuser and defend themselves? Yes. That is one of America's basic human rights; and also a Divine law (Num 35:30, Deut 17:6-7, Deut 19:15). Yhvh can't just act upon rumors and hearsay like some sort of heavenly kangaroo court. No, He has to investigate, and establish the truth of every fact for Himself before moving against Sodom. Their judgment will be fair, and the case against them so air-tight, that even Sodom will have to agree they have whatever's coming to them.

Along that same line; the dead won't go into the flaming sulfur depicted at Rev 20:11-15 without a fair trial. They'll be given ample opportunity to defend themselves; and to know exactly why God feels they deserve to die.

"But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every thoughtless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matt 12:36-37)

"Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the irreverent of all the irreverent acts they have done in an irreverent way, and of all the harsh words irreverent sinners have spoken against him." (Jude 1:14-15)

The Greek word for "convict" is from elegcho (el-eng'-kho) and means: to confute, to admonish. So nobody will be sent to Hell arbitrarily. The case against them will be made in a summary and professional manner— evidence will be introduced, and witnesses called for testimony. Yhvh was given reports that the Sodomites were doing bad things; and now He will go and see for Himself if those reports are, in fact, true or not. The Bible's Yhvh is, after all, a rational, objective jurist rather than an emotional, reactive vigilante.

Gen 18:22 . .The men went on from there to Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before The Lord.

A plausible scenario is that all three men began walking towards Sodom, and then one (earlier identified as Yhvh) stayed behind to conduct a private meeting with Abraham.

The Targums say Abraham interceded for his nephew, but it would appear from the Scripture that he interceded not just for Lot, but also for the citizens of Sodom too. And that's to be expected. After all, Abraham was their savior; the one who rescued them all from that awful Chedorlaomer back in chapter fourteen. He couldn't just sit on his hands now and let them all die without making any effort to save them from the wrath of God.

This is somewhat ironic. It's as if Abraham saved the people from El Ched only to be barbecued in Sodom; viz: sort of like the cops shooting a felon during his arrest, taking him to the hospital to save his life, then hauling him into court after he's well enough to stand trial so he can be given the gas chamber.

Gen 18:23a . . Abraham came forward

Abraham "came forward" in that he became somewhat assertive in this next scene. He was sort of like a godfather to the Sodomites, in spite of their decadence. That is amazing; yet, is so typical of the really holy men in the Bible to intercede for people who certainly didn't deserve it. (e.g. Ex 32:30-35)

There's nothing intrinsically wrong in taking the initiative to speak with God. After all, if people always waited for God to speak first before they ever said a word in prayer, hardly anybody would talk to God at all. Not that God is shy, it's just that He rarely ever says anything out loud, so a normal person would tend to think The Almighty was indifferent to His creations. But that just isn't true. We know from the Bible that God desires a rapport with everyone.

Some people wait until they're desperate and out of options before turning to God. But it is so insulting to treat God like a spare tire or a First Aid kit. It's better to begin a rapport with Him early, now, before a crisis occurs. (cf. Pro 1:24-33)

Gen 18:23b . . and said: Will You sweep away the innocent along with the guilty?

The answer to that is of course a resounding YES!

"I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me." (Deut 5:9)

Q: How is that fair: holding children responsible for what their parents do?

A: Ex 20:5— along with Ex 34:7, Num 14:18, and Deut 5:9 —is often construed to mean that children are held responsible for their parents' sins; but that isn't it. What we're looking at here is collateral damage. It is apparently God's prerogative to get back at people by going after their posterity and/or the people they govern.

There's a horrific example of collateral damage located at Num 16:25-34. Another is the Flood. No doubt quite a few underage children drowned in that event due to their parents' wickedness. The same no doubt happened to the children in Sodom and Gomorrah. Ham's punishment for humiliating Noah was a curse upon his son Canaan. And during Moses' face-off with Pharaoh, God moved against the man's firstborn son along with all those of his subjects.

There are times when God chooses to punish people by going after not only themselves; but also the things that pertain to them; including, but not limited to, their progeny. I don't quite understand the logic of that kind of justice; but then again: I don't try; I just go along with it; primarily because it's futile to find fault with God.

Although Lot was living in a very bad environment, and among very bad people who caused him much mental and emotional stress (2Pet 2:4-9) it didn't eo ipso make Lot himself a bad man. In the final analysis, when it was time to make an end of Sodom, God made a difference between Lot and Sodom and got him out before it was too late. It's horrible to contemplate that some civilizations are so far gone that it's necessary to nuke 'em from orbit and start all over from scratch.

Gen 18:24-25 . . What if there should be fifty innocent within the city; will You then wipe out the place and not forgive it for the sake of the innocent fifty who are in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing, to bring death upon the innocent as well as the guilty, so that innocent and guilty fare alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?

I think Abraham's question was more rhetorical than anything else. Of course the Judge of all the earth deals justly; no true man of faith would ever seriously question his maker's integrity.

Gen 18:26-33 . . And the Lord answered: If I find within the city of Sodom fifty innocent ones, I will forgive the whole place for their sake. Abraham spoke up, saying: Here I venture to speak to my Lord, I who am but dust and ashes: What if the fifty innocent should lack five? Will You destroy the whole city for want of the five? And He answered: I will not destroy if I find forty-five there. But he spoke to Him again, and said: What if forty should be found there? And He answered: I will not do it, for the sake of the forty.

. . . And he said: Let not my Lord be angry if I go on; what if thirty should be found there? And He answered: I will not do it if I find thirty there. And he said: I venture again to speak to my Lord; what if twenty should be found there? And He answered: I will not destroy, for the sake of the twenty. And he said: Let not my Lord be angry if I speak but this last time; what if ten should be found there? And He answered: I will not destroy, for the sake of the ten. When the Lord had finished speaking to Abraham, He departed; and Abraham returned to his place.

I'm guessing Abraham stopped at ten because he assumed there had to be at least that many righteous in Sodom who didn't deserve to die; but according to Peter; he was wrong. There was only one: and that's all there was in Noah's day too. (Gen 7:1)

 

Genesis 19
 

Gen 19:1a . . And there came two angels to Sodom

The word for "angels" is from mal'ak (mal-awk') from a root meaning to dispatch as a deputy; viz: a messenger; specifically of God, i.e. an angel and/or a prophet, priest or teacher— someone who speaks for and/or represents another.

Mal'ak doesn't eo ipso indicate a celestial being; because the word is focused more on an office or a function rather than a person. According to verse 3, these angels were capable of consuming food the same as were Abraham's human guests up in Hebron. According to verse 10, they were gender specific; viz: males. So from all outward appearances, these particular mal'aks were normal, fully functioning human beings.

Gen 19:1b . . in the evening,

The word for "evening" is 'ereb (eh'-reb) which technically means dusk; which Webster's defines as: the darker part of twilight after sundown. It's the same word as the evenings of Gen 1:5-31.

'ereb is a bit ambiguous. In spite of its technical meaning; 'ereb doesn't eo ipso indicate twilight. It can also indicate any daytime hour between high noon and sunset e.g. Sam 17:16 where Goliath taunted Israel twice a Day once in the morning, and once in the afternoon.

On the surface, the two men appear to be ordinary travelers pulling into town for the night after a day's journey. That's a sensible choice. Sodom was walled, and much safer than camping out in the field where they would be vulnerable to brigands and wild animals. In those days, the Jordan valley had lions in it and Canaan was still pretty much out on the lawless frontier.

Gen 19:1c . . as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom.

In those days the gate vicinity was an important civic location where people could pick up the latest news and conduct public business like elections, marriages, notary public, municipal court, rallies, and soap-box speeches. It was in the gate of Bethlehem where Ruth's husband Boaz defended her cause and claimed the woman of Moab for his wife. (Ruth 4)

Lot probably wrapped up every one of his days at the gate before going on home; kind of like an ancient Miller time. Even today, either a newspaper or a television news program caps the day for many men in America.

Gen 19:1d . .When Lot saw them, he rose to greet them

Don't miss this man's courteous manners. Even living amongst the wickedest people in the whole region, Lot still practiced his uncle's brand of hospitality. No doubt a result of the years he spent under Abraham's wing. Actually Lot was a very good man in spite of his town's reputation. He stood out like a carnation blooming in a landfill.

Gen 19:1e-2a . . bowing low with his face to the ground, he said: Please, my lords, turn aside to your servant's house to spend the night, and bathe your feet; then you may be on your way early.

Bowing low is both an act of worship and/or deference to one's superiors. The word is shachah (shaw-khaw') the same word used at Gen 22:5 for Abraham's worship during the course of offering his son Isaac as a burnt offering; and during Abraham's bargaining with Heth's kin at Gen 23:7.

The word for "lords" that Genesis' author chose for the messengers is 'adown (aw-done') which is a nondescript title of respect and can apply to ordinary human beings like as in Rachel's respect for her father Laban in Gen 32:35.

Coupled with hospitality, was no doubt Lot's fear for these stranger's safety. Lot knew Sodom, and knew what might happen to those men if they stayed anywhere else but in his home and behind his walls.

Exactly why Lot took an interest in these men's safety isn't stated. It could be that they were gentle and unarmed; thus, by all appearances, easy prey for the town's rather undignified forms of entertainment.

Gen 19:2b . . But they said: No, we will spend the night in the square.

Their response was most likely a customary refusal, with the intention of accepting Lot's hospitality only after some polite resistance to test the sincerity of his offer. Their response to Lot is somewhat different than the response of the men who visited Abraham. Those accepted Abraham's offer immediately, and without resistance.

Gen 19:3 . . But he insisted, so they turned his way and entered his house. He prepared a feast for them and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.

The Hebrew word for "unleavened" is matstsah (mats-tsaw') which essentially refers to an unfermented cake or loaf; in other words: bread made with sweet dough rather than sour dough.

In this day and age of cultured yeast it's not easy to explain what the Bible means by leavened and unleavened. Well; the primary difference between the two terms isn't ingredients; rather, the primary difference is age; for example:

"Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with old leaven" (1Cor 5:8)

If there is an old leaven, then there must be a new leaven; just as there is an old wine and a new wine.

Old leaven can refer to a batch of dough that's going bad, i.e. fermented; which, given time, dough will do on its own without the addition of yeast because all flour, no matter how carefully it's milled and packaged, contains a percentage of naturally-occurring fungi. New leaven, then, would refer to a time in the life of the dough before the flour's naturally-occurring fungi has time to spoil the product; for example:

"So the people took their dough before it was leavened, with their kneading bowls bound up in the clothes on their shoulders." (Ex 12:34)

That gives an idea of how quickly God moved the people out of Egypt after slaying all the firstborn. They had made bread with unfermented dough for that night's meal in accord with the law of the Passover instituted in the 12th chapter of Exodus.

Anyway, point being; Lot served his guests fresh bread made with fresh dough rather than with bread made with dough that's been sitting around for a while. Bread made with sour dough is reasonably safe to eat, we know that, so serving his guests bread made with aged dough wouldn't have been a health issue. I like to think that Lot served his honored guests unleavened bread as an act of courtesy rather than necessity. Giving people your best, rather than your less than best, shows that you think highly of them.

Gen 19:4 . .They had not yet lain down, when the townspeople, the men of Sodom, young and old— all the people to the last man —gathered about the house.

The word for "men" is from 'enowsh (en-oshe') : an ambiguous word that means: a mortal; a human being in general (singly or collectively). It can also mean: husband, person, and people.

So it wasn't just the males; it was everybody, young and old, gathered around Lot's door. All of the women, all of the kids, and all of the men. The entire town.

Gen 19:5a . . And they shouted to Lot and said to him: Where are the men who came to you tonight?

Everyone was bellowing and clamoring; like impatient fans at wrestling matches, cage fights, and Roman coliseums; demanding their pound of flesh and pools of blood.

Gen 19:5b . . Bring them out to us, that we may be intimate with them.

Since all the people of Sodom were in on this— men, women, children, old and young alike —it becomes frightfully obvious the townsfolk desired far more than just stimulating gratification. They were looking for entertainment of the vilest sort imaginable— quite possibly a filthy stage show of unspeakable acts; maybe including bestiality and bondage.

Exactly what the people of Sodom intended to do with the messengers is not said; but Jude 1:7 states that the people were accustomed to "strange flesh" which suggests that they used men and women's bodies for rather perverse purposes.

Other than Jude's information, the Bible is silent on this matter. It's as if the author drew a curtain over Sodom and said: This is just too shocking. I'm not going to spell out what the people of Sodom wanted to do with the two men under Lot's roof. You will just have to use your imagination.

Gen 19:6-7 . . So Lot went out to them to the entrance, shut the door behind him, and said: I beg you, my friends, do not commit such a wrong.

No doubt those people interpreted Lot's comment that they were "wrong" as judgmental. It was certain to provoke a hostile response in the typically indignant manner in which evil people can be expected to act when somebody criticizes their conduct.

Gen 19:8 . . Look, I have two daughters who have not known a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you please; but do not do anything to these men, since they have come under the shelter of my roof.

A culture that would sacrifice its own family members to protect the guests under its roof is difficult for westerners to understand; for example pashtunwali, the culture of the Pashtun people of Afghanistan. One of its principles— nanawatai (asylum) —refers to the protection given to a person against his or her enemies. People are protected at all costs; even those running from the law must be given refuge until the situation can be clarified. This was demonstrated when Osama bin Laden was provided special protection by a group of Pashtuns in Abbottabad.

Nanawatai can also be applied when the vanquished party in a dispute is prepared to go in to the house of the victors and ask for their forgiveness. (It is a peculiar form of "chivalrous" surrender, in which an enemy seeks "sanctuary" at his enemy's house). A notable example is that of Navy Petty Officer First Class Marcus Luttrell, the sole survivor of a US Navy SEAL team ambushed by Taliban fighters. Wounded, he evaded the enemy and was aided by members of the Sabray tribe who took him to their village. The tribal chief protected him, fending off attacking tribes until word was sent to nearby US forces.

Gen 19:9a . . But they said: Step aside! This fellow; they said; came here as an alien, and already he acts the judge!

People like the Sodomites instinctively know that what they're doing is wrong, but God pity the soul that dares to tell them so.

Lot called them friends, but when push came to shove, they regarded him as an outsider. And one thing you just don't do as an outsider is impose either your values or your beliefs upon others. They will deeply resent you for it— whether you are right or wrong has nothing to do with it.

Gen 19:9a . . Now we will deal worse with you than with them. And they pressed hard against the person of Lot, and moved forward to break the door.

Talk about a thoughtless lynch mob! Those people totally forgot that not that long ago Lot's uncle saved them all from slavery in a foreign land and this is how they reciprocate Abraham's kindness; by assaulting his nephew?

Gen 19:9b-11 . . But the men stretched out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. And the people who were at the entrance of the house, young and old, they struck with blinding light, so that they were helpless to find the entrance.

(chuckle) That'll learn em' to keep one eye shut when somebody trips a flare. The flash was totally unexpected and must have startled Lot right out of his socks. Up to now, he was given no hint that the two men under his roof were anything but ordinary travelers. "Giminy! Where did all that light come from? There was no thunder. Was it some sort of stealth lightening? How'd you guys do that anyway? Is it patented?"

Normally it takes about twenty minutes for visual purple in the human eye to adjust to darkness after a sudden burst of bright light. The flash didn't actually damage anyone's eyesight so that they went blind. It just made their surroundings difficult to see, like when someone pops your photo in dim light with a camera.

The situation now takes on a desperate atmosphere of survival. The crowd has turned into an ugly mob; and it's fight or flight— no other options. The Lord's messengers chose flight because their purpose was not to remain in Sodom, but to leave it in ashes.

Gen 19:12-13 . .Then the men said to Lot: Whom else have you here? Sons-in-law, your sons and daughters, or anyone else that you have in the city— bring them out of the place. For we are about to destroy this place; because the outcry against them before The Lord has become so great that the Lord has sent us to destroy it.

Lot was like Noah in that his kin, no matter whether they were pious or impious, had the option of going out with him to safety if they wanted.

Lot's head must have been reeling. Only just a few hours ago he was laid back, catching up on all the latest news and gossip at the gate; and on the way home to eat dinner with his family at the end of another routine day. In a succession of rapidly developing events beyond his control; within 24 hours, before the next sunrise, he would lose his home, his way of life, all his friends, his career, and all the wealth and possessions and property and livestock the Lots had accumulated in the 24 years they had lived in the land of Canaan.

My gosh! He is so caught off guard and must have been terribly shocked at the tone of those two men. The awful realization of who they were and why they came to Sodom slowly began to gel in his befuddled mind.

I feel so sorry for him and his family. Calamity, like a 9.0 earthquake right out of the blue, pounced on them, and came to ruin their life. They will take nothing with them but some suit cases, the clothes on their backs, and the breath in their lungs. Lot was a well-to-do cattle baron; but he is just a few hours away from poverty and losing his entire life's work in a fiery inferno. (cf. 1Cor 3:11-15)

Gen 19:14a . . So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters,

It's been questioned that in a town famous for its gay men; what's with these marriages? Well; Genesis doesn't really say that Sodom's men were gay. Stay with me on this because it requires an explanation.

"Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to fornication and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." (Jude 1:7)

The koiné Greek word for "fornication" in Jude's statement is ekporneuo (ek-porn-yoo'-o) which means: to be utterly unchaste.

A lack of chastity is exemplified by any number of immoral activities including, but not limited to immodesty, indecency, public exposure, nudity, adultery, incest, living together, casual sex, swinger sex, wife swapping, sex between consenting adults, sex between consenting minors, sex between teachers and consenting students, sex with a sex toy, sex with a mannequin and/or sex with an inflatable doll, male and/or female prostitution, LGBT, suggestive postures, etc.

To be "utterly" unchaste implies not just a preference for those kinds of carnal gratifications, but an addiction to them.

The word for "strange" is heteros (het'-er-os) which means: other or different. That could be taken to indicate bestiality but I think what it really refers to is unnatural sex; in other words: men sleeping with women isn't strange but rather quite the norm. But men sleeping with men is rather strange; viz: queer; which Webster's defines as: unconventional; in other words out of the ordinary.

Now, maybe the men of Sodom weren't gay; but their preference for the males under Lot's roof instead of the females strongly suggests they were at least bisexual. A man, or a woman, need not be psychologically gay to fall under the condemnation of going after strange flesh just so long as they go after it.

Sons-in-law and daughters are plural. So Lot had at least two more daughters living outside the home with husbands. They will stay behind; and burn to death; and so will Lot's grandchildren, if any.

Where were the sons-in-law when the flash went off back in verse 11? Didn't it effect them? The flash actually only effected those who tried to break down the door. Lot's sons-in-law were out in the streets that night along with everyone else because Genesis said in verse 4 that everyone in Sodom to the last man was present. Apparently, after the mob's attempt to lay hands on the angels proved unsuccessful, Lot's sons-in-law remained nearby to see what would happen next.

Gen 19:14b . . and said: Up, get out of this place, for the Lord is about to destroy the city. But he seemed to his sons-in-law as a jester.

Lot's daughters had married Sodom men, with very sorrowful results. Lot's in-laws didn't share his religious principles, and had no interest whatsoever in his god. The husbands were counted among Sodom's citizens who were "very wicked sinners against the Lord."

Sodom was not only a bad environment for a man of God to build a life and a career, but it was also a very bad place to raise a family. Lot gave his daughters in matrimony to unholy men and now the girls are going to die right along with the rest of Sodom; and possibly some of Lot's grandchildren burned to death too. That's an awful high price to pay to achieve one's personal ambition.

But after watching a number of documentaries on NetFlix; I'm convinced that there are capitalists, Wall Street traders, lobbyists, sweat shop managers, and influence peddlers capable of walking over the bones of their own children in order to succeed and/or survive in the worlds of finance, apparel, and politics.

Gen 19:15-16a . . As dawn broke, the angels urged Lot on, saying: Up, take your wife and your two remaining daughters, lest you be swept away because of the iniquity of the city. Still he delayed.

In verses 10, 12, and 16, the messengers are called men. In verses 1 and 15, they're called "angels". In verses 17 and 21, they're called "he". In verse 18, Lot called them 'Adonay. In verses 21 and 22, they speak in the first persona as "I". When you put it all together, it's apparent that God visited Sodom as a pair of male human beings. Just exactly how He is able to do that is a bit of a mystery. Some say that the messengers were avatars.

The word for "delayed" is mahahh (maw-hah') which means: to question or hesitate, i.e. (by implication) to be reluctant; viz: hang back.

I can best picture this with a scene from John Steinbeck's novel: The Grapes Of Wrath. When the day came for the Joad clan to move out of their shack from the impoverished Oklahoma Dust Bowl to California during the economic depression of the 1930s, Ma Joad spent a few last minutes alone inside going through a box of mementos.

She had lived in Oklahoma many years, since she was a young bride— raised her family there and enjoyed the company of her kin. As she held up an old pair of earrings, looking at herself in a mirror, it pierced her heart to see etched in her face the many years that she had lived as a hard-scrabble sharecropper; and that it was all now coming to naught. Her clapboard home was soon to be flattened by a bulldozer.

I can imagine that the Lots walked through the rooms in their house, reminiscing all the things that took place in their home over the years. As the girls grew up, maturing into young women, they made marks each year on a doorjamb to record their height. They looked at the beds where each girl slept for so many nights from their youth; and Mrs. Lot thought back to the days when she gave homebirth to each one in turn, read bedtime stories, and rocked them all to sleep accompanied by soft lullabies.

Leaving a home of many years rends the soul; most especially if kids grew up there too. When I was about eleven, my parents sold the place where I had lived since toddlerhood. I had a life there out in nature with boyhood pals: fishing and hunting and exploring. It was so idyllic. Then we moved.

I was never the same after that. My heart was in that first home and never left it. Subsequently, I became withdrawn, introverted, and disconnected; never really succeeding in replacing my boyhood pals with new friends who could give me a sense of belonging.

When ol' Harry Truman perished in the Mount Ste. Helens blast back in 1980, I totally understood why he chose to remain instead of fleeing to safety. That mountain, and his lodge, had been an integral part of Harry's life for just too many years. Mr. Truman felt that if that mountain went, then life wouldn't be worth living any more. He decided to go with the mountain rather than see it go and leave him behind to live without it.

Gen 19:16b . . So the men seized his hand, and the hands of his wife and his two daughters— in the Lord's mercy on him— and brought him out and left him outside the city.

The word for "mercy" in that verse is from chemlah (khem-law') which means: commiseration; which Webster's defines as: feeling sympathy for and/or feeling sorrow or compassion for. Unless one's feelings are in the mix, their commiseration is merely polite.

Does anybody out there reading this feel the plight of Lot's family? Can you feel any of their pain? Can you feel their sorrow? Do you feel any sympathy for them at all? None? Well . . anyway; God did. Yes, He was going to burn their home down and kill the daughters who stayed behind. But God took no pleasure in it whatsoever.

"Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look around and see. Is any suffering like my suffering that was inflicted on me, that The Lord brought on me in the day of his fierce anger?" (Lam 1:12)

Is the Lot family's fate nothing to you— all you online who journey with me today through the 19th chapter of Genesis? Just another Bible story? Well . . those were real people you know.

Gen 19:17 . .When they had brought them outside, one said: Flee for your life! Do not look behind you, nor stop anywhere in The Plain; flee to the hills, lest you be swept away.

The messengers won't be going along. They're to stay behind to supervise the holocaust.

Up till now, it appeared that God intended to destroy only Sodom. But now His complete plan is unveiled. The whole plain was doomed— all five cities of the Siddim confederation, and all of their agriculture to boot —including the livestock and all the wildlife and all the pets; plus the children, and all the adults. A total civil, cultural, environmental, and economic, melt-down.

Compare that to Rev 18:2-24 where it appears that the global economy is left a complete collapse just as rapidly as the twin towers of the World Trade Center were brought down.

Gen 19:18 . . But Lot said to them: Oh not so, my Lord!

The word Lot used for "Lord" is 'Adonay (ad-o-noy') which is a proper name of God only; in comparison to the word 'adown (aw-done'); which is a lesser-ranking lord than Yhvh. When the men first arrived in Sodom, Lot addressed them as 'adown because he wasn't aware as yet that they were of Divine origin.

It's significant that the men didn't scold Lot for calling them 'Adonay. So then, speaking with those messengers was all the same as speaking with God, and that, it seems, is exactly how Lot now perceived them.

Lot was a righteous man (2Pet 2:8) but lacked commitment. He never really grew in grace and the knowledge of God. Abraham's nephew was no more spiritually mature at this point than when he left his mentor and relocated to the Jordan Valley.

God instructed Abraham to walk before Him and to be perfect (Gen 17:1). But when Lot moved out, he apparently never really took up a walk with God; but instead found a home for his family among impious pagans; who would certainly discourage Lot from getting too serious about his religion.

"Do not be misled; bad company corrupts good character." (1Cor 15:33)

"good character" in this instance is related to Lot's association with God. Watch how he resists God's leading.

Gen 19:19 . .You have been so gracious to your servant, and have already shown me so much kindness in order to save my life; but I cannot flee to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die.

Listen to this man! He calls himself "your servant" yet opposes his master's wishes. Next, he expresses gratitude for the successful rescue, yet implies his rescuer doesn't know what He's doing by sending him into the hills. Why on earth would God send Lot to the hills if the disaster was headed that way too? Lot isn't being rational and objective; no, he's being emotional and reactive; which people under stress usually are.

Gen 19:20 . . Look, that town there is near enough to flee to; it is such a little place! Let me flee there— it is such a little place —and let my life be spared.

Lot surely must have known that town was just as wicked as Sodom but he still wanted to live there anyway as if his future was any more secure in that town than the one he was just leaving. And why he thought a "little place" was a good place to live is a mystery. But then such is the human mind. Little country towns seem more cozy and wholesome than the big city to some of us. But all towns are populated with human beings; and human beings are human everywhere.

Gen 19:21-22 . . He replied: Very well, I will grant you this favor too, and I will not annihilate the town of which you have spoken. Hurry, flee there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there. Hence the town came to be called Zoar.

Zoar is from Tso' ar (tso'ar) which means little. So maybe we could nick-name it Smallville?

Gen 19:23-25 . . As the sun rose upon the earth and Lot entered Zoar, the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah sulfurous fire from the Lord out of heaven. He annihilated those cities and the entire Plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities and the vegetation of the ground.

What a sight that must have been. The people in Smallville probably thought the world was coming to an end! Fiery hail fell out of nowhere. Everything all around them ignited and went up in flame and heat with a suffocating, smelly pall filling the whole valley like a nuclear winter. Talk about scorched earth!

Jude 1:7 says the fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah was an "eternal" variety of fire. The Greek word is aionios (ahee-o'-nee-os) which means unending; viz: perpetual.

Opponents contend that if the fire really was unending then it would still be out there. But it's far more likely that "eternal" refers not to the fire's characteristics; but to its source— the smoldering impoundment depicted at Isa 66:22-24 and Rev 20:10-11.

Gen 19:26 . . Lot's wife looked back, and she thereupon turned into a pillar of salt.

If the chronology of the text is strict, then Lot's wife turned into salt after their arrival in Zoar rather than along the way.

I can just imagine the look of fear that came over people in town when they saw her like that. She didn't die in the conflagration, but she died just the same.

Her "looking back" was obviously more than just a curious gaze. Lot's wife was no doubt thinking of returning; and hoping against hope that enough of Sodom would survive the incendiary attack so they could search the ruins for their daughters' remains. It's sad when the only way to stop some people from doing something contrary to God's wishes is to strike them with a disability and/or take their life. (cf. 1Cor 11:26-30)

Gen 19:27-28 . . Next morning, Abraham hurried to the place where he had stood before the Lord, and, looking down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and all the land of the Plain, he saw the smoke of the land rising like the smoke of a kiln.

Poor guy. Now he began the very same vigil that so many relatives of airline crashes suffer, waiting for some news, hoping against hope, that their loved ones somehow survived. And if they didn't, were their bodies recovered? Abraham really did love his nephew. I think it saddened the old boy's heart when Lot went off on his own down into the valley. If only he had stayed in the place of blessing, up in the highlands, this wouldn't have happened. And you know what goes through your mind at a time like that? "Would of - Should of - Could of". Sort of like closing the gate after the horses are already out.

Gen 19:29 . .Thus it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the Plain and annihilated the cities where Lot dwelt, God was mindful of Abraham and removed Lot from the midst of the upheaval.

Lot was very fortunate to have an uncle like Abraham. Funny though, I don't remember Abraham praying specifically for Lot. In fact Abraham's intercession was generic, targeting only the citizens of Sodom in general, rather than Lot in particular.

Lady GaGa once sang that a boy she liked couldn't read her poker face. Well, God looks on the heart instead of one's face. He saw through Abraham's silence, detected the old man's real concerns, and commiserated with him. That's why believers should always be candid with God in their prayers. He will find out what's really on our minds no matter; so we might just as well get down to business and spell it out to begin with. (cf. Heb 4:16)

Gen 19:30a . . Lot went up from Zoar and settled in the hill country with his two daughters

Apparently Zoar didn't turn out to be the Pleasantville Lot hoped it might be.

The word for "hill country" is har (har) which means: a mountain or range of hills. It's the very same word used to describe the kind of terrain where Noah's ark came to rest in Gen 8:4.

Why Lot didn't move back on up to his uncle's ranch is uncertain. You know, that kind of makes me wonder why Lot stayed in Sodom after his uncle rescued him from the clutches of El Ched. Surely they must have talked about Lot returning to the highlands with Abraham where he and his family would be safer.

Genesis doesn't specify just exactly which direction Lot went. Both the east and the west from the Jordan valley are hilly. But it was most likely the eastern side, that is: if a later mention of Lot's domain is any indicator.

"When all the warriors among the people had died off, the Lord spoke to me, saying: You are now passing through the territory of Moab, through Ar. You will then be close to the Ammonites; do not harass them or start a fight with them. For I will not give any part of the land of the Ammonites to you as a possession; I have assigned it as a possession to the descendants of Lot." (Deut 2:16-19)

Moab was a district east of the Dead Sea, extending from a point some distance north of it and down to its southern end and is today part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Its eastern boundary was indefinite, being the border of the desert; which is irregular. The length of the territory was about 50 miles and the average width about 30. It's a high tableland, averaging some 3,000 ft. above the level of the Mediterranean and 4,300 ft. above that of the Dead Sea.

The aspect of the land, looking at it from the western side of the Dead Sea, is that of a range of mountains whose western side plummets very abruptly down to the Jordan valley. Deep chasms lead down from the tableland to the Dead Sea shore, the principal one being the gorge of the river Arnon, right across from the kibbutz at En Gedi.

Ruth was from Moab, and it was also where Naomi lost her husband. The Moabites were Abraham's kin because they're the progeny of not only his nephew Lot; but also of his dad Terah (Gen 11:27). Unfortunately, there has been some bad blood over the years between Lot's family and the people of Israel. The most notable incident being when King Balak hired that wicked prophet for profit Balaam to curse Israel as they traveled past his country prior to entering the promised land after their exodus from Egypt. (Num 22-24)

Gen 19:30b . . for he was afraid to dwell in Zoar;

Well I can believe that just from reading about Haiti's earthquake. Large scale disasters just seem to breed looting, theft, vandalism, and violence. That entire region around Sodom was in utter chaos and the local farms and ranches were destroyed so that fresh food was scarce. And if Zoar's morals were anything like Sodom's then Lot probably figured it would be next on God's hit list.

Imagine the situation if all of a sudden supermarkets had nothing to sell you. No meat, no produce, no milk, no cereal, no rice, no pasta, no yogurt, no eggs, no bottled water, no batteries, no bathroom tissue, no soap, no nothing. Whatever people have, they'll hoard. And the have-nots would then begin to take it away from those who have. In Lot's day, there was no such thing as FEMA, the National Guard, the Red Cross, nor any other kinds of relief organizations. When the ancients were beset by droughts and famines; the poor often had no choice but to migrate to new diggings, indenture themselves, or turn to robbery and theft.

Gen 19:30c . . and he and his two daughters lived in a cave.

It's really not too bad to start out in a cave— kind of like being born in a barn —but it's sad to end up in one at the end of your days with nothing to show for all of the years of your life. My own dad was a case in point. He chased the brass ring all his life, and ended up dying penniless on welfare. Lot and the girls became homeless drifters.

Gen 19:31 . . And the older one said to the younger: Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to consort with us in the way of all the world.

It's doubtful the girls meant the whole planet was void of men; probably just the region where their cave was. It was isolated and lonely; and the nearest cities where they might have met men were either now gone or simply unsuitable for polite society and the girls' fertile years were passing and they still didn't have any children of their own to show for it.

Poor things. With no television, or radio, or newspapers, they had no way of knowing what was going on elsewhere in the world or where to go for help. Ironically; hardly fifty miles from there, right across the valley, was Abraham's camp. He had at least four hundred men mature enough to go to war— and certainly many more than that who would just love to meet Lot's girls. But for some reason the lasses didn't think of them.

You know who else was in Abraham's camp? Ms. Hagar. She could have taken Lot's girls under her wing and encouraged them with her story of how 'Ataah 'Eel R'iy, named her baby and took an interest in her problems. She could have taught the girls how to pray and put their hopes in Yhvh's providence. Pity. Rescue and safety were so close at hand, but the girls had no way of knowing it.

Some people have assumed that Lots daughters were very young because Lot had said back in Gen 19:8 that they had not known a man. Duh. Look where they lived. Sodom. Those girls were in grave danger of becoming old maids in that city. Other of Lots daughters were married, but apparently, there just wasn't enough normal men to go around.

Its interesting that the girls seemed to think that oedipal relations weren't a bad thing, which is no doubt because of their upbringing in a society that apparently thought nothing of it.

Gen 19:32 . . Come, let us make our father drink wine, and let us lie with him, that we may maintain life through our father.

It's certainly to Lot's credit that he would never approve of their plan while sober. We might wonder what they were doing with wine. Of all the things to take with them, why that? Well; it was part of their first-aid kit. In those days, wine was an essential; and not just for boozing it up. (e.g. Luke 10:34, and 1Tim 5:23)

It's amazing that some people have actually accused recently-widowed Lot of raping his own daughters. Webster's defines rape as: forceful sexual intercourse with a woman by a man without her consent. The element of force is missing in this event; and the girls were certainly consenting since the whole sordid affair was their own idea. You know whose consent is missing? Lot's. This is clearly a case of male rape if ever there was one.

Then there are others who attempt to invalidate the truthfulness of the narrative by claiming a man Lot's age couldn't possibly breed two nights in a row. Maybe in our own day that might be true for some men, but in Lot's day men were a lot more virile than they are now. Jacob had to accommodate four women in his home, often on consecutive nights; and he was well over seventy-five years old at the time.

Gen 19:33 . .That night they made their father drink wine, and the older one went in and lay with her father; he did not know when she lay down or when she rose.

Well now; there's something about the birds and bees that isn't widely taught in high school Health classes. It's actually possible for women to rape men because the male reproductive system can be stimulated to function even when men don't even think about it. Those parts of a man's body pretty much have a mind of their own, so to speak, and it's not impossible for even men with no feelings below the neck to father children. Apparently, the male reproductive system has a back-up control center separate from the brain down low on the spine somewhere. I recall reading about that in either Discover or Scientific American, but can't remember the specifics.

Gen 19:34-38 . .The next day the older one said to the younger: See, I lay with Father last night; let us make him drink wine tonight also, and you go and lie with him, that we may maintain life through our father. That night also they made their father drink wine, and the younger one went and lay with him; he did not know when she lay down or when she rose.

. . .Thus the two daughters of Lot came to be with child by their father. The older one bore a son and named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. And the younger also bore a son, and she called him Ben-ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today.

The Ammonites' and the Moabites' land overlapped somewhat. Ammon's land was more or less between the Arnon and the Jabbok rivers. The center of it would be just about where the modern cities of Madaba and 'Amman exist today.

At this point, Lot's life disappears from the pages of Bible history. His death and burial aren't recorded; nor any more of his exploits. The lives of Lot's daughters disappear from the pages of Scripture too. Just think. They came from a wealthy, privileged family and ended up foraging and surviving practically like human wildlife all because their dad and mom just had to live in Sodom; a place whose morals totally vexed Lot, yet he chose to raise his family there anyway (2Pet 2:6-8).

Christ's grandmother Ruth was a Moabite woman; ergo: Christ was biologically related to Abraham's nephew just as much as he was related to Abraham. However, in the Bible, the fathers determine a male child's tribal identity rather than the mothers so you won't find Lot in Christ's genealogies because the official line to him is through Isaac.
 

Genesis 20
 

Gen 20:1a . . Abraham journeyed from there to the region of the Negeb and settled between Kadesh and Shur.

In Moses' day, Kadesh was a jumping off point just prior to crossing over Wadi Araba into the region of Moab. (Num 20:14-16)

According to freytag & berndt's map of Israel/Sinai: Kadesh is located approximately 46 miles southwest of Beer-sheva near El Quseima Egypt about 15 miles south of the town of Nizzana. Just northeast is the wilderness of Shur; a region adjoining the Mediterranean to the north, and the Suez Canal to the west. Shur extends somewhat south along the eastern shore of the Gulf of Suez.

The very first mention of Kadesh was during El Ched's punitive expedition in Canaan. (Gen 14:7)

No doubt the En-mishpatite people returned to Kadesh and told everyone about the heroic sheik who defeated the Babylonian contingent and set them free from El Ched's grasp. So Abraham was a legend in that area and everyone greeting him would very likely show him much respect.

Abraham didn't actually settle down in Kedesh itself, but rather, nearby. He may have been camped in the exact spot where Ms. Hagar met the angel of the Lord in chapter 16; and at this point, she's still living at home with Abraham and Sarah.

Gen 20:1b . .While he was sojourning in Gerar,

Gerar hasn't been fully identified, but the site may be along one of the branches of Wady Sheri'a, at a place called Um Jerrar, near the coast southwest of Gaza and 9 miles from it. Gerar was apparently a prosperous city situated along a major caravan route; and Abraham was by this time a wealthy and powerful chieftain who would quite naturally make periodic trips to Gerar's railhead to auction off some of his livestock; and in turn, purchase much needed goods and hardware to supply his ranch. Gerar's location along the Mediterranean seaboard also made it a lucrative city in trade with foreign merchants.

Genesis indicates that Gerar belonged to the Philistines, and it leads us to assume that Abimelech was their king, but experts are quite certain that Philistines didn't occupy this region until after the time of Abraham; in fact only a short time before the Exodus. It's likely, however, that the author of Genesis would quite naturally refer to the region as it was known in his own day. The town certainly existed in the Philistine period, because it's mentioned in connection with Asa, who defeated the Ethiopian host under Zerar and pursued them in their flight unto Gerar (2Chrn 14:13). In addition to Um Jerrar, another place in the vicinity known as Jurf el-Jerrar has been thought by some to be the site of Gerar.

According to ERETZ Magazine, issue 64, Abimelech's land is an ample valley with fertile land and numerous springs of water.

Gen 20:2 . . Abraham said of Sarah his wife: She is my sister. So King Abimelech of Gerar had Sarah brought to him.

Does this sound familiar? Abraham has lied about his relationship to Sarah more than once. If he really believed God's promise to make of him a great nation, then he wouldn't worry about anybody killing him because dead men don't become great nations without children. Yes, he had Ishmael. But God said he and Sarah would have a boy together named Isaac. That boy was yet to be born. So Abraham will stay alive to engender Isaac.

We might ask: what in the world did Abimelech want with a woman Sarah's age anyway. She was at least 89 years old by this time. But God had given Abraham's wife renewed vitality to bring a child into the world. So I don't think Sarah looked her age at all. I think she looked a whole lot younger; and with creamy, glowing skin too. But it could also be that Abimelech was up in years himself so that a girl of 89 would look pretty good. At my own current age of 70, a woman in her 40's is a chick to me.

Gen 20:3 . . But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him: You are to die because of the woman that you have taken, for she is a married woman.

This was an extremely dangerous situation for Sarah now that she was fertile. She was destined to bear Isaac and there could be no question about who the father was. It had to be Abraham. So if Abimelech were allowed to sleep with her, it would never be conclusive that Abraham was the true biological father.

That's no doubt precisely why Joseph didn't sleep with the Lord's mom till after he was born; so there would be no question, at least in his own home; that her firstborn son was not his.

Gen 20:4a . . Now Abimelech had not approached her.

It wasn't unusual in the ancient world for new additions to a harem to undergo a period of beautification; like Esther did. But I think something else happened. God may have tampered with Abimelech's ability to breed. In verse 17 it's revealed that God fixed it so no one in Abimelech's house could have children, including him. Do I have to spell it out? Hint: the problem can sometimes be remedied with Viagra; which wasn't available in that day.

Gen 20:4b . . He said: O Lord, will You slay people even though innocent?

There is an important principle in play here; and it's this: ignorance is no excuse. Though Abimlech wasn't aware of that principle; God was and saved the man's life by stopping him before he inadvertently crossed a line. Compare Num 15:27-29 where Israel's covenanted law stipulates that even when people sin inadvertently they have to bring a sin offering to the Levites.

"Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults." (Ps 19:12)

The "secret faults" about which the psalmist prayed weren't skeletons in his closet; but rather, sins about which he was totally unaware.

Gen 20:5 . . He himself said to me "She is my sister" and she also said "He is my brother." When I did this, my heart was blameless and my hands were clean.

I can just about guarantee that Abimelech is developing a very strong dislike for the Abrahams right about now. He knew of Abraham's prosperity and about his skill in war. But what he hadn't known till now was that Abraham could be a bit dishonest at times. You can bet that really ticked Abimelech off. He just never expected a man like Abraham to pull a stunt like that. And the wife was in on it too! They were like grifters setting up a mark for a sting. That had to agitate the old boy just a bit; don't you think?

Gen 20:6 . . And God said to him in the dream: I knew that you did this with a blameless heart, and so I kept you from sinning against Me. That was why I did not let you touch her.

If Abimelech had touched Sarah, God would have taken it very personal. Those kinds of sins are the very worst because it's one thing to appear in court for stealing a car, but it's quite another to appear for stealing the judge's car. In other words: a sin against God is a trespass rather than just an ordinary act of conduct unbecoming.

Gen 20:7a . .Therefore, restore the man's wife— since he is a prophet, he will intercede for you —to save your life. If you fail to restore her, know that you shall die, you and all that are yours.

This is the Bible's very first appearance of a prophet; which in Hebrew is nabiy' (naw-bee') and simply means an inspired man; viz: a man influenced, moved, and/or guided by a divine connection.

Abraham wasn't the first of God's inspired men. The earliest was Abel. (Luke 11:50-51)

There's no record of Abraham ever foretelling future events like Isaiah and Habakkuk. So then, just because someone is inspired doesn't necessarily mean they're some sort of prognosticator.

Divine inspiration is a very mysterious thing. People can be inspired and not even know it because God's influence is paranormal, and impossible to detect with the five natural senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. Every Christian is supposed to be inspired (1Cor 2:11-15, 1Cor 12:7, 1John 2:26-27) which makes an inspired Bible teacher's job a whole lot easier.

This is also the very first place in the whole Bible where the word "intercede" appears. Webster's defines it as: to intervene between parties with a view to reconciling their differences; viz: mediate.

When you stop to think about it; mediation between God and Man by a human being is quite remarkable. It implies that the human being who mediates has to first be at peace with God or they would be in need of a mediator themselves before they could mediate for someone else (cf. Gal 6:1).

I think it goes without saying, that mediators, then, have to be righteous first before they can qualify as candidates for the activity. This section in Genesis says a lot about Abraham's standing before God in spite of his bad habit of lying about Sarah.

Who mediated for Abraham in those days? There's but one textual possibility and that's Mr. Melchizedek, the priest of the Most High God back in chapter 14.

But I don't think Abimelech was much impressed with Abraham's inspiration. The man was now a proven liar; and lost whatever credibility he might have once had in Gerar.

"Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking smell: so does a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honor." (Ecc 10:1)

However, do you think Abimelech needed to be told twice? No way. He got on it lickety split at first light. But not because he feared Abraham. No, because he feared Abraham's god. Maybe Abraham's word was no good; but his god's word certainly was and Abimelech really took it to heart.

Gen 20:8a . . Early next morning, Abimelech called his servants and told them all that had happened;

Under normal circumstances Abimelech probably wouldn't have bothered to tell them what was going on. But since they were all in the same boat as he, and all inflicted with the same reproductive malady, I think he felt they deserved an explanation. I think he also wanted to set their minds at ease about their condition so they would know it wasn't permanent if only they sent Sarah back to her husband; a move which they would certainly question if he didn't give them a reason why.

Gen 20:8b . . and the men were greatly frightened.

They had good reason to be frightened. God gave them a token that He meant business by tampering with their ability to breed. So they knew something serious was afoot and that their king's nightmares weren't just bad dreams brought on by cheap Russian vodka tainted with fallout from Chernobyl.

Gen 20:9a . .Then Abimelech summoned Abraham and said to him: What have you done to us? What wrong have I done that you should bring so great a guilt upon me and my kingdom?

The very first God-given prohibition against adultery was given at Gen 3:16. Whether Abimelech was aware of it is unknown; but regardless, his culture believed it to be immoral. This is very interesting. Compare Rom 2:14-15.

Gen 20:9b-10 . .You have done to me things that ought not to be done. What, then— Abimelech demanded of Abraham —was your purpose in doing this thing?

Abimelech is totally perplexed. The thing Abraham and Sarah perpetrated made no sense to him whatsoever. The best part of this is the scolding that Abimelech laid on the sacred couple. Abraham was a prophet. Prophets are supposed to be not only inspired; but also exemplary. But in this case, Abimelech, a pagan, was more righteous than a "holy" man.

Gen 20:11 . . I thought— said Abraham —surely there is no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.

Abimelech didn't dispute that point; so I think it's probably safe to assume Abraham was correct in his estimation of Gerar's culture.

Gen 20:12a . . And besides, she is in truth my sister,

Abraham, true to form, exercised his usual brand of flexible morality. Yes, what he said was technically true. But it was not the whole truth; it was a half-truth: a deliberate deception, told with the intent to mislead.

Gen 20:12b . . my father's daughter though not my mother's;

The covenant that Yhvh's people later agreed upon with God, forbids intimacy between half-siblings.

"The nakedness of your sister— your father's daughter or your mother's, whether born into the household or outside —do not uncover their nakedness." (Lev 18:9)

That law mandates excommunication for men who marry their half sister. And within the terms and conditions of the covenant; there is neither forgiveness nor atonement for it.

"If a man marries his sister, the daughter of either his father or his mother, so that he sees her nakedness and she sees his nakedness, it is a disgrace; they shall be excommunicated in the sight of their kinsfolk. He has uncovered the nakedness of his sister, he shall bear his guilt." (Lev 20:17)

However, Israel's covenanted law doesn't have ex post facto jurisdiction. Abraham lived many years before it was enacted; so he was immune to its taboos and punishments (Deut 5:2-4, Gal 3:15-18). That's an important Bible axiom; viz: when something isn't illegal; then it doesn't go on one's record as a broken law. (Rom 4:15, Rom 5:13)

Gen 20:13 . . So when God made me wander from my father's house, I said to her: Let this be the kindness that you shall do me— whatever place we come to, say there of me: He is my brother.

Right about here Abimelech probably began scratching his head and wondered what kind of crazy religion Abraham practiced anyway. And he probably wondered what in the world God ever saw in this man to go to such lengths to protect him. A liar is not a good influence for God. It disgraces God, and makes His religion look stupid to outsiders.

"You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? For it's written that the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." (Rom 2:23-24)

"And now what do I have here? —declares the Lord. For my people have been taken away for nothing, and those who rule them mock —declares the Lord. And all day long my name is constantly blasphemed." (Isa 52:5)

The people of God shouldn't be living in such a way as to bring disgrace to their sovereign.

"Those who claim they belong to the Lord must turn away from all wickedness." (2Tim 2:19)

"Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life becoming of your calling, for you have been called by God." (Eph 4:1)

Gen 20:14-15 . . Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and male and female slaves, and gave them to Abraham; and he restored his wife Sarah to him. And Abimelech said: Here, my land is before you; settle wherever you please.

In other words: I don't care where you go as long as it's a great ways off from me!

Abimelech didn't owe Abraham a single penny for anything. And God didn't order him to make restitution. He isn't trying to gain Abraham's good will by these gifts. With friends like Abraham; who needs enemies? But rather; he was showing God his intentions to mean well by Abraham; in spite of Abraham's foul deed.

Gen 20:16 . . And to Sarah he said: I herewith give your brother a thousand pieces of silver; this will serve you as vindication before all who are with you, and you are cleared before everyone.

Abimelech is really too kind. By the money, he told everyone that it was just a misunderstanding. In paying a fine to Abraham, he is publicly apologizing for taking the man's wife home with him; and Sarah's honor was protected because it is saying that she wasn't promiscuous like some woman I could name who have an itch to sleep with men in power.

Gen 20:17-18 . . Abraham then prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech and his wife and his slave girls, so that they bore children; for the Lord had closed fast every womb of the household of Abimelech because of Sarah, the wife of Abraham.

Abraham's ultimate chagrin was having to pray for the very people whose lives he almost ruined with his nefarious scheme.

 

Genesis 21

Gen 21:1 . . God took note of Sarah as He had promised, and God did for Sarah as He had spoken.

Because God's word is sometimes slow and long in coming to pass, people are often inclined to scoff at what it says and lose confidence in His testimony. The Word told Noah that a flood was coming. Well . . it was many years before it arrived and by the time it came, only Noah and his family were prepared for it.

God also promised a Messiah. But so many years have gone by since, that many now believe one will never come. God also promised He will personally round up the people of Israel and lead many of them back to their own land, and restore their covenanted boundaries, where they will become the center of world power and the seat of religious instruction. Some, giving up on that possibility, have suggested that today's troubled Israeli occupation is the fulfillment of that promise.

Abraham came into Canaan when he was seventy-five, and Sarah sixty-five. That was twenty five years before this section. He is now one-hundred, and she ninety. Women that age cannot have children. So no one can ever give credit to those two for engendering Isaac. Although Isaac was conceived and born in the natural way, he was not a natural child. The credit must be given to a miracle. The people of Israel exist today only because El Shaddai willed them into existence.

Gen 21:2a . . Sarah conceived

That's not all that happened. The author said back in Gen 18:11 that Sarah's periods had stopped. So sometime prior to Isaac's conception, her periods came back. I wish I could have seen the look of shocked excitement and incredible joy in their faces when she showed Abraham the blood. He may have been grossed out a little, but I can guarantee you he was extremely thrilled because it meant Sarah's plumbing was back online.

Her blood was the sunrise of a new day. Not just another day like all the others, but the beginning of an era of complete change in their lives. They would never be the same again. Parenthood is an irreversible state. It makes no difference if the children die, or leave home, or disown their moms and dads. After once children are engendered, those parents are always the parents. They were the two people who brought the children into the world and it can never be undone.

Abraham had pinned all his hopes upon God's promise and now he realized he should have never doubted. God truly is a man of His word after all. (cf. 49:22-23)

Yes, those who trust in the Bible's God don't have to worry about whether or not they have done something stupid and made a fool of themselves. He made good on His promise to give Sarah a baby boy, and some day He will make good on the promise to bring His people all home again.

Gen 21:2b-3 . . and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken. Abraham gave his newborn son, whom Sarah had borne him, the name of Isaac.

This is now the second son of Abraham for whom God chose the name. The first was Ishmael. That's quite an honor. It may not set well for many parents though. I think most of us would rather pick names for our own children ourselves; but Abraham is pretty good at obedience for the most part. God said the boy's name would be Isaac and that's what Abraham named him. Isaac, by the way, is the only one of the three patriarchs whose name God does not change later in their life.

Naming a boy is very significant. The man who does the naming is legally declaring the boy to be his own son even if he isn't the biological father.

Gen 21:4 . . And when his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God had commanded him.

Isaac is the very first male in the family on record to be circumcised precisely on the eighth day in compliance with the covenant's stipulation. I just want to point out that circumcision was not Abraham's idea. It was his response to El Shaddai's earlier mandate in Gen 17:10-14.

Gen 21:5 . . Now Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

Ishmael would have been fourteen (Gen 16:16) and Sarah ninety, since she and her husband were ten years difference in age. (Gen 17:17)

Gen 21:6 . . Sarah said: God has brought me cheer; everyone who hears will laugh with me.

Sarah's words are a double entendre. Isaac's name in Hebrew means laughter; so God not only gave her a bundle of joy, but cheer for her soul too.

Gen 21:7 . . And she added: Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would suckle children! Yet I have borne a son in his old age.

Well nobody in their right mind would have. Sarah was just too old. And actually, Abraham was too old too.

"And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old" (Rom 4:19)

"And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore." (Heb 11:11-12)

Gen 21:8 …The child grew up and was weaned, and Abraham held a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned.

The age of weaning varied in ancient times; usually in the neighborhood of 2 to 5 years. Bible weaning implies a whole lot more than just putting a child on a bottle. It means they can speak and understand a language, feed themselves, brush their teeth, clothe themselves, and potty alone. In other words, you could pack them a bag and send them off to live with your aunt. (e.g. 1Sam 1:22-2:11). Samuel was at least three years old when his mom packed him off to live with the high priest. (2Chr 31:16)

So Isaac was very likely around the same age as Samuel when Abraham and Sarah threw a weaning party for him. It was a day of good celebration and they were very proud of their little boy. He was past a major milestone and well along his way to independent manhood.

Weaning isn't always a joyous occasion for some families. It can be a time passed over in deep sorrow for the parents of handicapped kids. Abraham and Sarah were very fortunate that their boy wasn't afflicted with Down's syndrome, Autism, or a neurodegenerative disease like Tay-Sachs.

Gen 21:9 . . Sarah saw the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham playing.

At this point, Ishmael was around 17 or 18 years old. (cf. Gen 16:16, Gen 21:5, Gen 21:8)

It's hard to tell what kind of sport Ishmael was involved in. Some feel that he, the firstborn son, was picking on Isaac the younger sibling; and that's probably true because Gal 4:29 suggests that Ishmael was a bit of a bully. Others feel he was mocking the weaning party. But actually, nobody knows for sure. Maybe he was just swinging on an old tire in the backyard, and while Sarah was absently mindedly looking over there, a scheme spawned in her head.

Not only was Ishmael Abraham's son, but, by law, he was Sarah's boy too. (Gen 16:1-2). But Sarah rejected Ishmael and never was much of a mom to him. So Ms. Hagar went through all that for nothing. On top of that, she was still a slave; and had no husband. She was, in reality, a single mom saddled with a child that she never really wanted in the first place.

All of this created a home life that had become intolerable for everyone involved. Hagar gloated over Sarah's barrenness. Sarah, in turn, blamed Abraham for Hagar's attitude, and Ishmael, according to Gal 4:29, harassed Isaac (no doubt out of a spirit of sibling rivalry). Abraham loved Ishmael and was no doubt soft on Hagar. Plus, to make matters even worse; there were some very serious legal complications.

Ishmael's legal position was quite an advantage. As Abraham's firstborn son, he had a right to a double portion of his father's estate (cf. Gen 48:22).

NOTE: The reason Joseph inherited a double portion is because Jacob transferred the right of the firstborn to him after Reuben messed around with one of his father's servant-wives. (Gen 49:3-4, 1Chr 5:1)

Gen 21:10-11 . . Sarah said to Abraham: Cast out that slave-woman and her son, for the son of that slave shall not share in the inheritance with my son Isaac. The matter distressed Abraham greatly, for it concerned a son of his own.

Hagar had lived in Abraham's home for all those years; yet Sarah so hated her that she couldn't even speak Hagar's name. She called her "that slave-woman".

How does a good and decent man like Abraham disown his own flesh and blood? If Ishmael were a gang-banger, a drug addict, an Islamic terrorist, or a career criminal it would be different. But he was really a pretty good kid and Abraham totally loved him. Being the lad's biological father, I'm sure Abraham felt very responsible for Ishmael's welfare. He and Ishmael had been a team together for seventeen or eighteen years. You just don't dissolve a bond like that as if giving away old clothes to Good Will.

NOTE: By the customs of that day, Ishmael was just as much Sarah's son as Abraham's.

Gen 21:12 . . But God said to Abraham: Don't be distressed over the boy or your slave; whatever Sarah tells you, do as she says, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be continued for you.

So; was God backing Sarah? Not entirely. Sarah was no doubt highly motivated by unbearable tensions between herself and Hagar, and by the best interests of her own flesh and blood. But God had already decreed and predestined Isaac to be Abraham's heir apparent. Ishmael's position in the family was created by human meddling in Divine, long-range plans for the people of Israel. The man-made son had to be eliminated so the God-made son would have the preeminence, even though it would cause terrible grief for Abraham and Ishmael and Hagar. (cf. Ezra 9:1-10:44)

The phrase "cast out" implies cruelty; and leaves a wrong impression. Sarah (and God too) wanted her own flesh and blood to follow in Abraham's footsteps instead of Hagar's boy Ishmael; and, in the case of slave mothers, there was a perfectly humane way to do it.

The common laws of Abraham's day (e.g. the Code of Hammurabi and the laws of Lipit-Ishtar) entitled Ishmael to the lion's share of Abraham's estate because he was Abraham's firstborn biological son. However, there was a clause in the laws stipulating that if a slave-owner emancipated his child's in-slavery biological mother; then the mother and the child would lose any and all claims to a paternal property settlement with the slave-owner.

The trick is: Abraham couldn't just send Hagar packing, nor sell her, for the clause to take effect; no, he had to emancipate her; which he did.

Gen 21:13 . . As for the son of the slave-woman, I will make a nation of him, too, for he is your seed.

Abraham certainly must have been worried what would become of Ishmael; so God reassured him his boy would be just fine.

I think it's significant that God didn't refer to either Hagar or to Ishmael by name, probably because the emphasis here is upon Divine purpose instead of upon people.

Gen 21:14a . . Early next morning Abraham took some bread and a skin of water, and gave them to Hagar.

The Hebrew word for "bread" is lechem (lekh'-em) which just simply means food (for man or beast), which therefore includes grain. So Abraham didn't necessarily send the poor woman out on her own with a ration of bread and water like some sort of hardened criminal, but very likely provisioned Hagar and his son Ishmael with enough camper-grade food stuffs to keep them going for a while.

But it's puzzling why Abraham didn't provide them with an escort; at least until they reached the safety of a village or a town. That suggests to me that Abraham fully believed God's promise to "make a nation of him" which implies that God Himself would look out for them from here on in.

Gen 21:14b . . He placed them over her shoulder, together with the child,

I would have hated to observe that scene. Abraham didn't dispatch a servant or a butler to equip Hagar. He did it himself. And he didn't just bring the provisions out to her and set it down at her feet. No. He put them up on her shoulder himself. You have to stand close to someone to do that; close enough to look them right in the eyes.

There's no record of ever any ill will between Hagar and Abraham, nor any between him and his boy Ishmael either. Those three were truly family in every sense of the word— mom, dad, and child. There couldn't have been a dry eye nor a cheerful face at any time during this excruciating farewell. If you've ever experienced something so upsetting as to make you nauseous, lead-bellied, and lose your appetite; then you know what I'm talking about. Anybody who can read this story without feeling the slightest twinge of compassion for any one of those three; has got to be the most insensitive clod on earth.

Gen 21:14c . . and sent her away.

The phrase "sent her away" is from the Hebrew word shalach (shaw-lakh') which is a versatile word that can be used of divorce as well as for the emancipation of slaves. In other words: Hagar wasn't banished as is commonly assumed; no, she was set free; and it's very important to nail that down in our thinking because if Abraham had merely banished Hagar, then her son Ishmael would have retained his legal status as Abraham's eldest biological son.

Technically, Ishmael retained his status as one of Abraham's biological sons (Gen 25:9) but not legally; no, his legal association with Abraham was dissolved when he emancipated Ishmael's mother.

I believe it's important to emphasize that Hagar and Ishmael weren't cut loose because they were no longer worthy to live in Abraham's camp any more. No. It was only as a measure to expedite God's future plans for Isaac. Even if Sarah hadn't proposed the idea of emancipating Hagar, I suspect that God would have eventually required it so anyway.

Gen 21:14d . . And she wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.

The wilderness of Beer-sheba is about 50 miles south of Hebron.

The Hebrew word for "wandered about" is from ta'ah (taw-aw') which means to vacillate. Webster's defines "vacillate" as: to waver in mind, will, or feeling; viz: to hesitate in choice of opinions or courses. (cf. Jas 1:8)

As often as Hagar traveled up and down the land of Palestine with Abraham over the years, she no doubt knew her way around; so she's not blundering through the woods like a lost hiker.

At this point, Hagar is thoroughly rattled and doesn't really know what to do next or even how she and Ishmael are going to survive in a land where no State programs for unemployed single mothers existed. And to top it off; she's a freed slave who now has to make all her own decisions and fend for her child and for herself on her own rather than simply comply with the demands of a master who provided for all her daily necessities.

Slavery has its pluses and minuses; its upsides and its downsides; and it's not always to a slave's benefit to give them their walking papers. There's a provision in the old covenant that allows for a slave to remain a slave for life of their own free will. The law would apply to anyone living as a citizen in the land of Israel, whether Jew or Gentile. (Ex 21:2-6, Lev 24:22)

Many of the slaves that were liberated after the American Civil War found themselves in the throes of instant poverty: unable to either read or to write, with no place to live, and zero prospects for gainful employment. I'm not saying slavery is a good thing. I'm only saying that, all things considered, it might be the better option for some people.

I met guys in the Army who re-enlisted for the security of a steady paycheck, free meals, free health care, paid vacations, and rent-free/mortgage-free accommodations. They had to relinquish a degree of their freedom for those benefits, but in their minds, it was not a bad trade-off.

Gen 21:15-16 . .When the water was gone from the skin, she left the child under one of the bushes, and went and sat down at a distance, a bowshot away; for she thought: Let me not look on as the child dies. And sitting thus afar, she burst into tears.

The word "child" is misleading. The Hebrew is yeled (yeh'-led) which can also mean: a lad. Webster's defines a lad as: a male person; of any age between early boyhood and maturity; viz: boys and/or youths.

Ishmael was hardly what modern Americans might call a child. He was near to eighteen years old at this time; if he was circumcised at fourteen and Isaac was weaned at three. (cf. Gen 16:16, Gen 21:5, Gen 21:8)

One can only guess at the grief in Hagar's heart. Her life had come down to this: a lonely, impoverished, homeless death out in the middle of nowhere. In her distress Hagar had forgotten about 'Ataah 'Eel R'iy the god who sees people and knows their troubles. And she had forgotten all the predictions He made back in Gen 16:10-12 concerning Ishmael's future. There is just no way her son can be allowed to die at this time.

When God's people lose confidence in His statements, they usually always get themselves into trouble. If only Hagar had trusted God, she wouldn't have despaired regarding Ishmael's life. He was perfectly safe. Don't you see? He had to live so God could keep His promise to multiply him; and so he could become a wild-burro of a man, and so he could live near the people of Israel like God predicted. So even if Hagar had perished all alone in the wilderness, Ishmael would have gone on to survive without his mother.

Gen 21:17a . . God heard the cry of the boy,

I don't think Ishmael, at near eighteen, was bawling his eyes out like a little girl. Rather; his "cry" was a plea for help. Exactly what he said is unknown. But God heard him and responded. I strongly suspect that in those seventeen or so years with Abraham, Ishmael learned how to pray; and very likely he prayed at bed time with his mom Hagar. She knew Abraham's god too at first hand.

God had promised Hagar and Abraham that He would multiply Ishmael (Gen 16:10, Gen 17:20). So God cannot allow Ishmael to die before generating a posterity.

Gen 21:17b-18 . . and an angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her: What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heeded the cry of the boy where he is. Come, lift up the boy and hold him by the hand, for I will make a great nation of him.

Now we're back on personal terms; and the angel speaks to Hagar by name rather than by her previous status as a slave; which would be inappropriate at this point because she's been emancipated.

This particular angel wasn't an apparition but rather just a voice— granted a very unusual voice. First it spoke for God, then it spoke as the Yhvh who would make good on the promise that God made to Hagar at Gen 16:10-11 and the one made to Abraham at Gen 21:13.

Gen 21:19 . .Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She went and filled the skin with water, and let the boy drink.

I bet the water was right there all the time but Hagar was so exhausted and distraught that she hadn't seen it. Everybody gets that way once in a while. Sometimes the answer to our problem is right under our noses but oftentimes can't see it because we're just too upset at the time.

Gen 21:20a . . God was with the boy and he grew up;

I don't know why so many Christians and Jews have such a low opinion of Ishmael. How many of his detractors are able to boast that God was with any of them as they grew up?

Gen 21:20b . . he dwelt in the wilderness and became a bowman.

Archery must have become a traditional skill in Ishmael's family. One of his male progeny, Kedar, produced a clan of bowmen who used their skills not only in hunting, but also in warfare. (Isa 21:16-17)

Gen 21:21a . . He lived in the wilderness of Paran;

The Wilderness of Paran encompassed a pretty big area. It was south of the Negev, on the Sinai peninsula, roughly between Elat on the east and the Suez canal on the west.

To look at that region today you'd wonder what appealed to Mr. Ishmael; but apparently it was a whole lot more pleasant in his day 3,900 years ago; which wouldn't surprise me since the Sahara itself was at one time pluvial and inhabited.

Gen 21:21b . . and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

A girl from Egypt was apparently a better choice than the girls of Canaan; from among whom Abraham would later not want a wife for his son Isaac (Gen 24:3-4).

I wonder how Hagar traveled to Egypt. Did she go on to become prominent in the caravan business? I bet you one thing. She was very careful that her boy did not get himself hitched to a Sarah-type personality. And no way would Hagar ever have one for a mother-in-law either.

Gen 21:22a . . At that time

While Hagar and Ishmael were busy re-inventing their lives; a seemingly trivial event occurred in Abraham's life. I don't have any idea why Genesis records this incident. It doesn't seem to mean anything.

Gen 21:22b . . Abimelech

It is very possible that Abimelech is a royal title rather than a personal name, sort of like Pharaoh or Caesar, since in the title of Psalm 34 the name Abimelech is applied to the king of Gath, who is elsewhere known by his personal name Achish. (1Sam 27:2-3)

Gen 21:22c . . and Phicol, chief of his troops,

Phicol's name sounds funny in Hebrew. It's Piykol (pee-kole') which means: mouth of all. His name, like Abimelech's, could also have been a title; especially since it implies that he was a spokesman. I'm sure you've heard people say: "And I think I speak for all when I say this; yada, yada, yada; etc, etc, etc." Maybe that's what his name "mouth of all" implies. At any rate, he was Abimelech's chief of staff and apparently his right hand man— a military man, and trusted.

Gen 21:22d . . said to Abraham: The gods are with you in everything that you do.

Abimelech knew first hand that Abraham could do no wrong. And even when he did, his god was right there to bail him out. That is an extremely envious position. What if you knew that God would protect you no matter how dumb, stupid, and clumsy you were in life that in spite of your bad investments, accidents, poor judgment, bad decisions, worthless friends, failed romances, and overspending, you still came out on top? Well . . that is just how it went for Abraham. He was bullet proof.

Gen 21:23a . .Therefore swear

(chuckle) Ol' Abimelech is nobody's fool. He was burned once by Abraham and wasn't about to be suckered again. From now on he will accept Abraham's word only if he gives his oath on it first. You know; trust is an easy thing to lose, and very difficult to regain.

Gen 21:23b . . to me here by the gods

The Hebrew word for "gods" is a nondescript label for any number of celestial beings; both real and imagined. But I kind of suspect the one Abimelech referred to was the god who appeared to him in the dream; in other words; Abraham's god: Yhvh.

Gen 21:23c . . that you will not deal falsely with me or with my kith and kin, but will deal with me and with the land in which you have sojourned as loyally as I have dealt with you.

It's a non aggression pact. But why would Abimelech go to all the trouble? And why would he, a king, travel to Abraham's camp rather than summon him to appear? Did he fear that Abraham, a man befriended by a supreme being, might become so powerful that he would attempt to conquer Abimelech's kingdom? I think so. Abraham's medicine was strong. He had a connection in the spirit world to a god with the power to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, and to strike people with serious maladies. It would be perfectly human for Abraham to take advantage of his supernatural affiliation and use it to advantage.

With a man like Abraham, Abimelech probably figured a preemptive strike would be out of the question. It is better to strike a treaty while conditions permit. After all, Abraham owed Abimelech one for letting him off after lying to him about Sarah. Good time to call that in.

Gen 21:24 . . And Abraham said: I swear it.

NOTE: There are Christians who would soundly condemn Abraham for swearing based upon their understanding of Matt 5:33-37.

I can almost hear Abimelech and Phicol start breathing again. I think both of those men were more than just a little worried about their safety on Abraham's turf.

That settled, Abraham has a matter of his own to discuss; and now's a good time for it, seeing as those men were being very humble; at least for the moment.

NOTE: There are well-meaning folk who feel it's wrong for God's people to be confrontational; and base their reasoning on Matt 5:3, Matt 5:5, Matt 5:9, and Matt 5:39. But other than Isaac, I don't think you could find a more gracious man in the Old Testament than Abraham. He didn't have a hair-trigger temper, a spirit of vengeance, nor did he declare war over every little disagreement.

Abraham picked his battles with care, and conducted them intelligently same with Moses, of whom the Old Testament says: was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth (Num 12:3). Jesus was meek too (Matt 11:29 and Matt 21:5) but could be very confrontational when the circumstances called for a heavy hand. (Matt 23:13 36)

Gen 21:25-26 . .Then Abraham reproached Abimelech for the well of water which the servants of Abimelech had seized. But Abimelech said: I do not know who did this; you did not tell me, nor have I heard of it until today.

Abraham may have previously reported the incident to a bureaucrat, who then tossed the complaint in a file cabinet somewhere and soon forgot about it because this is the very first time Mr. Abimelech has been made aware of the problem. Sometimes you just have to cut through the red tape and go straight to the top.

Gen 21:27-29 . . Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two of them made a pact. Abraham then set seven ewes of the flock by themselves, and Abimelech said to Abraham: What mean these seven ewes which you have set apart?

This was not a local custom; whatever it is, because Abimelech is totally puzzled by it.

Gen 21:30 . . He replied: You are to accept these seven ewes from me as proof that I dug this well.

A reasonable assumption is that Abraham thoroughly disgusted with Gerar's bureaucracy, and having no confidence in Abimelech's oath shrewdly purchased a water right so the government's thugs would have to step off and leave him be.

Gen 21:31-32 . . Hence that place was called Beer-sheba [well of seven], for there the two of them swore an oath. When they had concluded the pact at Beer-sheba, Abimelech and Phicol, chief of his troops, departed and returned to the land of the Philistines.

Abraham swore to live peaceably with Abimelech. And he in turn swore to let Abraham keep the well that he dug. Did Abimelech swear by a god or just give his word? Genesis doesn't say. But only Abraham's god is named in this pact. Possibly they both swore by that one.

Gen 21:33 . . Abraham planted a tamarisk at Beer-sheba, and invoked there the name of The Lord, the Everlasting God.

Actually, that verse is supposed to read like this: "and invoked there the name of Yhvh, the everlasting god."

NOTE: It's commonly assumed that because of Ex 6:2-3, Abraham wasn't supposed to have known the name Yhvh; but obviously he did.

The word for "tamarisk" is 'eshel (ay'-shel) which can mean a tamarisk tree; and it can also mean a grove of trees; of any kind. The grove was probably somewhat like a private garden where Abraham could have some solitude in prayer. Groves were popular as places of religious devotion and worship and of public meetings in both Canaan and Israel. It was in a garden where Jesus prayed his last great prayer in John 17 just before being arrested.

Backyards can serve as "gardens" too. Here in the part of Oregon where I live, row houses have become a common style of residential housing construction; which is really sad. The people living in them don't have any backyard to speak of like my wife and I do in an older home.

When we look out the big windows on the east side of our house, we see trees and shrubs and grass and an old mossy playhouse I built for my son and his friends many years ago; and lots of urban wildlife too: birds, raccoons, skunks, huge banana slugs, and squirrels and such. That backyard gives us a feeling of escape and privacy: it's very soothing; like a week-end getaway except that it's every day.

The planners of New York City's central park had the very same idea in mind. Opponents of the park groused about the valuable real estate that would be lost to public recreation; but many of the residents of Manhattan wouldn't trade their park for all the thousands and thousands of diamonds the De Beers company is hoarding in their vaults.

Not long ago one of Manhattan's abandoned elevated rail lines was converted into a park and it's already immensely popular as an escape. Human beings need their tamarisks; even holy human beings need them. (cf. Mark 6:46 and John 6:15)

Gen 21:34 . . And Abraham resided in the land of the Philistines a long time.

It wasn't actually the Philistines' land in Abraham's day; but was theirs during the times when one of the authors of Genesis edited this chapter.
 

Genesis 22

Gen 22:1a . . Some time afterward, God put Abraham to the test.

This particular section of Scripture deals with an ancient incident known in sacred Jewish literature as The Akedah (the binding of Isaac). The Akedah portrays the very first human sacrifice ever performed in the Bible by someone who is extremely important to the people of Israel.

The test coming up wasn't meant to measure Abraham's loyalty; rather, to ascertain the quality of his trust in the promise that God made to him concerning Isaac's future.

"Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him." (Gen 17:19)

Gen 22:1b-2a . .  He said to him: Abraham. And he answered: Here I am. And He said: Take your son, your favored one, Isaac, whom you love,

The Hebrew word for "favored one" is yachiyd (yaw-kheed') which means sole. So then, Isaac wasn't just Abraham's favored son; he was also Abraham's only son because when the old gentleman emancipated Ishmael's mom Hagar, he relinquished legal kinship with her children. Relative to nature; Ishmael is Abraham's son, but relative to the covenant; he's no son at all.

"Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac; and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son" (Heb 11:17)

The koiné Greek word for "only begotten" is monogenes (mon-og-en-ace') which always, and without exception, indicates a parent's sole biological child. Examples are located at Luke 7:12, Luke 8:42, Luke 9:38, John 1:14, John 1:18, John 3:16, John 3:18, and 1John 4:9.

Monogenes never identifies children with biological siblings; only children with zero biological siblings. This may all seem like semantic hocus pocus but since it's in the Bible we sort of have to go with it because faith accepts what's revealed to it rather than only what makes sense to it.

Isaac was about three to five years old when Hagar and Ishmael moved out. Some time has gone by; and in this chapter, Isaac is now old enough to shoulder a load of wood, and to ask an intelligent question based on experience and observation; so he wasn't a little kid in this incident.

Why did God say; whom you love? I think it's so we'd know how Abraham felt about Isaac. There can be no doubt that he would sorely miss this boy if ever something should happen to him.

When people truly love their kids, they will die protecting them. They'll quite literally run into a burning building if need be and/or step in front of a bus.

Normal parents are very protective like that when they truly love their kids. People who love their kids don't drown them to please a boy friend, don't leave them unattended in the car and go inside a bar for a drink; don't let them go off with strangers, and don't let them go to the mall or to the playground all by themselves when they're little.

Gen 22:2b . . and go to the land of Moriah,

There are only two places in the entire Old Testament where the word Moriah appears. One is here in Genesis and the other in 2Chrn 3:1.

According to tradition, Genesis' land of Moriah is the same as the mount Moriah in 2Chron— the site of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem —which is bordered by the world famous Wailing Wall. Some justification for the tradition is found in verse 14, where Abraham named the location Adonai yireh, from which came the expression; "On the mount of the Lord there is vision".

However, Jerusalem's temple site isn't a three day trek on foot from Beer sheba; nor would it have been necessary for Abraham to pack in his own wood since Jerusalem's locale was well-forested in his day.

In reality; the precise geographic location of the land of Moriah remains to this day a total mystery; which is probably for the best because by now there'd likely be an Islamic mosque polluting the site if its location were known.

Gen 22:2c . . and offer him there as a burnt offering

The Hebrew word for "burnt offering" is 'olah (o-law') which is a very different kind of offering than those of Cain and Abel. Theirs were minchah (min-khaw') which are usually gifts rather than atonements. They're also voluntary and bloodless.

Some say that Abraham's offering shouldn't be translated "burnt" and others say it should.

No doubt the best translator of 'olah within the context of the Akedah is the prophet Abraham himself. The very fact that he hewed wood, took a source of fire with him up the mountain, constructed an altar, put the wood on the altar, and then bound and positioned Isaac upon the wood and the altar; tells me that Abraham fully understood that when his divine master said 'olah He meant for the man to cremate his son.

The evidence that Isaac also fully understood that 'olah implied incineration is when he asked his dad: "Father; here are the wood and the fire: but where is the sheep?"

There are some who insist that Abraham misunderstood God. They say he was only supposed to take Isaac along with him up on the mountain and they together were to offer a burnt offering. What's the appropriate response to that?

Well; as I stated: Abraham was a prophet (Gen 20:7). Also; Abraham had three days to think about what he was asked to do. Had Abraham the prophet any misgivings about human sacrifice— any at all —he surely would have objected and/or at the very least requested a clarification. I'm confident that's true because of the example of his rather impudent behavior recorded in the latter part of the 18th chapter of Genesis.

God ordered Abraham to offer his son as a burnt offering. That means he will have to slit Isaac's throat; and then cremate his remains. Why isn't Abraham recoiling and getting in God's face about this with a vehement protest? The inference is quite obvious. Abraham didn't believe human sacrifice wrong. In other words: for Abraham, human sacrifice was a non-issue or he would have surely objected to it.

NOTE: A technical point often overlooked in the "human sacrifice" issue is that in every instance banning the practice in the Old Testament, it is underage children that are condemned as offerings— innocent children; viz: babes; and in particular, one's own. (e.g. Lev 18:21, Lev 20:2-5, Deut 12:31, Deut 18:10, cf. 2Kgs 16:3, 2Kgs 17:31, 2Kgs 23:10, 2Kgs 21:6, Ps 106:34, Ezk 20:31, Ezk 23:37, Jer 7:31, Jer 19:4, Jer 32:35). I have yet to encounter an instance where God expressed abhorrence at sacrificing a consenting adult.

Parenthesis                            

Rabbis are quite divided as to the true meaning of Gen 22:2. Some feel Abraham was supposed to kill Isaac, and some feel he wasn't. There are some who feel that the angel stopped Abraham at this point because he was making a big mistake— that Abraham misunderstood the instructions God gave to him back in verse 2; which were: And He said, “Take your son, your favored one, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering

Targums, which were commonly taught in the synagogues prior to, during, and after Jesus' day, paraphrased that verse to mean just exactly what it implies: that Isaac was supposed to die.

T. And He said: Take now thy son, thy only one whom thou lovest, Izhak, and go into the land of worship, and offer him there, a whole burnt offering, upon one of the mountains that I will tell thee. (Targum Jonathan)

The verb "offer" is from 'alah (aw-law') which means: to ascend. Yosef Hallel, a rabbi who lived one or two generations before the Common Era, noted that 'alah is the same verb used with reference to a qorbanot offering, and does, in fact, imply "to slaughter" (e.g. Lev 17:8).

Another rabbi, Zalman Sorotzkin, who lived in pre war Poland and post war Israel, said: "Abraham's going joyfully to slay his son [pre] atoned for his descendants refusal to go to the Holy Land." There are Midrash commentaries very similar to that line of thought.

Some ancient Jewish commentators did in fact credit the father, Abraham, for slaying his son and they also credited Isaac for not only willingly offering his body, which was implied turned to ashes, but also for offering ¼ of his blood too. (Midrash HaGadol on Gen 22:19), (Sifra, 102c; b. Ta'anit 16a) and also (Mekhilta d'Rashbi, p.4; Tanh. Vayerra, sec.23)

For what, or for whom, did Isaac willingly offer his body and blood? Was it for himself? Was it for his father Abraham? According to the Targums, it was for his future progeny, the people of Israel.

T. And Abraham prayed in the name of the Word of the Lord, and said: Thou art The Lord who seest, and art not seen. I pray for mercy before Thee, O Lord. It is wholly manifest and known before Thee that in my heart there was no dividing, in the time that Thou didst command me to offer Izhak my son, and to make him dust and ashes before Thee; but that forthwith I arose in the morning and performed Thy word with joy, and I have fulfilled Thy word.

. . . And now I pray for mercies before Thee, O Lord God, that when the children of Izhak offer in the hour of need, the binding of Izhak their father Thou mayest remember on their behalf, and remit and forgive their sins, and deliver them out of all need. That the generations who are to arise after him may say, In the mountain of the house of the sanctuary of the Lord did Abraham offer Izhak his son, and in this mountain of the house of the sanctuary was revealed unto him the glory of the Shekinah of the Lord. (Jerusalem Targum)

in another Targum:

T. Now I pray for mercy before You, O Lord God, that when the children of Isaac come to a time of distress You may remember on their behalf the Binding Of Isaac their father, and loose and forgive them their sins and deliver them from all distress. (Fragmentary Targum)

The same thought is also carried over in a prayer, still included in the additional service for the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah, which culminates with these words: Remember today the Binding Of Isaac with mercy to his descendants.

The rabbis attested that the final resurrection of the dead would take place "through the merits of Isaac, who offered himself upon the altar." (Pesikta deRav Kahana, 32)

NOTE: That comment asserts Isaac was consenting; which is probably very true.

Some, completely ignoring Tradition, Midrashim, and the Talmud, have really gone off the deep end by claiming Gen 22:2 should be translated like this: And He said; “Take your son, your favored one, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer [with] him there a burnt offering."

Doctoring the Scripture by inserting the word "with" impugns Abraham's intellect as a man whom God testified in Gen 20:7 to be a prophet. Abraham no doubt understood his Master perfectly and knew just what he was expected to do. He had three days to pray about it and ask for confirmation. Abraham was supposed to kill Isaac, and that is exactly what he tried to do.

_____________________________________________________
 

Gen 22:2d . . on one of the heights that I will point out to you.

Precisely where the land of Moriah was, and the specific height God chose, is impossible to tell for sure. Abraham knew where the land was but he wouldn't know the exact spot until he got there.

It's just as well to keep it a secret or otherwise somebody would turn it into a shrine; sort of like the so-called Garden Tomb, where people come from all over the world and make fools of themselves kissing the ground. Some would even take home souvenir jars of dirt too; so that by now, likely so much dirt would be gone that the site of Moriah would look more like a quarry than a high place.

Gen 22:3a . . So early next morning, Abraham saddled his burro and took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac.

The Hebrew word for "saddled" is ambiguous. It doesn't necessarily indicate a device meant for transporting personnel; more likely tackling for cargo.

Whether or not the servants were armed, Genesis doesn't say. And why only two I don't know either. But that was enough to look after the burro while Abraham and Isaac were gone. And it's not wise to leave one man all alone in the outdoors; especially in the wild country of early day Palestine what with no phone service nor radios, nor cars to flag down for help in that day.

Gen 22:3b . . He split the wood for the burnt offering,

It wouldn't be unreasonable to assume that the servants did the actual wood cutting with Abraham supervising.

Gen 22:3c-4 . . and he set out for the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place from afar.

Apparently everyone hiked on foot. The burro was just used as a pack animal to haul food, water, tents, supplies, and the wood.

Though it's stated Abraham "looked up" it doesn't necessarily mean the site was elevated above him. When Lot surveyed the Jordan valley, he was said to have "lifted up" his eyes. But the valley was about three thousand feet down below his vantage at the time. Lifting up one's eyes just simply means to look around, and survey the scene.

Those three days gave Abraham plenty of time to think about what God expected him to do. Abraham must surely have been giving Isaac's future some serious thought. And he no doubt pondered the promises God made concerning the great nation that was to issue from his boy. It was very likely at this time that Abraham's faith in God's promises sustained his determination to obey and take Isaac's life.

"By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said "In Isaac your seed shall be called" concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead," (Heb 11:17-19)

In other words: Abraham was so confident that God was going to somehow make of his son's progeny a great nation that he assumed, quite correctly, that though he slay Isaac and cremate his remains, the lad wouldn't stay dead for very long.

Gen 22:5 . .Then Abraham said to his servants: You stay here with the burro. The lad and I will go up there. We will worship and we will return to you.

Worship can be defined as respect paid to a better— like when Abraham ran and bowed to the three men who came to his tent in chapter 18, and up ahead when he will bow to the sons of Heth in chapter 23.

When we let a senior citizen go through a door ahead of us, we are saying we regard that person as better than we are. And when we move aside for a presidential motorcade, we say the same thing. That's a kind of worship. It's not an attitude of equality nor one of parity. True worship is an attitude of humility, inferiority, subordination, submission, and admiration.

The God of the Bible is so superior and respectable that the seraphs in His throne room cover their faces and dare not gaze upon God. True worship recognizes God's supremacy and respects the sanctity of His person. Sinners are never allowed to barge in like drunken sailors, to gape and swagger, unwashed and uninvited. No, they crawl in, recognizing the depravity of Man and the extreme dignity of God. The burnt offering shows that Man not only risks death and incineration in God's presence: he fully deserves it.

There exists adequate proof that Abraham was capable of dishonesty, so it's difficult to tell at this point if he was actually predicting their return, or misleading everyone with a fib so nobody would become alarmed and throw a monkey wrench into the works. It was Abraham's full intention to slay Isaac but I'm sure you can understand why he wouldn't want anyone to know that.

However, Abraham was confident that Isaac wouldn't stay dead; that much is known for certain so I vote to give Abraham the benefit of the doubt and say he really did believe that he and Isaac come back together.

Gen 22:6a . . Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and put it on his son Isaac.

Were Isaac not quite a bit grown up at this time I don't think Abraham would have made him carry the wood.

But why not let the burro haul the wood to the site? Well; if you have never heard a burro bray up close and personal, I guarantee you would not want one to do it during a solemn church service. They are LOUD!

Gen 22:6b-7 . . He himself took the firestone and the knife; and the two walked off together. Then Isaac said to his father Abraham: Father! And he answered: Yes, my son. And he said: Here are the firestone and the wood; but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?

Oops! That's kind of like going out to a picnic and forgetting the hot dogs and hamburger buns. The Tanakh's translation of the Hebrew word 'esh (aysh) as firestone was probably an educated guess. 'Esh just simply means fire, with no stone implied.

A convenient way to transport fire in those days was with a portable oven; viz: a fire pot (cf. Gen 15:17). So rather than a stone, which implies striking sparks, they most likely just brought along the camp stove, which held a receptacle for live coals. Fire pots in those days were the equivalent of modern propane-fueled camping equipment.

Since Abraham was the patriarch, it was his prerogative, as well as his responsibility, to actually kill the burnt offering and set it afire; so he quite naturally took custody of the weapon and the coals; as Isaac no doubt fully expected him to.

The word for "sheep" is either she (seh) or sey (say) which means: a member of a flock, which can be either a sheep or a goat. Neither the age nor the gender mattered in this instance because Scripture up to this point in time had not yet specified age or gender for a burnt offering.

Abraham could have used kids and lambs, or ewes, nannies, or rams; it made no difference. Actually, Abraham might have offered birds too. Noah did in chapter 8— but there was something special about this instance that Isaac somehow knew required something quite a bit more substantial than a bird.

Gen 22:8a . . And Abraham said: God will see to the sheep for His burnt offering, my son.

Little did Isaac know the sheep of that day was to be him. Ol' Abraham and his half truths are at it again.

Gen 22:8b . . And the two of them walked on together.

This is now the second time Genesis says they walked together. Neither one led, nor brought up the rear, as in the case of so many husbands who leave their wives dragging along behind at the malls. Incidentally, the dialogue that took place between Isaac and his dad in verses 7 and 8 are the only recorded words they ever spoke to each other in the whole Bible.

Arguments from silence insist that if something isn't clearly stated in the Bible, then it's inferred from the silence that there was nothing to state. In other words: according to the logic of an argument from silence, verses 7 and 8 are the only words that Isaac and Abraham ever spoke to each other their entire lives: which of course is highly unlikely.

Gen 22:9a . .They arrived at the place of which God had told him.

When did that happen . . God telling him? Genesis doesn't say. Jewish tradition says the site had an aural glow which Abraham and Isaac were enabled to see from a distance.

Anyway it was now time to tell Isaac the real purpose of their pilgrimage.

I can almost hear Isaac ask; "Dad, if I'm dead, then how will God make of me a great nation whose numbers exceed the stars of heaven? You told me He promised you that". Yes; God did promise Abraham that in Gen 15:4-5, and Gen 17:18-21.

It is here where Isaac's great faith is revealed; but not so much his faith in God: rather, faith in his dad. Abraham's influence upon Isaac was astonishing; so much so that no doubt the lad believed right along with his dad that his death would only be temporary. Isaac was convinced that God would surely raise him from the dead in order to make good on His promises to Abraham.

That young man really had fortitude; and incredible trust in his dad too. I'll tell you what: those two men deserve our deepest admiration. What an incredible display of faith and courage; both on the part of Abraham and on the part of his son Isaac.

Gen 22:9b . . Abraham built an altar there; he laid out the wood;

This was a place where, apparently, Abraham had never worshipped before because he had to build an altar.

Gen 22:9c . . he bound his son Isaac;

If Isaac was old enough, and strong enough, to shoulder a load of firewood (Gen 22:6) then he was old enough, and strong enough, to get away from Abraham, who, at the time, was past 100 years old.

NOTE: If perchance Gen 23:1 took place immediately following the Akedah, then Abraham would have been 137 at this point in the narrative seeing as how he and Sarah were ten years apart in age. (Gen 17:17)

If they had not already talked it over, then when Abraham pulled out his rope and assayed to bind Isaac; the lad would surely request an explanation; don't you think?

Had Isaac not consented to the ritual, then he could have easily escaped because Abraham was alone; he had no one to assist him to restrain Isaac: the servants having remained behind with the burro. Besides, Isaac had to agree or the whole affair would disintegrate into a ritual murder.

Binding was for Isaac's own good. No doubt he was willing enough to die; but nobody is comfortable with injury. When the knife would begin to make an incision in Isaac's neck to sever his carotid artery, he might reach up and grab his father's hand, the meanwhile twisting and thrashing in a natural response to pain and fear— similar to what most anybody would do in a dentist's chair without Novocain.

The binding would help keep him still and avoid collateral damage; otherwise, Abraham might accidentally cut off Isaac's nose or poke him in the eye and quite possibly disfigure him horribly instead of succeeding in killing the lad in a humane fashion.

Gen 22:9d . . he laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.

That may seem impossible for a man of Abraham's age, but no specifications for altars existed at that time. They could be two feet high, ten, or just a rudimentary hearth of stones laid right on the ground like a campfire or in a shallow excavation like a wood pit barbecue.

At that moment, even before Isaac was dead, and even before the tiniest spark of a fire was kindled: Abraham's offering of his son was complete. In other words: had God not wanted Abraham to sacrifice his son, He would have stopped the proceedings before Abraham laid his son on the wood because once that happens the offerer relinquishes control over his offering.

From that point on; the offering belongs to God; and it becomes His prerogative to do with it as He pleases— to kill Isaac or not to kill him was God's exclusive right and privilege. Bottom line is: it wasn't necessary for Isaac to be dead in order to count as a sacrifice: he only had to be laid on the wood of the altar to count.

"By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son (Heb 11:17-18)

"Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?" (Jas 2:21)

It's easily seen from those passages in James and Hebrews that not all human sacrifice is evil. In point of fact, in certain cases; it's the right thing to do. But the point is: James and Hebrews makes it clear that Isaac counted as an offering even though he was not slain.

I just don't know why it is that people think that the 22nd chapter of Genesis teaches God's supposed abhorrence for all manner of human sacrifice when it is so obviously meant to convey the quality of Abraham's confidence in God's promise made at Gen 15:2-6.

In other words: if Abraham was to go on to generate a posterity through his son whose numbers would be too many to count; then God would have to restore Isaac to life in order to make good on the promise; and according to Heb 11:17-19 Abraham was counting on that very thing. In other words: according to Jas 2:21-23, Abraham's willingness to kill his son validates Gen 15:2-6 where it's stated that Abraham believed God.

Gen 22:10a . . And Abraham picked up the knife

Abraham didn't just pick the knife up and hold it in his hand in some sort of symbolic gesture. No, he picked it up with the full intention of using it on his boy; as these next words of the narrative fully indicate.

Gen 22:10b . . to slay his son.

Do you think Abraham was messing around? I guarantee you he was NOT. He fully intended to sl