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Old Testament Interpretation XII

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Question #1:

Dear Bob,

I know this might be one of the more 'common' questions you might get, but it is something I was thinking about, and I'm not quite sure how to search for specific answers on Ichthys to direct/specific questions such as this.

I was curious about the situation in Genesis where God, or at least Eve had stated that God told her, not to eat the fruit of the tree of life "lest ye die." This has been pointed out to me as proof that 'God lied to her about what would happen if she did eat the fruit, and that the serpent was the one that told her the truth.' I do have to admit that this got me thinking, but only because I couldn't immediately find or reason why this claim isn't the case. All I can do is present what I came up with to you and see what you think, since I'm not sure if this is the answer you may have on Ichthys or not:

I think it is easy for someone to read this and make this kind of determination at face-value, especially if they are already of an unbelieving mind, and say that it is 'proof that God lied' because she did not die as a direct result of eating the fruit; however, eating the fruit resulted in her and Adam gaining the knowledge of good and evil (which includes death and sin?), and because of that knowledge, God removed them from Eden, hence they "died" in that sense. I think what God was trying to warn them about was mortality? I am not sure if Adam and Eve (along with all of humanity?) would have been immortal or simply would not died of age if they had not eaten the fruit of the tree of life?

I am not sure if my reasoning is right or wrong, or how much so, but this is what I was able to come up with off of the top of my head. Like I said, I'll also take a look at what I can find on Ichthys, but I wanted to email you first about my thoughts.

Response #1:

Good to hear from you, my friend.

I would point out that any unbeliever who draws such a conclusion would be making the assumption that what Eve said was precisely what God had said. That would obviously be incorrect because we know exactly what God said since it is recorded in scripture for us: "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" (Gen.2:17 NKJV). The expansion of the prohibition, in my view, is most likely the result of Adam trying to impress on Eve the importance of staying away from the tree. But as always when we add to the Word of God, even if we think we are "helping" we are really only causing trouble for anyone listening. Once Eve realized that touching the tree was no problem, her conscience was emboldened to eat as well.

As for dying, indeed she did die spiritually the moment she ate, being at that point dead to God; she also acquired a sin nature which guaranteed that she would die physically; and of course, absent some gracious and unexpected intervention on God's part (Jesus' sacrifice on the cross and its acceptance), she was also doomed to die the second death of eternal condemnation. So not only did Eve "die" but she died in a threefold way (see the link in BB 3B), and when Adam joined her we, all of their descendants, are now born into this same threefold death which is only relieved at salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Eph.2:8-9).

Finding fault with God that He did not immediately blast Eve to kingdom-come the moment she violated the command strikes me as a bit disingenuous. Had He done so, there would be no book of Genesis to record all of this and no unbelievers to find fault because there would have been no human race. The fact that God graciously extended the "day" on which she died and was dead long enough for her and her husband to receive the coats of skin, the promised symbol of the Substitute's sacrifice (link: "Protoevangelium") does not make God a liar – it makes Him the gracious Provider of salvation to all who will listen to the truth and accept it. The most relevant place for most of this at Ichthys is the link: "The Fall of Man" (in BB 3A).

Keeping you in my prayers day by day.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2:

What place is this verse referring to?

“The exiles of this host of the people of Israel / shall possess the land of the Canaanites as far as Zarephath,”
Obadiah 1:20

Response #2:

This is referring to Lebanon in today's terms, the northern boundary of the land (cf. 1Ki.17:9ff.).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #3:

The Bible says this about Hezekiah . . .

“He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him.”
2 Kings 18:5

But what about David?

Response #3:

Against this passage we have plenty of scripture telling us how great king David was. E.g.:

"The days are coming," declares the Lord, "when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land."
Jeremiah 23:5 NIV

. . . raise up for David, not for Hezekiah. When Hezekiah cried and prayed not to be taken to paradise – not exactly the stuff of the most impressive spiritual maturity in my view – the Lord told Isaiah:

"Go and tell Hezekiah, 'Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will add to your days fifteen years.' "
Isaiah 38:5 NKJV

The verse you ask about is true. So what does it mean? It is defined by the one that follows in its context:

For he held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses.
2nd Kings 18:6 NKJV

First, the way the Old Testament approaches and phrases things is not the way we do today. If we were to say something like "Paul is the greatest in the New Testament", we would soon blanch and say . . . "of course I don't mean greater than the Lord Jesus!" But in the OT they often take for granted that we will take for granted what is obviously to be taken for granted (i.e., in this case "David excepted of course").

Nowadays we have a much more legalistic approach to things and demand "qualifiers" for all emphatic statements, otherwise we are apt to take up arms. But the idea that saying "for the most part", e.g., really changes anything is silly – along the lines of all those detailed legal text boxes where I have to click "I accept" in order to download any new software. It's a ridiculous fiction.

Of course David is greater than Hezekiah in every way – even if he did commit a horrific serious of actions in regard to Uriah and Bathsheba whereas Hezekiah did not (2Ki.18:6). His greatness is why David will rule Israel as Christ's under-shepherd during the Millennium . . . not Hezekiah.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Good morning, Bob

Quick question...Dan 11:1 - To whom is the Angel referring when He says He will arise and "encourage him"?

My assessment was that He was speaking about Michael, the last person spoken of. the reference to Darius the Mede, in my reading, was only a reference of time. Therefore, the "him" should refer to the last person of whom the speaker mentioned - 10:21 "Michael your prince".

I looked at a commentary and the writer inferred the Angel was referring to Darius. But, that doesn't make contextual sense to me. in 10:13 Michael comes to the aid of the Angel, and so it makes sense that the Angel might reciprocate to Michael.

What's your understanding of that context?

Additionally, am I far off in understanding the Angel in Dan 10-12 is none other than Jesus, based on the description that matches nearly word for word in Rev 1:12ff?

Again, the commentary I looked at was neutral on the matter, saying some understand Dan 10-12 in this way - but apparently not everyone. That was surprising to me because the description jumped out at me because i recalled the same words used in Rev 1. John is clearly describing Jesus, the author of the Revelation.

Anyway, I look forward to your input.

Guess what...some Mormons came by and want to meet this weekend, too. Apparently God has chosen my ministry for me. I consulted Wilbur again, who has some good info from his experiences with them. I already have some good questions and a game plan for the meeting. Boy, are their beliefs OUT THERE!!! Good gravy. In my mind, their god is an alien...so far from the Glorious and Majestic El Elyon!

Grace and Peace to you,

Response #4:

Good to hear back from you.

As to your questions:

1) On Daniel 11:1, the "him" would be Darius; this is part and parcel of the angelic combat which often focuses on human rulers (cf. the following verses; and see 2Ki.6:17 for angelic intervention in human affairs along the same lines).

"Also in the first year of Darius the Mede, I even I, stood up to confirm and strengthen him (i.e., Darius)."
Daniel 11:1 NKJV

The angel speaking with Daniel here is the same one from the previous chapter (the chapter division is arbitrary and not part of the origin text). In the final verse of chapter 10, this angel distinguishes himself from Michael, so he is not Michael but another angel of some rank.

2) There are such things as Christophanies, appearances of our Lord in the Old Testament, but here we have to do with angels, not the Lord. Angels are "glorious" in appearance – so much so that John had to be restrained from worshiping the angel speaking to him not once but twice (Rev.19:10; 22:9).

Keep up your good work for the Lord, my friend! I'm keeping you in prayer on this.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Dear Teacher

Thank you very much for your encouragement, sir.

I already began rereading SR. I notice that things open up differently after you've been through them once or more before. SR looks slightly different in a brighter sort of way when I read it now. But I paused to go through the emails. There are so many of those and in all of them there are links to more. I have so many tabs open on my browser that I get a little confused sometimes which I'm reading. I'm not even through studying the links on the email you sent me regarding my question. I need to figure out how to structure my study so that I can work through everything on the site. For several years, I read and reread the epistles almost exclusively. I will go back to doing so now that things make more sense to me now.

I said earlier that I would ask you some questions about Habakkuk. I have just been tracking eschatology in the prophets. Like I said, that part of the Bible was always opaque to me until I started studying under you. I think I just want to put something where the blanks were before so that I can start working through the whole Bible again but this time with a good compass. I should try to work out a way to do that and still read through the epistles at the same time as well as reread the major series on Ichthys, shouldn't I, sir?

So, my first question from Habakkuk:

Is he prophesying about the end of times exclusively? It seems important to me that he doesn't appear to be speaking to or warning or chastising any person or nation in particular.

Also (and relatedly), he calls his work an oracle. Considering that this oracle includes his own prayers, is it like he was not recording divinely inspired history but necessarily putting forth God's teachings about something? In other words, how significant is it that he calls his book an oracle?

Yours in our precious Lord Jesus Christ

Response #5:

I'm very pleased to see your continuing enthusiasm for the Word of God!

As to your questions, I take the book of Habakkuk to be dealing with the Babylonian invasion of the land, with that occurrence being symbolic of the future invasion of antichrist (another case of the "Day of the Lord" Paradigm; see the link).

As to "oracle" or "burden", this is a fairly common prophetic name used as a sort of a seal to demonstrate that the work is indeed divine prophecy. That is why the Lord tells false prophets that they are not to use that term to describe their own false prophecies (Jer.23:32-40).

Reading and re-reading, both the Bible and good Bible teaching, is always a valuable thing to do. For the former, we can't become too familiar with the scriptures since they are the foundation of all we do; for the latter, any prospective teacher needs not only to be aware of the details of teaching passively, but also to be intimately familiar with them – and believe them fully – so as to be "able to teach" when the opportunity arises (1Tim.3:2; 2Tim.2:24).

Keep up the good work for Jesus Christ, my friend!

In our dear Lord and Savior.

Bob L.

Question #6:

Hi Bob,


Do you agree with the main thesis of this paper? (That Nahum did not want Assyria to be completely obliterated but rather dispersed and scattered.)

Response #6:

I would quibble with the subtext of the question – because it presupposes that prophecy is of "a personal interpretation" whereas we know that "prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2Pet.1:21).

God's Word always accomplishes the purpose for which He sends it forth (Is.55:11).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Do you agree that God did not want Assyria to be completely obliterated but rather dispersed and scattered? Is this the purpose of Nahum?

Response #7:

These are two different questions:

1) God wants all to be saved and the book of Jonah gives us an example of the Lord "changing His plan" (of course that is only the way we see it) when Assyria repents.

Say to them, "As I live!" declares the Lord God, "I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live."
Ezekiel 33:11 NASB

2) Nahum is a perfect example of the "day of the Lord paradigm" (link): the near term events of the imminent destruction of Assyria, an enemy and oppressor of Israel, are interwoven with the future events of the destruction of mystery Babylon, the anti-type and final oppressor of Israel. The people of God are thus encouraged and also taught about the future from the analogy – and taught about the near present by reference to the far future as well.

I don't see anything in the book that leads me to believe that it was addressed to Assyria, however, if that is what you are asking.

In Jesus,

Question #8:

Hi Bob,

Adam and Eve were human beings with free will and under the watchful jurisdiction of God even before Satan came to test them. Perhaps God allowed them to be tempted there because Adam and Eve had become lukewarm in their devotion to God. Had they sinned? No, but they weren't doing the right thing, so God allowed temptation to come in their way as a means of rebuke and chastisement.

"Blissful innocence" does not mean "babies." God wanted them to produce and do ministry even before the fall and he wasn't happy with what they were doing with their time. The fall was the result, yes, but life wasn't so radically different before the fall that ministry or God's superintendence (like during the Church era) was unknown.

Response #8:

I don't find the term "blissful innocence" or even "innocence" anywhere in scripture regarding Adam and Eve (that is Augustinian thinking and hence misleading at best). I also don't see anything in the narrative to lead me to believe that they were "doing anything wrong" or were lukewarm or that God was unhappy with them or that He allowed temptation because of that. Even the most zealous believers get tripped up (Moses, Elijah, David – you name 'em). The other thing to remember is that the plan of God is not a reaction to events. Rather, it was ordained from eternity past and everything that is happening is already "programmed" into the whole, and could only happen because it was foreordained. That, of course, does not take away free will; rather, it makes free will possible. Would Adam have sinned absent Eve eating the forbidden fruit? Doubtful. But he wasn't willing to give up Eve – and he wasn't willing to trust God that He could solve the problem without Adam himself getting into the act too. That tells us a lot about ourselves as well. We all have a tendency to want to "help God" when it comes to situations and problems and troubles we are facing. Or as one friend said a long time ago, we are all too eager to "give God an 'opportunity' to bless us" – when of course He is completely in control of everything and really we are being tested to see whether or not we will trust Him and to what degree.

Here is the main link at Ichthys: BB 3A: The Fall of Man

In Jesus Christ our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9:

You said, "The other thing to remember is that the plan of God is not a reaction to events."

Yes, but God often speaks as if he is reacting to events. E.g. humanity was so bad before the flood that God "repented" of creating man (even though God can't repent because everything he does is perfect).

Response #9:

Right, but we understand that this is anthropopathic language designed to explain things to people who are not necessarily well versed in the depths of theology (see the link). So our policy as teachers is to explain passages such as that of the flood "motivation" in terms of the actual plan of God – among those who are mature – rather than looking to insert such language where it's not present in other passages.

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Between the Exodus (2+ million people) and King Ahab (1 Kings 20:15), Israel numbered only 7,000. It seems improbable that Judah consisted of just under 2 million. What did I miss? Were did all those people go?

Response #10:

I don't think we can accurately judge the entire population of Israel, the northern kingdom, during this period from the number of military men present in Samaria at this time – that is what "people" and "sons" means here, namely, the military levy. Samaria had been largely cut off from much of the rest of the northern kingdom by this time, and this was the extent of the personnel ready for battle in the capital when this event took place.

But populations do ebb and flow, and God had prophesied that Israel would diminish if they failed to follow Him (Deuteronomy chapter twenty eight).  Remember that it was only a handful who returned after the Babylonian captivity (e.g., Ezra chapter two).

Question #11:

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

Thank you and others for all the prayers! I know they have been answered because of things that are happening in my life that are important. I have a question regarding Isaiah:40:22. I was doing some research and a biblical scholar had said that it does not refer to the Earth being a globe or circular, but that the Hebrew word "chug" refers to an instrument like a compass like what a Carpenter would use. He further stated that the Hebrew word "chug" translates to a circular instrument. Is this correct? John MacArthur said in one of his expository teachings that the "circle" of the Earth indeed refers to the spherical shape of the Earth. I don't know which interpretation is correct? Can you help me to rightly understand the correct interpretation?

God Bless you and your ministry,

Response #11:

Well I'll be. This is probably the first thing reported to me about MacArthur that I've agreed with.

Here is how I translate the verse:

He [is the One] who sits [enthroned] above the circle of the earth (Heb. chug; i.e., the "circular ceiling-vault" of the heavens as viewed from the earthly perspective), and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers [in His sight]. He [is the One] who stretches out the heavens like a curtain (cf. Ps.104:2), and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in (i.e., the "flat" appearance of the combined heavenly sea and firmament of the heavens looking down from the third heaven).
Isaiah 40:22

From ANY translation, it is easy to see that substituting the word "carpenter's instrument" is not going to work. God sits enthroned above a pair of compasses? And how to render "compass of the earth" if the "compass" is a small, hand-held tool? That is equally impossible. It is true that the root verb chug in Hebrew means to "draw a circle" but the noun chug means the circle itself; the "circle of the earth" can only be the sphere of the earth (see the link "Does the Bible Ever Describe the Earth as Being Round?"). What else would be, what else could be "the earth's circle" but a reference to the earth's shape, especially seeing as how the Lord is described as enthroned above it? Lastly, the word for compass / pair of compasses (like the ones used in geometry) does occur in the Bible, but it is mechugah (Is.41:13), quite discernibly different from the word in Isaiah 40:22.

Thanks for your encouraging report! Keeping you in my prayers daily, my friend (and thanks so much for yours as well).

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Hello Robert,

Can I ask you about Cain; didn't God say he would become a great nation having many princes, so I thought that they eventually became the Cainites but realized all Cain's descendants were killed during the flood.

Am I correct, if so Cain's descendants did not become a great nation?


Response #12:

You may be confusing Cain with Esau (an easy thing to do). Esau was promised to become a great nation like Jacob (Gen.25:23), but not Cain (even though he did build a city: Gen.4:17). And you are correct: all the descendants of Cain died in the flood – not to be confused with the Canaanites who were the offspring of Noah's son Ham (Gen.9:18; 9:22; 9:25).

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Dear Bob,

I've come to a hard stop on another verse. Ezekiel 16:53 says,

"When I shall bring again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then will I bring again the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them..."

Since Sodom was long gone when this was written and Samaria was already in Assyrian captivity, I can only understand it in terms of the later days and that Sodom and Samaria are spiritual realms that re-manifest. As it appears to be today.

Have I understood this correctly or am I off in the weeds again?


Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #13:

I think you are essentially on the right track. The whole chapter is a parable wherein Jerusalem – which had nothing to do with Jews when Sodom was destroyed (obviously, since at that point Abraham was the only one) – is portrayed as a wife of the Lord who has two sisters, Samaria (the northern kingdom now destroyed as well) and Sodom. I believe it is not wrong to think of Sodom, since she is described as "the south" (Ezek.16:46), as representing the Ammonites and Moabites and Edomites, that is, a collection of all of the other godless peoples who surrounded her (cf. Ezek.16:57 later in the chapter; other comparisons to Sodom: Deut.29:23: 32:32; Is.1:9-10; 3:9; Jer.23:14; Lam.4:6). The whole point in any case is that Jerusalem on the eve of destruction is worse than all who went before her, even the worst of the worst then (Sodom and Samaria) and now (Ammon, Moab and Edom), despite her claim to having a closer relationship to the Lord.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hello Bob,

Thanks. "When I shall bring again their captivity..." created much of my confusion. The NIV was nearly as confusing. If I understand you correctly, "bring again their captivity" means that Moab, Amon, Edom, et. al., (daughters) will get the same treatment and be destroyed; actual Sodom won't return but the punishment will be as sever? That makes sense.

I don't see how we differ or how the same fate wouldn't await us as well.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #14:

The Lord will "bring back the captives" in the full and complete sense of this prophecy only after the second advent when all Israel is brought back to the land (see the link). At that time, Moab and Amon will be restored, the "daughters of Sodom", for Lot's daughters truly were "daughters of Sodom" geographically and behaviorally, whence we have Moab and Amon. We don't know who that stock is today, but the Lord knows, and He is well able to fulfill this and every other prophecy (cf. Dan.11:41).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Dear Bob,

Thank you so much for this explanation. I never considered that aspect. I didn't understand the "bring back the captives" aspect from the "bring again their captivity." I didn't pick up on that
in the NIV, either, though I should have. I read "fortunes" as bad luck.

I was off the rails again and you put me back. Thank you.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #15:

This is a difficult passage – as many OT prophetic passages are which deal with both A) the contemporary or near contemporary situation, and at the same time B) the far future eschatological comparison point. I call this "the Day of the Lord Paradigm" (see the link), wherein the prophet is given to encourage / warn his contemporaries and drive the message home by comparing it in one way or another with will happen in an even more dramatic way in the future.

This passage you asked about is particularly tough with a lot of "moving parts". I looked it up in Unger's Commentary on the Old Testament, one of the few whose opinion I respect (the vast majority of OT commentaries do not proceed from the plain of a high view of the inspiration of the Bible), and he said nothing about the obvious questions – leading me to believe he didn't really "get" what was going on. I had to think about it for a minute as well – so you're in pretty good company!

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Dear Bob,

From my experience in the churches I attended, when I did such a thing, I don't remember one pastor, priest or rabbi who took the time to explain usage. That you are able to bridge those differences and explain the passages is impressive.

Thank you so much for all your efforts to explain this for me. It had me completely flummoxed. I have to admit, I don't read commentaries. My eyes are getting so bad, I read the Bible (in a large print edition, at that - KJV; the only one I have.)

In the past, I skipped over passages like this hoping that the next pass through, I would understand. I would have done the same if it had not been for you. Thank you. I generally read all the way through the Bible, then skip around following references and eventually start all over again.

Curiously, I had an email exchange with a relative about the end times and pointed her to you. Whether she'll do anything about that, I don't know.

I guess I shouldn't feel too badly, then. Still, it bothers me that I didn't understand. Thanks for all your help and all your efforts. I'm truly looking forward to that glorious day.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #16:

Thanks so much as always for your good words and encouragement, my friend!

Please do feel free to write me any time.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hello Professor,

It eluded me to as you one more question about the word mentioned in this section - the Shechinah glory. I wanted to include a short note on it in the text, as probably all my readers will be unfamiliar with it. What exactly is its etymology?

In the grace of our Lord,

Response #17:

It comes from the verb ש ָכַן meaning "to dwell"; the idea is that the Lord said He would dwell there in the temple, and the glory of the Lord is visibly manifest in the cloud that from time to time fills the tabernacle / temple (as for example in Solomon's dedication of the first temple: 1Ki.8:10). What little I have written about this is at the link: "Mercy Seat".

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Hello Professor,

I should have been more specific in my question - I meant the way this word was derived, together with its pointing. I could see that the word comes from ש ָכַן, but I wanted to find out how exactly it becomes shechinah, which, according to what I read, is an abstract, feminine noun. And then, how exactly we should translate it, as I wanted to include a brief note on this for my readers, who will not be familiar with the word. Should we translate it as "dwelling", "place of dwelling"?

In the grace of our Lord,

Response #18:

It seems to be a feminine noun (it doesn't occur in the Bible but comes from Rabbinic sources); it seems to me that the long "i" in the middle of it is necessary to distinguish it from the participle. It's a useful term, I suppose, to designate the glory of God localized and resident in the tabernacle temple as opposed to His glory in all other respects. But I rarely use it since it is one of those terms that conjures up for some mystical ideas which aren't biblical.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Hello Professor,

I just received a question from my friend about Moses' genealogy. He drew Moses genealogy to be Levi - Kohath - Amram - Moses, but he is unable to reconcile that with Numbers 26:59, based on which he drew the line of Moses descendants as going: Levi - Jochebed - Moses. So either 4 or only 3 generations would have to have a combined lifespan of 430 years.

Numbers 26:59 (NASB)
59 The name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed, the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt; and she bore to Amram: Aaron and Moses and their sister Miriam.

My thoughts on this:

1) At the moment it seems to me that both of his genealogies could be incorrect, because, from what can be seen in the scripture, we may not have every member of each family listed. Keil and Delitzsch give the following note on Exodus 6:14-27:

Then follows Levi; and not only are the names of his three sons given, but the length of his life is mentioned (Exodus 6:16), also that of his son Kohath and his descendant Amram, because they were the tribe-fathers of Moses and Aaron. But the Amram mentioned in Exodus 6:20 as the father of Moses, cannot be the same person as the Amram who was the son of Kohath (Exodus 6:18), but must be a later descendant. For, however the sameness of names may seem to favour the identity of the persons, if we simply look at the genealogy before us, a comparison of this passage with Numbers 3:27-28 will show the impossibility of such an assumption. “According to Numbers 3:27-28, the Kohathites were divided (in Moses' time) into the four branches, Amramites, Izharites, Hebronites, and Uzzielites, who consisted together of 8600 men and boys (women and girls not being included). Of these, about a fourth, or 2150 men, would belong to the Amramites. Now, according to Exodus 18:3-4, Moses himself had only two sons. Consequently, if Amram the son of Kohath, and tribe-father of the Amramites, was the same person as Amram the father of Moses, Moses must have had 2147 brothers and brothers' sons (the brothers' daughters, the sisters, and their daughters, not being reckoned at all). But as this is absolutely impossible, it must be granted that Amram the son of Kohath was not the father of Moses, and that an indefinitely long list of generations has been omitted between the former and his descendant of the same name” (Tiele, Chr. des A. T. p. 36). (Note: The objections of M. Baumgarten to these correct remarks have been conclusively met by Kurtz (Hist. of O. C. vol. ii. p. 144). We find a similar case in the genealogy of Ezra in Ezra 7:3, which passes over from Azariah the son of Meraioth to Azariah the son of Johanan, and omits five links between the two, as we may see from 1 Chronicles 6:7-11. In the same way the genealogy before us skips over from Amram the son of Kohath to Amram the father of Moses without mentioning the generations between.)

This would mean that two different Amrams are meant in Exodus 6:18 and Exodus 6:20 (and Numbers 26:59), but I'm not sure if this is correct.

Exodus 6:18-20 (NASB)
18 The sons of Kohath: Amram and Izhar and Hebron and Uzziel; and the length of Kohath’s life was one hundred and thirty-three years. 19 The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi. These are the families of the Levites according to their generations. 20 Amram married his father’s sister Jochebed, and she bore him Aaron and Moses; and the length of Amram’s life was one hundred and thirty-seven years.

2) It seems that Jochebed is not in any case a literal daughter of Levi.

What is your take on this?

In the grace of our Lord,

Response #19:

On Jochebed, the Hebrew says בַּת־לֵוִי (no definite article), and NIV translates "a descendant of Levi" (which is defensible: "female descendant" would be more accurate).

On genealogies, we do know that there are sometimes gaps left, but the length of the generations is not necessarily a valid objection – except for those who scoff at what the Bible has to say. Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born. Jacob died at over 130 years. Moses and Aaron were both vigorous in extreme old age and would have entered the land and lived much longer but for the incident at Meribah. Still, what KD says is worth noting in that what we have is not an actual genealogy going all the way back to Levi in Numbers 26:59 (or anywhere else). So it isn't really a question of something that cannot be reconciled. It's a question of judging the evidence to consider which is more likely: more than one Amram or very long lifespans. And we know that the lifespans were very long and also that names which seem unique to us in the Bible (and in ancient history generally) were in fact often as common as "Smith and Jones" as we say in this country. Personally, I don't see any strong reason to weigh in one way or the other – although I lean towards the long generation point of view.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Hello Bob,

In my reading today 1 Samuel 2 v30 and onwards, it appears that God broke his promise to the house of Eli? Or was that promise contingent on anything and if so, where is that specified? In other words, did their disobedience regarding the sacrifices and offerings prevent any future blessing and why did they not repent and be restored? Human nature I guess?

Thanks Bob,

Response #20:

Good to hear from you, my friend.

I take the promise mentioned at 1st Samuel 2:30 to be the one given to Aaron and the Levites – which did indeed continue, even though Eli's line was now excluded from that promise (which is what the context deals with). That is very typical in cases where there is dire turning away from the Lord:

Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.’ ” So Aaron held his peace.
Leviticus 10:1-3 NKJV

This is just the sort of violation in spirit committed by Eli's sons – and a similar judgment falls upon them too when they are killed by the Philistines.

Hope this helps. Apologies in advance for erratic email-answering for the foreseeable future as I have been tagged with jury duty and it is making hash of my normal schedule.

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #21:

It is still amazing to me how you can do all that you do, but then I realize that it is by the power of God, through the Holy Spirit. You are truly an inspiration to us all.

In Genesis 22:7-8, Isaac asks about the lamb for the sacrifice. When does Isaac realize that he is to be the sacrifice?

Thank you,

Response #21:

Good to hear from you, my friend, and thanks so much for your kind comments.

It's an interesting question. I'm not sure we could ever know the answer without asking Isaac (which we will be able to do soon enough). It does strike me that 1) by the time they were headed up Mt. Moriah without a lamb he might have gotten to wondering and indeed he does ask Abraham the question. But he would have had absolutely no reason to suspect that he was the sacrifice until the moment when Abraham tied him up (in my opinion). And 2) it was very wise and kind of Abraham not to give Isaac the slightest indication of the fact that he was going to be sacrificed before the fact. Most of us probably would have been bawling our eyes out on the way up the hill – if we had even been able to manage to make ourselves do what the Lord commanded. So when Abraham responds to the question with "My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering" (Gen.22:8) without, apparently breaking down, that is a great indication of his love, his self-control, and his absolute faith in the Lord. Think about it. This was another level of the heavy test Abraham had to undergo. Not only did he have to stay strong in his faith that this was for the good and that the Lord would work it out – how many of us would have been able to do so? – but he also had to "maintain an even strain" for the sake of his son Isaac to avoid him having to suffer before the fact. And Abraham did so. Because he absolutely trusted the Lord:

. . . concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.
Hebrews 11:19 NKJV

Not for no reason is Abraham the beginning of the Jewish race, the chosen people of God. He trusted the Lord perhaps more than anyone before or since, and that is what we are to emulate. The Lord is 100% faithful and thus is worthy of 100% trust. None of us is there – but that is what we all need to be striving for, especially the closer it gets to the end.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.
Isaiah 65:6 NKJV

Hi Robert,

Does the above verse indicate that there could be a time in someone's life that they may seek the Lord with all their heart and He will no longer be there / be found? For whatever reason (rejection of the gospel, willful sin, etc). I always understood this verse to be a positive not a negative.

Response #22:

This is meant as an encouragement to seek the Lord, not as some sort of doom and gloom prophecy. Why would Isaiah / the Holy Spirit encourage us to seek the Lord if it were somehow impossible to do so? After death, it IS too late for unbelievers to "seek the Lord", however.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #23:

Thanks Robert.

Sorry, I guess I have tended toward the 'negative' due to my concerns since we've been talking. Really working on learning though. Also, the 'while' he may be found and 'while' he may be near indicate a finite time after which he can't be. It doesn't indicate only after death. There seem to be many commentaries that think it is within someone's lifetime.

Hoping you are well.

Response #23:

If one looks hard enough, one can find a commentary to support almost any false position; finding one that expresses the truth on any point is pretty rare though (which is why I stopped buying and reading commentaries long ago – with a very few notable exceptions).

Along the lines of what I said last time, if this statement were true: "You there, you terrible sinner, I don't mean this for YOU; you have LOST your chance for seeking the Lord because He can no longer be found by YOU", then this verse would seem to me to be nonsensical because it is a clear appeal from God for His people to seek Him – not to despair because it is no longer possible to do so – and it would be nonsense for Him to tell us to do so if that were impossible for us to do.

We are alive in this world for a short time; but as long as we are alive we have free will – which is what this life is all about for believers and unbelievers both. For the unbeliever, the issue is Christ (the Father's sacrificial Substitute represented by animal sacrifice in the OT); for the believer, the issue is also Christ, how much do we really love Him and how much are we willing to bend our will to His to grow, progress and serve Him?

Isaiah was written to a population which consisted largely of unbelievers and marginal believers – reflected by the attitudes of most of their kings during his lifetime (with exceptions). Appeals of this sort are ubiquitous in the OT and in scripture generally and, as with any appeal, the idea is to get people to respond to that appeal. It makes no sense in appealing to people who are incapable of responding regardless of what is in their hearts. Yes, "while" does mean "while you are alive"; and it is also true, we could say, that it is better to respond earlier rather than later because of all manner of damage and harm that may come to us from being dilatory; but there is no indication in this verse that "if you are reading this" then "it doesn't apply to you". That stands the verse on its head – as well as the entire Bible, all of its teachings, and principles of grace, love and forgiveness in particular, just to name a few problems for that false teaching.

Let go of the past. It is past. Live one day at time for Jesus Christ. Look to your eternal future. I'm sure this is good advice. Be pleased to consider it.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24:

Thanks as always Robert. You must be seriously frustrated with me by now.

Response #24:

I'm doing battle for you as my brother in Jesus Christ. That is what we are all supposed to be doing for each other until we see the Lord face to face (Heb.10:24-25).

In hopes that you will soon take your place in the ranks to do battle for others in turn to the glory of the Lord who bought us at an inestimable cost.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #25:

Noah's Ark on a Roman Coin

There is no other interpretation because it has NOE (i.e., "Noah") right on the picture of the ark on this coin!


Response #25:

From the look of the inscription, whoever did the artwork got confused by the Greek word kibotos. That Greek word means "ark" and is used to translate BOTH the ark of the covenant and Noah's ark – but they are two completely different words in Hebrew ('aron and tebha respectively), and are not related in terms of their roots.  The reason for this, in Greek, one suspects, is that the two are similarly box-shaped in their dimensions, and both present a picture of Christ (see the link: type and antitype).

The picture seems to have someone named Noah and his wife (?) sitting in the ark of the covenant rather than the boat. Pretty confused.

We believe the biblical record because it is in the Bible, not because of later representations of it in history, no matter how early.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #26:

What does this verse mean?

"Though we are slaves, our God has not forsaken us in our bondage. He has shown us kindness in the sight of the kings of Persia: He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, and he has given us a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem."
(Ezra 9:9)

Response #26:

Because Judah was not politically independent as a province of the Persian empire, Ezra considers this the equivalent of "slavery"; but instead of a harsh occupation or tyrannical mulcting, on account of God's grace there was sufficient blessing for the remnant to survive and thrive . . . and rebuild the temple. So their conduct in diluting the remnant (important for a small group of Jews in a sea of non-believing gentiles) was not exactly a response characterized by gratitude.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #27:

What is the meaning of this curse?

"The Lord will afflict you with madness, blindness and confusion of mind. At midday you will grope about like a blind man in the dark. You will be unsuccessful in everything you do; day after day you will be oppressed and robbed, with no one to rescue you."
(Deuteronomy 28:27-28)

Response #27:

In describing the results of the "choice" – to follow the Lord or not – Moses is given to put the situation of those who turn away from Him in very graphic terms here. They will find themselves in total despair when judgment comes; they will be at the wit's end with no solution.

Israel was supposed to be an entirely believing nation, so this description is applicable to all believers who turn away from the Lord, failing to put Him first at first, gradually lagging behind Him in their walk, and eventually turning away to their own devices. An unbeliever might be left alone to enjoy this world before the end, but believers – or those who should be in the case of Israel – are subject to this prediction (see the link: the sin unto death).

Blessedly, for those of us who do fear the Lord and have committed ourselves to walking closely with Him and follow through, not only will none of this ever happen to us, but we are confident of being blessed by Him no matter what may betide, even if it be our lot to suffer through the Tribulation. For whatever we suffer, doing it with Him and for Him will entail blessing beyond measure.

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2nd Corinthians 12:9-10 NKJV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

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