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Old Testament Interpretation V:
The Flight to Egypt, the Virgin Birth, Jonathan's Choice, Tyre in Prophecy

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Question #1:

Bob, hello, once again.

The story of the Flight into Egypt, is well-known but surprisingly it also contains a number of astonishing anomalies. Please consider the following:

To realise that Jesus actually became a fugitive in his own land, the land of his birth is puzzling. For as babe- in- arms-he was forced to flee, to another country, to escape the murderous intentions of a despotic king. The bible informs that Herod the Great, who ruled the territory wherein Jesus was born, was greatly troubled when three wise men, stargazers from Persia, arrived at his court to enquire:

"Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star and are come to worship him"

That Herod was greatly troubled, by the news of a newborn king in his own territory is hardly surprising. The paranoid Herod ruled his kingdom with an iron hand, any perceived threat to his rule or kingship was dealt with ruthlessly-by way of the sword! But what is also extremely troublesome is to accept that the, supposedly wise men from Persia, would seek to ask Herod- of all people- the place of a newborn king of the Jews? I cannot think of a more stupid or bigger insult to lay before a king, let alone someone like Herod the Great or the Wicked, as he was also known. There was only one king ruling in Judea. There was only one king of the Jews and that king was Herod. The three wise men (or not so-wise) would surely have been aware of Herod’s reputation. They must have been aware that he was a most dangerous man. Yet, they heaped on him the greatest of insults by vocally rejecting his kingship in favour of another. It is a wonder they were not tortured for information, and then beheaded. The Matthew Gospel, however, informs us that Herod, by way of reply to the three Stargazers, said "Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also."

But why would Herod simply wait on the chance that the 3 would return to him, with news of Jesus, and his location. I doubt Herod was a simpleton. He would have sent one of his spies to trail the wise men to discover for himself the place of Jesus. But evidently, Herod was a more trusting man than has been supposed, for he sent no spy to follow the 3. Actually, he could have just as easily followed the path of the Star, as the 3 stargazers were doing. For when they left the presence of Herod, "lo, the star which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was... and, when they were come into the house, they saw the young child...and fell down and worshipped him. They presented unto him gifts; Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh". After which they left. We note how the 3 having found Jesus, were warned wisely- in a dream not to return to Herod, yet oddly this same advisory angel never thought it wise to have warned the stargazers to steer clear of visiting Herod’s palace in the first place. However, it has never been satisfactorily explained; as to why three outsiders, foreigners from Persia, be they Magi or Kings, would have undertaken a long and arduous journey to worship a foreign child, born in a foreign land? furthermore; to worship a child of a different faith. The 3 were not Jewish, therefore they did not subscribe to the religion of Judaism. Their loyalties rested in their own country, to their own kings and rulers; their allegiances were certainly not orientated towards a foreign-born king of a different religious persuasion. And in their departure to their own land, there followed in their wake- terror! Herod’s men began hacking their way through the streets and houses of Bethlehem, butchering, killing all the male infants they could find in their search for Jesus. But Jesus had become fled to Egypt. But whom to blame, then, for Jesus’ flight? We naturally look towards Herod but was he alone to blame for the massacre that prompted the flight of Jesus and his family? The not-so-wise men from the Persia must also share some the blame. For what on earth, were they thinking when they addressed Herod’s court, concerning a new king of the Jews! The alarm they set off in Herod, set in motion a killer-hunt for the boy-child. But then again the blame should not entirely lay heavy on the shoulders of the Magi. It is written that the stargazers followed a certain star. A star that guided them to the place of Jesus. So we must ask who placed this star in the sky to guide the 3 men to the place of Jesus? Someone else then must also share the blame. But, then, we find there was never any intention of keeping the birth of the King of the Jews a secret. Look at the fanfare that accompanied his birth.

" And there were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round them...and the angel said unto them...I bring you good tidings. For unto you is born this day...a Saviour...and suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God."

And it came to pass as the angels went away that the shepherds sought, and found Jesus, and on return to their fields, making it known abroad –to all they met- concerning the birth of Jesus. The facts then as presented, show that the involvement of the 3 wise men, the star, the angels the heavenly hosts, and the shepherds were all part of a pattern, a pre-conceived plan if you will-which originated in the mind of God. However, with a little forward thinking, there is no reason why the Massacre of the Innocents and the flight of Jesus to Egypt, need ever have taken place.

Thoughts please.

Response #1:

Dear Friend,

1) The Bible accurately records what actually happened in respect to all of these events.

2) The wise men were the descendants (spiritually speaking) of Daniel's college of advisers who had the scripture as the essential foundation of their wisdom – so when they saw a star which did not behave as a star but stood still in the sky over the land of Judea, they knew it had to be the prophecy of the Messiah come to pass.

3) Yes, God could have sent them directly and not let them go to Herod. But everything happens for a reason. In this way, the birth of the Messiah was heralded both to the humble tending sheep, and also to the powerful, mighty and arrogant, ensconced in regal palaces.

4) The star moved directly towards Bethlehem and this is what guided the wise men to the very spot.

5) Herod could have sent a spy but then he had absolutely no reason to think that these wise men who had come to him in the first place should not return, for he had given them no reason for suspicion. On the other hand, had he sent spies, they might have been observed (the law of unintended consequences), and that would have aroused suspicion. So it does not seem to me as if what he did was unreasonable – leaders make far worse decisions with far thinner rationales all the time.

6) God could have worked any of this out a different way. He could have destroyed Herod and the Romans and the Pharisees with fire out of heaven at any time (e.g.). He did it the way He did it, and we have the true record of how it happened. No anomalies here. Innocents died in the wake of our Lord's flight to Egypt, and this outrage can only be laid at Herod's feet. If we were to charge God with unrighteousness – heaven forbid! – for every "bad thing" that has ever happened, those who do so would not be pleased unless there were no history at all, that is, no free will. But human history is all about free will (choosing for or against Jesus Christ so as to self-select to heaven or hell). Loss of these children was grievous at the time. But consider: they were born into a hardened generation, most of whom were not saved at the time of Jesus' birth and who maintained that hardness until death (as are lost as a result). As it is, since these children died before they could be held morally accountable, they are all in heaven – which cannot be said of the vast majority of their contemporaries.

Please consult the links for the places where these details are discussed at Ichthys:

Mary, Joseph, and Nazareth

The Events Surrounding the Birth of Christ

Yours in the Name of the dear Savior through whom alone we may have life eternal.

Bob L.

Question #2:

Hi--I am sorry to bug you again...but could you double check something for me? It's again about the Isaiah 7 verse, where it has "almah" for "virgin" and this Mormon says that that isn't a good translation, and cited those guys whose names I sent you, asking you if you ever had heard of them. I know "almah" isn't the usual word used for "virgin" in the OT--I think "bethulah" is but still, doesn't it mean an untouched damsel? I think I read someplace it could mean a NEWly married lady one who had not yet consumated her marriage, obviously, but I did run across this in my studies:

Bzzzz...not quite correct. It means a young damsel, unmarried and is NEVER used of a married woman in the bible. And Matthew STILL used it, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, regardless if the LXX used it or not. Check out Gen. 24:16--the word "bethuwlah" is used there, to refer to Rebekah...an unmarried virgin. Later on, in vs. 43, "almah" is used, clearly meaning an unmarried, untouched young woman. And our BibleWorks 4.0 says that almah means "virgin, damsel, maid, young woman." There is nothing miraculous in a young women conceiving, no sign in that--but a virgin conceiving...? Whoo boy, yes indeed! "

I wrote this response to the Mormon in question, obviously. And in context, it must mean "virgin" since there is nothing sign-worthy about a young women bearing a son--happens all the time. I don't know how much Mormon theology you know, but they have their heavenly father begetting Jesus by his own spirit daughter Mary in the same way our own fathers beget us. THE SAME WAY. Which essentially means he is committing celestial incest with her, since all our spirits were procreated by heavenly father and heavenly mother. I know, how can intelligent people believe this drivel...anyway, some Mormons don't think that it's important that Mary be a virgin when Jesus was born...perfectly all right for heavenly father to impregnate her....they say the Holy Spirit didn't cause Mary to conceive, but heavenly father did. Otherwise, when women receive the Holy Spirit--he would get them pregnant! Yep, they have written that! As if the HS were mindless and couldn't control His actions! Anyway, what is your opinion of what I wrote? is it correct from my research? I will try not to bug you any more. Again, my thanks.

Response #2:

This is an excellent response, and dead on target. According to Allan MaCrae in The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, "There is no instance where it can be proved that 'alma designates a young woman who is not a virgin" (emphasis added). Your example of both words being used for Rebecca makes it quite clear that there is no technical word for "virgin" in the OT. Why? Because it is assumed that a young woman who is not married is a virgin – otherwise she should be stoned to death (under the Law). So their cultural perspective is much different than ours, especially today, where "virgin" means something exceptional – in that time and place it was expected of the unmarried.

Yours in our virgin-born Lord and Master Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Thanks for your response; I hadn't thought of it that way, before--that it was expected in those days, for a girl to be a virgin when she married. But have you ever heard of those authors whose names I sent you? Just curious. Also, what do you mean by "no technical word" for virgin, in the OT? The Mormons will pick up on that. Do you mean a word that specifically designates a virgin and nothing else?

Response #3:

Yes, that is what I mean. "Maiden" in English assumes (or might assume) virginity, but it is not a technical term that requires that conclusion such as the word "virgin" has come to be in our language. I note, however, that "virgin" comes from the Latin virgo which, in Latin, is also not technical.

As to "authors", I didn't see any authors listed in any of these emails.

In our Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #4:

The authors are from the post:

"Say, have you heard of these guys: Saldarini, Anthony J. (2003). "Matthew". In Dunn, James D.G.; Rogerson, John. Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible. Eerdmans. ISBN 9780802837110.

They supposedly say that "almah" can carry the idea of a married woman and that using "parthenos" in the Matthew verse makes it lose some of its meaning. I think I did run across that meaning, but it was of a NEWly married woman, not an older married woman. In other words, a young woman who had not yet consummated her marriage. But the context in the Isaiah 7 verse must mean a virgin because young women conceive and have babies all the time--what kind of "sign" would that be? But a VIRGIN conceiving and giving birth to a child..that would be the sign to end all signs. What do you think of this argument?"

The poster never actually quoted these guys, but did strongly hint that they think "almah" could mean a "married woman."

Response #4:

I've never heard of these individuals. It is true that 'almah does occasionally refer to a married woman, but it also refers (much more often) to a "maiden". I too have made the argument that a young woman conceiving is no sort of "sign", and I think that this is the decisive point. After all, anyone reading the passage for the first time would make the obvious assumption that we must be talking about a virgin conception (as did the LXX), and Matthew's acceptance of that, clearly inspired by the Spirit, surely seals the deal: even if one wants to view things from a purely secular perspective of people who believe this is impossible, it's clear that this is what the Bible is saying in both Testaments. It is only those who have a theological ax to grind who want to be contentious about this very clear point. Anyone who says something like "parthenos in the Matthew verse makes it lose some of its meaning" is clearly operating with a very low view of biblical inspiration and thus loses all of my respect in terms of any theological input.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Hi Bob,

Did Jonathan Die Early Because He Ate the Honey? Does 1st Samuel 14:44 imply that this was the cause of Jonathan's early demise?


Response #5:

I certainly don't think so. Saul was speaking of an immediate event which did not occur. Jonathan and Saul died much later at the battle of Mt. Gilboah. If anything, I would attribute Jonathan's death to his (in the event) excessive loyalty to his father. He knew that David would be king (1Sam.23:17), but did not go into exile with him. Staying on with his father instead – when in fact his loyalties were divided – resulted in him being in the wrong place at the wrong time. There is a lesson there for us all.

Bob L.

Question #6:

He may have been obeying the fifth commandment.

Response #6:

Yes. That's between him and the Lord. But on the other hand the first three commandments are more pressing than the fifth. And the fifth doesn't allow us to do things which are wrong. If someone sticks by their parents even after these become involved in a criminal enterprise, we could fairly say that this was inappropriate. At the end, the Lord had abandoned Saul, though he was plainly with David. I'm not saying it was any easy choice, or that Jonathan lost all reward by choosing as he did; I am saying that I think it was not the best choice.

Bob L.

Question #7:

Hello Sir,

How are you doing? I have a question about this week's email #16.

You wrote:

"Also, Samuel mentions Saul's sons as about to come to the same place – and certainly Jonathan was a believer, even if his bad judgment in staying loyal to his father rather than going over to David overtly was a mistake for which he would pay with his life. It goes to show that everything we do in this life has consequences."

Why was Jonathan still staying loyal to his father? Saul was chosen by the Lord, so even David refrained from killing him (even though he knew he is now the chosen one), out of respect for the Lord. Is this the same reason why Jonathan stayed loyal to his father?

Keeping you in my prayers.

Response #7:

Hello my friend,

I am hanging on and hanging in – and I trust you are doing the same. God is good, and He will see us through all of our troubles.

As to your question, Jonathan and David had a great love of friendship, one for another, and Jonathan knew that David would be the next king, not himself (1Sam.23:17). However, when David was forced to flee, it put Jonathan into a very difficult position. On the one hand, David was the Lord's anointed, and his best friend. On the other, his father was his father. So I am reluctant to judge Jonathan too harshly; any of us faced with this dilemma would have found the prospect of abandoning our father and heading off into the wilderness with the man he most wanted to kill a daunting prospect (for all sorts of reasons). Yet this was probably Jonathan's first best destiny, and by throwing his lot in with his father instead, he sealed his own fate. In the end, it was no doubt better for David and his kingdom; with all the ups and downs to follow, having a natural pretender to the throne at his own table would have been a very challenging thing to have to keep in balance. Even if Jonathan remained true blue, there would be those who would see him as an alternative to be "drafted" to replace David. Jonathan died a hero's death in battle, and for a man of his courage, there are certainly worse things. But his story has monitory value to us whenever we are tempted to choose people over the Lord, no matter how well-intended that choice may be.

Thank you for your prayers, my friend! I am keeping you and your family in mine too every day.

In the dear Lord Jesus who is our Rock and our very great reward.

Bob L.

Question #8:

Hey Bob,

First, hope you are doing well! and I know I am thick-headed, but

1) Why does Isaiah refer to Lucifer as a man and not an angel?

2) If ONLY the Son hath seen the Father in His 'fullness' doesn't that give credence to why Satan said "I WILL be like the most High" IF he has never seen God in His fullness and the only God he saw was God, AL-mighty (or The Lord of Hosts, the King of Glory)? Per Satan's exclamation, "I WILL be like Him, the God I see full of glory"?

3) Does the scriptures refer to God in these verses (none have seen the Father, but the only begotten Son), for man alone or to all beings manifested (including the angels, before sin manifested)?

4) No man or No one has seen God, at anytime, but what about 'out or above time & space'? does this 'not seeing' God still apply?

My point is to make a distinction (find understanding) who the angels saw, God alone (The Lord God Almighty manifestation) or God in His fullness (The Father)? My point is to understand that from 'in the beginning' the angels only saw, The Lord God, the God of Hosts, The God Almighty, The King of Kings, King of Glory) the most powerful version of God that the angels could bear to see or understand. Presently, I am of the opinion that the Promise to the redeemed IS to see God in His Fullness, not just the Son in Christ. To see or dwell or indwell in the unapproachable light, who none have seen but His only begotten Son, for we will be like Him (His Son?) and see

Him (The Father?) as HE IS and as we are known. (God, the Father, God, the Son and God, His Holy Spirit) For we will be indwell-ed with the 'fullness of God' without measure? Not Him, but like Him. Help me understand...scripturally if possible

Isaiah 14:12-17 (KJV)
12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! ... 16 They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; 17 That made the world as a wilderness (The War in heaven?), and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?

John 6:46 (KJV)
Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.

John 1:18 (KJV)
No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

John 5:37 (KJV)
And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.

Response #8:

Sorry for the delay in response – difficult times here. As to your questions:

1) Isaiah 14:16 is prophetic of antichrist (half-human) as well as of Satan. Also, it is not unprecedented for the Bible to refer to an angel as a "man" (e.g., Judg.13:11). After all, although we think of this word as indicating only a technical category of being, the word "angel" itself just means "messenger" (in both Hebrew and Greek: mal'ak and angelos respectively), and often refers to actual men who are serving as messengers. Clearly, angels and men are also the same approximate size and general appearance even though, obviously, angels are much more glorious than we are at present and have no physical bodies as we do.

2, 3,4) These verses are referring to human beings "in the physical body"; we are corrupt and limited, so that we are not allowed into the presence of the Father in our current state. However, it is very clear from, e.g., Revelation chapters 4-6, that the departed saints are even now in the Father's presence, even before the resurrection.

Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.
Revelation 4:2-3 NKJV

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Hi Bob,

Why Jesus' Ministry Occurred in Greco-Roman Palestine: Jesus' ministry happened there to fulfill a prophecy in Joel.

"Also the people of Judah and the people of Jerusalem you have sold to the Greeks, that you may remove them far from their borders. Behold, I will raise them out of the place to which you have sold them, and will return your retaliation upon your own head."
(Joel 3:6-7)

Response #9:

From CT 3B under "Characteristics of (Mystery) Babylon:

Tyre's selling of Jews as slaves foreshadow's antichrist's persecutions inasmuch as this sin is specifically said to be judged on the day of the Lord (Joel 3:4-8; Amos 1:9-10).

Question #10:

While I don't doubt you, I would like to learn more about how you reached this conclusion, if it wouldn't be too much of a hassle (I know that you're a busy man). And what is the significance of the Greeks? Also in Amos:

Thus says the Lord:
"For three transgressions of Tyre, and for four,
I will not turn away its punishment,
Because they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom,
And did not remember the covenant of brotherhood."
Amos 1:9

Logically, the text leads me to conclude that Tyre did not remember the covenant, but the fact that Edom was the descendant of Jacob's brother leads me to think that it was Edom who broke the covenant of brotherhood.

Response #10:

Much of Hebrew prophecy makes use of foreshadowing of the end times as a paradigm or model against which near term prophecies are compared (I call this "the Day of the Lord Paradigm"; see the link). Tyre is a model/type for mystery Babylon in the same way that, e.g., Pharaoh is a model/type for antichrist. As such, the details given about her are, applied generally, valid to use for describing/understanding mystery Babylon (the context linked previously is dealing with the characteristics of mystery Babylon as the home country of antichrist).

As to the Greeks, like the Sabaeans (in verse 8 of Joel chapter three), this represents the cruelest sort of imprisonment / enslavement, namely, not the sort of temporary indentured servitude that was allowed in Israel under the Law – which by rights should only have lasted to the day of Jubilee at the longest (with other options for emancipation) – but rather the equivalent to the Soviets enslaving German prisoners of war for what in most cases amounted to a life in captivity. The Greeks were the commercial power of the day in Joel's time, and represented a people whose habitations were by definition "far away" because their colonies could be found at all extremes of the known world. When antichrist crushes the Jewish rebellion in the waning days of the Tribulation, this enslavement and transport of many "offenders" will, we can glean from the comparison here, also be a feature of his retaliation – though not necessarily just to the Greeks (or the kingdom / province of revived Rome represented by Greece, more probably dominated by Russia).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Hi Bob,

Does Ezekiel imply that Satan had his headquarters in Tyre, and therefore was the `king' of that city-state?


Response #11:

The Prince of Tyre is a type of Satan in this prophecy, so we may certainly conclude that the city of Tyre (a noted center of Baal-worship) has significant similarities to the devil's kingdom, both in general and also eschatological (especially in its similarity in its features to mystery Babylon; see the link).

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Dr. Luginbill,

Hope you are doing well. My mother just returned from a trip to Israel. While there, she visited the Temple Institute, which has the goal of building the 3rd Temple. They've been recently contacted by someone in the U.S. who has had a Red Heifer born that meets the Biblical requirements for the Temple. Here is a short video (7 min) about the Heifer from June 12, 2014.

In Christ Alone,

Response #12:

Thanks for the link. This group and movement have been around for some time. The theory goes that it is necessary to have a red heifer in order for the temple to be rebuilt because its ashes are required for making the critical "water of purification" with which the site must be cleansed before construction. However, we are talking here about people who are not saved, so that the effort in question is clearly not directly from God.

In my opinion, the temple will not in fact be rebuilt until the two witnesses, Moses and Elijah, return to direct the revival in Israel that will take place during the early days of the Tribulation (see the link). For these reasons, even if perchance there was a rebuilding before the Tribulation begins (which I think is doubtful), it wouldn't have any true spiritual significance.

Here are some links where these matters are discussed further (please feel free to write me back about any of this):

The Red Heifer

The Red Heifer and the Millennial Temple

Rebuilding the Temple

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Dr. Luginbill,

I completely agree. My intent wasn't to say this was God's will, or that the 3rd Temple was going to be started tomorrow. I was just an interesting piece of news. I also believe the Temple's construction will not start until the Tribulation, and led by the two witnesses. I just find it fascinating that these end times pieces continue to come together. The signs are clear to anyone with their Biblical lenses on. Too bad very few have them on. We are in the last age, where we have more access to Biblical truth than any other age, yet we are the most spiritually misguided, and apathetic age---we are truly lukewarm.

In Christ,

Response #13:

No worries, my friend. You are right that it certainly is something to consider.

Thanks for your good words . . . and spiritual common sense.

In Jesus our Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hi Bob,

Is there an eschatological significance to the tarrying of the rest of the tribes in obtaining the promised land?


Response #14:

It's an interesting question. One application I do see to our present day (or to any day) is that while we possess all manner of spiritual blessing and spiritual opportunities, chances to win all manner of eternal blessings that will grace us and thrill us forever, very few believers are interested in "rising up and taking possession" of this inheritance whose parameters are greatly determined by what we do (or don't do) while on this earth. So I suppose in the same way that many of the Israelite tribes were slow on the uptake when it came to occupying the lands they had been allotted – and after all it was a process not entirely without effort since the present inhabitants had to be forced out – so today many believers allow the difficulty of the process of spiritual growth and the inertia of spiritual torpor to rule their lives and keep them from "entering in" to the three crowns and wonderful rewards that the Lord would prefer we all win to His glory.

Thanks for the observation!

In anticipation of that wonderful day of inheritance to come.

Bob L.

Question #15:

Hi Bob,

This verse, Proverbs 16:19, seems to be mangled in Hebrew, and I can't make ends of it. Can you help?

Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.
Proverbs 16:19 NIV


Response #15:

The use of the basic adjective with the preposition min is the Hebrew way of doing comparisons. Therefore, the translations of the versions of Proverbs 16:19 (which are all about the same), are correct: "A is better (tobh) than (min) B", with A here being "a lowly spirit in company with (eth-) the humble" and B being "to divide spoil with the proud".

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Hi Bob,

It is impossible for the son of Manasseh to be a Levite in Judges 18:30? Is this a textual error?

And the children of Dan set up the graven image: and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land.
Judges 18:30 KJV

Response #16:

Without vowels (and the original text had no vowels of course), the only difference here between Moses and Manasseh is the added letter nun. And, indeed, in a great many manuscripts (such as L), the nun is written in suspensum, that is, levitating half a line up – to let the reader know that what the transcribers believed we have here is a tiqqun soferim, a scribal "correction", or, better, euphemism. That is to say, the letter nun is not part of the text but is put in for pronunciation. Why? No doubt to avoid naming Moses in connection with this episode and with the apostate practice of the Danite pseudo-priesthood. And what better substitute than the name Manasseh, a famous apostate whose consonantal name was easily substituted? "Moses" is the correct reading.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Thanks for the comments. However, when I posted this analysis on /r/christianity on Reddit, the allegedly Christian subscribers did not take too kindly to it. Perhaps the example of piracy hit a little too close to home for most of the readership. (Even if I was wrong, why would that demand such harsh and vitriolic words?) So your kind words are greatly appreciated and of more value than the `Job's comfort' I received from other alleged Christians online and the self-justifying crowd.

Also, in Genesis 5:3, after whose likeness was Seth created?

Response #17:

The internet allows people to uncork their inner poison as nothing else – except perhaps driving in traffic.

As to your question, Genesis 5:3 is describing Adam's begetting of his posterity (with Adam's pattern repeated down to the present time), and is thus fundamentally different from God's creation of mankind. That is why image and likeness are reversed in terms of the prepositions used with them: ce- with tselem and be- with demuth – the opposite of Genesis 1:26. We are made in the image of God (we have a free will which mirrors His sovereignty) but according to His likeness (we are multiple in nature but here the comparison of corporate mankind with the unity of the Godhead is less exact). When it comes to Adam, the reverse is true: Seth, being his son, resembles Adam "like to his image" (ce-tselem), but in a more exact way Seth is a human being endowed with free will exactly as Adam was, "in his likeness" (be-demuth). This is covered at the link in BB 3A under "The Image and Likeness of God".

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Leviticus 24:18-20 (NASB):
18 The one who takes the life of an animal shall make it good, life for life. 19 If a man injures his neighbor, just as he has done, so it shall be done to him: 20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; just as he has injured a man, so it shall be inflicted on him.

24:20 eye for eye, tooth for tooth. See note on Ex 21:23-25. This represents a statement of principle: The penalty is to fit the crime, not exceed it. An actual eye or tooth was not to be required, nor is there evidence that such a penalty was ever exacted. A similar law of "retaliation" is found in the Code of Hammurapi (see chart), which also seems not to have been literally applied. Christ, like the middle- of- the- road Pharisees (school of Hillel), objected to an extremist use of this judicial principle to excuse private vengeance, such as by the strict Pharisees (school of Shammai); see Mt 5:38-42.

How should we reconcile this passage with our Lord's words? I read your response which explains that the passage in Leviticus is to do with the Israelite justice system and crime prevention rather than individuals seeking justice themselves, but if the context of the two is different, then why does our Lord give such a command?

Response #18:

In my opinion that has to do with the incorrect way in which the passage had been understood and misapplied – with the result that our Lord felt/knew that a corrective interpretation was necessary so as to avoid future abuse. The NIV note documents some understanding of said abuse.

Question #19:

Zechariah 11:13 (NASB):
13 Then the Lord said to me, "Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them." So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the Lord.

11:13 handsome price. Irony and sarcasm. threw them to the potter at the house of the Lord. For the NT use of vv. 12-13, see Mt 26:14-15; 27:3-10 and note on 27:9.

Matthew 27:9 (NASB)
9 Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: "And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one whose price had been set by the sons of Israel;

It seems that Matthew is definitely quoting Zechariah and it's Zechariah's prophecy which seem to fit the context perfectly - why is it then attributed to Jeremiah? Many solutions are offered by different commentators. You wrote that the more recognized prophet got the billing, but I have to say it still bothers me. It's hard for me to accept in the case of an inspired writing that such an attribution is made when linking what happened to our Lord with various proposed passages from Jeremiah is really quite strained.

Response #19:

Not really. It depends on the times and circumstances where things are said. Our Lord said this at a particular time and place where the way "books" were produced, organized and described, was quite different from today. If we found ourselves back in that day and age and proclaimed that thus and so was "in the Bible", or in "the Old Testament", no one would have a clue what we were talking about. If the practice at the time was to combine prophetic books in the manner indicated, then that was the practice; so for our Lord to use this terminology was merely what was expected. If I have a scroll which begins with Jeremiah and contains the "minor prophets", then it is just as appropriate to say "Jeremiah" as it is for us today to say "the gospels" – when really there is no such designation in the text of the Bible. It is also true that there does seem to be some conflation of prophecy which would then give Jeremiah "top billing" and with no need in the convention of the day to add a footnote to say something like "and of course this is really in Jeremiah later on in the scroll".  See the link.

One final thing on this, inasmuch as I am not really telling you here anything you haven't already heard. As a prospective Bible teacher who has the gift and is fast gaining the tools necessary to "feed yourself", one thing that has to be borne in mind whenever encountering a "problem" such as this is that there always IS a solution. It may not be what first comes to mind, nor just what "dear old Dr. So-and-So said", but there is a solution. What we as men who teach the Word can never fail to have is absolute faith that the solution is there to be found, if only we are patient, if only we continue to work the problem, if only we trust the Lord through the Spirit to illuminate it for us in His good timing and right way. These are the sorts of things which test the faith of many, but which build up the faith of those who have the courage to persevere through the fog until the daylight melts it off into the glory of the rainbow of the truth and wisdom of God.

Question #20:

Why does it say in Genesis 1 - "and there was evening and there was morning" rather than the other way round?

Response #20:

Because in Jewish time the 24 hour day begins at sundown, not at daybreak. I take this as symbolic of the light replacing the darkness in the Plan of God. We are all waiting in the darkness of this world for the great dawning of the eternal day to come.

Question #21:

You wrote:

The symbolism and the underlying meaning of Zechariah 4 is indeed strikingly unexpected. It is therefore prone to confusion, especially since one first has to get by the (admittedly) interesting Hebrew Zechariah uses to describe the situation he saw. The NIV version has it right, although only by leaving the situation in verse 12 somewhat ambiguous. Here is the picture: the two olive trees stand higher than the menorah (as we would expect). They each have a branch which stretches out towards a receiving conduit; into this conduit they pour their golden oil; the oil flows down into the bowl which sits atop the menorah, and thence it flows down into the seven lamps providing a witness of light. There are clear differences here from the menorah of the temple which had no such bowl sitting on top, no such twin conduits to receive oil from an immediate source, and was of course never positioned out in the open next to olive trees.

I'm finding it very difficult to envisage this. I read some of your responses on this difficult passage and things are still not clear - have you got any pictures or diagrams that accurately show what Zechariah is here describing?

Response #21:

As an artist, I am a passable writer – but no artist (as anyone perusing my charts will see immediately). The flow of oil goes like this from up at the top to down at the bottom, so thanks in advance for any diagram you [or any other willing reader] might be able to draw!:

oil drips from tree branch >

into the two shoots/conduits >

and from these fills the bowl atop the menorah >

which feeds in turn into the seven lamps

Question #22:

Dear Professor,

A friend of mine who does some Bible study wrote to me with some questions on Isaiah and I wanted to ask you for guidance before replying. Firstly, he said that he found it quite disappointing that many prophecies in Isaiah are focused on quite immediate future of Israel at the time of writing. What is your take on this? I know that there are prophecies which were fulfilled in the New Testament time (Isaiah 7:14), is eschatology present there also? Would you say that the immediate future of Israel is the most prevalent them in Isaiah?

Response #22:

Isaiah does contain much prophecy that is directed towards his contemporaries – because that is the message God gave him. There is also much which eschatological, and much of that is along the lines of the Day of the Lord paradigm (at the link), because God is using the template of future events as a point of comparison for the contemporary audience. Therefore we believers can learn both from considering the example and experience of Israel during Isaiah's day (cf. Rom.15:4; 1Cor.9:10; 2Tim.3:16), and also from the prophecy of future events whose pattern was applicable then (as it is now) and will be fulfilled literally in the future. Let me be frank and say that whenever the attitude toward scripture is one of something less than total awe and respect, any sort of witnessing and/or apologetic activities probably should be kept at very basic levels. In my experience, it is pointless to argue scripture with someone who does not accept its authority absolutely, and this comment calls that acceptance into question. Once a person does decide in his/her heart to turn to God, then very often this hardness and resistance will be broken – but usually not until. For anyone who has not properly come to terms with the consequences of ignoring their eternal future, exegesis is likely only to confuse the issue.

Question #23:

Secondly, he asked about the "servant songs" - Is 42:6; 49:1-7; 50:4-9; 52:13-15; 53:1-12, which in his view seem to be predominantly bringing to light the humanity of our Lord. He also observes that Christ's calling and forming by the Father are emphasised (Is. 42:6, 49:5a, 53:1) and that the overall impression of the deity of Christ is somewhat different than in the New Testament.

Response #23:

Jesus is God. Jesus is, since the incarnation, a genuine human being. Some scriptures look to one aspect of His perfect and unique person, some to the other. Since the entire concept of the hypostatic union is not an easy one (just look at the vocabulary that has been developed to describe this wonder which is at the bedrock of all creation), it should not be surprising that scripture does not provide a composite view in most places – especially in the OT (using various names which speak to different aspects of our Lord's person being the most common way of doing this in the NT). Scripture documents very clearly that the OT picture saw the first advent only "through a glass and darkly" (e.g., 1Pet.1:10-12). Consequently, our Lord's contemporaries had gotten to the point of ignoring the portions of the scripture that spoke of our Lord's sacrifice and focused instead almost exclusively on the glories of the Messiah – wanting the crown without the cross. I think the fact that your friend is aware of the passages in Isaiah which speak of Christ's humanity is a wonderful thing. That is the part of the union that traditionally was hard for Jews to accept. If Jesus is accepted as the Servant who came and suffered, then it seems to me that only the (obvious) fact of His divinity will need to be accepted. When it is reported (indirectly) that "the overall impression of the deity of Christ is somewhat different than in the New Testament", I would respond that this is a (subjective) interpretation which does not square with the facts once all of the passages are carefully considered. People have subjective impressions of literature all the time, and when it comes to fiction, for example, it seems to me that this is very legitimate. However, scripture is not fiction but a work entirely inspired by God the Holy Spirit wherein every part is absolutely consistent with every other part (and one has to accept its authority as a result by faith). The reported quote indicates to me that your friend is certainly aware that Jesus' deity is clear in the NT. So the unstated objection seems to be that 'Isaiah did not see Him as divine'. But consider:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
Isaiah 6:1-4 NIV

The Person mentioned here is nothing if not divine. It may be objected that "this is not Jesus but the Father", however, here is what John has to say about the above passage (specifically the Lord's words after this description in vv.9-10:

These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him (i.e., Jesus: cf. v.37).
John 12:41 NASB

If a person objects that John was wrong, said person has rejected the authority of scripture and no counter-argument can be made. In terms of basic literary interpretation, any secular critic would have to admit that John was saying that Isaiah 6:1ff. was describing Jesus.

If specific passages are obstacles, we can discuss them. You mention this one:

I am the LORD, I have called You in righteousness,
I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You,
And I will appoint You as a covenant to the people,
As a light to the nations,
Isaiah 42:6 NASB

This passage does say that the Father called (would call) our Lord Jesus. But of our course He was "called" . . . in His humanity. If we accept that Jesus is, since the incarnation, God and man, it should be understood that He may in that state be addressed as either one. In fact, once we understand that the cross is the focal point of history, that our Lord's sacrifice on Golgotha for the sins of the world is the foundation stone of all history, the sine qua non of creation, one event that makes everything else possible and without which there could have been no divine decree, no plan of God, no free will, no eternal life where those who populate New Jerusalem are there by the grace of God through their own choice (not forced to worship Him but glad to do so), then the doctrine of kenosis which explains our Lord's circumstances during the first advent becomes clear: Jesus had to "fight the fight" as a man without undue benefit from His deity for the sacrifice He was about to make to be valid. If He had sinned as a man, the sacrifice would have been invalid; if He had not run His race entirely through the free will with which we all have to engage in this world, the principle of our free will choosing to accept the gift of Him would have been invalidated. So in Isaiah 42:6 the God-man is being addressed, and He is indeed the subservient Servant who has come into the world to remove its sin. But we should note that 1) no one else could be called "in righteousness" since the rest of us are sinners, and 2) being destined to be a "covenant" for the nations (that is, the basis for the eternal life of all), and "a light to gentiles" (that is, the One who makes truth known to the world) are not things mortal human beings who are not also God could ever accomplish or aspire to.

Briefly, Is.49:5a: "the LORD, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant" – again, we stipulate the humanity of Christ and we glory in it; we also note that no one else could speak while in the womb and before the fact. Is.53:1: This verse (passage?) explains the reluctance of Israel to believe in Him, precisely, as happened, because of His humble (human) origin and worldly suffering – all of which was necessary for His qualification to die in the darkness for the sins of the world, something only someone who is God and man could do.

Question #24:

As far as I can see the deity of our Lord doesn't seem to be pronounced in these songs (please correct me if I'm wrong here), although I thought that a point could be made here that if the suffering of the Messiah is being prophesied, then human nature of our Lord has to come to the fore.

Response #24:


Question #25:

I would also bring verses which show the divinity of Jesus Christ in other parts of the book (your translations from Christology):

Therefore the Lord will Himself give you a sign. Behold, the virgin will conceive and will give birth to a Son, and you shall call His Name "Immanuel" (i.e., "God is with us").
Isaiah 7:14 (Matt.1:23)

(6) For a child is born to us, and a Son is given to us. Dominion shall rest on his shoulder, and His name will be called "He whose counsel is wondrous", "Mighty God", "the Father of Eternity", "the Prince of Prosperity". (7) To His dominion and its prosperity there will be no limit or end. He will establish it and lay its foundation on David's throne and over his kingdom, in justice and righteousness, now and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.
Isaiah 9:6-7

(37) Even though He had performed so many [miraculous] signs in their presence, they did not believe in Him, (38) in order that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled which he spoke: "Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the Arm of the Lord been revealed?" (39) For this reason they were not able to believe, because [as] Isaiah also says, "He has blinded their eyes and disabled their heart so that they might not see with their eyes and understand in their heart and turn and I would heal them." (41) These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory (i.e., "holy, holy, holy" in Isaiah 6:1-3) and spoke about Him (i.e., in Is.6:1-10 since this second quote is from Is.6:10).
John 12:37-41

Response #25:


Question #26:

Here I thought about putting forward to him some other fragments of your Christology study:

3) Arm of the Lord: As the second person of the Trinity, Jesus is the One who carries out the plan of God directly and personally (Lk.1:51): He is the One who made the universe (Jer.27:5;32:17; cf. Ps.8:3), and He is the One who has saved us from eternal condemnation by personally coming into the world as a human being and dying in our place for our sins (Is.53:1 in the context of chapter 53; cf. Jn.12:37-38). He will also be the One through whom the Father will retake direct control of the earth at the second advent (Ps.98:1; Is.30:30; 40:10; 51:5; 51:9; 52:10; 59:16-20;63:5-6; cf. Is.48:14-15; Ezek.20:33-34). As the instrument by which the Father carries out His plan, the title "Arm of the Lord" is very descriptive and appropriate (Ps.89:13). It shows, moreover, how inextricably linked the purpose and the action of the Trinity are as three Persons sharing a single essence, especially visible in the redemption of the people of Israel from Egypt, an action highly symbolic of our redemption from death (cf. Deut.7:19; 9:29; 2Ki.17:36; Ps.89:10; Ps.136:10-15; Jer.32:21; Acts 13:17; cf. Ps.44:3).

Where is He [the Father] who brought them (i.e, the Israelites) up from the [Red] Sea with the leaders of His people? Where is He [the Father] who set among them His Holy Spirit, who [also] made His Glorious Arm of power [Jesus Christ (cf. Heb.11:27)] to go [along with them] at Moses' right hand?
Isaiah 63:11b-12a

12) Immanuel: This name, meaning "God is with us", demonstrates that Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy of the virgin birth of the Messiah, who is in every way "God with us" (Is.7:14; cf. Is.8:8):

(22) And all this has happened to fulfill what was said by the Lord through the prophet [Isaiah], saying, (23) "Behold, the virgin will conceive and will give birth to a Son, and you shall call His Name 'Immanuel'", which translated means 'God [is] with us'.
Matthew 1:22-23

19) Lord of Hosts: As with the titles "Alpha and Omega" and "King of Kings and Lord of Lords", "Lord of Hosts" is also a designation which may be applied to both the Father and the Son. For while at times this title seems clearly to represent the Father (Is.9:7; Zech.6:12-13), at other times we see it clearly referring to our Lord Jesus Christ as the Father's visible representative (Zech.2:8-9). At John 12:41, for example, John attributes to Jesus Isaiah's vision of the Lord surrounded by the Seraphs who cry out "holy, holy, holy" (Is.6:1-13). Along with being Head of the Church (Eph.1:22; 4:15; Col.1:18), the Lord Jesus Christ is also Head (and Creator) of all angelic kind (Eph.1:21; Col.1:15-20; 2:10; Heb.1:1-4), and this title emphasizes our Lord's status as Commander in Chief of the angelic armies ("host" being a translation of the Hebrew tsabhah, "army"; cf. Ps.84:3; Is.6:5; Am.5:14-16; Zech.1:3-17).

I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the host of heaven standing around him on his right and his left.
1st Kings 22:19 NIV

Response #26:

It's worth considering. However, I would be reluctant to overwhelm someone with information to which they are not disposed to be receptive. In such circumstances, its sometimes best to pick the best argument and the best "proof text" and stand your ground there to keep the issue the issue.

Question #27:

Not sure what you think of some references from carm.org:

I) Col. 1:16-17, "For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together."


Isaiah 40:28, "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom."

II) Rev. 1:17, "When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: 'Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.'"

Rev. 2:8, "To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again."

Rev. 22:13, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End."


Isaiah 41:4, "Who has done this and carried it through, calling forth the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD--with the first of them and with the last--I am he."

Isaiah 44:6, "This is what the LORD says--Israel's King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God."

Isaiah 48:12, "Listen to me, O Jacob, Israel, whom I have called: I am he; I am the first and I am the last."

III) Matt. 2:2, " . . . Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."

Luke 23:3, "So Pilate asked Jesus, "Are you the king of the Jews?" "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied."


Isaiah 44:6-8, "This is what the LORD says--Israel's King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God."

IV) John 8:12,"When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Luke 2:32, "a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."

See also John 1:7-9


Isaiah 60:20 ,"our sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end."

V) John 4:42, "They said to the woman, 'We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.'"

1 John 4:14, "And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world."


Isaiah 43:3, "For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior"

Isaiah 45:21, " . . . And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me."

VI) John 10:11, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."

Heb. 13:20, "May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep . . . "


Isaiah 40:11, "He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young."

Response #27:

These are all very good. It once again depends upon the willingness of the recipient to accept that the New Testament is valid and a valid interpreter of the Old Testament – both of which are in fact the infallible, completely consistent and divinely inspired truth given by God to mankind. Where a less complete allegiance to scripture exists, and where differences of substance are assumed between the two testaments, such comparisons will be necessarily less compelling.

Question #28:

There are some references showing the fulfilment by our Lord of Isaiah's prophecies:

Luke 7:22 (NASB)
22 And He answered and said to them, "Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them.

7:22 report to John what you have seen and heard. In answer, Jesus pointed to his healing and life- restoring miracles. He did not give promises but clearly observable evidence-evidence that reflected the predicted ministry of the Messiah. the good news is proclaimed to the poor. In Jesus' review of his works he used an ascending scale of impressive deeds, ending with the dead raised and the good news preached to the poor. In this way Jesus reminded John that these were the things predicted of the Messiah in the Scriptures (see Isa 29:18-21; 35:5-6 and notes; 61:1; Lk 4:18 and note).

Isaiah 29:18-21 (NASB)
18 On that day the deaf will hear words of a book,
And out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see.
19 The afflicted also will increase their gladness in the Lord,
And the needy of mankind will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
20 For the ruthless will come to an end and the scorner will be finished,
Indeed all who are intent on doing evil will be cut off;
21 Who cause a person to be indicted by a word,
And ensnare him who adjudicates at the gate,
And defraud the one in the right with meaningless arguments.

Isaiah 35:5-6 (NASB)
5 Then the eyes of the blind will be opened
And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.
6 Then the lame will leap like a deer,
And the tongue of the mute will shout for joy.
For waters will break forth in the wilderness
And streams in the Arabah.

Response #28:

Very good. A persuasive argument for the truth of the humanity of Christ for anyone who already accepts the divinity of Christ.

Question #29:

Finally, he asks about how should Isaiah 25:7-8 and 65:17-20 be reconciled with regard to death, which is pronounced to be swallowed up in the former passage, and yet still present in the latter.

Is the latter passage a reference to the Millennium? On the other hand, verse 17 speaks of the New Heavens and New Earth.

As always, Professor, your guidance will be much appreciated, with regard to what should the reply include and which points are best left out. I can see that accepting the deity of our Lord comes with some difficulty to my friend and I know I have to be careful with the arguments and verses I choose.

In our Lord,

Response #29:

Verse 17 speaks about the eternal state; verses 18ff. speak of the millennial Jerusalem. From the prophet's historical vantage point, all these things are future and appear as a blended whole. Similarly, death is only swallowed up after the seven millennial days are concluded, even though things are blessed and longevity will be unprecedented in the Millennium: all these things are "future" and so can be discussed together. This phenomenon, "prophetic foreshortening", is discussed at the link.

You're a good man, and a good friend to your friend! I will say a prayer for your success in this labor of love.

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.


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