Bible Query from Genesis
August 2014 version. Copyright (c) Christian Debater(tm) 1997-2014. All rights reserved except as given in the copyright notice.
Q: In Gen, how do we know that Genesis should be in the Bible?
A: Among other reasons, because Jesus and so many others in the Bible authenticated the Old Testament and referred to Genesis as scripture. See Matthew 19:4 and Mark 10:4-9 for two examples where Jesus quotes from the Book of Genesis as scripture.
Q: In Gen, who first answered questions on Genesis?
A: As far as I am aware, the first person to write answers to questions on Genesis was Philo, a Hellenistic Jew from Alexandria, who lived from about 20 B.C. to 50 A.D. Today we have an Armenian translation of his work. He wrote a three part work, Questions and Answers on Genesis. We have preserved his answers to 244 questions from Genesis 1 to 17, according to the standpoint of a pious Jew who was heavily influenced by Greek Platonic philosophy. You can get this in The Works of Philo : Complete and Unabridged Ė new updated version translated by C.D. Yonge Hendrickson Publishers1993 fourth printing 1997.
Q: In Gen 1, since some things have to be true, like 1 = 1, and 1 + 1 = 2, did God create mathematics and numbers? How could He create them any other way?
A: God created everything; however, a tautology, which is something that by definition is true like red things are red-colored, is not a thing. We can speculate that God created every "thing" in mathematics that is not a tautology.
Q: In Gen 1, since God created everything, did He create darkness, evil, and holes in the ground? If He created evil, He does not sound like a perfectly good God. If not, then whoever did sounds like they are a creator also.
A: God created every thing. Darkness is not a thing, but an absence or reduction of light. Evil is not a thing, but an absence or twisting of good. Holes, darkness, and evil were not directly created by God, but they came into existence as tautologies, or "existential byproducts" of matter, light and good. Likewise a shadow is not an independent thing, having matter, energy, or spirit. Nevertheless, plants can die in the shadows. So shadows have a "parasitic existence" but they still really exist.
Q: In Gen 1, since God created everything good, why do tornadoes, plagues, and other disasters strike?
A: Everything was originally good. However, Romans 8:20-22 reveals that since the Fall, the earth was "subjected to frustration" too. The whole world is under the dominion of the evil one (1 John 5:19), and the prince of this world is Satan according to John 12:31; 14:30.
Q: In Gen 1, what is the cosmological argument?
A: First, here is a simple, logically loose way to phrase it.
You canít get something from nothing. Every created thing had to be created. Even the first created thing(s) had to be created by something or someone that was already there. Therefore, something or someone had to be uncreated and eternal.
Here is a more rigorous formulation; the definitions are my own.
We assume that everyone knows enough to have a suitable definition of logic, contradiction and non-contradiction, event, process, "in", object, collection, time, sequence, matter, energy, spirit, cause, affected by, and affects.
Actual existence is defined here as being in this universe, has the ability to be affected by something in this universe, or has the ability to affect something in this universe. This would be too narrow a definition of "existence", as it fails to consider ideas, patterns, and other things. So, letís call this "actual existence" and restrict our discussion here actual existence.
Real thing is defined here as an object or collection of matter, energy, spirit, or combination that has actual existence. Logical truths, logical contradictions, and mathematical proofs are not considered things here.
Parasitic existence, as an aside, is defined as the actual existence of things that are not real things. Holes, darkness, shortages, incorrectness, and evil are not matter, energy, or spirit, yet as a shadow can kill plants that need sun, or a lack of food can kill a person, shadows and lack of food have actual existence without being real things.
The universe is defined here as a collection of real things that actually exist. Note that in this particular definition the universe is self-contained, and God (assuming God exists, is spirit, and can affect things) is in the universe.
Nothing is defined here as something that never actually exists, or does not have actual existence at a particular time. In other words, before it is created [or after it is destroyed], a real thing is not in the universe, does not affect the universe, and is not affected by the universe.
A cause is defined as having actual existence since it affects other things in the universe that have actual existence. A cause is a real thing by definition if it can have matter, energy, spirit, or a combination of the above.
Creation is defined here as the event or process of making a new real thing. Creation is differentiated from "modification", which does not necessarily require any cause outside of the thing itself. Creation of a new real thing can include modification or destruction of a pre-existing real thing, but it does not have to do so. However, see the next point.
Something cannot come from nothing. Every created real thing requires a cause for its creation. In other words, nothing can be created unless some thing(s) or being(s) created it. Something cannot be created without any cause.
Something cannot create itself. Nothing can create itself. While real things sometimes can change themselves, or destroy themselves, nothing can be its own cause of creation.
A first cause. While created real things can create other created real things, ultimately there had to be a first cause. In other words, in a sequence of causes, at least one cause had to be before all other causes that require a cause.
Uncreated. Since at least one cause has to have no prior cause, and every creation requires a cause, at least one thing or being with actual existence is uncreated and existed from eternity past, because it had had no creation.
Summary: Every real thing that exists either had a point in time or a time period at which it first existed, or else it did not. If it did not, it is eternal and uncreated. If it did, then some real thing was a cause for its existence.
Limitations: This argument does not prove the first cause is a living being, or that there is only one uncreated cause, or whether any uncreated causes still exist. It simply proves that there was at least thing of actual existence (personal or impersonal) that existed eternally without being created.
One of the first writers to clearly see the cosmological argument and speak of God as the first cause was Philo the Jew, who lived in Alexandria, Egypt, from 15/20 B.C. to 50 A.D.. R.C. Sproul and Norm Geisler have numerous good material on the cosmological argument.
Q: The argument that "the complexity of the world indicates that there must be a creator" sounds good, until taken to its logical conclusion. What about Godís complexity? If an intricate being requires a designer, then God must require an even greater designer, and so on up the scale. Where does it end? The argument ends up in an "infinite regression," and there is no answer to it. Is there?
A: Before answering this argument, let me amplify on "the problem" first. Apart from complexity, this is also an issue with a defective form of the cosmological argument. If everything has a cause, then God too must have a cause. But of course God does not required a cause for His creation if God is eternal and uncreated.
Since something must have an end, or else not have an end, there are only two possible answers:
a) there is no end to the backward regression
b) there is an end to the backward regression, an uncaused first cause.
If a), there were no end to the backward regression, then not everything has a cause, because the regression itself ultimately had no cause. Therefore, either way there is someone/something that has no cause.
If b), there is an end to the backward regression, then there must be a first cause, of unspecified complexity. Of course, then this means that God is not a caused being, a product of any creation.
I wonder though, if God might find this whole argument so simplistic, because we think of causes in time. If God exists outside of time as well as in it, and if time too is a creation of God, then speaking about what was it like in the time before God existed is an oxymoron.
Q: In Gen 1, could God have created other beings and worlds?
A: He certainly did create other beings: angels and demons. As to creating other worlds with beings on them, the Bible does not tell us all we desire to know, only what we need to know ó and we need to make sure we at least read that. God could have created other universes, and perhaps that is what Heaven and Hell are.
Q: In Gen 1, why did God make Adam and Eve, since God knew beforehand that they would disobey Him?
A: Despite God foreknowing that they would sin, God tells us a number of things as to why He created people.
For His glory: God created His children for His glory. Isaiah 43:7; 61:34.
People to love: God greatly loves us. Psalm 145:9,17; 1 John 3:1.
To be His children: 1 John 3:1-2; Galatians 3:28, Romans 8:15-17
To live in us: 1 John 4:12-16; Romans 8:9-11
God desires that none perish. Ezekiel 18:23,32; 33:11; 2 Peter 3:9. Yet, God feels no regret about creating those who, given the opportunity, freely choose to reject Him. God foreknew that they would sin, and still chose not to interfere with their choice or "uncreate" them.
Perhaps part of the reason God chose to create beings who would be in His image is similar to the reason parents choose to have children. Yes, the children will be expensive, with diapers and food, and yes the children will cause heartache by their ills, hurts, and disobedience, but through it all, the love makes it worthwhile.
Q: In Gen 1:1, did God create because He needed to create?
A: The Bible provides no support for this speculation. God has no needs, in the sense that He would be harmed or cease to exist if He did not create something. On the other hand, Godís desire was to create, and God fulfilled His desire on a grand, wonderful scale.
Q: In Gen 1:1, were there more creations after Genesis?
A: Scripture does not say either way, and God is free to do as He wishes. If God created other creatures, they could be like the angels, like Adam and Eve prior to the Fall, like us, like demons, like animals, or something entirely different.
Q: In Gen 1:2, if the spirit of God was moving over the waters, does this mean the Holy Spirit is not an intelligent, living being, but instead an active force as Jehovahís Witnesses claim?
A: No. The fact that the Holy Spirit does not have a physical body and can move over the waters does not contradict the fact that Scripture shows the Holy Spirit is a living being with a personality.
The following is a duplicate of the discussion on 1 John 5:6-8.
A witness can be a living being as well as an inanimate object. A mistake of Jehovahís Witnesses is that since the Holy Spirit has many attributes a human being does not have, therefore (by some stretch of logic) the Holy Spirit cannot have personality. 1 John 5:6-8 shows there are three witnesses to the fact that Jesus had a physical body. The blood refers to His crucifixion, and the Spirit is an inward testimony to Christians. The water refers either to Jesusí baptism by John, or possibly the water surrounding a baby at birth.
Following are various facts the Bible teaches us about the personality of the Holy Spirit.
Parakletos (the comforter, the one along side us). John 14:16,26, John 15:26
Can know the innermost thoughts of God 1 Corinthians 2:10-11
Speaks to us. Acts 13:2, Hebrews 3:7
Reminds us. John 14:26
Like a parent, so we will not be orphans (orphanos in Greek). John 14:18
Guides us. John 16:13
Teaches us. John 14:26 1 Corinthians 2:13
Lives in us. 1 Cor 3:16, 2 Timothy 1:14, Romans 8:9,11, Ephesians 2:22
In our hearts. 2 Corinthians 1:22 Galatians 4:6
He intercedes for us (inanimate objects do not pray or intercede). Romans 8:26-27
Can be insulted. Hebrews 10:29
Testifies of Christ. John 15:26
Has a mind. Romans 8:27
Can be grieved. Isaiah 63:10, Ephesians 4:30
Makes choices. 1 Corinthians 12:11
Possesses love. Romans 15:30
Can think things are good Acts 15:28
Searches deep things of God 1 Corinthians 2:9-10
Groans (and thus cares) for us Romans 8:26
See When Cultists Ask p.299 and Jehovahís Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse p.21-22 for more info.
Q: In Gen 1:10, how could God create the earth, since the earth was already created in Gen 1:1?
A: The Hebrew word (eres) is the same in both cases. As in English, (eres) can mean the world under the sky, and it can mean ground or dry land. Thus God created the planet in Genesis 1:1, and the dry ground in Genesis 1:12. See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.65-66.
Q: In Gen 1 and Gen 2, why do there seem to be two creation accounts?
A: Look at what is created in each account. Genesis 1 is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and Genesis 2 is the creation of humans in the Garden of Eden. See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.66-68, Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.133-134, 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.21-22, and When Critics Ask p.35 for more info.
Q: In Gen 1 and other places, why is God called Elohim, while in other places, such as Gen 2, God is called Yahweh?
A: God has a great number of names and titles in the Bible. It seems that the name Yahweh focuses on Godís personal relationship to us in contrast to the name Elohim, which emphasizes His impartial, transcendent aspects. Genesis 1 has no names for Adam, Eve, or any animals either, while Genesis 2 has them. This is such a contrast that it had to be deliberate.
735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.21-22 says it was common in ancient cultures to have more than one name for the same god. Here are examples:
Osiris Ė Wennefer, Khent-amentius, Neb-abdu
Bel Ė Enlil, Nunamnir
Sin Ė Nanna
El Ė Latpan
Baal Ė Larpan
See When Critics Ask p.33-34 and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.66-68 for more info.
Q: In Gen 1, could God create the earth in literal six 24-hour days?
A: Regardless of whether they think the earth is old or young, all Christians should answer this question "yes".
Instead of six days, the Almighty could have created it in six seconds if He had wanted. The issue is not how God had to create, but how scripture and nature reveal He chose to create.
As a side note, Scripture does not say how long a day with God is in Genesis 1. Deuteronomy 9:1 shows that a "day" could indicate a period of time greater than 24 hours, as it was understood in Mosesí "day". Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8 indicate Godís days could be very long. See When Critics Ask p.32-33 and Archer, Survey of Old Testament Introduction p.187-199, for outlines of various views. See also the next two questions.
Q: In Gen 1 do the similarities between this and the Babylonian creation accounts prove they were from a common, human origin? (Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.1197 claims this is very likely)
A: Babylonian accounts are similar in many physical details, but almost diametrically opposite in terms of cause. In contrast to Marduk struggling against the chaos of the dragon Tiamat, God commands what happens. If there is some truth in non-Biblical culture that should not be a surprise. In addition, the style of Genesis 1 appears to be a deliberate contrast with pagan concepts.
Q: In Gen 1:26 and 3:22, why is the word "us" is used for the One True God?
A: There are two possible answers.
1. The "us" refers to the One true God, but plural is the proper sense for a conversation among the Trinity.
2. The "royal we" was used of kings and gods for one person. As an example of this in the Mideastern religion if Islam, the Muslim Qurían uses "us" and "we" when Allah is referring to himself. Muslims and non-Muslims can agree that use of the "royal we" in the Qurían does not suggest Mohammed taught that Allah was multiple gods.
However, Philo the Jew (15/20 B.C. to 50 A.D.) interpreted this not as the royal "we", but that God used assistants in On the Creation chapter 24 no.75 p.11.
See When Critics Ask p.30-31, When Cultists Ask p.20-21, and Todayís Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.180-182 for this and other views.
Q: Does Gen 1:26 mean that we should be educated to acquire divine perfections and the focus of divine blessings, as Bahaiís teach in Some Answered Questions p.8,9?
A: No, because Genesis 1:27 says that God did what He said in Genesis 1:26. When Adam and Eve were created, they were perfectly sinless before the fall, and they did not need education. While we are still in the image of God, Genesis 1:26-28 refers to what God already accomplished.
Q: Does Gen 1:26 mean people are "little-gods" themselves, as Kenneth Hagin and some word-faith teachers say?
A: No. The word in Genesis is "like" not "is". Even word-faith teachers would agree that creatures like us were never to be worshipped. The bodies of Adam and Eve were given an immortality that could be forfeited, a righteousness that could be ruined, and a perfect love for God that could be thrown away like an old piece of fruit. See When Cultists Ask p.21-22 for more info and a partial enumeration of the ways we are not.
Q: In Gen 1:26-27, was this a conversation among the members of the Trinity, or created beings such as angels?
A: While angels might have overheard these words too, this was a conversation among the Trinity. Our creation was not the work of angels but of God in Trinity. The first Christian writer known to have observed this could not be angels was Justin Martyr (wrote c.138-165 A.D.) in his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew chapter 62 p.228.
Q: In Gen 1:26-27, since God made people higher than the angels, could God later make beings higher than humans?
A: Scripture does not say either way, and God is free to do whatever He wishes. However Scripture says that believers are "sons of God" and we will "reign with Christ" and be "co-seated with Christ" (Ephesians 2:6). It is hard for a finite creature to be much higher than that.
Q: In Gen 1:26, was Adam a "superman" with ability a million times greater than ours, as Watchman Nee taught in The Latent Power of the Soul (1933 p.15)?
A: Scripture never taught this strange speculation. It also never taught that Adam was already like God in outward appearance, as Watchman Nee taught in the same book page 18. Unfortunately, people often try to add their own teaching to what God actually said. See The Berean Call April 1998 p.3 for more info.
Q: In Gen 1:26, if we are created in Godís image, doesnít that prove God (or at least the Father) has a manís physical body? (Mormons mention this.)
A: Most would agree the Holy Spirit does not have a physical body and Jesus did not have a physical body at that time. If "us" is referring to a discussion with the Father, Son, and Spirit, then image cannot refer to a mere physical body. By the way, Genesis 9:6 shows that since the Fall, we still have Godís image. See When Cultists Ask p.22 for more info.
Q: In Gen 1:27, are people still made in the image of God since the Fall?
A: Yes. Genesis 9:6, after the flood, shows that even though we are marred by sin, we still have Godís image. See Now Thatís A Good Question p.152-153 for essentially the same answer and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.20 for more info.
Q: In Gen 1:28, since man was to fill the earth and subdue it, did this give permission for man to destroy the environment?
A: Not at all! We have never heard of a Christian or Jew who read the Bible with that interpretation. This new rendering, first advanced in 1967 [see Kaiserís reference at the end], only seems to makes sense if you read part of Genesis 1, and you define "subdue" as "destroy", rather than "wisely rule". Actually the Bible says six important things about taking care of the land and animals.
1. They were "tenants" on land that really belonged to God
1a. Thus, the land could not be sold permanently (Leviticus 25:23)
1b. All things belong to God (Psalm 24:1)
2. God will judge those who defile the land in general
2a. Isaiah 24:5 says the earth was defiled by its people.
2b. Zechariah wailed over the destruction of mighty forests and rich pastures. Even more, wailing over the spiritual calamity for which these natural calamities are allegories. (Zechariah 11:1-3)
3. God condemns physically defiling the land
3a. God will destroy those who destroy the earth. (Revelation 11:18).
3b. God will judge the "sheep" who not only eat what they need, but trample the rest of the pasture. They not only drink clear water, but they muddy the rest of the water with their feet (Ezekiel 34:17-22).
3c. Numbers 5:3 speaks of not defiling the camp, in the context of infectious diseases.
3d. Even in war, do not cut down the fruit trees that make the land productive (Deuteronomy 20:19-20). An olive tree can live for over 1,000 years.
4. God condemns defiling the land with evil
4a. Numbers 35:33-34 commands us: "do not pollute the land" in the context of killing people.
4b. Do not defile the land with idolatry (Jeremiah 16:18).
4c. Jeremiah 32:34 mentions people defiling the valley of Topheth with infant sacrifice.
4d. In Ezekiel 7:22, the wicked will defile Godís treasured place.
5. Godís Law includes wise resource management
5a. Adam was put "in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it" (Genesis 2:15).
5b. Not planting two kinds of crops together (Deuteronomy 22:9). Instead, alternating crops reduces insect pests.
5c. Letting the land rest every seventh year during the Jubilee (Leviticus 25:3-7,11-12,18).
5d. God would judge Israel for breaking this rule (Leviticus 26:34-35).
6. Animals: owned by God, made for our use, but we must treat animals kindly
6a. Animals belong to God (Psalm 50:10) and He takes care of them (Psalm 36:6; 104:11,14; 147:8-9).
6b. Eating meat is fine, and in some instances commanded (Genesis 9:2-5; Acts 10:13).
6c. Jesus was sinless (Hebrews 4:15; 7:26; 1 Peter 3:22; 1 John 3:5). He ate fish (Luke 24:42-43) and being a good Jew, ate meat as was commanded during the Passover (Exodus 12:8-10).
6d. Wearing leather is fine, as John the Baptist had a leather belt in Mark 1:6.
6e. Hunting is OK (Leviticus 17:13).
6f. Killing animals for sacrifice was even commanded (Exodus - Deuteronomy).
6g. We are to be kind to animals (Proverbs 12:10).
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.89-90 and the next question for more info.
Q: In Gen 1:28, even though the Bible does not explicitly say we should squander Godís gift of our environment, does Christianity implicitly teach that we can trash the environment?
A: No. You cannot blame the ecological problems caused by greed and over-population on Christianity, any more than one can blame problems on Animists in Africa, Hindus in India, atheists in China, and Muslims in Indonesia and the Mideast. There are ecological problems in every continent, just as there are people who will sacrifice the environment for personal gain on every continent. For a discussion of what the Bible does say about the environment, see the previous answer. See also 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.20-21 for more info.
Q: In Gen 1:29 were Adam and Eve given every seed-bearing plant, or could they not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as Gen 2:17 says?
A: While we do not know whether the tree of the knowledge of good and evil had seeds or not, that is not relevant here. Regardless, the meaning was they could eat of every seed-bearing plant, with the exception of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Q: In Gen 1:29 if all the plants could be eaten by people, how is the Bible logical and reasonable, because there are poisonous plants and seeds we cannot eat? (A Muslim brought this up)
A: In the Qurían Sura 5:46-48 says that Jesus confirmed the Torah and the gospels. It is a very serious charge for a Muslim to make, that Jesus verified something that was wrong and not from God. But to answer the objection, regardless of whether it was understood as every single plant or every herb and grain, God told this to Adam prior to the fall, before the earth was cursed. Nature radically changed when Adam and Eve sinned. Before the fall, God gave dominion of the earth to Adam and Eve, but when they sinned in following the serpent's suggestion, Satan became the prince (though not the king) of this world. But the fall brings up an interesting point: if Muslims today say that the prophets are sinless, and if Adam and Eve sinned and brought all curse on us when they sinned, why do Muslims say Adam was a prophet?
Q: In Gen 2:2-3, why did God rest from working on the seventh day?
A: "Rest" here means to cease from the work of creating. God does not grow weary (Isaiah 40:28). Scripture never says God needed to rest, but that He chose to do so. See also Todayís Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.184-185 and Bible Difficulties "& Seeming Contradictions p.212-213 for more info.
Q: In Gen 2:2, was the concept of the Sabbath Babylonian in origin that was added to Jewish tradition later, as Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.19,847-848 says it is tempting to suppose?
A: Two answers, one for Christians and one for non-Christians.
1. (for Christians): If you assume that Jesus was from God as proved by his resurrection, since Jesus accepted the original accuracy and preserved reliability of the Old Testament, and the references to the Sabbath in Genesis and Jeremiah can be proved to be written before Jesus, it was not a Babylonian invention, and there is nothing more that needs to be said.
2. (for non-Christians): In Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.847 he says the Babylonians called the 15th day of the month sappatu. Of course, that is only one day a month not four. On p.19, Asimov was astute to notice that the Sabbath seemed of little consequence to the Israelites in Pre-Exilic times and of great importance in Post-Exilic times. However, to postulate that the Babylonian and Post-Exilic Jews were universally "hoodwinked" into a) believing their exile was due to failure to obey a command that was not in their Scriptures, and b) this was added in 59 places (35 of which were in the Torah) without anybody noticing the new concept, is incredulous. By the way, not all the Jews went to Babylonia. Jeremiah records that some went instead to Egypt. It was descendents of those Jews who translated the Old Testament into Greek, and in the Greek Septuagint translation has the Sabbath verses, too.
Any and every speculation about errors in the Bible might be seem completely believable to someone who thought it very important to show there were errors in the Bible and they did not have to follow it. However, even Isaac Asimov at least recognized the tenuousness of this theory by not mentioning it as any more than a temptation.
Q: In Gen 2:4, 5:1, 6:9, 10:1, 11:10, 11:27, 25:12, 25:19, 36:1, 36:9, and 37:2, Num 3:1; Ru 4:18, does the Hebrew word (Toledot) start a section, or conclude a section?
A: Either it always refers to the beginning, always refers to the end, or sometimes goes either way.
Ambiguous: Here are some "toledots" that could be interpreted Either way: Genesis 2:4; 5:1; 36:9; 37:2.
Beginning: Here are some "toledots" that context demands they be at the beginning: Genesis 6:9; 10:1; 11:10; 11:27; 25:12; 25:19; 36:1; Numbers 3:1. Philo the Jew (15/20 B.C.-50 A.D.) mentions Genesis 2:4 as "summing up his [Mosesí] account of the creation of the world" in On the Creation 44:129 p.18.
At the end: There is not a single "toledot" that provably belongs at the end of a section. Therefore, the ambiguous sections are probably "toledots" at the beginning.
The most conclusive prove that "toledot" is at the beginning of a section is Genesis 25:19, which says is it the account of Isaac. The immediately following section speaks of Isaacís children. The immediately preceding section speaks of Ishmael and has nothing whatsoever to do with Isaac.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament (Victor Books 1985) p.22-23 for more on why "Toledot" belongs at the beginning.
Q: In Gen 2:5-7, did God create plants after man, or before man as Gen 1:12,26 says? (An atheist named Capella asked this.)
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
1. Plants first: Genesis 1 clearly says plants were created on the earth prior to man. These of course, would include the ancestors of all modern plants.
2. World vs. Garden: Genesis 1 is the Creation account of the heavens and the earth, while Genesis 2 is the creation account of the Garden of Eden.
3. Crops after man: Genesis 2 shows that shrubs of the field came after man, at least in the Garden of Eden. In both occurrences, the Hebrew word for "field", saday, is used, rather than just saying plants.
As a side note, the Wycliffe Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology p.23 says that at Beersheba they found calcinated grains of wheat, barley, lentils, and grapes from 4000 B.C.
Q: In Gen 2:5-7, what are the grains we used today, as well as grains used in the past?
A: People often think of grains as just the three largest food crops: wheat, rice, and corn, but actually you could eat three meals a day for a weak, and have a different grain at every meal.
Maize (corn): Archaeologists tell us that maize was domesticated in the new world about 5000 B.C. It came from a grain called teosinte. Teosinte had about 50 loosely held kernels, and the cob was less than an inch long. In contrast, corn today has 500 to 1,000 tightly held kernels on each cob. Because the kernels are tightly held, corn today is unable to grow in the wild without the help of man. See Food and Nutrition (Life Science Library 1967) p.37-38 for more info.
Wheat: Archaeology has found ancestors of wheat in the Middle east in Iraq around 7,000 B.C.. It is called Emmer and loses its seeds when the wind blows. Today there are thousands of strains of wheat. See Food and Nutrition (Life Science Library 1967) p.39 for more info. Kamut (=khorasan, = King Tutís wheat), is probably a type of durum wheat. As a side note, some see the 2,000 year difference between the time of cultivation of wheat and maize as one of the two reasons (horses being the other reason) that when the Spanish came to America, Indian culture was 1,000 to 2,000 years behind European culture.
Rice was the newcomer of the three main grains. Food and Nutrition p.34 says it was domesticated about 3500 B.C.
Emmer (=emmer wheat, =faro) has been found in pre-pottery sites in the Middle east as early at 9800-8800 B.C. Domesticated emmer is different from wild emmer, but it came from wild emmer. Later emmer spread to Europe and India.
Spelt has a somewhat mysterious origin. It was grown in the Roman Empire, Great Britain, and Asia, prior to cultivation of wheat. It might be a hybrid between emmer and wheat, or between emmer and wild goat-grass (Aegilops tauschii), or it might have had two origins. Some think spelt had its start about 6,000 B.C.
Sorghum came from a grass in Africa. It somewhat resembles corn (maize) in appearance. Sorghum is one of the eight major grain crops grown today; it is used today for animal feed, but is also probably the fifth largest crop for human consumption.
Barley was probably first grown around 8,000 B.C. in the Israel, Jordan area. It spread eastward to the Himalayas.
Rye is guessed to have started in the Mount Ararat and Lake Van region of eastern Turkey shortly after the domestication of wheat. It grows places where wheat and barley will not.
Oats are a grain we know little about except that some were found in an Egyptian tomb in 2,000 B.C., and they were likely started in Asia Minor.
Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) was first grown in the Yunnan and Szechuan provinces of China around 1000 A.D.. It does not have a high crop yield, but matures quickly and is good in arid and cool climates. There are at least 14 varieties.
Palmerís grass (=nipa grass, = Distichlis palmeri) was grown only in the Sonoran desert in western Mexico and the western United States. It was the main food source for the Cocopah tribe. It is somewhat similar to wheat except that it can grow in arid conditions and can absorb seawater and secrete out the salt.
Millets are a collection of at least 13 small-seeded edible grasses that are good to grow in arid conditions. Millets such as broomcorn were also the primary grain in China and Korea in the earliest times. Some times of millets are barnyard millet, broomcorn, browntop millet, Finger millet, fonio, foxtail millet, Japanese millet, Jobís tears, kodo millet, little millet, pearl millet, proso millet, and teff. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millet for more info.
Potatoes are not a grain, but there are the fourth largest food crop today. They are believed to have started about 6,000 B.C. in Peru and Bolivia in the region of Lake Titicaca.
Other non-grain crops are beans, pulses, soybeans, groundnuts, cassava, sweet potatoes, peas, breadfruit, coconuts, bananas, plantains, and taro. Kesari seed was grown in India, but it has long term paralyzing effects.
Q: In Gen 2:7, did God create matter, or did He just "organize" it as many Mormons teach, or was matter uncreated because matter is not a real thing, as Christian Science and some eastern religious groups teach?
A: No. God being almighty means God can do anything, and God being the Creator means God created everything. God created the universe "ex nihilo", which means from nothing. Thus, to be precise, God not only created the "things of matter and energy", but God created matter and energy themselves.
See When Cultists Ask p.24-25 for a different but complementary, answer.
Q: In Gen 2:7,19 did God create man before the animals, or after the animals as Gen 1:24,27 says? (An atheist (Capella) asked this).
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
On the earth, God created man after the animals, as Genesis 1:24,27 says.
In the Garden of Eden, God had to have created man before showing man the animals.
Even in the Garden, the animals might have been there before man. Genesis 2:19 refers to the animals that had been created by that time. It does not mean there animals were not created until that time.
Q: Does Gen 2:7 prove that people do not have an immortal soul like Jehovahís Witnesses say?
A: No. The Hebrew word here, nephesh, means "soul" in some places, and "life" in other places such as this one. How could the believers under the altar in Revelation 6:9-10 be under the altar if they did not have existence after death? See When Cultists Ask p.23-24 for more info.
Q: In Gen 2:10-14, where are the rivers that flowed out of the Garden of Eden?
A: First of all, the Garden of Eden does not exist on earth today. We do not know where the Pishon River was, and the Tigris and Euphrates rivers are in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. The Gihon is usually thought to be the Nile River, which flowed from the region of Cush, south of Egypt. However, it could have been a smaller river originating in "Cush" (Kashshu) in west Elam, which is very close to the Tigris and Euphrates. The Kassites (Greek: Kossaeans) were from there. See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.69-70, When Critics Ask p.34, and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.22 for more info.
Q: In Gen 2:15, why did God say you (singular) may eat from any fruit of the garden, except that you (plural) must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?
A: Either one of them could choose any particular tree; they did not have to eat the same food. However, neither was allowed to eat from the one tree. The plural form adds emphasis; this command was not just to Adam, but to everyone.
Philo the Jew (15/20 B.C. to 50 A.D.) first answered this question in Questions and Answers on Genesis, I p.794.
Q: In Gen 2:16, why did God create Adam, knowing that he would fall?
A: God can do anything, but a logical impossibility is not a thing. God cannot create a being who chooses to loving obedience to God, if that being is not able to choose to obey God. Being able to choose to obey God means being able to choose to disobey God. See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.22 and the discussion on Genesis 3 for more info.
Q: Since Gen 2:17 says "the day you eat of it you shall surely die", how did Adam and Eve die "that day"?
A: Spiritually and judicially. Three points to consider in the answer.
Spiritual death occurred that day.
Judicially, that day sentences of both eternal and physical death were pronounced against them. In Hard Sayings of the Bible p.91-92, Walter Kaiser, Jr. shows the Hebrew idiom means the certainty of their death, not the immediacy of the death.
For another example of the use of this idiom of speech, see 1 Kings 2:37, where Solomon gave a similar warning to Shimei on the day he leaves Jerusalem.
The first person we know who gave an answer to this question was Philo the Jew (15/20 B.C. to 50 A.D.) in Questions and Answers on Genesis, 1 p.794, and Allegorical Interpretation, I 33 (105) p.46-37, where he mentions the death of the soul.
A second ancient writer, who gave a different answer is Irenaeus in Against Heresies book 5 ch.23 (182-188 A.D.) p.551-552. Since Irenaeus notes that a day with the Lord is 1,000 years, he interprets this as one of Godís days, and he sees it significant that Genesis 5:6 says that Adam died when he was 930 years old, which is less than 1,000 years.
See When Critics Ask p.34, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.72-74, Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.134-135, The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.45, Todayís Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.190-191, 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered 23-24, and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.91-92 for more info.
Q: In Gen 2:18, why does it say man was alone, since man was with both God and the animals?
A: Adam did have rule over the animals, and Adam did worship God, but Adam had no one else like Him. He was alone in not having anyone to relate to in a horizontal way as an equal.
Q: Does Gen 2:18-22 show that women were created as an afterthought, as Born Again Skepticís p.164 claims?
A: No, it shows just the opposite. God took a great deal of time, with Adam having to name the animals and all, to demonstrate to Adam his need for a mate. Most of the things in Genesis 1 and 2 were simply created with little explanation. However, God first "set the stage" and explained her purpose as Adamís co-laborer before creating Eve.
Q: Does Gen 2:18 show that women are inferior to men, since Eve was made differently from Adam?
A: No it does not. Six points to consider in the answer.
1. Different does not prove unequal. Different people speak different languages, but that does not mean every language is either inferior or superior to another. As one Christian said, Eve was not made from Adamís foot to be under him, nor from his head to be above him, but from his side to be with him.
2. Helper does not mean inferior. Some might think that Eve was less than Adam because she was a "helper" in Genesis 2:18. However, God is our helper (same Hebrew word) in Psalm 70:5 and this does not mean God is inferior to us! Thus translating the Hebrew as "helpmate" is rather imprecise. A better translation is ĎI will make a power [or strength] corresponding to man.í according to Walter Kaiserís detailed study of the Hebrew in Hard Sayings of the Bible p.92-94. So the woman is to be a "full partner" and not just an assistant.
3. Genesis 1:27 shows both are in the image of God. It was not just Adam that is in the image of God, but both male and female are in the image of God. By the way, being in the "image of God" in no way means God is limited to having two feet, two hands, a stomach etc. Rather, as a two-dimensional image is an imperfect outline of a real, three-dimensional object, the character of the infinite God and our finite being have some similarities.
4. Equal in nature, value, importance, etc. In the Bible, Galatians 3:28 says, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male or female, - for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." (NET)
5. Yet different in role: Ephesians 5:22-24 shows that wives are to submit to their husbands, for husbands are the head of the wife. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church in Ephesians 5:25-26. Paul said that women were not to teach men or have authority over men in 1 Timothy 2:12.
6. How does this work out in practice?
6.1 Deborah was a godly judge of Israel in Judges 4-5. Based on this, there is no difficulty voting for a woman for president or prime minister.
6.2 They could inherit things, including land in Numbers 36:8.
6.3 For a more thorough description of how a wife is to be a full partner with her husband, read Proverbs 31:10-31. Among other things it says:
She works with her hands (Proverbs 31:13,22) and profits from this in Proverbs 31:24,31.
She shops for food (Prov 31:14) and cooks. Prov 31:15
She manages others. Prov 31:15
She herself decides to buy real-estate in Prov 31:16.
She plants a vineyard. Prov 31:16 (Note that a family does not own an entire vineyard just for their personal consumption; it was a source of profit.)
She is physically strong. Prov 31:17
She also trades, not just for necessity but for profit. Prov 31:18
She herself gives to the poor. (She had to have control over money to do so.) Prov 31:20
She manages the household. Prov 31:21
She is wise, and teaches wisdom. Prov 31:26
In summary: Women are not inferior to men in nature, value or importance. They do have a different role than men, as any expectant mother can tell you.
See also Todayís Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.191-193 for more on how woman was made "as like" man, and equal with him.
Q: In Gen 2:19 why did Adam need to see all the animals here?
A: God gave Adam dominion over all the animals in Genesis 1:26, and God wanted to see what Adam would name the animals in Genesis 19.
In addition to this, there might have been a more subtle reason. Prior to making Eve, God recognized the importance of filling what was lacking in Adam, but Adam did not. Thus Adam could learn three things about the animals relevant to his current situation.
a) Showing Adam that all the higher animals had male and female showed how God made them complete and able to propagate their species.
b) Adam could look at all the creatures, and see that there was none like him.
c) Adam could see that he needed another to make him complete, too.
Incidentally, teaching children how plants reproduce, and how animals reproduce, is a good approach to teaching kids how God ordained the way children are made.
a) Even dogs and deer have communities in which they live.
b) Adam could see that He did not have anyone like him in a community to share his life with, and people need other people to be around.
a) Since God gave Adam dominion over the earth, Adam would need to know the animals that were on the earth.
b) Since Adam had dominion, God honored Adam by having him name the animals. Philo the Jew mentioned this in Works of Philo p.882.
Q: In Gen 2:19-3:19, what evidence is there from early Mormon writings that Mormons believed the crazy doctrine that Adam was God?
A: Here are the quotes from the Mormon Journal of Discourses, followed by twelve other writings as evidence.
a. Journal of Discourses vol. 1 p.50. (Sermon by Brigham Young) "Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, Saint and sinner! When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is Michael, the Archangel, the Ancient of Days! about whom holy men have written and spoken - He is our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do. Every man upon the earth, professing Christians or non-professing must hear it, and will know it sooner or later." (italics and small caps are in the original)
b. Journal of Discourses vol. 1 p.51. (same sermon) "Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the Garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven."
Note that Mormons often respond that this is a printing error. It is interesting to note that the volumes of the great Christian preacher Charles H. Spurgeon were published about the same time, and there were no printerís errors saying some created being was God in Spurgeonís works. Following is corroborating evidence that the Mormon prophet really said this.
1. Wilford Woodruffís Journal under 2/19/1854. (Look in the BYU Library)
2. Deseret Evening News 6/14/1873
3. Deseret Evening News 6/18/1873
4. Diary of Hosea Stout: On the Frontier vol. 2 p.438.
5. The Millennial Star vol. 16 p.543.
6. The Millennial Star vol. 15 p.769-770. one and a half years after this.
7. Journal of John Nuttall vol. 1 pp.18-21.
8. Diary Journal of Abraham H. Cannon vol. 11 p.39 (taught for 50 years)
9. Sacred Hymns and Spiritual Songs for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints 1856 p.375
10. Women of Mormondom p.179
11. Journal of Discourses vol. 4 p.1 (President Heber C. Kimball is speaking on 6/29/1856)
"...and I also know that if we are not one with brother Brigham, our leader, we are not one with Christ. Yes, I know this, and my feelings are and have been with brother Brigham all the time. I have learned by experience that there is but one God that pertains to this people, and He is the God that pertains to this earth - the first man. That first man sent his own Son to redeem the world, to redeem his brethren."
12. Finally, a much later book:
The Position of Adam in L.D.S. Scripture and Theology: "The identification of Adam with God the Father by President Brigham Young is an irrefutable fact." p.58
Q: In Gen 2:20, how could Adam name all the animals, unless the forbidden fruit was an Apple Macintosh computer?
A: Someone once quipped that if Adam had to name all the species of animals (including 1.5 million bugs and insects) within 24 hours on the sixth day, no wonder we mistake the forbidden fruit for an Apple, hard drives and all!
On the other hand, Paul S. Taylor has correctly noted that the phrase "gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts" in Genesis 2:20 does not necessarily mean naming every species on earth. It simply could be naming the genera and families of animals in Adamís immediate vicinity.
For those who like trivia, there are about 26,000 living species of vertebrate land animals and birds and 9,500 known fossil species on the earth. (Of the fossil species, almost half were reptiles, and 1,000 were birds).
There are roughly 5,600 living genera land animals, including 1,900 genera of birds. There are about 6,500 genera of known fossil land animals, including almost 1,000 genera of birds and 1,500 general of reptiles.
Q: In Gen 2:21-23, was Adam both male and female prior to the creation of Eve?
A: Nothing in Scripture suggests this. Genesis 3:16 says that the husband will be the head of the wife. Since this was after the fall, how "male" Adam was prior to Eve does not have any bearing on anything. However, in regard to church authority in general, Paul sees it as significant that Adam was formed prior to Eve in 1 Timothy 2:13. Paulís point would be misleading if Adam was both male and female.
Q: In Gen 2:21-23, was the account of Eve being formed from a rib taken from the Sumerian Dilmun poem?
A: No. First some background information, then the answer, and finally two lessons we can learn from the answer about how God inspired the Bible.
B1. Samuel Noah Kramer, in The Sumerians (University of Chicago 1963), mentions that the Sumerian word for rib, ti, also means "to make live", and in the Dilmun poem, Nin-ti was the "lady of the rib" as well as the "lady who makes live" who healed the god Enkiís sick rib.
B2. This is a pun in Sumerian, but not in Hebrew, which makes this similarity rather striking.
B3. Except for "lady who healed the rib" vs. "Eve who was from Adamís rib" in Genesis, there are not any other similarities between the two stories. See The Sumerians p.148-149 or Hard Sayings of the Bible p.94-95 for the Sumerian narrative.
B4. Tablets from the Dilmun poem are from 2400 B.C. or later. Regardless, they still predate Abraham, who left Ur before 2050 B.C.
B5. This story might have been well-known in ancient times.
The Answer has four points.
A1. This is just one of a number of examples of similar recountings of events mentioned in Genesis. Another example is the more than 200 world-wide flood stories of various peoples around the world.
A2. The play on words about the rib may show that other early cultures had a preservation of at least incomplete knowledge of the creation of mankind.
A3. Even more than that, other parts of Genesis 1 seem almost to be written in a deliberate manner to contrast with Sumerian, Akkadian and other accounts. The other accounts present gods quarreling, in Genesis the One God calmly creates. Other accounts present the hero fighting against chaos. Genesis presents God moving over the "abyss/waters", and commanding and ordering.
A4. While some similarities of details between Genesis versus the Dilmun poem and other ancient works could point to common knowledge of some events. However, it is untenable to say that one was copied from the other, not just because the common details are few, but because there are almost no similarities in meaning behind the details.
Lessons to Learn from the Answer:
L1. Genesis was not written in a vacuum. God does not just reveal truth to us, He reveals timeless truth, yet in a practical way, relevant to the time and culture. One reason (but not the main reason) Genesis might have been given by God was to correct the wrong views of manís origin that people had, while acknowledging some of the correct things that had survived.
L2. God uses culture. God uses even peopleís evil actions for His glory (Genesis 50:20). How can we even attempt to forbid God to use culture too, as He wishes. Moses was a learned man, and perhaps He might have read this story, and God used Mosesí reading to show Him what was true and what was not true.
L3. Most importantly, do not take the phrase "scripture is inerrant" to mean the Bible had to be mechanically dictated. 1 Peter 1:21 says that prophecy was men speaking as moved by the Holy Spirit. Thus, when different parts of the Bible obviously reflect different human styles of writing, that does not preclude divine authorship. It merely demonstrates that God used various peopleís writing styles as He saw fit.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.94-95 for more info.
Q: In Gen 2:22, who is Lilith during this time?
A: The name Lilith is never once mentioned in the Bible. There was a fable in the Middle Ages about a woman named Lilith who was Adamís first wife. She refused to submit to Adam, and God then created Eve. Lilith, according to the myth, was turned into a demon that kills newborn babies.
Lilith also was a vampire in Sumerian mythology, according to The Sumerians p.198, 258. Civilizations of the Ancient and Near East p.1890 mention that the unmarried who died became a special class of demons called Lilu (male) and Lilitu (female). They would ask the living to marry them, promising them wealth, but if the living person consented, they died early.
All Bible manuscripts, Jewish or Christian, do not have any more hint of Lilith than they do of Donald Duck.
Q: In Gen 2:22, how could God make Eve from a rib?
A: -Any way God Almighty wanted. If God had to use a rib, and if you think God had to take away the entire rib, then I suppose you might conclude that Eve would be counting all of Adamís ribs every morning!
Seriously, God might not have utilized all the rib; one cell could have been enough.
735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.23 adds that if God had made her from clay, one could argue that women are intrinsically different (and perhaps inferior to men). However, since Eve was made from a rib, she had the same equal identity with man.
Q: In Gen 2:22-23, should men have one less rib than women?
A: No. If a man has his arm cut off, his subsequent children and grandchildren are not all born missing one arm. Likewise, if you take a few cells from a personís rib, both the parents and their children will still have the same number of ribs.
Tertullian writing 198-220 A.D. interprets this as God "borrowing a rib in Tertullian On Exhortation to Chastity ch.5 p.53. He also adds that God could have borrowed more ribs for more wives but chose not to, as an example that monogamy was the norm and not polygamy.
Q: In Gen 2:25, were man and woman originally created naked, and were they supposed to wear clothing?
A: Yes, they were created naked, and had no shame. However, after the Fall, God clothed them, and we have been clothed ever since then. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.317-318 for more info.
Q: In Gen 3, since God made humans ultimately to be higher than the angels, could that have been a factor in Satan choosing to fall?
A: Scripture does not say either way, but it is certainly a possibility.
Q: In Gen 3, were Adam and Eve white, black, brown, yellow or red skinned?
A: The Bible is totally silent on this. Since Adam and Eve were the ancestors of us all, it does not matter. All of use are equally a descendants of Adam and Eve.
Q: In Gen 3, why did God allow Adam and Eve to be tempted?
A: The Bible does not say. However, we can speculate that God did not just want people who loved him, but people who were allowed an alternative, yet still chose to love God.
Q: In Gen 3, if Eve introduced original sin, how is it that Satan committed the sin of pride against God? Am I missing something here?
A: Satan sinned and fell before Adam and Eve. But the sin of Eve and Adam introduced a sinful nature into the human race.
Q: In Gen 3, I have a question that I have been unable to get answered. In the Bible it is written that God creates Man. God tells man not to eat the forbidden fruit-fruit from the tree of conscience for its fruit will open your eyes to make you aware of right and wrong, good or bad. Man eats the forbidden fruit and is changed. Man now see that being naked is wrong. How can it be a sin for Man to disobey God when Man had no knowledge of right or wrong at the time when Man ate the forbidden fruit?
A: I will be happy to answer your question. Permit me to start the answer to your question by asking a question: since the fall, how does a person know what is right and wrong? We know directly by all that God has revealed to us on what is right and wrong, and everyone has a rough idea by the conscience inside them. (Of course a person can dull their conscience though.)
After the fall, Adam and Eve both had a conscience, a sense of guilt that they had done wrong by disobeying, and they and their descendants had a sinful nature. The effects of the fall were profound.
Before the fall, they had none of this, and no knowledge of right and wrong. Their nature was good, and whatever they did would be right, - almost. They had no commands to worry about disobeying except for one: do not eat from the forbidden tree of knowledge of good and evil. Their choice, whether to eat or not, what not one of right or wrong, because they did not know what those were. Rather, their choice was quite simply whether to obey God or not.
Sometimes today, people can have weird ideas of right and wrong, such as Muslim fathers thinking it is right to kill their daughters because they believe their daughters have brought shame upon the family, including by doing things like marrying someone whom their father did not approve of. Even Christians sometimes can get too hung up on "does the Bible permit this". More important than asking "is this right or wrong" is "does God want me to do this" or "is this pleasing to God". The answer will actually be the same as "is this right or wrong", but the point should not be to do things solely to ease our conscience, or follow a bunch or rules, but to please God.
So, the short answer to your question is that Adam and Eve did not sin by choosing evil instead of good, for they did not know what evil and good were. They sinned by knowing God's simply command to them, and choosing to disobey God.
Q: In Gen 3, was this an unfair test, since Adam and Eve did not yet have the knowledge of good and evil, as an atheist (Capella) claims?
A: No. Is it an unfair test to tell somebody not to use illegal drugs, such as cocaine, until they have first had a chance to use it? Of course not. Likewise, it was not unfair for them to receive the prohibition without experiencing evil and guilt. While one could argue that they did not know everything about good and evil at this time, they knew that their Creator commanded them not to eat of that tree, and that knowledge alone was sufficient to make this a fair test.
Today we do not know every single reason why God forbids us to do something, but if God has commanded us not to do it, we know all we need to know to obey God.
Q: In Gen 3, what exactly was wrong with eating of the tree?
A: It was not that a particular fruit was evil; perhaps they could have eaten of the tree later. As Theophilus, bishop of Antioch (168-181/188 A.D.) wrote in his letter Theophilus to Autolycus book 2 ch.25 p.104 "For it was not the tree, as some think, but the disobedience, which had death in it." Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 p.104. Some also see in the phrase "like God, knowing good and evil", as them wanting to appropriate to themselves Godís prerogative of defining good and evil.
Q: In Gen 3, was this test sort of like parents putting a 40,000 volt battery in the living room and telling their baby not to touch it?
A: No, the danger was in their disobedience, not in the tree. Four points to consider in the answer.
1. Unlike a dangerous battery, it was not the tree that was deadly. It was the disobedience to God that was deadly, and caused them to die spiritually that day, and physically later.
2. Adam and Eve were not babies. They could reason as adults can, they were fully conscious of what they were doing and what God said the consequences would be.
3. Adam and Eve had all their needs met, and they had no way to disobey God except by eating of the tree. Whether we like it or not, God gives people choices to serve Him or not. Some might feel, "God should not have done that, God should have made us all robots incapable of disobeying." Regardless of how people feel, God can do as He wishes, and God chose to give everyone the free will to disobey Him, and to live with the consequences of their obedience or disobedience.
4. The fruit might have been eaten eventually. Theophilus bishop of Antioch (168-181/188 A.D.) taught that if Adam and Eve had not sinned, they would have matured, become perfect, and ascend to heaven in possession of immortality. Mankind had a middle nature, neither wholly mortal, nor altogether immortal, or Paradise was between earth and heaven. Theophilus to Autolycus book 2 ch.22 p.24 p.104
Q: In Gen 3, should we be proud that Eve ate the apple, as Laura Schlesinger says?
A: No. Dr. Laura is right about many things, but she is incorrect here. Here is what she said in Modern Maturity September-October 1999 p.67.
"I have great pride that she ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge. Because if she hadnít, weíd still be animals in the Garden. God didnít put that tree there just for shade. We became human with that step."
First of all, the tree was not just the tree of knowledge, but the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Schlesinger is right that people were not the same. All the murdering, war, oppression, and moral irresponsibility people committed happened after this. However, people are still human in Heaven, when they will not sin anymore. It is not impossible to be fully human and not sinful, as Adam and Eve prior to eating, and as Jesus Christ is.
Later in the interview, when Dr. Laura said Adam was wrong to try to blame Eve, Schlesinger was correct, because Genesis 3:6 says that Adam was with Eve when she ate.
Q: In Gen 3, was the fruit of the tree a metaphor for an unlawful spiritual sexual union between Eve and Satan as Rev. Moon of the Unification Church (Moonies) teaches in the Divine Principle (fifth ed. 1977) p.75-79?
A: There was no sexual metaphor with the tree, fruit, or Satan. If Rev. Moon was right, then:
What were all the other trees that were allowed?
Eve ignored Satan when she ate the fruit of the tree
In Genesis 3:13, Eve, in trying to put all the blame on the serpent, merely said the serpent deceived her. She never said that the serpent did anything to her.
See also the previous question.
Q: In Gen 3, do any other cultures have a similar story of the first people, in a garden, and eating a forbidden fruit?
A: Yes. Here are at least three cases.
Sígaw Karen people of eastern Burma: the almighty, all-knowing God named Yíwa created everything. He created two persons, a man named Thanai and a woman named Eeu, and placed them in a garden with seven kinds of fruit trees. One kind they could not eat, though. The evil Mu-kaw-lee deceived the two persons, telling them they would have miraculous powers and ascend to Heaven. Mu-kaw-lee persuaded them to eat the fruit of the tree of trial. They ate and became subject to sickness, aging, and death.
Don Richardson explores the possibility that this might have come from Nestorian or Roman Catholic influence, and concludes it did not, because Richardson found no concept of the incarnation or a redeemer dying for man and rising from the dead. See Eternity in Their Hearts p.77-83 for more info.
Santal of northeast India: They believed in "Thakur Jiu" (Thakur = genuine, Jiu = God), who created the first couple, a man named Haram and a woman named Ayo and put them in Hihiri Pipiri, which was west of India. The evil Lita tempted them to make rice beer and pour part of it on the ground as an offering to Satan. They did so, and became drunk on the rest of the beer. When they woke up, they knew they were naked and felt ashamed. They later had seven sons and seven daughters. Their descendents became corrupted, so Thakur Jiu hid a "holy pair" on Mount Harata (=Ararat?), and destroyed the rest in a flood. Eventually their ancestors traveled (east) from forest to forest, until they came to high mountains, which blocked their path. Finally they got through (perhaps at the Khyber Pass) and they came to their homeland near Calcutta. See Eternity in Their Hearts p.41-44 for more info.
Sumerians: The Sumerians believed they came from a Paradise they called Dilmun. There are not many other parallels to the Garden of Eden, though. Dilmun was a place where all the gods were, as well as Ziusdra, a human who had attained immortality. The Dilmun poem dates from around 2400 B.C.
Q: In Gen 3, since Adam and Eve were perfect, how can perfect beings do imperfect things, such as sin?
A: Regardless of how someone defines "perfect", the Bible never says Adam and Eve were perfect. It also never says they were incapable of sinning. Rather, the Bible only shows that they were very good, and they were "sinless", in that they had not sinned. They were still capable of exercising free agency and able to make a choice about sin.
Clement of Alexandria in The Stromata (193-202 A.D.) book 6 ch.12 p.502 was one of the first to answer this question. He said among other things, that man "was not perfect in his creation, but adapted to the reception of virtue. Ö Now an aptitude is a movement towards virtue, not virtue itself. All, then, as I said, are naturally constituted for the acquisition of virtue."
Q: In Gen 3, since a perfect God only creates perfect beings, how could Adam and Eve sin?
A: Five points to consider in the answer.
Tertullian answered this question way back in 207/208 A.D. in Five Books Against Marcion book 2 chapters 5-9. Tertullianís lengthy answer can be summed up in his own words: "Therefore it was proper that [man,] the image and likeness of God should be formed with a free will and a mastery of himself; so that this very thing - namely freedom of will and self-command - might be reckoned as the image and likeness of God in Him." In other words, it was suitable for a perfect God to make creatures like Himself, possessing free-will.
Theophilus bishop of Antioch (168-181/188 A.D.) answered a related question, were Adam and Eve mortal or immortal, by showing that they were in process, and capable of going either way. (Theophilus to Autolycus book 2 ch.27 p.105)
Not robots: Would you have a perfect God be restricted to creating robots, and incapable of creating people that have free will? God does not create logical impossibilities, and for God to create people who freely choose to love and obey Him, God also created them capable of not loving and obeying Him. The Bible never says Adam and Eve were "perfect" in a sense of never being able to sin. Rather, the Bible says they were "very good" and "sinless", in that they had not sinned.
Godís perfection: Between mankind and demons, the Bible makes it abundantly clear that Godís perfection does not confine Him from creating beings with the ability to disobey Him.
Whoís Definition? If someoneís definition of a perfect God is one who is unable to create people with moral choices, then the burden of proof is on them to find at least one verse that substantiates that opinion. Otherwise, that definition does not fit the God of the Bible. The root issue here is:
a) should you try to impose your definition of "Godís perfection" on the God of the Bible, or
b) Let God speak for Himself in the Bible about how He is perfect and how He chose to create.
As for why God chose to "go through the trouble" of creating Adam and Eve, knowing they would sin, see the discussion on Genesis 1.
Q: In Gen 3:1 and 2 Cor 11:3, why were Adam and Eve tempted by Satan in the form of a serpent, instead of something else, like a lion, or a bunny rabbit?
A: Scripture does not say, but we can speculate. Large animals could be intimidating and put people on their guard. Tiny animals might be ignored as insignificant. A snake might imply that "slyness" is OK. For many in society to go and sin en masse, many people must first be persuaded that a sin is not wrong.
Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.96 makes the interesting point that some view the serpent as an analogy of intelligence devoid of conscience. The snake is amazing in how it slyly waits for and creeps up on its prey. Matthew 10:16 says we are to be a shrewd as snakes but as innocent as doves.
Q: In Gen 3:1, how could an unintelligent, mute animal such as a serpent tempt Adam and Eve?
A: This was no ordinary serpent. Satan assumed the form of a serpent, and Satan could speak and is highly intelligent. Satan is also called the serpent in Revelation 12:9,14,15 and Revelation 20:2. There are three possible ways Satan could have been a serpent, and the simplest interpretation suggests all of them are true.
Physical Transformation: Satan either transformed himself or was transformed into the physical form of a snake that could speak.
Possession: It is possible Satan entered into an existing animal, and spoke through that.
Regardless of whether the serpent Eve saw was Satan himself or just a regular snake, Satan "spoke behind" this form to suggest the sly, insidious approach of a snake.
Q: In Gen 3:1-16, what are some general things we can learn about sin from this example?
A: We can learn many things, but here are just a few of them.
1. Sin brings death. Adam and Eve would have never died, but they were headed towards death the day they sinned.
2. Sin has consequences even after forgiveness. God forgave them, but they would still die, and they did not get back the gift of the tree of life. (-at least not until Revelation 2:7; 22:2,14).
2. Scripture does not mention whether or not they even saw death before God killed some animals to clothe them with skins. Sin could not be covered by a bunch of leaves that would grow back next year. It could only be covered by blood, in an animal that died.
3. They could eat from almost any tree in the garden, but they thought God stingy for withholding that one tree. After the fall, God was merciful to forgive them and clothe them with animal skins, but they would have trouble for the ground would now be stingy to them.
4. Even the consequences of their sin were a mercy from God. Haddon Robinson mentions that pain plants the flag of reality in the fortress of the rebel heart.
5. Even after sin, God still has a redemptive plan. Even after we mess up badly, the promise of Romans 8:28 is still true. Even in this dark chapter, God had a promise in Genesis 3:15.
For more on Genesis 3, order the 5/27/2005 sermon by Gary Brandenburg from www.FBCDallas.org (Fellowship Bible Church Dallas).
Q: In Gen 3:1,14, since the serpent was cursed with crawling on it belly, does that mean snakes used to have legs?
A: No. While some newts have arms but no legs, that is not what is intended here. While Scripture is not specific, Satan was cursed with lessened and degrading means of moving. Satan took the form of a lowly snake, and God punished Satan with a curse that part of the snakeís attributes would stay with Satan.
When people sin, the need for forgiveness for the external act is only part of the problem. The nature of sin is often such that part of the sin clings to our hearts on the inside, and we need cleansing as well as forgiveness. See Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.100 for more info.
Q: In Gen 3:1,14-15, did the snake have legs before the curse or not?
A: There are two main views.
Yes: Possibly this particular "snake" in the garden might have resembled a monitor lizard, which holds its stomach off of the ground, and God changed that creature to lose all traces of legs. It could not have merely gone from a "monitor-like" stance to a crocodile-like crawling on its belly, because the use of the common word "snake" would imply there are no legs. The Nelson Study Bible p.10 says, "The text Ö implies that before this the serpent had some other bodily form."
No: The New International Bible Commentary p.117 has the view that "The punishment of the snake (v.14) must not be understood as meaning that at one time it had legs. Rather, what had once seemed natural and beautiful would now be a perpetual reminder of what it had once done." The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.1 p.55 says, "This curse does not necessarily suggest that the snake had previously walked with feet and legs as the other land animals. The point is rather that for the rest of his life, as a result of the curse, when the snake crawls on his belly, as snakes do, he will "eat dust." The emphasis lies in the snakeís Ďeating dust,í and expression that elsewhere carries the meaning of Ďtotal defeatí (cf. Isa 65:25; Mic 7:17)."
Regardless though, the point is that the snake who was so crafty (Ďarum in Genesis 3:1), is now cursed (Ďarur in Genesis 3:14.) The word Ďcursedí is used of the snake and the ground, but not the man or the woman.
Q: In Gen 3:3-24, why were Adam and Eve punished more severely than many people today?
A: God did not punish them simply for their action of picking; after all they could pick the fruit of other trees. God punished them for being without a fallen nature and yet disobeying God.
The severity of their punishment seems reasonable when we consider that God punishes based on what people know, and what they were capable of doing. Unlike people today, they were in the direct presence of God, and yet still did not trust that God knew what was best for them. Unlike people today, they did not have a sinful nature, which would always be tugging at them to sin.
See Todayís Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.193-195 for a totally different answer that essentially arrives at the same conclusion.
Q: In Gen 3:3-6, did Adam and Eve eat an apple?
A: Scripture never said they ate an apple. It was a forbidden fruit, the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, which presumably is not found on earth today.
Some think the confusing the forbidden fruit with the apple in the Middle Ages happened because the Latin word for evil is malum and the Latin word for apple is malus. However this idea germinated, there is no Biblical root for the core of this idea, however you slice it. ;-)
Q: In Gen 3:5-22, does Adam symbolize the heavenly spirit, Eve symbolize the earthly soul, and the serpent symbolize attachment to the human world as Bahaiís teach in Some Questions Answered p.123?
A: No. People have been trying to get spiritual meanings contrary to the plain meaning in Genesis for centuries. Adam is definitely a male human, and Eve a female human, and adding this unwarranted interpretation makes men higher "heavenly spirits" and women "earthly souls". Instead, the truth is that men and women are of equal and the same value in the eyes of God (Galatians 3:28).
Q: In Gen 3:5,22, if Adam and Eve would be "as gods" if they ate the fruit, is there more than one God as Mormons teach?
A: It was only after that time they would acquire the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 3:5 says like God. "Gods" with an "s", is only in the KJV, in Hebrew it is Elohim, a name for God. So Genesis 3:5 does not prove any actual plurality. See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.74-75, When Critics Ask p.35, and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.95-96 for more info.
Q: In Gen 3:5,22, could people could know everything, like God?
A: No. Satan did not even imply they would be like God in every way (worship, Almighty, Trinity, etc.) Rather Satan promised they would be like God in that they would know of both good and evil. Of course, before they ate the fruit they knew only good. After they ate the fruit, they knew about both good and evil. So, in a way that Adam and Eve would deeply regret, the serpent was correct. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.95-96 for a similar answer.
There are five other passages that mention knowing good and evil: Deuteronomy 1:39; 2 Samuel 14:17; 19:35; 1 Kings 3:9; and Isaiah 7:5. These show that God is the one who determines what is good and evil, and perhaps Satan was promising them a "declaration of freedom" where they would decide for themselves what good and evil were. This "declaration of independence" actually trapped them in condemnation. See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.24-25 for more on this view.
Satan makes a similar promise today. In many forms of Hinduism, the goal is not to have a relationship with God, or to be "good". Rather the goal is to be "experienced", experiencing both good and evil. Sometimes people are surprised to find a Hindu guru who is dishonest and cheats somebody. It may be that the guru is not being inconsistent with his religion. For some, the goal is mastery of both good and evil.
Q: In Gen 3:6, why was Eve punished for seeking wisdom from eating the fruit, since getting wisdom is thought to be always good?
A: Seeking wisdom is not good in and of itself. Seeking wisdom from God is good, but wisdom through disobedience is not good. Christians generally have not learned and experienced all the different varieties of evil, nor do they want to do so.
As Theophilus, bishop of Antioch (168-181/188 A.D.) wrote in his letter To Autolycus vol.2 ch.25 p.104 "For it was not the tree, as some think, but the disobedience, which had death in it. For there was nothing else in the fruit than only knowledge; but knowledge is good when one uses it discreetly. But Adam, being yet an infant in age, was on this account as yet unable to receive knowledge worthily." Ante-Nicene Fathers 2 p.104.
Q: In Gen 3:6, how are Satanís temptations of Eve similar to Satanís temptations of Jesus in Mt 4:1-11 and Lk 4:1-13?
A: While they are not identical, Satan often uses similar tactics over and over, and that is probably because they have not stopped working.
Eve saw that the forbidden fruit was
1. Good for food [physical appetite],
2. Pleasing to the eye [beauty, lust of the eyes],
3. Desirable for gaining wisdom, [eyes will be opened, and like God, knowing good and evil. [godlike power after following Satanís command].
Jesus, who was fasting, was tempted with
1. Stones becoming bread [physical appetite],
2. Throwing himself from the wing of the temple [showing off],
3. Authority over all the kingdoms of the earth [godlike power under Satanís command.]
1 John 2:16 mentions three kinds of sins in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
Q: In Gen 3:8, since God is everywhere (Ps 139), how could Adam be away from Godís presence?
A: Godís presence being everywhere does not prohibit God from having a direct, localized presence to relate to us. As When Critics Ask p.36 mentions, there are many other examples of God manifesting himself in certain places through different things. These include Abramís three visitors (Genesis 18:1-33), the burning bush (Exodus 3:2-22), a dense cloud (Exodus 19:9), at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:11-12), on the Ark of the Covenant (1 Kings 8:11-13), leaving the temple (Ezekiel 10:3-18), and Jesusí coming to earth.
See also the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1247 for more on Godís omnipresence, omnipotence, and omniscience.
Q: In Gen 3:8, since God is everywhere, how could Adam and Eve hear God walking in the garden?
A: God is everywhere, and He can do anything; anything includes having a localized presence too. This could be God in Trinity, but early Christians, such as Theophilus of Antioch (168-181/188 A.D.) in his Letter to Autolycus book 2 ch.22 p.103 says this was Jesus Christ. Theologians call appearances of Christ prior to His virgin birth Christophanies.
Q: In Gen 3:9,11, since God knows everything, why did He have to ask where Adam was and what He did?
A: God does know everything. Like a parent dealing with children, God sometimes asks questions for which He already knows answers, in order to give people the opportunity to confess to Him.
Back then, God asked them four questions:
1. Where are you?
2. Who told you (where did you learn that)?
3. Have you eaten (disobeyed)?
4. What is this you have done?
Godís questions gently led them towards repentance. God did freely forgive them, but they still suffered consequences and did not get the gift of the tree of life back.
Today, God asks people the same four questions!
1. Where are you? People in sin often do not know where they are, even though both God and the people around them can see how miserable they are making their own life. "For we too were once foolish, disobedient, misled, enslaved to various passions and desires, spending our lives in evil and envy, hateful and hating one another. But Ďwhen the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared," (Titus 3:3-4a NET).
2. Who told you (where did you learn that)? People today often believe too many falsehoods instead of the truth from God. "But I am afraid that just as the serpent deceived Eve by his treachery, your minds may be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. Fir if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus different from the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different gospel than the one you accepted, you put up with it well enough!" (2 Corinthians 11:3-4 NET)
3. Have you eaten (disobeyed)? Whether it is a fount of forbidden (and often lying) knowledge, or forbidden experiences, or a heart set on lesser things, the Holy Spirit is asking: "are you disobeying?"
4. What have you done? Self-inflicted tragedies (both moral and physical) do not usually happen suddenly like a balloon popping, but have the foundation of sin built up over time, like a balloon with a slow leak. James 1:15 says that after desire has conceived it gives birth to sin, and sin, when full-grown, brings for death. Even though a guilty person is without excuse, still, look back and see what choices and heart attitudes led to this catastrophe.
Early Christian writers likewise saw Godís questions as revealing their situation to themselves and calling them to repentance.
Theophilus (bishop of Antioch 168-181/188 A.D.) in his Letter to Autolycus book 2 ch.26 p.105, was the first to address this question. He said, "And as to Godís calling, and saying, "Where art though, Adam? God did this, not as if ignorant of this; but, being long-suffering, He gave him an opportunity of repentance and confession."
Tertullian in his work Five Books Against Marcion (207/208 A.D.) answers this question the following way. "ÖGod was neither uncertain about the commission of the sin, nor ignorant of Adamís whereabouts. It was certainly proper to summon the offender, who was concealing himself from the consciousness of his sin, and to bring him forth into the presence of his Lord, not merely by calling out of his name, but with a home-thrust blow at the sin which he had at that moment committed. For the question ought not to be read in a merely interrogative tone, Where art thou, Adam? But with an impressive and earnest voice, and with an air of imputation. Oh, Adam, where art thou? - as much as to intimate: thou are no longer here, thou art in perdition- so that the voice is the utterance of One who is at once rebuking and sorrowing." (Five Books Against Marcion book 2 ch.26 p.317). Tertullian also answers this question (more briefly) in Against Praxeas (c.213 A.D.) ch.16 p.612
Adamantius (c.300 A.D.) says that God did not ask Adam "because he wanted to make enquiry, but rather to recall something to his [Adamís] mind." Dialogue on the True Faith first part stanza 17 p.61.
Athanasius (331 A.D.) also answered that God asked knowing. He also adds that if someone thinks God is ignorant of the answer when God asks the question, they are already a party of the Manichees. says, "Enoch, for instance was thus translated," Four Discourses Against the Arians Discourse 3 ch.28.50 p.421
See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.75-76 for more info.
Q: In Gen 3:14-15, the Lord God cursed the serpent to "eat dust all the days of its life." I find it difficult to reconcile with the zoological evidence that snakes are carnivores and eat frogs, birds etc. I am not trying to say God is wrong; I believe He is infallible, but could you explain what this verse actually means? Is there a metaphor intended here?
A: Letís look first at snakes and then at the metaphor. Unlike worms, snakes are carnivores and do not get their nutrition from eating dust. But for most snakes, they crawl on the ground; their food is only what falls in the dust, and they cannot avoid eating some dirt with their food. Not just their food, but the snakeís entire life is low, surrounded by the dirty and insignificant. The Hebrew noun here, nacash, is a common word for snake, coming from the verb meaning to hiss or whisper. It has connotations of whispering magic. Thus the word emphasizes the whispering of the snake, and Genesis emphasizes the dust, so the image here is "once a dirt whisperer, all your days a dirt whisperer."
The New Geneva Study Bible p.13 says that dust can mean "abject humiliation". The NIV Study Bible p.10 says that dust could also be the symbol of death.
Now the serpent that tempted Adam and Eve was no ordinary snake; it was Satan himself. There are two options: either Satan appeared as a snake, or he used an existing snakeís body. While Genesis 3:14-15 could refer to all snakes, or one amphibian/lizard/snake and all its descendants, it could also refer to Satan being somehow stuck to that physical appearance, since he used it then.
The most important emphasis in Genesis 3:14-15 is the judgment against Satan. Just as the snake crawls in a low, dishonorable way, eating only what is dirty, Satan, who made the choice to assume the form of a snake, likewise will never escape crawling in the dust from his formerly high position in heaven.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.33 observes that people seeing the snake crawling and eating dust served as a reminder of the fall.
During the time of the Millennium in Isaiah 65:25, the wolf, the lamb, and other animals will be changed and blessed, but the serpent will still "eat dust". While none will harm, and there will not be carnivores on Godís holy mountain, the serpent will still "eat dust". Revelation 20:1-10 tells us that believers reign with Christ on the earth for 1,000 years, but at the end of the 1,000 years, Satan will still go out and "whisper", stirring up the nations against God.
Q: Does Gen 3:15 mean that the Virgin Mary would be sinless, as some Catholics claim?
A: No, for two reasons.
Eve is addressed here, not Mary. Of course Eve was not sinless, but there is no problem as this verse never said she was sinless.
The seed, that is Jesus, is the focus of this verse. Nothing here, or anywhere else in the Bible, says that Jesusí mother would be sinless. Furthermore, no record exists in almost 4,200 pages of preserved pre-Nicene Christian writings saying Mary was sinless.
See When Cultists Ask p.25-26 for more info.
Q: In Gen 3:15, who exactly are Satanís offspring?
A: In John 8:41,44 Jesus indicates it is those who reject Jesus.
Q: In Gen 3:15,23-24 what is ironic about the words used here?
A: This is a play on words. Adam was put in the garden for worship (leíobdah) and obedience (lesomrah), but after the fall would work (laíabod) and be kept (lismor) from the way to the tree of life. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.2 p.59 for more info.
Sometimes the same circumstances can be a blessing for us, or a curse, depending on our obedience to God.
Q: Should Gen 3:16 be translated "A snare has increased your sorrow and sighing" or the traditional "I will greatly multiply"?
A: Walter Kaiser, Jr. in Hard Sayings of the Bible p.96-97, says the Hebrew consonants are almost the same in both cases. The vowels are very different, but the vowel marks were only added many years after Christ. The only difference in consonants is that the traditional translation has two consonants missing. Either the missing consonants were a typographical error, or else the other translation is correct.
If the other translation ("snare") is correct, then Satan would be the snare. Regardless, having children is not evil, and it was originally part of Godís will for them (Genesis 1:28) and the Fall did not change this.
Q: Should Gen 3:16 be interpreted to mean that the woman was cursed with overpowering [sexual] desire for her husband? Or, should the word be "turning/controlling" instead of "desire"?
A: While the word itself can mean either way, the context indicates turning, controlling, or mastering. Of all the 120 times the English words desire/desiring/desirous is used in the Old Testament, this particular Hebrew word for desire, teshuqah (Strongís 8669) is only used three times: Genesis 3:16; Genesis 4:7 and Song of Solomon 7:10. Song of Solomon is the desire of one to his beloved, and in Genesis 4:7 God warns Cain that sin desires to have him.
According to Walter Kaiser, the Early church writers Clement of Rome (97/98 A.D.), Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.), Tertullian (198-220 A.D.), Origen (225-254 A.D.), Epiphanius, and Jerome, and Philo the Jew, rendered this "turning", and they were unfamiliar with the interpretation of "desire". Thus the passage means women would turn away from trusting in God and trust their husbands instead. Kaiser mentions that Katherine C. Bushnell discovered that the first use of "desire" in this passage was by an Italian Dominican monk named Pagnino. While the Wycliffe Bible was translated prior to this, unfortunately, all other English Bibles from the Coverdale version to the King James henceforth translated this as "desire".
Five reasons indicate it means turning, controlling, or mastering vs. sexual desire
1. Symmetry of "desire for your husband", and "he will rule over you.
2. Close proximity of the same meaning in Genesis 4:7
3. If it meant sexual desire, why no mention of menís desire toward women too?
4. New Testament: wives submitting to husbands and husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the church in Ephesians 5:22-33. 1 Timothy 2:11-14 even talks about women not teaching or having authority over men due to Eve being the one deceived.
5. Evils in history: Men have often ruled over women in exploitive, improper ways too. When a Sumerian or Chinese Emperor died, his wives sometimes were killed with him. Before the British came, when a Hindu man died, his wife was usually burned alive at his funeral (called suttee). The Greeks did not view women too much higher than the Arabs and Muslims: When one is given a woman, servant, or cattle, one should seize its forehead and pray to Allah. Ibn-i-Majah vol.3 no.1918 p.157. According to the Muslim Sharia (Law), the witness of a woman is equal half that of a man, "because of the deficiency of the womanís mind." (Bukhari vol.3 book 48 ch.12 no.826 p.502)
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.97-99 for more info.
Q: In Gen 3:16, would the woman have great pain in childbearing, or was having children a blessing as Gen 1:28 says?
A: Both are true. Three points to consider in the answer.
Prior to the Fall of Adam and Eve, having children would have been a blessing with no physical or emotional pain.
After the Fall, Genesis 3:16 says there would be physical pain. In addition, there would be the pain the children would bring because of their sin. 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.25 says it is most likely that the pain is the entire process of rearing children to adulthood. The pain Eve felt in delivering Cain and Abel must have been small compared to the pain of learning that Cain murdered Abel.
As a side note, animals generally do not have so much pain bearing children due to the size of the infantís header versus the motherís pelvis.
However, the blessing is not totally wiped out. Children are still a blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127:3-5). See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.96-97 for a different but complementary answer.
Q: In Gen 3:16, why was everything blamed on Eve? (A Muslim asserted this.)
A: Everything was not blamed on Eve. While Eve ate first, and Eve was punished, Adam was punished too. He had to work hard to get out of the grand what came easily before.
In Biblical theology there is no hint of Eve being made "more stupid". However, since the Muslim brought this up, the early Muslim theologian and historian al-Tabari said that Eve was originally intelligent, Allah made her (but not Adam) stupid after the fall of Adam and Eve. al-Tabari vol.1 p.280,281. Also, Mohammed said in the hadiths that the urine of a male baby is cleaner than that of a female. Ibn-i-Majah vol.1 no.522,525,526 p.284,285,286. The reason is: "He (the Prophet) said, ĎVerily, Allah the exalted created Adam and Eve (Hawwaí) was created from his small rib. Thus a ladís urine became from water and clay and urine of a lass [girl] became from flesh and blood.í" Note that this is not because of anything related to the Fall, but from the very creation of Eve.
Q: In Gen 3:20, as different as people are, how could all races come from Adam and Eve?
A: Genesis 3:20 says Eve would be the mother of all living. Height, hair, and skin color are small differences, not only in people, but also in dogs, cats, and horses. Genetically, all people are very similar. A genetic study of 67 breeds of dog in the June 1997 issue of Science indicates dogs all had a common origin, too.
Other verses that confirm all came from Adam and Eve are Matthew 19:4-5; Romans 5:12-19; and 1 Timothy 2:13-14.
Q: In Gen 3:20, if Adam and Eve had not sinned, would they still have had children? (my wife asked this)
A: Yes. We do not know the physical age of Adam and Eve when they sinned; they could have been children, teens, or adults. The fact that there were no children prior to the Fall, does not mean God created them incapable of having children unless they sinned.
Two different scriptures prove they could have had children, regardless of the Fall.
In Genesis 1:28, prior to the Fall, God commanded them to be fruitful and multiply. Unless God was referring to mathematics, He commanded them to have children.
In Genesis 3:16, Eve was cursed with increased pain in childbearing. She was cursed with increased pain or sorrow in childbearing, not with childbearing itself.
Q: In Gen 3:21, why did God clothe Adam and Eve in animal skins?
A: Scripture does not explicitly say, but we can see this first sacrifice of animals as a symbol that God would use sacrifice of a living being as a covering for our sin. See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.25-26 for more info.
Q: In Gen 3:21 why did God "need" the dust from the ground to make Adam, and a rib to make Eve as Born Again Skepticís p.192 says?
A: The Bible says God chose to use those, but it never said God was required to use dust and cells from a rib. God can use whatever he wishes.
Q: In Gen 3:22, why did God prevent Adam and Eve from eating from the tree of life anymore?
A: There are three aspects to this.
Discipline: This would show to Adam and Eve, and to us, the seriousness of disobeying God.
Judicial punishment: God promised them that the day they ate the forbidden fruit they would die. They died spiritually that day, and access to the tree of life was taken away from them so that they would die physically.
Mercy and blessing: If they could still eat of the tree of life, they would carry around the guilt and curse of their sin forever. So be allowed to die, and start everything off, culminating in Christ coming and bringing salvation for all was a mercy. Novatian saw this in his Treatise on the Trinity ch.1 p.612.
Q: In Gen 4:3-6, why did God reject Cainís offering?
A: The Wycliffe Bible Commentary p.284 says that while perhaps Abel brought his best and Cain did not, there is no indication of that in Genesis.
Hebrews 11:4 says that Abel offered in faith. Besides Cain having a bad attitude (as his subsequent actions showed), it could also be that God wanted blood offerings, not vegetables, as a foreshadowing of Christís death. See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.45-46, When Critics Ask p.36, Todayís Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.201-202, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.76, and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.26 for more info.
Hard Sayings of the Bible p.99-101 also mentions that this might be a contrast between Abelís genuine worship and Cainís formalistic worship. Abelís offerings of the "fat portions" of the "firstborn" were the choicest parts of the firstborn. Cain merely brought "some" vegetables, not the first fruits.
Q: In Gen 4:7 should the pronoun be translated as "it" referring to the temptation to sin, or "him" referring to Abel?
A: I believe it should be "it". The Hebrew word is third person singular, which, by itself, can mean "he", "she", or "it". As to whether it means "he" or "it" you have to look at the context.
If it meant "he" (meaning Abel) this would be the only place where the older brother would be said potentially to have "mastery" over the younger brother. In Old Testament times the eldest typically got a double portion, but that is not mastery. In fact, if it meant "he" one could argue that either God told Cain to kill (have mastery?) over his brother, or else that Cain by doing the opposite of what God advised had mastery over Abel.
If it meant "it", then God is talking to Cain about resisting what is crouching (like an animal) at the door, i.e. temptation to sin. I have only heard this interpretation, never the other one.
Here are various translations:
"it" NIV, NKJV, NET, Green's Literal Translation, RSV, NRSV, JPS (Jewish)
"he" Greek Septuagint, KJV, Irenaeus
I was curious what the Pre-Nicene Church fathers taught on this verse. While Tertullian and the (spurious) Constitutions of the Holy Apostles refer to part of this verse, they don't address this question. The only pre-Nicene writer to address this was Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.) in Irenaeus Against Heresies book 3 ch.23.4 p.456 and book 4 ch.18.3 p.485. Irenaeus, a Greek writer, apparently used the Septuagint. While he discussed Genesis 4:7 without quoting it, his discussion shows that he obviously interpreted it as "he". Irenaeus' view is the Cain did not want to equitably divide things up with his brother, but wanted to domineer him.
My view is that it is "it", because God is telling Cain that Cain is supposed to have mastery over "it/him". Irenaeus completely mixed up the point of the verse here. Cain is supposed to have mastery over the temptation to sin, not Abel.
Q: In Gen 4:10, how could Abelís blood cry out?
A: This is a metaphor of the injustice against Abel and Cainís guilt. Taking the Bible literally means reading it as the writers intended. Not recognizing metaphors and allegories in the Bible is called taking the Bible hyper-literally. See the Introduction for more discussion on hyper-literalness versus taking the Bible as it was intended, and as Jesus took it.
Q: In Gen 4:12, why was Cain not executed for murder? (my wife asked me this)
A: Capital punishment was commanded in the Old Testament, not only in the Ten Commandments, but right after the flood in Genesis 9:5-6 and in Deuteronomy 13:10,11. However, these are all after the time of Cain and Abel. Apart from that, God knows all circumstances, and God Himself is not constrained by His laws for us.
At the time Cain was not told of any law for execution for murder, and God dealt with him by driving him from the soil.
See When Critics Ask p.36-37 and Haleyís Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.258 for more info.
Q: In Gen 4:12, was the prophecy proven to be unfulfilled since Cain built a city in Gen 4:17?
A: No, this is not a proven unfulfilled prophecy for two reasons.
Physical: Genesis 4:12 simply says that Cain would be a restless wanderer; it does not when he would wander, how long he would be a wanderer, or if he would always be a wanderer. We know little about Cain's life after that. Genesis 4:17 says that Cain was building a city and named it after his son Enoch. Perhaps Cain was trying to build a city in defiance of God's prophecy, and after that he was driven out and wandered.
Spiritual: Cain was considered the "cursed" line, and there is no evidence he ever went back to following God. So this prophecy might have referred to Cainís spiritual condition as well as his physical condition.
Q: In Gen 4:13, why did Cain think that anyone who found him would want to kill him?
A: It is very interesting that the Bible never says God or anyone told Cain this. For many moral wrongs, including murder, people have a conscience inside them that tells them this is wrong. Cain perhaps reasoned that if he killed a fellow person, who was made in the image of God, it would be just for him to be killed in return. In Genesis 4:15, God seemed to confirm this reasoning, and that is why God took extra care, putting a mark on Cain, so that others would know not to do this.
The video series, Growing Kids Godís Way, by Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo, session 6, has some insightful material on the human conscience.
Q: In Gen 4:13-16, what was the mark God placed on Cain?
A: Scripture does not say, except that it was something that others would recognize. However, Todayís Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.202-203 observes that it was not a part of Cainís curse. Rather, it was Godís grace in giving Cain a mark so that others would know not to kill him.
Q: In Gen 4:13, was anyone else on the earth besides Adam and Eve and Cain?
A: This refers not only to possible daughters from which Cain got his wife, but also people born after the murder. While all people came from Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:20; Acts 17:26; Romans 5:14-15), Adam and Eve had other sons and daughters according to Genesis 5:4.
Q: In Gen 4:16-22, where did Adam and Eveís sons get their wives? Is incest not forbidden?
A: Genesis 5:4 it says that Adam and Eve had other sons and daughters. Incest was not forbidden back then: if our genes were pure of genetic flaws, incest would not manifest any of the 2,000+ human genetic diseases it does today.
As a historical note, Augustine of Hippo answered this basically the same way in City of God book 15 ch.16 p.297 (413-426 A.D.) See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.327, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.77, When Critics Ask p.37-38, 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.27, and Sword and Triumph, March 2013 (reprinted in Christian News March 11, 2013 p.14) for more info.
Q: In Gen 4:16-17, how did Cain get his wife from the land of Nod?
A: Two points to consider in the answer.
1. Even assuming Cain did get his wife from the land of Nod, she would still be the offspring of Adam and Eve, since all people came from Adam (Acts 17:26) and Eve was the mother of all living (Genesis 3:20).
2. The Bible never said that Cain met his wife in Nod. Cain very well might have been married, and his wife traveled with Cain to Nod.
See Difficulties in the Bible p.53-56, The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.46, and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.101 for more info.
Q: In Gen 4:17-24 is this the genealogy of Adam, or is Gen 4:25-32 the genealogy of Adam? (A liberal brought this up as a doublet showing multiple authorship of Genesis)
A: Genesis 4:17-24 is the genealogy of Cain, with no mention of Seth. Immediately following, Genesis 4:25-5:32 gives the genealogy of Seth, with no mention of Cain. There is no overlap or doublet here.
If this is not clear, you might look at a second example. 1 Chronicles 5:1-10 gives the genealogy of Reuben, one of the sons of Jacob. Immediately following, 1 Chronicles 5:11-22 is the genealogy of Gad, another son of Jacob.
Q: In Gen 4:22, how could metals be used so early?
A: Bronze has been found in: ThailandĖ4500 B.C., YugoslaviaĖ4000 B.C., GreeceĖ3000 B.C., and AnatoliaĖbefore 3000 B.C. Egyptians used iron from meteorites as ornaments and daggers prior to 3000 B.C. Also at the city of Eshnunna, near Babylon, archaeologists found an iron blade from 2700 B.C..
Q: In Gen 4:22, is the name "Tubal-Cain" related to the region of "Tubal" in modern Turkey as Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.33 says?
A: While it cannot be proven either way, it probably is not related. Tubal was also the name of a son of Japheth, and the Tubal people likely were related to him. The "Tubal" people were mentioned in Assyrian records during the time of Shalmaneser III (859-824 B.C. and Sargon around 732 B.C. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1751 for more info.
Q: In Gen 4:23-24, why did the man wound Lamech?
A: Three speculations about the man are:
A vigilante thought he was doing what was right by trying to kill Cainís offspring. However, God specifically showed that no one was to get vengeance on Cain in Genesis 4:15, so it is implied that they should not take revenge on his sons either.
An excuse for a robber trying to take Lamechís goods was that Lamech was Cainís offspring.
It was not relevant whose descendant Lamech was; the man was simply trying to rob and/or kill Lamech.
However, scripture attaches no importance to why this particular man was trying to wound Lamech. The point of Genesis 4:23-24 was to demonstrate that after the first murder, Cain and his descendants lived in hostility towards others.
Q: In Gen 4:23-24, what was the ancestry of the man who wounded Lamech, and when was Seth born?
A: Scripture does not say, so there are three equally probable possibilities.
Abel had children before he was murdered.
Seth was his ancestor. Nothing says that Genesis 4:23-24 happened chronologically before Genesis 4:25-26.
Cain was the ancestor of the young man.
Q: In Gen 5, could the "years" be really months?
A: No. If they were, then Enoch was only 65 months old (6 Ĺ years) when he became the father of Methuselah! See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.323 for essentially the same answer.
Q: In Gen 5, does the Book of Genesis assume everyone spoke Hebrew prior to Abraham?
A: No, quite the contrary. Genesis 11 in telling of the Tower of Babel says that after the flood different people spoke mutually unintelligible languages. Prior to the Tower of Babel there is no indication that Hebrew is what people spoke. Abraham himself probably did not speak Hebrew. He came from Ur, a Sumerian city. Sumerian was similar to Hebrew, since Hebrew came from Sumerian with heavy influence from the Arameans.
Secular linguists believe most of the Western languages, including Sanskrit in India, had a common origin around 4000 B.C.
Q: In Gen 5:3-29, what do all these names mean in Hebrew?
A: Here are the meanings, based on the etymology (word-origins) taken from Strongís Concordance and in some cases, what Genesis says the meaning is.
Adam - man. Strongís Concordance says it means ruddy, or man. Genesis 2:23 indicates that Adam = man.
Seth - put/placed/appointed/substituted. Genesis 4:25 says Eve named him Seth because God appointed another in place of Abel.
Enosh - mortal. The NIV Study Bible p.13 says the name, like "Adam" means "man".
Cainan/Kenan - fixed (like a nest or dwelling)
Mahalaleel - Praise of God, Praise God.
Jared - a descent
Enoch - Initiated, dedicated, trained up
Methuselah - man of the dart
Lamech - from an unused root of uncertain meaning
Noah - Strongís Concordance says rest, and Genesis 5:26 says comfort, which is very similar.
Irad - fugitive
Ham - hot
Shem - name?
Japheth - expansion. According to the pre-Christian Greeks, Japetos was their ancestor.
One point we can learn from Japetos, is that the etymology or meaning behind every name is not necessarily significant.
A second point we can learn from Seth and Noah, is that the meaning behind some of the names is significant.
Q: In Gen 5:21-27, is there a reason why Methuselah was the oldest human in the Bible?
A: Perhaps. The flood occurred the year that Methuselah died. Perhaps this was a sign of Godís mercy in delaying the flood by giving him a long life.
Q: In Gen 5:24, why did God take Enoch, a godly man?
A: Perhaps for the same reason we bring beautiful flowers into our home. Enoch did not necessarily die; God just took Enoch with Him to heaven, similar to Elijah in 2 Kings 2:11-12. Another illustration was that like good friends Enoch and God went for a walk, it was getting late, and God said, since you are closer to my house than yours, why donít you just come over to my house now. God does have most of his servants die to go to heaven though. This is not callous disregard, but Psalm 116:15 says "Precious in the eyes of Jehovah is the death of His saints." (Greenís Literal Translation)
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.104-106 for more on what happened to Enoch.
Q: In Gen 6, why are there similarities between Noahís flood and other accounts?
A: They should be similar if they recorded a common event. The Babylonian account is similar in details, but very different in the reasons given. According to this account, the gods destroyed man because man made too much noise, but later they regretted this and gathered hungrily around "Noahís" sacrifices.
One curious similarity is the Bible says Noahís three sons were Ham, Shem, and Japheth. The Aryan Institutes of Manu say Satyaurata survived the flood with three sons: Jyapeta, Sharma, and Cíharma. The Greek writer Aristophanes records the Greek tradition that Japetos (Iepetus the Titan) was the ancestor of the Greeks. All of this is corroborating evidence of a common event.
Q: Does Gen 6:3 mean that Godís Spirit might leave someone and never come back?
A: No. Genesis 6:3 is saying that the spirit given by God will leave a personís physical body after 120 years.
Q: Does Gen 6:3 manís lifespan henceforth would only be 120 years, or that there would be 120 years of grace prior to the flood?
A: It could be either way, because there is no evidence against either view. Either one could be correct according to The NIV Study Bible p.14, the New International Bible Commentary p.120. The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.2 p.77 favors it being the lifespan of man. It says the view that it was the time until the flood was taught by Luther, Calvin, and The Scofield Bible. The New Geneva Study Bible p.18 mentions both views, but favors the years until the flood.
Q: In Gen 6:3, did God set our lifespan at 120 years, or only 70 to 80 years as Ps 90:19 says?
A: Some things are hard to understand until you see that God is free to set different rules at different times. The average lifespan of people has changed. God set the average lifespan was 120 years just prior to the flood. Much later, Psalms 90:10 shows that it was shortened. God it is said that a man lives to be 70 years, 80 if he has the strength. A plot of the lifespans given in Genesis decreases in an exponential curve.
Scientists are not sure of all the mechanisms of aging: microbes do not age. While DNA demethylation might be one mechanism, the dominant mechanism appears to be shortening of DNA strands. Every time the DNA in a cell in an animal divides some of the ends are shortened. Now there is extraneous material on the ends, and microbes have an enzyme, telomerase, that restores the ends. However, telomerase does not appear to restore the ends of DNA in animals.
See When Critics Ask p.41 and Haleyís Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.424 for more info.
Q: In Gen 6:3, how does this reconcile with paleontologists who say ancient people lived shorter lives?
A: There are some flaws in this particular assertion of scientism that poses as science.
1. Notice that they never mention the basis on which they claim people had shorter lifespans.
2. They present no evidence that they have a statistically valid and unbiased sample. For example, a hypothetical future paleontologist, centuries from now, could dig up the refuse from a couple of abortion clinics, and "prove" that our average lifespan was less than one year. This "proof" would be statistically biased, too.
3. Lifespan estimates should say whether they include or exclude infant mortality. For example, in the 1970ís, the lifespan in many central African countries was less than 30 years. Yet, if you went to the country, you would still see many elderly people. If there was a hypothetical country, where every toddler lived to be a 60 years old, but 2/3 of all babies died, the average lifespan would be only 20 years.
Q: In Gen 6:3, since God could never become flesh, how could Jesus come to earth? (An atheist asked this)
A: Genesis 6:3 says no such thing. It simply says that men are indeed flesh. Now it is true that God is Spirit, and Jesus emptied Himself to come to earth in the flesh, but Genesis 6:3 itself neither confirms or denies anything about God coming in the flesh.
Q: In Gen 6:2,4-5, who were the Nephilim or "Sons of God"?
A: Nephilim means "sons of God" and here are some theories of why people called them that.
Godly line of Seth, or believers who sinned by marrying unbelievers from Cain. 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.65,348 advocates this, and says this was Scofieldís view. This view goes as far back as Julius Africanus writing in 232-245 A.D., in Ante-Nicene Fathers volume 6 fragment 2 p.131. 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.28 mentions this view, as well as the "Some demonic beings" view.
Mighty kings is the interpretation of the Aramaic Targum.
Another race such as Neanderthals or possibly Homo erectus.
Technologically advanced: The skeptical Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.73 thinks that the Israelites called them giants because of their high walls and technologically advanced weapons.
Children of women and demon-possessed men.
Some demonic beings could interbreed was the belief of the Jews Philo, Josephus (<100 A.D.), and the writer of 1 Enoch (chapter 6). Christians who taught this included Second Apology of Justin Martyr ch.5 p.190, Tertullianís On the Veiling of Virgins ch.7 p.32 (198-220 A.D.), The Instructions of Commodianus (c.240 A.D.) ch.3 p.203, and Ambrose of Milan (c.378 A.D.). Augustine of Hippo in City of God (413-426 A.D.) book 15 ch.23 p.303-304 acknowledges that earlier Christians held this view, but points out that Genesis 6:3 goes against this view, because God says that His spirit will not contend with man forever, which would make no sense if it was just demons doing these things. See Difficulties in the Bible p.186 for more info on this view.
Perhaps this was Satanís attempt to alter our gene pool. However, if demons could interbreed how could Jesus half-way atone for half-men, half-demons? Hank Hanegraaff mentioned this on the excellent radio show, the Bible Answer Man 10/29/97. See also The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.46-47, Chronological and Background Charts of the Old Testament p.35, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.79-80, When Critics Ask p.40-41, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.106-108, and Todayís Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.208-209 for more info.
Q: In Gen 6:6, how does God repent?
A: The word can also be translated "grieved." God expresses His emotions in time as events occur. Jeremiah 15:8 goes into detail on this. Also see the discussion on Genesis 20:3,6, When Critics Ask p.41,161, Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.205-206, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.108-109, and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.80-81,173-174 for more extensive answers.
Q: In Gen 6:9, how was Noah perfect in his generation?
A: There is no indication that perfect here means sinless perfection. Rather, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.109-111 mentions that the Hebrew word means "conformity to the standard, and the original idea may well have been to be straight. The same word, with different vowel markings, is used in Leviticus 19:15 to judge your neighbor fairly".
Q: In Gen 6:12, since all had corrupted their ways, how could Noah be blameless in Gen 6:9 and Gen 7:1?
A: The context clearly shows that "all" means with the exception of Noah and his family. Note that Noahís father Lamech died in the year of the flood too.
Q: In Gen 6:13 and 7:1, how did Noah know God was speaking to him, since He never saw God?
A: Many times, people who have many years of relationship with God know when God is speaking to them. See 1 Kings 19:11-13 for another example.
The only warning people had of a flood was Noah, the guy who build a boat in a desert. From Noahís perspective, he would either be the greatest hero or the greatest fool of his generation had even seen. He would not be anything in-between. That is the nature of great faith in God. (Sermon by Bill Counts 11/5/2005)
Q: In Gen 6:14, how could Noah build such a large ark?
A: He had a 100 years to build it with his three sons, and possibly some hired help. The ark was about 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. It held 101,250 square feet. The is 1,103 cubic feet per year. A 10 foot by 15 foot by 6 2/3 foot stall is 1,000 cubic feet. According to Todayís Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.215-216, the Queen Elizabeth 2 is 963 feet (294m) long, 105.3 feet (32.09m) wide, and 171.3 feet (52.5m high). So the ark was smaller than the Queen Elizabeth 2, except that the ark did not have a deep keel.
See also the next two questions for more info.
Q: In Gen 6:14, how long were some other ancient boats?
A: In ancient times a Roman boat was found in Britain 100 ft long, and later Viking ships were also long, with the longest known being the Roskilde ship at 115 ft. In the age of exploration the ships of the line could be 200 ft long, and later clipper ships were typically 150-250 ft long. The longest clipper ship, called the Great Republic, was 302 ft long. While there were a few metal clipper ships in Europe, most clipper ships were wood with metal reinforcements on the frame and inner keel.
Of course they did not have 100 years to build those boats. Also, while most boats are built out of oak because it is strong, other woods, just as teak, ebony, Brazilian blackheart, and cocobolo (in South America) are much stronger. The ark was not built out of oak but gopherwood. We are not sure what gopherwood is; two theories are a very hard wood (perhaps still existing today under a different name or perhaps extinct today.) A second theory is that gopher wood was a mechanical way of pressing the wood to harden it so that it would hold up better. Finally, being built out of gopherwood does not mean it did not have other pieces, such as perhaps metal nails, bracing, etc. Genesis 4:22 shows they had bronze and iron (probably meteoritic) tools long before Noah.
Q: In Gen 6:14, how do we know that a cubit is 17.5 inches?
A: According to Todayís Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.215-216, when King Hezekiah had Siloam tunnel built, around 700 B.C.. His workers carved that it so that it was 1,200 cubits long. Dividing the length in inches by 1,200 cubits, gave about 17.5 inches per cubit. Of course a cubit in the time of Moses could have been somewhat larger or smaller. That would make the ark somewhat larger or smaller.
Q: In Gen 6:14 how could the ark survive Noahís flood?
A: There are at least three reasons.
Gopher wood might have been a strong species of wood, but it might be specially treated wood, too. Heavy wood is a good choice, because it has flexibility. Genesis 4:22 shows they had bronze and iron before Noah.
The shape was ideal for rough waters (1 by 1.67 by 10).
God could, of course, also supernaturally protect the ark as needed.
See When Critics Ask p.42 for more info.
Q: In Gen 6:19, was Noah to bring two of each creature, or seven pairs of every clean animal as Gen 7:2 says? But did only one pair of each go in Gen 7:8-9?
A: All are true; Genesis 6:19 does not specifically mention the clean animals. Noah was to bring two of all kinds, and in addition he was to bring seven of the clean ones. Genesis 6:19 says "two"; it does not say, "no more than two." The extra animals were for food and to sacrifice in Genesis 8:20. This is not an imprecision on the Bibleís part as much as an example of a way God teaches us. God makes sure we understand the general concept "two to replenish", and then adds a second concept "seven extra to sacrifice." It is similar to students learning arithmetic. They first learn how to subtract a smaller number from the larger number. Only later do they learn about negative numbers and that you can subtract a larger number from a smaller number.
Genesis 7:8-9 does not say exactly one pair of each kinds of animal. It says "pairs of animals" , which would include both the one pair of unclean animals, and all the pairs of the clean ones.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.111-112 Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.81-82, Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.135-136, and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.30-31 for more info.
Q: Does Gen 6:19-20 come from a "priestly" source around 450 B.C., and Gen 7:2-3 come from an "Yahwistic" source around 850 B.C.?
A: As Hard Sayings of the Bible p.111-112 points out there is no evidence that they ever were two separate stories, except for repeated occurrence. However, repetition is a literary technique for reinforcing a point. Back then, they may not have had the modern adage, "Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them", but they were definitely aware of the effectiveness of repetition, as even a brief look at Psalms or Proverbs shows.
It is difficult for liberals to say the story of Noahís flood was from either 850 B.C. or 450 B.C., as the Sumerian Gilgamesh Epic has a few of the same details about a worldwide flood, and it was written before 2500 B.C. (A Babylonian copy of Table 11 of the 12 table epic was in Ashurbanipalís palace in Nineveh. A photograph of it is in the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.6126.)
To be fair though, the liberal JEPD theory that Noahís flood came from two sources was from the nineteenth century, before the Gilgamesh Epic was known to the modern world. The only reason this question is addressed in this work is that there are still a number of liberal "Christians" who believe in the JEPD theory.
Q: Does Gen 7 cast aspersions to the character of God and His concept of justice? God destroyed all mankind because he "repented" of making him. In essence, God admitted to making a mistake, and in order to correct that mistake, he plays judge, jury, and executioner, and annihilates all mankind a la "Robo-Cop" without a trial, thus committing genocide. I have no doubt that there was evil, but how evil is a one year old child or an unborn fetus?
A: Not at all, though it might blow away some peopleís "soft" conceptions of God. Everybody who has ever lived, if they are not on the earth now, has died (with only two exceptions). The issue is not that they died, but when they died, and if they were allowed to have any descendants. God felt the emotion of grief, seeing what the world was like in Noahís time. Like it or not, God is a judge. He also is a jury, and yes, an executioner. God has the right, and He exercises the right, of determining when and how people die.
Q: In Gen 7:1, did the other people have "no chance" to repent as atheists have claimed?
A: No, a century is plenty of time for repentance. As they saw the ark being built, they could listen to Noah, a "preacher of righteousness" (1 Peter 3:20). It took 100 years to build the ark, and over hundred years is ample time to have a chance to turn to God. Perhaps this is one reason 1 Peter 3:20 says God was waiting patiently while the ark was being built.
Q: In Gen 7:2, how could Noah know how to take the clean animals, since there was no Old Testament law yet?
A: Noah did not have the Old Testament scriptures; rather, Noah had God Himself talking to Him. While we do not know exactly how much God taught Noah about what would be in the Mosaic Law, God certainly knew Himself, and was capable of communicating to Noah of which animals Noah should take seven.
In this one-on-one conversation with Noah, we do not know whether or not God used the identical definition of clean that is in the Mosaic Law. Regardless, Noah was told which animals to take.
There is a lesson for us in this question. Whenever God tells us to do something we usually do not know every single detail about everything. We can procrastinate or we can simply obey what we know, and trust God to correct us if needed as we are obeying. If we wait until we know every single detail first, we will probably never obey.
Q: In Gen 7:2, was Noah to take seven pairs of clean animals, or just two pairs of clean animals as the Bible critic Bart Ehrman (Jesus, Interrupted p.10) claims Gen 7:9-10 indicates?
A: Ehrman might have had his notes mixed up here. Genesis 7:2 says seven pairs of the clean animals, and one pair of the unclean animals. Genesis 7:8-10 says, "And they went in to Noah into the ark, male and female of clean animals, and of animals that are not clean, and of fowl, and of every thing that creeps on the earth, (9) two by two, as God had commanded Noah. (10) And in time, after the seven days, the waters of the flood came into being on the earth." (Greenís Literal Translation)
Genesis 7:9-10 says nothing about how many animals. Genesis 7:8 says that "pairs" (plural) of animals (plural) came. There were multiple pairs, one per kind of unclean animals. There were also multiple pairs of clean animals. In Genesis 7:8 there was no reason to be more specific on the number of pairs here, because six verses earlier it told us how many pairs.
Q: In Gen 7:4 - 8:12, what is unusual about the literary structure here?
A: This is called a chiasm, which is common in ancient Hebrew literature, in which each statement (except sometimes the middle one) have a symmetrical mirror statement. Here is the structure
7:4 - 7 days to wait for the flood
7:10 - - 7 days to wait for the flood
7:17a - - - 40 days of flood
7:24 - - - - 150 days of the waters rising
8:3 - - - - 150 days of waters retreating
8:6 - - - 40 days of waiting
8:10 - - 7 days of waiting
8:12 - 7 days of waiting
In addition, Genesis 7:21-23a is a chiasm within this chiasm.
- All the flesh died
- - Birds
- - - domestic animals and wild animals
- - - - swarmers
- - - - - Human beings
- - - - - - everything on dry land
- - - - - - all living things on the face of the ground
- - - - - Human beings
- - - - Animals
- - - Creepers
- - birds of the air,
- they were blotted out.
See The Expositorís Bible Commentary volume 2 p.90 for more info.
Q: In Gen 7:12,24, did the flood last 40 days, or 150?
A: Genesis 7:12 says it rained from the sky for 40 days, but the waters flooded the earth for a total of 150 days. See When Critics Ask p.42 and Chronological and Background Charts of the Old Testament p.36.
Q: In Gen 8, why does the Bible apparently teach that mankind only goes back about 6,000 years?
A: According to radioactive dating methods, the first humans, whom scientists call Cro-Magnon man, lived from about 400,000 years ago to today. Neanderthals were descended from Cro-Magnon man and lived from 130/100,000 years ago to 35/30,000 years ago.
However, regardless of when God created man, the genealogies in Genesis allow for indeterminate gaps, as the word "son" also means "descendant", and the word "father" also means ancestor. Isaiah 51:2 says Abraham is the father of the Jews, and the Jews told Jesus Abraham was their father in John 8:39.
As a side-note, we can say for sure that the world was created in six days, but how long is one of Godís days? 2 Peter 3:8 says a day with the Lord is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like a day. Psalm 90:4 says a thousand years in Godís sight are like a day or a watch in the night. Irenaeus in Against Heresies book 5 ch.23.2 (182-188 A.D.) p.551-552 interprets one of the Lordís days in Genesis as 1,000 years.
Q: In Gen 8:1 and Ex 6:5, how could God "remember" unless He first forgot?
A: God is all-knowing. While Noah may have felt forgotten, this is just an expression that God did not forget Noah. When we remember someone on their anniversary or birthday, it does not mean we forget them the rest of the year. See When Critics Ask p.43 for a similar answer.
Q: In Gen 8:11, what is significant about the olive leaf?
A: The leaf presumably sprouted after the flood, and olive trees do not grow at high elevations. The olive tree is often a symbol for Godís people.
Q: In Gen 8:15, did all races come from Noah?
A: On the fatherís side yes, but on the motherís side no. Noahís wife, three sons, and their wives were on the ark too. The differences are not that great, given that in mixed marriages, two brothers can have very light and very dark skin. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.312 for more info.
Q: In Gen 8:15-21, what are the parallels with Gen 12:1-7?
A: There are at least seven parallels with God calling Noah and God calling Abram.
God says to [him] Gen 8:15 Gen 12:1
Come out from the ark/country Gen 8:16 Gen 12:1
So [he] left Gen 8:18 Gen 12:4
Then [he] built an altar Gen 8:20 Gen 12:7
God blessed [him] Gen 9:1 Gen 12:2
Increase/become a great nation Gen 9:1 Gen 12:2
Establish a covenant / God gives them the land Gen 9:9 Gen 12:7
See The Expositorís Bible Commentary volume 2 p.91 for more info.
Q: In Gen 8:21-22, will the waters cover the entire earth again?
A: No, because Isaiah 54:9 reminds us that they will not. This is another argument against the local flood, for God said there would never be another flood to cover the earth again. If Noahís flood had just been a local flood, then there have been other terrible local floods.
Q: In Gen 8:21 will God again destroy all life, or will everything be destroyed in 2 Pet 3:7,10?
A: Genesis 8:21 says God promised not to destroy all life "...as I have done", and Genesis 8:22 adds "...as long as the earth endures." God will destroy the earth with fire, sparing believers. See When Critics Ask p.43 for more info.
Q: In Gen 8:22, why do we still have famines?
A: Genesis 8:22 says that harvest and seed time will not cease. While there were many famines, there has been no worldwide, permanent famine. See When Critics Ask p.43-44 for more info.
Q: In Gen 9, how could all the animals go back to the same place they came from?
A: Christians disagree on whether the flood occurred 2600 to 3000 B.C., about 7000 B.C., about 14,000 B.C. or almost a million years ago. Those who believe the flood occurred from 2600 to 3000 B.C. believe archaeology and radioactive methods are jumbled up, so there would be no data to say whether the animals returned to the same place they came from or not.
However, if the flood occurred about 14,000 years ago, all of the animals did not stay in the same place. A land bridge connected America and Asia. After that, mammoths and horses died out in the New World.
However, regardless of when the flood occurred, all Christians can agree that God has the power to influence the animals to go where he wants.
Q: In Gen 9:3, can people eat meat, or only vegetables?
A: Genesis 1:29 said Adam could eat fruits and vegetables. After the flood, Genesis 9:3 said we now could eat meat. See the discussion on Genesis 1:28 and When Critics Ask p.44 for more info.
Q: In Gen 9:4, is eating blood prohibited today?
A: Some say no, because the Christ superseded the law, and in Acts 10:11-16, all "foods" were called clean.
Some say yes, because this was given prior to the Mosaic Law in Genesis 9:4. In Acts 15:20,29 the early, apostolic church believed taught Christians should abstain from blood. Of course, miniscule amounts of blood are OK, because Jews were permitted to eat game they hunted and [rapidly] drained in the field in Leviticus 17:13. See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.84-86 for this view.
Q: In Gen 9:4, Lev 7:26-27, Lev 17:11-12, and Dt 12:16,23-25, does the prohibition on eating blood mean people should never have blood transfusions, as Jehovahís Witnesses teach?
A: No. We should not be cannibals, yet organ transplants are OK. Likewise, people were told not to eat blood, and blood transfusions are OK.
As Jehovahís Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse p.22-23 points out, even the Jehovahís Witness Watchtower organization did not ban blood transfusions until 1944. In 1967, they also banned organ transplants (Watchtower magazine 12/15/67 p.702-704). Then they changed their mind and allowed them in 1980 (Watchtower magazine 3/15/1980 p.31). They also did not allow vaccinations from 1931 to 1952.
See When Cultists Ask p.26-27, 39-40 for more info, and Jehovahís Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse p.22-23 and Answering Jehovahís Witnesses p.48-53 for more extensive discussion.
Q: Does Gen 9:6 forbid executing criminals today?
A: Not at all. Genesis 9:6 both prohibits only murder, and commanded execution as punishment for murderers. Remember that Genesis was one of the books of Moses, and in the Exodus through Deuteronomy a number of crimes had a punishment by execution. See also the next question.
Q: Does Gen 9:6 speak of capital punishment?
A: It definitely speaks of capital punishment. It means execution and not mere physical death that happens to non-murderers and murderers equally.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.114-116 and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.31 for a discussion of the Hebrew.
Q: In Gen 9:12-13, does the rainbow as a sign of Godís covenant show that there were no rainbows before the flood?
A: It implies this but does not prove it. As Todayís Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.220-221 says, God using a sign does not automatically prove it did not exist before. For example, the rite of circumcision was practiced before Abraham by other peoples, including the Egyptians and Ethiopians (Herodotus in his History book 2 ch.104 p.69). It was practiced by the Egyptians according to Letter of Barnabas (100-150 A.D.) ch.9 p.142. "Yea, the Egyptians also practice circumcision."
Q: In Gen 9:20-21, how could a godly man like Noah get drunk?
A: First, the Bible does not hide the fact that people of God sin too. Second, with lower air pressure near the top of a mountain after the flood, it is easier to get drunk.
Q: In Gen 9:20-21, why is this sad story in the Bible of Noah getting drunk?
A: The Bible not only shows us why it is important to do what is right, but it also provides real examples of consequences of doing wrong. Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.) answers this very clearly. "Noahís intoxication was recorded in writing, that, with the clear and written description of his transgression before us, we might guard with all our might against drunkenness." The Instructor book 2 ch.2 p.246.
Q: In Gen 9:21-25, was Genesis a scaled-down version of an original story where Ham castrated Noah to prevent him from having more sons, similar to the Greek myth of Chronos castrating his father Uranus as an atheist (Capella) suggested?
A: No, there is no hint of castration, here. As for Greek culture, bear in mind that the only Greek culture during the time of Moses was the early Mycenean Greeks. Much of what we know of Greek mythology was after that time. For reference, the Trojan War of Homer was around 1200 B.C., some 450 years after the Exodus.
Therefore, probably no borrowing took place here. If one still insists that there was borrowing, the later has to borrow from the earlier, and the Greek story here likely was later than Moses.
See Todayís Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.221-222 for more info.
Q: In Gen 9:22 what was wrong with Ham seeing his father naked?
A: Sons should not freely broadcast their parentís shortcomings, and Hamís attitude was disrespectful in Genesis 9:22. Ham learned that his own son would be a reproach to him. Hamís attitude was mocking according to Methodius (260-312 A.D.) in Banquet of the Ten Virgins Discourse 10 ch.2 p.348 and Justin (c.138-165 A.D.) Dialogue with Trypho ch.139 p.269.
Q: In Gen 9:22-23, what do you do if you are embarrassed by your parents?
A: First understand why you are embarrassed. Are your parents actually doing something morally wrong, is it a point where you are just being picky, or something in between. You must honor your parents (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:2), but still you must not condone sin. You should obey your parents in the Lord (Ephesians 6:1). That means to obey them, but when they command something contrary to God, you have to obey God first.
Q: In Gen 9:22-23, what do you do if your children are embarrassed by you?
A: There are at least four ways they can be embarrassed:
1) because of a moral stand you are taking that is correct.
2) because of something relating to style, personal preference, or another morally neutral subject that is proper
3) Because of something you did wrong,
4) Because of something that was not wrong in itself, but is inconsiderate or not respectful of their feelings.
For the first reason, you can simply explain why you are taking your stand. For the second reason, you should not let what is good be spoken of as evil (Romans 14:16), but out of love you might accommodate them (Romans 14:14-15).
Q: In Gen 9:22-23, how should we respond to the sin in others?
A: In all cases, we should not give the appearance of condoning the sin, but we can still love the sinner. We should not be in a situation where we are tempted ourselves. Besides that, there is a difference in whether the sinner is your child, your parent, a person older than you, a Christian, or an unbeliever.
Do not entertain an accusation against elders unless it is brought by two or three witnesses (1 Timothy 5:19).
Corporal punishment (spanking) can be used with your children, but not other people (Proverbs 22:15; Hebrews 12:7-11).
Do not rebuke an older man harshly (1 Timothy 5:1).
Q: In Gen 9:24 should it say "younger" (NKJV) or "youngest"?
A: In Hebrew it can be either way according to Strongís Concordance. Regardless, the meaning is that Ham was younger than Shem and Japheth.
Q: In Gen 9:25, why was Canaan, not Ham, cursed?
A: Ham learned that his descendants would be an example of sinís consequences. The Expositorís Bible Commentary volume 2 p.97 says that the Hebrew form of the verb is imperfect and not jussive, "so the sense is more likely that of prediction (ĎHe will beí) rather than a malediction (ĎMay he beí). 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.32 says the same. Thus Noahís words anticipate a central theme of the following narratives - separation of the chosen seed from the seed of the Canaanites".
See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.86-87, Haleyís Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.84-86, Todayís Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.222-223, and Justin Martyrís [wrote c.138-165 A.D.] Dialogue with Trypho chapter 139 p.268-269 for more discussion.
Q: In Gen 9:25-26, what was the curse of Canaan?
A: Genesis only says that the lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers. Note that the curse is not on Ham, but Canaan. No Greek or Hebrew manuscript says it was Ham, only an Arabic translation says so. (According to the Origin of the Bible p.307, the first Arabic version of the Pentateuch was translated by Saadya Gaon, who lived from 892 to 942 A.D.)
As Ham made Noah his father ashamed, Canaan and his descendants would make Ham his father ashamed. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.116-118 for a more extensive answer.
Q: In Gen 10, who are these 68 peoples and 16 cities?
A: This is the most ancient ethnographic document we have preserved according to 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.32. Scholars believe they can identify 51 of the 68 peoples and archaeologists have found 11 of the 16 cities. Sodom and Gomorrah were so thoroughly destroyed they have never been found. However, the Ebla tablets, written 2400-2250 B.C. mentions towns of Si-da-mu (Sodom) and I-ma-ar (Gomorrah). Also, the Wycliffe Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology p.124 says that a sanctuary called Bab ed-Dra was found just south of the Dead Sea. It was dated between 2800 and 1800 B.C.. See The NIV Study Bible, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.42-44 for more info.
Here are the peoples known or conjectured.
Japheth - Greeks said their ancestor was Japetos
|->Gomer - Gimirra/Assyrian Cimmerian/Greek
| |->Ashkenaz - As-gu-za-a/Assyrian = Scythians
| |->Riphath - ? lived in Russia?
| |->Togarmah - Either the town of Tegarama in
| Asia Minor, the ancestors of the Armenians,
| or both.
|->Magog - Scythians? according to Josephus
|->Madai - Medes
|->Javan - Ionian Greeks
| |->Elishah - Aeolians? according to Josephus
| |->Tarshish - city in Asia Minor or else Spain
| |->Kittim - Cyprus
| |->Dodanim/Rodanim - Isle of Rhodes
|->Tubal - Tabali people in Cappadocia
|->Meshech - Mushki/Assyrian originally between
| Cilicia and the Caspian Sea
|->Tiras - possibly the Thrusa (=Tw-ríw-s3), who invaded Egypt in 1250 B.C.
Ham - No tribe, only descendants
|->Cush - Sudanese (Cush in ancient times)
| |->Seba - Northern Ethiopia. The name of the
| | place probably came from Sabean colonists
| | who came later.
| |->Havilah - Either near Indus River in
| | Pakistan, or else near Sheba and Hadramaut
| |->Sabtah - ? probably lived north of Sheba
| |->Raamah - Probably the Rhammanites in SW
| | | Arabia (Strabo 16.4.24)
| | |->Sheba - Sheba in the SW corner of the
| | | Arabian Peninsula
| | |->Dedan - NW of the Persian Gulf.
| | Mentioned by Chaldeans and Assyrians
| |->Sabteca - ? not otherwise known
|->Mizraim - Egypt
| |->Ludites - ? not otherwise known
| |->Anamites - ? known only in 1 Chr 1:11
| |->Lehabites - The Rbw/Libu were a hostile
| | tribe west of Egypt
| |->Naphtuhites - ? not otherwise known
| |->Pathrusites - Pathros was southern Egypt
| |->Casluhites - Philistines came from these
| |->Caphtorites - Crete / Aegean Islands
| | (Akkadian/Mari/Ugarit/Egypt)
|->Put - Libya according to Babylonian and Persian records.
|->Canaan - Canaanites
| |->Sidon - Phoenician city
| |->Hittites - Lived just north of Jerusalem
| |->Jebusites - lived in Jerusalem
| |->Amorites - Lived in Canaan. Amurru in
| | Akkadian means westerner
| |->Girgashites - Lived in Canaan, probably the
| | Qirkishites/Assyrian
| |->Hivites - Lived near Tyre, Sidon, and Shechem. Solomon used them in building the temple
| |->Arkites - Port of ĎArqah in north Syria
| |->Sinites - Northern Canaanite port of Siannu
| |->Arvadites - north Phoenician City of Arvad
| |->Zemarites - Canaanite city of Simura 6
| | miles south of Arvad
| |->Hamathites - One of the oldest Syrian cities
Shem - probably Sumer
|->Elam - Elamites, capital was Susa
|->Asshur - First Assyrian capital
|->Arphaxad - ? Ptolemy mentioned Arrapachitis region between the lakes Van and Urmia
| |->Shelah - No tribe known, only descendants
| | |->Eber - No tribe known, only descendants
| | |->Peleg - No tribe known, only descendants
| | |->Joktan - many Arabian tribes, or else the
| | | South Arabian tribe of Qahtan (al-Tabari
| | | vol.6 p.xxii; vol.20 p.xv)
| | | |->Almodad - possibly? a southern Arab tribe
| | | |->Sheleph - A Yemenite southern Arab tribe
| | | |->Hazarmaveth - Hadrumaut in Arabia
| | | |->Jerah - Presumably an Arabian tribe?
| | | |->Hadoram - ? not otherwise known
| | | |->Uzal - ? not otherwise known.
| | | | However, Uzal/Auzal was an ancient
| | | | name of Saína in Yemen.
| | | |->Diklah - means "palm grove". They
| | | | might? have settled at Wadi Sirhan,
| | | | c.250 miles southeast of the Dead Sea.
| | | |->Obal - unknown outside of 1 Chr 1:22
| | | |->Abimael - ? not otherwise known
| | | |->Sheba - Sabeans in south Arabia
| | | |->Ophir - Possibly Somalia or SW
| | | | Arabia. Josephus and Jerome thought
| | | | it was India.
| | | |->Havilah - Probably central Arabia
| | | |->Jobab - ? not otherwise known
|->Lud - Either the Lydians, or else the land of
| Lubdi between the upper Tigris and Euphrates
|->Aram - Arameans of Syria
|->Uz - Ausitai tribe? lived west of the Euphrates
|->Hul - ? not otherwise known
|->Gether - ? not otherwise known
|->Mash/Meshech - ? Either the Syro-Arabian Desert of Mash known to the Assyrians, the Lebanese Mt. Masius, or Meshech was a mingling of two ancestries
See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary and The New International Dictionary of the Bible for more info.
Q: In Gen 10, why are Indians and Chinese are not mentioned in the table of nations?
A: First what is not the answer, and then the answer.
Not the answer: While Sinites are mentioned, these are probably not Chinese but from the Canaanite port of Siannu in northern Syria. Josephus and Jerome thought Ophir was India, but it is more probably Africa.
The answer: All came from Adam, as all were cursed with Adamís nature. Genesis makes no claim of listing every people, and of the hundreds of peoples, Genesis only mentions the nations most Israelites would recognize. See Todayís Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.224-226 for a more extensive answer.
Q: In Gen 10, are the Sumerians of Mesopotamia mentioned?
A: Yes, they probably are, as "Shem". The land of Sumer, was often pronounced without the "r", and Sum could easily become Shem. For scholarly support of this, refer to The Sumerians by Samuel Noah Kramer p.297-298. Kramer also cites American Journal of Semitic Languages vol.58  p.20-26.
Q: In Gen 10:2, who were the Gomer people?
A: The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.710 says these were the people called "Gimirra" by the Assyrians and Cimmerians by the Greeks. Gomer lived in the Ukraine and southern Russia. See the New International Dictionary of the Bible p.395 for more info.
Q: In Gen 10:2 why are the Medes (Madai) mentioned, since these people were not mentioned anywhere else until 836 B.C. in the Shalmaneser III text?
A: The Shalmaneser III text was after Mosesí time of 1407 B.C., but silence in preserved early writings does not prove non-existence. The Assyrians only noted when they fought and traded with the Medes for horses. According to Persia and the Bible p.35 "I.M. Diakonoff believes that the arrival of the Indo-Iranian tribes on the Iranian plateau took place in the first half of the second millennium B.C. [2000-1500 B.C.]. But the earliest archaeological evidence of newcomers seems to date to the early part of the second half of the second millennium B.C. [1500-1300 B.C.].
In contrast to this, the mighty Minni people were mentioned in Jeremiah 51:27. However, the Minni only go back as far as 1200 B.C., and the Minni are not mentioned in Genesis, because Genesis was written earlier.
In summary, archaeology supports the Medes existing in Mosesí time. See Persia and the Bible p.33-50 for more information.
Q: In Gen 10:2, who were the Javan people?
A: They are the Ionian Greeks. In Hebrew this was yawan which is equated to the Greek iaones or iawones in Homerís Illiad 8.685, and yamanu in inscriptions of Sargon II and Darius I. Ionians are mentioned in Egypt from the time of Rameses II (c.1300 B.C.). Isaiah 66:19 and Ezekiel mention them, and the Septuagint translation translates this as "Hellas".
See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.885 and the New Bible Dictionary (Eerdmansí 1962) p.600 for more info.
Q: In Gen 10:2, who were the Tubal people?
A: They were called the Tabal (or Tabali) by the Assyrians and lived in modern-day Turkey in the region of Cappadocia. The Greek historian Herodotus knew of them as the Tibarenoi. They are mentioned in Ezekiel 27:13; 28:2-3; 39:1, and Isaiah 66:19.
The Assyrian king Shalmaneser III (859-824 B.C.) received tribute from the 24 kings of Tubal. The Assyrians dethroned the king of Tubal in 732 B.C. Sargon mentions that precious metal containers came from Tubal. Sargon also crushed a revolt by Tubal, the Mushki (Meshech) and Ararat. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1751 and the New Bible Dictionary (Eerdmansí 1962) p.811 for more info.
Q: In Gen 10:2, who were the Meshech people?
A: The Assyrians first mentioned as the "Mus-ka-a-ia" as having an army of 20,000 during the time of Tiglath-Pileser I (c. 1100 B.C.). They are also mentioned under Shalmaneser III (859-824 B.C.). The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1105-1106 also says they originally lived between Cilicia and the Caspian Sea, but in the time of Sargon II (722-705 B.C.) they lived in the region of Phrygia in modern-day Turkey. Herodotus 3:94 lists them as the "Moschoi", who comprised one of the 19 satrapies of Darius.
The New Bible Dictionary (Eerdmansí 1962) p.811 also says they are equated with the Phrygians.
Q: In Gen 10:2, who were the Tiras people?
A: We do not know much about the Tiras. While Josephus claims the Thracians came from them, people today think they were the Tursenich/Tyrsenians, who were pirates. The Egyptians mention a "Thrusa" (Tw-rw-s3) people invading Egypt around 1250 B.C. The apocryphal Book of Jubilees says the Tiras lived on four islands. See the New International Dictionary of the Bible p.1019 and the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1716 for more info.
Q: In Gen 10:3, where was Togarmah?
A: Togarmah was about 70 miles (113 km) west of the town of Malatya. The Hittites called it Tegarama. The Assyrians called it Tilgarimanu, and they conquered it in 695 B.C. The Greeks called it Gauraena. The Armenians claim they descended from Haik, a son of Torgom, so they might be descendants of Togarmah. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1721 for more info.
Q: In Gen 10:5,20,31, since there were different tongues, why did all the earth have one speech in Gen 11:1?
A: Genesis 10 is an overview, and Genesis 11 speaks of one event within Genesis 10. Genesis 10:5 says, "from these...", 10:18 "Later...". These imply that Genesis 10 says how the descendants later spread. Genesis 11:1 talks of the event of the tower of Babel, that occurred prior to the spreading out of people. See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.87-88 and When Critics Ask p.44-45 for more info.
A curious clay tablet fragment in Babylon tells of one temple that the offended the gods. They destroyed it in one night and scattered the people with strange speech. See Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament? p.25-26 for more info.
Q: In Gen 10:6,13, 1 Chr 1:8,11 why is Egypt not mentioned among these nations? (A Christian puzzled over this)
A: It is mentioned. The Hebrew word for Egypt is Mizraim.
Q: In Gen 10:8-12, were the deeds of Nimrod an amalgamation of the feats of Lugal-Zaggasi, Sargon of Agade, Hammurabi, and Shalmaneser I, as Asimovís Guide to the Bible says (p.52)?
A: No. While we do not know much about these ancient Sumerian kings except for the tens of thousands of Sumerian tablets that have been preserved, the similarities between those conquerors and Nimrod are remote. The Bible simply mentions that Nimrod was a mighty hunter before the Lord, that Nimrodís career began in four cities in Shinar (Sumer), and later he went into Assyrian built four closely spaced cities there, which later became very influential. The Bible does not say anything else about Nimrod, so it is hard to make a comparison. Nimrod could not have been Hammurabi, because Hammurabi (1803/1793-1760/1750 B.C.) lived long after Abraham. Nimrod might in fact be a Biblical reference to Sargon, except that we know too little about both Sargon and Nimrod to say.
Q: In Gen 10:9, was Nimrod a good hunter "before the Lord", or an ungodly predator "in defiance of the Lord"?
A: Probably the best translation of the Hebrew word here paniym is "before". Like the English word "before", paniym is used in many contexts. For example, a leader could be before the congregation in Joshua 20:6,9, Israel was defeated before the Philistines in 1 Samuel 4:2, and Israel fled before the Philistines 1 Samuel 4:17.
In this case, paniym probably means an ungodly description, as in "fighting before" This name is related to the Hebrew word marad for meaning "to rebel" (The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.42) or "we shall rebel" according to the New Geneva Study Bible p.25. After the tower of Babel, Nimrod built the city of Babylon in defiance of the Lord.
Nimrod being a "mighty hunter before the Lord" is a negative ungodly connotation for Nimrod according to The Believerís Bible Commentary p.45-46, Ungerís Bible Dictionary p.794,
Q: In Gen 10:9, exactly what ethnic group was Nimrod/Nimrud?
A: There are three possibilities.
Assyria is called the land of Nimrud in Micah 5:6, the city of Calah is also called Nimrud, and the Babylonian city of Borsippa is also called Birs Nimrud.
Descendent of Kassites of Kish, who lived in Mesopotamia and ruled Babylon c.3200 B.C., and Genesis 10:8 said that Cush was the father of Nimrod. Nin-Maradda is a non-Semitic name of a town southwest of Kish, according to Ungerís Bible Dictionary p.794. This view is also compatible with the first view.
Ubaidians were very early (c.3800-3500 B.C.) non-Semite inhabitants of Sumeria and Mesopotamia before the Sumerians who came from the south. Genesis 10:8-10 indicates Nimrod was first in Babylonia, and then went north to Assyria. We know very little about the Ubaidians, but with a connection to Ham they might have been related to the darker-skinned Harappan people of India. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1207-1208 for more on this view.
Q: In Gen 10:11 (KJV), should it say, "Out of that land went forth [the person] Asshur"?
A: It should say, "Out of that land he [Nimrod] went to [the place] Asshur". This is essentially the meanings translated in the NIV, NKJV, uNASB., and NET Bible
Q: In Gen 10:22, how do you pronounce "Arphaxad"?
A: Crudenís Concordance and the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary say it is pronounced as "ar-FAKSí-ad" with the accent on the second syllable and no long vowels. While we do not know for sure if this was a tribe or just a collection of descendants, Ptolemy in his history (chapter 6:1-2) mentioned a region called Arrapachitis which was between Lake Van and Lake Urmiah in Armenia. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.155 for more info.
Q: In Gen 10:22 and Gen 22:21, was Aram supposedly born twice, as the skeptical Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.88 says?
A: No, but there are two possible answers:
Multiple individuals: There were not just two, but three individuals in the Bible named Aram.
1. Genesis 10:22 says Aram Syria was a descendent of Shem. (The Hebrew is the same for son and descendent, just as the Hebrew is the same for father and ancestor.)
2. Genesis 22:21 mentions Aram, who was descended from Kemuel (nephew of Abraham), who was from Nahor, who was from Terah, who was descended from Shem.
3. Much later in 1 Chronicles 7:34 there was an Aram son of Shamer of the tribe of Asher.
The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.122 and The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.74 also mention three people.
One individual: Note that the two Arams in Genesis 10:22 and 22:21 are both descendents of Shem. So they could in fact be one individual, with the Table of Nations mentioning Shem as an ancestor of Aram.
Q: In Gen 11, did men have such a "low" concept of heaven that men could try to build the tower of Babel up to it?
A: This was not the view of Moses, but of the people building the tower. Genesis 11 records, without endorsement, some of menís foolish ideas. Of course, what is a foolish idea for the masses could be shrewd for the priests to ensure the people held them in awe.
The NIV Study Bible p.23 lists other pyramids/ziggurats archaeologists have found with similar pretentious titles.
Larsa: House of the Link between Heaven and Earth
Borshippa: House of the Seven Guides of Heaven and Earth
Asshur: House of the Mountain of the Universe
Babylon: House of the Foundation-Platform of Heaven and Earth
The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament (p.44) notes the Babylonian Enuma Elish VI lines 55-64 said Babylon was built by the gods in heaven as a celestial city. Babili means "the gate of God."
Q: In Gen 11, what was sinful about building the Tower of Babel?
A: It was not the construction of a building, but the arrogant motivation of (foolishly) thinking they could ascend to Heaven on their own. At the core of much of idolatry is the belief that people should be religious however they want, in "their own way", instead of seeking the One True God. Godís reaction does not seem to be one of punishment but rather preventing them from additional evil. Wise parents do not want their children to totally ignore the law and their own commands, and God does not want people, whom He created, to do that either.
See Todayís Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.226-229 for more info.
Q: In Gen 11, what do we know about the Sumerian language?
A: Sumerian was written in cuneiform, and it is not an Indo-European language. It has some similarities to Turkish, Hungarian, and some languages of the Caucasus Mountains. Scholars can read Sumerian today, and they know how the words were pronounced. Sumerian had no f, i, j, th, soft ch, v, w, or umlaut sounds. They had an "ng" (like Cantonese and Vietnamese), and they did not have inflections at the end of words like most Indo-European languages. There were also a number of Sumerian dialects. Just like there were ancient versions of English and Chinese, the Encyclopedia Britannica mentions there were four periods of Sumerian: archaic, classical, new, and post-Sumerian. Abraham lived at a time when they spoke "New Sumerian".
Hebrew came in part, from Sumerian. Like Sumerian, Hebrew had no "j" sound. Read The Sumerians by Noah Kramer especially p.306-307 for more info.
Q: Was Gen 11 out of sequence?
A: No, nothing indicates it was out of sequence. Think about it. If all mankind were wiped out except for 8 people who were related by blood or marriage, it is very likely they all spoke the same language. However, somewhere along the line, people would start speaking different languages, and that would happen about the time they became geographically isolated. As an interesting side note, non-religious linguists think they can trace all Indo-European languages (from Celtic tongues to German, to Greek to even Sanskrit), to a common origin, which they think was spoken in the Ukraine about 4,000 B.C.
Q: In Gen 11:1-9, why was there one language before Babel, since Gen 10:5,20,31 says there were many languages that began after the flood?
A: Both are true, because Genesis 10 tells how the tribes propagated both before and after Babel. Three points to consider in the answer.
Genesis 10:5 states it is telling how the Sea peoples "spread out into their territories". This spreading out occurred after Babel.
Genesis 10:20 likewise states it is referring to the territories of the sons of Ham, and the Hamites moving to their territories would be after the tower of Babel.
Genesis 10:31 is almost identical to Genesis 10:20, except that it refers to the sons of Shem.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.118 for more info.
Q: In Gen 11:5 and Gen 18:21, since God is everywhere, how did "the Lord came down to see the city..."?
A: This is an expression to communicate that God took special notice of the city. See When Critics Ask p.45 for more info, and Now Thatís A Good Question p.20-22 for a different answer.
Q: In Gen 11:7, as far as we know, were early beliefs always polytheists with monotheism being a later development, as the skeptical Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.18 says?
A: No. As far as we know from history, the early Chinese religion was monotheistic, as well as some other southeast Asian cultures. The early Chinese name for this monotheistic God was Shang-di, which is used for God in Chinese Bibles today.
Q: In Gen 11:7-9, was the confusion of tongues at the tower of Babel copied from the Greek story of Aloadae?
A: Origen (230-254 A.D.) investigated this in Origen Against Celsus book 4 ch.21 p.505 and concluded it could not be because:
a) No Greek person was known to him (or us) that had heard of this prior to Homer.
b) Homer lived centuries after Moses.
By the way, there are conflicting dates about when Homer lived. The ancient Greek historian Aristarchus says 1044 B.C., authorities in Philostratus says 1159 B.C., and pseudo-Herodotus The Life of Homer puts it as 1102 B.C.. In contrast to that the historian Theopompus said Homer lived as late as 685 B.C.. Herodotus says it was not earlier than about 730 B.C.. The Exodus was about 1447 B.C. See The Encyclopaedia Britannica under Homer for more info.
Theophilus to Autolycus (168-181/188 A.D.) book 3 ch.20 p.117 also points out that "Moses and his followers are proved to be 900 or even 1000 years prior to the Trojan War." However, it is actually a little over 400 years after, not 900 to 1000 years after.
Conclusion: Either the Greeks picked up the story from the earlier Hebrews, the Greeks picked up the story from somewhere else outside of Greece, or the Greek and Bible accounts are based on the same event.
Q: In Gen 11:9, was deriving the name "Babel" from the Hebrew word balal meaning "mixed, confused, or confounded" false, because the in Babylonian Bab-ilu means "gate of God", as the skeptical Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.55 says?
A: No. Asimov assumes that Babel is on the site of the city of Babylon. The Bible does not say the Babylonians or Sumerians said it was because the languages were mixed, confused, or confounded. Rather, Genesis was saying that wherever Babel was, the people afterwards, (including the Hebrews who read Genesis), could call it Babel because the languages were confused there.
Q: In Gen 11:11, how old was Shem when the flood came?
A: Here is what one can observe from the scriptures, and then the conclusion:
Genesis 11:11 says that Shem was 100 years old two years after the flood.
Genesis 5:32 says that Ham, Shem, and Japheth were born when Noah was 500 years old.
Genesis 7:6 says that Noah was 600 years old when the flood came on the earth.
Nothing in scripture indicates that Ham, Shem, and Japheth were triplets. Genesis 7:6 was a round number; the three were born, probably one at a time, when Noah was approximately 500-600 years old.
Q: In Gen 11:18-24, is there any extra-Biblical record of Reu, Serug, and Nahor?
A: No one can expect that we have we have an independent record of every individual. However, in this case we probably do have an independent record. The Assyrian chronicles record villages in modern Syria named Paligg, Reu, and Sarugi, and Nakhur. The Mari records also mention Nakhur.
Q: In Gen 11:22, how do you pronounce "Nahor"?
A: Crudenís Concordance and the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary both say it is pronounced as NA-hor with a long "a" and the accent on the first syllable.
Q: In Gen 11:24, how do you pronounce "Terah"?
A: Crudenís Concordance says it is pronounced as TAR-a with no long vowels and the accent on the first syllable. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary and Harperís Bible Dictionary say the "e" is long, and the accent is also on the first syllable.
Q: In Gen 11:27 and Gen 17:5, what is the etymology (origin) of the names "Abram" and "Abraham"?
A: According to the New Bible Dictionary (1962) p.5, and the KJV footnote, the origin of the name is uncertain. It is a West Semitic name, and probably means "the father is exalted" or "exalted father". The name "Abraham" means, "father of multitudes" or "father of a multitude".
Q: Does Gen 11:27 teach that Abram, Nahor, and Haran were born in any specific order?
A: While some mistakenly think a list in the Bible always implies who was born first, that is not true. For example, in 1 Chronicles 3:15, Zedekiah was listed as Josiahís third son, and Shallum/Jehoahaz was list as fourth. Yet when Jehoahaz became king in 609 B.C., he was 23 years old, and Zedekiah was only ten years old. For another example, Ham is mentioned before Shem and Japheth, yet Genesis 9:24 shows that Ham was younger. Thus if the Bible gives a list without saying they are in order, we should not try to read in to the Bible what is not there.
In this particular case, since Abram was 75 when he left Haran after Terah died (Genesis 12:4), and Terah died at 205 years (Genesis 11:32), Abram was not the son who was born when Terah was 70. Abram was not born until Terah was at least 130.
Q: In Gen 11:28, was Abram from the city of Ur, or was he from the town of Haran in Gen 24:4?
A: Abram was originally from Ur of the Chaldeans in southern Mesopotamia, but prior to coming to Canaan, Abram and his relatives first settled in the town of Haran in modern-day Syria. See When Critics Ask p.35, 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.33-34 and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.88-89 for more info.
Q: Why does Gen 11:28 mention Ur of the Chaldeans, since Ur was a Sumerian city?
A: The Chaldeans and Sumerians of Iraq were assimilated in Mosesí time, and Moses mentioned the land of modern-day Iraq as it was known in Mosesí time. Also, Ebla documents mention a town called Uru which was in Padan Aram (modern Syria). So just to be sure there was no mistake, instead of just saying "Ur", it said "Ur of the Chaldeans". See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.32 for more info.
Q: In Gen 11:28, could Abraham have left from another city named Ur?
A: No. There was a city near Haran called Ur/Urfa (modern day Edessa), a Hittite town called Ura in Northeast Anatolia / Armenia, and a Hittite seaport also called Ura near Tarsus. However, these towns are first mentioned 500 years after Abraham. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1761 and the Wycliffe Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology p.602,603 for more info.
Q: In Gen 11:28, what do we know about the Mesopotamian city Ur apart from the Bible?
A: We know much about Ur, thanks to extensive excavations. The city was probably the largest in the world at that time, with a population of estimated at 180,000, 200,000, and 300,000. It was oval shaped, and the mound is 3000 ft long by 800 feet wide. It had a three-stage Ziggurat, 70 foot above the plan. The walls were 30 feet high. It was a wealthy city, with spectacular artwork. The people of Ur were relatively sophisticated, with a mathematical text showing cube roots.
Geography: Ur had the Euphrates River on one side, and canals on the other sides. The land was somewhat alkaline, but great for wheat and barley with irrigation. There were about 50 kinds of fish in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. There were no trees around, so they imported wood from 400 miles away.
Civilization: About 40% of all grain was used to make beer. A board game was found. The had one and two story mud brick houses, and unpaved streets. Often a family tomb was beneath the house.
Literature: The first Sumerian writing was about 3,200 B.C., 1,200 years before Abraham. 100,000 tablets have been recovered from Ur, Umma, Lagash, Puzrish-Dagan, and Nippur.
Science: A mathematical tablet of cube roots was found. They did not have a decimal system, but instead used 1, 10, 60, 600, 3600, 36,000 etc. A relic of this is that we divide circles into 360 degrees. Their calendar had 360 days, and they practiced astrology. The main Ziggurat was very well built.
Temples: The main Ziggurat was to the moon god (not goddess) named Nanna/Nannar in Sumerian, and Sin in Akkadian/Semitic. The main Ziggurat had three tiers. The lowest, 210 by 140 by 20 feet was built by Ur-Nammu and Dungi. Ur-Nammu lived around the time of Abraham. Nabonidus (c.560 B.C.), built the second tier, and a small building was the third tier. There were temples to E-num-mah, Nirgal/Ningal (Nannaís wife), and the shrine of Nannar.
History: The first Dynasty of Ur (2600-2500 B.C.) had kings named Mesanepada and Aanepada. The Gutians conquered Ur and ruled it from 2150-2070 B.C. until Ur-Nammu threw them off and started the Third Dynasty of Ur. The people of Ur sacked Susa, the Elamite capital about 50 years later. Abraham left Ur before 2000 B.C., when Ur might have looked like one of the safest places to live. In 2004 B.C. (some say 1950 B.C.) the Elamites sacked Ur, and the city of Ur never regained its prior prominence. So if Abraham had disobeyed God and stayed in Ur, either he or his descendants would probably have been enslaved or killed.
See The Sumerians, TimeFrame 3000-1500 B.C: The Age of the God-Kings, Encyclopaedia Britannica (1956) vol.22 p.885, Ungerís Bible Dictionary p.1126-1127, The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.6 p.766-767, 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.34, the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1758-1760, the Wycliffe Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology p.596-604 The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.1045-1046 for more info.
Q: In Gen 11:31, did Abram leave for Canaan from Ur, or from Haran as Gen 12:5 says?
A: Genesis 12 does not say Abram was in Haran when God called him. There is no mention that Genesis 11:31 is chronologically before Genesis 12. Many modern biographies are strictly chronological, but there is no requirement that they be so, and often it is was not strictly chronological in the Old Testament and the Gospels. We can only be sure it was intended to be in chronological order when the writer makes a claim that it is in chronological order. Genesis 24:4 dos not say "land of by birthplace" in Hebrew, but rather "my country", meaning where Abram lived for a while and where his closest relatives still lived.
Q: In Gen 12:1, 28:10-15; 32:22-32, why did God choose the Jews instead of the Chinese or someone else?
A: First of all, God has the right to choose whomever He wishes. Here God did not choose a people, but rather one man: Abraham. Later the covenant and offspring were reckoned through Isaac in Genesis 17:21 and 21:12. Later Jacob was chosen in Genesis 26:23-24. Abraham was willing to leave his culture and city (Ur), which was probably the largest city (100,000 to 180,000 population) and most civilized city on the earth at that time. Many people have some desire to do what is right, but fewer wealthy men would be willing to sacrifice their ties to their culture and religion to follow God above all, even to a place he did not know (Hebrews 11:8).
Today, Romans 10:12 and Galatians 3:24 teach there is no difference to God between believers who are Jewish and non-Jewish. See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.171 for more info.
Q: In Gen 12:1, is there any evidence, outside of the Bible, of the true God revealing Himself to anyone else in Abrahamís time, or before?
A: Yes. First two background facts from the Bible, and then the answer.
B1. In Genesis 14:18-20, Melchizedek was a king of Salem and a priest of the Most High God, whom he called El Elyon. However, we will not count Melchizedek as he is only mentioned in the Bible, and Melchizedek could have been a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ.
B2. In Genesis 24:50, Abramís relatives in Syria (among the Arameans) believed in the Lord.
A1. Ugaritic texts (from the culture that was in modern-day Syria and Lebanon), also mention, a personal God named "El", and used the phrase "El Elyon" for God most high, as Melchizedek did. Unfortunately, for the Ugaritic culture, syncretism was at work and they eventually only worshipped "El" as one god among many.
A2. In China prior to Buddhism coming just after Christ, and prior to Confucianism and Taoism a few hundred years before Christ, they worshipped a number of idols. However prior to that, they worshipped one Supreme God, whom they called Shang-di. The earliest written references to Shang-di in China are dated at 2600 B.C., which are about 400-500 years prior to Abraham! Unfortunately, during the Zhou Dynasty, about 1000 B.C, they decided that nobody was good enough to worship Shang-di except the Emperor, and worship of Shang-di among the masses died out. A few centuries ago, Christians in China disagreed greatly about whether the Chinese Bible should always use the generic term for deity Sheng, or also use the ancient word Shang-di. The latter party prevailed, and Chinese Bibles use Shang-di as well as Sheng.
The Chinese Emperor worshipped Shang-di by sacrificing a bull on a white marble altar during the "Border Sacrifice" which was recorded by Confucius in the Shu Jing (Book of History), where he said Emperor Shun (2256-2205 B.C.) practiced it. It stopped in 1911 A.D.. Here is part of what was said during the sacrifice
"Of old in the beginning, there was the great chaos, without form and dark. The five elements [planets] had not begun to revolve, nor the sun and moon to shine. You, O Spiritual Sovereign, first divided the grosser parts from the purer. You made heaven. You made earth. You made man. All things with their reproducing power got their being." For more info on Shang-di, see an article by Ethel Nelson in Creation ex Nihilo vol.20 no.3 June-August 1998 p.50-53. See also The Notions of the Chinese Concerning God and Spirits p.24-25 by James Legge (Hong Kong Register Office 1852), and Godís Promise to the Chinese (Read Books, 1997).
Koreans have a similar ancient tradition of a Shang-di, whom they call Hananim. An ancient Korean Tan-gun tradition said that Hananim had a son who desired to live among people. You can read more about Shang-di, Hananim, and other early revelations that were apparently of the true God in the book Eternity in Their Hearts.
Q: In Gen 12:1-3,7, how did God keep His promises to Abraham?
A: God kept them unconditionally, regardless of what Abraham did.
God made Abraham into a great nation. Actually Abraham was the ancestor of both the Israelites and many of the Arabs. (Genesis 12:2)
God would bless Abraham. Abraham lived and died a very wealthy man, as well as having many descendants. (Genesis 12:2)
God made Abrahamís name great. His name is in high regard wherever Christians, Jews, and Muslims are found. (Genesis 12:2)
God will bless those who bless Abraham, and curse those who curse Abraham. Countries that welcomed Jews have seen a great blessing, and those that cursed them, such as Nazi Germany have suffered greatly. (Genesis 12:3)
Abrahamís offspring have had the land of Palestine. (Genesis 12:7)
See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.34-35 for more info.
Q: In Gen 12:1-5 is God speaking to Abram here, or is this a duplicate of when God spoke to Abram in Gen 12:4b-9?
A: This is not a doublet. In Genesis 12:1-4a God commanded Abram to do something without saying whether or not Abram did it. Genesis 12:4b-9 tells us that Abram did what God said, except that Abram took Lot also.
Q: In Gen 12, could Abraham have written what the Mormons view as scripture, called The Book of Abraham?
A: No. First some background on the Mormon "Book of Abraham", and the importance of the fraud, and then proof that it is a fraud. This material was taken from previously written material on Mormonism.
The Mormon Book of Abraham is a part of the Mormon Scripture the Pearl of Great Price. It is the basis for the Mormon anti-black doctrine, that kept blacks from ever getting the Mormon priesthood. The anti-black doctrine was altered (by the Mormon god?) in 1978.
The Mormon Book of Abraham was written from ancient Egyptian scrolls Joseph Smith obtained in July 1835, which he stated contained the writings of Abraham and Joseph. He did not know ancient Egyptian, which few could read at that time. He proclaimed that God divinely inspired him to translate some of these scrolls into English, and this is how the Mormon Book of Abraham came to be.
These Egyptian scrolls were once thought lost and destroyed, but eleven of them were found in the Metropolitan Museum in New York and given to the Mormon church in 1868.
Importance of the fraud:
The Book of Mormon was said to be translated from the same language as the Book of Abraham. If Joseph Smith could not translate the one then he did not translate the other, and none of his scripture can be trusted. Moreover, if the scroll is a pagan scripture to an idol god Joseph Smith would be a Prophet, Seer, and revelator of his guide, the idol of the scroll.
Here is what Joseph Smith stated about translating: "A Translation of some ancient Records, that have fallen into our hands from the catacombs of Egypt. -- The writings of Abraham written by his own hand, upon papyrus." Pearl of Great Price p.29.
Proof of the Fraud:
There are three ways we know these are the Egyptian scrolls Joseph Smith tried to translate.
1. Three of the four handwritten original Book of Abraham manuscripts had the Egyptian Hieroglyphs in the margin. Of the eighty-odd Egyptian hieroglyphs on the scroll, 20, 13, and 10 hieroglyphs were written on manuscripts #1, #2, and #3 respectively. When there were gaps in the scroll 7, 6 and 6 restored hieroglyphs were added on the three manuscripts. From this we can be confident this Egyptian scroll was the one Joseph used.
2. Joseph invented a language of the Egyptian language. The bound, thirty-four page book, called the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar, is still in the churchís possession. This language book illustrates many of the Egyptian hieroglyphs of the scroll. A very similar English "translation" is in the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar as in the Book of Abraham. Some view this as one of the more damaging facts against the inspiration Joseph claimed to have.
3. The pictures at the beginning of both the Egyptian scroll and Smithís Book of Abraham are the same. The only difference is a penciled in spot on the Egyptian picture that was filled in on the Mormon picture. Not only are the pictures copied the same, but the captions in pictures #2 and #3 referring the Egyptian idols are also copied into the Mormon scripture.
The Actual Translation:
Smith thought he was translating these hieroglyphs. Read the actual translation by Dr. Klaus Baer on the next page. (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought: Autumn 1968 p.119-120.)
"Osiris shall be conveyed into the Great Pool of Khons --and likewise Osiris Hor, justified born to Tikhebyt, justified --after his arms have been placed on his heart and the Breathing Permit (which [Isis] made and has writing on its inside and outside) has been wrapped in royal linen and placed under his left arm near his heart; the rest of his mummy bandages should be wrapped over it. The man for whom this book has been copied will breathe forever as the bas of the gods do." (bas are souls.) On p.111 Dr. Baer stated, "Joseph Smith thought that his papyrus contained the Book of Abraham."
Smith translated thousands of English words from these hieroglyphs. Joseph said this was the writing of Abraham and the word of his god. Actually it was a variant of the Book of the Dead a pagan Egyptian magic book filled with heathen gods and goddesses, often buried with mummies.
Dr. Richard Parker of Brown University in a personal letter to Marvin Cowen dated Jan. 9 1968 said, "5. I have seen Joseph Smithís Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar. The interpretation of the signs purported to be Egyptian have no resemblance to the meaning ascribed to them by Egyptologists."
Fifty years ago Dr. A.B. Mercer said, "Any pupil of mine who would show such absolute ignorance of Egyptian as Smith does, could not possibly expect to get more than zero in an examination in Egyptology." (Improvement Era, vol. 16, p 615.) This is still true today.
Dr. John A. Wilson said, "...as far as I am concerned I see pieces of two or possibly three different papyri and every one of them looks like a traditional Book of the Dead." (letter Jan. 5, 1968.)
Details of the Pictures
Letís look next at the three pictures in the Book of Abraham and the accompanying captions from one of the scrolls and Times and Seasons volume 3.
The writing and pictures are typical Egyptian funeral scenes of Egyptian idols. Joseph taught these images represented Abraham and the Real God.
Hor Justified son of the holder of the same titles.
Grant that the soul of Osiris Sheshonk may live
I (Min) am a copulating bull without equal.
May this tomb never be desecrated.
O gods of . . ., gods of the Caverns, gods of the south, north, west, and east, grant well-being to Osiris Hor justified
Smithís god deceived him. Joseph Smithís translation is worthless. If you seek the Lord, dear Mormon I pray you leave the Mormon Church reject Josephís hoax, and give your life to the Most High God through Jesus Christ His Son.
Q: In Gen 12:4, how could Abram be 75 years old when he left the town of Haran after Terah died? In Gen 11:26, since Terah was 70 when he had his three sons, Acts 7:4 says Abram left Haran after Terah died, and Terah died at 205 (Gen 11:32), then his three sons would be 135 years old.
A: Unless Abrah, Nahor, and Haran were triplets (which is unlikely), Genesis 11:26 refers to Terah being 70 years old when he started having children. Abram was not born until Terah was at least 130. See Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.136-137, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.378, When Critics Ask p.45-46, and 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.309-310 for more info.
Q: In Gen 12:8 have archaeologists unearthed the town of Ai?
A: No. They have not found the remains of a small town that was said to be totally destroyed.
Q: In Gen 12:10-19, is there any extra-Biblical evidence of people from Canaan or other parts of the Mideast coming to Egypt?
A: Yes there is. A tomb painting at Beni Hasan in Egypt shows "Asiatics". Tomb 3, of Khnumhotep, shows 37 Semites coming to Egypt for trade. They had black hair, pointed beards, long cloaks, bows, and throw sticks. The Wycliffe Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology p.139 says this is dated at 1892 B.C.
The alphabet was first known to be used by Semites in Egypt in 1800 B.C. or earlier north of Luxor. (See BAR Jan/Feb 2000 p.12)
Camels on wall paintings on the temple of Hatsheput near Thebes also date back to Abraham. See Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament? p.26 for more info.
Q: In Gen 12:10-19 did Abraham say his wife was his sister in Egypt, or did Isaac do so in Gerar in Gen 26:2-11? (A liberal Christian brought this up as a doublet, showing that multiple authors wrote Genesis.)
A: This is not a duplication; these are two separate events. Isaac probably got this bad idea from the example of his father.
Q: In Gen 12:10-20 and Gen 20:1-18 did God condone Abram lying?
A: No. The Bible honestly recorded, but never approved Abramís lying because of His lack of faith in Godís protection. Even great men of God still sin, and so we should not lose heart when we sin.
God blessed Abraham because of His faith, not because he was sinless, but despite his sin.
Only God is perfect. Our goal is to strive toward perfection, which we will attain only in Heaven. See the discussion on Genesis 19:30-36. See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.89-90, When Critics Ask p.46, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.118-120, and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.35 for more info.
Q: In Gen 13, did Lot choose where Abraham would live, or did God give Abraham the Promised Land to live?
A: Both. "Concurrency" is the doctrine that God uses events and people, even misguided and evil people, to accomplish His will and keep His promises. Abram (Abraham) allowed Lot to choose either the east or west side of the Jordan, and Lot chose the east side. While God had Abram move into the general area, God also specifically planned that Abram would have the western side of the Jordan River. God used Lotís choice to accomplish His will.
Q: In Gen 13:8, how do you pronounce "Mamre"?
A: Crudenís Concordance and the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary both say it is pronounced "MAMí-re", with a long "e" and the accent on the first syllable.
Q: In Gen 13:8, 29:15, how were these men brothers?
A: In Genesis 13:8 Abram is calling Lot his brother, while in Genesis 29:15, Laban is calling Jacob his brother. The Bible is recording that Abram and Laban were expressing both their close feelings and their blood kinship, but they were not actually brothers.
The skeptical Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.819-820 does not see any problem with this, but adds that in these cases enough genealogical material is usually given so that we know the exact relationship. This is not the case with Jesusí brothers, so they likely were biological half-brothers.
Q: In Gen 13:12, did Lot pitch his tent near Sodom, or did Lot live in Sodom in Genesis 14:12?
A: Both are most likely true, at different times. Being nomadic meant that you could easily move around. Lot certainly had his tent far from Sodom prior to separating from Abramís group. Then he certainly had it near Sodom, and in the surrounding area controlled by Sodom (greater Sodom) later. Then he lived in Sodom (in either a tent or a house.). Later in Genesis 19:3, Lot had a house in Sodom.
Q: In Gen 14:1, how do you pronounce the name "Chederlaomer"?
A: Crudenís Concordance says it is "KED-ur-LA-o-mer", with the u and first e short, the last e with a tilde over it, and the a and o long. The accents are on the first and third syllables. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary and Harperís Bible Dictionary. It says the same, except that it places the accents on the first and fourth syllables as KED-ur-la-O-mer.
In general, in the Old Testament "ch" is pronounced as "k", with cherubim being an exception. When in doubt on accents, the accent usually falls on the first syllable.
Q: In Gen 14:1-2, who are these kings?
A: This occurred around 2000 B.C., so it is not surprising we cannot find some of these rulers. However, Elam was a major power, having conquered Abramís city of Ur around 2004 B.C. Shinar is the word the both the Old Testament and Egyptians used for Babylonia. Chederlaomer sounds like kudur (Elamite for servant) and Lagamar (an Elamite goddess). Cheder (=Kudur) was the first part of the name of many Elamite kings. Tidal seems related to the Hittite name Tudhaliya, and there were at least five later Hittite kings named Tudhaliya. Towns of Si-da-mu (Sodom) and I-ma-ar (Gomorrah) are mentioned in the Ebla tablets, written 2400-2250 B.C. We do not have a record of Arioch of Ellasar, but there is independent historical evidence of a king Ariochu of Larsa, a major Sumerian city. Also, History of Israel p.61 says that Arriyuk(ki) or Arriwuk(ki) is know in both Mari and Nuzi as a Hurrian name. See When Critics Ask p.46-47 and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.90-91 for more info.
According to John Warwick Montgomery in Evidence for Faith p.157, people formerly identified Amraphel with Hammurabi, but this is incorrect. He also says that Arioch is preferred over Ariochu, because Arioch was a common name of that time. It was a Hurrian name, also a name of a king of Mari (about 1750 B.C.), and in the tablets at the city of Nuzi (1500 B.C.) Since it was a common name, any number of kings from any number of minor provinces unknown to the modern world.
In summary, these strange names were only used during this narrow time period. It is highly unlikely anyone would have written these names, unless they had accurate knowledge of history at this time.
Q: In Gen 14:1-2, how could you have "confederacies" of kings fighting?
A: There would be very few confederacies of kings prior to the fall of the strong city-state of Ur in 2004 B.C. There would be very few confederacies after the rise of Hammurabi of Old Babylon around 1700 B.C. However, between the time the Elamites destroyed Ur in 2004 B.C., and the Elamites raided Babylon in 1725 B.C., Montgomery notes that confederacies were common.
Nobody in Moses time would try to make up a credible-sounding history of confederacies of kings, because monolithic Empires predominated. For someone to mention confederacies like this shows that he had an accurate knowledge of that time-period. According to Evidence for Faith p.157-164, a letter found at Mari mentions coalitions of ten, fifteen, and twenty kings. In addition, at least five other confederacies are known. See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.35-36 for more info.
Q: In Gen 14:1-17, is there any extra-Biblical evidence for Sodom, Gomorrah, and the other cities?
A: Yes. There used to be none until archaeologists found the Ebla tablets. They mention si-dam-mu (Sodom) and sa-ba-i-im (Zeboiim). (Julius Africanus 200-245 A.D.) calls this Seboim.) I-ma-er is probably Gomorrah. For a discussion of the Ebla tablets see Ready with an Answer : For the Tough Questions About God p.282-286.
Q: In Gen 14:5, what does Ashteroth-Karnaim mean?
A: There are two possibilities according to both the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.160 and the New Bible Dictionary (Eerdmansí 1962) p.97.
1. It could possibly mean Ashtarte of the two horns, since this goddess was shown wearing two horns at Gezer and Beth-Shan.
2. It more probably means the town Ashteroth which is near Karnaim, to distinguish it from other towns names after the goddess.
Q: In Gen 14:5-6, 36:20, and Dt 2:12,22, who are the Horites?
A: The Horites came from modern-day Armenia, according to the Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land p.176. They were first mentioned in the time of Sargon of Akkad in the 24th century B.C..
Q: In Gen 14:7, how do you pronounce the word "Amalekite"?
A: Crudenís Concordance says it is pronounced as "AM-a-le-kit" with the "i" and second "a" long, and the accent on the first syllable. Harperís Bible Dictionary has only with "i" with a long vowel, and the accent is also on the first syllable. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary says the accent is on the second syllable.
Q: In Gen 14:14, how could Abram and his allies, only 318 men, defeat an invading army of an alliance of 4 great kings?
A: Genesis 14:15 suggests this was not a pitched battle. It was probably a surprise night raid by mounted troops on an unprepared army. There would be few horses in the desert, and few people east of Egypt had camels, except for Abraham. So a lightning attack by mounted troops would be totally unexpected from the desert. Second, Abraham was allied with three other chiefs, and their participation in the spoils showed that they were apart of the raid too. Of course, God may have helped also.
Q: In Gen 14:14, how does Abramís raid compare to other surprise attacks in history?
A: The army apparently retreated from Dan to Damascus, around 40 miles (64 km) away, so Abramís army won "the field of battle". Letís look at surprise attacks, attacks against larger armies, and finally letís look at it from the enemiesí perspective. Some of these numbers are from the Encyclopedia Britannica.
First we will look at surprise attacks.
In the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836, Sam Houston and 743 raw troops made a raid in the daytime against 1,800 Mexican troops and won.
In the Battle of Trenton, Washington crossed the Delaware at night surprising the Hessian mercenaries and capturing 1,000 of them.
At Teutoberg Wald, Arminius the German kills 14,000 seasoned Roman troops in a surprise battle.
Now letís look at victories against great odds.
At the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C., 10,000 Greeks defeated 20,000 Persians.
At Canae in 216 B.C., 56,000 Carthaginians (with effectively used cavalry) defeat 86,000 Romans.
At al-Qadissiyat in 636/7 A.D., 30,000 Muslims defeat 120,000 Persians.
At Pharsalus in 48 B.C., Julius Caesar and 20,000 troops defeated Pompey and 45,000 troops.
At Dorylaeum in 1091, 70,000 Crusaders defeated 250,000 Muslims, killing about 30,000 of them. (The Crusaders had armor, but then again Abramís soldiers might have had armor while the invading army had taken theirs off.)
Alexander the Great against the Persians, Julius Caesar against the Gauls and the Helvetians, Belisarius, Napoleon, and others also defeated vastly superior forces, though on a larger scale. We do not have the numbers for these armies, except that Julius only had 10,000 men when he invaded England.
The enemiesí perspective: Suppose you are an Elamite soldier, picked to be a part of an elite group to go on a mission far away to punish Sodom. You know there are a large number of the enemy just outside your tent, but they are captives; unarmed and well-guarded. In the middle of the night you are awakened by mounted troops from a new, unknown enemy swooping in and killing your comrades. Not only are they doing that, but if they run off your animals, or free and arm the captives, then you are doomed. You do the sensible thing and flee in the opposite direction of the attack, regrouping with your comrades later.
Of course, apart from all these factors, God likely aided Abramís troops to cause panic and route the enemy. For an even greater example of God aiding a successful surprise attack, see the battle of Gideon and the Midianites in Judges 7:6-25.
Q: In Gen 14:18-19, how could Melchizedek, presumably a cursed Canaanite, be in a position to bless Abraham?
A: Melchizedek is a mysterious person in the Bible. Some think Melchizedek was pre-incarnate appearance of Christ. Others say Melchizedek was a godly man (perhaps Canaanite or perhaps not) who was simply a type of Christ. Even if Melchizedek were a Canaanite man, God is not restricted from teaching and sanctifying people of any nationality. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.120-121 and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.35-36 for more info.
As a side note, the Jewish sect at Qumran placed great importance on Melchizedek as a heavenly deliver, who will proclaim Godís salvation. See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.441 for more info.
Q: In Gen 14:18, how old is the city of Jerusalem?
A: We think it was founded about 3000 B.C. Early Egyptian chronicles call the city "Urusalim", which implies that the "salem" part of Jerusalem goes back as least as far as the "Jebus" part.
Q: Does Gen 14:18 teach a "Melchizedek priesthood" of people as Mormons teach?
A: No. Genesis 14 only mentions one individual named Melchizedek. Hebrews 7:23-24 says this Melchizedek was a type of Jesus. Nothing in the Bible suggests we need any more priests today besides Jesus. See When Cultists Ask p.27-28 for more info.
Q: In Gen 14:23 (KJV), why are shoe latchlets mentioned, when they did not have shoes with latchlets back then?
A: This King James Version expression is better translated as "sandal thongs".
Q: In Gen 15, what exactly is a covenant, and how was the covenant between God and Abraham unusual?
A: A covenant is a mutual agreement between parties; the parties can be equal, such as a trade agreement, or it can be between a high king and a lower vassal. Besides being a covenant between man and God, this covenant was unusual because it was unilateral promise from God; Abraham did not have to do anything.
See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.37 for more a more extensive answer..
Q: In Gen 15, did God make a covenant with Abram here, or in Gen 17 after Ishmael was born? (A liberal Christian brought this up as evidence that multiple authors wrote Genesis.)
A: Both the original covenant in Genesis 15 and later confirmation in Genesis 17 are true. In Genesis 15, God made a formal covenant with Abram, complete with a sacrifice, and promised him a child. In Genesis 17:2, after Ishmael was born, God confirmed his covenant with Abram, and a sign of it was the rite of circumcision. The confirmation of the covenant was essential here, because God needed to correct Abramís thinking. Abram mistakenly thought that the promises of the covenant would occur through Ishmael.
For a second example of confirming a covenant, after God allowed the Israelites to be defeated at Ai, they confirmed the covenant the made at Mount Ebal in Joshua 8:30-35.
Sometimes a Christian, who has already made a covenant with God, should have a time of confirming his covenant too.
Q: In Gen 15:2, what is unusual about Eliezarís name?
A: Perhaps nothing, but The Expositorís Bible Commentary volume 2 p.131-132 says it "could hardly be a coincidence" that the value of the letters of Eliezerís name in Hebrew is 318, the same number of warriors Abraham had in Genesis 14:14.
Q: In Gen 15:12, was Abraham wrong not to cut the birds in half, as the false Christian teacher Rev. Moon teaches in the Divine Principle 5th ed. 1977 p.269,507?
A: No. Priests were never to cut birds in half in Leviticus 1:17 and 5:9.
Q: In Gen 15:13, were the Israelites in Egypt for 430 years, or oppressed for 400 years?
A: Both are true. See the discussion on Acts 7:6 for how the Israelites lived in Egypt for 30 years before they were enslaved for 400 years.
Q: In Gen 15:16, how could the Israelites be enslaved for only four generations, since they were enslaved for 400 years in Gen 15:13?
A: In Genesis 15:13,16, Abraham, who would likely have understood a generation as 100 years, was told: 400 years, 4 generations. Moses for example, lived to 120.
Q: In Gen 15:16 did the Exodus occur in the fourth generation, or the sixth as 1 Chr 2:1-9 and Mt 1:3-4 imply?
A: Two points to consider in the answer.
1. It all depends on how long you consider a generation. Abraham and Sarah had Isaac when they were 101 and 91. God was speaking to Abraham here.
2. Hypothetically, there would be no error even if the Bible had said it would have been any number, as long as the same passage had defined a generation appropriately. Actually, "four generations" in Genesis 15:16 is defined as being enslaved exactly "400 years" in Genesis 15:13.
See When Critics Ask p.47 and Haleyís Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.416 for more info.
Q: In Gen 15:17 and Gen 19:23, why does the Bible claim the sun "goes down" and "comes up"?
A: I will tell you after sundown. Seriously, just as we employ common idioms and slang to express ourselves, the Bible uses Hebrew and Greek idioms, too. See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.93 and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.38 for more info.
Q: In Gen 15:18, what is the River of Egypt?
A: This is not the Nile River, but a small stream called the Wadi el-Arish, that is in the eastern part of the Sinai Peninsula. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.56, The NIV Study Bible p.28, the Believerís Bible Commentary p.54 and the New International Bible Commentary p.126 for more info. The New Geneva Study Bible p.35 and The Nelson Study Bible p.33 say it could either be the Wadi el-Arish or else the eastern branch of the Nile River.
Q: In Gen 15:18, since God gave Abramís descendants all the land up to the Euphrates River, why did they not receive the land?
A: David and Solomonís kingdoms did extend to the Euphrates. Also, they may have the land in the future Millennium.
Q: In Gen 16:1, since Abraham and Sarai had no children, how could Abraham have more children after Isaac? (a Muslim asked this)
A: Genesis 16:1 shows it was Sarai, not Abraham, who was sterile. Abraham had more children (with his wife Keturah), but Sarai did not. See When Critics Ask p.54 for more info.
Q: In Gen 16:1-4, did Abraham commit adultery with Hagar? (a Muslim brought this up)
A: No, Ishmael was not the product of adultery; he was not illegitimate. Four points to consider in the answer.
Concubines were legal: Polygamy was permitted in the Old Testament, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham as a concubine. So what Abraham did was "legal" according to both God had revealed to Him and later Mosaic Law, as well as Mesopotamian law of the time.
Similar examples: Furthermore this is not so unusual as it might seem to some modern readers. According to Hard Sayings of the Bible p.121-122, similar examples of a maidservant standing in for a barren wife are found in the laws of the Code of Hammurabi, the Nuzi Tablets, the Alalakh Tablets, and the Mari Tablets. However, if something is both commonly practiced and "legal", that does not necessarily mean it pleases God. Genesis 16:4-5 shows that Sarah soon regretted her action.
Hagar was proud of her status: Hagar did not have any objection to becoming Abramís wife. In fact, Hagar later taunted Sarai (Genesis 16:4,5). In the Old Testament, while marrying a captive was OK, nowhere was sex outside of marriage justified as anything but wicked immorality.
In contrast, Muslims are permitted to force their captives to have sex with them, even though they are not married to them. See Bukhari vol.3 book 46 ch.13 no.717,718 p.431-432 p.432; vol.9 book 93 ch.18 no.506 p.372; Sahih Muslim 2:3371-3374; Abu Dawud vol.2 no.2150,2167 for more info.
In conclusion, God is holy, Abraham was not an adulterer, and Christians have a higher standard of holiness than Mohammed had for his companions in the Hadiths.
See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.38 for more info.
Q: In Gen 16:1-8, since Hagar was a slave, was Abrahamís sexual union with her forced rape, like some Muslims are permitted by their religion to do? (See Bukhari Hadiths vol.3 book 46 ch.13 no.717,718 p.431-432)
A: Genesis 16:4 says Hagar became Abramís wife, and she apparently did not object. In fact, Hagar was proud of her pregnancy and mocked Sarai (Genesis 16:4,5). In the Old Testament, while marrying a captive was OK, nowhere was sex outside of marriage justified as anything but wicked immorality.
Q: In Gen 16:3; 17:20; 21:13 does Hagar being the mother of Ishmael refer to Mohammed?
A: Hagar the concubine of Abraham and her son Ishmael are mentioned in the Bible. There is some uncertainty about ĎAdnan (Mohammedís ancestor) descending from Ishmael though. The noted early Muslim historian al-Tabari vol.6 p.37 says, "The genealogists do not differ concerning the descent of our Prophet Muhammad as far as Maíadd b. ĎAdnan, Ö they differ concerning what comes after that." However, in the end this is a red herring, because Ishmael being in the Bible does not show Mohammed is from God.
Q: In Gen 17:1; 28:3; 35:11; 43:14; 48:3; Ex 6:3, what exactly does the name El Shaddai mean?
A: El-Shaddai is a name for God that most literally means El "God" Shaddai "Almighty" according to Ungerís Bible Dictionary p.1000-1001, The New NIV Dictionary of the Bible p.309-310, and the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.695. This name was one of the main names for God that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew. Even if they had been taught Godís "personal" name of Yahweh, God Himself did not reveal Himself to them as Yahweh as he did to Moses according to Exodus 6:2,3.
Names for God apply to Jesus as a member of the Holy Trinity, but there is no suggestion that El Shaddai applies to Jesus more than to the Father or Holy Spirit.
The Hebrew word el was used very similar to the way we use the English word "God/god" today. We refer to the One and Only Almighty Creator as God, we refer to an idol as a "god", etc. The word Shaddai (Almighty) without el is used in Genesis 49:25; Numbers 24:4,16; Ruth 1:20,21; 31 times in Job 5:17-40:2; and Psalms 68:14; 91:1.
Some liberal critics claim that El-Shaddai was derived from a pagan term for "mountain god", but there is no evidence the Bible means this.
El Shaddai is used in Genesis to Abraham in 17:1; to Jacob in 28:3; 35:11; 43:14; 48:3; and Moses in Exodus 6:3.
Similar names for God are El Elyon "Most High God" used by Melchizedek in Genesis 14:18; Numbers 24:16; Deuteronomy 32:8; 2 Samuel 22:14; Psalm 9:2; Isaiah 14:14; Lamentations 3:35,38), El Hai "Living God" Joshua 3:10, or simply El "God" in many places.
Q: In Gen 17:5 what is the significant of changing Abram to Abraham?
A: This could be considered "a joke come true." While Abram means "father", an ironic name for a childless man, the name Abraham really takes the cake, meaning "father of a multitude". As 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answers p.39 puts it, "We can almost hear the snickers as childless Abram announced to his many herdsmen and their families that from now on he was to be called Abraham." Having children was very important in ancient society, yet you can see how childless Abrahamís faith in God would make him so easy to laugh at. Yet God fulfilled His promise, and Abraham in heaven could smile at the joke God played to fulfill Abrahamís heartfelt wish.
Q: In Gen 17:12, why did God command circumcision on exactly the eighth day?
A: Scripture does not say. However, newborn infants do not have blood that clots as well as adults. After they eat and taken in vitamin K, their blood has more prothrombin, which is used in clotting. For babies who are not given shots of vitamin K, prothrombin levels peak on the eighth day. So this was the ideal day for performing circumcision.
As a side note, the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.354 records that the Egyptians practiced male circumcision; one picture shows it being done on a 13-year-old boy. It says that most Semitic peoples apparently practiced circumcision. Later Ethiopians also practiced circumcision. Circumcision was not practiced by the Philistines, Babylonians, Assyrians, and later Edomites. Arabs, who trace their descent from Ishmael, also practiced circumcision prior to Islam.
Q: In Gen 17:12, what other peoples practiced circumcision?
A: The Greek historian Herodotus in his History book 2 ch.104 p.69 says that only the Egyptians, Ethiopians, and Colchians practiced circumcision. He makes the case that the Colchians emigrated from Egypt. He also said some Phoenicians and Syrians practiced this some, they themselves claiming they learned this from the Egyptians.
The early writer Bardesan/Bardesanes (154-224-232 A.D.) says that the people of the Roman province of Arabia practiced circumcision, but the Romans made them stop when they conquered it. This is in The Book of the Laws of Diverse Countries p.730. After Jerusalem fell in 70 A.D., a temple to Jupiter was built in the site in 130 A.D. by the Roman Emperor Adrian, who also forbade the Jews to practice circumcision.
Q: In Gen 17:17 and Gen 18:12, did Abraham and Sarah laugh with disbelief, or did Sarah laugh with joy in Gen 21:6?
A: Both verses are complementary. Abraham and Sarah laughed with disbelief before Isaac was conceived. Sometimes when a person really wants something, and someone offers to give it to them, human nature can be such that they disbelieve and laugh it off to protect themselves from disappointment.
However, Sarah laughed again with joy when Isaac was born.
Q: In Gen 17:17 and Gen 18:12-15, why did God rebuke Sarah for laughing and not Abraham?
A: Laughing in surprise the first time you learn of something is different from laughing in skepticism in subsequent times after you have already been told. The Hebrew word for laugh, sahaq, means both. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.122-123 and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.39 for more info.
Q: In Gen 17:19, was Abramís child of promise named Isaac here, or in Gen 21:3?
A: Prior to Isaacís birth, God said he should be called Isaac in Genesis 17:19. This verse does not specify whether they named him that or not. After Isaac was born, Genesis 21:3 tells us they did name him Isaac. It is sort of like the angel Gabriel telling Mary to name her son Jesus, and after he was born, they obeyed what the angel said.
Q: In Gen 17:27, why did Abraham circumcise all males born in his house, whether slave or free?
A: Abraham was not just interested in his own offspring being a part of Godís covenant family on earth, but all in his household. This would signify that their children would also be apart mean that their descendants would also be a part of Godís covenant people.
Philo the Jew (15/20 B.C. to 50 A.D.) gave basically the same answer in Questions and Answers on Genesis, III (62) p.863.
Q: In Gen 18, what were the Christophanies and theophanies in the Old Testament?
A: Christophany is a term to describe an appearance of Christ on earth, prior to His being born of Mary. A theophany is an appearance of God, whether it be the Father, Son, Spirit, or Trinity. Since some disagree on a Christophany versus a theophany, and sometimes it is unclear whether an angel is an appearance of Christ or just an angel, here is a list of possible theophanies of the Old Testament.
In the Garden of Eden before the Fall. Gen 1:29-3:24)
Possibly Melchizedek (Gen 14:18-20)
Abrahamís three visitors (Gen 18:1-33)
God appearing to Abram (Gen 17:1-2)
Probably not Jacobís ladder, as this was only a dream (Gen 28:12-15)
Probably not Jacob wrestling with the angel (Gen 32:30)
God appearing to Jacob at Bethel (Gen 35:9-15)
Moses and the burning bush (Ex 3:2-22)
The dense cloud (Ex 19:9)
At Mt. Sinai (Ex 19:11-12; 24:9,10)
Moses seeing the back of God (Ex 33:19-20)
Joshua and the Commander of the Lordís army (Josh 5:13-15)
Gideon seeing an angel (Jdg 6:11-24)
Angel appearing to Samsonís mother (Jdg 13:3-5)
Cloud on the ark of the Covenant (1 Ki 8:11-13)
Elijah in the cleft of the rock (1 Ki 19:9-18)
Leaving the Temple (Ezek 10:3-18), and Isaiah 6 probably do not count, since these were visions.
Q: In Gen 18:2, since Abraham bowed before kings, does this support the Catholic and Orthodox practice of bowing before images?
A: No, veneration of images is unbiblical because we are not to have graven images for worship according to the Second Commandment. However, regardless of a personsí belief about veneration of images, this verse cannot be used to support bowing to images. In contrast to images,
1. Abraham bowed to show respect to a real person.
2. Abraham was showing respect to a pagan king, there was no veneration or any kind of religious honor.
3. Abraham did not pray to these kings. He also did not pray to God through these kings, as Orthodox claim to pray through the images to God.
One reader claimed that veneration is no different than respect within orthodox Christianity. However, that is not true, because the eastern orthodox pray to (or more precisely through), images to God and various saints. Yet they would not take their wife, child, parents, or someone else they respect, put them in front of them, and pray to them.
See When Cultists Ask p.28 for five additional reasons.
Q: In Gen 18:16-33, how could God be talked out of destroying Sodom and Gomorrah? (The Bible critic Bart Ehrman says that Marcion brought this up in Lost Christianities p.196)
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
1. God was not talked out of destroying Sodom and Gomorrah; he did destroy them.
2. God did not need Abraham to plead, any more than he learns knowledge from our prayers.
3. Rather, God interacts with us, in ways that we understand. While sometimes Godís revealed will changes when we change, even in this case Genesis 18:16-33 gives no indication that God changed what he intended to do as a result of talking with Abraham. Sometimes God has condescended to let us know what He was thinking and why.
Q: In Gen 18:10,14 and Gen 21:1,2, does this teach that God impregnated Sarah, as Born Again Skepticís p.217 claims?
A: No. The atheist missed the point that God was not returning to impregnate Sarah, but God returned after the son was born. God only said three things about Sarahís son.
1. God would visit them again next year as Genesis 18:10,14 says
2. God would fulfill his promise of Sarah having a Son as Genesis 21:1 says.
3. Most importantly, the son will be from Abraham (Genesis 17:15,17). To be precise, the son was from Abrahamís own body as Genesis 15:4 says.
Q: In Gen 19, was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah really a lack of hospitality as Ezekiel 16:49 says?
A: Many homosexuals quote Ezekiel 16:49 but ignore Ezekiel 16:50, which mentions "committing abominations." Genesis 19:5-7 emphasizes the homosexuality. Jude 7 also speaks of the "sexual immorality and perversion." Genesis 13:13 shows that Sodomís wickedness was prior to Lotís arrival. See When Cultists Ask p.28-29 for more info.
Q: In Gen 19:8, why did Lot offer his virgin daughters to a crowd? (An atheist asked this.)
A: Scripture does not tell us of Lotís motives for this evil action, but we can see three things.
1. Lot was in a desperate situation, and he perhaps panicked.
2. The men of Sodom had no interest in his daughters.
3. Lot had lived in Sodom for a long time, and Lot probably knew these men had no interest in his daughters. Lot was probably trying to stall them.
The Bible does not condone Lotís action here; it merely records it. If the Bible were merely "propaganda", you would expect it to record every positive thing and never mention anything negative. However, the Bible is not propaganda, but Godís true word, and it honestly talks about peopleís lives, warts and all.
Q: In Gen 19:24-26, exactly how were Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed?
A: The Bible simply says the LORD rained down burning sulfur, and that Lotís wife who stayed back became a pillar of salt. While we do not have more details, we know that the area is rich in pitch (petroleum) and asphalt on the surface. Image a storm, wind, and lightning that would ignite the pitch. The resulting fire would cause its own wind, and the whole area is not somewhere you would want to be. See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.39 for more info.
Q: In Gen 19:26, doe we know of others since then besides Lotís wife who have become "a pillar of salt"?
A: Physically, people and dogs have been instantly killed and their bodies preserved by being covered with ash at Pompeii when Mt. Vesuvius erupted. Undoubtedly this happened during other major eruptions too.
Metaphorically, Lotís wife was hardened into insensibility by her love for the life left behind. Many since then, have been hardened by their love for the world too. As obvious examples, the drug addict, when looking for a fix, the alcoholic, when looking for a drink, are not really aware of the simple joys of life around them. Sin in general, or desiring anything above God, can make you less mindful of the good things God has given us. Clement of Alexandria (wrote 193-217/220 A.D.), was among the first to see this application in Exhortation to the Heathen ch.10 p.201.
Q: In Gen 19:30-36, why does the Bible teach that Lot had sex with his daughters? I just cannot believe this was right.
A: Good. The Bible does not say it was right. Incest and fornication are evil, and the Bible was honestly recording what Lot did.
In Lotís defense, Irenaeus Against Heresies ch.31 (182-188 A.D.) points out the Bible shows that Lot did not participate because of lust, but involuntarily after too much to drink.
Origen (225-254 A.D.) said that stories such as Lot and his daughters are in sacred scripture to the Bible show the desire for truth of the Bible writers, who would not conceal even what was to their discredit. Origen in Against Celsus book 4 ch.45 p.518
Q: In Gen 20 and Ex 23:31, how could the Philistines be in Israel in Abrahamís time, about 2000 B.C.?
A: The skeptical Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.85 mentions this. While there was a massive migration in 1200 B.C., the earliest levels of Ashdod were occupied way back in the 17th century (H.F. Vos, Archaeology in Bible Lands). Somebody lived in that fertile land back then, and there is no historical evidence which says it was not the Philistines. After the Egyptians defeated the Philistines in 1190 B.C., they came to Palestine in force, and makes sense they would retreat to where they already had towns. See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.94-96, When Critics Ask p.50, and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.40 for more info.
Q: In Gen 20:3,6 why did God contradict say Abimelech was a dead man, yet Abimelech lived?
A: God does not change (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17; Hebrews 13:8). However, Ezekiel 33:12-20 shows that Godís revealed will towards people can change when they change.
See the discussion on Exodus 33:5-6; Deuteronomy 20:17; Jeremiah 15:6; Jonah 3-4; Jonah 3:10; and Jonah 4:1-2 for more info.
Q: In Gen 20:3,8-10, Gen 26:1, Jdg 8:31, and Jdg 9:1, what does Abimelech mean?
A: Ab means father, and melech means king or ruler. It either means father of the king, or father is king. Besides being the name of two kings of Gerar, and Gideonís son, Cyril Aldred in Akhenaten King of Egypt p.186 records that Abimilki was a ruler of Tyre mentioned in the Amarna letters (1400-1370 B.C.). Photographs of a couple of the Tell el-Amarna (ancient Akhetaten) letter tablets are in The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.80 and The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1828.
Q: In Gen 20:12, why did Abram marry his half-sister Sarai?
A: Incest was not expressly forbidden then. Also, Abram was not necessarily a believer when he married. See Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.139-141 for more info.
Q: In Gen 21:14, was Abraham right to send Hagar away?
A: Normally, it would be wrong to send Hagar and her teenage boy away alone without protection and with little water, and this is why Sarahís request greatly distressed Abraham in Genesis 21:11. However, in this particular case, God told Abraham to go ahead, and that everything would be all right. God himself gave Hagar and Ishmael water (Genesis 12:17-19), and God was with Ishmael as he grew up (Genesis 21:20).
As a side note, Hagar was actually a Semitic name according to The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.2 footnote 15 p.307. There were many Semites who lived in the northern part of Egypt.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.123-124 and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.41 for more info.
Q: In Gen 21:14 If you read the Old Testament, it is clear that in Genesis the first born son (meaning Godís chosen, the inheritor of his father), is ISHMAEL and the lies interpolated by the Jews into the Old Testament to disinherit him (why? Because they could not accept someone from outside their tribe) clearly becomes visible when they wrote that ISHMAEL with his mother HAGAR were banished away from the tribe of ABRAHAM forever?, but when we read more of Genesis we find that the true story is that "ISHMAEL died in the presence of all his brethren" (family) and further "ISAAC" died in the presence of all his brethren". These statements from the Bible clearly show up a further Jewish interpolation which is that they had to make up the incident about the permanent banishment of HAGAR and ISHMAEL so that they could replace ISHMAEL who was the original "only son of ABRAHAM" at the time when ABRAHAM was willing to sacrifice anything for the love of and obedience to Godís will, it also shows that the promise of the savior of mankind was made through ISHMAEL (firstborn son) and not ISAAC (second son). (A Muslim said this)
A: First of all, some Muslims might not be aware that the Qurían does not specify whether the son that was offered in sacrifice was Ishmael or Isaac.
Your assertion that Ishmael died in the presence "of his family" fails to prove he was not banished. The only thing the Bible says on that is Genesis 25:17b where is says "He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people." This was a common euphemism for saying he died. Of course his children and in-laws could have been near him. This cannot prove he was buried with his ancestors, because Abraham too was "gathered to his people" in Genesis 25:8, and that does not mean he was buried back in Ur of the Chaldeans.
Contrary to your question, it never said, Abraham was to sacrifice his firstborn son. Rather, Abraham was to sacrifice his only son, because Ishmael had already been sent away and Isaac was the only child of promise.
I have a question for you though, could the Qurían be wrong?
1. Sura 32:23 "We did indeed aforetime give the book to Moses. Be not then in doubt of its reaching (thee): and We made it a guide to the children of Israel." So do you agree that the Torah, as it was originally given, was correct and from the true God?
2. Sura 5:46 "And in their [the prophetsí] footsteps we sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Torah that had come before him: we sent him the gospel; therein was guidance and light. And confirmation of the Torah that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah". So do you agree that the Torah in Jesusí time, as he confirmed it, was the true word of Allah?
3. The Dead Sea Scrolls contain many copies of Old Testament manuscripts from the time of Christ and before. Three points where you think the Bible of being in error are:
3.1. Isaac was the child of promise, the covenant. Genesis 17:19,21
3.2. Ishmael and Hagar were banished Genesis 21:8-19
3.3. Abraham sacrificing Isaac vs. Ishmael Genesis 22:1-18
The Dead Sea scrolls mention that Isaac is the child of promise. Philo was a Jewish scholar who lived in Alexandria Egypt, dying in 50 A.D. He wrote a commentary on Genesis, and his commentary, on Genesis in his time, shows it is the same as we have today.
Clement of Rome was an early Christian bishop, probably the Clement mentioned by Paul, who wrote a letter to the Corinthians in 97/98 A.D. He mentions that the son Abraham offered to sacrifice was the son of his old age. [He does not actually say Isaac though].
4. You cannot blame Christians for judging your accusations against the Gospel of both Jesusí time and Mohammedís because of Sura 5:47. It says, "Let the People of the Gospel Judge by what Allah hath revealed Therein...." ? So do you agree that Christians should judge by the Gospel, of which we have copies long before Mohammedís time? If not, then is the Qurían wrong?
Sura 5:48 says, "To thee (People of the Book) We sent the scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge between them by what Allah hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the truth that hath come to thee....". If you are a Muslim who disagrees with these words, then how does Allah differentiate between His words, which He allows devout worshippers to learn only in corrupted form, and His words that remain uncorrupted?
Most Muslims believe in the hadiths, which are the authoritative collections of the sayings and doings of Mohammed, as the highest authorities after the Qurían. Of the six major recognized hadith collections, Bukhari is the highest. I thought you would like to read what it says about Hajar [Hagar] and Ishmael.
Bukhari vol.4 book 55 ch.9 no.583 p.373 "Abraham brought her [Hagar] and her son Ishmael while she was suckling him, to a place at the Kaíba under a tree on the position of Zam-zam, at the highest place in the mosque. During those days there was nobody at Mecca, nor was there any water. So he made them sit over there and place near them a leather bag containing some dates, and a small water-skin containing some water, and set out homeward. Ishmaelís mother followed him saying, "O Abraham! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is no person whose company we may enjoy, nor is there anything (to enjoy)?" She repeated that to him many times, but he did not look back at her. Then she asked him, "Has Allah ordered you to do so?" He say, "Yes". ... (p.374 same hadith) "The Prophet said, "This is the source of the tradition of the walking of people between them (i.e. Safa and Marwa). When she reached the Marwa ( for the last time), she heard a voice and she asked herself to be quiet and listened attentively. ... She saw an angel at the place of Zam-zam digging the earth with his heel (or his wing), till water flowed from that place." So your view is not consistent with either Bukhari of the Bible.
The famous early Muslim historian al-Tabari (839-923 A.D.), investigated whether it was Ishmael or Isaac that was almost sacrificed, and he said it was Isaac, not Ishmael (al-Tabari vol.2 p.68). He had a ten-page discussion of the Muslim authorities who said it was Isaac and the ones who said it was Ishmael (al-Tabari vol.2 p.82-92), while concluding it was Isaac.
However, I think that this issue, of which of Abrahamís sons was which, is a small thing compared to being able to answer the question of Proverbs 30:4f: "Eho has made all the ends of the earth to rise? What is His name, and what is His Sonís name? Surely you know." (Greenís Literal Translation)
Q: In Gen 22:1 (KJV), how could God "tempt" Abraham, since Jms 1:13 says God does not tempt people?
A: The word "tempt" is only in the King James version, translated 400 years ago. Both modern translations and the Hebrew word here, nâcâh, mean "to test or prove". The difference between tempt and test is that God does not entice us to do evil, but God does allows us, like Abraham and Job, to have tests of our faith. See Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.207-208, Now Thatís A Good Question p.475-476, and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.124-125 for more info.
Q: In Gen 22, why did God encourage human sacrifice with Abraham and Isaac?
A: Four points to consider in the answer.
1. Abraham had already shown that He loved God more than His people and culture, but God tested Abraham to see if He loved God more than his own dear son.
2. The Ten Commandments (do not murder, etc.) were not given until Moses at Mt. Sinai.
3. Even in this solitary case of God initially commanding the sacrifice, God stopped it from being carried out. No person died.
4. God the Father did not ask Abraham for anything that He did not do Himself, in sacrificing Jesus for us.
See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.48-49, When Critics Ask p.51, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.96, Difficulties in the Bible 57-60, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.125-127, 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.41, and Now Thatís A Good Question p.573 for more info.
Q: In Gen 22:1-18, could the boy who Abraham almost sacrificed be Ishmael, not Isaac, as Muslims claim? Otherwise, how could Isaac be Abramís "only son"?
A: It was Isaac who was sacrificed and not Ishmael for at least four reasons:
Even the Qurían does not say it was Ishmael: Genesis 22:2 says it was Isaac. For Muslims, while the Muslim Qurían discusses this in Sura 37:99-111, no where in the entire Qurían does it say whether it was Ishmael or Isaac.
Only boy Abram had at the time: Ishmael was 14 when Isaac was born based on Genesis 17:25 and Genesis 18:10. Hagar and Ishmael were sent way to a different place the day Isaac was weaned in Genesis 21:8-10. Abraham was tested "a long time" after this in Genesis 21:34, and a "boy" was on the altar in Genesis 22:12.
Only son in Godís eyes: God declared that is was through Isaac and not Ishmael that Abrahamís offspring would be reckoned in Genesis 21:12. Abraham did not have Ishmael because Ishmael and his mother were "gotten rid of" by being sent away according to Genesis 21:10-12.
Only heir in this world: Isaac was the only heir, and only son also means "beloved son". While the culture of the time accepted taking concubines for procreation, inheritance and the right of the firstborn would go to sons of actual wives, not the sons of concubines. See Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.141 for more info.
Only son of promise: Genesis 21:12 says, "through Isaac your offspring shall be reckoned". Abraham had other sons too, but they were born after this.
See When Critics Ask p.52 for more info.
Q: In Gen 22:2, how was Isaac Abramís "only son"?
A: While Ishmael was born first, he was sent away by this time, and Isaac was the only son Abram still had with him. Isaac was the only heir, and only son can also mean beloved son. Genesis 21:12 says, "through Isaac your offspring shall be reckoned". Abraham had other sons too, but they were born after this. While the culture of the time accepted taking concubines for procreation, inheritance and the right of the firstborn would go to sons of actual wives, not the sons of concubines. See Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.141 for more info.
Q: In Gen 22:2, does the Holy Spirit ever lead people to disobey what has been revealed in the Bible?
A: No. Three points to consider in the answer.
1. Of course, God did not lead Abraham to do anything against revealed Scripture, since no Scripture was written down in Abrahamís time.
2. Since scripture has been revealed, God does not tell anyone to do things contrary to His revealed commands. Even when the Holy Spirit also drove Jesus out into the wilderness, where Jesus was tempted by Satan, the Holy Spirit did not tempt Jesus or tell Jesus to do anything wrong.
3. God does not desire anyone to perform actions contrary to His desires. Even when God commanded Abraham to take Isaac as a sacrifice, God did not permit Abraham to carry through killing Isaac.
So God could tell Abraham that back then, because the Mosaic Law was not written yet. But then as well as today, God never wants someone to go through sacrificing a person.
See Now Thatís A Good Question p.67-69 for more info.
Q: In Gen 22:12, since God said "Now I know that you fear God", did God not know what Abram would do?
A: Of course God knew, but the expression means that it was at this point in time that Abraham proved what he would do.
Isaac was Abrahamís most important natural thing in life. But was Isaac more important than God? Abraham showed that God was first in his life. James 1 says that the testing of our faith produces perseverance. But while we might want a faith that never takes risks, that is not the faith that God grew in Abraham or others. Abraham had no choice in the type, circumstances, or timing of the test of his faith, and we usually do not either.
See When Critics Ask p.52 for more info.
Q: In Gen 23, did the Hittites really exist?
A: Modern archaeologists found out about the Hittites as early as 1892. However, some scholars still doubted their existence even ten years later (1902, E.A.W. Budge). See Evidence That Demands a Verdict volume 2 p.339-341 for more information. Today entire books have been written on the Hittites. One excellent and very readable one is The Secret of the Hittites by C.W. Ceram (Dorset Press 1955).
Q: In Gen 23 and Ex 3:8, how could the Hittites be in Palestine?
A: The Hittites were a wide-ranging people, and a colony settled in the mountains of Palestine. The Indo-European Hittites sacked Babylon in 1590 B.C. Others believe this refers to the Hatti, a non-Indo-European people who were conquered before 2000 B.C. Hatti and Hitti are written the same in Hebrew. See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.96-98 and When Critics Ask p.52-53 for more info.
Q: In Gen 23:2, why was it mentioned that Kiriath-Arba is also called Hebron?
A: There are two possible complementary reasons why Hebron is mentioned here.
Remember that while Abraham lived around 2000 B.C., the Book of Genesis was written in Mosesí time, 1447-1407 B.C., so that town might have been called Hebron by the Israelites and/or the Canaanites in Mosesí time. The Israelite spies knew the geography of Canaan and perhaps used this name for the city in Mosesí time.
Regardless, the Israelites called the city only Hebron, not Kiriath Arba, shortly after the conquest under Joshua. This simple explanatory note saying Kiriath Arba is now Hebron, might have been added shortly thereafter.
Q: In Gen 23:5, why did the Hittites consider Abraham a mighty prince among them?
A: Abraham was very wealthy. Abraham also had apparently cultivated close relations with them and they counted him as not only a friend, but also one of their own.
Q: In Gen 23:9, how do you pronounce "Machpelah"?
A: Crudenís Concordance, the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary, and Harperís bible Dictionary all say it is pronounced as "mak-PE-la", with only the "e" as long and the accent on the second syllable.
Q: In Gen 23:15-16, why did Abraham have to weigh out the silver?
A: The shekel was a unit of weight, and only later became a unit of money also. Abraham had to "weigh" out the silver because coins were not used until about 800 B.C. according to Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament? p.27. Likewise Achan stole gold and silver "weighing" 50 and 200 shekels. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1798 says the first known coins were from Lydia about 700 B.C. It also notes that the Latin word pecunia (from which English gets the word pecuniary meaning monetary) came from the Latin word pecus which is a word for cattle.
Q: In Gen 24:1, why does God allow some of His children to suffer from old age?
A: We do not suffer from old age in Heaven, and the eternity of bliss in Heaven will make our brief time of troubles on earth seem small. See the discussion on Joshua 13:1 for the answer.
Q: In Gen 24:15, what was the relation between Isaac and Rebecca?
A: Rebecca was daughter of Abrahamís nephew, which would make her the daughter of Isaacís cousin.
Isaac and Rebecca could not have disobeyed Leviticus 18, because it was not written yet. However, it turns out their marriage was still within the guidelines of the future rules in Leviticus.
Q: In Gen 25:1 was Keturah a wife or a concubine?
A: A concubine is considered a type of wife. Genesis 25:1 can mean either wife or concubine. See When Critics Ask p.53 for more info.
Q: In Gen 25:2, what happened to Keturahís sons?
A: Abraham and Keturah had six known sons.
Zimran is possibly the ancestor to an Arabian tribe, the Zimri in Jeremiah 25:25. Today there is a town of Zambran on the Red Sea west of Mecca.
Jokshan, is never heard of again, except that he was the ancestor of Sheba and Dedan. Sheba was a nation in the southwest corner of the Arabian peninsula. The Dedanim of Isaiah 21:13 were Arabs who probably were descended both from Jokshan and Ham through Cush (Genesis 10:7; 1 Chronicles 1:9). The city of Dedan was 100 miles (160 km) southwest of Tema on the el-íUla oasis, 175 miles (280 km) north of Medina. Dedan is also mentioned in proto-Arabic Sabean and Minaean inscriptions.
Medan is possibly mentioned outside of the Bible. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1093 says that the consonants "m" and "b" are interchanged often in Arabic, so these might be the Bedana tribe, which the Assyrian Tiglath-Pileser III conquered.
Midian was a well-known tribe that oppressed the Israelites in Judges 8.
Ishbak started a tribe that settled in north Syria and was mentioned in the Assyrian Annals of Shalmaneser III (858-824 B.C.).
Shuah was apparently the tribe from which Bildad the Shuhite came in Job 2:11.
See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary for more info on these names.
Q: In Gen 25:6, how many wives and concubines did Abraham have?
A: While it does not really matter, we do not know the exact number. After Sarah died, Abraham had Keturah as a wife in Genesis 25:1. Hagar was one of his concubines, but Genesis 25:6 indicates that Abraham had more than one concubine. See Todayís Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.284 for more info.
Q: In Gen 25:8,17 and Gen 49:33, how did the patriarchs "give up the ghost"?
A: This is a rough translation of the Hebrew word gâvaí, which literally means to breathe out or expire. A more precise translation would be "breathed his last".
Q: In Gen 25:8,17 and Gen 49:33, Abraham and Jacob were "gathered to his people", so how could there be life after death?
A: This is an expression meaning the person died, and it sounds much better than "kicked the bucket". See the previous question, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.98-99, and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.127-129 for more info.
Q: In Gen 25:13, do the references to Kedar relate to Mohammed?
A: Genesis 25:13 mentions Kedar, the son of Ishmael, but there is doubt on Mohammedís ancestry of Ishmael and Kedar. Regardless, though, Genesis 25:13 mentioning twelve sons of Ishmael, including Kedar, does not say anything good or bad about them. al-Tabari vol.6 p.6, records three things:
1) There are differences among genealogists about Mohammedís ancestry after ĎAdnan (p.37)
2) Many but not all genealogies include Mohammed Ö ĎAdnan Ö Nabt b. Qaydhar [Kedar?], b. Ismaíil [Ishmael]
3) "These differences arise because it is an old science, taken from the people of the first Book (the Old Testament)."
So if the early Muslim historian al-Tabari acknowledges that they took genealogy names from the Jews and the Old Testament, it is not a completely independent witness.
Q: In Gen 25:22-23, Rebekahís question concerned the present and near future, yet Godís answer told of the far future. Why does God do that?
A: Five points to consider in the answer.
1. God apparently wanted to reveal this prophetic truth about Jacob and Esau.
2. Like good human teachers, God knows that a point will be remembered better if it is an answer to a studentís question.
3. Regardless of whether God caused the babies to jostle solely to prompt Rebekah to ask the question, the jostling did prompt here to ask the question.
4. Perhaps Rebekah was not thinking long-term at this point, but here question was open-ended enough that Godís revelation still answered her question.
5. When we ask things of God, we should ask in an "open way" and not just on our terms. We should be prepared for God to show us truths we did not expect and for which we did not directly ask.
Q: In Gen 25:31-33, was Jacobís birthright gained by buying, or by lying?
1. Jacob "bought" it from Esau for a bowl of lentils (Genesis 25:29-34).
2. Jacob later deceived Isaac in giving the birthright Esau had already chosen to relinquish. (Genesis 27:19)
Haleyís Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.345 points out that Jacob bought only the birthright, but lied to get the blessing.
Independent of both the purchase and the deception, God chose to have His people, the Jews, come through Jacob Genesis 26:24-24). See When Critics Ask p.55 for more info.
Q: In Gen 26:2, were the Israelites supposed to go down to Egypt, or not?
A: Isaac was told not to go down to Egypt in Genesis 26:2. Jacob, not Isaac, was told to go there in Genesis 46:3. In a similar way, In 2 Samuel 7:5,12-13 David was told that is was not he, but his son that was to build the Temple in Jerusalem. The lesson here is not that going to Egypt is good or bad, but that that we should go where God wants us to go, when God wants us to go.
Q: In Gen 26:3-5, Gen 12:1; Gen 17:1, 9-14; and Gen 22:16 did God bless Abraham because of Abrahamís works?
A: No. For either Abraham or people in general, there are two distinct issues here: salvation and blessings.
Salvation: Abrahamís works were not important, in the sense that they did not get him to Heaven. Abrahamís works were very important in being the visible expression of his faith in God, and inseparable from his faith in God.
Blessings: Because of works, both Abraham and us often receive both blessings this life and rewards in the next.
James gives Abraham as an example of Abraham being justified by works. Abraham "believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness" a decade or two before he almost sacrificed Isaac.
Godís covenant had both an invariant element and a conditional element. Leviticus 26:44-45 shows that even if Godís people fail on the conditional element, the invariant element still stands. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.129-130 for more info.
Q: In Gen 26:6-7, why is Isaac a role-model for us, since Isaac lied here?
A: No. See the answer to Genesis 12:10-20.
Q: In Gen 26:8-9, was this the same Abimelech of Gerar as in Gen 20:2-3?
A: Based on the name, probably not. Abimelech means "Father is king". On one hand there are many instances of a father and son or descendant having the same name. On the other hand, here it is probably a title, not a personal name, as 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.42 say.
Other rulers who shared the same name were Tobias I, II, III, IV, and V from 590-200 B.C., Sanballat I, II, and III from 445-330 B.C.. Shalmaneser I, II, III, Antiochus I, II, III, IV, and Tiglath-Pileser I, II, and III.
Q: In Gen 26:33, did Abraham name the town of Beersheba, or did Isaac?
A: In Genesis 21:31, it was called Beersheba in Abrahamís time because of the oath between Abraham and the Abimelech. Isaac certainly knew this from living in Beersheba with his father in Genesis 22:19. In order to remind Abimelech, who was probably the son of Abimelech in Abrahamís time of the previous covenant, he named a new well a similar name, "Shibah". See When Critics Ask p.55-56 for more info.
Q: In Gen 26:34 and Gen 36:2-3, who were Esauís four wives?
A: Wives 1-2: At 40, Esau married two Hittites, Judith and Basemath daughter of Elon (Genesis 26:34-35).
Adah, daughter of Elon the Hittite (Genesis 36:2), is probably another name for Basemath.
Wife 3: After Jacob left, Esau married the Ishmaelite Mahalath, sister of Nabaioth (Genesis 28:8-9)
Basemath, the daughter of Ishmael and sister of Nabaioth (Genesis 36:3), is probably another name for Mahalath.
Wife 4: Esau married Oholibamah daughter of Anah (Genesis 36:3).
Judith was probably not mentioned in the genealogies in Genesis 36, because she bore no children.
See When Critics Ask p.56 and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.99-101 for more info.
Q: In Gen 27, why did God allegedly approve Jacob deceiving Isaac, and tricking Laban in Gen 31:20?
A: God did not approve of Jacobís lies. First, the Bible accurately and honestly records the evil things as well as the good things people did. Second, even Godís people in the Bible have done wrong things. As 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.43 says, "God did not bless Jacob because he lied and used deceit but in spite of it." See also Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.101-102 and When Critics Ask p.57-58.
Q: In Gen 27, why was the blessing important?
A: Normally, the firstborn got the blessing, which meant a double share of inheritance, as well as being the family head. A 15th century B.C. tablet from Nuzi tells of a lawsuit between three brothers, as to who would marry a woman named Zululishtar. One brother won because he could show that his father authorized the marriage on his deathbed. See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.42-43 for more info.
Q: In Gen 27:29, what does the Hebrew word "lord" literally mean?
A: The Hebrew word here, gebiyr (pronounced gheb-EER) can be translated two ways: master or hero. In the case of Esau and his descendants it was an [unwanted] master. In our lives, if God has placed someone over you that you dislike, you can choose to treat them as an unwanted master or a hero.
Q: In Gen 27:39-40, why couldnít Isaac bless Esau as he blessed Jacob?
A: The Bible does not say why Isaac held the belief (whether right or wrong) that he could not bless both of them. However, Evidence That Demands a Verdict vol. 2 p.328-329 says that according to the tables of that time found in the city of Nuzi, deathbed wills were considered valid and irrevocable. See also the answer to the next question.
Q: In Gen 27:39-40, why did God not bless Esau as he blessed Jacob?
A: There are three complementary reasons.
1. Romans 9:10-15 shows that God can do as He pleases without telling us his reasons.
2. Esau was heathen (godless) (Hebrews 12:16), and Jacob was a deceiver; God would have been just to curse both. Instead both received blessing (Hebrews 11:20).
3. God has the right to choose to give special mercy and love to only some as He sees fit. ó just ask Paul.
Q: In Gen 27:42-44 did Jacob go to the town of Haran to flee Esau, or to get a wife?
A: Both. Sometimes there are multiple reasons to do one thing. Rebekah told Jacob to go to flee Esau in Genesis 27:42-46, but she told Isaac the reason was to find a wife in Genesis 27:46. Isaacís reason to send Jacob was to find a wife in Genesis 28:1-6. See When Critics Ask p.56-57 and Haleyís Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.345 for more info.
Q: In Gen 27:45, does "both" refer to Jacob and Isaac or Jacob and Esau?
A: The NIV Study Bible p.47 says it could be either way. However, it is more likely to be Isaac and not Esau because Isaac was near death, Esau would kill Jacob right after that, and there was no threat to Esau.
Q: In Gen 27:46, were Esauís wives Hittite, or Canaanite?
A: Can someone be both a Texan and an American? The Hittites in Canaan were one of the peoples of Canaan.
Q: In Gen 28, were Rebekah and Jacob successful in getting what they wanted?
A: On the surface yes, but in actuality, no. They wanted Jacob to have the birthright, and by wrong means, lying and deception, they got it, so they were successful.
However, the son with the birthright usually had an honored place in the family afterwards; yet, Jacob had to flee for his life. Rebekah succeeded in helping her favored son; yet, she would never see Jacob on earth again. As Women in the Bible points out, Rebekah would have to live with the son she had wronged for the rest of her life. See Women in the Bible (by Georgia B. Settle 1978) for more info.
Q: In Gen 29:15-25, why should we admire Laban in the Bible, since he deceived and lied to Jacob?
A: Whoever said we should admire Laban? We should not. This question presupposes the Bible can only talk Godís people in a vacuum, and it cannot mention the other people with whom they had to deal. Of course the Bible talks of evil people as well as good people. Furthermore, the Bible shows us that even the good people were not good all the time either.
An analogy might help here. Someone might say, "you cannot admire American heroes. Look for example at John Wilkes Booth, who shot Abraham Lincoln." Well, we can read how John Wilkes Booth played a significant role in American history, but he was no American hero.
Laban played a role in the history of Israel, but he was no hero either. The analogy of Booth might seem a bit silly, since no one looks up to Booth as a hero, but bringing up Laban to criticize people who we should look up to in the Bible, (as an atheist actually did), seems out of place, too.
Q: In Gen 29:21-30, when was Rachel given to Jacob?
A: Jacob worked for seven years, was given Leah, waited a week, and then was given Rachel at that time in return for the promise of another seven years. See When Critics Ask p.57, 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.44, and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.101 for more info.
Q: In Gen 29:28, why did Jacob marry two sisters, since Lev 18:18 forbids marrying two sisters while both are alive?
A: Leviticus 18:18 was a part of the Mosaic Law, which was given over 400 years after Jacob married his wives. Certainly one could not demand Jacob obey a law he had not heard, and God had not commanded them yet.
Q: In Gen 29:31, why did God not just tell Jacob to love Leah too, instead of just making Rachel barren?
A: Sometimes people can only learn lessons the hard way. Are we any different?
Q: In Gen 30:8, how do you pronounce "Naphtali"?
A: Crudenís Concordance, the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary, and Harperís Bible Dictionary all say it is pronounced "NAF-ta-li", with short, a long i, and the accent on the first syllable.
Q: In Gen 30:14-15, doesnít using mandrakes sound like a superstition?
A: Much of folk medicine does not work. The long time Rachel was childless afterwards clearly indicates that mandrakes had nothing to do with God opening Rachelís womb. This passage shows that even believers can make mistakes and hope in foolish cures.
Q: In Gen 30:27, how could Laban use divination to find out about Jacob?
A: Assuming Laban was telling the truth here, sometimes people get correct answers by divination. However, even if divination gave all truth instead of a mixture of truth and error, believers should not follow Labanís example because God said not to practice divination in Deuteronomy 18:10,14. By the way, Labanís divination did not give him the result he desired in Genesis 31:1-2,9.
Q: In Gen 30:37-43, doesnít Jacob "causing" sheep and goats to become spotted sound like superstition?
A: There is no hint of superstition, only faulty ideas about animal genetics. God blessed Jacob without regard for this, as Jacob himself knew in Genesis 31:7-13.
Q: In Gen 31:23 and Gen 37:25, is Gilead an anachronism, since Num 26:26 says that Manasseh was the grandfather of Gilead?
A: Not at all. First a point that is not relevant to the answer, and then the answer.
Not a part of the answer: Gilead was a somewhat common name. Gilead was not only a descendant of Manasseh (Numbers 26:29-30 and Joshua 17:1), but a different Gilead was Jephthahís father (Judges 11:1), and a third Gilead was from Gad (1 Chronicles 5:14).
The answer is that the word "Gilead" shows the time of the writing. Jacob and Joseph would not have called the region Gilead, but nobody claims the Book of Genesis was written in the time of Jacob and Joseph. Rather, Genesis was written in Mosesí time. The two and a half Transjordan tribes were already going to receive their land before Moses died.
An anachronism is when a document that claims to be written at one time uses words or terms that would only be used at a later time. It is not an anachronism to use words at the time of writing to describe a prior time. For example, it is no anachronism, when someone in the twentieth century says the region of Gilead was in the country of Jordan. Jacob, Joseph, and Moses did not know of the modern country of Jordan, but then, nobody claims that they did.
Q: In Gen 31:32,34, how could the Bible [allegedly] approve Rachel stealing idols from her father?
A: It does not approve of Rachelís theft. The household gods not only had religious connotations, possessing them meant the right of inheritance according to the tablets, written around Mosesí time found in the city of Nuzi.
Hard Sayings of the Bible p.130-131 gives the text of the Nuzi tablet, but it also advocates that Rachelís religious attachment to these idols might be involved. Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament? p.28 also mentions these tables.
While some might sympathize with Rachelís spiteful attitude, the Bible does not condone this, it only records this. Rachel died in childbirth only a few years after taking the Gods in Genesis 35:17-19, so those household gods certainly did not do her any good. The Bible is not a book about perfect superheroes, but about very real people who had many faults, ó like we have. See Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.101-102, When Critics Ask p.58, and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.45 for more info.
Q: In Gen 31:47, since Genesis was written at an early date, why are two Aramaic words in this verse?
A: This indicates that Aramaic existed side by side with Hebrew at an early date. Remember, the Arameans were living in Syria where Laban lived. Jacobís wives were from there. Alternately, these may be words common with early Hebrew.
Q: In Gen 32:22-32, was Jacob renamed to Israel here, or was Jacob renamed to Israel in Gen 35:9-10? (A liberal Christian mentioned this as evidence that multiple authors wrote Genesis.)
A: Genesis 32:22-32 is very detailed, and tells how Jacob wrestles with God, and is renamed Israel. Genesis 35 gives a summary of Jacobís life, and two verses, 35:9-10 mention Jacob being renamed so that we can place where the narrative in Genesis 32 occurred. Yes, these two verses are repetition, but this is helpful to the story, not an inadvertent inclusion of something twice. Today, when people write, they often repeat what they say in the body of an essay in the conclusion, but that does not mean the different parts of the essay were by multiple authors.
Q: In Gen 32:27-28, why was Jacob renamed Israel?
A: While the Bible does not say there are two possibilities, and both may be true.
The act of renaming showed that God is in control of their whole life, even their name, and that they were a different person, with a different destiny, because of God. I suppose when we get to heaven we can just ask Abram, Simon and Saul of Tarsus about this, or rather should I say Abraham, Peter, and Paul.
Names had great meaning in those times, and Israel apparently means "God perseveres" or else "He perseveres with God." as 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.45-46 says, and is linked to "you have struggled with God" according to The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.2 p.210.
Q: In Gen 32:24,27, since Jacob wrestled with a man, who turned out to be an angel or God, is God an angel or man?
A: God can appear as even a burning bush, but that does not make God a plant. While still being everywhere, God can also have a localized presence as anything He desires.
Here is what Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.) thought. ""Again when He [Jesus] speak in His own person, He confesses Himself to be the Instructor: ĎI am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt.íÖ And He most manifestly appears as Jacobís instructor. He says accordingly to him, ĎLo, I am with thee, to keep thee in all the way in which though shalt go; and I will bring thee back into this land; for I will not leave thee till I do what I have told three.í He is said, too, to have wrestled with Him. ĎAnd Jacob was left alone, and there wrestled with him a man (the Instructor) till the morning.í This was the man who led, and brought, and wrestled with, and anointed the athlete Jacob against evil." The Instructor book 1 ch.7 p.223
See also the answer for Genesis 3:8 for more info.
Q: In Gen 32:24-32, was Jacob wrestling with a literal angel, or was he just wrestling with an issue?
A: Nothing indicates we can add to Scripture that this was not a real angel.
See Now Thatís A Good Question p.571-572 for more on the following three points:
1. Taking the Bible literally is the only honest way to interpret it
2. Taking the Bible literally does not mean to impose a wooden, concrete literalism
3. Taking the Bible literally means to interpret the book as it was written.
While the Jews Josephus and Philo interpreted Jacobís wrestling as a dream, dreams do not leave hip joints permanently out of socket. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.131-133 and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.46 for more info.
Q: In Gen 32:24-30, is the Allah [God] of Christianity so weak that He takes all night to wrestle Jacob, as a Muslim mentioned?
A: First of all it was Godís angel (whom Jacob called a man), not God Himself who wrestled. Jacob said He saw God face to face, but Jacob only encountered God through the angel. Regardless though, God sent this angel, who had the power to crush Jacob.
If a father wrestles his strong-willed two year old, and even letís the two year old win at times, that does not make him a weak father. In like manner, Godís intention was to contend with Jacobís stubbornness, not to destroy Jacob and his tenacity. God wanted to bring Jacob to an understanding of who he was, not kill him.
Imagine how great it would be if your body was the same except that it was 1,000 times stronger. You could excel at athletics, break through walls, and run very fast. However, every time you tried to pick up a flower, you crushed it, every time you held a little childís hand you broke it, and every time you held your spouse, she went to the hospital. Maybe just having your muscles be 1,000 times stronger is not so good after all.
God is all-powerful, but God also has gentleness and finesse. God is infinitely times more powerful than us, but God has greater control over His own strength than we do of ours. Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV) gives an example of how the Almighty is gentle: "The LORD your God is in you, his is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."
In 1 Kings 19:11-13 God tells Elijah he will experience the presence of the Lord. It was not in the ensuing powerful wind, the earthquake, or the fire, but in a gentle whisper.
So to summarize, Christians worship a God who is gentle without being any less the Almighty.
Q: In Gen 32:30, can someone see Godís face, since Ex 33:20 says nobody can and live?
A: Jacob saw an appearance of an angel; he at first thought it was a man, and he certainly did not see God in his glory face-to-face. See Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.213-214, Todayís Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.399, and When Cultists Ask p.29-30 for more info.
Q: In Gen 33 and Gen 36:7 did Esau and Jacob separate because their possessions were too great, or because of Jacobís fear of Esau?
Q: In Gen 33:18-19 and Josh 24:32, did Jacob purchase the land at Shechem, or did Abraham purchase it as Acts 7:15-16 and Gen 23:16-20 say?
A: Abraham purchased land in Mamre near Hebron for Sarah in Genesis 23:16-20, but that is not in the same place. As for the land purchased in Shechem, there are two possible answers.
Jacob and Abraham bought it: Both Joshua 24:32 and Genesis 33:18-19 say Jacob, Abrahamís grandson, was the person who purchased the land near Shechem. Regardless of whether Abraham came to witness the purchase of the land with the money he passed on to Isaac or not, one could say that the clan of Abraham purchased the land. Even today, a teenager, with his fatherís consent, can buy a car in his fatherís name.
Stephen might be mistaken: Since Jacob purchased the land his sons were buried on, yet Jacob himself was buried at Mamre with Abraham, Stephen might have been accidentally combined these two separate events. Even if Stephen were mistaken, the Bible would still be inerrant. The Bible simply recorded, inerrantly, what Stephen said, mistake and all.
See Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.142-145, 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.309, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties 379-381, and the discussion on Genesis 50:13 for more info.
Q: In Gen 33:18-19 what else do we know about the city of Shechem?
A: Though the city was in ruins in Abrahamís time, the site of the city was known, as Can Archaeology prove the Old Testament? p.26 says. Abraham did not purchase the city, but rather land near Shechem.
The Wycliffe Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology p.518-522 gives a lot of detail on Shechem. It was always being rebuilt because it was on a hill that could be fortified and had an excellent spring. Shechem was rebuilt around 1900 B.C., but Pharaoh Senusert III (ca.1880-1840 B.C.) captured it. Shechem was destroyed again about 1750 B.C. It was rebuilt, but was destroyed again by the Egyptians c.1550 B.C.. It was rebuilt, in the time of the Amarna letters (1500-1370 B.C.) which mention it as the center of the king Labíayu who was in confederation with the "Habiru" invaders. It was rebuilt, but destroyed by the Assyrians by the Aramaeans, King Menaham of Israel, and the Assyrians in 723 B.C.
Q: In Gen 34:13-17, how could God [allegedly] condone Jacobís sons replying deceitfully about Dinah?
A: God did not condone it, and Jacobís two sons who killed the Shechemites were cursed for that.
Q: In Gen 34:25-30, how could Simeon and Levi alone destroy an entire city?
A: They led the raid, but they had other servants, hired soldiers, and/or relatives under their leadership.
Q: In Gen 35:1-5, what was the sequence of events here?
A: Here is the order.
1. Jacob was apparently lax about permitting foreign idols among his nomadic group.
2. God told Jacob he wanted Jacob to live in Bethel and build an altar to Him.
3. Jacob correctly saw that if they were going to build an altar to God, it would not do to have any idols among them.
4. Once they fully dedicated themselves to the Lord, they had nothing to fear from the surrounding peoples.
Q: In Gen 35:21, were all of Jacobís sons born in Migdal Eber, or were they born earlier as other parts of Genesis say? (A liberal Christian brought this up as a contradiction.)
A: Genesis 35:21-26 does not say every single son of Jacob was born in Migdal Eber, especially since in Genesis 35:19-20, Rachel, mother of two sons, had just died prior to them moving there. Genesis 35:21-26 simply lists the sons, following the account where Israel (=Jacob) pitched his tent beyond Migdal Eber.
Q: In Gen 36, why should people be concerned with the genealogy of Esauís descendents?
A: Admittedly this is not the most important chapter in the Bible. However, this chapter does show the claim of historical accuracy and attention to historical detail.
Q: In Gen 36:2 was Zibeon a Hivite city, or a Horite city as Genesis 36:20 reads?
A: There are two possibilities:
Misspelling: Many scholars assume this is a misspelling in the Masoretic text, since in Hebrew Hivite is h[i]wwt, and Horite is h[o]rrt. The Septuagint has Horites in Genesis 34:2 and Joshua 9:7.
Two names for one group or two merged groups: Horites (Hurrians) also settled in Palestine in the areas where Hivites lived, as evidenced by Hurrian personal names. Even the prince of Jerusalem in the 14th century B.C. had the Hurrian name of Abdi-Hepa.
See the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.801 for more info on both views.
Q: In Gen 36:31, does the phrase "before any Israelite king reigned" show the date of authorship as Saulís time or later?
A: No. Not only was Moses able to know there would be a king over Israel (Deuteronomy 17:14-15), but all the Israelites back to Jacobís time, would know Israel would have a king from Judah, because of Jacobís prophecy in Genesis 49:10.
Q: In Gen 37:3,23,32, is there any extra-Biblical evidence for a coat of many colors?
A: Yes, though not Josephís actual robe. Archaeologists have found "Asiatics", with coats of many colors, were drawn on the walls of the tomb of an Egyptian noble named Khnumhotep. See Pharaohs and Kings : A Biblical Quest p.332,360 for pictures and more info.
Q: In Gen 37:17, is there any extra-Biblical evidence of making people "disappear" by throwing them into wells?
A: Yes. Josephís brothers were near Dothan, and Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament? p.29 says a cistern at Dothan was found with several skeletons in it.
Q: In Gen 37:17, were Josephís brothers planning to kill him, or did they decide to sell Joseph to Midianite traders as Gen 37:28-29 says?
A: Both are true, because people can change their plans. Originally they planned to kill Joseph, except that Reuben planned to rescue him. However, when the saw the Midianite traders, they figure they could make some money off of Joseph and changed their plans. Naturally speaking one might think Joseph would have a "right" to become bitter over this. However, Joseph followed God, and hard times did not make him bitter, only better.
Q: In Gen 37:25, were the traders Ishmaelites, or Midianites as Gen 37:28 says?
A: From a distance the brothers could not tell which people were coming, or if there were some of each. It did not matter to the brothers though, they just wanted the money. Either the word Ishmaelite or the word Midianite might be a copyist error. Or, the brothers thought they were Ishmaelites, but they actually were Midianites.
Q: In Gen 37:28, was 20 shekels of silver about the right price for a slave like Joseph?
A: Yes. According to K.A. Kitchen in Ancient Orient and Old Testament Introduction p.52-53, this is the correct price about 1800 B.C. Centuries earlier they were 10 to 15 silver shekels, they were 30 silver shekels about the time of Moses, and later they were more expensive. In Hosea 3:2, a slave was worth about 30 shekels. See the Biblical Archaeology Review volume 21 no.2 p.53 for a graph of the price of a slave versus time.
Q: In Gen 38:1-21, why is this account of Judah and Tamar in the Bible?
A: On a scale from a low (not as bad) of 1 to a high (worst) of 10, with sexual immorality being a 10, what would you call intentionally never intending to keep a promise someone was depending on for the rest of her life? - It certainly is more than a 1. There are at least three things we can learn from this.
1. Lest we think that Judah and the other patriarchs were more righteous than everyone else, this and other accounts bring us back to the reality that they were not particularly righteous.
2. The Bible gives us a candid, accurate account of how people lived back then. The Bible does not sugarcoat their history in the least. We can learn from what they did wrong as well as what they did right.
3. This shows a type of sin that is present today but is not often discussed: shirking responsibility. This is considered a very serious sin in Godís eyes, since Onan was killed because of it. Judah too did not act responsibility toward his daughter-in-law, and he broke his own word. Judah did not give his son in marriage to Tamar, because he feared for his sonís life, because he mistrusted Godís goodness. Obviously, Jacob did not think Onan deserved death for refusing to fulfill his responsibility.
Q: In Gen 38:29-30, what do Zerah/Zarah and Perez/Pharez mean?
A: First what they mean, and then two applications. Strongís, Bible dictionaries, and commentaries all agree that Perez/Pharez means breakthrough or a breach. He breached or opened the womb. There is a slight difference of opinion on Zerah/Zarah though.
Scarlet: Because of the scarlet thread tied on his hand, "Zerah therefore may mean Ďscarletí" according to the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1844.
It means brightness or redness according to the New International Bible Commentary p.139.
It means Ďscarletí according to The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.89.
Rising: Zerah comes from the Hebrew word Zerah, Ďrisingí according to The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.1085.
A reason for the difference of opinion can be found in Strongís Exhaustive Concordance (word 2226).It says it is the same as 2225 "zerach, zehí-rakh from 2224; a rising of light:- rising." 2224 says "zarach, zaw-rakhí; a prim. Root; prop, to irradiate (or shoot forth beams), i.e. to rise (as the sun); spec. to appear (as a symptom of leprosy): - arise, rise (up), as soon as it is up. So the word Zerah came from the sunrise, and it could refer to the actual rising, or it could refer to the scarlet red color of the dawn.
The Messianic line in Matthew 1:3 briefly mentions the births of both Perez and Zerah. In His first coming Jesus said that He would bring division in Luke 12:51. Paul speaks of the brightness of Christís second coming in 2 Thessalonians 2:8. So the twins came in the order of the two comings of Christ. However, on the other hand, John 1:5,9 mentions that Jesus was the true light that gives light to every man, and that He came into the world.
Achan, who was executed in Joshua 7 was a descendant of Zerah. so a person having a special or godly ancestry does not guarantee they are necessarily righteous or can escape judgment. It has been said that "God has no grandchildren." In other words, either you are child of God or you are not. But you cannot claim a relationship with God solely because of your parentís faith and not your own.
See also the Believerís Bible Commentary p.73 and The Expositorís Bible Commentary p.232-244 for more info.
Q: In Gen 39:7-10, since the Ten Commandments were not written yet, what would have been wrong with Joseph sleeping with his masterís wife?
A: Joseph did not need the Ten Commandments to know that doing this would totally betray the trust his master had in him. Joseph also said this would be a sin against God.
Some people operate according to the letter of the law, only. However, that was not the way Joseph acted, and that is not the way Christians are supposed to act. Instead of just asking "can I get away with this", or "is there any absolute black-and-white prohibition against this", we should instead be asking "what would be pleasing to God".
Jesus lost his coat twice now! But as someone once said, it is better to loser your coat and keep your character than to lose your character and keep your coat.
There is an interesting Arab tale illustrating the mindset of only obeying the letter of the law. Once a man made a deal with an evil genie. They both signed a paper, where the genieís part of the deal was to provide him with the most beautiful woman he could imagine as his wife and that the genie would not harm him. The genie disappeared, and later a beautiful woman came and wanted to be his wife. Unknown to the man, the woman was the genie in disguise. One night the "woman" asked the man to see the agreement. When the man picked up the agreement, the genie caused some wax from the candle to cover over the word "not" in "not to harm the man", and the genie killed the man.
It is interesting that, to some, a bit of candle wax is all that was required to justify invalidating the promise the two made. Today some people think it is fine and proper to renege on an agreement for reasons that are hardly any more substantial. For true believers in God, not only do we keep our word to the letter, but we also keep the intent of our word, and do not let flimsy reasons serve as excuses for being dishonest.
Q: In Gen 40:15, how was Joseph carried off from the land of the Hebrews?
A: On one hand Jacob was coming from the land that was the promised and future possession of the Israelite Hebrews. On the other hand, we think of Hebrew as synonymous with Israelite, but it was not the case back then. A Hebrew, or ĎApiru, also meant a nomad, and Abram was called a Hebrew. Thus, Joseph either meant his descent from Abraham and living in Abrahamís new land, or else that he was from a land of nomads, or both.
Q: In Gen 40:20-22, Mt 14:6, and Mk 6:21, are birthdays bad to celebrate since the only birthdays [allegedly] in the Bible are when Pharaoh executed the baker and Herod executed John the Baptist?
A: No. Jehovahís Witnesses try to use an argument from silence to prohibit birthday celebrations. Both Pharaoh and Herod were cruel, arbitrary rulers who killed people on non-birthdays too, but there are two stronger reasons why celebrating a special day for someoneís birth is OK.
Job was a godly man, and each of his sons celebrated banquets at their house "on their own day" in Job 1:4. The phrase "their own day" means their birthday as showed by Job cursing "his day", which was the day he was born in Job 3:1-3.
Also, the angel Gabriel announced that many will rejoice over the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:14) and if angels could celebrate the birth of Jesus, it is OK for us to celebrate His birth too.
See Jehovahís Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse p.24-26 for a more extensive discussion.
Q: In Gen 41:32, why would Pharaoh make a non-Egyptian second-in-command?
A: While kings can sometimes do strange things, in this case it made very good sense. If Joseph tried to rebel, Egyptians would not follow him. It is recorded that Canaanites, such as Meri-Ra, Ben-Mat-Ana, and a Semite Yanhamu deputy of Amenhotep III had high positions in the Egyptian Court. (Amenhotep III became Pharaoh after the Israelites had left Egypt.) See Evidence That Demands a Verdict vol.2 p.331, Can Archaeology Prove the Old Testament? p.29, and 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.47 for more info.
Q: In Gen 41:45, was Josephís Egyptian name, Zaphenath-Paneah, a title or an Egyptian name?
A: It probably meant "he who is called life" or similar. There is no evidence of any Egyptians having a title like this, so it probably was a name. Pharaoh probably wanted Joseph to be able to appear more Egyptian to many of his officials. It does not mean Joseph abandoned his original name though. It is sort of like when people came from China to the West, many times they also assume a western name, and when people go from the West to China, many times they also assume a Chinese name.
Q: In Gen 41:45, is there any extra-Biblical evidence for Josephís Egyptian name, Zaphenath-Paneah?
A: Yes. While scholars do not know any of the names of the viziers of Egypt during the centuries around Josephís time, archaeologists have found a connection.
Zaphenath: Josephís Egyptian name in Genesis 41:45 was probably transmitted down to us with the Ďtí and Ďpí switched. Zat-en-aph means "he who is called" which was a common phrase. Papyrus Brooklyn 35.1446 shows many examples of Asiatics given Egyptian names. Many of these names have "he/she who is called as the first part.
Paneah: "Pa" or "Pe would represent the Egyptian Ipi or Ipu. "anea" is similar to the Egyptian ankh, which means "life" or ankhu which means "is alive". Pharaohs and Kings : A Biblical Quest p.350 concludes by saying the name Ipiankhu and variations were common in the time of Joseph but not very common earlier or later.
Q: In Gen 41:51, how do you pronounce "Manasseh"?
A: Crudenís Concordance says it is pronounced as man-A-sah with the first "a" as long and the accent on the second syllable. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary and Harperís Bible Dictionary do not have any long vowels, but also have the accent on the second syllable.
Q: In Gen 41:57, since the famine was severe in all the world, why did every place in the world not experience famine?
A: This phrased expressed that the famine was severe beyond Egypt too.
Q: In Gen 42:6-20, why did Joseph treat his estranged brothers this way?
A: While the Bible neither approves nor criticizes this strategy, this proved shrewd on Josephís part. Joseph wanted to know what their attitude was toward the other son of his mother, and what they had learned over the years. He wanted to see what was in their hearts before opening his heart to them.
While no one today will likely be in the same situation, the general principle is still valid of trying to know something of what is in a personís heart before taking them into your confidence. In a different context, Jesus said not to throw your pearls before swine in Matthew 7:6.
Q: In Gen 43:9 (KJV), what is "surety"?
A: This means a guarantee. The King James Version translated this accurately; however most people today might not know what this means, so "formal guarantee" is a better translation today.
Q: In Gen 44:5, how could Joseph, a godly man, claim to use divination?
A: It does not say Joseph ever used that cup, only that he told his brothers he used that cup for divination. According to Genesis 44:15, Joseph was apparently not very concerned about the cup. We should avoid even the appearance of evil (2 Corinthians 8:22; 1 Thessalonians 5:22), and even Joseph was not a perfect person.
Q: In Gen 45:6 and Gen 47:28, did the Israelites become slaves while Joseph was still alive?
A: Yes. Looking at Genesis 37:2; 41:1; 41:29-39; 45:6; 47:28, Joseph was in Egypt for 71 years of his 110-year life. So the Hebrews became slaves again while Joseph was still alive, because they were slaves in Egypt for 400 years, and in Egypt for a total of 430 years.
Q: In Gen 45:8, 50:19, does God enslave godly people? Did God enslave Joseph, or Josephís brothers?
A: This is an example of the theological concept called concurrence. God not only knew the evil they would freely and voluntarily decide to do if in that situation, God enabled them to be in that situation and carry out their heartís intent. Furthermore, God planned for and used their evil to bring about good. As Romans 8:28 says, "...in all things God works together for good for those who love Him...". All things include even evil things.
Q: In Gen 46:3-4, is God speaking to Joseph as an individual, or his descendants?
A: Both. God is merging the two when he tells Jacob that "you" will be made into a great nation. While Jacob did die in Egypt, his body was brought back to Palestine for burial. This was a sign that "you" plural would come out Egypt 430 years later.
Q: In Gen 46:4, why did Jacob die in Egypt, since God promised he would take him out of there?
A: People thought in terms of their descendants as well as themselves. Jacobís descendants were taken out of Egypt. In addition, Jacobís body was taken out of Egypt in Genesis 50:13-14. See When Critics Ask p.59 and Haleyís Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.345 for more info.
Q: In Gen 46:8-27, are there 12, 13, or 14 tribes?
A: There were 12 sons of Israel (10 + Levi + Joseph)
There were 12 fighting divisions and tribes with land (10 + Josephís two sons Manasseh and Ephraim and not Levi.)
See When Critics Ask p.59-60 and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.103 and for more info.
Q: In Gen 46: 8-27, I would like to know the 11 sons who Jacob had in the land of Israel, who were their wives? In The Bible exodus it is confirmed that 70 people went to Egypt including Jacob Can you list them for me?
A: Actually the "Exodus" is a different event; when they went out of Egypt. But to answer your question, the eleven sons of Jacob are:
Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Gad, Asher, Benjamin, Dan, and Naphtali. Of course Joseph was Jacob's son, but Jacob was living in Egypt, not the land of Israel.
Jacobís descendants who went to Egypt are listed in Genesis 48:8-27; however it does not list those not biologically related to Jacob. The sons and male descendants of Jacob who travelled to Egypt then were 64 men. Jacob's daughter Dinah and Asher's daughter Serah went, too. When you add four more people, Jacob, his two sons Ephraim and Manasseh, and Jacob, that is 70 persons listed. Of course wives and others would have gone too, and the Bible does not say no more than 70 people went, only that 70 descendants of Jacob, including Jacob himself, went.
Q: In Gen 46:33, is there any extra-Biblical evidence that shepherds were detestable to the Egyptians?
A: We do not have any direct proof, but we do have a couple of pieces of information.
1. When the foreign Hyksos ruled Egypt, later Egyptians called the despised foreign rulers "the shepherd kings".
2. During the time of Joseph, archaeologists say a large group of Asiatics lived in the Nile Delta. According to Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest p.354 analyzing the skeletal remains of sheep showed that about this time Asiatic settlers first brought long-haired sheep into the Nile Delta region of Egypt.
Q: In Gen 47:11, how could Jacobís family live in the region of Rameses, when the city of Rameses had not been built yet?
A: They settled in the region of the Nile Delta where the Hebrew slaves would later build the city of Rameses. While it was not known as that when Jacob settled there, the city of Rameses had been built by the time Moses wrote Genesis.
Q: In Gen 47:20-21, how could God approve of Joseph enslaving the people of Egypt to Pharaoh?
A: God did not comment on it, but allowed this income tax of 20% in Genesis 47:23-26.
Q: In Gen 47:31, did Jacob die at the head of his bed, or leaning on his staff as Heb 11:21 says?
A: While one could be in a bed leaning on a staff to sit up to speak, there is a simpler explanation. The consonants for "bed" and "staff" are the same in Hebrew, and the Old Testament was originally written with only consonants. The Masoretic text put the vowels in to make this "bed", while the Septuagint translated this as "staff". Hebrews 11:21 in Greek says staff. See When Critics Ask p.522-523 and Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.421 for more info.
Q: In Gen 48:5, what was the significance of Jacob saying that Manasseh and Ephraim belonged to him?
A: Apparently in the future dividing up of the land, Manasseh and Ephraim were considered in the same category as Jacobís immediate sons. Thus, Josephís descendants received two shares of land, not one. Often the firstborn received a double share. While Joseph was not the firstborn chronologically, he had been given the right of the firstborn.
Q: In Gen 49 and Dt 33, how were these prophecies fulfilled?
A: For each son, a summary of the prophecies is given, and then the fulfillment. In general, Genesis 49 gave many prophecies, and Deuteronomy has only a few hints of the future in Mosesí prayers.
Reuben, though biologically the firstborn, would excel no longer. Reuben settled on the east side of the Jordan River, and was never a large tribe. According to the Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.103, Moab subjugated Reuben in the ninth century (900-800 B.C.), according to an inscription on the Moabite stone (850 B.C.). This was after the time of Solomon between the reigns of Asa and Joash in Judah.
Simeon would be dispersed in Israel. Simeon settled in the middle of Judah (Judges 1:3), and they lost much of their tribal identity as they were dispersed within Judah.
Levi would also be dispersed in Israel. The Levites were not given land, only towns to live in throughout Israel. They were to be the teachers of Israel. During the days of the divided kingdom, many of them moved south to Judah.
Judah will be praised of his brothers, his hand will be on the neck of his enemies, and other sons will bow down to him. Judah will be like a lion. The scepter will not depart until Shiloh comes. David and subsequent rulers of the southern kingdom all came from the tribe of Judah. Jesus was from Davidís descendants, both biologically through Mary, and "legally" by His adopted father, Joseph. Genesis 49-10-12 are Messianic according to the Targum Jonathan, the Targum pseudo-Jonathan, the Targum Onkelos, and the Babylonian Talmud.
Zebulun will live by the sea and his border extended toward Sidon in Phoenicia. This prophecy of their location was fulfilled.
Issachar would be in a good and comfortable resting place, and will do forced labor. Issachar was subject to foreigners along with the other northern tribes under the Assyrians in 732 B.C.
Dan will provide justice, like a vicious serpent. Like a lionís cub, he would spring out of Bashan. Dan inherited in the central part (far from Bashan), but when they viciously attacked Laish in Judges 18, they moved to the north near Bashan.
Gad will be attacked, but will attack them in return. They are blessed who enlarge Gadís domain. This might prophetically refer to Jephthah the Gadite, who defeated the Ammonites.
Asher would have rich and delicate food. Asher will be strong all his days. Asher had few difficulties in warfare, though they had some assimilation into the Phoenician culture.
Naphtali will be like a female deer that bears beautiful fawns. Naphtali will inherit southward to the lake. Naphtali did not play a major role in many wars, and they settled by the Sea of Galilee.
Joseph will be a fruitful vine, whose branches climb over a wall. Archers will shoot at him, but his bow will remain steady. Like a prince among his brothers. Joseph will have abundance. The two half-tribes of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, were the most populous after Judah. Indeed Ephraim later became a synonym for the northern kingdom, just like Judah became a synonym for the southern kingdom.
Benjamin would be a ravenous wolf. Ehud the Benjamite was a judge who killed Eglon of Moab. Benjamin, though a small tribe, fiercely fought against the other tribes in Judges 20.
Q: In Gen 49:3 and Dt 21:17, what does "the beginning of a man's strength" mean? Some translations suggest this is talking about the beginning of a man's procreative ability or his virility. Ps 127 may suggest something else in reference to the term when it speaks about the children of a man's youth being like arrows in the quiver of a mighty warrior.
A: A man can be fertile and never have kids, though without children it is not proven that he is fertile. But to split hairs, there are four possibilities for its precise meaning.
a) a baby, which also shows that a man can have more children after this.
b) a male son, who can support the family when the man is old and fight for the country.
c) This is a phrase of the right of the firstborn son.
d) a descendant, which means the man can have an enduring line.
I think d) is probably in view here, because having offspring to carry on the line was very important in that culture. In fact, when a married man died with no offspring, his brother was to marry his wife and the first son would carry the dead brother's name.
c) is definitely also in view in Deuteronomy 21:16-17
But I also think b) is in view here, as Psalm 127:4-5 says.
However, "the beginning..." is not something multiple children have, or that they together were "the beginning". This implies that the child was the beginning of the man's strength when the child was born, which would show that a) was in view. Reuben lost the right of the first born, but in Genesis 49:3 he was still biologically the firstborn, the "first sign of my strength".
So my view is all of the above.
Q: In Gen 49:5-7, how could Jacob curse Levi, since Moses later blessed Levi in Dt 33:8-11?
A: Leviís descendants were scattered throughout Israel because of this cruel act. Leviís descendants were blessed by being given the privilege of teaching Israel. There is a lesson to learn here. A curse, when we bear up under it and follow God, can turn into a blessing. See When Critics Ask p.60-61 for more info.
Q: Since Gen 49:10 says the scepter will not depart until "Shiloh" comes, how could this be the Messiah?
A: The Greek and Latin translations have "the one to whom it belongs." This was understood to be Messianic by historic Jewish interpreters, as the Aramaic targum translates this "Messiah". This is also Messianic according to the Targum Jonathan and the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan (=Targum Yerushalmi I, = Targum Ezez). The Jews lost the right to capital punishment in 11 A.D., as the Babylonian Talmud mentions in Sanhedrin chapter 4 following 51b; chapter 4 following 37; recto. Ezekiel 21:27 has a parallel construction as Genesis 49:10.
Others would see this as the official ruler of Palestine. Under the Romans, the Jewish king Archelaus was dethroned and the Roman procurator Coponius replaced him.
As a side note, The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.1 p.224 says the Babylonian Talmud states the Targum Jonathan was written by Jonathan bin Uzziel, who lived in the first century B.C. and was Hillelís most prominent pupil.
In a Dead Sea Scroll Commentary on Genesis (4Q252 [=4QpGen(a)), fragment 2 in discussing Genesis 49:10, says "Whenever Israel rules, there shall [not] fail to be a descendant of David upon the throne. For the rulerís staff is the Covenant of kingship, [and the clans] of Israel are the divisions, until the Messiah of Righteousness comes, the Branch of David. The Dead Sea Scrolls in English 4th ed. p.300-302 also points out that this commentary sees the Jewish Hasmonean kings as illegitimate rulers, since they were not from Judah.
Josephus in his book, Wars of the Jews (93-94 A.D.) book 2 chapter 8 says, "And now Archelausí part of Judea was reduced into a province, and Caponius, one of the Equestrian order of the Romans, was sent as a procurator, having the power of life and death put into his hands by Caesar." Josephus also mentions that the Sanhedrin lost power over capital cases in Antiquities of the Jews 20.9. (written about 93-94 A.D.)
The Jews themselves understood this as a Messianic prophecy. In the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin, chapter 4 following 37, recto. Rabbi Rachman said, "When the members of the Sanhedrin found themselves deprived of the/their right over life and death, a general consternation took possession of them; they covered their heads with ashes, and their bodies with sackcloth, exclaiming: ĎWoe unto us, for the scepter has departed from Judah, and the Messiah has not come!í" This happened around 7 A.D. (Taken from Josh McDowellís Evidence That Demands a Verdict vol.1 p.169., and Jesus Before the Sanhedrin by Augustin Lemann, 1886 translated by Julius Magath, NL#0239683, Library of Congress # 15-24973. See also Pugio Fidei, Martini, Raymundus, published by De Vosin in 1651 (p.148).
Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 98b, Rabbi Johanan wrote, "The world was created for the sake of the Messiah, what is this Messiahís name" The school of Rabbi Shila said Ďhis name is Shiloh, for it is written; until Shiloh come." (p.147)
Talmud "A little more than forty years before the destruction of the Temple, the power of pronouncing capital sentences was taken away from the Jews." Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin folio 24. (p.147)
Targum Onkelos says, "The transmission of dominion shall not cease from the house of Judah, nor the scribe from his childrenís children, forever, until Messiah comes." (The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation; The Messianic Exegesis of the Targum, Samson H. Levy (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion 1974) p.2 (p.146)
Targum Pseudo-Jonathan on Genesis 49:11a, "Kings and rulers shall not cease from the house of Judah Ö until King Messiah comes" ibid p.7
An additional Jewish source that indicates the Jews understood this was a Messianic prophecy are Targum Jonathan on Genesis 49:10,11a. (See Evidence That Demands a Verdict vol.1 p.148 for more info.) Justin Martyr (wrote c.138-165 A.D.) mentions this as referring to Christ in his First Apology ch.32.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.134-135 and The Creator Beyond Time and Space by Mark Eastman and Chuck Missler for more info.
Q: In Gen 49:10 what exactly does the Hebrew word Shiloh mean here?
A: The original Hebrew text did not have vowels, and because of that there is some uncertainty.
a) It could be a name referring to a person: Shiloh
b) It could mean "whose it is" or "belonging to him" siloh / selloh. The NIV uses it this way. There is some support for this from the Septuagint and Syriac Peshitta. Ezekiel 21:26-27 relates to this.
c) It could mean "tribute to him" say loh. This is in the NIV margin. This would be a parallel to the verse after this.
d) It could be the place Shiloh, according to the New Geneva Study Bible p.87
e) Finally, as The New International Bible Commentary p.146 reminds us, there are many wordplays in the Bible. so it could be more than one of these.
See also The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.98 for more info.
Q: In Gen 49:10 says of the royal scepter, until "Shiloh" comes. How could this warlike prophecy refer to Jesus?
A: Jesus was spiritually warlike in defeating Satan in His first coming. In addition, Jesus will be warlike and kill many in His Second Coming in Revelation 19:11-16.
Q: In Gen 49:10, since the scepter would not depart from Judah until the Messiah came, why were there no kings from Judah after the exile except the Maccabees?
A: Genesis 49:10 did not guarantee there would be independent kings. It only says there would be a ruler, and Gedaliah and many others did so as governors under Babylon, Persia, and other governments. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.28 for a different but complementary answer.
Q: In Gen 49:10, since Judah was to reign until the Messiah came, why was Saul from the tribe of Benjamin?
A: There was no king when this prophecy was given. Saul was rejected as king, but once David (from Judah) was king, it was recognized that Judah was the royal line until the Messiah came. Jesus was from Judah "legally" as Joseph was his legal father, and biologically, as Mary was also from Judah. See When Critics Ask p.62 for more info.
Q: In Gen 49:14-15, why did Jacob prophesy slavery for Issachar, but Dt 33:18-19 prophesy blessing?
A: Both prophecies were fulfilled. Issachar had great blessing in their fertile land. However, in the time of the Assyrians, they became slaves and their tribe remained that way. Godís blessings, when we take them for granted, can tend to make us be lazy and prone to submit to sin. See Judges 8:27,33 for another sad example in Gideon.
Q: In Gen 50:3, why did they take 40 days to embalm Jacobís body, and not more or less?
A: There is no need to try to read in an allegorical meaning here, when the Bible gives the reason. Genesis 50:3 says that 40 days was the time required for embalming. The Magazine KMT : A Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt vol.3 no.3 Fall 1993 p.7 says that experiments on mummification of rats shows that forty days is the time needed to complete the drying of the body with natron salts. It also mentions that forty days is still the mourning period in modern Egypt.
Q: In Gen 50:13, was Jacob buried in the cave that Abraham bought near Mamre, or were some of the Patriarchs buried near Shechem as Acts 7:15-16 implies?
A: First three points related to the answer, and then two possible answers.
First, The two were distinct places, as the distance between Mamre and Shechem was roughly 45 miles (72 kilometers).
Prior to the Exodus, Genesis 50:13 says that Jacob was buried near Mamre. Genesis 50:24-26, says Josephís body was embalmed and stored in a coffin in Egypt, with the anticipation that it would later be buried in the Promised Land.
After the Exodus, over 477 years later, Jacobís sons were buried near Shechem as Acts 7:15-16 says. Joshua 24:32 also adds that Josephís bones were buried in the tract of land near Shechem.
Here are two separate answers.
"they": Acts 7:15 says "And Jacob went down into Egypt and expired [i.e. died], he and our fathers." (Greenís Literal Translation) "They" in Acts 7:16 refers to the twelve sons of Jacob (our fathers) who were buried after the Exodus, and not Jacob, who was buried over 477 years earlier.
Stephenís mistake: If Stephen had incorrectly "merged" these two events as one when he spoke, then Acts 7:15-16 is still inerrant. Acts 7:15-16 inerrantly records a trivial mistake that Stephen made. Nothing indicates Stephen had to be inerrant in all that He spoke. However, given Stephenís track record on other things in Acts 7, one might favor the first answer.
However, even if the second answer is the correct one, there is a lesson for us. When believers today are in the center of Godís will, and speaking to others as God wants us to, God has not promised that all our words and doctrines are inerrant, either. But that is OK. God works in us despite our mistakes, and even through our mistakes to get out His truth.
Regardless of whether Stephen did not use modern precision with his pronouns or whether Stephen was mistaken on a small point of history, Godís message is not whether Jacob was included in the "they" buried at Shechem or not. Godís message is that God guided the Israelites in a Covenant relationship with Him, and God used the Israelites for thousands of years to set the background for the greatest event of all time, the coming of Godís own Son, Jesus Christ.
See also the discussion on Genesis 33:18-19 and Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.142-145 for more info, and 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.309 for more on the cave of Machpelah.
Q: In Gen 50:16, did Josephís brothers lie when they said Jacob commanded Joseph not to harm them?
A: The Bible does not say whether Jacob ever explicitly commanded this, so the brothers might have been lying. On the other hand, certainly Jacob implicitly desired that Joseph not get revenge on his brothers. Today, we hear many things from people without knowing for certain whether the person is completely telling the truth or not. We still need to respond wisely, and the way God would want us to reply, even when we cannot prove or disprove the truthfulness of what is said.
Q: In Gen 50:19-20, how can we make our own choices, since God "intends" that we make the choices we make?
A: Three simple points that explain this concurrency.
God never coerces people to sin or makes them choose this evil. God does not tempt anyone, according to James 1:13.
God foreknew their choices and allowed them to make those choices. Charles Hodge refers to this concept as "permissive decrees".
God used their evil choices as a part of His plan. Indeed, everything is included in Godís plan, according to Ephesians 1:11 and Proverbs 16:4. Louis Berkhof coined the term "concurrence" for this concept.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.135-136 for more info.
Q: In Gen 50:23, how do you pronounce "Machir"?
A: Crudenís Concordance says it is pronounced as "MA-ker", with no long vowels and the accent on the first syllable. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary and Harperís Bible Dictionary both have a long vowel mark on the "a" and the accent is also on the first syllable.
Q: In Gen, why was the word Elohim mentioned 33 times in the first 34 verses, followed by Yahweh-Elohim 20 times in 45 verses, followed by Yahweh 10 times in 25 verses (Evidence That Demands a Verdict volume 2 p.121). Does this indicate multiple authors?
A: This was not coincidence, but was to deliberately express first the universal, transcendent nature of God, followed by His more personal aspects. See Todayís Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.189-190 for more info. Evidence That Demands a Verdict volume 2 mentions a very similar situation in the Qurían. The word "Allah" predominates in later, Medina suras, while "Lord", not "Allah" is mainly used in the earlier, Meccan suras. Here is my count in the Medinan Suras. 4(~211x), 9(~152x), 24(75x), 33, 48, 49, 57(33x), 58(37x), 59(29x), 60-66. Here is my count of the word Lord in the Meccan suras, followed by the approximate number of times the word Allah is used. 15(3x), 32(1x), 50-53, 54-55(0x), 56(2x), 67(4x), 68(0x), 75(0x), 78(0x), 85-96(9x), 100-109(1x), 110-112(6x), 113-114(0x).
Likewise in the Book of Hebrews I the New Testament, chapter 1 never uses the words "Christ" or "Jesus" but only refers to Him as the "Son". But "Jesus" and "Christ are used frequently in the rest of the book of Hebrews.
This does not show that the Qurían had multiple authors, or that the Book of Hebrews had multiple authors, any more than the evidence shows that Genesis had multiple authors. Rather, this shows asymmetric use of names was not unusual in Mideastern literature.
Q: In Gen, when was this book written?
A: Early Jewish and Christian writings unanimously say it was written by Moses. Whether Moses actually held the pen, or a scribe under his direction did, it was still in Mosesí time.
The liberal Julius Wellhausen in 1885 said they were created during or after the Babylonian exile (598-539 B.C.). Nobody, not even liberals, believe that today though. See 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.13 for more info.
Liberals today believe it was written centuries after Mosesí time.
Q: In Gen, how do we know that what we have is what was originally written?
A: As Christians we trust that the Old Testament that Christ validated the Old Testament we have. For that matter, for Muslims their Qurían says that Jesus was given the Torah in Sura 5:46. We have early manuscripts from the time of Christ, which the next question addresses. However, there is an additional line of evidence. Philo of Alexandria was a Jewish scholar who lived from 15/20 B.C. to 50 A.D. He wrote a commentary on Genesis, and answered questions on the Old Testament. He wrote in Greek, but it is curious that his Greek quotes of the Old Testament agree more closely with the Hebrew Masoretic text instead of the Greek Septuagint. He went into great detail into what different verses mean. Out of 1,533 total verses in Genesis, Philo referred to all or parts of 410 of them. Here are verses he referred to in Genesis.
1:1-2,4,26,27,31; 2:1-10,13-25; 3:1-24; 4:1-12,14,25-26; 5:1,3,23-24,29,32; 6:1-12,14-17; 7:1-2,4-5,10-11,16-17,19,21-24; 8:1-18,20-22; 9:1,3-8,10-11,13,18,20-28; 10:1,6,8; 11:1-2,4,6-8,10,29; 12:1-4,6-7; 13:1,9; 14:1,3,7,17,18,20-24; 15:1-3,5,20; 16:1-9,11-16; 17:16,8,10-22,24,26,27,32; 18:1,3,6,7,9-11,15-17,22,23,27,32,33; 19:4,11,20,20,32,33,35; 20:7,12; 21:1-2,5-7,11-12,14,19-20,33; 22:1-2,4,6,7,9,16,22,62-63,67; 25:5,8,11,17,21,23-25,27,29,33; 26:2,3,5,9,12,32-33; 27:1,20,28,30,33,36,40-43,45; 28:1-2,7,11-17,21-22; 29:4,13,26,31,35; 30:1,2,13,16,18,24,30,36,37,42;
31:3-5,10-14,20,27-28,33,35,43; 32:10,25,28-29,31; 33:5,11; 34:1,3; 35:2,4,16,18,25; 36:12; 37:2-3,7-9,12-13,15,33,36; 38:7,9,11,20,25; 39:1,3,7,21; 40:8-10,15-17,20; 41:17,28,45,49; 42:1,11,16,18,36; 43:9; 45:5,11,16,18,22,26,28; 46:1,4,2733-34; 47:3,9,24; 48:1,5,13,15-16,22; 49:2,15-18,22,33; 50:7-8,19,24
However, there are four differences in his verse references, all in Genesis.
|Verse||Masoretic Hebrew||Philoís Greek|
|Gen. 4:13||My crime is greater than I can bear.||My crime is too great to be forgiven. (3 times)|
|Gen. 5:22||Enoch lived 65 years before Methuselah, and walked with God 300 years||Enoch lived 165 years before repentance, and 200 years after that.|
|Gen. 6:13||It repented God that he had made man upon the earth||God considered anxiously, because he had made man upon the earth; and he resolved the matter in this mind.|
|Gen. 10:29||He was a mighty hunter before the Lord||began to be a giant upon the earth|
Q: In Gen, what are some of the earliest manuscripts that still exist today?
A: Dead Sea Scrolls: (before Christ) 20 copies or fragments (The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated : The Qumran Texts in English 2nd ed.), estimated as 15 separate copies (The Dead Sea Scrolls Today p.30) or 18 copies The Dead Sea Scrolls in English 4th ed.. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.436-438 says 15 copies. These manuscripts are called
1Q1 - fragments of Genesis
4Q1 Genesis + Exodus
4Q2 Genesis, identical to the Masoretic text
4Q3 Genesis 40-41
4Q4 Genesis 1
4Q5 Genesis, similar to the Masoretic and Samaritan texts
4Q6 - Part of Genesis 48
4Q7 fragments of Genesis 1 and 2
4Q8a Genesis 2:17-18
4Q8b Paraphrase of Genesis 12:4-5
4Q8c Title of a Genesis manuscript
(4Q8a, b, and c are from three different manuscripts)
4Q9 Genesis, similar to Samaritan text
4Q10 Genesis 1-3
4Q11 Genesis 50:26 through Exodus 36
4Q12 Genesis 26 in palaeo-Hebrew letters
6Q1 a fragment of Genesis 5
8Q1 Two fragments of Genesis 17:12-19 and 18:20-25.
Overall, preserved in the Dead Sea Scrolls are the following verses from Genesis.
1:1-28; 2:1-3,6-7,14-19; 3:1-2,11-14; 4:2-11; 5:13/14; 6:13-21; 8:21; 10:6; 12:4-5; 17:12-19; 18:20-25; 19:27-28; 22:13-15; 23:17-19; 24:22-24; 26:21-28; 27:38-39,42-43; 32:4-5,30,33; 33:1,18-20; 34:1-3,5-10,17-21,30-31; 35:1,4-10,25-29; 36:1-17,19-27;35-37,43; 37:1-2,5-6,22-30; 39:11-23; 40:1,12-13,18-23; 41:1-11,15-18,23-27,29-44;p 42:15-22,38; 43:1-2,5-14; 45:14-22,26-28; 46:7-11?; 47:13-14; 48:1-11,15-17,18-22; 49:1-8; 50:3,26?
See Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls vol.2 p.615 and The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls for more info.
Dead Sea scroll commentary on Genesis in cave 4 (The Dead Sea Scrolls Today p.54 and The Dead Sea Scrolls in English 4th ed. p.xlv)
The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Old Testament and Apocrypha. Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.62-63 shows a picture of a fragment, Rahlfs 814 Genesis 14:12-15, from approximately the second half of the second century A.D. (150-200 A.D.)
You can see a photograph of a leaf of Genesis 42:7-19 of the Chester Beatty Papyrus V (Rahlfs 962), in Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.72-73. It is from the second half of the third century.
The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.369 says that a Greek copy of Genesis, called inv. 319 is earlier than 100 A.D. It is unclear whether this is the same as a previously mentioned manuscript or not.
On p7.2 it mentions that Genesis 1:1-5 in the Septuagint was written on p12 (Papyrus Amherst 3b). This is dated as 264-282 A.D.
The Vienna manuscript was written in the fifth or sixth century A.D. and 24 pages of Genesis are preserved. You can see one page, Genesis 39:9-18, in Greek Manuscripts of the Bible p.92-93.
Other Greek manuscripts include
Papyrus Oxyrynchus 656 is a second century A.D. manuscript that contains Genesis in Greek. It is mentioned in The Complete Text of the Earliest Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.73.
Papyrus Oxyrynchus 1007 is a fragment from the third century A.D.. The scribe had an unusual doubling of the initial yod in the Tetragrammaton according to Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.34.
Chester Beatty Papyrus 5 contains Genesis 42:7-19. It is dated 350-400 A.D. For more info and a photograph see Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.72-73.
Vaticanus (325-350 A.D.) for Genesis 46:29-50:26. Vaticanus has all the rest of the Old Testament.
Alexandrinus (c.450 A.D.) for all of Genesis except for Genesis 14:14-17; 15:1-5, 16-19; 16:6-9, which are mutilated.
Sinaiticus (340-350 A.D.) Genesis 21:26-22:!7; 22:21-23:16; 23:19-24:20; 24:23-24:46;
Samaritans made their own copy of the Torah in the second century B.C., though the earliest surviving Samaritan copies are from the Middle Ages. A picture of a Samaritan scroll is in The Bible Almanac p.390. See General Introduction to the Bible p.391-394 and The Dead Sea Scrolls Today p.125-126 for more info.
Early Christian Manuscripts: According to The Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge p.746, the Chester Beatty Papyrii (2nd-4th century A.D.) contains Genesis.
The Syriac Peshitta translation of Genesis was from the 5th century A.D. (New Bible Dictionary 1978 p.1262)
A Syriac translation of the Septuagint was made by Bishop Paul of Tella (616-617 A.D.), which we still have today, according to Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.35 (footnote).
Q: Which early writers referred to Genesis?
A: Philo the Jew (15/20 B.C. to 50 A.D.) refers to all or parts of 410 verses in Genesis. One of his works that quotes extensively from Genesis is Allegorical Interpretation, I.
29 pre-Nicene church writers referred to Genesis.
1 Clement (97/98 A.D.) quotes or refers to content in 25 verses of Genesis. Gen 1:26-28; 2:23; 4:3-8 (Septuagint); 5:24; 9:6; 12:1-3; 13:14-16; 15:5,6; 18:27; 19:24; 21:22; 22:17; 27:41; 37:6.
Justin Martyr (wrote c.138-165 A.D.) quotes or refers to Gen 1:26,28; 2:3; 3:15,22; 6:16; 8:10,12; 9:24-27; 11:5,6; 15:6; 18:1,2,10,13,14,16,17,20-23,33; 19:1,10,16-25,27,28; 21:9-12; 26:4; 28:10-19; 31:10-13; 32:22-30; 35:6-10; 49:5,8-12,18.
Meleto/Melito of Sardis (170-177/180 A.D.) listed Genesis among the books of the Old Testament in his letter to Onesimus in On Pascha p.72. This is recorded in Eusebiusí Ecclesiastical History book 4 ch.26.
Theophilus of Antioch (168-182/8 A.D.) quotes verbatim from Genesis 2:8-3:19, in one block of 37 verses, in To Autolycus book 2 ch.21 p.102-103. He also quotes from Genesis 2:4-5,7 in To Autolycus ch.19 p.102.
Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.) quotes from many, many passages in Genesis.
Theodotus the probable Montanist (ca.240 A.D.) quotes from Gen 1:1 as from "Genesis" in Excerpts of Theodotus ch.1 p.43. He also quotes Genesis 1:2 in ch.7 p.44, Genesis 1:3 in ch.38 p.48, and part of Genesis 1:18 in ch.56 p.50
Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.). He quotes from the Book of Genesis, mentioning it as from Genesis in Treatise 12 the third book 20,32 among other places.
Some other pre-Nicene church writers who quoted from Genesis include the Letter of Barnabas, Meleto/Melito of Sardis, Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Origen, Novatian, Archelaus, Alexander of Alexandria and Methodius.
Q: In Gen, how precise were Philoís quotes?
A: Here are quotes Philo uses sequentially in On the Creation:
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" Ö "darkness was over the face of the abyss." Ö "called Ďdayí". Ö "Let us make man after our image, and in our likeness." Ö "they were created male and female" Ö "this is the book of the creation of the heaven and of the earth, when it took place, in the day on which God made the heaven and the earth, and every green herb before it appeared upon the earth, and all the grass of the field before it sprang up." Ö "And a fountain went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the earth." Ö "God made man, having taken clay from the earth, and he breathed into his face the breath of life." Ö "God brought all the animals to man, wishing to see what names he would give to each." Ö
Here are quotes he uses non-sequentially in Allegorical Interpretation, I and a small part of II.
"And the heaven and the earth and all their world was completed." Ö "And on the sixth day God finished his work which he had made." Ö "God completed his works on the sixth day." Ö "He caused to rest the things which he had begun." Ö "Accordingly, on the seventh day, God caused to rest from all his works which he had made." Ö "And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it." Ö This is the book of the generation of the heaven and earth, when they were created." Ö "On which day God created the heaven and the earth, and every green herb of the field, before it appeared upon the earth, and all the grass of the field before it sprang up. For God did not rain upon the earth, and man did not exist to cultivate the earth." Ö "But a fountain went up upon the earth and watered the all the face of the earth." Ö "And God created man, taking a lump of clay from the earth, and breathed into his face the breath of life: and man became a living soul." Ö "And God planted a paradise in Eden, in the east: and there he placed the man whom he had formed." Ö "And the man whom he had formed," Ö "God placed in the Paradise." Ö "And God caused to rise out of the earth every tree which is pleasant to the sight and good for food, and the tree of life he raised in the middle of the Paradise, and also the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." Ö "And a river goes forth out of Eden to water the Paradise. From thence it is separated into four heads: the name of the one is Pheison. That is the one which encircles the whole land of Evilat. There is the country where there is gold, and the gold of that land is good. There also are the carbuncle and the sapphire stone. And the name of the second river is Gihon; this is that which encircles the whole land of Ethiopia. And the third river is the Tigris. This is the river which flows in front of the Assyrians. And the fourth river is the Euphrates." Ö "And the Lord God took the man whom he had made and placed him in the Paradise, to cultivate and to guard it." Ö "And the Lord God commanded Adam, saying, Of every tree that is in the Paradise thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil ye shall not eat; but in the day on which ye eat of it ye shall die the death." (II) "And the Lord God said, "It is not good for man to be alone: let us make him a help meet for him." Ö "And God said, Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind, four-footed animals, and creeping things, and wild beasts." (He goes on, through Abraham).
Comparing the two sections shows that Philo did not necessarily use the exact same words in quoting the same passage.
Q: In Gen, what are some of the translation differences between the Hebrew and Greek Septuagint?
A: Focusing primarily on chapter 1, here are a few of the translation differences in the 1,533 verses of Genesis. According to the Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5 p.934 The Samaritan Pentateuch agrees with the Pentateuch against the Masoretic text in 1,900 readings. Except where noted, the first phrase is from the Masoretic text (MT) and the second from the Septuagint (LXX).
Gen 1:1 "heavens" (MT) vs. "heaven" (Septuagint)
Gen 1:2 "without form and empty" vs. "unsightly and unfurnished" (Septuagint) vs. "empty and nothing" (Aquila) vs. "fallow and indistinct" (Symmachus) vs. "desolate without human beings or beast and void of all cultivation of plants and trees" (Neophyti Iís Targum [paraphrase]) vs. "void and empty" (Vulgate)
Gen 1:2 "the face of the deep" vs. "the deep"
Gen 1:2 "face of the waters" vs. "water"
Gen 1:5 "day" (MT, Septuagint) vs. "daytime" (Dead Sea Scroll 4QGen(g))
Gen 1:6 "waters" vs. "water" (3 times)
Gen 1:7 "And it was so" vs. (absent) (2 Hebrew words, 3 Greek words)
Gen 1:8 "heavens" vs. "heaven"
Gen 1:9 "it was so." vs. "it was so. And the water which was under the heaven was collected into its places, and dry land appeared." (17 Greek words)
Gen 1:11-12 "tender sprouts" vs. "herbs" (two times)
Gen 1:14 "heavens, to divide" vs. "heavens, to give light upon the earth, to divide"
Gen 1:16 "rule" vs. "regulate" (two times)
Gen 1:16 "and starts to rule the night." vs. "regulating the night, the stars also."
Gen 1:20 "swarmers" vs. "reptiles" (reptilia in Greek)
(Note that in Gen 1:20,21 Greenís Literal Translation mistakenly has birds, when it should be flying creatures since the same Hebrew word refers to bats and winged insects in Leviticus 11:19-22 and Deuteronomy 14:18-20.)
Gen 1:21 "and all that creeps" vs. "and every living reptile"
Gen 1:21-25 "it" vs. "they" (many times) (this is a picky grammatical issue)
Gen 1:22 "multiply" vs. "be multiplied"
Gen 1:24 "cattle and creepers" vs. "quadrupeds and reptiles"
Gen 1:26 "in our image, according to our likeness" vs. "according to our image and likeness"
Gen 1:26 "wild animals and over all the earth" (MT, Septuagint) vs. "wild animals of the earth" (Syriac)
Gen 1:26 "creepers creeping" vs. "reptiles creeping"
Gen 1:27 "in His own image; in the image of God" vs. "according to the image of God"
Gen 1:28 "And God blessed them, and God said to them" vs. "And God blessed them saying"
Gen 1:30 "every living thing" vs. "all wild beasts"
Gen 2:1 "all their host" vs. "the whole world of them"
Gen 4:8 "Abel" vs. "Abel, Let us go out to the field" (Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint, Neophyti I targum, Syriac, compare Vulgate)
Gen 4:15 "Therefore" (MT, Targums) vs. "No so. Therefore" (Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate) (no change in meaning)
The genealogical tables in Genesis 5 and 11:10-26 are a little different in the Samaritan Pentateuch (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5)
Gen 6:4 "sons of God" (MT, some Septuagint), vs. "angels of God" (some Septuagint) vs. "sons of gods" (translation of Aquila the Jew). See Augustine of Hippoís City of God (413-426 A.D.) book 15 ch.23 p.304
Gen 6:5 "LORD" (MT, Targums) vs. "LORD God" (Septuagint) vs. "God" (Vulgate)
Gen 7:22 "breath of the spirit of life" vs. "breath of life" (Septuagint, Vulgate)
Gen 9:25 Some Septuagint and Arabic O.T. manuscripts say the curse applied not to "Canaan" but to "Ham, father of Canaan".
Gen 10:4 "Dodanim" (most Masoretic manuscripts) vs. "Rodanim" (some Masoretic manuscripts, Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint)
Gen 10:23 "Mash" (MT) vs. "Meshech" (Septuagint and 1 Chronicles 1:27 Masoretic text)
Gen 11:12 has "Cainan" inserted between Arphaxad and Shelah in the Septuagint as well as in Luke 3:36.
Gen 11:32 Terah died as "205 years" (MT) vs. "145 years" (Septuagint, Samaritan Pentateuch)
Gen 14:1,9 "Arioch of Ellesar" (Hebrew manuscripts) vs. "king Arioch, king Ellasar" paraphrase in Theophilus to Autolycus book 2 ch.31 p.107. Sumerian archaeology has found a "King Ariochu of Larsa".
Gen 14:23 "thong/sandal" (MT) vs. an unknown word in the Samaritan Pentateuch, 1 letter difference, most likely a corruption)
Gen 18:22 "the men remained standing before the Lord" vs. "the Lord remained standing before Abraham" (ancient Hebrew scribal tradition)
Gen 19:17 "he said" vs. "they said" (Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate)
Gen 20:13; 31:53; 35:7 "Elohim" vs. "El" (Samaritan Pentateuch) (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5). Also in Exodus 22:8.
Gen 21:9 "with Isaac" vs. "with her son Isaac" (Septuagint, Vulgate)
Gen 22:2 "your son, Isaac, your only one, whom you love" vs. "Take your son, the beloved one, whom you have loved, Isaac"
Gen 22:19 "Ram behind [him]" (most Masoretic texts) vs. "Ram" (some Masoretic texts, Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint, Syriac)
Gen 23:1 "years, the years of Sarahís life" vs. "years" (Septuagint, Vulgate)
Gen 24:62 "from coming to" vs. "from" (Syriac Targums)
Gen 30:36 absent vs. "that an angel appeared to Jacob in a dream revealing his portion in Labanís herds" (Samaritan Pentateuch)
Gen 30:11 "with/in fortune" (MT, Kethib, Septuagint, Vulgate) vs. "A troop" (Qere. Syriac, Targums) (Qere is certain Aramaic words read aloud, differing from the written words in the Masoretic text. Kethib (written in Aramaic) are written words of the Hebrew Old Testament (NKJV note p.xiv))
Gen 31:40 "scorching heat" (MT, Septuagint) vs. "harvest-time (Samaritan Pentateuch, obviously a corruption)
Gen 31:49 "Mizpah" vs. "pillar witnesses" (Septuagint) vs. "the pillar of Mizpah" (Samaritan Pentateuch)
Gen 33:4 "and [he] kissed him" (present but marked with dots in the Masoretic text) vs. absent (Septuagint)
Gen 36:2,14 "daughter of " vs. "son of " [Zibeon/Sebegon] (Pentateuch, Syriac)
Gen 36:3 "Basemath" (MT, Septuagint) vs. "Mahalath" (Samaritan Pentateuch) (The Expositorís Bible Commentary p.195)
Gen 36:16 "Korah/Core" (MT and Septuagint) vs. (absent) (Samaritan Pentateuch, 1 Chronicles 1:36)
Gen 36:24 "water" (MT, Vulgate) vs. "hot springs" (Septuagint)
Gen 36:39 "Hadar" (most Masoretic texts) vs. "Barad" (Septuagint) vs. "Hadad" (some Masoretic texts, Samaritan Pentateuch, Syriac)
Gen 37:36 "Medanites" vs. "Midianites" (Septuagint, Samaritan Pentateuch, Vulgate, Syriac)
Gen 41:22 "and I saw" vs. "I fell asleep a second time and I saw" (Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate)
Gen 41:48 "food of the seven years which were in the land" vs. "food of the seven years, in which was the plenty in the land " (Septuagint, Samaritan Pentateuch)
Gen 41:56 "opened all that was in/among them" vs. "all the storehouses (Septuagint, Vulgate, Syriac)
Gen 44:4 "good?" vs. "good? Why have you stolen my silver cup?" (Septuagint, Vulgate)
Gen 46:13 "Puah" vs. "Phua" (Septuagint) vs. "Puvah" (Samaritan Pentateuch, Syriac, 1 Chronicles 7:1)
Gen 46:13 "Iob" vs. "Jashub" (some Septuagint, Samaritan Pentateuch)
Gen 46:16 "Ziphion" vs. "Zephon" (Septuagint, Samaritan Pentateuch, Numbers 26:15)
Gen 46:20 "him" vs. "him, [even] Manasses and Ephraim. And there were sons born to Manasses, which the Syrian concubine bore to him, [even] Machir. And Machir begot Galaad. And the sons of Ephraim, the brother of Manasses; Sutalaam, and Taam. And the sons of Sutalaam: Edom." (Septuagint, compare Dead Sea Scroll 4QExod(a)) (The Expositorís Bible Commentary volume 2 p.262.)
Gen 46:23 "Hushim" vs. "Hashum"
Gen 46:27 "in Egypt, two souls. All the souls belonging to the house of Jacob coming into Egypt were seventy." (MT) vs. "in the land of Egypt, were nine souls; all the souls of the house of Jacob who came with Joseph into Egypt, were seventy-five souls." (Septuagint)
Gen 47:21 "he removed them to the cities" vs. "he made slaves of them" (Septuagint, Samaritan Pentateuch)
Gen 49:4 "defiled it - he" vs. "defiled it - you" (Septuagint, Syriac, Targums)
Gen 49:5 "Joseph" vs. "them"
Gen 49:7 "their anger is cursed" vs. "their anger is beautiful" (Samaritan Pentateuch) (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5 p.938)
Gen 49:20 "from Asher" vs. "Asher" (Septuagint, Vulgate, Syriac)
Gen 50:16 "they commanded Joseph" vs. "they approached Joseph" (Septuagint, Syriac)
Gen 50:23 "upon the knees of Joseph" vs. "in the days of Joseph" (Samaritan Pentateuch) (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5 p.937 and The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls p.94)
The use of Elohim and Jehovah is scattered differently in the Septuagint vs. the Masoretic text. Julius Wellhausen saw these as the weakest point of his documentary hypothesis theory.
Bibliography for this question: the Hebrew translation is from Jay P. Greenís Literal Translation and the Septuagint rendering is from Sir Lancelot C.L. Brentonís translation of The Septuagint : Greek and English. The Expositorís Bible Commentary, The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5, and the footnotes in the NASB, NIV, NKJV, and NRSV Bibles also were used.