Paradoxes of Poverty and Salvation: What does “poor” mean? do Paul and the Gospels agree on salvation?

I talk in more detail about the law issue here:

I want to examine two paradoxes here. 1. The poor being rich. 2 The law not saving you and saving you.

In the story of the rich young ruler, the commandments are sufficient for attaining eternal life. However, notice that even though the rich young ruler says he keeps the commandments he still believes that he isn’t doing something right. Maybe it is his method of keeping them that may be at fault? Could it be that the commandments naturally lead to a communal life? (love your neighbor as yourself) This may especially be the case after the holy spirit came at the church in Acts. The holy spirit writes the laws on our hearts. The holy spirit dwells in the body of believers. To attain selflessness and have the law written on our hearts we may need to act as one part of a greater body. I argue in detail for similar things here: https://kingdomofgodcommunes.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Unless-He-Gives-up-All-His-Possessions.pdf There may have been a tendency to use “poor” to mean people who lived communally in the Greek scriptures (Christian writings)

The term “Ebionite” was widely used in proto-orthodox and orthodox sources to refer to “Jewish-Christian” groups, or at least one group (it is likely that there were lots of these groups, and it may be that the church fathers assumed they were all the same group when in fact they had different views, different theologies, different practices, and so on). Some of the church fathers indicate that the name came from the founder of the group Ebion. But that’s a legend. Almost certainly the term came from the Hebrew word “Ebyon” which means “poor.” The normal hypothesis is that these Jewish-Christians accepted the early Christian policy of giving away their possessions for others and so took on lives of voluntary poverty. The church fathers who know the linguistic meaning of their name claimed that they were called “the poor ones” because they were “poor in faith.” (!)

https://ehrmanblog.org/ebionites-gospel-members/ emphasis mine, accessed 2020-07-23

44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. (Acts 2:45 NRSV)

34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. 35 They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. (Acts 4:34-35 NRSV)

29 And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. 30 For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:25-34 NRSV)

Notice the kingdom is associated with selling your possessions and living communally. It is interesting that the same terminology could have been used for the “poor” in the Greek Scriptures. Jesus actually says that those who leave everything will receive a hundredfold more in this life which matches the paradoxical language here:

As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, G4434 yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. (2 Corinthians 6:10)

The same word may be used in these verses to speak of the “poor” who live communally (although this is by no means certain and some may have double meanings)

For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor G4434 saints which are at Jerusalem. (Rom 15:26 KJV)

Only they would that we should remember the poor; G4434 the same which I also was forward to do. (Gal 2:10 KJV)

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: G4434 for yours is the kingdom of God. (Luk 6:20 KJV)

Blessed are the poor G4434 in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 5:3 KJV)

Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: (Act 11:29 KJV)

Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor G4434 of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? (James 2:5)

The same paradoxical language is used in a negative way in Revelation. Previously, poverty on paper through communal living is meant to convey greater real material riches and spiritual riches, while here the opposite is meant:

Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, G4434 and blind, and naked: (Rev 3:17 KJV)

The following parallels include everyone who joins the kingdom of heaven movement being rewarded a hundredfold with houses and other material possessions. This means that they would have hundreds of people that would share their houses and possessions with them and ensure that the would never lack their basic needs including food or drink, see: Matthew 6:31-33 and Luke 18:29-34.

17 As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” 20 He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” 21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

23 Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

28 Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

(Mark 10:17-31 NRSV)

16 Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19 Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “I have kept all these; what do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, “Then who can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”

27 Then Peter said in reply, “Look, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.

(Mattthew 19:16-30 NRSV)

18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother.’” 21 He replied, “I have kept all these since my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 23 But when he heard this, he became sad; for he was very rich. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

26 Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27 He replied, “What is impossible for mortals is possible for God.”

28 Then Peter said, “Look, we have left our homes and followed you.” 29 And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who will not get back very much more in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”

(Luke 18:18-30 NRSV)

Compare this to the following:

15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. 17 But if, in our effort to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have been found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 But if I build up again the very things that I once tore down, then I demonstrate that I am a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; 20 and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.

(Galatians 2:15-21 NRSV)

I think we need to consider three things for this second paradox:

  1. The language is different “keep” as opposed to “work”
    In Luke 18:21 “keep” is G5442
    in Matthew 19:17 “keep” is G5083
    in Mark 10:20 “keep” is G5442

This is guarding and treasuring not just observance:
https://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/G5442
https://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/G5083

  1. The Essene context that “works of the law” has https://www.jstor.org/stable/4193122 suggest this was obtaining salvation through observances and purity rather than Mathew’s list of substantial matters and heart/attitude conditions Matt 19:18-19 (Jesus the new covenant mediator focuses on heart: Matthew 5:38~, Jer 31:33) This may also be why communal living is emphasized since living communally requires putting the community first rather than yourself.
  2. Galatians is using “law” for “Sinai law.” Paul’s not comparing the “old” and “new” covenants but the unconditional-blessings given to Abraham with conditional-blessings at Sinai (which Israel broke). He’s using the covenant of Abraham as an analogy for repenting and accepting mercy (Jeremiah 3:12-14) with the work of Christ and grace compared with justifying yourself through “works of law” and being susceptible to Sinai curses: Gal 3:16-18, Gal 3:10-12, Deuteronomy 27:26. Likewise in Romans 10:5-10 Paul compares the Moab covenant to Sinai with quotes from Lev 18:5 and Deut 30:11-14. Some Jewish tradition considers Sinai lacking and hence the need for Moab: https://www1.biu.ac.il/indexE.php?id=15430&pt=1&pid=14638&level=0&cPath=43,14206,14376,14638,15430 Paul uses a similar analogy in Galatians 4:21~ See the following article:

The Covenant on the Plains of Moab
By Haggai Ben-Arzi*

At the end of this week’s reading, the Torah summarizes Moses’ orations, emphasizing that another covenant was made between the Holy One, blessed be He, and the people of Israel: “These are the terms of the covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to conclude with the Israelites in the land of Moab, in addition to the covenant which He had made with them at Horeb” (Deut. 28:69).

This raises a fundamental question: why was there need for another covenant? After all, when the covenant was made at Mount Sinai the people of Israel undertook to obey the Torah and its commandments, as we read in Exodus:

“Then he [Moses] took the record of the covenant and read it aloud to the people. And they said, ‘All that the Lord has spoken we will faithfully do!’ Moses took the blood and dashed it on the people and said, ‘This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord now makes with you concerning all these commands’” (Ex. 24:7-8).

An answer to this question is given in Tractate Shabbat (88a). Regarding the verse, “and they took their places at the foot of the mountain” (Ex. 19:17), Rabbi Abdimi said, “This teaches that the Holy One, blessed be He, overturned the mountain upon them like an [inverted] cask, and said to them, ‘If you accept the Torah, ‘tis well; if not, there shall be your burial.’” In other words, according to the gemara, the covenant at Mount Sinai was made under duress, and any agreement made under duress is not legally and morally binding.

Indeed, that is what the gemara concludes: “This furnishes a strong protest [modaa rabba] against the Torah.” Modaa rabba signifies legal grounds for cancelling a contractual agreement; “If the Holy One, blessed be He, were to take them to court on charges of not upholding their undertakings, they could answer: we agreed under duress” (Rashi, loc. cit., s.v., “moda`a rabbah”).

The coercive element in the covenant at Mount Sinai can be interpreted in various ways. Rabbenu Tam ascribes the coercion to Divine Revelation at Mount Sinai: “For it was by the Word [of G-d], lo, under duress” (loc. cit., Tosefot, s.v., “moda`a rabba le-oraita). In other words, direct Revelation of the Lord created a situation in which there was no free choice, for who can refuse the direct word of G-d?

The element of coercion can also be explained in terms of the emotional state of the Israelites at Mount Sinai. They were still in a state of shock and utter confusion; having left Egypt only seven weeks earlier, they were still agitated by the dramatic events of fleeing the country, being chased by the Egyptians, the Red Sea being split, and encountering tremendous hardships in the wilderness. In such an emotional state any consent or undertaking could have no “resolve,” a necessary condition for making consent binding.[1] For this reason they accepted an undertaking whose terms and implications they barely knew.

If the covenant at Mount Sinai was faulty and lacking, then another covenant was needed that would not have the deficiencies of the previous covenant. Indeed, the covenant on the Plains of Moab was made at the end of the trek through the wilderness, forty years after the exodus from Egypt. During these forty years the people learned the entire Torah and knew exactly what obligations they were taking upon themselves. During these forty years they learned the significance of obeying the commandments, both as individuals and as a nation.

The covenant on the Plains of Moab was thus concluded with full awareness and clarity of mind. This covenant is the one that binds later generations, and not the covenant at Mount Sinai. Only here does Scripture say, “I make this covenant, with its sanctions, not with you alone, but both with those who are standing here with us this day before the Lord our G-d and with those who are not with us here this day” (Deut. 29:13-14). The midrash (Tanhuma 3, and Rashi, loc. cit.) learns from this: “[The covenant was made] also with future generations.”

Regarding the covenant on the Plains of Moab one can ask where the people’s consent appears. At Sinai, the Israelites declared their consent three times: “All the people answered as one, saying, ‘All that the Lord has spoken we will do!’” (Ex. 19:8); “and all the people answered with one voice, saying, ‘All that things that the Lord has commanded we will do!’” (Ex. 24:3), and “Then he took the record of the covenant and read it aloud to the people. And they said, ‘All that the Lord has spoken we will faithfully do!’” (Ex. 24:7).

In the covenant on the Plains of Moab, which as we said was binding on the people for future generations as well, only Moses spoke and the people remained silent. What sort of covenant is this if the people do not express their explicit consent to be party to it?

The people’s response turns out to have been given in actions, not in words. Immediately after the covenant on the Plains of Moab they crossed the Jordan River to the Plains of Jericho, where a great circumcision ceremony took place for all the Israelites born in the wilderness. “This is the reason why Joshua had the circumcision performed…none of the people born after the exodus, during the desert wanderings, had been circumcised…and it was these that Joshua circumcised, for they were uncircumcised” (Josh. 5:4-7). The people’s consent to the covenant found expression in their agreeing to observe the commandment of circumcision, just as Abraham entered a covenant with G-d by circumcising himself and his son:

God further said to Abraham, “As for you, you and your offspring to come throughout the ages shall keep My covenant. Such shall be the covenant between Me and you and your offspring to follow which you shall keep: every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and that shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and You…Thus shall My covenant be marked in your flesh as an everlasting pact.” (Gen. 17:9-13)

Indeed, immediately after the covenant of circumcision at Jericho, the Holy One, blessed be He, told Joshua, “Today I have rolled away from you the disgrace of Egypt” (Josh. 5:9).[2] The process of the exodus from Egypt and forging the bond between the Holy One, blessed be He, and the people of Israel, did not reach its conclusion at Sinai, rather in the covenant on the Plains of Moab, which begins with Moses, on the eastern side of the Jordan River, and concludes with Joshua son of Nun, on the western side of the Jordan River.

The covenant on the Plains of Moab is what created mutual accountability within the Jewish people. Regarding the verse, “Concealed acts concern the Lord our G-d; but with overt acts, it is for us and our children ever to apply all the provisions of this Teaching” (Deut. 29:28), Rashi says, based on the gemara (Sanhedrin 43b): “Even for overt acts [transgressions committed openly] He did not punish the people collectively until after they crossed the Jordan River…and became accountable one for another.”

This mutual accountability, which requires that we care and be responsible for every Jew, is what turns us from a collection of individuals into a well-formed national entity. The Israelites became a people in the full sense of the word only after the covenant on the Plains of Moab: “to enter into the covenant of the Lord your G-d, which the Lord your G-d is concluding with you this day, with its sanctions; to the end that He may establish you this day as His people and be your G-d, as He promised you” (Deut. 29:11-12). We became a people neither with the exodus from Egypt, nor at Mount Sinai, but only upon entering the land that we were to settle.

Actually, one could also argue “moda`a rabba le-oraita” regarding the covenant on the Plains of Moab. According to Rabbenu Tam, the covenant at Mount Sinai was lacking because there was no free choice in the face of Divine Revelation. But revelation did not come to an end at Mount Sinai. Throughout their wanderings in the wilderness the people witnessed overt miracles—the pillar of fire and pillar of cloud that went before the people and protected them; the manna, the quail, and Miriam’s well, which fed the people in an unnatural way. Although a distinction should be drawn between direct Revelation at Mount Sinai and the miracles in the wilderness, as Maimonides notes (Sefer ha-Mada, Hilkhot Yesodei Torah, ch. 8, halakhah 1 and 2), does not latter state of ongoing miracles in which the Israelites lived for decades essentially deprive a person of free choice?

This is apparently why Joshua did not make do with the covenants of Moses, and towards the end of his life arranged a ceremony renewing the covenant in Shechem: “Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned Israel’s elders and commanders, magistrates and officers; and they presented themselves before G-d” (Josh. 24:1).[3] On this occasion he gave them anew the choice whether to stand by the Lord and His Teaching or to abandon the Lord and go in the ways of other peoples: “Now, therefore, revere the Lord and serve Him with undivided loyalty…Or, if you are loath to serve the Lord, choose this day which ones you are going to serve” (Josh. 24:14-15). As in the covenant at Mount Sinai, here too the people rose to the challenge placed before them by their leader and undertook to worship the Lord:

But the people replied to Joshua, “No, we will serve the Lord.” Thereupon Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses…” And the people declared to Joshua, “We will serve none but the Lord our G-d and will obey none but Him.” (Josh. 24:21-25)

The advantages of the covenant at Shechem are clearly evident. By the end of Joshua’s life the people had experienced decades of fighting for conquest of the land, most of the battles being in difficult conditions and without supernatural intervention.[4] Here the people not only knew the Torah but also were familiar with the combination of the Promised Land and the Torah, not only with overt Divine Providence, but also and primarily with covert Providence, operating through nature and history. Here the people were no longer “a people that dwells apart,” rather a people that rubs up against the peoples of Canaan and is influenced by their culture.

This is where the true test came, and the Israelites stood it with flying colors, evincing the highest level of faithfulness to the Lord and adherence to the Torah: “We will serve none but the Lord our G-d, and we will obey none but Him” (Josh. 24:24). Henceforth the relationship between God and His people does not end with Revelation at Mount Sinai, rather it begins there, continues with the covenant on the Plains of Moab and the Plains of Jericho, concludes with the covenant of Joshua at Shechem. This city was rightfully dubbed “the city of the Covenant,” for there alone was the covenant between the people and their G-d concluded.

Translated by Rachel Rowen

Dr. Haggi Ben-Arzi teaches at the Center for Basic Jewish Studies, as well as Yellin College and Lifschitz College in Jerusalem. His book, Megillat Sheshet ha-Yamim was recently published.

[1] “Resolve” requires an emotional state of consciousness enabling a person to make a decision on the basis of responsible consideration. Therefore the Halakhah stipulates that any agreement made without absolute and complete resolve is not legally binding. For further reading, cf. Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Sefer Kinyan, Hilkhot Mekhirah, ch. 11, esp. hal. 2 and 6.

[2] The place where this covenant was made is called Gilgal, based on the Hebrew verb, galoti (= “I have rolled away”). Some people identify biblical Gilgal with the Deir Hajla (the monastery of St. Gerasimos), situated one kilometer west of the Jordan River, near Kibbutz Beit Ha-Arava and the outpost Beit Hogla. Near the monastery on the Jordan River is a prominent hill that some people identify as Gibeath-Ha’araloth (“Hill of Foreskins”).

[3] This invocation is reminiscent of the invocation introducing the covenant on the Plains of Moab: “You stand this day, all of you, before the Lord your G-d—your tribal heads, your elders and your officials, all the men of Israel” (Deut. 29:9).

[4] Save for the miracles that accompanied the first stage of crossing the Jordan River and the people entering the land (at Jericho, Beth Horon, and the Valley of Ayalon).

https://www1.biu.ac.il/indexE.php?id=15430&pt=1&pid=14638&level=0&cPath=43,14206,14376,14638,15430

What Does The Bible Say About Abortion?

The answer is nothing directly. However, there are a few things that are quite suggestive.

There are three positions I’ve seen people argue from the Bible:
1. Personhood begins at conception.
2. Personhood begins at some point in the womb.
3. Personhood does not exist in the womb.

I’ve used the term “personhood” because there may be cases where the fetus was not treated as a “person” but was still considered valuable (maybe partially as valuable as a “life”) as we will see. First an overview of some verses:

A. Verses Implying Personhood in The Womb

8 Your hands fashioned and made me;
and now you turn and destroy me.
9 Remember that you fashioned me like clay;
and will you turn me to dust again?
10 Did you not pour me out like milk
and curdle me like cheese?
11 You clothed me with skin and flesh,
and knit me together with bones and sinews.
12 You have granted me life and steadfast love,
and your care has preserved my spirit.
13 Yet these things you hid in your heart;
I know that this was your purpose.
14 If I sin, you watch me,
and do not acquit me of my iniquity.
15 If I am wicked, woe to me!
If I am righteous, I cannot lift up my head,
for I am filled with disgrace
and look upon my affliction.
16 Bold as a lion you hunt me;
you repeat your exploits against me.
17 You renew your witnesses against me,
and increase your vexation toward me;
you bring fresh troops against me.

18 “Why did you bring me forth from the womb?
Would that I had died before any eye had seen me,
19 and were as though I had not been,
carried from the womb to the grave.
20 Are not the days of my life few?
Let me alone, that I may find a little comfort
21 before I go, never to return,
to the land of gloom and deep darkness,
22 the land of gloom and chaos,
where light is like darkness.”

(Job 10:8-22 NRSV)

13 For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.
17 How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
I come to the end—I am still with you.

19 O that you would kill the wicked, O God,
and that the bloodthirsty would depart from me—
20 those who speak of you maliciously,
and lift themselves up against you for evil!
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with perfect hatred;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
24 See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

(Psalm 139:13-24 NRSV)

Thus says the Lord who made you,
who formed you in the womb and will help you:
Do not fear, O Jacob my servant,
Jeshurun whom I have chosen.

(Isaiah 44:2 NRSV)

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
who formed you in the womb:
I am the Lord, who made all things,
who alone stretched out the heavens,
who by myself spread out the earth;

(Isaiah 44:24 NRSV)

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit

(Luke 1:41 NRSV)

For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy.

(Luke 1:44 NRSV)

Did not he who made me in the womb make them?
And did not one fashion us in the womb?

(Job 31:15 NRSV)

I’ve left out one that I don’t find as convincing. Jeremiah 1:5 seems to say that God knew Jeremiah before he was formed in the womb. This seems to be an argument for life starting before conception.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

(Jeremiah 1:5)

A. Conclusion

You might argue that Jeremiah 1:5 destroys the previous arguments since it implies life before conception which is not possible. However, I think it is used metaphorically and there are less metaphorical indications of personhood beginning in the womb just like the baby in Elizabeth’s womb jumped. (indicating he was already aware of the Holy Spirit) These verses overall count against position 3. “Personhood does not exist in the womb”

B. Torah Ignores Fetal Personhood in Punishments of Sexual Immorality

When the daughter of a priest profanes herself through prostitution, she profanes her father; she shall be burned to death.

(Leviticus 21:9 NRSV)

No caveat is added to say “make sure she is not actually pregnant when you kill her.” Tamar’s father is assumed to be a priest since Judah declares this judgment on her and other than this case there is no other place where there is an example of this punishment:

About three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has played the whore; moreover she is pregnant as a result of whoredom.” And Judah said, “Bring her out, and let her be burned.” 25 As she was being brought out, she sent word to her father-in-law, “It was the owner of these who made me pregnant.” And she said, “Take note, please, whose these are, the signet and the cord and the staff.” 26 Then Judah acknowledged them and said, “She is more in the right than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not lie with her again.

(Gen 38:24 NRSV emphasis mine)

The punishment is not executed but the context shows it would have been carried out while she was about three months into her pregnancy. There are other examples of laws that seem to make no provision for when the woman is pregnant:

13 Suppose a man marries a woman, but after going in to her, he dislikes her 14 and makes up charges against her, slandering her by saying, “I married this woman; but when I lay with her, I did not find evidence of her virginity.” 15 The father of the young woman and her mother shall then submit the evidence of the young woman’s virginity to the elders of the city at the gate. 16 The father of the young woman shall say to the elders: “I gave my daughter in marriage to this man but he dislikes her; 17 now he has made up charges against her, saying, ‘I did not find evidence of your daughter’s virginity.’ But here is the evidence of my daughter’s virginity.” Then they shall spread out the cloth before the elders of the town. 18 The elders of that town shall take the man and punish him; 19 they shall fine him one hundred shekels of silver (which they shall give to the young woman’s father) because he has slandered a virgin of Israel. She shall remain his wife; he shall not be permitted to divorce her as long as he lives.

20 If, however, this charge is true, that evidence of the young woman’s virginity was not found, 21 then they shall bring the young woman out to the entrance of her father’s house and the men of her town shall stone her to death, because she committed a disgraceful act in Israel by prostituting herself in her father’s house. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

(Deuteronomy 22:13-21 NRSV)

1 while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. 5 Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”]]

(John 8:1-12 NRSV)

23 If there is a young woman, a virgin already engaged to be married, and a man meets her in the town and lies with her, 24 you shall bring both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death, the young woman because she did not cry for help in the town and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

(Deuteronomy 22:23-24)

What if God assumed that every time the Israelites carried out an execution it was before an egg would be fertilized? However, it turns out that this is impossible:

Conception may take place as soon as three minutes after sexual intercourse, or it may take up to five days. Implantation occurs five to 10 days after fertilization, which means anywhere from five to 15 days after you had sex.

https://www.verywellfamily.com/does-lying-on-your-back-after-sex-help-with-conception-1960291#:~:text=Conception%20may%20take%20place%20as,days%20after%20you%20had%20sex. (accessed 2020-06-07)

The short answer is that the egg and sperm can meet within minutes to up to 12 hours after ejaculation.

https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/how-long-does-it-take-to-get-pregnant-after-sex#fertilization (accessed 2020-06-07)

Here is another law that is interesting:

18 The priest shall set the woman before the Lord, dishevel the woman’s hair, and place in her hands the grain offering of remembrance, which is the grain offering of jealousy. In his own hand the priest shall have the water of bitterness that brings the curse. 19 Then the priest shall make her take an oath, saying, “If no man has lain with you, if you have not turned aside to uncleanness while under your husband’s authority, be immune to this water of bitterness that brings the curse. 20 But if you have gone astray while under your husband’s authority, if you have defiled yourself and some man other than your husband has had intercourse with you,” 21 —let the priest make the woman take the oath of the curse and say to the woman—“the Lord make you an execration and an oath among your people, when the Lord makes your uterus drop, your womb discharge; 22 now may this water that brings the curse enter your bowels and make your womb discharge, your uterus drop!” And the woman shall say, “Amen. Amen.”

23 Then the priest shall put these curses in writing, and wash them off into the water of bitterness. 24 He shall make the woman drink the water of bitterness that brings the curse, and the water that brings the curse shall enter her and cause bitter pain. 25 The priest shall take the grain offering of jealousy out of the woman’s hand, and shall elevate the grain offering before the Lord and bring it to the altar; 26 and the priest shall take a handful of the grain offering, as its memorial portion, and turn it into smoke on the altar, and afterward shall make the woman drink the water. 27 When he has made her drink the water, then, if she has defiled herself and has been unfaithful to her husband, the water that brings the curse shall enter into her and cause bitter pain, and her womb shall discharge, her uterus drop, and the woman shall become an execration among her people. 28 But if the woman has not defiled herself and is clean, then she shall be immune and be able to conceive children.

(Numbers 5:18-28 NRSV)

This one has varied interpretations. Some commentators interpret this ritual to induce an abortion and others do not: http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1291&article=2888 While it seems more likely to me that she is just made unable to have children, (which was indeed a curse in that culture) if she had a fertilized egg when she did the ritual then she would not be able to carry the pregnancy–hence the fetus would die regardless. If the wife could tell she was pregnant it would be unlikely for the husband (as suspicious as he was) to want to destroy his wife’s child since it could still be his even if she did commit adultery. I would also think this would be looked down upon given what we had discussed in A. but my point is she could still have a fertilized egg.

The issue that might make this inconclusive is that this is a punishment from God and God can abide by different rules, like when God killed David’s son as a result of his sin with Bathsheba right? True, but the timing of this ritual is dependant on man. God could have specified that they were to wait a month or so from the time of the alleged adultery to see if she was pregnant. Maybe God would take care not to kill an already fertilized egg but this would require waiting nine months and there’s nothing in the ritual to indicate to wait this long before you assumed she was innocent.

There is one decent argument I have thought of in response to the things I have put in B. It is that the Torah sometimes skimps on detail and the detail of not hurting a fetus may have been assumed just like I assumed that the husband wouldn’t want his fully pregnant wife to go through this ritual. Here are a few of examples of evidence for this idea:

  1. The punishment of “burning with fire” was actually “stoning then burning with fire” see 9. in https://kingdomofgodcommunes.org/2020/04/09/a-list-of-torah-misconceptions-in-short/
  2. Even the punishment of stoning has been interpreted with various details added: throwing someone off a cliff onto rocks and throwing rocks: https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/1953/how-would-stoning-of-an-adulterer-actually-be-carried-out-under-the-law-of-moses It is argued in one paper that the Jews might have interpreted the Romans as “stoning” them at Masada with their Ballista:
    https://kingdomofgodcommunes.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Casting-Stones_-Ballista-Stones-as-Weapons-and-Death-by-Stoning.pdf In addition to this idea slingers were common to the Biblical era. The first mention of slingers is in Jdg 20:16 and David had access to this technology even as a young shepherd. “Slingers were common to all ancient Mediterranean nations including Israel.” (Lost Treasures of the Bible: Understanding the Bible Through Archaeological Artifacts in World Museum’s pg. 171 accessed 2020-06-27)

    We can even imagine a scenario where an acceptable practice of stoning was slinging the stones at the criminal. This practice could have been forgotten during a period of exile. Indeed Exodus 19:13 groups archery and stoning together: “No hand shall touch them, but they shall be stoned or shot with arrows; whether animal or human being, they shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they may go up on the mountain.”
  3. You can interpret the Torah in many ways without an instruction manual of how to interpret it. Even with the Talmud you can interpret it in different ways. This to me is not a problem and I think this shows that there is some flexibility in interpreting the Torah. However, it is just interesting how the Jewish tradition has insisted that the Torah needed an Oral Torah tradition to help in coming to more conformity:

The law given in Ex. xviii. 2 says that a Hebrew slave acquired by any person shall serve for six years; but it does not state why and how such a slave may be acquired. The law furthermore provides that if such a slave has served for six years, his wife, if he has one, shall go free with him; but it does not state that the wife of the slave accompanies him to his master’s house, nor does it define her relation to the master. The law in Deut. xxiv. 1 et seq. says that if a man dismisses his wife with a bill of divorce (“sefer keritut”), and she marries again but is dismissed with a bill of divorce by her second husband also, the first husband may not remarry her. The fact that a woman may be divorced by such a bill has not, however, been mentioned, nor is it stated how she is divorced by means of the “sefer keritut,” or what this document should contain, although it must have had a certain form and wording, though possibly not that of the later “geṭ.” These examples, to which many more might be added, are held to imply that in addition to and side by side with the written law there were other laws and statutes which served to define and supplement it, and that, assuming these to be known, the written law did not go into details. It appears from the other books of the Old Testament also that certain traditional laws were considered to have been given by God, although they are not mentioned in the Pentateuch. Jeremiah says to the people (Jer. xvii. 21-22): “Bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the Sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers.” In the Pentateuch, on the other hand, there is only the interdiction against work in general (Ex. xx. 9-11); nor is it stated anywhere in the Torah that no burdens shall be carried on the Sabbath, while Jeremiah says that the bearing of burdens, as well as all other work, was forbidden to the fathers. It is clear, furthermore, from Amos viii. 5, that no business was done on the Sabbath, and in Neh. x. 30-32 this prohibition, like the interdiction against intermarrying with the heathen, is designated as a commandment of God, although only the latter is found in the Pentateuch (Deut. vii. 3), while there is no reference to the former. Since the interdictions against carrying burdens and doing business on the Sabbath were regarded as divine laws, although not mentioned in the Pentateuch, it is inferred that there was also a second code.

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/11750-oral-law

B. Conclusion

Given the evidence in A. that life was thought to start at some point in the womb we may argue that the Torah does not speak of executing women who are pregnant beyond the point life was thought to start. It would also be unusual for a woman far along in her pregnancy to commit adultery and since executions seem to happen immediately after someone is found guilty we don’t have evidence against 2. “Personhood begins at some point in the womb.” However, while we could try other explanations, Judah’s command to kill Tamar is given three months later but this is only one case and cannot be used to make sweeping generalizations. This coupled with the fact that there is no command or example in the Bible to delay an execution based on pregnancy provides evidence against point 1. “Personhood begins at conception.”

C. Argument From Nature

So admittedly this is the naturalistic fallacy: that because something happens in nature it is good. However, if we want to argue that humans are specifically designed by God and not completely the product of random mutation and evolution we would expect the body to avoid killing a person inside it:

Around half of all fertilized eggs die and are lost (aborted) spontaneously, usually before the woman knows she is pregnant. Among women who know they are pregnant, about 10% to 25% will have a miscarriage. Most miscarriages occur during the first 7 weeks of pregnancy. The rate of miscarriage drops after the baby’s heartbeat is detected.

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001488.htm#:~:text=Around%20half%20of%20all%20fertilized,first%207%20weeks%20of%20pregnancy.

Hence, maybe a fertilized egg is not a person after all. However, this is one of the weaker arguments in my opinion.

C. Conclusion

I don’t think this gets us anywhere but maybe it does for other people and I thought it was good to get the reader thinking on this subject.

D. The Infamous Verse About Two Men Fighting

We can use this verse to support almost all three positions depending on the translation. I will point out that since this is just talking about an accidental abortion and not an intentional one this verse is not conclusive either. In addition it is uncertain whether the damages refer to the woman or the child or both:

1. Personhood begins at (close to) conception:

22 “When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. 23 But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

(Exodus 21:22-24 ESV)

She wouldn’t know she was pregnant till some time after conception and wouldn’t experience a miscarriage unless the pregnancy progressed further than conception (as we observed, around 50% of fertilized eggs don’t survive and the woman doesn’t notice this)

2. Personhood begins at some point in the womb.

22And if [3should do combat 1two 2men], and should strike a woman [2in 3the womb 1having one], and should come forth her child not completely formed, with a fine he shall be penalized, in so far as [5should put upon him 1the 2husband 3of the 4woman], and he shall give by means of what is fit. 23And if [2completely formed 1it should be], he shall give life for life, 24eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

(Exodus 21:22-25 ABP)

3. Personhood does not exist in the womb.

22 When people who are fighting injure a pregnant woman so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no further harm follows, the one responsible shall be fined what the woman’s husband demands, paying as much as the judges determine. 23 If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

(Exodus 21:22-24 NRSV)

The difference between the NRSV and the ESV is just translational (and ill explain that later) but the difference between the LXX and the MT are possibly a little more interesting.

There’s basically five positions in regard to this difference.

1. The LXX is not trying to be consistent with the Hebrew at all.
2. The LXX is a paraphrase clarifying the scenario of miscarriage
3. The LXX is a paraphrase clarifying the scenario where the woman wasn’t harmed (miscarriage is assumed in all scenarios)
4. The LXX is a paraphrase that only covers the scenarios the Hebrew does
5. The LXX is an accurate literal translation of the Hebrew.

In favor of 1. is Daniel Schiff citing Richard Freund.

1. The LXX is not trying to be consistent with the Hebrew at all.

How did the Septuagint arrive at this widely variant rendering? In each of the three Genesis occurrences of the Hebrew term ason, the Septuuagint employs a form of the Greek noun malakia, generally translated as “affliction,” for ason. Had the Septuagint utilized malakia in Exodus 21:22-25, it would have conveyed a sufficiently similar sense to the original Hebrew that it would have been highly unlikely to have become the cornerstone of a wholly divergent approach to the status of the fetus. But, in Exodus 21:22-25, instead of malakia, the Septuagint twice uses the Greek participle exeikonismenon to translate ason. A scholar of Hellenistic Judaism, Richard Freund, has made the case that the translator of these verses, who either deliberately bypassed or was ignorant of the translation used elsewhere, arrived at this version through a process of homophonic substitution. This technique was not uncommon in both Greek and rabbinic texts. According to this explanation, the translator probably transliterated ason into some form of the Greek word soma, meaning “human life,” and then replaced this Greek transliteration with a synonymous term that offered a more profound theological resonance. This resonance can be readily apprehended through the literal translation of exeikonismenon: “made from the image,” which evokes an immediate connection to the wording of Genesis 1:27, “In the image of God, God created man.” Freund posits that the usage of the verb exeikonizein in the Septuagint and Philo establishes a strong connection to the “made from the image” metaphor. This remarkable textual allusion led Freund to conclude that “[i]t is clear from the LXX use of exeikonizein in Exodus 21:22-23 that the transator had some idea, principle, or presupposition in mind, which made him deliberately violate a literal translation in favor of a more complex formulation.

It is possible, moreover, to conjecture why this “more complex formulation” was preferred by the translator. Using exeikonismenon, the tranlator’s literal rendering of verse 23 would be “If it be made in the image, he shall give life for life.” This implies that one who kills a fetus that is already “made from the image” deserves death. But the translator must have been aware of the fact that one of the Torah’s six references to being “made from the image” explicitly calls for capital punishment of a murderer on the grounds that he had destroyed a being “made from the image”: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in God’s image did God make man.” It is, therefore, reasonable to deduce that the Septuagint translator, through the employment of exeikonismenon, intended to create a link between feticide and homicide by way of the “made from the image” formulation. As a result, “formation” became critical because it was only when the fetus had attained a form that could be considered to be recognizably “in God’s image” that it would be considered sufficiently human that its destruction would become the equivalent of homicide.

The nature of the impact of Hellenistic thought on this section of the Septuagint has been much discussed. The scholar Victor Aptowitzer contends that the Septuagint’s portrayal of the status of the fetus effectively compromised between two schools of Greek philosophy, Plato (the Academy) and the Stoics. While the Stoics saw the fetus as being an integral part of the mother’s womb, the Academy regarded it as an independent living being. Hence the compromise entailed viewing the fetus either as dependent or as independent, contingent upon formation. Others have pointed to the similarities between the Septuagint’s focus on the pivotal role of formation and the Aristotelian thought which held that full human status was conferred at formation, since it was at that juncture that the soul was thought to infuse the body.

But perhaps the most significant Hellenistic idea of all was to be found in the notion that the willful abortion of a formed fetus was to be considered one of the most serious transgressions imaginable, deserving of the death penalty. From a range pagan and Hellenistic sources, Moshe Weinfeld, a prominent thinker in a the field, has demonstrated that the Assyrian attitude of dermined opposition to the woman who self-aborted was generally dominant in the Hellenistic world. Thus, bringing about the loss of a fetus was cited regularly alongside witchcraft, murder adultery, and theft as principle societal crimes. In contrast to the strong stance against feticide, however, the Hellenistic world often legitimated a relaxed attitude of “complete lawlessness” to infanticide, especially for children who were in any way defective.

Abortion in Judaism
By Daniel Schiff pages 13-15
accessed via https://books.google.com/books?id=xh9vy_dvO6YC&pg=PA12&lpg=PA12&dq=Exodus+21:22-25+septuagint+vs+dead+sea+scrolls&source=bl&ots=3yyXUAauED&sig=ACfU3U3UZvUn7zNSRepuS5MW6Zdk_Mnm5w&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi8oPavuqPqAhV_mHIEHVk8DrkQ6AEwAXoECDIQAQ#v=onepage&q=Exodus%2021%3A22-25%20septuagint%20vs%20dead%20sea%20scrolls&f=false 2020-07-11

It’s would be a bit disturbing for people who hold both the Hebrew and Septuagint in high regard if this were true. However, this is not the only idea I can present about what is going on with the LXX’s translation. Also to my knowledge, Freund and Schiff present no direct evidence of Soma being the transliteration or of the LXX writers needing to compromise between Stoicism and Platonism. Even if the Hebrew is covering more scenarios than the LXX i.e. both live birth, miscarriage, and whether or not the woman was harmed, the transliteration would be unnecessary given that the LXX could by clarifying what the Hebrew meant by “no harm” in the case of miscarriage–that the child is not completely formed. (it wouldn’t be considering harm to the woman) This will be discussed in the next section.

2. The LXX is a paraphrase clarifying the scenario of miscarriage

If the Hebrew is ambiguous and refers to both “live birth” and “miscarriage” the Septuagint could be only trying to translate and clarify one of the scenarios covered–that of miscarriage. These two diverging interests in the course of their writings derive naturally from the different situations of the LXX translators and the writer of the Masoretic text. Chapter 21 of Exodus is near the beginning of the legal code given in the Hebrew Bible (having just started in chapter 19 at Sinai) The original author of the Hebrew text would not have a whole corpus of later law to draw on to explain the cases of live birth and cases of harm to the mother. However, the writer of the LXX already had the whole legal corpus of the Hebrew Torah to draw on. Therefore I speculate that the writer of the LXX didn’t feel the need to cover all the situations but instead chose to clarify one ambiguous one.

To outline an argument for the position that the Hebrew includes multiple scenarios (including live birth and harm to the mother) I will quote William H. C. Propp in his Bible commentary “Exodus 19-40 A New Translation With Introduction and Commentary” which states:

21:22. men fight. In a somewhat confusing and still comprehensible manner, 21:22-25 treats at least three ambiguities raised by the preceding laws (cf. Loewenstamm 1977; 246-57): What happens when a third party is injured in the course of a fight? If the third party is a pregnant woman who miscarries, is the abortion manslaughter? How does one redress non-deadly injuries? Rather than resort to textual dissection, as in most critical treatments, I regard this complexity as an original characteristic of the First Code. Unlike the cuneiform law collections, which delight in listing numerous eventualities, Israelite legal scholars proved their virtuosity by posing a small number of cases possessing broad implications.

Thus the basic question, that of the innocent bystander, is not answered directly. We are not told what happens should a male onlooker suffer such-and-such an injury. Rather, a pregnant woman is posited. From her case, we are presumably meant to extrapolate for all unintended harm (so Mek. nəzîqîn 8). Combatants who hurt a bystander are subject to punishment, depending upon the nature of the injury. 

The second issue this law treats is more philosophical: is a fetus a person? Is a pregnant woman comparable to, say, a woman carrying her infant in her arms? Is the death of the fetus manslaughter, so that he who jostled the mother is subject to blood vengeance? Is he entitled to asylum?

The answer to the third question, what is the punishment for nonlethal injuries, is simple: “eye for eye, tooth for tooth,” etc. I will discuss the Torah’s famous lex talionis below.

Although many ancient Near Eastern law codes treat injury to a pregnant woman and her fetus (or even gravid livestock; see Hittite Laws  §77, 84), this surely cannot have been a common occurrence. Paul (1970: 71 n. 1) infers that we have a case of literary interdependence among the codes and Finkelstein (1981: 19 n. 11) rather simplistically posits an origin in a single, real case of premature labor and miscarriage. But these suppositions do not answer the question: why among all crimes and accidents likely and unlikely should the codes have borrowed and shared legislation concerning miscarriage? The answer is that, like legal scholars everywhere, ancient legislators were attracted to the unusual and ambiguous (e.g., on Roman law, see Watson 1991: 12).

they stike. Either of the men, not both together (Luzzatto).

a pregnant woman. I assume that the woman is an innocent bystander, not a participant as in Deut 25:11-12. (I find unwarranted Daube’s [1947: 108] inference that she is wife to one of the parties, and that the blow is therefore deliberate.)

her child. My translation follows Sam, LXX, etc. wəlādād ‘her child’ (see TEXTUAL NOTE). MT, however, reads yəlāde(y)hā ‘her children.’ This must be taken as referring either to the potential for multiple pregnancies–“(all) her babies, (however many)”–or else to all the stuff of childbirth: water, blood, child(ren), afterbirth.

comes out. The minority view is that the verb yāṣā(‘) here connotes a successful abeit premature birth (Jackson 1975: 95, 99; Durham 1987: 323). The majority view is that yāṣā(‘) indicates a miscarriage (most recently Houtman 20000: 161. It is true that the ancient Near Eastern parallels (quoted below envision an aborted pregnancy, and it is true that the expression “come out” (yṣ’) is used apropos of abortion or the immediate death of a newborn in Num 12:12; Job 3:11 (Schwienhorst-Schönberger 1990: 94). But, as we shall observe, the cuneiform law codes have a different aim than the First Code. In fact, the Hebrew verb yāṣā(‘) more often refers to live births (e.g., Gen 25:25-26; 38:28-30).

The text seems deliberately ambiguous. Something comes out of the pregnant woman. There are four possible outcomes: healthy mother and child, dead-or-injured mother and healthy child, healthy mother and dead-or-injured child, and dead-or-injured mother and child. The following clauses attempt to address these eventualities.

injury. The disputed noun ‘a̅sôn otherwise appears only in Gen 42:4, 38; 44:29; Sir 31/34:22; 38:18; 41:9. Both the biblical context and the Arabic cognate ’asiya ’be distressed’ suggest the meaning “harm” (e.g., Baentsch 1903: 193). Some claim, however, that the meaning is more specifically “fatality” (e.g. Josephus Ant. 4.8.278). The Rabbis, for example, think that ’a̅sôn here refers to the woman’s death (Mek. nəzîqîn 8). (For more discussion of the history of interpretation, see Isser [1990] and TEXTUAL NOTE.)

Even though the argument that ‘a̅sôn implies a fatality draws support from the ancient Near Eastern codes, which cosider only the death of mother or child, I think this approach is incorrect. As observed above, the First Code is in one important way not comparable to the cuneiform documents. The Hittite Laws contain 200 clauses and the Code of Hammurapi 282. treating all manner of torts. In contrast, the technique in Exodus 21 is to compress multiple legal issues into a small number of complex, paradigmatic cases. In my holistic reading, 21:22-25 is about all injuries caused to third parties, and indeed about all injuries. If the biblical writer wished clearly to describe the death of the woman or her offspring, he would have used the verb mwt ’die.’ On the contrary, he makes it explicit what constitutes ’a̅sôn: death; damage to an eye, a tooth, an arm, a leg; a burn, a wound or a stripe (Schwienhorst-Schönberger 1990: 93). Not all of these can occur during childbirth to either mother or offspring, but, again, the case is intended to have broad application. 

It remains unclear whether “injury” applies only to the mother, or to mother and child. By the theory that v 22 describes a miscarriage, ‘a̅sôn can only connote the mother’s death or injury; the baby is already dead. But if, as I think, v22 describes premature labor, then the “injury” would be to either the mother or the infant. If the child is viable and the mother is unharmed, then the man who accidentally justled her owes the women’s husband a modest fine for endangerment and inconvenience (Durham 1987: 323).

3. The LXX is a paraphrase clarifying the scenario where the woman wasn’t harmed (miscarriage is assumed in all scenarios)

If I were to take this position I would have to argue that the Hebrew text really only speaks of miscarriage. More specifically we know that damages to a person are covered elsewhere in the Torah so the Septuagint is focusing on the situation of no harm being done to the mother. This position is made easier by the fact that the singular “child” is the lectio difficilior.

Propp says that the singular form of “child” is the lectio difficilior. This means “more difficult reading” and in textual criticism, this is called “lectio difficilior portior” or “the more difficult reading is stronger.” The theory is that it is more likely the original reading due to the scribes being more likely to change a text to an easier reading than to change it to a harder reading. “Child” in the singular is also the reading of the Samaritan Pentateuch. See Propp:

21:22. And if. Kenn 650 B lacks “And.”
men. See TEXTUAL NOTE to 21:18

her child comes out. Reading a singular verb and subject with Sam, LXX, Tg. Neofiti I and probably Vg: wyṣ’ wldh, vs. MT wyṣ’w yldyh ‘and her children come out.’ The alternation between wyṣ’ w- (Sam) and wyṣ’w y- (MT) may reflect the similarity of waw and yodh in Roman-period script (Cross 1961a; Qimron 1971). The plural subject of MT is hard to understand–unless it refers, not just to children, but to all that comes forth during parturition. More likely, however, yldyh has simply been copied from 21:4. The noun wālād used by Sam et al. is paralleled only in Gen 11:30 and 2 Sam 6:23 (Kethibh in many MSS), making it lectio difficilior. Syr appears to conflate the aforesaid variants: wnpqwn ‘wlh ‘and her fetus (sing.) come out (pl.).’

pg. 121, “Exodus 19-40 A New Translation With Introduction and Commentary”

However, how do we get the following to be what is translated by the LXX? (see also LXX below)

22 When people who are fighting injure a pregnant woman so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no further harm follows, the one responsible shall be fined what the woman’s husband demands, paying as much as the judges determine.

(Exodus 21:22 NRSV)

22And if [3should do combat 1two 2men], and should strike a woman [2in 3the womb 1having one], and should come forth her child not completely formed, with a fine he shall be penalized, in so far as [5should put upon him 1the 2husband 3of the 4woman], and he shall give by means of what is fit.

(Exodus 21:22 ABP)

The following lex talionis must in the Hebrew apply to both the woman and fetus and apply to the fetus on a sliding scale. Therefore, apply to stages of fetal development like in LXX:

23 If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

(Exodus 21:22-25 NRSV)

23And if [2completely formed 1it should be], he shall give life for life, 24eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

(Exodus 21:22-25 ABP)

Assuming that this law doesn’t cover a delayed miscarriage, there is also some medical evidence that a live birth in this situation would have been unheard of in the ancient setting.

First, it is important to note that injury to the fetus in utero may be direct or indirect. Direct injury is rare, mainly occurring late in pregnancy when the head is deep in the pelvis and major trauma causes fetal skull fracture. A recent review of the obstetric literature revealed only 19 such reported cases. The outcome was almost uni-versally fetal demise, except when cesarean section was performed. There is no report of that particular surgical procedure having been performed in the ancient Near East.

Indirect injury to the fetus occurs when there is disruption of the oxygen supply coming through the umbilical cord. Rarely trauma may result in uterine rupture with grave consequences for mother and infant without immediate surgical intervention. Such event occurs in less than one percent of trauma. More commonly, in six percent of blunt trauma during pregnancy there is an overt disruption of the normal connection between the placenta and the uterus. Fetal mortality in such cases, given the best obstetric and neonatal care available in the United States, is 34 percent. Another reference cites 30 to 68 percent fetal mortality. Without intravenous methods of fluid therapy for the mother and surgical intervention, it is obvious that the fetal outcome in the vast majority of these cases would be death. Timms states that “following uterine rupture or significant placental separation, rapid exploration [surgically] and fetal delivery provide the only chance for fetal survival.”

Less severe abdominal trauma may result in smaller disruptions of the placenta from the uterus, and less catastrophic outcomes. It is unknown how often an occult (self-limiting) placental separation takes place in these situations, but it may be the cause of common complaints such as “increased uterine activity” or slight cramping. Most of these cases progress to a normal outcome. In an excellent study of trauma in pregnancy Crosby suggests that if fetal oxygenation is impaired, labor or fetal death will occur within 48 hours.

Premature labor is a serious problem after trauma and is aggressively treated in appropriate cases these days with medication to stop uterine contractions. The lungs of the developing infant are not ready for life outside the womb until 33 to 34 weeks gestation (out of 40 weeks in a “full-term” pregnancy). In a nonhospital setting, the mortality rate of these infants is very high.

There are only a few instances, in a nontechnological era, in which blunt trauma serious enough to cause abortion of the fetus would result in a viable birth. If medical data has anything to say about Exodus 21:22, it indicates that the overwhelming probability for such a situation is an outcome of trauma-induced abortion with fetal demise.

https://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/otesources/02-exodus/text/articles/congdon-ex21-abortion-bsac.htm

4. The LXX is a paraphrase that only covers the scenarios the Hebrew does

This position is similar to the last one but here “harm” (ason) must only be applied to the fetus and the woman must be unharmed even in the Hebrew. ‘a̅sôn would have to be interpreted as only referring to a “death” (as Propp mentioned that some take this position based on the context of the word and of other law codes covering just the death of the fetus). The following paper assumes a contradiction between no harm (ason) and a miscarriage but this can be resolved by saying the fetus may only be described as having “died” when it was “fully formed” as it the Septuagint explains. The idea that the LXX covers all the scenarios the Hebrew does is made difficult because there isn’t direct evidence that “harm” only applies to the mother.

B. Is the Harm to the Woman or the Fetus?
The RSV renders the word אָסֹ֑ון in v 23 as kill and attributes it solely to the mother. Other translations render it as “mischief”, “serious injury” or “harm”.1 That אָסֹ֑ון means some form of harm is well attested. אָסֹ֑ון occurs only three other times in the Hebrew Bible.

3 Then ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. 4 But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with the others, because he was afraid that harm might come to him.

38 But Jacob said, “My son will not go down there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one left. If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in sorrow.”

27 “Your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons. 28 One of them went away from me, and I said, “He has surely been torn to pieces.” And I have not seen him since. 29 If you take this one from me too and harm comes to him, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in misery.’”

In each case it refers to Jacob’s fear that Benjamin will be harmed as his brother Joseph was. In the narrative, the harm that befell Joseph (or at least that Jacob thought had befallen him) was being killed by a wild animal. Moreover, its use later in the narrative is associated with the fear that he will be executed in prison.

The question is whether in this context it refers to harm to the mother. Some translations render the passage as “no further harm”. However, nothing in the Hebrew grammar demands this. In the Hebrew it is unspecified who the harm applies to and several arguments have been proposed suggesting that the harm is harm to the fetus and not the woman.

Westbrook argues that the word אָסֹ֑ון means “a disaster for which no one can be held responsible”. He then suggests אָסֹ֑ון is predicated of the child. Verse 22 deals with a case where one can assign responsibility and v 23 a case where one cannot. This interpretation has the added advantage of explaining the change from the third person “he shall pay” in v 22 to the first person “you shall pay” in v 23. In the first case the person responsible pays. In the second case, where the perpetrator is unknown, the whole community does.

The problem with this argument is that Westbrook’s claim that אָסֹ֑ון means “a disaster for which no one can be held responsible” is not well attested by the evidence. Moreover, as noted by Sprinkle several uses of אָסֹ֑וןin both the Hebrew Bible and in later Hebrew Apocrypha suggest the contrary. For example, the fear that Benjamin would be killed in Genesis does not have this feature. His brothers agreed to take responsibility and his execution by Egyptian officials is not an event in which one is unsure of who is responsible. In addition, Jacob believed a wild animal caused Joseph’s death so it is doubtful that אָסֹ֑ון carries the nuance that Westbrook suggests.

A second line of argument claims that the nuances of the word אָסֹ֑ון fit more naturally with the death of a fetus than the death of the mother. Kline argues,

A calamitous loss involving serious injury or even death is denoted by ason. In the only other Biblical context where ason is found it describes the grievous calamity that Jacob fears will befall Benjamin on the Journey to Egypt. (Gen 42:4, 38; 44:29). The choice of this unusual word in Ex 21:22 (problematic if the reference were to injury or death of the woman, for which the more common terminology would be expected) is readily explained if ason refers to the less everyday circumstance of the calamitous loss of offspring by violently induced miscarriage.

Similarly, Jackson argues,

[W]hy should an unusual word like aswn be used in Exod. xxi 23 to refer to death, when the ordinary verb mwt would appear to have served equally well? Fatal injuries are a common enough topic in the Misphatim, but on every other occasion the normal verb is used. There must be some reason why it is not used in Exod. xxi 22, 23. Part of the reason is that the word aswn, as is evident from the Jacob- Benjamin narrative, stresses the effect on the happening on some person other than the direct victim. Perhaps the best translation is “calamity”…

Later on in the same work he adds,

Had it [aswn] referred to the woman, it would be impossible to understand why the normal word for death was not used. But where a foetus is concerned, any hesitation to use the normal terminology of death is quite reasonable…We have seen that elsewhere it emphasizes the effect of the death or serious injury upon someone other than the victim himself.

Neither of these arguments is compelling. Jackson appeals to Gen 42:4, 38 and 44:29 where Jacob stresses that harm to Benjamin will cause him to die of grief and infers from this that אָסֹ֑ון means a harm that affects someone other than the direct victim but this does not follow. The fact that I note that the death of someone close to me will devastate me does not mean that the effect on a third person is written in to the meaning of the term ‘death’.

Moreover, both Kline’s and Jackson’s arguments suffer from the fact that the word אָסֹ֑ון is so rare in the Hebrew Bible that the samples they appeal to are too few to be decisive. The fact that the few references that occur have a special nuance is insufficient to ground an inference that this nuance is part of the meaning.

There is a more serious problem in attributing the harm as applicable to the fetus. The translation only makes sense if the passage refers to a premature birth and not a miscarriage. If the passage refers to a miscarriage then a miscarriage has occurred but the fetus did not die. This renders the text self-contradictory. I argued earlier that this text does refer to a miscarriage and that the premature-birth interpretation was subject to serious criticisms. In light of this, the argument ceases to be tenable. Once it is established that the text refers to a miscarriage the question of whom the mischief refers to is easily solved. If the blow has killed the fetus, it cannot be the fetus that is not killed in v 23. Further, if already dead, the fetus cannot be said to have undergone further harm.

Feticide, the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint by Matthew Flannagan, accessed 2020-07-12 https://www.academia.edu/2243554/Feticide_the_Masoretic_Text_and_the_Septuagint

Another way to make this position is if the difference in punishment between verse 22 and 23 deals with a level of intent. “The Janus Face of Prenatal Diagnostics: A European Study Bridging Ethics, Psychoanalysis, and Medicine” says:

(When translating Exodus 21:22, the Septuagint, i.e., the early Greek translation of the Old Testament introduces a distinction between a “formed” and an “imperfectly formed” foetus, not present in the Hebrew original (Childress & Macquarrie, 1986). This difference has been interpreted as indicating a difference in the evaluation of the life of a foetus and a living human being (Ferngren, 1987). However, such an interpretation is not the only possible one. The different judgements can be explained by reference to the different kinds of act. The first act is a non-intended accident, while the second is a deliberate killing.

https://www.google.com/books/edition/_/NOlgDwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&pg=PA291&dq=why+does+the+septuagint+translate+exodus+21+differently?

This is a view in the Talmud:

The Gemara asks: Granted, according to the Rabbis, who say that if one intended to kill this individual and he killed that individual he is liable, there is support for their opinion from that which is written: “If men struggle and they hurt a pregnant woman so that her child departs from her, and there is no tragedy, he shall be punished, as the husband of the woman shall impose upon him, and he shall give as the judges determine” (Exodus 21:22). It can be inferred form the verse that if there is a tragedy, i.e., if the woman dies, there is no payment of restitution. And Rabbi Elazar says: It is with regard to a quarrel that involves the intent of each to cause the death of the other that the verse is speaking, as it is written: “But if there shall be a tragedy then you shall give a life for a life” (Exodus 21:23). This is proof that in a case where one intended to kill one individual and he killed a pregnant woman instead, he is liable to be executed, which is why he does not pay restitution.

https://www.sefaria.org/Sanhedrin.79a.10?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en

I find it interesting that this view on the Hebrew and on the LXX can be unified (to some extent) with the idea of intent by speculating that it makes sense for the two men fighting to be held responsible for the fetus if the woman appeared pregnant. If she did not then it wouldn’t make sense to say that they were aware of this and hold them responsible for any negligence that they might be accused of in regards to the fetus itself.

5. The LXX is an accurate literal translation of the Hebrew.

This position is outlined below by Thomas F. McDaniel:

When Nina Collins (1993: 290) concluded with reference to
Exod 21:22 “Yet the verse as a whole fails to make sense” she
was referring to the Hebrew Masoretic text of this verse and its
many variant translation, not to the Hebrew Vorlage behind the
Greek translation in the Septuagint (250 B.C. to 132 B.C.), a
translation which makes perfect sense.

. . .

In addition to the well recognized אָסוֹן which was related to the (asaya) “he grieved, mourned,” there was, as noted above, also the word אסון which was related to the (sawaya) “he made it equal, he became full-grown in body” and “of regular build and growth.” This אסון is a perfect match for the Septuagint’s έξεικονισμένον, “to make like, to be perfectly fully formed.” Thus the אסון in the Vorlage of the Septuagint could have been read as אֶסְוֹן (eswon) or אֶסְוָן (eswan) from the stem סוה — with (a) a prosthetic א, (b) an affixed ן, and (c) the ו of the אסון being a consonant rather than a vowel letter. Contra the MT plural וְיָצְאוּ יְלָדֶיהָ “and her children come out,” the Septuagint has the singular καί έξέλθη τό παιδίον αύτῆϛ, “and her child came out,” which is in agreement with the Samaritan Pentateuch which has the singular ויצא ולדה. Once the singular ויצא ולדה “and her child came out” is in focus it becomes obvious that the subject of the masculine singular verb יהיה in the phrase ולא יהיה אסון (v. 22) and ואם אסון יהיה (v. 23) is the singular ולדה “her child,” permitting the following translation of these phrases: “. . . her child come out but HE is not fully formed, . . . but if HE is fully formed.” The masculine “child” is obviously gender inclusive like the אדם “man” in Gen 1:27 and 5:2.

Simply by substituting the antecedent noun child for the pronoun HE the Septuagint text in 21:22–23 stipulated: “And if two men strive and smite a woman with child, and her CHILD BE NOT FULLY FORMED, he shall be forced to pay a penalty as the woman’s husband may lay upon him, he TRANSLATION OF EXODUS 21:22–23 7 shall pay what seems fitting. But if the CHILD BE FULLY FORMED, he shall give life for life.” This law was so perfectly clear that Sprinkle (1993:247) well noted:

The penalty paid is assessed on the basis of the stage of the development of the dead fetus. The rationale for this view is that the later the stage of pregnancy, the more time has been lost to the woman, the greater the grief for the loss of a child, and the more difficult. This may have been the view of the LXX, which paraphrases וְלֹא יהְיֶה אָסוֹן as “imperfectly formed child” and translates בִּפְלִלִים “with valuation.” Furthermore, Speiser’s view gains credibility in that penalties for miscarriage actually do vary with the age of the dead fetus in the parallel ancient Hittite Law §17, which states, “If anyone causes a free woman to miscarry—if (it is) the 10th month, he shall give ten shekels of silver, if (it is) the 5th month, he shall give five shekels of silver and pledge his state as security.”

A fetus aborted in an accidental miscarriage which is not fully formed—nor equal to an infant born prematurely—was to be treated as property. 19 However, if the aborted fetus was fully formed—and equal to an infant born prematurely—it was to be treated as a person. A property which is accidentally destroyed called for a fine to be paid by the destroyer. But the lex talionis became applicable when a person—including a fully developed fetus—was accidentally injured or killed. Accordingly, in Mosaic law a woman’s fertilized egg or an imperfectly formed fetus was not considered to be a vp,n, a person. 20 Only a fetus that was אֶסְוָן / אֶסְוֹן (eswon / eswan) “fully formed” was recognized as a נפֶשׁ, a person.

http://tmcdaniel.palmerseminary.edu/LXX_EXO_%2021_22-23.pdf

D. Discussion

While I find Propp’s analysis interesting for point “2. The LXX is only trying to be partially consistent by clarifying part of the Hebrew” and McDaniel’s argument tempting for perfect harmony between the LXX and the Hebrew I have to disagree. Propp does not delve into the language used in the parallel legal codes he cites which also use generic terms for “go out” in reference to a miscarriage. I also tend to bias ancient consensus interpretations of a text against the later non-consensus of scholars which would make me more inclined to follow “3. The LXX is a paraphrase clarifying the scenario where the woman wasn’t harmed (miscarriage is assumed in all scenarios).” Russell Fuller deals with the premature birth interpretation in his article “EXODUS 21:22-23: THE MISCARRIAGE INTERPRETATION AND THE PERSONHOOD OF THE FETUS”

For the past thirty years most evangelicals have argued that Exod 21:22
does not refer to a miscarriage but to a premature birth. These evangelicals have offered the following points as evidence: (1) Biblical Hebrew has a technical word for “miscarriage” (sakol). If the author had intended to write about a miscarriage, he would have most likely used this word. Since, however, the author chose yasa, a word usually found with normal births, he probably envisioned a premature birth induced by the assault. Jack Cottrell affirms: “There is absolutely no linguistic justification for translating v. 22 to refer to a miscarriage.” (2) Biblical Hebrew has a technical word for “miscarried fetus” (nepel). Since the author chose yeled, he probably had live children—or at least the possibility of live children—in view.

Again, this suggests a premature birth. (3) Hebrew Däsön (“harm, damage”) is indefinite, and therefore should apply equally to both mother and fetus. Again, had the author intended to limit this word he could have inserted läh to clarify that the harm referred only to the mother and not to the fetus. (4) Although recognizing analogues between ancient Near Eastern literature and the Bible, adherents of the premature-birth view suggest that in Exod 21:22 the ancient Near Eastern legal tradition adds little or nothing to the understanding of the passage.

The first three points are actually one argument: the technical language argument. If Exod 21:22 refers to a miscarriage, why does the author employ such general language? Why not use more precise, technical terms? An author of course chooses a given word over another for his own reasons, leaving the interpreter only to speculate about the author’s decision. In Exod 21:22 the author chose yasa, a general term, meaning “to go/come out.” It specified normal births (Job 1:21; Jer 1:5) and a miscarriage (or perhaps a stillbirth, Num 12:12). There are, however, no passages in the HB where yäsäD clearly refers to a premature birth. Interestingly, the laws of Hammurapi and the Middle Assyrian laws described the miscarriage in general terms (nadû, “to cast down”; saläDu, “to cast, to drop”).


Hebrew säköl (like its cognates in Arabic, Ugaritic, Aramaic and Syriac), on the other hand, means “to bereave the loss of a child.” Although säköl is used in the context of miscarriages (or stillbirths, or perhaps even infant deaths) the word does not mean “to miscarry” or “miscarriage.” In Exod 21:22 the assailant is guilty of inducing the children (fetuses) to come out of the womb (a miscarriage, I believe), not of causing a mother “to bereave the loss of her child.” Why Moses chose yeled instead of nepel is more difficult to determine. Perhaps he desired a more euphemistic term, and he may have chosen yeled, at least indirectly, to indicate the personhood of the fetus. Similarly the laws of Hammurapi and the Middle Assyrian laws employed a euphemistic circumlocution, sa libbisa, “that of her womb,” instead of the technical words for fetus (izbu, kübu) or nid hbbi, a miscarried fetus. Why Moses did not further define Däsön by adding läh or lähem (läm) is uncertain. Perhaps he simply did not deem it necessary.

Although the “technical language argument” may, at first glance, seem to support the premature-birth view, upon further reflection the general language of Exod 21:22 actually favors the miscarriage interpretation. In fact the language is so general that there must have been a broader, cultural context to prevent doubt as to the law’s intent. The ancient Near Eastern analogues all supply that broader context. Indeed, in all Biblical and ancient Near Eastern legal literature and in almost all the general literature there are no references to premature births. It simply was not directly addressed. Therefore if Moses were introducing a new, unique law, previously unknown (at least from the sources we now possess) to the general society and culture, concerning a premature birth, he would have avoided ambiguity and misunderstanding by using precise language, especially if similar laws from the broader society, such as laws concerning miscarriage, might confuse the issue. Moses, on the contrary, by using general language in Exod 21:22, most likely intended his readers to understand this law according to the broader context of society. therefore he considered it unnecessary to insert läh after Däsön (or to write nepel instead of yeled) since that society and culture understood to whom the ason applied. Moreover the ancient Near Eastern law codes also employed general, nontechnical language. Thus the general language of Exod 21:22 actually supports the miscarriage interpretation rather than the premature-birth interpretation.

The interpretational history of Exod 21:22 also favors the miscarriage view. The miscarriage interpretation, despite its general language that could have misled later interpreters, held unanimous consent from the LXX to Martin Luther—some 1800 years. John Calvin was the first to suggest the premature birth view. He was later followed by the nineteenth-century German scholars such as Keil, Geiger and Dillmann. Yet none of these scholars had the complete picture. The ancient Near Eastern evidence was still underground. We cannot of course say whether this evidence would have changed their position. Nevertheless, they probably would have reexamined their opinions. Since the 1970s, the decade of the Roe v. Wade decision, the premature birth view has captured most of evangelicalism. But notwithstanding the recent ascendancy of the premature birth interpretation, at least among evangelicals, the miscarriage interpretation has the most impressive interpretational history and the securest exegetical foundation.

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/50b2/064cf1d09be12389ecebc8c235b1bd3ec628.pdf

To me the LXX is merely trying to clarify part of the situations described: unharmed mother and miscarriage. Additional evidence for the LXX being consistent with the Hebrew might come from Josephus who knew both Hebrew and Greek and seems to have no problem following the Hebrew:

33. (277) If men strive together, and there be no instrument of iron, let him that is smitten be avenged immediately, by inflicting the same punishment on him that smote him: but if when he is carried home he lie sick many days, and then die, let him that smote him escape punishment; but if he that is smitten escape death, and yet be at great expense for his cure, the smiter shall pay for all that has been expended during the time of his sickness, and for all that he has paid the physician. (278) He that kicks a woman with child, so that the woman miscarry, let him pay a fine in money, as the judges shall determine, as having diminished the multitude by the destruction of what was in her womb; and let money also be given the woman’s husband by him that kicked her; but if she die of the stroke, let him also be put to death, the law judging it equitable that life should go for life.

(Josephus, F., & Whiston, W. (1987). The works of Josephus: complete and unabridged (p. 122). Peabody: Hendrickson.)

Assertions range from the statement of Tachauer that Josephus employed only a Hebrew text to that of Schalit that Josephus used only the Greek Bible. The overwhelming majority of scholars, however, have taken an intermediate position, suggesting that Josephus used both, in addition to, perhaps, an Aramaic targum.

(Chapter 13 Use, Authority and Exegesis of Mikra in the Writings of Josephus by Louis H. Feldma) http://media.sabda.org/alkitab-2/PDF%20Books/Working%20PDF/Mikra/Mikra%2005.pdf

However, this is also not certain since it also argued that the LXX wasn’t available to him at the time he wrote this summary of the law and he–like any other author–can be unreliable:

The general result of the study can be outlined briefly at the outset: as he stated himself( AJ 1:5 f., CAp 1:54) he did translate from much-used library books in Hebrew containing many learned corrections and glosses; this source will be termed H. The first library in which the scrolls were written, stored, corrected and used until the 70 war is most probably the Temple archive; the text-type is quite close to the Hebrew source of the Septuagint (hereafter) but, strangely enough, this supposedly well known Greek translation of the Pentateuch was not available to him, at least not before the last stages of his work, though he knew and quoted the Letter of Aristeas, which expounds at length the story of this translation and gives it all due authority.

https://www.academia.edu/5229484/Josephus_and_the_Pentateuch

In many cases Josephus’ paraphrase is at odds with all the biblical witnesses we know, though he stresses his faithfulness to his sources (AJ 1:17): he adds speeches or omits whole chapters; he reshapes his material, not only by formal changes, but also by adducing many exegetical traditions, no less than laws and customs, which cannot have been extracted directly from the biblical letter. Moreover, the archetype of all the extant mss of the Antiquities is most probably two or three centuries later than the original scrolls, written by Josephus and/or his assistents. It has many alterations, either mistakes or learned corrections; the latter are more misleading, since they give way to granting Josephus pieces of information he never uttered. Of course, it is impossible to deal properly with Josephus’ Bible before an identification of all these alterations.

https://www.academia.edu/5229484/Josephus_and_the_Pentateuch

There is one more thing we must address:

If a man intentionally struck a pregnant woman for the purpose of killing the fetus, the punishment would be most severe—probably death. Therefore to claim that the fetus is not a person and that the Bible permits abortion simply on the grounds of an unintentional but negligent assault on the mother and fetus in Exod 21:22 is reckless if not disingenuous.

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/50b2/064cf1d09be12389ecebc8c235b1bd3ec628.pdf

In the footnote they point out :

Scholars have considered Josephus’ comments on Exod 21 22 and on abortion an ìnterpretational crux. On the one hand, Josephus held to the traditional Jewish interpretation in Ant4.278. “He that kicks a pregnant woman, so that the woman miscarry, let him be fined by the judges as for having destroyed in the womb (and) having diminished the multitude, and let money be given to the husband of the woman for it (ι.e. the fetus).” On the other hand, in Ap.2.202 he holds that intentional abortion is murder. “The law commands (us) to rear all (of our offspring), and forbids to abort the fetus, neither to destroy (it after birth), but she will appear to be a child killer (teknoktonos) if she destroyed a soul and diminished the race.” V Aptowitzer claims that these two statements are a “gross contradiction” and that “in the first case a law is reproduced, hence the language of the lawgiver, in the second case a moral valuation is involved, hence the language of the moralist.” “Observations on the Criminal Law of the Jews,” JQR.15 (1924) 87 η 117 This explanation, however, will not do Josephus clearly appeals to the law and indicts the one who commits an intentional abortion as a “child killer.” (Josephus used the cognate word teknoktonia to describe Herod when he murdered his sons Ant 16.392, J W 1 543 ) Perhaps he considered the Exodus case as an unintentional assault, although his loose paraphrase of Exod 21.22 does not directly indicate this since he considers intentional abortion as murder. If so, Josephus’ views are not contradictory. Indeed they parallel some of the ancient Near Eastern laws Josephus’ statement in Ap.2.202 curiously resembles Did 2.2 and Barn 19.5 “You shall not kill a child by abortion, neither will you kill (the child) after it is born ” Could these statements reflect a common axiom of both Jew and Christian concerning abortion in the late first and early second centuries?

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/50b2/064cf1d09be12389ecebc8c235b1bd3ec628.pdf

However, as Propp points out on page 225:

For Exod 21:23, a question immediately arises. Is this not an accidental injury? It is, but evidently not one exempted by 21:13. In other words, we are to interpret 21:13 in the manner of Num 35:22-23; Deut 19:5: “acts of God” are true accidents like workplace injuries, not the unintended consequences of animosity. The same might be inferred from Exod 21:18: two men fight and one kills the other without previous intent. If the stricken party recovers, his assailant is cleared. The tacit assumption is that, if he does not recover, his adversary is a murderer, even in the absence of premeditation. In other words, what we reckon as manslaughter, the Bible considers murder. If people wish to brawl, they may, but they risk incurring capital charges if either participant or bystander dies.

Exodus 21:23 mandates execution should the pregnant woman die. But execution of whom, the male combatant or his wife? Strict talion in a patriarchal society would require the latter (Houtman 20000: 165). Hammurapi §§116, 210, 230 and Middle Assyrian Laws §55 offer examples of a man’s wife or children being mharmed for his offenses against another’s wife or children. Still, we cannot be certain.

On Propp’s last statements, it seems the Bible did not practice this type of retributive talion, it rather only punished the person responsible. It is uncertain if Josephus’ statements are indeed contradictory but maybe we could posit four levels of intentionality to reconcile them: 1. fully intentional, 2. negligent (partially intentional), 3 unintentional but directly following from your actions (go a city of refuge), 4. completely unintentional. (no need to go to a city of refuge) Maybe this verse then falls into covering “2. negligent (partially intentional)” they were fighting with the intent to hurt and ended up hurting someone nearby. Propp seems to not include item 2. or 4. as a possible category. The idea that these verses are addressing negligence (2.) is backed up by the context afterward. Contrary to Propp there is no evidence that Exod 21:18 would necessarily result in capital punishment if one man died. It could also be a case of negligence since the verse about a slave being monetarily compensated for his damages appears right after and negligence seemed to punished with equal retribution or equivalent monetary compensation that was laid on the perpetrator by a representative of the victim. An example of this idea occurs in the following context with an ox that is and is not known to gore where there seems to be 2. and 4. levels of intentionality covered i.e. 4. you are either killed or have to pay monetary compensation because of negligence when your ox is known to gore (no going to city of refuge), 2. there is no need to go to a city of refuge when your ox gores someone because the ox’s action is not your action:

22 When people who are fighting injure a pregnant woman so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no further harm follows, the one responsible shall be fined what the woman’s husband demands, paying as much as the judges determine. 23 If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

26 When a slaveowner strikes the eye of a male or female slave, destroying it, the owner shall let the slave go, a free person, to compensate for the eye. 27 If the owner knocks out a tooth of a male or female slave, the slave shall be let go, a free person, to compensate for the tooth. 28 When an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall not be liable. 29 If the ox has been accustomed to gore in the past, and its owner has been warned but has not restrained it, and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death. 30 If a ransom is imposed on the owner, then the owner shall pay whatever is imposed for the redemption of the victim’s life. 31 If it gores a boy or a girl, the owner shall be dealt with according to this same rule. 32 If the ox gores a male or female slave, the owner shall pay to the slaveowner thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.

(Ex 21:22-32 NRSV)

As can be seen from this and the context, negligence is repaid either with literal lex talionis retribution or with monetary compensation depending on what is laid on the perpetrator. However, another idea must be considered the term “life for life” or other such phrases in a lex talionis cannot be taken literally at all:

1. Is the Death of the Woman a Capital Offence?

One influential interpretation argues that this phrase merely expresses a legal formula which is expounded in proverbial form. The principle is that whatever punishment is imposed (and in this immediate case the punishment is a fine) must be proportionate to the harm inflicted on the victim. Sarna notes “[r]abbinic tradition understood the biblical formulation to mean monetary payment and not physical retaliation” and he defends this interpretation. Drazin notes that the Halacah in b. B.K 84a and Sanhedrin 79a and Mekach understand the phrase to refer to a principle of commensurate compensation. Plaut states that “few passages in the Torah have been so thoroughly misunderstood” and suggests the text is best understood as requiring “the value of an eye for the loss of an eye”, “the value of a limb for its loss and so on”. Rachels, Harrison, et al. do not engage with this tradition of exegesis. They appear merely to assume a literalistic reading without argument.

There are, I think, good reasons for accepting the traditional, rabbinic exegesis on this point. Here I will provide six. While none of them may be decisive in themselves, jointly, I believe, they provide a strong case for reading v 23 in the traditional fashion.

The first reason is how phraseology such as that found in v 23 functions in such a genre as Exodus is written in. As noted above, this section of the book of Exodus in terms of its structure, literary form and language parallels the structure and language of Ancient Near Eastern (A.N.E.) legal texts. Interestingly enough, the legal formulas such as ‘an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth’ are not uncommon in such codes. In Old Babylonian law the hand that assaults is severed, a man who kisses another’s wife has his lips cut off, a person who steals bees is to be stung by bees. A person who had thrown his victim into an oven was to be thrown into an oven. A man who raped another’s wife would be sentenced to having his own wife or daughter raped. A negligent builder whose house collapsed and killed another’s son would be sentenced to having his own son killed. In act, the Code of Hammurabi states that if a man knocks out the eye of one of the upper classes, his eye must be knocked out.

Westbrook notes that such laws “reflect the scribal compilers’ concern for perfect symmetry and delicious irony rather than the pragmatic experience of the law courts”. The method used in legal texts was “to set out principles by the use of often extreme examples”. He goes on to note “[s]ome law codes impose physical punishments and others payments for the same offenses, while some codes have a mixture of the two. There is not necessarily a contradiction.” He explains that “in highlighting one or the other alternative, the codes are making a statement as to their view of the gravity of the offence”. Westbrook argues that serious wrongs “gave rise to a dual right in the victim or his family, namely to take revenge on the culprit, or to make composition with the culprit and accept payment in lieu of revenge”. He goes on to note, “[t]his right was a legal right, determined and regulated by the court”. The courts could “fix the level of composition payment” making “revenge a contingent right, which was only revived if the culprit failed to pay”. When talionic legal formulae occur in A.N.E. legal texts they merely express that the punishment be proportional to the crime. This could involve punishment in kind (which would be proportional to the crime) but in most cases it would probably involve monetary compensation. The phraseology is compatible with either.

J Finkelstein makes a similar point reflecting on what appears to be very harsh capital (and sometimes vicarious) sentences in the code of Hammurabi and the absurdity and impossibility of putting them into practice. He states that Mesopotamian penalty prescriptions,

[W]ere not meant to be complied with literally even when they were first drawn up, [But rather they] serve an admonitory function. If one would be bold enough to restate Hammurabi’s 230 as a direct admonition it might run to this effect: “woe to the contractor who undertakes construction and in his greed cuts corners”.

There is evidence then to suggest that when talionic formulae occur in A.N.E. legal texts they do not necessarily function as commandments to inflict literal mutilation in kind. They rather function as a kind of hyperbolic, ironical way of denouncing the crime and expressing a principle of proportionality.

The second reason for understanding the lex talionis in this fashion follows on from the first. A careful reading of the Hebrew Bible suggests that something like what Westbrook and Finkelstein argue is true of the Torah. Verses 29-32 deal with a case where an ox gores another person to death due to negligence on the part of the owner. This is a case of negligent homicide as opposed to premeditated killing; the penalty rendered is that the negligent person shall be put to death. However, immediately proceeding this, provision is made for a monetary fine to be paid instead of execution. This suggests that the command to execute was not considered incompatible with payment of monetary compensation proportional to the offence. The phrase “he shall be put to death” is not always to be taken literally.

https://www.academia.edu/2243554/Feticide_the_Masoretic_Text_and_the_Septuagint

This brings into question the very distinction of the lex talionis from the fine in verse 22, is one necessarily more serious than the other?

I would argue that the ox is a different situation because of the level of intent. In addition, I would argue that “life for life” is often used literally, although lesser punishments like “eye for eye” are not based on the servant who goes free based on any significant damage. Yet the servant who is killed is not covered by monetary compensation see misconception 8: https://kingdomofgodcommunes.org/2020/04/09/a-list-of-torah-misconceptions-in-short/ Also the death of someone “life for life” is demanded based on man being made in the image of God:

Whoever sheds the blood of a human,
by a human shall that person’s blood be shed;
for in his own image
God made humankind. (Gen 9:6 NRSV)

life for life. This NOTE and the following treat the Old Testament’s notorious lex talionis or “law of ritribution” (Exod 21:23-25; Lev 24:17-22; cf. Deut 19:19). In this context, “life for life” almost certainly prescribes a capital punishment (Luzzatto). (Hypothetically, nepes tahat nepes could also indicate giving the aggrieved part a child or a wife to replace the deceased–cf. Gen 4:25–but such recompense would be impossible with eyes, teeth etc., and so probably is not intended here, especially since no recipient is specified.)

The principle “life for life” appears also in nonjudicial contexts. Jehu admonishes his guard, 2Kgs 10:24, “The man who escapes from among the men I am about to bring upon your hands–his life for his life (napso tahat napso),” apparently meaning that anyone who lets a Baal-worshipper escape will forfeit his own life. And in 1 Kgs 20:39, a prisoner is entrusted to a soldier with the words, “Your life for his life (napseka tahat napso); or you must weigh out a talent of silver.”

. . .

Exodus 21:23 mandates execution should the pregnant woman die . . .

What if the pregnant woman merely miscarries? If fetal death counts under “injury,” then someone must die. But who? It must be either the assailant (cf. Middle Assyrian Laws A §50) or perhaps his youngest child, in the true spirit of talion. (One might argue that Deu 24:16 “Fathers shall not be put to death on account of sons; and sons, they shall not be put to death on account of fathers,” attacks this very practice, but, more likely, the subject is vicarious punishment; e.g., if a murderer fled abroad, his son was executed in his stead.)

“Life for life” raises one other question: the term nepes technically refers to both human and animal life. Obviously, one cannot compound a murder or manslaughter just by killing a sheep. But if I kill your sheep, is my punishment to kill one of my own? Or do I owe you a sheep? Lev 24:17-18, 21 explicity addresses these issues:

And a man, should he strike (dead) any human’s life (nepes), must be put to death, death. And should one strike (dead) an animals’s life, he must repay it, life for life (nepes tahat nepes). . . . And whoever strikes (dead) a beast must repay it, but whoever strikes a human must be put to death.

page 225-226

D. Conclusion

I think you see by now that the interpretation of the text is uncertain enough that we may not be able to make any definite conclusions about it with regard to the ethical nature of abortion. You may also notice that none of these ideas help us get to where exactly conception begins. Philo does have some commentary on it:

(135) Thus the souls which are already pregnant are naturally likely to bring forth children, rather than those which are now receiving the seed. But as the eyes of the body do oftentimes see obscurely, and often on the other hand see clearly, so in the same manner does the eye of the soul, at times, receive the particular impressions conveyed to it by things in a most confused and indistinct manner, and at other times it beholds them with the greatest purity and clearness; (136) therefore an indistinct and not clearly manifested conception resembles an embryo which has not yet received any distinct character or similitude within the womb: but that which is clear and distinctly visible, is like one which is completely formed, and which is already fashioned in an artistic manner as to both its inward and its outward parts, and which has already received its suitable character. (137) And with respect to these matters the following law has been enacted with great beauty and propriety: “If while two men are fighting one should strike a woman who is great with child, and her child should come from her before it is completely formed, he shall be muleted in a fine, according to what the husband of the woman shall impose on him, and he shall pay the fine deservedly. But if the child be fully formed, he shall pay life for life.”

For it was not the same thing, to destroy a perfect and an imperfect work of the mind, nor is what is only likened by a figure similar to what is really comprehended, nor is what is only hoped for similar to what really exists. (138) On this account, in one case, an uncertain penalty is affixed to an uncertain action; in another, a definite punishment is enacted by law against an act which is perfected, but which is perfected not with respect to virtue, but with reference to what is done in an irreproachable manner, according to some act. For it is not she who has just received the seed, but she who has been for some time pregnant, who brings forth this offspring, professing boasting rather than modesty. For it is impossible that she who has been pregnant some time should miscarry, since it is fitting that the plant should be conducted to perfection by him who sowed it; but it is not strange if some mishap should befall the woman who was pregnant, since she was afflicted with a disease beyond the art of the physician.[2] (Yonge, C. D. with Philo of Alexandria. (1995). The works of Philo: complete and unabridged (p. 316). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.)

(108) But if any one has a contest with a woman who is pregnant, and strike her a blow on her belly, and she miscarry, if the child which was conceived within her is still unfashioned and unformed, he shall be punished by a fine, both for the assault which he committed and also because he has prevented nature, who was fashioning and preparing that most excellent of all creatures, a human being, from bringing him into existence. But if the child which was conceived had assumed a distinct shape in all its parts, having received all its proper connective and distinctive qualities, he shall die; (109) for such a creature as that is a man, whom he has slain while still in the workshop of nature, who had not thought it as yet a proper time to produce him to the light, but had kept him like a statue lying in a sculptor’s workshop, requiring nothing more than to be released and sent out into the world.[3] (Yonge, C. D. with Philo of Alexandria. (1995). The works of Philo: complete and unabridged (p. 605). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.)

This should be interpreted in light of this information (note Flannigan follows a non-literal lex talionis interpretation unlike me in the case of death)

The LXX’s teaching about an assault upon a woman does not contradict the MT’s teaching on this question. While the LXX does not mention harm to the mother in this passage, causing harm to the mother falls readily under the other laws dealing with assault where an assailant is required to compensate his victim for damages suffered. Hence, its teaching on this question is essentially the same as the MT’s even if the presentation of it differs.

Nor does the teaching of the LXX regarding feticide contradict the teaching of the MT. The MT states that if a person kills a fetus he or she must pay a fine based upon an assessment. While the mode of assessment is not specified, evidence suggests that there existed a practice that based it upon the age of the fetus. The LXX does not contradict this. It states that if a person kills a fetus he or she must pay an assessment and it bases the assessment upon the age of the fetus.

The difference between the two is that the LXX specifies exactly how this assessment is to be carried out. It claims that when the conceptus is formed the payment must be a payment for homicide. The Hebrew is silent as to how the assessment is to be carried out so it does not deny that this is the correct way to carry out the assessment. Hence, the LXX is entirely compatible with the Hebrew here. As Scott notes, “This Greek interpretation of the passage reveals how the law had come to be applied over centuries of use, at least in the Alexandrian, Jewish community”.

The distinction made between a formed and unformed conceptus strengthens this conclusion. The distinction appears to be drawn from Greek natural philosophy. Kapparis notes, “Formation was a crucial concept in connection with the human identity of the unborn in Hippocratic medicine”. He adds,

In the understanding of many, [Hippocratic doctors] the acquisition of human identity was not something that happened at birth but well before that, when the foetus was sufficiently formed to be considered a human being.

Kapparis draws attention to numerous examples of the formed/unformed distinction in numerous, ancient, embryological writings. Galen for example noted that two contemporary studies, The Commentaries on the Demonstration and On the views of Hippocrates and Plato, defended the view “[t]hat what is in the womb is already a living being when it is formed in all its members”. Similarly, the Hippocratic study On the Nature of the Child, affirms that a conceptus “becomes a child” when it attains form. A similar view appears to be expressed by Socrates in Platonic dialogues.

The formed/unformed distinction appears in numerous other works. Soranus mentions the distinction and suggests that abortions should be performed only when the conceptus is unformed.

Interestingly, authors who mentioned the formed/unformed distinction tended to place its occurrence at roughly the same time, though they differed on the precise details. Diogenes Laertius informs us of the Pythagorean view.

This first creation [the conceptus] is formed in forty days, and then, in accordance with the law of harmony, the baby is perfected and born after seven, or nine, or maximum ten months.

Empedocles similarly argued that formation started on the 39th day and was completed on the 49th. Asclepiades noted the formed/unformed distinction and suggested that for males formation occurred between the 26th and 50th days and females were formed around 60 days. The tract, On the Nature of the Child, states a male fetus is formed

after 30 days and female fetuses were formed on the 42nd day. The author of On Seven Months Child, states a male conceptus is formed at 40 days while a female is formed after this.

Perhaps the most influential of Greek biologists was Aristotle. Aristotle developed the Hippocratic views with more sophistication. He argued that the soul was the life principle of the body. A conceptus began with a vegetative soul and then gradually acquired a sensitive soul. It became fully human when it achieved form, which occurred 40 days after conception for a boy or 90 for a girl. Aristotle’s views were based on empirical investigations. Other biologists from the period also based their views on empirical observation either from miscarriages and abortions that had occurred in humans or on analogy with the embryological development with animals.

There appeared then to be an established distinction in ancient Greek embryology between a formed and unformed fetus. The similarity between the Hippocratic/Aristotelian position and the LXX can hardly be a coincidence. It appears Alexandrian Jews utilised the biological information of their day, concluded that a formed conceptus was a human being and hence applied the law accordingly. In many ways this is unsurprising because even with Palestinian Rabbinical Judaism, Aristotelian embryology was often appealed to by Jewish scholars. Several examples bear this out.

The first comes from Nid. 3:2-7. Here the question arises about how the cleanliness laws recorded in Leviticus 12 apply to a woman who has miscarried. The law prescribes that a woman who has given birth to a child is unclean for forty days if the child born is a boy and eighty days if it is a girl. The question raised is when does miscarrying a fetus constitute giving birth to a child?


The answer given is that a miscarriage qualifies as the birth of a child if the conceptus has the form of a human being. It is stated that this happens on the forty-first day after conception. The justification provided for this ruling is precisely the kind of empirical studies that Greek biologists had appealed to.

A second example occurs in Ker. 1:3-5. The law requires that after a woman has undergone her post-birth period of uncleanness she is required to make a sacrifice. The question is asked, does this apply if she miscarries a fetus? The answer is the same as in the previous case, after forty-one days the conceptus has form. At this stage, a miscarriage is considered the birth of a child.

The third example comes from Bek. 8:1. Here the issue is the application of Exodus 13:12 where it states that a woman must redeem her first-born son with an offering. The question arises as to whether a child born to a woman who had miscarried previously is considered the first-born son. The answer is yes but only if the miscarried conceptus had not been formed which occurs at forty-one days after conception.

Four things then are evident. Firstly, in translating the LXX Alexandrian scholars aimed at “a gloss or commentary rather than a literal rendering of the Hebrew text”. They were “attempting to embody — in a widely accessible form — then-current applications of the Scriptures”. Secondly, it was common practice even in Rabbinical Judaism to utilise Greek natural philosophy in applying the Torah to various issues. Thirdly, the dominant, Greek, natural philosophy placed an important stress upon form in determining the human status of a conceptus. Fourthly, the LXX appears to utilise this distinction in applying the Torah to the question of feticide.

The best explanation appears to be that Alexandrian Jews utilised Greek embryology in an effort to apply the Torah to the question of feticide. The law told them that if a person killed a fetus they had to be punished based on an assessment of the maturity of the fetus. The science of the day taught them that a conceptus was human when it attained human form around 40 days post-conception. Hence, they concluded that if a person killed a formed conceptus this was homicide.

Consequently, the LXX is perhaps best seen as simply complementing the MT and offering an interpretation as to how to apply the law that it prescribes. The scribes behind the LXX did not so much attempt accurate translation of the text but rather faithful interpretation of it to explain its requirements to others. The Hebrew text taught that if a man killed a fetus one was to base the punishment upon an assessment based upon its level of development. This is precisely what the Alexandrian Jews did. Utilising the empirical information of the day they made such an assessment and concluded that early in the pregnancy it constituted homicide. In order to determine if their conclusion were mistaken or correct, the time of hominisation must be assessed. It is not determined by examining the text. The text simply demands that the assessment be made. The question is whether it was made correctly. Are there good grounds for holding that a formed conceptus is a human being? If there are then the LXX does propose a faithful application of the law.

https://www.academia.edu/2243554/Feticide_the_Masoretic_Text_and_the_Septuagint

Conclusion

I take position 3. “The LXX is a paraphrase clarifying the scenario where the woman wasn’t harmed (miscarriage is assumed in all scenarios)” so harm could apply to the woman. The LXX only addresses a scenario where the woman isn’t harmed. I take lex talionis as an additional punishment to the fine and I take it literally in the case of “life for Iife” and non-literally in the case of lesser mutilations. I take Exodus 21:22-25 as speaking to “negligence” where a literal “life for life” or monetary compensation can be applied to the offender based on what the husband of the woman demands.

While we can see some implications with regards to fetal personhood in the case of miscarriage in Ex 21:22-25 they do not appear certain to me especially given that the uncertain nature of the lex talionis and intent in this case. Josephus interestingly was against intentional abortion and yet interpreted the passage as a miscarriage along with all the other commentaries of his time. Hence, I prefer to weight the evidence in sections A and B more heavily.

The conclusion I can come to is that fetal personhood happens at some point during pregnancy. Josephus interestingly elevates an intentional abortion of any type to be punished with death but this is not consistent with the evidence in section B. The only way to make it consistent is to say that the timing of justice is paramount and invalidates fetal personhood in executing perpetrators of sexual immorality. However, I think that exceptions were made for pregnancies if the fetus was thought to be “fully formed” or similar based on my tentative understanding of the lex talionis in Ex 21:22-25. I think this is possible because many details on how to carry out punishments could be left out of the Torah and fetal personhood is elsewhere supported in the Bible. Fetal personhood is also supported by the extra-biblical sources which indicate that believers did value fetal personhood: https://glanier.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/abortion-in-the-scrolls-and-the-didache/

The value of the fetus before being “fully formed” would then be up for debate at different stages. A newly fertilized egg seems to not be considered valuable but later stages seem to be since a fine is imposed in Ex 21:22 even before it was called “fully formed” (even this is not certain if it were only about compensation for trauma but is itself made complicated by the fact that this may have been an unintentional act). What I have drawn from all this is that these topics are nowhere near as easy to decide as I had once thought. This does not suggest there isn’t value in the fetus before it attains a status of personhood so abortion (after the time of conception and before it is “fully formed”) is difficult to comment on with certainty.

The Priesthood of Tamar

Last updated: 2020-06-27

What on earth am I talking about? Well, in a former post, I described a theory that David had the priesthood of Melchizedek because he was able to eat the show-bread and offer sacrifices:
https://kingdomofgodcommunes.org/2019/05/19/yeshua-and-the-heart-of-sabbath-law/ In addition, David’s son’s are called “priests” in 2 Samuel 8:18. The question I answer in this post is: where did David get that priesthood? Here’s the first mention of Melchizedek in the Bible: (All verses are in the NRSV unless otherwise noted)

17 After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18 And King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. 19 He blessed him and said,

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
maker of heaven and earth;
20 and blessed be God Most High,
who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”

And Abram gave him one-tenth of everything. (Gen 14:17-20)

Here’s what Hebrews says about the previous passage:

1 This “King Melchizedek of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham as he was returning from defeating the kings and blessed him”; 2 and to him Abraham apportioned “one-tenth of everything.” His name, in the first place, means “king of righteousness”; next he is also king of Salem, that is, “king of peace.” 3 Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.

4 See how great he is! Even Abraham the patriarch gave him a tenth of the spoils. 5 And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to collect tithes from the people, that is, from their kindred, though these also are descended from Abraham. 6 But this man, who does not belong to their ancestry, collected tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had received the promises. 7 It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. 8 In the one case, tithes are received by those who are mortal; in the other, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. 9 One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, 10 for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him. (Hebrews 7:1-10)

The Christian Courier has this to say about Hebrews 7:3:

None of the expressions in Hebrews 7:3 is to be assigned a literal meaning. Rather, they are terms that depict the nature of Melchizedek’s priesthood, in contrast to the Aaronic priesthood, as such prevailed under the Mosaic regime.

A careful consideration of the context is essential in the interpretation of these expressions.

It was not that Melchizedek was “without father, without mother” literally, or that he had no genealogical background.

No, the truth being conveyed was this. Whereas the Aaronic priesthood resulted from being a part of a family line (i.e., the descendants of Aaron, Moses’ brother) the priesthood of Melchizedek was bestowed directly by God.

And it was precisely in this manner that the Lord Jesus was appointed as our High Priest. He did not inherit it by means of a physical lineage (cf. Hebrews 7:14).

https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/920-questions-about-melchizedek

They give an example in ancient literature:

An Example of Ancient Language
There is an interesting text from one of the Amarna letters (more than 350 clay tablets from the Royal Egyptian archives, cir. 1400-1360 B.C.) that illustrates this matter. These letters were produced by scribes in Canaan, Phoenicia, and southern Syria.

In one of these letters (No. 286) there is the claim of Abdu-Heba, king of Urusalim [Jerusalem], which says:

“Behold, as for me, it was not my father and not my mother who set me in this place; the arm of the mighty king brought me into the house of my father!” (Pritchard, 1958, pp. 269-270).

This is not to suggest that Abdu-Heba was Melchizedek, only that the circumstance of bestowal in the former’s case is strikingly similar to the language regarding Melchizedek.

Melchizedek was not without physical parents. The reality was, he did not owe his position to them. The same was true with reference to Christ. It was not his Hebrew lineage that brought him to the priesthood. It was by means of a direct appointment of Jehovah.

https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/920-questions-about-melchizedek

The passage they refer to is this one:

For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. (Hebrews 7:14)

However, im going to modify their approach slightly. What if this priesthood is bestowed by God like the priesthood of Phinehas but is also for his descendants?

7 When Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he got up and left the congregation. Taking a spear in his hand, 8 he went after the Israelite man into the tent, and pierced the two of them, the Israelite and the woman, through the belly. So the plague was stopped among the people of Israel. 9 Nevertheless those that died by the plague were twenty-four thousand.
10 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 11 “Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned back my wrath from the Israelites by manifesting such zeal among them on my behalf that in my jealousy I did not consume the Israelites. 12 Therefore say, ‘I hereby grant him my covenant of peace. 13 It shall be for him and for his descendants after him a covenant of perpetual priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the Israelites.’” (Num 25:1-13 NRSV emphasis mine)

They also go on to quote F. F. Bruce who notes that what is left out of scripture may be treated as divinely inspired in the same way as scripture itself:

No beginning of days or end of life
Nor is the phrase, “having neither beginning of days nor end of life,” to be pressed literally. Surely no one contends that Melchizedek is still alive somewhere upon the earth! Here is the reality of the situation.

According to the biblical record, the Levitical priests served in the tabernacle from the time they were twenty-five years of age, until they were fifty (Numbers 8:24-25), but no such limit is suggested in the scripture record regarding Melchizedek.

As far as the Genesis narrative reveals, there was neither beginning nor end to his administration. And, as F. F. Bruce observed, in this respect “the silences of the Scripture were as much due to divine inspiration as were its statements” (1990, p. 160).

In the case of Christ, our “High Priest” (this designation being used seventeen times in the epistle to the Hebrews), the Lord will serve in this capacity throughout the span of his entire reign, until such fades into that eternal administration (cf. Revelation 5:13b).

https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/920-questions-about-melchizedek

Where else do we see someone without a genealogy? In fact, there’s someone mentioned without even a name, Tamar’s father:

Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Remain a widow in your father’s house until my son Shelah grows up”—for he feared that he too would die, like his brothers. So Tamar went to live in her father’s house. (Gen 48:11 NRSV)

We might say of him “he is without father and mother and without name just as God answered the question of his name with ‘I am.'” This isn’t to suggest that he is God just a typology of God. When Judah finds out that she has become pregnant he gives the same punishment for her that was given for the daughter of a priest:

When the daughter of a priest profanes herself through prostitution, she profanes her father; she shall be burned to death. (Leviticus 21:9 NRSV)

About three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has played the whore; moreover she is pregnant as a result of whoredom.” And Judah said, “Bring her out, and let her be burned.” (Gen 38:24 NRSV)

As a side note I don’t think it meant “burned alive” see misconception 9. here: https://kingdomofgodcommunes.org/2020/04/09/a-list-of-torah-misconceptions-in-short/

Tamar means “palm tree.” https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H8559&t=KJV Palm branches are symbolic of victory in the Bible and are used in John and Revelation:

So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting,

“Hosanna!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—
the King of Israel!” (John 12:13 NRSV emphasis mine)

4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the people of Israel:

5 From the tribe of Judah twelve thousand sealed,
from the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Gad twelve thousand,
6 from the tribe of Asher twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand,
7 from the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Levi twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand,
8 from the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand,
from the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand sealed.

9 After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. 10 They cried out in a loud voice, saying,

“Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

11 And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 singing,

“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor
and power and might
be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 For this reason they are before the throne of God,
and worship him day and night within his temple,
and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them.
16 They will hunger no more, and thirst no more;
the sun will not strike them,
nor any scorching heat;
17 for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Rev 7:4-17 NRSV emphasis mine)

This imagery of victory and judgement is also used in Psalm 110 to speak of Melchizedek and you can see that his priesthood was a priesthood to the world rather than to just the house of Israel:

1 The Lord says to my lord,
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies your footstool.”

2 The Lord sends out from Zion
your mighty scepter.
Rule in the midst of your foes.
3 Your people will offer themselves willingly
on the day you lead your forces
on the holy mountains.
From the womb of the morning,
like dew, your youth will come to you.
4 The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”

5 The Lord is at your right hand;
he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
6 He will execute judgment among the nations,
filling them with corpses;
he will shatter heads
over the wide earth.
7 He will drink from the stream by the path;
therefore he will lift up his head. (Psalm 110:1-7)

Keil and Delitzsch note:

The New Testament also assumes elsewhere that David in this Psalm speaks not of himself, but directly of Him, in whom the Davidic kingship should finally and for ever fulfil that of which the promise speaks. For Psalm 110:1 is regarded elsewhere too as a prophecy of the exaltation of Christ at the right hand of the Father, and of His final victory over all His enemies: Acts 2:34. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/kad/psalms/110.htm

A priesthood–as we saw with Phinehas–can be an intercession for man before God in order to abolish sin and prevent wrath from falling. Since Tamar’s treatment fits a priest’s daughter we may speculate that Tamar’s father was a priest even though Moses said nothing about priests being in Judah.

For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. (Hebrews 7:14)

Tamar is also in the genealogy of David and hence Christ. The priesthood of Melchizedek is messianic in nature and so it may have descended from Eve.

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will strike your head,
and you will strike his heel.” (Gen 3:15)

Hence Tamar may be able to carry on the priesthood since it descends through the female line as well as the male line. This priesthood may have originally started with Adam but then been given to Eve after the fall: https://sbts-wordpress-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/equip/uploads/2018/10/SBJT-22.2-Adam-as-Priest-Beale.pdf I’m not suggesting that the women were priests just that it could be passed through the female line. Also, the interventions that God does to make sure Tamar conceives (such as killing Onan) seems to oddly focus on her rather than Judah (since Judah had other descendants) This passage from Ruth is also interesting: (bolded words are mine)

9 Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have acquired from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon. 10 I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, the wife of Mahlon, to be my wife, to maintain the dead man’s name on his inheritance, in order that the name of the dead may not be cut off from his kindred and from the gate of his native place; today you are witnesses.” 11 Then all the people who were at the gate, along with the elders, said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your house like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you produce children in Ephrathah and bestow a name in Bethlehem; 12 and, through the children that the Lord will give you by this young woman, may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”

13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When they came together, the Lord made her conceive, and she bore a son. 14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without next-of-kin; and may his name be renowned in Israel! 15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has borne him.” 16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her bosom, and became his nurse. 17 The women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed; he became the father of Jesse, the father of David.

18 Now these are the descendants of Perez: Perez became the father of Hezron, 19 Hezron of Ram, Ram of Amminadab, 20 Amminadab of Nahshon, Nahshon of Salmon, 21 Salmon of Boaz, Boaz of Obed, 22 Obed of Jesse, and Jesse of David. (Ruth 4:9-22 NRSV)

Obed means “to serve” and he is the ancestor of the suffering servant who brings victory over the serpent and makes his enemies his footstool. Perez means “breach” and is used for an invasion into a city and sometimes where the wrath of God fell in judgement:

7 The anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God struck him there because he reached out his hand to the ark; and he died there beside the ark of God. 8 David was angry because the Lord had burst forth with an outburst upon Uzzah; so that place is called Perez-uzzah, to this day. (2 Samuel 6:7-8 NRSV)

He Moses has a priestly function by turning away the wrath of God:

Therefore he said he would destroy them—
had not Moses, his chosen one,
stood in the breach before him,
to turn away his wrath from destroying them. (Psalm 106:23)

Richard Bauckham also has this to say on pages six and seven of his article: “Tamar’s Ancestry and Rahab’s Marriage: Two Problems in the Matthean Genealogy” showing that the view I presented of Tamar was in Jewish tradition:

In addition ‘The Encyclopedia of Jewish Women” states:

According to the Biblical account, Tamar was most likely a Canaanite. The midrash is relatively silent on her life before she married into the family of Judah. One tradition asserts that she was an orphan and was converted in order to marry (BT Sotah 10a), while another claims that she was the daughter of Melchizedek, king of Salem, who was “a priest of God Most High” (Gen. 14:18). Consequently, Judah judged her according to the laws pertaining to the daughter of a priest (which are set forth in Lev. 21:9) and ordered that she be burnt when he thought that she had become pregnant as a result of an illicit tryst (Gen. Rabbah 85:10).

https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/tamar-midrash-and-aggadah

I know Tamar’s priesthood is mostly speculation but it’s quite fascinating if it were true.

A “Young” Woman’s Vows Annulled

I was going to put this with my short list of misconceptions but the content got to be too long. I will refer to things in this post so you might want to read it: https://kingdomofgodcommunes.org/2020/04/09/a-list-of-torah-misconceptions-in-short/

9. Misconception “A woman’s vows in her father’s house could only be annulled when she was young.”

This may not be a misconception but I thought I’d add my alternate interpretation here as well. The verses in question are here:

3 When a woman makes a vow to the Lord, or binds herself by a pledge, while within her father’s house, in her youth, 4 and her father hears of her vow or her pledge by which she has bound herself, and says nothing to her; then all her vows shall stand, and any pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. 5 But if her father expresses disapproval to her at the time that he hears of it, no vow of hers, and no pledge by which she has bound herself, shall stand; and the Lord will forgive her, because her father had expressed to her his disapproval.

6 If she marries, while obligated by her vows or any thoughtless utterance of her lips by which she has bound herself, 7 and her husband hears of it and says nothing to her at the time that he hears, then her vows shall stand, and her pledges by which she has bound herself shall stand. 8 But if, at the time that her husband hears of it, he expresses disapproval to her, then he shall nullify the vow by which she was obligated, or the thoughtless utterance of her lips, by which she bound herself; and the Lord will forgive her. 9 (But every vow of a widow or of a divorced woman, by which she has bound herself, shall be binding upon her.) 10 And if she made a vow in her husband’s house, or bound herself by a pledge with an oath, 11 and her husband heard it and said nothing to her, and did not express disapproval to her, then all her vows shall stand, and any pledge by which she bound herself shall stand. 12 But if her husband nullifies them at the time that he hears them, then whatever proceeds out of her lips concerning her vows, or concerning her pledge of herself, shall not stand. Her husband has nullified them, and the Lord will forgive her. 13 Any vow or any binding oath to deny herself, her husband may allow to stand, or her husband may nullify. 14 But if her husband says nothing to her from day to day, then he validates all her vows, or all her pledges, by which she is obligated; he has validated them, because he said nothing to her at the time that he heard of them. 15 But if he nullifies them some time after he has heard of them, then he shall bear her guilt. 16 These are the statutes that the Lord commanded Moses concerning a husband and his wife, and a father and his daughter while she is still young and in her father’s house. (Numbers 30:3-15)

What if “youth” here just means “under authority” like a “servant.” Indeed some people are more mature than others regardless of their age. The fact that it speaks about the woman’s vows being able to be annulled by her husband later means there isn’t necessarily a concern for the woman’s youth or inexperience just a concern for the authority structure in the household and of protecting the woman from making rash vows (men are not protected in this way at any point) However, women and men are always allowed to run away from any authority. (as we have learned in my previous post)

It’s true that the translators are a lot smarter than me and they translate the word נָעֻר as “youth.” For the usage see here: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H5271&t=KJV

However, some other very smart people have declared that the word is simply another form of: נַעַר

Properly, pass. participle from נַעַר (H5288) as denominative

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H5271&t=KJV

Hence, the core meaning is the same (see: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=H5288&t=KJV ) and Gesenius writes this at one point of the masculine form:

In other places boy is rather the name of function, and denotes servant . . . Gen. 37:2 נַעַר הוּא “he (was) servant with the sons of Bilhah,” etc. . . 2 Kings 5:20; 8:4: Exod. 33:11; 2 Ki. 4:12; used also of common soldiers . . . 1 Kings 20:15, 17, 19; 2 Kings 19:6

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=H5288&t=KJV

Indeed, it uses the same term for “youth” when a woman returns to her father’s house when older “as in her youth” and says she can eat the same things she could in her “youth.” In addition, along with the family, it was only servants bought with money that could also eat these holy things:

10 No lay person shall eat of the sacred donations. No bound or hired servant of the priest shall eat of the sacred donations; 11 but if a priest acquires anyone by purchase, the person may eat of them; and those that are born in his house may eat of his food. 12 If a priest’s daughter marries a layman, she shall not eat of the offering of the sacred donations; 13 but if a priest’s daughter is widowed or divorced, without offspring, and returns to her father’s house, as in her youth, she may eat of her father’s food. No lay person shall eat of it. 14 If a man eats of the sacred donation unintentionally, he shall add one-fifth of its value to it, and give the sacred donation to the priest. 15 No one shall profane the sacred donations of the people of Israel, which they offer to the Lord, 16 causing them to bear guilt requiring a guilt offering, by eating their sacred donations: for I am the Lord; I sanctify them. (Leviticus 22:10-16 NRSV)

The annulling of vows by the father may have partially been to prevent the curse in Genesis from taking place, compare the following:

To the woman he said,
“I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children,
yet your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.” (Gen 3:16 NRSV)

16 When a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged to be married, and lies with her, he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his wife. 17 But if her father refuses to give her to him, he shall pay an amount equal to the bride-price for virgins. (Exodus 22:16-17 NRSV)

A woman may rashly vow to marry a controlling husband but think better of it later as this research may show:

Even worse, these masculine men often embody the Dark Triad, a personality constellation that encompasses Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism. So, what in the world is appealing about these objectionable individuals? Quite simply, they possess high-quality genes that they will pass down to their future children.

. . .
What did the researchers find? Women preferred aggressive men as short-term mates, and particularly during ovulation. This finding builds on previous work demonstrating that women find male characteristics such as dominance and masculine facial features especially attractive when they are fertile.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/head-games/201305/the-allure-aggressive-men

We have also learned the following in my previous post:

A. Even sons in their father’s house had no income of their own and had to follow all the orders of their father. (Luke 15:11-32)

B. Good sons are said to “serve” their fathers with the same word used for “servant” in Malachi 3:17.

C. That a servant is not different from a son until inheritance. (Galatians 4:1-3)

D. That sex with the capability of producing children is an obligation of men to women.(Ex 21:10) (Gen 30:14-18) (Gen 38:8-10)

In addition to D. one of the Jewish interpretations of Leviticus 19:29 in the Talmud is to not deny your daughter her right to get married when she is young:

(Fol. 76) You shall not profane your daugher (Lev. 19, 29). R. Eliezer says: “This refers to one who marries off his [young] daughter to an old man.” R. Akiba says: “This refers to one who leaves his daughter unmarried until she enters the age of womanhood.” R. Cahana in the name of R. Akiba said (Ib. b) Who is to be considered poor and shrewd-wicked? He who has left his daughter unmarried until she enters the age of womanhood.”

Ein Yaakov (Glick Edition), Sanhedrin 9:1

Gesenius has this for the word used in Leviticus 19:29:

(3) to lay open, to give access to [“to profane, from the idea of opening”], hence—(a) חִלֵל הַבַּת Lev. 19:29, to prostitute one’s daughter, comp, Lev. 21:7,14.

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H2490&t=KJV

So these things about making sure the father lets his daughter get married may fit with my interpretation but it would also fit with the standard interpretation of “youth.” If that standard interpretation is correct then by specifying “in her youth” it’s implying the father should make sure she doesn’t have to remain in his house afterward. Given what we know about household authority and not being able to resolve “why are her vows able to be annulled when she is older by her husband” this would make some sense.

The last question is “could the word be interpreted both “youth” and “under authority” in this case?” If that was the case the associated meanings I have come up with for both interpretations would seem to apply.

A List of Torah Misconceptions in Short

Last updated: 2020-06-27


Here I’ve compiled a list of common misconceptions about the Torah. The number comes first with the misconception in quotes and my response follows below. These are ordered in a way so the later responses are based on the previous but other than that the order is arbitrary.

1. Misconception: “The Torah endorses slavery.”

Calling servants in the Torah “slaves” in the modern sense is an anachronism. Servants are free to run away. (Deuteronomy 23:15-16) This today would be called “a job” but with a long contract. The servant was free to break that contract but would face consequences from not being trusted to keep contracts with other people or employers. Indeed owners of actual slaves sometimes prevented slaves from reading parts of the Bible that were against what they were doing:
https://www.history.com/news/slave-bible-redacted-old-testament

2. Misconception: “You could force your daughter to marry someone.”

Although there are cases where women seem to be promised in a way that treats them like property, e.g. ‘Then Caleb said, “Whoever attacks Kiriath-sepher and takes it, I will give him my daughter Achsah as wife.”’ (Judges 1:12) this is not endorsed anywhere in the Torah. While women may have felt cultural pressure to comply with their father it follows from 1. that you couldn’t force someone to marry you or someone else because they could run away even if they were only a servant. How much more a daughter? In addition, you couldn’t capture someone in the first place and hence you couldn’t force anyone physically to do anything without a legal reason, see Exodus 21:16 and Deuteronomy 24:7. Later in Jewish law this principle still remains: there is no such thing as “jail” in Jewish law, only a temporary holding for judgment. This is incredibly libertarian for ancient law which was usually less individualist than today. I would argue that jail today is immoral according to the Torah, just give someone their punishment and let them go.

3. Misconception: “After a waiting period you could rape captives and force them to marry you.”

The passage in question follows:

10 When you go out to war against your enemies, and the Lord your God hands them over to you and you take them captive, 11 suppose you see among the captives a beautiful woman whom you desire and want to marry, 12 and so you bring her home to your house: she shall shave her head, pare her nails, 13 discard her captive’s garb, and shall remain in your house a full month, mourning for her father and mother; after that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. 14 But if you are not satisfied with her, you shall let her go free and not sell her for money. You must not treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her. (Deu 21:10-14)

It follows from the previous that Deuteronomy 21:11 does not mean you can force someone to marry you. Marriage was arranged with the father of the woman and this law states that you are still allowed to marry someone that has no father. The phrase in Deuteronomy 21:13 “go in to her” does not describe sexual relations as you might think from reading other parts of the Bible because the Hebrew words there are literally “go in” and “husband” and are not elsewhere used to imply sex. Therefore there is not even a possible implication that you can have sex with her simply because the time is over. The word translated “dishonor” is used in Deuteronomy 22:24 for consensual sex so there is no implication of rape.

4. Misconception: “Rape wasn’t taken very seriously in the society of the Bible.”

This idea is often used in order to make excuses for interpretations of the Bible that are rape-friendly but nothing could be further from reality. There’s no case in that Bible where rape was taken lightly. The rape of the concubine in Judges was avenged by a national civil war. (Judges 19-21) The rape of Tamar by Amnon was avenged by Amnon’s death and possibly was the cause of another national civil war because David didn’t punish Amnon. (2 Samuel 13) What’s commonly called the rape of Dinah in Gen 34:2 was avenged by genocide. (Gen 34:25-31) According to this article, it may have even been consensual, but the crime was just taking advantage of an inexperienced young woman: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/dinah/ Do we even take rape that seriously today? I think not.

Women were protected from having their conjugal duty diminished “If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish the food, clothing, or marital rights of the first wife.” (Ex 21:10) and Rachel and Leah were able to trade a night with Jacob for mandrakes Gen 30:14-18. Also note that it’s the less attractive Leah that tells Jacob: “‘You must come in to me; for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.’ So he lay with her that night.” God killed Onan for not having sex in a way that would cause pregnancy when he was supposed to perform the duty of the Levarite in Genesis 38:8-10. Rather than sex being an obligation of women, it seems that it was an obligation of men especially for the purpose of giving women children. This probably breaks a lot of the preconceptions most people have about the Biblical culture.

5. Misconception: “A virgin was supposed to marry her rapist.”

Given that Israelite culture tended to avenge rape with genocide and civil war, slipping this idea into the law would be difficult. The passage in question follows:

28 “If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are found out, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the young woman’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife because he has humbled her; he shall not be permitted to divorce her all his days. 30 “A man shall not take his father’s wife, nor uncover his father’s bed. (Deuteronomy 22:28-30)

The word in Deuteronomy 22:28 (“taphas” Qal Perfect form in Hebrew) is never used for rape elsewhere and is totally different and unrelated to the word used in Deuteronomy 22:25 for rape “chazaq” which is also in the causative form the “hiphil.” If they wanted to say this was rape they could have easily used the same word with the same form again to describe it in the previous case. In verse 28 it says “and they are found out” implying both are responsible and consenting in contrast to the rape in Deuteronomy 22:25-27 which refers to the man and the woman separately. The location (town or city) is not specified, unlike the situations before making this a seemingly different situation than the rape that is described before. “Taphas” is used in the same form in Gen 4:21 for playing the lyre and pipe . . . Here “taphas” is translated “seize” but is used in the context of persuasion:

Someone will even seize a relative,
a member of the clan, saying,
“You have a cloak;
you shall be our leader,
and this heap of ruins
shall be under your rule.” (Isaiah 3:6)

He is holding onto him in order to persuade him. Any forcible seizure would be short-lived given the power of kings in that day and age. In addition, Num 5:13 uses the “niphal” stem (Aspect: Perfect) as a reflexive to mean a woman who “caught in the act” (NRSV) of adultery. In Deu 21:19 it is used in the Qal Perfect form to mean “take hold of him” to bring to the judges.

While “taphas” is used in contexts of war for the “capture” of people in battle or otherwise (hence probably why the NRSV above translates it as “seize”) it does not by itself imply force was used on those people (the threat of force is only implied by the situation). The question is: do we know how it is used in the context of a sexual encounter with a woman? No, it is only used in that context here in Deuteronomy 22:28. However, even if Taphas means “capture” or “non-consent” in this case there are other options besides interpreting it as rape which I will explain.

While Taphas is a different word than that used for rape immediately prior, it is also not used in Deuteronomy 22:22,23 to describe consensual sex. Instead of “hold” (taphas) H8610 and “lie with” (shachav) H7901 in Deuteronomy 22:28; the words used in verses 22 and 23 are “find” (matza) H4672 and “lie with” (shachav) H7901. So why the difference? If “taphas” implies a lack of consent or a “capture” then we may answer that both the father and the daughter had to consent to the marriage. The father’s authority can be established in many different places. The daughter’s authority to refuse can be established if you read the entirety of this blog post. If the father didn’t consent then that implies a “non-consent” or “capture” of the daughter which would fit with the word “taphas” being used to describe the non-consensual (but not necessarily violent) capture of people. In fact, the parallel of Deuteronomy 22:28 in Exodus 22:16 is in the context of damages to the household possessions via theft or negligence and Keil and Delitzsch say of Exodus 22:16:

The seduction of a girl, who belonged to her father as long as she was not betrothed (cf. Exodus 21:7), was also to be regarded as an attack upon the family possession. Whoever persuaded a girl to let him lie with her, was to obtain her for a wife by the payment of a dowry (מהר see Genesis 34:12); and if her father refused to give her to him, he was to weigh (pay) money equivalent to the dowry of maidens, i.e., to pay the father just as much for the disgrace brought upon him by the seduction of his daughter, as maidens would receive for a dowry upon their marriage. The seduction of a girl who was betrothed, was punished much more severely (see Deuteronomy 22:23-24).

https://biblehub.com/commentaries/kad/exodus/22.htm

This is backed up by the following verse Exodus 22:17 “But if her father refuses to give her to him, he shall pay an amount equal to the bride-price for virgins.” Therefore, if “taphas” H8610 in Deuteronomy 22:28 is used at all to describe a “capture” or “non-consent” then verses 29-30 give the context of what the “capture” or “non-consent” was from:

29 the man who lay with her shall give fifty shekels of silver to the young woman’s father, and she shall become his wife. Because he violated her he shall not be permitted to divorce her as long as he lives. 30 A man shall not marry his father’s wife, thereby violating his father’s rights. (Deuteronomy 28:29-30)

If it is a “capture” it is a “capture” from the father’s authority not from the woman’s own will since both the father and the woman must be willing to accept the man. The rights of the father are not randomly started in verse 30 but are a continuation of the right of the father to not have his daughter taken away (“captured”) without his consent and his right to the bride-price. In addition, this law is merged with the law about seduction in Exodus 22:16-17 in Philo, Josephus, and the Dead Sea Scrolls (11Q Temple Scroll). This law is merely specifying the bride-price that was mentioned in Exodus and as a common-law addition, it is clarifying that you couldn’t use the loop-hole of divorce for the marriage commanded in Exodus.

All that being said there are plenty of examples where “taphas” is used to mean “wield” or “play” which seems like a much more likely association for a sexual encounter. I’m just giving an argument that even if you take it in the stronger ways it is used it doesn’t necessarily imply rape. This article has more details on the Hebrew in question: https://cbmw.org/2018/03/05/did-old-testament-law-force-a-woman-to-marry-her-rapist/

6. Misconception: “Masters could treat their slaves like animals and break up marriages once they got children.”

The verses in question:

1 These are the ordinances that you shall set before them: When you buy a male Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, but in the seventh he shall go out a free person, without debt. 3 If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s and he shall go out alone. 5 But if the slave declares, “I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out a free person,” 6 then his master shall bring him before God. He shall be brought to the door or the doorpost; and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him for life. (Ex 21:1-6)

You also couldn’t break up a marriage even if you were the employer of a servant. The servant that is said to go out in Ex 21:4 is clearly just becoming an independent (non-servant) if you read the context. This says nothing about the status of his marriage. He would want to stay employed with you so he could see his wife and kids consistently. Also according to Jesus:

3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” 5 But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Mark 10:7-9 emphasis mine)

7. Misconception: “You could trick someone into being your servant forever by giving him a wife.”

You probably couldn’t trick someone into serving you forever by setting them up with a wife they wanted to be around consistently, see Exodus 21:1-6 and Deuteronomy 15:16-17.

then his master shall bring him before God. He shall be brought to the door or the doorpost; and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him for life. (Ex 21:6)

Although it says “serve him for life” this doesn’t tell us exactly how their relationship changes. A son is also said to serve the father. Consider the following:

A. You are bringing him before God which suggests you are marking him for God’s service, not your own. Sometimes servants wore the mark of the God or employer they served, see Thayer’s: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/Lexicon/Lexicon.cfm?strongs=G4742&t=KJV

B. You are taking him to the doorpost where the law of God was posted.

C. God gave the Israelites the right to stay on the land and own the houses and land they had. (Leviticus 25:22-34)

D. Sons are said to serve the father. The same word for servant is used in Malachi 3:17 and a son is not different than a servant until inheritance comes into play Galatians 4:1-3

E. Sons had to follow all the commands of the father and did not have their own source of income as implied by Luke 15:11-32.

F. A servant is said to become an heir if he is pampered in many translations of Proverbs 29:21, see ESV and YLT for examples. However, the Hebrew is uncertain and different translations render it differently.

G. The only other examples of blood being put on the earlobes in a ceremony is of a transfer from a lower status to a higher one: the cleansing of the leper and the consecration of the priests: Lev 14:1-4, Leviticus 8:1~

H. Karel van der Toorn is a secular theologian who has studied the Biblical ceremony of piercing the ear with an awl and has concluded that it is was an adoption ceremony. (see the book “God in Context”)

8. Misconception: “You could beat your servants for no reason and you weren’t punished unless they died within a day.”

The relevant verses follow:

20 When a slaveowner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. 21 But if the slave survives a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner’s property. (Ex 21:20-21 NRSV)

Now it’s obvious you couldn’t beat someone to death as it says here where the same word is used for “strikes:” “Whoever strikes a person mortally shall be put to death.” (Exodus 21:12) Actually, if you did any significant (or maybe permanent) damage to your servant they would become an independent: Exodus 21:26-27 The reason you could punish servants (assuming you were the head of a household) is that you were part of the legal system. Just as today we might post the law of the land on the courthouse so in that time the laws of God were posted on the gates (where the elders sat) and on the doorposts of houses: Deuteronomy 6:9 and Deuteronomy 11:20. Regardless of whether you agree with the implications of where the law was posted, it is a fact that the legal system was much more distributed in the Torah than in most modern societies. Take for example the avenger of blood in Deuteronomy 19:11-12 which was just a person in the victim’s family.

The mention of the servant as “property” is literally “money” and there is a curious similarity to the previous verses which talk about compensating individuals for loss of work and cost of recovery in a fight:

18 When individuals quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone or fist so that the injured party, though not dead, is confined to bed, 19 but recovers and walks around outside with the help of a staff, then the assailant shall be free of liability, except to pay for the loss of time, and to arrange for full recovery. (Exodus 21:18-19)

The case in verse 21 for the servant living one or two days is not for when it looked like they had died of their injuries because beating someone near death would do significant (and by definition permanent) damage and hence make the servant an independent causing the death of the servant to be avenged as an independent person. (just for those who think Ex 21:12 didn’t apply with servants for some reason) Rather verse 21 is for a case where it is unknown what killed the servant.

However, is there a connection to the two independent men fighting and compensation? I think verse 21 simply specifies that since the servant was a source of income and value to the employer that any uncertainty in what caused the death should be decided in the employer’s favor since he is presumed to have suffered a loss from this. This seems to not be the case with independent men since nothing is said about whether the victim dies a day or two later.

Another view (that I’m not in favor of) is that the employer would not be liable for the loss of time of the servant unlike the two men fighting since the employer suffers a loss from having to support the servant while recovering. If this were the case it would suggest that the punishment for a servant could be rather harsh. I don’t agree with this for several reasons: 1. The passage does not specify what to do when the servant is confined to bed but recovers. It only specifies what to do if the servant is confined to bed and then dies. It would be nonsensical to assume anything about compensating the servant in a case where he dies. 2. The Bible also prevents harsh beatings even if they would only be “degrading:” “Forty lashes may be given but not more; if more lashes than these are given, your neighbor will be degraded in your sight.” (Deuteronomy 25:3 NRSV) Life-threatening beatings would seem to be excluded by preventing “degrading” beatings.

9. Misconception: “The Torah Condones Burning People Alive”

The relevant verses follow:

When the daughter of a priest profanes herself through prostitution, she profanes her father; she shall be burned to death. (Leviticus 21:9 NRSV)

This wasn’t actually “burned to death” but “burned after death.” Compare this more literal translation with the story of Achan in Joshua 7 where he is condemned to be burned with fire but is stoned then burned with fire:

`And a daughter of any priest when she polluteth herself by going a-whoring — her father she is polluting; with fire she is burnt. (Leviticus 21:9 YLT)

See the excerpt on Achan below:

15 And the one who is taken as having the devoted things shall be burned with fire, together with all that he has, for having transgressed the covenant of the Lord, and for having done an outrageous thing in Israel.’”
. . .
25 Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble on us? The Lord is bringing trouble on you today.” And all Israel stoned him to death; they burned them with fire, cast stones on them, 26 and raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his burning anger. Therefore that place to this day is called the Valley of Achor. (Leviticus 7:15-26 NRSV)

How Genesis Happened

Introduction

Last updated: 2020-07-15

All verses are in the NRSV unless otherwise noted. Karel van der Toorn compares the writing of the Bible to the Bible’s description of creation:

According to the first chapter of the Bible, separation and ordering were essential to the act of creation. God did not create the world out of nothing, but he turned chaos into cosmos. As a creator, God edited the world. He followed the modus operandi of a master scribe, whose art consists in the creation of something new out of preexisting elements. God brought order to the disparate elements that he found. The outcome was the world as we know it, not just a haphazard compilation of everything that went on before, but an orderly arrangement of all the elements available. He produced a text we can read and live in.

The scribes that were responsible for the creation of the canonical works of the ancient world, the books of the Bible as much as the classics of the Mesopotamian tradition, were not really authors but editors. Most of the scribes mentioned in the Babylonian Catalogue of Texts and Authors were the editors of the compositions put to their name.

Page 221 “God in Context: Selected Essays on Society and Religion in the Early Middle East” by Karel van der Toorn

Whatever you think of the documentary hypothesis there is no question that Toorn believes the Bible describes separating and organizing rather than ex-nihilo creation. Let’s keep this in mind when reading Genesis. Here I present my views on the creation story and attempt to reconcile it with a 13.772 billion-year-old universe and the 4.543 billion-year-old earth. My argument will work with or without evolution and common ancestry being correct. (that’s not my main concern here) It’s beyond the scope of this post to show why I basically accept these calculations. My argument, therefore, will be primarily theological.

For those who view the material in Genesis to be mythological, this will be a silly exercise. I find some of the details in Genesis hard to take in a mythological way, maybe I need to study ancient mythology more. However, from watching Shaye Cohen’s online class even secular Bible scholars have a problem with the non-mythological surface of Genesis 1 since it does not conform to the pattern of other creation myths where conflict results in creation. They need to read between the lines to extract the idea that it is a battle between God and Tiamat and I haven’t found this convincing.

In addition, I know ancient people believed a lot of weird things about the world and it would be pedantic if God magically changed their thinking just so they could make some theological point without misrepresenting an aspect of creation they were basing it on. However, consider the prophecy of Caiaphas:

50 You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.” 51 He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, (John 11:15-51)

The relevant point: it is possible for someone to speak in a way that is inspired even if they do not know the way God intended their words. Therefore, I’m not claiming that all the statements in the Bible were meant to support a later scientific understanding when they were written; just that they are compatible with that understanding due to the ambiguity of language. This may seem like I’m holding too high of a standard to the Bible but my experience has taught me to have respect for the Bible’s veracity when it is properly interpreted so I thought I’d at least try this interpretation.

I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time arguing against young-earth creationism. However, I do find it odd so many Christians say that belief in a literal Genesis is critical but are in conflict about the meaning of Genesis 1 and many of the scientific facts related to it. Here are some of the church fathers’ views on days being ages: https://ibbarsoum.wordpress.com/2012/01/11/early-church-fathers-on-genesis/ Modern Creationists sometimes dismiss these as non-literal interpretations so I will also quote this:

Over the last four parts of this Today’s New Reasons to Believe series, I have responded to each of Mook’s major arguments.

Part 1. The early church fathers based their understanding of Genesis on Greek and Latin translations, not the original Hebrew.

Part 2. The allegorical interpreters (e. g., Origen and Augustine) did have specific scriptural reasons for rejecting a calendar-day view of Genesis 1. In particular, the creation days could not be solar days if the Sun was not created until the fourth day. Moreover, the seventh creation day is not closed out by the “evening and morning” phrase, so it is considered longer than a 24-hour day.

Part 3. Even the so-called “literalist” fathers often relied on nonliteral modes of interpretation in dealing with the Old Testament, such as typology and numerological association.

Part 4. The cornerstone of Mook’s proof of young-earth creationism in the early church is a widespread belief among the patristics that human history would last exactly 6,000 years. Ironically, this idea was merely a popular human tradition concerned primarily with eschatology—not creation. This model artificially constrained the age of the earth even though the Bible itself does not require it to be so.

https://reasons.org/explore/blogs/todays-new-reason-to-believe/read/tnrtb/2011/10/06/coming-to-grips-with-the-early-church-fathers-perspective-on-genesis-part-5-(of-5)

As you’ll see later in my post there are several early Jewish interpreters that were familiar with Hebrew and agree with my basic premise of interpreting Gen 1:2 as the state of the earth at the beginning of God’s creative process. Later on, this confusion with Christians over Genesis continued. It turns out that while the young-earth movement is seemingly uncontested in conservative circles that this is a recent phenomenon:

Until well into the twentieth century critics of evolution tended to identify themselves as anti-evolutionists rather than creationists. Three factors help to explain this practice. First, the word already possessed a well-known meaning unrelated to the creation–evolution debate. Since early Christianity theologians had attached ‘creationism’ to the doctrine that God had specially created each human soul – as opposed to the traducianist teaching that God had created only Adam’s soul and that children inherited their souls from their parents. Second, even the most prominent scientific opponents of organic evolution differed widely in their views of origins. Some adopted the biblical view that all organisms had descended from the kinds divinely created in the Garden of Eden and preserved on Noah’s ark. Others, such as the British geologist Charles Lyell (1797–1875), advocated the spontaneous but non-supernatural appearance of species in regional centres or foci of creation. Still others followed the leading American anti-evolutionist, the Harvard zoologist Louis Agassiz (1807–73), in arguing for repeated plenary creations, during which ‘species did not originate in single pairs, but were created in large numbers’. Third, even Bible-believing fundamentalists could not agree on the correct interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis. A majority probably adopted the ruin-and restoration view endorsed by the immensely popular Scofield Reference Bible (1909), which identified two creations (the first ‘in the beginning’, the second associated with the Garden of Eden) and slipped the fossil record into the vast gap between the two events. Another popular reading of Genesis 1, advocated by William Jennings Bryan (1860–1925), the leading anti-evolutionist of the time, held that the days mentioned in Genesis 1 represented immense ages, each corresponding to a section of the geological column or perhaps to a period in the history of the cosmos. Only a handful of those writing against evolution insisted on what later came to be known as young-earth creationism but was then called flood geology: a recent special creation of all kinds in six twenty-four-hour periods and a geologically significant flood at the time of Noah that buried most of the fossils. . . .

In 1935 Price, Clark, Rimmer and Higley joined with a few others to create ‘a united front against the theory of evolution’. The resulting society, the Religion and Science Association, quickly dissolved, however, when the members fell to squabbling about the age of the earth, with Price and Clark supporting flood geology, Rimmer and Higley pushing for the gap theory, and still others arguing for the day–age interpretation. As one frustrated anti-evolutionist observed in the 1930s, fundamentalists were ‘all mixed up between geological ages, Flood geology and ruin, believing all at once, endorsing all at once’. How, he wondered, could evangelical Christians possibly turn the world against evolution if they themselves could not even agree on the meaning of Genesis 1?

http://joelvelasco.net/teaching/3330/numbers_sc+id.pdf (Historian Ronald Numbers posted by the class professor)
http://joelvelasco.net/teaching/3330/

The roots of modern creationism run directly back to George McCready Price (1870–1963), an amateur geologist with no formal training. In a book designed to look like a geology textbook, Price (1923) asserted that there was no order to the fossil record. Rejecting the idea of fossil succession, he argued that the succession of organisms that geologists read in the fossil record was really just a mixed-up sampling of communities that lived in different parts of the antediluvian world. He considered the fossil record too incomplete to confidently reconstruct the past, citing the occasional discovery of animals thought to be extinct and known only from fossils. . .

Despite the efforts of Price and his followers, during the first half of the twentieth century, the majority of Christians—and evangelical fundamentalists—continued to endorse attempts to reconcile geology and Genesis. Even prominent anti-evolution crusader Harry Rimmer (1890–1952) acknowledged that Earth was quite ancient and thought the biblical flood was a local affair rather than a global catastrophe. Twentieth-century fundamentalist circles split into young-Earth creationists, who defended a global flood, and old-Earth creationists, who acknowledged geological evidence that we live on an ancient planet but maintained that God fashioned it for eventual human use.

https://www.geosociety.org/gsatoday/archive/22/11/article/i1052-5173-22-11-4.htm

In a presentation at the conference, Wise showed a slide of a fossil sequence that moved from reptile to mammal, with some transitional fossils in between. He veered suddenly from his usual hyperactive mode to contemplative. “It’s a pain in the neck,” he said. “It fits the evolutionary prediction quite well.” Wise and others have come up with various theories explaining how the flood could have produced such perfect order. Wise is refining a theory, for example, that the order reflects how far the animals lived from the shore, so those living farthest from the water show up last in the record. But they haven’t settled on anything yet.

https://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/25/magazine/25wwln-geologists-t.html

Unitarianism and Local Creation

My interpretation is that the events in Genesis don’t make any sense unless viewed from the perspective of the Earth. Just like the Sun setting in the sky is a description that is accurate from the standpoint of the Earth but not from outside–so the creation story in Genesis doesn’t make sense if you view it from a cosmic perspective. Even the word for “earth” in Hebrew can also be translated as “land” or “ground” so it could be an entirely local creation event as well. Perhaps it’s repairing the garden of Eden or the land of Canaan. The possible idea of a local creation might seem to be ruled out or at least make two creation events necessary from John 1:1-5 and Colossians 1:15-20. John 1-3 you can see pretty quickly seems to be talking about the “moral creation” (and was interpreted as such by the Sonicians) https://biblehub.com/commentaries/meyer/john/1.htm

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:1-3 NRSV)

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16 for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15-20 NRSV)

Here’s some more commentary on these verses that I have found interesting:

The renowned Trinitarian scholar, John Lightfoot, writes:

The word logos then, denoting both “reason” and “speech,” was a philosophical term adopted by Alexandrian Judaism before St. Paul wrote, to express the manifestation of the Unseen God in the creation and government of the World. It included all modes by which God makes Himself known to man. As His reason, it denoted His purpose or design; as His speech, it implied His revelation. Christian teachers, when they adopted this term, exalted and fixed its meaning by attaching to it two precise and definite ideas: (1) “The Word is a Divine Person,” (2) “The Word became incarnate in Jesus Christ.” It is obvious that these two propositions must have altered materially the significance of all the subordinate terms connected with the idea of the logos[2]

It is important to note that it was “Christian teachers” who attached the idea of a “divine person” to the word logos. It is certainly true that when the word logos came to be understood as being Jesus Christ, the understanding of John 1:1 was altered substantially. Lightfoot correctly understands that the early meaning of logos concerned reason and speech, not “Jesus Christ.” Norton develops the concept of logos as “reason” and writes:

There is no word in English answering to the Greek word logos, as used here [in John 1:1]. It was employed to denote a mode of conception concerning the Deity, familiar at the time when St. John wrote and intimately blended with the philosophy of his age, but long since obsolete, and so foreign from our habits of thinking that it is not easy for us to conform our minds to its apprehension. The Greek word logos, in one of its primary senses, answered nearly to our word Reason. The logos of God was regarded, not in its strictest sense, as merely the Reason of God; but, under certain aspects, as the Wisdom, the Mind, the Intellect of God (p. 307).
. . .
The logos, that is, the plan, purpose and wisdom of God, “became flesh” (came into concretion or physical existence) in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the “image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15) and His chief emissary, representative and agent. Because Jesus perfectly obeyed the Father, he represents everything that God could communicate about Himself in a human person. As such, Jesus could say, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). The fact that the logos “became” flesh shows that it did not exist that way before. There is no pre-existence for Jesus in this verse other than his figurative “existence” as the plan, purpose or wisdom of God for the salvation of man. The same is true with the “word” in writing. It had no literal pre-existence as a “spirit-book” somewhere in eternity past, but it came into being as God gave the revelation to people and they wrote it down.

https://www.biblicalunitarian.com/videos/but-what-about-john-1-1

Trinitarians use this verse to show that Christ made the world and its contents. However, that is not the case. What we have learned from the study of John 1:1 above will be helpful in properly interpreting this verse.
. . .

2. The pronoun in verse 3 can legitimately be translated as “it.” It does not have to be translated as “him,” and it does not have to refer to a “person” in any way. A primary reason why people get the idea that “the Word” is a person is that the pronoun “he” is used with it. The Greek text does, of course, have the masculine pronoun, because like many languages, including Spanish, French, German, Latin, Hebrew, etc., the Greek language assigns a gender to all nouns, and the gender of the pronoun must agree with the gender of the noun. In French, for example, a table is feminine, la table, while a desk is masculine, le bureau, and feminine and masculine pronouns are required to agree with the gender of the noun. In translating from French to English, however, we would never translate “the table, she,” or “the desk, he.” And we would never insist that a table or desk was somehow a person just because it had a masculine or feminine pronoun. We would use the English designation “it” for the table and the desk, in spite of the fact that in the original language the table and desk have a masculine or feminine gender.

https://www.biblicalunitarian.com/articles/john-1-3

God delegated to Christ His authority to create. Ephesians 2:15 refers to Christ creating “one new man” (his Church) out of Jew and Gentile. In pouring out the gift of holy spirit to each believer (Acts 2:33 and 38), the Lord Jesus has created something new in each of them, that is, the “new man,” their new nature (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15; Eph. 4:24).

The Church of the Body of Christ was a brand new entity, created by Christ out of Jew and Gentile. He had to also create the structure and positions that would allow it to function, both in the spiritual world (positions for the angels that would minister to the Church—see Rev. 1:1, “his angel”) and in the physical world (positions and ministries here on earth—see Rom. 12:4-8; Eph. 4:7-11). The Bible describes these physical and spiritual realities by the phrase, “things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible” (1:16).

https://www.biblicalunitarian.com/verses/colossians-1-15-20

In addition, if you find your beliefs challenged or feel offended that is intentional. I started this site to filter out people who would be too easily offended to live in a community of diverse views and attract those that could. I don’t believe that different views about creation should cause divisions (see the “about” section of this site for my views about heresy) You should divide over sufficiently bad behavior, not beliefs. I have a friend who actually believes Noah is an alien and has more conservative beliefs about how to act than most other people I know. However, maybe you disagree with this and I’m just being a jerk and trying to destroy good conservative theology. That’s fine, you don’t have to read any of this.

Short Summary of Genesis 1

Creation starts with a state of volcanic winter (also known as nuclear winter) and God starts recreating/repairing the Earth from there.

A massive volcanic eruption 250,000 years ago shot dust and ash into the atmosphere and probably caused a winter like that expected by many scientists to follow a nuclear war, according to New Zealand geologists.

. . .
Dust and ash ejected into the atmosphere reflect shortwave radiation from the sun, reducing the amount reaching the Earth’s surface and lowering temperatures.

Scientists are analyzing ancient ocean-floor samples, seeking conclusive proof linking the New Zealand eruption with the cooling.

“Core samples drilled from the Pacific Ocean bed and dated by oxygen isotopes showed there was a cooling of the Earth’s atmosphere immediately after the eruption,” Carter said. “We don’t have final proof yet, but it seems the two could be linked.”

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1986-01-05-mn-24574-story.html

Severe volcanic winter is a situation that is cold, dark, and has accumulated snow on the ground caused by ash in the atmosphere blocking sunlight.

Reading Genesis with this idea: The first day (Sunday) God lets the sunshine through the dark clouds enough so that the day-night cycle is apparent. The second day (Monday) God causes the thick fog to clear away between the clouds and the earth but leaves some of the cloud cover. The third day (Tuesday) God causes the snow to melt that has accumulated on the land and it runs into rivers and oceans and God now can cause plants to grow back. The fourth day (Wednesday) the Sun and the Moon are recreated by God in the sky by clearing away the rest of the cloud cover. Just like the “setting” sun appears to “set” from our perspective: God created the light in the sky from Earth’s perspective but not its literal source. The fifth day God recreates the water creatures and birds. The sixth day God recreates land animals and man. In general, God seems to be creating ecosystems from the ground up.

The Beginning

1 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. (Gen 1 NRSV)

The standard evangelical Christian view is that God first created the heavens and the earth as a formless void (chaos) and improved upon that. However, you’ll notice that from the NRSV chaos could have been the previous state when God’s creating started. Some have tried allowing a gap between the first two verses. This is known as “the gap theory.” It was a long-held view before the advent of modern geological science and is a convenient way to try and reconcile vast amounts of geological age with the Bible. However, in addition to the NRSV, Young’s Literal Translation reads like so: 

1 In the beginning of God’s preparing the heavens and the earth —
2 the earth hath existed waste and void, and darkness [is] on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God fluttering on the face of the waters, (Gen 1:1-2 YLT)

The NRSV and Young’s are widely considered good translations and here we have the possibility of a time period before the first verse. That is, before God was preparing the heaven and the earth. This makes a bit more sense than the gap theory because you would think even God would want people to notice if he left a 13.772 billion year gap in between two verses. Here, the huge time period is not strangely glossed over but is simply not covered.

Also, the language does fit with a state of catastrophe (although I’m not saying this is implied positively). In the definition of the word used for “waste and void.” Gesenius has “waste” as:

for “void” he has:

Compare the following ways the words are used in Jeremiah and Isaiah:

10 Night and day it shall not be quenched;
its smoke shall go up forever.
From generation to generation it shall lie waste;
no one shall pass through it forever and ever.
11 But the hawk and the hedgehog shall possess it;
the owl and the raven shall live in it.
He shall stretch the line of confusion (G8414) over it,
and the plummet of chaos (G0922) over its nobles.
12 They shall name it No Kingdom There,
and all its princes shall be nothing.
(Isaiah 34 NRSV emphasis mine)

20 Disaster overtakes disaster,
the whole land is laid waste.
Suddenly my tents are destroyed,
my curtains in a moment.
21 How long must I see the standard,
and hear the sound of the trumpet?
22 “For my people are foolish,
they do not know me;
they are stupid children,
they have no understanding.
They are skilled in doing evil,
but do not know how to do good.”
23 I looked on the earth, and lo, it was waste (G8414) and void; (G0922) and to the heavens, and they had no light.
(Jeremiah 4:20-23 NRSV emphasis mine)

We can see from these contexts that the only time (elsewhere) these Hebrew words are used–they describe destruction and desolation. We might infer that there is a similar state at the beginning of Genesis that is being repaired.

I also found something in the Greek of the LXX Genesis account that I want to share. The Apostolic Bible Polyglot translates Gen 1:2 as:

1 In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth. 2 But the earth was unseen and unready, and darkness was upon the abyss, and spirit of God bore upon the water. (Gen 1:1-2 ABP emphasis mine)

However, “A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint” states that the “but” should be “and” at the beginning of Genesis 1:2:

δέ+ X 1554-155-259-1620-1298=4887

Gn 1,2; 2,6.10.12.14

connecting part., often it cannot be translated Gn 2,12; and Gn 1,2; but Gn 2,6; rather (after neg.) Wis2,11; introducing an apodosis after hypothetical or temporal protasis 2 Mc 1,34

… μὲν … δὲ … on the one hand … on the other hand … Gn 38,23; δὲ καί but also, but even 2 Mc 12,13;ἔτι δὲ καί and (even) LtJ 40; καὶ … δέ and also, but also Wis 7,3

Cf. AEJMELAEUS 1982 34-47.139.151-152

http://www.glasovipisma.pbf.rs/phocadownload/knjige/greek%20lexicon%20for%20the%20septuagint.pdf

The word for “was” in “the earth was unseen . . .” in Gen 1:2 is “to be,” or “to exist” and it is in this form:

Tense: Imperfect
Voice: Active
Mood: Indicative
Person: third 
Number: Singular 

https://studybible.info/compare/Genesis%201:2

εἰμι (εἶναι)
+ V 1730-1486-1362-1167-1202=6947

Gn 1,2.6.7.14.15

to be, to exist Gn 1,7; to be [+pred.] Gn 1,2; to be [+adv.] Jb 9,2; to be occupied with [τινος] 2 Chr 30,17;to have [τινι] Jb 1,12; ἔστι (impers.) it is possible Wis 5,10

Ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν I am the one who is, I am the being Ex 3,14; πρὸς ἐμοῦ ἔσται ὁ ἀνήρ μου my husband will be with me or will become attached to me Gn 29,34; ἐσόμεθα τοῦ σῶσαί σε we shall be there to save you2 Sm 10,11; ἐγώ εἰμι see ἐγώ

*Is 4,5 καὶ ἔσται and it shall be-והיה for MT יהוהyhwh, see also Jl 4,11; *Is 16,4 ἔσονται they shall beיהיוfor MT הוי⋄ הוה be

Cf. AERTS 1965, 52-209; HORSLEY 1989, 56; LE BOULLUEC 1989, 92; KILPATRICK 1963=1990 27;→NIDNTT; TWNT(→ἀπ-, ἐν-, ἐξ-, ἐπ-, παρ-, περι-, συμπαρ-, συμπρος-, συν-) 

http://www.glasovipisma.pbf.rs/phocadownload/knjige/greek%20lexicon%20for%20the%20septuagint.pdf

The imperfect is different from the Aorist in “made the heaven and the earth” in Gen 1:1 Which is:

Tense: Aorist 
Voice: Active
Mood: Indicative
Person: third
Number: Singular 

https://studybible.info/compare/Genesis%201:1

While both the IMPERFECT and AORIST tenses refer to past actions, and so are past tenses, they differ in ASPECT. The AORIST tense always conveys a single, discreet action (i.e. simple aspect). This is the most common tense for referring to action in the past. The IMPERFECT tense always conveys past activity that was more than a single action in some way (i.e. ongoing aspect).
Aorist: I walked
snapshot of a past action (simple aspect)
Imperfect: I was walking/ used to walk
video of past action (ongoing aspect)
https://ancientgreek.pressbooks.com/chapter/31/

And according to ntgreek.net: http://www.ntgreek.net/lesson21.htm#imperfect with the verb “loosing” in the imperfect it gives the examples of “he, she, it was loosing” This leads me to believe Genesis 1:2 might be translated more literally: “And the earth was becoming unseen and unready, and darkness was coming upon the abyss, and the spirit of God was bearing upon the water.” which would describe the state of the earth when God started his creating. I think the difference implied by the Septuagint is that while God created the heaven and the Earth in a week the past activity of “waste and void” was a different type of activity not associated with what is being currently described as God’s creation.

As for the difference between “and” and “but” in Gen 1:2 I have trusted the Lexicon rather than the ABP but the change to “but” in the ABP may be comparing the creation of God to the original state of the earth. I don’t think it is implying there is a gap of time just a gap of difference between states.

These ideas would place my way of thinking under interpretation options two or three that Barry L. Bandstra describes here. However, he notes that even with option one where Genesis 1:1 is an independent statement it could be a title or topic statement that would make my interpretation fit with all three possible translations. This fit is: “a feat so impressive I am forced to mention it myself” (as the late great Ricky Jay would have put it)

https://books.google.com/books?id=vRY9mTUZKJcC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Bandstra&hl=en&ei=oLjATpT7I6_BiQeNopCcBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&sqi=2&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

One of the reasons I am sharing my interpretation is because I find it useful for reconciling geological age with the Bible. However, I also think this interpretation makes much more sense simply given the text. That should become clear to you as we move along.

1. Sunday

3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. (Gen 1:3-5 NRSV)

To quote myself:

“God said let there be light and there was light”  is written as  “וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים יְהִי אֹור וַֽיְהִי־אֹֽור” you’ll notice that “and there was light” and “let there be light” are written in the same way ” וַֽיְהִי־אֹֽור” and ” יְהִי אֹור” except for the vav (meaning “and”) and the nikkud (nikkud weren’t added till later). How can this be? Because of the vav conversive which changes the tense of the statement, so they can be written the same way even though the tenses are different. However, the vav does not force this to be the case all the time. Therefore, this may be conveying “it happened exactly as God said it would” through the syntax. 

https://kingdomofgodcommunes.org/2020/02/29/passover-the-positive-command/

This is the first day and the astute reader will note that the sun is not created till later. Some say that “light” itself as in photons did not exist up till this point. There have been many attempts to connect this verse with The Big Bang. This is from a Wall Street Journal article:

“The press has dubbed the Higgs boson the “God particle,” a nickname that makes many physicists cringe. But there is some logic to it. According to the Bible, God set the universe into motion as he proclaimed “Let there be light!” In physics, the universe started off with a cosmic explosion, the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago, which sent the stars and galaxies hurtling in all directions.”

https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304141204577508622617259052

However, this does violence to the context. If you read the text you are observing the events in Genesis from the Earth’s perspective rather than from some cosmic perspective: obviously all the light in the universe isn’t separated from all the dark in the universe, neither are day and night cycles established on every planet. It’s just that the day is separated from the night on Earth. This implies that there was a preexisting day-night cycle that had been scrambled and is now set right: “the first day” is described as being the evening and morning that this separation resulted from. The Hebrew word used for “light” here Gesenius says is specifically used for diffuse light as in the daytime and not for light coming from a discrete luminary object. Obviously daytime diffuse light is from the sun which is a luminary (as Gesenius notes) but there’s quite a difference between looking at the day and looking directly into the Sun:

2. Monday

6 And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. 8 God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. (Gen 1:6-8 NRSV)

Here the NRSV is translating “rakiya” in Hebrew as “dome.” Other translations have “firmament. If this refers to the whole sky then there’s not much water above the sky (as we would think of it) and this is a problem. However, did the Hebrews know this? Gesenius says they didn’t and that they believed there was a “heavenly ocean” over the firmament:

I have my doubts that the Bible is expressing this idea of the heavenly ocean. God just calls the firmament “sky” in Gen 1:8. “God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.” The word sky certainly has a large range of meanings: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H8064&t=KJV However, what I want to point out is that an Earthly perspective makes more sense here as well. For both the word “dome” or “firmament”

And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome H7549 of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, (Gen 1:14)

And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome H7549 of the sky.” (Gen 1:20)

and the word “sky” or “heavens:”

And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky H8064 to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, (Gen 1:14)

And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky. H8064 ” (Gen 1:20)

Thus the heavens H8064 and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. (Gen 2:1)

the fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens H8064 were closed, the rain from the heavens H8064 was restrained, (Gen 8:2)

He blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven H8064 and earth; (Gen 14:19)

The dome or firmament holds both fowls and stars and is also called by the same Hebrew word as the word for “sky.” While the word for “sky” or “heavens” also has the sun, stars, and birds in them and regular “rain” (which is what that Hebrew word means in Gen 8:2) “Heavens” is also paired with “earth” to just mean “everything.” This only makes sense if you look at “heavens” and “firmament” from an earthly perspective: anything high above you, hence “sky.” Clouds, rain, birds, and stars are all in the nebulous term “sky” and all are above the observer here in Genesis. If that’s not the perspective of the observer nothing makes sense: you have birds flying around the sun and the moon and stars hanging out in the clouds.

We don’t see the same syntax that God uses in Gen 1:3-5 to say that everything happened exactly as God said but this might still be implied with “and it was so.” However, I think not. Clouds don’t follow orders too well, there’s still going to be fog in the future, just not consistently. Notice that on Monday, God calls nothing good (unlike the rest of the days), this is why you never tell someone at work how awesome your day is on Monday–they will hate you. On a more serious note, I think some Rabbis say he doesn’t call it good because he isn’t finished with the clouds yet and this makes sense. Here God is getting rid of or moving a lot of water vapor in between the earth and the clouds. You can find historical similarities to this situation described in the following:

In the summer of A.D. 536, a mysterious cloud appeared over the Mediterranean basin. “The sun gave forth its light without brightness,” wrote the Byzantine historian Procopius, “and it seemed exceedingly like the sun in eclipse, for the beams it shed were not clear.” In the wake of the cloud’s appearance, local climate cooled for more than a decade. Crops failed, and there was widespread famine. From 541 to 542, a pandemic known as the Plague of Justinian swept through the Eastern Roman Empire.

When a volcano erupts, it spews sulfur particles called aerosols into the air, where they can persist for two to three years. These aerosols block out some of the sun’s incoming radiation, causing cooling. How much light gets blocked and how long the effect lasts depends on the location of the volcano and the magnitude of the eruption, as well as other variables in Earth’s natural climate-control system.

. . .

Scientists had long suspected that the cause of all this misery might be a volcanic eruption, probably from Ilopango in El Salvador, which filled Earth’s atmosphere with ash. But now researchers say there were two eruptions—one in 535 or 536 in the northern hemisphere and another in 539 or 540 in the tropics—that kept temperatures in the north cool until 550.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/sixth-century-misery-tied-not-one-two-volcanic-eruptions-180955858/

The first eruption was not discovered until around 2008 as far as I have searched. The fall of Constantinople was also preceded by a volcanic eruption (Kuwae erupted from 1452–1453), and then a great deal of fog:

On May 22, 1453, the moon, symbol of Constantinople, rose in dark eclipse, fulfilling a prophecy on the city’s demise. Four days later, the whole city was blotted out by a thick fog, a condition unknown in that part of the world in May. When the fog lifted that evening, “flames engulfed the dome of the Hagia Sophia, and lights, too, could be seen from the walls, glimmering in the distant countryside far behind the Turkish camp (to the west),”. This was interpreted by some as the Holy Spirit departing from the Cathedral.

https://www.istanbul-city-guide.com/Fall-of-Constantinople

Also, the effects of the eruption of Laki (a volcanic fissure) was recorded by Gilbert White:

The summer of the year 1783 was an amazing and portentous one, and full of horrible phenomena; for besides the alarming meteors and tremendous thunder‐storms that affrighted and distressed the different counties of this kingdom, the peculiar haze, or smokey fog, that prevailed for many weeks in this island, and in every part of Europe, and even beyond its limits, was a most extraordinary appearance, unlike anything known within the memory of man. By my journal I find that I has notice this strange occurrence from June 23 to July 20 inclusive, during which period the wind varied to every quarter without making any alteration in the air. 

https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/EO065i026p00410-01

Another relevant point is that eruptions can cause rain via low-level clouds:

Volcanoes typically create two types of particles, big primary particles that quickly fall to the troposphere, the lowest portion of Earth’s atmosphere, and smaller secondary particles, mostly composed of sulfuric acid, that react chemically with other molecules in the atmosphere and which are responsible for both local and global precipitation changes.

These secondary particles can in turn both help form and seed clouds, changing precipitation levels over large areas.

The underestimation of the “formation rate of new secondary particles in volcanic plumes by seven to eight orders of magnitude” might lead to an underestimation of the ability of formations to contribute to the creation of low-level clouds, they write in their paper in this week’s edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

It is possible that volcanic eruptions and other volcanic activities that release sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere may have a larger effect on climate than previously understood, they write.

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/sciencefair/post/2011/07/volcanoes-may-cause-more-rain-than-realized/1

Here is the quoted paper:

The underestimation of the formation rate of new secondary particles in volcanic plumes by seven to eight orders of magnitude when performed from calculations based on this nucleation scheme could lead to an underestimation of the CCN and the subsequent potential formation of low-level clouds. As a consequence, such results may help to revisit nucleation schemes implemented in all past simulations of the impact of volcanic eruptions on climate.

https://www.pnas.org/content/108/30/12223

There are similar things that happened much further back. For example, some scientists say that the climate effects of a volcanic eruption reduced the global human population to one group of 10,000 individuals 74,000 years ago. (see Journey of mankind here)

Anyways, we see that events like volcanic eruptions can cause low clouds, fog, and rain, and that their particles can seed clouds (presumably by causing water to form on them). The high cloud cover and low fog is a good match for the scrambled day-night cycle in Gen 1:3-5. Here on Monday he partially fixes that by removing most of the low fog.

3. Tuesday

9 And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day. (Gen 1:9-13)

So far everything has happened exactly as God said or maybe is implied by “and it was so.” Here, we see “and it was so” followed by the description of what happened which is a bit of a break in the pattern so far. Here are the relevant parts where you can see the Hebrew that describes what happened is a bit different than what God commanded:

`Let the earth yield tender grass, herb sowing seed, fruit-tree (whose seed [is] in itself) making fruit after its kind, on the earth:’ ( Gen 1:11 YLT)

הָאָרֶץ דֶּשֶׁא עֵשֶׂב מַזְרִיעַ זֶרַע עֵץ פְּרִי עֹשֶׂה פְּרִי לְמִינֹו אֲשֶׁר זַרְעֹו־בֹו

the earth bringeth forth tender grass, herb sowing seed after its kind, and tree making fruit (whose seed [is] in itself) after its kind; ( Gen 1:12YLT)

הָאָרֶץ דֶּשֶׁא עֵשֶׂב מַזְרִיעַ זֶרַע לְמִינֵהוּ וְעֵץ עֹֽשֶׂה־פְּרִי אֲשֶׁר זַרְעֹו־בֹו לְמִינֵהוּ

So does this imply living things behave randomly in certain ways like clouds? Maybe, possibly adaption is implied. One day is certainly too quick for adaption to happen so this is a bit of reading into things. I’ve even heard this used to argue that evolution is implied in the Bible.

4. Wednesday

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. (Gen 1:14-19)

We’ve already discussed the issue with the day-night cycle coming before the Sun. Here again, we need to look at this from the perspective of Earth and things start making sense. Obviously, the same part of the sky isn’t used to hold the clouds that is used to hold the Sun and there is no water above the Sun like you might literally read previously: “So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome . . . God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.” (Gen 1:7-8)

Here God is creating the luminaries from the perspective of the observer. The stars, Moon, and Sun were already there they were just revealed: hence he created the lights in the sky not the literal sources of those lights. Another interesting thing to note is that “asahhttps://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H6213&t=KJV is used for the “creation” of the lights rather than “bara” https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H1254&t=KJV Some say “Bara” implies ex-nihilo creation while “asah” has a wider range of meaning. A different view is that these words are used interchangeably, compare:

For in six days the Lord made H6213 heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it. (Ex 20:11)

In the beginning when God created H1254 the heavens and the earth, (Gen 1:1)

However, it possibly is talking about separate aspects of creation that are both present in Genesis 1. That is, God shaped old things to create new things.

5. Thursday

20 And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” 21 So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. (Gen 1:20-23)

Maybe now since there is enough light, algae and plankton can start growing again and the ecosystems in the water can be revived. I’m not a biologist and I don’t know for sure if this works, but the pattern is that God seems to build up things lower down on the food chain first.

6. Friday

24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”
27 So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” 29 God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (Gen 1:24-31)

Man is at the top of the food chain so creating/recreating him last makes sense after recreating other large animals. What it means for man to be in the “image” of God is an interesting topic and I found this enlightening: https://biologos.org/common-questions/how-could-humans-have-evolved-and-still-be-in-the-image-of-god/

7. Saturday

1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. 2 And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. (Gen 2:1-3)

And now we have the sabbath established. That’s the end of the first creation story but certainly not the end of the issues here. There’s a lot of other issues with this interpretation from other parts of the Bible and I’ll have to answer those next.

Biblical Issues

1. From the Beginning of Creation, God Made them Male and Female

Here I’ll respond to some possible issues with this interpretation.

In Mark 10:6 we have the clearest (but not the only) statement showing that Jesus was a young-earth creationist. He states that Adam and Eve were at the beginning of creation, not billions of years after the beginning, as would be the case if the universe was really billions of years old. So, if Jesus was a young-earth creationist, then how can His faithful followers have any other view?

https://answersingenesis.org/theory-of-evolution/millions-of-years/seven-reasons-why-we-should-not-accept-millions-of-years/?utm_source=articlesmedia&utm_medium=email&utm_content=featurebutton&utm_campaign=20160402

It actually uses the same word in Mark 10:6 for beginning as it does in Genesis:
https://studybible.info/interlinear/%20Mark%2010:6
https://studybible.info/interlinear/Genesis%201:1

So the trick is to ask the question: the beginning of what? If Genesis is a recreation then he’s referring to Genesis as the beginning of God’s recorded creation but he may have thought there was at least a state of chaos before that if not more.

2. Adam The First Man

Thus it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. (1 Corinthians 15:45)

So this on the surface doesn’t pose a problem for the theory but it does raise another question: were Adam and Eve the first people? In modern times there is an issue with https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Founder_effect but did genetics operate the same way at that time? It’s possible it didn’t or that God sustained the population through miraculous means but I have another issue here.

7 He is the Lord our God;
his judgments are in all the earth.
8 He is mindful of his covenant forever,
of the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
9 the covenant that he made with Abraham,
his sworn promise to Isaac,
10 which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute,
to Israel as an everlasting covenant,
11 saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan
as your portion for an inheritance.” (Psalm 105:7-11)

God seems to say that the rules in his covenant are forever and we see a lot of evidence that the laws of the Torah were indeed observed before Sinai. Indeed the promises given to Abraham are really the continuation of messianic promises given to Eve and passed down through Noah. Hence, the laws against incest may apply:

Leviticus 18:6–11 and Leviticus 20:11–21, Deuteronomy 27:20–23, Deuteronomy 22:30

I’m not saying they were always obeyed, I just don’t think God would have put mankind in a position where they would have no choice but to break his rules. Especially with the strong language Leviticus uses it is hard for me to believe that incest would have been ok at a different time if indeed God does not change:

26 But you shall keep my statutes and my ordinances and commit none of these abominations, either the citizen or the alien who resides among you 27 (for the inhabitants of the land, who were before you, committed all of these abominations, and the land became defiled); 28 otherwise the land will vomit you out for defiling it, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. 29 For whoever commits any of these abominations shall be cut off from their people. 30 So keep my charge not to commit any of these abominations that were done before you, and not to defile yourselves by them: I am the Lord your God. (Lev 18:26-30)

Here’s what I propose then. Adam was, in fact, a representative of humankind and played the role of an early high priest whose job was to be a go-between for God and man. Here’s an argument for this very idea: “Adam as the First Priest in
Eden as the Garden Temple” by G. K. Beale https://sbts-wordpress-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/equip/uploads/2018/10/SBJT-22.2-Adam-as-Priest-Beale.pdf

G. K. Beale actually says:

As we will see, after Adam’s failure to fulfill God’s mandate, God raises up other Adam-like figures to whom his commission is passed on. We will find that some changes in the commission occur as a result of sin entering into the world. Adam’s descendants, like him, however, will fail. Failure will continue until there arises a “Last Adam” who will finally fulfill the commission on behalf of humanity.

https://sbts-wordpress-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/equip/uploads/2018/10/SBJT-22.2-Adam-as-Priest-Beale.pdf

Also see the related idea of the temple rituals being symbolic of reestablishing the original state of man in the garden: ATONEMENT: THE RITE OF HEALING © Margaret Barker, 1994 http://www.margaretbarker.com/Papers/Atonement.pdf

So 1 Corinthians 15:45 isn’t saying Adam was the first man the same way Jesus wasn’t the last man (Adam just means “man” in Hebrew) to live on earth in a literal sense but Adam was the first man in the context of the priesthood of man. The fact that Adam is being used as a representative or priest for mankind is more evident when you look at the context:

42 So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.
50 What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:42-52)

It is contrasting the physical with the spiritual and compares the “first man” (those who are physical and don’t walk in Christ) to the “second man” (those that aren’t just physical and do). “First” here is being used as the first “type of man” not the first man to physically exist just as Jesus was not the second or last man to physically exist. Indeed the quote “The first man Adam became a living being” is not to be found exactly in Genesis 2:7 because Paul has added “first” and “man.” His meaning is rather “the physical man Adam became a living being” which then he uses in contrast with the Christ who makes us the spiritual man. Adam was not the first person due to the incompatibility incest has with God’s laws. Indeed something may be posed to fill in these cryptic passages:

3. Cain The Marked Wanderer

10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground! 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you till the ground, it will no longer yield to you its strength; you will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” 13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear! 14 Today you have driven me away from the soil, and I shall be hidden from your face; I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and anyone who meets me may kill me.” 15 Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! Whoever kills Cain will suffer a sevenfold vengeance.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, so that no one who came upon him would kill him. 16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. 17 Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch; and he built a city, and named it Enoch after his son Enoch. (Gen 4:10-17)

Cain is said to become a wanderer and fugitive but he settles down and founds a city? Who’s his wife? One of the sisters of the brother he just murdered? It seems strange that if he married his sister there is no explanation of how he accomplished this given the strain this would put on the family. Cain says “I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and anyone who meets me may kill me” he doesn’t say his family may kill him. If indeed only his family is on the earth then why couldn’t God just tell them or even Adam (who he has talked to before) not to kill Cain?

Cain assumes he will be wandering but if only his small family is on the earth then why can’t he just get away from them? From this (and God not telling off Cain’s family), I say that the reason Cain would be killed by anyone is that he has alienated himself from his family protection and that the tribal groups of that time were violent towards outsiders. However, who were these other people? God marks Cain and this assumes there are a whole bunch of people already who don’t know who Cain is or that Cain will be avenged.

No one knows what the mark of Cain is or why he was a wanderer that built cities. So I guess I’ll throw in my opinion and quote Josephus: it’s the mark of the state and the wandering is Cain’s constant need to exploit new people with violence (imperialism) since he can no longer provide for himself through farming and does not want to be a nomad. Josephus seems to hint at something like this:

AND WHEN Cain had travelled over many countries, he, with his wife, built a city named Nod, which is a place so called, and there he settled his abode; where also he had children. However, he did not accept of his punishment in order to amendment, but to increase his wickedness; for he only aimed to procure everything that was for his own bodily pleasure, though it obliged him to be injurious to his neighbours. He augmented his household substance with much wealth by rapine and violence; he excited his acquaintance to procure pleasures and spoils of robbery, and became a great leader of men into wicked courses. He also introduced a change in that way of simplicity wherein men lived before, and was the author of measures and weights. And whereas they lived innocently and generously while they knew nothing of such arts, he changed the world into cunning craftiness. He first of all set boundaries about lands; he built a city, and fortified it with walls, and he compelled his family to come together to it; and called that city Enoch, after the name of his eldest son Enoch (CHAPTER II. Book 1)

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Antiquities_of_the_Jews/Book_I

4. One Blood For All Nations

From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, (Acts 17:26)

“ancestor” is literally “blood”

He made also of one blood every nation of men, to dwell upon all the face of the earth — having ordained times before appointed, and the bounds of their dwellings — (Acts 17:26 YLT)

So if my theory is that there were other people does this disprove it? Actually, this verse–read literally–doesn’t contradict the fact of a common ancestor for all humans which is theorized also by science. However, if this is true you can’t just keep pushing back the incest problem forever. God has to create a population of people before (or soon after) the catastrophe in Gen 1 or mankind would have to not be mankind at some point in the past (which is what modern evolutionary theory says). However, what if it is referring to Adamic ancestry of all nations? That would put a dent in the idea that there were other people around at the time although not necessarily disprove it (since there could still be one common ancestor before that) Interestingly enough since God created two separate people: Adam and Eve, they wouldn’t have literally had “one blood” which is why I think it is interesting that “blood” is never used elsewhere in the ABP as a mark of ancestry. “A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint” does mention Numbers 35:11:

αἷμα,-ατος+ N3N 156-69-91-36-49=401
Gn 4,10.11; 9,4.5.6(bis)
blood Ex 12,7; anything like blood, wine Gn 49,11; blood relationship, kin Nm 35,11; blood, life Ez
16,36; αἵματα bloodshed, murder 1 Sm 25,33
κρίνω αὐτὸν θανάτῳ και αἵματι I punish him with death and bloodshed Ez 38,22; ἀνὴρ αἱμάτων cruel
man 2 Sm 16,7; τὸ αἷμά σου ἐπὶ τὴν κεφαλήν σου you are guilty for the death of sb 2 Sm 1,16; αἷμα
ἀναίτιον innocent blood Sus 62; ὁ ἐκχέων αἷμα ἀνθρώπου ἀντὶ τοῦ αἵματος αὐτοῦ ἐκχυθήσεται he that
sheds human blood, instead of that blood shall his own be shed Gn 9,6; πηγὴ αἵματος fountain of blood,
menstrual flow Lv 12,7; ῥύσις αἵματος menstrual flow Lv 15,25
*Ez 24,17 αἵματος blood?-דם for MT דם◊ דמם silence?; *Ez 32,5 ἀπὸ τοῦ αἵματός σου with your bloodדמך/מ for MT רמותיך) with) your rubble?
Cf. ENGEL 1985, 131; HARL 1986a, 61; HARLÉ 1988, 34; LE BOULLUEC 1989, 45; →NIDNTT; TWNT

A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint

However, if you go and look at the verse Num 35:12 (which is the verse they mean in the standard numbering) you’ll see no hint of this idea in the ABP: https://studybible.info/interlinear/Numbers%2035:12 “A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint” seems to get this from an older version of the Septuagint like this one here: http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/nets/edition/04-num-nets.pdf which reads:

And the cities shall be for you places of refuge from one doing the relative’s blood duty, and the one that commits murder will not die until he stands before the congregation for judgment (Num 35:11)

This is used in a totally different context (I would read “blood” as “revenge” here not as “family”) and seems to be a variant or translation issue which leaves some uncertainty. Neither is “blood” used in the new testament as a mark of ancestry. It is only used in the classics and in Acts 17:26 according to Thayer’s (John 1:13 uses it as a mark of human rather than divine origin “flesh and blood”)

c. Since the first germs of animal life are thought to be in the blood (Wis. 7:2; Eustathius ad Iliad 6, 211 (ii. 104, 2) τὸ δὲ αἵματος ἀντὶ τοῦ σπέρματός φασιν οἱ σοφοὶ, ὡς τοῦ σπέρματος ὕλην τὸ αἷμα ἔχοντος), the word serves to denote generation and origin (in the classics also): John 1:13 (on the plural cf. Winer’s Grammar, 177 (166)); Acts 17:26 [R G].

Blood is symbolic of life, so maybe it is saying we all have the same kind of life from God, maybe even it is talking about the blood of God’s life-giving covenant which is open to all nations:

1.
b. As it was anciently believed that the blood is the seat of the life (Leviticus 17:11; [cf. Delitzsch, Biblical Psychol. pp. 238-247 (English translation, p. 281ff)]), the phrase σὰρξ κ. αἷμα (וְדָם בָּשָׂר, a common phrase in rabbinical writers), or in inverse order αἷμα κ. σάρξ, denotes man’s living body compounded of flesh and blood, 1 Corinthians 15:50; Hebrews 2:14, and so hints at the contrast between man and God (or even the more exalted creatures, Ephesians 6:12) as to suggest his feebleness, Ephesians 6:12 (Sir. 14:18), which is conspicuous as respects the knowledge of divine things, Galatians 1:16; Matthew 16:17.


2.

b. It is used specially of the blood of sacrificial victims having a purifying or expiating power (Leviticus 17:11): Hebrews 9:7, 12f, 18-22, 25; Hebrews 10:4; Hebrews 11:28; Hebrews 13:11.

c. Frequent mention is made in the N. T. of the blood of Christ (αἷμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ, 1 Corinthians 10:16; τοῦ κυρίου, 1 Corinthians 11:27; τοῦ ἀρνίου, Revelation 7:14; Revelation 12:11, cf. Revelation 19:13) shed on the cross (αἷ. τοῦ σταυροῦ, Colossians 1:20) for the salvation of many, Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24, cf. Luke 22:20; the pledge of redemption, Ephesians 1:7 (ἀπολύτρωσις διὰ τοῦ αἵ. αὐτοῦ; so too in Colossians 1:14 Rec.); 1 Peter 1:19 (see ἀγοράζω, 2 b.); having expiatory efficacy, Romans 3:25; Hebrews 9:12; by which believers are purified and are cleansed from the guilt of sin, Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 12:24; [Hebrews 13:12]; 1 John 1:7 (cf. 1 John 5:6, 8); Revelation 1:5; Revelation 7:14; 1 Peter 1:2; are rendered acceptable to God, Romans 5:9, and find access into the heavenly sanctuary, Hebrews 10:19; by which the Gentiles are brought to God and the blessings of his kingdom, Ephesians 2:13, and in general all rational beings on earth and in heaven are reconciled to God, Colossians 1:20; with which Christ purchased for himself the church, Acts 20:28, and gathered it for God, Revelation 5:9. Moreover, since Christ’s dying blood served to establish new religious institutions and a new relationship between men and God, it is likened also to a federative or covenant sacrifice: τό αἷμα τῆς διαθήκης, the blood by the shedding of which the covenant should be ratified, Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24, or has been ratified, Hebrews 10:29; Hebrews 13:20 (cf. Hebrews 9:20); add, 1 Corinthians 11:25; Luke 22:20 [WH reject this passage] (in both which the meaning is, ‘this cup containing wine, an emblem of blood, is rendered by the shedding of my blood an emblem of the new covenant’), 1 Corinthians 11:27; (cf. Cicero, pro Sestio 10, 24 foedus sanguine meo ictum sanciri, Livy 23, 8 sanguine Hannibalis sanciam Romanum foedus). πίνειν τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ (i. e. of Christ), to appropriate the saving results of Christ’s death, John 6:53f, 56. [Westcott, Epistles of John, p. 34f.]

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G129&t=KJV

Indeed the next verse speaks of God being near to all nations. It then speaks of God being the source of life:

26 From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, 27 so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us.

28 For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said,

‘For we too are his offspring.’

29 Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. (Acts 17:26-27)

The Bible verse that Paul might allude to is actually talking about Israel not all of mankind which seems to imply a chosen relationship but not a literal birthing:

Hear, O heavens, and listen, O earth;
for the Lord has spoken:
I reared children and brought them up,
but they have rebelled against me.
(Isaiah 1:2)

Paul’s quotation of Greek literature is probably from here which seems to imply not a literal son-ship but a dependency or a close relationship. (I’ve never heard of Zeus birthing all mortals, only of his occasional flings with them)

(1)“From Zeus begin; never let us leave
His name unloved. With Him, with Zeus, are filled
All paths we tread, and all the marts of men;
Filled, too, the sea, and every creek and bay;
And all in all things need we help of Zeus,
For we too are his offspring.”
—Aratus, Phænom. 1–5.

https://biblehub.com/commentaries/ellicott/acts/17.htm

(2)“Most glorious of immortals, many-named,
Almighty and for ever, thee, O Zeus,
Sovran o’er Nature, guiding with thy hand
All things that are, we greet with praises. Thee
’Tis meet that mortals call with one accord,
For we thine offspring are, and we alone
Of all that live and move upon this earth,
Receive the gift of imitative speech.”
—Cleanthes, Hymn to Zeus.

https://biblehub.com/commentaries/ellicott/acts/17.htm

Nevertheless, even if we look at Luke 3:38 which says in the genealogy “son of Adam, son of God” we must remember that God did not literally give birth to Adam but formed him out of the dust. An apt way of translating “son” would be “came from” or “image of.”

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;
(Colossians 1:15 NRSV)

All this is to say even if “blood” does mean “ancestor” and the implied ancestry is God through Adam, there are several other ways this can be taken besides a literal descendancy from Adam by all mankind.

5. The Flood

If there’s a problem with incest before the flood then what about after the flood? I won’t go into detail why the flood was local I will instead refer you to this: https://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/localflood.html

Josephus says that some people survived the flood:

Now all the writers of Barbarian Histories make mention of this flood, and of this Ark: among whom is Berosus the Chaldean. For when he is describing the circumstances of the flood, he goes on thus: “It is said there is still some part of this ship in Armenia, at the mountain of the Cordyæans; and that some people carry off pieces of the bitumen: which they take away, and use chiefly as amulets, for the averting of mischiefs.” Hieronymus the Egyptian also, who wrote the Phenician Antiquities; and Mnaseas, and a great many more make mention of the same. Nay Nicolaus of Damascus, in his ninety sixth Book, hath a particular relation about them: where he speaks thus: “There is a great mountain in Armenia, over Minyas, called Baris: upon which it is reported that many who fled at the time of the deluge were saved: and that one who was carried in an Ark, came on shore upon the top of it; and that the remains of the timber were a great while preserved: this might be the man about whom Moses, the Legislator of the Jews, wrote.”

https://penelope.uchicago.edu/josephus/ant-1.html

The following verses may imply the flood was at least universal in its destruction of mankind:

who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. (1 Peter 3:20)

and if he did not spare the ancient world, even though he saved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood on a world of the ungodly; (2 Peter 2:5)

However, this may have been localized to the land the flood was concerned about. There are other examples of universal language used locally: https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/929-was-the-gospel-preached-throughout-the-whole-world-in-the-first-century In addition, the word for “world” here is used in the Septuagint for a “host”

κόσμος,-ου+ N2M 5-2-17-5-43=72
Gn 2,1; Ex 33,5.6; Dt 4,19; 17,3
world, universe Prv 17,6a; world, earth 2 Mc 3,12; world, mankind Wis 2,24; ornament, decoration Ex
33,5; honour, delight Prv 28,17a
*Gn 2,1 ὁ κόσμος ornamentation-◊צבה or-צבי for MT ◊צבא host, army, see also Dt 4,19, 17,3, Is 24,21,
40,26, Sir 50,19; *2 Sm 1,24 μετὰ κόσμου ὑμῶν with your ornaments-עם־עדיכן for MT עם־עדנים with
luxury, with ornaments
Cf. DOGNIEZ 1992, 138; HARL 1986a, 98; SCHMITT 1974, 152; →MM; NIDNTT; TWNT

6. The World From Water

4 For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of deepest darkness to be kept until the judgment; 5 and if he did not spare the ancient world, even though he saved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood on a world of the ungodly; (2 Peter 2:4-5)

3 First of all you must understand this, that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since our ancestors died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!” 5 They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago and an earth was formed out of water and by means of water, 6 through which the world of that time was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the godless. (2 Peter 3:3-7 NRSV)

We have already talked about “kosmos” which the word for “world” in 2 Peter 2: 5. In verse 2 Peter 3:5 “out of water” is not difficult to interpret. Dry land indeed emerged from “out of” water in Genesis 1 because the water ran off the land. However, what does “by means of water” mean? Was the Earth literally made of water? In the very next verse “through” is the same word and it precedes a genitive just as the one in verse 6. In addition 1 Peter 4:11 uses the same word preceding a genitive “through Jesus Christ”

Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11)

In 2 Peter 2:6 “through” is not talking about making something out of something but it is “through” in the sense of “through this process” and in 1 Peter 4:11 the things being glorified in God are not created out of Jesus Christ, but it is “by means of” Jesus Christ. So in this sense the world was created with the use of water but it probably wasn’t literally created from water. In addition, Dodson has this for the Genetive:

διά
through, on account of
(a) gen: through, throughout, by the instrumentality of, (b) acc: through, on account of, by reason of, for the sake of, because of.

https://studybible.info/strongs/G1223

Therefore, the Earth came out from under the waters when they were removed from it and by the instrumentality of water. Not literally created out of water.

7. Eve Mother of All Living

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

This is really interesting actually. Gesenius interprets “living” as “every living thing” implying a messianic meaning of being the mother of the Messiah who brings life to all. See Gesenius:

Eve is like a grain of sand in this poem:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour . . .

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43650/auguries-of-innocence

Conclusion

I have presented a theory which attempts to reconcile the Bible with modern science on the question of creation and the flood. All the main arguments I have made here have been from scripture or related context such as Josephus. I’ve presented a theory of Genesis that explains the awkward timeline of the sun being “created” after the day-night cycle starts in terms of an earthly viewpoint combined with a volcanic winter. I’ve also dealt with major challenges to the Bible from genetics but argued for them totally based on the laws against incest. The thing left to explore in this reconciliation is whether the Bible can be reconciled with science based on the timeline presented. There are some challenges already from Egyptian chronology but I am curious if this chronology is revised would we still see issues with the timeline in Genesis compared to other records?

Koinonia and Context

and they were continuing stedfastly in the teaching of the apostles, and the fellowship (G2842), and the breaking of the bread, and the prayers. (Acts 2:42 YLT)

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, (G2842) to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42 NRSV)

In the NRSV (which I trust more for grammar and the meaning in English as opposed to literal consistent rendering in YLT) it has the church in acts continuing in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship. This is the same fellowship or communal life that the apostles practiced. As it says in the NABRE says: “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.” (Acts 2:42 NABRE) The word for fellowship is transliterated as “koinonia” and is from the same root as “koinos” used for “common” in the phrases “kept all in common” in Acts 2:44 and 4:32. 

κοινωνία,-ας+ N1F 1-0-0-0-2=3
Lv 5,21; 3 Mc 4,6; Wis 8,18
sign of fellowship, gift, contribution Lv 5,21
ἐν κοινωνίᾳ λόγων αὐτῆς in talking with her, in the sharing of words with her, in conversation with her
Wis 8,18; βίου κοινωνία partnership of marriage 3 Mc 4,6
Cf. HORSLEY 1983, 19; →NIDNTT; TWNT

2 The soul which ever should sin, and by ignoring should ignore the commandments of the lord, and should lie concerning the neighbor in a matter of trust, or concerning fellowship, or concerning seizure, or he wronged [3in any way 1the 2neighbor], (Leviticus 6:2 ABP)

Gesenius says of this (I think he means Lev 6:2 or is referring to a Septuagint version of the Bible)

The root Gesenius says means “to put, to set. To place” https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=H7760&t=KJV

Gesenius says that this word with the genitive (meaning “of”) “יד” (hand) that it means “deposit.” If you used the root’s meaning it would literally be “putting of hand” Julius Furst’s lexicon renders this as “the pledging of the hand” https://books.google.com/books?id=BBGgdadBafgC&pg=PA537&lpg=PA537&dq=%D7%99%D6%B8%D7%93+lev+5:21&source=bl&ots=PocvUeWu6l&sig=ACfU3U063ZxRVMQX6Qkz_5Yl_OvuriDgIg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiA7JHSq5nnAhXFB50JHThJApUQ6AEwAHoECCkQAQ#v=onepage&q=%D7%99%D6%B8%D7%93%20lev%205%3A21&f=false

I see these sections of Gesenius’s definition for hand (H3027) as similar:

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=H3027&t=KJV

Rashi says of this:

money given in hand: that he placed money into his hand, to do business with it or [as] a loan. — [Torath Kohanim 5:373]

The idea of a loan (which were supposed to be given without interest and without expecting repayment) or a deposit (given in trust of completing the transaction, such as Judah did with Tamar) seems to fit with the Hebrew and Greek definitions here. One Hebrew word that Gesenius renders as “pledge” is H6162 https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H6162&t=KJV The usage in Hebrew Bible KJV follows:

And he said, I will send thee a kid from the flock. And she said, Wilt thou give me a pledge, H6162 till thou send it?
(Gen 38:17)

And he said, What pledge H6162 shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff that is in thine hand. And he gave it her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him. (Gen 38:18)

And Judah sent the kid by the hand of his friend the Adullamite, to receive his pledge H6162 from the woman’s hand: but he found her not. (Gen 38:20)

The root of H6162 is H6148 which Gesenius says means to 1 “mix” 2 “to exchange articles” 3 “to become surety” 4 “to pledge, to give in pledge” The usage in the Hebrew Bible in the KJV follows:

I will be surety H6148 for him; of my hand shalt thou require him: if I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bear the blame for ever: (Gen 43:9)

For thy servant became surety H6148 for the lad unto my father, saying, If I bring him not unto thee, then I shall bear the blame to my father for ever. (Gen 44:32)

Now therefore, I pray thee, give pledges H6148 to my lord the king of Assyria, and I will deliver thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them. (2Ki 18:23)

For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled H6148 themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass. (Ezr 9:2)

Some also there were that said, We have mortgaged H6148 our lands, vineyards, and houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth. (Neh 5:3)

Lay down now, put me in a surety H6148 with thee; who is he that will strike hands with me? (Job 17:3)

But were mingled H6148 among the heathen, and learned their works. (Psa 106:35)

Be surety H6148 for thy servant for good: let not the proud oppress me. (Psa 119:122)

My son, if thou be surety H6148 for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger, (Pro 6:1)

He that is surety H6148 for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hateth suretiship is sure. (Pro 11:15)

The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle H6148 with his joy. (Pro 14:10)

A man void of understanding striketh hands, and becometh H6148 surety in the presence of his friend. (Pro 17:18)

Take his garment that is surety H6148 for a stranger: and take a pledge of him for a strange woman. (Pro 20:16)

He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle H6148 not with him that flattereth with his lips.
(Pro 20:19)

Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties H6148 for debts. (Pro 22:26)

My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle H6148 not with them that are given to change: (Pro 24:21)

Take his garment that is surety H6148 for a stranger, and take a pledge of him for a strange woman. (Pro 27:13)

Now therefore give pledges, H6148 I pray thee, to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them.
(Isa 36:8)

Like a crane or a swallow, so did I chatter: I did mourn as a dove: mine eyes fail with looking upward: O LORD, I am oppressed; undertake H6148 for me.
(Isa 38:14)

And their nobles shall be of themselves, and their governor shall proceed from the midst of them; and I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me: for who is this that engaged H6148 his heart to approach unto me? saith the LORD.
(Jer 30:21)

The ancients of Gebal and the wise men thereof were in thee thy calkers: all the ships of the sea with their mariners were in thee to occupy H6148 thy merchandise.
(Eze 27:9)

Thy riches, and thy fairs, thy merchandise, thy mariners, and thy pilots, thy calkers, and the occupiers H6148 of thy merchandise, and all thy men of war, that are in thee, and in all thy company which is in the midst of thee, shall fall into the midst of the seas in the day of thy ruin.(Eze 27:27)

So that’s what I’ve found for the Hebrew meaning behind the Greek word “koinonia.” This is the definition from the BDAG. The thing I want to highlight here is it can mean “management of a household” which is interesting given that later is used in context of the coming together of the houses of Judah and Ephraim:

οἰκονομία, ας, ἡ (οἰκονομέω; X., Pla.+; ins., pap; Is 22:19, 21; TestJob, ParJer, Philo, Joseph.)
① responsibility of management, management of a household, direction, office (X., Oec. 1, 1; Herodian 6, 1, 1; Jos., Ant. 2, 89; PTebt 27, 21 [114 B.C.]; PLond III, 904, 25 p. 125 [104 A.D.]; Orig., C. Cels. 8, 57, 22).
ⓐ lit., of the work of an οἰκονόμος ‘estate manager’ Lk 16:2–4 (this passage shows that it is not always poss. to draw a sharp distinction betw. the office itself and the activities associated w. it).—WPöhlmann, Der verlorene Sohn u. das Haus ’93.
ⓑ Paul applies the idea of administration to the office of an apostle οἰκονομίαν πεπίστευμαι I have been entrusted with a commission/task 1 Cor 9:17 (cp. Theoph. Ant. 1, 11 [p. 82, 8]); ἀνθρωπίνων οἰκονομίαν μυστηρίων πεπίστευνται they have been entrusted with the administration of merely human mysteries Dg 7:1. Of a supervisor (bishop): ὃν πέμπει ὁ οἰκοδεσπότης εἰς ἰδίαν οἰκ. (οἰκ. ἰδίου οἴκου) the one whom the master of the house sent to administer his own household IEph 6:1. This is prob. also the place for κατὰ τὴν οἰκ. τοῦ θεοῦ τὴν δοθεῖσάν μοι εἰς ὑμᾶς according to the divine office which has been granted to me for you Col 1:25, as well as ἠκούσατε τὴν οἰκονομίαν τ. χάριτος τ. θεοῦ τῆς δοθείσης μοι εἰς ὑμᾶς you have heard of the administration of God’s grace that was granted to me for you Eph 3:2 (on the other hand, this latter vs. may be parallel to the usage in vs. 9; s. 2b below).
② state of being arranged, arrangement, order, plan (X., Cyr. 5, 3, 25; Polyb. 4, 67, 9; 10, 16, 2; Diod S 1, 81, 3)
ⓐ ἡ τῆς σαρκὸς οἰκονομία of the arrangement or structure of the parts of the body beneath the skin; they are laid bare by scourging MPol 2:2.—(Iren. 5, 3, 2 [Harv. II, 326, 3]).
ⓑ of God’s unique plan private plan, plan of salvation, i.e. arrangements for redemption of humans (in the pap of arrangements and directions of authorities: UPZ 162 IX, 2 [117 B.C.]; CPR 11, 26, and in PGM [e.g. 4, 293] of the measures by which one wishes to attain some goal by extrahuman help.—Just., D. 31, 1 τοῦ πάθους … οἰκ.; Hippol., Did.) ἡ οἰκ. τοῦ μυστηρίου the plan of the mystery Eph 3:9 (v.l. κοινωνία; on the thought cp. vs. 2 and s. JReumann, NovT 3, ’59, 282–92.—Just., D. 134, 2 οἰκονομίαι … μυστηρίων). Also in the linguistically difficult passage 1:10 οἰκ. certainly refers to the plan of salvation which God is bringing to reality through Christ, in the fullness of the times. κατʼ οἰκονομίαν θεοῦ according to God’s plan of redemption IEph 18:2 (cp. Ath. 21, 4 κατὰ θείαν οἰκ.—Pl.: Iren. 1, 10, 1 [Harv. I 90, 8]) προσδηλώσω ὑμῖν ἧς ἠρξάμην οἰκονομίας εἰς τὸν καινὸν ἄνθρωπον Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν I will explain to you further the divine plan which I began (to discuss), with reference to the new human being Jesus Christ IEph 20:1. AcPl Ha 3, 23 of God’s marvelous plan = way of doing things; 6, 26 ο̣ἰ̣κο̣ν̣[ομίαν πληρῶσω κτλ.] (so that I might carry out God’s) plan for me; pl. 5, 27 [ὡς καὶ ἐκεῖ τὰς τοῦ κυρίου οἰκο]νομίας πληρῶσε (=πληρῶσαι) [Paul has gone off to carry out God’s] purpose [also there] (in Macedonia) (apparently a ref. to the various missionary assignments given by God to Paul; for the formulation cp. τὴν οἰκ. τελέσας Orig., C. Cels. 2, 65, 4).
ⓒ also of God’s arrangements in nature pl. αἱ οἰκ. θεοῦ Dg 4:5 (cp. Tat. 12, 2; 18, 2 ὕλης οἰκ.; Did., Gen. 92, 6 πάντα ὑπὸ τὴν αὐτοῦ οἰκ. ἐστίν.—Of the order in creation Theoph. Ant. 2, 12 [p. 130, 2]).
③ program of instruction, training (in the way of salvation); this mng. (found also Clem. Alex., Paed. 1, 8, 69, 3; 70, 1 p. 130 St.) seems to fit best in 1 Ti 1:4, where it is said of the erroneous teachings of certain persons ἐκζητήσεις παρέχουσιν μᾶλλον ἢ οἰκονομίαν θεοῦ τὴν ἐν πίστει they promote useless speculations rather than divine training that is in faith (οἰκοδομήν and οἰκοδομίαν [q.v.] as vv.ll. are simply ‘corrections’ to alleviate the difficulty). If οἰκ. is to be taken in the sense of 1b above, the thought of the verse would be somewhat as follows: ‘endless speculative inquiry merely brings about contention instead of the realization of God’s purpose which has to do with faith.’—OLillger, Das patristische Wort, diss. Erlangen ’55; JReumann, The Use of ΟΙΚΟΝΟΜΙΑ and Related Terms etc., diss. U. of Pennsylvania ’57.—DELG s.v. νέμω. M-M. EDNT. TW. Spicq. Sv.

Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., pp. 697–698). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Of the other places Koinonia is used in the new testament, this one, we have already discussed:

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.43 Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.(Acts 2:42-45 NRSV)

Here it is used off a charitable gift to another church:

26 for Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to share their resources with the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. 27 They were pleased to do this, and indeed they owe it to them; for if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material things. 28 So, when I have completed this, and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will set out by way of you to Spain; 29 and I know that when I come to you, I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ. (Romans 15:26-29 NRSV)

Here similar language is used to what the church in Acts is described as having (see bold italics)

9 God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 10 Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. 12 What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” 13 Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power. (1 Cor 1:9-17)

Here koinonia is used to describe the unity of the body of messiah:

12 So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. 13 No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it. 14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. 15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Consider the people of Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar? 19 What do I imply then? That food sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Or are we provoking the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he? 23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other.
(1 Cor 10:12-24)

12 There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours. 13 In return—I speak as to children—open wide your hearts also. 14 Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship is there between light and darkness? 15 What agreement does Christ have with Beliar? Or what does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

“I will live in them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
17 Therefore come out from them,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch nothing unclean;
then I will welcome you,
18 and I will be your father,
and you shall be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”
(2 Corinthians 6:12-18)

Here it is used in context with a charitable gift to another church:

3 For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, 4 begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints— 5 and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us, 6 so that we might urge Titus that, as he had already made a beginning, so he should also complete this generous undertaking among you. 7 Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you—so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking. 8 I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. 9 For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. 10 And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something— 11 now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. 12 For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has—not according to what one does not have. 13 I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between 14 your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. 15 As it is written,

“The one who had much did not have too much,
and the one who had little did not have too little.”

16 But thanks be to God who put in the heart of Titus the same eagerness for you that I myself have. 17 For he not only accepted our appeal, but since he is more eager than ever, he is going to you of his own accord. 18 With him we are sending the brother who is famous among all the churches for his proclaiming the good news; 19 and not only that, but he has also been appointed by the churches to travel with us while we are administering this generous undertaking for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our goodwill. (2 Corinthians 8:3-19)

And here again:

5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you, and arrange in advance for this bountiful gift that you have promised, so that it may be ready as a voluntary gift and not as an extortion. 6 The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. 9 As it is written,

“He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.”

10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; 12 for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God. 13 Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God that he has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:5-15)

Here it is used of the commonly held or shared holy spirit:

11 Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. 13 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. ( 2 Corinthians 13:11-14)

Here it is used of at least a general partnership, if not a communal one of sharing with the poor:

7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel for the circumcised 8 (for he who worked through Peter making him an apostle to the circumcised also worked through me in sending me to the Gentiles), 9 and when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 They asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was eager to do.
(Galatians 2:7-10)

Here it is used of the comming together of the two houses of Israel, Judah and Ephraim:

11 So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision”—a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15 He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16 and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. 17 So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18 for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21 In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God. (Ephesians 2:11-22)

1 This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— 2 for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you, 3 and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, 4 a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. 5 In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: 6 that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 7 Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. 8 Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, 9 and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; 9 and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; 10 so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him. 13 I pray therefore that you may not lose heart over my sufferings for you; they are your glory. 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. 16 I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, 17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. (Ephesians 2:1-3:17)

Here it is used of the sharing in the gospel and compared to their sharing in God’s grace, Paul’s imprisonment, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.

3 I thank my God every time I remember you, 4 constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, 5 because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:3-8)

Here again it is used with similar language to the sharing in the church in Acts:

1 If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2 make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

6 who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7 but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8 he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.

9 Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:1-11)

Here it is used of sharing the sufferings of Christ:

8 For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11 if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:8-11)

Again the sharing of their beliefs:

4 When I remember you in my prayers, I always thank my God 5 because I hear of your love for all the saints and your faith toward the Lord Jesus. 6 I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective when you perceive all the good that we may do for Christ. 7 I have indeed received much joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, my brother. (Philemon 1:4-7)

Here it seems explicitly to mean possession sharing according to the NRSV:

15 Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (Hebrews 13:15-16)

Although there are other translations:

Hebrews 13:16 — “But to do good and to communicate forget not” – Word Study on “to communicate” – Strong says the Greek word “communicate” ( κοινωνία) (G 2842) means, “partnership, participation.” BDAG says it means, “generosity, fellow-feeling, altruism.” Within the context of Hebrews 13:16, it carries the idea of generous sharing with one another.
https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/hebrews-13.html1

Here again of some form of fellowship that is also used for the fellowship we have with Christ:

3 we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. 5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; 7 but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:3-10)

Here G2843 (koinonikoi) is used in Timothy 6:18 and translated rather blandly as generous:

17 As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, 19 thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

So some of these are uncertain, but where the meaning is certain it seems to reflect a communal or charitable attitude and is used with the same type of language that described the church in Acts. David Bentley Hart concludes from his study of the words related to koinon:

The early church’s radicalism, if that is the right word, was impressed upon me repeatedly over the past few years, as I worked on my own translation of the New Testament for Yale University Press. . . regarding various constructions concerning words dealing with that which is “koinon,” or “common,” and most especially the texts’ distinctive emphasis on “koinonia.” This is a word usually rendered blandly as “fellowship” or “sharing” or (slightly better) “communion.” But is that all it implies?
After all, the New Testament’s condemnations of personal wealth are fairly unremitting and remarkably stark: Matthew 6:19-20, for instance (“Do not store up treasures for yourself on the earth”), or Luke 6:24-25 (“But alas for you who are rich, for you have your comfort”) or James 5:1-6 (“Come now, you who are rich, weep, howling out at the miseries that are coming for you”). While there are always clergy members and theologians swift to assure us that the New Testament condemns not wealth but its abuse, not a single verse (unless subjected to absurdly forced readings) confirms the claim.
I came to the conclusion that koinonia often refers to a precise set of practices within the early Christian communities, a special social arrangement — the very one described in Acts — that was integral to the new life in Christ. When, for instance, the Letter to the Hebrews instructs believers not to neglect koinonia, or the First Letter to Timothy exhorts them to become koinonikoi, this is no mere recommendation of personal generosity, but an invocation of a very specific form of communal life.
As best we can tell, local churches in the Roman world of the apostolic age were essentially small communes, self-sustaining but also able to share resources with one another when need dictated. This delicate web of communes constituted a kind of counter-empire within the empire, one founded upon charity rather than force — or, better, a kingdom not of this world but present within the world nonetheless, encompassing a radically different understanding of society and property.

nytimes.com/2017/11/04/opinion/sunday/christianity-communism.html

Lost Tribes in Romans

Introductory Verses

Ezekiel 37 (YLT)
15 And there is a word of Jehovah unto me, saying,
16 `And thou, son of man, take to thee one stick, and write on it, For Judah, and for the sons of Israel, his companions; and take another stick, and write on it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and all the house of Israel, his companions,
17 and bring them near one unto another, to thee, for one stick, and they have become one in thy hand.
18 `And when sons of thy people speak unto thee, saying, Dost thou not declare to us what these [are] to thee?
19 Speak unto them, Thus said the Lord Jehovah: Lo, I am taking the stick of Joseph, that [is] in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his companions, and have given them unto him, with the stick of Judah, and have made them become one stick, and they have been one in My hand.
20 And the sticks on which thou writest have been in thy hand before thine eyes,
21 and speak thou unto them: Thus said the Lord Jehovah: Lo, I am taking the sons of Israel, From among the nations whither they have gone, And have gathered them from round about, And I have brought them in unto their land.
22 And I have made them become one nation in the land, on mountains of Israel, And one king is to them all for king, And they are no more as two nations, Nor are they divided any more into two kingdoms again.

Jeremiah 16:14-18:23 Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)
14 Therefore, lo, days are coming, An affirmation of Jehovah, And it is not said any more: `Jehovah liveth, who brought up The sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’
15 But, `Jehovah liveth, who brought up The sons of Israel out of the land of the north, And out of all the lands whither He drove them,’ And I have brought them back to their land, That I gave to their fathers.
16 Lo, I am sending for many fishers, An affirmation of Jehovah, And they have fished them, And after this I send for many hunters, And they have hunted them from off every mountain, And from off every hill, and from holes of the rocks.
. . .
Jeremiah 18
1The word that hath been unto Jeremiah from Jehovah, saying,
2 Rise, and thou hast gone down [to] the potter’s house, and there I cause thee to hear My words;
3 and I go down [to] the potter’s house, and lo, he is doing a work on the stones,
4 and marred is the vessel that he is making, as clay in the hand of the potter, and he hath turned and he maketh it another vessel, as it was right in the eyes of the potter to make.
5 And there is a word of Jehovah to me, saying:
6 As this potter am I not able to do to you? O house of Israel, an affirmation of Jehovah. Lo, as clay in the hand of the potter, So [are] ye in My hand, O house of Israel.
7 The moment I speak concerning a nation, And concerning a kingdom, To pluck up and to break down, and to destroy,
8 And that nation hath turned from its evil, Because I have spoken against it, Then I have repented of the evil that I thought to do to it.
9 And the moment I speak concerning a nation, And concerning a kingdom, to build, and to plant,

Deuteronomy 28 (YLT)
63 `And it hath been, as Jehovah hath rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you, so doth Jehovah rejoice over you to destroy you, and to lay you waste; and ye have been pulled away from off the ground whither thou art going in to possess it;
64 and Jehovah hath scattered thee among all the peoples, from the end of the earth even unto the end of the earth; and thou hast served there other gods which thou hast not known, thou and thy fathers — wood and stone.

Lev 26 (YLT)
33And you I scatter among nations, and have drawn out after you a sword, and your land hath been a desolation, and your cities are a waste.
. . .
41 also I walk to them in opposition, and have brought them into the land of their enemies — or then their uncircumcised heart is humbled, and then they accept the punishment of their iniquity,

. . .
44 and also even this, in their being in the land of their enemies, I have not rejected them, nor have I loathed them, to consume them, to break My covenant with them; for I [am] Jehovah their God; —
45 then I have remembered for them the covenant of the ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt before the eyes of the nations to become their God; I [am] Jehovah.’

Anathema from Christ

Romans 9:3 for I was wishing, I myself, to be anathema G331 from the Christ — for my brethren, my kindred, according to the flesh, (YLT)

Yet from the usage in the Septuagint you can see that G331 is sometimes used for destruction, and sometimes in a neutral or even positive sense, (Liddell Scott’s definition for G331 says “anything dedicated”)

Anathema is also used in Leviticus 27:28 (in the Septuagint) to describe an offering or gift to God. “A.like ἀνάθημα, anything dedicated, Theoc.Ep.13.2, AP6.162 (Mel.), CIG2693d(Mylasa), al., Phld.Mus.p.85 K.

2. anything devoted to evil, an accursed thing, LXX Le.27.28, De.7.26,13.17, al.; of persons. Ep.Rom.9.3, 1 Ep.Cor.12.3, etc.

II. curse, Tab.Defix.Aud.41 B (Megara, i/ii A. D.), cf. sq.”

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.04.0057:entry=a)na/qema

And a related word G334 is used in Luke 21:5 to describe “gifts” or “offerings” of the temple. There is some debate over how related these words are, and what their relationship actually is: “Some affirm that these are merely different spellings of the same word, and that they are used indifferently. . .” https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/trench/section.cfm?sectionID=5

Strong’s says “(like G331, but in a good sense)” https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G334&t=KJV

While Liddell and Scott say:
“A.that which is set up: hence, like ἄγαλμα, votive offering set up in a temple, . . .” http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.04.0057:entry=a)na/qhma

http://studybible.info/strongs/G331 (show’s corresponding Hebrew from Septuagint)

http://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/G331

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H2764&t=KJV

Consider the following usages of G133:

Leviticus 27:28 Notwithstanding no devoted G133 thing, that a man shall devote unto the Lord of all that he hath, both of man and beast, and of the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed: every devoted G133 thing is most holy unto the Lord. (KJV)

The word “from” G575 in Romans 9:3 can mean “because of”, “from” or “by” Observe the following:

Rev 1:4
John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from G575 him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from G575 the seven Spirits which are before his throne;

Rev 1:5
And from G575 Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from G575 our sins in his own blood,

Heb 5:8
Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by G575 the things which he suffered;

Acts 11:19
19 The ones indeed then being disseminated because of G575 the affliction taking place with Stephen, went unto Phoenicia, and Cyprus, and Antioch, [4to no one 1speaking 2the 3word] except only to Jews.

https://www.stepbible.org/?q=version=ABEn%7Creference=act.11

Lev 27
28 And every offering for consumption which ever [2should present 1a man] to the lord of G575 all as much as is to him, from G575 man unto beast, and from G575 a field of his possession, he shall not sell it, nor ransom it; every offering for consumption [2a holy 3of holies 1will be] to the lord. http://studybible.info/interlinear/Leviticus%2027:28

https://www.stepbible.org/?q=version=ABEn%7Creference=Lev.27

Heb 5:8
Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by G575 the things which he suffered;

Rev 1:4
John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from G575 him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from G575 the seven Spirits which are before his throne;

Rev 1:5
And from G575 Jesus Christ, . . .

Hence we can also interpret Paul as saying “for I was wishing, I myself, to be dedicated/devoted by the Christ — for my brethren, my kindred, according to the flesh,”

Apostle to the Gentiles or to The Lost Tribes of Israel?

If we compare the following verses this also supports the possibility:

Rev 21 YLT
12 having also a wall great and high, having twelve gates, and at the gates twelve messengers, and names written thereon, which are [those] of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel,
. . . 
24 and the nations of the saved in its light shall walk, and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it,

Acts 9 (referring to Paul) (YLT)
15 And the Lord said unto him, `Be going on, because a choice vessel to Me is this one, to bear My name before nations and kings — the sons also of Israel;
16 for I will shew him how many things it behoveth him for My name to suffer.’

Isaiah 60 (YLT)
3 And come have nations to thy light, And kings to the brightness of thy rising.
4 Lift up round about thine eyes and see, All of them have been gathered, they have come to thee, Thy sons [referring to Israel] from afar do come, And thy daughters on the side are supported.

Gen 35:10 (YLT)
10 and God saith to him, Thy name [is] Jacob: thy name is no more called Jacob, but Israel is thy name;’ and He calleth his name Israel. 11 And God saith to him,I [am] God Almighty; be fruitful and multiply, a nation and an assembly of nations is from thee, and kings from thy loins go out; 

Also, note these:

Romans 11:25 Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)
25 For I do not wish you to be ignorant, brethren, of this secret — that ye may not be wise in your own conceits — that hardness in part to Israel hath happened till the fulness of the nations may come in;

Genesis 48:19 Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)
19 And his father refuseth, and saith, `I have known, my son, I have known; he also becometh a people, and he also is great, and yet, his young brother is greater than he, and his seed is the fulness of the nations;’

Romans and The Lost Tribes G4892

Saved can Mean Returned

The word for “saved” can mean “made whole” in the Greek. https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4982

If we look at it through the Septuagint and the actual context of the old testament which paul is quoting the concept of “returned” is most prominent:

Compare Romans 9:27 with Isaiah 10:22 (YLT)
Romans 9:27 And Isaiah doth cry concerning Israel, `If the number of the sons of Israel may be as the sand of the sea, the remnant shall be saved;

Isaiah 10:22 For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, A remnant doth return of it, A consumption determined, Overflowing [with] righteousness.

Both Isaiah and Hosea (which Paul also quotes from) looked at in actual context are talking about Israel being “returned” or “made whole” not “saved.” The vessels of destruction, could be “vessels that are lost” the Greek word in the Septuagint is also used when talking about a lost donkey or anything your brother has lost in Deuteronomy 22:3. http://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/G684

Romans 8 Context

Also look at the Psalm Paul quotes from in Romans 8. That chapter is also in context of return of the northern kingdom. Those whom he “fore-appointed” or “predestined” are the descendents of the northern kingdom that are predestined to return to Israel and bring a greater harvest with them like the mixed multitude that came out of Egypt and were grafted into Israel:

Isaiah 14:
1Because Jehovah loveth Jacob, And hath fixed again on Israel, And given them rest on their own land, And joined hath been the sojourner to them, And they have been admitted to the house of Jacob. 2And peoples have taken them, And have brought them in unto their place, And the house of Israel have inherited them, On the land of Jehovah, For men-servants and for maid-servants, And they have been captors of their captors, And have ruled over their exactors.

Notice when it says “sheep intended for food” you could also read “sheep intended for slaughter” It’s a picture of both Messiah and Israel.

Romans 8 (YLT)
30 and whom He did fore-appoint, these also He did call; and whom He did call, these also He declared righteous; and whom He declared righteous, these also He did glorify.
31 What, then, shall we say unto these things? if God [is] for us, who [is] against us?
32 He who indeed His own Son did not spare, but for us all did deliver him up, how shall He not also with him the all things grant to us?
33 Who shall lay a charge against the choice ones of God? God [is] He that is declaring righteous,
34 who [is] he that is condemning? Christ [is] He that died, yea, rather also, was raised up; who is also on the right hand of God — who also doth intercede for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of the Christ? tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 (according as it hath been written — `For Thy sake we are put to death all the day long, we were reckoned as sheep of slaughter,’)

Psalm 44 (which is quoted in bold) is speaking of the lost tribes:

2 Thou, [with] Thy hand, nations hast dispossessed. And Thou dost plant them. Thou afflictest peoples, and sendest them away.
3 For, not by their sword Possessed they the land, And their arm gave not salvation to them, But Thy right hand, and Thine arm, And the light of Thy countenance, Because Thou hadst accepted them.

. . .

9 In anger Thou hast cast off and causest us to blush, And goest not forth with our hosts.
10 Thou causest us to turn backward from an adversary, And those hating us, Have spoiled for themselves.
11 Thou makest us food like sheep, And among nations Thou hast scattered us.
12 Thou sellest Thy people — without wealth, And hast not become great by their price.

. . .

20 If we have forgotten the name of our God, And spread our hands to a strange God,
21 Doth not God search out this? For He knoweth the secrets of the heart.
22 Surely, for Thy sake we have been slain all the day, Reckoned as sheep of the slaughter.

Saved G4982 is used in Romans 11:25-26 for Israel being saved. This also has a connection to the return of the lost tribes, as the northern kingdom is referred to as Ephraim and these verses reference Genesis 48:19 (as shown below)

“Fullness” is really a different form of the same word in Gen 48:19 and in Rom 11:25

http://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/G4138 (used in Rom 11:25)

http://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/4128/start/180 (Used in Gen 48:19) These both have the same origin of G4130.

The etymology is shown here:

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4128&t=NASB

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4138&t=NASB

The connection is direct in the Hebrew since G4138 is used for a translation of H4393 http://studybible.info/strongs/G4138 in the Septuagint in several places, including here, referring to the sons of Joseph:

Deu 33 (YLT)
16 And by precious things — of earth and its fulness, H4393 And the good pleasure Of Him who is dwelling in the bush, — Let it come for the head of Joseph, And for the crown of him Who is separate from his brethren.
17 His honour [is] a firstling of his ox, And his horns [are] horns of a reem; By them peoples he doth push together To the ends of earth; And they [are] the myriads of Ephraim, And they [are] the thousands of Manasseh.

Deut 33 (NASB) for more clarity:

16 And with the choice things of the earth and its fullness, H4393
And the favor of Him who dwelt in the bush.
Let it come to the head of Joseph,
And to the crown of the head of the one distinguished among his brothers.
17 “As the firstborn of his ox, majesty is his,
And his horns are the horns of the wild ox;
With them he will push the peoples,
All at once, to the ends of the earth.
And those are the ten thousands of Ephraim,
And those are the thousands of Manasseh.”

2Sa 8:2
And he smote Moab, and measured them with a line, casting them down to the ground; even with two lines measured he to put to death, and with one full H4393 line to keep alive. And so the Moabites became David’s servants, and brought gifts.

Compare those with the LXX here: http://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/4138

YLT with Strong’s numbers from LXX http://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/G1484

Romans 11:25-26
25 For I do not wish you to be ignorant, brethren, of this secret — that ye may not be wise in your own conceits — that hardness in part to Israel hath happened till the fulness of the nations G1484 may come in;
26 and so all Israel shall be saved, G4982 according as it hath been written, `There shall come forth out of Sion he who is delivering, and he shall turn away impiety from Jacob,

Gen 48:19 YLT
19 And his father refuseth, and saith, `I have known, my son, I have known; he also becometh a people, and he also is great, and yet, his young brother is greater than he, and his seed is the fulness (LXX G4128) of the nations;’ (LXX G1484)

20 and he blesseth them in that day, saying, `By thee doth Israel bless, saying, God set thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh;’ and he setteth Ephraim before Manasseh.

All this is also to show that when we read Romans 8, those whom he “fore-appointed” or “predestined” and those who love God, whom he is working all things together for good… we are not reading something about God planning out our lives individually (although you can argue that from other verses), but of God working with the people who are scattered and believe to bring about their eventual return, with a greater number of people grafted in from the surrounding nations. Causing them to suffer in the nations is counterintuitive to this being for the greater good, and mirrors Christ’s rejection and suffering:

Romans 8
28 And we have known that to those loving God all things do work together for good, to those who are called according to purpose; 29 because whom He did foreknow, He also did fore-appoint, conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be first-born among many brethren; 30 and whom He did fore-appoint, these also He did call; and whom He did call, these also He declared righteous; and whom He declared righteous, these also He did glorify.

The lost tribes are referred to as vessels in Hosea. Here is the word connection directly through Septuagint:

http://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/4632/start/210 (Hosea)

http://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/4632/start/240 (Romans)

Compare the following with this in mind: H3627 ~= G4632

Hos 8:8
Israel is swallowed up: now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel H3627 wherein is no pleasure.

Hos 13:12
The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid.

. . .
15 Though he be fruitful among his brethren, an east wind shall come, the wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up: he shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels. H3627

H7356 can be translated as G1656 in the Septuagint:

http://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/1656/start/210

Hos 2:19
And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. H7356

H7356 has the root H7355

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H7356&t=KJV

H7355 is in Hosea:
Hos 2
1 Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah. H7355
. . .
4 And I will not have mercy H7355 upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms.

. . .
23 And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy H7355 upon her that had not obtained mercy; H7355 and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.

Now knowing the lost tribes (and maybe tribes in general) are referred to as vessels, and the words for mercy/pity are directly connected, and “destruction can mean “lost” we can put these concepts together for understanding Romans 9.

Putting Together Romans 9

Romans 9
22 And if God, willing to shew the wrath and to make known His power, did endure, in much long suffering, vessels G4632 of wrath fitted for destruction, G684
23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on vessels G4632 of kindness, G1656 (H7356 root H7355) that He before prepared for glory G1391, whom also He did call — us —

Hosea 1
6 And she conceiveth again, and beareth a daughter, and He saith to him, `Call her name Lo-Ruhamah, for I add no more to pity H7355 the house of Israel, for I do utterly take them away; 7 and the house of Judah I pity, H7355 and have saved them by Jehovah their God, and do not save them by bow, and by sword, and by battle, by horses, and by horsemen.’ So we see here that there is a distinction between the house of Ephraim/Israel and the house of Judah, and that Paul is basically saying “You shouldn’t challenge God, whether you are in the nations, or whether you are still in the land, whether you are suffering or wealthy because God knows best, we are the pots (referring to Israel as in Jeremiah) and he is the potter.”

As Romans continues:

Romans 9
24not only out of Jews, but also out of nations,
25as also in Hosea He saith, ‘I will call what [is] not My people — My people; and her not beloved — Beloved,
26and it shall be — in the place where it was said to them, Ye [are] not My people; there they shall be called sons of the living God.’

Moreover, in Romans 9:23“glory” G1391 refers to Judah. But Ephraim lost their glory because they forgot the law of God:

Hosea 4 (YLT)
6 Cut off have been My people for lack of knowledge, Because thou knowledge hast rejected, I reject thee from being priest to Me, And thou forgettest the law of thy God, I forget thy sons, I also! 7 According to their abundance so they sinned against Me, Their honour (LXX G1391) into shame I change.

15 Though a harlot thou [art], O Israel, Let not Judah become guilty, And come not ye in to Gilgal, nor go up to Beth-Aven, Nor swear ye, Jehovah liveth.

Hosea 9 (YLT)
11 Ephraim [is] as a fowl, Fly away doth their honour, (LXX G1391) without birth, And without womb, and without conception.

Hosea 10
4 They have spoken words, To swear falsehood in making a covenant, And flourished as a poisonous herb hath judgment, on the furrows of a field.
5 For the calves of Beth-Aven fear do inhabitants of Samaria, Surely mourned on account of it hath its people, And its priests on account of it leap about, Because of its honour, (LXX G1391) for it hath removed from it,
6 Also it to Asshur is carried, a present to a warlike king, Shame doth Ephraim receive, And ashamed is Israel of its own counsel.

The One New Man and The Man of Lawlessness

In Ephesians we are told this regathering of the tribes will make one new man and that Christ broke down the barrier between the two houses. This barrier is thought by some to be the oral law of the Pharisees (which prevented Jews and Gentiles from interacting with one another as is referenced in the vision of Peter)
Ephesians 2 (YLT)
11 Wherefore, remember, that ye [were] once the nations in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that called Circumcision in the flesh made by hands, 12that ye were at that time apart from Christ, having been alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of the promise, having no hope, and without God, in the world; 13and now, in Christ Jesus, ye being once afar off became nigh in the blood of the Christ, 14for he is our peace, who did make both one, and the middle wall of the enclosure did break down, 15the enmity in his flesh, the law of the commands in ordinances having done away, that the two he might create in himself into one new man, making peace,

The anti-type to this “One New Man” may be the “Man of Lawlessness” hence the man of lawlessness is not an individual but a group of people. I believe “The Day of The Lord” is around the time when the lost tribes are reunited (See further down “Day of the Lord and Lost Tribes” for an explanation of why I think this.) Here Paul warns against deceivers about the coming of the day of the lord/Christ (when the lost tribes are reunited) because the falling away (or the great apostasy) must come first:

2 Thessalonians 1
10 when He may come to be glorified in his saints, and to be wondered at in all those believing — because our testimony was believed among you — in that day;
11 for which also we do pray always for you, that our God may count you worthy of the calling, and may fulfil all the good pleasure of goodness, and the work of the faith in power,
12 that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 2
1 And we ask you, brethren, in regard to the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of our gathering together unto him,
2 that ye be not quickly shaken in mind, nor be troubled, neither through spirit, neither through word, neither through letters as through us, as that the day of Christ hath arrived;
3 let not any one deceive you in any manner, because — if the falling away may not come first, and the man of sin be revealed — the son of the destruction,
4 who is opposing and is raising himself up above all called God or worshipped, so that he in the sanctuary of God as God hath sat down, shewing himself off that he is God — [the day doth not come].

The Day of the Lord and The Lost Tribes

This is why I think the day of the lord is when (or is a precursor) to the tribes being reunited. Compare the following verses and notice the day of the lord is associated with or comes before the uniting of the lost tribes.

Isaiah 13
9Lo, the day of Jehovah doth come, Fierce, with wrath, and heat of anger, To make the land become a desolation, Yea, its sinning ones He destroyeth from it.
10For the stars of the heavens, and their constellations, Cause not their light to shine, Darkened hath been the sun in its going out, And the moon causeth not its light to come forth.

. . .

Isaiah 14
1Because Jehovah loveth Jacob, And hath fixed again on Israel, And given them rest on their own land, And joined hath been the sojourner to them, And they have been admitted to the house of Jacob. 2And peoples have taken them, And have brought them in unto their place, And the house of Israel have inherited them, On the land of Jehovah, For men-servants and for maid-servants, And they have been captors of their captors, And have ruled over their exactors.

Acts 2
20the sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the coming of the day of the Lord — the great and illustrious;
21and it shall be, every one — whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, he shall be saved.

. . .

38and Peter said unto them, ‘Reform, and be baptized each of you on the name of Jesus Christ, to remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, 39for to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all those afar off, as many as the Lord our God shall call.’ 40Also with many more other words he was testifying and exhorting, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation;’

Joel 1
15 And cry unto Jehovah, ‘Alas for the day! For near [is] a day of Jehovah, And as destruction from the mighty it cometh.

. . .

Joel 2
31 The sun is turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, Before the coming of the day of Jehovah, The great and the fearful. 32 And it hath come to pass, Every one who calleth in the name of Jehovah is delivered, For in mount Zion and in Jerusalem there is an escape, As Jehovah hath said, And among the remnants whom Jehovah is calling! 3:1 For lo, in those days, and in that time, When I turn back [to] the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem,

Jeremiah 30
7Wo! for great [is] that day, without any like it, Yea, a time of adversity it [is] to Jacob, Yet out of it he is saved.
8And it hath come to pass, in that day, An affirmation of Jehovah of Hosts, I break his yoke from off thy neck, And thy bands I draw away, And lay no more service on him do strangers. 9And they have served Jehovah their God, And David their king whom I raise up to them.
10And thou, be not afraid, My servant Jacob, An affirmation of Jehovah, Nor be affrighted, O Israel, For, lo, I am saving thee from afar, And thy seed from the land of their captivity, And Jacob hath turned back and rested, And is quiet, and there is none troubling.

. . .

18Thus said Jehovah: Lo, I turn back [to] the captivity of the tents of Jacob, And his dwelling places I pity, And the city hath been built on its heap, And the palace according to its ordinance remaineth.
19And gone forth from them hath thanksgiving, And the voice of playful ones, And I have multiplied them and they are not few, And made them honourable, and they are not small.
20And his sons have been as aforetime, And his company before Me is established, And I have seen after all his oppressors.
21And his honourable one hath been of himself, And his ruler from his midst goeth forth, And I have caused him to draw near, And he hath drawn nigh unto Me, For who [is] he who hath pledged his heart To draw nigh unto Me? An affirmation of Jehovah.
22And ye have been to Me for a people, And I am to you for God.

Amos 5
18 Ho, ye who are desiring the day of Jehovah, Why [is] this to you — the day of Jehovah? It is darkness, and not light,

. . .

Amos 9
13Lo, days are coming — an affirmation of Jehovah, And come nigh hath the ploughman to the reaper, And the treader of grapes to the scatterer of seed, And the mountains have dropt juice, And all the hills do melt.
14And I have turned back [to] the captivity of My people Israel, And they have built desolate cities, and inhabited, And have planted vineyards, and drunk their wine, And made gardens, and eaten their fruit.
15And I have planted them on their own ground, And they are not plucked up any more from off their own ground, That I have given to them, said Jehovah thy God!

Conclusion

We can see the theme of the return of the lost tribes going through Romans 8, 9, 10 and 11 as well as Acts 2. Their return was predicted as far back as Genesis 48 and they are referenced in Leviticus 26 (in a more general sense than just Ephraim) as well as Deuteronomy 33 and Hosea clarifies further along with Joel, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Another precursor to this regathering is the kingdom of heaven, see here for more details: https://kingdomofgodcommunes.org/2019/02/24/the-kingdom-of-heaven-and-the-lost-tribes/ We also see a troubling possibility of false regathering before the legitimate regathering in the Man of Lawlessness.

Passover the Positive Command

There are negative and positive commandments and there are not (in general) legal punishments for breaking the positive ones. Negative commands use the Hebrew words for “no” and “not” which are לא and אין to describe what one should avoid doing, such as “thou shalt not” in the ten commandments. However a negative can also be implied, like describing a rebellious son and issuing punishment for him. (implication: don’t be a rebellious son) 
 
18 If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father and mother, who does not heed them when they discipline him, 19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his town at the gate of that place. 20 They shall say to the elders of his town, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” 21 Then all the men of the town shall stone him to death. So you shall purge the evil from your midst; and all Israel will hear, and be afraid. (Deuteronomy 21:18-21 NRSV)
 
However, what if this is actually the case throughout? It would be another rule of interpretation we could use. Just like the rules of Hillel are found throughout the Bible, Hillel just described the rules as Newton described the law of gravity. Hillel no more instituted the rules of Hillel than Newton instituted gravity. So it is possible that this is a principle of biblical law and we can make an argument based on the idea of positive commandments not having a legal punishment.
 
One of the positive Passover commandments states:
10 Speak to the Israelites, saying: Anyone of you or your descendants who is unclean through touching a corpse, or is away on a journey, shall still keep the passover to the Lord. 11 In the second month on the fourteenth day, at twilight, they shall keep it; they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 12 They shall leave none of it until morning, nor break a bone of it; according to all the statute for the passover they shall keep it. 13 But anyone who is clean and is not on a journey, and yet refrains from keeping the passover, shall be cut off from the people for not presenting the Lord’s offering at its appointed time; such a one shall bear the consequences for the sin.   (Numbers 9:10-13)
 
My argument follows:
1. The Passover is a positive command and therefore does not have a legal punishment.
 
2. “Cut off from the people [of israel]” taken literally, means not being considered an Israelite.
 
3. “Cut off a from people [of israel]” would not be punishment for foreigners who were already not israelite.
 
4. Therefore if you gain the status of Israelite via the Passover then being considered a foreigner would not be a legal punishment, you would just not get the benefit of the Passover.
 
5 But if “cut off from people” is legal punishment this contradicts with number 1.
 
6. To reconcile, we suppose the Passover gave the legal right to be Israelite. Therefore, being cut off is not a legal punishment, just a lack of benefit from the positive command.
 
Additional evidence seems to imply the Passover was a conversion ritual:
If an alien who resides with you wants to celebrate the passover to the Lord, all his males shall be circumcised; then he may draw near to celebrate it; he shall be regarded as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it;   (Exodus 12:48)
 
It’s interesting that this idea of positive and negative commandments assumes that God can decide to write things in a specific way in order to convey a message. “God said let there be light and there was light”  is written as  “וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים יְהִי אֹור וַֽיְהִי־אֹֽור” you’ll notice that “and there was light” and “let there be light” are written in the same way ” וַֽיְהִי־אֹֽור” and ” יְהִי אֹור” except for the vav (meaning “and”) and the nikkud (nikkud weren’t added till later). How can this be? Because of the vav conversive which changes the tense of the statement, so they can be written the same way even though the tenses are different. However, the vav does not force this to be the case all the time. Therefore, this may be conveying “it happened exactly as God said it would” through the syntax. If I see a pattern in the way punishment is given for negative and positive commandments then that may be evidence of a pattern that has meaning.
 
For instance, with the positive command of honoring your father, you can do things that wouldn’t honor your father that should not be legally punished like squandering your inheritance. Another example, Christ criticized some Pharisees for teaching that people can make offerings of things instead of supporting/honoring their father. Mark 7:10-12. However, it would be inappropriate for the legal system to step in and tell them that you had to give your parents things to support them, this is a family matter. (at the very least it would be inappropriate if it dictated the specifics)
 
But can “cut off” really mean that? The LXX has what may appear to a more violent interpretation of “cut off.” “that soul shall be utterly destroyed from it’s people” https://studybible.info/interlinear/Numbers%209:13 For those who aren’t familiar with the Septuagint (LXX), it is simply a translation of the Hebrew and is trying to convey the meaning behind the Hebrew. It will also reflect their understanding of the Hebrew at that time. I think it is a good reference which was quoted by Jesus and his disciples but I don’t view it as the final authority on something. It is something that must be weighed with the rest of the evidence. It is also useful because it is translated sometimes from more ancient Hebrew texts than the Masoretic so you can use the Dead Sea scrolls as a second witness to see if a certain reading is correct (for example it turns out the Goliath is not as tall as he is the Masoretic text according to the witness of the Septuagint and the dead sea scrolls) 
 
In additon, the LXX also uses some greek words that mean violence in much less forceful ways, for example, read the context of these and often “force” just means “persuade”  https://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/G971 Also, the LXX translates “cut off” as “destroyed from his race” which isn’t the same thing as destroyed. Also, observe that that same word is used to just mean “destroyed” without the corresponding “from his race” qualification: https://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/G1842 If something is qualified it is usually not the same as the unqualified thing and should be restricted to that context, another example would be “olam” or “forever” it is sometimes used in context of a human life where it just means “forever until death” The LXX actually uses “forever” to translate “all of his days” from the Hebrew multiple times (i.e. https://studybible.info/interlinear/ex%2021:6 )
 
Going back to positive commandments, another interesting set of verses is:
 25 The priest shall make atonement for all the congregation of the Israelites, and they shall be forgiven; it was unintentional, and they have brought their offering, an offering by fire to the Lord, and their sin offering before the Lord, for their error. 26 All the congregation of the Israelites shall be forgiven, as well as the aliens residing among them, because the whole people was involved in the error. 27 An individual who sins unintentionally shall present a female goat a year old for a sin offering. 28 And the priest shall make atonement before the Lord for the one who commits an error, when it is unintentional, to make atonement for the person, who then shall be forgiven. 29 For both the native among the Israelites and the alien residing among them—you shall have the same law for anyone who acts in error. 30 But whoever acts high-handedly, whether a native or an alien, affronts the Lord, and shall be cut off from among the people. 31 Because of having despised the word of the Lord and broken his commandment, such a person shall be utterly cut off and bear the guilt.  (Numbers 15:30)
 
This would seem to include any sin, including breaking positive commands. So is “cut off from among the people” a legal punishment here? Not in my mind; the law is part of the covenant and if you reject part of the law by sinning purposely then you reject the whole covenant. (James 2:10) Therefore it’s hard to see if this is actually punishment or is just a statement of the result of purposely rejecting part of the covenant. You get the benefit of the covenant by being Israelite, if you reject it you lose that benefit. Therefore this may not actually be punishment but a lack of obtaining the benefit of the covenant. 
 
Interestingly, in addition to sinning on purpose, verse 30 may refer to taking an improper place of judgment for oneself. The previous context is about forgiving sins and the following context is about them asking what to do to a man who had picked up sticks on the sabbath so the would judge properly.
 
It actually uses the same word to talk about claiming responsibility for something yourself: (“ought” is supplied in the KJV)
Were it not that I feared the wrath of the enemy, lest their adversaries should behave themselves strangely, and lest they should say, Our hand is high, H7311 and the LORD hath not done all this. (Deu 32:27 KJV)

But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, H7311 whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. (Num 15:30 KJV)
 
The Septuagint uses the same word here for people who refuse to listen to the priest to carry out the law properly:
And the man who ever should do in pride G5243 to not obey the priest standing beside to officiate in the name of the  lord your God, or the judge who ever should be in those days, then [2shall die 1that man], and you shall lift away the wicked one from out of Israel. (Deut 17:12)
 
And the soul who shall do a thing by hand through pride G5243 — of the native born, or of the foreigners — [3God 1this one 2provokes], and [2shall be utterly destroyed 1that soul] from out of its people,(Num 15:30)
 
Observe the context:
11 You must carry out fully the law that they interpret for you or the ruling that they announce to you; do not turn aside from the decision that they announce to you, either to the right or to the left. 12 As for anyone who presumes to disobey the priest appointed to minister there to the Lord your God, or the judge, that person shall die. So you shall purge the evil from Israel. 13 All the people will hear and be afraid, and will not act presumptuously again. (Deut 17:11-13 NRSV)
 
While none of that conclusively shows it also refers to presumptuous judgment it does provide an interesting paralel. If you purposely reject God’s authority structure by taking up judgment and not listening to the priest you also reject God’s covenant.  
 
Update 2020-03-14: I have found a possible flaw in my idea of “cut off from people” (KJV version) This seems to paralel “put to death” with “cut off from people”:
 

Exo 31:14
Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work H4399 therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.

Exo 31:15
Six days may work H4399 be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work H4399 in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.

Exo 35:2
Six days shall work H4399 be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work H4399 therein shall be put to death.

One possible explanation to save my theory is that both happen. Not only is the person killed but they are no longer considered an Israelite since working is a purposeful act of breaking the covenant. 

What Does The Bible Say About Rape?

All verses are in the NRSV unless otherwise noted. When I first started writing this I thought I had to admit that the Bible did not explicitly prohibit rape of an unmarried unbetrothed woman. However, I have now realized that the Bible does explicitly prohibit rape in Ex 21:16 and Deut 24:7 because it prohibits the capture/seizure of people which is part of rape. I argue that Deuteronomy 22:28-29 is connected with Exodus 22:16-17 and is about seduction and not rape but I don’t have time to make that argument here, instead see this article: https://cbmw.org/topics/sex/did-old-testament-law-force-a-woman-to-marry-her-rapist

I do think rape is explicitly against other laws–for instance it would at least be covered under the laws concerning damages to people and certainly against the law to love your neighbor. However, I will argue that just because it is not explicitly named that the Bible’s attitude should not be taken as lax towards it. In fact, I will argue that under the biblical law that rape requires the death penalty.

So why isn’t rape itself explicitly mentioned in the law? For a few reasons I suspect

1 The first one is pretty obvious: it was covered directly by other laws against capturing and indirectly by laws against slavery which came almost immediately in the giving of the law.

There was no reason to add specific cases to a good comprehensive general one. This comes by observing that the Tanakh is very much against capturing and slavery:

Whoever kidnaps h1589 a person, whether that person has been sold or is still held in possession, shall be put to death. (Exodus 21:16)

If someone is caught kidnaping h1589 another Israelite, enslaving or selling the Israelite, then that kidnaper shall die. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 24:7)

You shall not steal. h1589 (Ex 20:15)

Notice it uses the same Hebrew word for “steal” in the 10 commandments. There are some translations that have “and” in-between each case here rather than “or” which causes some to argue that it only prohibited the combination of them: kidnapping, selling, and found in their possession. However, in YLT this seems to be the result of translating the vav literally and consistently as “and” and is not a mandate for how to understand the vav in that particular context. Keil and Delitzsch correct the misconception that vavs can only mean “and” and note the severity with which this capturing was treated:

Maltreatment of a father and mother through striking (Exodus 21:15), man-stealing (Exodus 21:16), and cursing parents (Exodus 21:17, cf. Leviticus 20:9), were all to be placed on a par with murder, and punished in the same way. By the “smiting” (הכּה) of parents we are not to understand smiting to death, for in that case ומת would be added as in Exodus 21:12, but any kind of maltreatment. . . . Man-stealing was also no less a crime, being a sin against the dignity of man, and a violation of the image of God. For אישׁ “a man,” we find in Deuteronomy 24:7, נפשׁ “a soul,” by which both man and woman are intended, and the still more definite limitation, “of his brethren of the children of Israel.” The crime remained the same whether he had sold him (the stolen man), or whether he was still found in his hand. (For ו – ו as a sign of an alternative in the linking together of short sentences, see Proverbs 29:9, and Ewald, 361.) This is the rendering adopted by most of the earlier translators, and we get no intelligent sense if we divide the clauses thus: “and sell him so that he is found in his hand.”

https://biblehub.com/commentaries/kad/exodus/21.htm

This attitude is consistent with the Bible’s libertarian treatment of individual freedom and the prohibition against forced servitude:

15 Slaves who have escaped to you from their owners shall not be given back to them. 16 They shall reside with you, in your midst, in any place they choose in any one of your towns, wherever they please; you shall not oppress them. (Deuteronomy 23:15-16 )

It even says the type of slavery that happened in Egypt was wrong since it says that you shall not crush (H3905) the sojourners like has been done to you in Egypt:

You shall not wrong or oppress H3905 a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 22:21)

This is because the same word H3905 is used to describe the oppression of the Egyptians upon the Israelite:

The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress H3905 them. (Exodus 3:9)

You shall not oppress H3905 a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 23:9)

we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. H3906 (Deu 26:7)

It in fact says that you should treat sojourners as natives:

The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:34)

It says that you should never rule over anyone like the Egyptians did to the Israelites (the context in Ezekiel is criticizing their behavior):

The Egyptians became ruthless H6531 in imposing tasks on the Israelites, (Exo 1:13)

You have not strengthened the weak, you have not healed the sick, you have not bound up the injured, you have not brought back the strayed, you have not sought the lost, but with force and harshness you have ruled H6531 them. (Ez 34:4)

So if they couldn’t behave like the Egyptians and they couldn’t capture or force people to stay with them then what motivation could servants have for staying? I think this was a way for people who had gotten into debt (by committing a crime or otherwise) to get back on their feet by making an extended contract with someone. The servant could break that contract but if they broke it for no good reason then other people would be less likely to want to have them as a servant. It also says to provide them with resources when they went out, this may have been partially motivation for staying. In addition this may imply that they came in with nothing, hence were working to get back on their feet:

And when you send a male slave out from you a free person, you shall not send him out empty-handed. 14 Provide liberally out of your flock, your threshing floor, and your wine press, thus giving to him some of the bounty with which the Lord your God has blessed you. (Deuteronomy 15:13)

There are intricacies to these contracts that often escape our notice; servants could be given authority to manage the household and manage the marriage of a son (Genesis 24:2) and also may have been heirs automatically when no children were present (Genesis 15:3). They could own property (2 Samuel 19:17), and they, or a relation, could buy their freedom regardless of the master’s will to keep them (Lev 25:47–50).

And it seems to have had a positive connotation:

Then she said, “May I continue to find favor in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, even though I am not one of your servants.” (Ruth 2:13)

You could replace “servant” with “daughter” and it would still make sense. Interestingly a son is said to serve the father and it uses the same word that means “servant” elsewhere:

They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, my special possession on the day when I act, and I will spare them as parents spare their children who serve H5647 them. (Mal 3:17)

Since you have to capture someone to rape them and you can’t capture people this would outlaw rape. Also raping a person is like taking them temporarily as a sex slave so the prohibition against forced servitude or slavery would indirectly outlaw rape as well.

2 The second reason it does not explicitly mention rape is because of the nature of ancient law which is not meant to be comprehensive:

Excursus: The Paradigmatic Nature of Biblical Law

Modern societies generally have opted for exhaustive law codes. That is, every action modern society wishes to regulate or prohibit must be specifically mentioned in a separate law.  Under the expectations of this exhaustive law system, state and/or federal law codes run to thousands of pages and address thousands of individual actions by way of requirement or restriction or control or outright banning of those actions.  By this approach, all actions are permitted that are not expressly forbidden or regulated.  Thus it is not uncommon that criminals in modern Western societies evade prosecution because of a “technicality” or a “loophole” in the law—their undesirable actions are not exactly prohibited or regulated by a written law, so they cannot be convicted even though an objective observer may be convinced that what they did surely deserved punishment.

Ancient laws did not work this way. They were paradigmatic, giving models of behaviors and models of prohibitions/punishments relative to those behaviors, but they made no attempt to be exhaustive.  Ancient laws gave guiding principles, or samples, rather than complete descriptions of all things regulated.  Ancient people were expected to be able to extrapolate from what the sampling of laws did say to the general behavior the laws in their totality pointed toward.  Ancient judges were expected to extrapolate from the wording provided in the laws that did exist to all other circumstances and not to be foiled in their jurisprudence by any such concepts as “technicalities” or “loopholes.”  When common sense told judges that a crime had been committed, they reasoned their way from whatever the most nearly applicable law specified to a decision as to how to administer proper justice in the case before them.  Citizens of ancient Israel, and especially its judges, had to learn to extrapolate from whatever laws they had received from Yahweh to whatever justice-challenging situation they were dealing with.  The number of laws dealing with any given application of justice might be few, but that would not prevent justice from being applied.  It would simply have been the case that all parties were expected to appeal for guidance to those laws that did exist, whether or not expressed specifically in terms that dealt with the case under consideration.  In other words, the Israelites had to learn to see the underlying principles in any law and not let the specifics of the individual casuistic citation mislead them into applying the law too narrowly.

God’s revealed covenant law to Israel was paradigmatic.  No Israelite could say: “The law says I must make restitution for stolen oxen or sheep (Exod. 22:1), but I stole your goat. I don’t have to pay you back,” or “The law says that anyone who attacks his father or mother must be put to death (Exod. 21:15), but I attacked my grandmother, so I shouldn’t be punished,” or “The law says that certain penalties apply for hitting someone with a fist or a stone (Exod. 21:18), but I kicked my neighbor with my foot and hit him with a piece of wood, so I shouldn’t be punished.”  Such arguments would have insulted the intelligence of all concerned and made no impact on those rendering judgments.  It is in connection with the paradigmatic nature of Israel’s covenant law that Jesus, following the established tradition in Judaism, could make so sweeping an assertion as that two laws sum up all the rest [Matt. 22:34-40].  Properly understood, two laws do indeed sum up everything in the entire legal corpus of the Old Testament.  So do ten laws (the Ten Words/Commandments); so do all six hundred and thirteen.  The numbers go no higher, nor would they need to.  If a reasonable number of comprehensive and comprehensible laws (as few as two, as many as six hundred and thirteen) are provided to a people as paradigms for proper living, there is no excuse for that people to claim ignorance of how to behave or to claim innocence when their sins are found out.

. . .

A final implication of paradigmatic law: not all laws will be equally comprehensive in scope.  That is, some will be very broad in their applicability (love Yahweh your God) and some much more narrow (do not bear false witness).  One might ask, “Why not say ‘don’t be dishonest in any way,’ which would be broader and more comprehensive than ‘don’t bear false witness’?”  But that would be missing the way paradigmatic law works: through a somewhat randomly presented admixture of rather specific examples of more general behaviors and very general regulations of broad categories of behavior, the reader/listener comes to understand that all sorts of situations not exactly specified (either because a law is so broad or so narrow) are also implicitly covered.  In other words, when all the laws are considered together, one’s impression is that both the very narrow, precise issues and the very broad, general issues fall under the purview of God’s covenant.  The wide variability of comprehensiveness is intended to help the person desiring to keep the covenant to say, “I now see that in the tiniest detail as well as in the widest, most general way, I am expected to try to keep this law—in all its implications, not just in terms of its exact wording.”  Some commandments are thus less broad in scope in the way they are expressed than is necessary to cover all the intended actions; others are so broad in scope in the way they are expressed that one could never think up all the ways they might be applied.  This is just as it should be.  The narrow and the broad taken together suggest the overall comprehensiveness of God’s covenant will for his people.  (p. 442-45)
https://www.rodneychrisman.com/2010/08/11/the-paradigmatic-nature-of-biblical-law/ see original source: https://books.google.com/books?id=8H9E00e5PSwC&pg=PA442#v=onepage&q&f=false

3 There was already a law mandating that servants not be held against their will. This can be combined with the rule of “light and heavy” to also outlaw holding anyone against their will which is a prerequisite for rape.

15 Slaves who have escaped to you from their owners shall not be given back to them. 16 They shall reside with you, in your midst, in any place they choose in any one of your towns, wherever they please; you shall not oppress them. (Deuteronomy 23:15-16 )

Essentially servants would have had the least rights in the society, so if people with the least rights couldn’t be held against their will then how much more the non-servants? Light and heavy is described below:

Kal Vahomer (Light and heavy)

The Kal vahomer rule says that what applies in a less important case will certainly apply in a more important case. A kal vahomer argument is often, but not always, signaled by a phrase like “how much more…”

The Rabbinical writers recognize two forms ok kal vahomer:

kal vahomer meforash – In this form the kal vahomer argument appears explicitly.
kal vahomer satum – In which the kal vahomer argument is only implied.
There are several examples of kal vahomer in the Tenach.

For example: Behold the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner. (Proverbs 11:31)

And: If you have run with footmen and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses? (Jerermiah 12:5a)

Other Tenach examples to look at: Deuteronomy 31:27; 1 Samuel 23:3; Jerermiah 12:5b; Ezekiel 15:5; Esther 9:12

There are several examples of kal vahomer in the New Testament. Y’shua often uses this form of argument.

For example: If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the Law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? (Jn. 7:23)

And: What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath. (Mt. 12:11-12)

Other examples of Y’shua’s usage of kal vahomer are: Matthew 6:26, 30 = Luke 12:24, 28; Mathhew 7:11 = Luke 11:13; Matthew 10:25 & John 15:18-20; Matthew 12:12 & John 7:23

Paul especially used kal vahomer. Examples include: Romans 5:8-9, 10, 15, 17; 11:12, 24; 1 Corinthians 9:11-12; 12:22; 2 Corinthians 3:7-9, 11; Philippians 2:12; Philemon 1:16; Hebrews 2:2-3; 9:13-14; 10:28-29; 12:9, 25.

http://www.yashanet.com/studies/revstudy/hillel.htm

4 The fourth reason rape may not have been mentioned is because of cultural differences that made it not as important to address directly.

Unlike the Greeks and Romans, the ANE was not very ‘into’ using slaves/captives for sexual purposes, even though scholars earlier taught this:

“During the pinnacle of Sumerian culture, female slaves outnumbered male. Their owners used them primarily for spinning and weaving. Saggs maintains that their owners also used them for sex, but there is little actual evidence to support such a claim” [OT:EML:69]

http://christianthinktank.com/midian.html

There’s no case in that Bible where rape was taken lightly. The rape of the concubine in Judges was avenged by a national civil war. (Judges 19-21) The rape of Tamar by Amnon was avenged by Amnon’s death and possibly was the cause of another national civil war because David didn’t punish Amnon. (2 Sam. 13) What’s commonly called the rape of Dinah (Gen 34:2) (which may have even been consensual) was avenged by genocide. (Gen 34:25-31) Do we even take rape that seriously today? I think not.

The one possible exception to this pattern is in judges 21 where the men of Benjamin are given women that were captured from Jabesh-Gilead, in addition, they are invited to steal women at a festival which they accomplish. However, a few points: 1. This was a terrible time in Israel and the story illustrates that. 2. There is also genocide and killing going on left and right so the fact that another atrocity is overlooked is expected. 3. The women of Jabesh-Gilead that Benjamin take are specifically those that have never lain with a man. There is no way to test for virginity reliably–especially in that day–and so this was most likely because the women were too young to have been with a man, hence they would have had to wait for them to mature before marriage. 4. It is never said that they raped anyone, rather the women seeing that they were taken and that their fathers were not going to do anything about it may have eventually acquiesced willingly (although admittedly this still terrible and is not consensual since it is done under duress and manipulation). Nevertheless, these cases differ from the explicitly stated cases of rape and do not show an–overall–cultural acquiescence to those cases.

In the Torah women were protected from having their conjugal duty diminished “If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish the food, clothing, or marital rights of the first wife.” (Ex 21:10) and Rachel and Leah were able to trade a night with Jacob for mandrakes Gen 30:14-18. Also note that it’s the less attractive Leah that tells Jacob: “‘You must come in to me; for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.’ So he lay with her that night.” God killed Onan for not having sex in a way that would cause pregnancy when he was supposed to perform the duty of the Levarite in Genesis 38:8-10. Hannah’s prayer was answered by God when she cried because she was not able to become pregnant and was ridiculed by her rival 1 Samuel 1:1-28. Part of one of the Jewish interpretations of Leviticus 19:29 in the Talmud is to not deny your daughter her right of marriage for too long:

Ein Yaakov (Glick Edition), Sanhedrin 9:1
(Fol. 76) You shall not profane your daugher (Lev. 19, 29). R. Eliezer says: “This refers to one who marries off his [young] daughter to an old man.” R. Akiba says: “This refers to one who leaves his daughter unmarried until she enters the age of womanhood.” R. Cahana in the name of R. Akiba said (Ib. b) Who is to be considered poor and shrewd-wicked? He who has left his daughter unmarried until she enters the age of womanhood.”

Rather than sex being an obligation of women, it seems that it was an obligation of men especially for the purpose of giving women children. This probably breaks a lot of the preconceptions most people have about the Biblical culture.

Here’s an interesting statement on how culture really determines what people are likely to do:

At the same time, many of the men who have violated a woman sexually do not meet clinical diagnostic criteria as either sociopaths, sexual deviants, or for that matter neurologically (or intellectually) impaired. While “stranger danger” stirs deep, easy dread (and is hence a useful trope for screenwriters and politicians), most sexual violence takes place among otherwise normative people who are familiar with each other and are involved in some type of relationship. This raises the possibility that to these perpetrators, the violence appears, in context, normative. By this argument, a sizable proportion of the men who attack women are following, rather than flaunting, social dictates.

The role of social dictates in shaping individual behavior is often overlooked because we are inclined to favor internal causes when explaining other people’s behavior. This tendency is so fundamental that it has a name: The Fundamental Attribution Error. (When evaluating our own, particularly negative behavior, however, we often rely on less damning external explanations. To wit: you’re late for work because you’re lazy. I’m late because of traffic. This is called the “actor-observer effect”).

It turns out, however, that social and situational variables often override individual characteristics in predicting one’s behavior and overall future. If I need to predict whether you’ll be dancing next Friday night, it’s better for me to inquire about where you’ll be that night than about your extraversion score on a personality test. If I want to know whether you’ll become wealthy, I’m better off basing my prediction on whether your parents are wealthy than on the conscientiousness score on your personality test. We are more beholden to our circumstances than we tend to believe. This is true in general; and it’s true for sexual violence in particular. For example, contextual and group factors (such as orders from the leadership, pre-conflict rates of sexual violence, intra-group dynamics, gender inequality) predict the prevalence of war rapes better than the personalities or characteristics of individual soldiers.

Circumstances matter in part because they set (or remove) certain hard parameters. Regardless of your personal characteristics, if you’re at your wedding, you’re going to dance. The fact also remains that if you are born in Afghanistan to poor parents, you have no access to capital. If you’re born in Manhattan to wealthy parents, you do. Circumstances, particularly social ones, also matter greatly because as herd animals, we are utterly dependent on the approval, acceptance, cooperation, and support of others. Thus, we are wired to notice, take into account, and align with the behavior of those around us.

If you’re still telling yourself that you are your own person, doing your thing, not giving a damn about what others think—then you need to grow up and face the (social) facts. Society gives you life. It is your main source of strength and identity. Without it you’re hopeless—an ant that has lost its colony. Society provides you with the tools and rules for living. It has fearsome powers of reward and retribution. In other words society, as the sociologist Randall Collins has argued brilliantly, is God.
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/insight-therapy/201902/when-men-attack-why-and-which-men-sexually-assault-women

We expect people back then to be like they are today. However, this isn’t always the case. The first difference we do know is that they were a polygynist society which is sometimes caused by a need to deal with the issue of lack of men (sometimes caused by war):

“Deal with the “problem” of surplus women.”

http://www.religioustolerance.org/polyprac.htm

However, this is speculation. I haven’t had any luck on finding what the actual gender ratio was in biblical times and when I have found articles there seem to be different opinions.

However, some things I can observe from the law and culture is that: 1. there is no premarital sex, a man who sleeps with a woman is supposed to marry her “he shall surely marry her” and “unless the father absolutely refuses” in Exodus 22:16 and Deuteronomy 22:29 (I argue that this is indeed a seduction but don’t have time to go into this now) Here’s something I wrote that touches on premarital sex: https://kingdomofgodcommunes.org/2019/02/03/gesenius-and-leviticus-1929/ This makes early sexual competition over mates virtually non-existent if followed correctly. 2. Marriage is arranged by the family at a young age which also prevents any rejection based on sexual prowess that seems to increase the risk of men becoming rapists. It is possible however that someone’s wife would reject them and that might increase the risk of rape. However, based on my arguments on the Torah the consent of both the person being married and the guardian was required because the Torah gives the freedom to run away for any reason based on not holding servants against their will and the rule of light and heavy. Also, the modern rise in narcissistic personality disorder may be a result of modern living and individualism all of which would be absent in the tribal society of the Bible: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/freedom-learn/201401/why-is-narcissism-increasing-among-young-americans

The following is about rape being associated with narcissism:

Heavy drinking, perceived pressure to have sex, a belief in “rape myths” — such as the idea that no means yes — are all risk factors among men who have committed sexual assault. A peer group that uses hostile language to describe women is another one.
Yet there also seem to be personal attributes that have a mediating effect on these factors. Men who are highly aroused by rape porn — another risk factor — are less likely to attempt sexual assault if they score highly on measures of empathy, Dr. Malamuth has found. What about the idea that rape is about power over women? Some experts feel that research into hostile attitudes toward women supports this idea. In general, however, researchers say motives are varied and difficult to quantify. Dr. Malamuth has noticed that repeat offenders often tell similar stories of rejection in high school and of looking on as “jocks and the football players got all the attractive women.”As these once-unpopular, often narcissistic men become more successful, he suspects that “getting back at these women, having power over them, seems to have become a source of arousal.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/30/health/men-rape-sexual-assault.html

I should be clear when arguing this that I am not blaming women rejecting men for causing men to rape. I am saying based on science allowing men to freely compete and be rejected by women on an individual basis seems to increase the likelihood that narcissistic men will rape. A family-based method of choosing mates would redirect anger towards a rival family which could be bad as well, it’s just not likely to result in rejected narcissistic men blaming women. There’s a similar behavior in orangutans for those who find animal studies helpful in explaining human behavior:

One possible reason for the rapes, she said, is because it takes so long for males to mature in the rain forest. In zoos, captive male orangutans usually become mature at age 13 or 14. In the rain forest of Borneo, however, they do not become mature until age 20, only then developing the cheek pads and large throat sac of a male adult. Although they are capable of sexual activity before that, females in heat are not attracted to them, so their only sexual option becomes force.

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1992-01-13-me-231-story.html

There’s a Biblical ethics paper I am working on that will address more misconceptions like this and fill in some details on how ancient Israelite law was supposed to work. I think there is a huge amount of bias in the way people interpret the Bible from chronological bigotry. Us moderns looking backwards/downwards like to feel good about ourselves and like we are making moral progress. We also just like to be able to feel outraged about something, whether it’s Harambe’s killing or ancient people mistreating their women. This seems to be the case irrespective of our level of knowledge on these topics. However, the bias that comes with interpreting the law through a lens that assumes words like “slave” (used by some translations of the Bible) meant the same thing back then as it does today is even worse. If we poison the well with misunderstandings as bad as that, it’s no wonder that we see other parts of the law as barbaric.

Why I Don’t Believe in Hell (the modern concept)

Introduction: The Modern Concept of Hell in the Old Testament doesn’t exist

Verses are in the KJV unless otherwise stated. Hell is never mentioned in the Hebrew Old Testament, but only “the grave” (“sheol” in Hebrew). Some translations will translate sheol as “hell,” but it is without basis. For example in the KJV here Sheol is the inevitable destiny of all mankind and in Job 14:13 and Amos 9:2 a place where one would hide from God’s wrath” (if that were possible)
Gen 37:35
And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave H7585 unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.

Psa 89:48
What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave? H7585 Selah.

Job 14:13
O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, H7585 that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!

Amo 9:2
Though they dig into hell, H7585 thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down:

The Old Testament and the New Testament do not contradict, so it’s hard to believe that the foreign concept of eternal torment would be introduced into the NT without any precedent in the OT. However, the OT goes further and contradicts this concept. Take these verses for example that say God’s wrath is only temporary:

Psalm 30:5 NKJV
For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.

Isaiah 54:8 NKJV
8 With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment;
But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,”
Says the Lord, your Redeemer.

Lamentation 3 NKJV
31 For the Lord will not cast off forever.
32 Though He causes grief,
Yet He will show compassion
According to the multitude of His mercies.
33 For He does not afflict willingly,
Nor grieve the children of men.

And these verses show that the wicked will be destroyed or consumed, not tormented:

Psalms 37 NKJV
10 For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more;
Indeed, you will look carefully for his place,
But it shall be no more.

20 But the wicked shall perish;
And the enemies of the Lord,
Like the splendor of the meadows, shall vanish.
Into smoke they shall vanish away.

Psalm 68:2 NKJV
As smoke is driven away,
So drive them away;
As wax melts before the fire,
So let the wicked perish at the presence of God.

Psalm 104:35 NKJV
May sinners be consumed from the earth,
And the wicked be no more.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
Praise the Lord!

Malachi 4 NKJV
4 “For behold, the day is coming,
Burning like an oven,
And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble.
And the day which is coming shall burn them up,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“That will leave them neither root nor branch.
2 But to you who fear My name
The Sun of Righteousness shall arise
With healing in His wings;
And you shall go out
And grow fat like stall-fed calves.
3 You shall trample the wicked,
For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet
On the day that I do this,”
Says the Lord of hosts.

Isaiah 1:16 NKJV
“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,

Ezekiel 28 NKJV
18 “You defiled your sanctuaries
By the multitude of your iniquities,
By the iniquity of your trading;
Therefore I brought fire from your midst;
It devoured you,
And I turned you to ashes upon the earth
In the sight of all who saw you.
19 All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you;
You have become a horror,
And shall be no more forever.”

The New Testament Does Not Change from the Old Testament

We must keep this in mind when we investigate the NT. As Yeshua (Jesus) states KJV:

Luke 24
44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled,G4137 which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

Mat 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.G4137
18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
19 Whosoever therefore shall break G3089 one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

The same greek word G3089 for “break” is used here when talking about making rules in the church and makes the undeniable connection that the rules it says not to “break” or “loose” are the rules in the old testament.

Mat 16:19
And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose G3089 on earth shall be loosed G3089 in heaven.

Mat 18:18
Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose G3089 on earth shall be loosed G3089 in heaven.

Hence we see the word “fulfilled” as meaning the accomplishment of something, but not the passing away of something. The Law of Moses, and The Prophets, and The Psalms, remain after they have been fulfilled in Christ, for example:

Mat 8:17 KJV
That it might be fulfilled G4137 which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.

This is just to point out that everything remains unchanged by their fulfillment. (they are indeed not destroyed as Yeshua says) My point is that if the OT speaks against the concept of eternal torment, then that cannot change in the NT. However, let us examine some of the verses commonly used to argue for the modern concept of hell in the NT anyway. It is not my intent here to provide a full proof argument for an alternate interpretation but just give evidence for and provide a possibility for an alternate interpretation. This will be sufficient to resolve the contradiction and provide people with options for interpreting the Bible that are not contradictory.

New Testament Words Translated As “Hell”

The words that are translated into english in the NT as “hell” are “Hadēs,” “Tartarus,” and “Gehenna.” Hadēs is the mythological Greek underworld and is also the greek word which is used for “sheol” in the new testament e.g.

ESV
Act 2:27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.
Psa 16:10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.

Probably the closest word in the Greek language to what we think of as hell is Tartarus (the reason I say closest, is because it is the bad part of Hadēs where people were punished) Hadēs is a more neutral concept but Tartarrus is only used once in the new testament here:

2 Pe 2:4 KJV
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, G5020 and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

And notice it isn’t even used as a place of judgement but a place to be stored until judgement.

Gehenna is a real place: gehinom

And the lake of fire is also probably a real place on earth. (see: http://www.askelm.com/secrets/sec106.htm and see: https://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/questions/lake-of-fire/ ) Rico Cortes argues that the lake of fire symbolically corresponds to ancient legal devices to determine innocence or guilt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2V-Uf3v0aE )

With these three concepts, none on their own charactize eternal torment.

“Hell” Didn’t Mean Hell Originally

In fact even the english translation of hell may have meant something different in older meaning of the word:

Another interesting thing to note is that webster’s 1806 dictionary:
[Webster1806]
Hell, n. the place of the damned, the grave, prison

Here hell has the meaning of Sheol included. In addition from the Watchtower online library, they quote another version of webster’s dictionary:

“It is, in fact, because of the way that the word “hell” is understood today that it is such an unsatisfactory translation of these original Bible words. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, unabridged, under “Hell” says: “fr[om] . . . helan to conceal.” The word “hell” thus originally conveyed no thought of heat or torment but simply of a ‘covered over or concealed place.’ In the old English dialect the expression “helling potatoes” meant, not to roast them, but simply to place the potatoes in the ground or in a cellar.”

“Hell.” Watchtower ONLINE LIBRARY. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 2015. Web. 20 Jan. 2015. http://m.wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200001978.

Interestingly enough both the Online Etymology Dictionary, and Google Entymology backs up part of their assertions:

“Old English hel, hell, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch hel and German Hölle, from an Indo-European root meaning ‘to cover or hide.’”
https://www.google.com/search?q=hell+entymology&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8#q=hell+etymology&spell=1

“hell (n.)
Old English hel, helle, “nether world, abode of the dead, infernal regions,” from Proto-Germanic *haljo “the underworld” (cognates: f. Old Frisian helle, Dutch hel, Old Norse hel, German Hölle, Gothic halja “hell”) “the underworld,” literally “concealed place” (compare Old Norse hellir “cave, cavern”), from PIE *kel- (2) “to cover, conceal” (see cell).

The English word may be in part from Old Norse Hel (from Proto-Germanic *halija “one who covers up or hides something”), in Norse mythology the name of Loki’s daughter, who rules over the evil dead in Niflheim, the lowest of all worlds (nifl “mist”). Transfer of a pagan concept and word to a Christian idiom. In Middle English, also of the Limbus Patrum, place where the Patriarchs, Prophets, etc. awaited the Atonement. Used in the KJV for Old Testament Hebrew Sheol and New Testament Greek Hades, Gehenna. Used figuratively for “state of misery, any bad experience” since at least late 14c. As an expression of disgust, etc., first recorded 1670s.”
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=hell

“cell (n.) Look up cell at Dictionary.com
early 12c., “small monastery, subordinate monastery” (from Medieval Latin in this sense), later “small room for a monk or a nun in a monastic establishment; a hermit’s dwelling” (c.1300), from Latin cella “small room, store room, hut,” related to Latin celare “to hide, conceal.”
The Latin word represents PIE root *kel- (2) “to cover, conceal” (cognates: Sanskrit cala “hut, house, hall;” Greek kalia “hut, nest,” kalyptein “to cover,” koleon “sheath,” kelyphos “shell, husk;” Latin clam “secret;” Old Irish cuile “cellar,” celim “hide,” Middle Irish cul “defense, shelter;” Gothic hulistr “covering,” Old English heolstor “lurking-hole, cave, covering,” Gothic huljan “cover over,” hulundi “hole,” hilms “helmet,” halja “hell,” Old English hol “cave,” holu “husk, pod”)…”
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=cell

So we see that hell, is related to cell, which is in turn related to cellar: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=cellar which is an interesting connection to the fact that helling potatoes could mean just putting them in a place like a cellar.

Verses Used to Argue for Hell

If we don’t get any of this stuff about hell from the words themselves, where do we get it? Well we probably get it from the Greeks and their teaching that the human soul is nessesarilly immortal. (Judaism was quite Hellenized at the time of Jesus, no pun intended) The Bible specifies no such thing universally (you can get the idea that if some people have eternal life, then their souls must be immortal, however this is not true by nessesarilly for everyone)

Now let’s look at some common verses used to argue for the modern Christian concept of “hell.”

Matthew 25:41 (NKJV)
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:
… 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Notice we have an immediate problem with the modern christian reading. Eternal life is contrasted with everlasting punishment, but that would mean the wicked would also attain eternal life. If you search for the word used for “punishment” “κόλασιν” in the septuagint you come up with these results:

Search result: κόλασιν

Jeremiah 18:20

Ezekiel 14:3

Ezekiel 14:4

Ezekiel 14:7

Ezekiel 18:30

Ezekiel 43:11

Ezekiel 44:12

Matthew 25:46

I John 4:18

The corrosponding hebrew words used in Jeremiah 18:20 is H2534 which means “wrath”.
http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?page=3&strongs=H2534&t=KJV#lexResults

for all but one of the passeages in Ezekiel it is H4383 which means “stumbling stone”
http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H4383&t=KJV

for Ezekiel 43:11 it is H3637 which means “ashamed”
http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H3637&t=KJV

So we see the majority usage in the septuagint is the Hebrew for “stumbling stone.” This might even remind us of the word used in Romans 9:32 where christ is refered to as a stumbling stone. The words are however different.

In addition Liddle and Scott bring out a different possiblity for the meaning in the greek, which is:

“kol-a^sis, eôs, hê, checking the growth of trees, esp. almond-trees, Thphr.CP3.18.2 (pl.).”
http://perseus.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/cgi-bin///lexindex?lang=greek&display=&lookup=ko/lasis

So thus far, we have an implication of not nessesarilly torment or punishment but prunning, shame, stumbling, but what about the eternal part? Even if we take the fire literally here (which I don’t) that just means the fire here is said to be eternal but not the time people are in the fire. Also This passage from Daniel needs also to be considered:

Daniel 12 NKJV
2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,
Some to everlasting life,
Some to shame and everlasting contempt.
3 Those who are wise shall shine
Like the brightness of the firmament,
And those who turn many to righteousness
Like the stars forever and ever.

So yet another punishment is mentioned, that of contempt. The only other time this word is used is in this passage.

Isa 66:24
And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring H1860 unto all flesh.

Now here we have two types of consuming forces mentioned. “Fire” and “worm.” One should notice that both of these things together are not possible: worms cannot survive in fire. When we have incompatible statements we can resolve the statements by taking them metaphorically and see what is common between them. The thing in common seems to be consumption, both worm and fire consume and destroy. The shame can be read as eternally shamed or that their memory is looked on with contempt, so this can coincide with their consumption. Although I find it quite interesting that the Bible would even bother mentioning shame and not mention eternal torment, since the latter is of so much more import than the former. I see a tension there that can be resolved by a metaphorical reading.

Anouther example of these coinciding metaphors appears in the passages where Isaiah is quoted:

Mk. 9:43-48 NKJV
43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 44 where

‘Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’

45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 46 where

‘Their worm does not die,
And the fire is not quenched.’

47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— 48 where

‘Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’

I mention these passages so we can kill two birds with one stone: If Isaiah is not talking about the afterlife, then neither are the passages that quote it. Keil and Deilitzch comment on Isiah 66:24 passage thusly:

“The prophet had predicted in Isaiah 66:18, that in the last times the whole multitude of the enemies of Jerusalem would be crowded together against it, in the hope of getting possession of it. This accounts for the fact that the neighbourhood of Jerusalem becomes such a scene of divine judgment. בּ ראה always denotes a fixed, lingering look directed to any object; here it is connected with the grateful feeling of satisfaction at the righteous acts of God and their own gracious deliverance. דראון, which only occurs again in Daniel 12:2, is the strongest word for “abomination.” It is very difficult to imagine the picture which floated before the prophet’s mind. How is it possible that all flesh, i.e., all men of all nations, should find room in Jerusalem and the temple? Even if the city and temple should be enlarged, as Ezekiel and Zechariah predict, the thing itself still remains inconceivable. And again, how can corpses be eaten by worms at the same time as they are being burned, or how can they be the endless prey of worms and fire without disappearing altogether from the sight of man? It is perfectly obvious, that the thing itself, as here described, must appear monstrous and inconceivable, however we may suppose it to be realized.”

Keil and Delitzsch don’t suppose instead that the passage could be metaphorical but say that it must be realized. And they imply (correctly in my view) that the passage has to do with the battle for Jerusalem also known as armegeddon in revelation.

John Gill also observers:
“… these are not the carcasses of the camp of Gog and Magog, the Jews so call, as Kimchi interprets it; though it may have reference to the carcasses of Gog’s army, the Turks, that will be slain in their attempt to recover Judea, Ezekiel 38:1 or else the carcasses of those that will be slain at the battle at Armageddon, Revelation 16:16 or the army of Gog and Magog, at the end of the thousand years, Revelation 20:8.”

So whichever way you take it (casualties of Armegeddon or the army of Gog and Magog) it is a reference to something happening on earth in the future, which makes the worm and fire almost certainly incompatible.

Rashi comments here:
“their worm: The worm that consumes their flesh.
and their fire: in Gehinnom.
and abhorring: Heb. דֵרָאוֹן, an expression of contempt. Jonathan, however, renders it as two words: enough (דֵּי) seeing (רְאִיָה), until the righteous say about them, We have seen enough.”

A Look at Revelation:

Revelation 14 NKJV
9 Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”

While their torment is continual here, it does not specify how long a duration it is. The smoke rises forever, but that is metaphorical language also used elsewhere. See for example the parallel description in Revelation 18:18 and Revelation 19:3, the smoke of Babylon is described in both places to be rising forever even though Babylon is ultimately destroyed, and doesn’t burn forever. The smoke be a hyperbole that the destruction was very great or that it symbolizes an eternal remembrance of the destruction by the smoke being an eternal memorial. The lake of fire (which this may refer to) is probably a real place. (as we’ve seen before) In addition the fire here is used metaphorically. Look at:

Revelation 21 (YLT)
4 and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and the death shall not be any more, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor shall there be any more pain, because the first things did go away.’ 5 And He who is sitting upon the throne said, Lo, new I make all things; and He saith to me,Write, because these words are true and stedfast;’

Since the fire is on earth and he is making all things new it makes no sense for it to last forever.

In fact Revelation 14 is a quote from Isaiah 34:9-10 about the judgement of Edom, in NKJV:

Isaiah 34 NKJV
9Its streams shall be turned into pitch,
And its dust into brimstone;
Its land shall become burning pitch.
10 It shall not be quenched night or day;
Its smoke shall ascend forever.
From generation to generation it shall lie waste;
No one shall pass through it forever and ever.

And this verse relates this future Judgement of Edom to the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorah in NKJV:

Jeremiah 49 NKJV
17 “Edom also shall be an astonishment;
Everyone who goes by it will be astonished
And will hiss at all its plagues.
18 As in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah
And their neighbors,” says the Lord,
“No one shall remain there,
Nor shall a son of man dwell in it.

Deuteronomy 29 NKJV
23 ‘The whole land is brimstone, salt, and burning; it is not sown, nor does it bear, nor does any grass grow there, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, which the Lord overthrew in His anger and His wrath.’

Genesis 19 NKJV
24 Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.

The reason I point this out, is that Sodom and Gomorah is said to be destroyed by eternal fire:

Jude 1 NKJV
7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

One way to resolve this problem of “why aren’t the fires of Sodom still burning?” is to say that the fire is not actually eternal, but infact a metaphor for eternal consumption. Sodom and Gomorah were destroyed, and that destruction was eternal (the people never came back or were revived), it was consumed, and that consumption wasn’t reversed (eternal consumption). That is why I think it is said to be destroyed by eternal metaphorical fire or… eternal consumption.

There are other examples of hyperbolic or metaphorical language in scripture such as this. When the word “hated” is used in the old testament it often means “loved less.”

Genesis 29 KJV
30 And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years.
31 And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.

This is to show that hyperbolic language is often used. Eternal fire could be the same way. Now for Revelation 20:

Revelation 20 NKJV
9 They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. 10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

At first glance, you may see a problem for my argument especially when paired with the previously mentioned Matthew 25

Matthew 25:41 NKJV
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:
… 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

However, observe that the devil and his angles aren’t nessesarilly made of the same stuff as others. Hence, they may indeed be tormented forever but others may be consumed instantly. In addition this is an expounding upon revelation 14:9-11 and not describing something new so we can’t read something contradictory to Revelation 14 here. (read Revelation 19:17-20:10 to see the parallel) This is similar to how Revelation 18:1-19:3 expounds upon Revelation 14:8. Also it says the beast, the false prophet, and the devil are tormented, and the beast is probably an abstract concept such as an empire, or a world system. (using the metaphors of beasts in the book of Daniel) So the implication here is that the torment may be abstract as well. The devil and his angels also seem to be treated differently by the lake of fire than humanity is, consider these verses:

Rev 20 NKJV
“12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”

When it says this is the “second death” we have to include this verse in our analysis:
Mat 10:28 KJV
And fear not them which kill G615 the body, but are not able to kill G615 the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

This indeed sounds like a second death: destruction of the soul, not eternal life with torment. Again we have the concepts of Death and the Hades (read “grave”) thrown into some physical place like Gehenna or The Dead Sea, this has to be metaphorical (probably for destruction) especially since the word second death is used. Hebrew words used for death here in the septuagint are: H01698, H04194, H06913, H01565, H04191

They all mean death or destruction. The first one H1698 which may be a little different is often translated as pestilence or plagues, but it is used to mean destruction as well. For example:

Hos 13:14 NKJV
I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; H1698 O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.

1Pe 1:7 NKJV
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, G4442 might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

One also needs to recall the material we have already reviewed regarding Isaiah 34 noticing that the terms “day” and “night” are again used and notice that with regards to Matthew 25. In addition to all this, the word for torment here may imply to test for quality or to destroy as well.

Taking the greek definition:
G928 βασανίζω – Strong’s Greek Lexicon Number
LSJ Gloss:

βασανίζω
to rub

Strong’s:

βασανίζω
to torture
Derivation: from G931;

KJV Usage: pain, toil, torment, toss, vex.
G931 

Thayer:
1) to test (metals) by the touchstone, which is a black siliceous stone used to test the purity of gold or silver by the colour of the streak produced on it by rubbing it with either metal
2) to question by applying torture
3) to torture
4) to vex with grievous pains (of body or mind), to torment
5) to be harassed, distressed
5a) of those who at sea are struggling with a head wind

Encyclopedia Britannica: Alternate titles: Lydian stone; Lydite
“Touchstone
Alternate titles: Lydian stone; Lydite
Touchstone, black siliceous stone used to ascertain the purity of gold and silver. Assaying by “touch” was one of the earliest methods employed to assess the quality of precious metals. The metal to be assayed is rubbed on the touchstone, adjacent to the rubbing on the touchstone of a sample of a metal of known purity. The streaks of metal left behind on the touchstone are then treated with nitric acid, which dissolves impurities, and thus, when the streaks are compared, the contrast between pure and impure metal is heightened. Because other metals, such as copper, can be alloyed to silver without significantly changing its colour, the touchstone method is not usually employed now to assay silver. It is still used, however, to assay gold and provides a reasonably accurate guide to quality.”
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/600649/touchstone

Or taking the corrosponding Hebrew definition that is often translated to mean “make desolate” or “destroy.”
G928 appears in the old testament:
1Sa 5:6
But the hand of the LORD was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed H8074 them, and smote them with emerods, even Ashdod and the coasts thereof.
http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H8074&t=KJV

So whichever definition we take, either from the Greek or the hebrew, both have alternate definitions to torment. However, I must admit the way the word is used in this verse adds some difficulty to this possibility:

Revelation 9 NKJV
5 And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment G928 them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. 6 In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.

However, revelation is a highly metaphorical book in general. The rider of the horse that has the sword his mouth may be a symbol of the word of God going out to convert people. Hence revelation may use a militaristic metaphor to talk about spiritual warfare. See the previous series on Herb Montgomery Knowing this, it is interesting that a good number of the verses used to argue for the modern concept of hell (with eternal torment) come from revelation.

Check out the usage of fire in revelation 19 in NKJV:

Rev 19 NKJV
19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire G4442 burning with brimstone 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.

http://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/G4442 Here are a couple corrosponding hebrew words to this greek one:
http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H784&t=KJV
http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H8316&t=KJV

With the first you will notice the usage in KJV:
Exo 3:2
And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire H784 out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, H784 and the bush was not consumed.
Exo 12:10
And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. H784

What fire does is consume things, if it doesn’t, it is a miracle like the burning bush.

Also the word Brimstone Rev 19:20 is most often used to describe destruction, here in NKJV:

Job 18 NKJV
15 They dwell in his tent who are none of his;
Brimstone is scattered on his dwelling.
16 His roots are dried out below,
And his branch withers above.
17 The memory of him perishes from the earth,
And he has no name among the renowned.

Isaiah 30 NKJV
27 Behold, the name of the Lord comes from afar,
Burning with His anger,
And His burden is heavy;
His lips are full of indignation,
And His tongue like a devouring fire.
28 His breath is like an overflowing stream,
Which reaches up to the neck,
To sift the nations with the sieve of futility;
And there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people,
Causing them to err.
29 You shall have a song
As in the night when a holy festival is kept,
And gladness of heart as when one goes with a flute,
To come into the mountain of the Lord,
To the Mighty One of Israel.
30 The Lord will cause His glorious voice to be heard,
And show the descent of His arm,
With the indignation of His anger
And the flame of a devouring fire,
With scattering, tempest, and hailstones.
31 For through the voice of the Lord
Assyria will be beaten down,
As He strikes with the rod.
32 And in every place where the staff of punishment passes,
Which the Lord lays on him,
It will be with tambourines and harps;
And in battles of brandishing He will fight with it.
33 For Tophet was established of old,
Yes, for the king it is prepared.
He has made it deep and large;
Its pyre is fire with much wood;
The breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone,
Kindles it.

Ezekiel 38:22 And I will bring him to judgment with pestilence and bloodshed; I will rain down on him, on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.

To summarize some of what is said here and in http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/eq/2001-1_021.pdf Revelation describes destructions:
Revelation 6:12-17, 11:15-18, 14:6-20, 16:17-21, 17:1-19:5, 19:6-20:21

There are many mappings from short to long descriptions of things:
Revelation 14 is the Judgement of Babylon (14:8) and expanded in 18:1-19:3

14:9-11 is expanded in 19:17-20:10.

14:12-13, is expanded in 20:11-21:8.

18 and 19 is of destruction and the expanded form in 14:6-11 cannot contradict this.

You will notice that the order in the Isaiah 34 is:
1 burning and brimstone
2 not quenched (no rest) day and night
3 ascending forever

Some argue that since 2 and 3 are reversed in revelation John is switching the emphasis to them having no rest day and night. However, there is another reason why John would modify the order and that is to preserve a certain structure. To quote Ralph G. Bowles:

“To see how John has structured this description of judgement
against the worshippers of the Beast, it is necessary to examine the
whole unit, Revelation 14:9-11. It can be set out in its inversion as follows:

(A) If anyone worships the beast and its image, and receives a
mark on his forehead or on his hand, (9)

     (B) he also shall drink the wine of God's wrath, poured
     unmixed into the cup of his anger, (lOa)

         (C) he shall be tormented with fire and sulphur in the
         presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the
         Lamb. (lOb)
         (Ci) And the smoke of their torment goes up for ever and
         ever, (l1a)
     (Bi) and they have no rest, day or night, (l1b)
(Ai) these worshippers of the beast and its image, and whoever
receives the mark of its name. (l1c).

This pattern conforms to the recognised structure of introverted
parallelisms in the Bible. This structure has been described thus:
‘There are stanzas so constructed that, whatever be the number of
lines, the first line shall be parallel with the last; the second with the
penultimate; and so throughout, in an order that looks inward, or to
borrow a military phrase, from flanks to centre.’21 Using the marks of
this figure listed by K. Bailey, it is possible to trace the structure of
Revelation 14:9-11. The climax ofthe unit is found in the centre (the
tormenting destructive judgement by God’s fire)…”
http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/eq/2001-1_021.pdf

Now lets look at Matthew 18

Matthew 18 NKJV
34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

This one is in fact a parable, which cannot at all be read literally, hence the argument for hell here is especially weak, and one should note that hell is not portrayed as a torment that motivates you to pay back any sort of debt. However, even more prominent is the observation that this torment may not be in the afterlife at all but a consquence of the human conscience.

There are in fact just 4 texts that are used mainly for these types of arguments: Matthew 18:34-35; Mark 9:43-48; Revelation 14:10-11 and Revelation 20:10

The last thing we should deal with is the parable of lazarus. It is indeed a parable but some still use it to argue for a literal interpretation.

Luke 16:19-31 New King James Version (NKJV)

19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’

27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’”

I contend that this parable is directed at the hellenized Jews using their worldview to get a message across. Other problems that this parable brings up if taken literally is that there you will literally be able to see your relatives tormented while you are relaxing in heaven or “Abraham’s bosom.” Also why wasn’t this place called “Abraham’s bosom” mentioned before in the Bible?

Citation taken from Herb montgomory “Do I have to Believe in Hell?” https://renewedheartministries.com/sermons/2015jesusdialogue/outlines/12doihavetobeleiveinhell.pdf
Concentric Circles -­ Free to Think and ask
Questions
“In order to understand the parable in detail
and as a whole, it is essential to recognize the
first part derives from a well-­known folk-­
material . . . This is the Egyptian folk-­tale
of the journey of Osiris, the son of Setme
Chamois to the under-­world . . . Alexandrian
Jews brought this story to Palestine, where it
became very popular as the story of the poor
scholar and the rich publican Bar Ma’Jan.” -­
J.Jeremias, Parables p. 183

From what I know this was common in early hellenized Jewish literature:

Other early Jewish works adapt the Greek mythical picture of Hades to identify the righteous dead as being separated from unrighteous in the fires by a river or chasm. In the pseudo- epigraphical Apocalypse of Zephaniah the river has a ferryman equivalent to Charon in Greek myth, but replaced by an angel. On the other side in the Bosom of Abraham: “You have escaped from the Abyss and Hades, now you will cross over the crossing place… to all the righteous ones, namely Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Enoch, Elijah and David”

http://www.talentshare.org/~mm9n/articles/wait/3.htm

Herb Montgomery makes the connection that since God is an all consuming fire, and in the Song of Songs it says love is a fire

Song of Songs 8 (NKJV)
6 Set me as a seal upon your heart,
As a seal upon your arm;
For love is as strong as death,
Jealousy as [am]cruel as [an]the grave;
Its flames are flames of fire, A most vehement flame.

Since it says that God is love that being in the presence of God is the real fire that is spoken of. For instance Isaiah 33 talks about the everlasting burnings being the destination of all, but that only the righteous survive: (NKJV)

14 The sinners in Zion are afraid;
Fearfulness has seized the hypocrites:
“Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire?
Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?”
15 He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly,
He who despises the gain of oppressions,
Who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes,
Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed,
And shuts his eyes from seeing evil:

Isaiah 43 says something similar about the fire being for all and in this life:


1 But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.

Here is the link to Herb Montgomery’s series. The ones I have drawn from are “Do I Have To Believe In Hell? Part 1″ and Do I Have To Believe In Hell? Part 2”

Abraham, River of Faith: Chapter 4, Finale

     For all the damage the kalak has suffered, it is still making its’ way down the Tigris, for that meeting with the Barge.  In the West, few are seen on the river; most have been abandoned on the shores, tipped over, half sunk in the mud.  But in China, Somalia, and other places, people are risking death to get in one.  There are still places where the little boat still travels, on its’ mission to make disciples of all men.

     Even in the West, there are still some churches that preach the right, accurate Gospel of Jesus Christ.  They have not bent their knee to Babylon or Mammon- for El always keeps a remnant.  These are mostly in America, but in the Phillipines, Ethiopia, and Armenia (the latter two of which established the world’s first state churches), they still continue on.  France and Ireland still boast healthy Catholic congregations as well.  So it cannot be said that the kalak failed; rather, it did not fill the pews as it should have.  It was meant to do that, but humans, with their pesky choice mechanism, often throw a shoe in the gears.

     Ultimately, our ability to choose can be a blessing as well.  It can be directed at finding and receiving the salvation of Jesus Christ.  And there is the hope, that will not pass away: that despite the cruelty and iniquity of our rotten, rancid, broken world, there is still a kalak for us.  The rulers of this present darkness, with all the terrible power at their command, cannot stop you from getting into the boat.

     They may harm you, or kill you, but they cannot stop you.  You can take to the Tigris, and make your way downstream, if you want to take the journey.  Whatever consequence awaits your adventure, you will arrive in the Kingdom of God, if that is your desire.  Despite all that has occurred before, the kalak will take you to the sea; for as Paul writes:

” I am not ashamed of the Gospel {of Jesus Christ}, because it is the power of salvation to those who believe, first to the Jew, and then, to the Greek.”

    This verse well fits my closing entry, since it encapsulates my main theory nicely.  The Gospel was preached first to the Jew-who was instructed in righteousness at Sinai-and then, those apostles went to the Greek, the Gentiles, and carried the Word to them.  So, from the Great Barge came emissaries, who then launched the kalak for mankind, to fill the hall of the Master, for the great day of His wedding.  For it is His desire that all should come, to be clothed in white for His day of joy and triumph.

     Imagine then, the sea where the two rivers meet, when the sons and daughters of Abraham come cascading down the streams. Wave after wave of the kalaks appear, their crews singing loudly, rapt in fulfillment, as they greet one another on the sea.  There, they surge and build to a swarm, shouting ‘Hosannah!’, pouring like a waterfall to the ocean.  As they laugh and hug and play, a roar goes up from the throng, and the ships part down the middle, as the Great Barge makes its way among them, the flagship of the faith, joining the armada at last.

    Whose joy will then be greater, when at last the navy conjoins?  Will it be the kalaks, at the sight of great ship, of whom they had heard so much, but never seen?  Or the mighty Barge, when it sees all the children the kalak in it diligence had brought home?  Who can tell.  When that day comes, it will no longer matter.  For there, the Messiah awaits us, ready to takes us home.

     What a sight it will be for Him, to see that grand fleet arrive.  With Great Barge amidst the many kalaks, it will be beautiful to His eyes, I am sure. For our sails will be full and robust, filled by our faith and hope, and our paddles driven by the Love Eternal that finally, finally has come to restore our weary souls.  On that day, no arm will tire, nor any voice grow faint, as we present our eager flotilla to our God and Father at last.

     Here ends, then, the story of the Two Rivers, born in the Bosom of gentile Abraham.  From his faithfulness, his righteousness, and his love came the covenant of Yahweh, first to the Jew, and then to the Greek.  For His firstborn, Yahweh made a might ship, that would endure till the end of the Euphrates; and from this, officers were dispatched to the Tigris, where a smaller craft was made to gather in the Gentile to Abraham’s house, that all men might be saved.  Be you of the barge or kalak, peace be unto you, until that glorious day shall come.  Selah, and Amen.

Paul Parallels: Originally apostle to Gentiles or to Israel?

The first parallel is for the purpose of showing that sometimes the word “nations” (gentiles) was used to refer to the lost tribes of Israel from the northern kingdom also called “Ephraim:”

Romans 11:25 Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)
25 For I do not wish you to be ignorant, brethren, of this secret — that ye may not be wise in your own conceits — that hardness in part to Israel hath happened till the fulness of the nations may come in;

Genesis 48:19 Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)
19 And his father refuseth, and saith, `I have known, my son, I have known; he also becometh a people, and he also is great, and yet, his young brother is greater than he, and his seed is the fulness of the nations;’

Paul Parallels, apostle to the Gentiles or to the lost tribes of Israel? Read these verses and the context around them:

Rev 21 YLT
12 having also a wall great and high, having twelve gates, and at the gates twelve messengers, and names written thereon, which are [those] of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel,
. . . 
24 and the nations of the saved in its light shall walk, and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it,

Acts 9 (referring to Paul) (YLT)
15 And the Lord said unto him, `Be going on, because a choice vessel to Me is this one, to bear My name before nations and kings — the sons also of Israel;
16 for I will shew him how many things it behoveth him for My name to suffer.’

Isaiah 60 (YLT)
3 And come have nations to thy light, And kings to the brightness of thy rising.
4 Lift up round about thine eyes and see, All of them have been gathered, they have come to thee, Thy sons [referring to Israel] from afar do come, And thy daughters on the side are supported.

Gen 35:10 (YLT)
10 and God saith to him, Thy name [is] Jacob: thy name is no more called Jacob, but Israel is thy name;’ and He calleth his name Israel. 11 And God saith to him,I [am] God Almighty; be fruitful and multiply, a nation and an assembly of nations is from thee, and kings from thy loins go out; 

Jesus and Taxes

I’m not arguing that what Jesus said then is applicable to our situation today since the Herodians were different (and worse) than our government. Herod was actually divinely executed for starting to accept that he was God (an anti-Christ) in Acts 12:22-23. Here’s some other evidence I think shows people have misread “give unto Ceasar”:

The Herodians were the political party of Herod the king and favored submitting to Herod and to Rome, hence it is interesting that they brought that group in order to trap him:

15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. 16 And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians. . .(Matthew 22) 

Luke’s version is even more clear:

20 So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so that they could deliver Him to the rule and the authority of the governor. 21 They questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You speak and teach correctly, and You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. 22 “Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”(Luke 20)

An unorthodox reading of Christ’s responses can be made in light of Deuteronomy 10:14 which says

“Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the Lord your God, also the earth with all that is in it.”

and Genesis 1:27 which states

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

Compare this with:

“And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” . . . “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.'” (Matthew 22:20-21)

Here’s how I think the inscription connects: “But what did the inscription say? On the front, the coin said “Tiberius Caesar, son of the divine Augustus.” The reverse side of the coin read “Greatest Priest.” But that is how it was inscribed in Latin. In Greek, Tiberius coins and inscriptions read theou huios (“son of the god”). Note with special emphasis that Tiberius put the word “god” before the word “son” in his inscriptions and coins.”
http://christianmonthlystandard.com/index.php/son-of-god-in-roman-world/

“son of” can mean “in the nature of”, or “in the image of” e.g. Colossians 1:15
Add on to this that Jesus had charges of opposing the payment of taxes: Luke 23:2 and that he says to not let tax collectors in the Church: Matthew 18:17 and you can see why you might read Jesus as saying cryptically not to pay taxes. (cryptically because the Herodians were there and he didn’t want to get killed just yet) However, this must not be used to negate: 1 Peter 2:13-25 for those rulers who “punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good” I think this holds for most governments in general even though there are a lot of problems in the world.

Yeshua and the Heart of Sabbath Law

Last updated: 2020-06-19

From my experience the standard messianic or Hebrew roots way of reading Matthew 12 is to say that Yeshua is dealing with matters of weight in the law, like what is more important, to keep the Sabbath or to feed oneself when desperately hungry?

However, in 1 Samuel 21 (which Yeshua references here) it seems that the priest thought that it was perfectly legal for David to eat the show-bread. This got me thinking and talking to some people. The priest just asked if his men (and David as well in some translations) had not had sex, which is kind of a weird question. Then David said: “5….“Truly women have been kept from us as always when I go on an expedition. The vessels of the young men are holy even when it is an ordinary journey. How much more today will their vessels be holy?” (ESV)
Depending on the translation verse 5 will be different, but just humor me and read it in the ESV or one of many others that are similar for now.

Some translations have the priest asking if “at least” the young men had not had sex, this does not appear in the ESV and the word translated “at least” can also be translated certainly or surely in other places: http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H389&t=KJV

Anyways, the reason the question is weird is that if you read the stipulations for the Aaronic priests to eat the holy things, there is a very similar requirement of not eating if they have recently had an emission of seed. (this could be close enough that they used one as an equivalent for the other) Some verses about the show-bread follow:

4 `Any man of the seed of Aaron, and is leprous or hath an issue — of the holy things he doth not eat till that he is clean; and he who is coming against any uncleanness of a person, or a man whose seed of copulation goeth out from him, 5 or a man who cometh against any teeming thing which is unclean to him, or against a man who is unclean to him, even any of his uncleanness — 6 the person who cometh against it — hath even been unclean till the evening, and doth not eat of the holy things, but hath bathed his flesh with water, 7 and the sun hath gone in, and he hath been clean, and afterwards he doth eat of the holy things, for it [is] his food; 8 a carcase or torn thing he doth not eat, for uncleanness thereby; I [am] Jehovah. 9 `And they have kept My charge, and bear no sin for it, that they have died for it when they pollute it; I [am] Jehovah sanctifying them. 10 `And no stranger doth eat of the holy thing; a settler of a priest and an hireling doth not eat of the holy thing; 11 and when a priest buyeth a person, the purchase of his money, he doth eat of it, also one born in his house; they do eat of his bread. 12 `And a priest’s daughter, when she is a strange man’s, — she, of the heave-offering of the holy things doth not eat; 13 and a priest’s daughter, when she is a widow, or cast out, and hath no seed, and hath turned back unto the house of her father, as [in] her youth, of her father’s bread she doth eat; but no stranger doth eat of it. (Lev 22:4-13 YLT)


5 `And thou hast taken flour, and hast baked twelve cakes with it, two tenth deals are in the one cake, 6 and thou hast set them two ranks (six in the rank) on the pure table before Jehovah, 7 and thou hast put on the rank pure frankincense, and it hath been to the bread for a memorial, a fire-offering to Jehovah. 8 `On each sabbath-day he arrangeth it before Jehovah continually, from the sons of Israel — a covenant age-during; 9 and it hath been to Aaron, and to his sons, and they have eaten it in the holy place, for it [is] most holy to him, from the fire-offerings of Jehovah — a statute age-during.’ (Leviticus 24:5-9 YLT)

So why didn’t the priest just ask David to make sure his men were free from that before they ate? And there are other restrictions besides that, so why didn’t the priest ask something like “are they ceremonially clean?” Why that specifically?

There is a theory that David was actually a high priest, but of a different order, probably the same one that his descendent Yeshua was after: the order of Melchizedek. Notice that the first time David inquires of God it mentions that Abiathar had brought the ephod to him:


20 But one of the sons of Ahimelech son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled after David. 21 Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord. 22 David said to Abiathar, “I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I am responsible[c] for the lives of all your father’s house. 23 Stay with me, and do not be afraid; for the one who seeks my life seeks your life; you will be safe with me.”
1 Now they told David, “The Philistines are fighting against Keilah, and are robbing the threshing floors.” 2 David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” The Lord said to David, “Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah.” 3 But David’s men said to him, “Look, we are afraid here in Judah; how much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?” 4 Then David inquired of the Lord again. The Lord answered him, “Yes, go down to Keilah; for I will give the Philistines into your hand.” 5 So David and his men went to Keilah, fought with the Philistines, brought away their livestock, and dealt them a heavy defeat. Thus David rescued the inhabitants of Keilah. 6 When Abiathar son of Ahimelech fled to David at Keilah, he came down with an ephod in his hand. (1 Samuel 22:20-1 Samuel 23:6 NRSV)

Before that Ahimelech inquired for David but after the ephod is brought to David, David inquires for himself:

And he enquired H7592 of the LORD for him, and gave him victuals, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine. (1Sa 22:10)

Did I then begin to enquire H7592 of God for him? be it far from me: let not the king impute any thing unto his servant, nor to all the house of my father: for thy servant knew nothing of all this, less or more. (1Sa 22:15 KJV)

Therefore David enquired H7592 of the LORD, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines? And the LORD said unto David, Go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah. (1Sa 23:2 KJV)

Then David enquired H7592 of the LORD yet again. And the LORD answered him and said, Arise, go down to Keilah; for I will deliver the Philistines into thine hand. (1Sa 23:4 KJV)

In addition this inquiring is associated with David being brought the Ephod:

9 When David learned that Saul was plotting evil against him, he said to the priest Abiathar, “Bring the ephod here.” 10 David said, “O Lord, the God of Israel, your servant has heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account. (1 Samuel 23:9-10 NRSV)

In addition, if David is not a priest, he would be the only non-priest in the Bible to wear the ephod:

And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. H646 (2Sa 6:14)

And David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, and all the Levites that bare the ark, and the singers, and Chenaniah the master of the song with the singers: David also had upon him an ephod H646 of linen. (1Ch 15:27)

David’s sons are also called priests in 2 Samuel 8:18 The word is Kohen and is almost always translated as “priests” elsewhere except in that one spot: http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H3548&t=KJV
However, the ESV translates it as priests:

and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites, and David’s sons were priests. (2 Samuel 8:18 ESV)

Some people take this to mean “ministers” because of a parallel in 1 Ch 18:16:

And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and the sons of David were chief about the king. (1Ch 18:17)

However, Gesenius mentions that if you compare the following verses then priests do seem to be the intended meaning. I’m guessing he means that the previous verse has the same word used for actual priests in 2 Samuel 8:

17 and Zadok son of Ahitub, and Ahimelech son of Abiathar, [are] priests, (h3548) and Seraiah [is] scribe,18 and Benaiah son of Jehoiada [is over] both the Cherethite and the Pelethite, and the sons of David have been ministers. (h3548) (2 Samuel 8:17-18 YLT)

And David saith to Ahimelech the priest, `The king hath commanded me a matter, and he saith unto me, Let no man know anything of the matter about which I am sending thee, and which I have commanded thee; and the young men I have caused to know at such and such a place; (1 Samuel 21:2 YLT)

9 And answer doth Doeg the Edomite, who is set over the servants of Saul, and saith, `I have seen the son of Jesse coming in to Nob, unto Ahimelech son of Ahitub, (1 Samuel 22:9 YLT)

However, Gesenius thinks the writer of Chronicles interpreted the word as “chief” because he was unable to admit any priests that weren’t of the tribe of Levi. However, this contradiction may be solved by noting that priests were a type “chief” or by postulating that David’s sons were first after him as priests as the word is literally “rishon” or “first.” Of course, Gesenius’s obnoxious translator argues with him about this in the brackets:

There is one interesting objection to this theory which is that of Uzziah being opposed by the priests in 2 Chronicles 26:18 where they say this:

18 and they stand up against Uzziah the king, and say to him, `Not for thee, O Uzziah, to make perfume to Jehovah, but for priests, sons of Aaron, who are sanctified to make perfume; go forth from the sanctuary, for thou hast trespassed, and [it is] not to thee for honour from Jehovah God.’ (2 Chronicles 26:18 NRSV)

Uzziah was a descendant of David but just like not all Levites are priests, not all Davidic descendants may have been priests. Also, Uzziah was not trying to sacrifice or inquire of God like David or Solomon. It is only the offering of incense that is expressly forbidden him by the priests, notice they do not say he is forbidden from temple work in general. In addition, the kingdom is split in two and there seem to be different rules in action when that happens. For example, Elijah was able to offer sacrifices in his contest with the priests of Baal away from the temple in the northern kingdom. It is true that the H6999 in the Hiphil can also mean other types of offering according to Gesenius but since the context uses the same wordform to describe his attempted burning of incense on the alter it seems to me we can restrict this meaning and not go with translations such as the NRSV which make the priests argue against him doing offerings in general: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H6999&t=KJV

How could David’s sons be priests if they were not descended from Aaron? Maybe because they were descended from David who was priest after a different order. And since David was a priest after another order that order had different requirements for how to eat the holy things. (requirements that are not listed in the Bible, but may only be hinted at here) David’s servants (or young men) may have been able to eat either because the bread was given to them by David, maybe in some ceremony such as listed here that reminds me of the last supper: Gen 14:18 “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.)” or because there was a similar allowance as with the Aaronic priesthood where servants (or slaves) of the priests could eat of the things for the priests:

but if a priest buys a slave as his property for money, the slave may eat of it, and anyone born in his house may eat of his food. (Lev 22:11 ESV)

(The word translated “young men” in 1 Samuel 28:5 can mean “servant” Jdg 19:11 “And when they were by Jebus, the day was far spent; and the servant H5288 said unto his master…..” http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?page=2&strongs=H5288&t=KJV#lexResults )

Of course David is being dishonest in his dealings with the priest here and he regrets it later because the priests get killed by Saul. David is not on a mission from the King and we don’t know if actual servants are going to meet him. However, this explains the priest’s questions and reactions in another way than the standard reading.

Hence, we can interpret Matthew 12 as Jesus first being confronted with an oral law from the Pharisees that interprets the plucking of grain–even without using a farm tool–as work. The Lightfoot commentary states: ‘Fathers of the Traditions write thus; “He that reaps on the sabbath, though never so little, is guilty. And to pluck the ears of corn is a kind of reaping; and whosoever plucks any thing from the springing of his own fruit is guilty, under the name of a reaper.”‘

Matt 12:1 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.”

Jesus starts out by pointing out problems with their oral law; that their law can’t explain these things:


3 But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he became hungry, he and his companions, 4 how he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those with him, but for the priests alone? (Matthew 12)

However, there are two different words he uses in Matthew 12. In verse 4 it is “exesti” https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1832&t=KJV and and in verse 5 in “have you not read the law” it is “nomos” https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3551&t=KJV Nomos is mostly used to refer to the Torah.

Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent? (Matthew 12:5)

Verse 5 may be referring again to the show-bread in Leviticus 24:

8Every Sabbath day Aaron shall arrange it before the Lord regularly; it is from the people of Israel as a covenant forever. 9And it shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place, since it is for him a most holy portion out of the Lord’s food offerings, a perpetual due.” (Lev 24:8-9)

He is not only criticizing the oral law for not being able to explain the priestly activities of David and of the Aaronic order, but he is also pointing out that even in the law there are exceptions made. He is saying “if making, picking up, and eating bread is ok here, then why not picking up and eating grain?”

One objection to the idea that a priest of the order of Melchizedek could jump in and eat the bread is the following passage which seems to suggest that the priests were supposed to burn everything they didn’t eat:

26 and out of the basket of unleavened things, which [is] before Jehovah, he hath taken one unleavened cake, and one cake of oiled bread, and one thin cake, and putteth [them] on the fat, and on the right leg; 27 and putteth the whole on the hands of Aaron, and on the hands of his sons, and waveth them — a wave-offering before Jehovah. 28 And Moses taketh them from off their hands, and maketh perfume on the altar, on the burnt-offering, they [are] consecrations for sweet fragrance; it [is] a fire-offering to Jehovah; 29 and Moses taketh the breast, and waveth it — a wave-offering before Jehovah; of the ram of the consecrations it hath been to Moses for a portion, as Jehovah hath commanded Moses. 30 And Moses taketh of the anointing oil, and of the blood which [is] on the altar, and sprinkleth on Aaron, on his garments, and on his sons, and on the garments of his sons with him, and he sanctifieth Aaron, his garments, and his sons, and the garments of his sons with him. 31 And Moses saith unto Aaron, and unto his sons, `Boil ye the flesh at the opening of the tent of meeting, and there ye do eat it and the bread which [is] in the basket of the consecrations, as I have commanded, saying, Aaron and his sons do eat it. 32 `And the remnant of the flesh and of the bread with fire ye burn; (Lev 8:26-32)

This may be instructions for a specific sacrifice however even if it was talking about the show-bread universally it still wouldn’t make me reconsider this theory. I see these rules as situationally applying to Aaron and his sons. If there is a different order of priest we may have different rules. We’ve already seen that it said the show-bread was for “Aaron and his sons” but this doesn’t say that it wasn’t for anyone else. Another passage that might be read in a similar way follows, but this seems to be specifically related to a consecration ritual:

31 `And the ram of the consecration thou dost take, and hast boiled its flesh in the holy place; 32 and Aaron hath eaten — his sons also — the flesh of the ram, and the bread which [is] in the basket, at the opening of the tent of meeting; 33 and they have eaten those things by which there is atonement to consecrate their hand, to sanctify them; and a stranger doth not eat — for they [are] holy; 34 and if there be left of the flesh of the consecration or of the bread till the morning, then thou hast burned that which is left with fire; it is not eaten, for it [is] holy. (Ex 29:31-34)

Back to the Matthew 12 passage. He then anticipates a possible objection: “but this isn’t the temple” and at the same time possibly references his own status as one of higher order of priest such as David:

I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. (Matthew 12:6)

And finally again points out that they and their oral law are missing the point, by being so focused an a letter of the law approach, and on the mechanics of the sacrifices and priestly practices that they have forgotten that love fulfills the law (rather love properly interprets the law in rabbinical argumentation) not how much you sacrifice:


But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. (Matthew 12:7)

This is a quote from Hosea 6:6 and the word used there for mercy is also translated as kindness: http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H2617&t=ESV

And finally:

For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:8)

The parallel in Mark 2 actually includes before this “And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

This is essentially saying the sabbath is for the benefit of man, not a test for man, or a trial to see if man could do everything exactly right. The way to properly interpret the law of the sabbath (as with all other laws) is through love and not through putting heavy burdens of rules on people (this can lead people to think they are righteous carrying those burdens). Love properly interprets the law and hence requires a proper heart: Jeremiah says “I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” as well as

I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them; I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, (Ezekiel 11:19 NRSV)


The letter of the law may be represented by the heart of stone (the bare rock on which the commands were chiseled) while the spirit (that gets to the purpose of the law) may be represented by the heart of flesh that is kind and merciful.

Then in Mark 2 as well as here we see: “So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
“The Son of Man” may be in reference to the curse, and the promise in Genesis, where someone born of Adam, (a son of man) of the seed of a woman would reverse the curse the first Adam had brought by obeying the serpent. This curse would be reversed by crushing the serpent’s head. (“THE son of man” may be the specific one who would do this) Christ is referred to as the second Adam elsewhere. (also see the Lightfoot commentary) As Brad H Young states “Jesus identifies with the designation “Son of man.” He uses the name “Son of man” to communicate His purpose to the people. While the term “Son of man” is widely understood to refer to the humanity of Jesus, in Jewish apocalyptic thought it became the recognized title for the most exalted view of the coming Redeemer.” This is about what laws like the sabbath were pointing to, a rest from the curse, and also saying that if the sabbath was made for man, then certainly it was made for the son of man. However, this may also be a reference to the millennial kingdom where the son of man (Christ) shall reign (reread Hebrews 3 and 4)

Why doesn’t he just say “your oral law is wrong?” why is the response so deep and probing into the matters of the priests and of David? I think Yeshua is using a distraction tactic similar to what Paul used in Acts 23:6

6 When Paul noticed that some were Sadducees and others were Pharisees, he called out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. I am on trial concerning the hope of the resurrection[a] of the dead.” 7 When he said this, a dissension began between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, or angel, or spirit; but the Pharisees acknowledge all three.) (Acts 23:6-8 NRSV)

The Pharisees are less sure about these esoteric (and probably controversial) matters and it may have taken some of their enthusiasm for punishing Yeshua’s disciples and turned it into confusion. However, we aren’t told what their state of mind is but interestingly we aren’t told that they had any sort of response to this.

So to summarize: Jesus was doing more than just dealing with matters of weight, he was criticizing the Pharisee’s oral law for implicitly blaming people like David for breaking the Sabbath that was innocent of doing so. He was also pointing out that there were exceptions even for the law and was criticizing them for focusing too much on the letter of the law and not trying to see what the law was pointing to or what God actually desired in how they should interpret the law and what their heart condition should be.