The Importance of Accuracy in the Study of the Words of Scripture.
This canon will be conceded by all as one of the first magnitude. Accuracy is everywhere demanded, and in every department of life, and in every branch of service.
How many calamities and disasters have occurred from a want of accuracy. The want of accuracy in understanding a word of command led to the disastrous cavalry charge at Balaclava. Want of accuracy or the misunderstanding of a word in a correspondence has led to the separation of close friends or the miscarriage of important business.
Inaccuracy is no less disastrous in the reading and study of the Word of God.
It is said of a poorly-informed preacher in southern Illinois, that he took his text from Luke 14:4, and read it out "And he took him, and held him, and let him go." The preacher was trying to explain the difficulty thus created, when a daring interrupter called, out, "My Bible says, 'He healed him, and let him go.'" As may be imagined, the proposed exegesis was brought to a sudden close.
But there are many popular difficulties of which this is a typical example; and which might all be ended as suddenly, if a similar remark were made.
How long shall we hear of the Fall as having been brought about by the eating of an apple? And how soon would the fiction vanish if we would exclaim, "My Bible doesn't say apple."
How long shall we hear about Jonah's being swallowed by the whale? when we could stop it by simply saying "My Bible doesn't say whale." Jonah 1:17 says, "The LORD had prepared a great fish."*
* The Lord Jesus used the word khtoV (ketos) in Matthew 12:40. It is a pity that any ground was given to the cry of the Infidel and the Higher Critics by translating it "whale" in the AV. But it is unpardonable of the RV to perpetuate it, when it puts in the margin "Greek sea-monster," though the words of Jonah 1:17, "a great fish," were ready to their hand. Why not have put "sea-monster" or "great fish" in the Text?
How long are we to hear about the sin of the children of Israel by command of God, as borrowing without intention of returning the property of the Egyptians (Exo 3:22, 11:2, 12:35,36)? Our AV seems to say this, and has thus provided material for scoffers. The RV rightly translates the Hebrew l)a#$af (sha'al), to ask: and out of one hundred and sixty-eight occurrences it is only six times rendered in the AV borrow; while in all the other one hundred and sixty-two passages it is rendered ask, beg, require, or some similar word. (See Psa 2:8, "Ask of me," etc.: this, surely, cannot mean "Borrow of me?")
The same want of accuracy in reading the sacred text has led to the mistakes of artists as well as of theologians. For angels are always represented as women instead of men; and in the piercing of the Lord the heart is always represented as being on the right side instead of on the left.
Similar are the mistakes of interpreters.
"Ye do ALWAY resist the Holy Ghost" (Acts 7:51) is quoted to prove that men can successfully withstand the Spirit, instead of stumbling at His words.
While "Ye WILL NOT come unto me" (lit., "will not to come": John 5:40) is quoted to prove that men will to come; and this, in spite of Philippians 2:13.
And in 1 Corinthians 16:1, the injunction to lay by in store, that there be "no collection," is used to support the modern practice of having a collection at every service.
The Lord's Supper, in spite of its being so called, and being instituted as part of a meal, is ordered by all Romanizers to be taken in the morning, fasting.
"Blood and Fire," which is a description of the judgment of the great Day of the LORD (Joel 2:30), is adopted as the symbol of salvation by His grace.
Instead of hearing what the Spirit saith to the churches we are commanded by man to hear what the Church says to us; and to heed "the voice of the Church."
The same want of accuracy leads those who set themselves up as "Higher" Critics to forget that it is the Word of God which is to be their critic, or judge. (Heb 4:12, "discerner." Greek critic or judge. Compare John 12:48, and see Number in Scripture, p. 70.)
These and many other examples are sufficient to emphasize the importance of accuracy in our reading of Scripture if we would avoid falling into mistakes and blunders of any kind.
Examples and illustrations abound where this canon may be applied. We cannot pretend to make the list of those we give exhaustive; we offer them only as specimens.
We will divide them into two classes: where the principle may be used
In the removal of difficulties.
In the revelation of truths.
i. Illustration of Accuracy Applied to the Removal of Difficulties.
1. The Ammonite and Moabite.—In Deuteronomy 23:3 it is declared that "an Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD." And it is urged that, it was in contravention of this, when Ruth not only entered into the congregation, but into the genealogy of our Lord (Ruth 4:13-22; Matt 1:5).
But if we read Deuteronomy 23:3 accurately, we find that the word is masculine ybi)afw$m (moabi), Moabite, while in the Book of Ruth it is feminine, and she is called hyafbi)a:w$m (moabiyah). (Ruth 1:22, 2:2,6, 4:5,10.)
2. Zedekiah and Babylon.—In Jeremiah 32:4 and 34:3 King Zedekiah was told that he should see the king of Babylon, and "speak with him mouth to mouth, and his eyes shall behold his eyes," and should go to Babylon.
In Ezekiel 12:13 it is as distinctly said that he should not see Babylon, though he should die there.
If we read these two passages accurately, we shall see how both are true as recorded in 2 Kings 25:6, 7, where we are told that Zedekiah was brought to the king of Babylon at Riblah, and spoke with him; that he was tried and then condemned, had his eyes put out, and bound with fetters of brass and was taken to Babylon. Thus, though he died there, he never "saw" it.
This apparent difficulty might have been given under Canon IV as being explained by a reference in the Remoter Context.
3. Omer and Homer.—In Exodus 16:36, we are told that "an omer is the tenth part of an ephah."
In Ezekiel 45:11 an ephah is said to be the tenth part of apparently the same measure.
But if we read the two passages accurately we find the former is spelt "omer," and the latter is spelt "homer." And though the letter "h" is often treated with scant respect in speaking, it is well to give it its place when we find it in writing. The difference compels us to look at the Hebrew, where we find that in Exodus 16 the word is rme(& ('omer), while in Ezekiel 45 the word is rmex& (chomer).
Thus we have two totally different words denoting two different measures.
4. The Going of Balaam.—In Numbers 22:22 we read that "God's anger was kindled because he [Balaam] went" with the princes of Moab.
It is supposed that this anger was out of place, because God had said, "Rise up and go with them" (v 20). But it does not seem to be noticed that a condition was attached to this permission, viz.: "If the men come to call thee."
No such coming and calling is mentioned; and it is quite gratuitous for any one to assume that this condition was fulfilled, when such assumption creates the very difficulty to which objection is made.
5. God's command concerning sacrifices.—In Jeremiah 7:22, 23, we read: "I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices; but this thing commanded I them, Obey my voice, and I will be your God."
It was through reading this inaccurately that the late Professor Mivart left the Church of Rome and gave up his belief in the Bible. He supposed (as many have done before and since) that God did command sacrifices.
If Leviticus be read accurately it will be seen that God did not "COMMAND" the offering of sacrifices. The very essence of all offerings was that the act should be voluntary, "of his own voluntary will." This being the case, God did then lay down the conditions on which they should be brought and offered. Hence the book of Leviticus begins by saying, "IF any man of you bring an offering unto the LORD, ye shall bring," etc. (Compare Lev 1:2,3,10,14, 2:4,5,7,14, 3:1,6,7,12, 4:32, etc.).
It was essential that all sacrifices should be of the offerer's "own voluntary will" (Lev 1:3). What Jehovah commanded "in the day that He brought them out of Egypt" was to "diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD"; and "Do that which is right" in His sight; and "Give ear to His commandments; keep all His statutes." This was the command "in the day that He brought them out of Egypt" (see Exo 15:26).
This inaccurate reading not only creates the difficulty; but misses the very scope of Jeremiah 7:22, 23.
6. Hearing and not hearing the voice.—In Acts 9:7 we read, "The men that were with him [Saul] stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man."
In Acts 22:9 "they heard not the voice of him that spake to me."
In this case it is the Greek that has to be read accurately. The verb akouw (akouo), to hear, is the same in both passages, but it governs two cases of the noun which follows it.
It takes the Genitive case of the sound which is heard; and it takes the Accusative case of the words or matter which is heard.
In Acts 9:7 "the voice" that was heard is in the Genitive case (fwnhV, phones).
In Acts 22:9 "the voice" that was not heard (i.e., the matter) is in the Accusative case: so that while the men with Saul heard the sound of the voice, they did not hear the words that were spoken. (Compare Luke 11:28.)
7. Standing and falling to the earth.—But there is another difficulty in these passages besides the hearing and not hearing.
There is the difficulty between Acts 9:7, "the men that journeyed with him stood speechless," and Acts 26:14, "and when we were all fallen to the earth."
This difficulty is removed the moment we read the passage accurately and notice that the word istamai (histamai) has another meaning besides standing erect on one's legs. It means to remain motionless in whatever position one may be.
It is rendered abode in John 8:44; continue in Acts 26:22 (RV stand); stanch in Luke 8:44. Hence it is used of standing fast (1 Cor 7:37; Col 4:12; 2 Tim 2:19).
More to the point is the Septuagint of 1 Samuel 28:20, where it is said of Saul that he "made haste, and fell motionless upon the earth." No one would think of rendering this, he "fell standing."*
* Homer, in reference to one thus fallen, says: "he fell from his car...and then, for a long time remained he motionless"; (not standing on his legs after he had fallen!). Iliad, v. 585.
So that the two passages taken together mean that "the men that journeyed with him" fell to the ground and remained speechless; or were motionless as well as speechless.
8. Spoken and written.—In Matthew 2:23 we read: "He came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene."
This being inaccurately read, search is made in the prophets for any such prophecy.
But none can be found.
The Hebrew word rcen' (netzer), a branch, is then taken, and an attempt is made to identify it with "Nazarene." But even if this could be established (which it cannot be) it would not solve the difficulty which has been created; for the word netzer is used of Christ, only in Isaiah; and it says prophetS.
If we read the verse accurately we notice that it says "spoken," and not written.
Some prophecies were written and not spoken. Some were spoken and not written; others were both spoken and written.
There is all the difference, surely, between to rhqen (to rhethen), that which was spoken, and o gegraptai (ho gegraptai), that which standeth written.
Even granting that by a figure of speech, what is written is sometimes said to be spoken, there is no necessity arbitrarily to introduce the hypothesis when such introduction actually creates the difficulty.
9. Jeremiah the Prophet.—The same application of accuracy in reading the words of a Scripture solves the precisely similar difficulty in Matthew 27:9. The prophecy as to the "thirty pieces of silver" was first "spoken by Jeremiah the prophet," and afterwards written down by Zechariah.
And yet, having arbitrarily substituted in their minds the word "written" instead of "spoken," commentators are at their wits' end to explain the difficulty they have themselves created.
One says "Matthew quoted it from memory" (Augustine, followed by Alford); another speaks of it as a "slip of the pen" on the part of Matthew.
Another thinks that Jeremiah is put for the whole body of the prophets (Bishop Lightfoot).
Another thinks that the passage was originally in Jeremiah, but the Jews cut it out (Eusebius and others).
Another thinks that it may have been in another writing of Jeremiah which is now lost (Origen and others).
Another, (Bishop Wordsworth) believes that the mistake was made on purpose, so that we should not trouble ourselves as to who the writer was, but receive all prophecy as coming direct from God.
We make no comment on these, but only mention them to show the shifts to which expositors are driven in order to get out of the pit which they have digged themselves.
The solutions which are suggested are a greater obstacle to faith than the original difficulty; even if it were real instead of being only apparent.
10. The sending of the Centurion (Luke 7:3,6 and Matt 8:5).—In Matthew 8:5 it reads as though the centurion came himself to the Lord; and in Luke 7:3, 6,
it reads as though he sent others and remained behind himself.
The difficulty is removed the moment we read the Greek accurately, and note that in Luke two different words are used for sending.
In Luke 7:3 it is the verb apostellw (apostello), which means to send away from, the sender remaining behind. This is when he sends "the elders of the Jews."
In verse 6 the centurion "sent friends," but here it is the verb pempw (pempo), which means to send with, the sender either accompanying or sending an escort.*
* In John 20:21 we have both words in one verse: "As my Father hath sent me (apostello), even so send I you (pempo)." While in other passages the latter verb is used also of the sending of the Lord Jesus by the Father; yet, here, in John 20:21, for the purpose of emphasizing the fact that the Lord remains with those whom He sends, the verb pempo is used.
From the latter word being used in verse 6 it is clear that the centurion accompanied his "friends." This is where the account in Matthew takes up the narrative, when he says "there came to him a centurion."
We may note further that, in Matthew 8:13, the Lord said, "Go thy way." But from Luke 7:10 it appears that the Centurion did not go; his great faith not making it necessary for him to go and verify the Lord's word.
11. The Inscriptions on the Cross.—The variation between these in the four Gospels has given rise to charges which detract from the claim of the Gospels to the accuracy involved in inspiration;* while the defences and explanations have been little less injurious in their effects.
* A very moderate statement of the difficulty presents it as follows: "The Evangelists, while fully agreeing in the substance of their narratives, are by no means careful about literal words—as for example, their record of the Inscriptions on the Cross, where no two of them exactly agree."—Rev. J. Paterson Smyth, in How God Inspired the Bible.
The inscriptions are as follows:
Matthew 27:37, "This is Jesus the King of the Jews."
Mark 15:26, "The King of the Jews."
Luke 23:38, "This is the King of the Jews."
John 19:19, "Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews."
It is universally assumed that there was only one inscription: and, some Interpreters account for the differences by a further supposition that the full and complete version was—
"THIS IS JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS,"
the four consisting of certain words which formed a part of that whole.
It has been suggested by one (the late Rev. James Kelly) that these four, respectively, are in harmony with the special object and scope of the Gospel in which it is found. This is ingenious and would be worthy of Divine revelation if it could be substantiated.
Others suggest that as the inscription was originally in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, they are the translations of these respectively.
But this involves another assumption, viz., that these three were not only not the same, but were so different as to allow of such various renderings. It also accounts for only three out of the four; and does not explain how the Greek form could be a translation of the Greek!
In all these cases of difficulty it is well to "open the book" and see exactly what is said, and whether there is any ground for the original assumption that there was only one inscription, which is the foundation of the difficulty and the cause of its explanations.
Let us begin with Mark 15:26:
1. "The King of the Jews." Here we have not a word about a "title" (titloV, titlos, John 19:19) being on the Cross at all, or which any one had seen. It is a question of "his accusation." It is the bill of his indictment, or the ground or cause of his condemnation, which was His claim to be "the King of the Jews."
2. John 19:19. This was written by Pilate, and put upon the cross before it left Pilate's presence. For no one suggests that Pilate went to the scene of the execution and wrote anything there. It was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. The Latin put last as Pilate's language.
This title was read after the cross was set up; and became a source of argument between the chief priests
and Pilate (John 19:21,22), before the parting of the garments (vv 23,24).
What the final result of this argument was, does not appear from John's Gospel; but it appears from
3. Matthew 27:37, that it must have resulted in that one being taken down, and another "set up over his head" after they had "parted his garments among them" and after they had set down to watch him there (vv 35,36).
4. Luke 23:38. This appears to have been a different one again. For we are not told all that took place. It is evident from John that the feelings of those concerned were deeply stirred.
The inscription mentioned by Luke was evidently much later, and was seen close upon the sixth hour (v 44), when the darkness fell. It was put upon or "over him" (v. 38, ep autw, epauto), and in this order: "Greek, Latin and Hebrew," and after the revilings of the people. (Compare vv 35-37 with v 38.) Matthew's (No. 2) was before the revilings. (Compare Matt 27:37 with v 39).
If we accurately notice what is written we conclude:
That Mark's was only his indictment
That John's was the first, written by Pilate and put on the Cross before it left his presence.
That Matthew's was substituted for it and placed "over his head" after the dividing of the garments and after the soldiers had set down to watch; but before the revilings.
That Luke's was the last, put upon or "over him" after the revilings, and seen near the sixth hour.
12. The offering of drink at the Cross.—A great difficulty has been created by a want of accuracy in discriminating the three different occasions on which drink was offered to the Lord when on the Cross: the assumption being that it was offered only once.
The words of God have to be rightly divided in more senses than one.
There are great differences between the three accounts. If these are identified and treated as being different versions of one event, instead of complementary accounts,
each supplementing the other, then we shall have what is so glibly called a "discrepancy."
Now read the words accurately and note—
1. The three occasions:
Mark 15:22,23, "When they were come unto the place called Golgotha."
Matthew 27:34, "When they were come unto Golgotha."
Matthew 27:48; Mark 15:36; John 19:29. Six hours after the former two, in response to the Lord's cry, "I thirst."
2. The three kinds of drink offered—
"Wine mingled with myrrh."
"Vinegar with gall."
3. The three receptions:
The first was refused without even tasting it.
The second was first tasted and then was refused.
The third was "received" after He had called for it.
Thus so far from there being any discrepancy, the absolute accuracy of the Divine word is brought clearly out.
13. The "others" crucified with Christ.—Through not reading accurately what is written in the several accounts of the Crucifixion, and being misled by tradition and the mistakes of mediaeval artists, ground has been given for objections to be made as to the truth of the Scriptures; and difficulties have been gratuitously created.
The pictures and tradition give us "two" men who were crucified with Christ. In Matthew 27:44, and Mark 15:32, it is stated that they both reviled Christ: "the thieves also which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth." But in Luke 23:39 it is as distinctly stated that it was only "one" of them: and that they were not "thieves," but "malefactors."
Moreover, in Luke, the two were led forth, with Christ, from Pilate's presence; whereas, in Matthew and Mark,
they were not brought to the place of crucifixion until after the dividing of Christ's garments.
These are adduced as obvious errors: and it is alleged that both accounts cannot be correct.
The usual defence of the accuracy of these Scriptures is to assume that both the men reviled Christ at first; but that afterward one of them repented.
But this is a pure assumption, and is not only not so stated, but is quite contrary to what is so clearly written: "One of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be the Messiah, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him saying...This man hath done nothing amiss" (Luke 23:40,41).
But even if this were not so, and there were nothing against the assumption, there are still other difficulties which require explanation.
In Matthew and Mark they are called duo lhstai (duo lestai), two robbers.
In Luke 23:32, they are called duo kakourgoi (duo kakourgoi), two malefactors.
This also is supposed to be an inaccuracy. And so it is, if we accept the assumption of Tradition and Painting.
But if we read the accounts, as written in the Word of God, more accurately, we shall have to revise all our views which we have received from the "Traditions of Men."
1. We start from the alleged discrepancy, and accept the two statements that there were four men crucified with the Lord Jesus—Two Malefactors and Two Robbers.
2. These words are different; for while a Robber is a Malefactor (or evil-worker), yet an evil-worker is not necessarily a Robber.*
* There is a difference between kakourgoV (kakourgos), an evil-worker, and kakopoioV (kakopoios), an evil-doer. The former is general, while the latter is worse, in that it is specific. Paul was treated as the former (2 Tim 2:9), Christ was charged with being the latter (John 18:30).
3. It is also the fact that the two Malefactors "were led with him to be put to death and when they were come [Greek, came] to the place which is called Calvary, there they crucified him and the malefactors, one on the right hand and one on the left" (Luke 23:32,33).
4. The two Robbers were not brought till much later. Not until the garments had been divided and after they had sat down to watch Him there. "Then," i.e., at that particular moment, while they were thus watching; "THEN were two robbers crucified with Him, one on the right hand, and one on the left" (Matt 27:38; Mark 15:27).
5. The two Malefactors would therefore be on the inside next to the Lord; and the two Robbers would be on the outside. Being nearer to Him, the two malefactors could more easily speak with one another, and to the Lord.
6. John adds his testimony in 19:18, without any note of time: only of place "where" (not of time, "then"). He speaks generally of the fact: "where they crucified him, and with him, others, two on this side and on that side, and Jesus in the midst." The Greek is clear: duo enteuqen kai enteuqen (duo enteuthen kai enteuthen). In Revelation 22:2 we have "enteuthen kai enteuthen" translated "on either side." So it should be here in John's other writing (Gospel, 19:18), "and with him others, two on either side." This is exactly in accord with the other three Gospels, and combines their statements.
7. But John bears further testimony. He says (19:32,33), "then came the soldiers and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came [Greek, 'having come'] to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs." This shows that the soldiers in approaching Christ passed two of the four men before coming to Him.
8. Note the two different words translated "other," in John 19:32: "the first and of the other." The word is alloV (allos), which is the other (the second) of two when there are more.*
* See Matt 10:23, 25:16,17,20, 27:61, 28:1; John 18:15,16, 20:2,4,8 (the 2nd of eleven), and Rev 17:10 (the 2nd of seven).
In Luke 23:32 the word is eteroV (heteros), "and others also, two, were led with him."* Heteros is used of and denotes not one of the two malefactors, but both of them, they being one party of two, and the Lord being the other, and different.
* Matt 6:24, 8:21, 11:3; Luke 5:7, 6:6, 7:41, 9:56, 14:31, 16:13,18, 17:34-36, 18:10 and 23:40.
It is the same word (heteros) in verse 40, because here it is other of the two malefactors; viz., the one who did not "rail on him."
We thus reach the conclusion that there were four others crucified with the Lord Jesus. This fact not only removes all difficulties, but perfectly harmonizes all the four Scriptures, and establishes the Divine accuracy of every word and every expression.
Of course it does not agree with Tradition; and we are quite aware that we shall have to reckon with all Traditionalists for thus upsetting their idol.
14. The burying of Jacob and his sons.—The difficulty in Acts 7:15, 16 arises from confusing two distinct purchases; one by Abraham in Genesis 23:19, and another by Jacob in Genesis 33:18, 19; and Joshua 24:32.
Abraham's purchase was of Ephron the Hittite in Hebron; a field, with a cave (Machpelah) at the end of it, for 400 shekels of silver.
Jacob's purchase was "a parcel of a field" in Shechem, of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for 100 lambs.
There can be no confusion between these two.
As to the historical record, the burials in Abraham's sepulchre were Sarah (Gen 23:19), Abraham (Gen 25:9), Isaac (Gen 35:29), Rebekah and Leah (Gen 49:31), and Jacob (Gen 50:12,13).
The burials in Jacob's field were Joseph (Josh 24:32), and, according to Acts 7:16, the other sons of Jacob who were carried over into Sychem.
Acts 7:15, 16 agrees with this history if we note two simple Various Readings of the Greek supported by most of the Textual Editors (see Canon XII); and if we remember that the circumstances were so well known to Stephen's hearers that they perfectly understood what he said. Though they were waiting to catch something out of his lips, yet they saw nothing to stumble at.
The two readings are w (ho), in that which, instead of o (ho), that (before Abraham); and en (en), in, instead of tou (tou), of [the], in the phrase "[the father] of Sychem." In which case we read "in Sychem," and do not read the italics "the father" or the word "of" before Sychem.
With these changes the verses will read as follows:
"So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers, and they [our fathers] were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre: he [Jacob] in that which Abraham bought for a sum of money, [and they in that which was bought] from the sons of Hamor, in Sychem."
Thus, Jacob was buried in the sepulchre which Abraham bought; and his sons were afterwards buried in that which Jacob bought. The historic record is perfectly simple and clear; and no difficulty whatever exists, except in the minds of those who create it.
ii. Illustrations of Accuracy Applied to the Revelation of Truth.
1. Words and Expressions.
"From above."—In Luke 1:3 we read, "It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first to write unto you in order."
There is no "very" in the Greek. The RV says simply "from the first."
But, when we read this accurately, we note that the word is anwqen (anothen); and, when we look at all the other passages where it occurs we see that it means here from above. That is where Luke got his information from. That is why his understanding was so "perfect."
If the following passages be read carefully this will be seen to be the meaning: Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38; John 3:3, 7, 31, 19:11, 23; James 1:17, 3:15, 17.
With two exceptions (Acts 26:5 and Gal 4:9) the word always means from above. There is no occasion to introduce the idea of time where it is not needed. If the ordinary meaning makes sense, and makes for the Inspiration of God's Word, why arbitrarily take a meaning which destroys the sense? If holy men of old spake from God, who is "above" (2 Peter 1:21), why give anwqen a meaning here which makes them speak from themselves?
"Another King" (Acts 7:17,18).—Here we read the words of Stephen: "The people grew and multiplied in Egypt till another king arose which knew not Joseph."
If we read this accurately we notice that the word for another is eteroV (heteros), another, of a different kind; and not alloV (allos), which means another of the same kind.*
* The force of these may be seen in Matthew 2:12: "another way" (allos); Matthew 4:21: "other two brethren" (allos); Galatians 1:6, 7: "a different [heteros] gospel, which is not another" (allos); Matthew 6:24: "hate one and love the other" (heteros); Matthew 11:3: "do we look for another" (heteros); Hebrews 7:11; "another priest" (heteros).
The word points, therefore, to the fact that it was not another king of the same dynasty, but a different dynasty altogether.
With this agrees Exodus 1:8, not, of course, in the use of the word heteros, which is Greek, but in the Hebrew "arose," which is Mw@q (kum), and means to stand up and occupy the place of another (See Dan 2:31,39,44, 3:24). Moreover the word "new" is #$dafqaf (chadash) (for the meaning of which see Deut 32:17, and compare Judg 5:8).
Josephus says, "the crown being come into another family" (Ant. ii. 9).
The discoveries now made in Egypt prove that this was the case. The mummy of this very Pharaoh is to be seen to-day in the Museum at Bulak, and it is clear that this Rameses was the Pharaoh of the Oppression.*
* While Menephta, his son, was the Pharaoh of the Exodus.
He was an Assyrian, and every feature of his face shows that this was the case, being so different from the pictures of the Pharaoh who preceded him.
Now we can understand Isaiah 52:4, which has so puzzled the commentators, who were unable to understand why the two oppressions, in Egypt and Assyria, should be mentioned together in the same sentence, as though they were almost contemporary.
The discoveries in Egypt, and the Accuracy of the Divine Words, show that this latter was indeed the case. For in Isaiah 52:4 we read:
"Thus saith Adonai Jehovah,
My People went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there;
And the Assyrian oppressed them without cause."
These words are now seen to be exquisitely accurate; for that was exactly what took place: Israel did go down into Egypt to sojourn there, but a new king arose, of a different dynasty, and he, an Assyrian, oppressed them without cause.
There is no occasion to assume that Isaiah couple together two events separated by centuries, when such assumption creates the very difficulty complained of.
"The world that then was" (Gen 1:2).—The accurate reading in the English of the AV Genesis 1:2 will be sufficient to show there is something in the verse which needs explanation; and when we have explained it we shall find that it points to a wonderful exposition of the Creation, and provides a complete answer to all the cavils of Geologists.
This discovery would be impossible if the Revised Version were used, as the Revisers deliberately discarded the use of italics in certain cases, one of which was in the case of the verb "to be," which does not exist in Hebrew.
In Genesis 1:2 (AV) we read: "And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep."
Here, it will be seen that, the first "was" is in Roman type, while the second is in Italic type. This accuracy tells us that the latter verb, "was," represents the verb to be; and that the former "was" must represent a different verb, and not the verb "to be." This is the case; and the verb is hyahaf (hayah), to become, come to pass.
That this is its meaning is clear from the very next verse (v 3): "Let there be light, and there was light." Here the verb for "be" and "was" is hayah, and means become, while, in verse 4, the verb "was" is the verb to be, and is in italics.
The same use of "was" (Roman type) and "was" (Italic type) may be seen in verses 9 and 10; and in verses 11 and 12.
If we enquire further about the verb hayah we find it in Genesis 2:7, "and man became a living soul; 4:14, "it shall come to pass"; 9:15, "the waters shall no more become a flood"; 19:26, Lot's wife "became a pillar of salt."
From all this we assuredly learn that Genesis 1:2 should read, "and the earth BECAME without form."
Having made this discovery we now pursue it further; and we "search the Scriptures" to find out whether God has said anything else about the way in which He created the earth. And we find it in Isaiah 45:18. Here the sentences are heaped together, in order to impress us with the fact that, He who created the earth, ought to know, and be able to tell us, how He made it. Note the words:
"Thus saith Jehovah that created the heavens;
Elohim himself that formed the earth, and made it;
He hath established it,
He created it not tohu."
But this word w@ht& (tohu) is the very word which is translated "without form" in Genesis 1:2. So that, whatever tohu means, it is evident that God did not create the earth tohu. Therefore it must have become so, at some time, in some way, and from some cause which we are not told.
It is clear from this that in Genesis 1:1 we have the record concerning what is called in 2 Peter 3:6 "the world that then was." This earth, we are there told also, "being overflowed with water perished." This is exactly what is stated in Genesis 1:1, 2.
So that at the end of the first verse we must put a very large full stop; or draw a line; or leave a blank space, so as to separate verse 1 from what follows in verse 2, which relates to "the heavens and earth which are now" (2 Peter 3:7), and which will continue, until the time comes for "the new heavens and the new earth" of 2 Peter 3:13, and of many other Scriptures.
When Geologists have settled how many years they require between the first and second verses of Genesis 1 there is ample room for all they want, and a large margin beside.
Meanwhile, we may well conclude that all the fossils and remains which are found belonged to "the world that then was," and thus, at one stroke, remove all friction between Geology and Scripture.
Again, we ask, why assume that all the Geological phenomena pertain to the earth "which is now," when it is this very assumption which creates the difficulty?
and compels us to ignore all the phenomena of God's Word mentioned above?
His Word is misinterpreted, and His works are misunderstood, and the difficulty thus created is charged against the Scriptures of Truth!
"The mention of the blood" in 1 John 1:7 and 2:1.—Much may be learnt from accuracy in noting that "the blood of Jesus Christ" is mentioned in 1 John 1:7 in connection with "walking in the light"; but it is not mentioned in 1 John 2:1 in connection with the commission of sin.
This fact speaks to us, if we have ears to hear, and tells us that, when we "walk in the light," i.e., when we have access into His presence, as the High Priest had (though only on one day in the year), it is entirely in virtue of that precious blood of Christ which gives us a title to that access, and preserves us in that presence. The High Priest could not enter into the Holy of Holies and see that glorious light of the Shekinah which symbolized the presence of God, without blood; neither can we enter into and enjoy "fellowship" with God, who is light (vv 5-7), apart from the merits of that precious blood of Christ. Then it is that we need those merits; then it is that we are reminded of them; then it is that the blood is mentioned.
But, in 1 John 2:1, when it is a question of sin, there is no need to mention it at all; for it was once offered, once for all, and its virtues and merits in the putting away of sin are eternal in their results. It is "eternal redemption," "eternal salvation."
Hence, "if any man sin we have an Advocate with the Father." It does not say "a high priest with God"; for that title was in connection with the priestly act of access and approach through blood, but "an advocate with the Father." This is to remind us that relationship has not been broken. He who is spoken of as "God" in connection with the access of his sinful creatures, is spoken of as "Father" in connection with His sinful "children."
Thus, accuracy in reading shows us that these Scriptures are Divine; for where the Holy Spirit mentions
the blood, man (if he had written it) would surely have left it out; while, where the Holy Spirit does not mention it, man would certainly have put it in. Indeed he does so, constantly, in his prayers, and in his writings.
"Accepted" and "Acceptable" (Eph 1:6 and 2 Cor 5:9).—We must accurately note the distinction between these two words. In the AV we have the one word "accepted" in both passages; but in the Greek they are different.
The former (Eph 1:6) is caritow (charitoo), to make one an object of favour. This refers to the standing which God has given us, in Christ, in the heavenlies.
The latter (2 Cor 5:9) is euarestoV (euarestos), well-pleasing. This refers to our state, and our daily walk and life on earth.
The former relates to the person, the latter to his actions.
It is one thing for us to be accepted in Christ, for His merits' sake; and it is another thing for our walk to be well-pleasing to God.
The former is the gift of God's grace; the latter is the fruit of that grace.
It is most important that we should be accurate in noting this distinction, so that we may be preserved from legality on the one hand, and from laxity on the other.
All the children of God have the same standing; the strongest as well as the feeblest, the oldest as well as the youngest.
We do not labour to be accepted, but having been "accepted in the Beloved" we make it our aim (RV) for our walk to be acceptable.
"Man" and "men."—It is important that we should be accurate in noticing such a difference between the singular and the plural; for example, in this case, between "man" and "men," especially in the Divine use of these words.
"Man," God has written down as lost, ruined, guilty, helpless, and hopeless; though the world deifies "man"; and exalts him as having within him a part of the Divine.
"Men," God graciously saves; and deals with individual men in mercy, pity, and blessing; though the world thinks little and makes less of individual sinners. They may go to the wall for all that the world cares, when it comes to showing kindness, or giving help.
In this is manifested the difference between God's thoughts and the world's thoughts (Isa 55:8).
God declares that "there is no good thing" in man (Rom 7:18). The world with one voice, in Pulpit, Platform, and Press, declares that there is some good thing in man.
The issue is clear, sharp, and decisive; and the only question is, Do we believe what God says? or Do we believe what man says?
Remembering and Forgetting.—The same difference is manifested in the treatment of man by God, and by the world.
As to our frailties and infirmities the world makes no allowance for them. It does not remember our weaknesses; but holds us responsible for our mistakes however excusable. But God "knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are but dust" (Psa 103:14).
As to our sins, the world remembers them. After long years they are brought up against us; and the time and the circumstances are remembered, enumerated, and described in all their detail. But God has written of His forgiven people: "Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more" (Heb 8:12, 10:17; Jer 31:34).
Thus what God remembers, man forgets; and what God forgets, man remembers.
2. The negative of what is said.
It is sometimes useful, if not important, to note this; and to put what is said into opposite language.
"Out of the Scriptures" (Acts 17:2).—For example, in Acts 17:2, where Paul for "three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures," it may be well to note that it does not say, "out of the newspapers" or "out of his own head."
"Waiting for God's Son from heaven" (1 Thess 1:10).—When we read that the Thessalonian saints were "waiting for God's son from heaven," it is well to note what they were not waiting for.
It does not say that they waited for the "Spirit of God," but for the Son of God.
It does not say that they waited for "death," for that comes without waiting for it.
It does not say that they were waiting for Titus with his armies to come from Rome, but for God's Son to come from heaven.
It does not say that they waited for the fulfillment of prophecy, for Nebuchadnezzar's Image, or Daniel's Beasts, but for "God's Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come."
"Except there come the Apostasy first" (2 Thess 2:3).—When it says "that day [the day of the Lord] shall not come except there come the Apostasy first and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition," we are to note that it does not say, "till the world's conversion comes," but till the Apostasy comes.
It does not say, "the world is not yet good enough," but the world is not yet bad enough.
3. Marks of Time.
These are of the utmost importance, often pointing the way to the correct interpretation; giving us the clue to the explanation of some difficulty; or, bringing out some hidden truth or beauty concealed in that particular Scripture.
"The second day" (Joshua 10:31,32).—Here we read: "And Joshua passed from Libnah, and all Israel with him, unto Lachish, and encamped against it, and fought against it. And the LORD delivered Lachish into the hand of Israel, which took it on the second day and smote it with the edge of the sword."
Thus Lachish seems to be an exception to all the other cities taken by Joshua at that time. Of Lachish alone is it said that "he took it on the second day."
This point of accuracy invites our attention: and when we give it by looking more closely into Lachish, we find that—
In 2 Chronicles 32:9 "Sennacherib himself laid siege against Lachish, and all his power with him"; while he sent Rabshakeh to Jerusalem with a summons to Hezekiah.
Yet when Rabshakeh returned he "found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah; for he heard that he was departed from Lachish" (2 Kings 19:8). He evidently found Lachish a difficult place to take, as Joshua had done.
We note the further confirmation of this in a reference by Jeremiah to a subsequent assault by another king of Babylon. He says:
"When the king of Babylon's army fought against all the cities of Judah that were left, against Lachish, and against Azekah; for these defenced cities remained of the cities of Judah" (Jer 34:7).
So that when we read in Joshua 10:31, 32, about Joshua taking Lachish on "the second day" of the siege, we get a note of time which is not a mere casual remark, but is full of meaning when compared with other references to the same city.
"Then came Amalek" (Exo 17:8).—Here we read that immediately after the miraculous supply of water recorded in verses 1-7, "THEN came Amalek and fought with Israel in Rephidim."
No reason is given for this assault on the part of Amalek beyond what may be inferred from the word "Then."
When we consider what is recorded in remoter contexts we gather that in a land of that character, a well of springing water would be a bone of contention, and a possession to be coveted and, if possible, taken by force.
In Genesis 21:25 we read of Abraham reproving Abimelech "because of a well of water which Abimelech's servants had violently taken away."
In Genesis 26:19, 20, we read how Isaac's servants found "a well of springing water, and the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac's herdmen saying the water
is ours...And they digged another, and strove for that also."
In Exodus 2:17 we read how the shepherds drove away the daughters of Reuel who came to draw water; and how Moses helped them.
In Numbers 20:19 we read how Israel offered in vain to pay for the water as they passed through Edom; also afterwards how the same offer was made to Sihon the king of the Amorites.
In Judges 5:11 Deborah sang of the wells as scenes of conflict.
No wonder then that such a miraculous supply of water as at Rephidim should at once become a reason why Amalek should thus make this assault against Israel "then."
"Then will I sprinkle" (Eze 36:25).—
"THEN will I sprinkle clean water upon you and ye shall be clean;
From all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you.
A new heart also will I give you,
And a new spirit will I put within you."
When? When Jehovah shall have taken the house of Israel from among the heathen whither He has scattered them, and gathered them out of all countries and brought them "INTO THEIR OWN LAND" (vv 16-24).
If we observe this mark of time, it will effectually prevent our misinterpretation of this passage, and save us from taking what is spoken of Israel in a future day and applying it to the Church of God in the present day.
"Then shall the offering" (Mal 3:4).—"THEN shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto Jehovah as in the days of old, and as in former years."
When? When Jehovah shall have sent His Messenger, who will sit as a refiner and "purify the sons of Levi that they may offer unto Jehovah an offering in righteousness" (vv 1-3).
"THEN they that feared Jehovah spake often one to another," etc. (Mal 3:16).
When? In a time of apostasy, and neglect of the service and worship of Jehovah. In days of darkness and "perilous times." When the godly are minished; and it is difficult to find the assembly of true worshippers. "THEN" will be the time for believers to meet together, and speak often to one another and "think upon His name" (vv 7-18).
May we not apply this Scripture to the condition of things in the present day, without robbing Israel of the interpretation of it in a future day?
"THEN we which are alive and remain shall be caught up with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thess 4:17).
When? When the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven; and when the dead in Christ shall have first risen.
"Then" (Matt 25:1).—'"THEN shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps and went forth to meet the Bridegroom."
The word "then" points to the fact that this prophetic parable will have its fulfillment, not now, but at that particular moment in the sequence of events then being revealed by the Lord.
It forms part of the Lord's instruction and teaching as to His coming; and finds its place in His last great prophetic discourse contained in Matthew 24 and 25.
No one part may be taken out from its context, and interpreted apart from it, as conveying a lesson different from that which it was first intended to teach.
In the first place, the whole discourse is wrongly divided from the literary point of view. The Structure and the Scope combine to show that chapter 25 should begin at 24:29. It consists of two portions of unequal length, answering to the two questions of 24:3. These portions are differently constructed in order to mark their different subjects and scope.
The first part is an Extended Alternation. The second part is a Complex Introversion.
The questions were two in number.
When (pote, pote)? and
What (ti, ti)?
"When shall these things (spoken of) be?"
"What shall be the sign of Thy coming and of the sunteleia of the age (or Dispensation)?"
Answer to the First Question, "When?"
A. 4-6. Events heard of, leading up to the end (telos), which is "not yet." Direction to "see that ye be not troubled."
B. 7, 8. The birth-pangs of the Great Tribulation.
C. 9, 14. Events leading up to the end (telos).
A. 15-20. Events seen, sign of the end (telos). Direction to "understand it," and "flee."
B. 21, 22. The Great Tribulation itself.
C. 23-28. Events ending it.
Thus far we have the Great Tribulation: and the events leading up to, characterizing, and ending it.
Now, in the second part, we have the events following it.
Answer to the Second Question, "What?"
D.a. 29, 30. The Coming of the Son of Man.
b. 31. The gathering of the elect Remnant of Israel from judgment.
E.c. 32-41. Parables (General). Fig-tree and Noah.
d. 42-44. Warning. "Watch."
e. 45-51. Servants (General).
E.c. 25:1-12. Parable (Special). Ten Virgins.
d. 13. Warning. "Watch."
e. 14-30. Servants (Special).
D.a. 31. The Coming of the Son of Man.
b. 32-46. The gathering of the nations for judgment.
From all this, which is pointed out by the word "THEN" in Matt 25:1, it will be seen how impossible it is for us to read the Church of God into the parable of the Ten Virgins without introducing confusion of thought, loss of instruction, and dislocation of our Lord's teaching.
"Immediately" (Matt 24:29).—The word "Immediately" in Matthew 24:29 tells us that there is no interval between the end of the Great Tribulation and the appearing of the Son of Man in His glory, for judgment.
No room for a Millennium therefore, before that glorious Advent.
No Place for a thousand years of universal peace and blessing without Christ.
This word "immediately" writes folly on all man's vaunted remedies for the world's sorrows.
It convicts of grossest ignorance all the Church's self-claimed mission to "convert the world" before that Advent.
If the Church is to convert the world, where is the place or possibility of the Great Tribulation?
And, if the Coming of Christ follows that Tribulation "immediately," where is there room for the conversion of the world, or for any Millennium before His coming?
The whole argument which is so universally made on behalf of Foreign Missions is radically false. It must be, and can be based on truly Scriptural grounds, without thus mangling and marring the Scriptures of truth. Not only does this want of accuracy in interpreting the Word of God bring it into contempt and make it of none effect; but it deceives the world, and enables the scoffer to ask, "Where are the signs that your mission is being accomplished?"
The Church answers back, that though there are no signs yet; though heathen births far exceed the converts' deaths, yet they are "waiting for an outpouring of the Spirit." Thus they deceive themselves with a false hope, and substitute it for the true hope which God has given, which is, "to wait for God's Son (not God's Spirit) from heaven."
If the Church urges, as it does, that Daniel's prophecies were fulfilled under Antiochus Epiphanes, and that it was
he who set up "the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet," it is a sufficient answer to point out that the Lord speaks of it, in His day, as being still future, and gives solemn warning to those who shall see it, to heed it and "understand" it; and adds specific directions as to what they are to do.
"Afterward" (Joel 2:28).—"And it shall come to pass AFTERWARD, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh," etc.*
After God has brought Israel back into their own land, and made it fruitful, and blessed it and them with all blessings. If we read the previous part of the chapter we can see plainly enough when the pouring out of spiritual gifts shall take place. The verse immediately before reads:
"And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
And that I am Jehovah your God, and none else:
And my people shall never be ashamed.
And it shall come to pass AFTERWARD," etc.
This shows that Peter could not have been referring to Joel to show that that prophecy was then being fulfilled, for none of those things had taken place; and none of those conditions had been enjoyed.
Peter is merely rebutting the charge of drunkenness, and showing that it could not be true, inasmuch as similar scenes were spoken of by Joel the prophet. When he says, "This is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel" he can mean only this (sing.) prophecy which he proceeds to quote; not those (pl.) events which were taking place.
And yet his utterance is so worded that had the people and their rulers repented, as he exhorted them (Acts 2:38, 3:19-26, RV), and as it was required by the one great condition of the fulfillment of the promise of Joel 2:12-17, then the prophecy of Joel 2:28 (which Peter quoted) would have been fulfilled: for that will be the time when the LORD will "be jealous for His LAND and pity His PEOPLE," as long before foretold in "the Song of Moses" (Deut 32:43).
"At that time" (Matt 11:25).—This mark of time we have already referred to under Canon VI (page 323).
4. Marks of Reasoning.
"Therefore" (Eph 4:1).—"I THEREFORE the prisoner of the Lord beseech you that ye walk worthy of the calling wherewith ye are called."
Why? Chapter 3 being a parenthesis between chapter 2 and chapter 4 (see page 62), we see that the word "therefore" stands connected with 2:22.
It is the one building "fitly framed together"; the "holy temple" (2:21,22): It is the one body which is likewise "fitly framed together" (3:16).
"THEREFORE," endeavour to keep this unity of the spirit (this spiritual unity) which God HAS MADE in Christ.
Seek not to make a corporate or bodily unity; but give diligence to KEEP to the Spiritual unity which God has made.
To do this will require "all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love" (v 2).
"Therefore...I charge thee" (2 Tim 4:1).—Here, and in all similar cases where we have such words as "Therefore," "Wherefore," marking logical conclusions of arguments or statements, it is always important for us, in our reading, to be most accurate, and to notice the matter thus introduced and emphasized by the word "therefore." This is the more important, because such words, more often than not, come at the beginning of a chapter, where the break is apt to sever the connection between the argument and the conclusion, between the cause and the effect, or between a statement and its result.
A good example is furnished in 2 Timothy 4:1. The chapter begins:
"I charge thee THEREFORE, before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom—Preach the Word." (RV).
Why is this charge given? and why is it given here?
The answer to these questions is furnished by the word "therefore." Chapter 3 had ended with a statement as to the wonderful profitableness of the God-breathed Word, fitting out God's spokesman for every emergency (see under Canon V, pp. 304, 305, and VI, p 321). The solemn conclusion is:—
Seeing that the Divine Word is God-breathed;—seeing that it is so profitable,—seeing that it is so necessary to fit out him who thus possesses it,
"Preach the Word." Note the comparison thus suggested between 3:16 and 4:2.
Seeing it is profitable for "doctrine," therefore "preach it in season and out of season."
Seeing it is profitable for "reproof," therefore "reprove."
Seeing it is profitable for "correction," therefore "rebuke."
Seeing it is profitable for "instruction in righteousness," therefore "exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine."
All this, and more, is wrapped up in this word "therefore."
Similar examples may be noted, and instruction gained by accurately observing the occurrences of such words.
It is a great question whether we have the correct method of translating numbers. Each nation has its own method of reckoning, and its own idioms of numeration.
We have only to go to the French and to one illustration to see this. Take as an example our simple ninety-seven (97). How is this to be translated into French? Idiomatically, of course, and not literally. The French would be quatre-vingt-dix-sept, or four-twenty-ten-seven: i.e.,
Now, may it not be well to ask whether the Hebrew mode of reckoning was the same as the English; or, indeed, whether it was the same in Old Testament days as it is to-day?
In any case, is it not wiser to ask this question instead of first assuming an answer which may be incorrect, then charging the error on the inspired writers, and then explaining it by talking of "exaggeration," or of "round numbers"?
That is an easy, not to say the usual, way out of difficulties which we ourselves perhaps have created.
1 Samuel 6:19.—Infidels and Critics have brought charges of error, for example, against 1 Samuel 6:19:
"And he smote the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the Ark of Jehovah, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and three-score and ten men" (i.e., 50,070 men).
This is what the AV says.
But, Is this what the Word of God says?
The Hebrew of the latter clause reads: "Jehovah smote seventy men, [two] fifties and one thousand."
The word "fifties" is in the Dual number, which means two fifties.
So that we have, according to this—
There is a slight difference it will be observed. And, as Beth-shemesh was quite a small place, this smaller number would appear to be more correct.
Judges 12:6.—Another example might be found in Judges 12:6, where we read of the tribe of Ephraim: "And there fell at that time forty, and two thousand."
This would be
or, as we should say
This would be more in harmony with Numbers 26:37, which gives the total of the second census of Ephraim as 32,500, while the first was not more than 40,500 (Num 1:33). Not only is the above more in harmony, for the other reckoning is out of all harmony; as those slain of the tribe would be more than the number of the whole tribe, within about three hundred years.
The Census of Numbers 1 and 26.—This leads to another suggestion which is made by Professor W. M. Flinders Petrie in his Researches in Sinai. His suggestion is that in the two Census Lists of Numbers 1 and 26 the word Eleph, thousand, should be taken in the sense of family or tent. He would then reckon, Reuben (Num 1:21) as "46 eleph 500 people": i.e., eleven to a tent.
But the objection to this is (1) that it is not "people," but the "men over twenty years of age"; (2) that the first list works out at 598 eleph 5,550 men over twenty years old (not people), whereas it is several times given as 603 eleph 3,550 men; which shows that the 598 and 5,550 must be reckoned as thousands, in order to arrive at the totals as given in Exodus 38:26; Numbers 1:46, 2:32, viz., 598,000 + 3,550 = 603,550 (compare Exo 12:37; Num 11:21).
We must therefore conclude that Moses knew more about what he was writing than explorers and critics can imagine.
Our suggestion as given above does not lie under these serious objections, but relates merely to the principle underlying the method of numeration, and the idioms used in stating it.
6. Names of Persons and Places.
Accuracy is also required in the study of the names of persons and places. Apart from Scripture evidence we know that, in all countries, many places and persons have the same name; while on the other hand some are known by, and have, several names.
We should expect, therefore, to find these phenomena in the Bible.
So far from being a discrepancy which amounts to an objection, it is only a difficulty calling for greater accuracy and care in our study of the Word.
Moreover, it is an argument for the veracity of God's Word, in that, what are difficulties to us, are left unexplained because the truth as to the facts was perfectly well known.
(a) As to Persons.
1. The same name was borne by different persons then, as now.
This is particularly noticeable in the case of James.
JAMES.—We have to distinguish:
James the son of Zebedee, and brother of John (Matt 4:21, 17:1, etc.).
James the son of Alphaeus, one of the Twelve (Mark 3:18; Matt 10:3, etc.).
James the Lord's brother (Gal 1:19; Matt 13:55; Mark 6:3).
JOHN.—We have to distinguish—
John the Baptist (Matt 3:4).
John the Apostle (Mark 1:20).
John Mark (Acts 12:12,25, 13:5,13, 15:37).
John of Acts 4:6.
SIMON was a name borne by at least ten persons in the New Testament. There were—
SIMON (Luke 2:25).
SIMON PETER the Apostle.
SIMON ZELOTES, one of the Twelve (Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13). This is the same as SIMON THE CANANITE (Matt 10:4; Mark 3:18), being the Aramaic for Zelotes, both meaning Zeal or Zealot; the name of a Jewish sect.
SIMON son of Joseph and Mary (Matt 13:55; Mark 6:3).
SIMON the father of Judas Iscariot (John 6:71, 12:4, 13:2,26).
SIMON the Pharisee (Luke 7:40,43,44).
SIMON THE LEPER (Matt 26:6; Mark 14:3).
SIMON THE CYRENIAN (Matt 27:32; Mark 15:21).
SIMON THE TANNER (Acts 9:43, 10:6,32).
SIMON MAGUS (Acts 8:9,13).
HEROD was a name borne by seven different persons:
HEROD THE GREAT of whom we read in Matthew 2 and Luke 1. He died in the year of the true Nativity (BC 4). During his last illness he ordered the slaughter of the children at Bethlehem (Matt 2:16-18).
HEROD ANTIPAS, son of Herod I, Tetrarch of Galilee (Luke 3:1), the central portion of kingdom of Herod I. He was the half-brother of Herod Philip I and abducted his wife Herodias and married her (Matt 14:3; Luke 3:19; Mark 6:17). He heard John gladly, but afterwards beheaded him (Mark 6:20). This was the Herod to whom the Lord was sent for trial (Luke 23:8-12).
HEROD ARCHELAUS, son of Herod I. Ethnarch of portion of kingdom of Herod I, on account of whom Joseph turned aside into Galilee (Matt 2:22).
HEROD PHILIP I, son of Herod I, without territory. Husband of Herodias, who was abducted and married by Herod Antipas (Matt 14:3; Mark 6:17; Luke 3:19).
HEROD PHILIP II, son of Herod I, Tetrarch of the NE portion of kingdom of Herod I (Luke 3:1). Built Caesarea Philippi (Matt 16:13; Mark 8:27).
HEROD AGRIPPA I, grandson of Herod I, succeeded Philip II. Put James to death, and Peter in prison (Acts 12).
HEROD AGRIPPA II, son of Agrippa I, whom he succeeded in part. The Herod before whom Paul stood (Acts 25:13).
The same name in some cases arises from the fact that it is a title associated with royalty; just as the words "Czar," "Kaiser," etc.
ABIMELECH was the common name for the kings of the Philistines.
AGAG, for the kings of the Amalekites.
CAESAR, for the emperors of Rome.
PHARAOH, for the kings of the Egyptians, such as Pharaoh Hophra (Jer 44:30); Pharaoh Necho (2 Kings 23:29,33,34,35; Jer 46:2).
We may learn a solemn lesson from the history of the calamitous and fatal matrimonial alliance of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat with Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel.
We find, after this, the same names being given to members of both families, showing how close this alliance became, and how the evil leaven worked and permeated the whole mass.
Not only was the house of Jehovah broken up and the vessels thereof taken to the house of Baal, but the two families became alike in their life and their religion.
Care has to be taken by the Bible student in the midst of the confusion created for him by this unholy alliance: and the difficulties caused by it have to be noted and unravelled.
2. The same person has different names,* or more than one:
* Sometimes this is only apparent, as in the case of JESUS, which is the Greek form of JOSHUA (Acts 7:45; Heb 4:8). CHRIST is the Greek for the Hebrew MESSIAH. REMPHAN (Acts 7:43) is the Greek for CHIUN (Amos 5:26). So in the same way ALLELUIA (Rev 19:1,3,4,6) is the Greek form of the Hebrew HALLELUJAH.
ABIEL (1 Sam 9:1) is NER of 1 Chronicles 9:39.
ISHUI (1 Sam 14:49) is ABINADAB of 31:2.
ABIMELECH of Psalm 34 (Title) is ACHISH of 1 Samuel 21:11.
LEVI (Luke 5:27) is the same as MATTHEW.
THOMAS and DIDYMUS are the Hebrew and Greek words respectively for twins.
SILVANUS (2 Cor 1:19; 1 Thess 1:1; 1 Peter 5:12) is the same as SILAS (Acts 15:22,27,34,40, 16:19,25).
TIMOTHEUS (Acts 16:1, etc.) is TIMOTHY.
CEPHAS (John 1:42; 1 Cor 1:12, 3:22, 9:5, 15:5; Gal 2:9) is the Aramaic for the Greek PETER. His Hebrew name was SIMEON or SIMON. Hence he was sometimes called SIMON PETER. But there were several who are known by the name of SIMON.
Esau's Wives.—Perhaps one of the most intricate of these problems is that of Esau's wives. As infidels and "higher" critics (which too often mean very much the same thing) have sometimes referred to this as showing the human element in an untrustworthy record, it may be well to say a few words about it.
In Genesis 36:1-3 we have "the generations of Esau." This, therefore, is the correct and standard genealogy which must be our foundation.
Here Esau's wives are stated to be three in number; and their names are thus definitely stated:
1. As to the first, ADAH, she was the daughter of Elon the Hittite. In Genesis 26:34 she has a second name, BASHEMATH, which happened to be the same as that of the first name of the third wife, and therefore is dropped here.
2. As to the second, AHOLIBAMAH, she was the daughter of Anah the Hivite* (Gen 36:3,14,25). In Genesis 26:34 she is called JUDITH, and her father is called BEERI the Hittite. Doubtless ANAH got this name later on, from a fact that is mentioned in 36:24 concerning ANAH. "This is that ANAH who found** the hot springs*** in the wilderness as he fed the
asses of Zibeon his father."
* In Genesis 26:34 he is called "Hittite." Hittite is the general name, which includes the Hivite, which is particular. Chapter 26:34 is history, but 36:2 is genealogy, and is therefore more precise (see Josh 1:4; 1 Kings 10:29; 2 Kings 7:6). In Genesis 28:8 these Hittite wives are called "daughters of Canaan," i.e., the general name.
** The Hebrew is )cafmaf (matza), to happen on, meet with, find, discover (not to invent or find out).
*** Hebrew, Mymiy@'ha (hayyemim), hot springs. (The Vulgate has aquoe calidoe. Probably the Calirrhoe in the Wady Zerka Maein, or Wady el Asha, SE of the Dead Sea.) Hence Anah was called Beeri, which would mean the spring-man. It certainly cannot mean mules, as the word for mules is Mydirafp@: (peradim). (See 2 Sam 13:29, 18:9; 1 Kings 10:25; 2 Kings 5:17; Psa 32:9.)
This was the origin of his other name BEERI or the spring-man, or the man that discovered the hot springs.
3. As to the third, BASHEMATH, she was the daughter of Ishmael and had a second name MAHALATH (28:9).
There is no difficulty, therefore, if we accurately note these different names; and remember that a forger would be perfectly sure to have made all clear, and have left no such matters in doubt; also that women, as a rule, received a second or additional name on their marriage.
3. Changes in Names.—In some cases different names came from a definite change, as ABRAHAM for ABRAM (Gen 17:5). BOANERGES for JOHN and JAMES, PETER for SIMON (Mark 3:16,17). PAUL for SAUL (Acts 13:9). DANIEL and his three companions (Dan 1:7). JOSEPH (Gen 41:45).
4. The Divine Names and Titles.—These also need careful discrimination if we would explain difficulties, and see new beauties in the words of God.
There is no need to say anything on the subject here, as the whole subject is referred to above (p. 312); and is fully dealt with in our separate pamphlet on this subject.
(b) Of places.
1. The same name was given to different places.
Was given to DAN, before called LAISH, and
Was called CAESAREA PHILIPPI* (Matt 16:13; Mark 8:27) to distinguish it from CAESAREA of Palestine, which was on the coast (Acts 18:22, 10:1,24, 12:19, 21:8, 25:6,13).
* Because beautified by Philip the Tetrarch, now known as BANIAS.
ANTIOCH was the name of
A city in Syria (Acts 11:20-26); and
A city of Pisidia (Acts 13:14).
DAN was the name of a city or country in the north of Palestine (Gen 14:14; Deut 34:1), long before the tribe of Dan changed the name of quite another place (before called Laish) to the name of their ancestor, Dan (Judges 18:29).
The city of Andrew and Peter on the NE shore of Galilee (John 1:44), called poliV (polis), a city.
On the W shore (called kwmh (kome), a village, Mark 8:22,23).
Of Gaulonitis, Luke 9:10 (afterwards called Julias).
In Benjamin, Joshua 9:1-18; 2 Samuel 4:2.
Of the children of Jaakan, Deuteronomy 10:6 (Num 33:31,32, called Bene-jaakan).
A city of Benjamin (Judg 4:5, 19:13; 1 Sam 22:6; Jer 31:15; Matt 2:18).
In Asher (Josh 19:29).
In Naphtali (Josh 19:36).
In Gilead (2 Kings 8:29; 2 Chron 22:6).
The birth-place of Samuel (1 Sam 1:19, 2:11, etc.).
Sometimes these names were so indeterminate that it was necessary to couple with them some explanatory word:—
KIRJATH. From Kir, a wall or walled. Hence we have:
ARAM (meaning high, but translated "Syria"). From this we have:
Aram of Damascus (2 Sam 8:5,6).
Aram-beth-Rehob (2 Sam 10:6).
Aram-Zobah (2 Sam 10:6).
Aram-Naharaim (i.e., Aram of the two rivers, translated "Mesopotamia"), (Gen 24:10. Compare 27:43).
So that if we note accurately the use of these various names we shall not, like many, jump to the conclusion that there must be a "discrepancy."
The same phenomena are seen in all countries.
2. The same place has different names.
JEGAR-SAHADUTHA was the Aramaic name, but the Hebrew name was GALEED (both having the same meaning) (Gen 31:47).
LUZ was afterwards called BETHEL (Gen 28:19).
HERMON was known as SIRION by the Sidonians, and as SHENIR by the Amorites (Deut 3:9), also by the name of SION (4:48).
EGYPT was known as HAM (Psa 78:51, 105:23), and as RAHAB (Psa 87:4, 89:10; Isa 51:9).
JERUSALEM is called ARIEL (The lion of God, Isa 29:1), as it had been called JEBUS by the Jebusites (Judg 19:10).
BABYLON is called SHESHAK (Jer 25:26).
CAESAREA in Galilee was called LAISH at first, and was afterwards known as DAN (Judge 18:29; 1 Kings 12:29). This has to be distinguished from another CAESAREA, which was on the coast (Acts 18:22).
THE LAKE OF GENNESARETH was known also as the SEA OF TIBERIAS, and as the SEA OF GALILEE (John 6:1,23). Also as CHINNERETH.
CHARRAN of Acts 7:2 is the HARAN of Genesis 11.
ARAM is the same as MESOPOTAMIA and SYRIA (Num 23:7).
MIZRAIM is EGYPT.
LAISH was afterwards called DAN (Judg 18:29).
SINAI is know also as HOREB.
Accurate reading of the words, as written, will soon make it apparent that there is no Chronology as such in the Scriptures. Years are numbered not as dates, but as to duration. And when dates are used they are
reckoned as having happened in a certain year from some event, or from the commencement of a reign, or a captivity, etc.: otherwise, the years are reckoned only as being so many, during a certain period. This is the case with
The 120 years of Genesis 6:3.—These are usually taken as referring to one hundred and twenty years of probation before the Flood. But, is this the case? The AV reads: "Jehovah said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh; yet his days shall be a hundred and twenty years."
There are several traditional interpretations of this verse, all equally unsatisfactory.
There is the fanciful Rabbinical one which makes it refer to Moses' age.
The popular idea is that it refers to the period of probation between that time and the Flood: another explanation refers it to the altered duration of human life.
But, if we note accurately the words employed another interpretation will be suggested.
1. The word rendered "man" is Mdaf)af ('adam), Adam. It occurs thirty-seven times in these early chapters of Genesis (from Gen 1-6:3), and is rendered Adam nineteen times and man eighteen times. It occurs without the article twelve times.*
* Gen 1:26, 2:5,20 (2nd), 3:17,21, 4:25, 5:1 (twice), 2,3,4,5.
2. It occurs with the article Mdaf)afhaf (ha'adam), twenty-one times.*
3. It occurs not only with the article, but with this and the very strong demonstrative t)e (eth) four times.* Eth means self, this same, this very, and is quite emphatic.**
* Gen 1:27, 2:7 (1st), 8,15.
** In order that the reader may judge for himself, we give all the above passages in their order, indicating which of the three forms of the word is used in each:—
1. Gen 1:26; 3. Gen 1:27; 1. Gen 2:5; 3. Gen 2:7 (1st); 2. Gen 2:7 (2nd); 3. Gen 2:8,15; 2. Gen 2:16,18,19 (twice); 2. Gen 2:20 (1st); 1. Gen 2:20 (2nd); 2. Gen 2:21,22 (twice), 23, 25; 2. Gen 3:8,9,12; 1. Gen 3:17; 2. Gen 3:20; 1. Gen 3:21; 2. Gen 3:22,24; 2. Gen 4:1; 1. Gen 4:25; 1. Gen 5:1 (twice), 2,3,4,5; 2. Gen 6:1,2,3
4. Nos. 2 and 3 always mean the man, Adam.
Where it occurs without the article it is rendered "Adam," except in Genesis 1:26 and 2:5, where it is rendered "man."
Where it is used without the article and with the pronoun and verb in the plural number, as in 1:26, it denotes man or mankind as such ("Let us make man (sing.)...and let them have dominion," etc.).
In Genesis 6:1 we have Adam in the singular with the article, and it means, "Adam began to multiply, and daughters were born to them." Here the plural pronoun shows that Eve is associated with Adam as in 5:2.
In Genesis 6:3 it must mean the man Adam, because it has the article and is followed by the pronoun and the verb in the Singular Number: "because that he also is flesh." The Hebrew is )w@h Mg@af#ab@: (beshaggam hu'), because that also he. This has no sense whatever if it does not refer to the man Adam. To whom does the word "also" refer if it refers not to him? If men as such were meant, it would say, "for that they also are flesh": but it says, "for that he also is." That is to say, Adam had become like the others. He was flesh as they were. All flesh had corrupted his way on the earth. Noah and his family alone had preserved their breed "perfect" (v 8): Hebrew, Mymit@af (tamim), without blemish.*
* And is generally so rendered. See Exo 12:5, 29:1; Leviticus and Numbers throughout.
The word "generations" occurs twice in verse 8. The first time it means Noah's family history (Toledoth); but the second is a different word (Dor), and means his contemporaries.
This is the third reference to the man Adam's end. In Genesis 2:17 it was prophetically announced. In 3:22-24 he was driven out from the tree of life that he might not eat and live for ever; and now, here, the actual year of his death was fixed. He should live 120 years more, but not for ever.
In Genesis 6:3 we have a chronological indication of the date of this announcement. Adam lived, altogether, 930 years. If we deduct from this, these 120 years, we get AM 810 as the date. But the corruption spoken of in this chapter must have commenced much earlier.
The word rendered "strive" is Nw@d (dun). It occurs only here. The Ancient Versions (the Septuagint, Syriac, Arabic, and Latin) give it the sense of remaining or dwelling. They are right; and what Genesis 6:3 actually says is, "My spirit [or, breath of life] shall not always remain in Adam, for that he also is flesh." (Compare Isa 62:16).
"Spirit," here, must mean "breath," or life, as in verse 17, 7:15, 22.*
* xaw@r (ruach) is rendered breath in Gen 6:16, 7:15,22; 2 Sam 22:16; Job 4:9, 9:18, 12:10, 15:30, 17:1, 19:17, 27:3, marg.; Psa 18:15, 33:6, 104:29, 135:17, 146:4; Eccl 3:19; Isa 11:4, 30:28, 33:11; Jer 10:14, 51:17; Lam 4:20; Eze 37:5,6,8,9,10; Hab 2:19.
Both AV and RV use a small "s" and not a capital letter.
The 400 years of Genesis 15:13 and Acts 7:6 (see under Canon V, pages 58 and 302).
The 430 years of Exodus 12:40 and Galatians 3:17 (see under Canon V, pages 58 and 302), and
The 450 years of Acts 13:20, and
The 490 years of Daniel 9:24.
These are part of a larger period: the second of the four periods of 490 years, which was the duration of the four hundred and seventy hebdomads, or seventy sevens of years, during which Jehovah stood in special covenant relation with Israel. As these were covenant relations, the years when those relations were interrupted were not reckoned in the number of the years of such periods.
Just as, in this present interval, while Israel is Lo ammi, ("not my people," Hosea 1:9,10; Isa 54:7,8), the years are not reckoned, but are deducted from the 490 years.
The first of these periods is reckoned from the birth of Abraham (Gen 11:26) to the Exodus. But to get these 490 years we must deduct fifteen years. And these were exactly the number of years that Ishmael was in Abraham's house.
The second period of 490 years is reckoned from the Exodus (Exo 12:40,41) to the Foundation of Solomon's Temple (1 Kings 6:1). But to get this 490 years
we must deduct the ninety-three years of the captivities of Judges, and add three years for the building.
The 480th year of 1 Kings 6:1 is an Ordinal number, and not a Cardinal number. It is the four hundred and eightiETH year after the Exodus, omitting the ninety-three years referred to above.
The third period of 490 years is reckoned from the Dedication of Solomon's Temple (1 Kings 6:1) to "the going forth of the Decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem" (Dan 9:24-27; Neh 2:1). But to get these 490 years we must deduct the seventy years of the Captivity in Babylon.
The fourth period of 490 years dates from the going forth of the Decree (Neh 2:1-8), BC 454, to the consummation; deducting the years of this present interval, dating from "cutting off of the Messiah" (Dan 9:26) to the fulness of the times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24; Isa 59:19,20).
That there are such parentheses in God's reckonings; and the particular parenthesis of this present Dispensation see above under "Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth as to its Times and Dispensations." See Part I, pages 100-104.
8. Synonymous Greek Words.
The importance of accuracy in discriminating many synonymous Greek words cannot be overrated. This can be done by English readers who know little or nothing of Greek by the use of our Lexicon and Concordance. By means of this the meaning of any Greek word can be seen at a glance, and the different shades of meaning between various words which are similarly translated. Among the most important are the words rendered "world," "wash," "if," "search," "hell," "judgment," "no," and "not."
It will thus be seen that Cruden's Concordance, while indispensable for the purpose of finding a particular passage, is misleading for finding the sense of it, if we suppose that in each passage we have the same Greek word.
Sometimes the same English word occurs only in two passages, but in each case it may be a different word in the Greek; e.g., "found," "be spent," "spill," "tidings," "victuals," "company with," "censer," "certain" (adj), "deceitful," "settle," "unmoveable," "unreasonable," "bring word," "eye-witness," "joyfully," "justification," "unblameable," "unwise," "be wearied," "young," "assent," "last," "lend," "liberality," "malefactor," "melt," "spy," "stay," "make straight," "support," "unawares," "mist," "pollution," "powerful," "purification," "quarrel," "be quiet," "quietness," "race," "reason," "religious," "rust."
Sometimes an English word will occur three times, and each time represent a different Greek word: e.g., "imagination," "merchandise," "press," "reasoning," "roar," "sorcerer," "stand with," "subvert," "swift," "break up," "trial," "uncircumcised," "unruly," "vehemently," "vile," "confer," "brightness," "bring again," "assay."
"Tempest" occurs four times, each time representing a different Greek word. So also does "throng."
"Purpose" occurs seven times, and six out of the seven represent different Greek words.
"Stir up" occurs nine times as a rendering of eight different Greek words.
"Strengthen" occurs nine times, and represents seven different Greek words.
These examples (taken promiscuously) will be sufficient to show the importance of accuracy when we sit down to interpret the "words which the Holy Ghost teacheth."
We can, commend, therefore, the use of our own Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testaments, because all the occurrences of the English word on which light is sought are given in one list, in which the Greek words are referred to by numbers;
and the correct meaning is seen at a glance. Young's Concordance gives as many separate lists of passages as there are Greek words, and each list has to be examined in turn: e.g., if there are twelve Greek words the reader has to wade through twelve separate lists of words. Moreover, the Lexicographical part is very meagre, generally giving only one meaning; and what is more, it is not critical: that is to say, it gives the word which stands in the Textus Receptus, but does not indicate any of the Various Readings which are found in the MSS or in the Greek Texts of the various printed editions.
Our own work gives, in addition to all this, an Index of Greek Words showing all the various renderings of each, and the number of times such rendering is given.
9. Synonymous Hebrew Words.
We have a similar phenomenon in the case of the rendering of Hebrew words.
No less than 66 different Hebrew words are translated "bring," 45 "lay," 49 "make," 24 "think," 74 "take," 23 "run," 24 "keep," 21 "join," 26 "hold," 26 "high," 29 "grief," 23 "grow," 26 "turn," 30 "trouble," 35 "give," 68 "go," 23 "burn," 47 "come," 26 "cover," 25 "deliver," 55 "destroy," 12 "eat," 27 "end," 30 "fail," 24 "fall."
Our English word "know" is used to represent 5 Hebrew words, "judge" 10, "iniquity" 7, "increase" 17, "hear" 4, "haste" 14, "habitation" 11, "prophet" 5, "wicked" 13, "world" 5, "worm" 4, "work" 21, "word" 5, "good" 13, "grave" 8, "guide" 9, "hand" 13, "hard" 14, "heart" 7, "congregation" 4.
The importance of this branch of our subject will be seen in connection with such words as "man," which represents thirteen different Hebrew words, four of which it is very important for us to distinguish, e.g.:
Mdaf)af ('adam), man as a created being, and as descended from the first man.
#$y)i ('ish), a notable man of quality or degree.
#$w&n)e ('enosh), a frail, mortal man.
rbeg@e (gever), a strong or mighty man
Sometimes an English rendering is used only twice, and each time it is a different Hebrew word:
"Deprive." Genesis 27:45 (to be bereaved).
Job 39:17 (to cause to forget).
Isaiah 38:10 (made to miss, i.e., to want).
The Hebrew words for "Tabernacle" must be carefully distinguished; e.g.:
lhe)& ('ohel), tent, has regard to the place where the people or congregation assembled.
Nik@af#$:mi (mishcan), tabernacle, has regard to the place where God dwelt.
The Hebrew words rendered "sin" are also to be distinguished:
M#$af)af ('asham), is sin moral or ceremonial committed through mistake or ignorance. Usually translated trespass.
)+afxaf (chatah), sin, as a missing of the mark; a falling short of what ought to be done.
Nw$(af ('avon), sin, as to its nature and consequences, iniquity.
(#ap@e (pesha'), sin, as revolting from constituted authority.
hga#$af (shagah), error through inadvertence.
These examples are taken out at random, merely to serve as illustrations of this branch of our subject.
As to helps for these Old Testament Words, there is Strong's Concordance, or Young's. The drawbacks to the latter are stated above.
Far and away the best is The Bible Student's Guide, by the late Rev. W. Wilson, DD, Canon of Winchester, the second edition of which was published by Macmillan & Co. in 1870. It is, unfortunately, out of print, and can now occasionally be obtained second-hand.* It is on exactly the same lines as our Lexicon and Concordance of the Greek New Testament.
* We constantly buy up secondhand copies and supply them for ten shillings. If means were forthcoming, we would gladly enter into negotiations with the owner of the copyright for the production of a new edition; or, if health, strength, means, and leisure permitted, we would willingly undertake to prepare one ourselves.
10. The Genitive Case.
The importance of accuracy is nowhere so clearly shown as in the interpretation of the word "of."
It is usually the sign of the Genitive case, though it is used also to represent fourteen different Greek words. What these words are and where the renderings are can be seen at a glance (so far as the New Testament is concerned) under the word "OF" in our Critical Lexicon and Concordance.
In all other cases it is the rendering of the Genitive Case of a noun: and is used by the Holy Spirit in quite a variety of different senses. We propose to present them in nine different classes.
We have gone fully into them in our work on Figures of Speech used in the Bible, and Appendix B of that work ought to be studied in this connection. We give a brief resume here.
Every Bible student who desires to enjoy the study of the "words" of God must stop whenever he comes to the word "of," and first look at our Critical Lexicon and see whether it represents a separate Greek word.
If he finds it does not, then it must be the Genitive Case of some noun; and in that case it belongs to one of the following nine classes.
No one can help him in determining to which of the nine it belongs. Opinions may, and do, differ. The Context and a spiritual instinct will be the best guides.
Sometimes it may be doubtful as to which of two classes it belongs; and it may often be that it belongs to both, and that each may yield a truly Scriptural sense.
(a) The Genitive of Character
This is when it is an emphatic adjective. The ordinary way of qualifying a Noun is by using an Adjective; but when special emphasis is desired to be placed on the Adjective, the author goes out of his way to use a Noun instead, which is a Figure of Speech called Enallage, or exchange. Thus, if we say, "a bright day," the emphasis is on "day," and we mean "a bright DAY." If we say "a day of brightness," we exchange the Adjective "bright" for the Noun "brightness," and thus put the emphasis on "brightness," and we mean "a BRIGHT day."
In the former case we think only of the day as being bright. In the latter case we think of the brightness which characterizes the day.
So, if the Scripture used the Adjective "mighty" in connection with "angels," the emphasis would be on the Noun "angels": "mighty ANGELS, " but if attention is called to their power it would say "angels of might," i.e., "MIGHTY angels" (2 Thess 1:7; see margin).
The following examples will illustrate this:
"Zion, the mount of my holiness," i.e., my HOLY mount (Psa 2:6).
"A man of understanding" is a WISE man (Ezra 8:18).
"Be to me for a rock of strength": i.e., a STRONG rock (Psa 31:2).
"Men of scorning": i.e., SCORNFUL men (Prov 29:8).
"A wild bull of a net": i.e., a NETTED wild bull (Isa 51:20).
"My portion of desire": i.e., my DESIRED portion (Jer 12:10).
"The burial of an ass": i.e., an ASS'S burial (Jer 22:19).
"A sleep of perpetuity": i.e., a PERPETUAL sleep (Jer 51:39).
"The bread of the children": i.e., the CHILDREN'S bread (Matt 15:26).
"The throne of his glory": i.e., his GLORIOUS throne (Matt 19:28).
"The steward of injustice": i.e., the UNJUST steward (Luke 16:8; so 18:6, UNJUST judge).
"The body of this death": i.e., this MORTAL body (Rom 7:24).
"Mind of the spirit" and "mind of the flesh"; rendered SPIRITUALLY minded, and CARNALLY minded (Rom 8:6).
"Fathers of our flesh": i.e., HUMAN fathers (Heb 12:9).
"A hearer of forgetfulness": is a FORGETFUL hearer (James 1:25).
"The word of life": i.e., the LIVING word (1 John 1:1).
"The word of truth": i.e., the TRUE Word (2 Tim 2:15). This is in contrast with the other passages where we have the Adjective, and the emphasis is on "the true SAYINGS" (Rev 19:9, 22:6), or "the true WORDS" (Acts 26:25). In the one case (2 Tim 2:15) the emphasis is on the character of what is said; in the others it is on the matter.
(b) The Genitive of Origin.
This marks the efficient cause; the source from which anything has its origin.
"Words of God" is not character (Divine words), but words which come FROM God (Num 24:4,16).
"The provoking of his sons and his daughters" means the provocation produced BY the conduct of His people (Deut 32:19).
"The overthrow of strangers": i.e., overthrown BY strangers (Isa 1:7; see margin).
"The Prince of peace": i.e., the Prince who BRINGS peace (Isa 9:6).
"Smitten of God" means smitten BY God (Isa 53:4).
"The chastisement of our peace" means the chastisement which PROCURED and GIVES us peace (Isa 53:5).
"Taught of the LORD" means taught BY the LORD (Isa 54:13).
"Visions of God" means visions FROM God, given by God (Eze 1:1).
"Kingdom of heaven," "kingdom of God," means the kingdom which comes FROM heaven, as being "not of" (ek), out of, or from this world (John 18:36).
"The obedience of faith" means which SPRINGS FROM faith (Rom 1:5).
"The righteousness of faith" means which COMES FROM or THROUGH faith (Rom 4:11,13).
"Justification of life" means which PRODUCES or GIVES life (Rom 5:18).
"Comfort of the Scriptures" means which COMES FROM the Scriptures; or which the Scripture GIVES or ministers (Rom 15:4).
"Dangers of waters" means which were occasioned BY waters (2 Cor 11:26; RV, rivers).
"The God of peace," i.e., the God who has MADE peace, and who GIVES peace (Phil 4:9).*
* This differs from "the peace of God" in verse 7, which is the Genitive of "possession" (see under Genitive of Possession, Philippians 4:7).
"The word of his power." This does not mean His powerful word, but that His word is the instrument BY which His power works (Heb 1:3); or it may be "His POWERFUL word" (character).
"The bond of peace" means the bond which PRODUCES peace. The acknowledgement of the spiritual unity of the one body, which God has already made in Christ, and which we are to endeavour to keep, is a bond which is productive only of peace. Whereas the attempt to make a corporate unity in sects and denominations is the fruitful source of strifes and divisions (Eph 4:3. Compare 1 Cor 1:10-13, 3:1-4, 11:18).
"The mystery of godliness" is the Great Mystery (or Secret), the knowledge of which produces true godliness of life, to which Timothy is exhorted (1 Tim 3:15,16).
(c) The Genitive of Possession.
This is perhaps the most common, and is generally unmistakable. But there are some cases where it may not be so clear.
"The business of my Father" means my FATHER'S business, which was the Father's will (Luke 2:49). Here, the emphatic Pronoun "my" stands in marked contrast with the "thy" of verse 48. (See pp. 318 and 404.)
"The shield of faith" means Faith's shield, which is Christ (Eph 6:16. Compare Gen 15:1; Psa 84:11).
"The sword of the Spirit" means the Spirit's sword, which is the Word of God (Eph 6:17).
"The peace of God" means God's peace; the peace which reigns with Him, and in His presence, the peace which belongs to Him. Of this peace we shall know something if we make our requests known unto Him (Phil 4:6,7). Compare this with "the God of peace," above (Phil 4:9).
"The patience of Christ" (Greek) means Christ's patient waiting (2 Thess 3:5 and margin). Compare RV.
(d) The Genitive of Apposition.
In this case the "of" means "that is to say," or "which is."
"The heights of the clouds": i.e, "the heights, that is to say, the clouds" (Isa 14:14).
"The temple of His body" means the temple, that is to say, His body (John 2:21).
"A sign of circumcision" means a sign, that is to say, circumcision (Rom 4:11). So "the first fruits of the Spirit" (Rom 8:23) means, "the first fruits, that is to say, the Spirit." So also:
"The house of our tabernacle" (2 Cor 5:1).
"The earnest of the Spirit" (2 Cor 5:5).
"The lower parts of the earth" means the lower parts, that is to say, the earth (Eph 4:9) in contrast with heaven.
"The breastplate of righteousness" (Eph 6:14) means "the breastplate," that is to say, "righteousness."
"The cities of Sodom," etc., which means "the cities, that is to say, Sodom and Gomorrha" (2 Peter 2:6).
(e) The Genitive of Relation.
This is perhaps the most interesting of all; and requires a greater variety in the manner of expressing the particular relation. This must be gathered from the context. It may be objective, or subjective, or both. For example:
"The love of Christ" (2 Cor 5:14). Is this the love which Christ bears to us? or is it our love which we bear to Christ? No one can decide apart from the context. Verse 14 seems to show that it means the love which Christ bore to us in thus dying for us; or, if we judge from verse 13, it seems to be the constraining power of love for Christ which made the Apostle to appear to be beside himself for their sakes.
The following are a few examples:—
"The tree of life" is the tree which PRESERVED life (Gen 2:9).
"The way of the tree of life" is the way LEADING TO the tree of life (Gen 3:24).
"The God of my righteousness" is the God who DEFENDS my righteous cause (Psa 4:1). It may be the God who procures and gives us His righteousness. This is true, of course, but the context seems to require relation rather than origin.
"Sheep of slaughter" (Greek) means sheep DESTINED FOR slaughter (Psa 44:22; Rom 8:36).
"The fear of the LORD," i.e., the fear or reverence shown TOWARD God (Prov 1:7. Compare Psa 5:7).
"Little of the earth": little IN the earth (Prov 30:24).
"The spoil of the poor": i.e., TAKEN FROM the poor (Isa 3:14).
"The sure mercies of David," i.e., PERTAINING TO David (Isa 55:3. Compare Acts 13:34).
"The gospel of the kingdom" means the good news RELATING to the kingdom (Matt 4:23, 24:14).
"Fowls of the air" means fowls which FLY in the air (Matt 6:26).
"Lilies of the field" means lilies which GROW IN the field (Matt 6:28).
"Have faith of God" means have faith WITH RESPECT TO God (Mark 11:22).
"By faith of Jesus Christ," i.e., faith which HAS RESPECT TO Jesus Christ (Rom 3:22).
"They have a zeal of God" means a zeal FOR God (Rom 10:2).
"Obedience of Christ" means obedience RENDERED TO Christ (2 Cor 10:5).
"Every joint of supply" (Greek) means every joint which MINISTERS supply (Eph 4:16).
"The afflictions of Christ" means the afflictions UNDERGONE FOR Christ (Col 1:24).
"Reproach of Christ" means reproach SUFFERED FOR Christ (Heb 11:26).
"Conscience of God" (Greek) means conscience TOWARD God (1 Peter 2:19).
"The word of my patience": My word which ENJOINS patience, or patient waiting (Rev 3:10).
"The testimony of Jesus" means testimony CONCERNING Jesus; or perhaps the testimony which He gave (Gen. of Origin). (Rev 19:10)
(f) The Genitive of the Material.
When the genitive denotes the material of which anything is made, the words "made of" have to be substituted for it, e.g.:—
"Coats of skins," i.e., made out of skins (Gen 3:21).
"An ark of gopher wood" (Gen 6:14).
"A cake of barley-bread" (Judg 7:13).
"A house of cedar" (2 Sam 7:2).
"A rod of iron" (Psa 2:9).
"This head of gold" (Dan 2:38).
(g) The Genitive of the Contents.
Denotes that with which anything is filled.
"A bottle of wine" means a bottle or skin FILLED WITH wine (1 Sam 16:20).
"A cup of cold water": a cup CONTAINING cold water (Matt 10:42).
"Waterpots of water" (Greek), i.e., water-pots FULL OF water (John 2:7).
This is the Genitive which always follows the verb to fill: while the vessel filled takes the Accusative case, and the one by whom it is filled is put in the Dative case.
"They were all filled OF pneuma hagion [i.e., with the gift of speaking with tongues], and began to speak with tongues as the Spirit [the Giver] gave them utterance" (Acts 2:4).
In Romans 15:13 we have all three Cases in one verse. "Now the God of hope [i.e., 'who GIVES hope.' Gen. of Origin] fill you [Acc. Case] of all joy [i.e., 'WITH all joy.' Gen. Case] and peace, in [i.e., 'BY or THROUGH'] believing." (Dative Case).
So we have
"Filled of wrath," i.e., WITH wrath (Luke 4:28).
"Filled of fear" (Luke 5:26).
"Filled of madness" (Luke 6:11).
"Filled of wonder" (Acts 3:10).
"Filled of joy" (Acts 13:52).
But not "filled of the spirit" in Ephesians 5:18. For here it is the Dative Case and means "be filled BY wine..." but be "filled BY the Spirit" with His own precious gifts, which the context shows to be the gift of speaking.
(h) The Genitive of Partition.
Separation, or Ablation, where it denotes to be in or among, or have part in; e.g.:
"To obtain of that world" a PART, SHARE, or PLACE IN that world (Luke 20:35).
"The least of the Apostles": i.e., the least AMONG the apostles (1 Cor 15:9).
"Sojourners of the dispersion," i.e., sojourners being SOME OF the Dispersion (Greek, the Diaspora, or belonging to the "Scattered Nation").
(i) Two Genitives depending on one another.
These have both to be distinguished, and are often quite different, the one from the other.
"This is of [Partition] the anointing of Aaron [Possession, Aaron's anointing], and of the anointing [Partition] of his sons" (Possession) (Lev 7:35).
"The Sea of Galilee [Relation] of Tiberias" (Apposition), and means "the sea PERTAINING TO Galilee, THAT IS TO SAY, Tiberias" (John 6:1).
"We are witnesses of him [Possession, His witnesses] of these things" (Relation with respect to these things, Acts 5:32).
"The gospel of the grace [Relation] of God" (Origin or Possession, Acts 20:24; 1 Thess 2:9).
"The earthly house of us [Possession, our] of the tabernacle" (Apposition, that is to say, our tabernacle, 2 Cor 5:1).
The above passages are given only as examples of each class of Genitive: and they are sufficient to show how the door is open to a vast field of profitable study, if we see the importance of accuracy in our study of God's word.
It is wonderful to think how there can be so much to think of, and think out, in connection with this smallest of words, "of."