Forgiven or Passed Over? Part 5

If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord (ʼădônây, אדני), Moses said, let my Lord (ʼădônây, אדני) go among us, for we are a stiff-necked people; pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.[1]

Before I continue to study nâśâʼ[2] and ʽâbar in Exodus 20:7 – Deuteronomy 4:26, I must add another word to the mix.  The Hebrew word sâlach (וסלחת), translated pardon, was unprecedented.  It didn’t occur in Genesis or anywhere else in Exodus.  That the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) called to Moses and spoke to him from the Meeting Tent[3] is fairly explicit in the opening verse of Leviticus.  But I still speculate that at least some of the subject matter recorded there was broached on the mountain before yehôvâh and Moses were so rudely interrupted by Israel’s worship of a golden calf.

The idea that Moses coined a word and then discovered a universe to revolve around it seems to work out all right in particle physics, but it makes me uncomfortable in Bible study.  If yehôvâh had already begun to reveal the elaborate, sometimes tedious, detail of atonement (kâphar, כפר) and forgiveness (sâlach, סלח) it would help to account for Moses’ brass: He called yehôvâh’s intention to destroy Israel in accordance with the forty day covenant evil (Exodus 32:9-14) because he was taken by surprise at the abrupt change in yehôvâh’s tone and the content of his words.

Be that as it may, scribing kâphar and sâlach convinced me that I have mischaracterized Leviticus, and that I was wrong when I wrote that a primary verb to forgive was absent from “holy Hebrew.”  A table showing the translations of sâlach in the KJV, NET and Septuagint follows:

Form of sâlach

Reference KJV NET

Septuagint

סלח Numbers 14:19 Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people… Please forgive the iniquity of this people… ἄφες, a form of ἀφίημι
יסלח Numbers 30:5 …and the LORD shall forgive her, because her father… And the Lord will release her from it, because her father overruled… καθαριεῖ, a form of καθαρίζω
Numbers 30:8 …and the LORD shall forgive her. And the Lord will release her from it.
Numbers 30:12 …and the LORD shall forgive her. …and the Lord will release her from them. καθαρίσει, another form of καθαρίζω
סלחתי Numbers 14:20 I have pardoned according to thy word: I have forgiven them as you asked. ἵλεως[4]
וסלחת Exodus 34:9 and pardon our iniquity and our sin… pardon our iniquity and our sin… ἀφελεῖς, a form of ἀφαιρέω
ונסלח Leviticus 4:20 …make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them. …make atonement on their behalf and they will be forgiven. ἀφεθήσεται, another form of ἀφίημι
Leviticus 4:26 …make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him. …make atonement on his behalf for his sin and he will be forgiven.
Leviticus 4:31 …make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him. …make atonement on his behalf and he will be forgiven.
Leviticus 4:35 …his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him. …his sin which he has committed and he will be forgiven.
Leviticus 5:10 …his sin which he hath sinned, and it shall be forgiven him. …his sin which he has committed, and he will be forgiven.
Leviticus 5:13 …in one of these, and it shall be forgiven him: …by doing one of these things, and he will be forgiven.
Leviticus 5:16 …with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him. …with the guilt offering ram and he will be forgiven.
Leviticus 5:18 …and wist it not, and it shall be forgiven him. …(although he himself had not known it) and he will be forgiven.
Leviticus 6:7 …for him before the LORD: and it shall be forgiven him… …on his behalf before the Lord and he will be forgiven
Leviticus 19:22 and the sin which he hath done shall be forgiven him. …his sin that he has committed, and he will be forgiven
Numbers 15:25 …the children of Israel, and it shall be forgiven them… …for the whole community of the Israelites, and they will be forgiven
Numbers 15:26 And it shall be forgiven all the congregation of the children of Israel… and the resident foreigner who lives among them will be forgiven
Numbers 15:28 …to make an atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him. …to make atonement for him, and he will be forgiven. Not Translated

I thought Leviticus was law: crime, especially capital crime, and punishment.  But Leviticus has much to say about atonement and forgiveness.  It is the good news (εὐαγγέλιον) of the five books of Moses:

If the whole congregation of Israel strays unintentionally and the matter is not noticed by the assembly, and they violate one of the Lord’s (yehôvâh, יהוה) commandments, which must not be violated, so they become guilty, the assembly must present a young bull for a sin offering when the sin they have committed becomes known.[5]  Some priestcraft was spelled out (Leviticus 4:14b-20a) with the result that the priest will make atonement on their behalf and they will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).[6]  For this reason I tell you, Jesus said, people will be forgiven (ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι) for every sin and blasphemy, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven (ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).[7]

Whenever a leader, by straying unintentionally, sins and violates one of the commandments of the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) his God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהיו) which must not be violated, and he pleads guilty, or his sin that he committed is made known to him, he must bring a flawless male goat as his offering.[8]  Again, after some priestcraft (Leviticus 4:24-26a) the priest will make atonement on his behalf for his sin and he will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).[9]  Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, Jesus continued, will be forgiven (ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).  But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven (ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι), either in this age or in the age to come.[10]

If an ordinary individual sins by straying unintentionally when he violates one of the Lord’s (yehôvâh, יהוה) commandments which must not be violated, and he pleads guilty or his sin that he committed is made known to him, he must bring a flawless female goat as his offering for the sin that he committed.[11]  There was some priestcraft (Leviticus 4:29-31a) and the priest will make atonement on his behalf and he will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).[12]  I tell you the truth, Jesus said, people will be forgiven (ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι) for all sins, even all the blasphemies they utter.  But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven (ἄφεσιν, a form of ἄφεσις), but is guilty of an eternal sin” (because they said, “He has an unclean spirit”).[13]

This same ordinary individual may bring a sheep instead: But if he brings a sheep as his offering, for a sin offering, he must bring a flawless female.[14]  After the priestcraft (Leviticus 4:33-35a) the priest will make atonement on his behalf for his sin which he has committed and he will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).[15]  And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, Jesus said, will be forgiven (ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι), but the person who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven (ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).[16]

If a person fails to testify and he is a witness,[17] touches anything ceremonially unclean,[18] touches human uncleanness,[19] or swears an oath, speaking thoughtlessly with his lips,[20] when an individual becomes guilty with regard to one of these things he must confess how he has sinned, and he must bring his penalty for guilt to the Lord (yehôvâh, ליהוה) for his sin that he has committed, a female from the flock, whether a female sheep or a female goat, for a sin offering.[21]  If he cannot afford an animal from the flock, he must bring his penalty for guilt for his sin that he has committed, two turtledoves or two young pigeons, to the Lord (yehôvâh, ליהוה), one for a sin offering and one for a burnt offering.[22]  After the priestcraft (Leviticus 5:8-10a) the priest will make atonement on behalf of this person for his sin which he has committed, and he will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).[23]

If he cannot afford two turtledoves or two young pigeons, yehôvâh continued, he must bring as his offering for his sin which he has committed a tenth of an ephah of choice wheat flour for a sin offering. He must not place olive oil on it and he must not put frankincense on it, because it is a sin offering.[24]  So the priest will make atonement on his behalf for his sin which he has committed by doing one of these things, and he will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).[25]  Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, Peter said to a believing magician who had attempted to buy the Holy Spirit, and pray to the Lord that he may perhaps forgive (ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι) you for the intent of your heart.[26]

The Lord’s holy things (Leviticus 5:14-16 NET):

Then the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) spoke to Moses: “When a person commits a trespass and sins by straying unintentionally from the regulations about the Lord’s (yehôvâh, יהוה) holy things (qôdesh, מקדשי; Septuagint: ἁγίων, a form of ἅγιος), then he must bring his penalty for guilt to the Lord (yehôvâh, ליהוה), a flawless ram from the flock, convertible into silver shekels according to the standard of the sanctuary shekel, for a guilt offering.  And whatever holy thing he violated he must restore and must add one fifth to it and give it to the priest.  So the priest will make atonement on his behalf with the guilt offering ram and he will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).”

If a person sins and violates any of the Lord’s (yehôvâh, יהוה) commandments which must not be violated (although he did not know it at the time, but later realizes he is guilty), then he will bear his punishment for iniquity and must bring a flawless ram from the flock, convertible into silver shekels, for a guilt offering to the priest.  So the priest will make atonement on his behalf for his error which he committed (although he himself had not known it) and he will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).[27]

Then the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) spoke to Moses (Leviticus 6:1-7 NET):

“When a person sins and commits a trespass against the Lord (yehôvâh, ביהוה) by deceiving his fellow citizen in regard to something held in trust, or a pledge, or something stolen, or by extorting something from his fellow citizen, or has found something lost and denies it and swears falsely concerning any one of the things that someone might do to sin – when it happens that he sins and he is found guilty, then he must return whatever he had stolen, or whatever he had extorted, or the thing that he had held in trust, or the lost thing that he had found, or anything about which he swears falsely.  He must restore it in full and add one fifth to it; he must give it to its owner when he is found guilty.  Then he must bring his guilt offering to the Lord (yehôvâh, ליהוה), a flawless ram from the flock, convertible into silver shekels, for a guilt offering to the priest.  So the priest will make atonement on his behalf before the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) and he will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι) for whatever he has done to become guilty.”

When a man has sexual intercourse with a woman, although she is a slave woman designated for another man and she has not yet been ransomed, or freedom has not been granted to her, there will be an obligation to pay compensation.  They must not be put to death, because she was not free.  He must bring his guilt offering to the Lord (yehôvâh, ליהוה) at the entrance of the Meeting Tent, a guilt offering ram, and the priest is to make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering before the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) for his sin that he has committed, and he will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι) of his sin that he has committed.[28]

James wrote (James 5:14-16a NET):

Is anyone among you ill?  He should summon the elders of the church, and they should pray for him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick and the Lord will raise him up – and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven (ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).  So confess (ἐξομολογεῖσθε, a form of ἐξομολογέω) your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed.

I saved this quotation[29] for last to highlight that all of this priestly machinery of atonement and forgiveness ground to a halt if sinners didn’t acknowledge and confess their sin, whether directly or by bringing the appropriate offering.  This is extremely difficult for the religious mind to do, those who are trying to be declared righteous by the law[30] or attempting to have [their] own righteousness derived from the law.[31]  As I began these studies I wrote that “the religious mind may be nothing more than a subspecies of the carnal mind (KJV) or the outlook of the flesh (NET).”  Now I would simply say that what I call the religious mind is the carnal mind or the outlook of the flesh: because the religious mind is hostile to God, for it does not submit (ὑποτάσσεται, a form of ὑποτάσσω) to the law of God, nor is it able (δύναται, a form of δύναμαι) to do so.[32]

Jephthah sacrificed[33] his daughter to make his own word true rather than confess his reckless oath to keep yehôvâh’s commandments.  But first submission to the law of God is never a pretty sight.  Paul left a vivid description from his own experience of what it is like to die to the law, to have a new self, a new I, a place from which to gain one’s first glimpse of the old self, the carnal mind, the outlook of the flesh or as I have been calling it—the religious mind (Romans 7:15-24 NET):

For I don’t understand what I am doing.  For I do not do what I want – instead, I do what I hate.  But if I do what I don’t want, I agree (σύμφημι) that the law is good.  But now it is no longer me doing it, but sin that lives in me.  For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh.  For I want to do the good, but I cannot do it (NET note 24: Grk “For to wish [want] is present in/with me, but not to do it.”).  For I do not do the good I want, but I do the very evil I do not want!  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me doing it but sin that lives in me.  So, I find the law that when I want to do good, evil is present with me.  For I delight in the law of God in my inner being.  But I see a different law in my members waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that is in my members.  Wretched man that I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?

[1] Exodus 34:9 (NET)

[2] I used the second spelling (nâsâh) offered in Strong’s Concordance in the tables and a previous essay, which confused me when I linked to the Hebrew dictionary.

[3] Leviticus 1:1 (NET)

[4] “I am merciful to them according to your word” (Numbers 14:20b NETS).

[5] Leviticus 4:13, 14a (NET)

[6] Leviticus 4:20b (NET)

[7] Matthew 12:31 (NET)

[8] Leviticus 4:22, 23 (NET)

[9] Leviticus 4:26b (NET)

[10] Matthew 12:32 (NET)

[11] Leviticus 4:27, 28 (NET)

[12] Leviticus 4:31b (NET)

[13] Mark 3:28-30 (NET)

[14] Leviticus 4:32 (NET)

[15] Leviticus 4:35b (NET)

[16] Luke 12:10 (NET)

[17] Leviticus 5:1 (NET)

[18] Leviticus 5:2 (NET)

[19] Leviticus 5:3 (NET)

[20] Leviticus 5:4 (NET)

[21] Leviticus 5:5, 6a (NET)

[22] Leviticus 5:7 (NET)

[23] Leviticus 5:10b (NET)

[24] Leviticus 5:11 (NET)

[25] Leviticus 5:13a (NET)

[26] Acts 8:22 (NET)

[27] Leviticus 5:17, 18 (NET)

[28] Leviticus 19:20-22 (NET)

[29] There are three more occurrences of ἀφεθήσεται in Luke 17:34-36 (KJV) translated left, contrasted to παραλημφθήσεται (a form of παραλαμβάνω) translated taken.  Verse 36 was not in the Textus Receptus of 1550 or the Byzantine Majority Text I consult most often.  It was however in the Textus Receptus of 1598 and thereafter and also in the Essex Gospels of 1175.

[30] Galatians 5:4 (NET)

[31] Philippians 3:9 (NET)

[32] Romans 8:7 (NET)

[33] In an article titled, “Did Jephthah Actually Kill his Daughter?,” on thetorah.com  Professor Jonathan Magonet argued: “The flexibility of the vav conjunctive linking the two statements would allow it to be read here as ‘and’, so that ‘belonging to the Lord’ meant the burnt offering mentioned immediately after.  But the ‘vav’ could also be read as ‘or’, so that whatever or whoever came out would be dedicated to God, and, only should it prove appropriate, would be sacrificed.”  Whether Jephthah “sacrificed” his daughter as a burnt offering or as a lifelong virgin matters very little to my argument here.  It would have mattered a great deal to the hold Jephthah’s “sacrifice” had on my attention, how often I returned to consider this story.  It’s hard to say if that alone would have left my religious mind skulking in the shadows.

Forgiven or Passed Over? Part 4

As I continue to study nâśâʼ[1] and ʽâbar in Exodus 20:7 – Deuteronomy 4:26 I’ll begin with an aside.  The first occurrence of nâśâʼ in this section translated pardon was an angel who will not pardon [Israel’s] transgressions.  A table contrasting two mentions of an angel follows.

The Forty Day Covenant

After the Golden Calf

The Lord said to Moses, “Go up from here, you and the people whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’

Exodus 33:1 (NET)

“I am going to send an angel before you…

Exodus 23:20a (NET)

I will send an angel before you…

Exodus 33:2a (NET)

…to protect you as you journey and to bring you into the place that I have prepared.  Take heed because of him, and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgressions, for my name is in him.  But if you diligently obey him and do all that I command, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will be an adversary to your adversaries.

Exodus 23:20b-22 (NET)

For my angel will go before you and bring you to the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I will destroy them completely.

Exodus 23:23 (NET)

…and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite.

Exodus 33:2b (NET)

Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey.  But I will not go up among you, for you are a stiff-necked people, and I might destroy you on the way.”

Exodus 33:3 (NET)

When the people heard this troubling word they mourned; no one put on his ornaments.  For the Lord had said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people.  If I went up among you for a moment, I might destroy you.  Now take off your ornaments, that I may know what I should do to you.’”  So the Israelites stripped off their ornaments by Mount Horeb.

Exodus 33:4-6 (NET)

It’s worth noting that the angel’s function—to protect—and the warning—Take heed—were both forms of shâmar in Hebrew.  The former (לשמרך) was translated φυλάξῃ (a form of φυλάσσω) in the SeptuagintIf anyone hears my words but does not keep (φυλάξῃ, a form of φυλάσσω) them, Jesus said, I do not judge that person.  For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.[2]  The latter (השמר) was translated πρόσεχε (a form of προσέχω) in the SeptuagintUntil I come, Paul wrote Timothy, give attention (πρόσεχε, a form of προσέχω) to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.[3]

The Hebrew word translated obey in obey his voice was shâmaʽ (ושמע; See Table below) which was translated εἰσάκουε (a form of εἰσακούω) in the Septuagint.  But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard (εἰσηκούσθη, another form of εἰσακούω), and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son; you will name him John.[4]  The Hebrew word translated rebel in do not rebel was mârar (תמר) which was translated ἀπείθει (a form of ἀπειθέω) in the Septuagint.  He who believes (πιστεύων, a form of πιστεύω) in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe (ἀπειθῶν, another form of ἀπειθέω) the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.[5]

And finally pardon was nâśâʼ (ישׁא) in Hebrew which was translated ὑποστείληταί (a form of ὑποστέλλω) in the Septuagint.  You know that I did not hold back (ὑπεστειλάμην, another form of ὑποστέλλω) from proclaiming to you anything that would be helpful,[6] Paul declared to the Ephesian elders.  But here the translators of the Septuagint took a different turn since they didn’t even translate peshaʽ (לפשעכם; transgressions): “For he shall not hold you in undue awe, for my name is upon him.”[7]  It makes me wonder if they were trying to put a better spin on for he will not pardon (or, bear) your transgressions for Greek consumption.

The clause detailing the angel’s purpose—to protect you as you journey[8]—was missing from the restatement of the covenant after the golden calf incident, yet for forty years in the wilderness yehôvâh[9] cared and provided for them.  So why don’t I consider that all of the missing elements of the covenant should be assumed in the later restatement?

I’m no lawyer but I did spend several years calculating and writing the conditions that went into my employer’s boilerplate contracts.  It seems pretty apparent to me that when yehôvâh did not destroy Israel and make a great nation of Moses, when He accepted Moses’ description of that act as evil, then both parties had abrogated the covenant and the contract became null and void.  Care and provision for Israel became a matter of grace, no longer stipulated by contract, by law.

What is clearly missing from the restatement of the covenant is the contractual language: But if you diligently obey him and do all that I command, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will be an adversary to your adversaries.  For my angel will go before you and bring you to the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I will destroy them completely.[10]  This was replaced by a simple unilateral statement: I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite.[11]

I hesitate to call this grace (though it may qualify as election) since yehôvâh called it dread (Deuteronomy 32:26, 27 Tanakh):

I thought I would make an end of them, I would make their memory cease from among men; Were it not that I dreaded (gûr, אגור) the enemy’s provocation, lest their adversaries should misdeem, lest they should say: Our hand is exalted, and not HaShem hath wrought all this.

Accepting that the clauses missing from the restatement of the covenant are truly missing helps me to track the transition from [Sin] (chaṭṭâʼâh, חטאת; Septuagint: ἥμαρτες, a form of ἁμαρτάνω) desires (teshûqâh, תשוקתו) to dominate you, but you must subdue (mâshal, תמשל) it,[12] to Paul’s declaration to believers in Galatia (Galatians 2:20, 21 NET):

I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I do not set aside God’s grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing!

Who would have thought that the way to subdue or rule over sin was to die to it (Romans 6:8-11 NET)?

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  We know that since Christ has been raised from the dead, he is never going to die again; death no longer has mastery over him.  For the death he died, he died to sin once for all, but the life he lives, he lives to God.  So you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Who would have thought that the way to subdue or rule over sin was to die to the law (Romans 7:4-6 NET)?

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you could be joined to another, to the one who was raised from the dead, to bear fruit to God.  For when we were in the flesh, the sinful desires, aroused by the law, were active in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.  But now we have been released from the law, because we have died to what controlled us, so that we may serve in the new life of the Spirit and not under the old written code.

Viewed from this perspective the worship of the golden calf and yehôvâh’s restatement of the covenant follows the pattern of Paul’s explanation to believers in Rome (Romans 5:20, 21 NET):

Now the law came in so that the transgression may increase, but where sin increased, grace multiplied all the more, so that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Why would anyone want transgression to increase?  This is scandalous to the religious mind.  But Jesus taught a Pharisee (Luke 7:40-47 NET):

“Simon, I have something to say to you.”  He replied, “Say it, Teacher.”  “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other fifty.  When they could not pay, he canceled the debts of both.  Now which of them will love him more?”  Simon answered, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”  Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.”  Then, turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman?  I entered your house.  You gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You gave me no kiss of greeting, but from the time I entered she has not stopped kissing my feet.  You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with perfumed oil.  Therefore I tell you, her sins, which were many, are forgiven, thus she loved much; but the one who is forgiven little loves little.”

Ultimately, this love from God Himself subdues and rules over sin (Romans 13:8-10 NET):

Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.  For the commandments, “Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet,” (and if there is any other commandment) are summed up in this, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no wrong to a neighbor.  Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Jesus warned (Matthew 5:17-20 NET):

“Do not think that I have come to abolish (καταλῦσαι, a form of καταλύω) the law or the prophets.  I have not come to abolish (καταλῦσαι, a form of καταλύω) these things but to fulfill them.  I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth pass away not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter will pass from the law until everything takes place.  So anyone who breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever obeys them and teaches others to do so will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you, unless your righteousness goes beyond that of the experts in the law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

After explaining that the law came in so that the transgression may increase, but where sin increased, grace multiplied all the more, Paul continued (Romans 6:1-4 NET):

What shall we say then?  Are we to remain in sin so that grace may increase?  Absolutely not!  How can we who died to sin still live in it?  Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life.

In other words, believers can say with Paul: We have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer we who live, but Christ lives in us.  So the life we now live in the body, we live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved us and gave himself for us.  We do not set aside God’s grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing!

For we too were once foolish, disobedient, misled, enslaved to various passions and desires, spending our lives in evil and envy, hateful and hating one another.  But “when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing (ἀνακαινώσεως , a form of ἀνακαίνωσις) of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior.  And so, since we have been justified by his grace, we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life.”[13]

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.[14]  This is the salvation believers in Philippi were enjoined to continue working out (Philippians 2:12-18 NET):

So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed (ὑπηκούσατε, a form of ὑπακούω), not only in my presence but even more in my absence, continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence, for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort – for the sake of his good pleasure – is God.  Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without blemish though you live in a crooked and perverse society, in which you shine as lights in the world by holding on to the word of life so that on the day of Christ I will have a reason to boast that I did not run in vain nor labor in vain.  But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice together with all of you.  And in the same way you also should be glad and rejoice together with me.

It is much better news than the Septuagint’s translation of Exodus 23:21b: “For he shall not hold you in undue awe, for my name is upon him.”  A table of the translations of shâmaʽ in the KJV, NET and Septuagint from Genesis through Exodus 23:22 follows.

Form of shâmaʽ Reference KJV NET Septuagint
שמע Genesis 16:11 …because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. …for the Lord has heard your painful groans. ἐπήκουσεν, a form of ἐπακούω
Genesis 21:12 hearken unto her voice… Do all that Sarah is telling you… ἄκουε, a form of ἀκούω
Genesis 21:17 …for God hath heard the voice of the lad… …for God has heard the boy’s voice… ἐπακήκοεν, another form of ἐπακούω
Genesis 24:52 …when Abraham’s servant heard their words… When Abraham’s servant heard their words… ἀκοῦσαι, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 26:5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice… …this will come to pass because Abraham obeyed[15] me… ὑπήκουσεν, a form of ὑπακούω
Genesis 27:8 obey my voice according to that which I command thee. do exactly what I tell you! ἄκουσόν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 27:13 …only obey my voice… Just obey me! ὑπάκουσον, another form of ὑπακούω
Genesis 27:43 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice… Now then, my son, do what I say. ἄκουσόν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 29:33 Because the LORD hath heard that I was hated… Because the Lord heard that I was unloved… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 30:6 …and hath also heard my voice… He has responded to my prayer… ἐπήκουσεν, a form of ἐπακούω
Genesis 34:5 And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah… When Jacob heard that Shechem had violated his daughter… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 39:10 …that he hearkened not unto her… …he did not respond to her invitation… ὑπήκουσεν, a form of ὑπακούω
Genesis 42:21 …and we would not hear …but we refused to listen. εἰσηκούσαμεν a form of εἰσακούω
Genesis 42:23 …they knew not that Joseph understood them… …they did not know that Joseph could understand them… ἀκούει, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 7:13 …that he hearkened not unto them… …and he did not listen to them… εἰσήκουσεν, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 7:22 …neither did he hearken unto them… …and he refused to listen to Moses and Aaron…
Exodus 8:15 …and hearkened not unto them… …and did not listen to them…
Exodus 8:19 …and he hearkened not unto them… …and he did not listen to them…
Exodus 9:12 …and he hearkened not unto them… …and he did not listen to them…
Exodus 16:9 …for he hath heard your murmurings. …because he has heard your murmurings. εἰσακήκοεν, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 18:19 Hearken now unto my voice… Now listen to me… ἄκουσόν, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 22:23 I will surely hear their cry… I will surely hear their cry… ἀκοῇ, a form of ἀκοή
Exodus 23:22 But if thou shalt indeed obey… But if you diligently obey him…
ושמע Exodus 23:21 Beware of him, and obey his voice… Take heed because of him, and obey his voice… εἰσάκουε, another form of εἰσακούω
ישמע Exodus 6:30 …and how shall Pharaoh hearken unto me? …why should Pharaoh listen to me? εἰσακούσεταί, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 7:4 But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you… Pharaoh will not listen to you.
Exodus 11:9 Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you… Pharaoh will not listen to you…
Exodus 19:9 …that the people may hear when I speak… …so that the people may hear when I speak… ἀκούσῃ, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 23:13 …neither let it be heard out of thy mouth. do not let them be heard on your lips. ἀκουσθῇ, another form of ἀκούω
וישמע Genesis 14:14 And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive… When Abram heard that his nephew had been taken captive… ἀκούσας, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 16:2 And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. Abram did what Sarai told him. ὑπήκουσεν, a form of ὑπακούω
Genesis 21:17 And God heard the voice of the lad… But God heard the boy’s voice. εἰσήκουσεν, another form of εἰσακούω
Genesis 23:16 And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron… So Abraham agreed to Ephron’s price… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 28:7 And that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother… Jacob obeyed his father and mother…
Genesis 30:17 And God hearkened unto Leah… God paid attention to Leah… ἐπήκουσεν, a form of ἐπακούω
Genesis 30:22 and God hearkened to her… He paid attention to her…
Genesis 31:1 And he heard the words of Laban’s sons… Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were complaining… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 35:22 and Israel heard it. and Israel heard about it.
Genesis 37:21 And Reuben heard it… When Reuben heard this… ἀκούσας, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 45:2 and the house of Pharaoh heard. and Pharaoh’s household heard about it. ἀκουστὸν, a form of ἀκουστός
Exodus 2:15 Now when Pharaoh heard this thing… When Pharaoh heard about this event… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 2:24 And God heard their groaning… God heard their groaning… εἰσήκουσεν, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 18:1 heard of all that God had done for Moses… heard about all that God had done for Moses… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 18:24 So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law… Moses listened to his father-in-law…
שמעו Genesis 37:6 Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: Listen to this dream I had: ἀκούσατε, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 43:25 they heard that they should eat bread… they had heard that they were to have a meal… ἤκουσαν, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 6:9 …but they hearkened not unto Moses… …but they did not listen to him… εἰσήκουσαν, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 6:12 …the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me… If the Israelites did not listen to me…
Exodus 15:14 The people shall hear, and be afraid… The nations will hear and tremble… ἤκουσαν, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 16:20 they hearkened not unto Moses… But they did not listen to Moses… εἰσήκουσαν, another form of εἰσακούω
וישמעו Genesis 3:8 And they heard the voice… Then the man and his wife heard the sound… ἤκουσαν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 34:24 And unto Hamor and unto Shechem his son hearkened all… …the men who assembled at the city gate agreed εἰσήκουσαν, another form of εἰσακούω
Genesis 37:27 And his brethren were content. His brothers agreed. ἤκουσαν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 45:2 Not translated …the Egyptians heard it…
Exodus 4:31 and when they heard that the LORD… When they heard that the Lord… Not Translated
ושמעו Genesis 49:2 Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob… Assemble and listen, you sons of Jacob… ἀκούσατε, another form of ἀκούω
and hearken unto Israel your father. listen to Israel, your father.
Exodus 3:18 And they shall hearken to thy voice: The elders will listen to you… εἰσακούσονταί, another form of εἰσακούω
ישמעו Genesis 11:7 …they may not understand one another’s speech. …they won’t be able to understand each other. ἀκούσωσιν, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 4:1 …nor hearken unto my voice: …or pay attention to me… εἰσακούσωσιν, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 4:8 …neither hearken to the voice of the first sign… …or pay attention to the former sign…
שמען Genesis 4:23 Hear my voice… Listen to me! ἀκούσατέ, another form of ἀκούω
ישמעון Exodus 4:9 …neither hearken unto thy voice… …or listen to you… εἰσακούσωσιν, another form of εἰσακούω
שמעת Genesis 3:17 Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife… Because you obeyed your wife… ἤκουσας, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 18:10 And Sarah heard it in the tent door… Now Sarah was listening at the entrance… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 22:18 …because thou hast obeyed my voice. Because you have obeyed me… ὑπήκουσας, another form of ὑπακούω
Genesis 27:5 And Rebekah heard[16] Now Rebekah had been listening ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 7:16 …hitherto thou wouldest not hear. But until now you have not listened. εἰσήκουσας, another form of εἰσακούω
ושמעתי Exodus 22:27 that I will hear; for I am gracious. I will hear, for I am gracious. εἰσακούσομαι, another form of εἰσακούω
שמעתם Genesis 42:22 and ye would not hear? but you wouldn’t listen? εἰσηκούσατέ, another form of εἰσακούω
שמעתי Genesis 3:10 I heard thy voice in the garden… I heard you moving about in the orchard… ἤκουσα, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 21:26 …neither yet heard I of it, but to day. I did not hear about it until today.
Genesis 27:6 Behold, I heard thy father… Look, I overheard your father…
Genesis 37:17 …for I heard them say… …for I heard them say…
Genesis 41:15 …and I have heard say of thee… But I have heard about you… ἀκήκοα, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 42:2 I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: I hear that there is grain in Egypt.
Exodus 3:7 and have heard their cry… I have heard their cry…
Exodus 6:5 And I have also heard the groaning of the children of… I have also heard the groaning of the Israelites… εἰσήκουσα, another form of ἐπακούω
Exodus 16:12 I have heard the murmurings… I have heard the murmurings… εἰσακήκοα, another form of εἰσακούω
שמעתיך Genesis 17:20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: As for Ishmael, I have heard you. ἐπήκουσά, another form of ἐπακούω
שמעני Genesis 23:11 hear me… Hear me out. ἄκουσόν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 23:13 I pray thee, hear me: Hear me, if you will.
Genesis 23:15 My Lord, hearken unto me: Hear me, my lord. ἀκήκοα, another form of ἀκούω
ישמעני Exodus 6:12 …how then shall Pharaoh hear me… …then how will Pharaoh listen to me… εἰσακούσεταί, another form of ἐπακούω
שמענו Genesis 23:6 Hear us, my Lord: thou art a mighty prince… Listen, sir, you are a mighty prince… ἄκουσον, another form of ἀκούω
שמעוני Genesis 23:8 hear me… then hear me out. ἀκούσατέ, another form of ἀκούω
שמוע Exodus 15:26 If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God… If you will diligently obey the Lord your God… ἀκοῇ, a form of ἀκοή
Exodus 19:5 Not translated …if you will diligently listen to me…
השמע Genesis 21:6 …so that all that hear will laugh… Everyone who hears about this will laugh… ἀκούσῃ, another form of ἀκούω
נשמע Genesis 45:16 And the fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh’s house… Now it was reported in the household of Pharaoh… διεβοήθη, a form of διαβοάω
ונשמעה Exodus 20:19 Speak thou with us, and we will hear You speak to us and we will listen Not Translated
כשמע Genesis 27:34 And when Esau heard the words of his father… When Esau heard his father’s words… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 29:13 when Laban heard the tidings of Jacob… When Laban heard this news about Jacob…
Genesis 39:19 when his master heard the words of his wife… When his master heard his wife say…
Exodus 16:8 …for that the LORD heareth your murmurings… …because the Lord has heard your murmurings… εἰσακοῦσαι, another form of εἰσακούω
כשמעו Genesis 39:15 when he heard that I lifted up my voice… When he heard me raise my voice… ἀκοῦσαι, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 16:7 for that he heareth your murmurings… because he has heard your murmurings… εἰσακοῦσαι, another form of εἰσακούω
כשמעם Genesis 34:7 when they heard it: when they heard the news. ἤκουσαν, another form of ἀκούω
וכשמעו Genesis 24:30 and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying… and heard his sister Rebekah say… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
תשמע Genesis 41:15 …that thou canst understand a dream… Not translated ἀκούσαντά, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 15:26 If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God… If you will diligently obey the Lord your God… ἀκούσῃς, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 23:22 But if thou shalt indeed obey But if you diligently obey him… ἀκούσητε, another form of ἀκούω
תשמעו Genesis 34:17 But if ye will not hearken unto us… But if you do not agree to our terms… εἰσακούσητε, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 19:5 …if ye will obey my voice… …if you will diligently listen to me… ἀκούσητε, another form of ἀκούω
אשמע Exodus 5:2 Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice… Who is the Lord that I should obey him… εἰσακούσομαι, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 22:23 …I will surely hear their cry… …I will surely hear their cry…

[1] I used the second spelling (nâsâh) offered in Strong’s Concordance in the tables and in a previous essay, which confused me when I linked to the Hebrew dictionary.

[2] John 12:47 (NIV)

[3] 1 Timothy 4:13 (NET)

[4] Luke 1:13 (NET)

[5] John 3:36 (NKJV)

[6] Acts 20:20a (NET)

[7] Exodus 23:21b (NETS)  The Tanakh reads: for he will not pardon your transgression; for My name is in him.

[8] I won’t argue that the angel’s purpose was to keep believing Israelites within the covenant, though I considered it.

[9] In these essays I’ve used several names for the Hebrew יהוה.  Admittedly, I was being catty when I used Jehovah to obliquely reference the undercurrent in religious thought that Jesus died to save us from an evil god.  I abandoned the name Yahweh for reasons akin to the genetic fallacy: I learned Yahweh from Nietzsche.  He was not only an atheist but a philologist as well.  I settled on yehôvâh because it was in Strong’s Concordance, the same source I’ve used for all the other Hebrew words addressed in these essays.  Subsequently I’ve come across an argument favoring Yahweh on YAHWEH’S restoration ministry online in an article titled “The Yehovah Deception: Reinventing a Misnomer.”

The most succinct form of their argument reads: “As confirmed by the Jewish Talmud, hundreds of years before the birth of Yahshua the Messiah the Jews stopped pronouncing the divine Name and began concealing it by reading the vowel points from Adonai into the Tetragrammaton.  The motivation behind this practice was not from irreverence but through a strong veneration for the Name.  They were afraid that if it were pronounced, someone might misuse or blaspheme the Name.  Part of this hesitation doubtless arose from their time in Babylon.  While their reasoning was admirable, it is against the clear teachings of Scripture.”

I find that argument plausible and discouraging.  My own working hypothesis concerning the Masoretes was that they were generally honorable when dealing with the words of Scripture but may have shaded the meaning of certain Hebrew words a bit to defend Jewish religion from Christian scholarship.  As a working hypothesis it limited the search field to points of contention.  The idea that they may be the heirs of those who deliberately corrupted the name of God with vowels from a different word offers no limit to the mischief they may have perpetrated on words of lesser importance.  If true, a searchable list of Hebrew homographs is no mere convenience but an absolute necessity for Old Testament study.  Creating such a list is well beyond my abilities.

My only purpose in using yehôvâh is to remind myself that Lord is not the word used in Scripture.  I was taught from the pulpit that it is disrespectful to call Jesus by name, that Paul called Him Lord, though now I think that was Paul’s way of designating Him yehôvâh (Isaiah 45:18-23; Romans 14:10-12; Philippians 2:5-11; John 5:22, 23).  So for the time being I’ll continue using yehôvâh since I definitely don’t believe the name of God is a magical incantation that must be pronounced correctly for the magic to work.

[10] Exodus 23:22, 23 (NET)

[11] Exodus 33:2 (NET)

[12] Genesis 4:7b (NET)  Here, the Tanakh presents the subduing of sin as a comforting possibility rather than an imperative: …and unto thee is its desire, but thou mayest rule over it (Genesis 4:7b Tanakh).  The Septuagint comforted Cain that he would once again rule over Abel (if he offered the appropriate sacrifice): “Be still, his recourse is to you, and you will rule over him” (Genesis 4:7b NETS).

[13] Titus 3:3-7 (NET)

[14] Romans 10:10, 11 (KJV)

[15] So then faith comes by hearing (ἀκοῆς, a form of ἀκοή), and hearing (ἀκοὴ, another form of ἀκοή) by the word of God (Romans 10:17 NKJV).  No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws (ἑλκύσῃ, a form of ἑλκύω) him (John 6:44a NET)…  And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw (ἑλκύσω, another form of ἑλκύω) all people to myself.

[16] For it is not those who hear (ἀκροαταὶ, a form of ἀκροατής) the law who are righteous before God, but those who do the law will be declared righteous (Romans 2:13 NET).  This is an interesting example.  Relative to Isaac’s word Rebekah was a hearer only because she did everything in her power to deceive her husband and change the outcome of his word.  But was she hearing/obeying yehôvâh (Genesis 25:21-26) instead?  Was her deception necessary?  Would we be reading the history of Esau/Israel rather than Jacob/Israel without it?  Or would yehôvâh have chosen (Malachi 1:1-5) Jacob even if Isaac had blessed Esau as he intended (Romans 9:10-18)?  Was Rebekah’s deception righteous?  Or might her faith have been counted as righteousness (Romans 4:1-5)?

Forgiven or Passed Over? Part 3

I bogged down in this study a couple of years ago.  I don’t remember whether I balked at how much work it would be or simply recognized the futility of studying ʽâbar alone.  I’ll start again comparing and contrasting ʽâbar with nâsâh.

The translators of the Septuagint chose twenty-two different Greek words for fifty-four occurrences of nâsâh (only fifty-three were actually translated) from Genesis 4:13 through Exodus 19:4 (see table below).  They worked very hard to refine and communicate their own understanding in Greek, which only served to obscure yehôvâh’s mind if I fail to recognize the one Hebrew word—nâsâh—behind all that refinement.

The most concrete meaning of nâsâh is to bear, to lift or carry.  Both lift and carry are evident in: And the people took (nâsâh, וישׁא; Septuagint: ἀνέλαβεν, a form of ἀναλαμβάνω) their dough before it was leavened, their kneading-troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders.[1]  But neither took nor ἀνέλαβεν fully convey the idea of lifting and carrying if I don’t already know nâsâh.

What was important to the translators was that the people took their dough with them before it was leavened.  Intended as a corrective, perhaps, even that added emphasis didn’t prevent religious minds from imbuing unleavened bread with spiritual significance beyond the haste of Israel’s exodus from Egypt (1 Corinthians 5:7, 8 NET):

Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch of dough – you are, in fact, without yeast.  For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.  So then, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of vice and evil, but with the bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

The concrete meaning of nâsâh prevailed in the phrase lift up one’s eyes (Genesis 13:10, 14; 18:2; 22:4, 13; 24:63, 64; 31:10, 12; 33:1, 5; 37:25; 43:29; Exodus 14:10).  It was a bit more abstract in lift up one’s voice (Genesis 21:16; 27:38; 29:11) or lift up one’s feet (Genesis 29:1).  While I lifted up My hand[2] was translated concretely in the Tanakh, it was translated I swore in the NET and I did swear in the KJV.  I want to keep these variations in mind as I consider six occurrences translated forgive or forgiven.

The relatively contemporary translators of the Tanakh, the KJV and the NET all agreed that Cain was not spiritually aware enough to lament his iniquity: My punishment is greater than I can bear[3] (NET: too great to endure), he said in these translations.  The more ancient translators of the Septuagint translated ʽâvôn αἰτία and nâsâh ἀφεθῆναί (a form of ἀφίημι) which a relatively contemporary translator rendered My guilt is too great for me to be forgiven[4] in English.

Of the five occurrences of ʽâvôn in Genesis 4:13 through Exodus 20:5 (see table below) one was translated αἰτία, one ἀδικίαν (a form of ἀδικία), one ἀνομίαις (a form of ἀνομία) and two with forms of ἁμαρτία.  The most concrete meaning of forms of ἁμαρτία is found in its verb form ἁμαρτάνω, “to miss the mark.”  In the occurrence translated ἁμαρτίαι (Genesis 15:16) before Exodus 20, what mark was missed before the law was given?  I would not have known sin (ἁμαρτίαν, another form of ἁμαρτία), Paul wrote believers in Rome, except through the law.[5]  But sin (ἁμαρτία), seizing the opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of wrong desires.[6]

I’ve questioned the idea of ἁμαρτία seizing the opportunity through the commandment in the context of Cain’s murder of his brother Abel.  But if the NET translation of Genesis 4:7b (see comparison below) is more correct than that of the Septuagint (namely, that Cain would rule again over Abel if Cain offered the correct sacrifice), then yehôvâh’s words, you must subdue sin (chaṭṭâʼâh, חטאת; Septuagint: ἥμαρτες, a form of ἁμαρτάνω), would serve as the commandment ἁμαρτία seized, for before the law was given, sin (ἁμαρτία) was in the world, but there is no accounting for sin (ἁμαρτία) when there is no law.[7]

NETS NET
Be still; his recourse is to you, and you will rule over him. …sin is crouching at the door.  It desires to dominate you, but you must subdue it.

The translators of the Septuagint seemed to acknowledge a problem with ἁμαρτία prior to the law with the word ἀδικίαν: G-d hath found out the iniquity (ʽâvôn, עון; Septuagint: ἀδικίαν; NETS: injustice; NET: the sin) of thy servants[8]  The iniquity that concerned Joseph’s brothers wasn’t stealing his silver goblet (44:2).  They knew Benjamin hadn’t taken it but suspected (Genesis 43:18-23) that it had been placed there by the Egyptian’s (e.g., Joseph’s) servant to entrap them.  They had reasoned that yehôvâh was behind their difficulties with the Egyptian and that their iniquity was their injustice toward their younger brother Joseph (Genesis 42:21-23 Tanakh):

And they said one to another: ‘We are verily guilty (ʼâshêm, אשמים; Septuagint: ἐν ἁμαρτίᾳ) concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear (shâmaʽ, שמענו); therefore is this distress come upon us.’  And Reuben answered them, saying: ‘Spoke I not unto you, saying: Do not sin (châṭâʼ, תחטאו; Septuagint: ἀδικήσητε, a form of ἀδικέω) against the child; and ye would not hear (shâmaʽ, שמעתם)? therefore also, behold, his blood is required.’  And they knew not that Joseph understood (shâmaʽ, שמע) them; for the interpreter was between them.

They had not disobeyed a law: Thou shalt not sell thy brother into slavery.  But they had not dealt justly with their little brother, whether a tattletale, a braggart (Genesis 37:5-11) or a father’s favorite.  And I realize here that I am regarding iniquity (ʽâvôn) more like Jesus’ and Paul’s description of the flesh than like a sin, a missing of a mark.  What is born of the flesh (σαρκὸς, a form of σάρξ) is flesh (σάρξ), Jesus said, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.[9]  For when we were in the flesh (σαρκί, another form of σάρξ), Paul wrote believers in Rome, the sinful desires, aroused by the law, were active in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.[10]  Paul continued (Romans 8:5-8 NET):

For those who live according to the flesh (σάρκα, another form of σάρξ) have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh (σαρκὸς, a form of σάρξ), but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit.  For the outlook of the flesh (σαρκὸς, a form of σάρξ) is death, but the outlook of the Spirit is life and peace, because the outlook of the flesh (σαρκὸς, a form of σάρξ) is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so.  Those who are in the flesh (σαρκί, another form of σάρξ) cannot please (ἀρέσαι οὐ δύνανται) God.

The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, yehôvâh told Abraham, and their sin (chaṭṭâʼâh, וחטאתם; Septuagint: ἁμαρτίαι, another form of ἁμαρτία) so blatant that I must go down and see if they are as wicked as the outcry suggests.  If not, I want to know.[11]  Will you sweep away the godly along with the wicked? Abraham asked.  What if there are fifty godly people in the city?  Will you really wipe it out and not spare (nâsâh, תשׁא) the place for the sake of the fifty godly people who are in it?[12]

In the Tanakh nâsâh was translated forgive rather than spare.  In the Septuagint it was translated ἀνήσεις (a form of ἀνίημι) which was translated go free in the NETS.  Abraham asked yehôvâh to bear the sin (chaṭṭâʼâh, וחטאתם) of the majority of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of fifty hypothetical godly (tsaddı̂yq, צדיקם; Septuagint: δίκαιοι, a form of δίκαιος; Tanakh, KJV, NETS: righteous) people who may or may not reside there, then forty-five, forty, thirty, twenty and ten.  And yehôvâh agreed to Abraham’s proposition: If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will forgive (nâsâh, ונשׁאתי; Septuagint: ἀφήσω, another form of ἀφίημι; NETS: I will forgive; KJV, NET: I will spare) all the place for their sake.[13]

I don’t mean to imply that forgive was a bad translation of nâsâh here.  I do intend to highlight the nature of this forgiveness as primarily forbearance on yehôvâh’s part, and to stress that it is only part, a very necessary part, of the forgiveness I hope for from Him.

Joseph’s brothers sought the same forbearance from Joseph after Jacob’s death: “What if Joseph bears a grudge and wants to repay us in full for all the harm we did to him?”[14]  So they sent word to Joseph, saying (Genesis 50:16, 17a NET):

“Your father gave these instructions before he died: ‘Tell Joseph this: Please forgive (nâsâh, שׁא; Septuagint: ἄφες, another form of ἀφίημι; Tanakh, KJV, NETS: forgive) the sin of your brothers and the wrong they did when they treated you so badly.’  Now please forgive (nâsâh, שׁא; Septuagint: δέξαι, a form of δέχομαι; Tanakh, KJV: forgive; NETS: accept) the sin of the servants of the God of your father.”

Though they asked for forbearance I think one could argue that they received so much more (Genesis 50:19-21 NET):

But Joseph answered them, “Don’t be afraid.  Am I in the place of God?  As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose, so he could preserve the lives of many people, as you can see this day.  So now, don’t be afraid.  I will provide for you and your little children.”  Then he consoled them and spoke kindly to them.

Pharoah asked for a similar forbearance: Then Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you!  So now, forgive (nâsâh, שׁא; Septuagint: προσδέξασθε, a form of προσδέχομαι; Tanakh, KJV: forgive; NETS: bear) my sin this time only, and pray to the Lord your God that he would only take this death away from me.”[15]

Moses extended his staff over the land of Egypt, and then the Lord brought an east wind on the land all that day and all night.  The morning came, and the east wind had brought up (nâsâh, נשׁא) the locusts![16]  The death (mâveth, המות) Pharaoh asked Moses to pray that yehôvâh would takeaway was those locusts: Moses went out from Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord, and the Lord turned a very strong west wind, and it picked up (nâsâh, וישׁא) the locusts and blew them into the Red Sea.  Not one locust remained in all the territory of Egypt.[17]

No matter what I think of Cain’s spiritual competence, The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) would speak to Moses face to face, the way a person speaks to a friend.[18]  Moses wrote the words we read in Genesis.  With the first occurrences of both ʽâvôn and nâsâh a son of Adam spoke words that may legitimately be translated, “my iniquity is greater than I can bear.”[19]  That sounds like something I can work with as I continue this study.

I found no occurrence of ʽâbar in this section (Genesis 1:1 – Exodus 20:5) that was, or should have been, translated forgive (see table below).

Form of nâsâh Reference KJV NET Septuagint
מנשׁא Genesis 4:13 …My punishment is greater than I can bear. My punishment is too great to endure! ἀφεθῆναί, a form of ἀφίημι
וישׁאו Genesis 7:17 …and the waters increased, and bare up the ark… As the waters increased, they lifted the ark… ἐπῆρεν, a form of ἐπαίρω
Genesis 37:25 and they lifted up their eyes and looked… …they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites… ἀναβλέψαντες, a form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 42:26 And they laded their asses with the corn… So they loaded their grain on their donkeys… ἐπιθέντες, a form of ἐπιτίθημι
Genesis 46:5 …and the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father… …and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob… ἀνέλαβον, a form of ἀναλαμβάνω
Genesis 50:13 For his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him… His sons carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him… ἀνέλαβον, a form of ἀναλαμβάνω
Exodus 14:10 …the children of Israel lifted up their eyes… Not translated ἀναβλέψαντες, a form of ἀναβλέπω
נשׁא Genesis 13:6 And the land was not able to bear them… But the land could not support them… ἐχώρει, a form of χωρέω
Exodus 10:13 …the east wind brought the locusts. …the east wind had brought up the locusts! ἀνέλαβεν, another form of ἀναλαμβάνω
שׁא Genesis 13:14 Lift up now thine eyes… Not translated ἀναβλέψας, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 27:3 Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow… Therefore, take your weapons – your quiver and your bow… λαβὲ, a form of λαμβάνω
Genesis 31:12 Lift up now thine eyes, and see… Not translated ἀνάβλεψον, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 50:17 Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren… Please forgive the sin of your brothers… ἄφες, another form of ἀφίημι
Genesis 50:17 forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. Now please forgive the sin of the servants of the God of your father. δέξαι, a form of δέχομαι
Exodus 10:17 Now therefore forgive, I pray thee, my sin only this once… So now, forgive my sin this time only… προσδέξασθε, a form of προσδέχομαι
שׁאי Genesis 21:18 Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand… Get up! Help the boy up and hold him by the hand… λαβὲ, a form of λαμβάνω
ישׁא Genesis 32:20 …peradventure he will accept of me. Perhaps he will accept me. προσδέξεται, another form of προσδέχομαι
Genesis 40:13 …within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head… Not translated μνησθήσεται, a form of μιμνήσκω
Genesis 40:19 …within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head… Not translated ἀφελεῖ, a form of ἀφαιρέω
וישׁא Genesis 13:10 And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain… Lot looked up and saw the whole region… ἐπάρας, a form of ἐπαίρω
Genesis 18:2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men… Abraham looked up and saw three men… ἀναβλέψας, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 22:4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes… Not translated ἀναβλέψας, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 22:13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram… Abraham looked up and saw behind him a ram… ἀναβλέψας, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 24:63 and he lifted up his eyes, and saw… Not translated ἀναβλέψας, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 27:38 And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept. Not translated ἀνεβόησεν, a form of ἀναβοάω
Genesis 29:1[20] Then Jacob went on his journey… So Jacob moved on… ἐξάρας, a form of ἐξαίρω
Genesis 29:11 and lifted up his voice, and wept. Not translated βοήσας, a form of βοάω
Genesis 31:17 Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels… So Jacob immediately put his children and his wives on the camels. ἔλαβεν, another form of λαμβάνω
Genesis 33:1 And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked… Jacob looked up and saw that Esau was… ἀναβλέψας, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 33:5 And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children… When Esau looked up and saw the women and the children… ἀναβλέψας, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 40:20 and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker… He “lifted up” the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief… ἐμνήσθη, another form of μιμνήσκω
Genesis 43:29 And he lifted up his eyes, and saw his brother Benjamin… When Joseph looked up and saw his brother Benjamin… ἀναβλέψας, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 43:34 And he took and sent messes unto them from before him… He gave them portions of the food set before him… ἦραν, a form of αἴρω
Exodus 10:19 which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Red sea… and it picked up the locusts and blew them into the Red Sea. ἀνέλαβεν, a form of ἀναλαμβάνω
Exodus 12:34 And the people took their dough before it was leavened… So the people took their dough before the yeast was added… ἀνέλαβεν, a form of ἀναλαμβάνω
תשׁא Genesis 18:24 …and not spare the place for the fifty righteous… …and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty godly people… ἀνήσεις, a form of ἀνίημι
שׁאת Genesis 44:1 …with food, as much as they can carry …as much food as they can carry ἆραι, another form of αἴρω
ותשׁא Genesis 21:16 and lift up her voice, and wept. Not translated ἀναβοῆσαν, another form of ἀναβοάω
Genesis 24:64 And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac… Rebekah looked up and saw Isaac. ἀναβλέψασα, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 31:10 that I lifted up mine eyes, and saw in a dream… Not translated Not translated

εἶδον, a form of ὁράω

Genesis 39:7 …that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph… …his master’s wife took notice of Joseph… ἐπέβαλεν, a form of ἐπιβάλλω
ונשׁאו Exodus 18:22 …and they shall bear the burden with thee. …and they will bear the burden with you. κουφιοῦσιν, a form of κουφίζω
ונשׁאתי Genesis 18:26 then I will spare all the place for their sakes. I will spare the whole place for their sake. ἀφήσω, another form of ἀφίημι
ונשׁאתני Genesis 47:30 and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their buryingplace… carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place. ἀρεῖς, another form of αἴρω
ונשׁאתם Genesis 45:19 and bring your father, and come. Bring your father and come. ἀναλαβόντες, another form of ἀναλαμβάνω
נשׁאת Genesis 45:23 …ten she asses laden with corn… …ten female donkeys loaded with grain… αἰρούσας, another form of αἴρω
נשׁאתי Genesis 19:21 I have accepted thee concerning this thing also… I will grant this request too and will not overthrow the town you mentioned. ἐθαύμασά, a form of θαυμάζω
Exodus 6:8[21] …the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham… I will bring you to the land I swore to give to Abraham… ἐξέτεινα τὴν χεῖρά μου[22]
נשׁאים Genesis 37:25 …with their camels bearing spicery… Their camels were carrying spices… ἔγεμον, a form of γέμω
Genesis 45:23 …ten asses laden with the good things… …ten donkeys loaded with the best products… αἴροντας, another form of αἴρω
לשׁאת Genesis 36:7 …and the land wherein they were strangers could not bear them… …the land where they had settled was not able to support them… φέρειν, a form of φέρω
Genesis 45:27 …the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him… …the wagons that Joseph had sent to transport him… ἀναλαβεῖν, another form of ἀναλαμβάνω
Genesis 46:5 …the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him. …the wagons that Pharaoh had sent along to transport him. ἀνέλαβον, another form of ἀναλαμβάνω
ואשׁא Exodus 19:4 and how I bare you on eagles’ wings… and how I lifted you on eagles’ wings… ἀνέλαβον, another form of ἀναλαμβάνω

 

Form of ʽâvôn Reference KJV NET Septuagint
עוני Genesis 4:13 My punishment is greater than I can bear. My punishment is too great to endure! αἰτία[23]
עון Genesis 15:16 …for the iniquity of the Amorites is not…[24] …for the sin of the Amorites has not yet… ἁμαρτίαι, a form of ἁμαρτία
Genesis 44:16 …found out the iniquity of thy servants… …God has exposed the sin of your servants! ἀδικίαν, a form of ἀδικία
Exodus 20:5 …visiting[25] the iniquity of the fathers upon the children… …responding to the transgression of fathers… ἁμαρτίας, a form of ἁμαρτία
בעון Genesis 19:15 …be consumed in the iniquity of the city. …will be destroyed when the city is judged! ἀνομίαις, a form of ἀνομία
Form of ʽâbar Reference KJV NET Septuagint
עבר Genesis 15:17 …a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. …a flaming torch passed between the animal parts. διῆλθον, a form of διέρχομαι
Genesis 23:16 current money with the merchant. according to the standard measurement at the time. δοκίμου, a form of δόκιμος
Genesis 32:31 And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him… The sun rose over him as he crossed over Penuel… παρῆλθεν, a form of παρέρχομαι
Genesis 33:3 And he passed over before them… But Jacob himself went on ahead of them… προῆλθεν, a form of προέρχομαι
Exodus 17:5 Go on before the people… Go over before the people… προπορεύου, a form of προπορεύομαι
יעבר Genesis 33:14 Let my Lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: Let my lord go on ahead of his servant. προελθέτω, another form of προέρχομαι
Exodus 15:16 …till thy people pass over, O LORD… …until your people pass by, O Lord… παρέλθῃ, another form of παρέρχομαι
…till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased. …until the people whom you have bought pass by. παρέλθῃ, another form of παρέρχομαι
עברו Genesis 32:16 Pass over before me… Pass over before me… προπορεύεσθε, a form of προπορεύομαι
עברתי Genesis 32:10 …I passed over this Jordan… I crossed the Jordan… διέβην, a form of διαβαίνω
עברתם Genesis 18:5 …for therefore are ye come to your servant. …since you have passed by your servant’s home. ἐξεκλίνατε, a form of ἐκκλίνω
ועבר Exodus 12:23[26] For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians… For the Lord will pass through to strike Egypt… παρελεύσεται, another form of παρέρχομαι
ויעבר Genesis 8:1 and God made a wind to pass over the earth… God caused a wind to blow over the earth… Not translated

ἐπὶ

Genesis 12:6 And Abram passed through the land… Abram traveled through the land… διώδευσεν, a form of διοδεύω
Genesis 31:21 and passed over the river… He quickly crossed the Euphrates River… διέβη, another form of διαβαίνω
Genesis 32:22 and passed over the ford Jabbok. and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. διέβη, another form of διαβαίνω
Genesis 32:23 and sent over that he had. Not translated διεβίβασεν,[27] a form of διαβιβάζω[28]
Genesis 41:46 and went throughout all the land of Egypt. and was in charge of all the land of Egypt. διῆλθεν, another form of διέρχομαι
ויעברו Genesis 37:28 Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen… So when the Midianite merchants passed by παρεπορεύοντο, a form of παραπορεύομαι
Genesis 50:4 And when the days of his mourning were past When the days of mourning had passed παρῆλθον, another form of παρέρχομαι
ויעברם Genesis 32:23 and sent them over the brook… and sent them across the stream… διέβη, another form of διαβαίνω
ועברתי Exodus 12:12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt… I will pass through the land of Egypt… διελεύσομαι, another form of διέρχομαι
תעבר Genesis 18:3 pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: …do not pass by and leave your servant. παρέλθῃς, another form[29] of παρέρχομαι
Genesis 31:52 …thou shalt not pass over this heap… …you will not pass beyond this pile… διαβῇς, another form of διαβαίνω
ותעבר Genesis 32:21 So went the present over before him… So the gifts were sent on ahead of him… παρεπορεύοντο, a form of παραπορεύομαι
והעברת Exodus 13:12 That thou shalt set apart unto the LORD all that openeth the matrix… then you must give over to the Lord the first offspring… ἀφελεῖς, a form of ἀφαιρέω
העביר Genesis 47:21 he removed them to cities from one end… Not translated κατεδουλώσατο, a form of καταδουλόω
תעברו Genesis 18:5 …after that ye shall pass on: After that you may be on your way. παρελεύσεσθε, another form of παρέρχομαι
אעבר Genesis 30:32 I will pass through all thy flock to day… Let me walk among all your flocks today… παρελθάτω, another form of παρέρχομαι
Genesis 31:52 …I will not pass over this heap… …I will not pass beyond this pile… διαβῶ, another form of διαβαίνω

[1] Exodus 12:34 (Tanakh)

[2] Exodus 6:8 (Tanakh)

[3] Genesis 4:13 (Tanakh, KJV)

[4] Genesis 4:13 (NETS)

[5] Romans 7:7b (NET)

[6] Romans 7:8a (NET)

[7] Romans 5:13 (NET)

[8] Genesis 44:16b (Tanakh)

[9] John 3:6 (NET)

[10] Romans 7:5 (NET)

[11] Genesis 18:20, 21 (NET)

[12] Genesis 18:23, 24 (NET)

[13] Genesis 18:26 (Tanakh)

[14] Genesis 50:15b (NET)

[15] Exodus 10:16, 17 (NET)

[16] Exodus 10:13 (NET)

[17] Exodus 10:18, 19 (NET)

[18] Exodus 33:11a (NET)

[19] I’ve phrased this in a way that scarcely disguises my assumption, based on an argument I wouldn’t know how to defend, that Hebrew was not the original language Cain spoke with yehôvâh.

[20] “And Iakob, lifting up his feet…” Genesis 29:1 (NETS)

[21]I lifted up My hand” Tanakh

[22] I stretched out my hand  Exodus 6:8 (NETS)

[23] http://www.greekdoc.com/lexicon/ait.html#aitia

[24] Septuagint: ἀναπεπλήρωνται, a form of ἀναπληρόω

[25] Septuagint: ἀποδιδοὺς, a form of ἀποδίδωμι

[26] The Hebrew for Passover is pâsach (ופסח) rather than a form of ʽâbar but in Greek in the Septuagint both words are παρελεύσεται, another form of παρέρχομαι, though Exodus 12:12 was translated διελεύσομαι, another form of διέρχομαι.

[27] http://www.greekdoc.com/lexicon/diab.html#diabibazw

[28] http://en.bab.la/dictionary/greek-english/%CE%B4%CE%B9%CE%B1%CE%B2%CE%B9%CE%B2%CE%AC%CE%B6%CF%89

[29] http://studybible.info/LXX_WH/Genesis%2018:3

Forgiven or Passed Over? Part 2

I studied ʽâbar through Genesis.  Nothing so far justifies translating it forgiven in Nathan’s response to David’s confession—Yes, and the Lord has forgiven (ʽâbar, העביר; Septuagint: παρεβίβασεν) your sin.[1]  But ʽâbar kept some evocative company for anyone studying the Torah in Hebrew (Genesis 6:5-7, 11-13 NET).

But the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) saw that the wickedness of humankind had become great on the earth.  Every inclination of the thoughts of their minds was only evil all the time.  The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) regretted that he had made humankind on the earth, and he was highly offended.  So the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) said, “I will wipe humankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth – everything from humankind to animals, including creatures that move on the ground and birds of the air, for I regret that I have made them.”

The earth was ruined in the sight of God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, האלהים); the earth was filled with violence.  God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) saw the earth, and indeed it was ruined, for all living creatures on the earth were sinful.  So God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) said to Noah, “I have decided that all living creatures must die, for the earth is filled with violence because of them.  Now I am about to destroy them and the earth.

His chosen method of destruction was water: I am about to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy from under the sky all the living creatures that have the breath of life in them.  Everything that is on the earth will die[2]  The waters completely overwhelmed the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the waters.[3]  So [He] destroyed every living thing that was on the surface of the ground, including people, animals, creatures that creep along the ground, and birds of the sky.  They were wiped off the earth.  Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark survived.  The waters prevailed over the earth for 150 days.[4]

Then ʽâbar was the action of the wind that proceeded (if not caused) the recession of the waters of this destruction: But God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) remembered Noah and all the wild animals and domestic animals that were with him in the ark.  God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) caused a wind to blow (ʽâbar, ויעבר; Septuagint: ἐπήγαγεν) over the earth and the waters receded.[5]

The next occurrences of ʽâbar are found in the story of Abram/Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3 NET):

Now the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) said to Abram, “Go out from your country, your relatives, and your father’s household to the land that I will show you.  Then I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, so that you will exemplify divine blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, but the one who treats you lightly I must curse, and all the families of the earth will bless one another by your name.”

So Abram left, just as the Lord had told him to do,[6] and ʽâbar was what Abram did as he obeyed yehôvâhAbram traveled (ʽâbar, ויעבר; Septuagint: διώδευσεν[7]) through the land as far as the oak tree of Moreh at Shechem.[8]

I am the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה), He said to Abram still clearly within the word of the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) that came to Abram in a vision,[9] who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.[10]  O sovereign (ʼădônây, אדני) Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה), by what can I know that I am to possess it?[11] Take for me a heifer, He answered, a goat, and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.[12]

I suppose it is possible that Abram took all these for him and then cut them in two and placed each half opposite the other[13] outside of the vision of verses 1-9.  Perhaps I am meant to take—When birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away[14]—in precisely that mundane way.  Then when the sun went down, Abram fell sound asleep, and great terror overwhelmed him[15] and Abram had a second vision.

My problem with this interpretation is that as Abram slept nocturnal birds of prey came to feast upon the carcasses of the heifer, the goat, the ram, the dove and the pigeon he had protected all day for yehôvâh in the real world, even as Abram heard and saw something completely different in a dream.  I am more inclined to take the text at face value and assume that Abram acted within the vision of Genesis 15:1 and that he was a dream within a vision deep in Genesis 15:13-16 (NET):

Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign country.  They will be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years.  But I will execute judgment on the nation that they will serve.  Afterward they will come out with many possessions.  But as for you, you will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age.  In the fourth generation your descendants will return here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its limit.

Then ʽâbar was the action of a smoking firepot with a flaming torch in a vision designed to overcome the doubts of Abram the believer:[16] When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking firepot with a flaming torch passed (ʽâbar, עבר; Septuagint: διῆλθον) between the animal parts.[17]  It would have been disconcerting, to say the least, if Abram woke up the next morning to find the bones picked clean by nocturnal birds and other scavengers.

That day, the vision concluded, the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) made a covenant with Abram: “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates River – the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.”[18]

This brings me to the beginning of the Parashat Vayera (פרשת וירא), Genesis 18:1-22:24.  Ben Zion Katz, a pediatrician and self-proclaimed recreational Bible scholar, in an essay—“God’s Appearance to Abraham: Vision or Visit?”—posted on TheTorah.com contrasted “The Traditional Approach” to “A Peshat Reading” of Genesis 18.  In the traditional approach Abraham interrupted a vision of God to entertain three guests.  “This reading thus exemplifies the performance of two mitzvot – visiting the sick and welcoming guests.”

Even when I searched the Bible for mitzvot I was never quite this clever.  I certainly recognized Abraham’s hospitality but had serious doubts and questions about Lot’s practice of the same with two of the same men.  And I didn’t see “visiting the sick” here until I read Dr. Katz article: “God is ‘visiting’ Abraham (in a vision) because Abraham was recuperating from his circumcision.”  As long as I searched the Bible for rules to obey I, like Nicodemus, didn’t seeI tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God[19]—as the take away message of the Old Testament.

I was taught that I must be born again.  I was taught to mock Nicodemus’ dull-wittedness: How can a man be born when he is old?  He cannot enter his mother’s womb and be born a second time, can he?[20] And, How can these things be?[21] But I didn’t understand Jesus’ retort either (John 3:10-12 NET):

Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you don’t understand these things?  I tell you the solemn truth, we speak about what we know and testify about what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony.  If I have told you people about earthly things and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?

I was George McFly in the diner in “Back to the Future.”  I felt as bullied by Jesus as he did by Biff Tannen.  When Jesus turned his attention to Nicodemus, like Biff’s followers turned on Marty, I could feel like a winner for a moment, piling on Nicodemus.  But only for a moment, for Jesus was soon back to bullying me as his words seemed at the time.  God come to earth, mocking everyone who was not God.

The revolution came when I began to see Jesus as a baby and a child learning everything anew.  He studied the Hebrew Bible, what I call the Old Testament, and from it through the Holy Spirit learned the solemn truth (John 3:5-8 NET):

unless a person is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must all be born from above.’  The wind blows wherever it will, and you hear the sound it makes, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going.  So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

You must all be born from above, because no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.[22]  God achieved what the law could not do because it was weakened through the flesh.  By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous requirement of the law may be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.[23]

Dr. Katz continued:

Although clever and ethically uplifting, the traditional reading is not the peshat, the plain meaning of the text. The peshat reading, which is in consonance with modern literary analysis, is rather straightforward.  In verse 1, we are given an introduction that God appeared to Abraham.  That appearance then begins in verse 2, and of the 3 “people” Abraham sees, one is God personified while the other 2 are angels or messengers of God.

My lord (ʼâdôn, אדני), Abraham said, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass (ʽâbar, תעבר; Septuagint: παρέλθῃς[24]) by and leave your servant.[25]  Here ʽâbar became the action that yehôvâh would take if He did not favor Abraham.  Let a little water be brought so that you may all wash your feet and rest under the tree,[26] Abraham continued.  It sounds to me as if Abraham wished to honor his guests in a manner in keeping with the favor their consenting to be his guests implied.  But in the “traditional” commentary Abraham was seen as a strict adherent 430 years before the law:

and bathe your feet: He thought that they were Arabs, who prostrate themselves to the dust of their feet, and he was strict not to allow any idolatry into his house.  But Lot, who was not strict, mentioned lodging before washing, as it is said (below 19:2): “and lodge and bathe your feet.” – [from Gen. Rabbah 54:4]

And let me get a bit of food, Abraham continued, so that you may refresh yourselves since you have passed (ʽâbar, עברתם; Septuagint: ἐξεκλίνατε[27]) by your servant’s home.  After that you may (ʽâbar, תעברו; Septuagint: παρελεύσεσθε[28]) be on your way.[29]  Here even the “traditional” commentary recognized the honor Abraham perceived:

because you have passed by: For I request this from you [i.e., to sustain your hearts] because you have passed by me [i.e., have stopped in my home] to honor me.

If yehôvâh consented not to ʽâbar by Abraham, Abraham’s hospitality would become the reason that yehôvâh ʽâbar Abraham’s tent.  All right, yehôvâh and his two companions replied, you may do as you say.[30]

After Sarah died Abraham negotiated with Ephron for a field with a cave to bury her body.  It was a curious negotiation.  As a wanderer in the promised land Abraham owned no property.  As a respected prince Ephron was willing to give him the property, but Abraham insisted that he would pay full price.  Here ʽâbar was according to the standard of that price: So Abraham agreed to Ephron’s price and weighed out for him the price that Ephron had quoted in the hearing of the sons of Heth – 400 pieces of silver, according to the standard (ʽâbar, עבר; Septuagint: δοκίμου) measurement at the time.[31]  The note in the NET reads: “Heb ‘passing for the merchant.’  The final clause affirms that the measurement of silver was according to the standards used by the merchants of the time.”

I’ll continue in the next essay.

Forgiven or Passed Over? Part 3

Back to Romans, Part 19

[1] 2 Samuel 12:13b (NET)

[2] Genesis 6:17 (NET)

[3] Genesis 7:18 (NET)

[4] Genesis 7:23, 24 (NET)

[5] Genesis 8:1 (NET)

[6] Genesis 12:4a (NET)

[7] http://studybible.info/LXX_WH/Genesis%2012:6 (a form of διοδεύω)

[8] Genesis 12:6a (NET)

[9] Genesis 15:1 (NET)

[10] Genesis 15:7 (NET)

[11] Genesis 15:8 (NET)

[12] Genesis 15:9 (NET)

[13] Genesis 15:10 (NET)

[14] Genesis 15:11 (NET)

[15] Genesis 15:12 (NET)

[16] For what does the scripture say?Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:3 NET, quoting Genesis 15:6 NKJV)

[17] Genesis 15:17 (NET)

[18] Genesis 15:18-21 (NET)

[19] John 3:3 (NET)

[20] John 3:4 (NET)

[21] John 3:9 (NET)

[22] Romans 3:20 (NET)

[23] Romans 8:3, 4 (NET)

[24] http://studybible.info/LXX_WH/Genesis%2018:3 (a form of παρέρχομαι)

[25] Genesis 18:3 (NET)

[26] Genesis 18:4 (NET)

[27] http://studybible.info/LXX_WH/Genesis%2018:5 (a form of ἐκκλίνω)

[28] http://studybible.info/LXX_WH/Genesis%2018:5 (another form of παρέρχομαι)

[29] Genesis 18:5a (NET)

[30] Genesis 18:5b (NET)

[31] Genesis 23:16 (NET)

Forgiven or Passed Over? Part 1

Revisiting an essay—David’s Forgiveness, Part 1—I realized I had put an inordinate emphasis on the word forgiven without looking into the meaning of the original Hebrew word.  My suspicion of Bible translators feels at times like a paranoid schizophrenic’s fear of the CIA.  Lapses like this one renew my appreciation for the maxim, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”[1]

This essay could be very short.  I could simply say that Nathan actually responded to David’s confession with the words, Yes, and the Lord has passed over[2] (ʽâbar) your sin.  You are not going to die.[3]  Such a translation would agree with Paul’s assessment of God’s past actions: God in his forbearance had passed over (πάρεσιν, a form of πάρεσις) the sins previously committed.[4]  I could simply accept the text at face value, that ʽâbar is not forgiveness and God is free to exact whatever penalty He chooses.

It seems like an ironclad argument.  But five of the twelve Bibles I checked translate ʽâbar in 2 Samuel 12:13 forgiven or forgives.  Of the remaining seven four have it put away, two are taken away, and one, Jehovah hath caused thy sin to pass away.  How different is that from forgiven really?

ʽâbar 2 Samuel 12:13

Bible Versions

forgiven NET, CEV, NAB
put away ASV, DNT, KJV, NKJV
taken away GWT, NIV
forgives TEV, TMSG
pass away YLT

Do the translators believe that this is all I should expect from the forgiveness God exalted Jesus to give to Israel?  God exalted him to his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness (ἄφεσιν, a form of ἄφεσις) of sins.[5]  Apparently a primary verb to forgive is as absent from holy Hebrew as it is from pagan Greek.  The concept to forgive is either shoehorned into, or extrapolated from, other verbs in both languages.  [Addendum 2/14/2018: This is wrong regarding Hebrew: sâlach (סלח).]  That gives me cause to study ʽâbar in more detail to get a feel for its capacity to carry forgiveness.

I had the opportunity to go home for a month at Christmas.  Home is a relative concept.  I alternated between my mother’s house visiting her, my sister and her husband, and my ex-mother-in-law’s house about a hundred miles north visiting her, my kids, my ex-wife and her husband.  The day after I arrived I attended my son’s wedding.

We all sat in the front row.  I offered the seat next to our ex-wife to my son’s biological father.  He declined the offer and sat next to me.  (Her current husband sat on her other side.)  He is about two years from a painful break-up with his significant other.  He leaned over and whispered to me, “I don’t know how you do it.  I don’t think I could sit next to my ex, smiling, at her son’s wedding.”  He gave me the opportunity to say that I couldn’t take the credit, that it is not my doing so much as my getting out of the way of the Lord’s doing: his love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and firm control.  He received it well and acknowledged that he was seeking a similar peace.

Later, in a phone conversation with another friend who questioned me more specifically about the fruit of the Spirit, I acknowledged that sadly the Lord’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness aren’t always my first impulse.  Sometimes letting the fruit of his Spirit shine through me is a matter of waiting in that firm control until the second, third or fourth impulse holds sway.  But as I think of it now there is something else that makes friendship with my ex-wife possible.

I forgave her for divorcing me.  I forgive her every night I go to bed alone and every morning I wake up.  And I will forgive her for as long as we both shall live.  “I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel[6]  I don’t forgive her because I am so righteous.

Jesus taught us to pray, forgive (ἄφες, a form of ἀφίημι) us our debts, as we ourselves have forgiven (ἀφήκαμεν, another form of ἀφίημι) our debtors.[7]  I, a sinful man in need of the Father’s forgiveness, pray this daily, and I believe Jesus’ saying: For if you forgive (ἀφῆτε, another form of ἀφίημι) others their sins (παραπτώματα, a form of παράπτωμα), your heavenly Father will also forgive (ἀφήσει, another form of ἀφίημι) you.  But if you do not forgive (ἀφῆτε, another form of ἀφίημι) others, your Father will not forgive (ἀφήσει, another form of ἀφίημι) you your sins (παραπτώματα, a form of παράπτωμα).[8]

And here I probably give myself too much credit for rational consistency.  I forgive because I am schooled in this teaching by the Holy Spirit and filled continuously with his love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and firm control.  It occurs to me, however, that one who feels more righteous than I, might feel less need of the Father’s forgiveness and less compulsion to forgive others.  The fault in this logic is that the most righteous man of all prayed, Father, forgive (ἄφες, a form of ἀφίημι) them, for they don’t know what they are doing[9] as He surrendered[10] to his Father’s will.

The Father’s answer to his beloved Son’s request is the hope of all us sinners if it does not depend on human desire or exertion, but on God who shows mercy[11] (ἐλεῶντος, a form of ἐλεέω).  For God has consigned all people to disobedience (ἀπείθειαν, a form of ἀπείθεια) so that he may show mercy (ἐλεήσῃ, another form of ἐλεέω) to them all.[12]  What shall we say then?  Is there injustice with God?  Absolutely not!  For he says to Moses: I will have mercy (ἐλεήσω, another form of ἐλεέω) on whom I have mercy (ἐλεῶ, another form of ἐλεέω), and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”[13]

The Greek word ὡς persuades me that forgiveness is, and will be perceived as, a relative as opposed to an absolute concept.  So then, be perfect, as (ὡς) your heavenly Father is perfect.[14]  Whenever you pray, do not be like (ὡς) the hypocrites[15]  …may your will be done on earth as (ὡς) it is in heaven.[16]  …and forgive us our debts, as (ὡς) we ourselves have forgiven our debtors.[17]  The absolute on/off positions are clear.[18]  But some form of continuum from none to full pardon seems to be indicated by ὡς, contingent upon that quality of forgiveness we extend to others.

Still, I would suggest that we will be inclined to extend the same forgiveness to others that we believe we receive from God.  If that forgiveness seems to include punishment we are more likely to believe that some form of punishment should be meted out with our forgiveness as well.  Or if the one extending such forgiveness has no authority to punish, conditions may be attached, making forgiveness something that must be earned as opposed to something graciously given and received.  I take the interaction between David and Shimei as a case in point.

As David fled from Jerusalem during the events that fulfilled the Lord’s promise to bring disaster (raʽ ) on you from inside your own household,[19] Shimei threw stones and yelled, “Leave!  Leave!  You man of bloodshed, you wicked man!  The Lord has punished (shûb) you for all the spilled blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you rule.  Now the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom.  Disaster (raʽ ) has overtaken you, for you are a man of bloodshed!”[20]  Clearly, Shimei’s assessment does not agree with Nathan the prophet’s assessment.

Nathan the Prophet’s Assessment

This is what the Lord God of Israel says:

2 Samuel 12:7b (NET)

Why have you shown contempt for the word of the Lord by doing evil in my sight?

2 Samuel 12:9a (NET)

You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword…

2 Samuel 12:9b (NET)

…and you have taken his wife as your own!

2 Samuel 2:9c (NET)

You have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.  So now the sword will never depart from your house.

2 Samuel 12:9d, 10a (NET)

For you have despised me by taking the wife of Uriah the Hittite as your own!

2 Samuel 12:10b (NET)

I am about to bring disaster on you from inside your own household!  Right before your eyes I will take your wives and hand them over to your companion.  He will have sexual relations with your wives in broad daylight!  Although you have acted in secret, I will do this thing before all Israel, and in broad daylight.

2 Samuel 12:11, 12 (NET)

Then David exclaimed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord!”  Nathan replied to David, “Yes, and the Lord has ʽâbar your sin.  You are not going to die.

2 Samuel 12:13 (NET)

Nonetheless, because you have treated the Lord with such contempt in this matter, the son who has been born to you will certainly die.

2 Samuel 12:14 (NET)

The Hebrew word translated punished (shûb) is not found among the words the Lord God of Israel spoke through Nathan,[21] though I have certainly interpreted them as if they described recompense.  As a child I assumed that “forgiveness” only pertained to hell.  I believed that God would still punish me for my sins some other way.  He couldn’t help Himself, I thought, it’s who He is.

Abishai couldn’t tolerate hearing his king and commander spoken to as Shimei had spoken to him: Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king?  Let me go over (ʽâbar) and cut off his head![22]  Abishai’s use of ʽâbar doesn’t sound much like forgiveness, but David said, “What do we have in common, you sons of Zeruiah?  If he curses because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David!’, who can say to him, ‘Why have you done this?’”[23] David exercised what I have come to call an experimental faith (2 Samuel 16:11, 12 NKJV):

And David said to Abishai and all his servants, “See how my son who came from my own body seeks my life.  How much more now may this Benjamite?  Let him alone, and let him curse; for so the Lord has ordered him.  It may be that the Lord will look on my affliction, and that the Lord will repay (shûb) me with good for his cursing this day.”

As David returned, lamenting his Pyrrhic victory[24] over his son Absalom, Shimei was one of the first[25] to greet him.  Don’t think badly of me, my lord, he said, and don’t recall the sin of your servant on the day when you, my lord the king, left Jerusalem!  Please don’t call it to mind!  For I, your servant, know that I sinned, and I have come today as the first of all the house of Joseph to come down to meet my lord the king.[26]  These are reminiscent of David’s words after Nathan confronted him (Psalm 51:1-3 NET):

Have mercy on me, O God, because of your loyal love!  Because of your great compassion, wipe away my rebellious acts!  Wash away my wrongdoing!  Cleanse me of my sin!  For I am aware of my rebellious acts; I am forever conscious of my sin.

Abishai, who may have been hiding with David in the cave when Saul entered to relieve himself,[27] pursued a pious good (possibly expecting David’s approval): For this should not Shimei be put to death?  After all, he cursed the Lord’s anointed (mâshı̂yach)![28]  But David seemed to pursue something more like a beautiful good: What do we have in common, you sons of Zeruiah?  You are like my enemy today!  Should anyone be put to death in Israel today?  Don’t you realize that today I am king over Israel?[29]

David said to Shimei, “You won’t die.”  The king vowed an oath concerning this.[30]  Here it sounds like he forgave Shimei.  But apparently that wasn’t the case.  He held onto his grudge against Shimei for the rest of his life.  With his dying breath[31] he instructed Solomon, another son by Bathsheba (1 Kings 2:8, 9 NET):

Note well, you still have to contend with Shimei son of Gera, the Benjaminite from Bahurim, who tried to call down upon me a horrible judgment when I went to Mahanaim.  He came down and met me at the Jordan, and I solemnly promised him by the Lord, ‘I will not strike you down with the sword.’  But now don’t treat him as if he were innocent.  You are a wise man and you know how to handle him; make sure he has a bloody death.

The Lord however didn’t treat David that way.  He didn’t recall David’s sin when He spoke to Jeroboams’s wife by Ahijah the prophet (1 Kings 14:7, 8 NET):

“Go, tell Jeroboam, ‘This is what the Lord God of Israel says: “I raised you up from among the people and made you ruler over my people Israel.  I tore the kingdom away from the Davidic dynasty and gave it to you. But you are not like my servant David, who kept my commandments and followed me wholeheartedly by doing only (raq) what I approve.”’”

This is another reason I wish to look deeper into ʽâbar.  Whatever it means, it altered reality for the God, who does not lie[32] when He extended it to David.

[1] http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/98153-just-because-you-re-paranoid-doesn-t-mean-they-aren-t-after-you

[2] The first occurrence in the Bible is Genesis 8:1b (NKJV), And God made a wind to pass (ʽâbar) over the earth, and the waters subsided.

[3] 2 Samuel 12:13b (NET)

[4] Romans 3:25b (NET)

[5] Acts 5:31 (NET)

[6] Malachi 2:16a (NET)

[7] Matthew 6:12 (NET)

[8] Matthew 6:14, 15 (NET)

[9] Luke 23:34a (NET)

[10] Or do you think that I cannot call on my Father, and that he would send me more than twelve legions of angels right now?  How then would the scriptures that say it must happen this way be fulfilled (πληρωθῶσιν, a form of πληρόω)? (Matthew 26:53, 54 NET)

[11] Romans 9:16 (NET)

[12] Romans 11:32 (NET)

[13] Romans 9:14, 15 (NET)

[14] Matthew 5:48 (NET)

[15] Matthew 6:5a (NET)

[16] Matthew 6:10b (NET)

[17] Matthew 6:12 (NET)

[18] Matthew 6:14, 15 (NET)

[19] 2 Samuel 12:11 (NET)

[20] 2 Samuel 16:7, 8 (NET)

[21] It does occur in the description of events leading up to and following those words (2 Samuel 11:4, 15; 12:23) but seems to be used in its more literal sense, to return.

[22] 2 Samuel 16:9 (NET)

[23] 2 Samuel 16:10 (NET)

[24] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrrhic_victory See: 2 Samuel 18:33 (NET)

[25] 2 Samuel 19:16 (NET)

[26] 2 Samuel 19:19, 20 (NET)

[27] 1 Samuel 24:3 (NET)

[28] 2 Samuel 19:21 (NET)  See also: 1 Samuel 24:6 (NET)

[29] 2 Samuel 19:22 (NET)

[30] 2 Samuel 19:23 (NET)

[31] 1 Kings 2:10 (NET)

[32] Titus 1:2 (NET)