Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 13

I’ve been considering yehôvâh’s fearful pronouncement: I punish (pâqadפקדthe sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons for the sin of the fathers who reject me[1]  By way of review, I didn’t find anything about the Hebrew word itself that would compel anyone to translate פקד (pâqad) I punish.  While I don’t have any particular quarrel with calling the plague of Exodus 32:35 a punishment, I’m not convinced it justifies translating pâqad I punish (פקדי) and I will indeed punish (ופקדתי) beyond this limited context.[2]

After a kind of thought experiment I concluded that the translation of פקד (pâqad) as I punish in Deuteronomy 5:9 was a perpetuation of an erroneous popular notion of religious minds that was clearly corrected in Ezekiel 18.[3]   Though the fixation on punishment in Leviticus 18:25 is difficult for me to unravel, it hasn’t really dissuaded me from the idea that yehôvâh visits iniquity itself upon descendants to consign all to disobedience so that he may show mercy to them all.[4]

Here I’ll focus on the first occurrence of ʽâvôn in Leviticus.

Leviticus 5:1 (Tanakh)

Leviticus 5:1 (NET)

And if any one sin, in that he heareth the voice of adjuration, he being a witness, whether he hath seen or known, if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity; “‘When a person sins (châṭâʼ, תחטא) in that he hears a public curse against one who fails to testify and he is a witness (he either [ʼô, או] saw or [ʼô, או] knew what had happened) and he does not make it known, then he will bear (nâśâʼ, ונשׁא) his punishment for iniquity (ʽâvôn, עונו).

I’ve written about this in another essay so I had intended to point that out here and move on.  But with the NET online open to Leviticus 5 and the Hebrew text open in the right column I clicked on או at the beginning of verse 2 (Hebrew reads right to left).  The occurrences of או lit up down the right column in Hebrew and their translations lit up down the left column in the English text of the NET.  The highlighted instances of או seemed to bind the verses together.  How did I decide that verse 1 could stand apart from the others?  It was the only verse with then he will bear his punishment for iniquity (Tanakh: then he shall bear his iniquity).

It piqued my interest enough to study deeper so I looked at the Septuagint.

Leviticus 5:1 (Septuagint BLB)

Leviticus 5:1 (Septuagint Elpenor)

ἐὰν δὲ ψυχὴ ἁμάρτῃ καὶ ἀκούσῃ φωνὴν ὁρκισμοῦ καὶ οὗτος μάρτυς ἢ ἑώρακεν ἢ σύνοιδεν ἐὰν μὴ ἀπαγγείλῃ λήμψεται τὴν ἁμαρτίαν ΕΑΝ δὲ ψυχὴ ἁμάρτῃ, καὶ ἀκούσῃ φωνὴν ὁρκισμοῦ, καὶ οὗτος μάρτυς, ἢ ἑώρακεν, ἢ σύνοιδεν, ἐὰν μὴ ἀπαγγείλῃ, λήψεται τὴν ἁμαρτίαν

Leviticus 5:1 (NETS)

Leviticus 5:1 (English Elpenor)

Now if a soul sins and hears a sound of oath-taking and he is a witness or has seen it or knows of it, if he does not report the matter, he will assume his guilt. And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and he is a witness or has seen or been conscious, if he do not report it, he shall bear his iniquity.

In the New English Translation of the Septuagint λήμψεται τὴν ἁμαρτίαν became “he will assume his guilt” (Elpenor: he shall bear his iniquity).  Was it just another way of saying he is guilty?

Leviticus 5:2 (Tanakh)

Leviticus 5:2 (NET)

or if any one touch any unclean thing, whether it be the carcass of an unclean beast, or the carcass of unclean cattle, or the carcass of unclean swarming things, and be guilty, it being hidden from him that he is unclean; Or (ʼô, או) when there is a person who touches anything ceremonially unclean, whether (ʼô, או) the carcass of an unclean wild animal, or (ʼô, או) the carcass of an unclean domesticated animal, or (ʼô, או) the carcass of an unclean creeping thing, even if he did not realize it, but he himself has become unclean and is guilty (ʼâsham, ואשם);

As I completed the tables I noticed that the concept be guilty/is guilty (ʼâsham, ואשם) had disappeared from verse 2 of the Septuagint.

Leviticus 5:2 (Septuagint BLB)

Leviticus 5:2 (Septuagint Elpenor)

ἢ ψυχή ἥτις ἐὰν ἅψηται παντὸς πράγματος ἀκαθάρτου ἢ θνησιμαίου ἢ θηριαλώτου ἀκαθάρτου ἢ τῶν θνησιμαίων τῶν βδελυγμάτων τῶν ἀκαθάρτων ἢ τῶν θνησιμαίων κτηνῶν τῶν ἀκαθάρτων ἡ ψυχὴ ἐκείνη, ἥτις ἐὰν ἅψηται παντὸς πράγματος ἀκαθάρτου, ἢ θνησιμαίου, ἢ θηριαλώτου ἀκαθάρτου, ἢ τῶν θνησιμαίων βδελυγμάτων τῶν ἀκαθάρτων, ἢ τῶν θνησιμαίων κτηνῶν τῶν ἀκαθάρτων

Leviticus 5:2 (NETS)

Leviticus 5:2 (English Elpenor)

Or a soul who touches any unclean thing, whether a carcass or the kill of an unclean animal or unclean carcasses of abominations or the unclean carcasses of cattle That soul which shall touch any unclean thing, or carcase, or [that which is] unclean being taken of beasts, or the dead bodies of abominable [reptiles] which are unclean, or carcases of unclean cattle,

But it had reappeared in verse 3 as πλημμελήσῃ, translated “should be in error” (NETS) or he shall have transgressed (Elpenor).

Leviticus 5:3 (Tanakh)

Leviticus 5:3 (NET)

or if he touch the uncleanness of man, whatsoever his uncleanness be wherewith he is unclean, and it be hid from him; and, when he knoweth of it, be guilty; or (ʼô, או) when he touches human uncleanness with regard to anything by which he can become unclean, even if he did not realize it, but he himself has later come to know it and is guilty (ʼâsham, ואשם);

Leviticus 5:3 (Septuagint BLB)

Leviticus 5:3 (Septuagint Elpenor)

ἢ ἅψηται ἀπὸ ἀκαθαρσίας ἀνθρώπου ἀπὸ πάσης ἀκαθαρσίας αὐτοῦ ἧς ἂν ἁψάμενος μιανθῇ καὶ ἔλαθεν αὐτόν μετὰ τοῦτο δὲ γνῷ καὶ πλημμελήσῃ ἢ ἅψηται ἀπὸ ἀκαθαρσίας ἀνθρώπου, ἀπὸ πάσης ἀκαθαρσίας αὐτοῦ, ἧς ἂν ἁψάμενος μιανθῇ, καί ἔλαθεν αὐτόν, μετὰ τοῦτο δὲ γνῷ, καὶ πλημμελήσῃ

Leviticus 5:3 (NETS)

Leviticus 5:3 (English Elpenor)

or touches some uncleanness of a person, any of his uncleanness in which he be defiled by touching, and it escaped his notice, but later on comes to know it, and should be in error, or should touch the uncleanness of a man, or whatever kind, which he may touch and be defiled by, and it should have escaped him, but afterwards he should know,– then he shall have transgressed.

It took a couple of day’s consideration or a couple of night’s sleep but finally the hunt was on.  I was going to chase this rabbit.  The first occurrence of אשמים (ʼâsham) was found in the mouths of Joseph’s (Genesis 37) brothers.

Genesis 42:21 (Tanakh)

Genesis 42:21 (NET)

And they said one to another: ‘We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.’ They said to one another, “Surely we’re being punished (ʼâsham, אשמים) because of our brother, because we saw how distressed he was when he cried to us for mercy, but we refused to listen.  That is why this distress has come on us!”

Genesis 42:21 (Septuagint BLB)

Genesis 42:21 (Septuagint Elpenor)

καὶ εἶπεν ἕκαστος πρὸς τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ ναί ἐν ἁμαρτίᾳ γάρ ἐσμεν περὶ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ ἡμῶν ὅτι ὑπερείδομεν τὴν θλῖψιν τῆς ψυχῆς αὐτοῦ ὅτε κατεδέετο ἡμῶν καὶ οὐκ εἰσηκούσαμεν αὐτοῦ ἕνεκεν τούτου ἐπῆλθεν ἐφ᾽ ἡμᾶς ἡ θλῖψις αὕτη καὶ εἶπεν ἕκαστος πρὸς τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ· ναί, ἐν ἁμαρτίαις γάρ ἐσμεν περὶ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ ἡμῶν, ὅτι ὑπερείδομεν τὴν θλῖψιν τῆς ψυχῆς αὐτοῦ, ὅτε κατεδέετο ἡμῶν, καὶ οὐκ εἰσηκούσαμεν αὐτοῦ· καὶ ἕνεκεν τούτου ἐπῆλθεν ἐφ᾿ ἡμᾶς ἡ θλῖψις αὕτη

Genesis 42:21 (NETS)

Genesis 42:21 (English Elpenor)

And each one said to his brother, “Indeed, for we are at fault concerning our brother, because we disregarded the affliction of his soul, when he pleaded with us, and we did not listen to him.  This is why this affliction has come upon us.” And each said to his brother, Yes, indeed, for we are in fault concerning our brother, when we disregarded the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we hearkened not to him; and therefore has this affliction come upon us.

The Greek words πλημμελήσῃ and ἁμαρτίᾳ seem like terminology compared to the richness of אשמים (ʼâsham) here.  The reader doesn’t witness the distress (tsârâh, צרת; Septuagint: θλῖψιν, a form of θλίψις; NETS: “affliction,” Elpenor: anguish) of Joseph’s soul in the narrative of his kidnapping and sale into slavery (Genesis 37:23-28), nor hear when he criedfor mercy (chânan, בהתחננו; Septuagint: κατεδέετο, a form of καταδέω).  Not until his brothers suffer the same distress (tsârâh, הצרה; Septuagint: θλῖψις; NETS and Elpenor: affliction) does the reader see and hear through their recollections.

They were falsely accused as spies by a governor (NET: ruler) in Egypt and imprisoned (Tanakh: putinto ward) until one of them returned from Canaan with their youngest brother Benjamin, to prove the truthfulness of their words (Genesis 42:5-17).

Genesis 42:18 (Tanakh)

Genesis 42:18 (NET)

And Joseph said unto them the third day. ‘This do, and live; for I fear G-d: On the third day Joseph said to them, “Do as I say and you will live, for I fear (yârêʼ, ירא) God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, האלהים).

Genesis 42:18 (Septuagint BLB)

Genesis 42:18 (Septuagint Elpenor)

εἶπεν δὲ αὐτοῖς τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ τρίτῃ τοῦτο ποιήσατε καὶ ζήσεσθε τὸν θεὸν γὰρ ἐγὼ φοβοῦμαι Εἶπε δὲ αὐτοῖς τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ τρίτῃ· τοῦτο ποιήσατε καὶ ζήσεσθε, τὸν Θεὸν γὰρ ἐγὼ φοβοῦμαι

Genesis 42:18 (NETS)

Genesis 42:18 (English Elpenor)

Then on the third day he said to them, “Do this, and you will live, for I fear God. And he said to them on the third day, This do, and ye shall live, for I fear God.

Out of reverence for האלהים (ʼĕlôhı̂ym), the Egyptian ruler reversed himself, allowing the brothers to return home with food for their families, all except one brother who would remain behind until the others brought their youngest brother Benjamin back to Egypt (Genesis 42:19, 20).  On the journey home, one brother opened his sack of grain and found the money he had paid for it inside (Genesis 42:26, 27).

Genesis 42:28 (Tanakh)

Genesis 42:28 (NET)

And he said unto his brethren: ‘My money is restored; and, lo, it is even in my sack.’  And their heart failed them, and they turned trembling one to another, saying: ‘What is this that G-d hath done unto us?’ He said to his brothers, “My money was returned!  Here it is in my sack!”  They were dismayed; they turned trembling to one another and said, “What in the world has God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) done to us?”

Genesis 42:28 (Septuagint BLB)

Genesis 42:28 (Septuagint Elpenor)

καὶ εἶπεν τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς αὐτοῦ ἀπεδόθη μοι τὸ ἀργύριον καὶ ἰδοὺ τοῦτο ἐν τῷ μαρσίππῳ μου καὶ ἐξέστη ἡ καρδία αὐτῶν καὶ ἐταράχθησαν πρὸς ἀλλήλους λέγοντες τί τοῦτο ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς ἡμῖν καὶ εἶπε τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς αὐτοῦ· ἐπεδόθη μοι τὸ ἀργύριον, καὶ ἰδοὺ τοῦτο ἐν τῷ μαρσίππῳ μου, καὶ ἐξέστη ἡ καρδία αὐτῶν, καὶ ἐταράχθησαν πρὸς ἀλλήλους λέγοντες· τί τοῦτο ἐποίησεν ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῖν

Genesis 42:28 (NETS)

Genesis 42:28 (English Elpenor)

And he said to his brothers, “The money has been returned to me, and, look, this is in my bag!”  And their heart was confounded, and they were mutually troubled, saying, “What is this that God has done to us?” And he said to his brethren, My money has been restored to me, and behold this is in my sack.  And their heart was wonder-struck, and they were troubled, saying one to another, What is this that God has done to us?

In their guilt they were suspicious of good as well as distress.  I know what אלהים (ʼĕlôhı̂ym) was doing because Joseph explained it to them after Jacob’s death.

Genesis 50:20 (Tanakh)

Genesis 50:20 (NET)

And as for you, ye meant evil against me; but G-d meant it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. As for you, you meant to harm me, but God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) intended it for a good purpose, so he could preserve the lives of many people, as you can see this day.

Genesis 50:20 (Septuagint BLB)

Genesis 50:20 (Septuagint Elpenor)

ὑμεῖς ἐβουλεύσασθε κατ᾽ ἐμοῦ εἰς πονηρά ὁ δὲ θεὸς ἐβουλεύσατο περὶ ἐμοῦ εἰς ἀγαθά ὅπως ἂν γενηθῇ ὡς σήμερον ἵνα διατραφῇ λαὸς πολύς ὑμεῖς ἐβουλεύσασθε κατ᾿ ἐμοῦ εἰς πονηρά, ὁ δὲ Θεὸς ἐβουλεύσατο περὶ ἐμοῦ εἰς ἀγαθά, ὅπως ἂν γενηθῇ ὡς σήμερον καὶ τραφῇ λαὸς πολύς

Genesis 50:20 (NETS)

Genesis 50:20 (English Elpenor)

You deliberated against me for painful things, but God deliberated concerning me for good things in order that a numerous people might be sustained, that it might come to be as today. Ye took counsel against me for evil, but God took counsel for me for good, that [the matter] might be as [it is] to-day, and much people might be fed.

Joseph’s brothers couldn’t see this at the time.  Frankly, I wonder if Joseph saw it yet.  Or was it something the Holy Spirit revealed to him as he watched his brothers bear their iniquity?  The brothers returned to their father Jacob and told him about their discomforting encounter with the Egyptian ruler (Genesis 42:29-34).

Genesis 42:35 (Tanakh)

Genesis 42:35 (NET)

And it came to pass as they emptied their sacks, that, behold, every man’s bundle of money was in his sack; and when they and their father saw their bundles of money, they were afraid. When they were emptying their sacks, there was each man’s bag of money in his sack!  When they and their father saw the bags of money, they were afraid (yârêʼ, וייראו).

Genesis 42:35 (Septuagint BLB)

Genesis 42:35 (Septuagint Elpenor)

ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ κατακενοῦν αὐτοὺς τοὺς σάκκους αὐτῶν καὶ ἦν ἑκάστου ὁ δεσμὸς τοῦ ἀργυρίου ἐν τῷ σάκκῳ αὐτῶν καὶ εἶδον τοὺς δεσμοὺς τοῦ ἀργυρίου αὐτῶν αὐτοὶ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ αὐτῶν καὶ ἐφοβήθησαν ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ κατακενοῦν αὐτοὺς τοὺς σάκκους αὐτῶν, καὶ ἦν ἑκάστου ὁ δεσμὸς τοῦ ἀργυρίου ἐν τῷ σάκκῳ αὐτῶν· καὶ εἶδον τοὺς δεσμοὺς τοῦ ἀργυρίου αὐτῶν αὐτοὶ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ αὐτῶν, καὶ ἐφοβήθησαν

Genesis 42:35 (NETS)

Genesis 42:35 (English Elpenor)

Now it came about as they were emptying their sacks that then each one’s bundle of money was in their sack.  And they saw their bundles of money, they and their father, and they were afraid. And it came to pass as they were emptying their sacks, there was each man’s bundle of money in his sack; and they and their father saw their bundles of money, and they were afraid.

In their guilt would they have been more or less afraid, I wonder, had they known that their distress was caused, not by God, but by the brother they had refused to hear when he cried out to them for mercy?  I would be content to title this section “Joseph’s brothers bear their iniquity.”  In fact, I would assume that bear his iniquity and be guilty in the same paragraph were essentially equivalent in any other kind of writing—any kind other than law.

Leviticus 4:13 (Tanakh)

Leviticus 4:13 (NET)

And if the whole congregation of Israel shall err, the thing being hid from the eyes of the assembly, and do any of the things which HaShem hath commanded not to be done, and are guilty: “‘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 commandments, which must not be violated, so they become guilty (ʼâsham, ואשמו),

Leviticus 4:13 (Septuagint BLB)

Leviticus 4:13 (Septuagint Elpenor)

ἐὰν δὲ πᾶσα συναγωγὴ Ισραηλ ἀγνοήσῃ ἀκουσίως καὶ λάθῃ ῥῆμα ἐξ ὀφθαλμῶν τῆς συναγωγῆς καὶ ποιήσωσιν μίαν ἀπὸ πασῶν τῶν ἐντολῶν κυρίου ἣ οὐ ποιηθήσεται καὶ πλημμελήσωσιν Εὰν δὲ πᾶσα συναγωγὴ ᾿Ισραὴλ ἀγνοήσῃ ἀκουσίως καὶ λάθῃ ῥῆμα ἐξ ὀφθαλμῶν τῆς συναγωγῆς καὶ ποιήσωσι μίαν ἀπὸ πασῶν τῶν ἐντολῶν Κυρίου, ἣ οὐ ποιηθήσεται, καὶ πλημμελήσωσι

Leviticus 4:13 (NETS)

Leviticus 4:13 (English Elpenor)

But if the whole congregation of Israel acts in ignorance and the matter escapes the notice of the eyes of the congregation and they do one of any of the commandments of the Lord, which shall not be done, and they shall be in error And if the whole congregation of Israel trespass ignorantly, and a thing should escape the notice of the congregation, and they should do one thing forbidden of any of the commands of the Lord, which ought not to be done, and should transgress:

Here the people are or become guilty before they were aware of what they had done.  When they become aware of it there are things the people and the priest were to do to make atonement (Leviticus 4:14-21).

Leviticus 4:22 (Tanakh)

Leviticus 4:22 (NET)

When a ruler sinneth, and doeth through error any one of all the things which HaShem his G-d hath commanded not to be done, and is guilty: “‘Whenever a leader, by straying unintentionally, sins and violates one of the commandments of the Lord his God which must not be violated, and he pleads guilty (ʼâsham, ואשם),

Leviticus 4:22 (Septuagint BLB)

Leviticus 4:22 (Septuagint Elpenor)

ἐὰν δὲ ὁ ἄρχων ἁμάρτῃ καὶ ποιήσῃ μίαν ἀπὸ πασῶν τῶν ἐντολῶν κυρίου τοῦ θεοῦ αὐτῶν ἣ οὐ ποιηθήσεται ἀκουσίως καὶ ἁμάρτῃ καὶ πλημμελήσῃ ἐὰν δὲ ὁ ἄρχων ἁμάρτῃ, καὶ ποιήσῃ μίαν ἀπὸ πασῶν τῶν ἐντολῶν Κυρίου τοῦ Θεοῦ αὐτοῦ, ἣ οὐ ποιηθήσεται, ἀκουσίως, καὶ ἁμάρτῃ καὶ πλημμελήσῃ

Leviticus 4:22 (NETS)

Leviticus 4:22 (English Elpenor)

But if he sins and does unintentionally one of any of the commandments of the Lord their God, which shall not be done, and sins and is in error And if a ruler sin, and break one of all the commands of the Lord his God, [doing the thing] which ought not to be done, unwillingly, and shall sin and trespass

Here ואשם (ʼâsham) was translated καὶ ἁμάρτῃ καὶ πλημμελήσῃ, “and sins and is in error” (NETS), and shall sin and trespass (Englsh Elpenor).  I can imagine at least the rabbis’ attempt to accommodate both a technical meaning—one is guilty of violation whether one perceives it or not—and the more expansive meaning—the whole impact knowledge of that guilt has on the one who receives it (or bears it)—simultaneously, though I might not have seen any of it in English translation apart from this study.

So where do I stand?

The brothers’ imprisonment for three days and Simeon’s (Genesis 42:24) longer incarceration certainly qualify as punishment.  That punishment, however, came from Joseph, a ruler in Egypt, not God.  I’m not insensitive to the question, who but God could orchestrate such a circumstance in real life?  And I wonder if Joseph’s brothers would ever have recognized their guilt or borne their iniquity apart from this distress?  So I can accept that a part of bearing one’s iniquity is accepting the punishment meted out by human authorities, pay the fine, do the time up to and including forfeiting one’s freedom or life.  Paul wrote (Romans 13:1-7 NET):

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except by[5] God’s appointment, and the authorities[6] that exist have been instituted by God.[7]  So the person who resists such authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will incur[8] judgment (for rulers cause no fear for good[9] conduct[10] but for bad[11]).  Do you desire not to fear authority?  Do good and you will receive its commendation because it is God’s servant for your well-being.  But be afraid if you do wrong because government does not bear the sword for nothing.  It is God’s servant to administer punishment (ὀργὴν, a form of ὀργή) on the person who does wrong.  Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of the wrath (ὀργὴν, a form of ὀργή) of the authorities but also because of your conscience.  For this reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants devoted to governing.  Pay[12] everyone what is owed: taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.

I don’t take this to mean that the punishment or wrath of these servants is necessarily just in an absolute sense or in my opinion.  I consider the public curse the princes and elders enacted in the book of Ezra as an example.

Ezra 10:7, 8 (Tanakh)

Ezra 10:7, 8 (NET)

And they made proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem unto all the children of the captivity, that they should gather themselves together unto Jerusalem; A proclamation was circulated throughout Judah and Jerusalem that all the exiles were to be assembled in Jerusalem.
and that whosoever came not within three days, according to the counsel of the princes and the elders, all his substance should be forfeited, and himself separated from the congregation of the captivity. Everyone who did not come within three days would thereby forfeit all his property, in keeping with the counsel of the officials and the elders.  Furthermore, he himself would be excluded from the assembly of the exiles.

Ezra 10:7 (Septuagint BLB)

Esdras II 10:7 (Septuagint Elpenor)

καὶ παρήνεγκαν φωνὴν ἐν Ιουδα καὶ ἐν Ιερουσαλημ πᾶσιν τοῖς υἱοῖς τῆς ἀποικίας τοῦ συναθροισθῆναι εἰς Ιερουσαλημ καὶ παρήνεγκαν φωνὴν ἐν ᾿Ιούδᾳ καὶ ἐν ῾Ιερουσαλὴμ πᾶσι τοῖς υἱοῖς τῆς ἀποικίας τοῦ συναθροισθῆναι εἰς ῾Ιερουαλήμ

Esdras II 10:7 (NETS)

Esdras II 10:7 (English Elpenor)

And they presented an utterance in Iouda and in Ierousalem to all sons of the exile that they should assemble in Ierousalem: And they made proclamation throughout Juda and Jerusalem to all the children of the captivity, that they should assemble at Jerusalem, [saying],

Ezra 10:8 (Septuagint BLB)

Esdras II 10:8 (Septuagint Elpenor)

καὶ πᾶς ὃς ἂν μὴ ἔλθῃ εἰς τρεῖς ἡμέρας ὡς ἡ βουλὴ τῶν ἀρχόντων καὶ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων ἀναθεματισθήσεται πᾶσα ἡ ὕπαρξις αὐτοῦ καὶ αὐτὸς διασταλήσεται ἀπὸ ἐκκλησίας τῆς ἀποικίας πᾶς, ὃς ἂν μὴ ἔλθῃ εἰς τρεῖς ἡμέρας, ὡς ἡ βουλὴ τῶν ἀρχόντων καὶ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων, ἀναθεματισθήσεται πᾶσα ἡ ὕπαρξις αὐτοῦ, καὶ αὐτὸς διασταλήσεται ἀπὸ ἐκκλησίας τῆς ἀποικίας

Esdras II 10:8 (NETS)

Esdras II 10:8 (English Elpenor)

“Anyone who does not come within three days, as the council of the rulers and the elders demands—all his property will be anathematized, and he himself banned from the assembly of the exile.” Every one who shall not arrive within three days, as [is] the counsel of the rulers and the elders, all his substance shall be forfeited, and he shall be separated from the congregation of the captivity.

I was educated in public schools in the United States of America from the late fifties through the early seventies, taught that government of, by and for the people was predicated on limiting the power of authorities over the people.  The dictatorships of the twentieth century were considered anachronistic aberrations not counter trends to the relatively ineffective governance of a free society.  So this proclamation sounds fascist to me, though the law—he shall bear his iniquity—would uphold it as I am currently understanding the law.  What the laws do not record is what might become of the man who in good conscience could not divorce his foreign wife, suffered the loss of his property and wandered in exile from Israel.

The religious mind wants to believe that such a man is forever doomed.  But the religious mind is itself barely a step removed from atheism.  It may well call someone or something god, but believes wholeheartedly that it’s god functions only through it’s systems of control, systems which must be maintained at all costs (John 11:45-50).  It is unwilling to believe that a man wandering from the faith, so to speak, of his native religious system—like Abram (Genesis 12:1-25:11), Isaac (Genesis 26:1-27:46) or Jacob (Genesis 28:1-35:29) for example (even Hagar [Genesis 21:1-21])—could possibly encounter a true and living God full of mercy and grace for those who seek Him.  And it has no conception of what might become of a foreign-born wife impacted by his mercy and grace.

And here my religious mind is screaming: How could anyone be expected to figure all this out?!  Frankly, those who have received Jesus are not required to understand.  We are required (Romans 8:12-17) to live by the Spirit and [we] will not carry out the desires of the flesh.[13]  For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.[14]

Tables of Leviticus 5:4 and 5:5 that I used to write this essay follow, along with tables comparing Romans 13:1-3 and 13:7 in the KJV and NET.

Leviticus 5:4 (Tanakh)

Leviticus 5:4 (NET)

or if any one swear clearly with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall utter clearly with an oath, and it be hid from him; and, when he knoweth of it, be guilty in one of these things; or (ʼô, או) when a person swears an oath, speaking thoughtlessly (bâṭâʼ, לבטא) with his lips, whether to do evil or (ʼô, או) to do good, with regard to anything which the individual might speak thoughtlessly (bâṭâʼ, יבטא) in an oath, even if he did not realize it, but he himself has later come to know it and is guilty (ʼâsham, ואשם) with regard to one of these oaths –

Leviticus 5:4 (Septuagint BLB)

Leviticus 5:4 (Septuagint Elpenor)

ἢ ψυχή ἡ ἂν ὀμόσῃ διαστέλλουσα τοῖς χείλεσιν κακοποιῆσαι ἢ καλῶς ποιῆσαι κατὰ πάντα ὅσα ἐὰν διαστείλῃ ὁ ἄνθρωπος μεθ᾽ ὅρκου καὶ λάθῃ αὐτὸν πρὸ ὀφθαλμῶν καὶ οὗτος γνῷ καὶ ἁμάρτῃ ἕν τι τούτων ἡ ψυχή, ἣ ἂν ὀμόσῃ διαστέλλουσα τοῖς χείλεσι κακοποιῆσαι ἢ καλῶς ποιῆσαι κατὰ πάντα, ὅσα ἐὰν διαστείλῃ ὁ ἄνθρωπος μεθ᾿ ὅρκου, καὶ λάθῃ αὐτὸν πρὸ ὀφθαλμῶν, καὶ οὗτος γνῷ, καὶ ἁμάρτῃ ἕν τι τούτων

Leviticus 5:4 (NETS)

Leviticus 5:4 (English Elpenor)

or a soul who swears, determining with his lips to do evil or to do good, in any way that the person may speak forcefully by an oath, and if it escapes the notice of his eyes and if he comes to know it and should sin in any one of these, That unrighteous soul, which determines with his lips to do evil or to do good according to whatsoever a man may determine with an oath, and it shall have escaped his notice, and he shall [afterwards] know [it], and [so] he should sin in some one of these things:

Leviticus 5:5 (Tanakh)

Leviticus 5:5 (NET)

and it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that wherein he hath sinned; when an individual becomes guilty (ʼâsham, יאשם) with regard to one of these things he must confess how he has sinned (châṭâʼ, חטא),

Leviticus 5:5 (Septuagint BLB)

Leviticus 5:5 (Septuagint Elpenor)

καὶ ἐξαγορεύσει τὴν ἁμαρτίαν περὶ ὧν ἡμάρτηκεν κατ᾽ αὐτῆς καὶ ἐξαγορεύσει τὴν ἁμαρτίαν, περὶ ὧν ἡμάρτηκε κατ᾿ αὐτῆς

Leviticus 5:5 (NETS)

Leviticus 5:5 (English Elpenor)

then he shall declare his sin concerning the things in which he has sinned. — then shall he declare his sin in the things wherein he has sinned by that sin.

Romans 13:1-3 (NET)

Romans 13:1-3 (KJV)

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.  For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

Πᾶσα ψυχὴ ἐξουσίαις ὑπερεχούσαις ὑποτασσέσθω οὐ γὰρ ἔστιν ἐξουσία εἰ μὴ ὑπὸ θεοῦ, αἱ δὲ οὖσαι ὑπὸ θεοῦ τεταγμέναι εἰσίν πασα ψυχη εξουσιαις υπερεχουσαις υποτασσεσθω ου γαρ εστιν εξουσια ει μη απο θεου αι δε ουσαι εξουσιαι υπο του θεου τεταγμεναι εισιν πασα ψυχη εξουσιαις υπερεχουσαις υποτασσεσθω ου γαρ εστιν εξουσια ει μη υπο θεου αι δε ουσαι εξουσιαι υπο του θεου τεταγμεναι εισιν
So the person who resists such authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will incur judgment Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

ὥστε ὁ ἀντιτασσόμενος τῇ ἐξουσίᾳ τῇ τοῦ θεοῦ διαταγῇ ἀνθέστηκεν, οἱ δὲ ἀνθεστηκότες ἑαυτοῖς κρίμα λήμψονται ωστε ο αντιτασσομενος τη εξουσια τη του θεου διαταγη ανθεστηκεν οι δε ανθεστηκοτες εαυτοις κριμα ληψονται ωστε ο αντιτασσομενος τη εξουσια τη του θεου διαταγη ανθεστηκεν οι δε ανθεστηκοτες εαυτοις κριμα ληψονται
(for rulers cause no fear for good conduct but for bad).  Do you desire not to fear authority?  Do good and you will receive its commendation For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.  Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

(οἱ γὰρ ἄρχοντες οὐκ εἰσὶν φόβος τῷ ἀγαθῷ ἔργῳ ἀλλὰ τῷ κακῷ). θέλεις δὲ μὴ φοβεῖσθαι τὴν ἐξουσίαν· τὸ ἀγαθὸν ποίει, καὶ ἕξεις ἔπαινον ἐξ αὐτῆς οι γαρ αρχοντες ουκ εισιν φοβος των αγαθων εργων αλλα των κακων θελεις δε μη φοβεισθαι την εξουσιαν το αγαθον ποιει και εξεις επαινον εξ αυτης οι γαρ αρχοντες ουκ εισιν φοβος των αγαθων εργων αλλα των κακων θελεις δε μη φοβεισθαι την εξουσιαν το αγαθον ποιει και εξεις επαινον εξ αυτης

Romans 13:7 (NET)

Romans 13:7 (KJV)

Pay everyone what is owed: taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

ἀπόδοτε πᾶσιν τὰς ὀφειλάς, τῷ τὸν φόρον τὸν φόρον, τῷ τὸ τέλος τὸ τέλος, τῷ τὸν φόβον τὸν φόβον, τῷ τὴν τιμὴν τὴν τιμήν αποδοτε ουν πασιν τας οφειλας τω τον φορον τον φορον τω το τελος το τελος τω τον φοβον τον φοβον τω την τιμην την τιμην αποδοτε ουν πασιν τας οφειλας τω τον φορον τον φορον τω το τελος το τελος τω τον φοβον τον φοβον τω την τιμην την τιμην

 

[1] Deuteronomy 5:9b (NET)

[2] Exodus 32:34b (NET)

[3] Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 9

[4] Romans 11:32b (NET)

[5] The NET parallel Greek text, NA28 and Byzantine Majority Text had ὑπὸ here, where the Stephanus Textus Receptus had απο (KJV: of).

[6] The Stephanus Textus Receptus and Byzantine Majority Text had εξουσιαι here.  The NET parallel Greek text and NA28 did not.

[7] The Stephanus Textus Receptus and Byzantine Majority Text had the article του preceding God.  The NET parallel Greek text and NA28 did not.

[8] The NET parallel Greek text and NA28 had λήμψονται here, where the Stephanus Textus Receptus and Byzantine Majority Text had ληψονται (KJV: receive).

[9] The NET parallel Greek text and NA28 had τῷ ἀγαθῷ, the dative singular forms, here, where the Stephanus Textus Receptus and Byzantine Majority Text had των αγαθων, the genitive plural forms.

[10] The NET parallel Greek text and NA28 had ἔργῳ, the dative singular form, here, where the Stephanus Textus Receptus and Byzantine Majority Text had εργων, the genitive plural form (KJV: works).

[11] The NET parallel Greek text and NA28 had τῷ κακῷ, the dative singular forms, here, where the Stephanus Textus Receptus and Byzantine Majority Text had των κακων, the genitive plural forms.

[12] The Stephanus Textus Receptus and Byzantine Majority Text had ουν following Pay (KJV: therefore).  The NET parallel Greek text and NA28 did not.

[13] Galatians 5:16 (NET)

[14] Galatians 5:23, 24 (NET) Table

Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 12

I’ve been considering yehôvâh’s fearful pronouncement: I punish (pâqadפקדthe sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons for the sin of the fathers who reject me[1]  By way of review, I didn’t find anything about the Hebrew word itself that would compel anyone to translate פקד (pâqad) I punish.  While I don’t have any particular quarrel with calling the plague of Exodus 32:35 a punishment, I’m not convinced it justifies translating pâqad I punish (פקדי) and I will indeed punish (ופקדתי) beyond this limited context.[2]

After a kind of thought experiment I concluded that the translation of פקד (pâqad) as I punish in Deuteronomy 5:9 was a perpetuation of an erroneous popular notion of religious minds that was clearly corrected in Ezekiel 18.[3]   Though the fixation on punishment in Leviticus 18:25 is difficult for me to unravel, it hasn’t really dissuaded me from the idea that yehôvâh visits iniquity itself upon descendants to consign all to disobedience, so that he may show mercy to them all.[4]

Here I’ll focus on ʽâvôn in Exodus, and though I’ve already considered Exodus 20:5 I want to start there again from a slightly different perspective.  I’m comparing/contrasting the NET and Tanakh as relatively contemporary translations of the Hebrew from Christian and Jewish perspectives respectively, and the Septuagint as a more ancient Jewish perspective.

Exodus 20:3-6 (NET)

Exodus 20:3-6 (Tanakh)

You shall have no other gods before me. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.
You shall not make for yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is on the earth beneath or that is in the water below. Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;
You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God, responding (pâqad, פקד) to the transgression (ʽâvôn, עון) of fathers by dealing with children to the third and fourth generations of those who reject me, thou shalt not bow down unto them, nor serve them; for I HaShem thy G-d am a jealous G-d, visiting (pâqad, פקד) the iniquity (ʽâvôn, עון) of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me;
and showing covenant faithfulness to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. and showing mercy unto the thousandth generation of them that love Me and keep My commandments.

The translators of the NET would not quite enshrine the idea that yehôvâh punishes children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren for the sins of the father in the ten commandments.  Though one might argue that—responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing—is scarcely different if one already has that idea in mind, it is a move away from: punishing the children for the sin of the parents (NIV), punishing the children for the fathers’ iniquity (CSB), I will punish your families (CEV), I bring punishment on those who hate me and on their descendants (GNT), punishing the children for the fathers’ sin (HCSB), punishing the children for the iniquity of the parents (ISV) or I punish children for their parents’ sins (GWT).[5]  All of these translations follow the idea in the Septuagint that visiting (פקד) iniquity (עון) is equivalent to “repaying” (ἀποδιδοὺς, a form of ἀποδίδωμι) “sins” (ἁμαρτίας, a form of ἁμαρτία).

Exodus 20:3-6 (Septuagint)

Exodus 20:3-6 (NETS)

οὐκ ἔσονταί σοι θεοὶ ἕτεροι πλὴν ἐμοῦ You shall have no other gods besides Me.
οὐ ποιήσεις σεαυτῷ εἴδωλον οὐδὲ παντὸς ὁμοίωμα ὅσα ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ ἄνω καὶ ὅσα ἐν τῇ γῇ κάτω καὶ ὅσα ἐν τοῖς ὕδασιν ὑποκάτω τῆς γῆς You shall not make for yourself an idol or likeness of anything whatever is in heaven above and whatever is in the earth beneath and whatever is in the waters beneath the earth.
οὐ προσκυνήσεις αὐτοῖς οὐδὲ μὴ λατρεύσῃς αὐτοῖς ἐγὼ γάρ εἰμι κύριος ὁ θεός σου θεὸς ζηλωτὴς ἀποδιδοὺς ἁμαρτίας πατέρων ἐπὶ τέκνα ἕως τρίτης καὶ τετάρτης γενεᾶς τοῖς μισοῦσίν με You shall not do obeisance to them, nor are you to serve them, for I am the Lord your God, a jealous god, repaying (ἀποδιδοὺς, a form of ἀποδίδωμι) sins (ἁμαρτίας, a form of ἁμαρτία) of fathers upon children up to the third and fourth generation to those who hate me,
καὶ ποιῶν ἔλεος εἰς χιλιάδας τοῖς ἀγαπῶσίν με καὶ τοῖς φυλάσσουσιν τὰ προστάγματά μου and doing mercy unto thousands, for those who love me and keep my ordinances.

Admittedly, my own idea is more like I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected in the New Living Translation.  But I didn’t come to it by reading the NLT, and I’m way too snobby to cite it as support.  The next occurrence of ʽâvôn includes an occurrence of nâśâʼ.

Exodus 28:36-38 (NET)

Exodus 28:36-38 (Tanakh)

“You are to make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it the way a seal is engraved: “Holiness to the Lord.” And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and engrave upon it, like the engravings of a signet: HOLY TO THE HaShem.
You are to attach to it a blue cord so that it will be on the turban; it is to be on the front of the turban, And thou shalt put it on a thread of blue, and it shall be upon the mitre; upon the forefront of the mitre it shall be.
It will be on Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron will bear (nâśâʼ, ונשׁא) the iniquity (ʽâvôn, עון) of the holy things, which the Israelites are to sanctify by all their holy gifts; it will always be on his forehead, for their acceptance before the Lord. And it shall be upon Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron shall bear the iniquity committed in the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow, even in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before HaShem.

I won’t pretend that I understand the iniquity of the holy things or the iniquity committed in the holy things.  Nor will I chase that rabbit.  I want to stay focused.  The translators of the Septuagint took a different tack that actually makes more sense when considering the next occurrence of ʽâvôn also rather than this one alone.

Exodus 28:36-38 (Septuagint)

Exodus 28:32-34 (NETS)

καὶ ποιήσεις πέταλον χρυσοῦν καθαρὸν καὶ ἐκτυπώσεις ἐν αὐτῷ ἐκτύπωμα σφραγῖδος ἁγίασμα κυρίου And you shall make a pure gold thin plate and shall put in relief in it the relief of the seal “Holiness of the Lord.”
καὶ ἐπιθήσεις αὐτὸ ἐπὶ ὑακίνθου κεκλωσμένης καὶ ἔσται ἐπὶ τῆς μίτρας κατὰ πρόσωπον τῆς μίτρας ἔσται And you shall place it on twisted blue, and it shall be on the headdress. It shall be at the front of the headdress.
καὶ ἔσται ἐπὶ τοῦ μετώπου Ααρων καὶ ἐξαρεῖ Ααρων τὰ ἁμαρτήματα τῶν ἁγίων ὅσα ἂν ἁγιάσωσιν οἱ υἱοὶ Ισραηλ παντὸς δόματος τῶν ἁγίων αὐτῶν καὶ ἔσται ἐπὶ τοῦ μετώπου Ααρων διὰ παντός δεκτὸν αὐτοῖς ἔναντι κυρίου And it shall be on the forehead of Aaron, and Aaron shall take away (ἐξαρεῖ, a form of ἐξαίρω) the sins (ἁμαρτήματα, a form of ἁμάρτημα) of the holy things, whichever the sons of Israel have consecrated, every donation of their holy things.  And it shall be on Aaron’s forehead always, making them acceptable before the Lord.
Exodus 28: 42, 43 (NET)

Exodus 28:42, 43 (Tanakh)

Make for them linen undergarments to cover their naked bodies; they must cover from the waist to the thighs. And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover the flesh of their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach.
These must be on Aaron and his sons when they enter to the tent of meeting, or when they approach the altar to minister in the Holy Place, so that they bear (nâśâʼ, ישׁאו) no iniquity (ʽâvôn, עון) and die. It is to be a perpetual ordinance for him and for his descendants after him. And they shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they go in unto the tent of meeting, or when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy place; that they bear not iniquity, and die; it shall be a statute for ever unto him and unto his seed after him.

In the former example Aaron will bear (nâśâʼ, ונשׁא) the iniquity (ʽâvôn, עון) of the holy things.  In the latter example Aaron and his sons wear underwear so that they bear (nâśâʼ, ישׁאו) no iniquity (ʽâvôn, עון) and die.  The translators of the Septuagint resolved this dilemma by translating ונשׁא (nâśâʼ) ἐξαρεῖ (a form of ἐξαίρω; NETS: “shall take away”) and ישׁאו (nâśâʼ) ἐπάξονται (a form of ἐπάγω; NETS: “shall…bring onto”).

Exodus 28: 42, 43 (Septuagint)

Exodus 28:38, 39 (NETS)

καὶ ποιήσεις αὐτοῖς περισκελῆ λινᾶ καλύψαι ἀσχημοσύνην χρωτὸς αὐτῶν ἀπὸ ὀσφύος ἕως μηρῶν ἔσται And you shall make for them linen drawers to hide the shame of their flesh; from hip to thighs they shall be.
καὶ ἕξει Ααρων αὐτὰ καὶ οἱ υἱοὶ αὐτοῦ ὡς ἂν εἰσπορεύωνται εἰς τὴν σκηνὴν τοῦ μαρτυρίου ἢ ὅταν προσπορεύωνται λειτουργεῖν πρὸς τὸ θυσιαστήριον τοῦ ἁγίου καὶ οὐκ ἐπάξονται πρὸς ἑαυτοὺς ἁμαρτίαν ἵνα μὴ ἀποθάνωσιν νόμιμον αἰώνιον αὐτῷ καὶ τῷ σπέρματι αὐτοῦ μετ᾽ αὐτόν And Aaron and his sons shall wear them, whenever they enter the tent of witness or whenever they come near the altar of the holy place to minister, and they shall not bring onto (ἐπάξονται, a form of ἐπάγω) themselves sin (ἁμαρτίαν, another form of ἁμαρτία), lest they die: a perpetual precept for him and his seed after him.

And I would consider death an extreme punishment for bearing iniquity.  The next occurrences of ʽâvôn also include an occurrence of nâśâʼ.

Exodus 34:5-7 (NET)

Exodus 34:5-7 (Tanakh)

The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) descended in the cloud and stood with him there and proclaimed the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) by name. And HaShem descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of HaShem.
The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) passed by before him and proclaimed: “The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה), the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה), the compassionate and gracious God (ʼêl, אל), slow to anger, and abounding in loyal love and faithfulness, And HaShem passed by before him, and proclaimed: ‘The HaShem, HaShem, G-d, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth;
keeping loyal love for thousands, forgiving (nâśâʼ, נשׁא) iniquity (ʽâvôn, עון) and transgression and sin. But he by no means leaves the guilty unpunished, responding (pâqad, פקד) to the transgression (ʽâvôn, עון) of fathers by dealing with children and children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.” keeping mercy unto the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin; and that will by no means clear the guilty;[6] visiting (pâqad, פקד) the iniquity (ʽâvôn, עון) of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and unto the fourth generation.’

Exodus 34:5-7 (Septuagint)

Exodus 34:5-7 (NETS)

καὶ κατέβη κύριος ἐν νεφέλῃ καὶ παρέστη αὐτῷ ἐκεῖ καὶ ἐκάλεσεν τῷ ὀνόματι κυρίου And the Lord descended in a cloud, and he stood beside him there, and he called in the name of the Lord.
καὶ παρῆλθεν κύριος πρὸ προσώπου αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐκάλεσεν κύριος ὁ θεὸς οἰκτίρμων καὶ ἐλεήμων μακρόθυμος καὶ πολυέλεος καὶ ἀληθινὸς And the Lord passed by before his face, and he called, “The Lord, the Lord God is compassionate and merciful, patient and very merciful and truthful
καὶ δικαιοσύνην διατηρῶν καὶ ποιῶν ἔλεος εἰς χιλιάδας ἀφαιρῶν ἀνομίας καὶ ἀδικίας καὶ ἁμαρτίας καὶ οὐ καθαριεῖ τὸν ἔνοχον ἐπάγων ἀνομίας πατέρων ἐπὶ τέκνα καὶ ἐπὶ τέκνα τέκνων ἐπὶ τρίτην καὶ τετάρτην γενεάν and preserving righteousness and doing mercy for thousands, taking away (ἀφαιρῶν, a form of ἀφαιρέω) acts of lawlessness (ἀνομίας, a form of ἀνομία) and of injustice and sins, and he will not acquit the guilty person, bringing (ἐπάγων, another form of ἐπάγω) lawless acts (ἀνομίας, a form of ἀνομία) of fathers upon children and upon children of children, upon the third and fourth generation.”

Here the translators of the NET and Tanakh agreed that נשׁא (nâśâʼ) should be translated forgiving, while the translators of the Septuagint chose ἀφαιρῶν (a form of ἀφαιρέω; NETS: “taking away”).  One can appreciate the problem: How could yehôvâh bear iniquity (not to mention transgression and sin) if that made Aaron and his sons liable to death?  Of course, if I let the Hebrew words stand as is and learn from them, and believe that yehôvâh took on human flesh and became Jesus the Christ, I have a gospel message foretold to Moses in the long name of God.

So what did Moses know and when did he know it?  Following yehôvâh’s self-revelation Moses didn’t ask Him to bear (nâśâʼ) Israel’s iniquity.

Exodus 34: 8, 9 (NET)

Exodus 34: 8, 9 (Tanakh)

Moses quickly bowed to the ground and worshiped And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.
and said, “If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, let my Lord go among us, for we are a stiff-necked people; pardon (sâlach, וסלחת) our iniquity (ʽâvôn, לעוננו) and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.” And he said: ‘If now I have found grace in Thy sight, O L-rd, let the L-rd, I pray Thee, go in the midst of us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for Thine inheritance.’

Moses asked for וסלחת (sâlach) instead.  And yehôvâh gave them rules and rituals (Exodus 34:10-27) that when they transgressed them they might seek a remedy through confession, sacrifice and other rituals to receive sâlach.  The translators of the Septuagint, on the other hand, turned Moses’ request into a prophecy of the new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Exodus 34: 8, 9 (Septuagint)

Exodus 34: 8, 9 (NETS)

καὶ σπεύσας Μωυσῆς κύψας ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν προσεκύνησεν And quickly, bowing down to the earth, Moyses did obeisance
καὶ εἶπεν εἰ εὕρηκα χάριν ἐνώπιόν σου συμπορευθήτω ὁ κύριός μου μεθ᾽ ἡμῶν ὁ λαὸς γὰρ σκληροτράχηλός ἐστιν καὶ ἀφελεῖς σὺ τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν καὶ τὰς ἀνομίας ἡμῶν καὶ ἐσόμεθα σοί and said, “If I have found favor before you, let my Lord go together with us. For the people are stiff-necked, and you shall take away (ἀφελεῖς, another form of ἀφαιρέω) our sins (ἁμαρτίας, a form of ἁμαρτία) and lawless acts (ἀνομίας, a form of ἀνομία), and we will be yours.”

If they had the law, the rituals and the sacrifices in mind, hear what may well be Jesus’ teaching to his disciples in the days between his resurrection and ascension (Hebrews 10:1-4 NET):

For the law possesses a shadow of the good things to come but not the reality itself, and is therefore completely unable, by the same sacrifices offered continually, year after year, to perfect those who come to worship.  For otherwise would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers would have been purified once for all and so have no further consciousness of sin?  But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year after year.  For the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away (ἀφαιρεῖν, another form ἀφαιρέω) sins (ἁμαρτίας, a form of ἁμαρτία).

A table of forms of ʽâvôn in Exodus and their translations in the KJV and NET follows.

Form of ʽâvôn

Reference

KJV

NET

עון Exodus 20:5 …visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children… …responding to the transgression of fathers…
Exodus 28:38 …that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things… …and Aaron will bear the iniquity of the holy things…
Exodus 28:43 …that they bear not iniquity, and die… …so that they bear no iniquity and die.
Exodus 34:7 …forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin… …forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.
Exodus 34:7 …visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children… …responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children…
לעוננו Exodus 34:9 …and pardon our iniquity and our sin… …pardon our iniquity and our sin…

[1] Deuteronomy 5:9b (NET)

[2] Exodus 32:34b (NET)

[3] Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 9

[4] Romans 11:32b (NET)

[5] See: Bible Hub

[6] The clauses: But he by no means leaves the guilty unpunished, and, and that will by no means clear the guilty are translations of three Hebrew words, two of which are forms of nâqâh.  First, ונקה (nâqâh), second, לא (lôʼ); third, ינקה (nâqâh).

Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 11

I’ve been considering yehôvâh’s fearful pronouncement: I punish (pâqad, פקד) the sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons for the sin of the fathers who reject me[1]  The third of the three times forms of pâqad were translated punish or punishment in the NET prior to Deuteronomy 5:9 was Leviticus 18:25, and I have brought the punishment (pâqad, ואפקד).  I want to consider it in context.  A table follows with the English translations of Leviticus 18:24-30 from the Hebrew in the NET and Tanakh, and from the Greek Septuagint in the NETS.

Leviticus 18:24-30 (NET) Leviticus 18:24-30 (Tanakh)

Leviticus 18:24-30 (NETS)

Do not defile (ṭâmêʼ, תטמאו) yourselves with any of these things, for the nations which I am about to drive out before you have been defiled (ṭâmêʼ, נטמאו) with all these things. Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things; for in all these the nations are defiled, which I cast out from before you. Do not defile (μιαίνεσθε, a form of μιαίνω) yourselves in any of these ways.  For by all these things the nations I am sending out before your face were defiled (ἐμιάνθησαν, another form of μιαίνω).
Therefore the land has become unclean (ṭâmêʼ, ותטמא) and I have brought the punishment for its iniquity upon it, so that the land has vomited out its inhabitants. And the land was defiled, therefore I did visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land vomited out her inhabitants. And the land became defiled (ἐμιάνθη, another form of μιαίνω), and I repaid their evil because of it, and the land was angry with its inhabitants.
You yourselves must obey my statutes (chûqqâh, חקתי) and my regulations and must not do any of these abominations, both the native citizen and the resident foreigner in your midst, Ye therefore shall keep My statutes and Mine ordinances, and shall not do any of these abominations (tôʽêbah, התועבת); neither the home-born, nor the stranger that sojourneth among you– And you shall keep all my precepts (νόμιμά, a form of νόμιμος[2]) and all my ordinances and not commit any of all these abominations (βδελυγμάτων, a form of βδέλυγμα), the inhabitant and the guest among you who has come
for the people who were in the land before you have done all these abominations, and the land has become unclean (ṭâmêʼ, ותטמא). for all these abominations (tôʽêbah, התועבת) have the men of the land done, that were before you, and the land is defiled– (for the men of the land, who were before you, committed all of these abominations [βδελύγματα, another form of βδέλυγμα], and the land became defiled);
So do not make the land vomit you out because you defile (ṭâmêʼ, בטמאכם) it just as it has vomited out the nations that were before you. that the land vomit not you out also, when ye defile it, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. Otherwise the land will become angry with you when you defile (μιαίνειν, another form of μιαίνω) it, as it became angry with the nations that were before you.
For if anyone does any of these abominations, the persons who do them will be cut off from the midst of their people. For whosoever shall do any of these abominations (tôʽêbah, התועבות), even the souls that do them shall be cut off from among their people. For anyone who commits any of all these abominations (βδελυγμάτων, a form of βδέλυγμα)—the souls that do so shall be exterminated from their people.
You must obey my charge to not practice any of the abominable statutes (chûqqâh, מחקות) that have been done before you, so that you do not defile (ṭâmêʼ, תטמאו) yourselves by them.  I am the Lord your God. Therefore shall ye keep My charge, that ye do not any of these abominable (tôʽêbah, התועבת) customs, which were done before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am HaShem your G-d. And keep my ordinances: not to commit any of all these abominable (ἐβδελυγμένων, a form of βδελύσσω) precepts (νομίμων, another form of νόμιμος) that were done before you, and you shall not be defiled (μιανθήσεσθε, another form of μιαίνω) by them, for I am the Lord your God.

Abominations (tôʽêbah, התועבת; Septuagint: βδελυγμάτων, a form of βδέλυγμα) clearly refers to all acts described in verses 6-22.  Bestiality in verse 23 may be distinguished from abominations as perversion (tebel, תבל; Septuagint:μυσερὸν, a form of μυσερός[3]) or perversion may be a special class of abominations.  But quoting Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind; it is abomination (tôʽêbah)[4] out of context doesn’t make male-on-male homosexual acts a peculiar class of abomination.  It is not more abominable than adultery (verse 20) for instance, or approaching a woman in her menstrual impurity to have sexual intercourse with her[5] for that matter.  And these abominations (with the possible exception of bestiality) were legal/religious statutes in Egypt and Canaan at the time of the Exodus (Leviticus 18:1-5 NET):

The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) spoke to Moses:  “Speak to the Israelites and tell them, ‘I am the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) your God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהיכם)!  You must not do as they do in the land of Egypt where you have been living, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan into which I am about to bring you; you must not walk in their statutes (chûqqâh, ובחקתיהם).  You must observe my regulations and you must be sure to walk in my statutes (chûqqâh, חקתי).  I am the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) your God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהיכם).  So you must keep my statutes (chûqqâh, חקתי) and my regulations; anyone who does so will live by keeping them.  I am the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה).’”

The NET translators tended to translate two Hebrew words—gâlâh (לגלות; uncover) and ʽervâh (ערוה; nakedness)—with the words to have sexual intercourse.  I’ll quote the Tanakh instead for two reasons: 1) My hard core of materialism sweetened with Jesus jelly is all too willing to hear that only sexual intercourse, specifically vaginal penetration with and only with a penis resulting in orgasm, is sin; and, 2) I don’t want to miss yehôvâh’s disruption of nude pagan worship within families, what contemporary witches call skycladFamilies, law and religion are the primary conduits of visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons whether I consider that visiting punishment are the means of transmitting iniquity to others.

The statutes yehôvâh called my statutes to countermand the legal/religious statutes of the Egyptians[6] and Canaanites follow (Leviticus 18:6-19 Tanakh):

None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness.  I am HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה).  The nakedness of thy father,[7] and the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.  The nakedness of thy father’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father’s nakedness.  The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or the daughter of thy mother, whether born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover.  The nakedness of thy son’s daughter, or of thy daughter’s daughter, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover; for theirs is thine own nakedness.  The nakedness of thy father’s wife’s daughter, begotten of thy father, she is thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.  Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father’s sister: she is thy father’s near kinswoman.  Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother’s sister; for she is thy mother’s near kinswoman.  Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy fathers brother, thou shalt not approach to his wife: she is thine aunt.  Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter-in-law: she is thy son’s wife; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.  Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother’s wife: it is thy brother’s nakedness.  Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter; thou shalt not take her son’s daughter, or her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness: they are near kinswomen; it is lewdness.  And thou shalt not take a woman to her sister, to be a rival to her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her lifetime.  And thou shalt not approach unto a woman to uncover her nakedness, as long as she is impure by her uncleanness.

Practicing these would make it extremely difficult for a family to engage in pagan worship.  It would greatly inhibit the family patriarch from seducing the younger women of his family or asserting his “sacred” rights over them.  I won’t deny that it could also inhibit the transmission of recessive traits to offspring.  But that seems almost incidental when the Hebrew is translated literally.

Other statutes of Egypt and Canaan were countermanded as well (Leviticus 18:20-23 Tanakh):

And thou shalt not lie carnally[8] with thy neighbour’s wife, to defile thyself with her.  And thou shalt not give any of thy seed to set them apart to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy G-d: I am HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה).  Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind; it is abomination.  And thou shalt not lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith; neither shall any woman stand before a beast, to lie down thereto; it is perversion.

Adultery and male homosexual acts were not prohibited as uncover nakedness but with the words nâthan (תתן; give) shekôbeth (שכבתך; copulation) in verse 20 and shâkab (תשכב; lie) and mishkâb (משכבי; bed) in verse 22.

All of these abominations defile those who commit them.  But since the land was also defiled, it is perhaps fair to ask if these statutes offer knowledge of sin for the land of Canaan only.  Consider the origin of the Samaritans (2 Kings 17:24-28 NET):

The king of Assyria brought foreigners from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim and settled them in the cities of Samaria in place of the Israelites.  They took possession of Samaria and lived in its cities.  When they first moved in, they did not worship the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה).  So the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) sent lions among them and the lions were killing them.  The king of Assyria was told, “The nations whom you deported and settled in the cities of Samaria do not know the requirements of the God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהי) of the land, so he has sent lions among them.  They are killing the people because they do not know the requirements of the God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהי) of the land.”  So the king of Assyria ordered, “Take back one of the priests whom you deported from there.  He must settle there and teach them the requirements of the God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהי) of the land.”  So one of the priests whom they had deported from Samaria went back and settled in Bethel.  He taught them how to worship the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה).

The king of Assyria and his pagan servant considered yehôvâh a local Canaanite god.  It comes down to one’s faithThat is why I told you that you will die in your sins, Jesus said, for unless you believe that I (ἐγώ) AM (εἰμι), you’ll die in your sins.[9]  I chose the ISV translation because it is the most accurate here in stating that John claimed that Jesus claimed to be the I AM (Exodus 3:14, 15) who spoke to Moses.  Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD (yehôvâh, יהוה), and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.  I, even I, am the LORD (yehôvâh, יהוה); and beside me there is no saviour.[10]  I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.[11]

Do not defile yourselves with any of these things, He said, for the nations which I am about to drive out before you have been defiled with all these things.  Therefore the land (ʼerets, הארץ) has become unclean and I have brought the punishment (pâqad, ואפקד) for its iniquity upon it (Tanakh: I did visit the iniquity thereof upon it), so that the land (ʼerets, הארץ) has vomited out its inhabitants.[12]

The land has vomited out its inhabitants is an amazing word picture of the flood: all the fountains of the great deep burst open and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.[13]  But this was not the flood.  No more than forty years earlier the promised land was a land (ʼerets, ארץ) flowing with milk and honey.[14]  When Israel’s spies came to the valley of Eshcol, they cut down from there a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they carried it on a staff between two men[15]  Was the knowledge that the land has vomited out its inhabitants something only yehôvâh could perceive since He promised, I will never again curse the ground (ʼădâmâh, האדמה) because of humankind?[16]  Or was it prophetic of the war of extermination Israel was about to unleash in Canaan?

And surely your blood of your lives will I require, yehôvâh said after the flood, at the hand of every beast will I require it; and at the hand of man, even at the hand of every man’s brother, will I require the life of man.  Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of G-d made He man.[17]  Then He promised (Genesis 9:9-11 Tanakh):

‘As for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you, and with your seed after you;  and with every living creature that is with you, the fowl, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that go out of the ark, even every beast of the earth.  And I will establish My covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of the flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.’

In this sense then Israel’s army became a limited cleansing flood, as opposed to the flood yehôvâh promised not to unleash again to destroy the earth.  Now if someone deprived me and my family of life and claimed all that I owned for himself and his act was righteous, then I was clearly punished for a serious offense.  This is the way the translators of the Septuagint understood the verse: “And the land became defiled, and I repaid their evil because of it…”  Notice below that yehôvâh repaid the Canaanites’ for defiling the land in the NETS translation of the Septuagint rather than punishing the land for its iniquity in the NET translation of the Hebrew.

Leviticus 18:25 (NET) Leviticus 18:25 (Tanakh) Leviticus 18:25 (NETS)
Therefore the land has become unclean and I have brought the punishment for its iniquity upon it, so that the land has vomited out its inhabitants. And the land was defiled, therefore I did visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land vomited out her inhabitants. And the land became defiled, and I repaid (ἀνταπέδωκα, a form of ἀνταποδίδωμι) their evil because of it, and the land was angry with its inhabitants.

The translators of the Septuagint have tipped their hand here, translating pâqad (ואפקד) ἀνταπέδωκα (a form of ἀνταποδίδωμι).  To them visiting the iniquity was how yehôvâh repaid sin: Vengeance is Mine, and recompense (shillêm, ושלם; Septuagint: ἀνταποδώσω, another form of ἀνταποδίδωμι), against the time when their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that are to come upon them shall make haste.[18]  Here shillêm (ושלם, requital) was translated ἀνταποδώσω (another form of ἀνταποδίδωμ).  Is corruption His?  No; His children’s is the blemish; a generation crooked and perverse.  Do ye thus requite (gâmal, תגמלו; Septuagint: ἀνταποδίδοτε, another form of ἀνταποδίδωμι) HaShem (yehôvâh, ליהוה), O foolish people and unwise?[19]

Here even gâmal (תגמלו) was translated ἀνταποδίδοτε (another form of ἀνταποδίδωμι).  When Isaac grew and was weaned (gâmal, ויגמל) Abraham prepared a great feast[20]  The staff of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted, and brought forth buds, and produced blossoms, and yielded (gâmal, ויגמל) almonds![21]  I can’t say it was wrong to translate gâmal with a form of ἀνταποδίδωμι: After their father’s death Joseph’s brothers feared, What if Joseph bears a grudge and wants to repay (shûb, וישב; Septuagint: requite [ἀνταποδῷ, another form of ἀνταποδίδωμι] us a requittal [ἀνταπόδομα] Genesis 50:15 NETS) us in full for all the harm we did (gâmal, גמלנו) to him?[22]  But it does reveal a particular fixation since the word signifies a ripening of fruit, whether good fruit or bad fruit. (Here, by the way, gâmal was translated ἐνεδειξάμεθα [a form of ἐνδεικνύω;[23] NETS: show] in the Septuagint.)

If I consider who translated the Septuagint their fixation on retribution makes a lot of sense (Deuteronomy 31:24-29 Tanakh):

And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites, that bore the ark of the covenant of HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה), saying: ‘Take this book of the law, and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה) your G-d, that it may be there for a witness against thee.  For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck; behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה); and how much more after my death?  Assemble unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to witness against them.  For I know that after my death ye will in any wise deal corruptly, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the end of days; because ye will do that which is evil in the sight of HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה), to provoke Him through the work of your hands.’

How could they help but perceive their world in terms of retribution (Deuteronomy 32:19-27 Tanakh)?

And HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה) saw, and spurned, because of the provoking of His sons and His daughters.  And He said: ‘I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end shall be; for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faithfulness.  They have roused Me to jealousy with a no-god; they have provoked Me with their vanities; and I will rouse them to jealousy with a no-people; I will provoke them with a vile nation.  For a fire is kindled in My nostril, and burneth unto the depths of the nether-world, and devoureth the earth with her produce, and setteth ablaze the foundations of the mountains.  I will heap evils upon them; I will spend Mine arrows upon them; The wasting of hunger, and the devouring of the fiery bolt, and bitter destruction; and the teeth of beasts will I send upon them, with the venom of crawling things of the dust.  Without shall the sword bereave, and in the chambers terror; slaying both young man and virgin, the suckling with the man of gray hairs.  I thought I would make an end of them, I would make their memory cease from among men; Were it not that I dreaded the enemy’s provocation, lest their adversaries should misdeem, lest they should say: Our hand is exalted, and not HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה) hath wrought all this.’

As I began this study I noticed that the rabbis who translated the Septuagint had translated pâqad (פקד) ἀποδιδοὺς (a form of ἀποδίδωμι) but I really didn’t know what to make of it: Thou shalt not bow down unto them, nor serve them; for I HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה) thy G-d am a jealous G-d, visiting the iniquity (pâqad, פקד; Septuagint: ἀποδιδοὺς, a form of ἀποδίδωμι) of the fathers upon the children, and upon the third and upon the fourth generation of them that hate Me[24]  I was questioning, but still more or less persuaded, that visiting the iniquity was how God repaid sin.  Only through this study itself did I begin to wonder if visiting the iniquity, through family (Mark 3:20, 21), through law, through religion, was how God has consigned all people to disobedience.[25]

If I consider who I am, my developing fixation makes quite a lot of sense, too.  I am the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous[26]  I am one of the no-people of a vile nation.  I am one of the Gentiles who has received salvation by Israel’s transgression, one of the Gentiles Paul addressed in his letter to believers in Rome (Romans 11:22-36 NET):

Notice therefore the kindness and harshness of God – harshness toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.  And even they – if they do not continue in their unbelief – will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.  For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree?

For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.  And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

“The Deliverer will come out of Zion; he will remove ungodliness from Jacob.  And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.”

In regard to the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but in regard to election they are dearly loved for the sake of the fathers.  For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.  Just as you were formerly disobedient (ἠπειθήσατε, a form of ἀπειθέω) to God, but have now received mercy due to their disobedience (ἀπειθείᾳ), so they too have now been disobedient (ἠπείθησαν, another form of ἀπειθέω) in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy.  For God has consigned all people to disobedience (ἀπείθειαν, a form of ἀπείθεια) so that he may show mercy to them all.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgments and how fathomless his ways!  For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?  Or who has first given to God, that God needs to repay (ἀνταποδοθήσεται, another form of ἀνταποδίδωμι) him?

For from him and through him and to him are all things.  To him be glory forever!  Amen.

 

Coda: I attended a pagan feast Christmas evening.  I didn’t know it was a pagan feast until it was over.  It was an ecumenical pagan feast: I was asked to pray before the meal.  Interestingly, I didn’t eat, not because I had some scruple about eating a pagan feast but because I wasn’t hungry.  Caring for my mother has me eating way too much way too often.  My intent was to arrive before Grandmother, Mother and Daughter dispersed so I could visit with them all together.  I arrived earlier than anticipated.

I realized it was a pagan feast when Mother began to outline their preparations for Imbolc.  (I had to look it up, too.)  The women plan to write on paper scrolls what each is grateful for day by day, attach the scrolls to a stick or branch and burn the stick or branch with the scrolls on Imbolc (February 1).  As religious works go, it’s not too bad.

The next morning I delivered coffee and cigarettes to Mother.  She was too depressed to venture out into the cold.  Her lover had left her a few days before.  “I’m just so fucking sad all the time,” she said.  I remembered how the Holy Spirit bolstered me when my wife divorced me, and was reminded of Paul’s letter to struggling believers in Galatia (Galatians 3:2b-5):

Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard?  Are you so foolish?  Although you began with the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by human effort?  Have you suffered so many things for nothing? – if indeed it was for nothing.  Does God then give you the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law or by your believing what you heard?

Of course, Paul meant the law God spoke at Sinai.  But clearly pagan ritual in obedience to pagan law (or creative imagination) was no better at filling Mother with Jesus’ love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.[27]

Two days later Mother asked me to pray for her job interview.  I don’t know whether she also sought Brigid’s aid (though I haven’t met any pagans who believe the gods are real, merely imaginary personifications of nature or ideas).  I left it to God’s discretion when my mother and I prayed.  Mother’s interview went well, and I’m happy that I’m not visiting her in rehab this year.

[1] Deuteronomy 5:9b (NET)

[2] http://www.greekdoc.com/lexicon/no.html#nomimos

[3] http://www.greekdoc.com/lexicon/mu.html#museros

[4] תועבה, Leviticus 18:22 (Tanakh)

[5] Leviticus 18:19 (NET)

[6] http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/people/couples.htm

[7] This seems to have been established as a tradition by Noah’s time (Genesis 9:20-23).

[8] http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/030751338407000113?journalCode=egaa

[9] John 8:24 (ISV)

[10] Isaiah 43:10, 11 (Tanakh)

[11] Isaiah 45:12 (Tanakh)

[12] Leviticus 18:24, 25 (NET)

[13] Genesis 7:11b (NET)

[14] Exodus 33:3a (NET)

[15] Numbers 13:23a (NET)

[16] Genesis 8:21b (NET)

[17] Genesis 9:5, 6 (Tanakh)

[18] Deuteronomy 32:35 (Tanakh)

[19] Deuteronomy 32:5, 6a (Tanakh)

[20] Genesis 21:8 (NET)

[21] Numbers 17:8b (NET)

[22] Genesis 50:15 (NET)

[23] http://www.greekdoc.com/lexicon/end.html#endeiknuw

[24] Deuteronomy 5:9 (Tanakh)  “You shall not do obeisance to them, nor are you to serve them, because I am the Lord your God, a jealous God, repaying (ἀποδιδοὺς, a form of ἀποδίδωμι) the sins of fathers upon children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me…” (Deuteronomy 5:9 NETS)

[25] Romans 11:32a (NET)

[26] Romans 4:5 (NET)

[27] Galatians 5:22, 23a (NET)

Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 10

“Because you obeyed (shâmaʽ, שמעת; Septuagint: ἤκουσας, a form of ἀκούω) your wife, the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) said to Adam, and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ cursed is the ground thanks to you; in painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.”[1]

The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) had commanded Adam: “You may freely eat fruit from every tree of the orchard, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die.”[2]  Eve saw that the tree produced fruit that was good for food, was attractive to the eye, and was desirable for making one wise, so she took some of its fruit and ate it.[3]  When she brought some to Adam she brought not only her recommendation but empirical evidence that she had both touched it and eaten it and had not died.

Adam preferred the voice of his wife to the voice of yehôvâh.  When Jacob preferred the beautiful Rachel over Leah the Lord saw that Leah was unloved (śânêʼ).[4]  In other words Adam hated the voice of God relative to that of his wife, the voice of God was unlovedFor the sake of argument I’ll describe Adam’s iniquity as defiance: Adam was not deceived,[5] Paul assured Timothy.

Adam’s defiance visited upon Cain became a murderous rage: Cain became very angryCain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.”  While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.[6]  Cain’s murderous rage combined with the memory of the mercy yehôvâh showed him became a defiant self-righteousness in his descendant Lamech, perhaps even incipient tribal law (Genesis 4:23, 24 NET):

Lamech said to his wives, “Adah and Zillah!  Listen (shâmaʽ, שמען; Septuagint: ἀκούσατέ, another form of ἀκούω) to me!  You wives of Lamech, hear my words!  I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for hurting me.  If Cain is to be avenged seven times as much, then Lamech seventy-seven times!”

The upshot of this relatively unhindered visiting of fathers’ iniquity upon the sons was: The earth was ruined in the sight of God; the earth was filled with violence.[7]  So God said to Noah, “I have decided that all living creatures must die, for the earth is filled with violence because of them.”[8]

I began this portion of my study of fear to understand how the translators of the NET “arrived at I punish as a translation of the Hebrew word pâqad (פקד)” in Deuteronomy 5:9.  If punishment could arrest this relatively unhindered visiting of fathers’ iniquity upon the sons before it culminated in a death sentence for all living creatures it would be a welcome relief.  This brings me to the third occurrence of ואפקד (pâqad) translated punish or punishment (and I have brought the punishment) in the NET (Leviticus 18:25 NET):

Therefore the land has become unclean and I have brought the punishment for its iniquity upon it, so that the land has vomited out its inhabitants.

This was not a reference to the violence of the antediluvian world but to the worship/sexual practices of the inhabitants of Canaan before Israel entered the promised land.  But first I need to consider whether the visiting of the fathers’ iniquity upon the sons was quite as unhindered as I have imagined it.

I was born and raised in the latter half of the twentieth century near the northern edge of the Bible belt in the United States of America.  I am a hardcore materialist with some Jesus jelly smeared on top.  I acknowledge this to confess the iniquity of my fathers, not to blame them or excuse myself, but to begin to claim my freedom from my own acceptance of that iniquity as my truth.

The voice of your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground (ʼădâmâh)![9] yehôvâh told Cain.  I hear this as a poetic reference to yehôvâh’s omniscience (Psalm 139:1-12).  These days I’m not unwilling to take it literally, that Abel’s blood had a voice that yehôvâh could hear crying out from the ground, but it’s not natural to me.  I am the dark side of, Train a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.[10]  Still, opening myself to its possibility gives me a different perspective.

So now, you are banished (ʼârar, ארור) from the ground (ʼădâmâh, האדמה: NET footnote 28): Heb “cursed are you from the ground”), yehôvâh continued, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.  When you try to cultivate the ground (ʼădâmâh, האדמה) it will no longer yield its best for you.  You will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.[11]  To Adam He had already said, cursed (ʼârar, ארורה) is the ground (ʼădâmâh, האדמה) thanks to you; in painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you, but you will eat the grain of the field.  By the sweat of your brow you will eat food until you return to the ground (ʼădâmâh, האדמה), for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you will return.[12]

I can begin to accept these as revelation of the very nature of the ground created by a loving, gracious and holy God, how the earth itself responds to its sinful inhabitants, rather than as post hoc punishments invented in the moment.  And I can begin to see the nature of the earth, the ground we live on, as a deterrent to the unhindered visiting of the fathers’ iniquity upon the sons.

Cain couldn’t supply himself with food by his own cultivation of the ground; the ground would no longer yield its best for him.  Cain built a city, a place where people could live in community and trade with one another for things they all needed.  Did he honor those still righteous enough to cultivate the ground that would not yield its best to him?  Did he learn from them?

The text doesn’t say.  It says, The earth (ʼerets, הארץ) was ruined in the sight of God; the earth (ʼerets, הארץ) was filled with violence.  If I accept that the blood of victims has a voice that yehôvâh can hear crying out from the ground, crying out to Him to act, and multiply that by the increase of population over the many generations I can at least imagine the cacophony in his ears and begin to appreciate his choices (Genesis 6:6, 7 NET):

The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) regretted that he had made humankind on the earth (ʼerets, בארץ), 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 (ʼădâmâh, האדמה) – 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 religious mind must sit quietly here to meditate that at this moment in history yehôvâh preferred to destroy all life (air and ground) but that which could be saved in a boat and to start over again rather than to establish a law or a religion (aside from the rudiments of animal sacrifice handed down from Adam, Cain and Abel).  One might say that yehôvâh hated law and religion, law and religion were unloved relative to starting over again with a remnant of the former world.  But after the flood (Genesis 8:20-22 NET):

Noah built an altar to the Lord (yehôvâh, ליהוה).  He then took some of every kind of clean animal and clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.  And the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) smelled the soothing aroma and (yehôvâh, יהוה) said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground (ʼădâmâh, האדמה) because of humankind, even though the inclination of their minds (lêb, לב) is evil from childhood on.  I will never again destroy everything that lives, as I have just done.  While the earth continues to exist, planting time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night will not cease.”

God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) spoke one law to address violence, “Whoever sheds human blood, by other humans must his blood be shed; for in God’s image God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) has made humankind”[13] and one revised dietary law: Everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea are under your authority.  You may eat any moving thing that lives.  As I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.[14]  I assume that the trees of life and of the knowledge of good and evil did not survive the flood and had become a nonissue (Genesis 3:22).  But in Leviticus yehôvâh was establishing both a law and a religion in clear contrast to those originated by men.  Now that will have to wait for another essay.

In my first draft of this essay I had hoped to avoid Noah’s curse: Cursed (ʼârar, ארור; Septuagint: ἐπικατάρατος) be Canaan![15]  But I couldn’t get away with it.  And I have to admit it is more germane than I want it to be.  If Noah’s story (Genesis 9:20-27) were about almost anyone else we would take it simply as James’ source text (James 3:7-12 NET):

For every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and sea creature is subdued and has been subdued by humankind.  But no human being can subdue the tongue; it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse (καταρώμεθα, a form of καταράομαι) people made in God’s image.  From the same mouth come blessing and cursing (κατάρα).  These things should not be so, my brothers and sisters.  A spring does not pour out fresh water and bitter water from the same opening, does it?  Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers and sisters, or a vine produce figs?  Neither can a salt water spring produce fresh water.

But it was Noah, the heir of the world, who spoke this curse and this blessing so we are taught: “God’s blessing is going to rest directly on Shem, indirectly on Japheth, and His cursing is going to rest upon Ham’s son Canaan.”[16]  “So Ham was cursed and Shem and Japheth were blessed in cooperative unity.  The problem which must arise from the cursing of Canaan is this: Why did God curse Canaan for the sin of Ham?  Beyond this, why did God curse the Canaanites, a nation, for the sin of one man?”[17]  The text is fairly clear that Noah not God spoke both the curse and the blessing.  To this point Moses had been very explicit when ʼĕlôhı̂ym or yehôvâh spoke.  Why do we want to believe that Noah spoke for Him here?

Noah was a godly man; he was blameless (tâmı̂ym, תמים; Septuagint: τέλειος) among his contemporaries.  He walked with God.[18]  Perhaps we want tâmı̂ym to be an absolute term.  But this was not Paul writing, According to the righteousness stipulated in the law [as understood by first century Pharisees] I was blameless (ἄμεμπτος).[19]  Noah was blameless (KJV: perfect) among his contemporaries[20] (dôr, בדרתיו; Septuagint: γενεᾷ), those condemned to death for their violence: Every inclination of the thoughts of their minds was only evil all the time.[21]  About all one can say for sure about Noah is that he wasn’t a murderer and perhaps not every inclination of the thoughts of [his mind] was only evil all the time.

God said to Noah, Make for yourself an ark of cypress wood.  Make rooms in the ark, and cover it with pitch inside and out.[22]  And Noah did all that God commanded him – he did indeed.[23]  Through his faithfulness Noah was declared a herald of righteousness: and if [God] did not spare the ancient world, but did protect Noah, a herald of righteousness, along with seven others, when God brought a flood on an ungodly worldthen the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from their trials, and to reserve the unrighteous for punishment at the day of judgment[24]  By faith Noah, when he was warned about things not yet seen, with reverent regard constructed an ark for the deliverance of his family.  Through faith he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.[25]

But Noah found favor (chên, חן; Septuagint: χάριν) in the sight of the Lord.[26]  As followers of Jesus it is more prudent to believe that Noah’s faithfulness was on account of yehôvâh’s grace rather than due to some inherent quality of Noah’s: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.[27]  There is no one righteous, not even one[28] [i.e., in and of himself] there is no one who shows kindness, not even one,[29] Paul quoted the Psalm of David (Psalm 14:2, 3 Tanakh):

The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.  They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Jesus’ assessment of Noah and of the entire Old Testament is very helpful here: Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must all be born from above.’[30]  Noah didn’t miraculously escape the corruption of the flesh of Adam.  Noah didn’t speak for God unless the text had said that Noah spoke the word of God.

Noah’s “words came to pass, so we believe he was inspired by God.”[31]  I know of no place in Scripture where it is written, “this took place to fulfill Noah’s prophecy.”  Generations of Bible expositors would surely have quoted it if they had found it, so the contention that Noah’s curse and blessing “came to pass” is in the eye of the beholder.

“The act of Ham could not go unpunished.  In the curse of Noah upon Canaan, he was not punishing him personally for something his father Ham had done.  The words of Noah refer not to Canaan himself, but to the nation that would come from him…Though we are not told the exact sin of Ham, we do know that it was reprehensible enough for God to curse the line of his son Canaan.  The judgment was not directed to Canaan personally but rather to his descendants.”[32]  As prophecies go, then—and the Scriptures do not record that Canaan himself was ever enslaved to his brothers—one need not fear Noah as a prophet (Deuteronomy 18:21, 22 NET):

“Now if you say to yourselves, ‘How can we tell that a message is not from the Lord?’ – whenever a prophet speaks in my name and the prediction is not fulfilled, then I have not spoken it; the prophet has presumed to speak it, so you need not fear him.”

“Noah’s words did come to pass in the future, as we read that many of Canaan’s descendants were either killed or put under tribute by Israel (descendants of Shem) during the times of Joshua and the Judges, and later by King Solomon.”  God’s words will come to pass but the simple fact that a man’s words come to pass doesn’t make them God’s words (Deuteronomy 13:1-4 NET):

Suppose a prophet or one who foretells by dreams should appear among you and show you a sign or wonder, and the sign or wonder should come to pass concerning what he said to you, namely, “Let us follow other gods” – gods whom you have not previously known – “and let us serve them.”  You must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer, for the Lord your God will be testing you to see if you love him with all your mind and being.  You must follow the Lord your God and revere only him; and you must observe his commandments, obey him, serve him, and remain loyal to him.

I’m not accusing Noah of being a false prophet.  I’m not accusing Noah of being any kind of prophet at all.  If I’m accusing Noah of anything it is that he spoke angrily, self-righteously, with a hangover.  But what I must believe about God to believe that He cursed a nation of people for something a man did many generations before those people were even born is a very different god than the One I am knowing through the Scriptures.

I concede that one who believes this is God because “many of Canaan’s descendants were either killed or put under tribute by Israel (descendants of Shem) during the times of Joshua and the Judges, and later by King Solomon” may also believe that He will punish the sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons for the sin of the fathers who reject (śânêʼ, לשׁנאי) me[33]  Still, I hope that one may be willing to concede that Noah’s curse was not the love that does no wrong to a neighbor, not the love that is the fulfillment of the law.[34]

While I don’t believe that Noah’s curse, or his blessing, were the immutable Word of God I do think his curse is a terrifying example of God visiting Noah’s iniquity upon Canaan, terrifying precisely because the effect of Noah’s iniquity[35] has seemed so sure and certain that so many have assumed it was divine prophecy.  We’re not told how Canaan reacted to Noah’s curse.  I know how I would react to Noah’s “godliness,” “blamelessness,” and his “walk” with God unless I were willing to forgive him for his drunken rant.  And I know that Canaan’s descendants practiced a law and religion inimical to yehôvâh.

I’ll return to Leviticus 18 in another essay.

[1] Genesis 3:17 (NET)

[2] Genesis 2:16, 17 (NET)

[3] Genesis 3:6a (NET)

[4] Genesis 29:31a (NET)

[5] 1 Timothy 2:14a (NET)

[6] Genesis 4:5b, 8 (NET)

[7] Genesis 6:11 (NET)

[8] Genesis 6:13a (NET)

[9] Genesis 4:10b (NET)

[10] Proverbs 22:6 (NET)

[11] Genesis 4:11, 12 (NET)

[12] Genesis 3:17b-19 (NET)

[13] Genesis 9:6 (NET)

[14] Genesis 9:2b, 3 (NET)

[15] Genesis 9:25a (NET)

[16] J. Ligon Duncan, “The Cursing of Canaan,” Sermon on Genesis 9:18-29, November 22, 1998, First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi

[17] Bob Deffinbaugh, “10. The Nakedness of Noah and the Cursing of Canaan (Genesis 9:18-10:32),” Bible.org

[18] Genesis 6:9b (NET)

[19] Philippians 3:6b (NET)

[20] NET note 32: Heb “Noah was a godly man, blameless in his generations.” The singular “generation” can refer to one’s contemporaries, i.e., those living at a particular point in time. The plural “generations” can refer to successive generations in the past or the future. Here, where it is qualified by “his” (i.e., Noah’s), it refers to Noah’s contemporaries, comprised of the preceding generation (his father’s generation), those of Noah’s generation, and the next generation (those the same age as his children). In other words, “his generations” means the generations contemporary with him. See BDB 190 s.v. דוֹר.

[21] Genesis 6:5b (NET)

[22] Genesis 6:14 (NET)

[23] Genesis 6:22 (NET)

[24] 2 Peter 2:5, 9 (NET)

[25] Hebrews 11:7 (NET)

[26] Genesis 6:8 (NET)

[27] Genesis 6:9 (KJV)

[28] Romans 3:10b (NET)

[29] Romans 3:12b (NET)

[30] John 3:7 (NET)

[31] Troy Lacey, “The Curse of Canaan,” October 12, 2012, Answers In Genesis

[32] Don Stewart, “Why Was Canaan Cursed Instead of Ham?,” Blue Letter Bible

[33] Deuteronomy 5:9b (NET)

[34] Romans 13:10 (NET)

[35] To those who hold that the fourth generation is a limit to Noah’s iniquity, I concede the point.  It would not be accurate to blame Noah’s iniquity for the sins of Canaanites in the time of Israel’s conquest.  My point is that iniquity is like a snowball rolling downhill, gaining mass and momentum, as long as people continue to reject, hate, prefer something other than, yehôvâh.

Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 9

I’ll continue to look at yehôvâh’s fearful pronouncement: I punish the sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons for the sin of the fathers who reject me[1]  Two tables comparing/contrasting four partial verses follow.  In the center columns the Hebrew words read from top to bottom, beside them are my best effort at a word-for-word translation, and then the NET translations are in the outer columns.

Exodus 20:5b

Deuteronomy 5:9b

…responding (פקד) to the transgression (עון) of fathers by dealing with children to the third and fourth generations of those who reject (לשׁנאי) me…

Exodus 20:5b (NET)

visiting פקד פקד visiting …I punish (פקד) the sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons for the sin (עון) of the fathers who reject (לשׁנאי) me…

Deuteronomy 5:9b (NET)

the iniquity עון עון the iniquity
of fathers אבת אבות of the fathers
upon על על upon
sons בנים בנים sons
upon על ועל and upon
the third שלשים שלשים the third
and upon ועל ועל and upon
the fourth רבעים רבעים the fourth
who hate לשׁנאי לשׁנאי who hate

Exodus 34:7b

Numbers 14:18b

…responding (פקד) to the transgression (עון) of fathers by dealing with children and children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.

Exodus 34:7b (NET)

visiting פקד פקד visiting …visiting (פקד) the iniquity (עון) of the fathers on the children until the third and fourth generations.

Numbers 14:18b (NET)

the iniquity עון עון the iniquity
of the fathers אבות אבות of the fathers
upon על על upon
sons בנים בנים sons
and upon ועל על upon
sons(’) בני
sons בנים
upon על
the third שלשים שלשים the third
and upon ועל ועל and upon
the fourth רבעים רבעים the fourth

There doesn’t seem to be anything about the Hebrew words themselves that would compel anyone to translate פקד (pâqad) I punish or עון (ʽâvôn) for the sin.[2]  In fact, forms of pâqad were only translated punish or punishment three other times in the NET prior to Deuteronomy 5:9.  Two occur after Israel worshipped the golden calf.  Moses said (Exodus 32:30-35 NET):

“You have committed a very serious sin, but now I will go up to the Lord – perhaps I can make atonement on behalf of your sin.”

So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Alas, this people has committed a very serious sin, and they have made for themselves gods of gold.  But now, if you will forgive (nâsâh, תשׁא) their sin…, but if not, wipe me out from your book that you have written.”  The Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me – that person I will wipe out of my book.  So now go, lead the people to the place I have spoken to you about.  See, my angel will go before you.  But on the day that I punish (pâqad, פקדי; Tanakh: I visit), I will indeed punish (pâqad, ופקדתי; Tanakh: I will visit) them for their sin.”

And the Lord sent a plague (nâgaph, ויגף) on the people because they had made the calf – the one Aaron made.               

I don’t have any quarrel with describing this plague[3] as punishment, but it occurs in a particular context.  Though Moses offered—wipe me out from your book that you have writtenyehôvâh said, Whoever has sinned against me – that person I will wipe out of my book.  Later in his address recorded in Deuteronomy Moses said:  Fathers must not be put to death for what their children do, nor children for what their fathers do; each must be put to death for his own sin.[4]

Rabbi Dr. Zev Farber in his article “Punishing Children for the Sins of their Parents,” on TheTorah online wrote about “the surprising claim” from Rabbi Yossi bar Chanina in the Babylonian Talmud “that in four cases the prophets overturned a decree Moses makes in the Torah.”  Apparently Rabbi Yossi bar Chanina held that not only Deuteronomy 5:9 but Exodus 20:5 “makes a clear and strong claim that in at least one case—worshipping other gods or idols—God punishes the descendants of the sinner until the fourth generation.”  Rabbi Farber took issue with one of the “four cases”:[5]

The prophet Ezekiel, who was exiled to Babylon in 597, offers a torrent of arguments and rhetoric against the concept of punishing children for the sins of the parents. He does not frame it as an argument against the Torah…but rather he frames it as a response to a popular notion (Ezek 18).

Rabbi Yossi bar Chanina apparently did not accept that “God punishes the descendants of the sinner until the fourth generation” was an erroneous popular notion and so he pit Ezekiel against Moses and even yehôvâh Himself.  This tenacious aspect of the religious mind to justify itself should be familiar to us.  How many generations of English speaking followers of Jesus have believed that ἄνωθεν meant again, Nicodemus’ misunderstanding of Jesus’ words?  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?[6]  Jesus[7]  answered (John 3:5-8 NET):

“I tell you the solemn truth, 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 (ἄνωθεν).’  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.”

I want to simplify the world to consider pâqad in the context of Adam and two of his sons Cain and Abel.  First, for background, consider Paul’s understanding of their situation (Romans 5:12-14 NET):

So then, just as sin entered the world through one man [e.g., Adam] and death through sin, and so death spread to all people because all sinned – for before the law was given, sin was in the world, but there is no accounting for sin when there is no law.  Yet death reigned from Adam until Moses even over those who did not sin in the same way that Adam (who is a type of the coming one) transgressed.

And the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) was pleased with Abel and his offering[8]  But when Cain killed Abel it is apparently possible to argue by the Hebrew words of Deuteronomy 5:9 that yehôvâh punished Abel for Adam’s sin.  It’s not an argument I want to make before the judgment seat of Christ.  Then the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”[9]  Cain lacked David’s knowledge of yehôvâh (Psalm 139:1-12 NET):

O Lord, you examine me and know.  You know when I sit down and when I get up; even from far away you understand my motives.  You carefully observe me when I travel or when I lie down to rest; you are aware of everything I do.  Certainly my tongue does not frame a word without you, O Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה), being thoroughly aware of it.  You squeeze me in from behind and in front; you place your hand on me.  Your knowledge is beyond my comprehension; it is so far beyond me, I am unable to fathom it.

Where can I go to escape your spirit?  Where can I flee to escape your presence?  If I were to ascend to heaven, you would be there.  If I were to sprawl out in Sheol, there you would be.  If I were to fly away on the wings of the dawn, and settle down on the other side of the sea, even there your hand would guide me, your right hand would grab hold of me.  If I were to say, “Certainly the darkness will cover me, and the light will turn to night all around me,” even the darkness is not too dark for you to see, and the night is as bright as day; darkness and light are the same to you.

Cain mistook yehôvâh’s question—Where is your brother Abel?—for ignorance of what he had done rather than as an opportunity to confess, and repent of, his rash act.  We can only imagine how differently this scene might have played out if Cain had expressed his own shock and horror at what he had done in anger, anger directed primarily at yehôvâh’s rejection of his offering.  But I don’t take that to mean that yehôvâh was ignorant that Cain murdered Abel: The voice of your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground![10]  Nor do I take it to mean that David was disputing with Moses or imagining novel qualities of yehôvâh.  I assume that yehôvâh is ever this knowledgeable and Cain was simply ignorant of it.

Cain wasn’t stupid.  Consider his clever evasion to yehôvâh’s question, Where is your brother Abel: I don’t know!  Am I my brother’s guardian?[11]  Apparently, he reasoned that his father had tripped himself up by being too forthright with yehôvâh: I heard you moving about in the orchard, Adam had answered yehôvâh’s question, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.[12]  As Cain understood it, the knowledge Adam let slip—I was naked—enabled yehôvâh to infer what his father had done: Who told you that you were naked? yehôvâh asked Adam.  Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?[13]  But again, I don’t assume that yehôvâh had to infer what He already knew Adam had done simply because Cain didn’t know Him.

In a similar way I assume that the word of yehôvâh (יהוה) that came to Ezekiel is the same word of the same yehôvâh revealed to Moses and recorded in Deuteronomy 5:9.  The erroneous popular notion—Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear (nâsâh, נשׁא) the iniquity (ʽâvôn, בעון) of the father?[14]—that the son should or must die for the father’s sin (Ezekiel 18:20 Tanakh) was the misunderstanding of religious minds no matter how many famous rabbis espoused it.  And so I take the translation of פקד (pâqad) as I punish in Deuteronomy 5:9 as a perpetuation of an erroneous popular notion of religious minds that was clearly corrected in Ezekiel 18.

I am not yet perfected in love.  The first thing that comes to mind when things don’t go my way is that God is punishing me for something.  Faith in yehôvâh comes from the fruit of his Spirit, along with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control.  If I think of verses like Deuteronomy 5:9 from the perspective of sons, grandsons and great grandsons, I will come to the same erroneous conclusion, what Rabbi Farber called Sour Grapes Theology:[15]

The sour grapes theology paints the punishment of descendants as a harsh but necessary way of God dispensing justice. Full punishment of a sinner may include the punishment of his family.

I think it’s more productive to view Deuteronomy 5:9 from the perspective of iniquitous fathers, particularly iniquitous fathers who don’t want the horror of their iniquity visited upon their children.  For [our earthly fathers] disciplined us for a little while as seemed good to them, but [God] does so for our benefit, that we may share his holiness.[16]  My children were not my biological offspring so I won’t even comment on passing on my iniquity via nature.  But the iniquity I passed on to them via nurture was not merely a matter of my inept blundering.

As I think of it now I recall how often I passed on my perverse views of life, the way things “really” work.  And I did so with as much or more conviction than anything I taught them about Christ and his righteousness.  Add to that my own on-again-off-again righteousness—sometimes led by the Holy Spirit, sometimes not so much—and I have a truly horrifying picture of yehôvâh visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children,[17] my children!  And this, when I wanted what was best for them.

I find myself crying aloud with Cain’s words (if not his meaning): My iniquity (ʽâvôn, עוני) is too great to endure (nâsâh, מנשׁא)!  What hope do I have but that which is to be found in the long name of yehôvâhThe Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abounding in loyal love and faithfulness, keeping loyal love for thousands, [bearing] (nâsâh, נשׁא) iniquity (ʽâvôn, עון) and transgression and sin.[18]

In a prophecy that reads so much like history unbelievers doubt its authenticity, yehôvâh spoke of disobedient (Leviticus 26:13-17) survivors (Leviticus 26:39, 40 Tanakh):

And they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them.  And they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, in their treachery which they committed against Me, and also that they have walked contrary unto Me.

Confession of one’s own iniquity is obvious.  Confession of one’s fathers’ iniquity is necessary because we are far too likely to mistake our fathers’ iniquity for the way things are done, especially if those fathers were religious leaders of some note.

In the movie The Shack in a dream within a vision during a life-threatening coma Mack (Sam Worthington) spends a weekend in a cabin at a lake with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  His wife Nan (Radha Mitchell) calls God Papa, a bit too familiar for Mack’s taste at the beginning of the film.

Papa (Octavia Spencer) appears to Mack as the neighbor woman who, looking at young Mack’s bruised face, said, “Daddies aren’t supposed to do that to their kids.  It ain’t love.  You understand?”  Papa explains to adult Mack, “After what you been through, I didn’t think you could handle a father right now.”  But once Mack has God in his hands, so to speak, he has a lifetime of blame to unleash.

“You’re the almighty God, right?” he accuses Papa.  “You know everything.  You’re everywhere, all at once.  And you have limitless power.  Yet, somehow you let my little girl die.  When she needed you most, you abandoned her.”  Mack’s 7-year-old daughter Missy (Amélie Eve) was abducted by a serial killer.  Nothing of her was ever found but her bloodstained dress.  Still, Mack’s first salvo is mostly a ruse that doesn’t quite get to the heart of his issue with God.

That first night he reads himself to sleep with the Old Testament and dreams of Missy’s abduction, a dream within a dream within a vision in a coma.  Missy calls out to him for rescue.  The next morning at breakfast Mack moves one step closer to the real issue.

Mack: Everybody knows you punish the people who disappoint you.

Papa: Hmm.  Nope.  I don’t need to punish people.  Sin is its own punishment.[19]  As difficult as it is for you to accept, I’m in the middle of everything you perceive to be a mess, workin’ for your good.

Later, after a stroll across the lake with Jesus (Aviv Alush), Mack meets Wisdom (Alice Braga) in a cave beneath a waterfall.  She helps him take his first steps toward obeying Jesus’ command: Do not judge so that you will not be judged.[20]  Sitting with Wisdom, Mack approaches the heart of the matter.

Mack: You know, what I don’t understand is how God can love Missy and put her through so much horror.  She was innocent.

Wisdom: I know.

Mack: Did he use her to punish me?  ‘Cause that’s not fair.  And she didn’t deserve it.  My wife and my children didn’t deserve it.  Now, I might.  ‘Cause you know I’m…

Mack can never bring himself to confess that he murdered his father.  Later that day Mack acknowledges being overly hard on God.  Papa responds: “I can work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies.  But that doesn’t mean I orchestrate the tragedies.”

That evening Mack is taken to meet the abusive father he poisoned.  Before he can say anything more than “Dad” his father says, “Mack, I’m so sorry for everything.  I was blind and I couldn’t see you.  I couldn’t see anyone.”  Still, Mack can’t or won’t confess his murder, he only makes excuses.  “Son, I forgive you,” his father continues.  “You’ve become the father I could never be.  And I’m so proud of you.  Can you ever forgive me?”

In the movie Papa protested that she didn’t “orchestrate the tragedies.”  Still, woven into the fabric of The Shack is a serial killer who came to a campground to abduct a little girl.  His victim of opportunity was a murderer’s daughter.  Papa in Mack’s dream in a vision in a coma in a movie may want to leave it to chance or fate or karma, but in Scripture visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children is as much a part of yehôvâh’s self-proclaimed name as forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.[21]  That’s as important in reality as it proved to be in The Shack.

The next morning Papa appears to Mack as a man (Graham Greene).  “For what we have to do today you’re gonna need a father,” Papa explains.  He wants Mack to forgive the man who murdered his daughter.

Mack: So, you just let him get away with it?

Papa: Nobody gets away with anything…I’m not asking you to excuse what he did.  I’m asking you to trust me to do what’s right and to know what’s best.

 

Form of pâqad Reference KJV NET
פקד Exodus 34:7 visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children… responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children…
Exodus 38:21 …as it was counted, according to the commandment of Moses… …which was counted by the order of Moses…
Numbers 1:44 …which Moses and Aaron numbered …whom Moses and Aaron numbered
Numbers 3:15 Number the children of Levi after the… Number the Levites by their clans and…
Numbers 3:39 …which Moses and Aaron numbered at the commandment of the LORD… …whom Moses and Aaron numbered by the word of the Lord…
Numbers 3:40 Number all the firstborn of the males of the children of Israel… Number all the firstborn males of the Israelites…
Numbers 4:37 …which Moses and Aaron did number …whom Moses and Aaron numbered
Numbers 4:41 …whom Moses and Aaron did number …whom Moses and Aaron numbered
Numbers 4:45 …whom Moses and Aaron numbered …whom Moses and Aaron numbered
Numbers 4:46 …whom Moses and Aaron and the chief of Israel numbered …whom Moses, Aaron, and the leaders of Israel numbered
Numbers 4:49 According to the commandment of the LORD they were numbered According to the word of the Lord they were numbered
Numbers 14:18 visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children… visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children…
Deuteronomy 5:9 visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children… I punish the sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons for the sin of the fathers…
יפקד Numbers 16:29 …or if they be visited after the visitation of all men… or if they share the fate[22] of all men…
Numbers 27:16 set a man over the congregation… appoint a man over the community…
פקדי Exodus 32:34 …nevertheless in the day when I visit But on the day that I punish
פקדו Numbers 26:63 …who numbered the children of Israel in the plains of Moab… …who numbered the Israelites in the plains of Moab…
Numbers 26:64 when they numbered the children of Israel… when they numbered the Israelites…
פקדיו Numbers 1:22 those that were numbered of them, according to the number of the names… …all the males numbered of them twenty years old or older…
Numbers 26:54 …be given according to those that were numbered of him. …given according to the number of people in it.
פקדיכם Numbers 14:29 …and all that were numbered of you… …all those of you who were numbered
פקדיהם Numbers 1:21 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Reuben… Those of them who were numbered from the tribe of Reuben were 46,500.
Numbers 1:23 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Simeon… Those of them who were numbered from the tribe of Simeon were 59,300.
Numbers 1:25 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Gad… Those of them who were numbered from the tribe of Gad were 45,650.
Numbers 1:27 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Judah… Those of them who were numbered from the tribe of Judah were 74,600.
Numbers 1:29 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Issachar… Those of them who were numbered from the tribe of Issachar were 54,400.
Numbers 1:31 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Zebulun… Those of them who were numbered from the tribe of Zebulun were 57,400.
Numbers 1:33 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Ephraim… Those of them who were numbered from the tribe of Ephraim were 40,500.
Numbers 1:35 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Manasseh… Those of them who were numbered from the tribe of Manasseh were 32,200.
Numbers 1:37 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Benjamin… Those of them who were numbered from the tribe of Benjamin were 35,400.
Numbers 1:39 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Dan… Those of them who were numbered from the tribe of Dan were 62,700.
Numbers 1:41 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Asher… Those of them who were numbered from the tribe of Asher were 41,500.
Numbers 1:43 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Naphtali… Those of them who were numbered from the tribe of Naphtali were 53,400.
Numbers 3:22 Those that were numbered of them, according to the number… Those of them who were numbered, counting every male…
Numbers 3:22 …even those that were numbered of them were seven thousand and five hundred. Not translated
Numbers 4:36 And those that were numbered of them by their families were… and those of them numbered by their families were 2,750.
Numbers 4:40 Even those that were numbered of them, throughout their families… those of them numbered by their families, by their clans, were 2,630.
Numbers 4:44 Even those that were numbered of them after their families… those of them numbered by their families were 3,200.
Numbers 4:48 Even those that were numbered of them, were… those of them numbered were 8,580.
Numbers 26:7 and they that were numbered of them were… and those numbered of them were 43,730.
Numbers 26:62 And those that were numbered of them were… Those of them who were numbered were 23,000…
פקודי Exodus 38:21 This is the sum of the tabernacle… This is the inventory of the tabernacle…
Exodus 38:25 And the silver of them that were numbered of the congregation… The silver of those who were numbered of the community…
Numbers 1:45 So were all those that were numbered of the children of Israel… …who could serve in Israel’s army, were numbered
Numbers 2:32 These are those which were numbered of the children of Israel… These are the Israelites, numbered according to their families.
Numbers 2:32 …all those that were numbered of the camps… All those numbered in the camps…
Numbers 3:39 All that were numbered of the Levites… All who were numbered of the Levites…
Numbers 4:37 These were they that were numbered of the families of the Kohathites… These were those numbered from the families of the Kohathites…
Numbers 4:41 These are they that were numbered of the families of the sons of Gershon… These were those numbered from the families of the Gershonites…
Numbers 4:45 These be those that were numbered of the families of the sons of Merari… These are those numbered from the families of the Merarites…
Numbers 26:51 These were the numbered of the children of Israel… These were those numbered of the Israelites, 601,730.
Numbers 26:57 And these are they that were numbered of the Levites… …Levites who were numbered according to their families…
Numbers 26:63 These are they that were numbered by Moses… These are those who were numbered by Moses…
Numbers 31:14 …Moses was wroth with the officers of the host… …Moses was furious with the officers of the army…
ויפקד Numbers 3:16 Moses numbered them according to the word of the LORD… Moses numbered them according to the word of the Lord…
Numbers 3:42 And Moses numbered, as the LORD commanded him… So Moses numbered all the firstborn males among the Israelites…
Numbers 4:34 And Moses and Aaron and the chief of the congregation numbered …Moses and Aaron and the leaders of the community numbered
ופקדיו Numbers 2:6 And his host, and those that were numbered thereof… Those numbered in his division are 54,400.
Numbers 2:8 And his host, and those that were numbered thereof… Those numbered in his division are 57,400.
Numbers 2:11 And his host, and those that were numbered thereof… Those numbered in his division are 46,500.
Numbers 4:49 thus were they numbered of him… Thus were they numbered by him…
ויפקדם Numbers 1:19 so he numbered them in the wilderness of Sinai. And so he numbered them in the wilderness of Sinai.
ופקדתי Exodus 32:34 I will visit their sin upon them. I will indeed punish them for their sin.
ופקדתם Numbers 4:27 …and ye shall appoint unto them in charge… You will assign them all their tasks…
ופקדיהם Numbers 2:4 And his host, and those that were numbered of them… Those numbered in his division are 74,600.
Numbers 2:13 And his host, and those that were numbered of them… Those numbered in his division are 59,300.
Numbers 2:15 And his host, and those that were numbered of them… Those numbered in his division are 45,650.
Numbers 2:19 And his host, and those that were numbered of them… Those numbered in his division are 40,500.
Numbers 2:21 And his host, and those that were numbered of them… Those numbered in his division are 32,200.
Numbers 2:23 And his host, and those that were numbered of them… Those numbered in his division are 35,400.
Numbers 2:26 And his host, and those that were numbered of them… Those numbered in his division are 62,700.
Numbers 2:28 And his host, and those that were numbered of them… Those numbered in his division are 41,500.
Numbers 2:30 And his host, and those that were numbered of them… Those numbered in his division are 53,400.
Numbers 3:34 And those that were numbered of them, according to the number… Those of them who were numbered, counting every male…
Numbers 26:34 …Manasseh, and those that were numbered of them… …Manasseh; those numbered of them were 52,700.
Numbers 26:41 …and they that were numbered of them were… and according to those numbered of them, 45,600.
Numbers 26:50 and they that were numbered of them were… and those numbered of them were 45,400.
ואפקד Leviticus 18:25 …therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it… and I have brought the punishment for its iniquity upon it…
והפקדתי Leviticus 26:16 I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague… I will inflict horror on you, consumption and fever…
ופקודי Numbers 4:38 And those that were numbered of the sons of Gershon… Those numbered from the Gershonites…
Numbers 4:42 And those that were numbered of the families of the sons of Merari… Those numbered from the families of the Merarites…
לפקדיהם Exodus 30:12 …sum of the children of Israel after their number …census of the Israelites according to their number
Numbers 3:43 of those that were numbered of them, were twenty and two thousand… Not translated
Numbers 26:18 …Gad according to those that were numbered of them… …Gadites according to those numbered of them, 40,500.
Numbers 26:22 …Judah according to those that were numbered of them… …Judah according to those numbered of them, 76,500.
Numbers 26:25 …Issachar according to those that were numbered of them… …Issachar, according to those numbered of them, 64,300.
Numbers 26:27 …Zebulunites according to those that were numbered of them… …Zebulunites, according to those numbered of them, 60,500.
Numbers 26:37 …Ephraim according to those that were numbered of them… …Ephraimites, according to those numbered of them, 32,500.
Numbers 26:43 …Shuhamites, according to those that were numbered of them… …Shuhahites according to those numbered of them were 64,400.
Numbers 26:47 …Asher according to those that were numbered of them… …Asherites, according to those numbered of them, 53,400.
בפקד Exodus 30:12 …ransom for his soul unto the LORD, when thou numberest them …ransom for his life to the Lord when you number them
Exodus 30:12 …that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them. …there will be no plague among them when you number them.
Numbers 31:49 …and there lacketh not one man of us. …and not one is missing.
הפקד Leviticus 6:4[23] …or that which was delivered him to keep …or the thing that he had held in trust
תפקד Numbers 1:49 …thou shalt not number the tribe of Levi… …the tribe of Levi you must not number
Numbers 1:50 But thou shalt appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of testimony… But appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of the testimony…
Numbers 3:10 And thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons… So you are to appoint Aaron and his sons…
Numbers 4:23 …until fifty years old shalt thou number them… You must number them from thirty years old and upward…
Numbers 4:29 thou shalt number them after their families… you are to number them by their families…
הפקדים Exodus 30:13 …every one that passeth among them that are numbered Everyone who crosses over to those who are numbered
Exodus 30:14 Every one that passeth among them that are numbered Everyone who crosses over to those numbered
Exodus 38:26 …for every one that went to be numbered …for everyone who crossed over to those numbered
Numbers 1:44 These are those that were numbered These were the men
Numbers 1:46 Even all they that were numbered were… And all those numbered totaled 603,550.
Numbers 2:9 All that were numbered in the camp of… All those numbered of the camp of Judah…
Numbers 2:16 All that were numbered in the camp of Reuben… All those numbered of the camp of Reuben…
Numbers 2:24 All that were numbered of the camp of Ephraim… All those numbered of the camp of Ephraim…
Numbers 2:31 All they that were numbered in the camp… All those numbered of the camp of Dan…
Numbers 4:46 All those that were numbered of the… All who were numbered of the Levites…
Numbers 7:2 …over them that were numbered …had been supervising the numbering.
תפקדו Numbers 1:3 …thou and Aaron shall number them by their armies. You and Aaron are to number all in Israel…
Numbers 4:32 …and by name ye shall reckon the instruments… You are to assign by names the items…
תפקדם Numbers 3:15 …a month old and upward shalt thou number …a month old and upward you are to number.
Numbers 4:30 …unto fifty years old shalt thou number them… You must number them from thirty years…
הפקדים Numbers 31:48 And the officers which were over thousands of the host… Then the officers who were over the thousands of the army…
התפקדו Numbers 1:47 …were not numbered among them. …were not numbered among them.
Numbers 2:33 But the Levites were not numbered among the children of Israel… But the Levites were not numbered among the other Israelites…
Numbers 26:62 …they were not numbered among the children of Israel… …they were not numbered among the Israelites…
מפקודי Numbers 26:64 …whom Moses and Aaron the priest numbered …a man among these who had been among those numbered by Moses…

[1] Deuteronomy 5:9b (NET)

[2] I also notice that the qualifications לשׁנאי (translated: of those who reject me) and מצותי ולשמרי לאהבי (translated: those who love me and keep my commandments ) have vanished from occurrences after the end of the forty-day covenant.  I won’t say more since they reappear in Moses’ history lesson (Deuteronomy 5:5-10).

[3] Leviticus 26:14-17 may give some hint what this plague may have been.

[4] Deuteronomy 24:16 (NET)

[5] Rabbi Dr. Zev Farber, “Punishing Children for the Sins of their Parents,” TheTorah

[6] John 3:4 (NET)

[7] The Stephanus Textus Receptus had the article ο preceding Jesus. The NET parallel Greek text, NA28 and Byzantine Majority Text did not.

[8] Genesis 4:4b (NET)

[9] Genesis 4:9a (NET)

[10] Genesis 4:10b (NET)

[11] Genesis 4:9b (NET)

[12] Genesis 3:10 (NET)

[13] Genesis 3:11 (NET)

[14] Ezekiel 18:19a (Tanakh)

[15] Rabbi Dr. Zev Farber, “Punishing Children for the Sins of their Parents,” TheTorah

[16] Hebrews 12:10 (NET)

[17] Deuteronomy 5:9 (Tanakh)

[18] Exodus 34:6b, 7a (NET)

[19] “Sin is its own punishment,” is practically the definition of ʽâvôn but that will have to wait for another essay.

[20] Matthew 7:1 (NET)

[21] Exodus 34:7 (KJV)

[22] peqûddâh

[23] According to NET online this is piqqâdôn rather than pâqad as it is listed in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.

Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 8

I was standing between the Lord and you at that time, Moses said to Israel, to reveal to you the message of the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה), because you were afraid (yârêʼ, יראתם) of the fire and would not go up the mountain.[1]  Then he recounted the ten commandments.  Within them was a fearful description of yehôvâh: I punish the sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons for the sin of the fathers who reject me[2]  And in a footnote (11) the translators made it perfectly clear what form of punishment they had in mind: “God sometimes punishes children for the sins of a father (cf. Num 16:27, 32; Josh 7:24-25; 2 Sam 21:1-9).”  In other words yehôvâh executes the sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons for the sin of the fathers who reject Him.

That’s what I thought.  And that’s why I love the NET.  Apart from its written record I would look back and think I had been completely insane.  It’s not that I had the NET to read when I was young, but that its translators came of age in the same religious milieu as I did.  So in the spirit of fearing the Lord I want to slow way down to consider how they arrived at I punish as a translation of the Hebrew word pâqad (פקד; Septuagint: ἀποδιδοὺς, a form of ἀποδίδωμι).  And this fear is not reverence, but the fear that keeps one from direct intercourse with yehôvâh.  Only Moses risked that, because you were afraid of the fire and would not go up the mountain.

In Exodus 20:5 (NET) pâqad was translated responding.

Form of pâqad Reference KJV NET
פקד Exodus 20:5 visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children… responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children…
Deuteronomy 5:9 visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children… I punish the sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons…

I intend to track pâqad, ʽâvôn (עון; translated to the transgression and for the sin) and śânêʼ (לשׁנאי; translated of those who reject me and who reject me) from the beginning to the giving of the law, and then from there to its restatement in Deuteronomy.  I first encountered ʽâvôn from the mouth of Cain after he attacked his brother Abel and killed him.[3]

So now, you are banished from the ground, yehôvâh said to him, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.[4]  Up to that time Cain had cultivated the groundWhen you try to cultivate the ground, yehôvâh continued, it will no longer yield its best for you.  You will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.[5]  Cain lamented (Genesis 4:13b, 14 NET):

My punishment (ʽâvôn, עוני) is too great to endure!  Look!  You are driving me off the land today, and I must hide from your presence.  I will be a homeless wanderer on the earth; whoever finds me will kill me.

Here the translators assumed that Cain lamented his punishment rather than his sin; ʽâvôn can mean both.  When yehôvâh prophesied to Abram the translators assumed the Amorites were not punished in the promised land they inhabited but that the land itself would not be given to Abram’s descendants until the Amorites’ sin reached some predetermined limit (Genesis 15:13b-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 (ʽâvôn, עון) of the Amorites has not yet reached its limit.

But Abram/Abraham had no son yet by his wife Sarah (Genesis 17:15-21).

Then God said to Abraham, “As for your wife, you must no longer call her Sarai; Sarah will be her name.  I will bless her and will give you a son through her.  I will bless her and she will become a mother of nations.  Kings of countries will come from her!”

Then Abraham bowed down with his face to the ground and laughed as he said to himself, “Can a son be born to a man who is a hundred years old?  Can Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?”  Abraham said to God, “O that Ishmael might live before you!”

God said, “No, Sarah your wife is going to bear you a son, and you will name him Isaac.  I will confirm my covenant with him as a perpetual covenant for his descendants after him.  As for Ishmael, I have heard you.  I will indeed bless him, make him fruitful, and give him a multitude of descendants.  He will become the father of twelve princes; I will make him into a great nation.  But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this set time next year.”

The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent during the hottest time of the day.  Abraham looked up and saw three men standing across from him.[6]  One of them said, “I will surely return to you when the season comes round again, and your wife Sarah will have a son!”[7]

So Sarah laughed to herself, thinking, “After I am worn out will I have pleasure, especially when my husband is old too?”

The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child when I am old?’  Is anything impossible for the Lord?  I will return to you when the season comes round again and Sarah will have a son.”  Then Sarah lied, saying, “I did not laugh,” because she was afraid (yârêʼ, יראה).  But the Lord said, “No!  You did laugh.”[8]

The next occurrence of ʽâvôn involved the judgment and condemnation of Sodom.  At dawn the angels hurried Lot along, saying, “Get going!  Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or else you will be destroyed when the city is judged (ʽâvôn)!”[9]  Competing values had met at Lot’s front door (Genesis 19:4-9a NET):

Before they could lie down to sleep, all the men – both young and old, from every part of the city of Sodom – surrounded the house.  They shouted to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight?  Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!”

Lot went outside to them, shutting the door behind him.  He said, “No, my brothers!  Don’t act so wickedly (râʽaʽ, תרעו)!  Look, I have two daughters who have never had sexual relations with a man.  Let me bring them out to you, and you can do to them whatever you please.  Only don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

“Out of our way!” they cried, and “This man came to live here as a foreigner, and now he dares to judge us!  We’ll do more harm (râʽaʽ, נרע) to you than to them!”

The two angels, yehôvâh’s messengers, didn’t allow the men of Sodom to fulfill their desire, nor did they allow Lot to defile his daughters to fulfill his family’s ideal of hospitality.  They struck the men who were at the door of the house, from the youngest to the oldest, with blindness.[10]   And that brings me to the first occurrence of pâqad.

The Lord visited (pâqad, פקד) Sarah just as he had said he would and did for Sarah what he had promised.[11]  The rabbis who translated the Septuagint chose ἐπεσκέψατο (a form of ἐπισκέπτομαι) here.  I find ἐπεσκέψατο at the beginning of the fulfillment of another promise as well.  The Jerusalem Council listened to Barnabas and Paul while they explained all the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.[12] James replied (Acts 15:13b-18 NET Table1 Table2):

“Brothers, listen to me.  Simeon has explained (Acts 15:7-11) how God first concerned himself (ἐπεσκέψατο, a form of ἐπισκέπτομαι) to select from among the Gentiles a people for his name.  The words of the prophets agree with this, as it is written, ‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the fallen tent of David; I will rebuild its ruins and restore it, so that the rest of humanity may seek the Lord, namely, all the Gentiles I have called to be my own, says the Lord, who makes these things known from long ago.”

James didn’t quote the Septuagint.

Acts 15:16, 17 (NET) Acts 15:16, 17 Parallel Greek Amos 9:11, 12 Septuagint Amos 9:11, 12 NETS
‘After this… μετὰ ταῦτα… ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ… On that day…
…I will return… …ἀναστρέψω…
…and I will rebuild the fallen tent of David… καὶ ἀνοικοδομήσω τὴν σκηνὴν Δαυὶδ τὴν πεπτωκυῖαν ἀναστήσω τὴν σκηνὴν Δαυιδ τὴν πεπτωκυῖαν… …I will raise up the tent of David that is fallen…
…καὶ ἀνοικοδομήσω τὰ πεπτωκότα αὐτῆς… …and rebuild its ruins…
…I will rebuild its ruins… …καὶ τὰ |κατεσκαμμένα| αὐτῆς ἀνοικοδομήσω… …καὶ τὰ κατεσκαμμένα αὐτῆς ἀναστήσω… …and raise up its destruction…
…and restore it… …καὶ ἀνορθώσω αὐτήν… …καὶ ἀνοικοδομήσω αὐτὴν καθὼς αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ αἰῶνος… …and rebuild it as the days of old…
…so that the rest of humanity may seek the Lord, namely, all the Gentiles I have called to be my own,’ says the Lord, who makes these things… …ὅπως ἂν ἐκζητήσωσιν οἱ κατάλοιποι τῶν ἀνθρώπων τὸν κύριον καὶ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη ἐφ᾿ οὓς ἐπικέκληται τὸ ὄνομα μου ἐπ᾿ αὐτούς, λέγει κύριος ποιῶν ταῦτα… …ὅπως ἐκζητήσωσιν οἱ κατάλοιποι τῶν ἀνθρώπων καὶ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη ἐφ᾽ οὓς ἐπικέκληται τὸ ὄνομά μου ἐπ᾽ αὐτούς λέγει κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὁ ποιῶν ταῦτα… …in order that those remaining of humans and all the nations upon whom my name has been called might seek out me, says the Lord who does these things.

But the Septuagint version of Amos 9:12 is much closer to James’ quotation than the Hebrew from which our Bibles have been translated.

Amos 9:12 (NET) Amos 9:12 (KJV)

Amos 9:12 (Tanakh)

“As a result they will conquer those left in Edom and all the nations subject to my rule.”  The Lord, who is about to do this, is speaking! That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this. That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this.

The first occurrence of śânêʼ is found in the words with which Rebekah’s family blessed her when she left them to marry Abraham’s and Sarah’s son Isaac: Our sister, may you become the mother of thousands of ten thousands!  May your descendants possess the strongholds of their enemies (śânêʼ).[13]  But enemies as a translation of śânêʼ did not mean open warfare exclusively.  It could include the fear of a potential enemy.  Abimelech said to Isaac, “Leave us and go elsewhere, for you have become much more powerful than we are.”[14]  When Abimelech saw how yehôvâh had blessed Isaac and sought a treaty with him, Isaac asked, Why have you come to me?  You hate (śânêʼ, שׁנאתם) me and sent me away from you. [15]

The Hebrew word śânêʼ was also used to describe personal preference.  Isaac and Rebekah had twin sons, Esau and Jacob.  Jacob married two women, Leah and Rachel.  Rachel was beautiful.  Leah was not.  When evening came Jacob preferred to bed Rachel over Leah.  When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved (śânêʼ, שׁנואה), he enabled her to become pregnant while Rachel remained childless.[16]  She became pregnant again and had another son.  She said, “Because the Lord heard that I was unloved (śânêʼ, שׁנואה), he gave me this one too.”[17]

From the perspective of the word usage of śânêʼ it matters very little whether Leah was a superstitious woman who mistook happenstance for interaction with yehôvâh.  As a matter of faith in yehôvâh it is important to remember that Moses was not afraid of the fire, went up the mountain and spoke directly with Him.  He said of Moses (Numbers 12:6-8a NET):

Hear now my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) will make myself known to him in a vision; I will speak with him in a dream.  My servant Moses is not like this; he is faithful in all my house.  With him I will speak face to face, openly, and not in riddles; and he will see the form of the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה).

It was Moses who wrote that yehôvâh saw (râʼâh, וירא) that Leah was unloved and enabled her to become pregnant.  If I believe, the details pulse with life.  Leah concurred with yehôvâh at first: The Lord has looked (râʼâh, ראה) with pity on my oppressed condition,[18] she said when she was not having regular sex with Jacob.  But after she was and had given birth to two sons, Reuben and Simeon, the idea that yehôvâh saw her became less comforting: the Lord heard (shâmaʽ, ושמע) that I was unloved, she amended her statement of faith.

So then faith comes by hearing,[19] Paul wrote the Romans.  The best way to avoid faith in yehôvâh is to avoid the Bible.  Don’t read it for yourself or listen to preaching or teaching from it.  The second best way to avoid faith in yehôvâh is to read the Bible, study it even, listen to plenty of sermons from it, but keep your mind focused on rules for you to obey.  I know.  I did it for years.

With my mind focused on my own compliance, or lack of compliance, to rules derived from the law I missed the grace of God, his gift of righteousness, the fruit of his Spirit.  Although they see they do not see, and although they hear they do not hear nor do they understand,[20] Jesus promised those who trusted their religion, rites and rituals rather than yehôvâhWoe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, He critiqued their labors, hypocrites!  You cross land and sea to make one convert, and when you get one, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves![21]

Elsewhere I called my attempt “to keep yehôvâh’s law in my own strength…an occupational hazard of reading the Old Testament with a willing heart…If yehôvâh said do this or don’t do that, I said okay, and woke up somewhere in the story of David to the fact that I was striving again to keep the law in my own strength, without malice or forethought.”  Jesus read the Old Testament and concluded, You must all be born from above[22] because what is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.[23]  Keeping that in view and remaining open to understanding how He got that out of the Old Testament helps to minimize the “occupational hazard” of studying it.  Another more manual technique has been to deny my suspicions of yehôvâh, to take Him at his word, and to become more suspicious of the motives (1 Timothy 1:5-7) and agendas (Galatians 4:17-31) of those who would dissuade me from trusting his salvation.

Eventually, Rachel had a son, Joseph.  When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated (śânêʼ, וישׁנאו) Joseph and were not able to speak to him kindlyJoseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated (śânêʼ, שׁנא) him even more.[24]  He said to them (Genesis 37:6-8 NET):

“Listen to this dream I had: There we were, binding sheaves of grain in the middle of the field.  Suddenly my sheaf rose up and stood upright and your sheaves surrounded my sheaf and bowed down to it!”  Then his brothers asked him, “Do you really think you will rule over us or have dominion over us?”  They hated (śânêʼ, שׁנא) him even more because of his dream and because of what he said.

Joseph had another dream, and told it to his brothers (Genesis 37:9, 10 NET).

“Look,” he said.  “I had another dream.  The sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”  When he told his father and his brothers, his father rebuked him, saying, “What is this dream that you had?  Will I, your mother, and your brothers really come and bow down to you?”

Joeseph’s brothers’ śânêʼ was no mere emotion.  They plotted to kill him.  But Reuben, the eldest, talked them down from killing Joseph.  Then Judah said to his brothers (Genesis 37:26-28 NET):

“What profit is there if we kill our brother and cover up his blood?  Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites, but let’s not lay a hand on him, for after all, he is our brother, our own flesh.”  His brothers agreed.  So when the Midianite merchants passed by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver.  The Ishmaelites then took Joseph to Egypt.

An Egyptian named Potiphar, an official of Pharaoh and the captain of the guard, purchased [Joseph] from the Ishmaelites who had brought him there (Genesis 39:1b-6a NET).

The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) was with Joseph.  He was successful and lived in the household of his Egyptian master.  His master observed that the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) was with him and that the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) made everything he was doing successful.  So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal attendant.  Potiphar appointed (pâqad, ויפקדהו) Joseph overseer of his household and put him in charge of everything he owned.  From the time Potiphar appointed (pâqad, הפקיד) him over his household and over all that he owned, the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) blessed the Egyptian’s household for Joseph’s sake.  The blessing of the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) was on everything that he had, both in his house and in his fields.  So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; he gave no thought to anything except the food he ate.

In the Septuagint these two occurrences of pâqad were translated κατέστησεν and κατασταθῆναι (forms of καθίστημι).  Who then is the faithful and wise slave, Jesus asked, whom the master has put in charge (κατέστησεν, a form of καθίστημι) of his household, to give the other slaves their food at the proper time?  Blessed is that slave whom the master finds at work when he comes.  I tell you the truth, the master will put him in charge (καταστήσει, another form of καθίστημι) of all his possessions.[25]

I’ll pick this up in another essay.  The tables I’ve used here follow.

Form of pâqad Reference KJV NET
פקד Genesis 21:1 And the LORD visited Sarah as he had… The Lord visited Sarah just as he had said…
Genesis 50:24 …and God will surely visit you… …But God will surely come to you…
Genesis 50:25 …God will surely visit you… ..God will surely come to you…
Exodus 3:16 …I have surely visited you… …I have attended carefully to you…
Exodus 4:31 …they heard that the LORD had visited …heard that the Lord had attended to…
Exodus 13:19 …God will surely visit you… …God will surely attend to you…
Exodus 20:5 visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children… responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children…
ויפקדהו Genesis 39:4 …and he made him overseer over his… Potiphar appointed Joseph overseer of…
הפקיד Genesis 39:5 …he had made him overseer in his house… Potiphar appointed him over his…
ויפקד Genesis 40:4 charged Joseph with them… appointed Joseph to be their attendant…
Genesis 41:34 …and let him appoint officers over the… he should appoint officials throughout…
יפקד Genesis 50:24 …and God will surely visit you …But God will surely come to you
Genesis 50:25 …God will surely visit you ..God will surely come to you
Exodus 13:19 …God will surely visit you… …God will surely attend to you…
פקדתי Exodus 3:16 I have surely visited you… I have attended carefully to you…
Form of ʽâvôn Reference KJV NET
עוני Genesis 4:13 My punishment is greater than I can bear. My punishment is too great to endure!
עון Genesis 15:16 …for the iniquity of the Amorites is not… …for the sin of the Amorites has not yet…
Genesis 44:16 …found out the iniquity of thy servants… …God has exposed the sin of your servants!
Exodus 20:5 …visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children… …responding to the transgression of fathers…
בעון Genesis 19:15 …be consumed in the iniquity of the city. …will be destroyed when the city is judged!
Form of śânêʼ Reference KJV NET
שׁנאיו Genesis 24:60 …possess the gate of those which hate …possess the strongholds of their enemies.
שׁנאתם Genesis 26:27 …ye hate me, and have sent me away… You hate me and sent me away from you.
שׁנואה Genesis 29:31 …the LORD saw that Leah was hated …the Lord saw that Leah was unloved
Genesis 29:33 …the LORD hath heard that I was hated …the Lord heard that I was unloved
וישׁנאו Genesis 37:4 they hated him, and could not speak… they hated Joseph and were not able to…
שׁנא Genesis 37:5 …and they hated him yet the more. they hated him even more.
Genesis 37:8 And they hated him yet the more for his… They hated him even more because of his…
שׁנאינו Exodus 1:10 …they join also unto our enemies …will ally themselves with our enemies
שׁנאי Exodus 18:21 …men of truth, hating covetousness… …men of truth, those who hate bribes…
לשׁנאי Exodus 20:5 …generation of them that hate me …generations of those who reject me

[1] Deuteronomy 5:5 (NET)

[2] Deuteronomy 5:9b (NET)

[3] Genesis 4:8b (NET)

[4] Genesis 4:11 (NET)

[5] Genesis 4:12 (NET)

[6] Genesis 18:1, 2a (NET)

[7] Genesis 18:10a (NET)

[8] Genesis 18:12-15 (NET)

[9] Genesis 19:15 (NET) בעון

[10] Genesis 19:11a (NET)

[11] Genesis 21:1 (NET)

[12] Acts 15:12 (NET)

[13] Genesis 24:60 (NET) שׁנאיו

[14] Genesis 26:16 (NET)

[15] Genesis 26:27 (NET)

[16] Genesis 29:31 (NET)

[17] Genesis 29:33a (NET)

[18] Genesis 29:32a (NET)

[19] Romans 10:17a (NKJV)

[20] Matthew 13:13b (NET)

[21] Matthew 23:15 (NET)

[22] John 3:7b (NET)

[23] John 3:6 (NET)

[24] Genesis 37:4, 5 (NET)

[25] Matthew 24:45-47 (NET)