A Monotonous Cycle Revisited, Part 2

Moses wrote (Genesis 3:22-24 Tanakh):

And HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה) G-d (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) said: ‘Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.’  Therefore HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה) G-d (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.  So He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden the cherubim, and the flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way to the tree of life.

John wrote in the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must happen very soon.  He made it clear by sending his angel to his servant John, who then testified to everything that he saw[1] concerning the word of God and the testimony about Jesus Christ[2] (Revelation 22:1, 2 NET):

Then the angel showed me the river[3] of the water of life – water as clear as crystal – pouring out from the throne of God and of the Lamb, flowing down the middle of the city’s main street.  On each side[4] of the river is the tree of life producing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding[5] its fruit every[6] month of the year.  Its leaves are for the healing of the nations.

Placing the cherubim and the flaming sword to keep (shâmar, לשמר; Septuagint: φυλάσσειν, a form of φυλάσσω) the way to the tree of life from Adam and Eve was never about withholding life from humanity.  Though Adam and Eve knew (yedaʽ, וידעו; Septuagint: ἔγνωσαν, a form of γινώσκω) that they were naked,[7] yehôvâh ʼĕlôhı̂ym knew what it meant when sin entered the world through one man.[8]  Consider Jesus’ teaching (John 8:31, 32 NET):

Then Jesus said to those Judeans who had believed him, “If you continue to follow my teaching, you are really my disciples and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Jesus addressed those Judeans (KJV: Jews) who had believed him, arguably the best of the best.  Though they were hardened they were among the most spiritually cultivated (Romans 9-11) people to have walked the earth to that time, and they had begun to believe Jesus, and Jesus told them to continue to follow his teaching (μείνητε ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τῷ ἐμῷ).  Now hear with faith how He described these most spiritually cultivated people who had believed Him (John 8:44 NET):

You people are from your father[9] the devil, and you want to do what your father desires.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not[10] uphold the truth, because there is no truth in him.  Whenever he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies.

Spiritually cultivated they were and they had begun to believe Jesus but they were not yet born from above, not yet led by the Spirit of God, not yet the sons of God: For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.[11]  No one born of Adam, whether confessing some sin or not, wants to hear, you people are from your father the devil, or you want (θέλετε, a form of θέλω) to do what your father desires (ἐπιθυμίας, a form of ἐπιθυμία).  But I’ll consider the story of Abel, a keeper of sheep and his elder brother Cain, a tiller of the ground in this light (Genesis 4:2b-5 Tanakh).

And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto HaShem.  And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof.  And HaShem had respect unto Abel and to his offering; but unto Cain and to his offering He had not respect.  And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

It seems that Cain got the bright idea to bring yehôvâh an offering.  His little brother Abel just tagged along.  Each brought the fruit of his labor.  Who does yehôvâh think he is, discriminating this way between them?  After all, it’s the thought that counts![12]  That, by the way, was not my thought.

Oh, I wrote it.  Yes, I heard the thought in my mind.  But by faith I no longer recognize such thoughts as me (Galatians 2:20, 21) or mine.  I recognize—again, by faith in the word of God—that there is something in me—call it what you will, sin in the flesh, the old man—something that hates yehôvâh, everything He says, everything He does.  He can do nothing right.  Paul described this phenomenon in his letter to believers in Rome (Romans 7:21-25 NET Table1 Table2).

So, I find the law that when I want to do good (καλόν, a form of καλός), evil (κακὸν, a form of κακός) is present with me.  For I delight in the law of God in my inner being (ἄνθρωπον, a form of ἄνθρωπος).  But I see a different law in my members waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that is in my members.  Wretched man (ἄνθρωπος) that I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?  Thanks[13] be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!  So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Then the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why is your expression downcast?[14]  I’ve approached the next verse incidentally, tangentially, judgmentally and, curiously enough in retrospect, lawfully in other essays.  Here, I wanted to approach it directly.

Genesis 4:7 (Tanakh)

Genesis 4:7 (NET)

If thou doest well, shall it not be lifted up? and if thou doest not well, sin coucheth at the door; and unto thee is its desire, but thou mayest rule over it.’ Is it not true that if you do what is right, you will be fine?  But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door.  It desires to dominate you, but you must subdue it.”

Another version of the Tanakh reads: Is it not so that if you improve, it will be forgiven you?  If you do not improve, however, at the entrance, sin is lying, and to you is its longing, but you can rule over it.[15]  In another essay I wrote, “you must subdue it looks and sounds to me like a religious mind trying to turn a word into a law long before the law was given.”  That wasn’t quite fair.

Hebrew Tanakh (Jewish Virtual Library) Tanakh (Chabad.org)

NET

לפתח (pethach) at the door at the entrance at the door
חטאת (chaṭṭâʼâh) sin sin sin
רבץ (râbats) coucheth is lying is crouching
ואליך (ʼêl) and unto thee and to you to dominate you
תשוקתו (teshûqâh) is its desire is its longing It desires
ואתה (ʼattâh) but thou but you but you
תמשל (mâshal) mayest rule can rule must subdue
בו (bōw)[16] over it over it it

I was surprised that תמשל (mâshal)—translated mayest rule, can rule (Tanakh), must subdue (NET), BibleHub.com offers should rule—was so uncertain.  It makes sense to me that knowing good and evil makes each of us individually responsible for choosing good, but mayest rule and especially can rule imply the ability to do so as well.  Struggling with this I perused the commentariesAlexander MacLaren pointed out the similarity here to what yehôvâh had said to Eve after she had led Adam astray (Genesis 3:1-6): and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.[17]

Hebrew

Tanakh (Jewish Virtual Library) Tanakh (Chabad.org)

NET

ואל (ʼêl) and…to And to to control
אישך (ʼı̂ysh) thy husband your husband your husband
תשוקתך (teshûqâh) thy desire shall be will be your desire You will want
והוא (hûʼ) and he and he but he
ימשל (mâshal) shall rule will rule will dominate
בך (bāḵ)[18] over thee over you you

There was no equivocation here, no wiggle room in the translation of ימשל (mâshal).  Surely man’s experience ruling over a wife has been at least as perplexing as ruling over sin.  Of course, male Bible expositors present the latter part of yehôvâh’s word to Eve as a rule for women to obey.  I haven’t heard the latter part of his word to Cain abstracted that way.   The translations divide here along party lines: those who have accepted Jesus as the Christ hear responsibility (must subdue, should rule), those who have not hear a promise of ability (mayest rule, can rule).

I thought at first that the rabbis who translated the Septuagint eschewed any personification of sin lying, crouching, desiring or longing.

Genesis 4:7 (Septuagint BLB)

Genesis 4:7 (Septuagint Elpenor)

οὐκ ἐὰν ὀρθῶς προσενέγκῃς ὀρθῶς δὲ μὴ διέλῃς ἥμαρτες ἡσύχασον πρὸς σὲ ἡ ἀποστροφὴ αὐτοῦ καὶ σὺ ἄρξεις αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἐὰν ὀρθῶς προσενέγκῃς, ὀρθῶς δὲ μὴ διέλῃς, ἥμαρτες; ἡσύχασον· πρὸς σὲ ἡ ἀποστροφὴ αὐτοῦ, καὶ σὺ ἄρξεις αὐτοῦ.

Genesis 4:7 (NETS)

Genesis 4:7 (English Elpenor)

If you offer correctly but do not divide correctly, have you not sinned?  Be still; his recourse is to you, and you will rule over him.” Hast thou not sinned if thou hast brought it rightly, but not rightly divided it? be still, to thee shall be his submission, and thou shalt rule over him.

I had rejected the Septuagint here because it seemed to refer back to AbelCharles Ellicott offered a similar interpretation in his commentary:

“At present thou art vexed and envious because thy younger brother is rich and prosperous, while thy tillage yields thee but scanty returns.  Do well, and the Divine blessing will rest on thee, and thou wilt recover thy rights of primogeniture, and thy brother will look up to thee in loving obedience.”

I can’t assume that Abel was “rich and prosperous” while Cain’s “tillage yields…but scanty returns,” or that yehôvâh was concerned with Cain’s “rights of primogeniture” from what is written in the text.  I’ve assumed that HaShem had respect unto Abel and to his offering because yehôvâh foreknew that a Passover lamb would become important to his people rather than a Passover kumquat.  (No, I have no idea what kind of produce Cain offered Him.)  But if I consider now that the referent of his and him was sin rather than Abel, I get a different picture.

The rabbis understood רבץ (râbats) as an imperative ἡσύχασον (Be still) directed to Cain rather than as a description of sin lying or crouching.  Had Cain believed yehôvâh’s command to be still, he would have realized yehôvâh’s promise—you will rule (NETS), thou shalt rule (Elpenor) over sin—without equivocation.  I called this “yehôvâh at his most aloof,”[19] relative to the time and attention He lavishes on me.  (The philosophical bent of my mind still longs for a thousand page discourse where yehôvâh sits down with Cain and explains his understanding of sin, righteousness and redemption.)  Be still as yehôvâh’s command to Cain reminds me of Peter (Matthew 14:28 NET).

Peter said to [Jesus], “Lord, if it is you, order me to come to you on the water.”

Here is an example of what I meant by the spiritual cultivation of Israel.  Peter wasn’t a priest, a scribe or a religious professional of any sort.  He was a fisherman.  But he believed that if Jesus the Christ ordered or commanded him to come to Him on the water it would be so.  But this is probably too facile an explanation.  Peter’s lack of religious sophistication may have enhanced his spiritual cultivation.  Of his more religiously sophisticated (Philippians 3:5-7) brethren, Paul wrote (Romans 10:2, 3; 9:31, 32 NET Table):

…I can testify that [my fellow Israelites] are zealous for God, but their zeal is not in line with the truth (ἐπίγνωσιν, a form of ἐπίγνωσις).  For ignoring the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking instead to establish their own righteousness, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.

Israel even though pursuing a law of righteousness did not attain it.[20]  Why not?  Because they pursued it not by faith but (as if it were possible) by works.[21]  They stumbled over the stumbling stone…

In my zeal for God,[22] Paul wrote of his own religious sophistication, I persecuted the church.[23]

I wondered if be still here had any relationship to, Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.[24]  But the Hebrew word translated Be still there was הרפו (râphâh), translated σχολάσατε (a form of σχολάζω) in the Septuagint.  As I contemplated the definition of σχολάζω in the Greek Lexicon online I was lifted out of the weeds, so to speak, fussing over the meaning of word strings in the Bible, and into that eternal life of knowing the only true God, and Jesus Christ.  The definition of σχολάζω reads:

to devote oneself; to have leisure; to devote, have spare time, be at leisure, take a vacation; to take it easy; to have time to be busy with one’s interests apart from work; to take time to devote to study

This accurately describes the life I’ve received from Him, received in that same active sense that Jesus’ disciples accepted the words He gave them.  And, yes, σχολάσατε is an active form of σχολάζω.  This active stillness is how I pursue (ζητεῖτε, a form of ζητέω) his kingdom and righteousness: But above all, Jesus commanded, pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things [food, drink, clothing] will be given to you as well.[25]  The definition of ζητέω in the Greek Lexicon online reads:

to seek, search, look for; to inquire, investigate, examine, consider, deliberate; to try to obtain, desire to possess; to strive for, aim for, desire, wish; to ask for, request, demand (something); to claim (as entitlement); to appeal to someone for guidance

Back again in the weeds, the rabbis who translated the Septuagint offered no Greek counterpart for לפתח (pethach; translated at the door, at the entrance [Tanakh], at the door [NET]).  Why would they ignore לפתח (pethach) before Jesus was revealed to Israel?  Why would Masoretes add it afterward?  Frankly, I can’t imagine any plausible scenarios at the moment.  So as far as understanding what yehôvâh said to Cain, I’m more uncertain now than when I began this study.  I have, however, encountered many provocative ideas ripe for further study.  And what He said hardly mattered to the narrative.  Cain ignored it (Genesis 4:8 Tanakh).

And Cain spoke unto Abel his brother.  And it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.[26]

Cain was from [his] father the devil, and wanted to do what [his] father desires.  As Jesus said to those Judeans who had believed him…[the devil] was a murderer from the beginning, and does not uphold the truth (ἀληθείᾳ), because there is no truth (ἀλήθεια) in him.  There was no ritual or intentionality required for Cain to be from his father the devil.  It is the natural condition of those born of the flesh of Adam and Eve.  “What is born of the flesh is flesh,” Jesus told Nicodemus, “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.’”[27] 

Those who are in the flesh cannot please God,[28] Paul wrote to believers in Rome (Romans 8:5-7 NET).

For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit.  For the outlook of the flesh is death, but the outlook of the Spirit is life and peace, because the outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, Paul continued, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you.  Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this person does not belong to him.  But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is your life because of righteousness.  Moreover if the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his Spirit who lives in you.[29]

As a child trusting Jesus for a place in heaven I comforted myself and fell asleep many nights planning the perfect murders of my neighbor and his entire family.  My plan was never quite perfect.  I feared I would be caught.  Then people would misunderstand and call me names like “murderer” when I was the hapless victim balancing the scales of justice.  So I never murdered my neighbor or his entire family.

My fear—that I would be caught and my motives would be misunderstood—was not the righteousness of Godrevealed in the gospel.[30]  It was not the love that does no wrong to a neighbor, not the love that is the fulfillment of the law.[31]  It was not the love that is the fruit of his Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23).  Not murdering my neighbor and his entire family was indisputably better than murdering them would have been.  And clearly, it was possible for me to avoid committing murder apart from the righteousness of God.  But imagine standing face to face with Jesus and offering Him the fact that I did not murder my neighbor and his entire family as a righteousness of my own derived from the law after having rejected the gift He offered, the gift of God Himself (Acts 2:36-41).

It is inevitable, I suppose, that a reader wonders what my neighbor did to me: It was nothing in particular.  He was a year younger than I and didn’t treat me with the deference I felt I deserved.  And he got away with it.  My god failed to punish him for his sin.  This was not a singularly low point in my childhood, certainly not a turning point.  My darkness deepened into my teens until atheism became my only “rational” choice.

This kind of self-awareness might crush the spirit in any other form of life.  In this eternal life of yehôvâh’s Holy Spirit it encouraged me to stay the course when I had begun to waver.  I had begun to judge some as undeserving of “my persistent prayer for justice.”  At least I had confessed in prayer that I was embarrassed to bring them before the Lord again.  But now in the light of his utmost patience and mercy toward the boy who consoled himself with murder, I pray with renewed vigor:

My persistent prayer for justice (Luke 18:1-8) is for the mercy on which everything depends, for it does not depend on human desire or exertion, but on [You] who shows mercy.[32]  And You have consigned all people to disobedience so that [You] may show mercy to them all.[33]

The love of Christ that surpasses knowledge[34] is not some vague affection (1 Corinthians 13:4-13) He hoards for us but the omnipotent engine of righteousness He gives to us in the person of his own Holy Spirit.  No one is good except God alone.[35]

The tables I made to write this essay comparing Genesis 3:22-24; 4:2b-5; 4:6, 7; 3:16; Psalm 46:10 and Genesis 4:8 in the Tanakh and NET, and the tables comparing Genesis 3:22; 3:23; 3:24; 4:2b; 4:3; 4:4; 4:5; 4:6; 4:7; 3:16; Psalm 46:10 and Genesis 4:8 in the Septuagint (BLB and Elpenor) follow.  Following those are tables comparing Revelation 1:2; 22:1, 2; John 8:44; Romans 9:31; Philippians 3:6 and Romans 8:9 in the NET and KJV.

Genesis 3:22-24 (Tanakh)

Genesis 3:22-24 (NET)

And HaShem G-d said: ‘Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.’ And the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) said, “Now that the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil, he must not be allowed to stretch out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”
Therefore HaShem G-d sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) expelled him from the orchard in Eden to cultivate the ground from which he had been taken.
So He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden the cherubim, and the flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way to the tree of life. When he drove the man out, he placed on the eastern side of the orchard in Eden angelic sentries who used the flame of a whirling sword to guard the way to the tree of life.

Genesis 3:22 (Septuagint BLB)

Genesis 3:22 (Septuagint Elpenor)

καὶ εἶπεν ὁ θεός ἰδοὺ Αδαμ γέγονεν ὡς εἷς ἐξ ἡμῶν τοῦ γινώσκειν καλὸν καὶ πονηρόν καὶ νῦν μήποτε ἐκτείνῃ τὴν χεῗρα καὶ λάβῃ τοῦ ξύλου τῆς ζωῆς καὶ φάγῃ καὶ ζήσεται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα καὶ εἶπεν ὁ Θεός· ἰδοὺ ᾿Αδὰμ γέγονεν ὡς εἷς ἐξ ἡμῶν, τοῦ γινώσκειν καλὸν καὶ πονηρόν· καὶ νῦν μή ποτε ἐκτείνῃ τὴν χεῖρα αὐτοῦ καὶ λάβῃ ἀπὸ τοῦ ξύλου τῆς ζωῆς καὶ φάγῃ καὶ ζήσεται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα.

Genesis 3:22 (NETS)

Genesis 3:22 (English Elpenor)

Then God said, “See, Adam has become like one of us, knowing good and evil, and now perhaps he might reach out his hand and take of the tree of life and eat, and he will live forever.” And God said, Behold, Adam is become as one of us, to know good and evil, and now lest at any time he stretch forth his hand, and take of the tree of life and eat, and [so] he shall live forever–

Genesis 3:23 (Septuagint BLB)

Genesis 3:23 (Septuagint Elpenor)

καὶ ἐξαπέστειλεν αὐτὸν κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἐκ τοῦ παραδείσου τῆς τρυφῆς ἐργάζεσθαι τὴν γῆν ἐξ ἧς ἐλήμφθη καὶ ἐξαπέστειλεν αὐτὸν Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς ἐκ τοῦ παραδείσου τῆς τρυφῆς ἐργάζεσθαι τὴν γῆν, ἐξ ἧς ἐλήφθη.

Genesis 3:23 (NETS)

Genesis 3:23 (English Elpenor)

And the Lord God sent him forth from the orchard of delight to till the earth from which he was taken. So the Lord God sent him forth out of the garden of Delight to cultivate the ground out of which he was taken.

Genesis 3:24 (Septuagint BLB)

Genesis 3:24 (Septuagint Elpenor)

καὶ ἐξέβαλεν τὸν Αδαμ καὶ κατῴκισεν αὐτὸν ἀπέναντι τοῦ παραδείσου τῆς τρυφῆς καὶ ἔταξεν τὰ χερουβιμ καὶ τὴν φλογίνην ῥομφαίαν τὴν στρεφομένην φυλάσσειν τὴν ὁδὸν τοῦ ξύλου τῆς ζωῆς καὶ ἐξέβαλε τὸν ᾿Αδὰμ καὶ κατῴκισεν αὐτὸν ἀπέναντι τοῦ παραδείσου τῆς τρυφῆς καὶ ἔταξε τὰ Χερουβὶμ καὶ τὴν φλογίνην ρομφαίαν τὴν στρεφομένην φυλάσσειν τὴν ὁδὸν τοῦ ξύλου τῆς ζωῆς.

Genesis 3:24 (NETS)

Genesis 3:24 (English Elpenor)

And he drove Adam out and caused him to dwell opposite the orchard of delight, and he stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword that turns, to guard the way of the tree of life. And he cast out Adam and caused him to dwell over against the garden of Delight, and stationed the cherubs and the fiery sword that turns about to keep the way of the tree of life.
Genesis 4:2b-5 (Tanakh)

Genesis 4:2b-5 (NET)

And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. Abel took care of the flocks, while Cain cultivated the ground.
And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto HaShem. At the designated time Cain brought some of the fruit of the ground for an offering to the Lord (yehôvâh, ליהוה).
And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof.  And HaShem had respect unto Abel and to his offering; But Abel brought some of the firstborn of his flock – even the fattest of them.  And the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) was pleased with Abel and his offering,
but unto Cain and to his offering He had not respect.  And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. but with Cain and his offering he was not pleased.  So Cain became very angry, and his expression was downcast.

Genesis 4:2b (Septuagint BLB)

Genesis 4:2b (Septuagint Elpenor)

καὶ ἐγένετο Αβελ ποιμὴν προβάτων Καιν δὲ ἦν ἐργαζόμενος τὴν γῆν καὶ ἐγένετο ῎Αβελ ποιμὴν προβάτων, Κάϊν δὲ ἦν ἐργαζόμενος τὴν γῆν.

Genesis 4:2b (NETS)

Genesis 4:2b (English Elpenor)

And Habel became a herder of sheep, but Kain was tilling the earth. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

Genesis 4:3 (Septuagint BLB)

Genesis 4:3 (Septuagint Elpenor)

καὶ ἐγένετο μεθ᾽ ἡμέρας ἤνεγκεν Καιν ἀπὸ τῶν καρπῶν τῆς γῆς θυσίαν τῷ κυρίῳ καὶ ἐγένετο μεθ᾿ ἡμέρας ἤνεγκε Κάϊν ἀπὸ τῶν καρπῶν τῆς γῆς θυσίαν τῷ Κυρίῳ,

Genesis 4:3 (NETS)

Genesis 4:3 (English Elpenor)

And it came about after some days that Kain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruits of the earth, And it was so after some time that Cain brought of the fruits of the earth a sacrifice to the Lord.

Genesis 4:4 (Septuagint BLB)

Genesis 4:4 (Septuagint Elpenor)

καὶ Αβελ ἤνεγκεν καὶ αὐτὸς ἀπὸ τῶν πρωτοτόκων τῶν προβάτων αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν στεάτων αὐτῶν καὶ ἐπεῗδεν ὁ θεὸς ἐπὶ Αβελ καὶ ἐπὶ τοῗς δώροις αὐτοῦ καὶ Ἄβελ ἤνεγκε καὶ αὐτὸς ἀπὸ τῶν πρωτοτόκων τῶν προβάτων αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν στεάτων αὐτῶν. καὶ ἐπεῖδεν ὁ Θεὸς ἐπὶ ῎Αβελ καὶ ἐπὶ τοῖς δώροις αὐτοῦ,

Genesis 4:4 (NETS)

Genesis 4:4 (English Elpenor)

And Habel, he also brought of the firstlings of his sheep and of their fat portions.  And God looked upon Habel and upon his gifts, And Abel also brought of the first born of his sheep and of his fatlings, and God looked upon Abel and his gifts,

Genesis 4:5 (Septuagint BLB)

Genesis 4:5 (Septuagint Elpenor)

ἐπὶ δὲ Καιν καὶ ἐπὶ ταῗς θυσίαις αὐτοῦ οὐ προσέσχεν καὶ ἐλύπησεν τὸν Καιν λίαν καὶ συνέπεσεν τῷ προσώπῳ ἐπὶ δὲ Κάϊν καὶ ἐπὶ ταῖς θυσίαις αὐτοῦ οὐ προσέσχε. καὶ ἐλυπήθη Κάϊν λίαν, καὶ συνέπεσε τῷ προσώπῳ αὐτοῦ.

Genesis 4:5 (NETS)

Genesis 4:5 (English Elpenor)

but on Kain and on his offerings he was not intent.  And it distressed Kain exceedingly, and he collapsed in countenance. but Cain and his sacrifices he regarded not, and Cain was exceedingly sorrowful and his countenance fell.

Genesis 4:6, 7 (Tanakh)

Genesis 4:6, 7 (NET)

And HaShem said unto Cain: ‘Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? Then the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why is your expression downcast?
If thou doest well, shall it not be lifted up? and if thou doest not well, sin coucheth at the door; and unto thee is its desire, but thou mayest rule over it.’ Is it not true that if you do what is right, you will be fine? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door.  It desires to dominate you, but you must subdue it.”

Genesis 4:6 (Septuagint BLB)

Genesis 4:6 (Septuagint Elpenor)

καὶ εἶπεν κύριος ὁ θεὸς τῷ Καιν ἵνα τί περίλυπος ἐγένου καὶ ἵνα τί συνέπεσεν τὸ πρόσωπόν σου καὶ εἶπε Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς τῷ Κάϊν· ἵνα τί περίλυπος ἐγένου, καὶ ἵνα τί συνέπεσε τὸ πρόσωπόν σου;

Genesis 4:6 (NETS)

Genesis 4:6 (English Elpenor)

And the Lord God said to Kain, “Why have you become deeply grieved, and why has your countenance collapsed? And the Lord God said to Cain, Why art thou become very sorrowful and why is thy countenance fallen?

Genesis 4:7 (Septuagint BLB)

Genesis 4:7 (Septuagint Elpenor)

οὐκ ἐὰν ὀρθῶς προσενέγκῃς ὀρθῶς δὲ μὴ διέλῃς ἥμαρτες ἡσύχασον πρὸς σὲ ἡ ἀποστροφὴ αὐτοῦ καὶ σὺ ἄρξεις αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἐὰν ὀρθῶς προσενέγκῃς, ὀρθῶς δὲ μὴ διέλῃς, ἥμαρτες; ἡσύχασον· πρὸς σὲ ἡ ἀποστροφὴ αὐτοῦ, καὶ σὺ ἄρξεις αὐτοῦ.

Genesis 4:7 (NETS)

Genesis 4:7 (English Elpenor)

If you offer correctly but do not divide correctly, have you not sinned?  Be still; his recourse is to you, and you will rule over him.” Hast thou not sinned if thou hast brought it rightly, but not rightly divided it? be still, to thee shall be his submission, and thou shalt rule over him.

Genesis 3:16 (Tanakh)

Genesis 3:16 (NET)

Unto the woman He said: ‘I will greatly multiply thy pain and thy travail; in pain thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.’ To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your labor pains; with pain you will give birth to children.  You will want to control your husband, but he will dominate you.”

Genesis 3:16 (Septuagint BLB)

Genesis 3:16 (Septuagint Elpenor)

καὶ τῇ γυναικὶ εἶπεν πληθύνων πληθυνῶ τὰς λύπας σου καὶ τὸν στεναγμόν σου ἐν λύπαις τέξῃ τέκνα καὶ πρὸς τὸν ἄνδρα σου ἡ ἀποστροφή σου καὶ αὐτός σου κυριεύσει καὶ τῇ γυναικὶ εἶπε· πληθύνων πληθυνῶ τὰς λύπας σου καὶ τὸν στεναγμόν σου· ἐν λύπαις τέξῃ τέκνα, καὶ πρὸς τὸν ἄνδρα σου ἡ ἀποστροφή σου, καὶ αὐτός σου κυριεύσει.

Genesis 3:16 (NETS)

Genesis 3:16 (English Elpenor)

And to the woman he said, “I will increasingly increase your pains and your groaning; with pains you will bring forth children.  And your recourse will be to your husband, and he will dominate you.” And to the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy pains and thy groanings; in pain thou shalt bring forth children, and thy submission shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

Psalm 46:10 (Tanakh)

Psalm 46:10 (NET)

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. He says, “Stop your striving and recognize that I am God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים)!  I will be exalted over the nations!  I will be exalted over the earth!”

Psalm 46:10 (Septuagint BLB)

Psalm 45:11 (Septuagint Elpenor)

σχολάσατε καὶ γνῶτε ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ θεός ὑψωθήσομαι ἐν τοῗς ἔθνεσιν ὑψωθήσομαι ἐν τῇ γῇ σχολάσατε καὶ γνῶτε ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ Θεός· ὑψωθήσομαι ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, ὑψωθήσομαι ἐν τῇ γῇ.

Psalm 45:11 (NETS)

Psalm 45:11 (English Elpenor)

“Relax, and know that I am God!  I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.” Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

Genesis 4:8 (Tanakh)

Genesis 4:8 (NET)

And Cain spoke unto Abel his brother.  And it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. Cain 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.

Genesis 4:8 (Septuagint BLB)

Genesis 4:8 (Septuagint Elpenor)

καὶ εἶπεν Καιν πρὸς Αβελ τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ διέλθωμεν εἰς τὸ πεδίον καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτοὺς ἐν τῷ πεδίῳ καὶ ἀνέστη Καιν ἐπὶ Αβελ τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀπέκτεινεν αὐτόν καὶ εἶπε Κάϊν πρὸς ῎Αβελ τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ· διέλθωμεν εἰς τὸ πεδίον. καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτοὺς ἐν τῷ πεδίῳ, ἀνέστη Κάϊν ἐπὶ ῎Αβελ τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀπέκτεινεν αὐτόν.

Genesis 4:8 (NETS)

Genesis 4:8 (English Elpenor)

And Kain said to his brother Habel, “Let us go through into the plain.”  And it came about when they were in the plain, that then Kain rose up against his brother Habel and killed him. And Cain said to Abel his brother, Let us go out into the plain; and it came to pass that when they were in the plain Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

Revelation 1:2 (NET)

Revelation 1:2 (KJV)

who then testified to everything that he saw concerning the word of God and the testimony about Jesus Christ. Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

ὃς ἐμαρτύρησεν τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τὴν μαρτυρίαν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ὅσα εἶδεν ος εμαρτυρησεν τον λογον του θεου και την μαρτυριαν ιησου χριστου οσα τε ειδεν ος εμαρτυρησεν τον λογον του θεου και την μαρτυριαν ιησου χριστου οσα ειδεν
Revelation 22:1, 2 (NET)

Revelation 22:1, 2 (KJV)

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life – water as clear as crystal – pouring out from the throne of God and of the Lamb, And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

Καὶ ἔδειξεν μοι ποταμὸν ὕδατος ζωῆς λαμπρὸν ὡς κρύσταλλον, ἐκπορευόμενον ἐκ τοῦ θρόνου τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἀρνίου και εδειξεν μοι καθαρον ποταμον υδατος ζωης λαμπρον ως κρυσταλλον εκπορευομενον εκ του θρονου του θεου και του αρνιου και εδειξεν μοι ποταμον καθαρον υδατος ζωης λαμπρον ως κρυσταλλον εκπορευομενον εκ του θρονου του θεου και του αρνιου
flowing down the middle of the city’s main street.  On each side of the river is the tree of life producing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month of the year.  Its leaves are for the healing of the nations. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

ἐν μέσῳ τῆς πλατείας αὐτῆς καὶ τοῦ ποταμοῦ ἐντεῦθεν καὶ ἐκεῖθεν ξύλον ζωῆς ποιοῦν καρποὺς δώδεκα, κατὰ μῆνα ἕκαστον ἀποδιδοῦν τὸν καρπὸν αὐτοῦ, καὶ τὰ φύλλα τοῦ ξύλου εἰς θεραπείαν τῶν ἐθνῶν εν μεσω της πλατειας αυτης και του ποταμου εντευθεν και εντευθεν ξυλον ζωης ποιουν καρπους δωδεκα κατα μηνα ενα εκαστον αποδιδουν τον καρπον αυτου και τα φυλλα του ξυλου εις θεραπειαν των εθνων εν μεσω της πλατειας αυτης και του ποταμου εντευθεν και εντευθεν ξυλον ζωης ποιουν καρπους δωδεκα κατα μηνα εκαστον αποδιδους τον καρπον αυτου και τα φυλλα του ξυλου εις θεραπειαν των εθνων

John 8:44 (NET)

John 8:44 (KJV)

You people are from your father the devil, and you want to do what your father desires.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not uphold the truth, because there is no truth in him.  Whenever he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.  When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

ὑμεῖς ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς τοῦ διαβόλου ἐστὲ καὶ τὰς ἐπιθυμίας τοῦ πατρὸς ὑμῶν θέλετε ποιεῖν. ἐκεῖνος ἀνθρωποκτόνος ἦν ἀπ᾿ ἀρχῆς καὶ ἐν τῇ ἀληθείᾳ οὐκ ἔστηκεν, ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν ἀλήθεια ἐν αὐτῷ. ὅταν λαλῇ τὸ ψεῦδος, ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων λαλεῖ, ὅτι ψεύστης ἐστὶν καὶ ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ υμεις εκ πατρος του διαβολου εστε και τας επιθυμιας του πατρος υμων θελετε ποιειν εκεινος ανθρωποκτονος ην απ αρχης και εν τη αληθεια ουχ εστηκεν οτι ουκ εστιν αληθεια εν αυτω οταν λαλη το ψευδος εκ των ιδιων λαλει οτι ψευστης εστιν και ο πατηρ αυτου υμεις εκ του πατρος του διαβολου εστε και τας επιθυμιας του πατρος υμων θελετε ποιειν εκεινος ανθρωποκτονος ην απ αρχης και εν τη αληθεια ουχ εστηκεν οτι ουκ εστιν αληθεια εν αυτω οταν λαλη το ψευδος εκ των ιδιων λαλει οτι ψευστης εστιν και ο πατηρ αυτου

Romans 9:31 (NET)

Romans 9:31 (KJV)

but Israel even though pursuing a law of righteousness did not attain it. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

Ἰσραὴλ δὲ διώκων νόμον δικαιοσύνης εἰς νόμον οὐκ ἔφθασεν ισραηλ δε διωκων νομον δικαιοσυνης εις νομον δικαιοσυνης ουκ εφθασεν ισραηλ δε διωκων νομον δικαιοσυνης εις νομον δικαιοσυνης ουκ εφθασεν

Philippians 3:6 (NET)

Philippians 3:6 (KJV)

In my zeal for God I persecuted the church.  According to the righteousness stipulated in the law I was blameless. Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

κατὰ ζῆλος διώκων τὴν ἐκκλησίαν, κατὰ δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐν νόμῳ γενόμενος ἄμεμπτος κατα ζηλον διωκων την εκκλησιαν κατα δικαιοσυνην την εν νομω γενομενος αμεμπτος κατα ζηλον διωκων την εκκλησιαν κατα δικαιοσυνην την εν νομω γενομενος αμεμπτος
Romans 8:9 (NET)

Romans 8:9 (KJV)

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you.  Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this person does not belong to him. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.  Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

ὑμεῖς δὲ οὐκ ἐστὲ ἐν σαρκὶ ἀλλὰ ἐν πνεύματι, εἴπερ πνεῦμα θεοῦ οἰκεῖ ἐν ὑμῖν. εἰ δέ τις πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ οὐκ ἔχει, οὗτος οὐκ ἔστιν αὐτοῦ υμεις δε ουκ εστε εν σαρκι αλλ εν πνευματι ειπερ πνευμα θεου οικει εν υμιν ει δε τις πνευμα χριστου ουκ εχει ουτος ουκ εστιν αυτου υμεις δε ουκ εστε εν σαρκι αλλ εν πνευματι ειπερ πνευμα θεου οικει εν υμιν ει δε τις πνευμα χριστου ουκ εχει ουτος ουκ εστιν αυτου

 

[1] The Stephanus Textus Receptus had τε (KJV: and) preceding he saw.  The NET parallel Greek text, NA28 and Byzantine Majority Text did not.

[2] Revelation 1:1, 2 (NET)

[3] The Stephanus Textus Receptus had καθαρον (KJV: pure) preceding river.  The Byzantine Majority Text had καθαρον following river.  The NET parallel Greek text and NA28 did not.

[4] The NET parallel Greek text and NA28 had ἐντεῦθεν καὶ ἐκεῖθεν here, where the Stephanus Textus Receptus and Byzantine Majority Text had εντευθεν και εντευθεν (KJV: on either side).

[5] The NET parallel Greek text, NA28 and Stephanus Textus Receptus had ἀποδιδοῦν here, where the Byzantine Majority Text had αποδιδους.

[6] The Stephanus Textus Receptus had ενα preceding every.  The NET parallel Greek text, NA28 and Byzantine Majority Text did not.

[7] Genesis 3:7b (Tanakh)

[8] Romans 5:12a (NET)

[9] The NET parallel Greek text, NA28 and Byzantine Majority Text had the article τοῦ preceding father.  The Stephanus Textus Receptus did not.

[10] The NET parallel Greek text and NA28 had οὐκ here, where the Stephanus Textus Receptus and Byzantine Majority Text had ουχ.

[11] Romans 8:14 (NET)

[12] “Even when people do things for you and give you things that you don’t actually want, you must always remember that it’s the thought that counts.” Cambridge Dictionary

[13] The NET parallel Greek text and NA28 had χάρις here, where the Stephanus Textus Receptus and Byzantine Majority Text had ευχαριστω (KJV: I thank).

[14] Genesis 4:6 (NET)

[15] Genesis 4:7 (Tanakh)

[16] Genesis 4:7 Hebrew

[17] Genesis 3:16b (Tanakh)

[18] Genesis 3:16 Hebrew

[19] Condemnation or Judgment? – Part 11

[20] The Stephanus Textus Receptus and Byzantine Majority Text had νομον δικαιοσυνης (KJV: the law of righteousness) here, where the NET parallel Greek text and NA28 had νόμον.

[21] The Stephanus Textus Receptus and Byzantine Majority Text had νομου (KJV: of the law) following works.  The NET parallel Greek text and NA28 did not.

[22] The NET parallel Greek text and NA28 had ζῆλος here, where the Stephanus Textus Receptus and Byzantine Majority Text had ζηλον (KJV: zeal).

[23] Philippians 3:6a (NET)

[24] Psalm 46:10 (Tanakh)

[25] Matthew 6:33 (NET) Table

[26] The NET had “Let’s go out to the field” here, as did the Septuagint [Table of Genesis 4:8 in this essay].

[27] John 3:6, 7 (NET)

[28] Romans 8:8 (NET)

[29] Romans 8:9-11 (NET) Table

[30] Romans 1:17a (NET)

[31] Romans 13:10 (NET)

[32] Romans 9:16 (NET) Table

[33] Romans 11:32 (NET)

[34] Ephesians 3:19b (NET)

[35] Luke 18:19b (NET)

Atonement, Part 1

I plan to begin a slow pilgrimage through kâphar, which will at a minimum include surveying kôpher and kippûr.  The first occurrences of kâphar and kôpher according to Strong’s Concordance are found in, Make rooms in the ark, and cover (kâphar, וכפרת; Septuagint: ἀσφαλτώσεις, a form of ἀσφαλτόω) it with pitch (kôpher, בכפר: Septuagint: ἀσφάλτῳ, a form of ἄσφαλτος) inside and out.[1]  But I’m going to set that aside.

The note (48) in the NET reads:

The Hebrew term כָּפָר (kafar, “to cover, to smear” [= to caulk]) appears here in the Qal stem with its primary, nonmetaphorical meaning. The Piel form כִּפֶּר (kipper), which has the metaphorical meaning “to atone, to expiate, to pacify,” is used in Levitical texts (see HALOT 493-94 s.v. כפר). Some authorities regard the form in v. 14 as a homonym of the much more common Levitical term (see BDB 498 s.v. כָּפָר).

I think homonym was used here as I have used homograph:[2] “a word of the same written form as another but of different meaning and usually origin, whether pronounced the same way or not, as bear ‘to carry; support’ and bear ‘animal’ or lead ‘to conduct’ and lead ‘metal;’ a homograph.”[3]  A table showing the translations of the occurrences of kôpher from Genesis 6:14 – Numbers 35:32 in the KJV, NET and the Septuagint follows:

Form of kôpher

Reference KJV NET

Septuagint

כפר Exodus 21:30 If there be laid on him a sum of money… If a ransom is set for him… λύτρα, a form of λύτρον
Exodus 30:12 …then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul… …then each man is to pay a ransom for his life…
Numbers 35:31 …ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: …you must not accept a ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death…
Numbers 35:32 …ye shall take no satisfaction for him that is fled to the city of his refuge… …you must not accept a ransom for anyone who has fled to a town of refuge…
בכפר Genesis 6:14 …and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. …and cover it with pitch inside and out. ἀσφάλτῳ, a form of ἄσφαλτος

Clearly kôpher (כפר) in Exodus 21:30; 30:12; Numbers 35:31 and 32 is a homograph for kâphar (כפר) in Exodus 29:33 (NET): They are to eat those things by which atonement (kâphar, כפר) was made to consecrate and to set them apart, but no one else may eat them, for they are holy.  I am more than content to assume that the homographs translated, and cover it with pitch, have next to nothing to do with atonement.  John wrote (1 John 1:5-7 NET):

Now this is the gospel message we have heard from him and announce to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.  If we say we have fellowship with him and yet keep on walking in the darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth.  But if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

I can appreciate that something like asphalt smeared inside and outside of a wooden vessel that preserved people through a judgment of water bears a vague similarity to atonement that will preserve people through a judgment of fire (2 Peter 3:5-7).  But and cover it with pitch sounds more like Achan burying a nice robe from Babylon, two hundred silver pieces, and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels[4] in the ground right in the middle of [his] tent.[5]  It sounds like David calling Uriah home from the front and saying, “Go down to your home and relax.”[6]  When Uriah’s loyalty to his comrades-in-arms proved such that he was useless in David’s attempt to cover his sin with pitch, the king sent him back to the front carrying a letter to his commanding officer that read: “Station Uriah in the thick of the battle and then withdraw from him so he will be cut down and killed (nâkâh).”[7]

In both circumstances yehôvâh brought these pitch-covered-sins to light (Joshua 7:10-26; 2 Samuel 12:1-14).  Thinking atonement was a covering of pitch for sin probably had a lot to do with my conclusion that the Gospel was more a mind trick God played on Himself than something of value for me.

Achan and his family were stoned and burned for theft.  David’s sins of adultery and murder[8] were forgiven or passed over.  I can’t pass by here without at least considering this moral calculus in some way beyond the obvious, that David was a king and Achan’s only claim to fame was the spectacle of his execution.

All the silver and gold, as well as bronze and iron items, belong to the Lord (yehôvâh, ליהוה), Joshua commanded.  They must go into the Lord’s (yehôvâh, יהוה) treasury.[9]  If I hear this with an unbelieving heart it’s easy to see why Friedrich Nietzsche considered Judaism (and not only Judaism) a religion concocted by weak, power-hungry priests.

The ‘law’, the ‘will of God’, the ‘holy book’, ‘inspiration’ – All these are just words for the conditions under which priests come to power and maintain their power, – these concepts can be found at the bottom of all priestly organizations, all structures of priestly or philosophical-priestly control. The ‘holy lie’ – this is common to Confucius, the law book of Manu, Mohammed, and the Christian church: and it is not absent from Plato either. ‘The truth is there ‘: wherever you hear this, it means that the priest is lying.

Friedrich Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ (1888), 55.

An article, “The Hebrew Bible in Nietzsche’s philosophy of religion,” by Jaco Gericke offers an interesting overview on this subject.  My affection for Nietzsche comes from long hours spent with him and Jesus.  Nietzsche, of course, is dead and had no opportunity for rebuttal.  It’s difficult to say how much that difference alone encouraged and maintained my faith in Jesus.  Still I hesitate either to censor Nietzsche’s writings or to promote them as a test of spiritual manhood.  Consider Jaco Gericke.

In “Confessions of a Died-Again Christian,” an interview hosted by Robert M. Price online, Professor Gericke gave his testimony, a born-again Christian who became first a “died-again” Christian then an atheist while studying to become a missionary.  After I listened to it I spent the rest of the day pouting.  That’s what I do now rather than throwing a hissy fit or trying to muscle on in my own strength.

“Either one of these men,” I prayed, “could have been better at this than I am.”

Professor Gericke never described the Bible as the product of lying priests (or preachers, as the case may be).  He described “the system”:

The system has everything covered.  So whatever your problem is, there’s an answer for that somewhere out there…
And you recognize how religion, how the system has controlled you and told you stories about the way things work, and you see the system for what it is…
You also understand how the system, with apologetics, has everything covered.  So to get out is really as close to a miracle as you can get.

He went to the university originally “to become a missionary to share the joy I found [after a conversion experience] with other people.”  Over time that desire was replaced by another, to be “academically respectable.”  Eventually he read Beyond Fundamentalism by James Barr.  “It focuses so much on the Bible and the text,” he described the experience of reading Barr, “that in the end what happens is that your Christian ethics destroys your Christian dogma because you just follow the truth and you do introspection.”  Mr. Price concurred: “The all important personal relationship with Jesus, the sole point of the Bible according to most of these guys [e.g., top notch evangelical…scholars], never occurs in the Bible.”

True enough, the words personal relationship with Jesus do not occur in the Bible.  The hope and promise of the new covenant reads (Jeremiah 31:34 NET):

“People will no longer need to teach their neighbors and relatives to know me.  For all of them, from the least important to the most important, will know me,” says the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה).  “For I will forgive their sin and will no longer call to mind the wrong they have done.”

Judas (not Iscariot) said to [Jesus] (John14:22-24 NASB):

“Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?”  Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep (τηρήσει, a form of τηρέω) My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.  He who does not love Me does not keep (τηρεῖ, another form of τηρέω) My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.”

Professor Gericke’s testimony wasn’t a tale of following Yahweh/Jesus through the scriptures to know Him and his Father.  Rather, it was a proxy war he conducted in his own mind between his favorite fundamentalist apologists and the writings of Julius Wellhausen, David Strauss, biblical criticism, the philosophy of religion and the history of Yahweh, along with James Barr.  His fundamentalist champions didn’t measure up, so the “truth” set him free (John 8:31, 32 NET).

Then Jesus said to those Judeans who had believed him, “If you continue to follow my teaching, you are really my disciples and you will know the truth (ἀλήθειαν, a form of ἀλήθεια), and the truth (ἀλήθεια) will set you free.”

Even if Jesus alluded to a stoic maxim (as Mr. Price asserted) truth was not an abstract concept to Him, certainly not the writings of Julius Wellhausen, David Strauss, biblical criticism, the philosophy of religion and the history of Yahweh, along with James Barr.  Set them apart in the truth (ἀληθείᾳ, another form of ἀλήθεια), He prayed to his Father, your word is truth (ἀλήθεια).[10]  By word (λόγος) Jesus may have alluded to Himself—I am the way, and the truth (ἀληθείας, another form of ἀλήθεια), and the life[11]—but He was born a human baby and socialized into all of the rabbinic lore of his time.  He grew to become the person I know and love by preferring a collection of writings remarkably similar to the Old Testament I read today, which He called τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ (Matthew 15:6; Mark 7:13; Luke 8:21; Luke 11:28) or ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ (Luke 8:11; John 10:35).  Both were translated the word of God.

After his resurrection He said to his disciples (Luke 24:4449 NET):

“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds so they could understand the scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it stands written that the Christ would suffer and would rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.  And look, I am sending you what my Father promised.  But stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

His devotion to the truth of those writings was so fierce it terrified Peter and the other disciples (Matthew 26:52-56 NET):

Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back in its place!  For all who take hold of the sword will die by the sword.  Or do you think that I cannot call on my Father, and that he would send me more than twelve legions of angels right now?  How then would the scriptures that say it must happen this way be fulfilled?”  At that moment Jesus said to the crowd, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me like you would an outlaw?  Day after day I sat teaching in the temple courts, yet you did not arrest me.  But this has happened so that the scriptures of the prophets would be fulfilled.”  Then all the disciples left him and fled.

Unqualified or not I will get up each morning, take whatever faithfulness I am given and follow Jesus through the scriptures.  I desire to do this to know Him and his Father.  He has given me a hunger and thirst for his righteousness.  And I need to do this lest the sin in my flesh overtake me.  Who would have thought of my sinfulness, my utter inability to do righteousness apart from the fruit of the Spirit, as my advantage over Jaco Gericke or Robert Price? I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,[12] Jesus answered the Pharisees and their experts in the law.

Admittedly, it takes some faith to find any coherent knowledge of God in his seemingly disparate judgments of Achan and David, but I think they are consistent with Jesus’ command: Do not judge so that you will not be judged.  For by the standard you judge you will be judged, and the measure you use will be the measure you receive.[13]

Achan was part of the army that had judged/condemned Jericho: They annihilated with the sword everything that breathed in the city, including men and women, young and old, as well as cattle, sheep, and donkeys.[14]  David sent out Joab with his officers and the entire Israelite army.  They defeated the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah.  But David stayed behind in Jerusalem.[15]  Both were judged accordingly.

“This is what the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) says,” Nathan said to David, “‘I am about to bring disaster on you from inside your own household!  Right before your eyes I will take your wives and hand them over to your companion.  He will have sexual relations with your wives in broad daylight!  Although you have acted in secret, I will do this thing before all Israel, and in broad daylight.’”[16]

Despite Nathan’s warning David was merciful to his sons Amnon (2 Samuel 13:1-21) and Absalom (2 Samuel 14:21-33), though that mercy was perhaps the most immediate cause[17] of the prophecy’s fulfillment.  Absalom parlayed Amnon’s death (2 Samuel 13:23-37) into a credible political argument that he was the law and order choice for king (2 Samuel 15:1-6).  I have thought at times that David—the chief law enforcement official in Israel—if he had been strict with his sons, if he had at least left Absalom in self-imposed exile, may have avoided the consequence of Nathan’s prophecy.  But Jesus said in a parable (Matthew 18:32-35 NET):

“Then his lord called the first slave and said to him, ‘Evil slave!  I forgave (ἀφῆκα, a form of ἀφίημι) you all that debt because you begged me!  Should you not have shown mercy to your fellow slave, just as I showed it to you?’  And in anger his lord turned him over to the prison guards to torture him until he repaid all he owed.  So also my heavenly Father will do to you, if each of you does not forgive (ἀφῆτε, another form of ἀφίημι) your brother from your heart.”

Paul quoted David from the Septuagint: Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered[18]  The original word in Hebrew was not kâphar or kôpher from Genesis 6:14, and cover it with pitch.  David chose kâsâh (כסוי): The waters completely inundated the earth so that even all the high mountains under the entire sky were covered (kâsâh).[19]  Two forms of kâsâh occur in this Psalm (32:1-6 Tanakh):

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered (kâsâh, כסוי).  Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.  When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.  For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer.  Selah.

I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid (kâsâh, כסיתי).  I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.  Selah.

For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.

Therefore you are without excuse, Paul wrote believers in Rome, whoever you are, when you judge someone else (Romans 2:1-8 NET):

For on whatever grounds you judge another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge practice the same things.  Now we know that God’s judgment is in accordance with truth (ἀλήθειαν, a form of ἀλήθεια) against those who practice such things.  And do you think, whoever you are, when you judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself, that you will escape God’s judgment?  Or do you have contempt for the wealth of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, and yet do not know that God’s kindness leads you to repentance?  But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for yourselves in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed!  He will reward each one according to his works: eternal life to those who by perseverance in good works seek glory and honor and immortality, but wrath and anger to those who live in selfish ambition and do not obey (ἀπειθοῦσι, a form of ἀπειθέω) the truth (ἀληθείᾳ, another form of ἀλήθεια) but follow unrighteousness.

Near the end of the interview with Jaco Gericke, Robert Price described what he called “Practicing the Absence of God”:

What you use to say was the leading of the Holy Spirit, this internal voice—“Oh, don’t you want to come back? Aren’t you really just trying to escape the implications of the truth?”—you have to eventually regard that as you once did temptations to sin, because intellectually that’s what’s going on.  That’s what it is.  You have to say, “No, I’m sorry, I know better than that.  I’m not going to listen to that.  I’m going to go ahead and make a new start.”

Once you have Nietzsche in your head it’s easy to argue that Jesus’ command, Do not judge, was given, not because He is Yahweh come in human flesh but, because He was as desperate for the scriptures to be true as I am, and so, reasoned and argued in a similar manner.  He was ignorant of, or confused about, the esoteric knowledge that Jaco Gericke and Robert Price possess.  Of course, if Jesus was ignorant or confused, please grant me his ignorance and confusion.  For once you have Nietzsche in your head, it’s just as easy to see that Nietzsche raised unbelief to a high art and faithfully followed that art as its reductio ad absurdum.

A table comparing Romans 4:7 and Psalm 32:1 in the Septuagint follows.

 

Romans 4:7 (NET)

Parallel Greek Psalm 32:1 (Septuagint)

Psalm 31:1 (NETS)

Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered… μακάριοι ὧν ἀφέθησαν αἱ ἀνομίαι καὶ ὧν ἐπεκαλύφθησαν αἱ ἁμαρτίαι μακάριοι ὧν ἀφέθησαν αἱ ἀνομίαι καὶ ὧν ἐπεκαλύφθησαν αἱ ἁμαρτίαι Happy are those whose lawless behavior was forgiven and whose sins were covered over.

[1] Genesis 6:14b (NET)

[2] Condemnation or Judgment? – Part 14; Forgiven or Passed Over? Part 4

[3] homonym

[4] Joshua 7:21a (NET)

[5] Joshua 7:21b (NET)

[6] 2 Samuel 11:8a (NET)

[7] 2 Samuel 11:15 (NET), ונכה

[8] It is not the same Hebrew word as Exodus 20:13, but Nathan said, You have killed (hârag, הרגת) him with the sword of the Ammonites (2 Samuel 12:9b NET).  But if a man willfully attacks his neighbor to kill (hârag, להרגו) him cunningly, yehôvâh said, you will take him even from my altar that he may die (Exodus 21:14 NET).

[9] Joshua 6:19 (NET)

[10] John 17:17 (NET)

[11] John 14:6 (NET)

[12] Luke 5:32 (NET)

[13] Matthew 7:1, 2 (NET) Table

[14] Joshua 6:21 (NET)

[15] 2 Samuel 11:1 (NET)

[16] 2 Samuel 12:11, 12 (NET)

[17] I have written some on this topic: David’s Forgiveness, Part 5; David’s Forgiveness, Part 6; David’s Forgiveness, Part 7; David’s Forgiveness, Part 8; David’s Forgiveness, Part 9; David’s Forgiveness, Part 10 ; David’s Forgiveness, Part 11; David’s Forgiveness, Part 12; David’s Forgiveness, Part 13

[18] Romans 4:7 (NET)

[19] Genesis 7:19 (NET), ויכסו

Antichrist, Part 4

Back at Eden in Lars Von Trier’s “Antichrist” she explained an incident that happened the past summer.  She heard her son Nic crying.  She searched everywhere for him.  When she found him, he was playing contentedly, but the crying persisted for a time in the air in Eden.

“What you’re experiencing is panic, nothing more,” he said.  “The screaming wasn’t real.”

She took that in as he walked away.  Then she jumped him and started hitting him.  He wrestled her to the ground.

“You’re just so damn arrogant,” she said.

Later she shared her own conclusion about hearing Nic cry:  “Now I could hear what I couldn’t hear before,” she said, “the cry of all things that are to die.”

“That’s all very touching,” he said, “if it was a children’s book….That’s what fear is.  Your thoughts distort reality, not the other way around.”  But he had already experienced some of the “reality” distortion of Eden, and his words had begun to ring hollow.

“Satan’s church,” she said later.

“Satan!? Jesus!” the rationalist psychologist, who believed in neither, exclaimed.

“Nature is Satan’s church,” she asserted.

The earth was ruined in the sight of God, the book of Genesis reads, the earth was filled with violence.  God saw the earth, and indeed it was ruined, for all living creatures on the earth were sinful.[1]  We accept the violence of animals (and even that of human beings sometimes) as “natural,” because fallen nature is natural to us.  But the Creator did not: God said to Noah, “I have decided that all living creatures must die, for the earth is filled with violence because of them.  Now I am about to destroy them and the earth.”[2]

In “Antichrist” her husband couldn’t tolerate her conclusion about fallen nature being Satan’s church.  He began to talk to her about nature.

“The kind of nature that causes people to do evil things against women?” she asked.  He agreed.

If you continue to follow my teaching, Jesus said to those who had believed him, you are really my disciples and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.[3]

We are descendants of Abraham, they protested, and have never been anyone’s slaves![4]

I tell you the solemn truth, Jesus answered, everyone who practices sin is a slave of sin.[5]  I know that you are Abraham’s descendants.[6]  But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth I heard from God.  Abraham did not do this!  You people are doing the deeds of your father.[7]

We were not born as a result of immorality (πορνείας, a form of πορνεία)! They protested again.  We have only one Father, God himself.[8]

If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come from God and am now here.[9]  You people are from your father the devil, Jesus continued, and you want to do what your father desires.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not uphold the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies.[10]  The one who belongs to God listens and responds to God’s words.  You don’t listen and respond, because you don’t belong to God.[11]

“That kind of nature interested me a lot when I was up here,” she continued.  “That kind of nature was the subject of my thesis.  But you shouldn’t underestimate Eden….I discovered something else in my material than I expected.  If human nature is evil then that goes as well for the nature of…”

“…of the women,” he finished her thought, “female nature.”

“The nature of all the sisters,” she agreed.  “Women do not control their own bodies.  Nature does.  I have it in writing in my books.”

“The literature that you used in your research was about evil things committed against women,” he clarified for her.  “But you read it as proof of the evil of women?  You were supposed to be critical of those texts.  That was your thesis.  Instead you’re embracing it.  Do you know what you’re saying?”

“Forget it,” she said.  “I don’t know why I said it.”

Later he attempted to drive his point home.  But by that moment in the film it seemed like he was trying to persuade himself, more than her, that the strange visions and dreams he was having in Eden weren’t real.

“Good and evil have nothing to do with therapy,” he assured her.  “Do you know how many innocent women were killed in the 16th century alone just for being women?  I’m sure you do—many—and not because they were evil.”

“I know.  It’s just sometimes I forget,” she said without conviction.

“The evil you talk about is an obsession.  Obsessions never materialize.  It’s a scientific fact.”

She caught up with him in the shed later and attacked him.  She feared that he would leave her.  As he wrestled with her and fended off her blows he protested that he loved her.  Just as it seemed that their fighting would become fucking, she hit him in the groin with a heavy object (a toolbox, I think, by the sound of it; I winced both times I saw it).  Though he lost consciousness from the pain, he still had an erection.  She massaged it to a bloody ejaculation.  Nature, it seems, also controlled his body.

I, too, have nothing but a woman’s word for the way my body responded when I was unconscious from driving all night to get home to her.  I awoke refreshed and whole.  In “Antichrist” he awoke to find a whole drilled through his calf and a heavy grinding stone bolted to his leg.  While she was outside disposing of the wrench under the shed, he attempted to escape, dragging his hobbled leg.

She found him hiding in a fox’s lair and dug him out.  She dragged him back to the shed.  She grabbed scissors and hid them from him as she began to masturbate with his hand.  I expected that he was about to be emasculated.  But she exposed and put her own clitoris in between the scissor’s blades instead.

I remember the Sunday afternoon during my first divorce when I considered cutting off my penis according to Jesus’ command.  He said, “You would need to cut off your head.”  It was the way He knew my thoughts from afar that persuaded me He was speaking.  I had gotten well beyond the act to its aftermath in my mind.  There was no way I would call for help and have to explain why I cut off my own penis.  I had considered cauterizing the wound because stitching seemed out of the question.  I wasn’t sure if I could stop the blood flow or not.

“That will kill me for sure,” I said.

His answer was “precisely” or “exactly,” something to that effect.  I had been studying Romans.  At that moment I began to take Jesus’ command to cut off my penis (literally, a hand or a foot)[12] more figuratively, and Paul’s insight—we have been buried with [Christ] through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life[13]—more literally.

“Antichrist” is a horror movie.  She was not studying Paul’s letter to the Romans.  No still small voice intervened to enlighten her.  She snipped off her clitoris with the scissors.  As she writhed in pain, he recovered the wrench and freed himself from the grinding stone.  And though he didn’t believe in Satan’s church, he joined her in worship.  He choked her to death with his bare hands, after he silenced her voice by crushing her larynx.

As he limped away, the last man standing, he had a vision.  He was surrounded by women, the victims of gynocide, I think.  When asked at Cannes to account for “Antichrist,” Lars Von Trier resisted.  But if the featurette on the DVD was edited honestly, eventually he said something to the effect that it was the hand of God.

Though Trier claimed not to know, the closing scene of “Antichrist” reminded me of a scene Jesus described: The people of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented when Jonah preached to them – and now, something greater than Jonah is here!  The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon – and now, something greater than Solomon is here![14]  The people of Ninevah and the queen of the South were portrayed by the victims of gynocide, while he, the rationalist psychologist, was this generation.


[1] Genesis 6:11, 12 (NET)

[2] Genesis 6:13 (NET)

[3] John 8:31, 32 (NET)

[4] John 8:33 (NET)

[5] John 8:34 (NET)

[6] John 8:37a (NET)

[7] John 8:40, 41a (NET)

[8] John 8:41b (NET)

[9] John 8:42a (NET)

[10] John 8:44 (NET)

[11] John 8:47 (NET)

[13] Romans 6:4 (NET)

[14] Matthew 12:41, 42 (NET)