Posts tagged “Bereshit

Genesis 6:4-6, The Nephilim May Have Been Giants, But They are Still “Just Flesh”

The Nephilim were in the earth in those days, and also after that, when God’s sons came in to men’s daughters and had children with them.  Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. (Genesis 6:4)

Opinions on the identity of the Nephilim range from the constructive to the flat-out bizarre, but no matter their intentions, I think almost all such speculations are based off the wrong questions.  We focus on the WHO the Nephilim were, but we don’t often ask better questions, such as:  ‘what did the Nephilim DO?’ or ‘what is it about the Nephilim God wants us to learn?’ To this latter point, it’s obvious God wants us to learn from them, seeing how He made them noteworthy by the simple fact He included them in His Word.

Thus ‘what happened?’ is the right question to ask, because as it stands almost no theory on the Nephilim really answers this question.  All theories generally treat their existence as an “aside”, yet none of them paints the Nephilim a warning for future generations.

It’s remarkable to me how the bizarre theories (i.e. the Nephilim were space aliens visiting the Earth from time to time) ignore how the Bible describes them.  Even some of the more dominant theories – i.e. the Nephilim were the giant offspring of fallen angels and human women – also surprisingly dismiss some of the more obvious facts disclosed to us.  This is something followers of the One True God must correct, as these theories misrepresent the Book and makes us seem like myth-tellers.  For one example, the Nephilim are often compared with the Greek Titan myths.

Therefore, it is imperative that any teaching on the Nephilim require textual criticism, logic, and God’s ‘what happened’ lesson.  And because we don’t want to ignore the facts that God DOES disclose to us, here’s what we can learn from the text:

The Nephilim were giants.   In the book of Numbers there is a description of Nephilim that reads:  “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that eats up its inhabitantsAll the people who we saw in [the land] are men of great stature. There we saw the Nephilim, the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim. We were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” (Numbers 13:32-33)

There can be no doubt from this description that the Nephilim were giants, but when made to be something more, like space aliens or fallen angels, specific words get ignored.

The Nephilim were just human men.  There are only two places where the word n’filim appears (in Genesis 6 and Numbers 13, both of which I already cited).  In both cases they are clearly described with words applicable only to human beings. Numbers 13:32 uses am (people or tribe) and iysh (meaning “man”). In Genesis 6:4, iysh is also used, twice in the phrase “these are mighty men of old, men of renown.”  Lastly, Genesis 6:3 is the third indication of the Nephilim’s humanity, which not only calls them ‘men’ but also reads “he is just flesh” (using the word basar for ‘flesh’), which denotes the flesh-and-bone existence of mankind in the derogatory way.  To put it a modern way, God is dissing the Nephilim when He says “he is just flesh“!

They had sexual intercourse with human women.  It’s a tall order to consider the Nephilim as anything other than human men, especially when they had to have the tools necessary for you know… having children.   In other words, their iysh parts had to mesh with iysha (women) parts.  So the Bible betrays anyone who wants to enlarge the Nephilim beyond the status of regular men.

Speculations about the identity of the Nephilim traditionally hinge on the phrase “sons of God” (starting in Genesis 6:2). Admittedly, it is an awkward phrasing, but the writers were seemingly differentiating from its textual counterpart – the “daughters of men“.  It wouldn’t have the same effect if it read “men saw women, that they were good“.  They took poetic license for a number of reasons.

I’ve written about one such reason here.  The Hebrew ben (meaning “son”) was used a lot in the verses around Genesis 6, as is bat (“daughter”).  This carries with it spiritual undertones, meant to portray God looking at a world where his creations – his sons and daughters – were experiencing a spiritual drowning long before the physical one in the Great Flood.

There are also more practical reasons, too.  The text does not say “b’nai elohim” like we’d expect for “sons of God”, it has a definite article and reads ‘b’nai ha elohim‘ – literally “sons of the gods” (as skeptics are quick to show).   However, this is not a nod to polytheism.  Remember, the Nephilim are described in the human terms of iysh, am, and basar.  So this is either a contradiction, or poetic license.  I’ll continue to advocate reading the first few chapters of Genesis under a poetic lens and emphatically suggest that this is more of the same.

The word “elohim” is one of those terms that can only be interpreted through context. So is the entire phrase “b’nai ha elohim“.   For starters, ben doesn’t always denote “male-child” but it can also mean an entity.  For example, in 2 Kings 2:3 ‘sons of the prophets‘ clearly means just ‘the prophets’.  Additionally, elohim doesn’t always mean God (i.e., as in Genesis 1:1), it can also mean ‘rulers’.  A well-known example of denoting rulers as ‘elohim‘ can be found in Psalms 82: “God presides in the great assembly.  He judges among the gods. How long will you judge unjustly, and show partiality to the wicked?” (vv.1-2) and again says,  ‘I said, “You are gods, all of you are sons of the Most High.  Nevertheless you shall die like men, and fall like one of the rulers.” (vv. 6-7.  By the way this is also the exact point Messiah was making in John 10:34).

So given that the definition of elohim can mean ‘rulers’, and that these elohim had real human children, by context we can understand these ‘b’nai ha elohim‘ were human rulers provoking the One True God to wrath (which by the way was the same situation in Psalms 82).  We can conclude that these rulers were abusing their power, and building harems for themselves.

The fact of the matter is, Genesis 6:4 is clarifying who the “b’nai ha elohim” were.  Obviously, by using the term “in those days, and even after, so that” we know this was an insertion by compilers hundreds, maybe thousands of years after the fact.  The irony is, they probably were trying to clarify any confusion about who the b’nai ha elohim might’ve been!  They made it a point to highlight the Nephilim as two things: they were famous (men of name) and they were gibborim (powerful).  In other words, they were in fact our mysterious ‘b’nai ha elohim‘!

In other words, Genesis 6:4 is saying, ‘Remember those ‘elohim‘ who took women as wives, all that they wanted’? Well, this was when those infamous Nephilim were in power.  They were the rulers who took wives so that they would bear children to them, to keep the Nephilim in power.’

In other words, the Nephilim saw women as “good” (tovot, cf. Genesis 6:2, not ‘fair’ or ‘beautiful’ as some translate it) in the sense that women were “useful” for keeping them in power, because the more sex they had, the more the odds increased that they would have Nephilim children – powerful gibborim men to dominate the world.

In my last post I proposed that at some point men stopped his outward expansion into the Earth and set his sights inward – on dominating men and women and establishing a powerful dynasty of Nephilim rulers.  And God did NOT create men and women to be under the control of a gibborim dynasty:

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart was continually only evil. The LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him in his heart. (Genesis 6:5-6)

Keep in mind, that these gods – like the rebuke of Psalms 82 – were ruling with corruptness and violence (cf. vs. 11).  They ruled by force; they took what they wanted violently.  If they wanted additional wives, they took them.   If they did not bear giant children for the Nephilim, the Nephilim gave her away to one of the non-Nephilim. So much in every way, the Nephilim were controlling who was being born.  That is why the Bible emphasizes their positions as rulers (bnai ha elohim) and being gibborim, as well as tying that to how they took wives and had children… for THEMSELVES.  In those days everything revolved around how they kept themselves in power.

I’m sorry if this disappoints anyone who wants to believe in space aliens or fallen angels who impregnate women.   The truth is, while these corrupt rulers may have been giants, they were not gentle giants – they were brutal giants, who destroyed the lives of many people on the earth.  All in all, as the LORD said, at the end of the day they were still “just flesh“, and received the same death that these powerful gibborim was powerless to stop.

 

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Genesis 6:1-3, When Man Forgot His End of the Bargain

When God created men and women, He blessed them with the whole earth and said “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28).   

Men and women didn’t have any trouble fulfilling at least one part of that commandment;  at some point they did “multiply” and start filling the earth:

When men began to multiply on the surface of the ground, and daughters were born to them… (Genesis 6:1)

However, as for the rest of that original blessing, man didn’t uphold his end of the bargain.  God may have granted men the whole earth and its fullness, but mankind didn’t tame (or subdue) it.  ‘Having dominion over every creature’  is a far cry from what God told Noah after the Great Flood:  “The fear of you and the dread of you will be on every animal of the earth… (Genesis 8:2)”  Somewhere along man’s timeline, we veered off course.  From this I deduce that at some point, mankind quit his expansion into the Earth and stopped coming into contact with her wildlife, which is why the beasts had lost their natural instinct to fear man.

The rest of Genesis 6 explains what went wrong.

God’s sons saw that men’s daughters were beautiful, and they took any that they wanted for themselves as wives. (Genesis 6:2)

So instead of Man branching out and subduing the Wild – making the earth work for him – it seems that men stopped looking outward.  Rather, they looked inward and began to subdue not the Earth, but each other.

A woman was meant to become one flesh with her man by supporting him and at times even opposing him toward their mutual destiny, while at the same time being the anchor of the family unit.  However, it seems by the time of Noah, women were being treated by the dominant sex as a commodity and being auditioned, selected and/or traded among men.  To this point even Messiah Yeshua said, “as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ship, and they didn’t know until the flood came, and took them all away…” (Matthew 24:38-39).

I can argue that at some point such men became oblivious to the rest of the earth, and focused only on establishing themselves.  However, the text emphasizes that the chief industry of those days not appear to be crops, flocks or anything related to ‘taming the earth’.  Instead the text points to the chief industry being the trafficking of women.

If this is the case,  then this new female identity as a “commodity” to one day join a harem as her highest level of achievement would’ve completely altered the family structure forever.  As opposed to having a voice within her family, she would now live to be preferred by the “sons of God” (more to follow on them).  The consequences of that restructuring would also negatively affect the nurturing and raising of children.

When men expand their influence and tame the earth, he needs a Living God.  By definition, this is called “adventure” and “pilgrimage”.  All of the great men of old encountered God when they sojourned to places like Beersheva (Avraham), Bethel (Yaakov), or even Horev (Moses).

However, when a men turns inward and enslaves himself, he kills that sense of pilgrimage. He alters the need for God to be in control, because he becomes that control. He also kills the need to commune with a Living God.

Simply put, these new controls put in place by man in those days proved to be incompatible with the Spirit of YAH, even as God strove with us to bring us back to His will for us:

The LORD said, “My Spirit will not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; so his days will be one hundred twenty years”” (Genesis 6:3).

There is still much to be said about the particulars of those days – i.e. who the Nephilim were and so forth, and that will definitely be my next topic.  For now, the main point is to show how the Earth’s destruction came about mainly due man altering the creation of God.  They killed the family structure by making women commodities.  They stopped up their spirit of pilgrimage which consequently led to God striving with them.

If we think about it, a lot of men were destroyed when they lost their ability to expand and sought to control men.  King Saul lost it when he feared the people.  Solomon also lost communion with God when he stopped expanding the kingdom and built himself a harem.  In short, it’s a pattern that will repeat itself over and over again.

I suppose this is a warning not to lose my sense of pilgrimage.  It’s true that when I feel comfortable, I want to keep a comfortable lifestyle.  I might even be controlling those around me to keep what I have.

And this is exactly what I’m reading in Genesis 6, just on a larger scale.  That’s exactly the point I’ll make when I tackle the identities of the Nephilim and their contribution to the fall of the ancient world, as well as the rest of humanity.

 

 

 

 

 

Genesis 5:29-5:31, Beware the Jackpot of Wickedness

And he named him Noah, saying, “This same will comfort us in our work and in the toil of our hands, because of the ground which Yahweh has cursed.” (Genesis 5:29, WEB)

At first glance, this reads as if Lamech is prophesying over Noah’s life – and many have drawn that very conclusion.   After all, it makes a compelling argument, as some of the details spoken by Lamech seemingly come to pass.  For instance, during Noah’s lifetime, YHVH declares “I will never again curse the ground on account of man” (cf. Genesis 8:21).  Furthermore, in the very next breath (vs. 22) God declares that the Earth’s new climate will feature a clear-cut “seedtime and harvest” – which allows us a bit of “rest” in between – as opposed to the constant, undefined planting/gathering times as might have occurred prior to the Flood.

So it’s easy to see why Lamech’s words are traditionally read in a positive light, but what happens when we read the events declared by Lamech in chronological order?  Well, they might have a different feel to them:

“Yahweh cursed the ground,
And because of that our hand is full of stress [itzavon].
But this one will relinquish [nacham] us from our work.”

[Note: “hand” should be interpreted metaphorically as it appears in singular form (“not hands as many Bibles say).  Also, I think itzavon should be understood as “stress.”]

Read in chronological order, it’s easier to detect a little hostility and blame in Lamech’s words, isn’t it?  So whatever Lamech meant, it’s tricky – so we need to understand his words, beginning with what Lamech intended with the name “Noach”.

‘Noach’ is derived from the Hebrew verb nacham, which can mean “comfort” or “consolation” (as is often translatied), but usually means a complete reliquishing from abrasive situations, such as a rainstorm after a long drought, or “turning a wasteland into the Garden of Eden” (i.e. Isaiah 51:3).  Whenever nacham is used, something abrasive is turned away for someone else’s benefit, such as:

I will give thanks to You, the LORD; for though you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and You comfort [nacham] me (Isaiah 12:1, emphasis mine).”

Isaiah loved using this word nacham, and I imagine that’s because Isaiah often wrote about complete turnarounds in Israel’s present and future.  Probably the most famous has to do with the advent of the “voice of the wilderness”.  Interestingly enough, there appears to be striking coincidences designs in word choices between what Isaiah declared over Israel and what Lamech declared over Noah:

Comfort ye [nachamu], comfort ye [nachamu] My people, saith your God.  Speak to the heart of Jerusalem, and call to her, that her warfare [tsava] hath been completed… accepted hath been her punishment, that she hath received from the hand [yad] of Jehovah Double for all her sins. (Isaiah 40:1, YLT)

Put in a different way, Isaiah showed how Israel received “double” for her offenses (in contrast to a double payment for a job well done) – a ‘jackpot’ for transgressions against the LORD.  However, YHVH also promised a time of “relinquishment” (nacham) and turning away from His punishment.

So now that we understand the meaning of nacham, let’s understand Lamech’s intent in naming his son “Noach”.  The first question I have is, from what did Lamech seek relinquishment?  Of course he wanted a relinquishment from the curse of the ground started by YHVH.  However, where I get hazy is he didn’t want YHVH to relinquish it but… Noah?!!

The truth is, Noah didn’t relieve the earth from any curse – … it was actually YHVH who gave the earth the respite Lamech wanted, but it was also YHVH who first relinquished Himself from mankind, as is written:  “and Jehovah repenteth [nacham] that He hath made man in the earth, and He grieveth Himself — unto His heart.” (Genesis 6:6, YLT)  So if you’re still with me, there are two competing destinies for Noah – one from Noah’s flesh and blood father, and the other from his Father in Heaven.  It appears they have a different idea of what is relinquished from the Earth.

Let’s remember, when Noah was born, there was already an ever-increasing heap of offenses which started when “men began to profane the name of YHVH (Genesis 4:26).  And with an abundance of offenses already evident in that world, what was Lamech expecting?  Did he think his fellow man was somehow worthy to be relieved of such a curse?

I think it’s time we read these words with a negative connotation, as Lamech appears to pin all blame on YHVH for earth’s peril (where have we heard THAT before?) – not to mention expecting Noah to somehow ‘cheat’ the curse of God.

And why wouldn’t Lamech think that?  After all, others had seemingly ‘cheated’ their own relief through innovations and accruing wealth, and I’m speaking of the “other Lamech”, who was fifth from Cain (Lamech the father of Noah was seventh from Enosh).  The sons of this “other Lamech” made him famous and powerful – why couldn’t Noah do the same?

When our children are born, we’re beaming with pride, and expect them to save the world.  We hope they’ll grow up and build rockets travelling at light speed or find cures for every cancer.  However, what we don’t say is “my son will cure the cancer that YHVH created” – but this is exactly how I read Lamech naming his son.  I detect an undertone of hostility and despair to YHVH – not a prophecy.

I’ve written before about the similarities between the two Lamechs – not just as namesakes, but that they act as ‘bookends’ for the genealogies, they are both quoted, they both evoke a previous curse from YHVH, but now I’m going to expand this thought even further…  they both act as gods.  Lamech the fifth from Cain made up his own vengeance (see Genesis 4:24), while Lamech the seventh from Enosh thought that a man – his son – was going to out-fox God and His curse.

To reiterate, these similarities between the two aren’t coincidence; they’re signs.  This is a road map showing when the offenses – which began with profaning the name of YHVH – reached their completion, marking when the two main peoples (of Adam and Enosh) reached the fullness of transgression.

If you don’t believe the former coincidences are a sign… you will believe the next one.

It’s easy to read the Scriptures and catch that the number seven stands for the completion, fullness, or complete end of something.  The sacrifice of high Holy Days are only complete with seven animals, the wall of Jericho fell on the seventh turn, the prophet Daniel says “seventy sevens are determined… to make an end of sin, to seal up…” (cf. Daniel 9:24), and so it is countless other times, especially in the book of Revelation, where EVERYTHING ends with seven, i.e.  “seven angels with seven trumpets, preparing themselves to sound…” (Rev. 8:6)…

So to the naked eye, Lamech the father of Noah might die insignificantly, but we who are learned might see something prophetic in Lamech’s death:

And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and seven years, and he died.  (Genesis 5:31, KJV, emphasis mine).

But wait, there’s more!  It would seem “the other Lamech” of Cain’s stock ALSO had his phenomena attached to him:

If Cain be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.” (Genesis 4:24, KJV, emphasis mine)

So these “777 jackpots” if you will mark the reward of transgression for the sons of Adam.  It took Cain’s ancestors five generations to win it, while the sons of Enosh reached it in seven.

The 777th year of Lamech’s life occurred just five years before the Flood, and I like to believe that’s when the fullness of sin evoked the “relinquishing” (nacham) of Mankind, as God said to Noah: “The end of all flesh is come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” (Genesis 6:13)

So the sum of these things is this:  Lamech was banking on a different jackpot than the one YHVH had in store.  True to Noah’s name, there was a “relinquishment”… but not the one Lamech foresaw.

There will be a day when the world wins the “777” jackpot – i.e. when the seventh angel sounds the seventh trumpet after the seventh last plague… so let’s make sure we’re preparing for the reward of righteousness, and not the jackpot of wickedness. ◊

Genesis 4:10-15, Why Was Cain’s Life Spared?

There seems to be a lot of speculation and struggling with Qayin’s (Cain’s) punishment – or lack thereof – as some believe that Qayin should’ve lost his own life after murdering his brother Hevel (Abel), based on comments from skeptics and even some believers in Internet Land.  On the flip side is Christian flag-waving of the “Grace” extended to Qayin; according to Christians, this is one proof that Jesus was always the ‘God of the Old Testament’.

The way I see it, the problem is that both sides of the debate perceive an inconsistency between how God views premeditated murder in other parts of the Bible (i.e. the Torah or “Law”), versus how God allows Qayin to keep his life after such a blatant example of… premeditated murder!  However, I suggest both views are missing key points of information in what I call ‘The Curious Case of Qayin’.

First of all, nothing in the Law and its punishments for murder were applicable until Yis’rael made a covenant with God at Horev (cf. Exod. 24:7).  With respect to how God banished Qayin thousands of years earlier, comparisons to other parts of the Bible would be irrelevant, except that it does raise questions about the eternal nature of God, and how we’d expect His judgments to be uniform throughout time.  That’s an important question, and I will answer it shortly.

As for this being “Grace”, indeed there are many instances of grace in the Tanakh, but I  can’t include Qayin’s judgment among them.  Grace entails complete forgiveness and a restoration of the soul, but that is not what I see in Qayin.

So this leaves two questions: why was Qayin’s life spared and if it’s not grace, what is it?

I say the answer is in plain sight.

First, let’s clear up an assumption that many of us may have.

Where is Abel, your brother?  And Cain answered, “I don’t know! The keeper of my brother… is me?” (Genesis 4:9)

We read this dialogue and always assume that God and Qayin were alone.  But the text suggests there were witnesses.  For example, by the time she had Seth, Havah (Eve) knew Hevel’s fate , and seemed to be a bit hostile to Qayin (cf. Gen. 4:25).  If Qayin was banished immediately, how could Havah know this information?  Therefore, I suggest that the following dialogue makes much more sense… in the presence of witnesses, likely other “sons and daughters” birthed by Havah (cf. Gen. 5:4).

What have you made? The voice of your brother’s blood cries to me from the ground.” (vs. 10)

Even in death, God hears a righteous person more than the wicked who remains alive, because “YHVH is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matt. 22:32).  By listening to the voice of Hevel, God is advocating for the victim.  Thus everything hereafter should be understood as God honoring what the blood of Hevel spoke.

And now, you have been cursed from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand, because you would work the ground.  No longer will it yield its produce to you… (vs. 11-12)

Qayin knowingly buried his brother in the same grounds that he worked.  In doing so, God judged those grounds to now be Hevel’s final resting place – instead of a cultivated field. If the sinister Qayin remained, he would disrupt Hevel’s resting place for the sake of “produce” (the Heb. koach can mean “strength” but when used with soil it should be understood as “produce”) – even with his brother secretly buried beneath it!  Thus God obviously judged in favor of Hevel and dismissed Qayin from those lands.

A vagrant and a wanderer will you become in the earth.” (vs. 12)

“Fugitive and vagabond” is a seriously unhappy translation of two words that are almost the same, found in the obviously poetically Hebrew ‘na wa nad’.  In fact, this is the only place where “fugitive” and “vagabond” are used for each word, respectively.  Since there is no consistency in how each of these words are translated, the interpretation of na wa nad is open to suggestion.

I say that this term, obviously used to describe Qayin’s future, should be compared with his past.  Previously, he was “the man” and was stable, grounded, and secure.  Now, his future would be the exact opposite – unstable!  As long as we understand that it’s the exact opposite of him being “the man” alongside his parents, we understand the intent of Qayin becoming “na wa nad” – living life alone without the stability always provided for him.

Then Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is too great to endure.” (vs. 13)

The real reason Qayin was allowed to live jumps right off the page… right here.

God – Who I think was deferring to the blood of Hevel for judgment – knew that Qayin would’ve preferred a coward’s death to facing a life filled with adversity.  In this respect I think Hevel knew his brother quite well!  Notice how much that fear of adversity is evident in Qayin’s response below:

“Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Your face I will be hidden, and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will smite me.” (vs. 14)

Ironically, Qayin would’ve lived a lot like someone else in the story – wandering to and fro, fearful of prey, living away from the cultivated fields… that sort of reminds me of how a shepherd would live, is it not?  It seems to me that Qayin’s judgment has an air of becoming like his brother Hevel was in life – who coincidentally is now crying out to God through his blood.  It’s nothing short of poetic justice that Qayin has to live as Hevel was. I believe that Hevel wanted his brother Qayin to see life as he’d seen it.

Notice how the Almighty never said anything about killing Qayin, and how that was purely Qayin’s invention?  Again, if we assume this exchange had witnesses, it makes more sense.  I say Qayin was subtlely inviting anyone – a witness per say – to find him and kill him, to alleviate the one thing Qayin couldn’t bear: adversity.  I think Qayin was so fearful of real life that he wanted to be ‘offed’.

Which is then why the Almighty ensured Qayin would live:

But the LORD said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” And the LORD set a sign on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. (vs. 15)

The mysterious mark/sign of Qayin only makes sense if witnesses overheard these words.  It’s my opinion that this declaration is the mark of Qayin.  True, this is a protection of Qayin’s life, but this was not for Qayin’s benefit – it was done for Hevel.  I believe Hevel – as a righteous man – had compassion on his murderer.

This doesn’t mean he wanted his brother excused!  Up to this point, Qayin never laments his murderous act – he only laments its consequences!  Therefore, Qayin would not learn any remorse through death.  Thus Qayin was allowed to live to learn remorse, and perhaps humility for what he did.  This is the poetic justice the blood of Hevel wanted, which God honored.

So, Qayin was neither offered Grace, nor was he given murder.  Qayin was given the punishment that fit Qayin – which was exactly what he deserved. If anything, this is one indication that we all will get what we deserve. The question is, do we want God to listen to us, even in death? Or do we want God to set His face and dismiss us from His presence?  Ω

Genesis 4:10-14, The Way of Qayin Was and Is the Way of the Serpent

The LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries to me from the ground.   Now you are cursed because of the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.  From now on, when you till the ground, it won’t yield its strength to you. You will be a fugitive and a wanderer in the earth.” Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me out today from the surface of the ground. I will be hidden from your face, and I will be a fugitive and a wanderer in the earth. Whoever finds me will kill me.” (Genesis 4:10-14)

The majority of our Bibles translate YHVH’s words to Qayin (Cain) as “What have you done?” but I say we should interpret this as “what have you made?”  The verb in question is the Hebrew asah, which is used interchangeably with its synonym bara (to create) to describe God’s ordering of the heavens and the earth, as well as His creation of Mankind (ref. Genesis 1-2).

By design, YHVH also responds with “asah” to Havah (Eve) and the serpent after their transgressions at the Tree of Knowledge (cf. Gen. 3:13-14).  These responses indicate that we who were created in the image of God are creative in nature, but we can “make” (asah) acts of mischief that are foreign to YHVH.  When we create such evil, God asks, “What is this you made?” for this is not the handiwork He respects.  Selah.

So the question to Qayin after he murdered his brother Hevel (Abel), “what have you made?” is similar to God’s response at the Tree, but it’s the fates of the serpent and Qayin that are eerily similar.  However, before delving into this mystery, we must understand how similar paths led to similar fates.

At first, both Qayin and the serpent were “the man”.  We know that the serpent was the wisest among the animals and Qayin was the stronger son who learned his father’s trade.  They were as privileged as royalty until someone else came along who – in their eyes – stole their favor.  To them, it wasn’t supposed to go down that way!

“Dumb humans, who don’t have any knowledge of good and evil? How could they be favored before me, the serpent, who is the wisest of all the beasts!? I will make them as I am and conquer them, and regain my rightful place over all creation!”

“Hevel!? That runt!? How can he be favored instead of me, Qayin!? I’m the one who was born strongest, and followed in my father’s footsteps!  Now it looks as if my parents favor him, along with God!  Nonsense! I will eliminate this competition, and regain my proper place!”

Thus the similarities in motivations led to similar fates:

 The Serpent’s Fate (Gen. 3:14-15)
Qayin’s Fate (Gen. 4:10-14)
Because you have made (asah) this…  What have you made (asah)? 
Cursed are you… Now you are cursed…
From all the cattle and every beast of the field… From the ground, which opened its mouth to receive the blood of your brother by your hand.
Over your belly will you go, and dust you will eat all the days of your life. If you work the ground, it will not continue to give its produce to you. A waverer and a wanderer shall you become in the Earth.
And I will put enmity between your seed and her seed… he will bruise your head, and you will bruise his heel… It will come to pass, that anyone who comes upon me will kill me. 
X Rightly so. Whoever smites Qayin, seven times will I avenge him.  And YHVH set upon Qayin a sign, lest anyone come upon him to kill him.

Both the serpent and Qayin were judged by God for their mischief (what they made/worked), and cursed them from their previous, comfortable lives.  Both of them were informed of how they would experience life as a “wanderer”, and would have to rely on a new means of sustenance.  Both of them also knew of the enmity they would experience with Mankind in the future.

I’ve written before how at the Tree of Knowledge we became more like serpents than gods, and this seems to bring that theory home to roost.  Qayin’s motivations were like the serpent before him, which is why the shared similar fates. Thus we have our main takeaway:  God is showing us that we might all become like the snake. The serpent’s venom is within us. 

If we don’t control our lusts, we might go what the Apostle Yahudah (Jude) calls
“the way of Qayin” (Jude 11). Jude explains how this theme reoccurs throughout the Bible, and so we also have to expect it in our own lives.  We must constantly be on guard against politicians, pundits, predators, and false prophets who want to manipulate us, and subjugate us under an insatiable lust for power.

There is one and only thing that differs between the fates of the serpent and Qayin, and that is the mercy which is inexplicable to most of us.  We all struggle with Qayin’s “punishment” – or lack thereof.

I want to encourage you that there is always an answer for what we don’t understand in the Word of God.  The reasons for Qayin’s banishment are both practical and prophetic, and we will get to those answers soon, Lord willing! Ω

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Genesis 4:9, If You Can’t Love Your Brother, How Can You Love Your Brethren?

The LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel, your brother?” He said, “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9)

After Cain smote his brother Abel, God begins to interrogate Cain even though He already knew the right answer (I’ve already written about why God would do this here).

It doesn’t surprise me that an all-knowing God asks questions of men, but what does surprise me is all the chatter over how Cain killed Abel.  Apparently it’s something inquiring minds want to know, but I think any investigation to uncover the murder weapon is just following a red herring.  The truth is, the weapon would’ve been included in the text had it been something we NEED to know.  That being said, there is one way we can uncover the lesson here that YHVH, the King of the Universe, wants our puny human minds to grasp.

If we read the text in Hebrew and identify trends in any words used repetitively, we can reduce some of our speculation.  It just so happens there is one word here that sticks out like a sore thumb, not just in this highlighted verse (of Genesis 4:9) but throughout the whole chapter.  That Hebrew word is “akhi”, the word for “brother”.  In the verses concerning Cain and Abel, akhi appears seven times (yes, there “seven” is again).  In fact, after YHVH asks, “Where is Abel your brother (akhi)?”, God ONLY refers to Abel as “your brother”.

The simple answer is that God isn’t concerned with us identifying the murder weapon. What He wants us to understand is that Cain targeted his akhi, his flesh and blood.

In response to God’s question (which is literally “Where did Abel your brother go?“), Cain literally responds, “the keeper of my brother is… me?” (If he would have said ‘Am I my brother’s keeper’ as is traditionally translated we’d expect shamartiy or shamartiy-o, as in the literalDo I keep my brother?). In other words, from my chair it looks like he’s implying “you’re laying this on me!?”  I believe this is fitting for Cain, the quintessential narcissist, who responds to adversity by eliminating the competition.

There is a big change from the backstory of Abel’s life once Abel’s sacrifice was looked upon by God.  Whereas at first Abel was almost an afterthought, Adam and Eve suddenly changed their minds and began to see the younger Abel as the seed to carry out God’s favor (cf. Gen. 4:25).  So when Abel gained this newfound favor by both God and their parents, Cain – as a narcissist – probably assumed that he lost their favor.

Thus Cain’s response “the keeper of my brother is me!?” might be understood with an air of both jealousy and insidiousness.  Cain thought everyone else was Abel’s keeper… everyone except himself, that is.  Cain’s unspoken narrative here is ‘You, O God, accept him, my parents favor him now… if you all love him so much, why didn’t you all protect him – why are you looking at me?)  Yes, I believe this reads like Cain was testing God, to see if YHWH would deliver Abel when Cain attacked him!

Cain failed to understand is that there was no reason to be enraged, as God told him (cf. 4:6).  The favor that comes from both God and parents isn’t a competition. Favor is meant to be shared; it’s not an exclusive entitlement!  I think this is the parshat (simple) and fundamental message of this early Scripture – a common truth that anyone reading the Bible would hopefully learn right away:  If you don’t love and preserve your brothers and sisters, you won’t have a home to come home to.  Like Cain, you will be a wanderer in the earth. You will ruin your life, and will set back the lives of your family as well.  As we continue to read this story, that’s exactly what we find.  Cain ruined his life and set back what his parents were hoping to accomplish.

And now for the prophetic implications of this verse.

The crux of the whole of Scripture, and the crux of what Messiah taught is:  you will not receive God’s favor if you are at odds with your greater “brethren”.  ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ is well known throughout Scripture, but the spiritual implication is: if you can’t love and shomer (keep/watch over/preserve/protect) your mother’s son who is your akhi, how could you love your neighbor who is also your “akhi”?  In other words, with the Cain and Abel story, God prepares everyone to love his family that he may grow up to love his neighbors… even the brethren… our fellow believers in the Kingdom of God.  In fact, there is one akhi in particular that we are to cherish and keep.

In Psalms 22:22, David foresaw that the Messiah is THE akhi, who says in the Spirit: “I will recount Your Name to my brethren (akhi) in the great congregation.” Of course, the entirety of Psalm 22 depicts Messiah as being surrounded by the wicked, pierced feet and hands, with great thirst – basically, everything that occurred at Yeshua’s final Passover when the great congregation was assembled for a major feast (cf. Exodus 23:17)- we also see this word “akhi” to describe how Messiah viewed Israel as his brethren, his family.

So Messiah Yeshua was an akhi to Israel as Abel was to Cain… and like Abel, the favored One was murdered.

Psalms 22 reads He trusts in Yahweh; let him deliver him. Let him rescue him, since he delights in him” (vs. 8).  In other words, David foresaw that Israel would treat Messiah the same way Cain treated Abel – “I’m not his keeper… why didn’t You, O God, deliver him from my hand?”

And like Cain, Israel was allowed to survive… into a period of wandering, with a declaration that none should harm Israel if they find him, and so forth…  a great topic for another time. Ω

Genesis 4:3-7, There Was Nothing Wrong with Cain’s Offering…

As time passed, Cain brought an offering to the LORD from the fruit of the ground. Abel also brought some of the firstborn of his flock and of its fat. The LORD respected Abel and his offering, but he didn’t respect Cain and his offering… (Genesis 4:3-5, WEB)

I know during my lifetime I’ve heard dozens of sermons or teachings that identify Hevel’s (Abel’s) sacrifice as better because it was a blood atonement, as opposed to Qayin’s (Cain’s) non-blood sacrifice, which was supposedly from “abundance”.

There are problems with this interpretation for a number of reasons, but most of all, it dilutes the main point!

First and foremost, the Word explicitly says that YHVH “did not look upon (lo sha’ah) Qayin.” There was something wrong with Qayin – not his offering!

For further evidence of this, we need look only at the next few words (in my own translation from the Mst and DSS):

“…and Qayin became exceedingly angry, so that his face fell. And YHVH said to Qayin, why have you become angry? Is there not – if you do good – exaltation?” (Genesis 4:5-7)

Put another way, the word for “good” is tov and Qayin wasn’t doing good (yatav). Remembering that the only standard human had in those days was to choose between the spectrum of tov and ra (evil), YHVH was reminding Qayin that he should pursue “good”. But that’s not all – as they often do, God’s words contained a promise: that YHVH will “exalt” (s’et) Qayin if he would just choose the “tov”!

Most of our Bibles say “will you not be accepted?” but s’et means “elevated” in the context of God’s elevated state in His “majesty” and “excellency”. YHVH was actually showing Qayin how he could be “elevated” just as He did for his brother Hevel.

The bottom line is that if God does not “see” you, neither will he “see” your sacrifice. I love that this occurs with Qayin and Hevel in the Beginning, because this theme resurfaces throughout history, as the Prophets demonstrate:

–“As for the sacrifices that are made by fire unto Me, Let them sacrifice flesh and eat it, For the LORD accepteth them not.” (Hosea 8:13, YLT)

–“Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat flesh.”For I did not speak to your fathers… concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. “But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.’… (Jeremiah 7:21-23, GNT)

–It’s useless to bring your offerings. I am disgusted with the smell of the incense you burn… No matter how much you pray, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with blood… Yes, stop doing evil and learn to do right. See that justice is done—help those who are oppressed, give orphans their rights, and defend widows.” (Isaiah 1:13-17, GNT)

Not surprisingly, THE Prophet (Messiah Yeshua) equated this same principle with the Kingdom of God, thus expanding earlier precedents:

–“…to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Now when Jesus saw that [the scribe] answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” (Mark 12:33-34)

So, the truths that the Prophets spoke were the same as Messiah spoke, which is the same as YHVH spoke to Qayin, because of you know, the whole “I am in the Father and the Father is in Me” thing. The message is, was, and always shall be the same: ‘Love me by being obedient, and I will accept your holy days, your sacrifices, your prayers, and your offerings.’

It’s clear that Qayin didn’t understand this, because he couldn’t be obedient, even when YHVH pleaded with him and showed him the path to “exaltation”. Hevel, on the other hand, DID get it.

Earlier I posted about the backstory of Qayin and Hevel, and by this point their life’s story reached its first culmination. Hevel had learned that the favor of parents didn’t equate to the favor of God, and that God wouldn’t limit him to his weaker (perhaps handicapped) physique. Hevel knew what he was in this life, but that didn’t stop him from offering in trust (cf. Hebrews 11:4). Hevel recognized a greater life and Universe – specifically, that YHVH was a faithful God, who would accept Hevel.

It’s not that Qayin lacked belief or even thankfulness, but what he did lack was humility. He was groomed to be “the Man” from childhood but wasn’t so in God’s eyes… at least not yet. The way I see it, he had options. He had been provoked to jealousy – a tactic God has always used to bring people into righteousness – but use that jealousy to learn from his brother Hevel in humility. After all, it’s not as if Qayin was rejected by YHVH forever; there is no reason to think Hevel and Qayin couldn’t be exalted together!

There are still believers that are comparable to Qayin. We all know them; they think they are the only learned ones, anointed ones, the best worshippers, etc. Yet this competitiveness is offensive to the Almighty, especially if it’s “the man”. If one has the whole “field” so to speak – i.e. the pastor – what occurs? Jealousy, followed by a move to thwart, silence, and/or hijack an authentic work of YHVH!

Whoever is elevated by YHVH should be elevated by all, that we may all be preserved and exalted with God.

To the believer, I’m sure he can draw even more similarities with Qayin and Hevel and the manifestation of Messiah Yeshua – the last being first, pride vs. humility, provoking to jealousy, rejecting the Way, etc. And yet, it will get even deeper as the story continues! Ω

Genesis 2:21-24, The Transformation of Spouses and Parents

“[YHVH] took from one of his sides, and closed up flesh in its place. And YHVH Elohim built the side – which he took from the man – into a woman, and brought her to the man. Thus at last, bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; for this she will be called woman, because from man was she thus taken. So will a man forsake his father and mother and enjoin to his wife, and the two will become into one flesh.” (Genesis 2:21-24)

I recently posted reasons why ‘rib’ should be translated “side”, as Adam’s ripping apart of two equal sides demonstrates the equality of a husband and wife in marriage. However, this tearing-and-repairing of Adam cuts even deeper, as it represents the transformation every couple must go through for a successful marriage.

These verses are still read at religious weddings – as they should be – because they express marriage in a beautiful and poetic way. After all, God didn’t just make Eve out of thin air, He created her in a roundabout way to teach future generations about His serious investment in marriage, just as Messiah said:

“Haven’t you read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh?’ So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, don’t let man tear apart.” (Matt. 19:4-6, emphasis mine)

Though the Genesis story details the first marriage, Messiah Yeshua demonstrates that its legacy applies to ALL marriages. Couples must see themselves in Adam and Eve, and follow God’s prescription for a healthy marriage.

It’s interesting that Messiah specifically said “tear apart” because that’s originally what God does to Adam. He tears Adam into two “sides”, but immediately restores Him with a brand new half! This “tearing apart” also translates into modern marriages, but never through divorce, YHVH does however separate spouses… from their parents. This is the “tearing away” that occurs in every marriage. Just as Yeshua taught that God enjoins every couple, YHVH is consequently the one tearing couples away from their parents.

Adam is ripped apart and “closed up” with flesh in its place; this is a foreshadowing of what is ultimately realized in the last word: ‘man forsakes his father and mother… and he becomes one flesh. In other words, a son is ripped from his parents, which may hurt, but only for the briefest of moments. The pain of leaving is quickly replaced by a side of new flesh – in the form of a beautiful new bride. However, all parties must realize the union is ‘closed’ and final.

This principle is not just true for sons. The verb for taken (‘laqach’) is often used (italicized in the block quote above) and for good reason. It’s a synonym for “married”, as in “and Avram and Nahor took wives…” (Gen. 11:29) Therefore, God took a whole side from Adam which parallels the later word “from man was she thus taken”… representing how God takes a daughter away from her family and “re-sides” her with a husband.

Thus a wedding is bittersweet. tears of joy and tears of sorrow are both shed, but not so easily distinguished! It requires a hurtful separation from parents, but a joyous union of two young lives. However, in order for a marriage to work, this transformation must take place. One word in particular underlines how marriage begins and remains a success – the Hebrew verb azav, most often translated “leave” yet meaning so much more, as in “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1)

I’m not saying that children are to leave and ignore their parents forever, but it does mean they “loosen” or “forsake” (azav) themselves from their parents’ influence. We must remember that in this passage the woman was labeled an ezer- “a rescue”. If a man continues to seek rescue and sanctuary from his parents after marriage, he doesn’t allow his wife to exercise her God-mandated responsibility. The woman will feel like a kid-sister instead of a wife, and the marriage will be over before it starts. A man and wife are still expected to honor both sets of parents according to the Word of God, but with the difference that the young couple honor them on their own terms… as one flesh.

The responsibility to forsake is commanded to the man and wife in the word “a man will azav…” and every young couple must interpret how to azav in their own marriage. However, this commandment also implies that parents “let go” of their children and know their own limits. According to the words of Yeshua, parents cannot get in the way of God’s work – even they must be careful to not “tear apart” a marriage.

The fact that ‘mother and father’ appear in the text to begin with is not by coincidence. Only one prophecy is recorded by Adam, which is right here. Of all the things to prophesy about, Adam proclaimed that men will leave their fathers and mothers, just as soon as ‘parenthood’ became a possibility! In other words, mothers and fathers were put on notice – even before Adam and Eve became parents themselves!

By laying it out this way, it’s clear YHVH wants parents to prepare their children to be husbands and wives, and marry their children off with joy, even as YHVH led Eve to Adam – with no strings attached.

Marriage is wonderful, and can be a “match made in Heaven” if the recipe in God’s Word is followed. It requires the right mindset for spouses, and the cooperation of parents will ease the transition. When all parties examine and follow the example set by Adam and Eve, we will epitomize a union that Almighty God calls “good”.♦