Reftagger

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Word for Word: Episode 48

יֹ֥ום חֲמִישִֽׁי

Fifth Day

After providing everything needed to sustain it, God created living (moving) things. This is a turning point it creation. By adding sentience and movement, the Creator shared more of His character to the universe. Animals can consciously form relationships with others of their kind and form beneficial bonds with other species as well.

The account of the fifth day introduced the following words:

[sharats] v. שָׁרַץ to swarm, to bring forth abundantly; to creep, crawl. n. [sherets] שֶׁרֶץ : swarmers, creepers; a swarm

[nephesh] נֶפֶשׁ soul, life, person

[chay] חַי living, alive; from חָיָה, to live.

[`owph] n. עוֹף a flying thing

[`uwph] v. עוּף to fly

[tanniyn] תַּנִּין dragon, serpent, whale, "sea monster"

[ramas] רָמַשׂ creep, move lightly, move about

[kanaph] כָּנָף wing, extremity, edge

[rabah] רָבָה to be great, many, much or numerous

[chamiyshiy] חֲמִישִׁי adj. fifth, from חָמֵשׁ (chamesh) five

Word for Word: Episode 47

פְּר֣וּ וּרְב֗וּ וּמִלְא֤וּ

Be fruitful, multiply, and fill

The filling of the new world with life from the Creator would be hard, but necessary work. Though it could have been accomplished in a moment, God set in motion a process. The gift of life had been given, but the command meant it was by volition that the paired animals would obey. It is a built in urge in living things to "procreate", but soon the creatures would have to choose.

The first command is to be fruitful, פְּר֣וּ (paru) from פָּרָה (parah). On day three the fruit trees we're created bearing fruit (פְּרִי, peri)  a derivative of this verb.

The command to multiply is רְב֗וּ, rebu, the verb רָבָה (rabah, to become great, many, much or numerous). Each of these translations reflect the root meaning of increasing. The verb would become the honorary title of Rabbi, that is to say "great one".

Finally, the animals are told to "fill" their realm with descendants. The verb here is מָלָא, mä·lā', meaning to fill or be full of. Throughout its use, the fullness has many uses carrying the idea of fulfillment and even satisfaction.

From the choice of terms to the blessing via command, the account is meant to leave nothing to chance. The Creator is in total control of His creation.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Life Lessons from David and Bathsheba

If you have ever been in church, than you have probably heard the infamous account of “David and Bathsheba”, that is, the adultery of David and Bathsheba and David’s eventual murder of her husband. Clearly this event in David’s life is warning against adultery and its grave consequences. It is a clear example of how even David, the “man after God’s own heart” traumatically fell into sin. All of these things are true, but what does this episode really mean for my life? What life lessons can I learn from David and Bathsheba.
In this blog series we are going to take a deep dive into the affair between David and Bathsheba and the real, relevant and practical life lessons we can learn from this.

Idleness Leads to Temptation

“[It happened] In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.”- 2 Sam 11:1 ESV 
David had been made King by God and at the time, it was expected that the King lead his soldiers in battle. For one reason or another, David neglected his duty. Relaxation is not wrong, but when relaxation becomes priority over God’s work, we can become idle. Just like David, it is only a short sequence from neglecting our duty, to relaxation, to idleness to temptation and then to sin. 



Sin Consists of a Series of Willful choices

So what made up David’s affair? He desired and lusted after Bathsheba (which crept in while he was idle at home). The adultery of his heart progressed into actionable curiosity. Finally, David had her brought into the bedroom, David committed the act, then he sent her home as if nothing happened. David’s affair consisted of intentional, willful choices throughout the entire process. At any given point he had the opportunity to stop and repent, but he chose to keep going. 


The Consequences of Sin are Unavoidable

David had sent Bathsheba home from his bedroom, as if nothing had been done wrong. Within a short time, David heard word that Bathsheba was pregnant. Sooner or later, David would have to deal with the consequences of his actions.Even while intoxicated with wine, Uriah’s loyalty shone and he slept at the palace and not at home with his wife. Then David became desperate. The consequences of his sin would soon come to light. He did not confess of it, he did not repent of it. David’s single focus was hiding his sin and if Uriah would not cooperate, then he would need to be removed.



God Will Punish Our Sin, Even if its Not What We Deserve

David had sinned and was punished accordingly. David’s entire family would be affected by his sin. David would experience violence for his violence and taking wives for his taking of a wife; the fruit of his sin his son died, seven days later. Despite all of this God kept his love for David. God acquitted David of the rightful punishment- execution. ‘

Be weary- while by God’s grace we may be spared from our rightful punishment of death, we will still get what “we deserve”- God believes in justice and will enact his retribution according to our deeds.



Only God Can Change Our Hearts

David’s prayer is full of asking God to do things. David fully recognizes that in order to get the effects of cleanliness and restoration, God must be the cause. There was nothing that David could to right the wrongs he had done. Furthermore, after his repentance David committed himself to a greater degree of obedience. David’s repentance is a model for all of us. No matter how far we fall from God, God will always take us back- not on our own merit, but wholly on his goodness. 


Sin Can Change Everything For the Worst

 In violence, David fought with his son for control over his throne, much like he committed violence against Uriah. In the process he lost two sons (Amnon and Absalom), had a shamed and scarred daughter (Tamar) and devastating physical and reputational damage to David’s kingdom. A dramatic shift in the narrative, all because of David’s sin.
Much like the sins in our lives, God can spare us from the rightful punishment- death. God can keep the promises and blessings he has given us, but still execute justice. David experience irreparable suffering through this rebellion. That is why sin can never be allowed to rise in the first place. Even if God does not give us the punishment we deserve, there will be consequences- even after repentance. 






A Narrative Shift

David had endured years of violence and uprising running from Saul as rightful King and now he would experience it again- this time everything he had spent his life building would be at stake. After Nathan delivers God’s indictment of his double-sin: murder and adultery, there is a complete change in the narrative of the Book(s) of Samuel (1 and 2 Samuel should be understood as one book). Up until this point, Samuel focuses on David’s rise to power. After this, everything in the main narrative goes down hill. In the same way, after we sin the natural results of the sin or God’s justice may dramatically alter the course of our lives in a negative way. David was acquitted of the punishment he legally deserved: death; however, David still experienced God’s wrath in the law of retribution. “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” (Exo 21:24) or for David- sexual relations with another’s wife will happen to him and violence he committed against Uriah will happen within his own family. 

Immediately after the close of the adultery pericope, an entirely new narrative emerges centering around the turmoil in David’s life caused by the rebellion of Absalom. Notice this all happens after, David repented. First, David’s son Amnon rapes his step-sister, Tamar, whom David had with another wife. Not only was irreparable pain brought to Tamar, her chances of marriage were greatly harmed by the loss of her virginity. Tamar was scarred for life emotionally and perhaps physically, but also culturally. Due to the vile wickedness of Amnon, Absalom grew to hate his step-brother. (2 Sam 13)

“Now Absalom, David’s son son, had a beautiful sister, whose name was Tamar.” (2 Sam 13:1a; emp added)
 In the Hebrew the “Now Absalom” literally says, “And after this Absalom”. This opening phrase tells us that the description of Ammon’s rape of Tamar is given as a cause of Absalom’s rebellion. The rest of the book, with an exception of an appendix, focuses on Absalom’s rebellion and the subsequent turmoil in David’s kingdom. Absalom’s murder for Ammon was consummated in murder. Eventually, this led to Absalom attempting a coup and forced David to flee Jerusalem, with Absalom assuming the throne (2 Sam 13:20-15).
While David fled in the wilderness, on some advice Absalom decided to sleep with some of David’s concubines, responsible for maintaining the palace, out in view of everyone; in fulfillment of God’s curse :

“And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. ...You did it secretly, but I will do this [in public]” (2 Sam 12:12-13)
 Absalom did this specifically to bring shame to his father’s name (2 Sam 16:21-22). In those days, sleeping with King’s wives was a claim to his throne- Absalom publicly made a stake to his father’s throne and humiliated him by sleeping with his palace maidens.
So Absalom sent his army after David to pursue him and bring back his body dead so that his kingship, legitimizing his kingship. In the course of the ensuing battle, Absalom was killed and David mourned, though this meant the restoration of his rule (2 Sam 18:33-19:2).
Once the transfer of power back to David began, a man named Sheba opposed his reinstatement as King and he was quickly defeated (2 Sam 20).
This was only a very short summary of a lengthy narrative of Absalom’s rebellion. In violence, David fought with his son for control over his throne, much like he committed violence against Uriah. In the process he lost two sons (Amnon and Absalom), had a shamed and scarred daughter (Tamar) and devastating physical and reputation damage to David’s kingdom. A dramatic shift in the narrative, all because of David’s sin.
Much like the sins in our lives, God can spare us from the rightful punishment- death. God can keep the promises and blessings he has given us, but still execute justice. David experience irreparable suffering through this rebellion. That is why sin can never be allowed to rise in the first place. Even if God does not give us the punishment we deserve, there will be consequences- even after repentance.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

God, Create a Clean Heart In Me

“David said… ‘I have sinned against Yahweh.’ And Nathan said to David, ‘Yahweh also has put away your sin, you shall not die.’”
In the midst of David’s verbal confession before the prophet Nathan, David wrote (or said) a prayer- now known as Psalm 51. It is important to remember that biblical prose is not journalistic in nature, but it is storytelling. The events are not fictional, but they are narrated and told “at a distance” from the raw, historical happenings. David’s confession may not have been at the same time that Nathan had confronted him. It seems, that David’s confession here is a representative statement of his prayer and Nathan’s response is God’s response.
David’s prayer is full of asking God to do things. David fully recognizes that in order to get the effects of cleanliness and restoration, God must be the cause. David asks God to create a clean heart in him. The Hebrew word for create here, bara is a verb that only has God as the cause (according to Dr. Michael Heiser). Again, David asks God for his mercy, his cleansing, deliverance and restoration. David makes a point to confess- but his confession is firmly rooted in the sole power of God to change anything. David appeals to God’s attributes of love and mercy so that he could experience mercy and have his transgressions removed from the record. Specifically, David asks God to be “delivered from bloodguiltiness” or to be acquitted of the charges of murder, the punishment for which is death. David extends his confession to a commitment to better serve and be a witness to Yahweh throughout Israel (Psa 51:13-19).

“[David] did not turn aside from anything that [God] commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite”- 1 Kings 15:5
In the period of time after David’s murder and adultery, but before his repentance- David was not walking with God. It is hard to say exactly how long David was in the state of unconfessed sin, but he was unrepentant for at least a month, but very possibly much longer- up until or shortly after the birth of his son, some nine months after his adultery and eight after murder. When the Book of Kings says David “did not turn aside from anything” does not mean he never sinned. The key difference is that David remained in a sinful state and was unrepentant, until God brought the matter to him personally.
When David had sinned at other times in his life, he had not stopped his pursuit of God. David’s sin was so deep here that he stopped following God. He only repented when he was directly confronted with it. He may have continued to pray and lived his “life as normal”, but with his sin left unresolved, David was not truly walking with God. This is essential to understand the depth of David’s repentance Psalm. David did not have the relationship with God he had for a few month period, he had not been walking with God for a long period of time.
David fully recognized that transformation of heart and cleansing from sin is only doable by God. Once confronted with his sin, David confessed:
“For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise”- Psa 51:16-17
There was nothing that David could to right the wrongs he had done. Furthermore, after his repentance David committed himself to a greater degree of obedience. David’s repentance is a model for all of us. No matter how far we fall from God, God will always take us back- not on our own merit, but wholly on his goodness

The Confrontation

After Uriah’s death, Bathsheba mourned. After the mourning was over David took her as his wife, the right thing to do in the circumstances.

But the thing that David had done displeased [Yahweh]. And And [Yahweh] sent Nathan to David”- 2 Sam 11:27b-12:1a
Uriah was dead, Bathsheba was now his wife. For David, it was as if he not only avoided the consequences of his sin, he had made amends by marrying Bathsheba. God saw what he had done and was not pleased. As the King of Israel, David was responsible the governance of his kingdom; but was still under the leadership of God. Therefore, David had a personal prophet, Nathan, who communicated the revelation of God to him and interceded before him. One day Nathan came before David, having been sent by God. He presented him with a scenario: a rich man with large flocks stole one man’s only lamb. In those days, Kings would act as the chief judge over the country, hearing cases and ensuring fair justice. (2 Sam 12:1-4)
When David heard this, he was outraged:
“As [Yahweh] lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity”- 2 Sam 12:5b-6
At this Nathan hit David with the news- the man being described was David. David had made a precedent and had rightfully convicted himself, with the proper punishment of death. Then Nathan laid out the charge in the very words of God himself: God had anointed David King of Israel, gave him triumph him over Saul, granted him several wives and concubines- yet would have given David even more if he had asked. David had blatantly disregarded God’s law, killing Uriah the Hittite with by the Ammonite’s hands and took Bathsheba to be his wife.
David did not physically lay a hand on Uriah to kill him. However, God charges David as the murderer- the weapons of the Ammonites was the method of Uriah’s death, but in reality David was the one “holding the sword” (2 Sam 12:9; cf 1 John 3:15, Matt 5:21-22).

As a result of all of this- violence would never cease to plague David’s family. This unveils in the remainder of the Samuel narrative. Specifically, God would punish David with the same transgression he had committed- someone in his own family would sleep with one of his wives in public, fulfilled when Absalom lied with David’s concubines on the roof of the palace (which had greater cultural importance explored in the next post). David would experience punishment for his wrongdoing. Since David had committed violence against Uriah, he would experience violence. As he had slept with another man’s wife, so someone would sleep with his concubines- the punishment fit the crime.

After hearing all of this David admitted that he had sinned. God’s law explicitly stated that adulterers were to be executed (Lev 20:10, Deut 22:22) and it seemed David expected this.  God had another word for David- God had passed over his sin, he would not die; yet his son would die. David did not get the punishment he deserved, but still had to deal with great consequences for his sin. The punishments of David’s sin would plague him the rest of his life. Yet in all of it, God still kept his promise to David. Violence would curse David’s family, but David’s lineage would experience great prosperity (2 Sam 7:16, Psa 89:4).
David had sinned and was punished accordingly. David’s entire family would be affected by his sin. David would experience violence for his violence and taking wives for his taking of a wife; the fruit of his sin his son died, seven days later. Despite all of this God kept his love for David. God acquitted David of the rightful punishment- execution. ‘

Be weary- while by God’s grace we may be spared from our rightful punishment of death, we will still get what “we deserve”- God believes in justice and will enact his retribution according to our deeds.

Word for Word: Episode 46

יְבָ֧רֶךְ אֹתָ֛ם אֱלֹהִ֖ים

God blessed them

With millions of sentient creatures scattered from the deepest sea to above the clouds, their creator assured their continuance by granting them what they collectively needed. The word בָּרַךְ is a root word which means "to kneel", as a subject to a ruler to request a favor. When used in the intensive form as here, it becomes the granting of that favor. That is to say, "to bless".

When the self-sufficient Creator deems it proper to cause good things to happen to please his creatures, it shows a personal interest in the affairs of this world. In blessing the lives of even the wiggling sea urchins, God demonstrates his benevolent providence. He is always there, doing the right thing.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Desperate Cover Up

"So David sent word to Joab, 'Send me Uriah the Hittite.'"- 2 Sam 11:6 ESV
So begins David’s attempt to hide his sin. He had sent Bathsheba home from his bedroom, as if nothing had been done wrong. Within a short time, David heard word that Bathsheba was pregnant. Sooner or later, David would have to deal with the consequences of his actions. In response to Bathsheba’s pregnancy and “evidence” of David’s sin, he sought to deal with it the natural way- bring Uriah home to his wife.
When Uriah came home from the frontlines, David gave him a warm welcome- completing hiding any ulterior motive. After a pleasant and hospitable evening, David sent Uriah on his way home with a gift to encourage his return to his wife. To David’s dismay, Uriah did not return home that night. When David heard this he was shocked- he would have to move from a simple to an elaborate cover up if Uriah did not go home to his wife.


“Uriah said to David, ‘The Ark and Israel and Judah dwell in booths, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing’”- 2 Sam 11:11
Uriah was so loyal to his fellow soldiers and to David, he refused to enjoy the comforts of his home. It is so ironic, yet so pathetically sad, David was not loyal like Uriah. While the soldiers fought on the field, David stayed at home- a major disgrace. While Uriah fought in the battle, David slept with his wife. Yet, here is Uriah; refusing to go home on grounds of loyalty- an utter embarrassment for David.
Perhaps, a drunk Uriah would go home, so David thought. Even while intoxicated with wine, Uriah’s loyalty shone and he slept at the palace and not at home with his wife. Then David became desperate. The consequences of his sin would soon come to light. He did not confess of it, he did not repent of it. David’s single focus was hiding his sin and if Uriah would not cooperate, then he would need to be removed. The next day, David ordered the army to withdraw from Uriah next time in battle, leaving him exposed to the enemy. This was one of David’s most elite men and one of his most loyal soldiers. None of this mattered to David anymore. David no longer viewed Uriah as his friend, but as a potential avenger of the justice he greatly deserved. Once Uriah died in battle, David not only was an adulterer but a murderer.
The unfortunate lesson of David is the consequences of sin always become worse when we try to conceal our sin. He was so fearful of the consequence of one sin, he committed another one to conceal it. Perhaps David’s desperation was sparked by the punishment of adultery- death by stoning (Lev 20:10). David was so desperate to cover his sin, conceal the evidence and avoid his punishment he was willing to disregard the life of one of his best men. Once a deed is done, no matter how hard one tries, the consequences cannot be avoided- all sin will come to light whether through a husband finding his wife pregnant, or with the confrontation of God himself.

The Anatomy of David's Affair

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin…” (James 1:14-15a ESV)

“And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said ‘Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’- (2 Sam 11:3)
 The moment David saw the beautiful Bathsheba and chose to behold her for too long, he (as in the words of Jesus) “had already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt 5:28). David had already sinned. He had the option to repent of it right there, confess it to God and to turn away (perhaps literally) from his sin. The woman David had seen piqued his interest, so he sent some people to go find out about her. They told David she was Uriah the Hittite’s wife. Uriah the Hittite was no stranger to David, in fact Uriah was one of the top thirty men in all of David’s army (1 Chr 11:41)!
The identification of Bathsheba as Uriah’s wife wasn’t something that David could just brush off. David would have had a personal relationship with Uriah and would have known him well (this is evidenced by David’s later meeting with Uriah). Despite David having heard this was the wife of one of his best soldiers, he still went ahead with his sin. Ironically, Bathsheba was bathing as part of the ritual cleansing after a woman underwent her menstruation period (2 Sam 11:4a, Lev 15:19-23). A woman performing a cleansing ritual for both religious (honoring God) and cultural (pleasing others) reasons, was the object of David’s unclean desires.
“So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her”- 2 Sam 11:4.
David did not have to continue the lust he had began in his heart. He lusted after Bathsheba, asked of her and then was given another opportunity to repent. David was so set in his lust, he ignored sense that would tell him not to have an affair, especially with the wife of one his best men. We don’t know whether or not Bathsheba consented to this or if she did this out of fear. The text here focuses on David’s actions, it has little concern as to what Bathsheba did (only how it affected her). David is the subject, while Bathsheba is the direct object here. This is chiefly ascribed as David’s sin, as the focus of the Book of Samuel was on David.
“And the woman conceived and she sent and told David, ‘I am pregnant’”- 2 Sam 11:5.
 After it was all said and done, David sent Bathsheba home. David acted as if nothing had happened. Sending her home was as if David was sending the consequences of his actions away from his life. Then he received word, she was pregnant. David’s actions weren’t going to go away with a walk home and pretending nothing occurred.
So what made up David’s affair? He desired and lusted after Bathsheba (which crept in while he was idle at home). The adultery of his heart progressed into actionable curiosity. Finally, David had her brought into the bedroom, David committed the act, then he sent her home as if nothing happened. David’s affair consisted of intentional, willful choices throughout the entire process. At any given point he had the opportunity to stop and repent, but he chose to keep going.

Don’t let sin catch you off guard, but remember- you can always walk away before it's too late.

Idleness Leads to Temptation

“[It happened] In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.”- 2 Sam 11:1 ESV (emphasis added)
 These are the opening lines of the account of David’s adultery. It was spring, the war season. In ancient times, armies would primarily fight during spring weather. Armies were not equipped to fight during the cold months of winter. Even if a war was ongoing, opposing sides would often cease battle for the season until the weather was right again. Then they would resume in the spring. One possible reason armies fought in warm weather was that crops were plentiful, giving easily accessible food to passing soldiers.
In those times, Kings were also generals. They led their army on the front lines of the battle. They planned military strategy, negotiated with the enemy and boosted the morale of the troops. Under normal circumstances, during a time of war in the spring, the King would be out in the field with his army. David, however was not in battle, but he “remained at Jerusalem”.
Interestingly, this battle and the fact that David stayed home is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 20 and later in 2 Sam 12:26-31. 1 Chronicles 20:1-3 mentions how David remained at Jerusalem, while Joab besieged Rabbah, the capital of the Ammonites. While David did not partake in the battle himself, he took all of the glory and plunder for himself. He should have been on the front lines like a King usually would, collecting his spoils after his own victory.
“And it happened” or as verse 2 says, “And it came to pass” (2 Sam 11:2). It was when David was at home, sitting idle and neglecting his royal responsibility, it happened. These two phrases make it very clear- the following account of David’s adultery was contingent upon him staying home. If David had been at in the field, this would not have happened.
“[And it came to pass], late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her.”- 2 Sam 11:2-4a
 David was at home and he arose from his couch in the afternoon where “he saw a woman bathing”. This is all predicated on the fact that “But David remained at Jerusalem”. The text makes it very clear, David staying home was very unusual. It was expected of a King to partake in battle. Leading the army was a built-in duty of Kingship (inferred from the biblical phrase “When Kings go off to war”). It’s not that relaxation is wrong, but David was being idle and lazy. While his men were out in the field, battling against the Ammonites, he sat at home. He let his men deal with the heavy toil of battle. While this happened, he sat at home on his couch and then walked around. David got so caught up in enjoying peace and relaxation he let his guard down for one moment. And it happened. And he saw. And [he] sent. The order of the events is very sequential.

David had been made King by God and at the time, it was expected that the King lead his soldiers in battle. For one reason or another, David neglected his duty. Relaxation is not wrong, but when relaxation becomes priority over God’s work, we can become idle. Just like David, it is only a short sequence from neglecting our duty, to relaxation, to idleness to temptation and then to sin.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Word for Word: Episode 45

הָֽרֹמֶ֡שֶׂת

The movers

On the other side of the spectrum of sea creatures were the myriad of smaller animals--living beings that self propelled through the water, the liquid medium that makes life possible.

There are so many different sea animals that we may never know how many there are or may have been. They live in the deepest part of the waters that have been explored so far. They also live in drops of water so small that the air can transfer them to bodies of water far inland. (see https://massivesci.com/articles/sea-spray-microbiome/)

Aside from the placement of the stars, the filling the ocean was the most extensive act of original creation. And so far as we know, this collection of living things far exceeds the stars in variety.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Word for Word: Episode 44

וְעֹוף֙ יְעֹופֵ֣ף עַל־הָאָ֔רֶץ

Flyers flying over the earth

As with the swarm, the flock of "birds" is a large general category. The verb form, עוּף (`uwf), is used to designate flying. The root further points to the most common flyer, the birds, due to their using their wings to wrap, or cover, their young. The noun form is עוֹף (`owf), with the pointing of the vowel different.

עַל־פְּנֵ֖י רְקִ֥יעַ הַשָּׁמָֽיִם

The face of the firmament

There has been much discussion on the nature of the firmament and its relationship with the heavens. As we saw on the second day, the firmament is called "heaven". However, many translate this simply as the air. This seems to be the sense of the birds.

But what is the surface of the sky? Where does the air begin?These concepts are defined by the observer.

The air that every living thing on earth and in the sky breathes begins at the surface of the earth. However, the surface of the heavens is to be viewed from below. It is clear that the sky continues well beyond the birds. That extension of the sky is where the "heavenly bodies" reside. With the earth as the vantage point, the face of the heavens is where the sky touches the earth.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Word for Word: Episode 43

הַתַּנִּינִ֖ם הַגְּדֹלִ֑ים

The great whales

The verb bara, to create, is used a second time when animal life is bestowed upon creatures of the sea and air. The first mentioned is the תַּנִּין, tanniyn, an nonspecific designation for a fearsome creature sometimes called a "dragon". The creatures is said to be quite large. Their size alone would have demanded respect from all other animals in the sea. The contrast between the "monsters" and the "minnows", so to speak, is another merism.

The act of creating was universal in scope. Twice in this verse the Hebrew word כָּל, kal, is used. Be they in the water or the air, every animal was especially designed for its niche in God's world.