Day 143 (May 23): Solomon moved the Ark to the Lord’s new temple, Solomon delivers amazing prayer, Solomon dedicates Temple to God, Solomon asks God to uphold ‘throne’ vow to David

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

1 Kings 8:1-21

2 Chronicles 6:1-11

1 Kings 8:22-53

2 Chronicles 6:12-42

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Kings 8:1): OK, Jerusalem and the City of David are the same, right?  Sorry, I’m a little foggy on this.  Did the City of David get renamed Jerusalem.  If so, why?  So they didn’t have to move the Ark too far?  And, it still has all of it’s belongings from the Tabernacle in the desert?

A. Bethlehem is the city of David, not Jerusalem, but it’s a journey of only a few miles, so its not that far either.  The text does say that it was the items from the desert, though perhaps it means the versions of the ones they are using such as the new tent David had designed.  I’m not exactly sure.

Q. (2 Chronicles 5:1-14): How nice to hear such reverence for the Lord again!  The Israelites have been like a yo-yo with their loyalty to God.  After all of the work and years put into the Ark, I’m sure opening the Temple was the pinnacle of the decade … or century.  It is amazing that the Israelites have managed to carry on the stories of God throughout the centuries and retain their faith (though not all of the time!)  On that note, it’s also miraculous that the Israelites still have the Ark.

A. The Temple dedication is one of the high points of the entire nation’s history, no mistake about it.  I think they only had the Ark because of (what else) God’s mercy upon His people.

O. (1 Kings 8:22-53): Nice prayer! Solomon sounds like he is great ruler material!  I also noticed how much Solomon gives tribute to his father, David.  He reminds God of his love for David and asks that He remember the oath he had with David to have his line on the throne forever.  The relationship between Solomon and his father seems strong.  David obviously spent time with Solomon teaching him about God’s ways and all of His miracles he performed for their ancestors.  This shows how the stories were handed down.  It’s just amazing that they weren’t lost in those long years when Israel strayed from God.  Then again, God probably deserves a lot of the credit for giving Solomon wisdom, a virtue that he requested.

Day 118 (April 28): Absalom plots against his father King David, David flees Jerusalem, Ziba (Mephibosheth’s servant) deceives David, Shimei curses David, David’s adviser Ahithophel trades sides, Adviser Hushai sent to spy

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

2 Samuel 15-17:14

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Samuel 15:1-12): Before Absalom’s killed his brother, Amnon, in vengeance for sleeping with his sister (also Amnon’s sister, right?), Absalom and his father, King David, had a great relationship?  Then, Amnon fled to his grandfather, so then there was anger from David toward Absalom.  But, he also must have understood Absalom’s reasoning for killing Amnon.  So is the rift between Absalom and his father just a huge psychological mess?

A. We don’t know what type of relationship David and Absalom had, but there is no reason to assume it was troubled.  Absalom lived a privileged life that few in the ancient world would have ever known: not only was he the son of a wealthy king, but our recent reading (I forget which one) told us that he was also handsome like his father.  Regarding Amnon and Absalom, what the passage is implying is that Absalom and Tamar shared a mother, so that they were full brother and sister.  Amnon was Tamar’s half brother.  Don’t forget that this is one of our places we see the polygamy he chose gets David in trouble or causes tragic results.

Q. (2 Samuel 15:7-12): There seems to be a strong deviousness characteristic than runs in the royalty back then.  Is that a psychological side-effect of having power?  Maybe they are always greedy for the power and then once they get it, they can live in fear of losing it.  Thus, there is deceit on all sides?  I don’t think God would appreciate Absalom using offering a sacrifice as a reason to conspire to overthrow King David.  There is also a story line here about free will.  You would think that children would obey and honor their parents who take care of them, yet, as we read here, Absalom turns and plots to challenge his father, King David, for the throne.  Is this another case of a person of notoriety — also seen in the sons of the priest Samuel —not raising his son in the right manner?

A. It’s a good question, but we don’t really have any way of knowing how David raised his many sons.  Regarding Absalom’s deceit: one thing the story makes clear is that David is doing his best to be obedient to God and honor Him (by, for example, NOT having Shimei killed for cursing him) while Absalom is not interested in honoring God, as seen in his sleeping with his father’s wives, and lying about making a sacrifice to the Lord.  As the text hints at the end, the Lord in this instance clearly favors David.

Q. (15:13-37): David runs without conferring with God.  You would think He would talk to him about battle plans.  I would think that this would anger the Lord.  I do see that he is asking God to help him throw off Absalom in verse 31.

A. The reference to the Ark in 15:24 would seem to imply that David did request some form of council of God or at least His blessings.

Q. (16:1-4): I didn’t see this coming.  So Mephibosheth is turning on David?  How would Absalom’s capture of Jerusalem help Mephibosheth get his grandfather Saul’s kingdom back?

A. Let’s hold off on this one and see what happens.

Q. (16:5-14): David seems to be so rational toward Shimei.  I wouldn’t think God would instruct Shimei to curse David, though.

A. Part of David’s humility in this story is his understanding that at some point, the Lord is going to be finished with him, and he will die, just as Saul did (though he will die much better than Saul).  An extension of that, in my opinion, is that he is seeing what Shimei is doing as a potential extension of God’s extinguishing of his rule.  The curse of Shimei might represent his own downfall.

Q. (16:21-22): These people had no privacy.  Absalom certainly does not seem to have the wisdom of a king.  Deceit yes, wisdom, uh uh.  I can’t imagine having respect for someone who has sex with another man’s wives … in public.  How could anyone look at a king when they have seen him in action in bed?  These times seem so barbaric compared to what we experience today.

A. I think you’re right.  We are much more private about our sex lives today, especially when it comes to our leaders.  Their private matters are hardly ever in the news.  (Leigh An: Rob, you got me on that one!)

O. (17:5-14): I want to read on!

Return tomorrow to find out how this story unfolds.

Day 100 (April 10): Eli dies from shock of battle casualties, capture of Ark curses Philistines, Philistines return Ark, God hears Samuel’s cry, God gives Israelites victory, Samuel’s greedy sons, Samuel warns against pleading for a king

Day 100!  Can you believe it?  Just three more weeks and will be one-third of the way through the Bible.  It doesn’t seem possible.  If you are joining BibleBum for the first time, welcome!  This blog is using the The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version to explore the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

1 Samuel 4:12-8:22

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Samuel 4): Just as a scene setter, the Israelites were warring with the Philistines who were in the land of Canaan, which God had given to the Israelites.  When the Israelites were taking over the land conquering cities in the time of Joshua, some of the tribes were not destroyed.  This is because the Israelites were not fully acknowledging God?  And, as you said in earlier readings, this would come back to plague the Israelites.  Since then, the Philistines had grown in strength and worshipped idols and the Israelites had weakened because of straying from God.  The Philistines had enslaved the Israelites (Hebrews) and the Israelites were revolting.  Is this accurate?

A. I don’t think the Israelites were actively being enslaved, but rather the Philistines were taxing them and controlling certain areas of Canaan, and that is what the people were revolting against.  Other then that, I think you’ve told it correctly.

Q. (5:1-12): I remember when the Tabernacle was set up that it was so sacred that only certain ones who had become ceremonially clean could view it.  And, several died trying. Here the Philistines have it.  Has it lost some of its sacredness with the weakening of the Israelites?  How come the Philistines were not struck down as they approached it, let alone touched it?  In the subsequent verses, we learn that they were plagued.  This just seems a weaker curse for mistreating the Ark than in Moses’ time.

A. The curse in some ways represents a form of God’s mercy: the Philistines were not aware of the Israelite requirements to not approach the Ark, so God spared them, but He clearly let them know that He was displeased (the curses are certainly a similar story to the plagues of Egypt).  There is no indication that the Philistines touched the Ark, which would result in their death.  They carried the Ark on a cart to avoid touching it directly.  This was obviously not what God instructed: He wanted the priests to carry it.  So, I would say that the “weaker” curse, as you see it, is God having compassion upon a people who don’t know what they are getting themselves into.  They certainly learned fast that you don’t mess with the Ark.

Q. (6:1-2): The Philistines obviously should have realized the power of God.  I’m just wondering why they didn’t convert to worshipping God.  Were they ever invited?  Or, was it understood that they all had their own idols?  The Philistine priests did a good job of making arrangements for the Ark to be returned.  And, they saw what the Ark did to Dagon.  So, why don’t they turn to God?

A. Hmm, that’s a good question.  I don’t really know.  It was probably because they considered this to be “Israel’s god” which they had offended, and not necessarily that Israel’s god was more “powerful,” simply that they had angered Him.

Q. (8:1-3): Samuel’s sons are falling in the footsteps of Eli’s.  What’s up with these priests parenting skills?

A. We aren’t told, so I don’t really have anything to base an answer off of.  Sorry!

Q. (8:21): Why didn’t God encourage Samuel to keep urging the Israelites that God was their king and that they don’t need to be like their neighbor countries?  Is this a “wait and see” question?

A. Again, this is a good question, but I don’t have a great answer.  We know from the Law that God had already made provision for a human king (see Deuteronomy 17:14-20, from our reading on Day 76).  God was not threatened by the request for a human king — though it appears He was a bit insulted — but He does warn the people that they will regret giving themselves over to a human leader. Boy will they.

Day 99 (April 9): Hannah prays for son, vows to give son to God, Samuel is born and dedicated, Hannah’s Prayer of Praise, Eli’s disrespectful sons, God warns Eli, God speaks to Samuel, Philistines capture Ark in war with Israel

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

1 Samuel 1:9-4:11

Questions & Observations

O. (1 Samuel 1:19-28): We haven’t seen a person in the Bible like Hannah, who has the utmost reverence for God, for some time.  It’s refreshing and uplifting to read her words.

Q. (2:1-11): Hannah’s prayer is beautiful.  It has so much praise in it and telling of God’s treatment of others.  This almost sounds like Hannah is a prophet.  I must say that it is strange to hear such eloquence for a prayer.  I’m just used to hearing and saying “Thank you for all of my blessings and here is all of my needs/wants.”

A. Her words are certainly prophetic, in the sense of declaring God’s justice and desires, but I would not go so far as to say Hannah is a prophetess.  If you read Luke 1, you can see clearly the writer Luke records that the women of that story, Mary and Elizabeth, are very influenced by Hannah’s song.  Anyway, as a person who clearly felt that God was against her because she couldn’t have children, she readily sings the praises of God when He turns her fortunes.

Q. (2:27-36): I don’t think we see that Eli does anything wrong except for not raising his sons with enough discipline.  God has shown the Israelites that their actions affect the rest of their line.  In Eli’s case, his sons conducted themselves with complete disrespect for the Lord.  And, his descendants are being severely punished for it.  You would think they would learn!  The running theme to the demise of Israelite leaders seems to be greed and pride.

A. God warns Eli that he should be doing a better job of correcting his sons, and his failure to do so is the reason that HE is just as culpable as they are in what takes place.  While both pride and greed do seem to play a part in this story, the real culprit is a lack of reverence for God — both Eli and his two sons are guilty of being too trivial with things that are sacred.

Q. (3:14): I have heard of the unforgiveable sin.  Is this it, blaspheming God?  Can you describe ways of committing an unforgiveable sin today?

A. You’re talking about Jesus’ reference to the unforgivable/unpardonable sin in Matthew 12 and Mark 3.  It has to do with blasphemy, which at least partly has its origins in a lack of proper respect for God, as is described here.  The situations are different, however, for reasons that, quite honestly, I don’t want to spoil at this time.  So if you don’t mind, let’s file this question away for a later date.  It is an important issue, but I want us to examine it within the gospel stories for reasons that will become clear at that time.

Q. (4:1b-11): We know that God said Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, would die on the same day.  Is this the main reason that Israel lost the battle?  Many Israelites had to die for the sins of two priests.  The tone I got from reading this was that the Israelites took God for granted thinking that if they marched in with the Ark that God was with them.  God did not instruct them on the battle or mention that they should carry the Ark.

A. The sins of Eli’s sons contributed to the loss, but the larger issue was the Israelites believing they could use the Ark — and therefore God — as a weapon at their own convenience.  It is likely that the warriors here were hoping to duplicate the victory at Jericho (from Joshua 6) where the Ark was instrumental in giving Israel victory, but in that case, God TOLD THEM to use the Ark.  In this case, they tried to circumvent God and do what they wanted — rather than consulting Him — and lost not only the battle, but the Ark in the process.  Wait until you see what happens when the Philistines try to do things with the Ark: its actually quite humorous!

Day 82 (March 23): Israelites cross the Jordan, Ark parted the waters, memorial to crossing Jordan, circumcision requirement reestablished, Joshua bows to commander of Lord’s army, march around Jericho, Jericho’s walls crumble, Rahab and family saved

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.  Take the challenge.  You won’t regret it.

Joshua 3-6

Questions & Observations

Q. (3:13): I like how God uses a parting of the waters again to enter into a new land.  The Israelites who witnessed this miracle at the Exodus are no longer living.  So, it is wonderful that the new generation can see the power of God parting water.  Is there anything symbolic of parting water?

A. Water was an ancient symbol of life giving deities.  By turning the Nile to blood, parting the Red Sea, and the Jordan River, God is demonstrating His power of these other false gods.

Q. (3:17): I thought the Israelites were told to stay a half mile back because of the holiness of the Ark, but here, they are passing by it.  Can you explain?

A. They were told to stay back until the Ark got to the middle of the Jordan and the water receded.  Then they could cross by it.

Q. (4:12): I notice that the warriors from the tribes that asked for the land east of the Jordan instead of west of the Jordan are asked to go first.  Is this sort of a payment of these tribes for asking for the land on the east side of the Jordan River, sort of rejecting the land that God had promised them?

A. As we mentioned yesterday, that was the bargain that Moses struck with the tribes: your leadership in battle in exchange for this good land.  As far as I know, the land on the east side of the Jordan is Canaan as well, so it was part of what God intended for Israel.

Q. (5:2): We have discussed the Lord’s requirement of circumcision of the Israelite males in Day 5’s reading (Jan. 5).  You can find it by clicking on “Index.”  Rob, anything to add here?

A. Yes, this passage indicates that exception had been made for this generation of Israel: those born in the wilderness (i.e. the generation who would take the Promised Land, as opposed to those who died out) were not circumcised, for reasons that are not explained.  The rite is simply suspended for 40 years.  This passage indicates that when Israel crossed the Jordan, the religious observances were reestablished- note that after the covenant is reaffirmed by circumcision, they celebrate Passover.  It also tells us that the manna disappears, indicating a closure to that chapter of God’s provision for His people.  My notes also tell me that it was in Canaan that Abraham and his family members were first circumcised, so doing this ceremony in the Promised Land is a way of renewing the covenant relationship that he established.

O. (5:9): I had never thought about any shame the Israelites would have carried from being former slaves.  I guess that would have been a burden to carry and now God somehow took that feeling away.

O. (6:1-5): Remember the discussion about the importance of certain numbers in the Bible?  Seven signifies completeness and fulfillment, and traces its roots back the seven days of creation.  To see other important numbers Rob told us about, see the first answer on Day 3.

Q. (6:25): Will Rahab or her descendants come up again?

A.  I don’t think so, but Rahab’s faith does get her two mentions in the NT: in Hebrews 11 (the hall of fame passage) and James 2.  Not a bad consolation, right?

Thanks for checking out!  Hope to see you tomorrow!

Day 41 (Feb. 10): Dedication of Priests, Ransom to Lord, Wash before entering Tabernacle, consecrate place of God, consecrate Aaron and priests, incense recipe, God appoints craftsmen, Sabbath instructions

Exodus 29-31


7Questions & Observations

Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily reading.  Read on, some answers may surprise you.  Most of all, they can help you understand the Bible, which helps us lead a life that fulfills God and us.  Let us know if you have any comments to add.

Q. (Exodus 29:10-28): I for one, am glad that we don’t have to do all of these animal sacrifices today.  I am surprised at all the specifics of these instructions.  I guess I shouldn’t be after seeing the instructions for the Tabernacle.  I’m just wondering what some of the specifics mean, like blood on the right ear lobes, right thumbs, right toes.

A. This ritual symbolized the cleansing of the priesthood of their own sin (by offering the sin offering of the bull and other animals), so that they would be ritually pure in order to accept the offerings of the rest of the community.  We will see this explained further in the next book, Leviticus.  The blood on the ear lobes represented a discerning ear for what God desired of the priests, and the blood on the hands and feet (thumbs/toes) represented the life of service that the priesthood would carry out on behalf of the Israelite community.

Q. (30:8) … from generation to generation.  I notice that many of these instructions are not for a week or two.  The Lord’s instructions imply, to me, that they will be wandering for years and years and years and more.

A. Yes, they will wander for an entire generation (one of the things 40 represents in the Bible is a generation).  But more importantly, these instructions are given for the community for ALL time!  Thus, they will still be true in the time of David and Solomon (though the offerings are made at the temple instead of the tabernacle), and also in the time of Jesus.  For reasons that we will — I’m sure — learn about, Jews today treat the sacrifice system differently, and offer prayers to make their atonement.

Q. (31:16) Gotcha, I think.  Rob, you said the Sabbath was no longer a law, but here it says, “The people of Israel must keep the Sabbath day by observing it from generation to generation.” This is a covenant obligation for ALL time.

A. That’s true, as we talked about in the last question.  But we as Christians are no longer bound to follow this Law, whereas devout Jews ARE.  This is a big parting of the ways between Jews and Christians: observant Jews still hold to what we call the Old covenant (they of course hold that it is the ONLY covenant!), where as Christians are under the freedom that Christ offers by His eternal sacrifice.  We will see how this gets explained in the NT when writers like Paul and whomever wrote the book of Hebrews start to explain why we are different because of Christ.  So hang on, the answers are coming. You’ll just have to wait until late in the year to get them.  So, there’s your reason to keep reading!


Day 40 (Feb. 9): Tabernacle offerings, blueprints for Ark of the Covenant, table, lampstand, Tabernacle, altar, courtyard, light, priests’ apparel

Exodus 25-28

Questions & Observations

Q. (Exodus 25:1-40): Do we learn anything from God’s instructions on how to construct the Ark?  Is it just that God knows what he wants to be comfortable?  Any significance to the cherubim?  Also, I notice that 27 inches is repeated many times.

A. God is asking His people to sacrifice in order to create a place of gathering that will serve His people for the next several decades.  The Tabernacle will dwell within the center of the community — putting God in the midst of His people — and will be a point of gathering.  The items requested would have made a beautiful gathering — which was very functional as well, it could be folded together and loaded up any time — that would have served the entire community.

I think we’re on the wrong track when we think of God desiring “comfort” as though He wanted a Lay-Z-boy to recline in.  This is not an incarnational presence, like Jesus.  This is the presence of God becoming the literal center of the tribes while they are in the wilderness.  We will see how the instructions for the ark and tabernacle will come into play as we move along, but watch for the importance of the poles and rings when it comes time to move.  There is a very special reason for the rings and poles on the ark.

The cherubs — a name for what we think is a classification of angel, but no one knows for sure — were seen in the OT as symbolic attendants to the throne of God, what we call the mercy seat, the cover to the ark.  And in a throne room, the attendees of a king would have been at his left and right.

Don’t pay much attention to the dimensions, if for no other reason than the NLT uses modern units to help us more clearly understand the dimensions of the items being built.  If you look at the NIV or King James, they give the units in “cubits” rather than feet and inches.  For reference, a cubit equals 1.5 feet, or 1 foot, six inches.  Obviously, there were no “inches” and “feet” as measures in ancient times, and generally there were very few standards of measure.

Q. (28:6): Is there any significance to the thread colors chosen — blue, purple and scarlet?

A. Yes.  These colors were symbolic of royalty and were incredibly expensive.  Like the gold and jewels for the task, God is seeking the best that His people have to offer.  He is requesting them to sacrifice in this instance, as one would do for a human monarch.

Q. We see this lavishness that God commands for himself.  No question, he deserves it all.  I just wondered what kind of philosophy the Bible says churches should have when building their places of worship.  Some churches are lavish, others are basically four walls and a roof.  I have had the mindset that if churches spend a lot on their buildings, they are not using their money wisely.  They could be using it for missions.  But, then, are they showing disrespect for God by not having the best possible place of worship?

A. You’ve obviously asked a complicated question, as you can tell by the various ways that churches and individuals have answered it.  Some churches are much more comfortable with “four walls and a roof” (I’m thinking of the of those pre-fab metal roofed churches that you see in rural areas), while others (I’m thinking of an absolutely amazing Catholic Basilica I visited in St. Louis) desire to create real beauty and glorify God through craftsmanship.  I think that both decisions honor God in different ways: we can say, “Lord be glorified by this place” or “Lord be glorified by what we will do within this place” and be perfectly right in both cases.  In this instance, God required the people to sacrifice their best in order to create something that would benefit everyone in the community.  Overall, I would say there is no one “right” way to build a building for God — unless He gives you one as He did here — and we must be discerning to what God desires of us.

Q. I shouldn’t say this, but this reading is a yawner.  Not much action.  But, I do glean several things from it.  1) There are things made for Aaron’s attire that will remind him who he is, a representative to all the people of Israel.  2) God asks for a beautiful place to dwell among the people.  I would love to see it!!!  3) Anything else I’m missing?

A. Seems like you’ve got the general idea.  The instructions given here are just the groundwork: we will still see these things built later in Exodus, and put into action in the next few stories.  So hang in there.

If you (or anyone else) wants to see what this would have looked like, I find that there are various groups on the internet who have built life-size replicas.  Like this one:

Day 2 (Jan. 2): Cain and Abel, Noah, ark

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Genesis 4-5

1 Chronicles 1:1-4

Genesis 6

Questions and Comments

Q.  (4:14,17): If Adam and Eve were the first ones on Earth, then why was Cain worried that others may kill him?  And, likewise, where did Cain find his wife?

A. Ok, let’s see what we have here.  At this point in the narrative, we have the author telling us about exactly four people: Adam, Eve, Cain (their oldest, or at least older son) and Abel (their youngest or at least younger son).  Since there are references to other people around (not to mention no other women!), the story is, to me, NOT saying that these are the only four people on earth.  There are two possibilities: either the author is assuming that readers will know there are other people around from other parental lines that are not mentioned (in other words, different tribes or families), or that Adam and Eve had many children (male and female) but the author is choosing to only focus in on these two.  I honestly couldn’t tell you exactly which.

One other things that is going on that is worth mentioning is that the author does not appear interested in telling the story of the ENTIRE human race, which tends to be the way we read this story.  Instead, what he appears to be doing is setting up to paths of Adam and Eve’s descendants: the noble way of Abel and later Seth, which honors God (and will be our primary focus in subsequent chapters), and the way of the descendants of Cain, which culminate in “evil” Lamech (since Seth’s descendants had a Lamech as well- see 5:25)

Q.  (4:17-22): Are these verses describing a nomadic culture?  Before that, they were agrarian?  I always thought nomadic ways predated agrarian.

A. While agrarian society did come after hunter/gatherer days, I don’t think the concepts you are describing here are applicable to the story.  What you’re talking about is called the Neolithic Revolution, which is the transition that happened somewhere around 10,000 BC (some say it was much later, like 5000 or 6000 BC).  Over a long period, human kind moved from being primarily hunters and gatherers to relying on agrarian means of creating food and other crops for survival.  This is how we got the beginnings of modern cities and culture.  But when it says that, for example, Abel kept flocks, it doesn’t mean he is a hunter: that is still an agrarian method of survival; Abel wasn’t hunting wild sheep, he was keeping domesticated ones.  BOTH Cain and Abel were agrarian, just not in the same way.  If I were guessing, I would say that none of the people described are hunters; they all appear to keep animals or grow crops.

Q.  (4:24): Why would someone be punished 77 times if they killed Lamech?

A. One of the important concepts to grasp here (and throughout Genesis) is that the author does not appear interested in answering all of our questions, especially about secondary characters such as Lamech.  We have no idea who the men (or man, it might be one) were that he killed, or what is so “special” about him.

Here’s my guess (for what its worth): Lamech is saying that he has killed two people- the “man” and the “young man”(rather than the one person Cain killed), and therefore he would receive “twice” the punishment of his ancestor Cain (i.e. 2 sevens of punishment rather than just one).

The larger point that the author is pointing to, however, is clear: the sin that mastered Cain continued down his family line, so that his descendent would brag about being a murderer.  The evil of Cain has culminated in the corruption of his descendant.  Thus, with the corruption of Cain’s line established, the author steps back and shows how the death of Abel did not prevent God’s people from having in ancestor in Seth.  The rest of the chapter follows the line of Seth as a contrast to Cain, and culminates with Noah.  So Lamech is the culmination of Cain’s line (a bragging polygamous murderer), and Noah is the culmination of Seth’s line, walking in good relationship with God.

Q.  (4:24): God took Enoch? Why?

A. Another one of those questions the author does not feel compelled to answer explicitly.  The implication of the passage is that since Enoch walked in faithful relationship with God, and because of Enoch’s faith (according to Hebrews 11:5, where Enoch makes the spiritual “hall of fame”), God honored him and spared him from death.

Q.  (6:3): God is talking of the Holy Spirit not putting up with humans for so long?  So, God is introducing the The Holy Spirit here and likewise, the Trinity.

A. I think this is actually an “O” statement and not a “Q” statement, but I will try to address it anyway.  I would disagree with this as the “moment” of the Spirit’s unveiling: the Spirit had an active role in the story of Creation (Gen 1:2), so we have already seen the Spirit person of the Trinity at work.  The Old Testament in general, gives the implication of multiple “persons” at work in the Godhead, but the revealed presence of all three (the Trinity) is not revealed until the New Testament, and the word Trinity is never used in scripture; it is a concept word created by the Church fathers to explain the realities of what God had revealed to them.

Q. (6:4): My Bible dictionary says that Nephilites are heavenly beings that had intercourse with human women?  This passage seems to come out of nowhere, but it brings up a subject that I have never known or studied.

A. There are lots of conjectures about the meaning of this passage (the beings are some sort of fallen angel or other “heavenly being”), but there is really nothing solid to go on.  One more instance where we as readers are left scratching our heads and saying “what?”  Once again, the main point of this passage is to point to the corruption of all of mankind, except for Noah and his family.

Q. (6:5): Again, if God made everything and humans are made in His image, then where does all the wickedness come from?

A. As I answered yesterday, the wickedness comes from us as a race choosing to indulge our selfish choices (our sinful nature) rather than the divine image that remains with us (our divine nature).  We see the continued descent of the human race over the first six chapters of this story.  Things will continue to get worse until the introduction of our hero, Abram, in chapter 11.