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Old Testament Studies

Lesson 5 Chapter 4, 5, 6

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Illustrations

 

GENESIS

Week 5, Chapter 4

 

 

 

Last week we examined what really amounts to the primary reason that we have a Bible and why (in a few chapters) there will be such a thing as a Hebrew created because from Genesis forward the concept of sin and the need for atonement is introduced.  Let’s continue with Genesis chapter 4.

 

 

READ GENESIS 4:9 - end

 

 

It is so very important for us to get this: the first humans and their first children at the very beginning of life on this planet were shown by God Himself that the consequence of sin carries a high price; and that price is death. In His great Mercy, God decided to allow for a time the blood of innocent animals to cover….that is, atone… for man’s sins. Note I said cover because the sin was still going to be there….just covered up like a garment covers over the human form…..like Adam and Havah’s nakedness was covered up. In the end our clothing is simply a means to disguise our nakedness. Under that disguise of cloth our nakedness, like our sin, is still there. For centuries and centuries God would provide a divinely acceptable but contrived covering over the sin of all those who placed their trust in Him, and this acceptable covering was in the form of the blood of animals. The blood of the animal would serve a spiritual purpose (atoning for sin) and the skin of the animal would serve a physical purpose by covering the naked bodies of humans and at the same time providing a wonderful illustration of what was happening invisibly in the spiritual world to compensate for their sinful behavior.  The Reality of Duality at work. But in the course of time, as God allowed His plan of Redemption to gestate, Christ would change all that. Because unlike the blood of animals, Messiah’s blood didn’t only cover over the sin, it nullified it and sent it far away.

 

As we saw in our last lesson Kayin has angry words with Hevel, and then kills him some time later. This is not necessarily the world’s first murder, but it may have been; there were more people in the world by now that Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel. Certainly this is the first Biblically RECORDED murder. Now the earth’s first family was at this time still living in Eden….the Land of Eden, not the Garden. Eden was a special place, made for God’s people. God decided to banish Cain from Land of Eden for the shedding of his brother’s blood, and the Lord sends him to the EAST to a land called Nod (Nod translates to “wandering”, and it incorporates the sense of “unrest” or “restlessness” in its meaning). Kayin marries, has children, and many descendants follow over the years; he even builds a city.

 

By the way concerning the sign that God put on Kayin to indicate that “no one” was to harm him, there is some interesting commentary from the ancient Sages about this. First, the word usually translated as “no one” or “anyone” in the Hebrew is Kol. Kol CAN mean “anyone” but it just as often can mean whatsoever, anything, or all things. So what exactly Kayin was being protected from was not necessarily only humans. Some of the commentaries say that the animals might have been his greatest worry but it is primarily those commentators who say that other than for Adam and Eve, Cain and Able, and probably an unmentioned sister or two, there WERE no other people on the earth yet. That is a pretty big stretch; there is little doubt that there were many people by now. You’ll notice that we go quite a time before there is mention of another female other than Havah in the Bible and this is simply because of the patriarchal nature of the Bible…..it is male oriented. And because ALL genealogy and family ties were according to their relationship to the father, the listing of generations only rarely includes a female name. But then as now, there were undoubtedly consider more women born than men.

 

Another interesting take by some of the ancient Rabbis concerning this verse is that it wasn’t that a sign was put onto Kayin, it was that HE was a sign; he was a sign for all to see that anyone who committed “blood guilt” (in this case murder) would be banished from the land and forced to go away to sanctuary. In fact this concept that the Israelites (who were centuries from becoming a reality) adopted when they entered Canaan, that of providing a place of sanctuary and protection for the person who killed someone as the result of a justifiable or accidental killing, is said by some scholars to have been modeled after the consequences that Kayin bore. I don’t buy that because Kayin committed murder (unjustifiable homicide) and no sanctuary is permitted for that offense.

 

What we see as a result of this story is that from here on Cain (Kayin) will be associated with evil and wickedness.  The symbolism is so thick here we could cut it with a knife for in verse 16 it says: “So Cain left the presence of Adonai and lived in the land of Nod (wandering)…”  Here is one those examples I told you I’d identify when we came across it; an example of a statement in the Bible being simultaneously literal AND symbolic. For indeed, Cain was literally sent away from Eden and lived in a land called “wandering” or “restlessness”; he was sent away from the presence of God.  And is it not true from a symbolic sense that when we are away from the presence of God, when we are SEPARATED from God, we are indeed in a state of wandering and unrest? We live a hopeless and meaningless existence, in a constant directionless state, when we live apart from God. The only rest that exists for humanity is when we are in God’s presence.

 

So Cain is the start of the line of wicked people who turned their backs on God. Thus we are introduced to the fifth generation from Cain headed by a fellow named Lamech. Lamech is far removed from God and Lamech (as had Kayin and many others) breaks God’s instruction about the institution of marriage; of a man and woman being joined as one flesh: he gets greedy and takes TWO wives. And, then, listen to the proud, rebellious Lamech who boasts this to his 2 wives:

 

(Gen 4:23-24 CJB) 23 Lemekh said to his wives, "'Adah and Tzilah, listen to me; wives of Lemekh, hear what I say: I killed a man for wounding me, a young man who injured me. 

 24 If Kayin will be avenged sevenfold, then Lemekh seventy-sevenfold!"

 

 

Lamech even admits to murder. The line of Kayin (Cain) was thoroughly wicked, godless and corrupted and this in a mere 5 generations after the first man was created, and from a time of living in the Garden of Eden in the very presence of God. We’ll see this same pattern emerge many years later after the Great Flood when Noah, the 2nd Adam, repopulates the earth but amazingly almost immediately wickedness reappears. Interestingly that won’t be the last time history repeats itself in that way; when Christ comes the 2nd time….I believe in the VERY near future…..and cleanses the whole world and sets up His perfect Kingdom for a 1000 years……. toward the end of that millennium people will once again display wickedness and rebel against Messiah. And they will be destroyed completely, along with Satan, the entire evil spiritual world, and even evil itself. Only then will that pattern (that cycle of evil) finally be broken once and forever.

 

The all-merciful God then gives Eve another child that is in her view a replacement for the now dead Abel. This new child is named is Shet, Hebrew for Seth. Shet means “compensation or granted”…..as in a prayer or hope that is granted.  As we move along in our study we will see that Shet is regarded as the line of good as opposed to his banished brother Kayin who represents the line of evil. Whereas Cain and his descendants wandered further and further away from God we are told in verse 26 that through Seth “that is when people began to call on Adonai” (Adonai is Hebrew for Lord or master). In other words Seth led people to look to God for direction and they also offered Adonai their praise and worship. So the dynamic is now established: the descendants of Shet, Seth, are the line of good and the descendants of Kayin (Cain) are the line of evil.

 

READ GEN: 5 all

 

I just want to point out of couple of things here about the genealogy we just had recited to us: first, this was the genealogy of Shet, Seth. This is the line of good, of the people of faith.  Adam was 130 years old when Shet was born. Now we don’t know how old he was when Kayin was born but likely he was quite young. Remember that Adam and Havah were created as physically mature humans who could have procreated almost immediately and likely did. In fact even though Kayin is mentioned first it’s not necessarily so that he was Adam and Eve’s very first child, but probably was the firstborn. Biblically speaking the term firstborn denotes a status; so the firstborn is ALWAYS a male. A family could have 10 children and the first 9 are girls; but if the 10th child was the first male-child to be born in the family he was given the status of “the firstborn”. So Adam and Eve could have had some number of girl children before Kayin was born and given the circumstances it is likely that they did.

 

We need to stand back and be realistic here. Anyone who is a farmer or a rancher knows that the way to increase your flocks and herds is to have a large number of females to each male. Since one male can impregnate many females, and it is the female who bears each offspring, it is of little help to have a large number of males and a small number of females. So I think it is quite logical and reasonable to consider that the number of female humans was several times that of male humans……especially early on.  God was intent on man rapidly populating the earth and since He was no longer creating humans one-by-one from the dust of the earth, but instead was allowing the reproductive capabilities that He had built-in to mankind to do the job, many females was the answer to rapid population growth.

 

So it is certain that Eve was a baby-mill and that her daughters were baby-mills, and that their daughters were baby-mills and so on. There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that the age of sexual maturity in women occurred any earlier than it does today but there is every indication that for hundreds of years the age at which women were still giving birth was much greater than today. Biblically it would appear that it was quite usual for a 15 year old girl to be married and have her first child, even in Yeshua’s day. So a new generation was starting about every 15 years in a family. When we realize that Adam was 130 years old when Shet was born, it is probable that at least 7or 8 generations of people already existed. That said, by the time of Abraham things had leveled out a bit and the human life span and the span of human reproductive capability was much the same as it is today in modern times.

 

Notice that Noach was in Shet’s line. Notice also that Noach’s father’s name was Lamech. This is NOT the same Lamech that was the fifth in line from Cain. Just like today when there are thousands, if not millions, of people who have the same name (Fred, Rebecca, Kathy, Elizabeth) so it was then. Lots of people had the same name so we have to be careful as we read the Bible not to mix up people simply because they bore the same name. 

 

Last point: people lived a really long time back then. I have heard many fascinating scientific reasons why that was possible or why it was impossible and therefore a fairytale, but it doesn’t matter. These were real people being talked about, and they actually lived that many hundreds of years. This is not symbolism, it is literal. Now there may well be significance in the precise number of years that some people lived….that is, in the number itself. For instance, Enoch lived 365 years….the same number as days in a solar year. And Noah’s father lived 777 years, seven being the number of completeness. OR, it may just be coincidence (and I say that tongue-in-cheek). As we go along we will see that there are several numbers that have special significance, many of which we are already familiar: the number 7, the number 12, and of course the infamous 6-6-6.

 

Chapter 5 ends with the birth of the 3 sons of Noach, who will repopulate the earth after the Great Flood.  We must comprehend that even though we’re told that Noach was 500 years old when he fathered these sons that he was probably not PRECISELY 500 years old because unless these boys were triplets, or came from 3 different mothers, they would have been space apart at least 3 years. Right? But more important, Noach didn’t get his first children only on his 500th birthday. He must have contributed GREATLY to the world population by then; his own offspring accounted for a pretty fair share of those people who the Lord would call thoroughly wicked. Yet, as God does, these 3 sons were set-apart…..divided, elected, and separated…….from all of Noah’s other offspring to become the surviving gene pool for all post-flood humanity; including us.   

 

 

READ GEN: 6 all

 

The first few verses of this chapter contain some information that is among the most mysterious and troubling in the entire Old Testament. It concerns the statement that the “sons of God” saw that the “daughters of men” were attractive, they took them as wives, and the children born of those unions were different, as were their fathers different…..these “sons of God”. Sons of God is in Hebrew Benei Elohim and we’ll see other references to these mysterious Benei Elohim in later parts of the Bible. We’ll talk about this more momentarily, but just know for now that I think they were some type of high-ranking spiritual being. They would not be classified as angels, but we are told that Benei Elohim were given charge over all the nations of the earth. And we run into one of these Benei Elohim who is also called the Prince of Persia in the book of Daniel.  But the Bible also gives us a special name for the offspring of these hybrid people and that name is N’filim (nee-fee-leem).

 

The King James Bible and many other Bible translations have translated N’filim to mean “giants” (you know, fee-fie-foe-fum giants). It was the Greek Septuagint developed in 250 BC who first took that tact. It took the Hebrew word N’filim and translated it to the Greek word “gigante”. In Hebrew however N’filim is a play on the root word “nephal”, which means “fallen” or “to fall upon”. It certainly in the Hebrew has no sense of beings of a very large size.  Rather the sense of the word is to cease or to die….to be cast down into the earth (like a grave)….it was even used to describe an abortion and in other cases indicated something that was dead and rotting. Martin Luther described the nature of the N’filim as men of violence, tyrants. For lack of a better way to put it the N’filim were a race of something different and apart of anything else, and it was an evil kind of difference. It is as though the N’filim were some type of mutants or aberration that became endowed with much power. They represented a joining together of the worst of the spiritual world with the worst of the physical world.  

 

Now back to our discussion about who these verses are referring to when it talks of these “Sons of God”?  Well many bible scholars have taken this to mean “fallen angels”. It’s easy to see how that conclusion could be arrived at when “fallen” or “cast down” is one sense of the word N’filim. Add to that the heavenly or spiritual sense of “Sons of God”, and the idea is formed that some fallen angels took on human male form (complete with reproductive organs), mated with human women, with the result being a race of giants called N’filim. The ancient Hebrews certainly never even dreamed of this meaning. Rather they saw it that the Sons of God was simply a designation for the line of Seth……the line of faithful, godly men.  Conversely, the women (called daughters of men) were representatives of the line of Cain, the line of those who fell away from God.

 

According to the ancient Hebrew sages, up to this time, the faithful line of Seth had stayed separate from the wicked line of Cain. But, eventually, some men from the line of Seth lusted after these beautiful women of Cain, and…….there went the neighborhood! Now, the whole human race was fouled and polluted with evil.

 

This separation and division of the line of Cain from the line of Seth, is seen by the Hebrew Sages as a “type”. In other words it’s another of these underlying fundamental principles we see played out over and over again in the Bible. A long time into the future when God would take the Israelites out of Egypt and give them the Torah (which we are in the midst of studying) He did so with the instruction to “be ye separated”. He separated Israel away from all other peoples of the world to be a nation of Priests to Him, to be a faithful people to God. All the other peoples of the world…..everyone other than Israelites…..were given a title: goyim. Gentiles. The Israelites were a people holy to God, everyone else wasn’t. And, this is how it was for the line of Cain, versus the line of Seth, long before the Israelites ever existed. 

 

In any case whether they were the result of the mixing of two lines of humans, or the mixing of humans with spiritual beings, the result of all this was that a race of people called N’filim bedeviled everybody and were able at times to dominate at will. Apparently they were bigger, stronger, smarter, and probably were the subjects of the ancient pagan myths and legends of great and fierce warriors and leaders who seemed to have superhuman qualities. Were they actually giants like in the movies? Only by the most vague suggestion. So what was the N’filim in reality? We really don’t know for sure but more and more scholars are coming to the conclusion that likely these were a people who in one way or another turned themselves over to Satan and gained great power in the doing. When we read in the Scriptures descriptions of the anti-Christ and how this person will be incredibly charismatic, and perhaps the most intelligent man ever to live, cunning and one step ahead of everybody…….then we find out it is Satan who is the source of his power. I have no doubt that Satan has been the source of power for many a world dictator. Hitler convinced an entire nation (that generally identified itself as a Christian nation) that it was their duty to rule the world and to rid it of the Jews, the “Christ Killers” as he commonly labeled them. He confounded the world with his abilities and battle strategies, and we were within an eyelash of seeing him realize his evil dream. I have a feeling that Hitler could well be categorized as a type of modern-day N’filim.

 

No matter whether the N’filim’s existence came from fallen Sons of God (Benei Elohim) or from fallen man, the true source of their power was evil and even the coming flood would not be the end of it. I think we’re going to eventually see that while the N’filim were literal and real, they also eventually came to represent a “type”; that is, before the Flood they were likely a real race of people but after the flood, when they were wiped out, N’filim and the other names for them might have been but other peoples that were thought to have similar attributes. We’ll see that later on in Genesis after the Great Flood, and then again in the book of Numbers, and eventually even in the book of Deuteronomy that the N’filim (or N’fillim-like people) are again mentioned. These post-flood “types” of N’filim are given a number of names including the R’phaim, Emim, Anakim, Horim, and a few more. When we get to those Biblical sections I’ll point it out to you. By the way, it is likely that the giant, Goliath, who was slain by David, was of the Anakim because Goliath was from Gath, reported to be a village where the Anakim ruled (we find this is Joshua 11). It is interesting that the Anakim AND the Philistines occupied the same territory.

We must also understand that as happens with men, as time passes a reality can become distorted and turned into legend; the language of the Bible is not immune to that phenomenon because even though the Bible is divine truth it is still told through the lives and events of real people. And it is told with the flaws, misconceptions, and all.  So I suspect that in episodes we read in the Scriptures that took place hundreds of years after the original race of the N’filim died out that the name for these strange beings was used as a general term to describe someone, or some group of people, who had certain characteristics that were deemed evil or maybe they were physically larger than others and therefore menacing or they were the fiercest of warriors or some such thing. For example even in Christ’s day….long after the Canaanites of old were gone……….the term Canaanite was still used; that is while no living Israelite even knew a Canaanite it was common memory among the Jewish people that the Canaanites of old were idol worshippers and child sacrificers, everything that Israel detested. So Canaanite came to be used as a “cuss word” so to speak, usually referring to a person you disapproved of. Often it was in reference to a merchant who cheated someone or to a man who didn’t practice his Judaism to the satisfaction of some of the more pious folks. When I was a younger man I can recall a person being called “a Communist” if you didn’t like them. It was not really about them ACTUALLY belonging to the Communist Party; it was just kind of a politically correct 4-letter-word for the day.  Since Communism was public enemy number one all through the 50’s, 60’s, and well into the 70’s….what with McCarthyism and the Korean War and Vietnam….. to call someone a “communist” was just a general derogatory term and a label that no one wanted.

 

Let me state emphatically that many of the Sages and Rabbis wove the legends of the N’fillim into their Tradition; particularly the traditions concerning angels and the world of evil spirits.  So as far as they were concerned these N’fillim were not only real before the Flood, but also after; so who and what they were was to ALWAYS be taken in the most literal and real sense…..not as types or as epithets.

 

One other thing and we’ll move on. Verse 3 speaks about God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Ruach HaKodesh not striving with man forever. All sorts of interesting theologies have come from this verse but to the Sages it was very straightforward: God is spirit, and so He is essentially speaking of Himself when He speaks of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is that component or person or attribute of God that we call Spirit…in Hebrew “ruach”……that deals with man. What verse 3 alludes to is that God has decided to give man 120 more years to straighten up and fly right before He destroyed them with the Great Flood. This was a warning.

 

Yet in later times, many Hebrew and Christian scholars insisted that the plain wording of these verses mean that men were going to be given an approximate maximum lifespan of 120 years. But if they’re correct, the number of EXTREME exceptions to that rule was significant. For we’re told in the Scriptures that after the coming Flood many generations of men (descendants of Noach) listed in the Bible lived to be several hundreds of years old, so certainly man’s life span was more than 120 years. And we also know from a historical standpoint that life spans varied from century to century, from culture to culture and circumstance to circumstance. And since this remark about lifespan is a general statement that makes no distinction between righteous people and wicked people….or between God’s people and people that are not His, I think this statement about 120 years was a duality; it was not only about how long the human body was designed to live it was about God pronouncing that the Flood would commence in 120 more years, wiping out all mankind ……all except Noach and his family.

 

 

God has now established another fundamental that we all need to be thrilled about: He does not destroy the faithful and the godly right along with the wicked and godless. Now, we should not confuse the concept of God pouring out His wrath on the one but not the other with the belief that God does not allow bad things to happen to good people. God most certainly DOES allow the harms of this natural world to affect both the godly and the godless. God most certainly DOES allow the wickedness of evil men to befall the godly and the godless. God also does not promise to shelter the godly from persecutions by the godless or the wicked. But you see these things that come about at the hand of men are not from HIM; they are from the Evil One, or from man’s own evil inclination. What God DOES promise is not to shower His own wrath….His divine judgment….. upon the godly right along with the godless. Do you see the difference? This is especially important to grasp as we consider End-times events because by definition Tribulation is different than God’s Wrath.  Tribulation (or the Tribulation period) is men pouring out evil upon other men at an unprecedented level. God’s wrath is divine calamity brought about supernaturally.

 

As we consider an earlier time when God poured out His wrath, so that the righteous would survive the supernatural wrath God was about to wreak on the whole planet God had Noach build an Ark: a God-designed safe haven for Noah and his family. This Ark would allow the righteous to live while the wicked would perish. Now I can only imagine how ridiculed Noach must have been for building this 450 foot-long monstrosity. To start with there is no indication at all that Noach lived anywhere near a substantial body of water. What he did was not unlike building an ocean liner behind your barn in the middle of the Nebraska wheat fields. But here’s the deal and it’s summed up so elegantly simple in verse 22: “This is what Noach did; he did all that God ordered him to do”. And it saved his life…that, and the lives of all of his family.

 

In verse 9 we’re told that we are going to get Noah’s story. And the first thing we’re told about him is that he was tzaddik……..Hebrew for righteous. But even more he was tammim, which is usually translated as blameless or whole-hearted. Nothing wrong with that translation but it obscures something that is learned in a progressive way throughout the Torah. Particularly when we get to Leviticus we’re going to find out that much of what the Torah is teaching Israel is about “holiness”. And one of the chief attributes of holiness is “whole-ness”. Completeness. Nothing lacking. So I would prefer to read this verse as Noah being tzaddik, righteous, and tammim, whole. Of Noah’s 3 sons Ham, Yefet, and Shem it would be Shem that will soon be identified to us a special set-apart line of people. It is interesting that Shem means “name”. One of God’s titles that is commonly used by Jews is “HaShem”…..The Name. It is also interesting that Hebrew Tradition is that that mysterious biblical King and Priest of Shalem, called Melchizedek, who Abraham would bow down to and give tithes, was actually Shem. And the timing is such that it most certainly could have been because Shem was still alive then. We’ll talk about that a little more when we get to that point in Genesis.

 

Verse 12 is among the saddest in the entire Bible: it says that God looked upon all He had made and it had gone to ruin. The Hebrew word used here is shachath and while “corrupt” is a good translation the word corrupt in our modern vocabulary means dishonest therefore making it as though the point of God’s concern was that men were not dealing fairly with each other, and they lied, and they stole. That is not the sense of this word: rather, polluted to the point of ruin better catches the sense of shachath.  Contrast this with what God said but a few chapters earlier, in the last verse of Chapter one: “Now God saw that all He had made was exceedingly good!”  God’s Creation decayed from perfection to utter ruin in but a few generations.

 

Something rather interesting is said (and something even MORE interesting is omitted) in verse 13. God says that the cause of the corruption problem is the living beings He created. Often the Hebrew word used here, “basar,” is translated as “flesh”, which is a perfectly good translation. But here’s the thing: basar, and flesh, doesn’t just refer to man (although at times it DOES mean man). Rather it can, and just as often does, refer to animals. Adam means man or mankind, but that is not used here in this context so the idea at play is speaking more about all living flesh; everything to which God gave life is at fault: Man and animals. Even more interesting is what or who God DOESN’T blame: He doesn’t blame Satan.

 

We need to take notice of that because it once again brings us back to the concept of the source or origination of evil. And while I don’t agree fully with all aspects of the Hebrew view on the subject of evil, I have to say that more and more I cannot refute the bulk of it. The Hebrews say a couple of important things about evil and sin that I think matches what Scripture says far more than some Christian doctrines on evil and sin. And first and foremost is that man was originally created with both a good and an evil inclination. That is Adam was created with the capability of choosing one over the other.

 

The second viewpoint is perhaps even more difficult than the 1st one to deal with; it is that if evil was there at the beginning, then God created both evil and good.

 

Next time, we’ll explore these controversial Hebrew concepts of good and evil in more depth.

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