Hast Thou Considered My Servant Job?

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by tyndale1946, May 6, 2002.

  1. tyndale1946

    tyndale1946
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    If I'm not mistaken the book of Job is suppose to be the oldest book in the Bible. I'm not an authority on Job but to me this book has it all. A riches to rags to riches story about one who followed God thru all afflictions, trials, and tribulations brought on by Satan.

    Job stayed his course because Job had a great God and thru all trails and afflictions Job suffered he knew God would never leave him. He knew also one day he would see God when he came to the end of his days and his redeemer would stand upon the earth. A prophetic view of the Son Of God to come!

    The interaction with those who were his friends but turned out to be miserable comforters is unparalled in scripture. The depth of Job especially when Job in conversation with God has so many pearls of wisdom that boggles our finite mind. Who was this man Job from the land of Uz? Hast thou considered my servant Job?... Brother Glen [​IMG]
     
  2. Pete Richert

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    I find this one of the most difficult parts of the Bible to understand. At a surfice reading, I would not defend what Job says. And I would defend most of what his friends say. It seems their language parrallels what we hear in the psalms later, that God lifts up the righteous and the wicked our swept away like chaft.
     
  3. HankD

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    Dear Pete,

    I agree with you and I believe the message concerning Job is - yes he uplifts the righteous, but be careful because things are not always as they seem. Sometimes the righteous appear as if they are being treated as the wicked when God refines them.

    Job 23:10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
     
  4. Chris Temple

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    Job is a wonderful exmple of God's Absolute Perfect Sovereignty. Notice that it is God who instigates the devil to afflict Job:

    Job 1:8 (ESV)
    And the Lord said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?"

    If Job knew what was then occurring at the throne of grace one would not blame him for saying "thanks a lot Lord! The devil did not even think about attacking me until YOU put him up to it!"

    And the devil does attack. (1:13-19). But what does Job say?

    Job 1:20-22 (ESV)
    Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. [21] And he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."
    [22] In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.

    Job recognized that it was GOD who ultimately did this: "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away". But this was no cause for disdain of God's awesome sovereignty for Job. Rather he says "blessed be the name of the Lord". And Job did not sin by charging God with a lack of love, or by believing in an open theist God or any other such nonsense, and he did not charge God with "doing wrong" as is often the charge of non-sovereigntists. Instead he affirmed in faith "Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?" (Job 2:10), again affirming God's ultimate goodness in Sovereignty. And "In all this Job did not sin with his lips", even when recognizing that all things come from the perfect will of the righteous God.

    At the end of the book, we see that "the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before." (Job 42:10). "And after this Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons, and his sons' sons, four generations. [17] And Job died, an old man, and full of days." Job 42:16-17

    Even though Job suffered immensely "for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him", (Job 42:11) he proved the truthfulness of Romans 8:28-30
    "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. [29] For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. [30] And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified."
     
  5. Me2

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    I Too am curious about the time of the writing of job.
    The strong supporting idea considering the dual Contrasting nature of God and Jobs Consistant Holding on to His Faith and final Conclusion of his trial. As If Job Knew He Had Only One Person To Contend with.. This Is A Classic Example of all Christians. perfectly innocent until tried by the fires of God. A Statement Known by All But Yet Not considered deeply. The Lord Givith and the lord taketh away. Blessed Be The Name Of The lord.
    Some have inferred that this story parallels with Jesus and being tempted by Satan In The Wilderness. A Trial of Faith.
     
  6. Pete Richert

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    Job is one of my favorite books for many of the reasons Chris mentioned above. The last four Chapters are simply some of the best words in the Bible, when God confronts Job and says "Who are you to question anything I do!" The beginning and end of Job seem clear and those I enjoy. It is the middle that I don't always seem to get. Clearly from the self defining example of Job, God does let bad things happen to good people. But just as in the psalms often say, He always upholds the righteous in the end, even if it is in the life to come.

    And while it is clear that Job's friends were wrong to assume he was sinfil because he was being tormented, much of what they do say is true, namely, that God upholds the righteous and the wicked are swept away like chaft. I propose that if you took some of their chapter dialogs and seperated them, making them into psalms and hiding them in the middle, only the most careful reader would notice. And what is up with Elihu, is he right in what he says? What does he say differently?
     
  7. Chris Temple

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    The problem with Job's friends is that they take doctrinal truth and misapply it. They mistakenly assume that since Job is suffering he is an unconfessed sinner. And even though Job struggles with the Lord's discipline, and becomes self-absorbed and sorry for himself, he remains considered righteous for he does not sin against the Lord with his mouth. By the end of the book we see it is not Job being judged, but the well-meaning friends!

    What a lesson for us! Suffering does not equate being condemned by God, sometimes quite the opposite: Hebrews 12:6 "For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives."

    We must not be too hasty to judge what the Lord is doing in the lives of his saints.
     
  8. Helen

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    If you look at Job's age, or approximate age, at the time of his death, he lived at least 200 years. Given the fact that Moses was considered old at 120 and Abraham, before him, at 175, we can safely put Job before Abraham.

    There are some other clues to his identity in the book itself which point to the idea that he might just be the same person as Jobab of Genesis 10:29, the son of Joktan, who was the brother of Peleg.

    This means he was alive during the time of the incredible upheavals of the land masses referred to in Genesis 10:25, when the earth divided and the continental land masses moved apart.

    My husband has done some research in this area and here is part of his notes from one of his lectures:

    Book of Job deals with this time - ice-age - cave-men - recovery

    SLIDE 22: IMPACT EFFECTS - Job 9:5-7
    "God removes the mountains and overturns them in His anger;
    He shakes the earth out of its place and its core trembles;
    He commands the sun & it does not rise; and He blots out the stars …"

    SLIDE 23: VOLCANISM, RIFTING, MAGMA - Job 28:9, 14:18.
    The mountains fall and crumble away,
    And rock is moved from its place …
    For God overturns the mountains from their roots
    And cuts out channels through the rocks;
    … And underneath it is turned to fire,
    Whose stones are the source of sapphires
    And contains gold dust.

    SLIDE 24: VOLCANIC FIRESTORMS - Job 27:20-22; 1:16, 19.
    "A storm steals him away in the night.
    A burning [fiery] wind carries him away, and he is gone;
    It sweeps him out of his place.
    It hurls against him and does not spare…"

    "Fire has fallen from heaven and burned up the sheep and servants and consumed them…
    and suddenly a great wind from the wilderness struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young men…"

    SLIDE 25: TSUNAMIS & STORMS - Job 12:15; 14:11; 30:14
    "God withholds the waters, and the sea dries up;
    He sends them out, and they overwhelm the earth.
    For the waters fail from the sea,
    And the [ocean] flood dries up."
    "They come as broad breakers,
    As the wide breaking in of ocean waters;
    Under the ruinous storm they roll along."

    SLIDE 26: ICE-AGE - Job 38:29-30
    "From whose womb comes the ice? …
    The [ocean] waters harden like stone,
    And the surface of the deep is frozen."

    SLIDE 27: CAVEMEN - Job 24:7-8, 30:3-7
    One group from a generation earlier (fathers of the children taunting Job) 30:3-7.
    One about poor people of Job's own day 24:7-8 - society becoming established.
    Just possible - one of these groups - Neanderthals
    "They were gaunt with want and famine,
    And plucked mallow by the bushes,
    And broom tree roots for their food …
    They lived in the clefts of the valleys,
    Their houses were the caves in the rocks,
    And they lived under the wild bushes…"

    "They spend the night naked, without clothing,
    And have no covering in the cold.
    They are wet with the showers of the mountains,
    And huddle around the rock for want of shelter."
    Job - eyewitness of catastrophic events - valuable written record preserved for us.
     
  9. tyndale1946

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    Chris said:
    All of us remember the story of Joseph and how God used Joseph to save his brethren when a famine threatened the land. What would have happened if Joseph wouldn't have been there? We know what would have happened by the word of God. Joseph brethren meant it for evil but God used it for good.

    We look at people sometimes and see there circumstances but does not God bring it to our hearts what must be done. I cannot began to tell you all of the many benefits I've had in life because the suffering I've gone through. Why do we suffer if it is not to grow in the goodness and mercy of God? We may not understand the suffering, trials and afflictions at the time but later we can cast a wishful eye back to those times and thank God he brought us through.

    God does things for his own will and purpose and for the growth of his children that take his name. I feel that the book of Job is the glue that holds the Bible together because like Job we are also considered every day of our lives. The simplicity of its message a child can understand but the depth of the book the greatest theologians that ever lived never exhausted its treasures. Like Job we shall also come out the victor no matter what befalls us. Who can forget the faith chapter of Hebrews 11 and all the trials and tribulations those brethren endured.

    We don't know what may happen tomorrow but I'm satisfied that God does and will bring his children through the fires of affliction no matter where they are, as he has done in the past. We also shall recieve a double portion as we are serving God now and as Job said he would see God with his own eyes and not those of another. Keeping the words of Job in mind we will surely see him later as our reigning Lord and King and we his blood bought children... Brother Glen [​IMG]

    [ May 06, 2002, 01:43 PM: Message edited by: tyndale1946 ]
     
  10. tyndale1946

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    Helen can sure put a face on the book of Job!... I've been waiting for you and the Lord heard my prayer!... Is Job the oldest book in the Bible?... Who wrote it?... Brother Glen [​IMG]
     
  11. Me2

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    Well Said, Like Job I Am Tried often. I Can Gladly Say That Looking At The End Of Faith Allows Great Misfortunes To Pass with less pain and sorrow.
    I Look At Jobs and hear Him Say The Lord Taketh Away and think of Jesus At The Cross Saying to God Why Has Thou Forsaken Me. Both Are Split Second Heart Thoughts. We All Go Through instances which we feel that Gods Not There. At This Very Instance The Angels In Heaven are mystified. How Us Frail Humans Can Be Alone without God.
    I Admire Jobs Faith For He Could See His End Goal At All Times. The Moment of seperation Is So Fast with Job. Even Non Existent.
     
  12. Helen

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    Hi Glen,

    Job would qualify as the oldest complete book of the Bible, but not the oldest writings in the Bible. That distinction would lie with Genesis 1-11, I think.

    The entire book reads like an eyewitness account, so we should presume it was. God Himself possibly revealed to Job, at the end, about the conversations between Him and the devil at the beginning. The ending verses were probably put there by one of his children to finish the book, but since Job was the only person involved with every conversation and the conversations are essentially quoted, I don't see how anyone can honestly get around Job as the author unless one was going to try to claim the entire thing as allegory. The problem is, it doesn't READ like an allegory and it is not presented as one.

    In the meantime, to even the simplest and least educated of us, Job presents the lesson that God can be trusted and deserves our full honor and worship. And with that as a bottom line, everything else is simply intellectually interesting!

    I still want that front row seat in heaven when the video of creation to Abraham is shown! :D

    [ May 06, 2002, 02:30 PM: Message edited by: Helen ]
     
  13. Pete Richert

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    How did Moses know what Adam and Eve said? How did he know all the words of the patriarchs? Job doesn't have to write it for the Holy Spirit to reveal it word for word. I don't think there is any way to speculate who wrote Job. Perhaps, Job, perhaps one of his repentent friends, perhaps his children, perhaps 100 years later, perhaps in pieces. Even if Job did write it, it still would seem to be a supernatural event. Either he would have to remember everything that was said word for word (and that's a lot of poetic words) or he wrote it down as he and his friends spoke it (possible--yet unlikely). It could have been written by David and still not be allegory, God could accomplish anything He pleases. It wouldn't remove any of the authority of the Bible for Job not to have written it, it was accepted into the Bible through the directing hands of God and that is that. We all asume Matthrew, Mark, Luke, John all wrote their respective gospels but the Bible doesn't say it explicitly. It is a pretty sure bet considering the earliest Christians accepted them as authors but the true authority of those books was that the early Christians accepted God as author. Or look at the books of Hebrews. Many speculated it was written by Paul by now the commen consensus is undecided (I'm with Luther for Apollos--just for fun). But that doesn't deflate a single word's authority.

    But for Paul's letter, if Paul identifies himself as the author then it set in stone. It's in the Bible and that is trustworthy and true.
     
  14. Helen

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    Hi Pete,

    In the 1930's some work was begun which is continuing today. The essence of it is that the earliest tablets we have from the Middle East show a peculiar type of 'signature' for the authors. Instead of having the title and author at the head of the writing, which is something that has been customary since next-to-most-ancient times, the author signed at the bottom.

    Look at Genesis. You will see the exact same thing. There is strong evidence that Genesis itself is a series of eyewitness accounts, all but the first and last signed off by the author at the END of what he wrote.

    Look at Genesis 5:1 -- This is the written account of Adam's line.
    Genesis 6:9 -- This is the account of Noah.
    Genesis 10:1 -- This is the account of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, Noah's sons, who themselves had sons after the flood.
    Genesis 11:10 -- This is the account of Shem.
    Genesis 11:27 -- This is the account of Terah.
    and it continues.

    Now look at something else.

    Genesis 2:4 -- This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

    Who wrote that? There was only one eyewitness: God Himself.

    Adam picks up from there with his own account. This is why the 'name' of God changes in Genesis 2-5:1. Adam adds the covenant name to Elohim.

    But look at the way Adam starts:
    Genesis 2:4b -- When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.... This refers you back to Genesis 1:1. This was the method used by the most ancient tablets to 'number' themselves -- which one came after which one.

    Look at Genesis 5:1b -- right after Adam finishes his tablet and Noah picks it up -- When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. This refers exactly back to the beginning of Adam's material, with a funny difference. Someone -- possibly Moses -- inserted a parenthetic in the beginning of Noah's account. Without the parenthetic, the opening of Noah's account reads: When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed nito his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being. But right where that comma is we have that insertion, and no shrup of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground.

    In addition, Adam could not have written what comes AFTER his signature in Genesis 5:1, because it records his death first thing!

    Now look at where Noah's sons pick up the narrative in Genesis 6:9b -- Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.

    I have been using the NIV text, and there are some instances where it is definitely inferior, simply because the translators tried to 'understand' what they were translating. Look at how that verse reads in the older King James:
    Noah was a just man [and] perfect in his generations, [and] Noah walked with God.

    That's better, but keep in mind that the 'ands' are inserted by the translators and that 'perfect' meant 'complete.' It may not have meant 'blameless.' That is something only God knows! However we know Noah did walk with God, and so blameless may be possible as he would have known of the Promise of a coming Messiah and may have trusted fully in that Promise even in his time.

    Nevertheless, Noah's sons refer back to the relationship between this man and God, in the same way Noah had refers to man being made in the likeness of God in Genesis 5:1.

    What I am trying to show you is that Genesis is a series of eyewitness tablets. They came down to Moses, who certainly collated them and added editorial comments (possibly starting with the one quoted above in Genesis 2). Thus, as editor of the Genesis tablets and writer of the vast majority of the next four books, all five are known as the books of Moses. Moses, being a prince in Egypt as well as a Jew was one of the few people capable of having the tablets in his possession. Joseph would have, as the leader of his family when he brought them to Egypt 400+ years earlier, have had the tablets stored safely. They would have been in the royal 'library' or 'treasury' or some such archive. Who but Moses would have actually had access to them who cared about them? Moses had in his possession the history of the entire human race from creation. What a priceless treasure! And because he faithfully preserved them in not only their words but their style of writing, with the author's name at the end of each tablet, we have this evidence that Genesis truly is the most ancient of books in its first eleven chapters.

    Like Job, they read as eyewitness accounts. Like Job, they should be considered seriously to be just that.

    Here is a link explaining more: http://ldolphin.org/tablethy.html

    The following is from Oswald T. Allis of Princeton and later Westminster Theological Seminary
    in "The Five Books of Moses" Presbyterian & Reformed (1964) :

    Because it is so long, I will use the next post after this to give you another scholar's explanation.
     
  15. Helen

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    Here is what R. K. Harrison has to say on the subject of the possible source documents of Genesis:
    THE BOOK OF GENESIS: A. NAME AND OUTLINE

    While Genesis is an anonymous work, as are the other four books of the Pentateuch, its attributive author is Moses. However, to what extent he wrote any of its contents, with the possible exception of all or part of the Joseph narratives, is unknown. In attributing Mosaic authorship to the Pentateuch as a whole, conservative scholars have pointed out that the Torah in its entirety must not necessarily be assumed to have been the work of his own bands, any more than any of the stelae of antiquity were the product of direct activity on the part of their attributive authors. Some writers, such as Young, have not precluded the possibility that the writer drew on earlier written sources, but in general the ascription of Mosaicity to the Pentateuch implies its historicity and its formulation by Moses under divine inspiration, with the supposition that later editors may have revised the contents somewhat in accord with the traditions of the ancient Near Eastern scribes.

    The Jews designated Genesis according to its initial word, bereshith which is almost always incorrectly translated in English by the phrase "In the beginning." In Talmudic times the work was known as the "Book of the Creation of the World," while the English title "Genesis" was actually derived from the LXX rendering of Genesis 2:4a, "This is the book of the geneseos of heaven and earth," and from the subsequent headings (Gen. 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10; 11:27; 25:12; 25:19; 36:1; 36:9; and 37:2), the nature of which will be dealt with shortly.

    On the basis of the extant Hebrew text the book can be analyzed as follows:

    I. Prehistory: the Creation Record, 1: 1-2:3
    II The Story of Man, 2:4-11:26
    III. The Choice of Abraham, 11:27-23:20
    IV The Choice of Isaac, 24:1-26:35
    V. The Choice of Jacob, 27:1-36:43
    VI. The Choice of Judah; the Joseph Narratives, 37:1-50:26

    B. Toledot AND THE ORIGINS OF GENESIS

    According to the Graf-Wellhausen documentary hypothesis of Pentateuchal origins, Genesis assumed its present form through various editorial processes that saw a combination of elements of J, E, and P sources into a continuous document. In the view of those who advocate the "traditio-historical" approach to the problem of Pentateuchal compilation, Genesis arose through the preservation of "cycles of tradition" that grew up in various areas in oral form. These "traditions" developed around focal events such as the Passover and other similar occurrences significant for the religious life of the nation and found expression in the rituals and liturgies of the Israelites. In the more moderate forms of both these views there is no necessary attempt to deny historicity to the material involved, even though most of the scholars who support these approaches would prefer to attribute general rather than specific historicity to the subject matter.

    The present writer does not support either of these positions, and prefers to examine the problem of the compilation of Genesis against a background of ancient Near Eastern literary activity. It should be observed as a general principle that there may well be quite a number of sources designated in the Old Testament writings which have not actually been recognized as such by most modern scholars. Genesis appears to be a case in point, with the clue to the underlying sources being provided, not by the incidence of the divine names or the presence of supposed duplicate narratives, but by the phrase translated "these are the generations of," an expression that has perplexed a great many scholars, and regarded by the exponents of the classic documentary theory as a characteristic of the Priestly Code.

    In order to appreciate the significance of the Hebrew term toledot, it will be necessary to examine briefly the nature and format of cuneiform communications in the ancient world. Clay was the preferred material upon which the wedge-shaped symbols were impressed, and the resultant tablets, which could contain a wide range of literary material, varied in size and shape from a tiny square to a large cylinder. The general style of a tablet furnished some indication as to its contents; and as far as single tablets were concerned the material communicated usually consisted of letters, contracts, invoices, business correspondence, genealogical tables, and the like. Generally speaking individual tablets were not made too large, partly because of the sheer weight of the clay and more particularly because a large tablet would be more likely to break than a smaller one.

    It was the normal practice in Near Eastern antiquity for single communications of this kind to commence with some sort of title, followed by the body of the text, and then a colophon, which would sometimes contain, among other things, a hint as to the identity of the scribe or owner of the tablet and the date when the tablet was written. The imprint of a button or cylinder seal upon the clay tablet helped to identify the owner of the communication. If a more lengthy communication required more than one tablet, the proper sequence of the series was preserved by a system of titles, catch-lines, and numbering. The title was normally taken from the opening words of the tablet, and these were frequently repeated at the end of each subsequent tablet, being followed by the serial number of that particular tablet. The catch-line attempted to insure the continuity of the narrative by repeating the first few words of the following tablet at the end of the previous tablet, so that, if a series of tablets became disarranged, there could be no doubt as to which word or words were to be read immediately after the conclusion of a tablet. This practice is still followed in some modern legal documents, and occurs also in the Hebrew Bible, where on the bottom left-half margin the first word or two of the following page is to be found.

    The colophon, which concluded the individual tablet or the series, normally contained the name of the scribe or the owner of the tablet, as has been remarked above, and frequently it also included some attempt at dating. In addition, it often embodied the title given to the narrative, and if the tablet was part of a series it furnished the serial number and a statement as to whether the tablet did or did not conclude the series.

    That the expression "these are the generations of" is a distinguishing phrase of Genesis has long been recognized by adherents of the Graf-Wellhausen theory, as well as by more conservative scholars. S. R. Driver affirms that,

    "Šthe narrative of Genesis is cast into a framework, or scheme, marked by the recurring formula "these are the generations (lit. begettings) of"Šthe center narrative as we now possess it is accommodated to it."

    While Ryle could state that the phrase bore a close relation to the structure of the Priestly Code in Genesis, he rejected the subdivision of the book on the basis of this formula, although on entirely subjective grounds. Other commentators of widely varying schools of thought, however, divided Genesis up into sections that commenced with the phrase.

    But while scholars were agreed as to the importance of the express they appear to have misunderstood entirely both its usage and significance for the literary origins of Genesis. The reason for this is quite simple, for as Wiseman has pointed out, many of the sections in Genes commence, as is frequently the case in ancient documents, with genealogy. This practice led scholars to associate the phrase "these are the generations of" with the genealogical list in those cases where such register of individuals followed; hence they assumed, quite without warrant, that the phrase was being employed as a preface or introduction. Thus Driver could consider it as belonging properly to a genealogical system, implying that the person to whose name it was prefixed was of sufficient importance as to make a break in the genealogical series. For Driver it also indicated that the person named, along with descendants, would form the subject of discussion in the ensuing section until another name was reached that could be considered prominent enough to form the commencement of a new passage.
    This assertion, however, is completely contrary to the facts, for examination of the evidence in relation to the latter part of the statement would indicate that Abraham, the most prominent person in Genesis, ought certainly to have been named in connection with phrase under discussion. Yet curiously enough, while other lesser individuals were mentioned in the various records in this manner, there is not one instance where the phrase "these are the generations of Abraham" occurs in the Hebrew text. Furthermore, the phrase does not by any means always belong to a genealogical list, since in certain cases there is no addendum of such tabular material.

    What is evident, however, is that the principal facts concerning individual involved have been recorded before the incidence of phrase in question, and that they are not recorded after its occurrence. Thus when the expression "These are the generations of Adam" (Gen. 5:1) occurs, nothing more is stated about Adam apart from a mention his age at death. Again, the record that follows the sentence "These the generations of Isaac" (Gen. 25:19) is not so much a history of Isaac, son of Abraham, as a chronicle of events that occurred in the lives of Jacob and Esau. Still further, after the phrase "These are the generations of Jacob" (Gen. 37:2), the narrative deals with the story of Joseph, mentions Jacob only in a rather incidental manner as the unfolding the events warranted. This peculiarity has been a source of people and embarrassment to the vast majority of commentators schooled in critical methods of Graf, Kuenen, and Wellhausen, and in view of fact that the phrase quite clearly does not constitute an introduction preface to the history of a person, as is commonly imagined, it is of some importance to determine its precise meaning.
    The Hebrew for "generations" in the expression under discussion is toledot, and not the ordinary Hebrew word dor, which is translated "generations" over one hundred and twenty times in the older English versions. Dor corresponds to the word "generations" as implied by common English usage, and can refer to a past (Isa. 51:9) or future (Exod. 3:15) period, a class of people (Deut. 32:5), or to the heirs of a covenant (Gen. 17:7, 9). Toledot occurs ten times in Genesis in such a manner as to lend itself to the division of the material associated with it into eleven sections, each being styled "the generations ofŠ" it also occurs in isolation from a stereotyped phrase in Genesis 10:32; 25:13; 36:9 and elsewhere in the Old Testament.
    The word originated in the Hebrew root yalad, "to bear," "to beget," which doubtless accounts for the English rendering "generation." But from the time of the Hebrew lexicographer Gesenius it has been apparent from Old Testament usages of the word that it means a "history," narrative," or "genealogical record" of a family or some other such social unit. As has been observed above, the LXX has rendered the term by geneseos, and it is of some interest to the Christian student to note that the expression "biblos geneseos Iesou Christous," "the book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ" in Matthew 1:1 reflects closely the Hebrew phrase. "book of the genealogy of Adam" in Genesis 5:1. The Hebrew word was used regularly for the collection of Jewish traditions concerning the life of Jesus, and in modern times it has formed part of the title of Yehezkel Kaufmann's eight-volume history of Israelite religion.

    Thus the term toldeot is used to describe history, and more particularly in Genesis, at all events, of family history in its origins. Quite clearly, therefore, the phrase "these are the generations of" points back to the beginnings of the family history, and not forward to its later development through a line of descendants. In this connection it is of some interest to note that the phrase that occurs in Genesis 2:4 obviously points back to the narrative of the creation of the cosmos contained in the preceding chapter. It could not refer to the narrative that follows, since that section contains no reference whatever to the creation of the heavens. As Wiseman has commented, the phrase is only appropriate as a concluding sentence, so that most commentators, notwithstanding their usual interpretation of the phrase, made the story of creation terminate with it. Had they but perceived that all such sections of Genesis conclude with this formula, they would have possessed the key to the composition of the book. As it was, the majority of scholars found themselves in serious methodological difficulties in their assumption that the expression "these are the generations of" was employed in all the remaining instances as an initial, rather than a terminal phrase.

    On only two occasions in Genesis does a genealogical list follow the expression in the absence of intervening words, and yet here both lists are quite complete even without its use. While the formula is not necessarily connected with a genealogical table, in almost every instance a list of immediate descendants is given before the phrase occurs in Hebrew text. It is therefore obvious that the formula did not constitute preamble to a genealogical table, but that it was in fact an ending such a list. Notice should also be taken of the mention of sepher translated "book," in Genesis 5:1, where the reference can only be to a written "record" on a clay tablet, and also of the LXX version of Genesis 2: which reads, "This is the book of the origins of the heavens and the earth."

    A final point in connection with the significance of is that in least some cases the person mentioned in connection with the phrase might well have been the owner, or possibly the writer, of the tablet question, if Mesopotamian scribal practices are actually in evidence in the manner suggested. Thus in Genesis 6:9, the phrase "These are the generations of Noah" does not necessarily mean "This is the history involving Noah," since it is primarily the succeeding section that describes the activities of this individual. Instead, the expression could be interpreted as meaning "This is the history written (or possessed) by Noah," which once more would be in full accord with ancient Near Eastern literary practices. Again, in Genesis 10:1, the mention of sons of Noah implies that the preceding record of family history was their possession, a practice that can be documented extensively from family archives recovered from Nuzu, Mari, and elsewhere in ancient Mesopotamia.

    In Genesis 11:27, the reference to the "generations of Terah" contains little information about that individual except that he was the son Nahor. Quite evidently it was intended to indicate that Terah either wrote, or else had compiled for him, the list of his ancestors found verses 10 to 27. The excavations at Mari have shown the extent to which genealogical tables were treasured in antiquity as a means of establishing pedigree and for other social purposes, so that there is nothing inherently impossible in the action of Terah in this regard.
    C. THE SOURCES OF THE BOOK

    The foregoing discussion can be summarized, therefore, by stating that the term toldedot can be held to indicate the presence of a colophon in text, and to constitute part of the concluding sentence of each section thereby pointing back to a narrative already recorded. Accordingly it is eminently possible to regard its incidence as indicating the presence o genuine Biblical source in the text. It is not by any means accidental that much of the material in which the phrase under consideration occurs was either of Mesopotamian provenance or was written under the influence of Mesopotamian culture. Accordingly the present writer feels justified in following Wiseman in the assertion that Genesis contains in the first thirty-six chapters a series of tablets whose contents were linked together to form a roughly chronological account of primeval and patriarchal life written from the standpoint of a Mesopotamian cultural milieu.

    1. The Eleven Tablets. Such a view is based upon the conviction that this approach alone does the fullest justice to the literary phenomena of much of Genesis, particularly in the light of what is now known regarding the antiquity of writing, the diverse nature of literary communications in the Near East during the second millennium B.C., and the special characteristics of contemporary scribal techniques. The tablets that may be isolated will be seen to have a title, a residuum of textual matter, and a colophon, along with certain additional features to be noted subsequently. The sources can be described briefly as follows:

    Tablet 1: Gen. 1: 1-2:4. The origins of the cosmos
    Tablet 2: Gen. 2:5-5:2. The origins of mankind
    Tablet 3: Gen. 5:3-6:9a. The histories of Noah
    Tablet 4: Gen. 6:9b-10:1. The histories of the sons of Noah
    Tablet 5: Gen. 10:2-11:10a. The histories of Shem
    Tablet 6: Gen. 11: 10b- 11: 27a. The histories of Terah
    Tablet 7: Gen. 11:27b-25:12. The histories of Ishmael
    Tablet 8: Gen. 25:13-25:19a. The histories of Isaac
    Tablet 9: Gen. 25:19b-36:1. The histories of Esau
    Tablet 10: Gen. 36:2-36:9. The histories of Esau
    Tablet 11: Gen. 36:10-37:2. The histories of Jacob

    Apart from Tablets one and two, which deal with the origins of the cosmos and mankind respectively, and do not contain proper names in their colophons, there appears to be no event recorded in which the person or persons named could not have written either from personal knowledge or from other reliable sources. Furthermore, where individuals are mentioned by name in the colophons, the history recorded in the various sections isolated above and identified with suggested tablets ceases in all instances prior to the death of the person named at the conclusion of the tablet. The present writer is of the opinion that the foregoing classification of material represents the genuine literary sources underlying the first thirty-six chapters of Genesis.

    On closer examination the first postulated tablet (Gen. 1:1-2:4) bears the title "God created the cosmos," interpreting the phrase "the heavens and the earth" as a merismus form, and this title is repeated in the colophon (Gen. 2:4). There is no series number associated with the latter; the colophon contains no personal or other names, and there is no catch-line linking it with the second suggested tablet (Gen. 2:5-5:2), which deals with the origins of mankind. The abruptness of the transition from Genesis 2:4 to the following verse might indicate that the original title of the second proposed tablet bad either been lost in antiquity, or else had been deliberately removed in process of editing. Be that as it may, the colophon of this source contained no proper name and no evidence of ownership. It is just Possible that the scribe who wrote the tablet attempted to convey the antiquity of his material by using the phrase, "in the day that God created mankind" (Gen. 5:1), a circumstance that may also be true for the expression "when they were created" in Genesis 2:4 . In the light of the critical theories common in an earlier generation, which repeatedly asserted the influence of Mesopotamian traditions over those of the Hebrews, it is significant to note that more recent appraisals now limit this as far as the material covered by the first two tablets is concerned to a possible three points, including the initial waters and the divine respite after the creation of man.

    Tablet three, as isolated above (Gen. 5:3-6:9a), bears the title "And man," narrates his descent, and mentions Noah, who is named in the colophon (Gen. 6:9a), perhaps in his capacity as owner of the source The title of Tablet four (Gen. 6:9b-10:1) is "Shem, Ham and Japheth,' and the text deals with the Flood and its aftermath. This material is terminated by the colophon in Genesis 10:1, where the allusion to the period " after the Flood" may perhaps constitute a scribal attempt a dating. The title of the tablet, it will be noted, is repeated in the colophon. Tablet five (Gen. 10:2-11:10a), is apparently entitled "The sons of Japheth," and deals with the Table of Nations and the Babe incident. It is concluded by the colophon, "These are the generations of Shem."

    Tablet six (Gen. 11:10b-11:27a) is comparatively brief, and is entitled simply "Shem." It contains the genealogical list of Terah, an mentions his death, along with the fact that Nahor lived on until Abraham was seventy-five years old. If the reference in Genesis 11:26, which recorded the age of Terah, was actually a scribal attempt at dating, the according to the Samaritan Pentateuch it was written just one year after the last chronological event mentioned in it, namely the death of Nahor. The repetition of "Abram, Nahor, and Haran" before and after the colophon formula indicates that the phrase constitutes a catch-line, and conforms to the usual scribal procedure of repeating the first words of the subsequent tablet after the last line of its precursor.

    Tablets six and seven are thus linked in series, with the latter (Gen. 11:27b-25:12) forming a lengthy account of the life of Abraham and concluding with his death. The title of the tablet is apparently "Abram, Nahor, and Haran," and the text can presumably be dated by the reference to Isaac dwelling at Beer-lahai-roi (Gen. 25:11). These family histories were evidently in the possession of Ishmael, brother of Isaac, and seem to be closely linked with the brief contents of Tablet eight (Gen. 25:13-25:19a), as indicated by the colophon. The events recorded in Tablets seven and eight ceased just prior to the death of Isaac, who was mentioned either as the possible writer or else as the owner of the tablets. He survived Ishmael by some fifty-seven years, according to the text, and presumably came into possession of the family records on the death of his brother.

    The title of Tablet nine (Gen. 25:19b-36:1) is apparently "Abraham begat Isaac," and the narrative content deals at length with the relationship between Jacob and Esau, and with subsequent events in the life of Jacob up to the death of Isaac. Possibly the reference to his interment constitutes a scribal attempt at dating, but whether this was actually the case or not, the histories were clearly of Edomite origin, as the explanatory gloss in Genesis 36:1 would indicate. Tablet nine was followed closely by Tablet ten (Gen. 36:2-36:9), a fragmentary record also from Edomite sources and dealing with the descent of Esau. There is little doubt that Pfeiffer was correct in postulating the existence of a "South" or "Seir" source in Genesis," but owing to his improper methodological approach to the literary problems of Genesis he was only able to isolate a few relevant fragments, and he included in his S1 and S2 much that had no connection whatever with Mount Seir.
    Quite evidently Tablets nine and ten belonged to such a "source," as did the final text, Tablet eleven (Gen. 36:10-37:2), part of which Pfeiffer attributed to S. Genesis 36:31, placed at the commencement of a list of Edomite kings, is obviously a post-Mosaic editorial or scribal comment. It could only have been written at a time when Israel had a king, since it is not a theoretical anticipation of the possibility of kingship, as in Deuteronomy 17:14ff, but evidently originates in the reality of an Israelite kingdom. As such it may well represent editorial activity on the part of the prophet Samuel. Immediately before the colophon in Genesis 37:2 is the statement that Jacob was living in the land of Canaan, and this can be taken as evidence for the time and place of the composition of Tablet eleven. Within a few years Jacob had moved into the land of Egypt, but this reference points to his place of abode when his historical record was closed. Jacob bad obviously returned to the south country and taken up his residence in Hebron, where his father Isaac was living.

    It can hardly be mere coincidence that the material discussed so far has been preserved in so characteristically an ancient Near East fashion. As with all similar ancient literature, these tablets constitute highly valuable sources for the delineation of patriarchal origins, and it i a testimony to their antiquity and to the esteem in which they were held that they have survived in the Hebrew text in something which in al probability approximates to their original form, a circumstance that makes it possible for them to be recovered by means of the application of an accredited methodology. Precisely who was responsible for editing this material is, of course, unknown, but since another such tablet can be recovered from the text of Numbers (perhaps Num. 1:1-3:1), it seem legitimate to suppose that the redactional activity was by and large the work of Moses.
    In view of the overwhelming support given by Near Eastern literary traditions for the recovery of such clearly indicated underlying sources, it can only be a matter of considerable regret that some eminent orientalists have refused to follow the course indicated by the facts in their translations of Genesis. Thus T. J. Meek rendered toledot in Genesis 2: by the expression, "the following are the origins of the heavens," thus completely misunderstanding the significance of the original. In the same manner E. A. Speiser treated the colophon of Genesis 5:1 as though it were a heading. While this may have been due in part in his translation to sheer considerations of format, it still remains the case that the reader would have no inkling whatever of the real character of the constituent source, being invited instead to relate the composition o Genesis to the outworn traditions of the literary-critical school. Like other thoroughgoing advocates of the Wellhausenian position, Speiser could hardly be expected to adopt a format that would belie his convictions with regard to the origin and nature of the Pentateuchal writings Meek, however, was in an entirely different category, since he consistently professed independence of any given literary-analytical scheme. It can only be concluded, therefore, that be was either unaware of the significance of the evidence, or else that he, like many other scholars, refused to go where the facts of the matter led.

    2. The Joseph narratives. The remainder of Genesis deals with the Joseph narratives (Gen. 37:2b-50:26), the Egyptian background of which has been so well attested by scholars as to make further comment unnecessary. Most probably this material was still in oral form when Moses was alive, and it may be that it was he who reduced it to writing in magnificent literary Hebrew. Quite possibly Moses was responsible for substituting leather for the Amarna Age tablet-form vehicle of communication.16 In this general connection it should be noted that whereas in certain instances in the Pentateuch Moses was directed to inscribe the divine revelation upon durable material such as stone (Exod. 34:28), it is probable that the more durable leather came to be employed at this period by the Hebrews as writing material in general preference to papyrus, used extensively in all periods of Egyptian history. Quite aside from the Jewish tradition that the Torah should always be written upon leather, since this was apparently the original material vehicle of its transmission, the passage in Numbers 5:23f. only makes the fullest sense if leather was the material which the people were using at that time.

    If it is correct to assume that the major part of Genesis was transmitted by means of cuneiform tablets, it is comparatively easy to imagine the process by which it was ultimately compiled, given the existence of a Joseph story comparable to the Tale of Sinuhe, whether it was a written Egyptian document or an oral Hebrew tradition." A person such as Moses would have been eminently suited to the task o' assembling ancient records and transcribing them in edited form as a continuous record on a leather or papyrus roll. Given this basic-document, it would be well within the realm of possibility to envisage the activity of later generations in matters of textual revision, the incorporating of marginal comments, or the bringing up to date of certain chronological material (e.g. Gen. 36). For while it is important to affirm the general literary fixity of the material as a whole, it is also necessary to allow sufficient freedom for accredited scribal activity to operate in a customary manner at later stages, in consonance with the traditions evident in ancient Near Eastern literary sources.

    [with apologies to all, it is too long even for this. The finishing bit is in the next post!]
     
  16. Helen

    Helen
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    [The last two paragraphs finishing the post before this one]

    There can be no real question as to the immense antiquity of the source material that is to be found in Genesis. Evidence for this includes the large number of Babylonian words that occur in the earlier part of the book, the topographical references, such as those relating to Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 10:19),19 and the number of glosses required to bring ancient names up to date (e.g. Gen. 14:2, 3, 7, 8, 15, 17; 16:14; 23:2; 35:19). Primitive geographical expressions such as the "south country" (Gen. 20:1; 24:62) and the "east country" (Gen. 25:6), which were used in the days of Abraham, never recurred in the Old Testament narratives as a description of the countries adjoining the south and east of Palestine, since these regions subsequently acquired familiar an well-defined designations. Archaeological discoveries at Mari, Nuz Boghazk6y, and elsewhere have been of particular value in furnish in abundant literary materials for an understanding of the narratives concerning the Hebrew patriarchs and the conditions of life that existed i Palestine and Egypt during the Amarna Age and the Hyksos periods .

    By definition Genesis is the Book of Origins, the great introduction to the drama of human redemption. The prologue is cast in universal term suitable to the subject-matter, and depicts the creative activity of God fashioning the cosmos and placing man upon the earth. The universality of sin is depicted, along with the fact that, as rebellion against God, it must always stand under divine judgment, a situation exemplified by the account of the Deluge. The rise of Abraham, the first of the two major emphases of the Pentateuchal writings, is associated with covenantal relationships, and the stage is thus set for the occurrence of the second great concern of the Torah, namely the deliverance of Israel from Egypt in the dramatic event of the Exodus.
    --R. K. Harrison, Prof. of Old Testament, Wycliffe College, University of Toronto, Introduction to the Old Testament, Eerdsmans, 1969. pp542-553.
     
  17. Pete Richert

    Pete Richert
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    Well, what can I say? Its possible.
     

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