Otto Procksch described Genesis 4:7 as the most obscure verse in Genesis, and he may well be right. One of the more curious things to note about this verse is that it is clearly intended to remind the reader of Genesis 3:16, the punishment of the woman. This is clear because the syntax and terminology in the two verses is virtually identical, and yet in both instances rather unusual.
Compare the verses, first Gen 3:16b:
ואל אישך תשוקתך והוא ימשל בך
then Gen 4:7b:
ואליך תשוקתו ואתה תמשל בו
The existence of the parallel is indisputable, but what is the significance? Read on for my thoughts…
Apple’s Pages word processing/document editing/layout program is appealing in many ways: it is easy to use, powerful, and produces very nice looking documents. One big problem for those of us who want to include Hebrew or other right-to-left language text within our documents, however, is that Pages on Mac OS X simply cannot handle it. Sure, you can type some Hebrew into Pages, but try editing it and you’ll soon discover that it is well-nigh impossible.
Well, that’s almost true. As it turns out, the iOS version of Pages (for iPods, iPhones, and iPads) can handle Hebrew editing reasonably well (see the image which shows the cursor sitting in the midst of some Hebrew, something you simply cannot do on Mac OS X).
This is good news, because while there are a number of solutions to writing mixed language documents on Mac OS X (such as Mellel or Nisus Writer Pro), the options are quite limited on iOS.
Perhaps the only glimmer of hope for Pages on Mac OS X is that it has been quite a long time since an update was released and, given the improvements made in TextEdit on Mac OS X and Pages on iOS in handling RTL languages, maybe any new version of Pages would improve support (although, AFAIK, there’s no indication that a new version of Pages for Mac OS X is to be released any time soon).
Translators and scholars have long debated the best translation for the term הבל (hebel, traditionally “vanity”) in Qohelet (Ecclesiastes). The term refers to vapour, something intangible, but is almost always used metaphorically in the Hebrew Bible.
Now rather than discuss all possible meanings, in this post I’d like to examine one particular proposal: that הבל means ‘fleeting’.1 I’ve come across this a couple of times recently, first at The Briefing, and second from Gary Millar who’s recently taken up the post of Principal at Queensland Theological College and who spoke at Katoomba Men’s Convention.
For why “fleeting” isn’t an adequate translation of הבל, read on…
Apple has just released Mac OS X 10.7.3 which normally wouldn’t warrant a mention here except that it includes improved Hebrew support. Apple’s update notes include the following:
Add Catalan, Croatian, Greek, Hebrew, Romanian, Slovak, Thai, and Ukrainian language support.
Of course it would be nice if they told us exactly what this means for Apple’s apps and Hebrew, but any improvement in Hebrew support is greatly appreciated!
During a recent online debate the question of the meaning of Deut 32:8–9 was raised as evidence of the Bible’s affirmation of polytheism and the subordinate status of the God of Israel, Yhwh. The essence of the claim is that the version of this passage preserved in the DSS identifies El Elyon as head of a pantheon who assigns nations to various subordinate deities, and Israel is assigned to Yhwh in this process.
The argument rests upon the alternate reading found in a fragment from cave 4 at Qumran (4Q37 or 4QDeutj).1 This fragment only preserves a few words from these verses.
Image via Wikipedia
Opponents of the doctrine of the Trinity occasionally throw up the assertion that the word ‘Trinity’ never appears in the Bible as a supposed problem for the doctrine.
The objection is, however, largely without merit. Read below the link for an assessment of this contention!
On a recent Q&A one of the viewers asked about God’s silence:
My question is: why has God gone so quiet? Just a few thousand years ago he appeared to people quite regularly. He turned rivers to blood, he parted seas, he flooded the world etc. He provided us with people like Moses, Jesus & Mohammed who had direct lines of communication. These days the only time you hear from God is through TV evangelists. You know, it’s almost as though the more educated we get, the less God wants to do with us. So, why has God gone so quiet?
John Lennox suggested that the problem was not that God was silent, it was that we aren’t listening. Now, of course, there’s something to this, but it got me thinking about Elijah’s encounter with Yhwh in 1Kings 19 again. It is a fascinating passage and the source of the “still, small voice” which prompted generations of preachers to proclaim that God’s preferred mode of communication was this mysterious whisper.1
They were, however, wrong. Read on for more…
There’s a new app for iOS called “Biblical Audio Pronunciations” (also available in “Lite” version) which aims to offer “correct” pronunciation of biblical terms. The web page claims:
We carefully researched and recorded the pronunciations of important terms, names, and places, to help you embrace the Word of God more easily.
Does it live up to its claims?
CBMW (an organisation which stridently opposed the TNIV) has posted a preliminary evaluation of the 2011 NIV. Unsurprisingly they conclude that “we still cannot commend the new NIV(2011) for most of the same reasons we could not commend the TNIV.” However, I think there are a number of problems with their analysis which I’d like to raise here in order to provide a little perspective.
John Hobbins raised the 2011 NIV’s rendering of Eccl 11:1–2 (although it really just retains the TNIV’s translation and so isn’t a new feature of this translation). The 2011 NIV/TNIV render these verses as follows:
Ship your grain across the sea;
after many days you may receive a return.
Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight;
you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.
The interpretation is promoted by a number of commentators, in particular Gordis, Delitzsch, and Longman. Of course, as others have noted, the translation is somewhat tendentious — offering far more interpretation of the text than is normal elsewhere in the NIV family of translations. A rendering which more closely reflects the Hebrew is this:
Cast your bread on the surface of the water,
for after many days you may find it.
Give a portion to seven, or even to eight,
for you do not know what trouble may come upon the earth.
Traditionally the passage has been understood to refer to alms-giving or charity. It also appears to reflect a similar proverb in the Egyptian Instruction of Onkhsheshonqy, which reads:
Do a good deed and throw it in the water,
when it dries up you will find it.1
The 2011 NIV/TNIV understand the text to refer to maritime trade. לחם is understood to refer to merchandise or to grain, and the second verse supposedly advises spreading the risk of such trade.
While this may be a legitimate interpretation of the passage (more on this below), is it a legitimate translation or does it move too far down the spectrum by excluding possibilities inherent in the Hebrew? Read on for more…