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Genesis 7:11 — When did the Flood Begin?

In the Masoretic Text, Genesis 7:11 reads as follows: In the sixth hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.

In the Septuagint, as translated by Brenton: In the six hundredth year of the life of Noe, in the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, on this day all the fountains of the abyss were broken up, and the flood-gates of heaven were opened.

This seemingly small discrepancy is only one among several oddities encountered by those trying to decipher the Flood’s chronology, which has lead to a substantial amount of discussion among biblical scholars. (more…)

E. A. Speiser on Genesis 6:3

In the KJV, Genesis 6:3 reads like so: And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

This verse raises a variety of interesting questions, such as the meaning of the curious Hebrew word beshagam and just what “his days shall be an hundred and twenty years” is referring to. Both are good questions, perhaps for another post and another day.

The question at hand is the meaning of the Hebrew word ydwn, which the KJV renders “strive.” (more…)

Genesis 5:3 — How Old Was Adam?

For Genesis 5:3, the Masoretic Text reads: “Adam lived one hundred thirty years, and begot [a son] in his image, after his likeness, and called his name Shet.”

The Septuagint, on the other hand, reads, “And Adam lived two hundred and thirty years, and begot [a son] after his [own] form, and after his [own] image, and he called his name Seth” (Brenton’s translation).

What makes this puzzle even more interesting is that Genesis 5:4 also varies between the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint. The Masoretic text records that Adam lived another eight hundred years after begetting Shet, while the Septuagint records that Adam lived another seven hundred.

In both cases, Genesis 5:5 then gives a total of 930 years for Adam’s life. Because the final total is preserved, it is clear that there was some deliberate alteration of the text by someone, at some point. Similar discrepancies between the Masoretic Text and Septuagint occur throughout Genesis 5. The Samaritan Pentateuch, as well, gives ages that vary from both the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint. And finally, Josephus gives a bunch of conflicting chronological information for the antediluvian patriarchs.


Who Wrote the Pentateuch and When?

Over at the SBL website, there’s an essay by Alan Hauser on, among other things, the state of the discussion on the Pentateuch’s sources.  Two quotes seem worth sharing. On who wrote the Pentateuch: “There is consensus that the Pentateuch has sources, and that P is a late source, but beyond that, consensus gets quite thin.” On when: “Many generations stretched between the time of David and Solomon, typically the earliest era to which a pentateuchal source is assigned, and the final compilation of the Pentateuch, commonly placed in Postexilic times.”

Who does what in Genesis 4:1?

There are some questions about what exactly is meant by a particular Hebrew phrase in Genesis 4:1. Some of these questions are reasonable, and some of them are really wild. Here’s Genesis 4:1 in the KJV:

And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord.

So, if you’re an English Bible reader using the KJV, the storyline is pretty plausible: the man and the woman do that thing that men and women do, she has a baby, and she gives God credit for the birth. Maybe if you know a smidge of Hebrew you pick up that the verb “gotten,” qaniti, is being used as a pun on the name Cain (Hebrew qayin). Not so complicated, right?

A co-worker of mine has been listening to the eccentric Arnold Murray, and is convinced that Cain is actually a child of Satan. (more…)

When did Genesis 3:15 become a Messianic Prophecy?

Taken in its original context, the curse of the serpent in Genesis 3 describes how serpents got to be the way they are. Due to the serpent’s participation in the fruit-eating scandal, it is cursed with crawling on its belly, eating dust, and being in a state of perpetual enmity with humankind, the offspring of Eve.

Genesis 3:15, in its plainest, most straightforward sense, reads as it is in the NJPS Bible: (more…)

What is the Knowledge of Good and Evil?

And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Whatever this “knowledge of good and evil” might be, the pursuit of it is what winds up getting humankind kicked out of paradise and killed that very same day. Or something. So what is this knowledge? (more…)


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