Thursday, January 22, 2009

Notes on the Bible January 22

Job 1-3

First, I want to recommend a quick study book on Job that does a marvelous job of putting the book together. That is Conflict and Triumph: The Argument of the Book of Job Unfolded by William Henry Green. Green taught Old Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary in the late 19th century. This work is a real help at guiding the Job novice through the book without getting lost in the details.

As far as the general outline of the book goes, this is my variation on the theme.
I. Prologue, chs 1-2, setting up Job's situation
II. Dialogues, chs 3-26, in which Job and his friends debate the theology of his situation
III. Monologues, 27:1-42:6, in which Job, Elihu, and God address Job's situation
IV. Epilogue, 42:7-17, in which Job is restored

It is often said that the purpose of the Book of Job is to answer the question, "Why do the innocent suffer?" That is probably too simplistic, especially because the book doesn't explain why God offers Job as an example in the first place. The book is complex, and we will see some of its purposes over the next several days as we read through the book.

The prologue gives us the man Job as an example of integrity. Job is described in four terms, three positive and one negative. He is first a man of integrity ("perfect" in the KJV). That means he is not a hypocrite. He is the same inside as outside. Second, he is upright. That means that his conduct is correct "in regard to ethical norms and religious values" (see New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, vol 2, pp 564-5). Third, he feared God, or. more correctly, was a God-fearer. That is a term used throughout the Old Testament to identify men of faith. Finally, he turned away from evil, that is, from acting in an evil way.

This man then loses first his property and his children. Then he loses his health. That sets the terms of the debate. Interestingly, though the Satan's cynicism seems to be the provocation for the events. he disappears from the book after chapter 2. Job begins the dialogues by expressing the wish that he had never been born. Had he not been born, then he would not have been exposed to the trouble he now experiences (3:25-26).

Matthew 14:22-36

Jesus walking on the water provokes the disciples' statement, "Of a truth, thou art the Son of God." This anticipates Peter's confession in chapter 16. As well, looking to Jesus for calm in the storm sets the stage for the faith the disciples will need as Jesus faces increasing opposition. The fact is that the disciples never quite get it, but the message was there for them. Lest we look down on the disciples, let us reflect on the number of times we haven't quite gotten what Jesus says to us in His Word, and we have been as much Little-faiths as the disciples.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Notes on the Bible January 21

Genesis 49-50

Genesis 49 is an extended poem, a blessing addressed to each of the twelve sons of Jacob. Two things are clear. Judah has become the chief of the sons, the chosen line through whom the One would come. Joseph retains a major significance as well. These are indicated by the more extended treatments given to both Judah and Joseph. The mention of Shiloh in vs 10 (KJV, NKJV) has been a cause of a great deal of discussion. Most modern versions take it as an unusual form that should be rendered "He to whom it belongs. This and other possible alternate readings of the passage have been proposed. Part of the opposition to "Shiloh" comes because it has traditionally been understood as a Messianic passage, not only in Christian but in Jewish tradition (the note in the Stone Edition Tanach says, "Until Shiloh arrives, i.e., the Messiah, to whom the kingdom belongs"). Robert Alter comments in his The Five Books of Moses, "This is a notorious crux. The Masoretic Text seems to read 'until he comes to Shiloh,' a dark phrase that has inspired much messianic interpretation." My own sense is that the name Shiloh should be retained, and it would go in a list with other obscure names in the Old Testament that apply either to the Messiah or to the people of God. Another example would be Jeshurun in Deut 32:15.

Genesis 50. This wraps up the Joseph story, with Joseph burying his father, making final reconciliation with his brothers, and making arrangement for the return of his remains to the Land of Promise. Thus it sets the stage for the transition to Israel in Egypt, which picks up in Exodus 1. However, in our reading schedule, we will be moving to Job before Exodus.

Matthew 13:53-14:21

Here begins the period of opposition to Jesus, beginning with the people's rejection of him because they know his family, and continuing with Herod's misunderstanding of Jesus and his mission. Jesus' response, however, is to continue to have compassion upon these lost sheep, and to provide for them in accordance with his mission. See especially 14:14. He gives us here an example for what our own response to opposition should be--that we continue to have compassion on the lost, and minister to them as we are able.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Notes on the Bible January 19-20

Genesis 45-48

These chapters begin the conclusion to the Joseph narrative. Joseph reveals himself to his brothers.Israel and his sons move to Egypt. Joseph establishes full pharaonic control over all Egypt as the people essentially sell all they have, including their souls, for food. [This notice makes me wonder how much Americans are satisfied with increasing government control over their lives as long as their stomachs are full. It seems to be an early case of 'bread and circuses.']

Chapter 48 then gives the account of the blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh. As is the case throughout Genesis, the younger brother is preferred over the elder. This shows that essentially Joseph is treated as the eldest brother, as he receives a double inheritance. The story at this point seems almost to end where it started, with Joseph as clearly the preferred son.

Matthew 13:10-52

The parables of the kingdom, which are found all together here in Matthew. One of the most difficult of these is the parable of the wheat and the tares (parable given in vss 24-30, interpreted in vss 36-43). There is much debate in the commentary literature over whether the field is the world or the church. Jesus words in vs 38 seem to settle the question, "The field is the world." But that creates a problem for some who have difficulty equating the world (vs 38) with the kingdom (vs 24).

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Notes on the Bible January 17-18

Genesis 41-44

These chapters give us the heart of Joseph's restoration, beginning with his interpretation of Pharaoh's dreams, and ending on the verge of Joseph revealing himself to his brothers. The dreams of Pharaoh pair with Joseph's double dream in ch 37. The two sets of dreams bracket the period of Joseph's humiliation.

Chapters 42-44 constitute Joseph's testing of his brothers, as he seeks to determine the state of their hearts. The conclusion of the episode comes in Judah's refusal to allow Benjamin to be taken prisoner, but his insistence upon taking Benjamin's place. Since Judah had been the cold-hearted leader in the sale of Joseph into slavery, this shows the complete turnaround in Judah's character. This change had its beginning in the Tamar situation in ch 38. Throughout the testing, Joseph is in control of the situation, and is orchestrating events to move them to his own ends. Unlike ch 37, where God is not mentioned, God's control of all events is clear in the language.

One particularly important transition to note is the change from Jacob (42:36, the lamentation over the loss of Simeon) to Israel (43:6). Jacob is the character as schemer and supplanter, while Israel is the character of faith. It is in faith that Israel entrusts Benjamin to the care of Judah. The tone of 43:14 (If I am bereaved, I am bereaved) is completely different from that of 42:38 (ye shall bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to the grave).

Matthew 12:15-13:9

In 12:15-21, the controversy with the Pharisees continues, with Jesus drawing his attention to his fulfillment of the Messianc promises from Isaiah. In the remainder of ch 12, Jesus focuses his attention against the Pharisees, first by means of a miracle (lending further credence to his Messianic claim), and then in direct criticisms of Pharisaism. Chapter 13 begins the third large teaching section in Matthew, concerned mainly with the parables of the kingdom.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Notes on the Bible January 15-16

Gen 36-40

Genesis 36. This surveys the descendants of Esau, in schematic fashion. As is typical in Genesis, the non-elect line is dealt with briefly before the narrative moves on to a more detailed treatment of the elect line. Perhaps the most important item to note in this chapter occurs in the last verse. Here it notes that the descendant of Esau lived in the land of their possession. It contrast radically with the first verse of Gen 37, where Jacob lives in the land of the sojournings of his father. Esau has his possession. Jacob does not yet have his. He is still waiting on the promises.

Genesis 37. The life of Joseph, from the beginning here to the time of his promotion to second in Egypt is bracketed by dreams. The dreams in this chapter need no divine interpreter, since there meaning is obvious. It is significant, though, that God is not mentioned in the chapter. God operates in the background here in the rivalry between Joseph and his brothers.

Two notes about the selling of Joseph. First, the terms Ishmaelites and Midianites are used interchangeably. See, for example, 37:36, where it is the Midianites who sell Joseph to Pharaoh, and 39:1 where it is the Ishmaelites. Second, Reuben is absent from the scene when the rest of his brothers sell off Joseph (see 37:28-29). It is Judah who is the ringleader in the selling of Joseph.

Genesis 38. The shift in focus from Joseph to Judah is intentional, not accidental. As Judah had taken the lead in getting rid of Joseph, part of the significance of the larger story is the redemption of Judah, who goes from being the leader in evil to being the leader in good, and finally the one through whom the promised one will come (see 49:8-12, especially vs 10). The events surrounding Judah and Tamar bring Judah to humbling and, evidently, repentance.

Genesis 39-40. Two things of note here. First, the specific mention of God's blessing on Joseph even in the middle of evil circumstances. At the very least the Christian should learn that God's blessing is not always attended with pleasant circumstances. Second, notice the emphatic way the text tells us that the chief cupbearer neglected Joseph. 40:23 says, "Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him." The word "remember" in Hebrew often has the connotation of calling to mind. Negatively, the cupbearer did not call Joseph to mind. In fact, he positively forgot Joseph. Nonetheless, in the midst of evil circumstances that continue for an extended period, God blesses Joseph.

Matthew 10:40-12:14

This section concludes Jesus' oration on discipleship. The narrative then moves through the transition from the conclusion of the ministry of John the Baptist to the focus on Jesus' ministry. Chapter 12 begins to show the clash between Jesus and the Pharisees, focusing initially on the law of the Sabbath. In this, Jesus' shows the Pharisees' Sabbath understanding to be legalism. Jesus does not do away with the Sabbath, but puts it in its true context.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Notes on the Bible January 11-14

This is what happens when you are out of town for a couple of days. You get behind on your posts.

Genesis 27-35

This section takes us most of the way through the life of Jacob, or at least up to the genealogy of Esau, then the transition to Joseph.

Gen 27. The Blessings on Jacob and Esau. There is an interesting play on words in the two blessings. Note vs 28, "Therefore may God give you of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth;" and vs 39 "Behold, your dwelling shall be of the fatness of the earth and of the dew of heaven from above." The Hebrew will bear two interpretations. The one is that both Jacob and Esau will benefit from the dew of heaven and the fatness of the earth. The other is that Jacob will benefit from them, but that Esau will be shut off from them. Interpreters differ, but I think the former is intended. After all, when Jacob returns from his 20 years with Laban, Esau tells him, "I have enough, my brother" (33:9).

Gen 28. Jacob's Vow. Many interpreters understand Jacob in vss 20-22 to be bargaining with God, "If you will do all this for me, I will serve you." Rather, the "then" ought to be placed at the beginning of vs 22. Further, Jacob's vow is simply reiterating God's promise to him in the dream (see vvs 13-15). In other words, it is Joseph's affirmation of faith, not his bargaining with God.

Gen 30. The Multi-Colored Rods (vvs 37ff). This has all the appearance of Jacob attempting to influence the coloring of the offspring of the flocks. The fact that it "worked" is not due either to magic or to some kind of science we don't understand yet, but to God's intent to bless Jacob in spite of Laban's trickery.

Gen 32. Jacob's Wrestling. Was this prayer or wrestling? My own view is that it was wrestling. The substance of the prayer is found at the beginning of the chapter (vss 9-12). At the end of the episode is the very physical wrestling by which Jacob was determined to wrest a blessing from God. Here, he was working for assurance.

Gen 35. The End of the Generations of Isaac (25:19-35:29). This extended section of Genesis ends with the deaths of Rachel and of Isaac himself. It is followed by the terse summary regarding Esau in ch 36 before moving on to the story of Joseph. Thus, omitting ch 36, chs 34-38 are hard times for Jacob. The believer does not avoid the pains of this world by his faith, but is strengthened to triumph through them.

Matthew 8:16-10:39

This is quite a mixed section, with a number of miracles interspersed with teaching, leading to the second long teaching section in Matthew in ch 10. The section begins with a statement regarding the cost of discipleship, and the long concluding teaching section deals specifically with the truths that confront the disciples of Jesus.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Notes on the Bible January 9-10

Genesis 24-26

Chapter 24. The Holman Christian Standard Bible gives the chapter the subtitle, "A Wife for Isaac." That is better than some others, such as "Isaac and Rebekah" in the ESV and the TNIV. But as a real character, Isaac appears only in the concluding paragraph of the chapter. So what is this chapter really about? Some see in this chapter a type of the Trinity (Abraham as the Father, Isaac as the Son, the elderly servant as the Holy Spirit, gone to fetch a bride for the Son). At first glance, this works, which is probably why the idea is popular. But it very quickly breaks down. There is no gospel here. The Son does not die, in fact, he doesn't even have anything to do with the proceedings.

Chapter 23-26 of Genesis mark a period of transition, from the generation of Abraham to the generation of Isaac. The generation of Isaac is dealt with very briefly, moving on quickly to the generation of Esau and Jacob by the middle of chapter 25. But this gives us part of the context for considering the meaning of ch 24. The other part of the context is provided by a consideration of the author and original historical context for the writing of the chapter. Moses is writing this in part for the generation in the wilderness as they prepare to enter the Promised Land. In line with the other commandments they have been given, this chapter gives a major emphasis to the command not to intermarry with the native Canaanites. Isaac is not to have a wife from the Canaanites. Neither is he leave the land of promise. These two points serve as lessons for the Israelites. Also notice how much emphasis there is in the chapter on the Lord's provision, as well as emphasis on prayer and faithfulness to one's task. It should not be missed that the servant's prayer is the first recorded prayer in Scripture.

So we can take the following lessons from ch 24. Believe the promises of the Lord. Pray that he would fulfill his promises. Do not look outside the covenant people of God for a spouse. Above all, prepare for your own passing. Notice that the chapter begins with the observation regarding Abraham's age. He doesn't know how many years he has left, and he is preparing for things after his departure. We are mortal, and unless we prepare for our departure, our work may well die with us. So many great men of God have had great ministries that died on the vine after their death, or that changed character entirely in part because they did not plan for their departure. There is much food for thought in this chapter. There is not, however, a picture of the Trinity.

Chapters 25-26. The material here is pretty simple. Esau sells his birthright and Isaac inherits the promise. Notice the affirmation of the covenant promise to Isaac in 26:1-5. In spite of Isaac's failure of faith in trying to pass off Rebekah as his sister, in which he emulated his father, God protects and restores, providing for the continuation of the covenant promises. A note to you fathers. Your children will certainly repeat your sins. They will learn unconsciously in your home, even as you will unconsciously teach them.

Matthew 7:1-8:15

True disciples, built solidly on faith, bear fruit. That, in short, is the message of the concluding chapter of the Sermon on the Mount. Chapter 8 then begins the first set of miracle narratives. In part, the purpose of these miracle narratives is to show the divine approbation of Jesus' ministry. See Nicodemus' statement in John 3:2, "No one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him." Jesus' miracles begin here with a reaching out to unclean, those who are, religiously speaking, in an unacceptable state for the worship of God. Jesus cleanses the leper, and he heals the centurion's servant, given the centurion's faith. Jesus is thus also breaking down the Jew-Gentile wall that saw all Gentiles as unacceptable before God.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Notes on the Bible January 7-8

Genesis 19-23

Lot and His Daughters. One trouble with historical sources is that they are sometimes more squeamish than we are, thought frankly, the subjects of squeamishness change from age to age (more on that later). What I am referring to in particular is commentary treatments regarding the episode of Lot and his daughters. The primary purpose of it is to account for the origin of the Ammonites and the Moabites, and to show their relationship to the line of Abraham. The common English translation of Calvin's commentary on this matter eliminates Calvin's comments almost entirely, saying in a footnote only, "The lengthened commentary on this [vs 31] and the following verses, it has been necessary almost entirely to omit. Perhaps the only points worthy of notice in it, are the following: 1. Calvin supposes Lot to have been under judicial infatuation in consequence of his intemperance on this occasion. 2. He explains, as other commentators do, the names of the children of Lot's daughters."

In other words, Calvin was a little too explicit in his discussion of the passage. Maybe some modern Latinist will deign to give us what Calvin said.

Abraham and Abimelech (Gen 20-21). Since the text focuses on Abraham and his seed, it is easy to forget that there were other peoples inhabiting Canaan. The episodes related here remind the reader, as they were no doubt intended to remind Moses' original readers that, as with Israel in the days of Moses, the Canaanites were then in the land. The difference would have been, of course, that in Moses' and Joshua's day, there were to be no treaties with those inhabitants. Abraham was allowed the treaty, because the sin of the Amorites was not yet full (15:16).

The Binding of Isaac. There has been much written on this passage, by better men than I. So I will do no more here than to note that most English versions title this section "The Sacrifice of Isaac." Of course, that is wrong, because no sacrifice of Isaac took place. There was a substitute offered for him. The Jewish tradition has it right here when the call it "The Binding of Isaac."

The Death of Sarah. Abraham was still sojourning in the land, as a stranger. He was looking for a new land of which this was only the type. Thus, in order to have a proper place to bury his dead, he must purchase it from the Hittites who at the time had ownership of the land. For none of the pre-Exodus patriarchs does the land become theirs. Even Jacob dwells in the land of the sojourning of his fathers (Gen 37:1), and he eventually leaves for Egypt. It is only with the generation of those under the leadership of Joshua that they become possessors of the land.

Matthew 5:43-6:34

The interpretation and application of much of this section has been complicated by an overly literalistic approach. This is not a program that is intended to set out the ethics of nations. Instead, this focuses on the heart of the believer and his attitude toward the things of this world. The believer who focuses on the things of this life is turning his back on the things of the life to come. In fact, the person wedded to the things of this world, and worried about them, shows to all where his heart is. It has been suggested that the reason modern American evangelicalism has produced no great works on heaven is that evangelicals already have their heaven here on earth.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Notes on the Bible January 5-6

Genesis 13-18

The Trouble with Lot. Lot appears throughout this section as a trouble to Abraham. First, there is the dispute over land that takes up most of chapter 13. Second, there is the capture of Lot and the ensuing battle that takes up most of chapter 14. Third, there is the warning of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in chapter 18. The key individual in the ensuing chapter is Lot. One wonders what might have happened if Abram had not brought Lot along in chapter 12. That seems, after all, to have been the point of God's saying to Abram, "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house." Furthermore, Lot and his line fade almost into oblivion after Genesis 19.

The Trouble with Abram. After God gave Abram the promise in chapter 12, Abram endangered the possibility of its fulfillment by attempting to pass off Sarai as his sister (12:10-20). After the Lot episodes (chs 13-14), God reiterated the promise to Abram, confirming it with the covenant ritual. Once again, in the following chapter, Abram endangered the possibility of the fulfillment of the promise by heeding Sarai's advice. God graciously restored Abram, and reiterated the promise and the covenant, this time with the sign of the covenant. Whatever man does to endanger the fulfillment of God's promises, God overrules to his own glory and the completion of his promised work.

The Covenant Sign. We noted in chapter 9 that God takes the sign of the covenant as if it were intended for him, not for man. This attitude continues in chapter 17 with the sign of circumcision. Even if a son is born to covenant parents, he is not considered part of the covenant community unless he has the sign of the covenant. If he has not the sign, he is a covenant breaker (17:14). It's important to keep that in mind when we consider the signs of the covenant for New Testament believers.

Matthew 5

It is a commonplace among scholars that the Gospel According to Matthew presents Jesus as the New Moses. Thus, there are five major blocks of teaching material in Matthew that are seen as corresponding to the Five Books of Moses. These blocks of teaching in Matthew are chs 5-7, commonly known as the Sermon on the Mount; ch 10, the disciples' message; ch 13, the kingdom parables; ch 18, church discipline; and chs 23-25, the woes to the Pharisees and the Olivet discourse. Each of these sections ends with the statement, "And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings" (see 7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1). Though it is impossible to find any real correspondence between the five teaching blocks in Matthew and the Five Books of Moses, the fact that we have five sections of teaching, each clearly marked at the end, tells us something about Matthew's organization of the material.

The Beatitudes. There has perhaps been more literature published on the Beatitudes than on any other single section of Scripture. I do not think they are intended to be a "new law" for the Christian. Nor are they a "kingdom ethic" that does not apply until the coming of the millennial Messianic kingdom. Rather, their purpose is to tell us something about the heart of the disciple of Jesus. This is made more clear by the fact that Jesus follows the Beatitudes with an exposition of the law.

The Exposition of the Law

Jesus' exposition of the law is not a "new law." Nor is it an expansion of the law. It does not tell us that in the Old Testament the law applied only to the action, but in the New Testament it applies to the heart. No, Jesus is clarifying the law, making the point that it had always applied to the heart.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Notes on the Bible January 3-4

Follow-up on Gen 6:1-4. The line of Seth/line of Cain explanation has been the traditional Reformed interpretation of the passage. It is only in the latter part of the 20th century that this began to change, in part under the influence of Meredith Kline. The Reformation Study Bible (and Bruce Waltke's commentary on Genesis) reflect a different understanding. Any of the older commentaries in the Reformed tradition will present the case for Cain and Seth. Gordon Wenham in his Word Biblical Commentary gives a useful bibliography, as well as a concise synopsis of the various explanations of the passage.

Genesis 7-12

The Universality of the Flood. Traditionally, Noah's Flood has been understood to be a universal flood. Until the late eighteenth century, geological data such as rock strata and fossils were understood to have been the result of the Flood. As geological science changed in the first part of the nineteenth century, the idea of a universal flood began to change (a useful book on this transition is Charles Coulson Gillespie's Genesis and Geology). Thus, many in our day will argue for a local flood. There are two problems with that explanation. The first is the repeated use of "all" in Gen 7:17-24. The second is a rational difficulty. If the flood were merely local, there was no need for the building of the ark. Animals destroyed by a local flood would have either fled the flood area, or would have survived outside of the flood area. Further, Noah and his family would only have had to move to another area, rather than to spend approximately a year with a floating zoo. Add those difficulties to the fact that the flood traditionally was understood to be universal, and the evidence against a local flood is overwhelming.

The Sign of the Covenant and its Purpose. God's word established the rainbow as a sign of the covenant between God and man regarding the stability and longevity of the earth (see 8:20-22). It seems at first glance that the rainbow then has its primary purpose as a reminder to man of God's promise. Given this, it is curious that God says (9:14-15), "That the bow shall be seen in the cloud, and I will remember my covenant." That is, the sign of the covenant functions both Godward and manward. It is indeed a reminder to man, but it also serves as a "reminder" to God. God certainly does not need to be reminded, but it underscores the certainty of God's promise.

The Table of Nations. This is the title usually given to Genesis 10. Notice that the descendants of the non-elect lines (Japheth and Ham) are given before the elect line. This is a consistent practice in Genesis

The Story of Abraham. It really begins in 11:27, and continues to 25:11. From 25:12 through 25:18 we have the story of Ishmael. The 25:19 begins the story of Isaac. The phrase "these are the generations of" (or something) similar are used throughout Genesis to mark off the major segments of the story. 12:1ff is a continuation of the story, not the beginning of it.

Matthew 3-4

"To fulfill all righteousness." Jesus' baptism by John has evoked a great deal of discussion. Obviously Jesus being sinless, he did not need a baptism for repentance, for he had nothing of which to repent. Why then was he baptized? The NKJV Study Bible suggests three possibilities. The first is that by being baptized Jesus joined himself to the believing remnant of Israel who were receiving John's preaching. Second, Jesus' baptism was a confirmation of the message of John. Third, Jesus' baptism was a fulfillment of the Father's will. To these I would add a fourth. That Jesus, in being baptized, was acting as the representative head of his people, and his faithfulness in this matter is then imputed to their account.

The Temptation of Jesus. Following his baptism, Jesus entered into the temptation of the devil. Following up on the last reasons just given, Jesus' temptation (and his successful resistance of it) also is on behalf of his people. This is shown by the fact that all his citations are taken from Deuteronomy, where they apply to Israel (who failed the test). Jesus, however, embodies the New Israel, and his faithfulness is imputed to those who make up the New Israel.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Notes on the Bible January 1-2

Gen 1-6

Gen 2:15 And the Lord God took the man, and put him in the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. The two verbs used there: "to dress" and "to keep" (abad and shamar in Hebrew) are more commonly translated "to serve" and "to guard." The only other context in which the two are used together is in the work of the Levitical priests. This seems to indicate then that man's labor is a religious service due unto God. This underscores the "creation ordinance" nature of labor.

Gen 3:16 "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception." The multiplication of conceptions does not seem to me to refer necessarily to having large numbers of children. It may also refer to the fact of unfruitful conceptions, that is, pregnancies that end in miscarriages. Even reproduction is negatively affected by the curse, as any woman who has had children, or hopes to have children, knows.

Gen 6:1-4 The Sons of God and the daughters of man. There is an overabundance of literature on this passage. However, it should be noted that when the KJV says "the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair," it tends to lead most readers into thinking that the daughters of man were distinctive for their beauty. This is almost certainly not the case. Rather, it says "that they were good." If the text had meant to say "beautiful," it would almost certainly have said "good of appearance." I think rather the attraction of the daughters of man was their culture, as depicted in Genesis 4 in the line of Cain. This lends further credence to the idea that the sons of God were the descendants of Seth, and that the daughters of man were the descendants of Cain.

Matthew 1-2

The Genealogy of Jesus. There has been a lot of debate on the contrasting genealogies of Jesus in Matt 1 and Luke 3. I recommend the reader look at the discussion in John W. Haley Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible as well as Gleason Archer's Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties. Any thorough commentary on Matthew or Luke will also discuss the issues.

Matthew 2:18 Rachel weeping for her children. In what sense does this event (the so-called Slaughter of the Innocents) fulfill Jeremiah's statement? Jeremiah's statement certainly has its primary reference to the lamentation concerning the exile. The context makes it clear the Jeremiah's hearers were to look past the exile to the rejoicing of restoration. Jeremiah has adopted the image of Rachel's lamentation (Genesis 35) as she lay dying (in that sense her sons were lost to her) to Judah's sense of loss as they see their brightest and best taken into exile. This lamentation is replaced by rejoicing in the promised future. Matthew then sees in Jeremiah's statement a sense in which the evils attendant on the arrival of the Messiah, while rightly lamented at the time of their occurrence, usher in a greater glory. It also seems to me that there lies beneath Rachel's lamentation in Genesis 35 an allusion to the curse of Gen 3:16.