• Old Testament

    Goliath was a Nephilim of the Anakim

    According to the book of 1 Samuel, Goliath was the most impressive warrior in the Philistine army. He was also a man of incredible height. He was, after all, a giant! However, questions about Goliath’s ancestry often come up. Was Goliath a native Philistine, an Egyptian, or perhaps something else? I would argue that although Goliath fought as a Philistine, the evidence suggests that he probably was of the Anakim, not a native Philistine. Tracing the Nephilim and Anakim from Judah to the Coastal Plains Before the wilderness wandering, Israel sent out spies to spy out the land of Canaan (Num 13). When the spies returned, all but Joshua and Caleb were shaking in their boots. The chief complaint was that the people “are of great height” and that the Nephilim (the sons of Anak) were there (Num 13:32-33). The phrase Nephilim is not used often, but in the context of…

  • Old Testament

    Perhaps Sin is Not Crouching at the Door (Genesis 4:7)

    Whenever one challenges a translation that most English translations use, it is natural to be skeptical. I know I was… at least initially. But, as I have chewed on the data and worked it over in my mind, I have become much more sympathetic to the idea that most English translations get Genesis 4:7 wrong. Genesis 4:7 is most commonly interpreted as sin personified as a wild animal crouching outside the door, ready to pounce! But, I would like to advocate for an alternative understanding. Perhaps Genesis 4:7 is not talking about sin crouching at the door but about God providing a sin offering for Cain as a means of reconciliation. English Translations and Genesis 4:7 I imagine that most readers did not even know there was a possible alternative rendering of Genesis 4:7. This is largely because of the near-unanimous translation of Genesis 4:7. Here is a list of…

  • Christian Living,  Law,  Old Testament

    The Heart of the Law is the Heart

    Christians often view biblical law negatively. It is often viewed as diametrically opposed to the freedom we have through grace. Many Christians think that the Old Testament was primarily concerned with external obedience, whereas the New Testament is concerned with matters of the heart. However, a careful examination of the tone of the Law indicates that it is not to be viewed as something incongruent with the character of the New Testament Christian. When reading the Law, one quickly sees that the Law emphasized the necessity of complete heartfelt obedience, not merely external obedience to a checklist. Consider Deuteronomy 10:12-13: Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the Lord’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?…

  • Law,  New Testament,  Old Testament

    Paul’s Use of Leviticus in 1 Corinthians

    Leviticus is notoriously the place where year-long Bible reading programs die. Many a well-intentioned Christian has struggled and ultimately failed to get through Leviticus. The laws in Leviticus just seem so strange to the modern reader! Laws about sacrifices, washings, menstruation, and leprosy. These are strange concepts for the Western reader to think about. Yet, we deprive ourselves of a valuable resource if we ignore Leviticus. Leviticus has always been viewed as a foundational book for the Jewish people, and it was used significantly by Jesus and the Apostles in giving instruction to the church. The Prevalence of Leviticus in the New Testament In support of the assertion that Jesus and the Apostles relied heavily on Leviticus it may interest the reader to know that, according to the Loci Citati Vel Allegati in the 28th edition of Nestle Aland’s Greek New Testament, there are at least ninety-four specific Leviticus passages…

  • Christian Living,  Law,  Old Testament

    Should Christians Keep the Sabbath?

    Historically, many Christians have assumed that it is a Christian obligation to keep the Sabbath. Both the Westminster Confession of Faith and the London Baptist Confession of Faith include language which obligates Christians to observe the Sabbath. Although both of these confessions move the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, they both are adamant that keeping the Sabbath is an obligation on all of humanity. But, is keeping the Sabbath for today? In order to answer that question, we need to discuss what the Sabbath was along with its purpose. What did the Sabbath look like? The Sabbath was observed each and every Saturday and was to be a day of rest for Israel. They were prohibited from doing extraneous work. A good summary of the prohibition is found in Deuteronomy 5:14: “You shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your…

  • Old Testament

    Calendar, the Bible, and Ancient Israel

    A calendar is a cultural convention of tracking extended time. It is internalized without much thought by a culture, but it is interesting (and important) to note that calendars have changed significantly over time. In fact, it may come as a surprise to some readers that the current method for date reckoning that Western nations use is called the Gregorian calendar, which was recently (1582 AD) put into place by Pope Gregory XIII to improve the former Julian calendar, which had been used utilized since the time of domination by the Roman Empire. The Julian calendar, named after Julius Caesar (40s BC), was largely accurate but was off by about 1 day per 100 years. Thus, Pope Gregory instituted a new calendar that would align even more precisely with the times and seasons, and would avoid having a regression (however slight it may be). So, the present calendar we use…

  • Old Testament

    You Become Like What You Worship

    Human beings are created to worship the Creator. The psalms in particular are replete with calls for all of mankind to worship the Creator (cf. Pss 66:4; 95:6; 99:5; 150:6). But, as Paul points out, it is part of fallen humanity’s penchant to exchange the truth about God for a lie and worship creation rather than the Creator (Rom 1:22-25). This idolatrous worship practice can take place in many ways. Buddhism, Hinduism, and many African religions are examples of pagan idolatry. Even secularism, which claims to be empty of all religious components, takes the form of idolatry by replacing God with the autonomous self. Idolatry at its core is the epitome of human pride, arrogance, and foolishness. Psalm 115 on Worship and Idolatry Psalm 115 gives insightful commentary on the subject of idolatry and worship. Psalm 115 depicts the false idols who have mouths, eyes, ears, noses, and hands; yet,…

  • New Testament,  Old Testament,  Theology

    Where did Baptism Come from?

    When we read through the Bible from the Old to New Testament, a few things jump out when we get to the New Testament. One major surprise is the prevalence of baptism. Where did baptism come from? There doesn’t seem to be any indication of baptism in the Old Testament. However, the New Testament puts a significant priority and importance on baptism. What is the background to the baptism process? It seems unlikely that John the Baptist invented baptism. There is no indication that the Pharisees or Sadducees asked John what he was doing. Instead, the New Testament paints the picture that people were familiar with baptism. Scholars have attempted to explain why people were already familiar with the process. There are typically four possible options that scholars put forward as the historical background for New Testament baptism. Mystery Religion Adaptation Qumran Lustration Proselyte Baptism Jewish Purification and Washing Rituals…

  • Old Testament

    Was Samuel a Levite?

    How is it that Samuel was able to work in the Tabernacle? Wasn’t the Tabernacle work reserved for Levites? Samuel was born in Ephraim, so wouldn’t that disqualify him from service? These are some significant questions that readers of 1 Samuel often think about. The book of 1 Samuel opens up by talking about “a certain man of Rammathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah” (1 Sam 1:1). Elkanah is married to two wives, one of whom is Hannah. Although barren, Hannah prays for a child, and the Lord answers her prayer. This child is Samuel! After giving birth, Hannah names her son Samuel, and dedicates him to tabernacle service with Eli (1 Sam 1:28). Samuel stays with Eli and serves the Lord (cf. 1 Sam 2:11, 18). Throughout the story, it is obvious that Samuel is ministering in the tabernacle (cf. 1 Sam 3:3). This…

  • Old Testament

    The Ketef Hinnom Scrolls and the Antiquity of Scripture

    Discovered in 1979 by Gabriel Barkay, the Ketef Hinnom scrolls made news because they contained the text of Numbers 6:24-26 and thus represent the oldest testimony of an Old Testament text that we know about. Funny enough, the discovery of the scrolls took place because the lead archaeologist, Gabriel Barkay, an archaeology professor at Tel Aviv University, told a young boy to go clean up a cave. This young boy ended up hitting the floor of the cave with a hammer (as young boys are wont to do), causing the false floor to collapse and reveal a trove of bones beneath. This hidden tomb, within walking distance of Jerusalem, had been preserved from tomb raiders and so revealed its treasures to the archaeologists working the scene. The tomb complex found at Ketef Hinnom followed the Old Testament burial practices (basically from Abraham’s time to around 522 B.C.). The procedure of…