• Old Testament

    Are Kings and Chronicles the Same?

    Many an English Bible reader has read the book of kings (also known as 1 & 2 Kings) only to feel they are reading a repeat of the same stories in the very next book, Chronicles (1 & 2 Chronicles). I remember the first time I read through the Bible, I was somewhat frustrated by all the repetition. I did not agree with the Greek translator of Chronicles, who calls Chronicles παραλειπομένων (“of the things left out”). It certainly doesn’t feel like Chronicles is talking about the things left out of Kings. What is the difference between Kings and Chronicles? Are they repeated histories that just both happened to make it into the Canon? Big Picture Differences between Kings and Chronicles The book of Kings covers a period of approximately four centuries, from the death of King David (ca. 970 BC) to the Babylonian exile of 587/6 BC. It is…

  • Old Testament

    Who is Ahasuerus in the Book of Esther?

    Sometimes different Bible translations can lead to interesting questions. For example, if we were to compare the NIV and the ESV translations, we would come across a seemingly large difference. According to the NIV, Xerxes was king during the time of Esther, but according to the ESV Ahasuerus was king. Who was the king? Was it Ahasuerus, or Xerxes? NIV This is what happened during the time of Xerxes… ESV Now in the days of Ahasuerus… Bible Translations and the Identity of Ahasuerus Why does the NIV say the king was Xerxes, while the ESV says the king was Ahasuerus? The issue is one of translation, yes, but also of identification. To complicate matters somewhat, the earliest translation of the Old Testament that we have (the LXX) identifies the king of the book of Esther as Ἀρταξέρξης (Artaxerxes). Josephus also agrees with the LXX. Thus, we have three options for…

  • Old Testament

    Was Caleb the Kenizzite a Native Israelite?

    Who was Caleb, the Son of Jephunneh? Although I think we often assume he was a naturally born Israelite, there may be evidence to suggest his family had joined Israel at some point. This might explain the unique references to the title, Kenizzite. Brief Background on Caleb the Son of Jephunneh Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, is a captivating character in Scripture. Caleb is most well known for being one of the 12 spies who explored the land of Canaan after the Exodus (Num 13:1-16). Out of the 12 spies who entered Canaan, only Caleb and Joshua trusted in God’s power to deliver the land to Israel (Num 14:6-10). They were faithful to Yahweh, while the rest of the spies gave a discouraging report and the people wanted to return to Egypt (Num 14:4). Caleb is well known for a variety of other reasons as well. Because of Caleb’s devotion…

  • Old Testament

    Was Boaz the Son of Rahab?

    Almost every year when teaching through Old Testament survey class, I get asked whether Boaz was the son of Rahab. According to the genealogy of Matthew 1:5, Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab. So that seems to settle the issue then. Many people assume that Boaz was Rahab’s son, and perhaps Rahab herself would have told stories to Boaz about God’s gracious intervention in her life. Rahab being the mother of Boaz certainly preaches well! However, there are some complications. Boaz Probably Lived 200+ Years After Rahab We have a bit of a conundrum, because Ruth 4:21–22 gives us David’s likely relationship with Boaz. We can trace David’s genealogy as follows: We know David becomes king over Judah around 1010 BC. So, if we trace the Ruth genealogy, we see that the story of Boaz probably took place shortly before 1100 BC. We can calculate that by running…

  • 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…