• Biblical Languages,  Old Testament

    A Proposal for a New Translation of Deuteronomy 4:29

    This month an article that I have been working on for awhile was finally published in the journal The Bible Translator. The article is entitled, “Towards a New Proposal for Translating the Conjunction כי in Deuteronomy 4.29.” Although I am not allowed to post the published PDF, I have uploaded the prepublication version of the paper here. It is a fairly technical paper, discussing some of the intricacies of Hebrew grammar. The paper will likely not be very enjoyable for those who do not know Hebrew. However, in addition to drawing attention to it, I wanted to summarize the argument in layman’s terms. The Typical Translations of Deuteronomy 4:29 Deuteronomy 4:29 does not typically have much variation in translation. The only outlier is the CSB. Observe the following translations. But from there, you will search for the Lord your God, and you will find Him when you seek Him with…

  • Old Testament,  Textual Criticism

    How Tall was the Giant Goliath?

    David killing Goliath with a sling is one of the most beloved and well-known Bible stories. In fact, sports announcers will still sometimes use the phrase, “It is a David versus Goliath story” to describe an underdog taking down the favorite. Those who grew up in church quickly became familiar with the story of the little boy David killing the mighty Philistine giant, Goliath. However, some of the details of the David vs. Goliath story need fleshing out. For one thing, it is likely that although he fought for the Philistines, Goliath likely was a descendant of Anak. Another issue is whether Goliath would qualify as a giant or not. This is actually a bit of a text-critical issue in the book of Samuel! Compare the following English translations. CSB Then a champion named Goliath, from Gath, came out from the Philistine camp. He was nine feet, nine inches tall. NET Then a champion came out…

  • Biblical Languages,  Old Testament

    Development of the Hebrew Language from Past to Present

    The Hebrew language is beloved by many Christians because it is the original language of the Old Testament. Thus, the Hebrew language makes up the majority of God’s revelation! The Hebrew language is often viewed as a divine language to some. Others think Hebrew contains specialized codes from God. However, the history of the Hebrew language shows that it is a real language which has had real development over time. Abraham and Origin of the Hebrew Language Although some would argue Adam and Even spoke Hebrew, that is unlikely. The first time we see the word “Hebrew” used is in reference to Abram in Genesis 14:13. Abram (later Abraham) was a sojourner from Ur of the Chaldees (Gen 11:31). Ur was a bustling Sumerian city-state, and during Abram’s time there he would have grown up fluent in Sumerian and Akkadian. Akkadian is the oldest Semitic language that we know of…

  • Old Testament,  Scripture

    Did Old Testament Saints Know Scripture was Authoritative?

    From our perspective we sometimes take for granted that we have an authoritative canon—a collection of inspired Scripture from God. But it is worth thinking through how the Old Testament saints viewed the collection of authoritative writings. Did Old Testament believers recognize a specialized, authoritative collection of writings? Looking at the Old Testament evidence, it seems that the Jewish people recognized certain writings as authoritative from God, while at the same time acknowledging a different quality of other writings. We see early evidence of Scripture being regarded as authoritative in the book of Deuteronomy. For example, Moses instructed all the people to gather every seven years to hear “this law” (Deut 31:9-11). Further, Moses instructed the Levites to store the book of the law along with the ark of the covenant (Deut 31:24-26). Additionally, Israel was instructed that nothing could be added or deleted from these words (Deut 4:2; 12:32).…

  • Christian Living,  Old Testament

    Can Jealousy be Good? Or is It Always Sin?

    It is usually assumed jealousy is always a sin. But, there are times jealousy is NOT a sin. Yes, you read that accurately—jealousy is not always a sin! In fact, jealousy can sometimes be good. If that surprises you, then we definitely need to look at the biblical evidence. We tend to think of jealousy (sometimes used as a synonym for envy) as wanting what someone else has or being resentful of them (and that is wrong). However, in biblical language the Hebrew and Greek words for jealousy are often synonymous for the idea of zeal. For example, in Psalm 69:10 the psalmist says, “Zeal for your house has consumed me.” Yet the same word can be used for jealousy in places like Job 5:2, “Surely vexation kills the fool, and jealousy slays the simple.” When studying the various uses in the Old and New Testaments one is struck with…

  • Old Testament

    David as a Man after God’s Own Heart (1 Sam 13:14)

    The Bible says David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:14; Acts 13:22). Most people want to take this phrase as a reference to the moral character of David. As such, David was a man after God’s own heart in that he was committed to God’s ways and demonstrated fidelity to God’s Law. However, this viewpoint has a couple difficulties. On the one hand, David was far from morally pure. He was a murderous adulterer (2 Sam 11). He killed Uriah the Hittite, and committed adultery with Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife. Can we say David was uniquely a man after God’s own heart when his actions seem to communicate otherwise? To get around this potential problem, some people will say that David never engaged in direct idolatry and that is the explanation for saying David was a man after God’s own heart. However, there are a couple other…

  • New Testament,  Old Testament

    Where was the Altar of Incense Located?

    In Hebrews 9:3-4 we are told that the Holy of Holies (aka Most Holy Place) contained the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant. This Holy of Holies was entered only once a year on the Day of Atonement by the High Priest (Heb 9:7; cf. Lev 16). However, we see from other Scriptures that the altar of incense was used much more frequently than once a year (cf. Lev 4:7; Exod 30:7-8). In fact, in God’s instructions for the altar of incense, Israel was instructed to put the altar of incense outside of the Holy of Holies, separated from the Holy of Holies by a curtain (cf. Exod 30:6; 40:5). How are we to understand these apparent contradictions about the placement of the altar of incense? Although there are a variety of ways people have dealt with this issue, I believe the best solution is to…

  • Old Testament

    Psalms in Jonah 2

    Sometimes we have the tendency to forget that the characters in the Bible had access to Scripture. If we are observant, we often see biblical characters relying on, and trusting in God’s written word. In particular, the book of Psalms is often referred to. Psalms have always been a favorite for the people of God. Although we see this all over the New Testament, the Old Testament has some pertinent examples of this as well. Take the story of Jonah. Having been thrown into the sea and finding himself in the belly of a big fish, what was his response? His first response was to come before the Lord in prayer. What it most interesting to me is that his prayer (which is recorded in Jonah 2) has many allusions and quotations from specific psalms. I think the following are four examples where Jonah shows knowledge of (and reliance on) the…

  • Christian Living,  Old Testament

    Ahithophel and Dealing With Bitterness

    Ahithophel is one of those lesser-known characters in Scripture. But he is an excellent example of how bitterness can corrupt the soul. Bitterness is an issue we all need to deal with. This post on Ahithophel and bitterness was originally posted by Dr. Varner on his now-delinquent blog many years ago. He gave permission to repost it, and I always appreciate the way Dr. Varner spells things out. I hope you do too. The Tragedy of Ahithophel Following David’s awful sin of adultery with Bathsheba and the ensuing arranged murder of her husband, Uriah, he was confronted by Nathan the prophet. Among the consequences of his sins were that from his own household enemies would arise against him (2 Sam 12:10-11). Three of his sons – Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah – each caused serious problems for him and his successor, Solomon (2 Sam 13; 14-17; 2 Kings 1-2). There was…

  • Law,  Old Testament

    Following the Principle of the Law

    We have looked previously at the clear testimony of Scripture that the believer’s relationship to the Mosaic Law has drastically changed. In fact, because the Mosaic Law was tied to the Mosaic Covenant, when the Mosaic Covenant passed away, the believer was no longer under the Law (cf. Gal 5:18). But, yet we see Paul and the other Apostles constantly being influenced by and appealing to the Law. How can this be?   It stands to reason that although the Law is no longer binding, this does not mean there is no more usefulness to the Mosaic Law. In fact, I would argue that the Mosaic Law retains its didactic purpose and helps instruct mankind how to live in light of the creation principles. In other words, the Law stops functioning as a law code, but it retains its pedagogical function, giving the Christian insight into the character of the…