A VISIT TO THE BIBLE ON MOTHER’S DAY

Here I am, sitting in the basement. It is Mother’s Day.  I am sort of wondering why I never wrote a post and if I should. So I went to the Bible for some inspiration. What did I find?

In the New King James Version (NKJV), “mother” shows up 306 times. The first occurrence grabbed my attention.

Genesis 2:24 New King James Version (NKJV)

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Our children — my lady and I — now have grown children. They have left us to begin their own lives. The separation is necessary, but it hurts.  In order to raise our children well, we must love them and expect nothing in return. Yet we get much. Still, they must go.

It is Mother’s Day, but what is a mother without a father? Curious, I found out “father” shows up up 1510 times in the Bible, about five times as often as “mother”. I suppose some will call that sexist, but I think some people jump to conclusions too quickly.

The first verse where “father” occurs is also Genesis 2:24. So I guess, like my lady, I also have our Lord’s permission to miss the patter of little feet.

So why does father occur so much more often in the Bible? I am not certain, but given how little importance some people attach to fatherhood these days, it is worth considering.  I suppose I have found a good project for Father’s Day.

What is a mother without her husband? What is a father without his wife? The word “husband” shows up 129 times in the NKJV and the word “wife” shows up 370 times.  Significant? Perhaps.  We have lots of jokes and proverbs that tell us that behind every successful man stands a good wife. Here is one of my favorites.

Behind every successful man is a proud wife and a surprised mother-in-law. — Hubert H. Humphrey (from here)
But what does the Bible suggest? What is the first verse where the word husband occurs?

Genesis 3:6 New King James Version (NKJV)

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.

Was the woman a temptation for the man?

What is the first occurrence of wife? Like mother and father, the word wife first shows up in Genesis 2:24. It is the love of a woman that drives a man to leave his father and mother.

There is an old saying that seems to be in accord with the Bible (Proverbs 14:1).

Men make houses, women make homes (from here)

God gave Eve to Adam because he needed her. Eve made Adam whole, and he knew it.  But it does not seem to be easy for a woman to be a good wife. Perhaps she is too preoccupied being a good mother, and it is not easy for a man to be a good father. Perhaps he is too preoccupied with the wrong kind of success.

What is a good woman? She is precious. She is a woman in whose hands her husband’s heart is safe.

Proverbs 31:10-31 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Virtuous Wife

10 Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
And willingly works with her hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
She brings her food from afar.
15 She also rises while it is yet night,
And provides food for her household,
And a portion for her maidservants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
From her profits she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength,
And strengthens her arms.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is good,
And her lamp does not go out by night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hand holds the spindle.
20 She extends her hand to the poor,
Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
For all her household is clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes tapestry for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies sashes for the merchants.
25 Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.

WHEN WE INSTRUCT OUR CHILDREN IN HATRED

Battle of Jericho (biblical)
Depiction by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld (1794-1872) (from here)

Cal Thomas has a column that got me to thinking. Here is the key to that column.

Here’s the danger for President Trump. The Quran allows Muslims to lie to “nonbelievers” in pursuit of Islam’s goal of an earthly kingdom ruled by their religion.

An example occurred last week when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met at the White House with President Trump. Abbas said, “Mr. President, I affirm to you that we are raising our youth, our children and grandchildren, in a culture of peace.”

That is a flat-out lie, as even a cursory Google search or visit to the Palestinian Media Watch website proves.

Do the Palestinians instruct their children to detest non believers, even to lie to them and kill them? As Thomas said, it is easy enough to look up. Google Do Palestinians Teach Their Children to Hate? The mainstream press does not like to talk about it, but even The New York Times has occasionally carried a story. Here is one from 2013, To Shape Young Palestinians, Hamas Creates Its Own Textbooks. Apparently, Hamas was not satisfied with what it got from the Palestinian Authority.

Textbooks have long been a point of contention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in which dueling historical narratives and cultural clashes underpin a territorial fight. And they are central examples of what Israeli leaders call Palestinian “incitement” against Jews, held up as an obstacle to peace talks newly resumed under American pressure.

Beyond their take on Israel, the new texts are also a salvo in the war for influence between the rival Palestinian factions: Gaza-based Hamas and Fatah, which dominates the Palestinian Authority and the West Bank. They reflect a growing gulf between the 1.7 million Palestinians living in the densely populated Gaza Strip and the 2.5 million spread among the West Bank’s cities and villages. (from here)

How seriously should we take this sort of thing? We have an excellent point of reference, our own American Civil War. In the South, children grew up learning to approve of slavery. In the North, children grew up believing slavery wrong. Most in the North may have thought the Negro inferior, but they refrained from believing Negroes should be enslaved. Considering that the whites in the South did not want to enslave the whites in the North, the conflict that eventually ensued between the North and South grew extremely violent. One can only imagine what that war would have been like if all the people in the North had been Negroes.

So what does Christianity teach about race and culturally based hatred? This is a question that confuses many Christians.  In its May 4, 2017 broadcast, If God Is Good, How Could He Command Holy War?, Derek Thomas examined the issue for Renewing Your Mind. His subject was the Book of Joshua and the Holy War (or herem) God declared against the Canaanites. In the Book of Joshua, the Hebrews execute God’s command to move into the Holy Land and kill the Canaanites.

The Victory of Joshua over the Amalekites by Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665) (from here)

When we read the about the destruction of Jericho, we usually marvel at the miraculous collapse of the city’s walls, but what happened after that?

Joshua 6:15-21 New King James Version (NKJV)

15 But it came to pass on the seventh day that they rose early, about the dawning of the day, and marched around the city seven times in the same manner. On that day only they marched around the city seven times. 16 And the seventh time it happened, when the priests blew the trumpets, that Joshua said to the people: “Shout, for the Lord has given you the city! 17 Now the city shall be doomed by the Lord to destruction, it and all who are in it. Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. 18 And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. 19 But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the Lord; they shall come into the treasury of the Lord.”

20 So the people shouted when the priests blew the trumpets. And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. 21 And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword.

What does Derek Thomas point to in the Bible to justify utterly destroying all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword?

Genesis 15:16 New King James Version (NKJV)

16 But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.

God had decided iniquity of the Amorites was complete.  Because the answer is unsatisfying, Thomas grieves over this.  Yet Thomas did not finding the answer unsatisfying for the reason some might expect. When Thomas considered himself and the rest of us, sinners all, what is remarkable is that God has any mercy to spare for any of us.

There but for the grace of God, go I. — John Bradford (1510–1555) (from here)

We are not worthy of God’s grace, but we can choose to receive it. Fortunately, when Jesus died on the cross and rose on the third day, He established a new covenant. Instead of destroying unrepentant sinners, we now spread His Gospel.

So what about Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his lies? As best we can, we need to help the Palestinians understand the truth. The Allah that he and his fellow Muslims worship is an invented god.  What too many Muslims worship is war, not peace. Only with Jesus can have peace.

Gustave Doré, The Death of Agag. Agag was executed by Samuel as part of God’s command to put the Amalekites under herem (1 Samuel 15). (from here)

SEARCHING THE BIBLE FOR WISDOM

The garden of Eden with the fall of man
(from here)

What Got This Post Started?

Your Biblical Belief is 42 years old … by Jamie Carter illustrates why I consider debating the Bible worthwhile. This is actually a form of Christian fellowship. The subject is God, and we share our understanding of Him.

In her post, comments on Susan Foh‘s 1975 article, WHAT IS THE WOMAN’S DESIRE? What is that about? Well, consider how  ends her (guessing since I am not certain of ‘s gender) post.

Before Foh pioneered this meaning for the word desire in 1975; the main school of thought was that ‘desire’ referred to a woman’s sexual desire for her husband; though Calvin thought that it meant that a woman will desire what her husband desires and will have no desires for herself. Some thought that women will be plagued with desire itself bordering on a disease. What wasn’t up for debate was that whatever it meant, men had to rule over women as a result of desire.

So if you believe that a man is the head of his family, that the curse on women was to be in rebellion against her husband’s headship because her desire was to be contrary to his headship and the man would rule over his wife, your Biblical belief is somewhat older than I am. Ain’t that something? (from here)

Apparently, thinks that what complementarians believe about the Biblical basis for the relationship between men and women is of relatively recent origin, and that the recent origin Biblical basis for Complementarianism undermines the argument.

What is Complementarianism? It is the counterpart to Egalitarianism.

Summarized by “The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood,” complementarianism is the viewpoint that God restricts women from serving in church leadership roles and instead calls women to serve in equally important, but complementary roles. Summarized by “Christians for Biblical Equality,” egalitarianism is the viewpoint that there are no biblical gender-based restrictions on ministry in the church. With both positions claiming to be biblically based, it is crucially important to fully examine what exactly the Bible does say on the issue of complementarianism vs. egalitarianism. (continued here)

What Is This Post About?

After I first read ‘s post, I found myself digging into what Susan Foh had written and the debates she had engendered, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that while gender issues are quite important to  they were not the subject of her post.  Her issue is how complementarians arrived at their version of Biblical truth. Hence, I am not going to try to resolve the debate between complementarians and egalitarians. The subject here is how we search for Biblical wisdom.

Consider something Isaac Newton said.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. — Isaac Newton (from here)

We build understanding by building upon the wisdom of the people who went before us. That is, what we know depends upon what the generations before us taught us, especially our parents and grandparents. That includes our understanding of the Bible.

People have studied and debated (sometimes quite unpleasantly) the meaning of the Bible since God started inspiring men to write it. If we look up the history of universities, we soon find that medieval monks started them in Christian cathedrals. Of course, theology was the big focus. In fact, if we go back further and look up the Church Fathers, most of what they did was study, debate, and preach scripture.

Most of us think for ourselves. Even when we are trying to obey God, most of us think for ourselves. That independent spirit both causes problems and helps us in seeking God.  When Eve bit into the apple and Adam followed her example (Genesis 3), instead of obeying God, both sought to be like God. That did not please God. When we study the Bible diligently and try to understand it so we can understand, love, obey, and seek God; we please Him.

What Is The Debate Over Genesis 3:16 About?

So what about the difficulty of interpreting Genesis 3:16? Consider some different translations.

Here the word “desire” is used. That is more common.

Genesis 3:16 New King James Version (NKJV)

16 To the woman He said:

“I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
In pain you shall bring forth children;
Your desire shall be for your husband,
And he shall rule over you.”

Here the word “control” is used. Some adopted that translation after 1975.

Genesis 3:16 New English Translation (NET Bible)

16 To the woman he said,
“I will greatly increase your labor pains;
with pain you will give birth to children.
You will want to control your husband,
but he will dominate you.”

Another version of the Bible, one developed by Catholics, provides a relatively unique translation.

Genesis 3:16 Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

16 To the woman also he said: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee.

Here, from Bible Hub, is a listing of various translations of Genesis 3:16. If you are particularly interested in this verse, I also suggest reading the commentaries on Genesis 3:16 at Bible Hub. Of course, those commentaries predate Susan Foh‘s 1975 article, WHAT IS THE WOMAN’S DESIRE?

What Causes Our Disagreements About The Bible?

So why do the various translations differ, sometimes significantly.  Well, the Bible is only the Word of God in the original language. Once we start putting the Bible in our language we have to put up with translation errors and the biases of the translators. This is no secret. It is one of the reasons why the Catholic Church was reluctant to have the Bible translated and to let the people read it for themselves. The Bible Translation That Rocked the World, for example, discusses the challenges that Martin Luther encountered when he translated the Bible into German.

What does a word represent?  When we think of a word, we generate a concept in our mind.  When we speak a word to someone else we compel whoever is listening to generate the concept they associate with that word in their mind. Therefore, when we translate words from one language to another, finding the best match between the words in the source language and the target language involves finding the word or phrase that correctly portrays the desired concept in the mind of the reader.

Unfortunately, even if the translator well understands both the source and target languages, sometimes there isn’t a good word match. Sometimes, in the case of a language that has not been spoken for a long time, scholars have to work quite diligently to understand what concepts the words in the source language were meant to generate in the minds of the people who spoke that language.  So it is we get translations that are mostly the same, but some differ significantly.

What Is The Word In Question?

What is the word in question? It is the Hebrew word teshuqah. Google produces about 3200 hits (click on teshuqah). So that word has generated much commentary.

Most of the translations of teshuqah use the noun form of the word “desire”.  Let’s look at the origin of the word, “desire”.

desire

v. early 13c., from Old French desirrer (12c.) “wish, desire, long for,” from Latin desiderare “long for, wish for; demand, expect,” original sense perhaps “await what the stars will bring,” from the phrase de sidere “from the stars,” from sidus (genitive sideris) “heavenly body, star, constellation” (but see consider ). Related: Desired ; desiring.

n. c.1300, from Old French desir, from desirer (see desire (v.)); sense of “lust” is first recorded mid-14c.

Curiously, the word “desire” was first associated with the stars. Sexual lust is an element of desire, but “having” is the primary emphasis of the word, and that something is from the stars.  What we desire we want. What we desire is something we long to have in our possession and under our control.

Is desire the wrong word? Maybe not. “Covet” is a synonym for “desire”, and covetousness is a sin. What we desire — what we put at the forefront of our life — rules us.

What Is The End Of This Discussion?

I tend to enjoy John Wesley’s concise commentary. What did he have to say about Genesis 3:16?

Verse 16
[16] Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

We have here the sentence past upon the woman; she is condemned to a state of sorrow and a state of subjection: proper punishments of a sin in which she had gratified her pleasure and her pride. (1.) She is here put into a state of sorrow; one particular of which only is instanced in, that in bringing forth children, but it includes all those impressions of grief and fear which the mind of that tender sex is most apt to receive, and all the common calamities which they are liable to. It is God that multiplies our sorrows, I will do it: God, as a righteous Judge, doth it, which ought to silence us under all our sorrows; as many as they are we have deserved them all, and more: nay, God as a tender Father doth it for our necessary correction, that we may be humbled for sin, and weaned from it. (2.) She is here put into a state of subjection: the whole sex, which by creation was equal with man, is for sin made inferior. (from here)

Wesley saw Genesis 3:16 as being about punishment, and for thousands of years the social standing of women has been lower than that of men. Among the Jews, women were generally treated better, and with the advent of Christianity, the social standing of women began to slowly rise. However, that verse was about sin and punishment. Because they had sinned — because they would continue to sin — Adam, Eve, and their progeny would suffer from sin.

Other verses in the Bible call upon men to love their wives as they love themselves. Other verses call upon women to love their husbands and submit to the love of their husbands. What all those verses mean, not just one, Christians and non-Christians study and debate.

Can I resolve this debate? Of course not, but I can suggest that each of us needs to ask God what He wants us to do and do it. Whether God made us a man or a woman, He did not do so to curse us. Our own sins do that, and that is what most people get out of Genesis 3. What Genesis 3 tells us to do is to love and obey our Creator. That Adam, Eve, and we have too often failed to do.

What about punishment God inflicted upon Adam, Eve, and all of humanity? Just as God punishes us, don’t we punish our children to teach them to behave? In spite of the fact we punish our children, is not most of the punishment they receive — we receive — self-inflicted? When we sin, don’t we suffer from our sins? If a 120 pound woman totally desires 180 lb man, who is going to be controlled? Oddly, because the man wants to rule over the woman, it doesn’t always work out the way one might expect.

And so it is that for the sake of a tempting piece of fruit, Adam and Eve gave up paradise and their selfless love for each other.

Additional References

Empathy is Not Forgiveness — Reblogged

Cheyenne moccasins (from here)

insanitybytes22 writes posts that hit at the gut level. Such is what Empathy is Not Forgiveness does. What I write I like to think appeals to the intellect. That informs people, I guess, but is more likely to get to the heart and persuade.  So it occurred to me it might be worthwhile to reblog ‘s post and just include my comment.

Empathy is not forgiveness. That was a real stumbling block for me, but empathy can be a bit like trying to rationalize away sin. We’re seeking a logical explanation for human behavior, some cause and effect, and trying to walk in someone else’s shoes compassionately. That all sounds very good, very charitable on the surface, but it is not the supernatural grace of forgiveness.

You will wind up extending mercy to everyone but yourself. We’ll call it “self-abuse,” because you’ll be filled with forgiveness, confusion, frustration, while attempting to rationalize away the entire world’s poor behavior.

Battered women do this all the time. He doesn’t mean it, it’s not his fault. People married to alcoholics do it, they rationalize, it’s just the addiction talking. We do it in crime, bad childhood, lousy neighborhood, poor job training. What winds up happening in the end is that you are surrounded by totally irrational people doing stupid things for what seems to be good reasons and all of this somehow becomes your fault. Also, now you’re even more bitter and unforgiving because everyone in the entire world has an excuse for treating you poorly…. (continued here)

So what do I have to add? A little Bible study.

Excellent post! It inspired me to do a little Bible study.

It is a curious thing. Empathy is supposed be a Christian thing, but anyone would be hard put to find the word in the Bible.

Empathy sounds like a great idea. There is that old Indian proverb (=> http://grammarist.com/phrase/walk-a-mile-in-someone-elses-shoes/), but forgiveness and empathy have different purposes. When we walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, we don’t do it to forgive them. We do it to understand them, to perceive what motivates them. When we understand the motives of another, we can react more appropriately.

What is forgiveness? It is not holding a grudge (Leviticus 19:18). It is continuing to love another. As this passage puts it, it is overcoming evil.

Romans 12:9-21 New King James Version (NKJV)
Behave Like a Christian

9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

The person who cannot forgive cannot give up vengeance, but vengeance does not belong to us. We don’t have the wisdom or the right. Because we belong to God, vengeance belongs to God.

We don’t punish criminals out of vengeance. We punish criminals to discourage crime. Our job is to love each other. If we don’t forgive each other, we cannot love each other.

Because God requires justice, however, He does take vengeance.

Psalm 99:8 New King James Version (NKJV)

8 You answered them, O Lord our God;
You were to them God-Who-Forgives,
Though You took vengeance on their deeds.

We cannot thank God enough for taking upon Himself the full measure of vengeance we deserve.