Genesis: Introduction創世記導論 The Book



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Application


  • Walking with God is the ultimate objective in life.

  • When we witness the constantly declining morality in the society today and the horrible sins that people are committing daily, we often ask why God would not send His judgments immediately (Rev 6:9-10: the saints cried “How long?”). In this chapter, we see people with even greater sins in Noah’s time than today, so much sin and violence that they deserved God’s almost total obliteration of mankind. However, God waited 969 years (the lifetime of Methuselah) for man to repent. We need to learn from God’s example to be merciful and long-suffering. We can also ask “How long?” but God has the best timing.

  • God did not just wait for man to repent; God sent Noah to communicate His message of condemnation (Heb 11:7). We too must not simply forgive those who are sinful; we need to communicate God’s good news and give them a chance to repent and accept salvation.



  1. STUDY: Adam’s Descendants專題:亞當的後裔

Introduction


  • There are various difficult questions concerning Adam’s descendants down to Noah. Some of them are important questions which relate to our correct understanding of the Bible including: Whom did Cain marry? Did he commit incest? What was the sin of man that motivated God to annihilate almost all mankind? While there are no clear answers from the Bible, we can cross reference various Bible verses, supplemented by logical reasoning, to arrive at some reliable answers.



Explanation


Why did God show favour toward Abel’s offering?

There are different possibilities (arranged in the order of the least likely to the most likely):



[1] God favoured shepherds more than farmers. Counter argument: Farming was the first occupation of man (Gen 2:15) and Adam was a farmer. Cain was in fact carrying out God’s exhortation to Adam.

[2] Cain did not offer in the proper method. The Septuagint specifically described that Cain failed to cut his offering into small pieces. Counter argument: There were no Laws yet to regulate the proper method in offering.

[3] The reasons for God’s favour and disfavour were not clearly shown. God has sovereignty in His decisions, demonstrating the principle of divine election. (Ex 33:19).

[4] Cain offered produce from the ground but the ground was also cursed. Counter argument: Adam’s vocation of farming was given by God.

[5] God favoured offering with blood because it is a sign of the blood of Christ. Counter argument: Both offered the produces from their work. Also, there were no Laws specifying what to offer. There were also grain offerings in the Mosaic Law.

[6] Abel offered the firstborn and also the best part but Cain did not. Cain did not bring the firstfruits but only some of his crop. God had “no regard” for his offering because Cain had “no regard” for his choice of offering.

[7] The kinds of offering were not important but they reflected their hearts. Perhaps God showed favour towards the faith of Abel (Mt 23:35; Heb 11:4). In contrast, Cain’s reactions of being angry toward God and Abel showed that the problem was in his heart and his attitude. Later, Cain’s conversation with God showed his self-absorbed attitude, and his action showed his absence of conscience.

The best answer is probably a flaw in the intention of the giver (no. 7) which was reflected in a deficiency in Cain’s offering (no. 6). Both the giver and the gift were under the scrutiny of God. God requires of the giver an obedient and upright heart (1Sa 15:14; Hos 6:6; Mt 5:24).


Who was Cain’s wife? Did Cain commit the sin of incest by marrying his close relative?

After murdering Abel, Cain was banished to a land further east from Eden called Nod. There, Cain not only found a wife, but found enough people, by the time his son Enoch was born, to build and populate a city.

If Cain waited to marry until he was about 60 or 70 years old, he probably had several women to choose from, including his sisters or his nieces. After another 200 years, he could have at least a few thousand people to build a city.

In the early centuries of human history, there were no laws of conscience or society forbidding the marriage between brothers and sisters or other close relatives (except parents and children, Gen 19:30-38) as none was recorded in Genesis. Even at the time of Abraham, the practice of marrying siblings continued. Since there was no divine or civil law against it at that time, the practice is not equivalent to the modern crime of incest.

When God established a set of moral and civil laws for the emerging nation of Israel, He prohibited marriage between siblings and close relatives (Lev 18:6-18). The practical reason for this law is the high likelihood of developing genetic defects as a result of intrafamily marriage. However, these defects develop slowly and they would present no risk until several dozen generations after Adam. That is why there was no prohibition against incest for early man.
If there were only 3 people in the world after Cain murdered Abel, why was he afraid of his life?

In Mosaic Law, the relatives of the murdered person have the duty to avenge (Nu 35:19-21). While the Law has not been given to man at this point in time, this might be an ancient tradition. When Cain killed his brother, he abrogated the sacred obligation of kinship loyalty and lost the protection of the family bond. Adam, Eve, Abel’s brothers and sisters, or Abel’s children (if he had any) could kill Cain. At this point in time, everyone was closely related so that anyone could have killed Cain.

Adam lived 930 years, 800 more years after Seth’s birth, and had “other sons and daughters.” The genealogy of Gen 5 indicates that every descendant of Adam down to Lamech (9th generation) had “other sons and daughters.” Some of the offspring were born when their fathers were 65, some after their father turned 500.

There were likely other descendants of Adam and Eve when Cain went to Nod because he later built a city (Gen 4:17).

Assuming that couples remained reproductive for about two-thirds of their life spans, we could have a population explosion. Adam and Eve alone could have 150 children or more (presuming that they had 1 child every 4 years).

According to Gen 5, life spans from Adam to Noah averaged 912 years. Presume that: [a] the first child comes at age 40; [b] the childbearing years are 600; and [c] one child came every 4 years during childbearing years. Then the projected total population on Earth would have reached 58 billion (9 times the world population of 6.6 billion in 2007) when Adam was 760 years old, perhaps a small percentage had yet died naturally at that time.



[Note that Adam died when Lamech (9th generation after Adam), Noah’s father, was 65 years old; Adam’s son Seth died only 5 years before Noah was born.]
Why was there an absence of large population in the pre-Flood era?

[1] No population explosion: Archaeological evidence does not show a large population before the Flood. High infant mortality may have been one factor suppressing growth, but this problem alone seems inadequate to explain the lack of a population explosion which should occur naturally as a result of long life spans. Some suggest that the length of years in Genesis was not the same as our years today. However, this is pure speculation without evidence. [The impossibility of shorter years is explained in lesson 14.]

[2] Theme of Gen 4: One main theme in Gen 4 is murder. Not only did Cain commit murder, but so did his descendants, and these murders showed a frightening lack of conscience. At the time of Cain’s banishment from home territory, he expressed the fear that he would be killed by anyone (his brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces) who found him. Then Lamech came along and murder had apparently become something to brag about (Gen 4:23-24).

[3] Hints about widespread murder: It is possible that reckless murder prevented the population explosion. Murder must have become the leading cause of death for pre-Flood people. Support for this scenario includes:

[a] Gen 6:11 describes that “the earth was filled with violence.” Part of this violence could be traced to the Nephilim and the Gabborim (described in Gen 6:4) who likely committed murders.

[b] Gen 6 uses extreme language to describe the evil of the pre-Flood people and the punishment that God planned, because murder is the most heinous crime.

[c] Very few righteous people remained at Noah’s time because God-fearing people, such as Abel, were more likely to be murdered. It explains God’s decision to save only Noah’s family and to also use a flood to rescue man from self-extermination.

[d] The strong language God used with Noah in Gen 9:6, commanding Noah’s descendants to exercise death penalty to restrain the sin of murder was probably a response to what happened before the Flood.

[e] Jewish scholar Josephus (1st century) supported this interpretation: “the posterity of Cain became exceeding wicked, every one successively dying, one after another, more wicked than the former. They were intolerable in war, and vehement in robberies; and if any one were slow to murder people, yet was he bold in his profligate behavior, in acting unjustly, and doing injuries for gain.” (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 1, Chapter 2.2)

[4] Today: Murder continues to occur frequently, perhaps at a lower rate (per population) than at the time of Noah but the total number of murders each year is still over 200,000 worldwide. In addition, many more murders were committed in the name of exercising human rights. These are the killing of innocent human lives through abortion. In North America, the ratio of abortion is 1 abortion per 3 to 4 livebirths. In other words, if you see 4 newborn babies, another one has been killed before birth. This ratio is even higher in communist countries (such as China and Russia), reaching 1 abortion per 1 to 2 livebirths.
Where is the location of the Garden of Eden?

Since the Garden of Eden can no longer be found anywhere on Earth, there are many studies claiming different location of the ancient Eden. Some believe that the name Eden was used exclusively for the name of the garden designed by God for Adam and Eve; many believe that Eden referred to a region and the garden was located in the eastern part of the Eden region.

Hebrew and Christian traditions place the location of Eden somewhere between the 2 rivers of Tigris and Euphrates in the Mesopotamian plain, or in the foothills to the north. However, there have been numerous speculations placing Eden as far as South China Sea or Florida.

How can the answers be so different? The reason is because the drainage systems before the Flood could be vastly different from modern-day systems as a result of the destruction of all drainage systems by violent bursts of floodwater during the Flood. Therefore, it is possible that the present Tigris and Euphrates rivers are not the same ones referred to in Gen 2. Only their names were attributed after the two pre-Flood rivers, just as migrants name places they move to with names from their old world, e.g. the city of London and Thames River can both be found in southwest Ontario. Moreover, 2 of the 4 rivers in Eden cannot be definitively identified. Incidentally, the floodwaters also explain why we are not expected to find any physical evidence of the Garden of Eden on Earth today.

For those who believe that the Tigris and Euphrates rivers mentioned in Gen 2 are the same ones of today. There are 2 schools of thought, depending on how Gen 2:10 is interpreted.

[1] Gen 2:10 describes the 4 rivers flowing out from Eden. If interpreted literally, the Garden of Eden should be near the origin of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

[a] Some believe Eden was in the Taurus Mountains, or in Anatolia, eastern Turkey. The 4 rivers of Eden are identified as the Murat River, the Tigris, the Euphrates, and the north fork of the Euphrates. In Assyrian records, there is mention of a “Beth Eden”, (House of Eden), a small Aramaean state, located on the bend of the Euphrates River just south of the modern town of Carchemish.

[b] Some believe Eden was in north-western Iran, in a vast plain referred to in ancient Sumerian texts as Edin, east of the Sahand Mountain, near the modern town of Tabriz. Hebrew lore includes references to Seven layers of Heaven, the 7th being the Garden of Eden, or Paradise. Just beyond the seventh gate, or pass, was the kingdom of Arrata. The region today is bound by a large mountain range to the North, East and South, and marshlands to the west. Geographically speaking, it would form a “wall” around the Garden, conforming to the definition of the Persian word pairidaeza, or Paradise, as a “walled garden or park”. Additionally, this location would be bound by the four biblical rivers to the West, Southwest, East and Southeast.

[2] Gen 2:10 describes the 4 rivers flowing through Eden, not from one source in Eden but instead flowing into the same destination in Eden.

[a] Some believe Eden was at the head of the Persian Gulf. Satellite photos reveal two dry riverbeds flowing toward the Persian Gulf near where the Tigris and Euphrates run into the sea. In this theory, the Bible’s Gihon River would correspond with the present Karun River in Iran, and the Pishon River would correspond to the present Wadi Batin river system that once drained the now dry, but once quite fertile central part of the Arabian Peninsula. All 4 rivers end in the Persian Gulf.

[b] Some believe that Eden was located near the coast between north Africa and India. Gihon is sometimes thought to be a name for the Nile, while Pishon is sometimes thought to be either Indus or Ganges.
What are the differences between ages recorded in different ancient Biblical texts?

The ages for the descendants are recorded differently in the Hebrew Bible (MT), Greek Septuagint (LXX), and the Samaritan Pentateuch (SP). The differences could be attributed either to copyists’ errors or the corruption of the source documents.



[1] The year of the Flood varies: 1656 (MT), 2242 (LXX), 1307 (SP). [years since Adam]

[2] The MT has Methuselah dying in the year of the Flood; the SP has Jared and Lamech also dying in the same year. The Septuagint has Methuselah surviving the Flood at 2256, but, recognizing the problem, adjusted the numbers.

[3] The life spans of the patriarchs are similar in the 3 versions except Jered, Methuselah, and Lamech.

[4] On the whole, the Septuagint has older ages (mostly by 100 years between Adam and Enoch) when the next descendant was born, thus effectively postponing the time of the Flood by 586 years. The SP has younger ages for Methuselah and Lamech when the next descendant was born, thus effectively moving up the time of Flood by 349 years.

[5] The MT numbers are preferable since it reckons all Noah’s ancestors died before the Flood.





MT




LXX




SP







son

life

son

life

son

life

Adam

130

930

230

930

130

930

Seth

105

912

205

912

105

912

Enosh

90

905

190

905

90

905

Kenan

70

910

170

910

70

910

Mahalalel

65

895

165

895

65

895

Jered

162

962

162

962

62

847

Enoch

65

365

165

365

65

365

Methuselah

187

969

167

969

67

720

Lamech

182

777

188

753

53

653

Noah

500

950

500

950

500

950

Shem (age at Flood)

100




100




100




Years after Adam

1,656




2,242




1,307




NOTE: The numbers show the age of each patriarch at the birth of the son and at death.

The italics are the numbers that differ between the 3 documents.






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