As a Biblical Hebrew teacher, one of my favorite experiences in this long and endless journey is trying to answer questions posed by my students in our courses and in our Biblical Hebrew Webinar, always a lovely way to start the weekend at the Dahan family. Since I can’t answer all of the questions in the webinar, I’ve decided to share my thoughts in our Biblical Hebrew blog.
Before I start, I’d like to thank you all, dear readers and webinar participants, for making the last few weeks so profound for me both as a teacher and scholar of the Hebrew Bible. You are more than welcome to send me more questions, as many as you like!
The first question is from Jeremy Anderson, one of our Facebook fans:
“In the account of Rahab living in the walls of Jericho. How did she and her house survive?”
Well, dear friend, let’s see what Rahab said when she met the spies that were sent by Joshua:
|“And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land… For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt… And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.”(Joshua 2:9-11)
“וַתֹּאמֶר אֶל-הָאֲנָשִׁים-יָדַעְתִּי כִּי-נָתַן יְהוָה לָכֶם אֶת-הָאָרֶץ …כִּי שָׁמַעְנוּ אֵת אֲשֶׁר-הוֹבִישׁ יְהוָה אֶת-מֵי יַם-סוּף מִפְּנֵיכֶם בְּצֵאתְכֶם מִמִּצְרָיִם…. וַנִּשְׁמַע וַיִּמַּס לְבָבֵנוּ, וְלֹא-קָמָה עוֹד רוּחַ בְּאִישׁ מִפְּנֵיכֶם: כִּי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם-הוּא אֱלֹהִים בַּשָּׁמַיִם מִמַּעַל וְעַל-הָאָרֶץ מִתָּחַת”
The reason that Rahab and her family were saved was because she acknowledged the power of God, and to me she was somewhat of a prophet in that she predicted the future – the conquest of the promised land by Joshua and his army with the help of the Lord. If you read Joshua 6:23-25 you can see that her request from the spies was fulfilled by Joshua. For more information you can read about Rahab here:
The second question is from Betsy Delozier and here it is:
“Can you explain who the sons of G-d are in Genesis 6:2?”
In a nutshell I would say that the expressions “the sons of God” could be explained in two different ways. In the Hebrew Bible this expression can also be found in Job 1:6:
|“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.
“וַיְהִי הַיּוֹם-וַיָּבֹאוּ בְּנֵי הָאֱלֹהִים לְהִתְיַצֵּב עַל-יְהוָה; וַיָּבוֹא גַם-הַשָּׂטָן, בְּתוֹכָם.”
By reading Job we can surmise that the sons of God, including Satan, were the angles of God, and their sin in Genesis 6 was a sexual relationship with the daughters of man, and for that reason the giants (Nephilim) were created. However, the word “Elohim” in the Hebrew Bible, does not always mean “one God”. Sometimes the meaning is “ruler” or “leader”, for example in Exodus 4:16 when Moses is named as “the God of Aaron”. In that case, the sons of God could be rulers that were sinners since they each took a woman they chose as written in the verse you mentioned in your question. Another option, which is less common, is that the sons of God are the descendants of Shet, since in his sons’ days there was the first usage of the name of the Lord. The daughters of man are actually the daughters of Adam, who was the father of Cain, and maybe for that reason there were sins in that time that caused the flood!
The next question was sent to me by Lucky Meyer, who asked about the significance of the people rising out of the graves. Well, dear friend, I assume that you are speaking about the dry bone visions in Ezekiel 37, as written:
|“Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.(Ezekiel 37:12-14)
“לָכֵן הִנָּבֵא וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵיהֶם כֹּה-אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה הִנֵּה אֲנִי פֹתֵחַ אֶת-קִבְרוֹתֵיכֶם וְהַעֲלֵיתִי אֶתְכֶם מִקִּבְרוֹתֵיכֶם עַמִּי; וְהֵבֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם, אֶל-אַדְמַת יִשְׂרָאֵל. וִידַעְתֶּם כִּי-אֲנִי יְהוָה: בְּפִתְחִי אֶת-קִבְרוֹתֵיכֶם, וּבְהַעֲלוֹתִי אֶתְכֶם מִקִּבְרוֹתֵיכֶם-עַמִּי. וְנָתַתִּי רוּחִי בָכֶם וִחְיִיתֶם וְהִנַּחְתִּי אֶתְכֶם עַל-אַדְמַתְכֶם; וִידַעְתֶּם כִּי-אֲנִי יְהוָה דִּבַּרְתִּי וְעָשִׂיתִי-נְאֻם-יְהוָה”.
The graves that this vision speaks of are not physical graves for people who have died, but for people in the exile that perhaps have died mentally and need to be cheered up by the prophet. For that reason when you are reading about the graves and the new spirit in the people, it’s not resurrection. In fact, the idea of resurrection is from the time of Ezekiel, which is also something that we need to bear in mind. This nation was at a breaking point when they were exiled from the land that was promised to them, and this vision revived some the dry bones, that metaphorically died in exile, and brought them up to the land of Judah.
That’s all for today; more answers are waiting for you in this webinar: www.eteacherbiblical.com/webinar/questions-and-answers-iii
See you in class, Eli