- An Analysis of John Sailhamer’s Genesis Unbound
- The Historical Creation View of Sailhamer in “Genesis Unbound” Part 1 – Naturalis Historia
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- Science, the Bible, and the Promised Land
Those two major insights lead to a fresh look at the six days which now become the work God in fashioning a Promised Land out of a previously inhospitable piece of the earth. As with all interpretive frameworks, this one works better for some parts of the text than others but overall presents a strong case. Sailhamer seems careful in his research and fair in his interaction with other views but occasionally makes sweeping generalizations that just seem out of character with the rest of the book.
There was no pre-Adamic human race. In his appendix section Sailhamer tries to debunk any view of the text other than historical narrative. I thought the way he contrasted narrative vs. Also at no time in his book does he deal seriously with the Egyptian and Mesopotamian accounts of creation with which the children of Israel would have had much exposure. The possibility of Genesis as a theological polemic is not considered as an alternative. Overall, an enjoyable read and a set of ideas that need serious consideration. May 29, Joy E. Rancatore rated it it was amazing. Genesis Unbound is well-written, engaging and clear with its presentation of a historical and linguistic look at the book of Genesis, the first book in the Bible.
John Sailhamer's repetitive writing method is helpful to drive home each point he makes. His research is extensive and his understanding of the biblical languages is proven, making this book one believers can trust and be wise to weigh against Scripture. Sailhamer has done all the research and linguistic study that most people aren't a Genesis Unbound is well-written, engaging and clear with its presentation of a historical and linguistic look at the book of Genesis, the first book in the Bible.
Sailhamer has done all the research and linguistic study that most people aren't able to do. For me, this book was a breath of fresh air. It answered a multitude of questions that always plagued me when I was growing up. I always knew there was more than what people typically toss about when mentioning creation, and now Sailhamer has done the research I would not have known how to begin and presented it in this book. Jan 23, Bob rated it really liked it. Genesis Unbound deals with the first two chapters of the Bible. This will help us to under Genesis Unbound deals with the first two chapters of the Bible.
This will help us to understand the authors original intent. You will love this and you will push yourself to finish it so you can grasp what he says without having to wait until the next time you have a chance to pick up the book. Jan 01, Nick Moklestad rated it really liked it. This was a very compelling book that challenged a lot of my assumptions about the Genesis account.
The reason it was compelling is because the author made his case by careful exposition of the Scripture itself, not by philosophical or scientific arguments primarily. Sailhamer's conclusions, I certainly learned a lot from this book and found myself exposed to a fresh way of thinking that is rooted in careful biblical study and a high view of God.
I This was a very compelling book that challenged a lot of my assumptions about the Genesis account. I recommend checking it out for yourself! Apr 12, Andrew Brown rated it liked it. Sailhamer explains the Genesis account within the context of the Old Testament and through the definition of complex Hebrew terms for 'beginning' and 'land'. And worth some study for some.
An Analysis of John Sailhamer’s Genesis Unbound
Aug 17, Micaela Lees rated it really liked it Shelves: It did leave me with a few open items to explore and I didn't love how it was formatted. Sep 18, Justin rated it really liked it. Great read - much to consider. Best thing I've read thus far regarding the interpretation of Genesis 1. Sep 19, Sean Post rated it it was amazing.
Phenomenal work from the world's top Pentateuch scholar. Sailhammer works through Gen and uncovers many false, extra-biblical assumptions we've attached to the story of creation.
My view on origins, after years of doubt and heartache, was settled after reading this book. Apr 11, Demetrius Rogers rated it it was ok Shelves: Totally lost steam on this book though. Definitely a way to truly interpret Genesis in an inductive manner, keeping true to the original he few. I strongly recommend this book, even to skeptics. Oct 27, Justin Camblin rated it really liked it. Really enjoyed the book. Sailhamer has given a plausible alternative reading to Gen. While I am not yet convinced, I do find his theory intriguing. Daniel Dyck rated it really liked it Nov 02, Chris Priestley rated it liked it Dec 31, Braun rated it it was amazing Aug 14, Joel rated it did not like it Apr 15, Steve Faivre rated it it was amazing Jan 01, Daniel Dyck rated it really liked it Apr 19, Bmbednar rated it really liked it Jan 24, Reagan North rated it really liked it Jul 30, Daniel rated it really liked it Sep 07, Wong Chee-Keong rated it it was ok Jul 11, Tyler Cummins rated it it was amazing Dec 11, There are no discussion topics on this book yet.
A Biblical-Theological Commentary, and Genesis: The Expositor's Bible Commentary, all from Zondervan. He has contr Dr. He has contributed a number of articles and book reviews in various biblical journals and has delivered several scholarly papers and particpated in several Old Testament Bible translation committees Books by John H.
Trivia About Genesis Unbound: Before expounding and arguing for historical creationism, I think that one of the biggest stumbling blocks needs to be removed-that this view seems new, and thus probably isn't true. For if something really is in the Bible, it would be hard to argue that the church has entirely missed it for 2, years. Sailhamer's choice of the name historical creationism is partially motivated by his desire to call attention to the fact that his view is not new. Rather, many theologians of the past held to the central elements of Sailhamer's view.
He writes that "the term 'historical' points to the fact that this view of the Genesis creation account can be traced back to a way of reading Genesis 1 and 2 that flourished before the rise of science and its use in biblical interpretation. Before progress in navigation and transportation made global exploration of our world possible, biblical scholars and ordinary people read Genesis 1 within a rather limited geographic scope Evidence for this is that many Jewish theologians of the middle ages believed that 1: Many other previous scholars have held that the Garden of Eden was within the promised land.
Johann Heidegger of the seventeenth century is one example. Another example is the early Jewish rabbis who thought Adam was created from the ground that the temple was built on As evidence, he refers to Job 8: Though not speaking temporally, Genesis Especially good evidence comes from the way Israel spoke of the reign of its kings.
Finally, "it is important to realize that other Hebrew words were available to the author to convey the temporal concept of a 'beginning. Thus, "the beginning" in Genesis 1: And what did God do in this "beginning"? The text says that he "created the heavens and the earth. We must be careful not to fill up ancient words with modern meanings. When we hear the word "earth" in our scientific age, we generally think of the big jewel we are on which orbits around the sun.
But the term did not generally suggest such a meaning to those in the pre-space age time when Genesis was written, for they did not generally know of the "global" dimensions of the planet. Thus, the term "earth" eretz in Hebrew in Genesis does not usually refer to the entire planet, but to a specific section of land. Sometimes eretz does refer to the whole world Genesis But most often it does not. Most of the time eretz "earth" refers to a localized segment of the planet, such as the "land of Egypt" Genesis In these cases, eretz is best translated as "land," not "earth," as many translations reflect.
The word translated as "heavens" shamayim , like the word for earth eretz , usually refers to a localized area. In pre-space age writings, it usually does not mean "outer space" as we know it today, but usually refers to a localized section of sky-the area above the "land. In such cases, it is best rendered as "sky" and not "heavens. It is important to have this general understanding of the usage of the terms "sky" and "land" in order to understand whether"earth" carries the same meaning in verse one " God created the heavens and the earth " as it does in verse two "And the earth was formless and void".
Sailhamer argues that they do not. In verse two, "earth" refers to a localized section of land. But in verse one, the fact that it is connected with the word "heavens" shows that it is being used differently. This is because "when these two terms [sky and land] are used together as a figure of speech, they take on a distinct meaning oftheir own. Together, they mean far more than the sum of the meanings of the two individual words" Many word combinations are like this.
For example, the word "blackboard" means more than what the combination of the words"black" and "board" suggest. Blackboard does not simply mean a board that is black. It means a board that one writes on with chalk. Sometimes the blackboard is green or white, but it is usually still called a "blackboard" because "the two words together mean something quite different than each one separately" It is the same with the phrase "heavens and earth" that is, "sky and land".
When used together, they "form a figure of speech called a 'merism. A merism expresses 'totality' by combing two contrasts or two extremes" We see this, for example, in Psalm David is pointing to God's knowledge of these two extremes-sitting down and rising up-to show that God knows everything about him. Since God knows David's rising and sitting down, God must also know everything in between. Thus, "the concept of 'everything' is expressed by combining the two opposites 'my sitting down' and 'my rising up'" Likewise, "sky" and "land" represent two extremes.
Thus, "by linking these two extremes into a single expression-'skyand land' or 'heavens and earth'-the Hebrew language expresses the totality of all that exists. Unlike English, Hebrew doesn't have a single word to express the concept of 'the universe'; it must do so by means of a merism. The expression 'sky and land' thus stands for the 'entirety of the universe'" We see "sky and land" used in this way, for example, in Isaiah When we tie together the meaning of the phrases "in the beginning" and "heavens and earth" we see the main thrust of Sailhamer's view.
By using the merism "heavens and earth," Genesis 1: And by using the phrase "in the beginning," it is stating that God did so not in an instant of time, but in a period of time. The question that this raises is whether "the beginning" includes the seven days of the following verses 1: In other words, is Genesis 1: Now what follows in the rest of the chapter is the account of how he did it. After he had done this, he took notice of the fact that the land [where he planned to place man, as we will see] was deserted and dark. So God began to prepare this section of land for man's inhabitation.
First, he said 'Let there be light Sailhamer successfully argues for the second alternative-that "the beginning" is not a title to the chapter but a distinct act of God that occurred in a period of time that elapsed before the six days enumerated in 1: First, he argues, Genesis 1: This is not how titles are formed in Hebrew. For example, Genesis 5: The fact that Sailhamer is considered an expert in biblical Hebrew makes one confident that he knows what he is talking about here. Third and finally, Genesis 1: This would make a title at the beginning redundant.
It is highly unlikely that there would be two titles to the same account. For these three reasons, we must conclude that "the rest of the chapter is not an elaboration of Genesis 1: Therefore, while verse 1 states that God created everything, the six days that begin in verse 2 and continue through the rest of the chapter are an account of something other than the creation of the universe. When we connect the fact that the "beginning" in which God created the universe occurred before the six days of 1: He therefore could have created it billions of years ago or thousands of years ago.
He may have taken a week, or he may have taken eons. The text does not say. The Scripture says that God created the world in a period of time called "the beginning" but does not say how long that period of time was or when it began. Therefore , the Bible has no quarrel with the overwhelming scientific evidence that the earth is billions of years old.
But if Genesis 1: First, if Genesis 1: Second, does Genesis 1: Third, if it is the later, what is the identity of this section of the planet? These three questions can be boiled down to one: Since the creation of the universe is finished before the six days of Genesis one ever begin, then what is God doing for the six days throughout the rest of the chapter?
The answer Sailhamer gives is the heart of the book: God is preparing the Promised Land for the inhabitation of the human race he will bring into existence on the sixth day. Having affirmed that God is the creator of all things in verse one, Moses immediately moves on in verse two to emphasis the work of God in preparing a special place within this creation for his creatures. It is the preparation of a certain land , not the creation of the entire universe , that is recounted in the six days of Genesis one. I will now back up and attempt to show this in three steps which correspond to the three questions raised above.
First, I will attempt to show that 1: Second, I will attempt to show that in the six days of creation God is preparing this land for man and not creating it. Third, I will attempt to demonstrate that this land is the Promised Land. There are several reasons which establish that the six days of Genesis refer not to the entire universe or even the entire planet, but instead refer to a localized piece of land on the earth.
First, verse two serves to alter the focus of the narrative from "the heavens and the earth" i. And the earth was formless and void So the chapter does not, then, refer to something that God is doing to the whole universe but something that he is doing on the earth. That "the earth" is a localized section of land in verse two and not the entire planet is evident from what we saw earlier about the meaning of the word "earth. Rather, eretz usually means a localized section of the earth, not the whole planet, and thus is usually best translated as land.
The context of the creation account itself suggests that we are to interpret eretz in verse two as "land" and not "whole planet. Sailhamer points out that "the 'seas' do not cover the 'land,' as would be the case if the term meant 'earth. Further, "land" is defined by its contrast to the seas Genesis 1: Consequently, since verse two refers to a certain piece of land and not the whole planet, the rest of the chapter, which describes God's work on this land to make it inhabited, is not about the entire planet but a section of land within the planet.
Second, that the location of God's activity in the six days is a localized section of land is supported by the close relationship between Genesis chapter one and Genesis chapter two. It was a common literary strategy of the Hebrews to give a general description of an event followed by a more specific account of that same event. For example, Genesis 10 gives a general description of the various nations according to their languages and countries, and then chapter 11 backs up to explain the origin of the various languages and countries.
Similarly, Genesis 1 gives a general overview of God's work and Genesis 2 gives a more specific look at that same work. This seems evident even from a quick reading of the chapters. So it seems that both chapters are about the same events viewed from different perspectives. Since the setting of chapter two is clearly a localized section of land, and not the entire planet, it follows that the six days of chapter one concern a localized segment of land and not the entire planet or universe.
This brings us to the second question: The answer is that, though the land was already created "in the beginning"-- since that is when God created everything "the heavens and the earth" --, the land was not yet a fit dwelling place for the humans that God was to create on the sixth day. It was "formless and void" v. So the six days are the account of how God prepared the land for man's inhabitation. There are several reasons which show this.
First, this is shown by the flow of thought.
The Historical Creation View of Sailhamer in “Genesis Unbound” Part 1 – Naturalis Historia
As the narrative opens in verse 2, the land is not non-existent, but uninhabited, covered by water, and shrouded in darkness v. Then, in verses 1: Thus, "by the sixth day, 'the land' is a suitable place for the man and the woman to dwell" The land goes from disorder to order in 1: This will be made more evident below. The second reason to believe that 1: Instead, He created the universe as a shapeless mass of material, only later forming the world we now know In this way, the biblical account of creation could be shown to be 'true' because it conformed to the generally accepted Greek cosmologies" Therefore, they translated tohu wabu as "formless and void.
Many Jewish-Greek translations of the middle ages disagreed with this translation. Likewise, Jewish interpreters around the era B. This early view, Sailhamer argues, is essentially correct. Tohu wabohu conveys the idea of "uninhabitable wilderness" and not "formless and void chaos. This, of course, presupposes its existence and focuses the readers attention on what God will do to make the land fit for man.
For example, it is this phrase which describes the wilderness in which Israel wandered for forty years before entering the promised land Deuteronomy Ironically, later on Jeremiah 4: Verse 23 says, "I looked on the earth, and behold, it was formless and void tohu wabohu ; and to the heavens, and they had no light cf. Thus, the land that is said to be "formless and void" is described as an uninhabited wilderness.
Which means that the land is called "formless and void" because it is an uninhabited wilderness. Consequently, "formless and void" in Jeremiah 4: As we will see, this parallel points to the fact that the "land" in Genesis 1 is specifically the promised land. For it is hard to escape the conclusion that, in calling the promised land "formless and void" after the exile of Israel, Jeremiah is alluding to Genesis 1: In summary, the correct translation of tohu wabohu is not "formless and void," as if the earth was an unformed mass that God's work of creation brought to its present form, but "deserted wilderness"-a phrase which presupposes the land's existence and sets the stage for what God will do to make the land inhabitable.
Therefore, the six days of Genesis one are the account of how God transformed the land into a fruitful habitation for man, not the account of how he shaped the world from an unformed mass. Third, there is an interesting word play in the Hebrew which further suggests that what God is doing in 1: Sailhamer writes, "Even a quick reading of the Hebrew text reveals an obvious wordplay between the terms tohu 'deserted' and tob 'good'. Before God began His work, the land was 'deserted' tohu ; then God made it 'good' tob "-that is, the opposite of deserted and thus fit for man The land, thus, went from deserted to inhabited , not uncreated to created.
Because of these and other reasons we have seen, I think it is right to conclude with Sailhamer that "God does not create 'the land' in Genesis 1: In the remainder of the chapter, God is at work preparing the land for human habitation" This truth is perhaps made more clear by briefly looking at the details of how God prepared the land. This will probably also answer many questions that this raises. To understand the structure of what God does to prepare the land for man in the six days of Genesis one, we must understand the reason the land was not originally suitable for man's inhabitation.
As we saw above, verse two gives the answer: It had no life in it was uninhabited because it was not fit for life it was a wilderness -which is probably because it was dark and covered with water. The following six days explain how God transformed the land from this state into a state that was suitable for man's inhabitation. These six days may be divided into two parts. On the first set of three days God brought forth light, prepared the sky with clouds, gathered the seas together, made the ground dry, and brought forth vegetation-all so that the land would no longer be a disorderly wilderness.
On the second series of three days God declared his purpose for the lights in the sky, filled the sky with birds and waters with fish, and filled the dry ground with animals-all so that the land would not be uninhabited.
It is significant to recognize that on the first three days, when God brings the land out of its wilderness state, He focuses first on the sky the first and second day , then on the seas the second day , and then on the ground the second and third day. Likewise, in the second set of three days, when God fills the land, He focuses first on the sky the fourth and fifth days , then on the seas the fifth day , and then on the ground the sixth day. God's command on the first day, "let there be light," was the decree for the sun to rise. Sailhamer writes that,"The phrase 'let there be light' doesn't have to mean 'let the light come into existence.
That God's command on day one did not concern the creation of light is evident from the fact that the creation of light, sun, moon, and stars would all have been included in the creation of "the heavens and the earth" in verse one. For, as we saw earlier, the phrase "heavens and earth" refers to all that exists. It is a confirmation of this understanding that, in many places in the Old Testament, the phrase "heavens and earth" is expressly shown, it seems, to include the sun, moon, and stars see Joel 3: While God, of course, brings about all sunrises by His decree, this sunrise is emphasized to make the point that a new work of God is commencing.
On the first day, God called forth the sunlight, as He does each day, in order to "reveal His work" In bringing out the implications of this, Sailhamer shows just how well this understanding of the first day fits with God's purposes in creation Genesis 1 and 2 and redemption Genesis 3-Revelation On the second day, God "prepared the sky with clouds to provide rain for the land.
The rain would prepare the land for producing vegetation on the next day" By forming clouds from the dense fog over the land, God made a wide open space between the waters below and the clouds above. This is what God decreed to happen when he said, "Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters" 1: God caused clouds to form out of the deep waters that covered the land, and between the clouds above and the waters below there resulted an open space to keep them distinct-the sky.
This prepared the way for God's act on the third day of causing dry land to come forth. He did this by saying, "let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear" 1: Having removed the obstacle the water made to man's inhabitation of the land, God commanded the land to be filled with plants and fruit trees. As a result of God's decree, "the earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit This was not when God originally created vegetation.
It had already been created "in the beginning" v. Rather, on this day God caused the land, which had previously been empty of vegetation, to bring forth vegetation so that it would no longer be a wilderness. After this day was over, the land was no longer a wilderness. On day four, God did not create the sun, moon, and stars they had been created in the beginning, as we have seen , but declared the purpose for which He had created them. This is made most evident from comparing verse 6, which speaks of God bringing into existence an expanse that had not been there before, and verse 14, which speaks of God's command concerning the heavenly bodies that had been there from the beginning.
While the text in verse six clearly says that God brought about an expanse that had not been there before, in verse 14 the syntax is different-which suggests that God is doing something other than bringing about what had not been there before. Sailhamer writes that the "Hebrew verbal construction in verse 14 is significantly different from verse 6" even though. Thus, on the fourth day God was not creating the sun and stars, but stating the purpose for which he had already created them "in the beginning"-to provide light on the land for man and to be measurements for keeping time.
It is amazing that God had His purpose for man in mind eons earlier when He created these heavenly bodies! But weren't the heavenly bodies already providing light before the fourth day and already capable of marking time before then? If so, isn't it kind of superfluous for God to declare His purpose for them on day four?
But why, Sailhamer asks, did God wait until the fourth day to declare His purpose in making the celestial bodies? There are two reasons. First, Moses "is intent on showing that the whole world depends on the word of God. The world owes not merely its existence to the word of God, but also its order and purpose" The second reason "lies in the overall structure of the creation account" As we saw above, there is a "parallel relationship between the events of the first three days and the last three days" On the first set of three days, God focuses on the sky days one and two , then the seas day three , and then the dry ground days three and four.
On the second set of three days, God again focuses on the sky days four and five , then the seas day five , and then the dry ground day six. Thus, Sailhamer writes that. After declaring his purpose for the celestial bodies in verse , Moses goes on to say "And God made the two great lights He made the stars also" v. Sailhamer writes that this verse "looks back to God's creating 'the universe' in Genesis 1: Verse 16 could be translated, 'So God and not anyone else made the lights and put them in the sky.
On the fifth day God populated the sky and seas that he had prepared on day two with birds and sea creatures. As with the celestial bodies, these creatures had already been created "in the beginning. The Hebrew expression translated "Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures" in Genesis 1: Clearly this expression in Exodus 8: Rather, it means that He populated the Nile with them. Likewise, the expression in Genesis 1: In light of Genesis 1: Finally, on the sixth day God populated the ground he had made dry on the third day with living creatures. And it is important to remember that the purpose of God's commands for the living creatures to fill the sky, ground, and sea "is not the creation of various animals over all the earth, but the specific task of populating the land He is preparing for mankind" But this raises a problem when it comes to the creation of human beings.
Sailhamer, however, rightly points out that Genesis makes clear that humans are excepted from what God created "in the beginning. Also, Eve is referred to as "the mother of all the living," which suggests that all humans are ultimately descendants of her. At this point one may wonder whether Sailhamer believes the days of Genesis 1 to be twenty-four hour periods, or "ages. There is good evidence for this understanding, especially since the days are marked off by evening and morning.
However, there are also good reasons to believe that the six days are intended by Moses to be understood as ages of unspecified duration. On this view, the "evening and morning" is understood metaphorically. While this evidence is persuasive to my mind at this point in time, I am nonetheless open to the understanding that the days are intended to be twenty-four hour periods. It should be pointed out, however, that the position one adopts as to the length of the days has no bearing on whether Sailhamer's view is correct.
If the days are twenty-four hour periods, then God prepared the Promised Land in six solar days. If the days are actually ages, then there would be no problem in affirming that God prepared the Promised Land over a period of six ages of unspecified length. Either view of the days works with historical creationism. Now that we have seen that Genesis 1: As we saw above, Genesis 2 is an account of the same events as Genesis 1 from a more specific perspective.
But the answer goes even deeper than this. Sailhamer makes a solid case that the land in Genesis 1 is specifically the Promised Land. The Garden of Eden was located in the same land that God promised to give to the descendants of Abraham, and it is the preparation of this land that we are told about in Genesis 1. To establish this, I will set forth many of the arguments Sailhamer gives together with some of my own that I have discovered in my examination of the Scriptures.
First, the boundaries of the land prepared for Adam and Eve Genesis 2: This means that the promised land is the land that had been originally prepared for Adam and Eve. Sailhamer summarizes this well:. What is even more astounding is that, since the land originally prepared for Adam and Eve was the land later promised to Abraham, "the events of [Genesis ] foreshadow the events of the remainder of the Pentateuch" and Old Testament In Genesis , God prepared a land for His people, Adam and Eve, and gave it to them on condition that they would obey him.
They disobey and are thus expelled from the Garden. Later, God promises to Abraham's descendants a land, and gives it to them upon condition that they obey him. But, as the Pentateuch predicts, they eventually disobey and, like Adam and Eve, are banished. Not until God brings forth the New Covenant will God's people finally be restored to the land, remain faithful to God, and therefore remain safe in the land forever. The fact that judgment is represented by going east from both the Garden of Eden and the promised land indicates that they are the same land.
In the author's mind, the Garden and Promised Land seem to represent the blessing of a homeland because they are prepared as places where His people would dwell in blessing and peace. Likewise, east of the Garden and Promised Land seems to represent the judgment of exile from a homeland because it is to the east that God exiled both Adam and Israel for disobedience Genesis 3: Thus, it would seem that the parallel the author of the Pentateuch is drawing is intended to show that the Garden and Promised Land are the same land because they were both prepared as homelands for God's people, and exile from both takes one to the east.
This can be made even more evident. The city of Babylon, which is to the east of the promised land and is where Israel was exiled to, has a reputation in the Bible for wickedness and judgment. It gained this reputation in Genesis 11 because it was built out of humanity's prideful desire to make a name for themselves Genesis It retained this reputation until the end Revelation Likewise, the Promised Land has a reputation in the Bible for purity and blessing.
It has this reputation because it is where God desires to plant His faithful people and make them prosper if they obey and keep themselves pure Deuteronomy The contrasting reputations of Babylon and the Promised Land help us see why God blesses His people by keeping them in the land when they keep themselves pure through obedience, and judges His people by removing them from the land when they make themselves impure through disobedience.
What is significant here is that, like the Promised Land, the land God prepared for Adam and Eve was a land for their blessing if they remained pure. And just as Babylon is the specific city which is to the east of the Promised Land, so also Babylon was built when humanity moved east from the land that is the focus of Genesis It would indeed be odd for this verse to read "And it came about as they [the whole planet] journeyed east, that they [the whole planet] found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.
But what land is the author speaking of? It seems it is the land that had been prepared for man in Genesis 1 and 2 because it appears Genesis 11 is intended as a parallel to the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden. Just as they sinned and were cast out eastward, so also the people of the land traveled eastward to manifest their sin by making a name for themselves.
Thus, it seems that the author here understands Babylon to be east of the land God had originally prepared for Adam and Eve.
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Since Babylon is also the city which is east of the Promised Land, it seems that the Promised Land is the land that had originally been prepared for Adam and Eve. Next, it is signficant that the entrance to both the Garden of Eden and the Promised Land is guarded by an angel. When Adam and Eve were cast out, God stationed at the east of Eden a "cherubim Likewise, when Jacob returned to the promised land from the east he was met by angels of God Genesis Finally, Joshua also encountered angels as he entered the promised land Joshua 5: It is hard to escape the notion that the author marked the exit of the Garden of Eden and the entrance of the Promised land with an angel to show that to enter the Promised Land is to "return to Eden.
That this verse is about the promised land is evident from the context, which concerns the destruction that God is bringing upon the land where Israel dwells--not the whole planet. Thus, due to the context, "earth" in this passage must mean "promised land. What is astounding here is that the description of the promised land in Jeremiah 4: The phrase translated as "formless and void" in Jeremiah 4: This is a striking parallel, especially when we recognize that in both passages the phrase is used to describe "the earth.
Science, the Bible, and the Promised Land
The difference is that when God prepared the land for Adam and Eve it went from dark to light, but when He exiled Israel from"the land" it went from light to dark. The exile of Israel from the land was a reversal of the preparation of the land for Adam and Eve. When God seeks to bless man in the land, the land is made fruitful cf. But when man sins and brings down God's curse, he is exiled from the land and the land is made into a wilderness like it was before it had been prepared for man: Thus, since the land in Jeremiah 4: It seems that, by alluding to Genesis 1: Israel's sin is a great tragedy because it resulted in their homeland being made as if there were no humans to bless--just as there were no humans to bless yet in Genesis 1: The expulsion of Israel from the Promised Land is a reversal of the preparation of the land for Adam and Eve.
It is also significant to note that just as before Adam and Eve inhabited the Garden it was a "wilderness" Genesis 1: As Sailhamer draws out, "God's people must go through the wilderness to reach the promised land. Likewise, when Israel disobeyed and was expelled from the land, it once again became 'uninhabitable' tohu Jeremiah 4: In this verse, which scholars generally recognize as a reference to the account of Genesis 1, God says, "I have made the earth, the men and the beasts which are on the face of the earth by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and I will give it to the one who is pleasing in My sight.
First, it is evident from the statement "I have made the earth" that this verse is a reference to the events of Genesis 1 and 2, for that is the account where God makes the earth.
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Second, we know that this passage "refers to Gen 1: Thus, this passage is not a reference to the creation bara of the heavens and earth Genesis 1: Third, "the earth" here is not a reference to the whole planet, but to the promised land. This is evident from the context. The content of this message, which begins in verse 5 and continues through verse 14, is basically that their lands will be given to Nebuchadnezzar and that they must submit to him. Because of the false prophets who are saying that they will not have to serve the king of Babylon vv.
The reason He gives is that He "made the land" and therefore "will give it to the one who is pleasing in My sight. And a brief glance at a Bible map reveals that that land is the promised land. This case is strengthened by verse six where God identifies the land that he spoke of in verse five with the land that He was going to give to Nebuchadnezzar.
Whereas verse five established the right God has to give "the land" to whoever He wants, verse six says that God actually is going to give "the land" to Nebuchadnezzar. Thus, the land spoken of in verse six appears to be the same land which God said He "made" in verse five. And the land spoken of in verse six, which he was about to give to Nebuchadnezzar, was the "lands" of Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon. All of these "lands," as we mentioned above, are actually "lands" within the promised land. Thus, the land of verse six that God is going to give to Nebuchadnezzar and therefore the land of verse five, which is the land God prepared in Genesis 1 is the land of Ammon,Tyre, Sidon, Edom, and Moab, which is the promised land.
Further, we know from later biblical history such as Jeremiah Thus, when Jeremiah It is becoming apparent that "later interbiblical interpretation clearly saw the promised land as the focus of the creation account" It might first appear that the opposite is the case, for doesn't the term "heavens and earth," as we saw earlier, refer to the entire universe?
And doesn't this verse say that God created the "heavens and the earth" in six days , not an unspecified period of time? If this was the case, it would clearly mean that the six days of Genesis 1 are the account of God's creation of the entire universe and not preparation of the promised land as I maintain. Sailhamer resolves the apparent difficulty raised by the reference to the "heavens and the earth" in Exodus First, he prepared the sky. Then He prepared the seas. And then He prepared the ground. This was the first three days.
This corresponds to the statement that "in six days the Lord made [not the heavens and the earth, but] the heavens, the earth, the sea This corresponds to the statement that after preparing the sky, the land, and the sea God made "all that is in them. So we see that Exodus That this is a reference to the preparation of the sky, land, and seas for man and not their creation is evident from their use of the word "made" and not "created.
But the word "made," which is used here,. Having seen, then, that Exodus That it does is evident by comparing it with Jeremiah