Search This Blog

Thursday, September 25, 2008

K-D: Genesis Commentary Part 9 Last and Long

I. HISTORY OF THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH
Ch. 2:4-4:26
Contents and Heading
Genesis 2:4
These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,
The historical account of the world, which commences at the completion of the work of creation, is introduced as the "History of the heavens and the earth," and treats in three sections, (a) of the original condition of man in paradise (Ge 2:5-25); (b) of the fall (ch. 3); (c) of the division of the human race into two widely different families, so far as concerns their relation to God (ch. 4).

The words, "these are the tholedoth of the heavens and the earth when they were created," form the heading to what follows. This would never have been disputed, had not preconceived opinions as to the composition of Genesis obscured the vision of commentators. The fact that in every other passage, in which the formula "these (and these) are the tholedoth" occurs (viz., ten times in Genesis; also in Nu 3:1; Ru 4:18; 1 Ch 1:29), it is used as a heading, and that in this passage the true meaning of twldwt (OT:8435) precludes the possibility of its being an appendix to what precedes, fully decides the question. The word twldwt (OT:8435), which is only used in the plural, and never occurs except in the construct state or with suffixes, is a Hiphil noun from howliyd (OT:3205), and signifies literally the generation or posterity of any one, then the development of these generations or of his descendants; in other words, the history of those who are begotten or the account of what happened to them and what they performed.

In no instance whatever is it the history of the birth or origin of the person named in the genitive, but always the account of his family and life. According to this use of the word, we cannot understand by the tholedoth of the heavens and the earth the account of the origin of the universe, since according to the biblical view the different things which make up the heavens and the earth can neither be regarded as generations or products of cosmogonic and geogonic evolutions, nor be classed together as the posterity of the heavens and the earth. All the creatures in the heavens and on earth were made by God, and called into being by His word, notwithstanding the fact that He caused some of them to come forth from the earth. Again, as the completion of the heavens and the earth with all their host has already been described in Ge 2:1-3, we cannot understand by "the heavens and the earth," in v. 4, the primary material of the universe in its elementary condition (in which case the literal meaning of howliyd (OT:3205) would be completely relinquished, and the "tholedoth of the heavens and the earth" be regarded as indicating this chaotic beginning as the first stage in a series of productions), but the universe itself after the completion of the creation, at the commencement of the historical development which is subsequently described.

This places its resemblance to the other sections, commencing with "these are the generations," beyond dispute. Just as the tholedoth of Noah, for example, do not mention his birth, but contain his history and the birth of his sons; so the tholedoth of the heavens and the earth do not describe the origin of the universe, but what happened to the heavens and the earth after their creation. bªhibaarª'aam (OT:1254) does not preclude this, though we cannot render it "after they were created." For even if it were grammatically allowable to resolve the participle into a pluperfect, the parallel expressions in Ge 5:1-2, would prevent our doing so. As "the day of their creation" mentioned there, is not a day after the creation of Adam, but the day on which he was created; the same words, when occurring here, must also refer to a time when the heavens and the earth were already created: and just as in Ge 5:1 the creation of the universe forms the starting-point to the account of the development of the human race through the generations of Adam, and is recapitulated for that reason; so here the creation of the universe is mentioned as the starting-point to the account of its historical development, because this account looks back to particular points in the creation itself, and describes them more minutely as the preliminaries to the subsequent course of the world. hbr'm is explained by the clause, "in the day that Jehovah God created the earth and the heavens." Although this clause is closely related to what follows, the simplicity of the account prevents our regarding it as the protasis of a period, the apodosis of which does not follow till v. 5 or even v. 7.

The former is grammatically impossible, because in v. 5 the noun stands first, and not the verb, as we should expect in such a case (cf. Ge 3:5). The latter is grammatically tenable indeed, since vv. 5, 6, might be introduced into the main sentence as conditional clauses; but it is not probable, inasmuch as we should then have a parenthesis of most unnatural length. The clause must therefore be regarded as forming part of the heading. There are two points here that are worthy of notice: first, the unusual combination, "earth and heaven," which only occurs in Ps 148:13, and shows that the earth is the scene of the history about to commence, which was of such momentous importance to the whole world; and secondly, the introduction of the name JEHOVAH in connection with ELOHIM. That the hypothesis, which traces the interchange in the two names in Genesis to different documents, does not suffice to explain the occurrence of Jehovah Elohim in Ge 2:4-3:24, even the supporters of this hypothesis cannot possibly deny.

Not only is God called Elohim alone in the middle of this section, viz., in the address to the serpent, a clear proof that the interchange of the names has reference to their different significations; but the use of the double name, which occurs here twenty times though rarely met with elsewhere, is always significant. In the Pentateuch we only find it in Ex 9:30; in the other books of the Old Testament, in 2 Sam. 7:22,25; 1 Chr. 17:16-17; 2 Chr. 4:41-42; Ps. 84:8,11 ; and Ps 50:1, where the order is reversed; and in every instance it is used with peculiar emphasis, to give prominence to the fact that Jehovah is truly Elohim, whilst in Ps 50:1 the Psalmist advances from the general name El and Elohim to Jehovah, as the personal name of the God of Israel. In this section the combination Jehovah Elohim is expressive of the fact, that Jehovah is God, or one with Elohim. Hence Elohim is placed after Jehovah. For the constant use of the double name is not intended to teach that Elohim who created the world was Jehovah, but that Jehovah, who visited man in paradise, who punished him for the transgression of His command, but gave him a promise of victory over the tempter, was Elohim, the same God, who created the heavens and the earth.

The two names may be distinguished thus: Elohim, the plural of 'elowha (OT:433), which is only used in the loftier style of poetry, is an infinitive noun from 'aalah (OT:5927) to fear, and signifies awe, fear, then the object of fear, the highest Being to be feared, like pachad (OT:6343), which is used interchangeably with it in Ge 31:42,53, and mowraa' (OT:4172) in Ps 76:12 (cf. Isa 8:12-13). The plural is not used for the abstract, in the sense of divinity, but to express the notion of God in the fulness and multiplicity of the divine powers. It is employed both in a numerical, and also in an intensive sense, so that Elohim is applied to the (many) gods of the heathen as well as to the one true God, in whom the highest and absolute fulness of the divine essence is contained. In this intensive sense Elohim depicts the one true God as the infinitely great and exalted One, who created the heavens and the earth, and who preserves and governs every creature. According to its derivation, however, it is object rather than subject, so that in the plural form the concrete unity of the personal God falls back behind the wealth of the divine potencies which His being contains. In this sense, indeed, both in Genesis and the later, poetical, books, Elohim is used without the article, as a proper name for the true God, even in the mouth of the heathen (1 Sa 4:7); but in other places, and here and there in Genesis, it occurs as an appellative with the article, by which prominence is given to the absoluteness of personality of God (Ge 5:22; 6:9, etc.).

The name Jehovah, on the other hand, was originally a proper name, and according to the explanation given by God Himself to Moses (Ex 3:14-15), was formed from the imperfect of the verb haawaah (OT:1961) = haayaah (OT:1961). God calls Himself 'ehªyeh (OT:1961) 'asher (OT:834) 'ehªyeh (OT:1961), then more briefly 'ehªyeh (OT:1961), and then again, by changing the first person into the third, yhwh (OT:3068). From the derivation of this name from the imperfect, it follows that it was either pronounced yahawaah or yahaweh (OT:3068), and had come down from the pre-Mosaic age; for the form haawaah (OT:1961) had been forced out of the spoken language by haayaah (OT:1961) even in Moses' time. The Masoretic pointing yªhaaowh (OT:3068) belongs to a time when the Jews had long been afraid to utter this name at all, and substituted 'adonaay (OT:136), the vowels of which therefore were placed as Keri, the word to be read, under the Kethib yhwh (OT:3068), unless yhwh (OT:3068) stood in apposition to 'adonaay (OT:136), in which case the word was read 'elohiym (OT:430) and pointed yehiowh (a pure monstrosity.)

(Note: For a fuller discussion of the meaning and pronunciation of the name Jehovah vid., Hengstenberg, Dissertations on the Pentateuch i. p. 213 ff.; Oehler in Herzog's Cyclopaedia; and Hölemann in his Bibelstudien. The last, in common with Stier and others, decides in favour of the Masoretic pointing yªhaaowh (OT:3068) as giving the original pronunciation, chiefly on the ground of Rv 1:4 and 5, 8; but the theological expansion ho (NT:3588) oo'n (NT:5607) kai' (NT:2532) ho (NT:3588) ee'n (NT:2258) kai' (NT:2532) ho (NT:3588) ercho'menos (NT:2064) cannot be regarded as a philological proof of the formation of yhwh (OT:3068) by the fusion of haawaah (OT:1961), heowh, yªhiy (OT:1961) into one word.)

This custom, which sprang from a misinterpretation of Lev 24:16, appears to have originated shortly after the captivity. Even in the canonical writings of this age the name Jehovah was less and less employed, and in the Apocrypha and the Septuagint version ho (NT:3588) Ku'rios (NT:2962) (the Lord) is invariably substituted, a custom in which the New Testament writers follow the LXX (vid., Oehler).
If we seek for the meaning of yhwh (OT:3068), the expression 'hyh 'shr 'hyh, in Ex 3:14, is neither to be rendered e'somai (NT:2071) ho's (NT:3739) e'somai (NT:2071) (Aq., Theodt.), "I shall be that I shall be" (Luther), nor "I shall be that which I will or am to be" (M. Baumgarten). Nor does it mean, "He who will be because He is Himself, the God of the future" (Hoffmann). For in names formed from the third person imperfect, the imperfect is not a future, but an aorist. According to the fundamental signification of the imperfect, names so formed point out a person as distinguished by a frequently or constantly manifested quality, in other words, they express a distinctive characteristic (vid., Ewald, §136; Ge 25:26; 27:36, also 16:11 and 21:6). The Vulgate gives it correctly: ego sum qui sum, "I am who I am." "The repetition of the verb in the same form, and connected only by the relative, signifies that the being or act of the subject expressed in the verb is determined only by the subject itself" (Hofmann).

The verb haayaah (OT:1961) signifies "to be, to happen, to become;" but as neither happening nor becoming is applicable to God, the unchangeable, since the pantheistic idea of a becoming God is altogether foreign to the Scriptures, we must retain the meaning "to be;" not forgetting, however, that as the Divine Being is not a resting, or, so to speak, a dead being, but is essentially living, displaying itself as living, working upon creation, and moving in the world, the formation of yhwh (OT:3068) from the imperfect precludes the idea of abstract existence, and points out the Divine Being as moving, pervading history, and manifesting Himself in the world. So far then as the words 'hyh 'sr 'hyh are condensed into a proper name in yhwh (OT:3068), and God, therefore, "is He who is," inasmuch as in His being, as historically manifested, He is the self-determining one, the name JEHOVAH, which we have retained as being naturalized in the ecclesiastical phraseology, though we are quite in ignorance of its correct pronunciation, "includes both the absolute independence of God in His historical movements," and "the absolute constancy of God, or the fact that in everything, in both words and deeds, He is essentially in harmony with Himself, remaining always consistent" (Oehler).

The "I am who am," therefore, is the absolute I, the absolute personality, moving with unlimited freedom; and in distinction from Elohim (the Being to be feared), He is the personal God in His historical manifestation, in which the fulness of the Divine Being unfolds itself to the world. This movement of the person God in history, however, has reference to the realization of the great purpose of the creation, viz., the salvation of man. Jehovah therefore is the God of the history of salvation. This is not shown in the etymology of the name, but in its historical expansion. It was as JEHOVAH that God manifested Himself to Abram (Ge 15:7), when He made the covenant with him; and as this name was neither derived from an attribute of God, nor from a divine manifestation, we must trace its origin to a revelation from God, and seek it in the declaration to Abram, "I am Jehovah." Just as Jehovah here revealed Himself to Abram as the God who led him out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give him the land of Canaan for a possession, and thereby described Himself as the author of all the promises which Abram received at his call, and which were renewed to him and to his descendants, Isaac and Jacob; so did He reveal Himself to Moses (Ex 3) as the God of his fathers, to fulfil His promise to their seed, the people of Israel.

Through these revelations Jehovah became a proper name for the God, who was working out the salvation of fallen humanity; and in this sense, not only is it used proleptically at the call of Abram (ch. 12), but transferred to the primeval times, and applied to all the manifestations and acts of God which had for their object the rescue of the human race from its fall, as well as to the special plan inaugurated in the call of Abram. The preparation commenced in paradise. To show this, Moses has introduced the name Jehovah into the history in the present chapter, and has indicated the identity of Jehovah with Elohim, not only by the constant association of the two names, but also by the fact that in the heading (v. 4 b) he speaks of the creation described in ch. 1 as the work of JEHOVAH ELOHIM.

(from Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)