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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Leupold Genesis part 46 verse 14

But the luminaries have functions other than to divide day and. night. The fourteenth verse alone expresses two more general functions. The first of these two is so broad in scope as to cover four items, expressed by the terms, "and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years." A wide diversity of opinion exists as to the actual enumeration here given: are these two, three, or four distinct objects? Nothing very vital hinges on the answer. For though we stated above that four purposes are here listed, we could readily from one point of view consent To reduce them to three. For the preposition "for" (le) is used but three times and has a double object in the last instance--the closely related terms: "days and years." Others, like Koenig, make a double hendiadys, thus, "for signs, as well for seasons as also for days and also years." This again, depending on the individual's, viewpoint, might mean either three or two purposes. But though hendiadys is a common enough figure, we feel that nothing definitely indicates its use here; and also we notice that such translations push the independent meaning of the word "signs" too much into the background.

Now "signs" ('othoth) is here used in the broadest possible sense. Indeed, the luminaries are signs from various points of view. They are "signs" to devout faith, declaring the glory Of their Creator (cf. Ps. 8 and-19).--They are "signs" by which men get their bearings, or the point of the compass by day or by night. They may convey "signs" in reference to future events (Mt 2:2; Lu 21:25). They furnish quite reliable "signs" for determining in advance the Weather to be expected (Mt 16:2, 3). They may be "signs"` of divine judgments (Joe 2:30; Mt 24:29). That they may well serve in all these capacities is clear both from Scripture and from experience. Dwelling only on one scriptural parallel, Skinner, pointing to (Jer 10:2), where "astrological portents" are referred to, misconstrues the use of the word when he claims to find a similar use here, "though it is not quite easy to believe the writer would have said, the sun and moon were made for this purpose." But (Jer 10:2) does not identify the expression "signs of heaven," with "astrological portents." These signs become such portents only by the fact that the "nations," who are "dismayed at them," make them to be considered such. Skinner construes the forbidden abuse of "signs of heaven" as: the normal meaning of the expression. How Procksch injects the meaning "epochs" into the term is more than we can discern. The fact remains that men always have and in manifold ways still do regard and use luminaries for signs.

Besides, the luminaries are "for seasons." A certain brevity of expression obtains here. We could supply the implied term quite readily, for "fixing seasons, days and years." But without this added term the expression is not unclear. But "seasons" are called mo'adhim, from the root ya'adh, "to appoint"; therefore, "appointed time." The luminaries do serve as "indicators" (Meek) of such fixed, appointed times, whether these now be secular or sacred. To attempt to exclude what we are specifically wont to call seasons is unwarranted and grows out of the assumption that the hypothetical author P has a special interest in things ritual. Therefore, "seasons" or times in the widest sense are to be thought of: agricultural seasons (Ho 2:9, 11; 9:5), seasons for seafaring men, seasons for beasts and birds (Jer 8:7), as long as they are times that are fixed and come with stated regularity.

To complete the list of the things determined by the luminaries the divine command adds "days and years." These are respectively the shortest and the longest measures of time definitely fixed by the movement of the heavenly bodies. What "day" yom, is (here the whole twenty-four hour day) every one knows, and yet the etymology of the term is entirely unknown. The word for "year" (shanah) seems to be traceable to the Assyrian root "to change."

Note that after the imperative "let there be" there may follow a converted perfect wehayu (K, S. 367 c).

When now v. 15 says distinctly that these luminaries are to be "in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth," this plainly indicates that from the time of this creative work onward all light that the earth receives is to be mediated through the luminaries. How light functioned in the universe prior to this time we shall never know. How the regular alternation of day and night was regulated will forever escape our discernment. What we know is only that as day and night now follow upon one another due to the light centred in luminaries, is an arrangement which God ordained on this day. It all certainly is a marvellous and praiseworthy work, but that is all that these luminaries are appointed for, as far as we are able to discern.

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