Stuff Folks Ask: Old Testament

➡ Average Reading Time: 21 minutes

Think About This!
Stuff Folks Ask: Old TestamentThe Bible has been around for a long time, but not as long as God has. It’s been here for several millennia in its literary form and several millennia before that in its oral form. Presently, we only know it in the former way.

The Bible is one of the most exciting books in the world to read. Today’s movies and TV programs are mere copy cats of it. The stories within the larger story are filled with interesting characters, intrigue, suspense, murder, rape, heroic efforts, life, death, wealth, the suffering poor, tension of all kinds, horror, twists, and turns in the smaller stories. Sometime Rated G, sometimes Rated PG, PG13, R and, yes, sometimes even NC-17.27 It’s all there. ((Winn Griffin, God’s EPIC Adventure. Harmon Press. 2007-2015. 15)

The reduction of the metanarrative to chapters and verses added in the 1500s became the root for fragmentedly reading Scripture. (Griffin, God’s EPIC Adventure. 25.)

When folks ask questions about the Bible or make statements about the Bible their vocabulary is usually salted with verses. Questions abound about Scripture and mostly are asked in isolation of the context. Questions like what does John 3.16 mean. The quick answer to that question it has no meaning when it stands alone without its background context and the position in the story context.

I have tried hard to present background and context in the “Beginning Answers” section of the material you are about to read.

I trust the answers will stretch your imagination for reading with context instead of reading without context.

Have fun!

Old Testament Questions

↓ Why is God in a plural form in the first chapter of Genesis?
↓ Are we to believe that incest occurred at the beginning?
↓ Who were “the sons of God” that married “daughters of men” | (Gen 6:1)?
↓ Did Jesus appear in the OT in Human form?
↓ Why did Lot’s wife turn to salt?
↓ Why did Isaac give Jacob the blessing instead of Esau in Genesis?
↓ The Day of Atonement and Chronology
↓ Rehoboam, Jeroboam, and the Splitting of the Kingdom | 1 Kings 12.1-24
↓ What does the following passage in Ezekiel mean today? | Ezekiel 16.59-63
↓ How Many Temples in the Old Testament?
↓ Who in the Bible laughed when threatened with a spear?
↓ Chronology of Old and New Testament

Old Testament

The material in this section is generally centered around questions about the Old Testament. Some of them are specific to a passage; others are general.

Question: Why is God in a plural form in the first chapter of Genesis? Please explain why the plural is used in Genesis when God says, Let us make man in our own image. Thanks for your help.

Beginning Answer

To understand this phrase we need to ask the question: What did the human author mean by it and what could the first hearers have understood by it? These questions are the controlling factors for its present meaning.

Humanity’s creation is preceded by the phrase “let us make man” (v. 26). We should hesitate to read this as a clear-cut Trinitarian statement, a matter about which the Old Testament is essentially silent. One must remember that the Old Testament people of God to whom this story of creation was first delivered believed, the Shema, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the LORD is one!” (Deut. 6:4).

God’s main interest in this creation story was to help his newly formed children to form a monotheistic view of God over against the polytheistic view of the ancient world in which they lived. The “us” for this group of people may have been the concept of the heavenly council (Psalm 89.6-7). If that were the case then the community was the image to which this text was pointing. Therefore, this phrase may indicate that God created humankind to be a community. This would be within the boundaries of teaching his newly formed children that they were his people.

As the New Testament unfolded and the church of the first centuries began to understand the implications of the teaching of the New Testament, the doctrine of the Trinity of God began to be understood. The Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is a community, also.

The uniqueness of the Holy Spirit in inspiration allowed the first hearers to understand the community without stumbling them by the idea of Trinity in the midst of a polytheistic society, while the concept of Trinity might be understood today as a community.

↑ Back to Questions

Question: Are we to believe that incest occurred at the beginning?

According to Genesis 1:27-28, God created one man and one woman and told them to multiply. How did the rest of human beings come to be? Are we to believe that incest occurred at the beginning? As a Catholic, I am often asked that question and I really do not know how to answer. I believe the Church says that we are not to consider Adam and Eve as just representing one couple among many. Please help me with this.

Beginning Answer

There is an interesting rule of thumb when it comes to asking questions of Scripture. If we supply the right answer to the wrong question, the answer we supplied is wrong. As believers impregnated with the Western Enlightenment Project, we often ask questions of Scripture that are not really important. Think of it this way. If one believes that God is behind the writing of Scripture (i.e., he in-spired the human authors to write what he wanted to be written, but allowed them to use their own vocabulary to do so) then what is written is what God wanted to say about a subject in the context in which it was said. When we ask a question that is not answered in Scripture, there is nothing wrong with Scripture; there might be something wrong with the question. Such is the question about where did other humans come from or more simply stated as a question, “Where did Cain get his wife?” Since Scripture is silent on where Cain’s wife came from, it means that it is not important for us to know or God would have provided the answer.

This answer makes most Western believers feel very uncomfortable. Because of the Enlightenment project of the last 300 or so years, we have come to believe that if there is a question that we can think up, there must be an answer to it. Such is simply not the case.

The text of Genesis 1.27-28 was a story told the Hebrews at Mt. Sinai to help them understand the importance of community. If they were going to be God’s people in the land God had promised to which they were going, they desperately needed to understand and live as a community.

Genesis 1 is not a treatise on how the world came into existence. It is a teaching about how to have a relationship with the one and only God and not all the other gods that crowd our lives asking for worship. Is it possible that sometimes even our questions, which we sometimes are driven to ask, become idols themselves, and without knowing it, we violate the implicit teaching of Genesis chapter 1? Of course, I don’t mean that we should refrain from asking questions, but when we discover that the sacred text is not going to provide us an answer, maybe we should just lay the question aside and not create an idol with our own inquiries.

↑ Back to Questions

Question: Who were “the sons of God” that married “daughters of men”?

Beginning Answer

Genesis 6.1-4. The function of these verses is to link the genealogy of Adam in the preceding chapter with the following event. Chapter 5 focuses only on the sons born before the flood, while Genesis 6.1 focuses on the daughters born to men. To say the least, Genesis 6.1-4 has been and appears to remain a baffling passage of Scripture. Some questions that are often asked include: Does this story indicate the reason for the judgment that follows the story, i.e., the flood? Who are the sons of God? What does it mean for God to say “My spirit shall not contend with man forever….”? Who are the Nephilim? Are they the same or different from “the mighty men?” Were the Nephilim con-temporary with the mentioned cohabitation or the product of such cohabitation? There have been many answers to questions such as these.

The author of Genesis 1-11, traditionally held to be Moses, intended to produce a readable story for the first readers. It was most likely oral in its telling only becoming written later. This story was to demonstrate the increase of wickedness that occurred after the fall of humankind. He had an interest in the listeners/readers knowing that God had created everything good and that nothing evil could be laid at the feet of God. Evil had not come from God but had occurred when the first humans decided to disobey God.

The effects of evil started with Adam and Eve, continued with Cain with the murder of his brother, and within the line of Cain. Lamech sang a song boasting of how many men he had slain—from one murder to multiple murders. It is at this point in the story of Genesis 1-11 that the “sons of God” and “daughters of men” story appears.

Literary Genre

One of the questions that should always be asked by a student of Scripture is: In what kind of literature is the passage under consideration written? This is the most important question that you can ask of Genesis 1-11. Most interpretations center around two views: Historical and Mythological. The normal Christian reaction to using the word “myth” as related to Biblical text is often that of disdain. One should not jump to conclusions that the word myth is all bad until some research is done by the student of Scripture on the concept of myth in the ancient world. We might ask, “Is myth bad?”

Myth. Myth is usually defined as “stories about gods which have been narrated in a communal setting as occurrences of permanent significance, and which normally presuppose a given view of the world.” For more information read the following article: “Myth, Mythology.[ref]Merrill C. Tenney ed (A.C. Thiselton: “Myth, Mythology,” in Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing Company), 4:333.[/ref]

The main characteristics of a myth that most writers agree on are:

  • The story is set in a narrative form that expresses ideas or events as tales that embody imaginative features.
  • The stories are never generalizations or analyses.
  • They emerge in a communal setting.
  • In their community setting, myths possess the status of believed truth.

As a Bible student, you need to decide if this story is “mythological” or “historical” using the above information or information like the above information from another source. Again, remember to try to lay aside your presuppositions as best you can. Your presuppositions may often have deep emotional roots, and try to view the passage as objectively as possible. Of course, nothing here is completely objective. But, on the other hand, nothing has to be observed completely from our own emotional baggage either.

Sons of God

There are three different views concerning the meaning of the phrase “sons of God.”

  • View #1. The “sons of God” were sons of princes. This is the view of orthodox rabbinical Judaism. This is the starting place for an interpretation which suggests that the key to the identity of the “sons of God” is provided by the sacral kings who are so much in the center of interest in studies concerning the ancient near Eastern life and culture. Kings were often regarded as divine, in one way or another, and they were often called the “sons” of various gods. In Genesis 6.1-4, the phrase “sons of God” is a designation for the antediluvian (before the time of the flood) kings and should be translated “sons of the gods.”
  • View #2. The “sons of God” were angels. This view is defended in the following way: The language “sons of God” elsewhere in the Old Testament is unquestionably understood as “an-gels” (Job 1.6, 2.1, 38.6-7; cf. Psalm 29.1, 89.7). The strength of This position is based on its desire to allow the language of other passages to take its full be weight as equal to each other. This may be outweighed in that more than one author or editor had this story in hand and may have meant something very different than another author because of the context in which the words appear.
  • View #3. The “sons of God” was the line of Cain and the line of Seth. This view presupposes that Seth’s line was the godly line while Cain’s line was the ungodly line. The intermarriage between the lines is seen as a breach of covenant. There is nothing implicit or explicit in the story to help the present reader to come to this conclusion.

The second view was a common way for this passage to be explained during the life of Jesus and his disciples. This seems to be the opinion of Jude in his New Testament book. Jude’s references are dependent on 1 Enoch 6-11. He was certainly familiar with these chapters. These chapters in 1 Enoch tell of two hundred angels under the leadership of Semihazah and Asael, who were filled with lust for the beauty of human women. They descended on Mount Hermon and took human wives. Their children, the giants, ravaged the earth, and the fallen angels taught men forbidden knowledge of all kinds of sin. They were responsible for the destruction of the world by the flood that God sent.

The stimulus for the behavior of the “sons of God” was the attractiveness of the daughters of men. Scripture has no shortage of stories about human beauty (Gen. 12.11, 14; 24.16; 29.17; Deut. 21.10-11; Judges 15.2; 2 Sam. 11.2-3; 13.1; 14.27; 1 Kings 1.3-4; Esther 1.10-11, 2.7; Job 42.15) not to mention the bride in the Song of Songs. It should be said that we should not become dogmatic about the identification of the “sons of God” in this passage. At best, we should consider all the options.

Verse 3 “My spirit shall not remain in man forever…” should be contrasted with Genesis 3.22 where eating of the tree of life would produce immortality. The attempt of this angelic-human intercourse was like eating of the tree of life. It was intended to produce eternal life for humankind. As an attempt to appropriate what belongs only to God, it is severely condemned. Instead of humankind living forever, they are now reduced to 120 years. There seems to be ample evidence that in the post-flood, the recorded ages steadily decline (Jacob: 110 years, Gen. 50.26; Moses: 120 years, Deut. 34.7; Joshua. 110 years, Jos. 24.29; only Aaron exceeds 120 years and lived till 123 years of age, Num. 33.39).

Who are the Nephilim?

The only other reference in Scripture to the Nephilim is in Numbers 13.33. The spies who entered the Promised Land said they saw the Nephilim and in their midst, they felt like mere grasshoppers. In the Genesis passage, the Nephilim appear to be the offspring of this combination who continue to generate Nephilim in the course of their married lives. The passage in Numbers implies that the people that the spies saw were people of extraordinary physical stature and thus understood as giants. It would be contrary to Scripture to suggest that this race survived the flood whose purpose may have been to destroy such a race. The other name Genesis gives these offspring is “mighty men.”

The placement of this story in Genesis is certainly to introduce the Flood story.

Comment from the questioner.
I was confused in some other way about the interpretation of the sons of God and daughters of men because some are saying that the sons of God are the fallen angels as they said Gen. 6:1. My question is, can an angel be a human being? Do they have the power to live as human beings, like they have married the daughters of men as stated in the Bible (Gen 6 )? We all knew that God created us in his likeness, and in Genesis 2 when He created man and woman that was the beginning of the race of men. And in some instances in the New Testament, it says there that the sons of God are those people who have the Spirit of God. Like Noah, and his children who were walking in the light of God! Is it not that the sons of God in Gen.6:1 are those ancestors of Noah who walked with God for 300 years? Those in Noah’s time that intermarried with the daughters of men? That God Almighty became upset with their actions and started to wipe them out by means of a ”flood”? Please help me in prayers to give me a clear understanding of God’s message pertaining to this issue. I believed that God Almighty will reveal His Word to everyone out there. God bless


The original question that was asked was: who were “the sons of God” that married daughters of men in Gen 6:1?

I offered the three main views that are often held in regard to this question.

Your question comes from View #2: “can an angel be a human being?” This view was held by some in the ancient world and even today. Remember, this is a view, an opinion, not necessarily what the text means. The best I can say is that throughout history these are the views that have been offered to understand Genesis 6.1-4. It doesn’t mean that anyone of them is correct, or that any one of them is not correct. It only means that they have been offered. As a reader of the sacred text, your job is to take on the task of reading widely about this issue and see the arguments that are offered for this passage. You might want to take a look at The NIV Application Commentary: Genesis[ref]John H. Walton, The NIV Application Commentary Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing Company, 2001), 290-303.[/ref]

↑ Back to Questions

Question: Did Jesus appear in the OT in human form?

In the Old Testament, Jesus was in the Garden. There were three men who came to eat with Abraham. He performed a role as Melchizedek as the “King of Righteousness” in Heb 7. As only a God family member can be Righteous, it is obviously Christ. Also, Abraham gave a tithe to Him – Why was a mere man tithing to God (See also Hebrews 5 – 6)?

According to John 1, all was made by Christ as the Word of God. So it was He who formed, communicated, and banished Adam & Eve from the garden.

So, did Jesus appear in the OT in human form?

Beginning Answer

No, Jesus was not in a human form in the Old Testament. Some interpret the story in Genesis 18 believing that one of the three visitors to Abraham was Jesus. Others see the phrase “son of man” in the story of Daniel in the lion’s den as a reference to Jesus. A rule of thumb when interpreting Scripture is that a story cannot mean what it could not have meant to the first hearers/readers. The Old Testament folks did not have a concept of Jesus. They would not have recognized him as a character in a story presented to them to tell them of the journey of God with Israel.

John recounts the birth of Jesus and “he became flesh and tabernacled among us” as the point in time of the incarnation of the “human form” of Jesus.

Jesus did not have a human form until he was born into humankind by Mary. There is no evidence in the text of the Old Testament to support otherwise. However, some have found random Scripture and supplied an out of context interpretation. This way of looking at Scripture, i.e., a group of verses here and there is what cults are made of. You might want to take a look at two helpful books and one article in this regard:

  • How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth
  • God Has Spoken but What Has He Said?
  • Stop Quoting Verses! Start Reading Stories.

Finally, one has to ask the question: Why is it so important that Jesus be found in the Old Testament?

↑ Back to Questions

Question: Why did Lot’s wife turn to salt?

Beginning Answer

The stories in the book of Genesis are the teaching stories for the children of Israel as they were journeying from Egypt to Canaan. Both ends of their journey were rampant with polytheism, i.e., the belief in may gods. God’s major concern was to teach and train his people about who he was. Remember, they had lived in Egypt for several centuries and had forgotten who he was. Hence, the story early in Exodus about Moses wanting to know who he should tell the slaves in Egypt that God was. At the foot of Sinai, God continued to teach them about being faithful to the covenant he had made with Israel which began with the covenant stipulation that Israel could only have one God, Yahweh. No other gods were permitted. The result of worshiping other gods would have serious consequences on them. The result of looking back to Egypt and their former gods would have serious results in the community. In light of this small historical backdrop, it is not surprising that we have several stories about the result of disobeying God of which Lot’s wife is one.

The story does not center around the substance into which she was turned, salt. However, in a land that was close to the Great Salt Sea in which nothing was able to live, one might be inclined to observe that to be turned into salt was a picture of how drastic it is to disobey God.

The children of Israel who were on their journey needed to know and understand how important it was to obey God. Some of them learned this and made it to the land God had promised their forefathers. Others died in the wilderness for their disobedience.

One might ask from this story what the result might be in our lives for disobedience to the direction of God.

↑ Back to Questions

Question: Why did Isaac give Jacob the blessing instead of giving it to Esau in Genesis?)

Beginning Answer

As we stated above, the stories in Genesis are given to help Israel on their journey to the land that God had promised them beginning with Abraham. At this point in the story, Abraham had died. What might happen to God’s promise to him about a land? The stories that follow in Genesis stress that the promise will continue through Isaac and later his children. The basic idea of these stories is that the descendants of the obedient servant Abraham would be blessed because of him, but his descendants also had to exercise faith in order to enjoy the promised blessing of the land. A faith in God to produce his promises engenders a fearless walk focused on God and not on his surroundings. This Israel needed to learn on their journey to the promised land.

In the story of Genesis 27.1ff, Isaac was advanced in age and was losing his eyesight. He requested his oldest son to go into the fields and find the wild game and make him something to eat and he would bless him. It is paradoxical to note that Esau lost his birthright after he returned from a hunt and he was about to lose the blessing after he left to go hunting.

When the deception, (which is the root meaning of Jacob’s name) was complete and the blessing given, there was no ability to undo it. Once a word of blessing in the ancient world was spoken, it could not be recalled. We may note that this is the reason there are so many injunctions in the Old Testament against speaking too much, making rash vows, injudicious talk, etc. There is an irrevocable quality attached to words. One cannot unsay them.

It appears that Jacob and his mother Rebekah won with their deception. While in just lines in a later story of Joseph, he noted that God works in everything to bring about what he wants to bring about. God would work through their conniving. What God wanted to achieve would not be stopped by man’s inability to wait for God to move. God’s program will triumph in spite of fallen human activities.

The story demonstrates the over-reliance on one’s senses and the fact of deception. Israel needed to learn that to make it into the land that God had promised that there was a need to be obedient and not be given to following their natural senses. This happened in Ai only to the detriment of Israel.

We must remember that the stories that are recorded in the Bible are “as is.” There is no choice to spin the characters to look like “holy” people. They are just plain ole people trying to learn to follow God and gaining blessings when they succeed and judgment when they fail.

In light of the deception of Jacob’s father, God still worked out what he wanted to accomplish. But, think of the anguish of Jacob in his deception of his father and his long estrangement from his brother. Deception had its consequences. One of the timeless truths that we may discover here is that a reliance on one’s senses for spiritual discernment not only will often prove fallible but often foul up life and make it messier than it already is.

↑ Back to Questions

Question: The Day of Atonement and Chronology

I would like to know what the Torah Jews do in place of sacrifices to atone for their sins in this day and age? And I would like to know the chronological order of the OT and the NT?

Beginning Answer

I know that Modern Jews still worship in their synagogues on the Day of Atonement which is Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur[ref], “Yom Kippur”, (accessed October 15, 2011).[/ref] starts at sunset on Sunday, October 1, and ends at nightfall on Monday, Oc-tober 2. But, beyond that, I am not sure. You might want to ask a Jewish Rabbi that question. Search Google for “ask a Rabbi.”

↑ Back to Questions

Question: Rehoboam, Jeroboam, and the Splitting of the Kingdom | 1 Kings 12.1-24

Why were the twelve tribes of Israel separated in ten Northern Tribes and two Southern Tribes? Isra-el and Judah? Please give me scripture references.

Beginning Answer

After the death of Solomon, which brought on the beginning of the end for Israel as a nation as God’s light to the world, the nation of Israel was made up of twelve tribes and was called the United Kingdom split (1 Kings 12.1ff.)and disintegrated into two separate nations. The Northern Kingdom existed as an independent nation for about two hundred years before being carried off into captivity by Assyria. The Northern Kingdom made up of ten tribes retained the name Israel in the sacred text. The Southern Kingdom made up of two tribes was called Judah and she survived for about 340 years before her own captivity at the hands of Babylon.

The Northern Kingdom had twenty kings, all of them portrayed as “doing evil in the eyes of the Lord” which became code words for breaking the stipulations of the Covenant. The Southern King-dom also had twenty kings of which twelve of them broke Covenant stipulations while eight of them followed the stipulations of the Covenant. Most Old Testament specialists believe that the Southern Kingdom lasted longer because of the respite of these eight Covenant following kings.

↑ Back to Questions

Question: What does the following passage in Ezekiel mean today? | Ezekiel 16.59-63

Of the many precious promises found in the Bible that I claim on a daily basis, one of the most special for me as a seventy-five-year-old prodigal son, I found recorded in Ezekiel 16:59-63.

I feel that to a large degree I understand it as it applies to me, except for this statement, “and you will be overcome by my favor when I take your sisters, Samaria and Sodom, and make them your daughters, for you to rule over.”

I have said that I am sure there was a meaning here for the Israelites of that day…but is there something there for me today?

What do you think?

Beginning Answer

The following short article from Evangelical Commentary on the Bible may help you understand the flow of the words of Ezekiel. We must remember that these words were said and later read to a group of Hebrews and we cannot always make a one-to-one correlation and apply them directly to us today thousands of years later. The meaning of any one text of Scripture is wrapped up in the meaning the author of the text meant and what the hearers of the text could understand. It cannot have any other meaning. We often get meaning and application mixed up. It is my firm conviction that we cannot have true application until we actually understand what God meant by any passage of Scripture to those who first heard it. Then, whatever it meant to them, it will still mean to us today.

Few chapters in the Bible, and certainly none in the Old Testament, provide a more forceful illustration of the love of God than does this one. The Lord finds a female child abandoned by her parents, who are described in verse 3 as an Amorite and a Hittite. This may be understood literally on the basis of Genesis 10:15, which connects Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites ethnographically; or it may be understood morally. This child the Lord rescues raises, and eventually pledges his troth to in marriage. He lavishes upon her great riches.

Instead of appreciating and loving her Lord, she squanders her dowry on fornication, engages in ritual filicide with her offspring, seeks other lovers (foreign alliances), and in the process becomes worse than all other harlots.

For these sins, the Lord sentences her (Jerusalem) to a bloody death. The punishment will be two-fold. First, she will be stripped naked before her lovers (v. 37b). Stripping designates public expo-sure and degradation. Second, God will deliver her to her paramours (vv. 37–41) who will stone her and finally burn her. Foreign nations will ravage Jerusalem. As in the Book of Judges, God’s form of punishment on his own is to remove his protective hedge around them and hand them over to an alien. Only then will God’s wrath be assuaged.

What makes Jerusalem’s promiscuity so abominable is that she is more depraved than her sisters Sodom (to the south) and Samaria (to the north). Both of these analogies would touch a raw nerve, but the one referring to “sister Sodom” would be particularly upsetting. Not only is Jerusalem the worst of the three sisters, but also she has done things that make Samaria and Sodom blush! How interesting and debilitating it is when Sodomites, the epitome of iniquity, turn red when they gaze on the behavior of the citizens of the city of God!

To shame Jerusalem even further, the Lord promises the restoration of her two sinful sisters, and Jerusalem as well. God’s love is not restricted to one citizenry and to one city. Jerusalem, who once could not even bring herself to say “Sodom,” will now have to share the Lord’s love with Sodom. After all, if Jerusalem can spread her love around in the wrong way, why cannot the Lord spread?[ref]Walter A. Elwell, ed. Evangelical Commentary on the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989).[/ref]

↑ Back to Questions

Question: How Many Temples in the Old Testament?

Beginning Answer

I am presuming that the question being asked is: How many Temples did the Jewish people have in their story in the Old Testament?

The concept of Temple started with the tabernacle. Walter Brueggemann says that “hosting the Holy One is not a small, trivial, or casual undertaking. And therefore the practice of symmetry, order, discipline, and beauty is essential to the reality of God’s presence in Israel.”[ref]Walter Brueggemann, An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagination (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), 46.[/ref] In chapters 25-31, God shows Moses the plan, material, and designs for building the tabernacle. Moses carries out his assignment in the minutest detail. The tabernacle performed double duty: It was a visible symbol that God’s presence was with them and that each person had equal access to him and it provided Israel a place to worship and make atonement for their breaking of the covenant stipulations.[ref]Brueggemann. 76.[/ref] During the reign of David, he decided that the tabernacle needed a permanent place, and Jerusalem was chosen. The building of that Temple occurred during the reign of Solomon. The people of the ancient world believed that deities were attached to specific locations, so they built Temples to house their gods. Because the God of Israel did not need a place to be housed, which Solomon realized, he built a Temple with a different purpose. The Temple of Solomon was a meeting place between a man and God. His Temple was the first of the Jewish Temples.

Solomon’s Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians and lay in ruins until Ezra and Nehemiah returned to the land in the Restoration Period to rebuild it. When it was built, it was approximate twice the size of the portable Tabernacle which was constructed by the Jews under the guidance of Moses. About 180,000 workers were needed to complete the task of building the Temple. In today’s economy, it would have cost several billion dollars.

The Temple was destroyed in the invasion of the Southern Kingdom by the Babylonians. After Cyrus defeated the Babylonians, he allowed Ezra and Nehemiah to return and rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. This period of time is referred to in scholarly writing as Second Temple Judaism. The mindset of this period was still prevalent during the life of Jesus.

During Jesus’ day, Herod had taken on a beautification project which included the Temple in Jerusalem. In AD 70, the Temple was again destroyed and has never been rebuilt.

↑ Back to Questions

Question: Who in the Bible laughed when threatened with a spear?

Beginning Answer

Thanks for your question: I was unable to find any character in Scripture that fits the above situation. That doesn’t mean there isn’t one, only that I couldn’t find one.


Maybe you’re thinking of Goliath, who laughed at David while holding a big ‘ole spear himself?


Could be! Maybe that was what the original questioner was referring to. Thanks for your input!

↑ Back to Questions

Question: Chronology of Old and New Testament

Can I find out the order of the Old and New Testament books?

Beginning Answer

Dating of Old Testament books is difficult. Dating of New Testament books is easier but still difficult. Old Testament Introductions or Surveys seem to avoid the controversy of dating Old Testament documents. New Testament Introductions and Surveys often make an attempt to date a specific book.

You can find a chronology of the story of the Old Testament and the New Testament in my book God’s EPIC Adventure.[ref]Griffin. God’s EPIC Adventure. 96, 129-130, 261-262.[/ref]

End of Session

Copy Protected by Chetan's WP-Copyprotect.

Read Me First


Throughout these sessions, I have used the word ecclesia (singular) for the usual word church and ecclesiae (plural) to indicate a church in a particular geographic place, i.e., the ecclesiae at Corinth, meaning the whole of the many smaller ecclesia that met in homes in Corinth. This is to distinguish between the Institutional Church model (IC) and ecclesia that meet in cities and towns around the world. The ecclesiae written about by the authors of the Second Testament were not the same as what the “church” has become over the years of its existence. Usually, but not always, folks think of a church as a place where they go to a building and set in rows of pews and listen to music and sometimes sing and listen to sermons by a pastor or senior pastor. The ecclesiae of the Second Testament time did not invoke this model.


I have discovered over the years that if you want to try and change minds about something special, you have to venture out and reword it in order to grasp a foothold for a new refreshed understanding of the idea presented by the word. Such is the case between "church" and "ecclesia."


Happy Reading!

Read Me Second


Referenced verses in the text of this study are not used to prove some point of view. They are merely markers where the subject matter is referenced by other books and authors. To gain a larger view of each quote, a serious student of the Holy Writ would take the time to view the reference and see what the background is. The background provides tracks on which the meaning of a text rides. So knowing the context of a referenced passage would help the reader to gain a more thorough understanding of an author than just the words quoted and marked by a verse number that was not a part of the original author's text, which as you might remember was performed on the text in a random fashion many years later.


Happy Reading!

Read Me Third


The verses that are referenced in these sessions are not meant to prove a point. They are simply pointers to where the idea being written about may have a correlation. In order to see if they accomplish the thesis presented by the original author, a student should read, at a minimum, the chapter in which the verse is found as well as trying to ascertain what the original author may have meant to say to the original audience.


Of course, this is a lot of work but it is beneficial work. If one does not understand what the author meant when it was written and the audience could not have understood by what was written, then the words on the page can mean anything that a present reader may assign as a meaning, thus distorting what God was inspiring for the original writer to write to the original audience to hear.

A great and recent book by N.T. Wright and Michael F. Bird entitled The New Testament in Its World would be a wonderful addition to your reading helps.


Happy Reading!

Jesus Followers


There are many synonyms to use for the word believer, which is the most common word for a person who has "converted" to follow Jesus. I have chosen "Jesus follower(s) or follower(s) of Jesus instead of the word believer in these presentations to allow the reader an opportunity to move away from the idea of believer which conjures up the possible thought of "ascent" to a set of doctrines that have been assembled by different groups over the centuries and show up in this day and age as a set of statements posted on web sites and other written material. These sets of beliefs are suggested by many as the ones that one should ascent to so that upon death the one who assents can go to heaven, i.e., just believe and you are good to go. Jesus followers/followers of Jesus suggest an action that one should take. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Yes, belief is important, but one must move beyond belief to action.


(See "Discipleship" Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 182-188.)