Author Archive for janet


Judges 8 Notes

Chapter 8

v. 24:  I do not think that this is a sign of Gideon’s greed, as Barnes suggests, but rather that (after honoring God in v. 23) he planned to use this gold to build an ephod to honor God further.  Also, although the priests did wear ephods as part of their sacred dress, I believe this ephod to be an image of gold, not a garment as Barnes believes.[1]

v. 27:  This verse shocked me.  Based on Gideon’s attitude in v. 23, and the fact that Gideon seems to honor only God, not idols nor Baal (8:33) I think that Gideon built this ephod to honor God but that in time it became a snare to him and others just as the bronze serpent was to Israel in earlier times.[2]  I do not believe that “prostituting” here in v. 27 refers to actual sexual practices but rather that it is a metaphor for idolatry.

v. 29:  I think that the author switches back to Jerubbaal here at the end to honor Gideon as his story closes.

Concerning Gideon’s refusal to be ruler:  this is the first mention (that I have noticed) in Judges of the idea that God is king, not any human.  If I were to choose a theme for the book to this point, it would be God’s use of weak things to reveal his strength and deliver his people.  Jael, a woman, kills the warrior Sisera with a tent peg; Gideon, the least man from the least clan in Manasseh, is further weakened by having his army reduced to 300 men; Jotham, the youngest son, pronounces the curse on Abimelech; the woman of Thebez kills Abimelech with a millstone.

[1] The word, apparently, has both meanings.

[2] Hence the warning against graven images in The Ten Commandments.


Judges 6 Notes

Chapter 6

v. 15:  In the town, Ophrah, Joash seems to have been a leader.[1]  Perhaps the fact that the angel addresses Gideon as “mighty warrior” supports this idea by implying that he belonged to an aristocratic warrior class, even if such a class were unofficial.  Nevertheless, when Gideon says that his clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and that he is the weakest in his clan, I believe he is telling the truth because this story emphasizes God’s choosing the weak things of this world to shame the mighty. [2]

v. 25:  I tend to think that this was the altar used by the whole town, not just Joash’s private one.  The size of it and the fact that it was the first thing noticed by the people coming out in the morning might support this idea.

v. 31:  This stance of Joash’s surprised me.  (I wonder if it surprised Gideon.)  I think the town was apostate and probably mixed with Canaanites, and it fell to Joash, as the town leader, to keep the altar.  He does not seem to have been very passionate about Baal worship.  He does not even appear to be upset about losing his bull, perhaps because he sees in Gideon (and Gideon’s act) the potential for freedom from the Midianites.  I think it is ironic that Baal, a false god, was depicted as a bull, and that a real bull pulled down Baal’s altar.

[1] He owned the altar and “the” oak in the town, and his voice seems to carry weight with the townspeople.  See v. 31, for instance.

[2] In other words, Joash may have been a town leader, but he may have been the weakest of the town leaders of Manasseh.


Judges 5 Notes

Chapter 5

v. 2:  This may be touching on the theme of Barak’s hesitance to lead, which the writer records earlier in his narrative.[1]

Below is my attempt to trace the song, following who the speaker is and how its various parts are connected.  Deborah’s voice is indicated by green,Barak’s by blue.

v. 2:  I believe this is Deborah singing because it expresses the same theme as v. 9 where she is definitely the one singing.[2]

v. 3:  This verse possibly shares the theme of vs. 10 and 11; the pattern would be parallel anyway.

vs. 4-5: The past tense here recalls God’s past glory in the conquest of Canaan during Joshua’s time as a judge.

vs. 6-8:  This is still the past but the more recent past.

v. 9:  This reintroduces the theme of v. 2.

vs. 10-11:  This reintroduces the theme of v. 3.

v. 12a: Barak sings.

v. 12b: Deborah sings

vs. 13-19:  This section describes the gathering of Israel for the battle and gives praise to those who helped and rebuke to those who did not.  I am uncertain who is singing for the rest of the song because both Deborah and Barak are mentioned in the third person in v. 15.  I am not sure who the “me” of v. 13 is, though it does sound like v.7, which would suggest Deborah were it not for the fact that “him that remaineth” (as the OKJ translates it) parallels “me,” and “him” would suggest Barak.

v. 19:  Here is a description of the battle itself.

v. 23: Here is a curse on Meroz.

v. 24: Here is a blessing on Jael for her work.

vs. 13-31: The translations differ somewhat here, but I believe these verses establish the theme of the song.  They seem purposely to take any spotlight away from Barak, which could be a mild rebuke of his hesitance to lead.  Along those lines, note the emphasis on Israel’s willing leaders as well as its willingfollowers in contrast to those tribes who did not help.  Note too the preeminence of women in this song.  This may be yet another subtle rebuke of men who did not lead.  The women range from Deborah (who seems to sing most of the song) to Jael, to Sisera’s mother and her wise ladies.

V. 28:  I believe there is an intentional parallel between the mother of Sisera and Deborah herself, “a mother in Israel” (5:7).

[1] See also 4:8, 5:9, and (perhaps) 5:13.

[2] In verse one we find that Deborah and Barak both sing, but Deborah seems to be the primary singer, perhaps with Barak singing some sort of antiphony, and so it is properly her song, especially when one considers her authoritatively superior status as a prophet.


Enoch Walked With God (a children’s picture book)

In the video below, you can see scanned images of the book’s interior as I read from it.  I also give a brief introduction to the book.

enoch cover ebook

I don’t remember exactly how old I was when I first heard of Enoch, but I do remember being fascinated by him even at that earliest introduction.  It is the brief but potent statement, “Enoch walked with God,” which has always captured my imagination.  Enoch must have had a beautiful soul and walked with God in many ways.  Enoch Walked with God invites children to imagine what some of those ways might have been while presenting them with a wonderful model for their own lives.

“So all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years.  And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”

-Genesis 5:23-24

“By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death ‘and was not found, because God had taken him,’ for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.”

-Hebrews 11:5

Enoch Walked with God is available on Amazon, or you can CLICK ON THE BOOK COVER IMAGE TO PURCHASE A COPY.


Judges 4 Notes

Chapter 4

v. 4:  Deborah’s role here is very interesting.  The fact that the narrator says so matter-of-factly that a woman (Deborah) ruled Israel at this time seems odd to me.  It is such an unusual circumstance that I would have expected him to dwell on it a little more.  I wonder why she (rather than a man) was the ruler.  God selected the judges, so her being one must have been in accord with his will.  Perhaps there was a dearth of faithful men.  Note Barak’s timidity.  Note also Deborah’s words in v.9.  Of course, her being a prophetess (the only judge so titled) may also have something to do with her authority.  This may also be why Barak insists on her coming with him in v. 8.

v. 9:  This prophecy has a double meaning.  First, Deborah took Barak’s glory by accompanying him to the battle; this was, no doubt, Barak’s initial interpretation of the prophecy.  But the prophecy’s second (and most exact) fulfillment was obviously in Jael’s slaying of Sisera.

v. 24:  Note this statement and compare it with those concerning the Canaanites in this area (chapter one).  I think this statement  is a description of how what is recorded in chapter one came to pass.  Note the map at the end of my commentary for a visual display of how these things fell out. It is interesting to note the wide number of “1’s” in this area right beside all the “4’s” in Asher.  This could indicate that the victories alluded to here did not include the Canaanites living in Asher.

V. 17:  The actions of Jael are interesting.  Why does she kill Sisera?  Obviously, there was an alliance between Heber and Jabin, which Sisera trusted.  So why would Jael slay a man with whom her husband was allied?  Perhaps Jael (and/or her husband) were opportunists, or perhaps Jael was simply a Hebrew acting from a sense of loyalty to her people, or perhaps she was motivated to uphold the Israelites’ cause for some other reason.  She may even have slain him because of some personal reason totally unconnected to politics; God could have used such a personal grudge to achieve the ends he desired.


Genesis 14 Notes

Genesis 14

v. 13: I suppose Abram is called “The Hebrew” because he stands out as a foreigner, a descendant of Shem living among the Canaanites, descendants of Ham.

V. 18: Melchizedek is a fascinating individual. He was a historical person, a priest-king of Salem, and it is most reasonable to believe that he was a Canaanite since this is the land of Canaan. [1] Otherwise, it seems likely that some mention would have been made concerning the foreign status of so prominent an individual.  (Note Abram’s designation as “The Hebrew” in v. 13.)  There is a dignity and power flowing from him which nobody else in the story (including Abram) possesses.  Note that the four kings do not bother him in their run through Canaan.  Note also that Abram paid him tithes willingly.  I get the impression that everybody gives him such respect because of his righteousness and his status as priest of God Most High.  He is not mentioned as a great military power, so I do not believe their respect is due to that.


Genesis 11 Notes

Chapter 11


v. 2:  The writer might have meant to say that all the children of Noah were traveling in a group, that none had gone off on his own yet, or he might have meant that some of them migrated eastward, leaving others behind.  If the latter is true, their fear of becoming scattered throughout the lands (v.4) might be a little more understandable: they would have been worried that some would scatter from them as they scattered from the original group.  I suppose one of the sons of Shem or Japeth led them to Shinar.


v. 4:  The sin of these original Babylonians seems to have been pride.  They wanted to build a tower to heaven in order to make a name for themselves.  See also notes on Nimrod in10:10.


v. 7:  I do not believe that every single person was unintelligible to every other person after this confusion of tongues; if that had been the case, even the smallest household would have been unable to function.  Therefore, I suspect that the Confusion only divided family groups from family groups.  This would encourage families to leave the city and settle other lands.

        Notice, too, that the text does not say that God gave these people different languages.  It says that he confused them so that they did not understand each other.  I imagine, therefore, that even though the people were speaking the same language to each other, God supernaturally prevented them from making sense of what they heard.[1]  (A perfect illustration of this process in reverse is recorded in Acts 2:5-13.)  If this is what happened, then the people would all be speaking the same language when they scattered across the earth, and, consequently, the daughter languages that developed later from this single language would resemble each other.  The idea that all modern languages descended from a single mother tongue is called monogenesis by its proponents and is a very respectable theory among modern philologists, and their reasons for believing in this theory are entirely unconcerned with any attempt to justify the historicity of the story of the tower of Babel.[2] 

        I have been speaking of the story as if it recorded historical fact.[3]  I may be wrong to do so, of course, but there is only one difficulty that I can see in harmonizing it (as history) with what we think we know from science about human history, and that is the problem of dating.  John H. Walton dates the setting of the story to the fourth millennium B.C. based on the kiln-fired brick technology used in making the tower (372), but it seems that humans had scattered over the earth long before this.  The cave paintings in Lascaux, for instance, are from around 15,000 B.C., and those in the recently discovered Chauvet cave are from around 28,000 B.C.  The migration of humanity, therefore, and the subsequent divergence of languages must have happened at a far earlier date than the fourth millennium B.C.  Nevertheless, I do have a theory for harmonizing the story with these very ancient dates.  Perhaps the story as we have it took shape in Mesopotamia in the fourth millennium B.C. and was passed down to the Hebrews (under divine guidance).  This fourth millennium B.C. version could have recorded a story that was far more ancient than the fourth millennium B.C. while superimposing cultural elements familiar to Mesopotamians of the fourth millennium B.C. (ziggurats, kiln-fired bricks, etc.).  This type of anachronism appears frequently in stories.  Malory, for instance, tells the story of fifth century Britain in his Le Morte Darthur, but he dresses his warriors in the fifteenth century armor with which he was familiar.  Thus, the fourth millennium version of the story could preserve the tale of a historical event that was set in Mesopotamia tens of thousands of years ago.  There is just no knowing.  According to Walton, archeology “cannot inform us of its [Babylon’s] history prior to the second millennium because the shifting channel of the Euphrates has obliterated the strata” (378).   

        What language did Noah’s children speak before this confusion of language?  Languages naturally divide over time when people live apart from each other, and it is reasonable to believe that the descendants of Cain did not often mix with the descendants of Seth.  It is possible, therefore, that there were at least two distinct dialects at the time of the flood.  If these two dialects were not mutually intelligible, they would have represented the first naturally evolved human languages.  Of these two, however, only the Sethic language would have survived the flood with Noah and his children.  

     That Adamic (the language first spoken by humanity) evolved from its initial state is deducible from the fact that Adam added to it when he made up names for the animals.  I also believe it changed significantly as a result of the fall from grace.  How could acquiring knowledge of good and evil not have affected it drastically in the long run? A language evolves to describe the circumstances of its speakers.  I’m told that Eskimos have many words for snow because they deal with it in many forms.  Adamic, then, must have evolved to accommodate new experiences such as regret, shame, loneliness, evil, death (and redemption?), but I suspect that the language lost something profound eventually.  For instance, being cut off in some degree from God (and completely from The Tree of Life), how could our understanding of the nature of love, life, and all of creation not have suffered?  And where our understanding of the nature of a thing suffers, the names by which we designate that thing become less accurate.[4] As an example of the principle, let us say that I see a cute, furry-looking thing walking toward me, and I name it “Cutefurrylookingthing.”  This name has the connotation of harmlessness, but the name is relatively inaccurate if, in fact, the thing is a poison-fanged predator that is stalking me.



[1] My friend Ken Hammes was the first to suggest this idea to me.

[2] See, for instance, Merritt Ruhlen’s The Origin of Language: Tracing the Evolution of the Mother Tongue.

[3] See also notes on 7:1.

[4] For more on this theme and on Adamic in general, see notes on 2:19.

[5] I would be curious to know how other ancient people referred to Babylon.  Did they transliterate the Babylonian word, did they translate the Babylonian word, or did they have their own name for the land.  If the latter is true, I wonder what that word would translate as.  If it translates as “confusion” then the association of the event of the confusion of languages with the city itself was not confined to the Hebrews.


THE GLORY OF KINGS - A proposal for why God will always be the best explanation for the existence of the universe.

SWEET RIVER FOOL - Alcoholic, homeless, and alone, Snody despaired of life until a seemingly chance encounter with Saint Francis of Assisi led him to the joys of Christ and the redemption of his soul…

ENOCH WALKED WITH GOD - Enoch had a beautiful soul and walked with God in many ways. This book invites children to imagine what some of those ways might have been while presenting them with a wonderful model for their own lives.