What Does the Bible Say About…/Part 5
By: Dr. Thomas Figart
|By: Dr. Thomas O. Figart; ©2003|
|Dr. Thomas Figart answers more delightfully honest questions from middle school aged kids. Topics include : sea cows; offerings for sin; Nazirite vows; holy water; and the value of women vs. men.|
Students from Manheim Christian Day School (PA) ask Questions About the Bible
Answered by Dr. Thomas Figart
- 1 If Joseph knew God, why does it say in Genesis 44:5 and 44:15 that his cup was used for divination?
- 2 Was Joseph sinning when he lied to his brothers about the cup in their sacks of grain?
- 3 How would God be WITH Jacob? Spiritually or physically? How does He walk with people?
- 4 What is wrong with not being circumcised?
- 5 (In reference to Isaac and Abraham) Was it normal to send a servant out to go and find a wife for your son? Also, was it normal for a man to sleep with his wife’s maidservant?
- 6 In Genesis 36:22, a woman named Timna is mentioned. Women are rarely mentioned in genealogies, so why is she mentioned in this one?
If Joseph knew God, why does it say in Genesis 44:5 and 44:15 that his cup was used for divination?
TZ writes: If Joseph knew God, why does it say in Genesis 44:5 and 44:15 that his cup was used for divination?
Answer: 1. The verb nachash is the Hebrew word used in these verses, and in one of its usages, it does mean, “to divine, to use enchantments.” They would pour water into a goblet, or cup, and then inspect its appearance to decide whether or not there was a significant sign for them. An interesting comparison is that the word for snake, or serpent has the same Hebrew letters, and the thought is that the hissing sound made by the snake is the same as that made by the enchanters as they interpreted the appearance of the water.
- 2. However, in this part of the story of Joseph, he was not yet recognized by his brothers, so he wanted to shock them into thinking that, he, as an Egyptian soothsayer had special powers enabling him to know just what they had supposedly done with his cup.
- 3. It was also a kind of test, to see whether they would admit how wrong it was for them to have sold Joseph, their brother, into slavery. Chapters 44-45 show that they truly repented for what they had done, so Joseph revealed himself to them.
Was Joseph sinning when he lied to his brothers about the cup in their sacks of grain?
WC writes: Was Joseph sinning when he lied to his brothers about the cup in their sacks of grain?
Answer: Yes, he was lying, which is a sin, but we have already mentioned why. It was a test to determine their repentance for their sin against him, and God. Could Joseph have used some other method of testing them so he would not have had to lie? Again, the answer is yes, but apparently God allowed this test to prove their real love for their father and for Benjamin, and their sorrow for what they thought had happened to Joseph. We will just have to put this in the same category that Joseph did in 45:5-8, “Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me here; for God did send me before you to preserve life…. So now it was not you that sent me here, but God.” As Romans 8:28 reveals, “And we know that all things work together for good, to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” He does not even infer that all things are good; lots of things are evil; but all things work together for good.
How would God be WITH Jacob? Spiritually or physically? How does He walk with people?
LH writes: How would God be WITH Jacob? Spiritually or physically? How does He walk with people?
Answer: In the New Testament, the indwelling of the Spirit has entered the body of each believer and it becomes the Temple of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19), and this is forever (John 14:16). In the Old Testament, believers could be indwelt, as in Numbers 27:18 “Joshua, a man in whom is the Spirit.” Or, Ezekiel 2:2 “And the Spirit entered into me.” The difference was, that in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit could be taken away, without causing a believer to lose his salvation: David prayed, “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with a free spirit”(Psalm 51:11-12). Note that David did not ask his salvation to be restored; he did not lose that, but he lost the joy of his salvation. So, the Old Testament saint could have God within him, not just around him, so that his physical body was indwelt, only it was not necessarily permanent. New Testament believers have all Three Persons of the Trinity with them all the time. ”If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23). In like manner, Jehovah promised Jacob, “And behold, I am with thee and will keep thee in all places to which thou goest…. I will not leave thee until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of” (Genesis 28:15). Obviously, all Three Persons of the Trinity are invisible to our eyes, and we are not conscious of their inhabiting of our bodies, but be assured, they are there. So, do not ever pray and ask God to be with you, or with the missionaries! He already is with you, all the time!
What is wrong with not being circumcised?
JH writes: What is wrong with not being circumcised?
Answer: For the New Testament believer, there is nothing wrong with not being circumcised. However, the Old Testament believer, under the Abrahamic Covenant, in Genesis 17 was commanded to be circumcised, that is, to take each male baby at the age of eight days to the priest, and have the front part of the skin of his penis cut off. This was a sign that he was part of the covenant family of God. It did not mean he was saved, since that would be salvation by a ritual. According to Deuteronomy 30:6 the heart must be circumcised; “And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” New Testament believers, who are old enough to exercise faith in Christ, are to be baptized as a sign of their belief in Christ. In modern days, physical circumcision is thought to have hygienic value, and this is why many people, other than Jews, or Christians practice it.
(In reference to Isaac and Abraham) Was it normal to send a servant out to go and find a wife for your son? Also, was it normal for a man to sleep with his wife’s maidservant?
DG writes: (In reference to Isaac and Abraham) Was it normal to send a servant out to go and find a wife for your son? Also, was it normal for a man to sleep with his wife’s maidservant?
Answer: To answer the second part of your question first, No, it was not normal for a man to sleep with his wife’s maidservant, as Abraham did with Hagar. The son who was born to Abraham and Sarah’s maid, Hagar, was Ishmael, whose descendants became a thorn in the flesh to the Jews, and still are, in the Arab nations today. As we mentioned last week, the original plan, was one man and one woman, for life. Even divorce was a concession by God, because of the hardness of their hearts.
Back to the first part of your question, concerning sending a servant to find a wife for your son, it was normal to keep the line of the Messiah pure, through the descendants of Abraham. Since Abraham had no sons, he committed his oldest servant to visit his (Abraham’s) relatives to find a wife who would not be a pagan, but a true believer in Jehovah. This was not always successful, and exceptions were made in the case of Tamar, Ruth (a Moabitess), Rahab, and Bath-Sheba, as recorded in the genealogy of Christ in Matthew 1:3-6.
In Genesis 36:22, a woman named Timna is mentioned. Women are rarely mentioned in genealogies, so why is she mentioned in this one?
BK writes: In Genesis 36:22, a woman named Timna is mentioned. Women are rarely mentioned in genealogies, so why is she mentioned in this one?
Answer: It is true, women are not always mentioned in genealogies, but as we just mentioned, there are four listed in Christ’s genealogy in Matthew 1. In Genesis 36, if you read the entire chapter, you will find the following women listed: Adah, Oholibamah, Basemath, Timna, Anah, Zibeon, Mehetabel, and Matred. That chapter is the genealogy of Esau, Jacob’s twin brother. Perhaps God wanted to give Esau’s descendants, as from Abraham, even though they became Edomites, enemies of the nation Israel for centuries, and were never to be in the line of the Messiah.