What Does the Bible Say About…/Part 7
By: Dr. Thomas Figart
|By: Dr. Thomas O. Figart; ©2003|
|Moving on from Genesis into Exodus, the students pose questions about the treatment of women, phylacteries, angels, murder, marriage and more.|
Students from Manheim Christian Day School (PA) ask Questions About the Bible
- 1 Why did they always bless their sons? What about their daughters?
- 2 What was the sign on their foreheads that consecrated them? What does that mean? (Exodus 20:26).
- 3 In Exodus 21:2 it says, “If you buy an Hebrew servant, six years shall he serve thee; and in the seventh year he shall go out free for nothing.” Why couldn’t you keep them for more years?
- 4 Why were menservants free to go after 7 years but women weren’t?
- 5 Why is it that in the Bible times when people committed adultery or worked on the Sabbath day, God would strike them dead? Why isn’t that the same for us?
- 6 In Exodus 23:20-24 it says that an angel helped them. Could they see, touch, or even talk to this angel?
- 7 When God says, “Whoever has sinned against me I will not blot out of my book,” what is He talking about?
- 8 Why did he say if you kill a thief when he breaks into your house you are not guilty of bloodshed, but if it is after nightfall you are guilty?
- 9 In Exodus 21:10 it says a man can get a second marriage as long as he doesn’t neglect his first wife. What does that mean?
- 10 What does it mean when it says, “Give me the firstborn of your SONS and animals”?
- 11 Appendix:
Why did they always bless their sons? What about their daughters?
SH asks, Why did they always bless their sons? What about their daughters?
Answer: Normally, the blessing (the inheritance) came down through the sons, to include their entire families, this is true. But provision was made for their daughters in two ways. Those who were married were blessed through their husbands, who received a dowry from her father. The unmarried were cared for by their families.
Second, if there were no sons, the daughters were given the inheritance; this was established in Numbers 27 when the daughters of Zelophehad came to Moses for a decision about this very thing. Read that chapter for the sequence of inheritance in such cases. Also, note the following blessings on women:
Genesis 24:60, “And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gates of those who hate them.”
Judges 5:24 “Blessed above women shall Jael, the wife of Heber, the Kenite, be; blessed shall she be above women in the tent.”
I Sam. 2:20 “And Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife (Hannah), and said, The LORD give thee seed of this woman for the loan which is lent to the LORD.”
What was the sign on their foreheads that consecrated them? What does that mean? (Exodus 20:26).
From TW: What was the sign on their foreheads that consecrated them? What does that mean? (Exodus 20:26).
Answer: You must have the wrong Scripture reference; there is nothing in Exodus 20:26 concerning such signs. The correct reference is Exodus 13:9. The feast of unleavened bread and the setting apart of the firstborn of both man and beast were to be signs of the power of Jehovah: “And it shall be for a token upon thine hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes, for by strength of hand the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt.” Some interpret these two signs literally, and refer them to the phylacteries, or tephillim, in Matthew 23:5. For a fuller discussion of this custom, please read pages 417-418 from my commentary on Matthew. (See Appendix)
In Exodus 21:2 it says, “If you buy an Hebrew servant, six years shall he serve thee; and in the seventh year he shall go out free for nothing.” Why couldn’t you keep them for more years?
RW asks, In Exodus 21:2 it says, “If you buy an Hebrew servant, six years shall he serve thee; and in the seventh year he shall go out free for nothing.” Why couldn’t you keep them for more years?
Answer: The parallel passage in Deuteronomy 15:12, 15 gives the answer for either an Hebrew male or female servant: 15:12 “And if thy brother, an Hebrew man or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years, then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee”… 15:15 “And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee, therefore I command thee this thing today.”
Why were menservants free to go after 7 years but women weren’t?
SH asks, Why were menservants free to go after 7 years but women weren’t?
Answer: The daughters were sometimes sold under different circumstances, namely, “as her master hath betrothed her to himself,” that is, as his wife. There were three options: First, “if she please not her master,” that is, if he decided that he did not want her as his wife, then she could be redeemed by another Hebrew man. Second, if he had appointed her as his son’s wife, the father had to treat her as a daughter, that is, provide for her needs. But, if the son did not want her as his wife, then her rights as a daughter were not to be diminished, even if he married someone else. Third, if he did not agree to provide for her as a daughter, she could go free for nothing (Exodus 21:11).
Why is it that in the Bible times when people committed adultery or worked on the Sabbath day, God would strike them dead? Why isn’t that the same for us?
From JH: Why is it that in the Bible times when people committed adultery or worked on the Sabbath day, God would strike them dead? Why isn’t that the same for us?
Answer: The short answer is in John 1:17, “For the Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” And in Romans 6:14: “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the Law but under grace.” Then Paul adds: “What then, shall we sin, because we are not under the Law, but under grace? God forbid!”
There are various admonitions, such as the list in Ephesians 4:17-32, which amount to a lot more than ten in number that we are encouraged to follow, but nowhere will you find a statement in the New Testament to remember the Sabbath to keep it holy. We worship on “the Lord’s day” (Revelation 1:10), but even this is voluntary. Paul says, “One man esteemeth one day above another; another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard i.” (Romans 14:5-6).
One more thing to note: In Acts 5:1-11 Ananias and Sapphira, two believers, lied to the Lord, and the Lord took their physical lives away immediately. This may not happen often, but God does discipline us in many ways as His children. We never lose our salvation, but we may miss out on some blessing or opportunity because of disobedience.
In Exodus 23:20-24 it says that an angel helped them. Could they see, touch, or even talk to this angel?
JR asked: In Exodus 23:20-24 it says that an angel helped them. Could they see, touch, or even talk to this angel?
Answer: In this particular instance we are told that this angel would speak: “Beware of him, and obey his voice” (v. 21). God said, “My name is in him,” and called him, “mine angel” (vv. 22, 23). We know that Jacob actually wrestled with this angel in Genesis 32:24- 30, and he said, “I have seen God face to face” (v. 30). See also Exodus 3:1-6 where Moses saw the Angel of Jehovah who said, “I am the God of thy fathers”(v. 6). I do not think it is recorded that anyone else talked to this angel, but in Genesis 19 two angels came to Lot in Sodom, talked with him, ate food, and were ready to lay down and rest!
When God says, “Whoever has sinned against me I will not blot out of my book,” what is He talking about?
From SH: When God says, “Whoever has sinned against me I will not blot out of my book,” what is He talking about?
Answer: If this is quoted from Exodus 32:33, the word “not” has been added. God says of those who sinned, “I will blot out of my book.”
There is God’s book in which every person’s name is written. Psalm 69:29 speaks of workers of iniquity, “Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.” The “book of the living” may refer to the records of all births, and the reference to “written with the righteous” would be the book of eternal life, which was inscribed with the names of the righteous and that the names of the unrighteous are those “whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 17:8). It seems that this is similar to the question of God and the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. On the basis of His foreknowledge, God knew who would not believe, so that only believers’ names were written in the Lamb’s book of life from the foundation of the world. Yet, unbelievers’ names are registered in the “book of the living,” and when they die, their names are blotted out of this book, and never written in the book of eternal life. We can be assured, as Paul says of his fellow workers, “whose names are in the book of life” (Philippians 4:3).
Why did he say if you kill a thief when he breaks into your house you are not guilty of bloodshed, but if it is after nightfall you are guilty?
DG asks, Why did he say if you kill a thief when he breaks into your house you are not guilty of bloodshed, but if it is after nightfall you are guilty?
Answer:This is found in Exodus 22:3. It actually reads (in the KJV) “if the sun be risen upon him”—which means during the daytime. If a thief comes at night, there is no way of telling whether or not he is also a murderer, so you must defend yourself and your family, even to the point of killing him. But if he comes in the daytime, you must make every effort to see that he is captured, so he can be punished for his crime, and restore what was stolen, according to the rules in verses 1,3, and 4. Of course, if he tries to harm you, self-defense is always allowed.
In Exodus 21:10 it says a man can get a second marriage as long as he doesn’t neglect his first wife. What does that mean?
From BK: In Exodus 21:10 it says a man can get a second marriage as long as he doesn’t neglect his first wife. What does that mean?
Answer: After he bought this woman, and decided he did not want her to be his wife, then he had to treat her as his daughter, and provide for her. She would still be part of his family responsibility if he took some other woman to be his wife, but the most likely thing that would happen would be for him to simply neglect providing for the girl, and let her go free for nothing.
What does it mean when it says, “Give me the firstborn of your SONS and animals”?
JN wondered: What does it mean when it says, “Give me the firstborn of your SONS and animals”?
Answer: In Exodus 13:2 God says, “Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine.” At first this might seem like God wants them to sacrifice their firstborn sons right along with their firstborn animals. But in verses 14-15 God explains the difference. When they fled from Egypt, Jehovah slew all the firstborn of man and beast of the Egyptians. Now that He has brought them out of Egypt, God wants them to set apart all their firstborn to Him. However, God does not want them to sacrifice their children, “But all the firstborn of my children I redeem.” They would redeem their firstborn son by sacrificing a firstborn beast and give it to God as redemption for their son.
Broadening of outward symbols. Matthew 23:5
23:5 “But all their works they do to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and
enlarge the borders of their garments.”
Christ made it clear that all the works of the scribes and Pharisees had selfish motives. This was not to fulfill Scripture, nor to glorify God, but was all directed “to be seen of men.” Two things are mentioned here, phylacteries and tassels on the borders of their garments. There is not much question about the wearing of tassels because they were commanded in Numbers 15:38-39; Deuteronomy 22:12 that they should “make them fringes on the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringes of the borders a cord of blue.” The blue tassels were to remind them of all the commandments of God, and to be holy.
But concerning the wearing of phylacteries it is not certain. The word “phylacteries” does not occur in the Old Testament at all, and it may surprise some that it is only used this one time in the New Testament. It is from the Greek phulakteria (which comes from phulasso, “to guard”) and in paganism was an amulet or charm worn to ward off, or guard against evil. In the Jewish culture they were made of small leather pouches to which straps were attached, one for the forehead and one for the left arm, since it was nearest the heart. In these little boxes were placed four passages of Scripture, Exodus 13:1-10; 11-16 and Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13-21. The straps were wrapped around the arm and hand to form the Hebrew letter shin (sh) which is the first part of the name of God, Shaddai, or Almighty.
A further surprising note is that all four references may have never been intended to be taken literally; that is, that these leather boxes should never have been worn at all:
If the practice of wearing borders with fringes had Scriptural authority, we are well convinced that no such plea could be urged for the so-called “phylacteries.” The observance arose from a literal interpretation of Ex. xiii.9, to which even the later injunction in Deut. vi.8 gives no countenance. This appears even from Deut. xi.18, where the spiritual meaning and purport of the direction is immediately indicated, and from a comparison with kindred expressions, which evidently could not be taken literally—suchas Prov. iii.3; vi.21; vii.3; Cant. viii.6; Isa. xlix.16…. There is sufficient evidence,even from the Rabbinical writings, that in the time of Christ, phylacteries were not universally worn, nor yet by the priests while officiating in the Temple. (Edersheim, Sketches 220-21)
In actuality, Exodus 13:9 rather seems to be referring to the feast of unleavened bread: “The festival prescribed was to be for Israel ‘for a sign upon its hand, and for a memorial between the eyes’” (Keil and Delitzsch, The Pentateuch, 2: 34). Even though Deuteronomy 6:8; 11:18 both mention binding God’s Word on their arms and foreheads, there is also the command to lay them up in their hearts and souls. Keil and Delitzsch also remark that the correctness of the figurative interpretation here “is obvious from the words themselves, which do not say that the commands are to be written upon scrolls, but only that they are to be to the Israelites for signs upon the hand, and for bands between the eyes, i.e. they are to be kept in view like memorials upon the forehead and the hand” (2: 37). Then, in Proverbs 3:3, mercy and truth are to be bound around the neck, and in Proverbs 6:21 the father’s commandments are to be bound upon the heart and around the neck; both of these, obviously, can only be interpreted figuratively.
It is not easy to trace the history of the literal usage of phylacteries by the Jews, although MacArthur does mention that “There is no record of the use of phylacteries until about 400 B.C. during the intertestamental period. Relics of them were found in the Essene community at Qumran near the Dead Sea” (3: 364).
What Christ condemned was not the wearing of the phylacteries nor the sewing of tassels on the borders of their garments, but the practice of making either or both of these things larger than normal in order for them to be seen of men. At the same time, He did not necessarily recommend the wearing of the phylacteries at all.