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My Graduation Commencement Ceremony from Westminster Theological Seminary

Westminster Theological Seminary’s 90th Commencement Ceremony on May 23, 2019.

 

Major Concerns of Post-Exilic Prophets

What were the major concerns of the post-exilic prophets for the restoration of Israel?

 

Answer

The concerns of the post-exilic prophets for the restoration of Israel were as follows. One of the main concerns was rebuilding the temple. There was a great need to rebuild the temple in order for worship of the Lord to resume according to the law of Moses. This can be seen in the book of Haggai when the people gave up rebuilding the temple, and the prophet Haggai reminded them of the importance of rebuilding the temple, saying that, “The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former.” Another concern was the spiritual formation of the people by forsaking sin, cleansing of iniquity, returning to obeying the Lord’s laws and commands, establishing justice and mercy, the promise of the coming king out of Zion, and the promise of the destruction of Jerusalem’s enemies. This is seen in Zechariah. We can identify another concern. It’s clear that the people of Judah didn’t commit to obeying the Lord, and they returned to a life of sin. The priests defiled the worship and corrupted the people. So, there was a promise that the Lord would protect the faithful remnant among his people. This can be seen in the book of Malachi. These were the concerns of the post-exilic prophets.

Hosea’s Marriage and Children

What did God intend to convey through Hosea’s marriage and their children’s names?

Answer

The message God intended to convey through Hosea’s marriage and his children was to illustrate to the people of Israel the covenant relationship between God and his people. God entered into a covenant relationship through which he took the initiative to show mercy and benevolence to his people. But, just as Hosea’s wife was unfaithful and an adulteress, the people were unfaithful in their relationship with God. They were worshiping other gods and committing various sins that kindled the Lord’s wrath. The names of Hosea’s children, in particular, demonstrated God’s judgment against sin, the people’s sin. Each time Gomer bore Hosea a boy or a girl, the severity of the judgment gradually increased. For instance, we read about the first son Gomer bore in Hosea 1:4, where it says:

And the Lord said to him, “Call his name Jezreel, for in just a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel” (Hosea 1:4).

Actually, there are at least two reasons behind choosing the name Jezreel. The first reason is that it sounds similar to Israel in pronunciation — yiz-RAH-eel and YIZ-rah-eel. The other reason is that there was a valley in Israel called the valley of Jezreel. This valley is associated with many bloody events. We read about it, for example, in Judges 6:33 and 1 Samuel 29:1. Also, the name Jezreel is related to the story of Ahab and Jezebel and the killing of Naboth. We can find this in 1 Kings 21. We also read about it in the killing of Ahab’s family through Jehu the son of Jeshoshaphat in 2 Kings 10:11. Actually, there is a very important passage in 2 Kings 10:28-31 that, although Jehu son of Jeshoshaphat obeyed God’s command and killed the family of Ahab, he did that for his own personal purposes and ambitions. That is why the Lord said in the book of Hosea: “I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel.” We read in 2 Kings 10, beginning with verse 28:

Thus Jehu wiped out Baal from Israel. But Jehu did not turn aside from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin — that is, the golden calves that were in Bethel and in Dan. And the Lord said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in carrying out what is right in my eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in my heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.” But Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He did not turn from the sins of Jeroboam, which he made Israel to sin (2 Kings 10:28-31).

Although Jehu destroyed the altars of the Baals, he erected idols and walked in the sins of Jeroboam. That is why Hosea’s first son stands for the judgment of God on the Israelites, for the bloody events that were related to Jezreel, especially against the house of Jehu, and for the corrupt religious and behavioral practices that were in the kingdom at that time. The second child, the daughter, whom Gomer bore to Hosea, was called “Lo-Ruhamah.” We read about her in Hosea 1:6:

She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the Lord said to him, “Call her name No Mercy, for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all” (Hosea 1:6).

The name “Lo-Ruhamah” in Hebrew means “no mercy.” The Lord declared that he would remove his mercy from the people of Israel. Mercy, here, is related to the covenant faithfulness of the Lord. So, the Lord here says that he will remove his mercy from the midst of the people. We read about the last child that Gomer bore Hosea in verses 8 and 9:

When she had weaned No Mercy, she conceived and bore a son. And the Lord said, “Call his name Not My People, for you are not my people, and I am not your God” (Hosea 1:8-9).

The Hebrew name “Lo-Ammi” means “not my people.” This was the highest level and the hardest of the Lord’s judgments. Within the covenant, God had entered into a relationship in which he adopted Israel as his people, and he was their God. Through this covenant, he declared his name to Moses saying, “ehyeh asher ehyeh” or “I am who I am.” So God, through Hosea’s last child, was saying to Israel, “You are not my people” — “Lo-Ammi.” Moreover, he said, “I am not your God.” In Hebrew, “I am not” is the reversal of his covenant name that he declared to Moses. He was saying, “I am not,” or “not ehyeh.” I will not be your covenant God. Thus, Hosea’s marriage and children illustrate how God dealt with his covenant people. He declared his judgment over the people because of their sins and because they had acted contrary to the conditions of the covenant, conditions that required their loyalty in response to the covenant mercy and grace that God had initiated and shown them.

God as Warrior in Joshua

What does Joshua teach us about God’s character as a warrior for his people?

Answer

Asking about how to learn or what to learn about God’s character as a warrior for his people in the book of Joshua is an important question because from the beginning of the book, in chapter 1, we see God giving instructions to Joshua to prepare for the war and prepare the people for the war. Here we see God as the military leader, the commander-in-chief of the army, the marshal who lays out the strategies for his people. Not only this, we also see through the entire book and through the wars in which Joshua led the people, we see God’s authority and sovereignty over the events. And we see that every step the people took was by an order and clear instruction from the Lord. So, not only did the Lord call Joshua to prepare the people, but he also was the one who laid out the plan and instructed the people on how to move. Additionally, we see the Lord himself fighting for his people. The Lord is the military leader, the warrior who leads his people in victory, because he has the mighty hand over all the events. Victory was related to the obedience of the people. When the people disobeyed the Lord — like what happened with Achan the son of Carmi — we see that there is punishment and condemnation because of disobedience. It’s important to the Lord, as a fighting warrior, that his people be committed and consistent in their obedience, loyalty, and faithfulness to him. So, because God is the leader and Lord over events, victory is guaranteed, even if the people disobey, because the Lord corrects this disobedience. Once more, he comes to assert victory, and victory, as I said, is related to the obedience of the people and their faithfulness and loyalty to the Lord. The image of God’s character as a mighty warrior is repeated in various places in the Bible. One of the best and most magnificent texts, or the most comprehensive text that shows the image of God as a warrior, is found in Revelation, the book of Revelation, when it talks about Christ who is sitting on a white horse. In his second coming, he is coming to launch a war against the ungodly, among either angels or human beings, and he will accomplish the victory he inaugurated on the cross, and he will provide this victory to all his faithful followers who faithfully obeyed his commands. As a result, because the Lord is a warrior, he is just, he never oppresses, and victory is always guaranteed through the Lord, because he is the military leader who puts strategies in place and accomplishes them by his mighty hand, which has the absolute authority.

Israel’s Land Inheritance

How is the promise of Israel’s land inheritance fulfilled in Christ?

Answer

The promise of the land to Abraham and his offspring is fulfilled in Christ. How do we know this? There is an important verse in Galatians 3:16, “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ (Galatians 3:16).”The apostle Paul tells us that Abraham’s offspring, to whom the land was promised, is Christ. Christ is Abraham’s offspring. Not only this, but we learn also from 2 Corinthians 1:20, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him [in Christ]. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.” (2 Corinthians 1:20).So, the promises were given to Christ who is Abraham’s offspring and were fulfilled in Christ who is also Abraham’s offspring. The promises were given to Christ and fulfilled in Christ. But Paul also takes it a further step in the same chapter. Galatians 3:9 says, “Those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith” (Galatians 3:9). And then in verses 13-14 he says,”Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.'” And then verse 14 is so important, “… so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:13-14). Paul here tells us that we, as believers in Christ, receive Abraham’s blessing by faith, the promises given to Abraham. That is why Jesus for example said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Even Abraham himself, as we learn from Hebrews 11, was not looking forward to the land as the final fulfillment of the Lord’s promises to him. That’s why we learn that, “he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” We also learn from Hebrews 11 that the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, “all died not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” So, although the fathers and then Israel possessed the land of Canaan, they lived as strangers on earth, for they desired a better heavenly country.

All Israel in Joshua

How does Joshua emphasize the inclusion of “all Israel” together in the Promised Land?

Answer

From the beginning of the book of Joshua, the Lord asserts that all Israel be consecrated before the Lord, and all Israel be prepared for war, and all Israel be united in worshiping the Lord. That’s why, for example, in chapter 22 we see that the tribes to the east of the Jordan — the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh — built for themselves an altar as a witness before the Lord. The rest of the tribes, on the west side of the Jordan, thought that these tribes had rebelled against the Lord by building an altar other than the one in the tabernacle of Moses. What happened is that Joshua addressed this issue by sending Phinehas, the son of Eleazar the priest, and sent with him ten chiefs of Israel to evaluate the situation. The result was a reassurance of the unity of all Israel in their worship of the Lord. Consequently, the unity of Israel — all Israel together — was very important regarding conquering the land, distributing the land, and worshiping the Lord. It was a very important issue before the Lord.

 

BibleWorks10: New Features

This is the last post of my five-post review of BibleWorks (BW). In the first four posts, we looked at BW as a whole, the Search Window, the Browse Window, and the Analysis Window. This post will focus on some key new databases and features in BW10 that enrich our study of the Scriptures.

BW10 starts up Untitledfaster than BW9 did. The first, most notable feature in BW10 is the new screen layout and colors that allow one to define his own color schemes for the windows. A comprehensive list of new features and databases is available. Here is just some of the key ones.

1) Samaritan Pentateuch by August Freiherrn von Gall: OT students now can compare between the Masoretic, Septuagint, and Samaritan texts.

2) High-resolution tagged images of the Leningrad Codex: the verse locations in the manuscript are tagged so one can easily locate and display any verse.

3) Nestle-Aland GNT 28th edition

4) New English Translation of the Septuagint (2007)

5) Danker’s Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the NT (2009)

6) Instant lemma form usage info for Greek and Hebrew: the new Forms tab in the Analysis Window gathers together usage statistics for morphologically tagged Greek and Hebrew texts.

7) EPUB reader & library manager: the new EPUB tab in the Analysis Window allows one to read EPUB files and manage libraries of EPUB files.

8) Complete audio Greek NT: sound files for NA27 Greek NT & Robinson-Pierpont Greek NT.

If you are using an old version of BW, I strongly recommend upgrading to BW10; it is worth the $189. If you never used BW, I encourage you to purchase it for your own study and ministry. BW also offers extra modules for reasonable prices. Among many helpful modules BW offers are Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (BDAG) by Bauer, Danker, Arndt, and Gingrich; Reformed Dogmatics (4 volumes) (BAVI) by Herman Bavinck; Stuttgart Original Languages Module (Old and New Testament texts with the NA28 & BHS critical apparatuses and morphologies) (SOLM); Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HALOT) by Kohler, Baumgartner, and Stamm; and Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Abridged) (TDNT) by Kittel, Friedrich, and Bromiley.

BW also has group discounts and, for unlikely situations, BW has a 30-day warranty and return policy where you can return it for any reason within 30 days. The intent of this warranty is to give the users sufficient time to decide whether BW fulfills their Bible research and study needs.

Rev. Dr. Sherif L. Gendy

BibleWorks10: The Analysis Window

This is the fourth post in my five-post review of BibleWorks (BW). In the first post, we looked at BW int1as a whole and how it can be used to enhance our reading of the Scriptures and aid our exegetical studies. We looked in the second post at the Search Window, which is the first of three main windows in BW, where searches are performed on the various Bible versions. In the third post, was discussed the second window, the Browse Window, where the text of verses resulting from searches in the Search Window is displayed.

Today, we look at the third and last main window in BW—the Analysis Window (AW). The AW displays an analysis of the biblical text in the Browse Window through various functions that are accessed by a set of 18 tabs across the top of the window. Each tab represents a separate tool to analyze the text.

The AW can be split into two columns with each column having a portion of the total tabs available. This split allows one to use two tools at once and have them both visible. Through the Analysis Tab Options one can chose which tabs appear in each column with preferred orders.Untitled

All the tabs are extremely helpful but three of them are worthy of note. The Word Analysis Tab displays lexical and other verse-specific information automatically as one moves the mouse cursor over text in the Browse Window. The Resource Summary Tab displays a comprehensive index to information related to the current word or verse in the Browse Window. It includes a list of abbreviated lexicon entries, grammatical resources, as well as the places in various recourses where this verse is cited. New addition to BW10, the AW Leningrad Codex Tab displays high-resolution tagged images of the Leningrad Codex for the Old Testament in Hebrew.

In short, if you have an exegetical question or textlinguistic inquiry, you will most likely find the answers in the AW.

Rev. Dr. Sherif L. Gendy

BibleWorks10: The Browse Window

int1This is the third post on my four-post review of BibleWorks. The first post was a general introduction of the program with some notable features highlighted. In the second post,whatis-browsewindow-full I talked about the first of the three main windows in BibleWorks, the Search Window (SW). In this post, we look at the Browse Window (BW), which is located in the center of BibleWorks.

The BW is where the text of verses resulting from searches in the SW is displayed. The BW is composed of two main parts. The first part is the Header, which is the upper portion of the BW. Fully customizable, the Header can display a dropdown outline of the Bible or a series of navigation list boxes, allowing one to select the Bible version, book, chapter, and verse. One of the interesting options in the Header is a dropdown list on the left side that allows one to choose from various Bible outlines and set outline options. These outlines were produced by the editors of different Bible translations. Another important dropdown list in the Header is the Browse Window Options. This is where different toggle options are available. One toggle that I find helpful is the Toggle Difference Highlighting. When selected, this toggle shows the word use differences in all the Bible versions by having them marked with color highlighting in the Test Area.

The second part of the BW is the Text Area, which displays the text of verses. Text can be displayed in two modes, Single Version Browse Mode (where a verse is displayed in its larger biblical context in a running, continuous text) or Multiple Version Mode (where a verse is displayed in many different Bible versions). One can easily toggle between the browse mode and the multiple version mode. The Text Area is closely linked with the SW. A double click on a word runs a search for it in SW. A double click on a version label will make that version the default search version. There is a number of menu searching options through a right click on a word in the Text Area. For example, one can search on lemma for a Hebrew or Greek word to find any instance of that word no matter what form it takes in the text. Through a right click in the Text Area one can lookup text in the default Bible dictionary, lookup a place name in the BibleWorks maps, and other options for looking up a word in a lexicon. For New Testament Greek text, one can also right click on a word and choose to open a New Testament diagram at that word or listen to the text read in Greek.

In short, the BW is the primary means to read and view the biblical text. It is as if your physical Bible is open right before your eyes with many fast ways and easy options to flip its pages and navigate its content.

Rev. Dr. Sherif L. Gendy

BibleWorks10: The Search Window

In the last post, I introduced BibleWorks (BW) as a whole and how it can enhance your study of the maxresdefaultScripture. In this post, we look at the Search Window (SW), which is the first of three main windows in BW and located on the left. The SW provides a user interface that is used for performing searches on the various Bible versions in BW.

The SW is composed of two main parts. The first part is the Command Line, which is a text input box located at the top. It is where one enters words, phrases, morphology searches, or verses to look up. The number of different search options varies from a simple search for a word or phrase to searches that are more complex. For example, you can do a linear phrase search, specify verse context limits, or specify word context limits for lexical phrase searches. There is much more you can do in the Command Line.

The second part of the SW is the Results Verse List Box. It is a list box under the Command Line that displays the text of the verses resulting from the search. The verse list contains check boxes for each verse reference that enable further processing on selected verse results. For example, you can repeat last copy command, copy selected results list verse, or invert verse list.

What is unique about the SW is that biblical scholars can perform complex lexical and morphological searches that otherwise would take hours, if not days, to do them manually. Accuracy in results and speed in search performance are two key components that set BW apart as a Bible software program. Let us look at an example of complex search in Hebrew and Greek.

Hebrew: To search for any piel OR hithpael form of the stem כפר AND any form of the stem עון OR חטא you simply type (/כפר@vp* כפר@vt*).(/עון חטא) in the Command Line with the WTM (Westminster Hebrew OT Morphology) selected as the search version.

Greek: To search for the word καλoς followed by a form of the word εργον within five words, with the two words agreeing in gender, case, and number all you have to do is to type ‘καλoς =gcn *5 εργον in the Command Line with the BNM (NA28 BibleWorks Greek NT Morphology) selected as the search version.

These are just examples of a lot more complex searches one can perform in the SW of BW. One can search the entire Bible or limit the search to an arbitrary collection of passages or books. Once searching is done, BW gives detailed statistics with options to transfer texts, verses, parallel passages from different versions, entire Bibles, and lexicon entries to one’s favorite word processor.

In sum, the SW is a key part of BW that opens many doors to close analysis of the text for further exegesis and intertextual studies. The SW is where you start your journey of understanding the biblical text through BW.

Rev. Dr. Sherif L. Gendy

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