#1a. Does God create the heavens and the earth, then plants, then animals, and then both male and female in his image OR does Yahweh form man from the ground first, then plants, then animals, and then woman last from man’s rib? (Gen 1:1-2:3 [P] vs Gen 2:4b-23 [J])
#1b. Does God create the earth and the heavens on the same day OR not? (Gen 2:4b [J] vs Gen 1:6-9 [P])
#1c. Is both man and women created in the image of God OR is man formed from the ground and is a “living being” like other animals, and women formed from man? (Gen 1:27 [P] vs Gen 2:7, 2:21-23 [J]; 1 Cor 11:9; 1 Tim 2:13)
#1d. When is all the vegetation created: after the animals, man, and woman are created OR before the animals and woman are created? (Gen 1:29 [P] vs Gen 2:9 [J])
#1e. Does God declare all the vegetation and trees as food for the primordial pair OR does Yahweh command that one of the trees not be eaten from? (Gen 1:29 [P] vs Gen 2:17 [J])

UPDATE: My interest in the Priestly and Yahwist creation accounts—Genesis 1 and Genesis 2-3 respectively—has resulted in a book, Genesis 1 and the Creationism Debate, which is NOW available! So if you’re interested in Genesis 1 and 2; in the textual data that convincingly—yes I’m sure of it; the text is quite convincing—demonstrate that Genesis’ two creation accounts were penned by two different authors who held contradictory worldviews, beliefs, and messages; inRead More

The Creation According to Genesis 1

As many of you know, my book Genesis 1 and the Creationism Debate: Being Honest to the Text, Its Author, and His Beliefs—Not Ours has been accepted for publication and should hopefully be out in the Winter. One of the goals of this project is to present an unbiased, objective, and culturally-contextualized reading of Genesis 1—being as honest as possible to the text and the beliefs and worldview expressed therein, andRead More

Genesis 1 and the Creationism Debate

“DiMattei’s book is a refreshing call both for biblical literacy and for intellectual honesty in dealing with the Bible.” —John J. Collins, Holmes Professor of Old Testament Criticism and Interpretation, Yale Divinity School. “In an important contribution to the discussion between mainstream biblical studies and creation ‘science,’ DiMattei does a wonderful job of explicating the first two chapters of Genesis.  He shows convincingly that although Creationists claim to read this storyRead More

Genesis’ Two Creation Accounts

My renewed interest in Genesis 1 & 2 is a direct result of my current writing project, Does the Bible Support the Claims of Creationists? Being Honest to the Texts, Their Authors, and Their Beliefs — not Ours. What follows in this and subsequent posts is the material for Chapter 1 of this project. UPDATE: These posts were an early version of chapter 1 of my book—NOW available ! My goalsRead More

Genesis 1:1-2 — Not a Creation ex nihilo!

UPDATE: This and the following posts are now published as chapter 1 of my new book. If you’re interested in Genesis 1 and 2; in the textual data that convincingly—yes I’m sure of it; the text is quite convincing—demonstrate that Genesis’ two creation accounts were penned by two different authors who held contradictory worldviews, beliefs, and messages; in learning why Creationists’ claims about creation are not supported by Genesis 1 and/orRead More

Genesis 1:3-5 — Day is Light

Modern readers often express their perplexity at the fact that Genesis 1:3 presents the creation of light before the creation of the luminary that produces light, the sun, whose creation does not happen until day 4 (1:16). How can light be created or exist, it is often asked, before the sun was created? The problem with this and similar questions is that they impose our knowledge about the cosmos, indeed anRead More

Genesis 1:6-8 — Life Inside a Water Bubble

When ancient man looked up at the sky, what he perceived was akin to what he observed when looking out over the seas—an expanse of crystal-clear blue water. This observation was confirmed of course by the very fact that it rained. For where else did rain come from if not from the waters above the sky? Similarly, when ancient Mediterranean peoples looked toward the horizon, what they saw was that theRead More

Genesis 1:9-10 — God Creates Dry Land not the Planet Earth!

When we read Genesis 1:1, “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” we picture the origin of the atmosphere, space, solar systems, and galaxies. We think of the creation of the planet in our solar system named “Earth,” whose shape is an oblate spheroid or a rotationally symmetric ellipsoid. This mental picture is natural, because the English term “Earth” is the name of the planet in this solarRead More

A Visual Illustration of the Creation as Depicted in Genesis 1:6-14

I apologize for my absence. It’s been some time since my last post. My manuscript for Genesis 1 and the Creationism Debate is now complete and has been submitted, so I hope to turn my attention back to this site. UPDATE: Book is now finished and on sale at publishers website. For those interested, my book attempts to present an unbiased and culturally-contextualized reading of Genesis 1—the primary aim being toRead More

Genesis 1:14-19 — Creation and Yahweh’s Festivals

And God said: “Let there be lights in the vault of the skies to divide between the day and the night and let them be for signs and for fixed times and for days and for years.” The domed vault or raqî‘a that was made in verses 6-8 to separate and hold back the waters above is now populated with the luminaries: sun, moon, and the stars. Unlike modern man, ancientRead More

Genesis 1:24-27 — The Creation of Mankind, More Than An Animal

Man is unlike any other animal of the earth. This truth was acknowledged and reflected upon by nearly every ancient culture. The Greek philosopher Plato proposed that man was divided between a lower animal part and an upper divine part, the immortal soul. He reasoned that man’s intellect and divine soul set him apart from the rest of the animals. Ancient Egyptians also accorded man with an immortal soul, which originatedRead More

Genesis 2:2-3 — Sabbath and the Creation of Sacred Time

2And on the 7th day God finished his work which he had made; and he rested on the 7th day from all his work which he had made. 3And God blessed the 7th day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all his work which God created to be made. On the 7th and last day of this creation account, our author not only presents the deity restingRead More

What the Author of Genesis 1:1-2:3, and his God, Believed!

Since many Creationists, Fundamentalists, and I suppose Jews and Christians in general believe that they believe what the author of this 2,500 year old text believed (and by extension what the god of his text also believed!), I’ve decided to list his beliefs (and “God’s”) clearly and orderly. This follows from the textual analyses of Genesis 1:1-2:3 that were previously posted: Gen 1:1-2; Gen 1:3-5; Gen 1:6-8; Gen 1:9-10; Gen 1:14-19;Read More

Genesis 2:4b-25 in Its Historical and Literary Context

OK, now let’s start looking at Genesis 2. Here are my introductory remarks. From the opening verses of the second creation account, or if my reader prefers right at Genesis 2:4b, we notice stark differences in the text’s tone, style, vocabulary, message, presentation, and thematic and theological emphases and even beliefs. These will be brought out in the forthcoming textual analysis. These differences should not be ignored or disingenuously interpreted awayRead More

Genesis 2:4b — “In the day that god Yahweh made earth and skies”

There are several differences that are immediately noticeable in the opening verse (Gen 2:4b) of this second creation account. A literal translation would run: “In the day that god Yahweh made earth and skies…” We immediately notice that the creator deity is now specified by name, Yahweh. This feature is unique to both this creation account and the textual tradition to which it belongs, unceremoniously named the Yahwist. This source (J)Read More

Genesis 2:5 — Man and Rain: Prerequisites to the Creation of Plants

UPDATE: Get the full book! Now available The differences so far illustrated in just the opening verse of the second creation account (Gen 2:4b) become even more dramatic as we move through the narrative. Genesis 2:5-7, for example, evidence a dramatic shift in emphasis, thematic material, message, vocabulary, and style. By way of introduction it might be said that the perspective adopted in these opening verses and indeed throughout this entire creationRead More

Genesis 2:6-7 — Adam from Adamah: Yahweh Molds an Earthling!

In Genesis 2:5 we saw that the author of this creation story could not have Yahweh create the earth’s vegetation until the two initial conditions necessary for their existence and growth were first established—a water source and a man. Thus the dry, barren earth that we were presented with in verse 5—one that was unable to support produce and vegetation—is immediately transformed in the following verses with the appearance of aRead More

Genesis 2:18-20—Man/Animals from the Ground, Woman from Man

In radically contradictory fashion to the creation of man (and woman) in the first creation account (Gen 1:24-27), when all is said and done in the second creation account, the substance from which man is made and that which he essentially becomes are shockingly no different than what is said about every other animal in this creation narrative. And god Yahweh molded (yatsar) the man (ha ’adam), clay from the groundRead More

Brief Interview with Wipf & Stock about my Genesis 1 and the Creationism Debate

Modern readers often assume that Genesis 1 depicts the creation of the earth and sky as we know it. Yet in an appeal for textual honesty, Steven DiMattei shows that such beliefs are more representative of modern views about this ancient text than the actual claims and beliefs of its author. Through a culturally-contextualized and objective reading of the texts of Genesis 1 and 2, this study not only introduces readersRead More

#2. Did God create the heavens and earth from the formless deep OR did Yahweh create them from the slaying of the primaeval sea monster Leviathan/Rahab? (Gen 1:1-8 vs Ps 74:13-17, 89:11-13; Job 26:12-13)

The two creation accounts that open the book of Genesis, the Priestly and Yahwist, are not the only creation stories found in the Bible. A much older mythic tale is preserved in passages from the Psalms, the book of Job, and the Prophets. In fact, there are remarkably few references in the Bible to the Priestly creation account (which perhaps attests to its late date of composition), while conversely, there areRead More

#3. Which god is the creator of the heavens and the earth: Yahweh OR El? (Gen 2:4b vs Gen 14:19)

Creation myths abound in just about every culture that has conceived of a national deity or deities. The ancient Near East is certainly no exception. A vast number of creation myths exist from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Canaan.1 And many of these creation accounts display cross-fertilization of ideas and influences. This is especially true concerning the influence that both Canaan and ancient Mesopotamia exerted on Israelite culture and the emergence of itsRead More

#4. Is the origin of the Sabbath to be found in God’s rest on the 7th day OR the manner in which Yahweh gave rest to the Hebrews when they were slaves in Egypt? (Gen 2:2-3; Ex 20:8-11 vs Deut 5:12-15)

The origins of the Sabbath are obscure; there are no contemporary parallels in ancient Near Eastern practices. On the other hand, the Bible gives two contradictory accounts for its origin. Both Genesis 2:2-3 and Exodus 20:8-11 claim that its origin is because for six days Yahweh made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them, and he rested on the seventh day. On account of this, Yahweh blessed theRead More

#5. Is the river Gihon in Ethiopia OR the outskirts of Jerusalem? (Gen 2:13 vs 2 Chr 32:30)

Two of the four named rivers of the mythic Eden—the Tigris, Euphrates, Pishon, and Gihon—are well known. Pishon, however, cannot be identified and Gihon, whose name means “gusher,” is given two very different geographical locations in the Bible. On the one hand, Genesis 2:13 informs us that Gihon circles the land of Cush, which is Ethiopia (Gen 10:6). 2 Chronicles 32:30, however, informs us that it was a river spring nearRead More

#6. Does man return to the dust upon his death OR is he resurrected? (Gen 3:19; Eccl 3:20; Job 14:10, 12, etc. vs Dan 12:2; 1 Thess 4:15-17; 1 Cor 15:22, 15:51-52; Acts 24:15; Mk 9:1; Jn 5:28-29, 6:40; Rev 2:7)

The axiom of Genesis 3:19, “for dust you are and to dust you shall return,” and similar statements in the Hebrew Bible a human is in no way better off than an animal. Everything goes to the same place: everything comes from the dust, and everything returns to the dust (Eccl 3:20) a human being, he dies and dead he remains (Job 14:10) a human being, once laid to rest will neverRead More

# 7. Who is Adam’s first son: Cain or Seth? (Gen 4:1 vs Gen 5:3)

“When Adam had lived 130 years, he became the father of a son in his likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth. The days of Adam after he became the father of Seth were 800 years; and he had other sons and daughters” (Gen 5:3-4). The genealogical list in Genesis 5:3-32 continues in the same manner as presented above. That is in each successive generation the antediluvian patriarch—Seth, Enosh,Read More

#8. Who was the father of Lamech: Methushael OR Methuselah?
#9. Who was the father of Enoch: Cain OR Jared?
#10. How many antediluvian patriarchs were there: 8 OR 10?

Part of the Priestly redactor’s interpretive framework included the use of extensive genealogical lists, or records of generations, in Hebrew toledoth. These toledoth provide a structural unity and shape to the narrative arc of Genesis, and the Priestly redactor inserted them throughout the book of Genesis to transition from one story to the next, or from the end of one age or generation to the beginning of the next. Thus, theRead More

#11. When was the name Yahweh first invoked: in the earliest generations of man OR not till Moses at Sinai? (Gen 4:26, 12:8, 13:4, 15:7, etc. vs Ex 6:2-3)

This is a contradiction that you won’t find listed on your average, nor above average, contradictions in the Bible website; in fact, I doubt you’ll find it anywhere but here! It, like many of the ones to come, is only perceivable to those who have carefully studied the theologies of the various biblical authors. In fact, this is one in my long-list of favorites, because we start to see what the biblicalRead More

#12. Yahweh limits the maximum age of man at 120 years OR man still lives longer than 120 years? (Gen 6:3 vs Gen 9:29, 11:10-26, etc.)

“And Yahweh said: ‘My spirit won’t stay in man forever, since they’re also flesh; and their days shall be a 120 years’” (Gen 6:3). The author of this text, the Yahwist, has Yahweh utter these words on account of the growing corruption on the face of the earth—the intermingling of the sons of god(s) and the daughters of man (6:1-4). Furthermore, the J source holds true to its portrait of anRead More

#13. Does Yahweh regret and change his mind OR does he not? (Gen 6:6-7; Ex 32:13-14; 1 Sam 2:30-31, 15:35; Amos 7:3; Jon 3:10 vs Num 23:19; 1 Sam 15:29; Mal 3:6)

“And Yahweh regretted that he had made mankind on the earth and he was grieved to his heart” (Gen 6:6). We have already discussed the Yahwist’s anthropomorphic portrait of Yahweh [or if you’ve missed it see: Conflicting portraits of Israel’s deity], so there is nothing surprising in this characterization of the deity in this verse. The Hebrew word, nehem, in this passage describes a change of heart or mind, and isRead More

#14. Noah is commanded to gather 7 pairs of clean animals OR only 2 of each animal? (Gen 7:2 vs Gen 6:19-20, 7:8, 7:16)
#15. The flood lasts for 40 days and 40 nights OR 150 days? (Gen 7:4, 7:12, 8:6 vs Gen 7:24, 8:3)
#16. The flood starts 7 days after Noah enters the ark OR on the day Noah enters the ark? (Gen 7:7, 10 vs Gen 7:11-13)
#17. The flood is caused by rain OR the waters above and below the earth are unbound? (Gen 7:4, 7:12 vs Gen 7:11, 8:2)
#18. Noah lets out from the ark a series of doves (three) OR a raven once? (Gen 8:8-12 vs Gen 8:7)

Genesis’ flood narrative—or rather narratives—is the classic example used to illustrate how the Documentary Hypothesis works. There is little doubt that the narrative of Genesis 6:5-9:17 is a composite of two once separate flood stories. In other words, a later redactor has woven together two independent and different traditions of the flood narrative in an attempt to preserve them both. Yet unlike the two creation accounts where both traditions are preserved oneRead More

#19. Yahweh promises never to curse the ground again or Yahweh does curse the ground again? (Gen 8:21 vs Is 24:1-6; Zeph 1:3, 18)

And Yahweh said in his heart: “I will not curse the ground again on account of man; for the inclination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will not strike all the living again.” (Gen 8:21) The ending of J’s flood narrative leaves us with a startling revelation—nothing was resolved by wiping out the human race with a flood! The reason given for the cataclysmic event in theRead More

#20. Who were Cush’s children: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca OR Nimrod also? (Gen 10:7 vs Gen 10:8)
#21. Who was the father of S(h)eba and Havilah: Cush OR Joktan? (Gen 10:7 vs Gen 10:26-29)

There are a number of inconsistencies in the genealogical list(s) of chapter 10, often referred to as the Table of Nations because the names are used eponymously by their authors to designate various geographies and/or ethnicities. These inconsistencies result from the fact that the Table of Nations incorporates material from both J and P. In other words, chapter 10 is a mishmash of JP material: P’s genealogy includes verses 1-7, 20, 22-23, andRead More

#22. Were Shem’s, Ham’s, and Japhet’s children dispersed throughout the earth each by their different language OR was all the earth one language and Yahweh ‘babbled’ their language at Babylon? (Gen 10:5, 10:20, 10:31-32 vs Gen 11:1-9)

The function of the Table of Nations in chapter 10 is not only to provide us with Noah’s sons’ offspring, but more so, and particularly for P, to account for the origins of the then known peoples and languages of the inhabitable world. Thus P’s explanation for the origin of the different languages that make up the peoples of the world is in stark opposition to J’s version which is rendered inRead More

#23. Is Lot Abraham’s nephew OR brother? (Gen 11:27 vs Gen 13:8)

By now, the reader should be well aware of the fact that discrepancies and contradictions existed in the Pentateuch’s various genealogies because many of them were doublets—similar genealogical lists from two once separate traditions that were brought together by a later editorial endeavor. We have already seen examples of this (#7-10, #20-21). It should come as little surprise then that in P’s genealogical list Lot is presented as the son of Abraham’s brother HaranRead More

#24. Is Abraham’s birthplace Ur of the Chaldeans OR Haran? (Gen 11:28, 11:31, 15:7 vs Gen 12:4-5, 28:10, 29:4)
#25. Does Abraham set off toward the land of Canaan by his father’s hand OR by commandment from Yahweh? (Gen 11:31 vs Gen 12:1)

Commentators have traditionally seen the Bible making two conflicting claims about Abraham’s birthplace. Genesis 11:28 states that Abraham’s father’s birthplace was “Ur of the Chaldeans” and 11:31 states that Abraham’s father, Terah, along with his extended family left “Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan.” Thus, according to this textual tradition Abraham’s birthplace is Ur of the Chaldeans. The narrative beginning in the next chapter, however, introducesRead More

#26. Did Abraham present Sarah as his sister to Pharaoh in Egypt OR to Abimelek in Gerar OR did Isaac present Rebekah as his sister to Abimelek in Gerar? (Gen 12:10-20 vs Gen 20:1-18 vs Gen 26:1-11)

These three accounts are actuality the same story presented three different times: both Genesis 12:10-20 and Genesis 26:1-11 come from the hand of the Yahwist, while Genesis 20:1-18 comes from the Elohist source, which we hear about for the first time here. It is the story of a patriarch who sojourns in a foreign land with his wife, and claims that she is not his wife in order to save himself from beingRead More

#27. Are Yahweh and El the same god OR different gods? (Gen 14:22, 17:1, 21:33; Ex 6:2-3; Ps 82:1 vs Deut 32:8-9; Ps 29:1, 89:6-8)

Recent archaeological, biblical, and extrabiblical research has led scholars working in the area of the origins of Israelite religion to assert rather boldly and confidently that the original god of Israel was in fact the Canaanite deity El.1 Just exactly how has this come about you ask? First, the name Israel is not a Yahwistic name. El is the name of the deity invoked in the name Israel, which translates: “May ElRead More

#28. Does Yahweh make a covenant with Abraham and bind it through a sacrifice OR does El Shaddai place his covenant between Abraham and himself and bind it through the observance of circumcision? (Gen 15:9-18 vs Gen 17:1-14)

The book of Genesis as it now stands contains two separate Abrahamic covenant passages: Genesis 15:1-18 and Genesis 17:1-14. When we examine these two passages closely we notice that each one has its own particular style, vocabulary, and theological emphasis. For example, the version in Genesis 15 consistently uses the name Yahweh when referring to the deity, is set as an informal dialogue between Abraham and Yahweh, the conversation is focused on the issueRead More

#29. Is the promise of the land of Canaan given unconditionally OR conditionally? (Gen 12:7, 13:15, 15:7, etc. vs Gen 17:1-14; Deut 4:1, 4:40, 5:29-30, etc.; Ezek 33:23-29)

In #28 we saw that the book of Genesis actually contains two once separate accounts of the Abrahamic covenant, and we noted their main differences and contradiction. In this post and the 2 that follow we will look at other contradictory expressions of the Abrahamic covenant between the writings of the Yahwist, Priestly source, the Deuteronomist, and lastly Paul. The promise of possessing the land of Canaan to Abraham and his descendants is aRead More

#30. Yahweh’s promise to give the land of Canaan as an eternal possession to Abraham and his seed is conditional to observing which covenant: the covenant of circumcision OR the Deuteronomic covenant stipulated in Deut 12-26? (Gen 17:1-14 vs Deut 4:1, 5:28-30, 6:1-2, 8:1, 28:15-63, 29:24-27, 30:17-18)

In contradictions #28 and #29 we learned that the version of the Abrahamic covenant now preserved in Genesis 17:1-14 was penned by the Priestly writer. In it Yahweh as El Shaddai promises to give Abraham and his seed “all the land of Canaan as an eternal possession,” and to become their god (17:8). In exchange for this Abraham and his seed must observe and keep the covenant: And you, you shallRead More

#31. Is the covenant of circumcision an eternal covenant OR not? (Gen 17:1-14 vs Gal 3-4; Rom 4:9-12)

At heart, this contradiction is between a text written by an elitist Aaronid priestly guild writing from their exilic condition in Babylon at the end of the 6th century BC, and which was a specific response to their historical crisis and to its historical audience AND a text written by fervent Jew “in Christ” writing in the 1st century AD to a Hellenistic audience on the fringes of the Roman empire. It too was shaped by itsRead More

#32. 400 years of slavery in Egypt OR 430? (Gen 15:13 vs Ex 12:40)

The legendary time-span in which the Hebrews were slaves in Egypt is variously given. Genesis 15:13 states that it was 400 years, presented in the guise of prophecy from Yahweh’s own mouth. While in Exodus 12:40 the narrator states that it was 430 years. Not surprisingly, both of these passages belong to 2 different and once separate textual traditions which were later edited together. The account in Genesis is from theRead More

#33. One patriarchal covenant OR three? (Gen 15:18, 17:1-14, etc. vs Lev 26:42)

A theological staple in all the Pentateuch sources (Yahwist, Elohist, Deuteronomist, and Priestly) is the covenant promise of the land of Canaan to Abraham and his seed, variously given as an unconditional and conditional promise, as we have already seen in #29. Furthermore, this covenant, this one covenant, is then transferred to each successive patriarch and his offspring, i.e., to Isaac, to Jacob, and then finally to Joseph’s sons—all P texts (Gen 28:1-5, 35:9-12,Read More

#34. Is Hagar expelled because Sarah is vexed at Hagar OR at Ishmael? (Gen 16:4-6 vs Gen 21:8-10)
#35. Is Hagar expelled while pregnant OR after she has given birth? (Gen 16:4-6 vs Gen 21:8-10)
#36. Yahweh blesses Hagar as a reward for her suffering OR God blesses her on account of Abraham? (Gen 16:9-10 vs Gen 21:11-13)

In its present form, Genesis narrates the story of how Hagar is forced to depart on account of Sarah’s bitterness on two separate occasions: Genesis 16:1-14 and Genesis 21:8-21. Yet each account of Hagar’s forced expulsion gives two different reasons for why this happens, two different reasons for why Hagar’s offspring is blessed, two different etiologies for the name Ishmael (#37), and two different blessings for Ishmael (#38). Such differences bear witnessRead More

#37. What is the origin of Ishmael’s name: Yahweh has heard Hagar OR God has heard the boy? (Gen 16:11 vs Gen 21:17)

Many of the biblical scribes and/or the stories they wrote down display an avid interest in the etymologies of names. An etymology attempts to find the original meaning of a name by referencing what the root of that name means, or was thought to mean. There are many etymologies given in the Bible, from patriarchal names to place names. What we are interested in is where the biblical record gives us 2 different etymologies on the same name.Read More

#38. Is Ishmael’s blessing conveyed by an angel of Yahweh to Hagar OR by God to Abraham? (Gen 16:10 vs Gen 17:20)

In #34-37 we looked at the contradictions in the Hagar-Ishmael story that were created as a result of a later editorial process that stitched together two once separate versions of the story, the Yahwist and Elohist. But there appears to be yet another textual tradition now preserved in Genesis that also told of the blessing of Ishmael. In this version we are given further details about Ishmael’s blessing, Abraham’s role, emphasis on “the eternalRead More

#39. Who names Ishmael: Yahweh OR Abraham? (Gen 16:11 vs Gen 16:15)

This contradiction, which builds upon #38, was also formed as the result of an editorial process that stitched together the Yahwist and the Priestly sources. Simply put, the Yahwist tradition accredits Yahweh’s angel with the naming of Ishmael, playing of the etymology: “And you shall call his name Ishmael, for Yahweh has heard (shama‘) your suffering” (Gen 16:11). Yet consistent with his reinterpretive agenda, the Priestly writer does 2 things in rewriting this passage: 1) he eliminates anyRead More

#40. Concerning the promise of Isaac’s birth, is Abraham visited by a vision of Yahweh as El Shaddai OR by three men, one of whom is Yahweh? (Gen 17:15-22 vs Gen 18:1-15)

Both Genesis 17:15-22 and Genesis 18:1-15 narrate the promise of Isaac’s birth, yet each one does so in drastically different manners. Let us first look at the version found in Genesis 18. 1And Yahweh appeared to him at the oaks of Mamre. And he was sitting at the tent entrance in the heat of the day, 2and he raised his eyes and saw, and here were three men standing over him… 8And he took curdsRead More

#41. What is the origin of Isaac’s name: Abraham laughed OR Sarah laughed? (Gen 17:17 vs Gen 18:12)

We have already seen a double etymology given for the name Ishmael (#37), and likewise we will encounter many others. Here 2 traditions attempt to provide an explanation for the origin of Isaac’s name, which is built on the verb shaq—“to play,” to rejoice over,” or “to laugh.” One tradition infers the reason for the child’s name by indicating that Sarah laughs when Yahweh—a stranger and a traveler to her—pronounces that she, who isRead More

#42. Is Ishmael 15-17 years old when Sarah expels him and his mother Hagar OR still a mere babe? (Gen 17:25 vs Gen 21: 8-17)

We have already seen on various occasions that the Priestly writer has a vested interest in genealogies, dates, and the ages of the patriarchs. But when this textual tradition with its dates and ages is redacted together with the JE text some interesting narrative tensions arise. For instance, P informs us that Ishmael “was 13 years old when he was circumcised at the flesh of his foreskin” (17:25)—that is “on that very day”Read More