Genesis 18:22 (phenomenon)

Not everything found in Codices of Hebrew Bible nor in the printed edition of the Hebrew Bible are translated in Christian editions of the OT. There are numerous notes, list, and pages left by the Masoretes that are rarely if ever translated into English or any other modern language. Famous examples of this include the Masorah Ketanah, Masorah Gedolah, keri uchetiv (Qere) readings, data list at the end of each book, mikra Soferim, ittur Soferim, and the Tiqqune Soferim.

In the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (page 25 print) Genesis 18:22 is notated with two lowercase 'a's one before (and Avraham) ‬וְאַ֨בְרָהָ֔ם and one attached to יְהוָֽה (YHWH )

a‬וְאַ֨בְרָהָ֔ם עֹודֶ֥נּוּ עֹמֵ֖ד לִפְנֵ֥י יְהוָֽהa‬

but, Avraham still stood before YHWH (Genesis 18:22)

That directs us to the apparatus or footnotes:

22 a–a Tiq soph, lect orig אברהם … ויהוה

'Tiq soph' tells us that we are encountering what is know as a Tiqqūn sōferīm

'lect' is short for 'lectio' (reading)

'Orig' is short for originalis (original)

What, the abbreviated notes from the BHS' textual apparatus are telling us is that originally the text may have 'theoretically' read:"but, YHWH still stood before Avraham". This text is one of the 18 tiqqūnēy sōferīm texts that were alleged (according to tradition) changed by the ancient scribes for theological reasons. This begs the question: "what was the theological reason that the text was supposedly changed for"? Some claim that this text put YHWH is less role by having YHWH stand before Avraham rather than the other around, but it, in my opinion, is more likely that the alleged Scribes were worried if read that way it would paint an anthropomorphic picture of YHWH by directly stating that YHWH was actually standing in front of Avraham. The Masoretes themselves did not make the Tiqquney Soferim changes but only noted changes they believed had happened. However, Masoretes were Karaite Jews rather than Rabbinic Jews and they would have outright rejected Midrashic/oral interpretations that claimed that YHWH would either manifest himself personally as the Memra and or Metatron or that they were his mediator or conduit with which to speak to mankind. I have no doubt that would not have also have found John 8:56-58 problematic none the less they wanted to make sure that any changes or textual phenomenon were noted.

Sources Cited:
(1) Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: SESB Version. electronic ed. Stuttgart: German Bible Society, 2003. Print.
(2) Weil, Gérard E., K. Elliger, and W. Rudolph, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft. Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. 5. Aufl., rev. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1997. Print.

Comments

  • Dave_LDave_L Posts: 2,356

    @Mitchell said:
    Not everything found in Codices of Hebrew Bible nor in the printed edition of the Hebrew Bible are translated in Christian editions of the OT. There are numerous notes, list, and pages left by the Masoretes that are rarely if ever translated into English or any other modern language. Famous examples of this include the Masorah Ketanah, Masorah Gedolah, keri uchetiv (Qere) readings, data list at the end of each book, mikra Soferim, ittur Soferim, and the Tiqqune Soferim.

    In the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (page 25 print) Genesis 18:22 is notated with two lowercase 'a's one before (and Avraham) ‬וְאַ֨בְרָהָ֔ם and one attached to יְהוָֽה (YHWH )

    a‬וְאַ֨בְרָהָ֔ם עֹודֶ֥נּוּ עֹמֵ֖ד לִפְנֵ֥י יְהוָֽהa‬

    but, Avraham still stood before YHWH (Genesis 18:22)

    That directs us to the apparatus or footnotes:

    22 a–a Tiq soph, lect orig אברהם … ויהוה

    'Tiq soph' tells us that we are encountering what is know as a Tiqqūn sōferīm

    'lect' is short for 'lectio' (reading)

    'Orig' is short for originalis (original)

    What, the abbreviated notes from the BHS' textual apparatus are telling us is that originally the text may have 'theoretically' read:"but, YHWH still stood before Avraham". This text is one of the 18 tiqqūnēy sōferīm texts that were alleged (according to tradition) changed by the ancient scribes for theological reasons. This begs the question: "what was the theological reason that the text was supposedly changed for"? Some claim that this text put YHWH is less role by having YHWH stand before Avraham rather than the other around, but it, in my opinion, is more likely that the alleged Scribes were worried if read that way it would paint an anthropomorphic picture of YHWH by directly stating that YHWH was actually standing in front of Avraham. The Masoretes themselves did not make the Tiqquney Soferim changes but only noted changes they believed had happened. However, Masoretes were Karaite Jews rather than Rabbinic Jews and they would have outright rejected Midrashic/oral interpretations that claimed that YHWH would either manifest himself personally as the Memra and or Metatron or that they were his mediator or conduit with which to speak to mankind. I have no doubt that would not have also have found John 8:56-58 problematic none the less they wanted to make sure that any changes or textual phenomenon were noted.

    Sources Cited:
    (1) Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: SESB Version. electronic ed. Stuttgart: German Bible Society, 2003. Print.
    (2) Weil, Gérard E., K. Elliger, and W. Rudolph, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft. Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. 5. Aufl., rev. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1997. Print.

    Thanks for the interesting and valuable post. I think preconceptions about YHWH might have led to the difficulty of visualizing him standing before Abraham and not the other way around. Jesus (YHWH) was a foot washer in the NT. Think of how meek Moses was, or any of the elct for that matter. How the greatest Christian is the more humble servant...

  • MitchellMitchell Posts: 667

    @Dave_L said:
    Thanks for the interesting and valuable post. I think preconceptions about YHWH might have led to the difficulty of visualizing him standing before Abraham and not the other way around. Jesus (YHWH) was a foot washer in the NT.

    Thanks for the added feedback! What you had to say makes perfect sense.
    I think sometimes our preconceptions about YHWH can become 'idols'(figuratively speaking) and blindside us.

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 3,303

    @Dave_L said:
    Thanks for the interesting and valuable post. I think preconceptions about YHWH might have led to the difficulty of visualizing him standing before Abraham and not the other way around.

    There seem to be a number of preconceived ideas involved in this matter:
    (a) the idea that the term "before" indicates or means "a position of lower rank" ?
    (b) the idea that the use of the term "YHWH" is used to mean God Himself

    The context and the text of the verse itself clearly indicate that YHWH is not God Himself, but rather a chief messenger sent from YHWH who acts directly in YHWH's stead and thus was referred to in the text as if YHWH Himself was present in the situation.4

    Whether this messenger of YHWH stood "before Abraham" or Abraham stood "before [the messenger of ] YHWH" expresses the very same truth, which is in simple words that both were standing in front of each other, facing each other, and directly communicated with each other.

    It seems to me that a neglect to be satisfied with this simple truth and a desire to read more into the text then started the theological considerations which then may have led to a change in the word order, or other theological ideas trying to explain the original word order (such as is done here by Dave_L below)

    Jesus (YHWH) was a foot washer in the NT.

    The fundamental error here is to equate Jesus with YHWH (in other words, the belief that Jesus is God Almighty! God is nobody's servant at any time, He has never given up nor will ever give up His position of Highest Power and Authority in order to serve someone. Such an idea is utter non-sense. contradicting what the Scriptures teach about the One true and almighty God.

    Think of how meek Moses was, or any of the elct for that matter. How the greatest Christian is the more humble servant...

    Yes, Jesus was even more humble and meek than Moses and God's servant .. BUT Jesus was not alive and walking around having a conversation with Abraham!

  • Dave_LDave_L Posts: 2,356
    edited February 2018

    @Wolfgang said:

    @Dave_L said:
    Thanks for the interesting and valuable post. I think preconceptions about YHWH might have led to the difficulty of visualizing him standing before Abraham and not the other way around.

    There seem to be a number of preconceived ideas involved in this matter:
    (a) the idea that the term "before" indicates or means "a position of lower rank" ?
    (b) the idea that the use of the term "YHWH" is used to mean God Himself

    The context and the text of the verse itself clearly indicate that YHWH is not God Himself, but rather a chief messenger sent from YHWH who acts directly in YHWH's stead and thus was referred to in the text as if YHWH Himself was present in the situation.4

    Whether this messenger of YHWH stood "before Abraham" or Abraham stood "before [the messenger of ] YHWH" expresses the very same truth, which is in simple words that both were standing in front of each other, facing each other, and directly communicated with each other.

    It seems to me that a neglect to be satisfied with this simple truth and a desire to read more into the text then started the theological considerations which then may have led to a change in the word order, or other theological ideas trying to explain the original word order (such as is done here by Dave_L below)

    Jesus (YHWH) was a foot washer in the NT.

    The fundamental error here is to equate Jesus with YHWH (in other words, the belief that Jesus is God Almighty! God is nobody's servant at any time, He has never given up nor will ever give up His position of Highest Power and Authority in order to serve someone. Such an idea is utter non-sense. contradicting what the Scriptures teach about the One true and almighty God.

    Think of how meek Moses was, or any of the elct for that matter. How the greatest Christian is the more humble servant...

    Yes, Jesus was even more humble and meek than Moses and God's servant .. BUT Jesus was not alive and walking around having a conversation with Abraham!

    I'm unaware of any passage that does not equate YHWH with God. If you are aware of any please share. I am aware of YHWH translated into the Greek Kurios, used for Lord, as in Lord Jesus in the NT however. In which case, no one can say Jesus is the Lord in any true sense, if they do not first understand that Lord = YHWH.

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 3,303

    @Dave_L said:
    I'm unaware of any passage that does not equate YHWH with God. If you are aware of any please share.

    ???? Are you actually replying to something I wrote? or are you adding some more "info" which has nothing to do with what I wrote?
    YHWH is God.

    I am aware of YHWH translated into the Greek Kurios, used for Lord, as in Lord Jesus in the NT however.

    Well, Abraham is called Lord in Scripture as well ... was Abraham Jesus and both of them were God or some mix of some other kind ?

    Your error is twofold:
    (a) you do not recognize that the word "lord" is applied NOT only to God Himself, but also to other individuals (such as Jesus, such as Abraham), and also that
    (b) you do not recognize that the use of the Greek word "kurios (Engl "lord")" to represent the Heb YHWH is actually not even a translation and as such your "logic" is faulty as it is based on a wrong assumption and thus a false premise.

    In which case, no one can say Jesus is the Lord in any true sense, if they do not first understand that Lord = YHWH.

    ??? More false logical conclusions ... Actually, YHWH (God Almighty) is indeed Lord, that Lord with the absolute highest position of authority!! But not every Lord is God, YHWH.

  • Dave_LDave_L Posts: 2,356

    Many who are obviously not God can be lord in their relationship to others. But no one can say Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Spirit. Lord = 2962. κύριος kuriŏs, koo´-ree-os; from κῦρος kurŏs (supremacy); supreme in authority, i.e. (as noun) controller; by impl. Mr. (as a respectful title):—God, Lord, master, Sir.

    Strong, J. (2009). A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible (Vol. 1, p. 44). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

  • C McC Mc Posts: 3,941

    Thanks, Mitch, for sharing this clip.

    Gen 18  

    Then the LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him." 

    Notice:  

    • This figure is NOT explicitly called the "Angel", but appears as one of three 'men' (vs. 2)--two of them are later called 'angels' --in all probability, it is the Angel of YHWH(19.1) 
    • This figure is called YHWH 
    • This figure refers to 'YHWH' in the 3rd person 
    • This figure has 'chosen' Abraham--the election is purely a divine action
    • [This passage, and the ensuing acts of the 'two men' in 19, are fraught with the mixture of singular and plural. There is a strong possibility that all three of these angels/men were YHWH--cf. esp. 19.24: "Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah -- from the LORD out of the heavens." You have a YHWH on the ground, and one in heaven]. Oh, say, can you see? CM
  • MitchellMitchell Posts: 667

    @C Mc Thanks, Mitch, for sharing this clip.

    No problem! The type of phenomenon (mentioned in the OP and in the clip) regardless of if one calls it a theophany or a Christophany occurs elsewhere in the OT/Hebrew Bible but in particular in the book of Genesis.

    I find this type of phenomenon very interesting because, on one hand, we have verses like that found in 1 John 4:12 / Exodus 33:20 that state that no one can see God (or that they will die if they do), and on the other hand we have verses like Exodus 24:10 where people apparently see God and yet live.

    Grace and Peace

  • C McC Mc Posts: 3,941

    Mitch,

    To be clear, on what you are saying, these words are defined:

    • "A theophany" -- ("a manifestation") -- A theophany is God’s temporal appearing in bodily form long before Jesus’s incarnation. This special manifestation is mentioned several times in the Hebrew Scriptures where God comes down and presents Himself in the form of a man in whom we recognize the pre-incarnate Christ because in the context this Man is identified as God. 
    • The pre-incarnate Christ appearing. He takes on a human appearance as in cases of theophany, God’s pre-incarnate appearances (Josh 5:13–15; Judg 13:6, 10, 21).].
    • The Apostle Paul stresses that it was Christ who led Israel out of Egypt to the Promised Land, thus he identifies who is the Angel of the Lord: “They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ” (1 Cor 10:3–4). 

    Can these theophanies be actually Christophanies in the Hebrew Scriptures?

    1.     According to Genesis 18, three men visited Abraham (18:1–2), and he showed them his generous hospitality (Compilation):

    • Later in the story, the two of them departed to Sodom (Gen. 18:16, 22).
    • They are identified as angels or messengers (Gen. 19:1, 15) but also as men (Gen. 19:5, 10, 12).
    • The Man who stayed and communicated with Abraham is identified as the Lord (Gen. 18:10, 14, 17, 20, 22, 33).
    • The Judge of all the earth (Gen. 18:25).
    • Abraham is further dialoguing with God and asking for His mercy over Sodom to spare their lives if only ten righteous can be found there (Gen. 18:23–32).
    • The Lord graciously granted his prayer (Gen. 18:32). 

    2.     According to Genesis 32:

    • Jacob wrestles with a Man (Genesis 32:14)
    • Later identified as God (Genesis 32.30).
    • Jacob realized that he was encountering a heavenly divine being because he asks this Man to bless him. God then changes his name and blesses him (Genesis 32. 28–29).
    • Jacob explains why he named that place “Peniel” (“The Face of God”):
      • “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared” (Genesis 32.30; see also Hos 12:3–5). 

    3.     Josh 5:13–15 tells the story about Joshua meeting a Man who is the “commander of the army of the Lord.”

    • Joshua worshiped him and was not reproached for it.
    • This Man commanded Joshua to do exactly the same thing that God had asked Moses to do according to Exod 3:2–6:

    “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.”

    • Joshua is thus a new Moses and is commissioned to conquer the Promised Land.

    Please note this:

    Dan 10:5 describes Daniel’s vision in which he saw a “Man in linen.”

    • The comparison of Dan 10:5–6 with Josh 5:13–15, Ezek 1:26–28, Dan 8:11; 12:6-7, and Rev 1:13–17 leads to the conclusion that this Man in linen is a divine being, the divine Warrior-Priest, the pre-incarnate Christ.

    Mitch, I hope this adds to our understanding. Be Blessed! CM

  • MitchellMitchell Posts: 667

    Yes, these are the types of passage that we must wrestle with!

    Theologians and believers, in general, believe that God is omnipresent and that God transcends both the earth and the heavens and yet at the very same time the theophanies in the OT show that God can also be manifest in a particular place at a particular time in the form of the messenger of LORD. Those who produced the targums (Aramaic interpretative translations of the OT) seemed to wrestle with the concept through the use of the term Memra or ma'amar. See:

    Moore, George Foot. “Intermediaries in Jewish Theology: Memra, Shekinah, Metatron.” The Harvard Theological Review, vol. 15, no. 1, 1922, pp. 41–85. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/1507936.

    Box, G. H. “The Idea of Intermediation in Jewish Theology. A Note on Memra and Shekinah.” The Jewish Quarterly Review, vol. 23, no. 2, 1932, pp. 103–119. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/1451950.

    Boyarin, Daniel. “The Gospel of the Memra: Jewish Binitarianism and the Prologue to John.” The Harvard Theological Review, vol. 94, no. 3, 2001, pp. 243–284. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3657424.


    Grace and Peace

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