Welcome to our first question and response episode for our theme on seventh-day rest.
Sam from Ohio (1:55): “I've heard you use the phrase that the Hebrew authors are in conversation with their Canaanite neighbors. In the creation narratives, when the Hebrew authors use the word avodah—for slave labor or work—are they saying something significant to their Canaanite neighbors, who in some of their creation accounts claim that the gods created humans to be their slaves? Is the word avodah tied to a unique claim that the Hebrew authors are trying to make about the relationship between God, work, and rest?”
Laura from Missouri (11:46): “As you were talking about sacred time built into the fabric of creation—particularly how the sun, moon, and stars are indented to mark the days and times for seasons and feasts—would these things still have been the case if the fall did not occur? Were these intended to be part of the people of God regardless of the fall? And if so, what would they be looking back to or forward to?”
Mike from South Africa (22:20): “Is the number seven a divine construct imported into the Israelite thinking? Or is it (or was it) an already established cultural idea that God just adopted to teach something that they would have understood if you spoke in their language?”
Brianna from Wisconsin (32:35): “I have a question about the flood narrative, and what’s going on there with all the uses of time and sevens that keep getting repeated. I’m wondering if all the references to time are supposed to get mapped onto Israel’s calendar and the feast days? And if so, does that somehow tie into Noah and his name meaning “rest?” What are we meant to see there with all the reference to time and sevens and the idea that Noah is rest and bringing rest into the world.”
John from Virginia (43:27): “You mention that the Exodus story participates with days one, two, and three of the creation account. I was wondering if there was anything following that that maps onto days four, five, and six that maps onto the new Eden.”
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Podcast Date: November 21, 2019
Speakers in the audio file:
Jon: Hey, this is Jon.
Tim: And this is Tim.
Jon: Today on the podcast, we're going to do a question and response episode. We're going to do these throughout the series that we're in on 7th Day Rest, and we're going to drop them midweek.
Tim: That's a new approach. Normally we put them in the weekly flow of the series, but we're going to try just to make them little bonus episodes.
Jon: Do it more often. Do it midweek. All right, sounds like a plan.
Tim: Deal. We're multiple episodes in now. I think this is November 11th.
Jon: We just released Episode 5.
Tim: Episode 5. Oh, wow.
Jon: Cosmic time or the cathedral in time. But no one's listened to that.
Tim: That was the one on the tabernacle. Maybe some people have.
Jon: Well, yes, that's true. It' up this morning.
Tim: It's 3 in the afternoon.
Jon: Many people have listened to it so far.
Tim: That's right. That was a cool conversation. We're up to the tabernacle in the podcast series. We're going into the story of the temple after that...No, all of the feast days in Leviticus, the Jubilee, and exile as anti- Jubilee or inverted Jubilee.
Jon: That's all to come?
Tim: That's all to come. The temple prophets, Jesus and the Sabbath, the New Testament, the apostles. Dude, so much good stuff.
Jon: What we're finding is a lot of the questions that are coming in, don't know where we're heading. Some of them will be answered.
Tim: Or responded to.
Jon: Yeah, addressed. But at the same time, we may throw it in the mix before we get to it. Let's get going.
Tim: First one is from Sam, who's from Ohio.
Sam: "Hi, my name is Sam from Marysville, Ohio. I've heard you use the phrase that the Hebrew authors are in conversation with their Canaanite neighbors. In the creation narratives, when the Hebrew authors use the word avodah—for slave labor or work—are they saying something significant to their Canaanite neighbors, who in some of their creation accounts claim that the gods created humans to be their slaves? Is the word avodah tied to a unique claim that the Hebrew authors are trying to make about the relationship between God, work, and rest? Thanks so much."
Tim: Great question, Sam. So work. This is interesting. You have the ideal setup of Genesis 1 where God's the one working, and He rests from His work on the seventh day—so God rest from his work after ordering the cosmos—but then on day six of Genesis 1, He appoints humans to rule and subdue the land, which is going to take work. However, it's not till the Eden narrative. Genesis 2 kind of retells that story from a different angle of God provides water and plants a garden, creates the human and then appoints the human. And this the first time we get the word "avod", which is the verb of the noun you mentioned, Sam, "avodah," which means labor or work.
Jon: To work the ground.
Tim: But it's also the word avad from the same root is the main Hebrew word for slave. An "avodah" is what the word used to describe Israelite slavery in Egypt. The word "work" means just labor, but in Hebrew is someone who does avodah and is the property of another is an avad - a laborer.
Jon: And all of Israel was a slave to Egypt. So they were all laborers?
Tim: Yeah, slaves. Your question, Sam, is about the cross-cultural resonance of this image of God creating human for labor in the garden.
Jon: It's interesting. So if you're a Canaanite, and your reading or you're hearing the Israelite Eden narrative, and they put a man in the garden as a slave almost it would sound like...
Tim: Or just to labor and to keep.
Jon: ...it'd be like, "Oh, that sounds like your God wants you to be a slave."
Tim: Again, Genesis 1 and 2 has a complimentary portrait. The portrait of Genesis 1 is of royal priests, kings, and queens of creation who rule. The work that they're doing then in Genesis, if you only had Genesis 2, you might wonder, "Oh, like, what kind of work is this? Is this God's creating humans as slaves?" Because that story is in the air. It's actually not a Canaanite story, but it's a Babylonian story. Two of the most famous foundation stories for ancient Babylonian culture, one was called Enuma Elish, which tells the story of the rise of Babylon and their god, Marduk to become the great power in the world. That's the one of Marduk defeats the seven-headed dragon.
Jon: By blowing the throat open and it's shooting arrows.
Tim: Yeah, the chaos monsters mouth. The other important foundation story is called the Atrahasis Epic. This story begins with the origination of the main deities of the land. There's the chief god of the land, his name is Enlil, there's Anu the sky god, and Enki the water god. Heavens and the land and the waters. Basic elements of the ancient cosmos.
Jon: It sounds familiar.
Tim: Yeah, it sound familiar. Then you've got some other tiers of deities, and there's a whole story about how these deities all emerged from the primary deities and so on. But there's this group called Igigi. I like them. Igigi. They are lower class deities who served the upper-class deities, the ones at the top. And they stage the first like labor union walkout, I guess in recorded economic history, because they're tired of farming and providing food for all of the gods who are more important than them. They go to Enlil and they protest and they arrange that they're going to make another creature who will serve everybody - all the gods: give them food given them clothes, all this, build them houses. This new creature needs to be more than just an animal. It can be half clay creature, half divine. So they kill one of their own, a deity named Geshtu- e, and they pour out his blood and they make clay. They pour out his blood into the dirt and make clay.
Jon: Making clay out of blood dirt.
Tim: Then they produce humans. The first humans come from the blood of the gods mixed with clay. And then now you have the humans, and they're essentially are made slaves of the gods to give them food, clothing and build their houses. This is the origin story of humanity in their culture.
Jon: It's brutal origin story.
Tim: Totally. This is a transparent legitimation story for the Babylonian hierarchy. Because the king and all his those counselors and so on are either the embodiment of or the appointees of the gods. They are the image of God. These are phrase.
Jon: The elite are the image of God.
Tim: The elite are the image of God and the rest of the humans are essentially the slaves. Of course, this is a story about the origin of all of the normal humans, because it legitimates the social order. They're trying to hold up.
Jon: They are here to make sure that we can stay fed and happy.
Tim: That's right.
Jon: Because we rule you. So you get to Genesis 1 and it says everyone is the image of God, and you're like, "Everyone? Really? Man and women, all humans?" Then and in the Eden narrative when they go to work, then it comes out of that identity of everyone being the image of God.
Tim: That's right. In other words, the labor of humanity in Genesis 1 and 2 is a co-partnering as God's images. So partnering with God to rule the world and to invest in labor to create new, undiscovered possibilities just like God brought new possibilities out of the darkness and chaos.
Jon: It's like God was working... [crosstalk 00:08:28]
Tim: That's right. What we would call it today, we would call it has elevated dignity of the human species. But not just for some, but for the whole race. That's what ancient Babylonians and Canaanites would have noticed. It seems like it's an intentional part of the portrait. That it's a royal coworker portrait as opposed to a slave of the gods kind of portrait. I think that's really interesting.
Jon: It is interesting. Is there another Hebrew word for "work" that doesn't have the same slave overtones?
Tim: Oh, yeah. There's the work that God rests from in Genesis 1 - it's the word melaka. And then there's some other...
Jon: Wait, what is that word in Genesis 1?
Tim: It's on the seventh day when God rested from all of His work. And so in the Sabbath commands, that's the kind of work you rest from. Also, the avod word is also used. I'm trying to think. Ecclesiastes has this word "toil", amal. And that becomes his keyword for the post-Eden work. So if you could avod before the fall and after the fall, He wants to really drill on the kind of work after the fall. And he calls it amal (toil), chasing after the wind.
Jon: Then the other one that starts with an M. What's that word again? Tim: Melaka.
Tim: Yeah, melaka.
Jon: How else is that used?
Tim: It can be used to describe people's property. A thief is somebody who puts their hands on their neighbor's melaka.
Jon: So it can mean property?
Tim: Property. What you've worked for.
Jon: What you've worked for?
Tim: Yeah, what you've worked for. The tabernacle, all the instruments like the tables and poles and things of the tabernacle are all called melaka on analogy to Genesis 1.
Jon: It was God's melaka.
Tim: Yeah. And because of the tabernacle is a mini cosmos. Man, tabernacle narratives is where the majority of this word occurs. And then in Sabbath command. That's really interesting,
Jon: Is it just a synonym?
Tim: It is a synonym. This is from the dictionary of classical Hebrew, a David Clines' editor. Melaka: work, task deed, business, trade, can refer to handy works or crafts, property. Versus avodah which is more about physical labor. Don't we have to work, to serve, to be subservient to, to perform service, to labor?
Jon: Yeah, we have tons of words. I'm just curious if it's just they had two different words, and so one was used in Genesis 1 and one was used in Genesis 2. Or if there's some significance to God's work being melaka and the human's work being avodah.
Tim: That's a good question. I don't have full concordance uploaded in my mind. If I was a better man, I would. But I don't. Sam from Ohio, that's a great question.
Next, we have a question from Laura from Missouri.
Laura: "Hi, Tim and John. This is Laura from St. Louis, Missouri. As you were talking about sacred time built into the fabric of creation—particularly how the sun, moon, and stars are indented to mark the days and times for seasons and feasts—would these things still have been the case if the fall did not occur? Were these intended to be part of the people of God regardless of the fall? And if so, what would they be looking back to or forward to? Thanks so much for all you do."
Jon: That's kind of a tricky question.
Tim: Yeah, that's a very thoughtful question. I appreciated it. I've never quite thought to ask it in that way. So I liked it. I'm happy to respond. Even though the event being referred to in Genesis 1 is the beginning of all things, although from a different cosmological perspective, a different sense of the cosmos than what I grew up with and public school of like the solar system and the galaxies and Big Bang and all that kind of thing, expanding universe, so different cosmologies and how the cosmos is structured. However, the universe had some kind of beginning. And this is a story claiming to make some claims about that. The trick is that the vantage point of the narrator's speaking voice is not from the vantage point of the first seconds of the universe. The vantage point is from way down the line of the biblical narrative. In other words, the origins of the world are being described in precisely the language and categories needed to set you up for the whole drama of the biblical narrative from Genesis to Kings, especially from creation to Israel's exile. The whole story is focused on Israel as God's kind of it for producing some promised seed through whom the new creation will come into being. Genesis 1 isn't like a neutral, pre-enculturated version of video camera footage of the Big Bang. It's very much aversion to the ancient Israelite cosmology meant to explain specifically what Genesis 1 as we're going to see...no, in this episode that dropped today on November 11, Genesis 1 is teeing you up to give you the categories for Israel's sacred space and sacred time in the tabernacle and temple and the sacred calendar. Think of it this way. If Israel sacred calendar as being referred to in Genesis 1, God appoints the sun, moon stars...
Jon: In Genesis 1:14 "God said let there be lights in the vaults, ruakh of the sky..." No, no, no. Is that the right word?
Tim: In the rakia.
Jon: Rakia. "...in the rakia of the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them serve as signs to mark sacred times and days and years." Referring to the feasts.
Tim: Yeah, the feast days that we're going to read about in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers.
Jon: So here's God at the beginning of the ordering of the cosmos, and the purpose of the stars were for these feasts for ancient Israel
Tim: That's right. One of those feasts is Passover, which hasn't happened in narrative time yet. One of them is the Day of Atonement, which is when the people's sins are dealt with and covered. There's no sin in the narrative that's happened yet. This is what I think is prompting your question, Laura.
Jon: Yeah, right.
Tim: In other words, the narrator's vantage point is that of somebody for whom the sacred space and sacred time of Israel's calendar and tabernacle, they are the way that the seventh-day rest and the micro Eden are being remembered and recovered and reenacted. Genesis 1 is told from that vantage point. That these ways that God has told us to recreate Eden here in the tabernacle and in the sacred calendar, these are woven into the fabric of God's redemptive purposes for the universe. Genesis 1 is told from that vantage point. Genesis 2 is told from a different vantage point. Genesis 1 begins with its chaos and disorder in the dark, watery abyss. Genesis 2 begins in disorder and uncultivated wilderness without any water. The two visions of the beginning, they both begin in chaos and disorder. Genesis 1 is specifically teed up to prepare you for recovery of the seventh day Eden ideal in the tabernacle and ritual calendar. Does that make any sense?
Jon: It doesn't make sense. But questions still then underneath that is—and I think this is kind of how I was trained to read these chapters as well—is God creates this kind of perfect untouched by evil and sin kind of cosmos and world that he puts humans in. So there's this desire to kind of go back and go, "Okay, so what is the ideal?" And if you go back and you look at Genesis 1 and you're looking for an ideal, then you go, "Oh, well, God made the stars to show the sacred days, so the ideal must be to observe the sacred days." Now, that was the ideal for an ancient Israelite. And so it's doing that work. But now we're reading it post Jesus as non-Jewish people who want to use the Scriptures for wisdom. So do you go back and say, there is an ideal of these sacred days being part of our life rhythm? And if it's not, then it almost starts to feel like what other strings can you pull and unravel things out?
Tim: That's interesting. That argument has been used throughout history. Even in the first generations where you have the church like in Rome, for example, you can tell from the letter to the Romans or in Galatia, where you have some Messianic Jews, not all, but some, who are certain. The scriptures are very clear that if Gentiles want to enter the family of Abraham, they need to become Torah observant - start observing celebrate the feasts, the sacred calendar. Because the sacred calendar isn't just for Israel, it's for the new humanity that corresponds to God's original vision for humanity in Genesis 1 and 2.
Jon: And if that's your position, going to Genesis 1:14, would be like, see, He put it in the fabric of the cosmos.
Tim: That's right. It seems like Jesus and the apostles drew a different conclusion. For them, what was universal was the symbolic meaning of the seventh day. I mean, this is where our conversation is going in the podcast series. This is why Jesus began to redefine and include new definitions of work on the Sabbath, the work of healing and restoration. This is ultimately what led the apostles to say that Israel's calendar wasn't obligatory for followers of Jesus because the kingdom of God inaugurated in Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of the seventh day of the Passover of the Day of Atonement of Tabernacles. It's the kingdom of God. That's what all of these symbols point to. Does that make any sense?
Tim: Themes like the Messianic Jews of the early Jesus movement as the Jesus movement went cross-cultural, and the whole inclusion of the Gentiles without having to become kosher and circumcised and Torah observant for the sacred days, that was a key moment where they believed that in Jesus' inauguration of the kingdom of God, the symbolic meaning of the Sabbath and of Israel's calendar came to its fulfillment in the age of the kingdom of God and the coming of the Spirit.
Jon: If I understand then what you're saying is Genesis 1 was not written in a vacuum. It was written by the biblical author who were Israelites, who as part of their identity, as the people of God had sacred days and feasts to observe. And so when they...
Tim: They grew up immersed in the sacred calendar in the weekly Sabbath rhythm. It's their world. It's their cosmos.
Jon: So as they're reflecting on that, and they're writing Genesis 1 through the Holy Spirit...
Tim: Yeah, the Holy Spirit directs them.
Jon: ...the Holy Spirit directs them to put in the stars as signs for their sacred days and years. That seems specific to them. And what you're saying is the apostles clearly...
Tim: Well, first step is, within the Hebrew Bible itself, those sacred days are the way that God is recreating Israel according to the seventh-day rest Eden ideal of Genesis 1 and 2. That's why those clues are there. That's why all the temple, the calendar clues are there in Genesis 1 and 2.
Jon: All this is pointing to the ideal.
Tim: That's right. You get to Jesus, and he says, "I am that which is all been pointing to."
Jon: "I am the Lord of the Sabbath."
Tim: He reads from Isaiah 61 "This is the year of jubilee is here and today these things are fulfilled in me."
Jon: This is all fulfilled in me. That doesn't mean you have to stop observing any of these holy days. But it also means you don't have to because they were all a foreshadow of what he was doing or going to do.
Tim: Yeah, that's right. That's right.
Jon: They served as markers for these days that were also markers for a person.
Tim: Yeah, yeah, totally. Yep. I think that's exactly right. By the way, we're going to have this conversation over and over and over again and all these Q+Rs. Whenever you talk about Sabbath, these are all exactly the questions that come up. Actually, the next question I selected is same issue but from another angle. This is from Mike who lives in South Africa.
Mike: "Hey, guys. My name is Mike. I'm from South Africa. Our question is, is the number seven a divine construct imported into the Israelite thinking? Or is it (or was it) an already established cultural idea that God just adopted to teach something that they would have understood if you spoke in their language? Thank you."
Jon: Is he saying like, was this idea already in the air and so God used it as a teaching lesson?
Tim: The contrast, the way Mike puts it, we see this as opposites. Is it either a divine construct imported into the biblical authors' minds? In other words, the idea of the seven-day scheme is actually like a universal divine concept that dropped out of the heavens into the biblical authors minds with no cultural influence, whatever, or is it a cultural idea at work in the cultures around Israel that happens through the culture of Israel, and then God is using that through the biblical authors to teach?
Jon: Is it a law of the universe like gravity or is it just a social construct?
Tim: Yeah, that's right. This is the questions that come up with Genesis 1. What we want to do is actually take Genesis 1 out of its language, historical, cultural context of its Israelite ancient context and make it about the origins of the universe in some abstract ideal form. And usually, by that we mean, according to 21st-century Western cosmology. Usually -what's assumed but not stated in those conversations. And so then what we're looking for is like patterns of seven in modern mathematical equations of physics. I think that's a dead-end intellectually, because it doesn't honor the most basic form of human communication that's God's chosen to us through the Scriptures and through Jesus, which is words only mean what they mean in light of the language in which they're spoken, and language is a product of human societies and cultures which differ and develop over time. And so, if you really believe in the incarnation of Jesus as a 1st-century Aramaic speaking Jew who pooped his diapers and grew up in Nazareth, you believe that God works in and through culturally influenced and shaped people and processes. I think it's only consistent to say Genesis 1 is the same. It's an ancient Israelite cosmology. So where I should look is both within ancient Israelite culture within the biblical narrative, and then within the cultures around Israel for why the number seven would be used. And that's what we did real briefly in our first episode. That's the approach that this most compelling to me. And that has been the most fruitful and illuminating biblical literature and understanding it and its context for me.
Jon: Well, let's say Genesis 1 was written during Second Temple Judaism.
Tim: Or even let's just say during the First Temple on Mosaic authorship models during, you know, with the tabernacle.
Jon: So yeah, maybe it was in some form being passed around even as early as the time of the tabernacle, and the Sabbath ideal or law was in the narrative happens right after the Exodus.
Tim: Yeah, that's right. The actual command to observe the Sabbath comes way later in Exodus.
Jon: I mean, I guess, depending on where you think this story materialize...
Tim: Oh, I see. Sure. Sure.
Jon: Here's a question. Did they already have the law of Moses before the circulation or writing of the creation story or did the creation story exist - Moses knew it - and then he got the law?
Tim: That's a fascinating question. But that's a different question than reading Genesis 1 as the introductory chapter to the Hebrew Bible, to the Tanak collection. The current function of Genesis 1 is to give you all of the language, the categories, vocabulary, and themes that you need to read the rest of this literary collection. And lo and behold, it gives you everything you need. Because what the narrative is doing, it's written by an Israelite for an Israeli audience. And that Israeli audience and that Israeli author grew up immersed in this calendar. The whole story is about these people believes that through them God is doing something to bring new creation to all the nations. Genesis 1 functions perfectly as the prologue, as a way of thinking about the origins of the universe for that kind of story. The problem is when we want Genesis 1 to serve our cosmological purposes, and answer our cosmological questions according to modern physics...
Jon: We're wondering if that number seven might somehow help us solve string theory or something.
Tim: Totally. And who knows? I'm not a physicist, but yes, a totally different question than reading an ancient text and asking what is its meaning.
Jon: And the story of the Bible of the Hebrew Scriptures is of a people set apart to reclaim this relationship with God so that the whole world can then be blessed through it. And as part of them being recreated and transformed is these sacred feasts and festivals.
Jon: And so, to set that up, to understand the significance of that, you're reading God ordering the cosmos, you see, like, "Oh, yeah, I'm basic to the whole universe, not just to me and my clan...
Tim: Basic to the Israelite view of the universe.
Jon: But their view of the universe is that this is not just...
Tim: Israel's view of the universe has relevance for all. That's why Genesis 1-11 is about all humanity, not just God and Israel. But it's told in the language and categories that set you up before the story of what God is doing through Israel.
Jon: I just want to repeat this, because I want to help it land for me. That you could look at this and then say, "Well, you see, we need to practice the Sabbath. It's woven into the fabric of the cosmos read in Genesis 1."
Tim: Because God did it.
Jon: Yeah, God did it; you got to do it. Also, all the feasts and holy days, also woven into the fabric of how God ordered the cosmos. That's why the stars exist. Read Genesis 1:14. That's a really good argument. And what you're saying is, well, yeah, and that's especially good argument because that's their identity as Israelites. But what they didn't see coming with the narrative is slowly going to boil up to is that all of this is our signs pointing towards what ultimately is going to be a person.
Tim: Yes, totally. That's exactly right. An exalted image of God, human ruling with God as His partner and image in the never-ending seven-day rest. That's how Genesis 1 ends - with God and His image and living together in the seventh-day rest that has no end. Then you turn to page two and immediately that ideal is not realized.
Jon: And if He had a seventh-day rest with no end, then there is no point in Sabbath and festivals. You're living in a different type of time-space philosophy.
Tim: The whole story then from Genesis 2 onward is about the failed partners that God keeps putting up with as He tries to recreate and lead humanity towards the seventh-day rest and people keep blowing it. And so the Israelite calendar is one of the ways, it's the main way for Israel that he Institute's that they have all now... they have seven now of these feasts and they're all pointing to the same Ideal yet to be realized.
Jon: So all the stars, they're pointing towards feasts that are pointing towards an ideal, which the seventh day in Genesis 1 itself is in the fulfillment of.
Tim: That's right.
Jon: So you get to day four and God creates the stars, and you're like, "And there's signs. Awesome. Let's follow this." And by day seven they don't matter anymore. Is that what you're saying?
Tim: The function of the Hebrew Bible as meditation literature. There are things buried in the opening pages that are only comprehensible once you've read to the whole collection and then come back and read it again.
Jon: I know. It's funny to think about if it's a day that doesn't end, then, yeah what are the purpose of the sun, moon, and stars?
Tim: In linear narrative perspective, that makes sense. But when you read Genesis 1 as the prolog and the summary of the whole story you're about to read, this is why Jesus calls himself the son of Adam, son of man who's the Lord of the Sabbath. He is bringing that seventh day into reality. That he is the image of God, as Paul says in Colossians 1 and the firstborn of a new of the new creation.
Jon: I think that's landing. Sorry to beat that down.
Tim: No, no. Laura and Mike those are wonderful questions. This is Brianna who came for the Jon class.
Brianna: "Hi, guys. This is Brianna from Wisconsin. I have a question about the flood narrative and what’s going on there with all the uses of time and sevens that keep getting repeated. I'm wondering if all the references to time are supposed to get mapped onto Israel’s calendar and the feast days? And if so, does that somehow tie into Noah and his name meaning "rest"? What are we meant to see there with all the reference to time and sevens and the idea that Noah is rest and bringing rest into the world?" Thanks for all you guys do this has been a fascinating series."
Jon: What is she saying?
Tim: Dude the flood story. So awesome.
Jon: We didn't talk about this, did we?
Tim: A little bit.
Jon: I don't remember all the sevens in the flood story.
Tim: We could do a whole class on the flood story. But when God tells Noah that He's going to bring the waters of the flood - this is in Genesis 7 - God tells Noah that He's going to bring the animals in by seven, according to all the categories of Genesis 1. Then in vs 4 He says, "In seven more days" I'm going to send rain on the earth for 40 days and 40 nights. All literally blot out from the face of the land, all life that I've made. Vs 6 Noah was 600 years old when the floodwaters came upon the land." There you go. He's told in seven more days, then rain will come for 40 days and 40 nights. Does that make sense?
Tim: Down to vs 10 it came about after seven days, the waters came. In the 600th year of Noah's life in the second month on the 17th day of the month, on that very day, all the springs of the deep - this is the water underneath the land. Then the windows up in the rakia drop. So the water is above and below that were separated on day two are not collapsing back in on each other. That's the image. And the rain fell for 40 days and 40 nights. Here's what's interesting. You have these seven, 40 days and 40 nights...
Jon: You have pairs of animals in seven.
Tim: That's right. Go down to the end of chapter 7, the last sentence of chapter 7 is "the water was strong on the earth on the land for 150 days." The whole point is somebody really wants us to pay attention to these time notices and so on. There are three sets of schemes here. There's the seven-day theme here at work, there's a 40 days and 40 nights, and then there's this 150 days. What's interesting is if you follow the numbers, they appear...if you read the story through highlighting these notices, they're in exactly reverse symmetry order. They're in the order of a chiasm, all the numbers.
Jon: Oh, really?
Tim: Yeah. God tells Noah about the seven. In seven more days, the rain will come for 40 days and 40 nights. The water was over 150 days. Genesis 8:3, then the water receded at the end of 150 days. Genesis 8:6 It came about at the end of 40 days... and then in Genesis 8:10 then he waited another seven days... then Genesis 8:12, another seven days. The numbers are exactly mentioned in mirror order that they were back in chapter seven. Interesting.
Jon: Two sevens, a forty, a one fifty, another one fifty, another 40, two more sevens.
Tim: That's right.
Jon: Why does that matter?
Tim: Look at the notice. In Genesis 8:13 "now it came about in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, on the first of the month, the water dried up from the earth. What is the first year? 600 and...
Jon: That's Noah's life. That's his birthday?
Tim: Six hundredth and first year - yeah, his birthday - on the first of the month. What's the first month in Genesis 1-11? The first month of what? Of what calendar? Are you with me?
Tim: In Genesis 8:13, in the six hundredth year and first year, on the first month...
Jon: The first month of his life?
Tim: On the first of the month. Did you see this? In the six hundredth and first year seems like of Noah's life? On the first month, on the first of the month, according to what calendar?
Jon: Probably ours. January 1.
Tim: Dude, this is fascinating. The flood story is all coordinated to Israel's sacred calendar laid out in the book of Leviticus.
Tim: This is so fascinating. This is the month of Tishrei. It's the month that begins with Rosh Hashanah. On the first day of this very day. It's Rosh Hashanah that's being noted right here. It's the month of the Day of Atonement. It's the month of Tabernacles - going through the wilderness in the tent. Actually, here, this isn't just me. This is like old, old observation and Jewish tradition. Oh, and it's also Within the calendar teed back to the first day of creation, within the chronological scheme of Genesis 1-11, and then the sacred calendar, how it works out. It's also the day of creation narrative. I'm quoting from Michael Morales really amazing book called "The Tabernacle Pre-figured: Cosmic Mountain Ideology in Genesis and Exodus." It's not something thrilling. It's actually a great book. He says, "Not only is a new year for Noah beginning but a new year's day for the whole world, the birthday of creation. On this very day, the world rises again from the chaos of the floodwaters. The removal of the arcs cover is Noah's New Year's celebration so to speak, which is a renewed creation and the new life start. This is also the same day, later on in the story, when the tabernacle will be commissioned into service." In Exodus 40...
Jon: It's the first day of the first month?
Tim: Exactly. And so on and so on. Then Noah is going to then do the testing to get off the boat and then get off the boat and offer a sacrifice, which God will smell and be pleased and then say, "I'm never going to bring the flood again." Which He brings rest to the land and brings comfort and peace to the land. Brianna, your point is, your observations are there's something with these patterns of sevens especially. But actually, the whole numerical sequence is trying to replay the flood story as a replay of Genesis 1, but then also...
Jon: Like an undoing of Genesis 1.
Tim: It's a de-creation and then re-creation story, and it ends with deliverance through the waters in the new year. And then in the same month, Noah will offer his great sacrifice that will please God. All of this is happening in the same month that when you come to this Israel's calendar, later on, is the month of Tishrei, which is Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Atonement and tabernacles are all in that same month. And this is the month that the tabernacle itself is commissioned in Exodus 40.
Jon: That makes sense. You would read this story and you go, "Oh, this is the new year. Noah comes out of the ark on the new year, the first day of the year." You said something about then all of these numbers are about the calendar? So the significance of these other seven, seven, forty, one fifty?
Tim: Well, the 40 days and 40 nights is actually an important motif in periods of purging and testing. This is actually pretty simple. You just get a concordance and look at all the 40 days or 40 nights. There are periods of waiting and testing, usually in a period of transformation or purging. It's like a design pattern. It's actually the 40 days and 40 nights that kind of makes the chronology of the flood narrative difficult to map precisely. Because when you add up the sevens, the 40s and the 150, it's challenging to do. It seems like the 40 days and 40 nights it's more like a fixed trope or very around a number in the story introducing the motif of the waiting. The waiting in the arc.
Jon: And what's the 150? What significance of that? Because 40, I am familiar with. Israelite in the wilderness...
Jon: It's part of the way that you get to...because whole point is it's one whole calendar year. That's essentially he gets onto the ark, and the floodwaters start when he's six hundred. And it's in the six hundredth and first year. So those 250s are part of making up a full calendar year that he's on the boat. Which gets you to him getting off the boat...
Jon: But it's not the first day of the first month in the six hundredth year. It's the 17th day of the second month.
Tim: You're looking at 8:13?
Jon: 7:11. That's when the floods started.
Tim: Correct. I'm looking at 8:13. "In the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month..."
Jon: That's when that ends.
Tim: That's right. However, vs 14, in the second month of the 27th day of the month, the earth was dry. So the ark even rest... and then there's always waiting periods of seven days after that. Anyhow. There's more detail then we need to get into. My point was just, Brianna you're onto something and...
Jon: Isn't that cool how Brianna just notice, "Well, there's sevens in this flood narrative and started pulling at it?"
Tim: Yeah, that's right.
Jon: There's a whole world there that now, we can't do justice in a few minutes. I think I'm just really confused but I'm intrigued.
Tim: For the record, I need to do some more work to map out exactly how they all work. But Jewish interpreters and Christian have noticed the chronology of the flood narrative matches Genesis 1 and the tabernacle commissioning and the feast calendar. All these calendars are connected. Of course, they are. I mean, of course, they are. It's one cohesive story. That's what we would expect.
The next one's about the Exodus story, which we just talked about. John from Virginia.
John: "Hey, guys. It's John Stager from Fairfax, Virginia. My question is about the flight episode. Tim, you mention that the Exodus story participates with days one, two, and three of the creation account. I was wondering if there was anything following that that maps onto days four, five, and six as we anticipated Eden." So thankful for everything you guys do. It has been a huge faith builder. Thank you so much."
Tim: Yeah, perceptive. Good question. That is what the narrative leads you to think then, right?
Jon: Right. Yeah.
Tim: In other words, within the parting of the waters story in Exodus 14, it's all happening at the transition between night and sunrise. The sunrise is mentioned multiple times. As the sun is rising, the waters are parted, and the dry land appears.
Jon: Genesis 2, Genesis 3.
Tim: That's the days one, the light, day two, water separated from the waters, day three, the dry land emerges. It leads you to ask the question, what about the sun, moon, and stars in day four? What about sky fires and water swarmers on day five? What about...
Jon: I've been reading Genesis 1 my whole life and that was never pointed out. I was just like, "What in the world?"
Tim: They're just right there in the vocabulary. What does that lead us to expect things from days four through six. So I wish I had my Hebrew Bible here because it has all my coloring and notes are on it. This was part of where we went in the conversation then. The song of the sea, the praise song that Israel things after it is where the next step of Genesis 1 and the Eden story come into play. Because that song is all about the victory of Yahweh over the gods and over Egypt.
Jon: Which chapter is this?
Tim: Exodus 15.
Jon: Yeah, they come out from the other side, they're rescued and there's this worship song?
Tim: That's right. In this song, we're praising Yahweh for his acts of deliverance over Pharaoh. This is just spotting themes in the song. One is there's a lot of focus on the destruction of the enemy in the waters. Actually, what that's all riffing off is flood. That's flood imagery of God destroying the wicked with the chaos waters. God is the master of the chaos waters. But Look at vs 11. After watching Pharaoh and his armies and the evil destroyed in the flood, the conclusion of vs 11 is "who is like you among the Elohim, O Lord?"
Jon: There's the sun, moon, and stars.
Tim: Actually, that's where I'm going. You remember in Genesis 1, days four and six are the days where the rulers of the cosmos are appointed. The sun, moon and stars, and specifically the sun and moon, specifically called the rulers of day and night, corresponding to the earthly or the land rulers. They are the rulers above, the rulers below and they correspond to each other. What that tells me then is heaven and earth, and inhabitants of heaven and earth are mirrors of each other, so to speak. In the 10th plague of the firstborn, God says when He passes over Egypt to strike the firstborn, He says he's bringing a judgment against Pharaoh and the Elohim of Egypt ( Exodus 12:12). So the last plague tells you that the plagues have been an assault both on Pharaoh and his house for royal etiology and also to the Elohim that are a part of the principalities and powers over Egypt. And you see that same theology reflected here in the song. When Pharaoh is brought to his end, the conclusion is, there's no Elohim like Yahweh. He's clearly the Elohim in charge around here.
Jon: There's no other power in the universe that is more.
Tim: That's right. There are no rulers above or below that can challenge Yahweh. Because he's the Creator. He's the ruler, master of the chaos waters. From that point then, look where the poem goes. In vs 13, "then in your loyal love, you've taken the people that you've redeemed, and you have led them..." We talked about this in our conversation in the podcast. That word "lead" rhymes with the word "Noah." Noah's name is Noach; this verb is "nacha." And then "you guide them to your holy habitation. Vs 17 You're going to bring them and plant them in the mountain of your inheritance, the place that you've made for your dwelling."
Jon: This is all Eden.
Tim: Now we're to either day six of God leading His people and appointing them, planting and it's Eden imagery.
Jon: Planting the Hebrew rulers as an image of God, planting them in the Eden.
Tim: That's right. In that place where God will dwell with His human rulers, He reigns forever as King. That's vs 810. So you really have to read the concluding song to pick up the completion of Genesis 1 and 2 of the design patterns.
Jon: That's cool.
Tim: It is cool. This literature's amazing. What we're doing, we're continuing to basically cycle through each large narrative chunk is pattern on the template of Genesis 1, 2 and 3 - really all 1-11 provides the template - and then later stories through their vocabulary can just pick up those earlier themes and then develop them in a new direction. For example, the human rulers and the heavenly rulers, you meet their corrupted versions in the exodus story of the Pharaoh and the gods of Egypt. So they have to be brought down in the flood, so that a new creation can emerge, a new Eden can emerge.
Jon: And this flood motif too of just the chaotic water is being unleashed to deal with that in Genesis 6. And then you see it here in Exodus 14.
Tim: That's right. God promised never to destroy the whole cosmos, but apparently that doesn't keep God from bringing the local flood, like here at the sea to take out the human and spiritual bad guys.
Tim: All right.
Jon: That's a lot. If someone just jumped into this podcast for the first time, it's a lot.
Tim: Deep end of the pool.
Jon: But if you've been listening, following along, maybe you're scratching some things. It makes me want to chase some ideas down further. Thank you, Tim.
Tim: Thank you, everybody, for your great questions. Really thoughtful. Again, every question that we choose to read out loud represents usually anywhere from three to five to ten questions that were very similar to it. So we're trying to group them all together and respond in the time that we have. So thanks, you guys.
Jon: There was one other thing that we wanted to address. Actually, I think couple episodes ago, we were talking about trying to be ruler of time. And we had a discussion about...I said something to the degree of I noticed that in my life every five to seven years, I start something and it seems like it comes to some sort of culmination. And it is five or seven years. There's something about that time periods. That's enough time for something significant to happen.
Tim: And then you said, "And that's about how long we've been at The Bible Project."
Jon: That's how long we've been at The Bible Project and it feels like something significant has happened. Very significant. Way more than we anticipated. Then I think we said and now we're going to go off and think about what's next. Actually, that comment spun some people out because I think imaginations went off thinking we were going to go do something else, and not do this project anymore. If that was you listening to that conversation, and you're like, "What are they going to do? Is the project going to continue?" Yes, we're going to continue this project. We love this project. It had been such a wonderful thing to be able to do this. I mean, really amazing.
Tim: We have lots of more video content planned.
Jon: Yeah, lots of videos planned. For years we've got a calendar that goes out years, tons of other ideas. There was a big shift in the organization. Like we brought on an executive director this year. And it's just grown to
Caroline: Hector: Caroline: Hector: Jeremy: Caroline:
become something that feels different. It went into a new season. And it's exciting.
It is exciting.
And it's allowing me and you to rethink and refocus on what we put our thoughts to and just some more freedom. There's a lot going on. We're really excited about all of it. Don't worry.
We're not going anywhere. We are trying to work from a place of rest and joy.
Yeah. All right. Thanks for being a part of this with us.
Hi, this is Jeremy LaDuke.