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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gen. 19:24 ("Jehovah rained down fire ... from Jehovah")

Gen. 19:24 ("Jehovah rained down fire ... from Jehovah")

                                                     (From the RDB Files)

        "Then the LORD rained down upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven." - KJV.
 
        This one seems too ridiculous to even bother with, but some trinitarians appear to be serious about it.  It goes this way: when we read Gen. 19:24, we find there are two different persons who have the only personal name of God, "Jehovah," (or "LORD" in some mistranslations).  Therefore these two different persons with God's personal name show the "plural personality" of that one God.
 
        Even if we assume this to be a correct translation, it seems obvious that it can be honestly interpreted as a simple repetition of the same person's name.  That is, the very same person who produced the brimstone and fire, Jehovah, is also the one who rained it down upon these cities.
 
        The explanatory note by trinitarian Dr. Young in Young's Concise Critical Bible Commentary, Baker Book House, for this verse states: "JEHOVAH...JEHOVAH, i.e. from Himself."
 
        If that is the correct explanation, then this scripture might provide a somewhat parallel example: "And King Solomon gave to the Queen of Sheba all that she desired, whatever she asked besides what was given her by the bounty of King Solomon." - 1 Kings 10:13, RSV.  (Cf. KJV.)  Even though this is a very literal translation of the original manuscripts and the one personal name of King Solomon is actually used twice, we surely don't believe there were two different persons making up the one King Solomon!  Wouldn't we interpret this as Dr. Young (and others) have done with "Jehovah" above?   That is obviously how the Living Bible, NIV, MLB, NASB, etc. have interpreted it.   ("King Solomon gave her everything she asked him for, besides the presents he had already planned." - LB.)
 
        Another honest explanation for Gen. 19:24 given by trinitarian scholars themselves is that the use of the phrase in question ("from the LORD out of heaven") is in doubt.  The very trinitarian New American Bible, 1970 ed. (Catholic) encloses the last part of Gen. 19:24 in brackets: "the LORD rained down sulphurous fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah [from the LORD out of heaven]."  And the preface to the NAB tells us: "Doubtful readings ... appear within brackets." - p. 45, St. Joseph Edition.
 
        That is why these trinitarian Bible translations have actually omitted that doubtful portion: NEB, REB, AT, Mo, LB, and GNB.  (E.g. "then the LORD rained down fire and brimstone from the skies on Sodom and Gomorrah." - New English Bible.)  And others, like the NJB, have rendered it "[Jehovah] rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire of his own sending."  Certainly no trinitarian Bible translation would do this if it could possibly be used as honest trinitarian evidence!

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is there a connection with the account in the proceeding chapter where Abraham meets the three travellers one of whom the text states is Jehovah?

Jesus said no one has seen the Father yet Gen. 18 states that Jehovah appeared to Abraham and Abraham walked with him to a mountain overlooking Sodom where he negotiated for the inhabitants of the district. If the Father is Jehovah and hasn't been seen by man and Abraham met with Jehovah who was one of the three by the mamre trees then who is that Jehovah? And is that the Jehovah connected with this text in Gen. 19?

Elijah said...

The Angel of Jehovah often speaks as Jehovah and is even called ‘Jehovah’ by those to whom he speaks when he is representing Jehovah:

It is not uncommon for a trusted servant to actually represent his master in dealings with others. “What a servant says or does is [sometimes] ascribed to the master.” And, “The language of the MESSENGER frequently glides into that of the SENDER, e.g., - Gen. 16:10 [16:10-13].…” - Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, “Hints and Helps to Bible Interpretation,” Eerdmans Publishing, 1978 printing.

“ANGEL OF THE LORD, ... is represented in Scripture as a heavenly being sent by God to deal with men as his personal agent and spokesman [‘word’] .... In the NT [which trinitarians agree explains and amplifies the OT] there is no possibility of the angel of the Lord being confused with God. .... mostly when appearing to men he is recognized as a divine being, even though in human form, and is [sometimes] addressed as God” - p. 38, New Bible Dictionary, Tyndale House (trinitarian), 1984 printing.
…………………………….
“The Angel of the LORD.... Traditional Christian interpretation has held that this ‘angel’ was a preincarnate manifestation of Christ as God’s Messenger-Servant. It may be ..., the angel could speak on behalf of (and so be identified with) the One [Jehovah] who sent him” - footnote for Gen. 16:7 in the highly trinitarian The NIV Study Bible by Zondervan Publishing, 1985.

[Even the person speaking to Moses from the burning bush was an angel! Even though he spoke Jehovah's words and seemed to Moses to be Jehovah, we know that it was an angel speaking and acting for Jehovah: Acts 7:30, 38.]
………………………………...

“[The angel of Yahweh/Jehovah] is a heavenly being given a particular task by Yahweh, behind whom the angel’s personality [temporarily] entirely disappears.... He is virtually a hypostatic appearance of Yahweh, the personified help of God for Israel .... Sometimes we cannot distinguish between Yahweh and his angel.... because Yahweh’s holiness could have destroyed Israel, only his angel was to go with the people.” [See 1 John 4:12; John 6:46.] - The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 1, p. 101, Zondervan Publ., 1986.

As for Gen. 18 itself, notice how numerous Trinitarian scholars themselves do not consider any or all of the three ‘men’ as actually BEING Jehovah:
……………………………….....

“Gen 18-- Abraham intercedes with the ANGEL for Sodom” - p. 133, Vol. 1, The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1984 printing.
………………………………......

Elijah said...

Calvin understood these three as angels and the major one of them as the Christ.

“2. And, lo, three men stood by him. ….

“And bowed himself toward the ground. ….
As to his having saluted one in particular, it was probably done because he excelled the other two. For we know that angels often appeared with Christ their Head; here, therefore, among the three ANGELS, Moses points out one, as the Chief of the embassy. ….

“11.Were old, and well stricken in age Moses inserts this verse to inform us that what the ANGEL was saying, justly appeared improbable to Sarah.” - Calvin's Commentary on the Bible.
………………………………....
“Three ANGELS, in human appearance, come towards his tent, Gen. 18:2.” - Adam Clarke Commentary.

………………………………....

Verse 2
“And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three (A) men stood by him: and when he saw [them], he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,

(A) That is, three ANGELS in the shape of men.” - Geneva Study Bible.
……………………………….

“These were three heavenly beings in human bodies. Some think they were all created ANGELS; others, that one of them was the Son of God, the ANGEL of the covenant.” - Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible.

………………………………

Verse 2
“Three men, as they seemed to be, though indeed they were ANGELS in men’s shape.” - Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible.

………………………………

Verse 2
“And lo three men - These three men were three spiritual heavenly beings, now assuming human shapes, that they might be visible to Abraham, and conversable with him. Some think they were all three created ANGELS; others, that one of them was the Son of God.” - Wesley's Explanatory Notes.

Given the fact that the Angel of Jehovah was often referred to as Jehovah himself, and that even a number of TRINITARIAN scholars don’t insist that any of the ‘men’ in Gen. 18 were actually Jehovah himself, it seems incredible that anyone would insist that they were.

Anonymous said...

Ok however. In the 14th century an Eastern Orthodox iconographer wrote what is the now famous icon of a cathedral in Russia depicting the three men (angels) as the Trinity. So at least in the East there was an understanding almost a thousand years ago that these men were actually the Triune God. Since Eastern Orthodox theology is highly Trinitarian in nature and also older than the protestant thinkers quoted in your reply I think that it represent an earlier and more "orthodox" understanding of this event.

The fact is that the text says Jehovah appeared to Abraham...where in other places it is the angel of Jehovah that appears. If Jehovah is Gods personal name then why would it be used for an angel?

I think that what you're saying here is a major stretch on the text and even of trinitarians understanding. I did a quick google search and came up with an equal number of citations from scholars and others saying the exact opposite of what you've quoted above



Elijah said...

It is never surprising that a number of trinitarians will interpret a scripture in a trinitarian way.

What should be convincing, however, is when a number of TRINITARIANS disagree with a TRINITARIAN interpretation!