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difficulty. Some meet it by saying that sentence was passed upon Adam on the day of his offence, and that, having forfeited his right to live, he was not much better than a dead man. Others think they find a solution of the difficulty by adopting the marginal rendering, "dying thou shalt die,” which words they interpret to mean that after Adam sinned he became mortal, and ultimately-after a lapse of 900 years —he died.
Now, an English Bible should be suited to English people. It is not to be supposed that every reader of the English Bible will be acquainted with the idiomatic expressions or characteristic phraseology of the original tongues. If the authorised version of the Bible were a word for word translation, it would, in the Old Testament, give us the idiomatic expressions of the Hebrew tongue, and those expressions would, in a great many cases, require explanation before they would be intelligible to the ordinary English reader. The English Bible, however, does not claim to be a literal translation, and we should not expect to find in the Old Testament Hebrew idiomatic expressions translated without explanation word for word into English. It cannot be denied that in many places the authorised version is painfully literal, and the ordinary reader, on meeting with such unfortunate passages is puzzled rather than enlightened. In the Hebrew sentence, rendered in Genesis ii. 17, "in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die "there are two idiomatic expressions. The one is literally translated, and without due regard being paid to its grammatical position; the other has been rendered into its English equivalent, and to explain it we have a marginal reading, which itself needs explanation.
The Hebrew words rendered “in the day that thou eatest ” are pronounced b’yom akalka ; and those rendered “thou shalt surely die,” moth tamuth. There is no disputing the fact that b’yom sometimes means " in the day;" we say, however-and the lexicographers support usthat in such a grammatical connection as we have it here, b'yom cannot be translated as it is in the authorised version, Then, again, moth tamuth may be rendered, as in the margin of the English Bible,“ dying thou shalt die ;" but how did the Hebrews understand these words? Neither of these expressions means what a literal translation, without regard to Hebrew idiom, would lead an ordinary Englishman to think they do ; they require explanation, or they are calculated to mislead.
We will first consider the second clause, “dying thou shalt die.' " Some consider these words to have found verification on the day Adam sinned, by his becoming a corruptible creature, and ultimately dying. This, however, is not so. We have the Hebrew word “to die "repeated in two moods: the infinitive (moth) and the indicative (tamuth); moth, to die-dying; tamuth—thou shalt die. As the words stand, certainty is implied, and nothing more ; so the authorised version is not far wrong in rendering the words, " thou shalt surely die.” It is out of the question to suppose that a process of decay is implied in the words, for they were afterwards used to one of the descendants of Adam - Shimei (1 Kings ii. 37, 42), and we have no record of Shimei having occupied a similar relation to life and death to that which Adam sustained before the fall. If it had been intended to express a continued or lasting process, the order of the Hebrew words would have been reversed. Shimei was mortal at the time of the threat which was couched in the
strong terms, " Thou shalt certainly die.” Upon these words, also, all the emphasis rested in the charge made to Adam and Eve. Ostervald was not far wrong when, in his French Bible, in these verses in Kings he rendered moth tamuth : " tu mourras sans rémission "—thou shalt die without chance of pardon. The same Hebrew words might be similarly rendered in Genesis ii. 17.
We now proceed to the consideration of the other idiomatic expression in the sentence. The words are : l’yom akalka, and the idiom consists in a word which might be translated in the day” being so situated as to call for a different rendering. The Hebrew word for “ day” is yom; but this word enters into the formation of several adverbial formulæ, of which we here have an instance. If followed by a substantive b’yom would have meant “ in the day of;" but when it precedes a verb in the infinitive, as in Genesis ii. 17, it becomes an adverb of time, and assumes a different meaning. The noun yom has been variously rendered in the common version, and over sixty times we find it translated “time.” With prepositional prefixes we find it rendered “when," " then," " ' now," &c. In the following passages b’yom is, in the authorised version, rendered “ when :”—Levit. xiii. 14; Levit. xiv. 57 ; Deut. xxi. 16; 1 Samuel xx. 19; 2 Samuel xxi. 12 ; Ezekiel xxxviii. 18, No one will contend that b'yom, followed by an infinitive, should be uniformly translated “in the day that.” We shall show that such a translation would often be manifestly inaccurate; and that the meaning of b'yom, in such a grammatical position as in Genesis ii. 17 is " when, or " after that.” If not in this particular passage, in others precisely similar, Fuerst, Ewald, and Gesenius agree in rendering b’yom“ when;" Fuerst says it should, in 2 Samuel xxi. 12, be rendered - after that.”
We read in 2 Samuel xxi. 12, that David went and fetched the bones of Saul from the men of Jabesh-gilead, who had stolen them from the street of Bethshan, “ whero the Philistines had hanged them, when the Philistines had slain Saul in Gilboa.” It is clear that here b’yom, which is translated “when,” means “ after that,” for, according to 1 Samuel xxxi. 8, the Philistines did not find Saul before the day after the battle. So it was the day after he was slain that Saul was hanged.
If b’yom means “after that" here, does it not also in Genesis ii. 17 ? It is a fact that Saul was not hanged on the day of the battle ; it is also a fact that Adam did not die on the day of his transgression. The hanging of Saul took place after he was slain ; the death of Adam took place after he sinned. Facts show in both cases that b’yom is used to indicate “after," and does not necessarily refer to a particular day.
In Genesis ii. 4 we read : “ These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.” Here also we have biyom, and the last words of the verse would read better, “after that the Lord God had made,” &c. The earth and the heavens were not made in a day. Ostervald renders the word " quand" in this place; and Luther, in his German Bible, “ zu der zeit da."
Passing by a number of instances in which b’yom is used in a similar sense, we come to 1 Kings ii. 37, 42, where we read that Shimei was threatened : “On the day thou goest out, and passest over the brook Kidron, thou shalt know for certain that thou shalt surely die.” We
know that in this case death took place some time after the disobedience of Shimei, and yet the threat was regarded as having been fully carried into effect. Scripture history continually demonstrates the true meaning of l’yom.
In Isaiah xi. 16 it is promised that at a time yet future there will be a highway "for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, like as it was in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.” It will be seen from Exodus xiii. that after the deliverance of Israel and before crossing the Red Sea, at least two days must have elapsed, the first night having been spent in camp at Succoth, and the second at Etham, where God began to direct the journey day and night by a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire. The time referred to in Isaiah is clearly after that the children of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt, and without reference to any particular day.
Again, we read in Jeremiah xi. 4, 7, of the covenant God made with the children of Israel when he brought them out of the land of Egypt, saying, "Obey my voice and do them, according to all which I command you; so shall ye be my people, and I will be your God. .... For I earnestly protested unto your fathers in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, . . . saying, obey my voice.” It was after passing through the Red Sea, and going three days into the wilderness (Exodus xv. 23), that-having been miraculously supplied with water—the people were told to hearken to God's voice; it was in the third month (Exodus xix. 1) after the departure from Egypt that the people came into the wilderness of Sinai, and pitched before the mount, and received the covenant of the law. This surely was not in the day they came out of Egypt. There is a similar reference in Jeremiah xxxi. 32, where, as in a number of other places, l’yom compasses a considerable space of time, and means “after that.” In a number of other places, including Jeremiah xxxiv. 13, Ezek. xx. 5, 6, and Ezek. xxxvi. 33, l’yom is used in the sense of “ when," or “after that,” the verb being understood as equal to the perfect or pluperfect tense of our grammars.
It seems to have become so fashionable to believo that spiritual death was the death threatened to Adam and visited upon him on the day of his sin, that but little inquiry has been made as to the significance of the adverb b'yom. We have seen that, in a number of cases, b’yom could not have been used in the sense of “in the day that," but that it means " when,” or “after that,” We say that the passages quoted are sufliciently illustrative of the use of the word, and show that no idea of a particular day was associated with it in the mind of a Hebrew, but that it specified the finishing of one act before something else could take place; and this we find in Genesis ii. 17. It is clear that as the threat was afterwards put in the form of a sentence, no particular day was intended. In the time of her innocence Eve, in her own language, expressed the charge thus: “Of the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” This shows how the command was understood by the
If it were desired to say, as soon as you have eaten thereof," or, while
you are eating thereof,” it would have been most easy to have chosen other Hebrew expressions. It seems clear that the Creator used b’yom in the sense in which it is found to have been used generally,
and that he carried out to the letter the threat he made, which threat we have no doubt is in meaning something very near our English : “ For when (or, after that) thou hast eaten thereof, thou shalt die without chance of pardon.” This leaves no room for the spiritual death of which some speak and write so much. Moth tamuth is the emphatic way of saying “ thou shalt die ;" l’yom is an adverb of time, and though made up of a preposition and a noun meaning " day,” it does not, when found in this form before a verb in the infinitive, convey any idea of a measured period of time.
Thus is answered—and, as the writer believes, honestly and conclusively-one more objection frequently raised against a doctrine so plainly taught in the Holy Scriptures-human mortality.
J. W. T.
A LETTER TO A METHODIST. EAR SISTER.—Your letter conveying the sad news of the death of
and Mary and Cox; and uncles and aunts, and how many nephews and nieces, I really can't tell; and now Bell has gone at last, and we must follow them. Well, we must learn to say, “ It is the Lord; let Him do what seemeth good to Him." We cannot " back to its mansion call the fleeting breath.” But we may learn the lessons our mortality teaches. There are very few persons who can feel quite sure that all their departed elatives died in sure and certain hope of a glorious resurrection. I have met with the exclamation somewhere, “O, eternity, thou pleasing, dreadful thought!” It used to be a very dreadful thought to me. We were brought up to believe that they who die without a saving change go direct to hell, and there in misery remain as long as God himself exists. I have seen good reason for believing that to be a great error, and eternity is not to me such a dreadful thought as it once was.
I believe the sacred writers were quite competent to select the proper words to express their meaning. They compare the punishment of the wicked to death, destruction, perishing, being consumed, &c. &c. I believe they meant what they said, and they said what they meant. I am truly amazed that I ever could have believed that such words mean living for ever in torment. If John the Baptist had believed what we were taught to believe, he would have said : The wicked were like the diamond, or gold, or platinum, or some other substance, that eternal fire could not destroy ; instead of comparing them to the most combustible things, as felled trees, or chaff to be burnt up.
But you will remind me of the words of the Saviour: “ These shall go away into everlasting punishment.” Well, I believe in everlasting punishment; but not in everlasting punishing. There is an eternity of suffering in the one, but not in the other. The Scriptures speak of eternal salvation, eternal redemption, eternal judgment. These phrases don't mean that God is eternally saving men, eternally redeeming men, The pro
or sitting upon a great white throne, eternally judging men. cess is not eternal; but the results are. Paul, speaking by the spirit of God, calls the punishment of the wicked " everlasting destruction ; " and there can be no contradiction between Paul's words and those of our Saviour; and we must explain one phrase by the other. The punishment of the sinner is the loss of life ; and that is an eternal loss, because it is irremediable, irrecoverable, unalterable, irreversible. From that death there is no resurrection.
We were also taught to believe that when the righteous die they go direct to heaven. Our Saviour told Nicodemus that no man had ascended to heaven; and Peter told his hearers at Jerusalem that David had not ascended to heaven. It is a common thing to compare man to a jewel in a casket. The soul is him—the body is only his. The soul is the real man, the body is the casket. If we paraphrase the words of Peter according to this popular but objectionable comparison, the result will be as follows: No real man-no soul of man has ascended to heaven. The real David—the soul of David, has not ascended to heaven. The Scripture doctrine is, they fall asleep-become unconscious till the resurrection. Paul bas not obtained his crown yet; he tells us there is one laid up for him, which God would give him on a particular daythe day of the appearing and kingdom of Jesus Christ, and not unto him only, but unto all them that love Christ's appearing. The saints' coronation day is in the future—they all get crowned together, at the return of the Saviour. Rewards and punishments, properly speaking, don't commence till the Master returns. Then, we are told, He will reward his servants, and destroy them that destroy the earth. I don't think there is a man in heaven, or a man in hell either; indeed, I think the fires of hell are not yet lighted.
We were brought up to believe that the body was a clog to the soul, and when liberated from the body, we could do a great number of things a great deal better than when we were in the body. The Scriptures teach the reverse of all this. In Eccles. ix. 10, we read, “ Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither thon goest.” The writer speaks of a person, for he uses the personal pronouns, thy, thou, and not a part of a person. How often have we heard Methodist preachers prove that the Holy Spirit was a person and not an influence, because the sacred writers when speaking of the Holy Spirit, used personal pronouns, he, him, &c. And we and they thought the reasoning good. So here, it is a person, a man, and not all that remains of a man that is spoken of. The writer evidently meant us to understand that a person in a state of death was in a state of unconsciousness. King Hezekiah was of this opinion. He fell sick, and in answer to bis prayer God added fifteen years to his life. He composed an ode on the occasion, in which he says, “ The grave cannot praise thee-death cannot celebrate thee—the living, the living shall praise thee, as I do this day." In Psalm cxv. 17, we read, “ The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence.” In Psalm vi. 5, we are told, “ In death there is no remembrance of thee; in the grave who shall give thee thanks." In Psalm cxlvi. 4, we read, “ Put not your trust in princes, neither in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth