Month: October 2013

Peter Gowesky Interview about God Behaving Badly

Peter Gowesky Interview

I was interviewed recently by friend and Biblical Seminary alum Peter Gowesky for his blog (Exploring how faith affects life).

Peter is a campus pastor at Liquid Church in Nutley, NJ.

Check out the link to the 14 minute video here:

An Interview with Dave Lamb –

Pete asks a bunch of questions about God and his problematic behavior in the pages of the Old Testament, most of which I discuss in my book God Behaving Badly.

In the interview, I also give my take on God’s first two commands in Scripture (slightly paraphrased from Gen. 1:28; 2:16):

1) “Have a lot of sex.”

2) “Eat a lot of food.”

(You’ll appreciate the fact that I raised the computer onto a stack of books so we didn’t have the “up the nostril” affect.)

Free E-Books and The Story of God Bible Commentary

Zondervan is about to release the first two volumes of it’s new Story of God Bible Commentary (coming Oct. 29, 2013).

1) Scot McKnight’s Sermon on the Mount commentary.

2) Lynn H. Cohick’s Philippians commentary.

As a sample, Zondervan is offering two free e-books, basically excerpts from these two books.  The “cost” is that you provide them with your email.

1) Scot McKnight’s free eBook Kingdom Vision (taken from his volume):

2) Lynn H. Cohick’s free eBook Eager Expectations (taken from her volume):

I’m not sure how long the free e-book offer will be available, so if you’re interested I’d grab it soon.

I’m excited about this new commentary series for a number of reasons, but the most personal reason is that I’m writing the commentary for 1, 2 Kings.  But I won’t be finished for awhile, so don’t ask me about it any time soon.

Share this post or these links with anyone who you think might be interested.

Hope you enjoy the free e-books.

Genesis 3:16: Desiring and Ruling

Recently, I was teaching on the “Curses” of Genesis (immediately after the two humans in the garden ate the fruit–I don’t call it the Fall, because that’s not what the text calls it).  I got an email from Debbie who asked about what the woman’s desire for her husband meant in Gen. 3:16.  When asked about it in class, I responded that I thought the woman’s desire was for relational and sexual intimacy.  In her email, Debbie said had been always been taught that the woman’s desire was to rule her husband, but he was supposed to rule her as the curse explains.

To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Gen. 3:16 ESV).

In addition to affirming her question, here is how I replied:

adam-and-eve-no-clothesI think it’s possible that her desire might involve rule since God goes on to say “he will rule over you.”  I’ve heard that perspective also, I’m just not convinced by it since I don’t think it takes the text seriously.  The text doesn’t say “your desire will be to rule over your husband”, it just says “your desire will be for your husband.”  So to come to that conclusion you have to add a bunch of words to the text, which I don’t feel comfortable doing.

The problem is the Hebrew word translated as “desire” only appears a three times in the OT, so it’s difficult to be conclusive.  In Gen. 4:17, God tells Cain that sin’s “desire is for you, but you must master” it, which could be used to argue that “desire” is an attempt to rule.  But the parallel isn’t great since we’re talking about the relationship of sin to a person in Gen. 4, versus the relationship of a person to another person in Gen. 3.  So, making the first woman parallel to sin in 4:17 is problematic on several levels.

Against the view that her desire was to rule him are two things.  First, the same word is also used in Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon): 7:11: “I am my beloved’s and his desire is for me.”—which is clearly in the context of romance and sexual desire, not rule/authority.  While Gen. 4:17 is closer in context to Gen. 3:16, I think the Song of Songs parallel is more similar since it speaks of a relationship between a man and woman which is exactly what Gen. 3:16 is talking about.  In Genesis, it’s a woman for a man, in Song of Songs, it’s a man for a woman.

Second, the text says that the object of the desire is her husband full stop, not his position or his authority.  So, to interpret it as a desire to rule over him means you have to change the meaning of the words.

So, instead of adding words to make it seem like she was trying to rule him, I see more reasons to conclude that she’ll desire intimacy with him, despite the fact that birth is painful and that he will try to rule over her.

Good question, Debbie.  – Dave

I love it when students challenge me, disagree and ask questions.  (Well, done, Debbie!)

The only other thing to add is that Genesis 3 shows us how male rule came only as a result of sin, that’s not how God set it up in Genesis 2.

So, what do you think?  

Genesis 2:19 in the ESV

Adam naming animalsA few days ago I was teaching at my seminary (Biblical) on Genesis 2, the creation of the woman from the rib of the man (they aren’t called Adam until Gen. 4:25 and Eve until 3:20), when one of the students pointed out that the ESV text I was using for class (from Bible Works 7.0; we can’t afford 9.0) was slightly different from her ESV text (from

Who cares?  Well, the change is actually quite significant, but first a bit of background on the ESV.  The ESV (English Standard Version) which came out in 2001, underwent two revisions in 2007 and 2011 (see the history according to Wikipedia) here).  So, the change must have taken place in one of the revisions.

Here are the two versions of Gen. 2:19:

2001: Now out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them.

2011: Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. 

(The 2001 version offers a note saying, or “LORD God had formed” and the 2011’s note says, or “LORD God formed”.)

In the original, YHWH elohim (the LORD God) is forming the animals in 2:19, but in the later version, he had already formed them.  I think I know why the “had” is added– to harmonize the creation account of Gen. 1 and Gen. 2.  In Gen. 1 God makes the plants, the animals and then the man and woman together.  In Gen. 2, God makes the man, the plants, the animals and finally the woman.  So, there’s a conflict in order.  The newer ESV minimizes the order conflicts (they still don’t disappear).  YHWH elohim “had” already created the animals, he’s not creating them (after the man!!).

The two verbs (in English, “formed” and “brought”) in the first half of the verse both have YHWH elohim as subject in the Hebrew are both vav consecutive imperfects (I apologize if that sounds strange) so it doesn’t make sense to translate one with “had” and the other without “had”.

Comparing English translations, the NIV has “had formed” along with the newer version of the ESV but the KJV, NAS, NRSV all omit the “had”.

I was confused about the change, so I decided to ask some Hebrew scholar friends of mine.  Here are their thoughts.  (Feel free to claim your comments, but I didn’t want to “out” you without your permission.)

Scholar #1: There is no morphosyntactic reason to prefer the past perfect (“had formed”); the usual function of preterites (wayyiqtol) being chronological or logical sequence/dependency.  Although we might suspect that a preterite is summative (cf. (perhaps) the verbs in Jg 4.23a-24a), even these can also be read as sequential or dependent. This normal “backbone” function of the preterite suggests that the past perfect rendering demands explanation on some basis other than its form.  I suspect that your hunch that this rendering is a deliberate harmonization is correct.

Scholar #2: Scholar #1’s point sounds right.  You might check J. Collins’ Gen 1-4 commentary to see if he speaks to this issue there, since he is the main one on the ESV committee responsible for Gen.

Scholar #3: I looked at the LXX just to see what it had, thinking maybe the ESV rendering had been influenced by a perfect or pluperfect verb. The verb is aorist, but is modified by “eti” which normally signifies continuance of some sort. So a translation might read “And God was forming…” or something similar.

Scholar #4: It’s fascinating that the ESV takes that step of conforming the apparent order of creation in 2:18-12 (man, beasts, birds, woman) to the order in Genesis 1* (birds, beasts, man-and-woman)–but doesn’t modify the Genesis 1* order in 2:5-8 (man, plants). Perhaps that’s why it renders ארץ as “land” in 2:5-6: according to the ESV reading, plants could have already been created, just not in the land/Eden that YHWH God had designated for the man he was about to make.

Thanks friends for your insights.  More Hebrew detail than my typical posts, but interesting to those of us who dig this stuff.

I prefer the original ESV (and the KJV, NAS and NRSV).  My reading of Genesis 1 and 2 doesn’t require them to agree on the order, but that’s another story.

Any more thoughts on this subject?