Tag Archive: Illumination

Within the Bible there are accounts which are almost universally beloved among both the believing community and the secular. A couple examples of these include Noah’s Ark and Jonah and the whale. The former almost has universal appeal, and one would be hard-pressed to drive past any reputable daycare and not see some stylized child-friendly illustration or depiction of Noah’s Ark. We can almost picture it in our minds: a short, stocky boat comprised of wood, with a roof made of sticks or straw, usually featuring a conspicuous giraffe’s head and neck sticking up (a necessity), and perhaps a couple lions, elephants, zebra, and hippos. As whimsical and charming as these depictions are, careful study makes it clear the real ark wouldn’t have resembled them at all. Indeed, when we look at illustrations or even physical reconstructions of the ark, we find some striking differences between them which emphasizes there is much left to the imagination. Vast are the mysteries of the ark, which I couldn’t attest to even begin to explore, but one I encountered recently was something the Hebrew refers to as the tsohar. The word is found in Genesis 6:16 when God is delivering His instructions to Noah.

Genesis 6:16[LITV], “You shall make a window [Hb. tsohar] in the ark, and you shall finish it above to a cubit. And you shall set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third stories.”

The Hebrew word tsohar is a word rendered in the literal translations as “window,” while other versions differ and tell us it means “roof.” The ancient Hebrew word for window was challon and so there is some debate on what the nature of the window or roof [Hb. tsohar] was. Instead of it being one or the other, it may refer to a skylight which one could incorporate and unite both roof and window. Yet, there was no such thing as glass at the time, so how can this be possible? Arguments from anachronisms can be dangerous, since we continually discover the ancients were more advanced than we thought, but we need not hinge on this as an explanation. Rather, it may be the contemporary world in which we live, but it is clear, no pun intended, a window isn’t synonymous with glass, lest we argue “window” is a relatively recent term. Merriam-Webster defines it as: “an opening especially in the wall of a building for admission of light and air that is usually closed by casements or sashes containing transparent material (such as glass) and capable of being open and shut.” Therefore, a predicate of a glass panel applied to window isn’t always the case. Glass is not a necessary condition for what makes a window.

A related issue we may be prompted to address is the question how the interior of the ark was illuminated? Was it done from this tsohar alone? From other windows? Unlikely, for reasons we will discuss soon, but during dark hours it has been proposed torches could have done the trick at times, but these could be hazardous. Many agree a lamp containing olive oil, a popular form of lighting in the ancient Near East, was what was used. Another aspect is ventilation. It seems ventilation would be needed with all the animals and people aboard the ark, even more so if there was smoke in the ark from methods of lighting, though olive oil lamps burn clean. Given these considerations, ventilation placed at the top would make the most sense, and would provide light during the day, but such a hypothesis would prove untenable due to the great flood. Without glass, rain would pour into the ark and even if it could be bailed out continually from windows or other means, like scuppers, it would encourage mold, disease, and increasingly extant complications from damp unsanitary conditions, which they probably faced enough of anyway.

Let us look again at Genesis 6:16, making an extra note of where it says, “You shall make a window [Hb. Tsohar] in the ark, and you shall finish it above to a cubit.

Genesis 6:16, You shall make a window [Hb. tsohar] in the ark, and you shall finish [Hb. kalah] it above to a cubit. And you shall set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third stories.”

Finish it above what? If you wanted to argue the tsohar refers to the roof above the floor, this creates obvious difficulty since a cubit represents only about 18 inches. It remains possible the tsohar was set in the roof, rather than meaning roof, at least in part, and it appears the tsohar was of a construction not limited to a simple opening with primary dimensions of length and width, but also height. If this be so, then the verse could read, “You shall make a [tsohar] in the ark, and you shall [complete the tsohar] above to a cubit.” When it says this tsohar was located “in” the ark, we suppose it to be of the same form of “in” as “you shall set the door of the ark in its side.” In other words, in or on the roof rather than inside the ark. So what was a cubit above?

We could propose finish means to put on a finish (i.e. polish), or protective coating, but 18 inches of a finish? Regardless of all the practical difficulty this conclusion presents, the Hebrew doesn’t support it. The word for “finish” in the Genesis 6:16 is kalah, meaning to “complete or accomplish.” Could it be, a cubit above the roof, which the tsohar was possibly set flush in, was a canopy or other means of blocking the rain but allowing for light and ventilation? The word tsohar usually refers to “noon” or “midday” and implies light. If it meant roof as some translations read, it would be quite curious for something inferring light to be used for something that blocks it, as a roof. However, if I am correct (I have no way of knowing for certain) we can find a sort of union between the two translations of roof and window. If there was a window with some sort of roof or canopy above it, this would, in a sense, satisfy both translations. I speculate Genesis 6:16 and the word tsohar describe a covered window, with a canopy a cubit above the roof, which protected the window from the deluge. This is far from conclusive, just a theory, but still within the range of valid speculation.

Another possibility is the roof itself is a cubit above the tsohar. This interpretation centers on what “it” refers to within the statement, “you shall finish it above to a cubit.” Some propose the it is the window or tsohar, others the roof, or even the ark itself. I reject the conclusion “it” refers to the ark because of further instructions on constructing the ark in the second half of Genesis 6:16. The idea “it” refers to roof is less unlikely, but still hinges on the translation of tsohar meaning roof. The NIV Study Bible, though a wonderful resource of information and in depth study, as well as being very reliable on most accounts, holds to one such translation and interpretation. The NIV Study Bible says, “[The] ark probably had a series of small windows encircling the entire vessel 18 inches from the top.” Their conclusion is “it” refers to the roof above the tsohar. Once more we will increasingly come to find the tsohar may be a composite of both window and roof. Yet, for the sake of our argument regarding translation, “roof” is a questionable and faulty one.

There were even other theories. Some who subscribe to Kabbalah or Jewish Mysticism believe the tsohar was something mystical, neither window nor roof, but a mysterious stone which emanated with light, or some piece of forgotten ancient technology (and we all know where they often say such ancient technology comes from).

Scripturally there is little evidence, if any, which would validate this interpretation. Jewish Mysticism seeks to apply mystical interpretations to the Bible, both the Old Testament and New Testament. This kind of biblical interpretation when applied to Christianity is referred to as Christian Kabbalah or, perhaps more broadly, Christian Mysticism. Christian Mysticism, by the way, is something far different than being Pentecostal or charismatic. This subject we will leave for another time or for someone else.

It is worth nothing the tsohar was likely in the roof because of the later emphasis on the door in the ark’s side, as if “You shall set a skylight [within roof by definition] in the ark, erecting a canopy a cubit above, and shall set a door in the side of the ark. The ark shall be comprised of three stories.” One is faced with the question as to where the translation of roof came from? This is as mysterious as the Greek Septuagint translation which speaks of the “narrowing” the ark. I implore the reader to bear with me here and keep an open mind, for I am going to explain why roof might have been chosen the best I know. I can’t make the guarantee what I hypothesize is anything remotely plausible.

The root of tsohar is tsahar, which means to “glisten,” or to “press out as oil.” Interesting since olive oil was used in lanterns. Was tsohar then a lantern hanging from the ceiling 18 inches below? Being at sea with a lantern hanging from a ceiling might cause some problems, so I don’t theorize that is the case. Again, it has nothing to necessarily do with a roof though. Moving on, the root of tsahar is yitshar. This is even more interesting because it means “fresh oil,” “shining oil,” or as Strong’s says: “Oil (as producing light).” It also refers figuratively to the process of anointing with oil. Anointing, of course, was usually done on the head and according to the 1828 Webster’s American Dictionary of The English Language means to “spread over.” If the translators took these things into account, the root meanings, to anoint, spread, extend out, (ibid.), or cover something, along with the knowledge tsohar means midday, where the sun is directly overhead, roof might seem an adequate, albeit, creative fit. Am I stretching it a bit? Absolutely, but again, a word referring to something producing or allowing for light, being used for something that blocks or obscures it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

The composition of Genesis 6:16 makes it worth noting the tsohar was likely in the roof because of later emphasis on the door’s placement in the ark’s side. If the tsohar was in the side of the ark, it would seem challon, the literal Hebrew word for window would have been used. We see this word later employed in Genesis 8:6 when Noah releases the raven.

Genesis 8:6, “At the end of forty days Noah opened the window [Hb. challon] of the ark he had made.”

Grammatically, if current norms can be applied here, and granted, they usually can’t, it leads to a redundancy of sorts to say: “Set a window [in the side], and set a door in the side.” Repetition certainly isn’t absent in the Bible (indeed in contemporary writings too) and is used for a variety of reasons, from emphasis to garnishing poetic prose. Thus, this grammatical observation isn’t a particularly strong one in placing the tsohar in the roof. Challon is used for standard windows, so to speak, and is a greater consideration when determining where the tsohar was located. What of the Septuagint and its “narrowing” of the ark. Brenton’s English Septuagint reads:

Genesis 6:17[LXX], “Thou shalt narrow the ark in making it, and in a cubit above shall finish it, and the door of the ark thou shalt make on the side; with lower, second, and third stories thou shalt make it.”

You may notice the verse reference differs. Why in our current translations is it Genesis 6:16, and in the Septuagint (LXX) Genesis 6:17? Regarding the same phenomenon found in the Psalms, the Catholic website aleteia.org explains:

“[T]he Bible has not always had a numbering system . . . when it was written down, it didn’t have chapters and verses. These developed over time and it wasn’t until the last few centuries when they became more specific . . . . [T]here exist two different numbering systems based on two ancient translations. The first is the Hebrew Masoretic text, which is a collection of ancient texts written in Hebrew in the 7th century BC. Most modern translations of the Bible use the Hebrew text as a primary source and the numbering system that is associated with it. The second translation . . . is the Greek Septuagint, written during the 2nd century BC. This translation . . . has a slightly different numbering system and most ancient translations of the Bible use it. For example, the Latin Vulgate uses it, along with the Douay-Rheims and other translations . . . based on the Vulgate. In some Bibles they will list both numbers, having the Hebrew numbering system first with the Greek numbers in brackets. It is a small difference but just enough to be confusing when trying to look up a certain [verse].”

Philip Kosloski, “Why Are The Psalms Numbered Differently?”, https://aleteia.org/2018/10/06/why-are-the-psalms-numbered-differently

It is a safe assumption to say if it is the case with the Psalms then it is the same with all the Old Testament and the reason for the difference between verse number reference. I unfortunately was unable to find a good reason for why this exact translation of “narrowing” was made in the Septuagint, but like the takhash, or even the roof, perhaps it is because tsohar , or its parts, had a similar and contemporary Arabic word, the definition of which the translators borrowed from. Another possibility a real scholar might look into is the words which could be theorized to make up the composite tsohar. Tson is a Hebrew word meaning sheep, small cattle, or sheepcote, a sheep enclosure. The Hebrew word har means mountain, hill, or hillside. With a enclosure and a hill, a creative mind might be able to construct the conception of the “enclosure narrowing.” As many things in this entry, I offer it as a poor (maybe very poor) guess. I really have no idea.

When we talk of Hebrew words in the Bible with no clear or definitive meaning behind them, the great need for translation probably sees scholars formulate an educated hypothesis based on root words and weigh a cross section of meaning within the context to find what fits most properly. This practice, to whatever degree it exists, doesn’t invalidate the main objects of our faith because while there are core elements of faith, there are also peripheral questions which don’t impact the core.

Many theologians agree with the conclusion the tsohar, whatever its exact nature, was located in or on the roof. The American theologian Albert Barnes (1798-1867) concluded this when he said:

“The lighting apparatus [tsohar] is not described so particularly that we can form any conception of it. It was probably in the roof. The roof may have been flat. . . . The cubit is possibly the height of the parapet round the lighting and ventilation aperture. The opening occupied, it may be, a considerable portion of the roof, and was covered with an awning [Hb. mikseh].”

Albert Barnes’ Notes on The Bible, “Genesis 6:14-16.”

The Hebrew word mikseh is defined by The Complete Word Study Dictionary as: “A masculine noun indicating a covering. It refers to something used to shelter, protect, or enclose an object, such as Noah’s ark or the Tent of Meeting or Tabernacle. . . . The covering of the Tabernacle was made double of ram’s skins and porpoise.”

This is very relevant to our study. As indicated by The Complete Word Study Dictionary, there was a cover on at least a portion of the ark. To show this, we move to chapter 8 of Genesis.

Genesis 8:13-19, “In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth. And Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry. In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth had dried out. Then God said to Noah, ‘Go out from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh——birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth——that they may swarm on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.’ So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by families from the ark.”

Some prominent theologians also conclude the opening by which Noah peered to see the land dry after removing the covering was on the roof of the ark. This likely has to do with the account of Noah’s ark often being read to infer Noah didn’t have the ability to look out of the challon in any meaningful way. The window(s) would have been set in the side, likely in the upper deck as we will see. Being unable to look out onto the water or see dry land might seem like an odd detail for such a window (we will get into this further), but I think the inability to see out the window, or challon, will actually come to make the most sense. I suppose the window here could have had a skin on it, though this isn’t specifically mentioned, but if it did, the “opening” of the window might include not only moving the skin, but any wooden shutter upon the window. We can even further speculate a skin was attached to the shutter itself for “weatherproofing.” Therefore, if we accept the validity of these things, we reach the conclusion Noah must have looked from something else than these windows in the side and perhaps out the tsohar on the roof. It is unlikely Noah looked from the door God commanded him to build because it is implied Noah did not do so before God commanded him, as he was “shut in” according to the Scriptures.

Genesis 7:16, “The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the LORD shut him in.”

Many find great insight and profundity in this.

John Gill says:

“Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked; not the roof of it, at least not the whole, only a board or two; though perhaps this was a covering made of skins, that was thrown over the ark, like that which was put over the Tabernacle of Moses, and was made of skins, Exodus 26:14, where the same word is used as here: the use might be to hang over the window and defend it from rain; so that the uncovering of the ark was only putting by, or turning up this covering, that he might be able to more clearly see, out the window, how things were: and, behold, the face of the ground was dry; the ground or surface of the earth looked dry; but was not so dry and hard as to bear heavy bodies, or the foot to tread on it, being soft and tender, through the water so long upon it, and had left mud and slime, not yet sufficiently hardened by the wind and sun to walk upon.”

John Gill’s Exposition of The Bible, “Genesis 8:13”

John Charles Ellicott:

“No one can read the narrative without noticing that Noah is not only described as shut up within the ark, but as having very slight means of observing what was going on around. Had there been a deck, Noah would have known exactly the state of the flood, whereas, peeping only through the [tsohar], he seems to have been able to see but little, possibly because his sight was obstructed by the overhanging eaves of the roof. Thus, the freshly-plucked olive-leaf was like a revelation to him. But when these skins were taken off, there were numerous apertures through which he could obtain an uninterrupted view.”

John Charles Ellicott, Ellicott’s Commentary For English Readers, “Genesis 8:13.”

Matthew Henry:

“God consults our benefit, rather than our desires; He knows what is good for us better than we do for ourselves, and how long it is fit our restraints should continue, and desired mercies should be delayed. We would go out of the ark before the ground is dried; and perhaps, if the door, is shut, are ready to thrust off the covering, and to climb up some other way; but God’s time of showing mercy is the best time. As Noah had a command to go into the ark, so, how tedious soever his confinement there was, he would wait for a command to go out of it again. We must in all our ways acknowledge God, and set Him before us in all our removals. Those only go under God’s protection, who follow God’s direction, and submit to Him.”

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, “Genesis 8:13-19”

Matthew Henry’s non-concise Commentary on The Whole Bible adds:

“We should be satisfied that God’s time of showing mercy is certainly the best time, when the mercy is ripe for us and we are ready for it.”

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on The Whole Bible, “Genesis 8:13-14”

This all presents to us a problem. If it be so with Noah being effectively shut in the ark and he was unable to see much of anything until he removed the covering from the roof of the ark, how then did he release the birds? Does not Genesis 8:6 tell us Noah opened a window (challon)? How did he open a window and release a couple birds without this action providing a view of the great waters upon the land? This does presents some difficulty, but foremost one need be reminded to not think in modern terms and in doing so conceptualize any kind of contemporary window in place of challon. The raising of some glass pane, is not necessary in opening the window and likely the apparatus used to shut and open were mere wooden shutters. Still, how did Noah release the birds without seeing outside, or seeing very little? Sure, we can suppose a mikseh covered the window and Noah stopped short of raising it all the way by his honor and obedience to the Lord, or he shut his eyes, or it was foggy out, or any variety of things our imaginative minds can dream up. Yet, I propose a different solution to this conundrum. I began thinking about modern ship construction, and the devices used to provide ventilation to areas like an engine room, fuel tanks, and even exhaust. Water pouring into any of these, from either the sky or the sea, can be quite hazardous and I trust there be no need to go into detail on how this scenario would quickly prove itself problematic.

How ventilation or exhaust is provided for to minimize the threat of getting sea water or rain inside is, first, a straight vertical pipe is fabricated, and at the outside end of this pipe, a bend is added of varying degree, usually somewhere at or between 45-degrees or 180-degrees. Often it is so composed the open exposed or outside opening faces downward. This makes it rather difficult for water to get up inside. Once I thought about this, I pondered for a brief second if such a thing might be used as a window on the ark, but instead of it being vertical, it extended horizontally from the side of the ark. This would seem to satisfy all the criteria, but the thought only lasted the briefest of seconds because the Hebrew word challon wouldn’t be used for such a device given its clear usage in the rest of Scripture.

Even so, I can’t claim such a thing didn’t exist on the ark, vertical or horizontal, only make the conclusion it didn’t adequately provide a reasonable answer to the issue. On the other hand, a “pipe” of sorts need not be used to produce a similar effect. A method which could’ve been used, was to add large overhanging eaves to the challon. This would effectively extend downward past the bottom of the window at an acute angle relative to the window and certainly work to protect the window from water falling from the sky. Spray splashing upward from rough seas may be diverted as well, particularly if there is a extending sill. However, this would have its limitations and not provide protection from the sea for anything but spray and droplets. A large wave hitting the eave, assuming it wouldn’t break off, would funnel its force and volume into the window and likely demolish it. Yet, many suppose these challon were located on the upper deck and if a wave slammed into the ark of such a towering size, there might not be much which could withstand the conditions given the extent of technology.

Obviously we can’t be certain, but once more, this does satisfy our three criteria. It protects the window and interior of the ark from water getting in, it would limit the sight of Noah, and allow for the release and return of the birds. Plus, as a bonus, it makes more sense than a horizontal “pipe.”

Now, only because we have already opened the door to mistranslation, we should return to discuss the covering. The KJV says in Exodus:

Exodus 26:14, “And thou shalt make a covering [Hb. mikseh] for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering [Hb. mikseh] above of badgers’ skins.”

The word rendered here as “badger” (Hb. takhash) is almost certainly a mistranslation. Though a majority of scholars find this in error, it oddly still appears in many illustrations and descriptions of the Tent of Meeting and the Tabernacle.

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges remarks on this phenomenon:

“Though some such animal [badger] is advocated in the [Talmud, it] lacks philological foundation, and has no probability. It is doubtful also whether either seals or porpoises . . . are sufficiently common in either the Red Sea or [Mediterranean] to be the animals intended.”

One is seemingly bound to the conclusion of takhash being a sea animal for, in Arabic, the collective word for a number of sea creatures, as diverse as sharks, seals, and porpoise, is tukhash. Yet, creatures such as these purportedly didn’t exist in any real way anywhere along the route of Moses’ trek. Admittedly, it could be said this argument and its application to the ark relies on an assumption supposing the geographical habitats of flora and fauna remained consistent both prior and after the flood. It also compares or conflates the location(s) of Moses with the location(s) of Noah, both temporally and in physical orientation. This probably doesn’t impact our argument regardless because we are simply trying to find the composition of the coverings (Hb. mikseh) of Moses, if you will, and suggesting it be of the same material with the ark as the Tent of Meeting and Tabernacle. Regarding Moses and the use of skins upon the Tabernacle and Tent of Meeting a least one animal did exist in proximity and was referred to using the same name takhash. This was the dugong, or sometimes more commonly known as the sea cow. It actually makes quite a bit of sense. Consider the trade of dugong skins throughout and around the Arabian Peninsula long ago. While I know nothing about the properties of badger skins, it is said the skin of the dugong was remarkably resilient and waterproof. Good luck getting such a skin today because the sea cow is, happily, a protected species (as far as I am aware), but in ancient times their skin was prized for its water-repelling properties. A waterproof or water-resistant covering upon the Tabernacle, Tent of Meeting, and the ark would be the most advantageous being so open to the elements for such a period of time.

Some editions of the Holy Bible circumvent the controversy of animal identification, a debate not unheard of in the whole of Scripture, and focus not on what creature it may reference, but the probable characteristics of the skin itself. For instance, the NIV:

Exodus 26:14[NIV], “Make for the tent a covering [Hb. mikseh] of ram skins dyed red, and over that a covering [Hb. mikseh] of other durable leather [Hb. takhash].”

Where does this leave us in our exploration of the tsohar? I conclude the tsohar was a kind of skylight(s), with a possible shuttering feature, or ability to be open and closed through any various means (I offer this only as a consideration, not a necessary component). Above this window, a cubit above the roof in which in which it was set, a covering was spread over to allow for the necessary ventilation and light while still protecting from rain. This may have stretched to the sides of the ark to prevent water pooling up upon the skins and, depending on construction and how large the covering, add extra top weight to the vessel. A thing boats and ships generally try to avoid as a matter of principle, particularly when it comes to standing water which can shift, add weight, increase roll, etc. If this covering was flat, the water would likely pool up, pour out onto the open deck, and through the skylight.

A sturdy trust and a-frame arrangement of the skins could have been used, and this might even account for the odd Septuagint rendering of the ark “narrowing” in place of tsohar. Yet, earlier we proposed this might stretch to the edge of the ark, but when we contemplate it now, if this was the case, we end up having an issue with how light could have been provided if it was completely blocked with skins. Earlier, Albert Barnes mentioned the possibility of a parapet and such a thing might have been constructed around the tsohar, to allow for faculties of drainage on top of the ark. Thereby, the mikseh need not extend to the outer edge of the ark. Especially, if we are to assume a slant in the upper deck of the ark. Such a design, with a parapet, could keep water off the tsohar to a large degree while still allowing for light.

When we read the account of the Lord’s instructions to Noah for the build, we realize the instructions are rather basic (at least in what is recorded), and aren’t “Levitically” detailed, if you’d be so kind to allow me to try and coin a term. The Bible didn’t give us an exact comprehensive blueprint of the ark. I suggest Noah, by virtue of being given such an arduous and weighty task, probably wasn’t an idiot. As a point of fact, many hold the intelligence level before the flood was great, the intelligence of Adam and Eve even greater, and much of history represents the declivity of the human intellect. Whatever the case, the Lord told Noah what He was going to do before hand, and thus much would have been known to Noah about what be needed upon the ark and in its construction, simply by the revelation itself.

Although we don’t know all the details of the tsohar, or the ark, I think enough is provided we can reasonably gain general impressions on what the tsohar must have been or been like. Maybe we do not have enough details to conceptually reconstruct the tsohar completely free of doubt, or do so with an unyielding confidence, but we do have a sufficient amount to theorize and rationally contemplate it. I would hope these considerations provide the reader just a couple more possibilities for the meaning, make up, composition of the tsohar aboard the ark.

“Then go quickly and tell His disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” -Matthew 28:7

In my previous entry (see my note concerning 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, “On a Brief Overview of The ‘Historical Christ,’ Contradiction, and Biblical Omission”), I discussed some of the paradox among the Gospels concerning the events surrounding the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was my hypothesis that all the Gospels meshed together to form a perfect narrative. One of the assumed contradictions, has to do with Mary Magdalene and her companions encounter with an angel outside the tomb. Yet, in Luke 24:4, it says there are two angels and they speak to the women inside the tomb. However, when we read Mark 16:5, only one angel inside the tomb is recounted.


Many theories concerning the reconciliation of these encounters have been offered, including that there are multiple groups of women, or that Mary Magdalene ran to tell the disciples after being spoken to by the angel outside the tomb, who sat upon the stone that had been rolled away. She is at times said not to enter the tomb until later. Yet, I concluded after some prayer for illumination, that the angel on the outside spoke to them and they entered the tomb where they encountered at least one more heavenly being. As for how many angels were in the tomb, I address that in my previous entry as well.


The Lord led me back to this verse, and I found some more evidence suggesting that my interpretation, at least in this case, may be correct. Let us closely examine the angel’s words. In Chapter 28, Verse 6, of Matthew, the angel says:

“He (Christ) is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay.”

To me this sounded like an invite to see the evidence which was visible within the tomb, but my cited indications advocating this truth essentially ended there. However, the beginning of Verse 7 may contain a bit more evidence. It may not be earth shattering, but adds a little extra confirmation that my interpretation concerning this event may be correct. When we look at Verse 7, it begins with the word, “then.”


"Angel Seated on The Stone of The Tomb," by James Tissot. watercolor, c. 1886

What this means to me is that the angel in reality did invite or command them into the tomb, in order that they may “see the place where He lay.” The term, “then,” suggests further instructions by the angel, that immediately after viewing the tomb they should embark on and hasten to tell the disciples, for Christ is said to be going ahead of them. When they finally reach the disciples, after seeing Jesus themselves, they tell them of the empty tomb. They were disbelieved, but regardless Peter and John ran to the tomb to investigate Mary’s claim. If Mary and her companions did not yet enter the tomb, as some believe, then only their encounter with the angel would have been mentioned along with their encounter with Christ. They would’ve lacked seeing the evidence with their own eyes that His body was missing.


"Saint Peter and Saint John Run to the Sepulchre," by James Tissot. watercolor, c. 1884-1896

As Christ had first went into Galilee ahead of the women, so too does He go ahead of us, preparing a place for us in His Father’s house, and when we get there, we will likewise see Him. Though Christ had a new glorified body, the Firstfruit (see my note concerning 1 Corinthians 15:20-23, “On The Chaos of Reason, The Firstfruit, and The Transfiguration”), we see that this body isn’t bound by physical laws, or even death. Christ was able to move throughout Israel at His own will, without traveling in the manner of a mortal man. He would simply appear. This gives us some clues into what our new bodies will be like once they are granted unto us, through faith in the Son.


Stained Glass Window in The Duomo, Florence, by Paolo Uccello. c. 1443

I would like to thank the Lord that when we come to Him and pray over His word, He illuminates the Scriptures beyond our mere mortal understanding. His faithfulness in answering such prayers is truly amazing. Thank you Lord for revealing the mysteries of your Word, unto the likes of me, a disobedient sinner. May this glorify You, and may You put a hedge of protection around my heart, that in your revelations I may not grow prideful, but rather give you the praise and see myself in sober judgement always. May your name be revered, blessed, and worshipped for all eternity. In Christ’s name, Amen.


"Resurrection of Christ and the Women at the Tomb," by Fra Angelico. fresco, c. 1440

Thank you Lord for blessing me with Terie, a fantastic “Editor-in-Chief.” 🙂

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” -Romans 12:3


"The Confusion of Tongues," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1865

In my earlier post concerning 2 Corinthians 10:7 entitled, “On Proper Pride and Humility,” I discussed a little about the relative aspects of pride and a few ways one can avoid this particular sin in their life. Yet, I feel some added clarification is required, that we may gain a deeper understanding of this sin, in order that it might be identified. Pride has great ability at concealing itself in ones life, by defining it with more clarity, we may illuminate it.


Pride at its very core is a lie and deceitful. To have pride in oneself, is to take those attributes one has been granted by God and embellish upon them so they become more than they are. As Paul urges, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.” This in essence it what pride is, to think of oneself more highly than you should, or to think about a particular attribute more than you should.


Therefore, if you stand in front of a mirror and suck it in and flex periodically, as I have been known to do, you are exercising that pride. Also, if you are a big, “Rock Band” fan and picture yourself in your minds eye playing in front of a crowd of screaming women, or men, this is also prideful. Do not use your mind and heart to exalt and exaggerate the self, for to do so is incredibly sinful. In addition, because you will fall short in this elaboration, this can lead to extreme depression, when one doesn’t match up to the conception offered up by the sinful mind.


In atheism, a popular argument against God’s being, is that if He existed or exists than He is an extremely prideful being. Yet, when we take Paul’s definition, we find this not to be the case at all. God knows exactly who He is and cannot be anything different. Furthermore, because he is the thing-above-which-no-greater-can-be-thought, as defined perfectly in St. Anselm of Canterbury’s Ontological Argument, He is perfectly worthy of worship. In fact, due to God’s knowledge of exactly what He is, this is humility.


"Sistine Chapel Ceiling (detail)," by Michelangelo. fresco, c. 1508-1512

Paul continues saying, “think of yourself in sober judgment.” This is what humility is when it is in, “accordance with the faith God has distributed.” This being the case then it negates the idea of God being a prideful, and thereby sinful deity. God cannot deceive Himself, for this would present an irreconcilable contradiction, for He would have to imagine Himself greater than He is, which is an impossibility when one applies the definition of God offered by Anselm.

This verse suggests something which may give some insight into what human nature consists of. We are told, again, to think of ourselves in sober judgment in accordance with our faith in Christ. Thereby, since faith plays such a roll in the sober judgement of self, the question arises if we can have any victory against pride away from Christ? I would argue we can’t for the world is based on the self and the flesh. This sin of pride is the very same that drove Adam and Eve from the Garden. In a world where even good actions are self serving and motivated by the self, this doesn’t seem like a complete absurdity.


"Adam and Eve Expelled," by Gustave Dore. engraving, c. 1865

To be in accordance with one’s faith, we need to realize that we are indeed imperfect and sinful. This is how Paul had such a lowly conception of himself without sinning. Paul realized how much of a sinner he was and how unworthy he was to both serve God, and be offered grace through Jesus Christ. Paul was completely humble in that he knew what he was and worked for God to serve all man and almost singlehandedly brought about the New Israel among the Gentiles.


Remember to use discernment and do not elaborately adorn yourself with things like makeup, clothing (but please do wear clothes), jewelry, and anything that you use to magnify your being. This goes for both men and women. Yet, at the same time, we do not need to look like we just crawled out of a gutter whenever we go out in public, but we should use, “sober judgement in accordance with the faith.” Do not attempt to hide the beauty of being that goes beyond mere appearances, but be modest. God has granted you many things and because God is perfect, they are perfect. Do not magnify it by means of worldly things to either please the self or others, for this is a stumbling block to both, and sinful.


Finally, God has distributed the Spirit to all those in the faith. I can’t address every context and every situation, for such wisdom and omniscience belongs to God alone. Pray to the Lord that He may reveal you by the Spirit of Truth, if such sin is present, and to what degree. Pray that He would help and instruct you how to walk that thin line between both pride and envy, that you may see yourself for who you are, a precious child of the Most High.


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