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This is where we come to delve into the biblical text. Theology is not our foremost thought, but we realize it is something that will be dealt with in nearly every conversation. Feel free to use the original languages to make your point (meaning Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic). This is an exegetical discussion area, so please limit topics to purely biblical ones.

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Genesis 18:20

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  • Genesis 18:20

    20 Then the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, 21 I will go down to see whether they have done altogether[g] according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.”

    This is a odd verse.

    God is all-knowing, so He would have known before going down to see.

    "And if not, I will know"

    Is there something in the Hebrew language translated as "know" that means something other than God does not know something?

    Thanks.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Christian3 View Post
    20 Then the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, 21 I will go down to see whether they have done altogether[g] according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.”

    This is a odd verse.

    God is all-knowing, so He would have known before going down to see.

    "And if not, I will know"

    Is there something in the Hebrew language translated as "know" that means something other than God does not know something?

    Thanks.

    Rashi:

    http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_...showrashi=true

    I will descend now: This teaches judges that they should not decide capital punishment cases unless they see it [i.e., they must go to the site of the crime and investigate the matter.

    (...)

    And [if] they remain in their state of rebellion, I will wreak destruction upon them, but if they do not remain in their state of rebellion, I will know what I will do, to punish them with suffering, but I will not destroy them.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Christian3 View Post
      Is there something in the Hebrew language translated as "know" that means something other than God does not know something?
      No. The answer to your puzzlement re the text in not in the vocabulary of the Hebrew.

      The word rendered "know" in this context is יָדַע (yādaʿ), which is a quite common word that occurs 800 times in the Qal stem formation and 70 times in the Hiphil stem formation, not to mention the other 5 stem formations.

      The text is an anthropomorphic narrative that is not meant to be taken literally with regard to what God may or may not know at any given time.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by John Reece View Post


        No. The answer to your puzzlement re the text in not in the vocabulary of the Hebrew.

        The word rendered "know" in this context is יָדַע (yādaʿ), which is a quite common word that occurs 800 times in the Qal stem formation and 70 times in the Hiphil stem formation, not to mention the other 5 stem formations.

        The text is an anthropomorphic narrative that is not meant to be taken literally with regard to what God may or may not know at any given time.
        ## It's worth comparing, for a variety of reasons, with other passages in the Bible - such as:
        • Genesis 11 - where there is a similar motif of God "going down" in "response" to human activity
        • Gen. 18. generally - which is about the future birth of Isaac; Gen.19 is a contrast to it.
        • Gen. 19 - where the word yādaʿ is used in a rather different sense: "Bring them out, that we may know them"; this passage also a reversal of Gen.6.1-4
        • Acts 14 - where Paul & Barnabas are mistaken for gods, & not known to be mortal men until they say so


        More generally, the motif of Divine beings/gods "going down", to "know"/discover whether someone/a community is as bad as claimed, crops up in mythology outside the Bible - the Sodom-narrative has many points of reference both w/ narratives in Gen. 6.1-4; Gen. 6-8, Gen.11.1-9, and with stories in Greek and Latin mythology: Zeus sends the Flood after discovering that one Lycaon has eaten his own son; Jupiter & Mercury are met with universal inhospitality in a town, except from an aged couple called Philemon & Baucis, who are alone in being saved from the resulting flood; & so on. And there are the myths of gods/divine beings "going down" and having congress with mortal women - as in Gen.6.1-4, or in Norse & Greek & other mythologies.

        So that verse leads in all sorts of directions, all of which can do something to cast light on it. People who dismiss the Bible with scorn could hardly be more wrong.
        Last edited by Rushing Jaws; 03-30-2014, 04:49 PM.

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        • #5
          Thank you all for your help.

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