LESSON 15.

SATAN'S LYING IN WAIT.

114.     A clock needs a most careful fitting of all its parts. It is quite conceivable that a typewriter wheel might be used for other purposes, but it could never be fitted into a clock, to take the place of a broken clock wheel. It would be too heavy or too light; the rim too thick or too thin; the hub too big or too little, and the cogs too many or too few. It would prove to be a misfit all around; the clock would not keep proper time. So it is with Scripture: "Every word of God is tried," and if we attempt to insinuate a false interpretation into it, it proves, on close inspection, a misfit all around. We shall demonstrate, by the misfit all around, that the usual interpretation of Genesis 3:16 is not correct. It bears a resemblance to the correct interpretation as a typewriter wheel may resemble a clock wheel, but it does not fit accurately anywhere.

115.     As introductory, we go back to verse 15, "It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." "Bruise" is an obscure word; to quote Dr. Tayler Lewis, "The general sense of this passage is plain, but there is great difficulty in fixing the precise action intended by the Hebrew word shuph, in consequence of its occurrence but three times in the Bible." The two other places are Job 9:17, "breaking," and Psalm 139:11, "cover." Now what word, could imply, according to its context, either bite, crush, break, or cover? That is the question,—for our verse certainly means that the serpent will bite the heel,—and the "seed" of woman crush its head.

116.     The sense "bruise," so unsuitable for the figure of a biting serpent, has been fixed upon on account of St. Paul's words, Romans 16:20, "The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." But we have no proof that Paul meant to translate the word shuph; he may have meant merely to give the general sense of the phrase, as it relates to man's part, which is clear to us all, whatever shuph means.

Some of the ancient versions translate, here, "lying in wait," or a kindred idea; and on the strength of this the R.V.gives us this as an alternative meaning in the margin. But this leaves the thought incomplete-to say merely that the "seed" will "lie in wait for his head." In that case, the seed of woman might in the end be defeated, while the real force of the prophecy is one of victory. No, shuph means something else, but we must leave the matter unsettled.

117.     But why was the thought of "lying in wait" ever brought in here? This is an interesting point to raise. We hold that verse 16 should have been rendered, "Unto the woman He said. A snare hath increased thy sorrow,"—the word "snare" being, literally rendered, "a lying-in-wait." Instead, it is rendered, "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow." The difference between the two in Hebrew lies wholly in the interlinear vowel-signs (see par. 6), of comparatively recent invention.[3] This would explain why the idea of "lying in wait" still clings to the passage, though it can scarcely be the meaning of the word shuph.

The thought was obliterated from the opening expression of verse 16, by the words being construed as "multiplying I will multiply" (literal for "I will greatly multiply"), and then it was reflected backwards as a possible sense for the obscure word shuph. In this connection we must recall that originally Hebrew had no divisions into verses, or even words.

118.     We have said, and shown, that the idea of God's passing a punitive sentence upon Eve, after the wonderful prophecy regarding her in verse 15, is inconsistent. But the rendering which we give is perfectly consistent with the context. We know that the Serpent was pronounced "subtil," and Eve was said to have been "beguiled," or deceived. Here, then, is a perfect fit in place of a misfit. This, as we believe, the correct rendering, became lost to us in the "days of mingling" (see par. 86), when the first version--the Greek--was made; when, as we have shown, the natural tendency would be, and was, to conform the story of Eve to the story of Pandora. A philologist of high repute, while doubting the general acceptance of my rendering, writes me, "I agree to the possibility of your translation."

119.     I have written to another gentleman, a high authority in the Hebrew language, and enquired if he could find fault, grammatical or rhetorical, with my translation. His reply simply states: "The translation proposed in your letter would seem to me quite unnatural, or, at any rate, unduly forced, where the usual rendering is natural, and to my mind perfectly correct." On this point we differ. What could be more unnatural than for God to first repose that greatest promise of all the Bible in a person, and then in the next breath pronounce a terrible punishment upon her? But to first give a great and wonderful promise, but at the same time reveal that with that high and holy calling the enemy of souls would be at war, and much suffering must attend and eventuate from it, as was the case with the Virgin Mary, (Luke 1:28 and 2:35) and St. Paul (Acts 8:15, 16),—this view is both logically and theologically sound, and we imagine that many thoughtful people will think our reading more natural and less forced than the traditional translation and interpretation.

120.     We must now consider another portion of Eve's so-called "sentence,—and thy conception;" especially that last word. When our Lord was on earth He promised us that, "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled." Some have supposed this promise to cover all the scope that it would if spoken concerning such a language as the English. But those who have studied our Lessons 1 and 2 will be prepared to see the case in its true light. The consonants of such a language as Hebrew must remain unchangeable or else we can have no hope of preserving the original sense of its words. But even as to English, our law courts every day present cases where the most tremendous decisions turn upon the exact reading of human laws. Our laws must he drafted by experts, with utmost care. We can easily imagine a case in which the fate of life or death might be deter mined by the precise reading of the law, or even upon its punctuation. Imagine, then, what would be the outcome if we, in the end, at the great judgment seat, were to be tried by carelessly inscribed or imperfectly preserved laws. Imagine such a state of things even in the days of Israel's kings. Supposing, in the days when the law was written in consonants only, Rehoboam, who was an especially harsh king (1 Kings 12:10), had chosen to read, as a penalty for an offense, G L S instead of G L, claiming that the law was probably mutilated at the particular point where he had chosen to add that S to its consonants. This would have made all the difference between GaoL (jail) and GaLLowS; we take an English word for illustration. Now it is just such perversions as these against which God has undertaken, on the assurance of Jesus Christ, to protect us. That is not unreasonable, is it? 

121.     We have before us such a case as this, in this supposed law of retribution upon all womanhood, because Eve sinned. The "sentence," I will multiply . . . thy conception," has wrought terrible havoc with the health and happiness of wives; because, so read it has been understood to rob woman of the right to determine when she should become a mother, and to place that right outside her will, and in abeyance to the will of her husband,—at least, the law has been read thus, because of its connection with what follows in this passage. This word is spelled, in Hebrew HRN,—but that is not the correct Hebrew way to spell "conception." The latter occurs, and correctly spelled, in Ruth 4:13 and Hosea 9:11, and nowhere else. The real word, "conception," as it occurs in the above passages, is spelled HRJWN. This word in Genesis comes two letters short of spelling the word. All Hebrew scholars know this. For instance, Spurrell says: "It is an abnormal formation which occurs nowhere else in the Old Testament." Our highest lexical authorities (Brown, Briggs and Driver) call it a "contraction, or erroneous." Indeed! and is one half the human family to be placed at the mercy of the other half, on such a flimsy claim as this!  So could Rehoboam have sent a man to the gallows, instead of sending him to gaol, by such a method of manipulating the law. We stand for our rights, as women, on the assurance of our Lord, that no word in Divine law has lost any of its consonants, or angles of a consonant; and on our Lord's promise we can demand a very different rendering of the word. While it is possible that the W of this word might be omitted in this particular formation, the j is a consonant of the root, and cannot be lost or omitted, particularly at the end of a phrase where the voice pauses or rests for awhile upon it; such is the Hebrew rule in an instance like this. The Septuagint gives the correct reading here, which is, "thy sighing,"—the whole sentence meaning, then, “A snare hath increased thy sorrow and thy sighing." Many ancient authorities agree with the Septuagint.

Notes

[3] The difference Is, between HaRBeh, AaRBeh, "multiplying I will multiply," and HiRBah AoReB, "hath-caused-to multiply," (or "made great"), a lying-in-wait,"--the verb, a usual preceding Its nominative. The capital letters, alike in both phrases, alone constitute the original text. This participial form, ARB, occurs fourteen times In Joshua and Judges. It in translated "ambush," and "liers-in-wait," or "in ambush." It to possible that we should read, here, "A lyer-in-wait (the subtil serpent) hath increased thy sorrow."

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