The Seed (!)
By Charles H. Welch
The Bible is the record of God’s purpose in the Ages, a record that reveals a spiritual foe of great power, and a conflict that involves two seeds, as indicated in the primeval prophecy of Genesis 3:
In an analysis that sets out to examine terms used in Dispensational Truth it is evident that a place must be found for this subject of The Seed.
Our first investigation must be into the words employed. We observe that the word ‘seed’ as found in the A.V. is a translation of either the Hebrew words zera or perudoth, or of the Greek words sperma, sporos, spora or speiro. The word perudoth, ‘The seed is rotten under their clods’ (Joel 1:17) need not detain us, it is derived from the Hebrew word parad to be separated or scatter, and does not occur elsewhere. The word zera is the word that we must consider both in its primitive meaning and in its usage. This word is derived from zara ‘to spread or scatter’ as in Zechariah 10:9 ‘I will sow them among the people’. In two passages zera is translated ‘child’ (Lev. 22:13; 1 Sam. 1:11), but the most frequent translation of the word is ‘seed’. It enters into the composition of the name Jezreel ‘Sown of God’ (Hos. 1:4).
The word ‘seed’ is used in the Scriptures of man, of beast and of
plant, and indicates either the germ of life, secreted in animals from the
blood, or their progeny, offspring or fruit. We meet the word ‘seed’ in the
first chapter of Genesis, where the substantive occurs six times, and the
participle, translated ‘bearing’ and ‘yielding’ in relation to seed, three
times. ‘The herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his
kind, whose seed is in itself’ (Gen. 1:11). In the first case, this is a
statement of a material fact, but the record of Genesis 1 has more in it than
the record of material creation. Paul’s use of Genesis 1:2,3 in 2
Corinthians 4:6 ‘For God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness,
hath shined in our hearts’ is an indication that this record subserves a
spiritual purpose. We are therefore prepared to find that what is said of?the seed of ‘herb’ and of ‘fruit tree’ will be also true of ‘the seed’ in its
highest and spiritual sense. Three items call for notice.
These features are true of plants and of animals, but when we learn, as we shall when reading Genesis 3 that there is One, the Seed of the woman, Who is in conflict with another seed, the seed of the serpent, these statements take upon themselves a deeper and fuller significance.
The power and purpose of a seed to continue the line and have successors or progeny, and its relation to the creation of man, made ‘for a little lower than the angels’, should be noted. So far as we know, angels are separate creations, ‘they neither marry nor are given in marriage’ and have no seed. Adam, by his creation was allied to the animal world, in that he could be the father of the succeeding race, and so was distinguished from the angelic world where progeny is unknown. In this, the Scripture suggests that he was a figure of Him that was to come, the Second Man, and the last Adam, Who in a higher and spiritual sense was also to ‘see His seed’. Unlike the angels, all men are derived from a common ancestor, all are made of ‘one blood’, and the teaching of Romans 5 shows that Adam and Christ stand as type and antitype and that ‘as by one man’s disobedience many were constituted sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be constituted righteous’, mankind being organically one as the angels never could be. When Seth was born, his mother called his name Seth, for God, said she, hath appointed me ‘another seed’ instead of Abel, whom Cain slew (Gen. 4:25). Here we have the attack upon the true seed, its preservation, and a hint of the doctrine of Substitution.
The Ark was prepared by Noah at the command of God with the express purpose of keeping seed alive upon the face of all the earth (Gen. 7:3), and the destruction of all flesh by the flood is intimately connected with the abnormal alliance of the sons of God, the daughters of men, and their resulting hybrid progeny, the seed of the serpent in fact. With the true seed, thus preserved, the covenant of Genesis 9:9 was made. The next reference to a seed is that of Genesis 12:7 where the promise of God to Abraham is expressed in the one sentence ‘Unto thy seed will I give this land’.
The history of the Bible is largely that of the conflict between two seeds and the narrowing line through which the true seed came. In the time of Noah, it was indicated that through the line of Shem the seed should come, and of the descendants of Shem, the family of Abraham was chosen. Ishmael is passed by and Isaac is chosen. Esau is set aside and Jacob chosen. Of the sons of Jacob, Judah is chosen, and of Judah, came the family of David and so on unto the birth of Christ at Bethlehem. We are, however, conscious that in thus stating the case, we have narrowed our survey down to One, namely Christ, whereas it is perfectly clear from Scripture that the seed of Abraham was to be multiplied as the stars of heaven or as the sand of the seashore. We must return accordingly to Genesis 3, where the great prophecy concerning the Seed of the Woman is recorded, and consider it more closely.
It is however impossible to hope to arrive at any clear understanding of the import of Genesis 3:15 if we do not see its relation with the surrounding context. We must go back at least to Genesis 2:18-20 where we read that the animal creation were caused to pass before Adam who named them all, yet, adds the passage ‘For Adam there was not found an help meet for him’. Common and uncritical usage has introduced into our language the word ‘Helpmeet’, which, first being improperly hyphened, was then taken to mean ‘Help-mate’. This however does not fully express the truth intended. True, the wife is a help-mate, but the intention of Genesis 2:18 goes deeper. The Hebrew reads ezer‘help’, ki ‘as’, and neged ‘the front part, the front of a thing next to the speaker, before, in the presence of, over against’ (Gesenius). The LXX translates these words, once by kat’ auton ‘according to him’ (Gen. 2:18), and homoios auto ‘like to himself’ (Gen. 2:20). Here it is insisted that the principle already enunciated ‘after its kind’ operates in the matter of man and marriage. The process whereby the woman was brought to man illustrates the principle ‘whose seed is in itself’.
Man by his constitution is called a being that ‘breathes’. ‘God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul’ (Gen. 2:7); ‘All flesh, wherein is the breath of life’ (Gen. 7:15). The word translated ‘rib’ is translated ‘chamber’ on two occasions, and may mean a ‘cell’, and in the LXX is rendered by the word pleura and is associated with the lungs or breathing. Woman was evidently, like the seed in the plant, ‘after its kind’. Adam looked upon the woman brought to him as a help meet for him and said ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh’. Jacobs in the Anthologia Palatina shows that the Greek word pleura was used for ‘a wife’. The progeny of such a pair must be unmixed and ‘after its kind’.
Another matter of importance is the evident relation of Genesis 2:25 with 3:1. In both verses the Hebrew word arom is found. In Genesis 2:25 it is translated ‘naked’. The spelling of the word can be shown in English as arohm, and in 3:1 where it is translated ‘subtil’, the spelling of the word can be shown in English as aroom. In the first occurrence the primitive meaning of nudity is retained, in the second occurrence the secondary meaning to be cunning or crafty in a bad sense is intended. The figure of the seed is however not quite out of mind, although to the modern and Western reader there is nothing to call up the idea of ‘seed’. When the word translated naked takes the feminine form in the plural aremah, it is then translated ‘heap of corn’ (Ruth 3:7), and this was because the corn was ‘naked’ or stripped of husk and straw, the threshing being done on the spot. To this the apostle refers in 1 Corinthians 15:37. Speaking of the present mortal body and of the resurrection body, he says, ‘bare grain’. Here the word translated is gymnos ‘naked’, and is so translated in connection with resurrection in 2 Corinthians 5:3 ‘we shall not be found naked’. Adam and his wife were ‘bare grain’ stripped of all that is suggested by chaff or husk. Bare or naked grain was ready for sowing, ready to be fruitful and multiply. We are reminded in 1 Corinthians 15 moreover that ‘to every seed its own body’ is as true in the spiritual relation of resurrection as it is in the physical creation. The body of the believer, like the body of Adam is at first ‘natural’, and afterward in resurrection ‘spiritual’, for, ‘there is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body’. The natural body is that which we receive from ‘the first man Adam’, the spiritual body we receive from ‘the second Man, the Lord from heaven, the last Adam’. This associates the believer with Adam and with Christ and the two bodies that are in view, are embraced in the figure of the ‘image’.
The overreaching subtilty of the serpent, while plunging man into sin and death, opened the door for the redemptive purposes of God to operate, and symbolically man was ‘clothed upon’ before being expelled from the garden. It is to be noted with worship and wonder, that the Hebrew word translated ‘skin’ is Or, and while difficult to show in English letters, differs from the word naked in the original only by the omission of the final ‘M’. The word ‘skin’ is in the Hebrew a derivative of the word ‘naked’. Before this clothing of the nakedness of the man and his wife took place the promise of the Coming Seed is given:
With the light we have received in this preparatory study, let us
approach this great central prophecy with chastened hearts, yet with exultant
spirits, for here lies enshrined the purpose of the ages, its conflict and
its ultimate triumph.
The Evident Importance of the Seed
We have seen by the examination of Genesis 1 to 3, that ‘The Seed’, its purity, its preservation and its enemies therein foreshadowed, justifies the title that has been given to these early chapters of revelation, ‘The Seed Plot’ of all Scripture. If this be admitted it will be further acknowledged that lying at the very centre of the purpose there foreshadowed, is the dual prophecy concerning the Seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent (Gen. 3:15), and that any attempt to understand or explain the purpose of the ages that fails to give a prominent place to this prophecy, must necessarily be deficient and possibly misleading.
Before concentrating upon the actual terms of this prophecy in germ,
let us take a large view. The last of the prophets is Malachi, and he it is
that points back to Genesis 2 and 3, and by so doing brings the whole of the
Old Testament revelation concerning the seed to a completion. When we open
the New Testament we are confronted with a genealogy, ‘The book of the
generation of Jesus Christ’ as the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, and in a
peculiar sense the Son of a woman, Who is nevertheless Emmanuel ‘God with
us’, and on the last page of the New Testament we read of Him Who is both the
‘Root’ as well as ‘the Offspring’ of David. We have therefore Old Testament
and New Testament linked together as prophecy and fulfilment, by these four
A Genesis 1 to 3. The Seed of the Woman.
A Matthew 1. The Son of the Virgin. Emmanuel.
Let us examine the passage in Malachi. The A.V. reads in Malachi 2:15
‘a godly seed’, but in the margin informs the reader that the Hebrew reads ‘a
seed of God’. When the Old Testament writer wished to speak of the ‘godly’?he used the Hebrew chasid, a fitting word, meaning one who has received
grace, and so should be gracious. Here, in Malachi, something deeper is
intended, and Elohim should be translated ‘God’ in chapter 2:15 as it is in
the six other passages where it occurs in Malachi. Malachi reproves both the
priests and the people, and the first two chapters are devoted to this dual
theme. It would take us too far afield to exhibit the complete structure of
Malachi 1 and 2, but a brief outline of Malachi 2:10-16 will enable the
reader to see the unity of the theme, and the essential features will be
thrown into prominence.
A 10 One Father. One God.
A 15 One made. Wherefore One?
Israel’s departure from their God, the dishonouring of the Covenant, the profaning of the holiness of the Lord, is made to impinge upon marriage with the daughter of a strange god, even as the purpose of God both at the creation of Man, and afterwards in the separating laws of Israel indicates that He sought ‘a seed of God’. The law forbidding the sowing of ‘mingled seed’ (Lev. 19:19) had more in it than good husbandry, and its bearing upon the peculiar character of Israel is seen in Ezra 9:2 and the remainder of the book, where great grief is manifested at the ‘mingling of the holy seed’ with the people of the land. Nehemiah also spoke severely concerning this same act, instancing Solomon’s sin in these things ... ‘in marrying strange wives’ (Neh. 13:23-27).
In the prophecy of Daniel, we see very clearly that the ‘strange god’ will be associated with the blasphemous beast of the time of the end (Dan. 11:39), and in the forecast of Gentile dominion Daniel reveals that at the time of the end some shall ‘mingle themselves with the seed of men’ (Dan. 2:43), which suggests that ‘as it was in the days of Noah’ so shall it be at the time of the end. To make the people of Israel aware of their profanation, the prophet Malachi leads them back to Genesis 2, ‘Did not He make one?’ Both the record of Genesis 2:18-25, and the comment of the Saviour in Matthew 19:4-6 stress the fact that to Adam God gave one wife. Yet, continued the prophet, this limitation was not due to any deficiency, ‘He had the residue of the spirit (or breath)’, and could have provided Adam with a number of wives, had He so intended. At marriage man and wife become ‘one flesh’, and this holy unity is designed by God to further His purpose; He sought thereby ‘a seed of God’. This fact will become more evident when we are examining the teaching of Scripture concerning the seed of the serpent.
Coming to the genealogy of Matthew 1 we observe that it is the book of the generations of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, the Son of Mary, Emmanuel, God with us. In that genealogy there is a name that strikes us, it is Zorobabel. We have already seen that the Hebrew word for ‘seed’ is zera and so Zorobabel, or Zerubbabel as it is written in the Old Testament speaks either of the seed, or the shoot of Babel or Confusion, or of those who were ‘scattered’ in Babylon. It is arresting, whatever its primary meaning may be for another reason, and that is its place in the genealogy found in Luke 3. Zerubbabel is called ‘the son of Shealtiel or Salathiel’ (Ezra 3:2,8; Hag. 1:1; Matt. 1:12; Luke 3:27), but in 1 Chronicles 3:19 he is called the son of Pedaiah, the brother of Salathiel (17,18).
We may not know just exactly what occurred, but that something of importance happened we gather by consulting the genealogy given in Luke 3. There, we read once more of Zorobabel and Salathiel (Luke 3:27). At first one may see nothing remarkable in this fact. Are not Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David found in both genealogies? Why should not these two men figure in both? The answer is that David had two sons Solomon and Nathan. The line that is pursued in Matthew’s genealogy is that through Solomon, but the line pursued by Luke is that through Nathan. Now no man can be the son of his own uncle, and consequently when we read in Luke that Salathiel was the son of Neri who was in direct descent from Nathan, we must understand the expression to mean ‘son in law’ and this is substantiated by examination of the passage.
Jesus Himself began to be about thirty years of age, being legally reckoned (nomizo) the son of Joseph, who in his turn was legally reckoned the son of Heli. Heli was the father of Mary (Doctor John Lightfoot quoting Hieros Chagigah), and Joseph the son of Jacob (Matt. 1:16) became his son by marriage. There is however more in this genealogy than meets the eye. To illustrate our point, let us turn back to Genesis 36. It is clear from verses 24 and 25 that ‘Anah’ was a man. ‘He’ fed his father’s asses, and was the ‘father’ of Aholibamah his daughter. With this knowledge let us read Genesis 36:2. ‘Aholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon’.
This reads, on the surface, as though ‘Anah’ a man, is called ‘the daughter’ of Zibeon. The truth is of course that the genealogy should read, Aholibamah was the daughter of her father Anah, and so Aholibamah was also the daughter of Zibeon, not that her father Anah was the daughter of Zibeon. So, when we read in the genealogy of the Saviour, the words ‘which was the son of’ that recur throughout, they refer always to Christ.
Luke does not teach here that Adam was the son of God, the phrase is a continuous and unbroken succession from Jesus Christ to God His Father, Joseph at one end of the scale and Adam at the other being but human links in the chain. Owing to the failure of Jechoniah who was written ‘childless’ it appears that a marriage took place uniting the line of Zerobabel through Solomon, with the line that descended from Nathan, and so to Mary the mother of the Christ, the woman’s Seed. Both Matthew and Luke speak of the virgin birth of Christ, but this is too solemn a subject to attempt to crowd into a paragraph here.
If we would be fully equipped, we must give our attention to the
teaching of Scripture regarding the Seed of Abraham, the Seed of David, the
bearing of Romans 16:20 upon the prophecy of Genesis 3:15, the purpose of the
words relative to the parable of the Sower ‘How then will ye know all
parables?’ (Mark 4:13), and the words of Galatians 3:16 and 29 ‘Not, And to
seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ’, ‘Then
are ye Abraham’s seed’, but some of these aspects must be omitted in the
The Corruption of Man
One of the illuminating discoveries that the student of Scripture makes, is the fact that at the call of Abraham we have traversed but eleven chapters of the book, but in time have moved half way from Adam to Christ. There is at first sight an element of disproportion in this fact. If we take a chapter as a standard unit, we have the following. There are 939 chapters in the Old Testament and consequently eleven chapters form only one eighty-fifth part of the whole. Yet the time covered by the one eighty-fifth portion of the Old Testament from the creation of Adam to the birth of Abraham is 2008 years (reckoning Adam as 4004 b.c. and the birth of Abraham to be 1996 b.c., which for the present purpose is near enough to be accepted without dispute). This leaves 1996 years from Abraham to Christ, and as the year 2002 b.c. is exactly halfway between Adam and Christ it will be seen that it is correct to say that when one reaches the twelfth chapter of Genesis, the record is chronologically half-way through the Old Testament. The apparent disproportion in the record is explained by the purpose that lies behind the historical record.
If it had been the Divine intention to have satisfied the human mind with a scientific explanation of Creation, can we hope that 939 chapters, or the whole of the Old Testament would have been sufficient? Had it been the Divine intention to have put on record a history of the world, then inasmuch as there are seventy nations listed in Genesis 10, at least seventy separate Bibles would have been necessary. Nor is this all, even though we have so great a literature of Israel, we are obliged to admit that the half has not been told. In some cases we have a fairly detailed account of some episode in a family’s history, in other cases, the reign of a king is compressed into a few verses. When we become aware that the Bible is concerned with Redemption, and Redemption is concerned with sin and death, then its apparent disproportion suddenly takes new shape, its omissions are readily understood, and the call of Abraham and the history of the chosen people are seen in something of their true light.
Now closely allied with redemption is the purpose of God in ‘the Seed’, and it is because the channel through which ‘the Seed’ should come is narrowed down to the line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that the history of Israel becomes the history of the conflict between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. References to the seed form the link between Adam and Abraham. The attack by Cain upon his brother Abel manifested the enmity that existed between the two seeds, and the birth of Seth was acclaimed with the joyful words ‘God hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew’ (Gen. 4:25). The line of Cain is given in Genesis 4:16-24, a line containing names identical in some cases, and similar in others, to names that are found in the true line through Seth, an indication and a warning, that deception and misdirection are the methods adopted by the Enemy to divert the testimony of the Scriptures away from the true seed, to the false.
Cain’s first child is called Enoch, and so, when Jude would refer to Enoch who walked with God, he is careful to speak of him as ‘the seventh from Adam’ (Jude 14). The succeeding names in the line of Cain, namely Irad, Methusael, and Lamech who boasted of his prowess and used the phrase ‘sevenfold’ and ‘seventy and sevenfold’, are not unlike the names that occur in Genesis 5, namely Jared, which differs from Irad by one letter, and Methuselah which could easily be confused with Methusael, while Lamech who made no boast like his evil name-sake, nevertheless has this in common, that he lived seven hundred and seventy and seven years. This Lamech had a son Noah, the other Lamech had two sons, with whom the line of Cain ends.
When the genealogy came to be written as a preface to the book of the true succession, it reads ‘Adam, Sheth, Enosh’ (1 Chron. 1:1), and the name of Cain is blotted out of the record, never occurring after Genesis 4, in the remainder of the Old Testament. A son was born to Seth, whom he called Enos, and the Scripture adds as a comment ‘Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord’ (Gen. 4:26). As the passage stands in the A.V., it would give cause for rejoicing to think that, consequent upon the extinction of the line of Cain and the continuance of the line through Seth, godliness was now established in the earth. It is however evident from the early pages of Genesis, that men called upon the name of the Lord before the days of Enos, and that extreme ungodliness had so developed by the time that Enoch lived, as to call for the pronouncement of judgment by the Lord (Jude 15), and the prophecy of the coming Flood, for the name of Enoch’s son, Methuselah, means ‘At his death it shall be’.
That there was something hidden beneath the surface in Genesis 4:26 the following notes will make evident. The LXX inserts the verb elpizo ‘to hope’ and reads as follows: ‘... Enos: he hoped to call on the name of the Lord’. The translators of the A.V. also were not quite satisfied, for they insert in the margin the words ‘Or, to call themselves by the name of the Lord’. Now one may call himself by the name of the Lord for good, or for evil reasons, and there is a persistent tradition from early days, to show that the Rabbinical interpretation of these words understood them to be evil in intent. The Targum of Onkelos reads: ‘then in his days the sons of men desisted from praying in the name of the Lord’. The Targum of Jonathan says: ‘That was the generation in whose days they began to err, and to make themselves idols, and surnamed their idols by the name of the Word of the Lord’. Rashi reads:
and Maimonides in a treatise on idolatry, traces its probable origin to the days of Enos. With this interpretation The Companion Bible is in entire agreement. To the English reader there does not appear in the words ‘began to call’ anything that suggests profanity; yet, if masters of the language have consistently represented the passage as so doing, the English reader will naturally desire to become more closely acquainted with the original.
The word translated ‘began’ is the Hebrew verb chalal, but the idea of
‘beginning’ is entirely secondary. Chalal primarily means ‘to perforate or
pierce through’ (Gesenius). Thus ‘to wound’ Psalm 109:22; Isaiah 53:5. From
this primitive meaning comes the derived sense of ‘laying open, giving access
to’ and so ‘to profane’ as one might a sanctuary (Lev. 19:8), and is used of
‘profaning seed’ (Lev. 21:15). Chalal is translated in the A.V. ‘be defiled,
polluted, profaned, and prostitute’, seventy times! The word chalal occurs
in Genesis just eight times, and we give the references in order to provide
every help possible in arriving at a true understanding of the passage before
It is not without significance that the one occasion in Genesis where the verb chalal is translated ‘defile’, the reference is to Reuben who committed a defiling sin against his father and so lost the excellency of the firstborn’s position. Here was a most definite attempt to pollute the seed and is but one of many similar attempts that are recorded in the book of Genesis. The second reference, Genesis 6:1 is recorded as a preface to the violation of God’s will by ‘the sons of God’, another attack upon the seed. Even the innocent record ‘Noah began to be an husbandman’ is but a preface to his drunkenness and the illegitimate begetting of Canaan (Gen. 9:20-27), (see later in this article) and Nimrod stands as the head of the abomination that is associated with Babylon throughout the entire Word of God.
Genesis 11:6 also is connected with Babylonian rebellion, ‘this they begin to do’ being balanced by ‘which they have imagined to do’. The reader will see, therefore, that there is good ground for the suggested translation ‘began to profanely call’ in Genesis 4:26. ‘Eminent and learned men are of opinion that the word rendered ‘began’ should be translated ‘began profanely’; and that the spirit of inspiration has recorded the fact in this place, as being the first public step in that course of audacious impiety which was rapidly manifesting itself, and by which the ambitious and infidel leaders arrogated to themselves the name, prerogatives and attributes of Divinity’ (Robt. Jamieson D.D.).
The line of Cain might be extinct, but the Enemy of truth was still
active, and was preparing the minds of men for the next invasion of humanity
and attack upon the purity of the seed, as revealed in Genesis 6. The next
occurrence of the word ‘seed’ in Genesis is found in chapter 7, where the
purpose of the Ark is indicated ‘to keep seed alive upon the face of all the
earth’ (Gen. 7:1-3). Something most terrible must have taken place since the
days of Enos, for so marvellous a provision for the preservation of seed to
be called for. That terrible thing was the corruption of man’s way upon the
earth, and the consequent threat of a deluge. Genesis 6 deals with a
phenomenon so unnatural that the mind at first turns from it and searches for
a more ‘reasonable’ interpretation than that which lies upon the surface. As
this chapter is to the world of Noah and his three sons, what Genesis 3 is to
Adam and the entire race, we must spare no pains in our endeavour to
understand its teaching. Who, and what are ‘the sons of God’? In what way
could such beings take to themselves wives? and how could such wives bear
them children? How are we to understand the word ‘giants’? and what is the
meaning of the words ‘And after that’ in Genesis 6:4? What is the
significance of the word ‘perfect’ when applied to Noah (Gen. 6:9), and what
the intention of the words ‘all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth’?
(Gen. 6:12). These subjects have been dealt with under the headings ANGELS;
GIANTS; ADOPTION; and CHILDREN v. SONS; and to these the reader is
The Preservation of the Seed in Noah
In direct contrast with the prevailing corruption, the patriarch Noah stands out in the record of Genesis 6, as a notable exception.
The wickedness of man was so great in the earth and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart only evil continually, that we read the extraordinary statement ‘And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart’ (Gen. 6:6). This word ‘repented’ challenges us. In what way can God be said to repent? This is not the only occasion when repentance is predicated of the Lord. At the intercession of Moses, the Lord repented of the evil which He thought to do unto His people (Exod. 32:14); this repentance is repeated in the days of David (2 Sam. 24:16); and this repentance is commemorated in Psalm 106:45. It was the complaint of Jonah that he knew full well that God being merciful would repent if only Nineveh would turn to Him (Jonah 3:9,10; 4:2).
These gracious repentings we can perhaps understand, but it is strange indeed to read that the Lord repented that He had made man. In the first place we may say that ‘repenting’ and ‘being grieved at the heart’ are instances of the figure of speech known as anthropopatheia, a figure which ascribes human attributes to God. The Hebrews called this mode of speech Derek Benai Adam ‘The way of Adam’, and without such condescension on the part of God, man could never apprehend His revelation. But conceding all this, and admitting that the use of such parts of the body as ‘face’, ‘nostril’, ‘eyes’, ‘ears’ and ‘hands’ with reference to God are accommodations to our limitations, we nevertheless believe that they stand for realities, even though we can affix to such spiritual realities no human name.
In like manner, though we may not take the words ‘grief’, ‘anger’, ‘jealousy’ and other similar affections and feelings at their surface value, we nevertheless know that they stand for something equivalent on the high plane of Divine experience. Consequently we are to gather from Genesis 6:6, that something of extreme antipathy to the purpose of God and creation had come in and spoiled the work of God’s hands, grieved His heart, and made Him repent that He had made man. In the language of the parable, the reason is found in the fact ‘that an enemy hath done this’, and that with reference to two sowings of seed (Matt. 13:28). Throughout the Bible we have the consciousness of a conflict, a conflict between good and evil, darkness and light, God and Satan, and that the battle is intensely real, making demands upon the Wisdom and Power of the Almighty, and culminating in the sparing not of His Beloved Son. If such inroads had been made into the nature of mankind by the evil one, that it could be said, ‘all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth’, then God must act and act drastically if the situation were to be saved. The word translated ‘corrupt’ in Genesis 6:11 and 12, and the word translated ‘destroy’ in Genesis 6:17 is the Hebrew shachath. ‘The only remedy was to destroy it (de facto) as it had become destroyed (de jure)’ (The Companion Bible). At the time of the sounding of the seventh angel, the wheel has come full circle, ‘as it was in the days of Noah’ and we read that the time had come to ‘destroy them which destroy (or corrupt) the earth’ (Rev. 11:18). Standing separate and almost alone in the midst of well nigh universal corruption was Noah. It is not without significance that the name Noah is derived from the selfsame Hebrew word translated ‘repent’. The Hebrew word is nacham and is found for the first time in Scripture in the words of Lamech ‘This same shall comfort us’ (Gen. 5:29), and refers to the Ark and the Flood. The next occurrence of nacham is in Genesis 6:6 where it is written ‘it repented the Lord’. The reason why the one Hebrew word can have such opposite meanings is that primarily nacham means ‘a change of mind or affection’ and obviously the mind may change sometimes in one way, sometimes in another. God changed His mind regarding mankind as a whole and destroyed them, He changed His mind about Noah in particular and saved him. What constituted the essential difference between Noah and the rest of mankind? We shall find upon examining the history of Israel that they are denounced as wicked, and corrupt and evil, yet even though enemies because of the gospel, they are beloved because of the fathers, ‘for the gifts and calling of God are without repentance’ (Rom. 11:29). Israel, for all their sins were the chosen seed, and so were saved. Even after the Flood, the words are written ‘I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for (although, Heb. ki) the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth’ (Gen. 8:21). What was it that the Lord saw in the generation before the flood that demanded total destruction? It was the corrupting of the seed, and it is the separation of Noah from this that marks him out in Genesis 6.
Noah, like Enoch, ‘walked with God’, but this was not all. Noah found ‘grace’, the first to so find in all Scripture, but in addition Noah was ‘perfect in his generations’. As the word ‘generations’ occurs twice in this passage, let us note that the first word is a translation of toledoth ‘family history’, and can read either forward or backward, can speak of either one’s ancestors or of one’s descendants, but the second word is a translation of the Hebrew dor which refers to Noah’s contemporaries, the men living at the same time as himself. With regard to his contemporaries Noah was ‘perfect’.
This word, which translates the Hebrew tamim means ‘without blemish’ and primarily refers to physical, not moral perfection. It is in constant use to describe the blemishless character of a sacrificial animal (Exod. 12:5; Lev. 1:3). Job was described as ‘perfect’, as well as upright (Job. 1:1,8; 2:3), and Jacob is described as a ‘plain’ man (Gen. 25:27), using the same word as is employed in Job and translated ‘perfect’, while ‘undefiled’ is the translation of the word in Song of Solomon 5:2 and 6:9. The testimony of Genesis 6:9 is that Noah was uncontaminated so far as his pedigree was concerned, and the channel through which the Seed of the Woman could come, though narrowed down by the well nigh universal corruption that had set in, was still preserved.
As we proceed with the history of the Seed of the Woman we shall
assemble a series of Divine interpositions, each one marked by its own
peculiar character, and together building up a system of teaching that points
irrevocably to Christ. Let us note the following as a beginning of this
special phase of truth:
Although the purpose of God concerning the Seed was so far safeguarded,
the words already noted in Genesis 6:4, ‘also after that’, prepare us for
‘Abraham, The Hebrew’
When Noah and his family stepped out from the Ark, they stepped out into a world that was empty and devoid of life, and to them the words uttered at the creation of Adam were repeated:
The dominion given to Adam is passed on to Noah in modified terms, and instead of the sun, moon and stars being indicated as ‘signs’ (Heb. oth) the rainbow was appointed for a ‘token’ (Heb. oth). This is another feature that we must remember, namely the changed ‘tokens’ that accompany the dispensational changes that mark the onward story of the Seed. If the Seed is to continue, it must of necessity come through Noah and one of his sons. The blessing pronounced in Genesis 9:26,27 indicates that the choice fell upon Shem:
Japheth was the eldest brother (Gen. 10:21; 1 Chron. 1:5), but grace seldom recognizes any precedence in the flesh. Consequently we find the generations of Shem lead on to Terah and so to Abraham (Gen. 11:10-32).
The additional note ‘the father of all the children of Eber’ calls for attention. No such clause follows the reference either to Japheth or to Ham. Moreover, we observe that Eber himself is not mentioned again until verse 24.
Shem had five sons, and Eber is the descendant of Arphaxad, the third of those that are named in Genesis 10:22. Now Eber had two sons, Peleg so named because in his days the earth was divided, and Joktan. Joktan’s descendants are named, but Peleg’s descendants are reserved until ‘The generations of Shem’ are given in Genesis 11:10, where Joktan finds no place. The line of the Seed therefore from Noah, runs as follows: Noah, Shem, Arphaxad, Eber, Peleg and so on to Terah, the father of Abram. Shem is called ‘the father of all the children of Eber’ for this reason.
The record of Genesis 10 is the record of the nations, and the words ‘By these were the nations divided in the earth’ show that the settlement of the nations and the lands inhabited by them is the important theme, and it is the descendants of Joktan and their lands that is recorded in Genesis 10 whereas, in Genesis 11 Joktan is omitted, but the generations of Peleg are given in detail and this proves to be of the most importance, for this is the line of the true seed. Our attention therefore is called to the fact that the line of Joktan does not exhaust the descendants of Shem. The two names Eber and Peleg demand our attention. The Hebrew name Eber means ‘beyond’, and occurs in such phrases as ‘beyond Jordan’, ‘on this side Jordan’ or ‘on the other side Jordan’ (Gen. 50:10; Num. 22:1; Josh. 2:10). The verb abarmeans ‘to pass’ or ‘to pass over’ and is often used in connection with the passing over of the Israelites into the land of Canaan (Deut. 12:10; Josh. 3:16). In Genesis 14:13 Abraham is called ‘The Hebrew’. This is partly explained in Joshua 24:2,3.
This ‘flood’ is the River Euphrates, the word translated ‘flood’ being the same as that which is rendered ‘river’, meaning the river Euphrates (Josh. 1:4). The LXX translates Abraham ‘the Hebrew’, by the words ho perates ‘the one who crossed over’, the word peran being employed in Genesis 50:10, and Joshua 2:10 cited above. While therefore Eber had many descendants, Abraham stands out pre-eminently not only as one descendant out of many, but as the one who fulfilled the meaning of the name. Peleg too, is associated with rivers, and is so translated nine times, and once ‘stream’ in the Old Testament (Psa. 1:3). Job uses the word palag when he speaks of God ‘Who hath divided (palag) a watercourse’ (Job 38:25). The same form of the word, pelaggah is twice translated ‘divisions’ (Jud. 5:15,16) and once ‘rivers’ (Job 20:17).
Rivers formed natural boundaries in ancient days, so much so that in English the word ‘rival’ comes from the idea that men living on opposite banks of a river would be ‘divided’ in their loyalties.
It is not true to say that the words of Genesis 10:25 ‘the earth was divided’ cannot refer to the division of the earth as an inheritance, but only by some geological division as that which has formed the continents, for the feminine form of both the Hebrew and the Chaldee words is employed to speak of the division of both ‘families’ and of ‘the priests’ (2 Chron. 35:5; Ezra 6:18). In Peleg’s day the earth was divided among the nations, ‘according to the number of the children of Israel’ (Deut. 32:8). The reader will discover that there are seventy nations mentioned by name in Genesis 10, and the words ‘When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel’ have regard to that number seventy.
So conscious was Israel of this high place, and so equally conscious that the Gentile nations would be provoked should they realize it, that we find the LXX reads ‘according to the number of the angels of God’, for the Gentile world would not know that to each nation had been appointed an angel, as is indicated in Daniel 10 ‘The prince of Grecia’, ‘the prince of the kingdom of Persia’ and ‘Michael your prince’. So precious in the sight of God is ‘The Seed’, that He counts the seventy souls that went down into Egypt, who formed the nucleus of the nation of Israel, of more importance than the whole seventy nations that inhabited the rest of the world, and in order to appreciate this concentration of the Lord’s care, we must continue the story of the generations until we arrive at Abraham, the father of the great nation, whose seed is prominent in Genesis 12:7. While both Joktan and Peleg are mentioned in Genesis 10:25, Peleg only appears in the genealogy of Genesis 11:10-26, for the seed only is there in view. The line is preserved from Eber through Peleg to Terah, the father of Abram. Men’s attempt ‘to make us a name’ and their consequent scattering (Gen. 11:1-9) was but another attempt to frustrate the purpose of God. The word ‘name’ is actually Shem.
When we reach the generations of Terah, we are at the central generation of the eleven which are found in the book of Genesis. In both the conclusion of Shem’s genealogy (Gen. 11:26), and the opening of Terah’s, Abram’s name stands first. although, as subsequent study will reveal, Abram was not the eldest of Terah’s sons. Like Shem, Abram is put first because he was the chosen channel of the Seed. For the first time in Scripture appears the statement that any woman was ‘barren’, and this is said of Sarai, Abram’s wife.
‘But Sarai was barren: she had no child’ (Gen. 11:30). So into the story of the coming seed is now interposed human inability, in order that it may be demonstrated that the true seed is indeed of God. This Hebrew word translated ‘barren’ aqar, signifies a mere stock or stem without branches, a dry tree. Bateman says of Ecclesiastes 3:2, where the A.V. reads ‘a time to pluck up’, ‘to lop as trees, cut them close to the stock or stem’. This supernatural element is emphasized later in the story of Ishmael and Isaac, and a definite reference is made to it in Romans 9, where we read ‘In Isaac shall thy seed be called, that is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed’ (Rom. 9:7,8).
Immediately following the statement concerning Sarai’s barrenness, comes the record of Terah’s trek towards Canaan and his tarrying and death at Haran. We learn from Stephen in Acts 7:2, that ‘The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran’. Terah, it would appear was moved by the revelation given to his son, and ‘took’ Abram, Lot and Sarai, but by so doing contravened the distinct commandment ‘Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred’. Moreover, although ‘they went forth’ from Ur of the?Chaldees ‘to go into the land of Canaan’ they did not accomplish this purpose for we read ‘they came unto Haran, and dwelt there’. This partial obedience to the separating command of God, will be met again. For example in Exodus 8:25 where Pharaoh substitutes for the three days’ journey, ‘Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land’ or ‘Sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness: only ye shall not go very far away’ (Exod. 8:28).
According to Hebrews 11, Abraham when he obeyed God did not know the land that God had promised him, and so the language of Genesis 11:31 written after the event must be considered as supplemental. Terah, whose name among other meanings seems to be ‘wanderer’, was evidently moved by the call that had come to his son, but the thing to be noticed is that although he made that trek from Ur of the Chaldees, as far North as Haran, he never ‘passed over’ the Euphrates. After 600 miles separation from Ur he still dwelt in the same country, and had in reality made no essential change. Terah’s movement was like many religious movements, they fail in essentials.
Abraham was called ‘The
Hebrew’ for he passed over the dividing river. Terah was never a ‘Hebrew’.
He came out of Ur but he died in Haran, a city of the same country. He had
but changed one ‘denomination’ for another. Terah died in Haran, and until
he died he was a hindrance to faithful obedience. Terah represented the ‘old
man’, who can be religious and do almost everything except ‘pass over’. Only
when the ‘old man’ (Rom. 6:6) dies, can the believer rise and walk in newness
of life. We are however tracing the history of the Seed, and must not allow
ourselves too many doctrinal excursions, but the reader will doubtless
perceive that the spiritual history of the individual believer finds an echo
many times in the record of the Seed and its conflict.
Cain and Canaan, were Both ‘of that Wicked One’
As the different attacks are made by the enemy upon the life or purity
of the true seed, certain terms are introduced, which mark the spiritual side
of the conflict, and reveal the character of the provision and protection
afforded by the Lord. These we shall have to consider together as a whole
when we have pursued this theme further, but the reader may be helped by an
anticipation of this particular study. Certain words or phrases emerge as
the story of the seed progresses, and the following will indicate the nature
of this particular aspect of truth.
These items will give the reader some idea of what we intend, but the above list is temporary, and will be revised when the subject is considered as a whole.
At the moment we are concerned with the onward progress of the true seed, and have reached the time when, at the death of Terah, Abraham was free to ‘pass over’ and become ‘Abraham the Hebrew’. At Genesis 12, the nations of the earth go into the background and only come into the record as they touch the land and people of Israel. The channel through which the Seed should come is now narrowed down to one man, a descendant of Shem, and to that man a promise was given of a land and of a seed.
The delay occasioned by the action of Terah was seized upon by the enemy as will be made clear if we put two passages together:
Before we can rightly proceed, some understanding of the Scriptural meaning and intention of ‘the Canaanite’ is called for, as it is evident that this people were Satan’s countercheck to the Divine plan. Canaan was one of the sons of Ham, his brothers being Cush, Mizraim and Phut (Gen. 10:6). From Cush, came Nimrod, the beginning of whose kingdom was Babel, and from Canaan sprang Sidon, Heth, and the Jebusite, Amorite and others, who became known as ‘Canaanites’. The circumstances of the birth of Canaan are unrevealed, but the record of Genesis 9:20-29 is highly significant and calls for examination.
Now this may be an innocent, straightforward statement, containing no hidden or ulterior meaning -- and yet, we ask, why does the Scripture use this form of speech, why say ‘he began to be’? The reader will remember that we found it necessary to retranslate Genesis 4:26 ‘Then began men to callupon the name of the Lord’, ‘Then men profanedly called upon the name of the Lord’. We find this word ‘began’ in the opening of that ominous passage Genesis 6 when the sons of God saw the daughters of men, and when there were giants in the earth. We observe that this same word ‘began’ is used of Nimrod, the rebel. ‘He began to be a mighty one’ (Gen. 10:8). At the building of the tower of Babel the Lord said ‘this they begin to do’ (Gen. 11:6), so that we find that in the space of Genesis 1 to 11, which covers the history of the ancient world from Creation to Abraham, chalal occurs five times, each occurrence being associated with an attack upon the purpose of God, either the profaning of the name of the Lord, the irruption of the sons of God, the founding of Babel, and this reference to Noah. There is evidence that at the Flood such disturbance took place as to alter materially the meteorological conditions, and what before had provided ‘wine that maketh glad the heart of God and man’, now, for the first time fermented, with the result that ‘Noah was drunken’ (Gen. 9:21), and not only so, was ‘uncovered’. Noah in many things takes the place of Adam in the earth.
A comparison of Genesis 9 with what had previously been said of Adam will reveal several similarities. Among them let us notice Adam and Noah are both associated with a garden ‘planted’, indeed the Hebrew word nata ‘to plant’ occurs in Genesis 1 to 11 but twice, namely at Genesis 2:8 ‘The Lord God planted a garden’ and here in Genesis 9:20 Noah’s downfall is connected with an act ‘he drank of the wine’, even as the fall of Adam is connected with eating the fruit of the forbidden tree. In both cases, there is a strange sequel. Adam and Noah are found ‘naked’ the only references to?nakedness in this early section of Genesis. Adam covered his nakedness with fig-leaves, Shem and Japheth covered the nakedness of their father with a garment. God subsequently clothed Adam with a coat of skin. The enmity between the two seeds is revealed to Adam, and the earth is cursed for his sake. When Noah awoke, he strangely cursed, not Ham, but the son of Ham, Canaan, who was doomed to be a servant of servants.
At the door of the garden of Eden, the Lord caused to ‘tabernacle’ (‘placed’ Gen. 3:24) the Cherubim, and Noah continuing his prophecy, said ‘He (the Lord) shall dwell ("tabernacle") in the tents of Shem’ (Gen. 9:27). These again being the only occurrence of shaken ‘to dwell’ or ‘tabernacle’ in Genesis 1 to 11.
These parallels are on the surface, but there is more, not so plainly stated but nevertheless implied. Is it not illuminating that immediately consequent upon the fall of man, the Lord should speak of child-birth (Gen. 3:16)? and is it not equally illuminating that Noah should speak of Canaan the unborn child of Ham, and not of Ham himself? In the case of Adam and Eve, there is the positive statement that ‘Cain was of that wicked one’ (1 John 3:12), but nothing positive is said of Canaan, yet by the time one has read all that is written of the Canaanites, there is no room left for doubting that of Canaan it could have been written ‘Canaan was of that wicked one’ also. In the record of Genesis 3 Adam is accompanied by his wife who is named and addressed. In Genesis 9, the wife of Noah is not specifically mentioned, but, when we remember that the expression ‘thy father’s nakedness’ (Lev. 18:8) is definitely said to indicate ‘thy father’s wife’, and when we further know that the words spoken of Noah ‘to be uncovered’ (Gen. 9:21) are the same as those used in Leviticus 18, the sin of Ham begins to assume a more serious aspect, a sin that brought with it a ‘curse’ as we can see by reading Deuteronomy 28:20.
It appears from the combined testimony of the several passages, that Ham was guilty of the same sin as that of Reuben (Gen. 49:3,4), where the word ‘defiled’ translates the Hebrew chalal already examined. If Ham, like Reuben, taking advantage of his father’s drunkenness was guilty of incest, the door was flung open once more for the Evil One to sow his seed, and the Canaanite was the dreadful result. The Canaanite would therefore take the place occupied by the ‘giants’ before the Flood, and because the Seed was now known to be destined to come through Abraham, the Canaanite was concentrated in advance in the land of promise. The meaning of the word Canaan is, something ‘low’, and in a secondary sense, a merchant, trafficker or trader. The name ‘Canaan’ carries with it the debasement pronounced by Noah as the following passages which use the verb kana will show ‘to bring low’ (Job 40:12), ‘to subdue’ (1 Chron. 17:10), ‘to bring into subjection’ (Psa. 106:42). Their name reveals their end, the Canaanites whether physical or spiritual, must one day be subjected beneath the feet of the victorious Seed of the woman. When the time came for Isaac, the true seed to be provided with a wife, Abraham made his eldest servant sware by the God of heaven and by the God of the earth, that he would not take a wife for Isaac of the daughters of the Canaanites (Gen. 24:3,27). The Canaanites were to be driven out of the land of promise by Israel (Exod. 23:28), and by the Lord (Deut. 7:1); and were to be utterly destroyed (Deut. 20:17). Something of the horror with which this evil seed was held can be gathered by reading the whole of Ezra 9 and 10.
The land is said to have spued out the nations that inhabited Canaan; that the very land was defiled by their abominable customs (Lev. 18:24-30). Such are the Canaanites, and one can feel the relief in the prophet’s mind when he said,
An illuminating chapter, in reference to the Canaanites and the possession of the land, is Deuteronomy 2. There, not only Israel but the Moabites, the children of Esau and the Ammonites, all blood relations of Israel, find their possessions already occupied by Emim and Anakim ‘a people great, and many, and tall’, ‘giants dwelt therein in old time’. These the Lord destroyed before them, and they succeeded them, and this is put forward as being parallel with the case of Israel:
Later, in the experience of Abraham, he was to learn that there must be
a waiting period, during which his seed should suffer affliction in a strange
land, and this because ‘the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full’ (Gen.
15:16). (See the article IN ADAM). If we admit the sovereign right of the
Lord to destroy the corrupted people of the earth by a flood, and if we admit
His justice in destroying the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah; if we
admit His patience and long-suffering while He waited for the Amorite to fill
up the measure of his iniquity, we can accept the revealed fact that Israel
was chosen as the destroying agent of this foul progeny of wickedness, who in
their turn typify the ‘spiritual wickednesses’ that confront those whose
blessings are to be enjoyed, not in the land of Canaan, but in ‘heavenly
places’ (see article PRINCIPALITIES).
In Isaac shall Thy Seed be Called
The history of the true seed has now been before us from Adam to Abraham. We have seen the line descending from Adam through Seth to Noah, and through Noah to Shem, and from Shem through Eber, Peleg, Terah, to Abraham. Of Abraham’s sons, Ishmael is repudiated, and Isaac the child of promise, the child of resurrection power, carries forward the great purpose. This process of selection and repudiation still goes on. Isaac has two sons, Esau and Jacob, but Esau is set aside. Jacob has twelve sons, but Judah, the son of Leah, the first wife of Jacob, is chosen as the channel through whom the seed should come. Judah is the ancestor of David the King, and it is sufficient for Matthew’s purpose that he shows that ‘Jesus’ was the ‘Son of David and the Son of Abraham’ to prove that the promise concerning the true Seed had at length been fulfilled.
With the opening of the New Testament we leave promise, and begin fulfilment, and as our salvation and hope are bound up with the realization of the promise of God concerning the seed, we must still give our attention to the unfolding of this great theme.
We observe that throughout the gospels, Christ is referred to as ‘the Son of David’, but when we consider the testimony of Paul, he avoids the title ‘Son of David’ and uses the deeper and more significant title ‘The Seed of David’. At first sight this distinction may savour of ‘hair-splitting’, for He Who is the Seed of David must also be his Son. Yet on the other hand it is also true that he who is the son of David may not necessarily be his ‘seed’ in the full significance of that term. We all know that Solomon was a son of David, and most of us will remember two other sons, Nathan and Absalom, but how many of us know that in the genealogy given in 1 Chronicles 3:1-9, there are nineteen sons named? Six were born in Hebron, four were born in Jerusalem, and nine are listed without specifying either the name of their mother or the place of their birth. Even this list of nineteen sons is not complete, for the Chronicler adds ‘besides the sons of the concubines’ (1 Chron. 3:9). In the course of time David’s strength began to fail, and clamant voices began to be heard regarding succession to the throne:
Nathan the prophet visited Bathsheba and warned her of the danger, and advised her to go to the king and say:
The result was that Solomon was proclaimed king, and the rest of David’s sons were set aside, so far as succession to the throne was concerned. Throughout the gospel of the kingdom, Matthew, the title ‘The Son of David’ is reiterated, for Christ as the Son of David was born to sit upon the throne of David (Luke 1:32). When we turn from the gospel of the kingdom to the epistles of the church, we do not find Paul speaking of Christ as the ‘Son’ of David, as we have said, he goes deeper, he calls him ‘the Seed of David’. As the ‘Son’ Christ was the rightful king of Israel, but this title and rule did not comprehend all that was conceived by God at the beginning.
Paul does not obtrude into the epistles to the Church a title that would confuse these two departments of their redemptive purpose, he omits the kingdom title and uses the deeper and more significant title ‘the Seed of David’. Not only so, he uses this title when writing the epistle to the Romans (1:3), and he uses it again after the dispensation of the Mystery had come in (2 Tim. 2:8), and Timothy is called upon to ‘remember’ this relationship, and that it formed an integral part of that which Paul called especially ‘my gospel’. In both passages the resurrection is prominent. While therefore David’s son Solomon and his successors are the heirs to the throne, Christ alone as David’s Seed carries the great primeval promise of God to its glorious consummation.
The Syrophoenician woman was made to realize that in Christ as ‘the Son of David’ she had no place (Matt. 15:22), but the Seed of David was declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection (Rom. 1:4), and the good news associated with Him in that capacity was addressed to both Jew and Gentile. While the succession to the throne came through Solomon, Mary’s line descends through Nathan, Solomon’s brother, and so in Matthew we have ‘The Son of David’ with special reference to the king and kingdom, whereas in Luke 3 we have ‘The Seed of the Woman’ descending from David, through Nathan and Mary. Luke was the evangelist who laboured so faithfully with the apostle Paul, and it is Luke’s account rather than Matthew’s that stresses ‘The Seed’. In like manner Christ is called ‘The Son of Abraham’ (Matt. 1:1) but is never so called by Paul, for just as we found that Paul speaks of Christ as the Seed of David, so also does he speak of Christ as the Seed of Abraham.
Many of the reference books that have been consulted make Paul quote from different passages in Genesis here. The Companion Bible refers the reader to Genesis 21:12 ‘In Isaac shall thy seed be called’. This passage is most certainly quoted in Romans 9:7, and it has one item that attracts it to Galatians 3:16, and that is, that the word ‘seed’ here must be understood as being singular, because the singular verb follows it, ‘it shall be called’.
Turpie’s book on quotations refers Galatians 3:16 to Genesis 22:18. We feel however that Paul would remind us that he was meticulous in his quotation, even to the word ‘and’, ‘and to thy seed’, and consequently we must refer Galatians 3:16 to such texts as Genesis 17:7,8 or to Genesis 24:7, which in the LXX agrees with the words quoted in Galatians. To these passages can be added Genesis 13:15. It must be remembered that the Hebrew word zeraim‘seeds’, in the plural means ‘various kinds of grain’, even as the plural spermata does in 1 Corinthians 15:38, and Ellicott says on this passage, ‘We hold, therefore, that there is certainly a mystical meaning in the use of zera in Genesis 13:15 (and in 17:8): though the writer was not necessarily aware of it’. If we read the context of Genesis 13:15, we are met with the stated fact that the word ‘seed’ is used in the plural, for verse 16 goes on ‘And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth ... so ... shall thy seed also be numbered’. The same is true of the context of Genesis 17:8, for the words ‘in their generations’, which come in verse 7 and ‘in theirgenerations’ which is repeated in verse 9, show that the word ‘seed’ is used in the plural. If we continue in our reading of Galatians 3, until we get to verse 29 we shall read:
So therefore, all the seed are ‘in Christ’, even as ‘in Isaac’ the seed were called. In Romans 9, the apostle has more to say about this seed. The high privileges that belong to Israel, set in contrast with their rejection which was imminent in the day when Paul wrote the epistle to the Romans, drew from the apostle the argument of chapter 9:6-13.
For a fuller exposition of Romans 9 to 11 than can be given here, the
reader is referred to the article entitled ROMANS (p. 126).
‘The End ... That God May Be All in All’
The conflict between the two seeds arose out of the disobedience of man in relation to the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 3). Our first parents were deceived. When writing to the believers at Rome (Rom. 16:18), the apostle said concerning some, that ‘by good words (christologia) and fair speeches (eulogia) deceive the hearts of the simple (akakos)’. He then went on to speak of their ‘obedience’, saying that he would have them wise unto that which is good (agathos), and simple (akeraios) concerning evil. Now this word ‘simple’ akeraios, occurs in the proverb ‘wise as serpents, and harmless (akeraios) as doves’ (Matt. 10:16), where it is evident that the simplicity inculcated by the Lord is in marked contrast to the subtilty of the serpent. These words of the apostle, akakos and akeraios, occur in Romans 16:18 and 19, just before he writes the concluding section which deals with the revelation of the mystery which had been kept in silence (Rom. 16:25-27). This mystery we have shown elsewhere (see article Mystery3), refers to the relationship that exists between Adam, his fall, and his seed. It is therefore no surprise to us to find in Romans 16:20 a most definite reference to Genesis 3:
Strictly speaking these are the last words of positive doctrine in Romans. All leads up to this. In Romans 1, Christ is seen as coming of the Seed of David according to the flesh, and at the last, is seen, together with His redeemed, fulfilling the primeval promise that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head. This climax is comparable with ‘the end’ which shall be attained at 1 Corinthians 15:24-28, the last enemy there being not Satan, but that power which Satan wields through sin, namely death. The passage has in common with Romans 16:20 the words ‘under ... feet’. These words quoted in 1 Corinthians 15; in Ephesians 1; and in Hebrews 2 in the phrase ‘Thou hast put all things under His feet’, are cited from the eighth Psalm, which has as its subscription the words ‘Upon Muth-labben’. An examination of the import of these words will be found in the article THE SECRETS OF THE SON (p. 234). The limitations of space forbid any attempt to enlarge on the subject here, but we would nevertheless urge the reader to acquaint himself with what has been brought forward in that article.
Psalm 8 looks in two directions, back to Adam and the limited ‘dominion’ given to him, and forward to Christ, and the universal dominion given to Him. In Hebrews 2 the reference to the eighth Psalm is associated with His suffering and death, and to the ‘world to come’ oikoumene. In 1 Corinthians 15 the reference to the eighth Psalm looks beyond the limitations of the habitable world, to the goal when God shall be all in all; while Ephesians 1 alludes to Psalm 8, when speaking of the principalities and powers that are subjected beneath the feet of Christ, in His capacity as Head over all things to the Church. The bruising of the serpent’s head was not accomplished however without extreme suffering on the part of the Great Deliverer -- ‘He shall bruise His heel’. It is not surprising that this primeval prophecy should have been known to the ancient world. The ancients confounded the name zeroashta ‘the seed of the woman’, interpreting the word ashta to mean fire, and so gave the name Zoroaster. Throughout the mythology of the ancient world, the struggle between the serpent and a Deliverer is well known.
In Greek mythology the constellation that sets forth the crushing of the serpent’s head is called engonasis ‘the kneller’ but this is owing to the confusion of tongues. In Chaldee E, ‘the’, nko, ‘to crush’, nahash a serpent, give us enkonahash, which became in Greek engonasis. The story of Achilles, ‘vulnerable only in his heel’, is also a most evident echo of Genesis 3:15. The word ‘bruise’ used in Genesis 3:15 is the translation of the Hebrew shuph, which is by no means so simple a word. Authorities differ?as to the primary meaning of the word. Gesenius derives the word from a root which meant, first to gape upon, then lie in wait, to fall upon. Davidson gives the second meaning ‘to cover with darkness’, which is very similar to Parkhurst’s ‘to cover, overwhelm as with a tempest’. This word is found in Job 9:17, ‘He breaketh me with a tempest’, and again in Psalm 139:11 ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me’. That some of the ancients understood this to be the meaning of the word shuph is clear; Symmachus uses episkepasei ‘will hide’, and a Hexaplar version kalupsei ‘cover’ or ‘veil’. Shuph in a reduplicated form is used of a species of serpent so called from its concealing itself in the sand and in holes, and occurs in Genesis 49:17 ‘Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder ... that biteth the horse heels’.
Here it will be observed, two words occur that are also found in Genesis 3:15 ‘bruise’ shuph (shephiphon ‘adder’), and aqeb ‘heel’, and this fact must be kept in mind when translating Genesis 3:15. The apostle, in Romans 16:20 employs the word suntribo to translate shuph ‘bruise’. In Romans 3:16 the apostle uses the word in slightly different form, suntrimma, ‘Destruction and misery are in their ways’. Suntribo is translated elsewhere in the New Testament ‘bruise’ (Matt. 12:20), ‘break’, or ‘break in pieces’ (Mark 5:4; 14:3; Luke 4:18 [in the Received Text]; John 19:36 and Rev. 2:27). The English word triturate, ‘to reduce to fine powder by rubbing’, trite, ‘worn out by constant use or repetition’, tribulation, from the wearing down effect of a threshing instrument, and diatribe, ‘a discourse’ which wears away time, will no doubt occur to the reader. Taking all things, therefore, into consideration, the ‘bruising’ of Genesis 3:15 and of Romans 16:20 indicate an agonizing and protracted process, wearing in its effect, and associated with concealment, darkness and attack. To the fact that it is a protracted struggle, the record of the ages bears witness. That it was agonizing, the cry both of Gethsemane and of Calvary reveal:
The glorious outcome of this dreadful conflict is given in Isaiah 53:
Into the redemptive work of Christ, none can enter. He alone could be the sin bearer, He alone could be the ransom. Yet, the primeval prophecy of Genesis 3:15 speaks not only of enmity between Satan and Christ, but between the woman’s seed and the serpent’s seed. Inasmuch as all the seed are found in Christ (Gal. 3:16,29), they, like the apostle himself ‘fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ’ (Col. 1:24). Like the seed of Abraham they suffer affliction, and are kept waiting for their inheritance, while the iniquity of the ‘Amorite’ reaches its fulness (Gen. 15:13-16). All the seed shall at length come out with ‘great substance’, they shall enter into their possessions, and when that day comes ‘there shall be no more the Canaanite’ (Zech. 14:21), even as there shall be ‘no more’ death, curse, sorrow and sin. Satan and his angels shall no more corrupt the true seed, nor hinder and frustrate the purposes of God.