Monday, 16 January 2017

Monday quote

How quickly death unrobes the great.

Charles Spurgeon, (1834–1892).

Friday, 13 January 2017

Husband help

While men can be unobservant to a fault, their wives can have unreasonable expectations and they can find the negative in genuine attempts at helpfulness. Ingratitude will make a husband believe that while he needs to be kind, at times it does not seem to be worth it. Here is some (increasingly difficult) suggested advice.

Wives, if you are expecting to do a job and your husband does it for you; don't complain, be grateful.

If he completes the job
  • Don't complain that he did not do the job the way you would do it;
  • Be grateful that you do not have to do the job.

If he does not do the job to your standards
  • Don't complain that the job is substandard;
  • Be grateful the job is essentially done and can be quickly spruced up.

If he doesn't finish the job
  • Don't complain the job is incomplete;
  • Be grateful that there is a smaller job to do than otherwise.

If he creates as much work as he saves
  • Don't complain that he created work for you, he didn't;
  • Be grateful he is wanting to help.

If, in the unlikely scenario, he creates more work than he saves
  • Don't complain about all the work he caused you;
  • Be grateful he made a gesture;
  • And if this happens on a regular basis, let him know at an appropriate time that he may be better suited to other tasks.
And whatever you do, don't ask a man to do a job for you while he if actively doing it.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Monday quote

We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances. Therefore, to the same natural effects we must, so far as possible, assign the same causes.

Isaac Newton

Monday, 2 January 2017

Monday quote

If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.

Mark Twain.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Monday quote

This is the wisdom that acknowledges the small are great, the last are first, the humble are exalted, and the servants are lords. For those who think in carnal categories, power is always power over, and this means that for them the difference between white magic and black magic has to be power over for good ends, and power over for evil ends. But the gospel is power under. Jesus humbled himself in obedience, even to the point of death on a cross, and God has therefore highly exalted him and given him the name that is above every name.

Douglas Wilson

Monday, 19 December 2016

Monday quote

Opportunity may knock once, but temptation bangs on your front door forever.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Trump and white evangelical voters

I don't envy the choices that US citizens had during their recent presidential elections. Were I eligible I would not have wanted to vote for either of the main candidates, and even the Libertarian candidate does not seem that libertarian. In the lead up to the election and the aftermath there has been much analysis but I have not found it convincing. A  recent piece in the Atlantic by Merritt doesn't do much better.

One of the few things he gets correct is the appeal not to leave evangelicalism because of disillusionment over the election. There comes a time to leave groups but he is correct that this is not the time to be walking away from evangelicalism—not least because the US is smaller than the rest of the world.

But I want to challenge several of the assumptions here because the issue is a little more complicated than: lots of evangelicals voted for Trump.
81 percent of white evangelicals voted for the Trump ticket—a higher percentage than voted for George W. Bush, John McCain, or Mitt Romney.
A major premise of the article is that white evangelicals support Trump and in higher numbers than other Republican candidates of earlier elections. But did they? And what else explains their voting behaviour?

Using Merritt's source (which is exit polling data and will have a margin of error) we see that the numbers of white evangelicals for Republican and Democrat are

Percent white evangelicals voting for Republicans and Democrats
2004 R78% D21%
2008 R74% D24%
2012 R78% D21%
2016 R81% D16%

It is uncertain whether there is anything in such a small percentage change. It may well be within the margin of error. What it clearly does tell us is that historically evangelical whites have voted Republican and continued to do so this election consistent with historic trends.

But percentages do not tell us how many people voted, they tell us proportionally how people voted. If everyone voted the percentages would be helpful but not if the turnout is significantly different.

This election an estimated 133 million votes were cast* (55% of eligible voters), 129 million for Trump or Clinton. In 2012 129 million votes (55%). In 2008 131 million votes (58%). In 2004 122 million votes (57%).

Votes (millions)
2004 Bush 62 Kerry 59
2008 Obama 69 McCain 60
2012 Obama 66 Romney 61
2016 Trump 63 Clinton 66

But combining these tables is quite hard. We need to know how many white evangelicals actually voted. Pew tells us that the electorate is composed of 26% white evangelicals which is essentially unchanged since 2008. Do they mean by electorate voters or potential voters? If the later (which is what electorate usually means) that isn't definitive because potential voters are not actual voters and it could be that white evangelicals disproportionately vote (or don't vote) or didn't vote as much in a specific election. Either way, what we actually need to know is how many white evangelicals voted for Trump (or Clinton) and what that number is as a percentage of eligible white evangelical voters (each election), and has that changed over the last couple of decades.

Therefore we do not have definitive data to say that white evangelicals voted for Trump more enthusiastically than Republican candidates of yesteryear, nor can we say that the voting behaviour this year was significantly different based on reasonable inferences from data we do have. We see the same old same old, just as black females voted Democrat like they have done for the last several decades.

Which brings us to the second issue that Merritt fails to mention: Trump's rival. Merritt quotes several evangelicals who were unhappy with Trump as a candidate, to which I concur. (Ironically, that he can name so many examples kind of works against his argument). A large number of my conservative friends and colleagues disapproved of Trump. I have never heard more negative comments spoken by conservative Christians about a politician running on a conservative ticket. But one can't discuss Trump in isolation. He was running against Clinton. And a large number of conservatives have concerns about her also. They find her as dishonest as Trump if not more so. Interestingly—contra my comment about Trump above—only one of my liberal Christian friends denounced her. Now one need not necessarily vote for Trump for fear of a Clinton presidency, but it is an understandable position. Who did Merritt vote for? He did not say, though obviously not Trump. But Merritt's argument works both ways. If Christians want to wash their hands of evangelicalism because some voted Trump, cannot other Christians want to wash their hands of those who would vote for Clinton?


*Accurate numbers are hard to come by, this is a low estimate.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Monday quote

Yet as I read the birth stories about Jesus I cannot help but conclude that though the world may be tilted toward the rich and powerful, God is tilted toward the underdog.

Philip Yancey

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Antarctica is big

Really big. Wikipedia have same scale maps for comparison. The Antarctic map is ice covered so is larger than the ice-free continent would be, but it is still remarkably large: twice Australia; similar to Russia; half Africa.

Area (million square kilometres)

Antarctica: 14
Australia: 8.6
Russia: 17.1
Africa: 30.4













Monday, 5 December 2016

Monday quote

Believing in Jesus is not enough, only when belief becomes obedience does it mean anything.

Trevor Geddes

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Jesus quoting Scripture

These are all the quotations of Jesus from the Scriptures. The quote is italicised. How Jesus frames the quote is bolded. The Sermon on the Mount is excluded.

Matthew
  • But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” (Mat 4:4 | Deu 8:3)
  • Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Mat 4:7 | Deu 6:16)
  • Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’ ” (Mat 4:10 | Deu 6:13)
  • But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mat 9:13 | Hos 6:6)
  • For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. (Mat 10:35-36 | Mic 7:6)
  • This is he of whom it is written, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.” (Mat 11:10 | Mal 3:1)
  • Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “ ‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.’ For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.” (Mat 13:14-15 | Isa 6:9-10)
  • He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ ” (Mat 15:3 | Exo 20:12; 17)
  • You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “ ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ” (Mat 15:7-9 | Isa 29:13)
  • He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? (Mat 19:4-6 | Gen 1:27; 2:24)
  • Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mat 19:18-19 | Exo 20:12-16; Lev 19:18)
  • Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” (Mat 21:16 | Psa 8:2)
  • Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “ ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” (Mat 21:42 | Psa 118:22-23)
  • And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God:  ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? (Mat 22:31-32| Exo 3:6)
  • And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Mat 22:37-40 | Deu 6:5; Lev 19:18)
  • He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, “ ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet” ’? (Mat 22:43-44 | Psa 110:1)
  • “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ” (Mat 23:37-38 | Psa 118:36)
  • “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand). (Mat 24:15 | Dan 9:27)
  • Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ (Mat 26:31 | Zec 13:7)
  • The high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Mat 26:63-64 | Psa 110:1; Dan 7:13)
  • And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mat 27:46 | Psa 22:1)
Mark
  • He said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that ‘they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.’ ” (Mar 4:11-12 | Isa 6:9-10 )
  • Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Mar 7:6-7 | Isa 29:13)
  • For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ (Mar 7:10 | Exo 20:12; 21:17)
  • Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ (Mar 10:5-7 | Gen 1:27; 2:24)
  • You know the commandments: “Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.” (Mar 10:19 | Exo 20:12-16)
  • He was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” (Mar 11:17 | Isa 56:7; Jer 7:11)
  • Have you not read this Scripture: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes”? (Mar 12:10-11 | Psa 118:22-23)
  • Have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? (Mar 12:26-27 | Exo 3:6)
  • Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mar 12:29-31 | Deu 6:4-5; Lev 19:18)
  • “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), (Mar 13:14 | Dan 9:27)
  • Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ (Mar 14:27 | Zec 13:7)
  • The high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” 62 And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (Mar 14:61-62 | Psa 110:1; Dan 7:13)
  • And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mar 15:34 | Psa 22:1)
Luke
  • Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’ ” (Luk 4:4 | Deu 6:13)
  • Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Luk 4:12 | Deu 6:16)
  • And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luk 4:17-19 | Isa 61:1-2)
  • This is he of whom it is written, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.” (Luk 7:27 | Mal 3:1)
  • He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ (Luk 8:10 | Isa 6:9-10)
  • For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luk 12:52-53 | Mic 7:6)
  • Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Luk 13:35 | Psa 118:26)
  • You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’ ” (Luk 18:20 | Exo 20:12-16)
  • And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.” (Luk 19:45-46 | Isa 56:7; Jer 7:11)
  • But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written: “ ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? (Luk 20:17 | Psa 118:22-23)
  • For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” (Luk 22:37 | Isa 53:12)
  • For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luk 23:29-31 | Hos 10:8)
  • Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luk 23:46 | Psa 31:5)
John
  • It is written in the Prophets, “And they will all be taught by God.” (Joh 6:45 | Isa 54:13)
  • In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. (Joh 8:17 | Deu 17:6)
  • Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’?” (Joh 10:34 | Psa 82:6)
  • But the Scripture will be fulfilled, “He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.” (Joh 13:18 | Psa 41:9)
  • But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: “They hated me without a cause.” (John 15:25 | Psa 35:19)


Verses included
Matt 4:4; Matt 4:10; Matt 4:7; Matt 5:21; Matt 5:27; Matt 5:31; Matt 5:33; Matt 5:38; Matt 9:13; Matt 10:35-36; Matt 11:10; Matt 12:7; Matt 13:14-15; Matt 15:3-4; Matt 15:7-9; Matt 19:4-6; Matt 19:17-20; Matt 21:13; Matt 21:16; Matt 21:42; Matt 22:31-32; Matt 22:37-39; Matt 22:43-44; Matt 23:38-39; Matt 24:15-16; Matt 26:31; Matt 26:64; Matt 27:46; Mark 4:11-13; Mark 7:10; Mark 7:6-7; Mark 10:6-8; Mark 10:19; Mark 11:17; Mark 12:10-11; Mark 12:26-27; Mark 12:36; Mark 14:27; Mark 14:62; Mark 15:34; Luke 4:4; Luke 4:8; Luke 4:12; Luke 4:17-19; Luke 7:27; Luke 8:10; Luke 12:52-53; Luke 13:35; Luke 18:20; Luke 19:46; Luke 20:17; Luke 20:37-38; Luke 20:42-43; Luke 22:37; Luke 23:30; Luke 23:46; John 6:45; John 8:17; John 10:34; John 13:18; John 15:25.

Verses that are Scripture references in the Sermon on the Mount
Matt 5:21; Matt 5:27; Matt 5:31; Matt 5:33; Matt 5:38; Matt 5:43; Matt 7:23

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Strong molten mirror

Job 37:18 says
Can you, like him, spread out the skies,/
hard as a cast metal mirror? (ESV)

will you, with him, spread out the clouds,/
solid as a mirror of molten metal? (NET)

can you join him in spreading out the skies,/
hard as a mirror of cast bronze? (NIV)

Can you, with him, spread out [raqa`] the skies [shachaq],/
strong [chazaq] as a mirror [r'iy] of molten [yatsaq] metal?

raqa` means to "spread out".

shachaq is more often translated "clouds" or "dust". It is less often used for "heaven" and the more common word for heaven is the Bible is shamayim.

chazaq means "strong", so "hard" or "solid" seems reasonable if the context is that of a solid object.

r'iy means means "appearance" and it is used here in Job and nowhere else in the Old Testament. The more common word for mirror is mar'ah. Mirror may seem an appropriate translation based on the meaning "appearance".  However the Septuagint doesn’t translate the word as “mirror” but “appearance”.

yatsaq means to "pour out". It is translated into English as "molten" only here. As mirrors were made of metal (not glass) poured out metal is molten metal. Thus a reasonable translation if mirror is also correct. Yet what is a molten mirror? One in the process of being cast (see ESV and NIV)? But a molten mirror would not be hard or strong, though perhaps mighty or powerful.

Going with the more usual meanings of the words (if the context allows it) we get, as per the NET,
will you, with him, spread out the [strong] clouds,/

Newman translates the whole verse,
Can you, with Him, spread out the mighty clouds,/
With an appearance of being poured out?
Or more colloquially,
Can you, with him, spread out the mighty clouds,/
that look like they have been poured out?

The Myth of the Solid Heavenly Dome: Another Look at the Hebrew (RĀQÎA‘) by Randall W. Younker and Richard M. Davidson, Andrews University Seminary Studies, No. 1, 125-147. (pdf)

Footnote 62: Job 37:18 records Elihu’s challenge to Job: “Can you, with Him [God], spread out [rāqa‘] the skies [šeḥaqim], strong [ḥāzāq] as a molten [mûṣaq] mirror [re’î]?” Newman, 13-15, examines this passage, and points out, 14-15, that the Hebrew word šeḥaqim normally means “clouds” and not “skies” elsewhere in Scripture. See HALOT, 1464-1465. Unless there is unambiguous evidence in the immediate context that the term should be translated “skies,” it is preferable to translate it as “clouds” here and elsewhere. Several major commentators (e.g., Tur-Sinai, Dhorme, Gordis, and Habel) have seen a reference to “clouds” and not “skies” in this passage (cf. NET which translates the term as “clouds”). Newman, 14, further calls attention to the fact that the word re’î, usually translated “mirror,” is not the normal word for “mirror” in the Hebrew Bible, and, in fact, is a hapax legomenon, translated by the Septuagint as (horasis), which means “appearance” in Hellenistic Greek, not “mirror.” This translation is supported by a slightly different pointing of the same Hebrew consonants (with a composite sheva instead of simple sheva), as (ra’î), which means “appearance” and is found four times in the OT, including a single passage in Job from the same speech of Elihu (Job 33:21). Newman, 15, also notes  that ḥāzāq can mean “mighty” as well as “strong,” and mûṣaq literally means “poured out.” He concludes that since in this verse the context is on-going weather phenomena rather than creation, the following translation of the verse is preferred: “Can you, with Him, spread out the mighty clouds, With an appearance of being poured out?” (ibid.). Regardless of the precise translation of the entire verse, if šeḥaqim means “clouds” and not “sky,” there is no reference to a solid domed sky in this passage. Instead, we have an example of “a non- solid object (clouds) being spread out with use of the verb rāqa‘ ” (ibid.). Alternatively, if one insists on translating šeḥaqim in Job 37:18 as “skies” or “heavens” “like a molten mirror” as in many modern versions, the passage still does not imply a solid metal dome. Kenneth Mathews, who follows this traditional translation, points out that “Job 37:18, which describes skies without rain as a ‘bronze’ expanse (cf. Deut 28:23), is figurative and does not support the common contention that the ‘expanse’ was considered a bronze dome by the Hebrews” (Genesis 1–11:26, New American Commentary 1a [Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1996], 150).

Monday, 28 November 2016

Monday, 21 November 2016

Monday quote

Holiness requires of us uncompromising action against sin in our lives and communities. This entails being prepared to resist the urge of compassion towards people closest to us when that compassion would lead to compromise. Christ places a sword between the nearest of relations.

Alastair Roberts

Sunday, 20 November 2016

The Fall: Man

God cursed the man last
Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.
God rebukes the man for listening to his wife. It may be suggested that this interpretation is a problem in itself; rebuking listening would seem to conflict with other Scripture where women give wise advice, consider Abigail and Deborah. A possibility is that this a rebuke for listening and doing as she suggested, that is obeying his wife. There may be some credence to this view as it seems that Adam knew his action was rebellious. The curse hints at this and Paul distinguishes the behaviour of the man and woman in his letter to Timothy.
Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived (1 Timothy 2)
Though perhaps the rebuke is because he listened to his wife over God's explicit command. Paraphrased
You listened to your wife and did as she said,
but I said not to do this.
Therefore the possibilities for the rebuke to the man are
  1. Listening to his wife (heeding her opinion rather than just listening to God)
  2. Obeying his wife
  3. Obeying his wife over a direct command from God otherwise
The first is unlikely, the third is true regardless, and the second is a possibility as to the meaning here.

Understanding this preamble to the curse may give us insight into how the state of affairs were between husband and wife before the Fall. Although pre-Fall relationship can be garnered from other passages which then aids us in interpreting this verse.

The curse God gave to the man affected his work and his life. Work is not a result of the Fall, rather toil is.
God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." And God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." (Genesis 1)
Dominion over the earth was given to the man and the woman. While such dominion involved more than the provision of food, it would take work. Provision of food perhaps could be seen as merely sustenance in the face of the command to fill the earth and subdue it.

Though working the earth was still a significant component of the subduing,
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. (Genesis 2)
In the same way that filling the earth with people became difficult thru the curse on the woman, subduing it became difficult because just the provision of food was now toilsome.

The curse of the ground is seen as the fault of the man. God says, "Because of you..." Is there a hint of a necessity here? The only appropriate response from God was to curse the land. Not cursing was not a possibility, there were no other options.

The word pain (`itstsabown) is repeated here. The woman has pain in childraising, the man has pain in provision of food. Eating being a metonymy; it is not the eating that is painful, it is the growing of food to eat. The sweat on the brow shows that these are not just nuisances, they are a very burdensome toil.

The curse has a passive and active component. The soil would not produce food easily, and the soil would produce harmful vegetation.

And the end of it all? Death. The poetical irony, man was made from dust, yet animated by God's Spirit. But at the end of his days he will become mere dust again. God's warning came to pass,
but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for when you eat of it you shall surely die.

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