Wednesday, November 10, 2010


The Hebrew verb "SHAQAT" is rather fascinating.

It makes it's OT debut in Genesis 6 describing the earth which has become corrupt (Gen. 6:11-12). And then God immediately uses it to describe what He is going to do to the world. He's going to "destroy" all flesh (6:13, 17). And eventually, He vows never to "destroy" all flesh again (Gen. 9:11, 15).

Later, it is used eight times, to describe the destroying of Sodom and Gomorrah, both in Abraham's discussion with Yahweh and in the events that follow (Gen. 18-19).

It is used to describe Onan's insolent behavior toward his brother's wife, Tamar. Literally, he "destroys" his seed on the ground so that his brother has no offspring (Gen. 38:9). And for this wickedness, the Lord killed him (38:10).

While the plague of frogs is said to have "destroyed" the land of Egypt (Ex. 8:20), it is this same word that describes the "Destroyer" who comes on the night of Passover as the tenth plague on Egypt, to kill the firstborn (12:23).

When Israel turns to idolatry at the foot of Sinai, God tells Moses to go back down to the people because they have "destroyed" themselves (Ex. 32:7, cf. Dt. 9:12). Of course it is typically translated "corrupted," but this word seems to call for stronger language. We brush off corruption as a purely 'spiritual' or 'ceremonial' infelicity. But God says that Israel is doing to themselves what He has previously done to the whole world in the flood and what he did to Sodom and Gomorrah.

This is consistent with Deuteronomy's description of idolatry as well: making carved images is an act of suicide, self destruction (Dt. 4:16, 25, 9:12, 31:29). And this continues in Judges as well where Israel's wickedness is described as "corruption/destruction" (Jdg. 2:19). The Midianites come in such great numbers they "destroy" the land (Jdg. 6:4-5), and ultimately the civil waring between the tribes of Israel brings great "destruction" (Jdg. 20:21, 25, 35, 42).

The nearer relative to Ruth who decides not to marry Ruth and redeem her land does not do it because he would "destroy" his own inheritance (Ruth. 4:6). He is an Onan refusing his obligation to his brother.

In Hebrew poetry, SHAQAT becomes a noun which is frequently translated as "the pit" which is a euphemism for death/hades/the place of destruction.

Much of this indicates that God's destruction of people is frequently merely finishing off what they started themselves. Their acts of evil and idolatry are acts of suicide, self-destruction, and when God brings destruction, it is merely more of the same.

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