What does Genesis 4:21 teach us about music?

Having finished reading the Bible yesterday, I began reading it again today and read Genesis 1-4. Genesis 4:21 is the earliest recorded instance of human musical activity on the earth:

Genesis 4:21 And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.

What truths does this verse teach us about music?

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dcbii's picture

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RajeshG wrote:

What are we to make of the Spirit's abruptly ending the genealogical information that He chose to provide of Cain's line with Lamech's offspring? Why are we not given any information about the descendants of Jubal and his siblings? Does this abrupt ending imply anything further about what we are to understand about the ungodliness of Jubal and his siblings?

Well, it's pretty obvious that those who did not die prior to the flood (like Lamech the Right, who died 5 years prior), or maybe even the year of the flood (like Methuselah, although I don't believe we know for certain if he died earlier that year or when the flood came), and who aren't Noah and the 7 with him, all died when the flood came.  That likely means that there really wasn't much to say about Lamech the Avenger's offspring other than what was said.  Since we don't even have number of years for the ungodly line, maybe they took longer before having their children, and Lamech the Avenger's children didn't have offspring before the flood.  The reality is, since the text doesn't tell us, we don't know.  We also know Lamech the Right had other sons and daughters, but we don't hear about them either.  Did Cain's line kill them all, or were they unrighteous and didn't want to get on the Ark?  Guess what?  I might guess the latter, but we still don't know.

Dave Barnhart

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

On this reading, God would have visited Lamech's iniquity on Jubal unless Jubal was a man who loved God and kept His commandments. We have no basis to hold that Jubal loved God and kept His commandments so this line of reasoning supports holding that Jubal was an ungodly man who experienced God's visiting his father Lamech's iniquity on him.

What does it mean for God to visit the iniquity of a father upon a son? Does it mean that God is going to make the son just as wicked as the father? I always thought it meant that if a person was crippled or handicapped or suffered some misfortune, that handicap or misfortune could have been a judgment for the sins of the father. God was visiting the iniquity upon the line by judging the further members of the line. I don't think that "visiting the iniquity" had anything to do with how wicked the children or grandchildren were, so I don't think that phrase can be used to tell us how wicked Jubal was.

Aaron Blumer's picture

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I've been sort of loosely following the thread, and one question keeps coming back to me, Rajesh: why are you so interested in devoting so much energy to speculation?

What I mean... Lots of passages of Scripture reveal only a couple of things with a high level of certainty and everything beyond that can only be very-low-certainty (speculation) at best. But you seem most interested in the low-certainty possibilities. This doesn't seem like a fruitful study strategy.

What would be better: inductive Bible study. The gist of inductive study is that rather than trying to extract lots of (increasingly uncertain) truth from one passage, one gathers many passages on the question and draws inferences from all of them brought together.

In this approach, you only need to draw high-certainty conclusions from individual passages. It's the relationships of these passages to one another that can lead to broader principles and applications (that are themselves pretty high-certainty).

Kevin Miller's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

I've been sort of loosely following the thread, and one question keeps coming back to me, Rajesh: why are you so interested in devoting so much energy to speculation?

What I mean... Lots of passages of Scripture reveal only a couple of things with a high level of certainty and everything beyond that can only be very-low-certainty (speculation) at best. But you seem most interested in the low-certainty possibilities. This doesn't seem like a fruitful study strategy.

What would be better: inductive Bible study. The gist of inductive study is that rather than trying to extract lots of (increasingly uncertain) truth from one passage, one gathers many passages on the question and draws inferences from all of them brought together.

In this approach, you only need to draw high-certainty conclusions from individual passages. It's the relationships of these passages to one another that can lead to broader principles and applications (that are themselves pretty high-certainty).

The way I see it, Rajesh is trying to do a bit of both, looking at one passage in depth while also bringing in other verses. After all, in the third post of this thread, he brought up Job 21:12. In the eighth post, I brought up 3 verses from Revelation, and in the twenty-first post, he brought up I John 3:12. So we've covered a number of different passages, and yet Rajesh is still unwilling to make definitive statements of what the passage teaches. I take that to mean that he realizes the speculations we've made aren't enough to be high-certainty. He even said "I am not at the point in my studies of the passages involved where I am ready to discuss directly the matter of whether Jubal's being a wicked man teaches us anything about music. There's more ground that needs to be carefully examined, at least for me." I take that to mean he is looking for more relationships between different passages.

RajeshG's picture

dcbii wrote:

Well, it's pretty obvious that those who did not die prior to the flood (like Lamech the Right, who died 5 years prior), or maybe even the year of the flood (like Methuselah, although I don't believe we know for certain if he died earlier that year or when the flood came), and who aren't Noah and the 7 with him, all died when the flood came.  That likely means that there really wasn't much to say about Lamech the Avenger's offspring other than what was said.  Since we don't even have number of years for the ungodly line, maybe they took longer before having their children, and Lamech the Avenger's children didn't have offspring before the flood.  The reality is, since the text doesn't tell us, we don't know.  We also know Lamech the Right had other sons and daughters, but we don't hear about them either.  Did Cain's line kill them all, or were they unrighteous and didn't want to get on the Ark?  Guess what?  I might guess the latter, but we still don't know.


 

You are correct that one possible explanation for the lack of mention of any descendants of Jubal and his siblings is that they were in the last generation that perished in the Flood.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

On this reading, God would have visited Lamech's iniquity on Jubal unless Jubal was a man who loved God and kept His commandments. We have no basis to hold that Jubal loved God and kept His commandments so this line of reasoning supports holding that Jubal was an ungodly man who experienced God's visiting his father Lamech's iniquity on him.

 

What does it mean for God to visit the iniquity of a father upon a son? Does it mean that God is going to make the son just as wicked as the father? I always thought it meant that if a person was crippled or handicapped or suffered some misfortune, that handicap or misfortune could have been a judgment for the sins of the father. God was visiting the iniquity upon the line by judging the further members of the line. I don't think that "visiting the iniquity" had anything to do with how wicked the children or grandchildren were, so I don't think that phrase can be used to tell us how wicked Jubal was.

Whatever all it may mean I do not know because I have not studied that subject much at all. In relation to the question of what we are to think of the people in Cain's line, I think that it certainly means that unless we are told something explicitly to the contrary (which we never are for any of them), God is not going to favor them by granting them His blessing on their lives nor is he going to extend His lovingkindness to them to lead them to repentance.

RajeshG's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

I've been sort of loosely following the thread, and one question keeps coming back to me, Rajesh: why are you so interested in devoting so much energy to speculation?

What I mean... Lots of passages of Scripture reveal only a couple of things with a high level of certainty and everything beyond that can only be very-low-certainty (speculation) at best. But you seem most interested in the low-certainty possibilities. This doesn't seem like a fruitful study strategy.

What would be better: inductive Bible study. The gist of inductive study is that rather than trying to extract lots of (increasingly uncertain) truth from one passage, one gathers many passages on the question and draws inferences from all of them brought together.

In this approach, you only need to draw high-certainty conclusions from individual passages. It's the relationships of these passages to one another that can lead to broader principles and applications (that are themselves pretty high-certainty).

Scripture is its own best interpreter. I have not been engaging in baseless speculation. I have sought to bring other scriptural considerations to bear on our understanding of the information provided about the line of Cain.

1 John 3:12 is absolutely relevant for our understanding of who Cain was and it is not irrelevant speculation to consider its implications about what the spiritual states of the rest of the members of his line were.

Exodus 20:5-6 is relevant for our understanding of how God dealt with the descendants of Cain and Lamech. That is not speculation; it is allowing the Bible to interpret itself by bringing a key theological truth from another passage to bear on the passage in question.

Carefully noting the progressive degeneracy from Cain to Lamech certainly is not speculation and is certainly relevant.

The Spirit's placement of Genesis 4:25-26 is a structural feature that is worth noting and examining for its relevance to the discussion. 

A detailed comparison of noteworthy differences between the record of Cain's line in Genesis 4 and Seth's line in the final two verses of Genesis 4 and all of Genesis 5 is a legitimate and necessary part of interpreting the passages correctly.

Every one of these points is legitimate in seeking to understand what we are to believe about those who are named in Cain's line.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

Aaron Blumer wrote:

 

I've been sort of loosely following the thread, and one question keeps coming back to me, Rajesh: why are you so interested in devoting so much energy to speculation?

What I mean... Lots of passages of Scripture reveal only a couple of things with a high level of certainty and everything beyond that can only be very-low-certainty (speculation) at best. But you seem most interested in the low-certainty possibilities. This doesn't seem like a fruitful study strategy.

What would be better: inductive Bible study. The gist of inductive study is that rather than trying to extract lots of (increasingly uncertain) truth from one passage, one gathers many passages on the question and draws inferences from all of them brought together.

In this approach, you only need to draw high-certainty conclusions from individual passages. It's the relationships of these passages to one another that can lead to broader principles and applications (that are themselves pretty high-certainty).

 

The way I see it, Rajesh is trying to do a bit of both, looking at one passage in depth while also bringing in other verses. After all, in the third post of this thread, he brought up Job 21:12. In the eighth post, I brought up 3 verses from Revelation, and in the twenty-first post, he brought up I John 3:12. So we've covered a number of different passages, and yet Rajesh is still unwilling to make definitive statements of what the passage teaches. I take that to mean that he realizes the speculations we've made aren't enough to be high-certainty. He even said "I am not at the point in my studies of the passages involved where I am ready to discuss directly the matter of whether Jubal's being a wicked man teaches us anything about music. There's more ground that needs to be carefully examined, at least for me." I take that to mean he is looking for more relationships between different passages.

You are very correct that I have been seeking to bring several other Scripture passages to bear on the interpretation of the information provided about Cain's line.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

Carefully noting the progressive degeneracy from Cain to Lamech certainly is not speculation and is certainly relevant.

But when we ask you HOW it is relevant, you tell us you are not ready to discuss the matter.  As someone who is confused about the basic relevance, I find it hard to continue on with the conversation. If the conversation is just about wickedness, we could go on and on about all sorts of wicked people in the Bible, but that wouldn't get us anywhere in the discussion of what the passage teaches us about music.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

Carefully noting the progressive degeneracy from Cain to Lamech certainly is not speculation and is certainly relevant.

 

 

But when we ask you HOW it is relevant, you tell us you are not ready to discuss the matter.  As someone who is confused about the basic relevance, I find it hard to continue on with the conversation. If the conversation is just about wickedness, we could go on and on about all sorts of wicked people in the Bible, but that wouldn't get us anywhere in the discussion of what the passage teaches us about music.

The relevance is, of course, on what we are to make of the information in Genesis 4:21. Is this a neutral, or even positive statement of the advance of civilization in spite of the people being in the evil line of Cain or is it a statement of further degeneracy and rebellion against God?

RajeshG's picture

RajeshG wrote:

 

dcbii wrote:

 

Well, it's pretty obvious that those who did not die prior to the flood (like Lamech the Right, who died 5 years prior), or maybe even the year of the flood (like Methuselah, although I don't believe we know for certain if he died earlier that year or when the flood came), and who aren't Noah and the 7 with him, all died when the flood came.  That likely means that there really wasn't much to say about Lamech the Avenger's offspring other than what was said.  Since we don't even have number of years for the ungodly line, maybe they took longer before having their children, and Lamech the Avenger's children didn't have offspring before the flood.  The reality is, since the text doesn't tell us, we don't know.  We also know Lamech the Right had other sons and daughters, but we don't hear about them either.  Did Cain's line kill them all, or were they unrighteous and didn't want to get on the Ark?  Guess what?  I might guess the latter, but we still don't know.

 

 

 

You are correct that one possible explanation for the lack of mention of any descendants of Jubal and his siblings is that they were in the last generation that perished in the Flood.

If you hold that Jubal and his siblings were part of the last generation of Cain's descendants, we have full biblical basis to hold that they were all evil and that Genesis 4:21 is a record of further rebellion against God.

Noah was the only righteous human being in the world just prior to the Flood (Gen. 7:1); everyone else, which would include Jubal had he been part of that last generation, was so corrupt that God ominisciently declared of every one of them their consummate wickedness:

Genesis 6:5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

If Jubal was part of that last generation that perished in the Flood, every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually and what he did musically was only evil continually. Genesis 4:21 certainly would then be a record of human wickedness expressed musically.

 

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

If Jubal was part of that last generation that perished in the Flood, every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually and what he did musically was only evil continually. Genesis 4:21 certainly would then be a record of human wickedness expressed musically.

Well, then we need to look at the parallel verses and see if the same sort of logic applies to them as well.

Verse 20 says "Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock." Is it logical to say that Genesis 4:20 is a record of human wickedness expressed by tent-living and raising livestock?

Verse 22 says "Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron." Is it logical to say that Genesis 4:22 is a record of human wicked expressed by tool-making?

I suppose tent-living and raising livestock and making tools could very well be done wickedly, but do the verses give any hint whatsoever as to HOW they were being done wickedly? Not at all. Does verse 21 give us any hint as to HOW wickedness might be expressed musically? Again, not at all. Whatever wickedness those men did has been judged by the Flood, and we have no indication that any post-Flood tent-making or livestock-raising or music-playing or tool-making has been as wicked as it was before the Flood.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

If Jubal was part of that last generation that perished in the Flood, every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually and what he did musically was only evil continually. Genesis 4:21 certainly would then be a record of human wickedness expressed musically.

 

Well, then we need to look at the parallel verses and see if the same sort of logic applies to them as well.

 

Verse 20 says "Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock." Is it logical to say that Genesis 4:20 is a record of human wickedness expressed by tent-living and raising livestock?

Verse 22 says "Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron." Is it logical to say that Genesis 4:22 is a record of human wicked expressed by tool-making?

I suppose tent-living and raising livestock and making tools could very well be done wickedly, but do the verses give any hint whatsoever as to HOW they were being done wickedly? Not at all. Does verse 21 give us any hint as to HOW wickedness might be expressed musically? Again, not at all. Whatever wickedness those men did has been judged by the Flood, and we have no indication that any post-Flood tent-making or livestock-raising or music-playing or tool-making has been as wicked as it was before the Flood.

Yes, we absolutely have to ponder all the things that you do in this comment and much, much more. A right response to these comments is going to require multiple comments going in different directions and will have to wait until I have more time beginning this evening, Lord willing.

In the meantime, I encourage you to ponder deeply the implications of Genesis 6:5 for what you believe about what humans are able to do with just musical instruments (no singing) and what you believe has to be true about the character of that instrumental music itself.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

If Jubal was part of that last generation that perished in the Flood, every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually and what he did musically was only evil continually. Genesis 4:21 certainly would then be a record of human wickedness expressed musically.

 

Well, then we need to look at the parallel verses and see if the same sort of logic applies to them as well.

 

Verse 20 says "Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock." Is it logical to say that Genesis 4:20 is a record of human wickedness expressed by tent-living and raising livestock?

Verse 22 says "Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron." Is it logical to say that Genesis 4:22 is a record of human wicked expressed by tool-making?

I suppose tent-living and raising livestock and making tools could very well be done wickedly, but do the verses give any hint whatsoever as to HOW they were being done wickedly? Not at all. Does verse 21 give us any hint as to HOW wickedness might be expressed musically? Again, not at all. Whatever wickedness those men did has been judged by the Flood, and we have no indication that any post-Flood tent-making or livestock-raising or music-playing or tool-making has been as wicked as it was before the Flood.

It's important to keep in mind that I am not the one who suggested that Jubal's generation was the last generation of the Flood; I was responding to that suggestion by someone else.

It's very important that what God says be what controls our understanding even when it seems to go against what we think is or could be logical.

It's true that these verses do not give us information about how these activities were being done wickedly. Having said that, not knowing how something was done or other specifics about it does not prevent us from profiting in many ways from that information.

RajeshG's picture

Genesis 4 presents Lamech as a very wicked man, but his wickedness appears not to have been anywhere near the level of human wickedness seen right before the Flood. How do we explain the seeming truly exponential degeneration from Lamech to the Flood?

Moreover, the Flood occurred in 1656 AA (after the creation of Adam). What happened so that man degenerated to such an extent in only 1656 years so that it necessitated God's annihilating almost the entire human race with the Flood?

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

In the meantime, I encourage you to ponder deeply the implications of Genesis 6:5 for what you believe about what humans are able to do with just musical instruments (no singing) and what you believe has to be true about the character of that instrumental music itself.

You want me to ponder the character of the instrumental music? You told me "It's very important that what God says be what controls our understanding " I'm looking at "what God says" in Genesis 6:5. God talks about the character of man as being  wicked and that the thoughts of man were evil, but the verse says nothing about the character of the music produced. I could make assumptions, but then I would be going beyond "what God says," if I present those assumptions as coming from God.

Can a wicked person create beautiful music? Sure. If the wicked person is playing it, then that wicked person is still wicked while he's playing, but the music itself is still beautiful. If a righteous person is playing that same music, then the righteous person would be righteous while playing, and the music itself would still be beautiful. I don't see Genesis 4:21 or Genesis 6:5 telling us anything about the character of the instrumental music itself.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

You want me to ponder the character of the instrumental music? You told me "It's very important that what God says be what controls our understanding " I'm looking at "what God says" in Genesis 6:5. God talks about the character of man as being  wicked and that the thoughts of man were evil, but the verse says nothing about the character of the music produced. I could make assumptions, but then I would be going beyond "what God says," if I present those assumptions as coming from God.

Can a wicked person create beautiful music? Sure. If the wicked person is playing it, then that wicked person is still wicked while he's playing, but the music itself is still beautiful. If a righteous person is playing that same music, then the righteous person would be righteous while playing, and the music itself would still be beautiful. I don't see Genesis 4:21 or Genesis 6:5 telling us anything about the character of the instrumental music itself.

Genesis 6:5 is not saying merely that man's character was wicked and his thoughts were evil in some generic sense; it declares that every "imagination" of the thoughts was only evil continually. Notice how the following versions render the statement:

NAU Genesis 6:5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

NET Genesis 6:5 But the LORD saw that the wickedness of humankind had become great on the earth. Every inclination of the thoughts of their minds was only evil all the time.

NKJ Genesis 6:5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

CSB Genesis 6:5 When the LORD saw that man's wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every scheme his mind thought of was nothing but evil all the time,

ESV Genesis 6:5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

NIV Genesis 6:5 The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.

Genesis 6:5 is not saying that their thoughts were generically evil in some sense. In everything that they purposed to do, they purposed to do evil. Every musician who played an instrument purposed to do evil through how and what he played on that instrument. Could these evil people who purposed to produce wicked music have produced music that was itself wicked or was the music itself somehow insulated from all their wickedness so that the music itself could never have been evil?

To say that a wicked person can still produce beautiful music is not the issue. Did something so override the intentions of these people who were so corrupted at this time that they still only produced beautiful instrumental music because it was somehow impossible for them to produce instrumental music that was itself evil?

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

To say that a wicked person can still produce beautiful music is not the issue. Did something so override the intentions of these people who were so corrupted at this time that they still only produced beautiful instrumental music because it was somehow impossible for them to produce instrumental music that was itself evil?

I never said that they "still only produced beautiful instrumental music." I simply said that a wicked person CAN produce beautiful music. You say that's not the issue, but I'm curious whether you really believe that they can. Do you?

I'm sure they could also produce jarring, discordant music. I'm sure they could produce annoyingly repetitive music. You are claiming they produced "music that was itself evil." How so? Does the music take over someone's mind so that they cannot help disobeying a command of God? Does the music have decision-making abilities of it's own so that it can break one of God's commands Does the wickedness of the composer so infuse the notes, that if the wicked man puts 12 notes together in a certain way, those 12 notes would be forever evil even when played by a believer? I have no idea what you mean by "music that was itself evil." What command is the music itself disobeying?

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

 

To say that a wicked person can still produce beautiful music is not the issue. Did something so override the intentions of these people who were so corrupted at this time that they still only produced beautiful instrumental music because it was somehow impossible for them to produce instrumental music that was itself evil?

 

I never said that they "still only produced beautiful instrumental music." I simply said that a wicked person CAN produce beautiful music. You say that's not the issue, but I'm curious whether you really believe that they can. Do you?

 

I'm sure they could also produce jarring, discordant music. I'm sure they could produce annoyingly repetitive music. You are claiming they produced "music that was itself evil." How so? Does the music take over someone's mind so that they cannot help disobeying a command of God? Does the music have decision-making abilities of it's own so that it can break one of God's commands Does the wickedness of the composer so infuse the notes, that if the wicked man puts 12 notes together in a certain way, those 12 notes would be forever evil even when played by a believer? I have no idea what you mean by "music that was itself evil." What command is the music itself disobeying?

2 Corinthians 11:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

Balaam

Harlot:

Isaiah 23:15 And it shall come to pass in that day, that Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years, according to the days of one king: after the end of seventy years shall Tyre sing as an harlot. 16 Take an harp, go about the city, thou harlot that hast been forgotten; make sweet melody, sing many songs, that thou mayest be remembered.
 

More later, D.V.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

I never said that they "still only produced beautiful instrumental music." I simply said that a wicked person CAN produce beautiful music. You say that's not the issue, but I'm curious whether you really believe that they can. Do you?

Concerning the ability of the wicked to produce beautiful music, I provided in my earlier reply three lines of scriptural reasoning to answer that query.

1. Before he fell, Satan was the most beautiful being that God has ever created. When he corrupted himself, he did not lose his supernatural understanding of aesthetics that far exceeds that of any of us who are finite humans. When it suits his purposes, he transforms himself into an angel of light to engage in what I call "photological" deception (2 Cor. 11:14). Just because something seems to be beautiful to us as fallen humans does not necessarily mean that it is innocuous or pleasing to God.

2. Balaam was an intensely perverse man who nonetheless was used by God to provide profound Messianic revelation that is inscripturated for our profit.

3. The harlot in Isaiah 23:15-16 is commanded to "make sweet melody," which is rendered as follows in other translations:

NAU Isaiah 23:16 Take your harp, walk about the city, O forgotten harlot; Pluck the strings skillfully, sing many songs, That you may be remembered.

NET Isaiah 23:16 "Take the harp, go through the city, forgotten prostitute! Play it well, play lots of songs, so you'll be noticed!"

NKJ Isaiah 23:16 "Take a harp, go about the city, You forgotten harlot; Make sweet melody, sing many songs, That you may be remembered."

CSB Isaiah 23:16 Pick up your lyre, stroll through the city, prostitute forgotten by men. Play skillfully, sing many a song, and you will be thought of again.

ESV Isaiah 23:16 "Take a harp; go about the city, O forgotten prostitute! Make sweet melody; sing many songs, that you may be remembered."

NIV Isaiah 23:16 "Take up a harp, walk through the city, you forgotten prostitute; play the harp well, sing many a song, so that you will be remembered."

In spite of her wickedness, the harlot was able to play a musical instrument well, skillfully, etc. Were it impossible for wicked people to produce beautiful music, we would not have revelation such as Isaiah 23:16 as well as other similar passages.

The situation in Genesis 6:5, however, is radically different. In that setting, we have consummately wicked people whose every purpose and intent was only to do evil continually. We do not have any basis to believe that they produced music that was pleasing to God in spite of their universal intent to do otherwise.

 

RajeshG's picture

Earlier in this thread, I was faulted for reading NT revelation into the OT. A claim was made that Moses clearly intended for us to understand that Cain was of the devil based on connections between Genesis 4 and Genesis 3 and that there was no need to use the NT to interpret Cain's murdering Abel. It was also implied that my using 1 John 3:12 in this thread to interpret the account of Cain's murdering Abel was yet another example of my faulty hermeneutics.

In reality, without the use of the NT, no mere human apart from special revelation provided to him by God was ever able or would ever be able to know anything about the devil's role in the Fall of man and in Cain's murdering Abel. Based on what is revealed in the OT, we do not have any basis to say that Moses knew anything about the devil's role in either the Fall of man or in the murder of Abel.

Anyone reading just the Pentateuch would only know that a serpent created by God deceived Eve. Without NT revelation, he could not know about the evil supernatural being who was the real actor behind what happened.

Similarly without the NT, no one would be able to say that Cain murdered his brother because he was of the devil. It is the NT that illumines us to examine the role of demonic influence and direction in that first murder.

When we consider the consummate wickedness of the entire race except for Noah just before the Flood (Gen. 6:5), the only possible explanation for how man had degenerated so completely in just the 1650+ years from the creation of Adam to the Flood is that demonic influence on human beings had so permeated mankind that all of them except for Noah were unbelievably wicked at that time.

Using the NT to interpet the OT is essential for a right handling of Genesis 4:21, 6:5, etc.

pvawter's picture

RajeshG wrote:

Earlier in this thread, I was faulted for reading NT revelation into the OT. A claim was made that Moses clearly intended for us to understand that Cain was of the devil based on connections between Genesis 4 and Genesis 3 and that there was no need to use the NT to interpret Cain's murdering Abel. It was also implied that my using 1 John 3:12 in this thread to interpret the account of Cain's murdering Abel was yet another example of my faulty hermeneutics.

In reality, without the use of the NT, no mere human apart from special revelation provided to him by God was ever able or would ever be able to know anything about the devil's role in the Fall of man and in Cain's murdering Abel. Based on what is revealed in the OT, we do not have any basis to say that Moses knew anything about the devil's role in either the Fall of man or in the murder of Abel.

Anyone reading just the Pentateuch would only know that a serpent created by God deceived Eve. Without NT revelation, he could not know about the evil supernatural being who was the real actor behind what happened.

Similarly without the NT, no one would be able to say that Cain murdered his brother because he was of the devil. It is the NT that illumines us to examine the role of demonic influence and direction in that first murder.

When we consider the consummate wickedness of the entire race except for Noah just before the Flood (Gen. 6:5), the only possible explanation for how man had degenerated so completely in just the 1650+ years from the creation of Adam to the Flood is that demonic influence on human beings had so permeated mankind that all of them except for Noah were unbelievably wicked at that time.

Using the NT to interpet the OT is essential for a right handling of Genesis 4:21, 6:5, etc.

Rajesh,

You are overlooking a key element of OT revelation: the book of Job. When Moses wrote the account of the Fall in Gen. 3 he was building on the earlier revelation that identified Satan as the enemy of God. His readers would have immediately recognized that the serpent was no mere animal but a tool of the devil. 

While the NT certainly represents the progress of revelation, it must not be allowed to reinterpret the OT or cause us to think that the OT is unclear without the later scriptures. Once you go down that road, you make the OT a dark and shadowy mystery that was impossible for its first readers to understand.

RajeshG's picture

pvawter wrote:

 

Rajesh,

You are overlooking a key element of OT revelation: the book of Job. When Moses wrote the account of the Fall in Gen. 3 he was building on the earlier revelation that identified Satan as the enemy of God. His readers would have immediately recognized that the serpent was no mere animal but a tool of the devil. 

While the NT certainly represents the progress of revelation, it must not be allowed to reinterpret the OT or cause us to think that the OT is unclear without the later scriptures. Once you go down that road, you make the OT a dark and shadowy mystery that was impossible for its first readers to understand.

You are wrong for many reasons. I did not overlook the book of Job; I am very much aware of that book.

You assume that Moses knew about Job and had access to the book of Job, which is an unprovable assumption. Your assertion that Moses' readers had access to the book of Job and would have connected the serpent to the revelation about the devil in Job is mere assumption and unprovable. Even if they did have the book of Job, their connecting what is in Job with the serpent would be speculation and not based on explicit revelation, as it is for us. 

I am not making "the OT a dark and shadowy mystery that was impossible for its readers to understand." They were able to understand what was revealed to them to the extent that it was revealed to them, but it is undeniable that the NT provides much illumination into things that they could not have understood with just the revelation that they had. 

RajeshG's picture

In addition to not knowing that the devil energized and influenced the serpent and that Cain was of the devil, the NT reveals many other things that anyone who just had the OT would not have known:

Acts 7:43 Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.

1 Corinthians 10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

Hebrews 11:10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

2 Peter 2:5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

2 Peter 2:7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:

Jude 1:9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

Jude 1:14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, 15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

These passages (and others) plainly reveal that it is essential that we use the NT to interpret the OT whenever the NT provides additional information that the OT does not provide. We must account for that information to have a proper understanding of what God wants us to know about those personages, events, passages, etc.

pvawter's picture

RajeshG wrote:

In addition to not knowing that the devil energized and influenced the serpent and that Cain was of the devil, the NT reveals many other things that anyone who just had the OT would not have known:

Acts 7:43 Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.

1 Corinthians 10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

Hebrews 11:10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

2 Peter 2:5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

2 Peter 2:7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:

Jude 1:9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

Jude 1:14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, 15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

These passages (and others) plainly reveal that it is essential that we use the NT to interpret the OT whenever the NT provides additional information that the OT does not provide. We must account for that information to have a proper understanding of what God wants us to know about those personages, events, passages, etc.

I think you misunderstand what I'm saying. Of course the NT gives us additional revelation, but none of it contradicts or changes the meaning of any OT text. In order to rightly understand an OT text, we do not need to appeal to a NT explanation but can apply consistent hermeneutical principles to discern the author's intent. It seems to me that your desire to use NT texts to interpret OT ones overrides the intent of the OT author in favor of the later one. That's why I've said what I have in this thread.

RajeshG's picture

pvawter wrote:

It seems to me that your desire to use NT texts to interpret OT ones overrides the intent of the OT author in favor of the later one. That's why I've said what I have in this thread.

I have not done any such thing in this thread. You claim that we do not need what the NT reveals to know of the work of the devil in the serpent and in Cain. I reject your attempt to say that a reader of just the OT would know those truths. We are not going to agree on this so further discussion is pointless.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

In spite of her wickedness, the harlot was able to play a musical instrument well, skillfully, etc. Were it impossible for wicked people to produce beautiful music, we would not have revelation such as Isaiah 23:16 as well as other similar passages.

The situation in Genesis 6:5, however, is radically different. In that setting, we have consummately wicked people whose every purpose and intent was only to do evil continually. We do not have any basis to believe that they produced music that was pleasing to God in spite of their universal intent to do otherwise.

I appreciate you pointing out Isaiah 23:16. That's an excellent example of a wicked person playing beautiful music, so let's dig into it deeper. The music is being played skillfully, and the NKJ and ESV both call it a "sweet melody," so I think we can assume it was beautiful. Now, the standard by which something is deemed beautiful can be subjective, can't it? I can consider something to sound beautiful while another person can consider it annoying. The standards for "beauty" can be different for different people and I don't think the Bible gives us an objective standard by which to define "beauty."

The concept of evil or wickedness does have an objective standard, however. If a person breaks the commands of God, then that person is evil or wicked. A harlot is certainly evil since the harlot breaks God's commands regarding marital relations. A harlot's intentions are certainly evil because she intends to get others to breaks God's commands. Does the tools the harlot uses also become evil because of the harlot's wickedness? Would the harlot's bed become a "wicked bed" in and of itself, or is it a good bed being used for wicked purposes? Would God get displeased with the bed itself? I think God is more concerned with judging people's misdeed than with ascribing evil actions or intent to the bed itself. The bed can't perform actions or have intent in and of itself.

I mention the bed as a tool of the harlot because I consider music to also be a tool of the harlot. The harlot is taking something that would be good in and of itself, such as beautiful music, and using it for evil purposes. I'm curious if you think the harlot's use would change the character of the music so that it became music that was itself evil, or does it take "demonic influenced" evil to change the character of music so that it becomes evil? Even if a demonically influenced person produces some music, that music has no independent action ability of it's own and it has no independent intent of it's own, so I don't see how music can meet the objective standard for evil on it's own. You mentioned the verse is which Satan is described as an angel of light. When Satan uses light to deceive people, does he make the light itself evil, or is he simply using light for evil purposes?

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

I appreciate you pointing out Isaiah 23:16. That's an excellent example of a wicked person playing beautiful music, so let's dig into it deeper. The music is being played skillfully, and the NKJ and ESV both call it a "sweet melody," so I think we can assume it was beautiful. Now, the standard by which something is deemed beautiful can be subjective, can't it? I can consider something to sound beautiful while another person can consider it annoying. The standards for "beauty" can be different for different people and I don't think the Bible gives us an objective standard by which to define "beauty."

The concept of evil or wickedness does have an objective standard, however. If a person breaks the commands of God, then that person is evil or wicked. A harlot is certainly evil since the harlot breaks God's commands regarding marital relations. A harlot's intentions are certainly evil because she intends to get others to breaks God's commands. Does the tools the harlot uses also become evil because of the harlot's wickedness? Would the harlot's bed become a "wicked bed" in and of itself, or is it a good bed being used for wicked purposes? Would God get displeased with the bed itself? I think God is more concerned with judging people's misdeed than with ascribing evil actions or intent to the bed itself. The bed can't perform actions or have intent in and of itself.

I mention the bed as a tool of the harlot because I consider music to also be a tool of the harlot. The harlot is taking something that would be good in and of itself, such as beautiful music, and using it for evil purposes. I'm curious if you think the harlot's use would change the character of the music so that it became music that was itself evil, or does it take "demonic influenced" evil to change the character of music so that it becomes evil? Even if a demonically influenced person produces some music, that music has no independent action ability of it's own and it has no independent intent of it's own, so I don't see how music can meet the objective standard for evil on it's own. You mentioned the verse is which Satan is described as an angel of light. When Satan uses light to deceive people, does he make the light itself evil, or is he simply using light for evil purposes?

Concerning Isaiah 23:16, we can say that some aspects of her music were beautiful, but that does not establish that her music was good music in its totality.

Yes, the standards for beauty differ from person to person, but God has objective standards for beauty. He has revealed many things about His standards . . .

He has not revealed that information about His standards of beauty to us exhaustively, and it is very likely that we are incapable of understanding some or many aspects of it. Because of our finiteness and other creaturely limitations, we must make the best use of what God has revealed to us. In both Testaments, God stresses that His people must not have anything to do with things that are sourced in supernatural evil. Music that is sourced in supernatural evil has no place in the lives of God's people.

The right way to dig deeper into any passage is to bring more and more Scripture to bear on our understanding of it. A major reason for my repeatedly beginning discussions about various Bible passages that mention music is to promote such deeper understanding. 

Yes, a bed is a tool that can be used for good or for evil. A harlot can use good music for evil purposes, but she can also use bad music for evil purposes and often does so.

Whereas a bed is something that cannot itself affect the heart of man, music is different than a bed because music is something that enters into the heart of man and affects it for good or for evil.

We do not have the understanding and ability to assess music rightly that has been produced by demonically influenced people. God commands us to reject such things categorically (Eph.5:11).

No, Satan does not somehow make the light itself evil--that is not possible. He transforms himself to appear as a beautiful angel of light to deceive and destroy those whom he succeeds in deceiving. 
 

Dave White's picture

RajeshG wrote:
Yes, a bed is a tool that can be used for good or for evil. A harlot can use good music for evil purposes, but she can also use bad music for evil purposes and often does so.

So profound! My head spins! 

Thanks

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

Yes, the standards for beauty differ from person to person, but God has objective standards for beauty. He has revealed many things about His standards . . .

He has not revealed that information about His standards of beauty to us exhaustively, and it is very likely that we are incapable of understanding some or many aspects of it. Because of our finiteness and other creaturely limitations, we must make the best use of what God has revealed to us.

Do you have any Scripture verses that give us an objective standard for beauty? I'm not asking for an exhaustive list, but I can't even think of one of the top of my head.

Quote:
In both Testaments, God stresses that His people must not have anything to do with things that are sourced in supernatural evil. Music that is sourced in supernatural evil has no place in the lives of God's people.

I don't know much about composers and their personal lives. How would I really know if the music I listen to today is "sourced in supernatural evil"? If the composer is unsaved, is his music sourced in evil? 1 John 3:8 tells us "He that committeth sin is of the devil," so really any unsaved composer would be "of the devil." Do we need to stay away from any music produced by unsaved people, since the devil definitely influences all unsaved people?

 

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