I haven't seen the BST OT volumes, but in general UTB is less application focused than BST would be...
Here are two OT samples... First from Genesis day one, next from Proverbs 8.
1:1 / In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. In Hebrew this sentence consists of seven words, mirroring the seven days of creation. “In the beginning” marks the start of time on earth. This is confirmed by the process of creation being presented in a sequence of days and by the creation of light first in order to mark the flow of time in days and nights (1:3–5). God (ʾelohim) is the generic term for the one deity. It is used so [Gen, p. 43] frequently that it virtually functions as a name. Its plural form conveys the multiplicity and self-sufficiency of God. That is, God, who is superior to all the gods, embodies in himself the qualities of all the gods that make up a pantheon. The OT uses “create” (baraʾ) restrictively: only God serves as its subject, and the material out of which something is made is never mentioned. The terms “the heavens” and “the earth,” being at opposite ends of the spectrum, stand for the totality of what God created. “Universe” is another possible translation for this phrase, but the ancient view of the cosmos was so different from today’s view that this English term would convey more than the ancient author intended.
1:2 / A description of the earth prior to God’s giving it form follows, in preparation for recounting the stages of creation and especially for the ordering that took place on the first three days: the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep. “Earth” stands in an emphatic position, signaling that it is the primary focus of this account. In Hebrew “earth” signifies the area where humans live, dry land, and the land of Israel. But in this verse “the earth”—being formless, empty, and covered with water—refers to that which held the potential for becoming land.
Darkness, symbolic of a lifeless void, covered “the deep” (tehom), that is, the primordial ocean. In many ancient Near Eastern myths the primordial deep was the locus of those gods who opposed the gods of order. For example, in the Babylonian Creation Epic the goddess Tiamat, who personified the primordial salt waters, set up a rebellious government in opposition to the heavenly assembly. Only after Marduk, a mighty god of the fourth generation, defeated her was he elevated to be the ruler of the gods. Afterward Marduk ordered the cosmos. In Genesis, however, the deep is an essential element in the cosmos, not a deity. The Creator God exists independently from and transcends all matter. There is no indication that God faced any opposition either before or during the process of creation. Nevertheless, this reference to the deep conveys the latent potential for forces that could be aroused to oppose God’s rule and wreak havoc on earth.
The Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Hebrew ruah is used for both “wind” and “spirit.” “Hover” or “soar” (r-kh-p), however, is not a verb used with wind; it is used here to compare the Spirit’s activity with a bird. The Spirit was circling above the water to make sure that the deep did not oppose God. Manifest as [Gen, p. 44] wind, the Spirit was thus in control of these chaotic elements, for it could drive the water wherever it wished. Further, the presence of God’s Spirit symbolized the potential of cosmic order and life that could be produced from these formless elements.
1:3–5 / The words God said mark off the stages of creation, conveying that God created by the word. God’s words were not empty, for the Spirit, who was present over the waters, empowered God’s words, bringing into being what God had spoken (A. Kapelrud, “Die Theologie der Schöpfung im Alten Testament,” ZAW 91 , pp. 165–66). The wording of Psalm 33:6, 9 supports this claim: “By the word of Yahweh were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth … For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.” The parallel in this psalm between “word” and “breath” (v. 6) communicates that God’s Spirit was the energy empowering God’s word.
God began the process of creation with the command, Let there be light, and light came into being, pushing back the primordial darkness. From the context we can discern two reasons God created light first: to limit the primordial darkness, and to begin the flow of time as measured in days. From our knowledge of the world another reason can be added; light was the energy necessary to support the life forms that God was going to create.
God saw that the light was good, thereby making a qualitative judgment about what he had created (also vv. 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). While usually a word carries only one nuance in any given occurrence, “good” in this account is a loaded term. It carries four implications: (a) What came into being functioned precisely as God had purposed. (
That which had just been created contributed to the well-being of the created order. © The new creation had aesthetic qualities—that is, it was pleasing and beautiful—and (d) it had moral force, advancing righteousness on earth (Job 38:12–13).
God went on and separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day” and the darkness he called “night.” By naming these elements God defined their function in respect to their essence. God did not eliminate the darkness that was already present; rather he established his authority over it, assigning it a specific role and restricting its influence.
John E. Hartley, Genesis, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series. Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2012), n.p.
- EDIT: Thought I should add the additionally notes for Genesis 1:1-5
Additional Notes §1
1:2 / While many readers understand “earth” to be our planet, the ancients had no concept of a solar system. For them, “earth” was the vast land mass established over the primordial ocean.
The precise meaning of ruah ʾelohim, “the Spirit of God,” is debated. Grammarians have established that ʾelohim is sometimes used as a superlative for the preceding noun; e.g., the phrase “the cedars of God” means “the mighty or majestic cedars.” Possibly, then, ʾelohim with ruah means “a mighty wind.” However, ʾelohim means “God” in thirty other occurrences in this account. A sound exegetical principle is that when the meaning of a term is clearly established in a given text, it has that meaning in each of its occurrences unless a definitive signal indicates otherwise. Since there is no such signal here, it is most likely that ʾelohim here means “God.”
In Deut. 32:11, the same word used for “hovering” in Gen. 1:2 (Hb. r-kh-p) is used to describe an eagle circling back and forth, ready to [Gen, p. 52] swoop under any of its young that grow weary and need to be carried back to the nest on their parent’s back. However, in the Ugaritic Tale of Aqhat (Aqht C, 31), the same word is used of the eagle circling about its prey as it prepares to strike. The latter picture seems to fit this text better.
It is interesting to note that the Spirit here is portrayed in the imagery of a large bird of prey, whereas in rabbinic sources before the coming of Jesus and at Jesus’ baptism the Spirit is depicted as a dove (Matt. 3:16). The significance of these two very different metaphors for the Spirit is, however, not clear.
1:3 / The presence of light before the creation of the sun is inconceivable from our contemporary understanding of the universe. However, it was possible according to the view of the ancient Hebrews; several OT texts speak of light existing independently of the stars (Job 38:19–20; Isa. 30:26; 60:19–20).
Separation is a major activity in establishing the created order: light from darkness, day from night, upper waters from lower waters, and dry land from water. Separation of the profane from the holy is also a central theme in the law (Lev. 10:10; 11:47) and in the final judgment (Rev. 20:4–6).
1:4 / The term “good” here carries several meanings, including aesthetic and moral; i.e., what God created was beautiful and promoted the moral order.
1:5 / Ancient readers would have taken “day” to be an ordinary day. It is possible that day represents an age, but the text does not readily support that position. A seven-day week of creation anchors the weekly pattern in the created order.
John E. Hartley, Genesis, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series. Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2012), n.p.
§8 Proverbs 8:1–36
The personification of Wisdom reaches new heights in this chapter that is entitled “Wisdom’s Call” in the NIV—an understatement, if one truly considers the claims Wisdom makes about herself. There is a superficial similarity between the opening verses and 1:20–21, but the tenor of Wisdom’s proclamation in this chapter is unique. She appeals to all, including the simple and the fools. They are to listen to her because of her claims to truth and righteousness, which are far more valuable than material riches. Who is she? In verses 22–31, she launches a description of herself as begotten of God before creation, at God’s side, but also delighting in human beings. The final words in verses 32–36 are spoken by her, and not by the sage, as might be expected (cf. 7:24–27).
8:1–3 / Presumably it is the sage who utters the rhetorical question calling attention to Woman Wisdom (in the grammatically singular Hebrew form, ḥokmâ, instead of ḥokmôt as in 1:20 and 9; see Additional Notes). She is described as stationing herself beside the gates of the city where she can reach a crowd of people. This open approach contrasts with the stealthy activity of the strange woman in chapter 7, who was covered by nightfall.
8:4–11 / The appeal is to all, but especially to the simple and foolish who most need understanding. Wisdom is prepared for this because truth and justice are the hallmarks of her speech, yielding an instruction more precious than silver or gold. On v. 11 see Additional Notes.
8:12–21 / A strong I (repeated in v. 14) initiates this part of the discourse and imparts to Woman Wisdom an authority greater than that of a sage who merely communicates wisdom. She is Wisdom and associates other aspects of wisdom with herself (vv. 12–14). Indeed she resembles the Lord in her detestation of evil. On verse 13 see Additional Notes. She possesses the qualities [Prov, Eccl, Song, p. 38] which are associated with the spirit of God in Isaiah 11:2 (cf. also Job 12:13–16) and by which one can truly reign and govern (vv. 14–16). On verse 16 see Additional Notes. The emphatic I (ʾᵂnı̂) in verse 17 introduces a new and unusual idea. Wisdom stands in a love relationship with those who love her (the NIV correctly follows the Qere). In Egyptian scarabs, this reciprocity formula has been found and is attributed to deities such as Isis: “Isis loves the one who loves her” (see Additional Notes). In contrast to the unsuccessful search for wisdom mentioned in 1:28b, her lovers will seek and find her. In her train come riches and prestige so that her value surpasses the treasures of silver and gold. The recurring motif of the way is echoed in verses 20–21. Those who follow her and love her will become wealthy themselves. One can detect a certain enlargement in the portrayal of Woman Wisdom; she approaches divine dimensions. But this is as nothing compared to the new development that takes place in verses 22–31.
8:22–31 / This famous passage enunciates several things about Woman Wisdom. She existed before God created the world, begotten apparently by yhwh. Her preexistence is affirmed several times and it is asserted that she was at the Lord’s side as an ʾmwn (craftswoman? nursling?). She also found pleasure among human beings.
8:22 / The translation of the verb is disputed, as the text and margin of the NIV indicate. Other possibilities are: “create” (NJPS, NRSV) or “begot” (NAB). See Additional Notes. In any case, her existence before the creative activity of God is clearly affirmed in verse 22b and a birthing process is mentioned in verses 24a and 25b. Works is an acceptable rendering of “way” in MT, as the deeds in verse 22b suggest. “Dominion” in the marginal note is less likely.
8:23 / The NIV indicates in the margin another possible (and preferable) meaning for appointed: fashioned; see Additional Notes. The several verbs employed suggest a mystery surrounding Wisdom’s origins from the creator, and the following verses go to great lengths to emphasize that she is preexistent to creation. About six times various idioms are used: “when there was no,” “before,” etc. This formulaic style is reminiscent of the description of the opening lines of the Mesopotamian creation epic, Enuma Elish (cf. ANET, pp. 60–61). The manner of phrasing throughout this passage emphasizes in an unusually exaggerated [Prov, Eccl, Song, p. 39] fashion Wisdom’s priority to and presence at the works of creation. Her presence is affirmed at every point down to verse 30.
8:24–26 / The sequence of the description is upward, from the waters of the abyss, where the fountains (v. 28b) are and in which the pillars of the earth, or mountains are settled (cf. Ps. 104:6–8; Jon. 2:7), to the earth and eventually to the heavens (v. 27a).
8:27 / Again there is a strong repetition of I (v. 27a ends: there [was] I). The horizon is created by the arched firmament closing down on the surface of the deep.
8:28–29 / The reference is to all the waters that obey the divine command—both the clouds above and the fountains of the deep below. Once the waters were tamed, the fixing (in the abyss!) of the foundations of the earth was possible.
8:30–31 / I was is repeated (the same verb form, Hb. “ʾehyê, as occurs in the puzzling explanation of the divine name in Exod. 3:14) and it is Wisdom who says that she was posted at God’s side as an ʾmwn, a Hebrew term for which there is no certain translation (see Additional Notes). It is generally translated in two different ways, either as artisan, craftswoman, or as nursling, child. Verse 30a reads literally: “I was delight(s) every day.” It is not clear whether she is filled with delight (so NIV) or gives delight to God (many follow the Gk. version and translate “his delight”). It can mean that wisdom is all delight, giving and taking. She is twice described as playing (perhaps dancing?): before God always and also on the face of the earth (a difficult phrase). Moreover, her delights are said to be with human beings. So much attention has been given to her mysterious and undetermined role at God’s side, that her openness and joy to be with the human race is not sufficiently emphasized. The scene is reminiscent of the celebration of creation among the morning stars and the sons of God (Job 38:7). However, the mood and role of Wisdom is more than just celebratory. In view of all the characteristics of Woman Wisdom, her joyful relationship to earthly people is particularly meaningful, even if the details are not spelled out here.
8:32–36 / Instead of the sage speaking, Wisdom continues, employing the exhortatory style used by the sage (cf. 4:1; 5:7; 7:24). A threefold insistence upon listening (and that means [Prov, Eccl, Song, p. 40] obeying) culminates in the beatitude of verse 35 where the suitor of Woman Wisdom is portrayed as ardently pursuing her. The suitor is at her very doors. The doors of the strange woman in 5:8 and the door of Woman Folly in 9:14 make an interesting contrast. Verse 35 sums up the message of Wisdom: life comes as a favor from the LORD (or gift; cf. 2:6 and also see 3:13 on “finding” wisdom). In contrast to this vision, those who miss the mark and do not choose (hate) wisdom are in love with death. Gerhard von Rad once wrote that only the Lord can speak in the manner in which Woman Wisdom expresses herself, especially in verse 35 (Old Testament Theology [New York: Harper & Row, 1962], vol. 1, p. 444). Wisdom is an “I” not an “IT.” However, von Rad went on to identify Wisdom as the “self-revelation of creation.” But before trying to identify Wisdom more closely, one must examine chapter 9.
Plöger (Sprüche, pp. 91–93) has noted the possibility of the correlation of personified Wisdom with Egyptian ideas, but he has also pointed to a significant fact. The figure of biblical Wisdom, addressing human beings in both an inviting and threatening manner, is foreign to the Egyptian Maʿat. Any alleged influence must still deal with the unique presentation of Wisdom in these chapters. Perhaps the more important question is the suddenly prominent position of Wisdom in view of the traditional proclamation of the Lord as Israel’s savior. As a further development of this theme, one should recall that, in the Wisdom of Solomon 10, Wisdom is hailed many times as savior. Yet the uniqueness of the Lord is not undone. Wisdom is subordinate to the Lord for she is born of the Lord. Yet, “seen from the point of view of creation, she is brought nearer to Yahweh, but seen from the point of view of Yahweh, she has a stronger affinity to creation” (p. 93). For more details on the personification of Wisdom, see Murphy, The Tree of Life, pp. 133–49.
Additional Notes §8
8:1 / The singular form for wisdom (Hb. hokmâ) is to be expected. The so-called plural form was explained in a note to 1:20 as an abstract plural, a plural of intensity, or as a feminine singular with an wt ending for the usual t (see TDOT 4:371).
[Prov, Eccl, Song, p. 41]
8:11 / This verse repeats almost verbatim the evaluation of Wisdom in 3:15. Moreover, it is in the third person. In ch. 8, it is Wisdom who speaks about herself in the first person. The verse should be seen as interruptive, coming just before the emphatic “I” of v. 12.
8:13 / Contrary to the form in the rest of this poem (two lines), there are three lines. Although fear of the LORD is a genuine and frequent wisdom theme, it hardly belongs here with the first person discourse of Woman Wisdom. It is in the third person and has two words, hate and evil, that appear at the end of lines b and c. It looks like a gloss.
8:16 / The NIV adopts an alternate reading, “and all nobles who rule on earth,” which is reflected in the Gk.; see also the marginal note. The MT can also be translated: “nobles, and all judges of the earth” on the basis of alternative readings of some Hb. manuscripts that read ʾāreṣ for ṣedeq.
8:17 / Other examples of the reciprocity formula are found in C. Kayatz, Studien zu Proverbien 1–9 (WMANT 22; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener, 1966), pp. 101–102.
8:22 / There is some variation in the rendering of the root qnh (NIV “brought forth”): (1) possess or acquire (perhaps implying that the Lord got wisdom from some unknown source?); (2) create (the ancient Gk., although the Latin Vulgate has possedit; see also the verbs in the following verses which indicate creation or begetting); and (3) beget (cf. Gen. 4:1).
8:23 / The NIV prefers appointed to fashioned, which it relegates to the marginal note. The translators seem to have derived this from the Hb. nsk; skk seems to convey the sense better.
8:30 / There are arguments for “artisan” and for “nursling” as the meaning of the difficult Hb. word ʾmwn. The range of opinions and their arguments are well surveyed by H. P. Rüger, “ʾAmôn—Pflegekind: zur Auslegungsgeschichte von Prv 8:30a,” in Ubersetzung und Deutung (Nijkerk: Callenbach, 1977), pp. 154–63. Rüger himself opts for nursling (Pflegekind), but there is no consensus on the issue.
Roland E. Murphy and Elizabeth Huwiler, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series. Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2012), n.p.
Edited by Dan Francis, Yesterday, 01:29 PM.