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The purpose of this word study is to examine the Hebrew verb nacham in its Niphal stem transliterated as grieved

in Genesis 6:6 (New International Version).1 In other passages, nacham is transliterated variously as comfort[ed], sorry, grieve[d]," change[d] mind and more. The range of uses requires looking at nacham through a broad contextual lens in order to shed light on its use in Genesis 6:6. First, nacham will be examined for its usage in Genesis and Exodus. Next nacham will be investigated in light of other Old Testament sections. Finally, an attempt to draw conclusions about a comprehensive idea of the use of nacham in the Old Testament from the data presented. The Pentateuch employs the use of nacham in its Niphal stem seven times. In Genesis Moses uses nacham to illustrate a causal effect for the lamenting of God. God expresses His grief for having created humanity and, because of human wickedness, the need to wipe mankindfrom the face of the earth (Gen 6:7). Moses also uses nacham later in Genesis to show the idea of consolation after the loss of a family member (cf. Gen 24:67, 38:12). The Pslamist and Jeremiah make a contrary case by showing an example of those who reject consolation (Jer 31:15; Ps 77:2). Moses uses nacham in Exodus to exemplify what seems to be a protective aspect of this word and embodies Gods commitment to the newly formed Sinai Covenant (cf. Exod 13:17; 32:12, 14).2 As Israel is leaving the bondage of Egypt, God routes them down an unknown path

John R. Kohlenberger III and James A. Swanson, The Hebrew English Concordance to the Old Testament with the New International Version, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1998) 1077-78. 2 Joel Soza, Repentance, in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch, ed. T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003) 685

in order to avoid a fortified Egyptian outpost (Gen 13:17).3 Moses implies that God made this choice so that Israel would not see the violence of war and turn back to Egypt. A later Exodus passage shows Moses interceding for Israel because they have violated the Sinai Covenant by worshipping a golden calf. The people of Israel will not be destroyed for disobedience because of Moses plea for protection and the subsequent relenting of God (Genesis 32:12, 14). The broader scope of the use of nacham in the Historical Books and beyond appears to continue the theme of protection from Gods judgment (i.e. Ps 90:13; 106:45). The theme of nationalism is apparent in many of the Major Prophets especially Jeremiah. Jeremiah receives words from the Lord that if Judah would repent then God would relent (Jer 4:28; 18:8). The beginning of Jeremiah details Gods weariness with showing compassion for the Judah who continues in sin (Jer 8:6; 15:6; 18:10). Nevertheless, as the book progresses the word coming to Jeremiah contains statements calling Judah to repent and obey; and God will relent (Jer 26:3, 13). Jeremiah uses Hezekiahs and his own repentance to illustrate Gods compassion (Jer 26:19; 31:19). Nonetheless, Jeremiah shows God as being grieved (nacham) because of Judahs poor choices (Jer 42:10). Soza states, God responds to the response of human beings.4 Jeremiah points to a connection larger than a single human, however. He expands individual repentance and subsequent repentance of God to an entire nation being called to contrition in order to receive nationwide nacham of God. A cursory reading of Genesis 6:6 might leave the impression that God is angry. After all, his grief over creating humankind is followed by a plan to destroy that same creation (cf. Gen 6:6-7). However, when one considers that God includes the salvation of Noah in the plan a Larry McQueen, With A Strong Hand and an Outstretched Arm, They Spoke from God: A Survey of the Old Testament, ed. William C. Williams. (Springfield: Gospel Publishing House, 2003) 244 4 Ibid, Soza, 687 2
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different light is shed on Gods emotion. John Goldingays article Hermeneutics asserts that Genesis portrays a God who is hurt but is never said to be angry.5 Larry McQueen agrees with Goldingay but takes the idea a step farther positing God experiences real feelings of vulnerability stemming from His relationship with humankind.6 In view of this scholarship Genesis 6:6-7 reveals a personal God who has high expectations for His creation but is disappointed by their poor choices. Even in His hurt, God is not moved toward utter destruction. On the contrary, His compassion is vividly displayed in the further narrative of the salvation of Noahs family. This paper has posited a recurrent Old Testament thread of protection from Gods judgment on both individuals and nations in relation to the use of nacham. Gods hurt leads Him to pronounce a coming judgment typically followed by a call to contrition from the offender. When the offending person or nation heeds the call and demonstrates repentance God relents. Gods deep hurt is contrasted with His undeserved compassion for humankind and its communities. The broader context of nacham demonstrates that Genesis 6:6 is not the ranting of an angry God but a God whose heart is filled with pain.7 It appears, then, God wants to redeem a situation that has gone too far. Moses use of nacham helps to establish a foundation for a God who works with the failings of humankind even though it causes Him pain. God is seen as a relational God who acts in justice by changing His mind and compassion by not changing His plan to redeem humankind. Therefore, God protects humankind by offering them opportunity to be saved from poor choices and participate in the mission of God. John Goldingay, Hermeneutics, Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch, ed. T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003) 389 6 Ibid, McQueen, 235 7 John H. Sailhamer, Genesis in The Expositors Bible Commentary: Genesis Leviticus, eds. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008) 117 3
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Bibliography Goldingay, John. 2003. Hermeneutics, in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch, eds. T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker, 387-401. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press. Kohlenberger III, John R. and James A. Swanson. 1998. The Hebrew English Concordance to the Old Testament with the New International Version, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House. McQueen, Larry. 2003. With A Strong Hand and an Outstretched Arm, in They Spoke from God: A Survey of the Old Testament, ed. William C. Williams, 227-64. Springfield: Gospel Publishing House. Sailhamer, John. 2008. Genesis, in The Expositors Bible Commentary: Genesis Leviticus, eds. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland, 23-331. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. Soza, Joel. 2003. Repentance, in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch, eds. T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker, 684-87. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press.