A Question I Was Asked:

How Could the Writer of Genesis 36 Have Known that Kings would Later Reign in Israel's History?

How could the final writer/editor of Genesis 36 know that kings would later reign in Israel's history? The writer - we are usually told - was presumably Moses. In the past this Bible statement has been much attacked by liberals. What do you say?

UK Apologetics Reply:

Okay, the final compiler of Genesis is Moses. He drew upon earlier records/annals which were available to him but then the Holy Spirit inspired his selection (or, redacting), and writing. This was God's doing! But certain liberals have sarcastically attacked his comment in Genesis 36:31. Let us consult that:

These were the kings who reigned in Edom before any Israelite king reigned: (Genesis 36:31).

The question is this: Moses lived long before Saul, Israel's first king. How on earth could Moses have known about a line of Israelite kings which did not arrive until something like 300 years after Moses' death? Back in the days when liberals loved to attack the Bible's claimed dating (they do it rather less now) they often suggested that such a comment could not have been recorded for over 300 years after the time of Moses. They scoffed at the idea that Moses could have known about these kings who were still to come, and suggested that a much later writer must have inserted these words.

But there are two perfectly clear answers to this:

1. Moses was Obviously Aware of the Divine Promises Made to the Patriarchs.
Moses was obviously aware of the divine promises made to the Patriarchs since he himself brought the record of these promises forward into the final compilation of Genesis! God had informed Abraham and Sarah that many kings would be among their posterity. He even promised this to Abraham, saying,

I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her. (Genesis 17:16).

Then many years later, when God appeared to Jacob at Bethel and changed his name to Israel, He said this:

And God said to him, "I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will be among your descendants." (Genesis 35:11).

So this statement was written with the promise in mind that kings would come out of the loins of Abraham and Jacob, and it simply conveys the belief that Edom actually became a kingdom at an earlier time than Israel. As premier Hebrew Bible experts Keil and Delitzsch remarked:

"...Such a thought was by no means inappropriate to the Mosaic age. For the idea that Israel was destined to grow into a kingdom with monarchs of his own family, was a hope handed down to the age of Moses, which ...[his] long residence in Egypt was well adapted to foster." (Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament).

2. Moses was Redacting and Writing, Under the Inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
This meant that an extra insight was available to Moses (even if he had not considered the promises to the Patriarchs). See Mark 12:26; John 5:46; ; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21.

For anybody to consider that the author of Genesis could not have been Moses (because the author spoke of Israelite kings prior to their existence), totally ignores the fact that Moses received special revelation from God. As an example, Moses spoke prophetically on the subject of kings in Deuteronomy 17:14-15:

14. When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, "Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us," 15. be sure to appoint over you a king the Lord your God chooses. He must be from among your fellow Israelites. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not an Israelite.

The liberal's attempt to belittle Genesis in the above regard only highlights their complete mis-handing and disrespect of/for Scripture.

Robin A. Brace. April 23rd, 2016.