Board index Specific Bible verses, texts, and passages Genesis

The beginning of the covenant; Faith vs. Faithlessness

Genesis 6:6 - God's omniscience and the flood

Postby Forsaken » Thu Jan 10, 2019 4:55 pm

God is all-knowing, all powerful, how does this work with the flood?

In Gen 6:6, where it says the Lord regretted making men I dont understand how this is compatible with an all knowing God. If He knew He would regret making us, and have to destroy us and then FURTHER know He would regret destroying us and swear to not do it again, how can a God who knows that already, both before during and after it, possibly do something He regrets?

Re: Genesis 6:6 - God's omniscience and the flood

Postby jimwalton » Wed Jan 30, 2019 4:14 am

The best explanation comes from an accurate translation and interpretation of the word "regret." It's the Hebrew word yinnahem, and it can mean a wide range of ideas: "Grieve; repent; console; be sorry; relent; be comforted; change one's mind; a change of mind or heart." The Septuagint usually translates it as metamelomai ("to be sorry; repent; change one’s mind"), but here and in v. 7 it avoids either of those verbs. The vast majority of occurrences have to do with YHWH’s change of will concerning a future plan of action.

In other words, there are three ways to take this:
1. God didn't know this was going to happen, he was caught by surprise and was really bummed.
2. Human attributes are being assigned to God to help us understand his pain.
3. In accounting terms, it describes the books being out of balance and seeing the need for adjustment.
It is #3 that is closest to the text. The sin of the people had caused the "books" to become "unbalanced." They refuse to "balance the books" with repentance, so God must make adjustments regarding how to proceed into the future. Here He seeks to redress a situation that is hopeless. He is auditing his accounts, because he had made humankind. Now he is enforcing a system of checks and balances as part of the equilibrium he is maintaining in the world. (1) He has to always assure that there is more good than evil in the universe; (2) he has to take action to check the destruction of humanity.

God made humanity, knowing that they were not divine and would be subject to flaw. He provided every means for them to stay on the right path, and warned them of the consequences of the wrong path. When they chose wrongly (Gn. 3), he already had a plan to restore order, and he implemented it. As sin continued its destructive path, he adjusted his plan accordingly to counteract the imbalance and to maintain a clear path to reconciliation.

So "regretted" is a regrettable translation because it leads us to misunderstanding. Instead, the text is telling us that God is engaged, knowledgeable, and on top of the situation.

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