The Adjective Limited

But it is found with limited meaning in these and other passages: Gen. 9:12-16; Gen. 17:8,13,19; and Num. 25:13; Ex. 12:14,17; 27:21; 28:43; 29:28; 30:21; 31:16,17; Lev. 6:18,22; 7:34,36; 10:15; 16:29,31,34; 17:7; 23:14,31,41; 24:3,8,9. Num. 10:8; 15:15; 18:8,11,19,23; 19:10,21; 2 Sam. 23:5; 1 Chron. 16:17; Isa. 24:5; Ezek. 16:60; Psa. 77:5; Isa 63:11; Jer. 6:16; 18:15; Job 21:11; 22:15; Isa.58:12; 61:4; Ezek. 26:20; Prov. 22:28; 23:10; Ezek. 36:2; 35:5; Isa. 54:4; Jer. 5:22; 18:16; 25:9,12; Ezek. 35:9; Jer. 20:17; 23:40; 51:39; Micah 2:9.

Let us quote some of the foregoing texts: "And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever."

"And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always." "In the tabernacle of the congregation without the veil, which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall order it from evening to morning before the Lord: it shall be a statute for ever UNTO THEIR GENERATIONS on behalf of the children of Israel." "And they shall be upon Aaron and upon his sons, when they come in unto the tabernacle of the congregation, or when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy place; that they bear not iniquity and die: it shall be a statute for ever unto him and his seed after him." "Hast thou not marked the old way which wicked men have trodden?" "Fear ye not me: saith the Lord: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?"

To render the word eternal will show how absurd that definition is, in the following passages(44):

"I will give unto thee, and thy seed after thee, the land wherin thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an eternal possession." "And thou shalt anoint them as thou didst their father, that they surely be a priesthood through the eternity." "Then his master shall bring him to the door, or unto the door-posts, and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall serve him through the eternity."

"The water compassed me about —even to the soul; The weeds were wrapped about my head, I went down to the bottoms of the bountains; The earth with her eternal bars was about me."

Still further do the subjoined texts demonstrate the impropriety of the popular rendering, which would compel us to read(45): "The Lord shall reign to the eternity, and during the eternity, and LONGER." "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars through the eternities and longer." "And we will walk in the name of Jehovah our God through the eternity and longer." But substitute ages and the sense is perfect. Ex. 15:18, "The Lord shall reign from age to age, and beyond all the ages;" Dan. 12:3, "Through the ages and beyond them all;" Micah 4:5, "Through the age and beyond it."

No one can read the Old Testament carefully and unbiassed, and fail to see that the word has a great range of meaning, bearing some such relation to duration as the word great does to size. We say God is infinite when we call him the Great God, not because great means infinite, but because God is infinite. The aionion God is of eternal duration, but the aionion smoke of Idumea has expired, and the aionion hills will one day crumble, and all merely aionian things will cease to be.

While it is a rule of language that adjectives qualify and describe nouns, it is no less true that nouns modify adjectives. A tall flower, a tall dog, a tall man, and a tall tree are of different degrees of length, though the different nouns are described by the same adjective. The adjective is in each instance modified by its noun, just as the aionian bars that held Jonah three days, and the aionian priesthood of Aaron already ended, and the aionian hills yet to be destroyed, and aionian punishment, always proportioned to human guilt, are of different degrees of length. The adjective is modified and its length is determined by the noun with which it is connected.

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