Questions From Readers
● Have not Watchtower publications been in error in saying the food of John the Baptist was insect locusts? Does not reference to his locust diet refer to the beans or seed pods which appear on the sugar locust tree?—W. B., Canada.
The locusts which John the Baptist ate in the wilderness were not the beans or carobs which grow on the sugar locust tree, but were the real insect locusts. In the original Greek text the word for locust at Matthew 3:4 is akrís. This word never means the locust tree bean pod, but exclusively the insect. That is why the New World Translation renders Matthew 3:4 as follows: “Now that very John had his clothing of camel’s hair and a leather girdle around his loins; his food, too, was insect locusts and wild honey.” In the Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Scriptures this word akrís is the word used for locusts in the plague upon Egypt, at Exodus 10:4, 12-14, 19. Also in connection with the locust plague at Revelation 9:3, 7 akrís is used. And akrís is also the word used at Leviticus 11:22, which tells the Israelites that they could eat the insect locusts as a clean food. The word for the locust tree beans or carob pods was a different Greek word, kerátion, and this was what the prodigal son ate, according to Luke 15:16, NW.
● What is meant by the statement at Ecclesiastes 12:7, “The spirit shall return unto God who gave it”?—J. D., Canada.
In this text spirit means the power of life. God withdraws this life from the dying sinner, and no one can restore that power of life except Jehovah God, who originally gave it to Adam. (Gen. 2:7) Psalm 104:29, 30 (Ro) states: “Thou hidest thy face, they are dismayed, thou withdrawest their spirit, they cease to breathe, and unto their own dust do they return: thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created, and thou renewest the face of the ground.” In the case of dead human creatures held in God’s memory, he will restore to them the power of life in a resurrection. Those who died willfully wicked will not be remembered at the time of resurrection. They will be as the brute beasts that perish.—Prov. 10:7; Eccl. 3:18-21; John 5:28, 29, NW; 2 Pet. 2:12.
● Your Society’s book “Equipped for Every Good Work” gives, on page 82, some Talmudic legends about Jesus, which legends our pastor says are untrue. Can you give me the source of your information?—F. J., Pennsylvania.
These legends are verified in the book The New Testament and the Talmud (96 pages) by Julius Feldman, professor, in its Chapter VII, entitled “Traditions and Legends”, on pages 67 and 72. The author tells how editions of the Talmud have been expurgated in order to eliminate some of these gross legends in order to avoid offending Gentile Christians too deeply and thereby stirring up pogroms and suchlike persecutions against the Jews. But the unexpurgated early editions of the Talmud contain such legends, from which source the book’s author got them. The above book has doubtless gone out of print, but you may locate it in a well-stocked public library.
● Genesis 1:26 reads, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Could not this mean that the form of God’s spiritual body is the same as the form of man’s physical body?—H. D., California.
Deuteronomy 4:15-20 shows that God’s form is not known by men, so there is no need for men to try to represent it by any earthly creature. See also Isaiah 40:18, 25. To try to represent the Creator in the form of visible man or other earthly creation, rather than glorify him as the invisible and almighty God, is foolish, as Paul shows: “Although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God nor did they thank him, but they became empty-headed in their reasonings and their unintelligent heart became darkened. Although asserting they were wise, they became foolish and turned the glory of the incorruptible God into something like the image of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed creatures and creeping things.”—Rom. 1:21-23, NW.
Furthermore Paul wrote: “‘The first man Adam became a living soul.’ The last Adam [Christ] became a life-giving spirit. And just as we have borne the image of the one made of dust, we shall bear also the image of the heavenly one.” (1 Cor. 15:45, 49, NW) From this it is apparent that the image of Adam was not the same as the image of the resurrected Christ, a spirit creature. The appearance of Christ resurrected as a spirit creature was unknown to Christians. They knew he was in God’s “express image”, or “the exact representation of his very being”, but they did not consider that “express image” or “exact representation” to be in the form of man, which was known to them. They also knew that eventually they would see God and be like him, whenever they would be raised as spirit creatures to reign with Christ: “Beloved ones, now we are children of God, but as yet it has not been made manifest what we shall be. We do know that whenever he is made manifest we shall be like him, because we shall see him just as he is.”—Heb. 1:3; 1 John 3:2, NW.
From all this it is clear that the writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures did not consider the form of men to be the same as God’s form or as the resurrected Christ’s form. Hence it seems certain that when Jehovah said to the Logos (Christ’s title before becoming a man on earth), “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,” he was not referring to any literal form or appearance. The Logos underwent great change to be made into man’s likeness. (Phil. 2:7) So we hold to the previously published explanation that man was made in their image and likeness in that as Jehovah’s attributes are justice, love, wisdom and power, so man was created with these same attributes, which set him apart from all other earthly forms of life and equip him to exercise dominion over them and to visibly represent Jehovah on earth. Since the divine attributes are also possessed by the Logos, the Creator could rightly speak of such things to the Logos as “our image” and “our likeness”.—Gen. 1:28; 5:3; Ps. 89:14; Prov. 2:6; 3:19, 20; Dan. 2:20; 1 John 4:8.