Questions From Readers
● In Genesis 3:16 the New World Translation reads: “To the woman he said: ‘I shall greatly increase the pain of your pregnancy; in birth pangs you will bring forth children.’” Scriptures dealing with childbirth all seem to support the idea that childbirth is painful. However, had the Bible writers lived in our day when much is being done to remove the fear formerly connected with childbirth, would not their thoughts on the matter have been different?—B. F., U.S.A.
Modern translations (RS, AT, Mo, NW) at Genesis 3:16 use the word “pain” in connection with childbirth. The Hebrew word is ‛itsabón. Modern Hebrew lexicons define this word as “toil, pain, sorrow, grief,” and as “pain, toil, sadness.” Jehovah God used the same word to Adam in Genesis 3:17. Lamech used the same word in Genesis 5:29, and the New World Translation renders it “the pain” of our hands. Certainly when a person has to toil with his hands he does not get comfort and ease and relief of hands.
Then there is the related Hebrew word used in Genesis 3:16, namely, ‛etseb, which the New World Translation renders “birth pangs.” This Hebrew word occurs at Psalm 127:2; Proverbs 5:10; 10:22; 14:23; 15:1, in the Hebrew text. The New World Translation renders this related word in the same sense as pain.
Why is this? Because this word ‛etseb and its relative ‛itsabón are derived from the Hebrew verb ‛atsáb. This verb occurs in Genesis 6:6; 34:7; 45:5 as well as in many other books of the Hebrew Scriptures. In all cases it means to pass through a disagreeable experience, to experience hurt and pain. Thus in Genesis 6:6 it says that Jehovah God “felt hurt at his heart.” At Genesis 34:7 it says that the sons of Jacob “became hurt in their feelings” when they found out that their sister Dinah had been violated, raped.
Jehovah God’s words to Eve have been upheld by woman’s experience at childbirth throughout the millenniums from her day onward down to ours. This is not saying, however, that the pain cannot be eased somewhat by some preparatory methods that are natural in the way they are applied. Childbirth is still a distressing experience physically, even though met with fortitude because of knowing what to expect and how to co-operate with nature and because of the joy of bringing a human into the world.—John 16:21.
A few years ago a moving picture was made in France, extolling the virtues of natural childbirth; it was entitled “The Strange Case of Dr. Laurent.” It showed how the young mother met the labor pangs and endured childbirth. There could be no question in the mind of anyone who saw the picture as to whether or not childbirth is a distressing experience. It is, but it need not be associated with such excruciating pain as to inspire terror.
● Our boy, aged seventeen, has been hard to manage for a number of years, and at times he threatens to take our lives if we do not go along with what he thinks and does. He has a violent temper. He makes little attempt to find work but says it is our responsibility to support him materially in whatever he wants. What should we do?—E. D., U.S.A.
To overcome wayward tendencies in children requires much patience on the part of parents. While there must be firmness, there also must be no doubt about the parents truly loving their children. Scriptural authority and reason should continually be appealed to, and the example of the parents should show that they too are subject to these. Up to a certain age children will be amenable, but when a teen-ager breaks out in open rebellion more severe measures may be needed.—Heb. 12:7-11.
In the days of ancient Israel when a son was openly rebellious his parents handed him over to the older men of the city for punishment. These decreed death by stoning. There was no excusing rebellion because of his youth. Although today we do not have a typical Theocracy governing the land, we do have theocratic rule in the home and in the congregation as well as a civil law of the land. When a son refuses to recognize theocratic rule in the home, appeal should be made to the theocratic rule in the congregation. If the rebellious son refuses to heed the voice of the congregation, the parents are fully justified in turning him over to the authorities of the land to be dealt with as they see best. The prospect of this action may suffice to bring a rebellious son in line.
True, parents are obligated to provide for their children, but only so long as the children are unable to provide for themselves and so long as they recognize the headship of the parents and co-operate with the rest of the members of the family. If they refuse to do so they have no right to the benefits of the parental roof. Here also the principle stated at 2 Thessalonians 3:10 would apply: “If anyone does not want to work, neither let him eat.”
● In discussions with Seventh-Day Adventists they frequently refer to Isaiah 66:23 to prove that the sabbath will be observed in the new world. How is this scripture to be understood?—J. F., Switzerland.
If this text can be used to prove that the sabbath is binding upon Christians to time indefinite, then the Seventh-Day Adventists must also observe the Mosaic new moons, for they are also mentioned in this text. They also were an integral part of the arrangements under the old Law covenant. (Num. 10:10; 28:11; 1 Chron. 23:31) That is why the apostle Paul mentions both when showing that Christians are no longer bound by the requirements of the Law covenant: “You are scrupulously observing days and months and seasons and years. I fear for you, that somehow I have toiled to no purpose respecting you.” “Therefore let no man judge you in eating and drinking or in respect of a feast day or of an observance of the new moon or of a sabbath.”—Gal. 4:10, 11; Col. 2:16.
Under the Law arrangement the sabbaths counted off the weeks and the new moons the months. In the new world we may expect some system of counting time and so, in effect, it is said that then from week to week and from month to month, or continually and continuously, the inhabitants of the new world will come for worship before Jehovah. Understanding the point made at Isaiah 66:23, we can see that it does not, even as it could not, contradict what the rest of the inspired Scriptures say about the Law covenant as no longer being binding upon Christians.
● When reading aloud from the Psalms, should the word Selah also be read aloud?—L. E. M., U.S.A.
When making a public reading of the Biblical psalms there seems to be no reason for reading the word Selah. As stated in the footnote of the New World Translation of Psalm 3:2, Selah is a Hebrew technical term for music or recitation, the meaning of which has not come down to us. That is why it appears in italics in the New World Translation. Since neither the reader nor the hearer understands what this word means, the reader conveys no thought to the hearer by pronouncing the word. Hence the word can be omitted without harm and without losing anything of the text of the Psalms.