Questions From Readers
● After the Deluge, Noah sent out from the ark a dove that later returned with “an olive leaf freshly plucked in its bill.” (Gen. 8:10, 11) Would not the trees have been ruined by the Flood? Where did the dove get the olive leaf?—C. J., U.S.A.
While the waters of the Flood undoubtedly did adversely affect many plants and trees, it does not seem improbable that an olive tree might survive them. The olive tree is quite hardy. It has been said of it that “an old stump will continue to send up new stems, as if its vitality were indestructible.” (The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Volume IV, page 404) It is also noteworthy that the Greek philosopher and scientist Theophrastus and the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder have stated that the olive has grown under water in the Red Sea, retaining its verdure there. So the olive tree might well have remained submerged under water for some months during the Flood without dying. With the abating of the waters an olive tree that had been covered thereby would again be on dry ground and could put forth leaves, so the dove could easily obtain a leaf. The return of the dove with the freshly plucked olive leaf in its bill was of significance to the ark’s human occupants. In that way “Noah got to know that the waters had abated from the earth.”—Gen. 8:11.
● Would it be proper for a Christian married couple to adopt a child?—J. W., U.S.A.
Whether to adopt a child is a matter to be decided by the individual married couple. The situation is similar to determining whether to have a natural child, in cases where that is possible. The decision made by one married couple in such matters would not be the criterion on which others must base their decision. Nor would it be fitting to criticize persons for the course they choose to follow in these respects.
The Watch Tower Society has no arrangements for assisting persons in arranging child adoptions. It does not maintain a list of names and addresses of individuals who desire to have their children adopted by others. Nor can the Society furnish legal aid in such matters.
If marriage mates legally adopt a child, they become responsible for that child in a manner that is comparable to the responsibility resting upon natural parents. Hence, Christians who adopt a child will wish to care for that child properly, giving attention not only to the child’s physical needs but also to the child’s more important spiritual needs. The adopting father, who is the head of the household, is Scripturally required to shoulder the principal responsibility for both the child’s material and spiritual welfare.—1 Tim. 5:8; Isa. 38:19; Eph. 5:21–6:4.
Some Christians have viewed childlessness or the having of fewer children to be a circumstance allowing them more time for the service of Jehovah God. Childless couples, for instance, do not have the responsibilities that go with the rearing of children and thus have greater opportunities to expend their time and energies in the direct pursuit of Kingdom interests.—Matt. 6:33.
Married couples, of course, must govern their own affairs. They know their individual circumstances and desires. So, it is up to them to decide whether to adopt a child or not.—Gal. 6:5.
● Who was the father of the Shelah mentioned in the Bible? Was he Cainan or Arpachshad?—J.B., U.S.A.
Evidently Arpachshad was the father of Shelah. However, the foregoing question arises because of seeming disharmony between certain Bible texts. For example, according to the Hebrew Masoretic Text, Genesis 10:24 and; 1 Chronicles 1:18 indicate that Arpachshad was the father of Shelah. On the other hand, Luke, in giving the genealogy of Jesus Christ through his mother, Mary, states at Luke 3:35, 36 that Shelah was “the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad [Arpachshad].”
In considering this matter, it is interesting to note that the name Cainan does not appear in extant Hebrew manuscripts of the Hebrew Scriptures and is omitted in all ancient versions and targums.
Many believe that the name Cainan was not to be found in the original text of Luke’s Gospel account. Notably, in a footnote on Luke 3:36 in the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, 1950 edition, it is pointed out that the expression “the son of Cainan” is omitted in the Cambridge Manuscript, which is of the sixth century C.E. Such an omission harmonizes with the Masoretic Text at Genesis 10:24; 11:12 and; 1 Chronicles 1:18. Yet, it is acknowledged that the name Cainan may be a corruption of the word “Chaldean.” Hence, the Greek text of Luke 3:36 may once have read: “the son of the Chaldean Arphaxad.”
An awareness of the fact that the names Arpachshad and Cainan could both apply to the same person is reflected in the book “Things in Which It Is Impossible for God to Lie.” In it, on pages 112 and 113, there appears a chart entitled “The Earthly Line of Descent of the Son of God as the Seed of God’s ‘Woman.’” There one finds the name Arpachshad followed by the name Cainan in parentheses.