be meat for him, according to his choice. (Gen. 1:29, 30; 9:2-4) As far as eating was concerned, the designations “clean” and “unclean” came into existence with the Mosaic law, and ended with it. (Acts 10:9-16) Apparently the basis of the distinction prior to the Mosaic law was what was suitable to sacrifice in worship of Jehovah. It seems that Abel knew of the appropriateness of animal sacrifice. The animals he is reported using for that purpose proved to be “clean” ones. That Noah had this distinction in mind as pertaining to sacrifice and not eating is shown by his action as soon as he left the ark after the Flood: “And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.”—Gen. 8:20.
● The Watchtower, February 1, 1952, quoted the text about Abel’s offering in sacrifice to Jehovah “the female firstlings of his flock”. Why did Abel offer in sacrifice a female sheep, when ordinarily the requirement was for a male animal?—W. F., Massachusetts.
The complete quotation in The Watchtower was of Genesis 4:3-7, according to Young’s translation. This translation was chosen, not for its rendering of Ge 4 verse 4 on which the question is based, but for the idea this translation allows at Ge 4 verse 7, namely, that it was a sin-offering that was lying at Cain’s door and that if he would avail himself of it he could offer an acceptable sacrifice to God the same as Abel did, that is, a bloody one. However, when Young renders the Hebrew expression in Ge 4 verse 4 as “female firstlings” he is not correct. It is true the word “firstlings” in Hebrew here has the feminine form, but that does not mean it designates female firstborn of animals. In Hebrew the firstborn of humans is rendered in the masculine gender, but in animals it is rendered in the feminine gender, and the firstfruits of plants take on a still different form of the root word. It does not mean that all animal firstborn are females, no more than it means all human firstborn are males. So on this particular point other translators are correct in rendering Genesis 4:4 as merely “firstlings” and designating no gender in the English translation. So the question as to why Abel sacrificed “female” firstlings becomes without basis, for when the account is correctly translated it does not say that he did so.
“HOLD A GOOD CONSCIENCE”—1 Pet. 3:16, NW.
A good conscience toward God is what all lovers of eternal life must have. It is won not merely by putting away fleshly filth and sin, but by positive right-doing, serving God, based on faith in the blood of Christ Jesus, of which Paul says, “How much more will the blood of the Christ, who through an everlasting spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works that we may render sacred service to the living God?” During November this “sacred service” on the part of Jehovah’s witnesses will take the form of presenting to the people the three bound books What Has Religion Done for Mankind? “Let God Be True” and “This Means Everlasting Life”, on a contribution of 50c each. This splendid combination of books presents a wide field for profitable Bible study that will help people to attain and hold a good conscience. Join in the special effort by introducing these books to others, and by reporting your activity to the Society at the conclusion of the month.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF RELIGION TODAY?
Why do you think your religion is the best? Naturally you do or else you would not practice such religion. But did you ever stop to think that there are millions of people practicing a multitude of different religions and all believing that their particular religion is best? Can everyone be right? The teachings of modern religions are so diversified and contrary one to another that common sense tells us they cannot all be right. How are we going to weigh their respective merits? By examining their fruits—the results they have produced. The 352-page book What Has Religion Done for Mankind? sets forth the evidence of the effects of religion practiced by millions. It is available to you on a remittance of 50c, postpaid.
Week of November 23: God’s Way Is Love, ¶1-19.
Week of November 30: God’s Way Is Love, ¶20-34.
Week of December 7: God’s Way Is Love, ¶35-55.