Monthly Archives: April 2007

The Iron Bed of Bashan

Very few people’s beds get special mention in the Bible, but Og’s gets headlines–or maybe footnotes. In Deut 3:11 we find this statement: “For only Og the king of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaim. Behold, his bed was a bed of iron. Is it not in Rabbah of the Ammonites? Nine cubits was its length, and four cubits its breadth, according to the common cubit.” (ESV) A bed of iron?! Ouch, sounds kind of uncomfortable to me. Some translators take the phrase as “sarcophagus of basalt” instead of “bed of iron.” Some people suggest that the bed was wood, but had iron parts (e.g. NIV Study Bible). The amazing thing is the size of the bed. Nine cubits roughly translates to 13.5 feet and four cubits would be about 6 feet. If anyone has any references on this topic that would help understand it and footnote it better in Study Bibles, comment on this post!

Baptism for the Dead: 1 Corinthians 15:29

Hey! Sorry I’ve been away from the blog for a while. I’ve been working on my Masters thesis, “The Centralization of Worship in Ancient Israel” on a paper about Romans 10:5-13 and on another paper regarding 1 Corinthians 15:29.

1 Corinthians 15:29 reads, “Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people being baptized on their behalf?” (ESV)

Many different solutions (over 40) have been proposed for understanding the phrase “baptized for the dead.” But the one I like the most and which seems most fitting is that the punctuation is incorrect. As you probably know, ancient biblical manuscripts and papyri had no punctuation at all, not even spaces between the letters or capitalization. That means the punctuation we have was added centuries after Paul died. So the verse can easily be re-punctuated like this: “Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized? For the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people being baptized? For them?”

The problem is that Paul is using this sentence when he is arguing for the resurrection. I think the re-punctuation solution is the best!