SPECIAL TOPIC: "SONS OF. . ." (BDB 119, KB 137)

The term "son" (or "children of. . .") is often used to characterize a group (or individual) or show one's inclusion in a group.

A. Old Testament

The Hebrew word for "son" (BDB 119, KB 137) is fluid.  the Hebrew ben (BDB 119-122) can mean

1. son begotten by a father

2. chidlren (even cousins, e.g., Num. 36:11)

3. grandson (e.g., Gen. 31:28,55)

4. member of a professional guild

5. ancestor/descendant (genealogies)

6. member of a tribe/nation (e.g., "sons of Israel")

7. common people (sons of the land)

8. member of a religion (son of [name of a god]).  The Hebrew king, Psalm 2; 2 Sam. 7:14

9. angels (cf. Gen. 6:2,4; Job 1:6; 2:1)

10. an idiom of characterizatin (e.g., "sons of Belial," "sons of the wise," "sons of valor")

 

In Joshua 21 the term is used several times:

1. of an individual – the son of Nun, Jos. 21:1

2. of a tribal/national group – sons of Israel, Jos. 21:1,3,8,31

3. of a professional guild (i.e., priests/ Levites)

a. sons of Aaron, Jos. 21:4,10,13,19

b. sons of Levi, Jos. 21:10 (cf. v. 27)

4. of members of individual tribes

a. sons of Judah, Jos. 21:9

b. sons of Simeon, Jos. 21:9

5. of members of family groups

a. sons of Kohath, Jos. 21:5,20,26

b. sons of Gershon, Jos. 21:6,27

c. sons of Merari, Jos. 21:34

 

This kind of fluidity makes it impossible to add up the dates of ancestors and come up with a date for creation (i.e., Usshur's 4004 b.c.).  Often, only the significant dates (either of evil or good or some remembered action) are listed.  Several generations are often omitted (e.g, the genealogies of Jesus).

 

B. New Testament

The term "son" (or "chidren of. . .") is often used to characterize a group (or individual) or show one's inclusiong in a group.

1. Characterization of a group

a. positive

(1) sons of the Kingdom, Matt. 8:12; 13:38

(2) sons of men, Mark 3:28; Eph. 3:5

(3) sons of light, Luke 16:8; John 12:36; Eph. 5:8; 1 Thess. 5:5

(4) sons of the resurrection, Luke 20:36

(5) sons of the Prophets, Acts 3:25

(6) sons of the covenant, Acts 3:25 

(7) children of God, 1 John 3:10

b. negative

(1) sons of the evil one, Matt. 13:38; John 8:44; 1 John 3:10

(2) a son of hell, Matt. 23:15

(3) sons of this age, Luke 16:8; 20:34

(4) sons of the devil, Acts 13:10; 23:6

(5) sons of disobedience, Eph. 2:2; 5:6

2. Characterization of an individual

a. positive

(1) son of encouragement (i.e., Barnabas), Acts 4:36

(2) son of Pharisees (i.e., Paul), Acts 23:6

b. negative

(1) sons of thunder (i.e., James and John), Mark 3:17

(2) son of perdition (i.e., Judas Iscariot), John 17:12

(3) son of destruction (the Antichrist), 2 Thess. 2:3

 

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