I received the following question:

Would you comment on this article?

http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/27_eternity.html

I would agree that there is an aspect of the hidden or the unseen in olam, as the article suggests. Yet the hidden or the unseen relates to idea of the “flow,” which I insist is the primary idea of olam, as well, for we know that, when one is standing by a river, one can usually follow the flow far, far off into the distance, and yet the true source of it is unseen. If one were ambitious enough to follow it to its source, one would probably find that the water flows from a spring out of the ground, and the true source of it remains a mystery, being unseen. Thus the unseen or the unknown is a part of the idea of olam.

Nevertheless, I still believe that olam fits right in with aion as being the “flow” of God. It is the most common Old Testament name for the Kingdom of God, used over and over to describe this concept that someday God is going to have a future flow when he flows out and flows down to this world in governmental power, and that life in that flow is the goal He holds out to every man.

This concept is hidden behind translations like “for ever,” which obscure rather that reveal this truth. Again, if olam means “ever” (the “noun” ever?) then what of when it adds “and ever,” a foolish and meaningless addition if there ever was one? No, this word does not mean “ever,” and it does not mean “eternity,” nor does it mean “age” or “age-abiding,” as some like Rotherham make it out to mean. It has to do with a flow, not just of time, but of many, many things.

For example, the “perpetual” hills of Habakkuk 3:6. Who ever heard of an “eternal” hill? Why should a hill be eternal, yet a valley not? Yet when we think of an outflowing hill, we can think of a land flowing with milk and honey, and realize that it is the same figure.

What in the world are we to learn from the idea of an “everlasting” door in Psalm 24:9? Yet an “everflowing” door makes sense, for as long as the temple of God existed in Jerusalem, men who were coming to worship God were constantly flowing in and out of the doors.

The idea of “flow” is in the word olam, and cannot be gotten out.

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