He Saith Not, and to Seeds, as of Many

Paul’s argument in Galatians 3:16 turns upon the use in the Hebrew texts of the promises made to Abraham of a singular word to denote “seed,” and not a plural word denoting “seeds.” It is not clear from Paul’s words which of the verses in Genesis he lie had in mind when he was writing to the Galatian Christians. Genesis 22:18 has been suggested as the probable verse on which Paul based his argument. It matters not, however, which of the Genesis promises formed the basis of Paul’s argument, for in each of them the word translated “seed” in the Authorised Version is the Hebrew word zera, a singular noun, which is used in the singular to denote one person, but is also used collectively to denote many persons.

In Genesis 4:25, the word zera is used to denote a single “seed,” Seth, the third son of Adam and Eve. But in Genesis 13:16 we read: “I will make thy seed (Heb. zera) as the dust of the earth . . . ,” the word here signifying the vast number of Abraham’s natural descendants. Likewise, in Genesis 15:5 we are told that Abraham’s seed (zera) would one day be like the stars of heaven for multitude.

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Author: P. H. Adams

Keywords: seed, zera, seed singular, seed plural, seed singular plural, Abram's seed, Abraham's seed, seed of the woman, seed of Abraham, seed christ, seeds many

Bible reference(s): Gen 13:16, Gen 15:5, Gen 22:18, Galatians 3:16

Source: “He Saith Not, and to Seeds, as of Many,” The Testimony, Vol. 16, No. 191, November 1946, p. 287.

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