Biblical authors like to proclaim how some monument/stone/altar/name remains intact to-this-day. Cool.

Should I take that as till the day the author wrote it down (in which case: meh), or should I take it as till the day the reader reads it; i.e. forever, and that it will never be changed? Logic tells me to interpret as the former, buuuuuut.....

Genesis 26:33 ESV He called it Shibah; therefore the name of the city is Beersheba to this day.

Genesis 35:20 ESV and Jacob set up a pillar over her tomb. It is the pillar of Rachel's tomb, which is there to this day.

Joshua 4:9 ESV And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant had stood; and they are there to this day.

Joshua 7:26 ESV And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his burning anger. Therefore, to this day the name of that place is called the Valley of Achor.

1st Chronicles 4:43 ESV And they defeated the remnant of the Amalekites who had escaped, and they have lived there to this day.

3 Answers 3


Most people interpret these as the signs of later editors. Some potential editors are Moses updating Genesis, Samuel updating the books of the Law, Joshua and Judges, and perhaps some of the later court historians updating the earlier kingly narratives.

Most of the time we don't know exactly who wrote what or when, but these phrases are referring to when they were written/edited/published, not now.

  • 2
    This is a good answer, but would be improved with a reference to theopedia.com/JEDP_theory. Typically, these are considered to be written during the kingdom period. Sep 29, 2014 at 13:40
  • Except I think JEDP is discredited junk, so I won't be mentioning them. ;) But I think I will edit it because not all these verses are clear editorial insertions. I think it would help to show some clear insertions, some examples that look like they were by the original authors, and some that are hard to decide.
    – curiousdannii
    Sep 29, 2014 at 13:45
  • Even when something is wrong, it can still be instructive :) (But, yeah. I give it more as an example than a truth...) Sep 29, 2014 at 13:46
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    These narrative notes are only indicative of a later editor or redactor, not the Documentary Hypothesis in particular.
    – user2910
    Sep 29, 2014 at 15:02
  • 1
    @MarkEdward Are there variants in the sources? Can they be traced?
    – Tau
    Sep 29, 2014 at 23:43

Since the Hebrew Scriptures had to be updated over the centuries to ancient Hebrew to post-exilic Hebrew, the scribes would naturally modernize the language. Do you think the tables of stone written at Mt. Sinai (possibly: proto-sinaitic, ancient Egyptian, Egyptian hierglyphs, Phoenician), that they had the same writing as post-exilic Hebrew? I suggest that the redactors, scribes / translators added these "to this day" phraseology to inform their contemporaries that such mentions still existed in their time.

  • Welcome to Stack Exchange, we are glad you are here. Thank you for contributing! Be sure to check out the site tour and read how this site is a little different than other sites. This appears to be a spot-on answer, but Our community looks for answers to reflect a good degree of research and references. Typically, "showing your work" is required. Don't just tell us what you know, tell us how you know it. If you have some time, a few references could make this good answer outstanding. Apr 9, 2016 at 1:55
  • Also worth considering is that the entire phrase "therefore the name of the city is Beersheba to this day." is a clarifying addition. Apr 9, 2016 at 1:57

Since Written Torah considered the Eternal Law, the phrases in Genesis are literal and mean today.

For example, Beersheba is a fully legitimate city in modern Israel. What would be wrong with literal interpretation?

Please note, that I can only speak for Written Torah. The rest of the Bible may not be talking literally.

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