The word “inclination” (Gen 6:5 – and every inclination of the thoughts of their minds was only on evil), what does it mean?

The Hebrew word is “yetser”, and refers to those things that make up what we are “inside”, such as our thoughts, desires, wants, etc – the things that drive us to act (on what we choose (ie “will”)), but most importantly “purpose”. Prior to the fall, “yetser” was focused on the purpose for which humanity was created, to be God’s viceroy or governor in creation, and to “work” (make it fruitful). Post fall, we can see that this is not the case, ┬áin fact in Gen 3 we’re told humanity is purposeless now, the words “toil/pains/pangs” meaning “without purpose” (so the woman brings the children into a world without purpose, sorry girls, actual pain inst going away).

When we are told that our “yetser”, our inner most core, is broken and no longer for the purpose it was created, we can begin to understand just how much we are broken. Inclination sort of points us in the right direction, but it really does not carry the weight of “yetser”. Humanity no longer has purpose. Why would you keep something that has no purpose? You wouldn’t, you would throw it away in the rubbish. But God does not do that, he provides a way for us to regain our purpose, to have a purpose, by fixing that thing which is broken. How? Well, there is a long story about this guy named Jesus – and pretty much, you just need to believe that its true, and you’re on the right track. Its all up hill on a very narrow track from there…

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4 Replies to “Inclination”

  1. Interesting word study, but I was struck by something.

    The Flood wiped out everyone whose yetser was evil continuously. Wasn’t that what the Flood was for? If so, and humanity’s yetsers since the Flood have been just as screwed up, the whole affair seems like an exercise in futile massacre. The defective yetsers must have been a recessive trait that appeared only in the descendents of Noah and his family.

    Things that make you go, “Hmmm…”

  2. I was also going to mention that almost immediately there seems to be a perversion of the yetser with Ham, and possibly Noah himself, becoming intoxicated.

    My other thought was about the interim between the breaking of the yetser and the advent of Christ. I suppose this is fairly elementary in some regard, but how is the yetser restored during that time? Is the answer of faith in the Lord, the simplest and most direct answer?

  3. Hi Steve and William,

    Rabbinic thought has it that all after Adam are possessed of the “evil yetser”. Noah and his family was saved DESPITE it… that’s grace. Even today, it is grace which saves us despite “every yetser on evil continually”.

    It is this that requires “being re-born” (John 3), in order that we might have the freedom to “yetser” other than evil. For the Jew, this was by

    As it is in Polycarp’s link, this is that which some might call “original sin” (which is a particularly bad name for it – it is not the original sin, but the consequence of “the original sin”).

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