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Genesis 1:1-2:3; God Creates Our World, Part 6

by Karl Kemp  
7/16/2014 / Bible Studies


We continue with the excerpts from Extended Note D, "The Symbolic Use of the Words 'Light,' 'Darkness,' 'Night,' and 'Day' in the Bible" here in Part 6.

Acts 26:18. "to open their eyes so that they may turn from DARKNESS to LIGHT and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me." The LIGHT here includes the truth, which is opposed to the lies and deception associated with the DARKNESS and Satan. This verse is one of several that tie the DARKNESS to Satan and his kingdom. (I had a footnote: This significant verse is discussed on pages 153-155 of my book "Holiness and Victory Over Sin." One of the primary points I make there is that the translation "forgiveness of sins" isn't adequate for this verse. A translation like "release from sins with the guilt and the penalties [including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin]" would be better.)

Romans 13:12. "The NIGHT is almost gone [This in one of quite a few verses that use the word NIGHT in a symbolic way. The DARKNESS and the NIGHT go together.] and the DAY is near. [The DAY here speaks of the eternal glory that believers will inherit when Christ returns.] Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of DARKNESS [The "deeds (works) of DARKNESS" speak of sinful works.] and put on the armor of LIGHT [which includes living in the truth, righteousness, and holiness of God]." Christians are protected as they live in God's truth, righteousness, and holiness by His grace through faith. In Eph. 6:14 the apostle Paul shows that the "breastplate of righteousness" is part of the full armor that we must put on, and keep on, to be victorious over sin and the forces of the evil one.

2 Corinthians 6:14, 15. "Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has LIGHT with DARKNESS? (15) Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?" Righteousness, LIGHT, Christ, and believers go together; they are opposite lawlessness, DARKNESS, Belial (ultimately Satan), and unbelievers. This verse, along with many others, demonstrates that righteousness in the Bible typically means much more than a legal, positional righteousness; it is contrasted here with lawlessness; righteousness includes living according to God's moral laws (through His enabling grace, by faith).

Colossians 1:12, 13. "giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us [enabled us; made us fit] to share in the inheritance of the saints in ["the"; the definite article is included with the Greek noun for LIGHT here and with the noun for DARKNESS in the next verse] LIGHT. (13) For He rescued us from the domain [authority] of [the] DARKNESS, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son [the Son of His love]." Colossians 1:9-14 are discussed on pages 146-151 of my book "Holiness and Victory Over Sin." They are also discussed in my recently published e-book, "Righteousness, Holiness, and Victory Over Sin." (Both books are available at amazon.com.)

1 John 1:5-7. "This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is LIGHT [In this context, God's LIGHT includes His truth, righteousness, and holiness.], and in Him there is no DARKNESS at all. (6) If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the DARKNESS, we lie and do not practice the truth; (7) But if we walk in the LIGHT [This includes walking in the truth, righteousness, and holiness of God (by His grace).], we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." (I had a footnote: 1 John 1:5-2:6 are discussed on pages 200-208 of my book "Holiness and Victory Over Sin" and in my recently published e-book, "Righteousness, Holiness, and Victory Over Sin." A major point I make there is that the cleansing spoken of in 1:7 is a sanctifying type of cleansing (as it frequently is) - it makes us holy; it enables us to dwell in the light.

Revelation 21:23-27. "And the city [New Jerusalem] has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. (24) The nations will walk by its LIGHT.... (25) IN THE DAYTIME [IN THE DAY] (for there will be no NIGHT there) [[The word NIGHT is used in a symbolic sense here (everything associated with DARKNESS in a symbolic/spiritual sense will be excluded from the new heaven and new earth), but the literal meaning of NIGHT is apparently also included (that is, LITERAL DARKNESS will apparently be excluded from the new heaven and new earth). The Greek noun translated IN THE DAYTIME could be translated IN THE DAY or BY DAY. The Greek noun used here ("hemera") is typically translated day(s). (I had a footnote: This Greek noun is translated "day" 207 times and "days" 148 times by the NASB; it is translated "daytime" twice.) The word "daytime/day" is used in a symbolic sense here in Rev. 21:25, but, as I mentioned, the idea that literal darkness will be excluded from new Jerusalem is apparently also included.]] its gates will never be closed [The city gates were closed for protection at night in the ancient world]. ... (27) and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it [there will be no darkness there], but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life."

Revelation 22:5. "And there will no longer be any NIGHT [The word NIGHT is used in a symbolic sense, as it was in Rev. 21:25.]; and they [These super-glorious words speak of the people of true Israel.] will not have need of the LIGHT of a lamp nor the LIGHT of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever." Actually, the word LIGHT is not used in a symbolic sense in this verse, but this was a convenient place to include this verse.


THE SYMBOLIC USE OF THE WORD DARKNESS:

I'll limit this study to the Hebrew noun "choshek," the noun that was translated "darkness" in Gen. 1:2, 4, 5, and 18, and to two Greek nouns that were translated "darkness." This Hebrew noun was used 80 times in the Old Testament; it was translated "darkness" 73 times and "dark" 5 times by the NASB. Disregarding the 4 uses found in Genesis chapter 1, of the 69 other uses where this Hebrew noun was translated "darkness," some 47 of the uses are symbolic/spiritual, which is almost 70 percent of the uses.

The Greek noun "skotos" was used 30 times in the New Testament; it was translated "darkness" 30 times by the NASB. The Greek noun "skotia" was derived from "skotos." It was used 17 times in the New Testament; it was translated "darkness" 14 times and "dark" 3 times by the NASB. Of the 47 places that these two Greek nouns were translated "darkness" in the New Testament, some 37 uses are symbolic, which is almost 80 percent of the uses.

Psalm 107:10-14. "There were those who dwelt in DARKNESS and in the shadow of death, Prisoners in misery and chains, (11) because they had rebelled against the words of God And spurned the counsel of the Most High. (12) Therefore He humbled their hearts with labor; They stumbled and there was none to help. (13) Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble; He saved them out of their distress. (14) He brought them out of DARKNESS and the shadow of death And broke their bands apart." The words of this psalm were not at all limited to the people of Israel. The context shows that the DARKNESS spoken of in verses 10 and 14 came as a consequence of rebelling against God.

Psalm 112:4. "LIGHT [which includes all the blessings of God] arises in the DARKNESS for the upright; He is gracious and compassionate and righteous."

Proverbs 2:13. "[To deliver you] From those who leave the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of DARKNESS [in the ways of unrighteousness]."

Isaiah 47:5. "Sit silently, and go into DARKNESS, O daughter of the Chaldeans...." In context these words speak of the Babylonians going into the DARKNESS of God's judgment.

Joel 2:1, 2. "...For the day of the LORD is coming; Surely it is near, (2) A day of DARKNESS and gloom, A day of clouds and thick DARKNESS...." There will be literal DARKNESS when the day of the Lord comes, but the symbolic/spiritual component of the DARKNESS is the most important component by far.

Matthew 4:14-17. "This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: ... (16) 'THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT, AND THOSE WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH, UPON THEM THE LIGHT DAWNED.' (17) From that time Jesus began to preach and say, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.' "

Matthew 8:11, 12. "I say to you that many will come from east and west, and reline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; (12) but the sons of the kingdom will be cast into the outer DARKNESS." That is, whereas many Gentiles will have a place in heaven through the Lord Jesus Christ, many of the Israelites will be excluded from the kingdom. The "outer DARKNESS" is the equivalent of the eternal lake of fire. Two other verses that speak of sinners being cast into the outer DARKNESS are Matt. 22:13 and 25:30. Jude 1:13 (cf. 2 Pet. 2:17) speaks of sinful men "for whom the black DARKNESS has been reserved forever."

Luke 1:79. "TO SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH, to guide our feet into the way of peace." This verse is part of the prophecy of Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, which spoke of the glorious salvation that was to come in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. DARKNESS and "death" go together.

Luke 22:53. "While I was with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour [in accordance with the purpose and plan of God] and the power of DARKNESS [The "power of DARKNESS" goes with Satan and his sinful kingdom, with whom some of the Jewish leaders were aligned.] are yours."

Ephesians 5:11. "Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds [works] of DARKNESS...." In other words, "Don't do sinful works."

Ephesians 6:12 (with 6:10-17). "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this DARKNESS, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." Our primary warfare is not against people but against the kingdom of DARKNESS, which is headed up by Satan.


THE SYMBOLIC USE OF THE WORD "NIGHT":

I'll limit this study to the Hebrew noun "layelah," which was translated "night" 200 times by the NASB, and to the Greek noun "nux," which was translated "night" 55 times by the NASB. I didn't expect the word NIGHT to be used in a symbolic way nearly as often as the word DARKNESS, and that expectation was confirmed by this study.

Job 17:12. "They make NIGHT into DAY, saying, 'the LIGHT is near,' in the presence of DARKNESS." All four words, NIGHT, DAY, LIGHT, and DARKNESS are used in a symbolic way here.

Psalm 30:5. "For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the NIGHT, But a shout of joy comes in the morning." The NIGHT here corresponds with the time of God's judgments. The "morning" corresponds with the time of blessing that comes after the NIGHT of judgment. The Hebrew noun translated NIGHT in this verse is different, "ereb."

Isaiah 21:11, 12. "The oracle concerning Edom. One keeps calling to me from Seir, 'Watchman, how far gone is the NIGHT [corresponding with the time of judgment]? Watchman, how far gone is the NIGHT?' (12) The watchman says, 'Morning comes but also NIGHT. [The morning of the day of God's salvation and blessings will come, but before it comes there will be further judgment.] If you would inquire, inquire; Come back again.' " (I had a footnote: These verses and the verse listed next (Isa. 26:9) are discussed in my paper on selected eschatological passages from the book of Isaiah on my internet site.)

Isaiah 26:9. "At NIGHT [In the NIGHT] my soul longs for You, Indeed my spirit within me seeks You diligently; For when the earth experiences Your judgments The inhabitants of the world learn righteousness." The NIGHT here corresponds with the times of judgment and refining through which God's people must pass.

Micah 3:6. "Therefore it will be NIGHT for you - without vision, And DARKNESS for you - without divination. The sun will go down on the prophets, And the day will become DARK over them."

John 9:4. "We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is DAY; NIGHT is coming when no one can work."

John 11:7-10. "Then after this He said to the disciples, 'Let us go to Judea again.' (8) The disciples said to Him, 'Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?' (9) Jesus answered, 'Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the DAY, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. (10) But if anyone walks in the NIGHT, he stumbles, because the LIGHT is not in him.' " The context requires us to see beyond the literal meaning of the word DAY in verse 9 and the words NIGHT and LIGHT in verse 10. The point is that we must walk in the center of God's will, which is likened to walking in the day, the place where God's LIGHT is - we will never stumble as we live like this. To walk in the NIGHT is to walk in the DARKNESS, without the LIGHT of God.


THE SYMBOLIC USE OF THE WORD "DAY":

The Hebrew noun "yom" is typically translated "day" in the Old Testament. It is translated "day" 1,118 times and "days" 641 times. Because of the large number of uses of this word and the fact that this word isn't used in a symbolic way very often, I didn't do a thorough study for this word. The Greek noun "hemera" was translated "day" 208 times, "days" 148 times, and "daytime" 2 times in the New Testament by the NASB. I included a few uses of a symbolic use of the word DAY above (under the words LIGHT and NIGHT).

Proverbs 4:18. "But the path of the righteous is like the LIGHT of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full DAY." The "full DAY" is the day of completed salvation for God's people, the time of their glorification.

2 Peter 1:19. "So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the DAY [of eternal glory] dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts."

This completes the excerpts from Extended Note D that deal with the very important symbolic/spiritual use of the words LIGHT, DARKNESS, NIGHT, AND DAY. Now we will continue the discussion under Gen. 1:2, under the word "darkness":


Seeing the strong symbolic/spiritual component of the light and darkness of Gen. 1:2-5 (cf. Gen. 1:14, 18) is very important to the proper interpretation of Gen. 1:1-2:3. God is light and the ultimate source of light (spiritual light and physical light). Taking light in the full biblical sense, it includes life (very much including spiritual life), truth, righteousness, holiness, divine order, and the blessings that accompany dwelling in the light, including peace and health. Darkness is associated with sin, death (spiritual death and physical death), Satan and his kingdom, chaos, and the judgments and curses that come from God because of sin. Here in Gen. 1:2, "darkness" apparently includes the symbolic/spiritual ideas of the absence of God's life, of His divine order, and of His blessings that had resulted from a very intense judgment against sin, along with the lack of physical (natural) light. Physical (natural) light ultimately comes from God too. ((I had a four-paragraph footnote: With the typical worldview of our day, we (even many/most Christians) tend to think of the sun rising, sending its rays upon the earth, and setting according to natural, scientific law, and that God has little or nothing to do with it. But the worldview of the ancient world was different. Ancient Israel didn't take the rays from the sun for granted. (Neither did the other peoples who lived in the ancient world.) For them, physical, natural light (and the rain, etc.) came from God, as did the much-more-important spiritual light: God created the sun; He keeps it shining and giving off light and energy; He keeps it rotating around the earth on a daily basis; etc.

I'll quote part of what John H. Walton says under the subheading "The entire creation - nature - history continuum is totally dependent on God" ("Genesis" [Zondervan, 2001]). "There was nothing that Israelites would have referred to as natural laws. ...nothing in the earthly realm happened independently of the heavenly realm.

Our modern 'dilemma' of trying to discern what happens naturally and what is a result of God's intervention would seem to ancient Israelites, at best, ludicrous and, at worst, heretical. ...

... In most of the ancient world [the pagan world] the admixture of what we call natural and supernatural was achieved by infusing nature with the divine. Consequently, the gods were seen to be inherent in nature, manifested in the elements and, at least in the early periods, of one and the same essence with them. ..." (pages 50, 51). Walton went on to say that the God who revealed Himself in the Bible (very much including in Genesis 1:1-2:3) was separate from (He was not part of) what He had created (including matter and the forces of nature). (This is the end of the four-paragraph footnote.) ))

The fact that the sun hasn't been created yet in the creation account of Gen. 1:1-2:3 helps confirm that the LIGHT and DARKNESS of Gen. 1:2-5 have a strong symbolic component. God Himself probably is the source of the light of Gen. 1:3, even as He is the source of the light of new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:23; 22:5).

Genesis 1:3 says, "Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light." (We are still in the discussion under the word "darkness" of Gen. 1:2) Genesis 1:4 goes on to say that "God separated the light from the darkness [or, distinguished between the light and the darkness]." Physical "light" and "darkness" are undoubtedly included in the light and darkness mentioned in 1:4 (cf. Gen. 1:14, 18), but the symbolic/spiritual component of that light and darkness is far more important than the physical component. Another confirmation of this fact is that Gen. 1:4 says, "God saw that the light was good," whereas this creation account doesn't say that the darkness is good. I don't believe there would have been any problem saying that physical darkness is good, but since there is some emphasis on symbolic/spiritual darkness here, there was no way it could be said that the darkness is good.

There is some emphasis in Gen. 1:2-19 on God's creative work of SEPARATING (and DISTINGUISHING BETWEEN) things that must be separated, and kept separate, as we'll see. The fact that LIGHT must be separated, and kept separate, from DARKNESS for God's people is a dominant message of the Bible, as demonstrated in Extended Note E, "A Study of the Hebrew Verb 'Badal,' To Separate, To Divide, To Distinguish Between, To Set Apart." I'll give some excerpts from Extended Note E as we continue.

Other uses in the Old Testament for the Hebrew verb "badal," the verb that was translated "separated" in 1:4 (and is also used in Gen. 1:6, 7, 14, and 18), confirm that this SEPARATION is a very important issue. Separating (distinguishing between) the light from the darkness includes keeping the things of God (very much including His people) holy and separate from sin and all the things associated with sin and Satan and his kingdom of darkness.

For man to fail to keep separate from the darkness, was for man to fail to keep separate from evil. God warned man that he must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good AND EVIL. Before Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit of that tree, through the devil's deceiving temptations and in rebellion against God and His Word, they knew only GOOD. After they ate of the forbidden fruit, they began to know evil too. They came to know evil by doing evil (sinning) and by experiencing the evil consequences/penalties that come with sin. The first major penalty for sin was death (Gen. 2:17). Spiritual death came immediately; the physical death process was set in motion. To say the same thing with different words, Adam and Eve failed to keep separate from the darkness, and they began to know/experience the darkness.

The Hebrew verb "badal" was used 41 times in the Old Testament. In Extended Note E, I list and quote essentially every one of the other 36 uses of this verb that are not found in Genesis chapter 1. Extended Note E is very important for this study, and that study is interesting and important in its own right. For one thing, SEPARATION is closely associated with the biblical concept of HOLINESS (being set apart/separated from everything depraved, corrupt, unclean, and sinful for God and the things of God), and holiness is certainly one of the most important concepts in the Bible.

It is quite significant that the most common use of "badal" in those verses (some 21 of the 36 uses) is of the separating, dividing, distinguishing between that which is righteous, holy, and/or clean and that which is sinful, defiled, and/or unclean. Furthermore, in essentially every one of the other uses of "badal" in the Old Testament (beyond the 21 uses just mentioned), this verb is used of setting apart people (especially the priests and Levites) or places for God. "Badal" was apparently never used in the Old Testament - and that includes the 5 uses in Genesis chapter 1 - for the separating of things that are indifferent.

The only two verses (of the 36 uses of "badal" found in the Old Testament that aren't found in Genesis chapter 1) that I haven't listed in Extended Note E are Leviticus 1:17; 5:8, verses that give instructions for the priests to follow in the sacrificing of birds. In both verses badal is used of not totally severing/separating the birds. The specialized sacrificial uses of badal in these two verses are the only uses of this Hebrew verb where the idea of separating from, distinguishing between, or setting apart is not found.

SOME EXCERPTS FROM EXTENDED NOTE E (of the original 273 page paper), "A STUDY OF THE HEBREW VERB 'BADAL,' TO SEPARATE, TO DIVIDE, TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN, TO SET APART":

Since this Hebrew verb is so important for the interpretation of Genesis chapter 1 (the verb is used in Gen. 1:4, 6, 7, 14, and 18), it is important for us to get familiar with this word. The most important way to learn the meaning of Hebrew words in the Old Testament is to study all the uses of that word in the Old Testament in their contexts. (The same thing is true for the meaning of Greek words used in the New Testament.) One way to obtain a complete listing of all the uses of a particular Hebrew (or Greek) word that is used in the Bible is to use an Exhaustive Concordance. Exhaustive Concordances are available for the NASB, NIV, KJV, NKJV, and for some other versions. You don't have to know Hebrew (or Greek) to do such a study, but it helps.

I typically use the NASB (now the 1995 edition); I'll use the concordance for that Bible in this study. If you didn't know the Hebrew verb that was used here, you would start by looking up the verb "separated" that is used in Gen. 1:4. The first verse listed (and partially quoted) under "separated" there is Gen. 1:4. The number listed beside Gen. 1:4 in the concordance is 914. If you look up 914 in the back of the concordance, in the "Hebrew - Aramaic Dictionary," you will find that the Hebrew verb used in Gen. 1:4 is "badal." (I highly recommend purchasing a concordance that contains the Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries.)

Listed there are all the different ways the NASB translated this verb, and the number of times it was translated each way. This listing gives you a lot of quick information about the use of this verb in the Old Testament. I'll quote the listing for "badal" given there: came over (1), dismissed (1), divide (1), excluded (2), made a separation (1), made...distinction (1), make a distinction (3), partition (1), selected (1), separate (6), separated (10), serve (1), set you apart (1), set apart (6), set aside (2), sever (2), single (1), surely separate (1). These numbers add up to 41, which shows that this Hebrew verb was used 41 times in the Old Testament. (I had a footnote: Actually these numbers add up to 42, but they made a mistake; the verse behind their listing "partition" is Ex. 26:33, and the listing behind "serve" is the same verse. The verb "badal" was only used once in Ex. 26:33. That verse is quoted and discussed in this study.)

To look up all the uses of this Hebrew verb in the Old Testament, you would look up each of these listings, starting with "came over" and find the verse(s) listed there that has the number 914 beside it. Sometimes the few words quoted there for that verse will suffice to give you an adequate understanding of the way badal is used in that verse; other times (quite often) you will need to read the entire verse in the Bible, or that verse and the surrounding verses.

For this study (but not in these excerpts) I'll quote 34 of the 36 uses of the Hebrew verb "badal," excluding the 5 uses found in Genesis chapter 1 (1:4, 6, 7, 14, and 18); sometimes I'll quote an extra verse or two to establish the context. (I had a footnote: Actually the Hebrew verb is used twice in Isa. 56:3, in an unusual form. I'm just counting this as one use, as did the Exhaustive Concordance. As I mentioned above, I won't quote Lev. 1:17; 5:8 which don't fit the typical pattern for badal.)

The first set of verses that are quoted (21 verses) is the most important for this study. These verses use "badal" for SEPARATING, DIVIDING, OR DISTINGUISHING BETWEEN THE HOLY AND THE UNHOLY, THE CLEAN AND THE UNCLEAN, THE GOOD AND THE BAD, THE BLESSINGS AND THE CURSES. This shows us a lot about the meaning of this verb. And, significantly, it steers us (I believe) in the right direction to understand the intended meaning of this verb in Genesis chapter 1.

Leviticus 10:10 (with 10:8, 9). "The LORD then spoke to Aaron, saying, (9) 'Do not drink wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons with you, when you come into the tent of meeting, so that you will not die - it is a perpetual statute throughout your generations - (10) and so as TO MAKE A DISTINCTION [[The NKJV has, "that you may distinguish between...." It would also be reasonable to translate, "that you may separate between...." The NIV has, "You must distinguish."]] between the holy and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean, (11) and so as to teach the sons of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them through Moses.' " The priests must MAKE A DISTINCTION between the holy and the profane, which includes their being SEPARATE from the profane (they must be holy) if they are going to function as priests before God and instruct the sons of Israel regarding holiness (separation). The Hebrew preposition "bayin," which is translated "between," is used four times in verse 10; before "the holy," "the profane," "the unclean," and "the clean." I'll note the use of this preposition throughout this study; significantly, this preposition was used in all five of the verses that use "badal" in Genesis chapter 1.

We will continue with these excerpts from Extended Note E in Part 7 of this paper.

Copyright by Karl Kemp

http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.

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