The Search Begins For A Suitable Helper For Man
Genesis 2:18-20 “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’ Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.“
In 1963 when I took the Hebrew exegesis class in Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia taught by Edward J. Young he led us through the first eleven chapters of the book of Genesis. He was one of the leading Old Testament Christian scholars of his day, but in addition to his academic brilliance he was a most humble man, full of grace and kindness. A few years later I was to hear Dr. Henry Morris speak. He was a scientist who believed the opening chapters of Genesis, and he immediately reminded me of Dr. Young. The likeness of the two characters was striking in the way they spoke, sharing a transparency of life and, above all, a meek acceptance of this Book of which the Lord Jesus said, “Your word is truth.” It was both in knowing them as godlike men and also in hearing Dr. Young’s teaching of these chapters of Genesis that my own beliefs in the veracity of all of Scripture were formed. I liked what believing the book of Genesis had done for such people; it made them beautiful.
So Eden was a glorious place of total perfection; everything, apparently, was good, but then God speaks and tells us that there was something that was not good. “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’” (v.18). Adam himself didn’t know it was bad for him to be alone; he was utterly contented exploring, subduing, developing and tending the garden and all the animals. He was living a marvelous life, as so many people do, without realising that there was one significant dimension to his life that was unfulfilled. There were to be unimaginable days ahead which would be greater than these days; experiences before him better than any he had known so far. They would be made greater because he was to share them with Eve whom he loved. Man was not made to live alone but rather to live in union with a woman made by God, someone unique amongst all the creatures in the world. She alone would have the ability to encourage him to be the sort of person he must be as a creature made in the image of God – as she also was.
That is the background to what is described in our text; “Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field” (vv. 19&20). There may be someone here today for the first time in their lives and you are hearing me speaking on an incident like this. You may be deeply troubled and wanting to know the answers to the greatest questions in life and yet here am I speaking on Adam naming the animals. Let me tell you that you will find many answers to your questions here today if you are prepared to receive them! I affirm that there is nowhere else you will find them except in the Bible. There is not a person here who hasn’t been troubled some time in his life with the facticity of some verses in the Bible so that he thinks, “How can that be true?” You have probably overcome that trial, but for some they are not reading the Bible. Such a temptation is as old as Eden itself when Satan said to our first parents, “Has God really said those things to you?” The reason for their fall was that they defied the word of God, and my broad desire in referring to this passage is that you may be persuaded that here is truth you can utterly rely on, even what at first sight seems a rather curious passage like this. I am telling you that it is in the Bible where you can find answers to your greatest problems.
1. ADAM NAMED ALL THE ANIMALS AND BIRDS.
I can remember so much of what Professor Edward J. Young said on this verse, and it has been captured in some informal and delightful talks on these chapters that he gave at Toronto Baptist Seminary. If I preach some of his vivid words to you today then you may well be able to remember them in 45 years’ time as I still do as coming from the lips of a beloved teacher.
“We are told that God created the animals and brought them before Adam that Adam might name them. Many people think that here we are faced with a very naive and impossible conception. When I first studied Hebrew in Stanford University we had a minister who came down each week to teach that subject. For most of the time I was the only one in the class, and when he found out that I was conservative in my views he did everything that he could to overthrow my beliefs, and I can never forget how he treated this passage in Genesis. ‘Now’, he said, ‘here is a big parade. God puts Adam out on a rock somewhere, and all the animals parade in front of him. Adam says, ‘There goes a lion’; ‘there goes a tiger’; ‘there goes an elephant’; and so on. ‘Now’, he said, ‘do you really believe that?’ He tried to make the Scripture look as ridiculous as possible.
“Mark Twain has a passage in which he does something very similar. Adam comes home one night, and Eve says, ‘What did you call that big animal out there?’ ‘Oh’, he said, ‘I called it an elephant’. ‘Why did you call it an elephant?’ ‘Because it looked like an elephant’.
“It is easy to make fun of the Scripture at this point, but not when you consider what is involved. Incidentally, if evolution were true, and man evolved from non-man, it would involve men in the same task. Animals have got to be named, and men will have to do it. So before you ridicule Scripture, just realize that other proposed solutions don’t get away from the difficulty. Even if something should have evolved into a man, man would still have had to name the animals.
“The idea that Adam sat on a rock and said, ‘There is a lion’, and ‘There is a tiger’, and so on, is not exactly what the Scripture tells us. In naming the animals Adam expressed their true nature. It may well be that he pronounced some sound that may have been automatically associated with an animal. Be that as it may, the narrative indicates the essential difference between man and the animals. Man named them; that is, he had the capacity to understand what they were, what their functions were, by what means they existed, how they could serve him, and so on. Adam acted as a creature who had been created in the image of God [The Lord himself had named parts of his creation. He called the light ‘day’ and the darkness he called ‘night.’ God called the expanse ‘sky’; he called the dry ground ‘land’. He called the gathered waters ‘seas.’ Man as his image bearer and vicegerent now does the same and he names the animals. The animals did not have the capacity to name Adam. They couldn’t respond with any reply to Adam’s words. Communication between men and animals is at the most basic level. GT] This naming of the animals shows the profound difference between man and the lower creation, and it prepares us also for Genesis three, verse one, where the serpent actually speaks, and we realize that things are out of order.
“How did Adam perform this work of naming the animals? I think simply in the way that Genesis says. God brought him into contact with the animals. It does not necessarily mean that they all paraded before him. Why may it not have been in the ordinary course of his life that he came into contact with the various animals and recognized what they were? He could classify them and categorize them and know them. I don’t see anything ridiculous in that. It has been done. What is there ridiculous or naive in that conception? Genesis simply shows that because Adam understood these animals he was able to give them suitable names. He knew what they were for” (Edward J. Young, In the Beginning, Banner of Truth, 1976 pp.75-77).
Adam was a prophet, priest and king to God. As a priest on the day of rest he worshipped God. As a king he had authority over the Garden, its trees and animals. As a prophet he stood over the animals and birds and could define what was to be their status and role in creation; that is what giving them names means. For example, we are told later on in the Bible in 2 Kings 23:34 that Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim the King in Judah and the first thing Pharaoh did was to change his name. “From now on you will be called ‘Jehoiakim’,” Pharaoh said to him, and Jehoiakim it was from that moment on, because mighty Pharaoh was much more powerful than little Eliakim. Pharaoh was in control of Jehoiakim. What Adam named the animals was henceforth what the livestock, the beasts of the field and the fowl of the air became. There could be no complaints and no questions asked – what were animals in comparison to a man made in the image of God?
Let me go one step further; a name was not simply a vocable which corresponded to a thing or person. The ‘name’ of something was related to its essence or function. The various names of God, for instance, describe different aspects of his person and action. God wasn’t waiting to see what sounds Adam would associate with each animal. The prerogative of assigning to them names reflects control. God was allowing Adam his vicegerent to express his own understanding of the animals, exercising his rule over the animals by assigning to them their names.
Let me also point this out to you, that there were certainly multitudes of animals, and yet soon they were all known, defined and arranged by the one man Adam, the servant and child of God. How in the world could Adam have carried out such a task involving all the birds and animals? It is barely conceivable; it was a simply awesome task, and yet Adam completed it perfectly maybe in a few hours – so it seems from a reading of this text. Adam’s mind, you remember, was made in the image of God and unaffected by sin. It was super-efficient beyond anything we can imagine. No man in the world today could match the skill of Adam in his primitive integrity. “We have no idea how smart Adam was, but if God provided Adam with a vocabulary, a knowledgeable mind, a sharp memory, and quick powers of perception and reasoning, there’s no telling what such a man could accomplish. Remember, Adam was freshly created by God, without sin’s curse to slow down or confuse his mind, and he may have been capable of things we can hardly imagine. So let’s not underestimate Adam’s intellect,
“At the same time let’s not overestimate how many creatures he had to name. The Bible says he named ‘the birds of the air’ and ‘the beasts of the field.’ In Scripture the phrase ‘beasts of the field‘ is distinct from ‘beasts of the earth‘ and it may refer to animals that lived closest to Adam. And ‘beasts of the field’ doesn’t include insects or things that crawl or slither. Also it doesn’t include anything in lakes or oceans. Those are God’s creatures too, but they don’t appear to have been in those Adam named that day. How many creatures did Adam name? We don’t know. Dr. Henry Morris points out, though, that if Adam noted and named ten kinds of animals per minute, he could have covered three thousand kinds in five hours, more than enough to cover all major types of birds and animals. We don’t know the number, but we do know Adam named all the creatures that God brought to him.
“Besides animal kinds that live on today, Adam probably named kinds that are now extinct. Even so, there may have been fewer kinds to name than one might think. Varieties of animals that we today classify as different species may trace back to the same created kind. For example, there are many breeds of dogs, from tiny Chihuahuas to enormous Great Danes, and they seem utterly different, but they are all related and go back to the same dog ancestors not so many centuries ago. Even foxes, coyotes, wolves, jackals, and dingoes may all be varieties of the original dog ‘kind.’ So Adam may only have had to name the original kind, not all variations that came later.
“Thinking about original kinds of animals can be interesting. Have you ever heard of a zorse, a zonkey, a beefalo, a cama, or a liger? A zorse is born from the mating of a zebra and a horse, while a zonkey is a cross between a zebra and a donkey. A beefalo is a cross between North American buffalo (bison) and domestic cattle, and is also called a cattalo. Veterinarians mated a camel and a lama to produce a cama, and they named it Rama. Rama the cama. And how about ligers? Lions and tigers don’t interbreed in the wild. They live in different regions and tend to be enemies. But a lion and a tiger living in captivity became friends and mated to produce two ligers, cats with astonishing size and speed.
“What do these oddball animals have to do with Genesis? Well, the Bible says God created each animal according to its kind, and Adam named those various kinds. The fact that some animals which are classified today as separate species can interbreed may mean that they trace back to the same created kind. Zebras, donkeys, and horses may come from the same created kind. Camels and lamas may come from the same created kind. Tigers, lions, and others in the cat family may come from the same created kind. Research scientist Don Batten discusses these things in Creation magazine: ‘Creationists are often misrepresented as believing that God created all the species we have today, just like they are today, in the beginning. This is called “fixity of species.” The Bible does not teach this.’
“It appears that God endowed each created kind with genetic information capable of producing a variety of descendants. Amid that variety, however, the basic kinds have not changed. No new organs have developed; no radically different life form has evolved. Creationists don’t dispute Darwin’s claim that many species of finch came from the same finch ancestor. But finches remain finches, whatever their variations. Creationists accept microevolution, another name for variation within a kind, but they deny macroevolution, the idea that one kind of creature evolved from a totally different kind. Birds did not evolve from dinosaurs, nor mammals from amphibians, nor, in the overall scheme, humans from amoebas. But wide variation within kinds is an observable fact and is consistent with Genesis. God created different kinds, each apparently with a genetic range to produce variety within it. So I am saying that it may have been only the original kinds that Adam named (David Feddes, “Dinosaurs and More” The Radio Pulpit of the Back to God Hour, October 2000, pp. 40-43).
So God brought the animals and birds to Adam and then listened to what Adam would name them. Every single name was a perfect choice; what Adam called the creatures then became their names. In other words, Adam displayed to God how trustworthy and competent he was. Adam was given this great responsibility over all living things early on and he was utterly sufficient to complete this task. Before he had married, before he had anyone to help him Adam had a legitimate though subordinate sovereignty over the creation. Don’t mess with Adam!
Let me say one thing more; if we think the first Adam was great what of the last Adam? In Jesus Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. If Adam was great to name all the animals, the Lord Jesus Christ made every living thing; more, he sustains every living thing. Every sparrow lives and moves and has its being in him. No sparrow falls to the ground and dies without the decree of King Jesus. “The first Adam became a living being; the last Adam, a life-giving Spirit” (I Cor. 15:45). He who created all these beasts from the dust of the earth is going to raise up all of us from the dust in the great day to come. We must give an account to him of our lives, of whether we have been faithful prophets, gracious kings and serving priests in his kingdom.
So Adam was a man of cultural dominion, but always remember that he was also a man who was under probation. Only when he had completed this assignment did God bring a wife and helper to him. Incidentally, is this fact saying to us, let a man show his gifts and authority and leadership before he is fit for marriage? If he is competent in the lesser things then he will be more prepared for the great task of being a husband.
2. DID ADAM NAME THE DINOSAURS?
There will be two responses to this question. One will say that dinosaurs evolved about 235 million years ago and died out about 65 million years ago, whereas men as we know them today, Homo Sapiens, are about 10,000 years old, and so one response is to say that Adam couldn’t have named the dinosaurs. Then there are those who take the opposite view and say that on the sixth day of creation God made both man and the animals so that there must have been an overlapping. More than that, they will say that at first all animals lived on vegetation, claiming Genesis 1:30 as their basis for believing that, “‘And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food.’ And it was so” (Gen.1:30). In Eden there was no death, no hunting, no bloodshed and so no meat eating until Adam defied God and brought himself and all creatures under the curse of death. All animal fossils then must come from creatures that died after Adam sinned, because there was no death and no fossils until Adam sinned. What are we to say about this?
Let me point this out, that there should be no contradiction between the book of creation – the book of God’s general revelation – and the book of special revelation which is the Bible. The one living God is the author of the Bible and the creation. We believe both. We don’t always understand every detail of them both as accurately as we should, but we will get more light on them both in the future. Difficulties in the Bible are quite different from alleged errors in the Bible. We use the familiar analogy of eating fish and we say that you don’t throw away a plate of cooked fish because of the discovery of a few bones. Put the bones on the side of the plate. Examine them later if you wish. Eat the nourishing fish now. So it is with the Bible; eat the good food of the Word of God now and look at those bones – the difficulties that occasionally you meet – later on. One day we will understand the link between man and the dinosaur better.
I don’t know how you reconcile the fossil record as interpreted by many scientists today and the record God has given us of the origin of animals and men. I suppose theoretically I believe them both, humbly aware that there are tensions and that now I am seeing both through a glass darkly but one day I will see both face to face. When one contradicts the other my first choice is always the Bible because I know that it is unbiased and true. I say, “I believe that the Scripture teaches this . . .” I also say, “This is what scientists believe and for these reasons . . .” and I don’t think it is necessary always to be introducing Christian caveats. It is crucial to know the ideas of the broad scientific world.
Let me say something else, that one fact that makes us cautious about the fossil record is its sheer paltriness. How unlikely it is for any set of bones to become fossilized, and the record is actually much worse than you think. “Consider dinosaurs. Museums give the impression that we have a global abundance of dinosaur fossils. In fact, overwhelmingly museum displays are artificial. The giant diplodocus that dominates the entrance hall of the Natural History Museum in London and has delighted and informed generations of visitors is made entirely of plaster – built in 1903 in Pittsburgh and presented to the museum by Andrew Carnegie. The entrance hall of the American Museum of Natural History in New York is dominated by an even grander tableau: a skeleton of a large barosaurus defending her baby from attack by a darting and toothy allosaurus. It is a wonderfully impressive display – the barosaurus rises perhaps 9 metres towards the high ceiling – but also it is entirely fake. Every one of the several hundred bones in the display is a cast.
“Visit almost any large natural history museum in the world – in Paris, Vienna, Frankfurt, Buenos Aires, Mexico City – and what will greet you are models, not ancient bones. The fact is, we don’t know a great deal about the dinosaurs . . . there are millions of years throughout the age of dinosaurs for which not one single fossil has yet been found . . . . Until very recently, everything known about the dinosaurs of this period came from about three hundred specimens representing just sixteen species” (Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything, Doubleday, London, 2003, p.308). The fact of the dinosaur has been used to promote evolutionistic attitudes more effectively than any other fossil. So we are not going to get very troubled about dinosaurs because the ones we see are either made of plaster of paris, or they are computer graphic dinosaurs fighting with King Kong. When the unreformed medieval church encouraged people to keep believing its ideas through hundreds of thousands of relics scattered through church buildings across Europe anyone would easily come to the conclusion that that church had lost sight of the living Jesus Christ. It was an organisation crying out for reformation. So also today the immodest claimants of evolutionism need some reformation. We tend to go along with the Bible.
Let me go on to ask this question; “Does the Bible, in fact, mention dinosaurs or what it was like to encounter one? Well, it’s not the Bible’s main purpose to satisfy our curiosity about dinosaurs. And Scripture was written long before the word ‘dinosaur’ was coined, so you won’t find that word in the Bible. But the Bible does describe some enormous, awesome creatures that sound rather dinosaur-like and unlike any creature now living. One such creature is called ‘behemoth.’ In the book of Job, one of the world’s most ancient writings, God said, ‘Look at the behemoth, which I made along with you and which feeds on grass like an ox. What strength he has in his loins, what power in the muscles of his belly. His tail sways like a cedar. . . . His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like rods of iron. He ranks first among the works of God’ (Job 40:15-19). What sort of beast was first in size among God’s land animals? What had massive bones and a tail like a tree? It doesn’t sound like any creature now living, not even an elephant. We can’t be sure what behemoth was, but it sounds like it could have been a huge, plant-eating dinosaur.
“God also spoke of a gigantic sea creature called leviathan: ‘Who dares open the doors of his mouth, ringed about with his fearsome teeth? His back has rows of shields tightly sealed together. . . His chest is hard as rock, hard as a lower millstone. When he rises up, the mighty are terrified. . . Nothing on earth is his equal‘ (Job 41:14-33). Five passages in the Bible mention leviathan. We can’t be sure what leviathan was, but some think it sounds like the now-extinct kronosaurus. In addition to behemoth and leviathan, the Old Testament also uses a Hebrew word that is translated about 30 times as ‘monster’ or ‘dragon.’ Sometimes it’s used as a vivid picture of God’s enemies, but the dragon idea itself may be based on memories of giant animals. Besides God’s revelation in the Bible, many cultures have stories about human encounters with monsters and dragons. No doubt many of these are tall tales, but should we assume there’s no truth at all behind any of them? What if some dragon stories originated in real human encounters with dinosaurs? That wouldn’t be possible if dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago, but it would be possible if all animals were created on the same day as people, as Genesis says” (David Feddes op cit, pp.38&39).
3. ADAM DID NOT FIND A SUITABLE HELPER AMONG ALL THE ANIMALS.
We are told that God caused Adam to look at all those animals; they all had mates and young ones to feed and defend; they had many different characteristics, and yet, when he had seen them all, there wasn’t one single creature who could relate to Adam. None of them was made in the image of God. No companion was found for Adam, and the more he looked at the animals his observations stimulated and matured a feeling of isolation from them and a desire for a suitable helper. After he had named them all Adam began to experience in his heart the truth of the word of God, “It is not good that I should be alone.”
Could he find fulfilment for his growing sexual self-consciousness with any of these animals? No. Soon the word of God was to make explicit what Adam was becoming aware of before the fall. Let us read those words of Leviticus 18:23-30; in these days of fearful sexual aberration it is important to know of the parameters which the Creator has made for creatures made in his image: “Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion. Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the aliens living among you must not do any of these detestable things, for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you. Everyone who does any of these detestable things – such persons must be cut off from their people. Keep my requirements and do not follow any of the detestable customs that were practised before you came and do not defile yourselves with them. I am the LORD your God.” So that Adam’s growing arousing would not overflow in such defilement God made woman for man. God did not allow him to be single, and surround him with animals, and neither did God make another man; God made Eve.
Adam saw all the animals and birds in their beauty, but the glory of the woman whom God made lay in this, that she alone could complete the man. Adam was incomplete without the woman. God has said that it is not good that the man should be alone. Some proud men not believing this, too often struggle through life, depending on themselves, thinking they can make it, while God declares, “You are incomplete without a woman.” That is humbling, but it is Adam’s glory to know that the woman was made for man. The need that was placed within mankind at creation gives to both sexes cause for humility and glory. Adam could only find the truest expression of his manhood in relation to Eve.
Yet it is more than the sexual union of man with woman that Adam was beginning to feel. Woman was created for man in order to provide companionship in pursuing the great calling they were given by God; “Replenish the earth and subdue it. Rule over every living thing. Work the Garden and take care of it.” Marriage was instituted by God for fellowship in labour. A Christian husband and wife are a team who work together for the Lord. Adam was beginning to realize at the end of those hours of classifying and defining the animals of the earth that with all his super skills and strength he couldn’t do this by himself. Superman Adam needed a superwoman to help him do the basics. He couldn’t survive without her. She would minister to Adam, and with him, and then the work would get done.
The differences between the man and the woman affected everything they did in the Garden. Eve replenished, subdued, ruled, worked and took care of the Garden as a woman. Adam replenished, subdued, ruled, worked and took care of the Garden as a man. A man walks, talks, thinks, feels, loves, believes, listens to music, reads and purchases as a man. A woman walks, talks, thinks, feels, loves, believes, listens to music and purchases as a woman. Both ways are human ways. Both are the responses of people made in the image of God.
I am not saying, or even thinking that men are logical and women are illogical. I despise such traditional sexual stereotyping. I was never happy with the musical My Fair Lady or with the play Pygmalion by Bernard Show on which it was based. I found the character Henry Higgins quite objectionable. He sings this song – the words are by Alan Jay Lerner,
“Why can’t a woman be more like a man?
Women are irrational
Their heads are full of cotton, hay and rags . . .
Why can’t a woman learn to use her head?
Why is thinking something women never do?
Why is logic never even tried?
Straightening up their hair is all they ever do.
Why don’t they straighten up the mess that’s inside?”
It is a thoroughly anti-Christian sentiment and yet that shameful attitude is prevalent in much of the world still today, and it is the only the gospel of the Bible that will transform men’s thinking. Understand, I am not saying that Adam was a ‘real man’ – independent, self-reliant, achievement oriented and aggressive – while Eve was a real woman – dependent, compliant, nurturant and gentle. Those are popular myths based on popular false psychological theories. Adam and Even were a farmer and his wife; they both worked; they both rested; they both delighted to talk with God. Eve was not into flower-arranging and bird-watching – except after her main work was over – there is nothing wrong with flower arranging and bird-watching for a woman or for a man. Weren’t there times when Adam was gentle and compassionate? He didn’t question his virility when he behaved like that. There were times when I think Eve’s work in the Garden and with the animals was quite aggressive and intense. She was not a traitor to her womanhood when she behaved like that. When she enjoyed building a home with stones and helping to lay the roof she didn’t fear losing her femininity – any more than those times when Adam was weeping with his love for Eve, was losing his masculinity. It was not like that then and it is not like that now. I am saying that Adam was made a man, and Eve was made a woman and that there is an enormous mysterious difference between the very structural setup of male and female, but that is not to the detriment of either of them. It is fallen man who has painfully distorted the role of the man and the woman, and we are not to blame God for that.
In Genesis chapter two is found the origin of the difference of the sexes and the institution of marriage. The Lord Jesus challenged the Pharisees of his day, “‘Haven’t you read,’ he replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator “made them male and female,”‘” (Matt. 19:4). For me Jesus can say nothing wrong. If God the Son believed in Adam and Eve at the beginning then I shall certainly live and die in the conviction of that truth. I hope I shall never get to the stage of thinking I am smarter than Jesus. In the beginning he made them male and female; that was the first thing he did. Before there was a congregation or a church there was a marriage. Before there was a state and authorities ordained by God he ordained marriage. The family is foundational; it is first because it is basic. As a God-created institution it is subversive to the whole sin-sick and manipulative Babylon in which we have to live our lives. As the government increasingly seeks to influence us philosophically and morally we have to take up our God-given duties in
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