Showing posts from 2007

Greater love?

John 15:13 says,
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Now, it is difficult to comprehend how this simple thought can be misunderstood, but it has almost universally been so. In fact, the misrepresentation of this verse demonstrates clearly the difficulty in translation caused by projecting backward Christian ideas and forgetting the Hebrew values which spawned it.
Albert Barnes wrote: "No higher expression of love could be given. Life is the most valuable object we possess; and when a man is willing to lay that down for his friends or his country, it shows the utmost extent of love."
John Gill wrote: "By these words our Lord shows, how far love to another should extend, even to the laying down of our lives for the brethren; which is the highest instance of love among men"
These thoughts clearly represent the Christian value developed as a result of Yeshua's death. But, Yeshua was not referring to his own death. In…


Most Christians understand grace to be God's unmerited (undeserved) favor, His unmerited love. They hold that God gives us something even though we deserve the opposite; that God's grace is the basis of our relationship with the God of the universe; and that such grace is made known through Yeshua Messiah, God's unmerited gift to mankind. Now, all of this seems true enough, but it represents a superficial understanding of grace and a profound underreporting of the mutual nature of grace. Yeshua said (Mat 7:2):

"for with whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured again to you."
James 2:8-10 says:

"If you truly fulfill the Kingdom Law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well. But, if you discriminate, you work sin, being convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep all the law, but stumbles in one, he has become guilty of all.&q…

Bring up a child?

Proverbs 22:6 says:

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (KJV)"
The CEV says: "Teach your children right from wrong, and when they are grown they will still do right." The CJB: "Train a child in the way he [should] go; and, even when old, he will not swerve from it. "

Gill has noted that "...there are exceptions to this observation; but generally, where there is a good education, the impressions of it do not easily wear off, nor do men ordinarily forsake a good way they have been brought up in..."

This proverb seems more like wishful thinking than the wisdom of sages. Can such an often-excepted proverb have developed among the Hebrews, who measured reality by experience? A closer look says, it probably did not.

In Hebrew, the verse says:

"HanoC' lana,ar ,al ´ piy dar'cO gaM ciy ´ yaz'kiyN lo` ´ yasur mimenah"

The first word, hanoc, means “to thr…


There is a longstanding controversy regarding the second word of the Hebrew Bible, bara. Some hold that the word should be translated "created," and that the term means "ex nihilo" or "out of nothing" creation. Others point out that the word is reserved for the "creative" activity of God and, even if it does not mean ex nihilo literally, it refers to the creation of the world and all things in it. Thus it is held that even if the verb bara has no explicit connotation of ex nihilo, that it is linked only with the creative power of God suggests that something more than use of preexistent matter is in view.

However, a careful reading of the Hebrew Bible along with a basic understanding of the root of the word will show clearly that the word does not imply ex nihilo, and is not exclusive to God's activity. A look at Ezekiel 21:19 will show both propositions to be false.

"As for you, son of man, make two ways for the sword of the king of Babyl…

Born Again?

The Christian term "born again," is derived from Yeshua's words to Jewish leader Nicodemus as recorded in the third chapter of the Gospel of John (beginning at verse 1):"There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Yeshua by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Yeshua answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is sired again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Most Christian denominations hold that a person must be "born again" in some sense to be a Christian. Thus, all who are "true" Christians are in fact "born again," whether they describe themselves as such or not. However, the meaning of the term varies among Christian traditions:
The Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Church, Anglican Church and Lutheran Churches all associate being "born again" with ba…

The Ten Commandments?

The Ten Commandments are a list of religious and moral imperatives which, according to Biblical tradition, were written by God and given to Moses on Mount Sinai in the form of two stone tablets. They feature prominently in Judaism and Christianity. The phrase "Ten Commandments" generally refers to the very similar passages in Exodus 20:2–17 and Deuteronomy 5:6–21.While many churches and religions treat the Ten Commandments differently, all recognize them as ten separate commandments or laws. For example, The Roman Catholic Church considers Exodus 20:2, 3, and 4 to be a single commandment, while separating Exodus 20:17 (the prohibition against coveting) into two separate commandments. Alternatively, the reformed churches consider Exodus 20:2 to be a "preface" and Exodus 20: 3 and 4 to be two distinct commandments, while Exodus 20:17 is a single commandment.Similarly, the Orthodox Church (Greek) treats Exodus 20:2, and 3 to be a single commandment, while taking the r…


Rule #5 of Bible interpretation and translation insists that we first attempt to understand the pantheon of Biblical supernatural beings in a natural sense.The cherubim are a good place to start.The first mention of cherubim (plural of cherub) in the Bible are the mention in Genesis 3 of cherubim being placed, by God, "before" the gan edin ("garden steppe,") to block the return of mankind.However, the cherubim are better understood as the symbolic representation of throne bearers of Yahweh. Psalm 99:1 says:"Yehweh reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake.""The word cherub is a word borrowed from the Assyrian kirubu, from karĂ£bu, 'to be near', hence it means near ones, familiars, personal servants in a sense. It was commonly used to represent the idea of heavenly spirits, who closely surrounded God and served him. Psalm 18:10 poetically equates the cherub with the God's flying chariot: He…


There is a problem with the widely accepted etymology of the word YHWH being from the Hebrew verb root for “to be.” In ancient times, the Hebrew root for the word “to be” was HWY, and if the widely accepted etymology based on the verb "to be" (because of Exodus 3:14) where the origin of the name of YHWH, then it would have likely been spelled YHWY. Also, Exodus 3:14 speaks in the first person, 'eyhah', which is mostly translated as "I am" or, more accurately "I’ll be" (in the cohortative, not future tense) by many translators. The word "Yahweh" is a third person form of the verb "to be" in Hebrew, or “He is.” It is a far leap from the first person cohortative to the third person imperfect. Actually, this third person form of “to be” is not found anywhere in the Hebrew scriptures for the root hwh. The more recent form of this root hyh is mostly used, and is current in Modern Hebrew also.So, what does YHWH mean, and what was Mosh…

The Unjust Steward.

The Parable of the Unjust Steward was a parable told by Yeshua in the New Testament Gospel of Luke. In the parable, a steward who is about to be fired curries favor with the master's debtors by forgiving some of their debts.This parable is considered to be one of the more difficult to interpret, since on the face of it Yeshua appears to be commending dishonest behavior. One meaning, provided by Yeshua himself (but which may be a latter addition by revisionists) is- "use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves", This additional application was espoused by most early church writers including Asterius of Amasea, who wrote, "When, therefore, any one anticipating his end and his removal to the next world, lightens the burden of his sins by good deeds, either by canceling the obligations of debtors, or by supplying the poor with abundance, by giving what belongs to the Lord, he gains many friends, who will attest his goodness before the Judge, and secure him by thei…

The Prodigal Son's Older Brother

The Prodigal Son, also known as the Lost Son, is certainly one of the best known parables of Yeshua. The story is found in Luke 15:11–32 and is often read on the third Sunday of Lent. It is the third and final member of a trilogy, following the Parable of the Lost Sheep and the Parable of the Lost Coin. Yeshua tells the story of a man who has two sons. The younger demands his share of his inheritance while his father is still living, and goes off to a distant country where he "waste[s] his substance with riotous living", and eventually has to take work as a swine herder. There he comes to his senses, and determines to return home and throw himself on his father's mercy. But when he returns home, his father greets him with open arms, and hardly gives him a chance to express his repentance; he kills a "fatted calf" to celebrate his return. Some Christians understand the story to expresses that the forgiveness of the son is not conditional on good works.Some in…

"What is Truth"

Our understanding of the English word "truth" fails to do justice to what is described in the Hebrew Scriptures. To the Hebrew mind, emeth "truth" means: firm reliable, solid, faithful, tested, perceptible, and lasting. There are two understandings of “truth” however: Abstract (or a priori) truth is derived from outside of experience and is absolute. Empirical(or a posteriori) truth is derived from experience and is not absolute. To the Hebrews, truth is a posteriori.
David Hume believed that “false religion” is based on priori, a prior knowledge of ethereal things by metaphysical means, while “natural religion” is based on posteriori, the knowledge gained after the observation. Hume concluded that the order and purpose that were observable in every part of the world about him testified of a Creator. In other words, Hume felt that a religion based upon an abstract God was "false."

Hume highlighted the fact that our everyday reasoning depends on patter…
Take up your cross daily?Luke 9 (23-25) says (quoting Yeshua): "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?Most christians believe and teach that this quote means that a person must be willing to give up their life (and indeed to die) for Yeshua. However, a close reading of this passage along with a sound understanding of Semitic idioms brings the true meaning to light.First of all, we see the idiom “deny the self.”To the Semitic mind this is a simple enough idiom. It means “to set aside self interest.”This is precisely what is meant by the Semitic idiom “lose oneself.”A form of this idiom appears in this quote in the statement, “whoever loses his life for me…” Interestingly, in this passage, Yeshua uses this same phrase twice. Once to mean &quo…
"My grace is sufficient for you."

Speaking of "a thorn in the flesh," Paul writes that he "beseeched the Lord three times that it would be removed from him," but that the Lord replied "my grace is sufficient for you." This is one of our translations at least. This phrase has generally been interpreted to mean that Paul should basically learn to live with his "thorn" and accept God's "grace" and be content with it.

But, this is not what Paul wrote nor what he meant. Remembering that Paul's thorn was a man who was tormenting the church, one can easily see from 2 Corinthians, that Paul's thorn was indeed removed.

Paul said that he was given "a thorn in the flesh," "lest I should be exalted above measure." In the Aramaic language (Paul's native tongue), the word for "exalted" is sageb "to raise up."Paul, here makes a play on words using this same Aramaic word in two senses. …
A "thorn in the flesh?"In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul writes 7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.Many Christians believe that this verse means that God wants some of us (Paul included) to stay sick. They say that Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was an eye disease, migraine, baldness or some other type of sickness, and that God refused to heal him, telling him “my grace is sufficient for you.”

However, the word “thorn” as an idiomatic expression, is never used in the Bible to mean a sickness or physical affliction. Numbers 33:55 But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.Here, the “thorns” are people who …
Forever his mercy?

The Hodu cry of the Hillel (Psalm 118:1) says: "howdu layhwah ciy ´ tOV ciy l',owlaM Has'DO." - " Let us give thanks to Yahwah for [he is] good; for forever [is] his mercy."

Now, Websters defines "mercy" as: benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant.

The remainder of Psalm 118 describes how Yahwah will provide a means for the writer (David) to destroy his enemies. Hardly an act of mercy.

The Hebrew word translated as "mercy," is chesed from the root chasad, a primative Hebrew root meaning, to bow by bending the neck.

But, can an all-powerful God be described properly as "bowing" rather than "merciful?" The answer, of course is …
Mark of the Beast?

Many Christian groups believe in the so-called “mark of the beast”—a supposed mark or sign upon the forehead and hand of those who worship the image of the antichrist.
Revelation 13:16: “And the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the freemen and the slaves, it causes that they give to them all a mark on their right hand, or on their foreheads”
Of course, this interpretation fails to recognize a Hebrew idiom--"a mark upon the hand/head." In the old testament this idiom has a simple meaning. To have "a mark upon the head" means to recall that which the mark stands for, namely God's word. To have "a mark upon the hand" means to be marked for the work of God's word.

Exo 13:9 "Moreover, it will serve you as a sign on your hand and as a reminder between your eyes, so that Yahweh's Law may be on your lips; because with a strong hand Yahweh brought you out of Egypt.

Deu 11:18 Therefore, you are to store up these w…

And the earth was without form....

Genesis 1:2 is says,
"And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."
However, this translation does not do this passage justice. The Hebrew version says:

"w'ha`aretz hay'tah tohu wabohu w'hoshek al-p'nay t'hom w'ruakh alohiym m'rakhefet al-p'nay hamayim"Now, the first word "w'ha'aretz" is made from affixing the waw "w" and the hay "ha" (the) to the word "aretz" (land). In this form, the waw affixed to a noun, although always in such a connection grammatically disjunctive in some fashion, is here used specifically with emphatic force to introduce the clause. It should therefore be rendered as "now" or "yea," rather than "yet," or "but," or otherwise "and" (as would be the case if the waw was affixed to the verb. See Genesis 1:3 for this e…
“I AM”
Most commentators make the claim that Yeshua (primarily in the Gospel of John) uses the code word ego eimi (translated “I am”) to equate himself with Yahweh. It is said that, the Greek words ego eimi refer to Yahweh’s statement to Moses in Exodus 3 (Hebrew - `eh'yeh `asher `eh'yeh – “I’ll be what I’ll be”). It is also claimed that the phrase is only used of Yeshua (and Yahweh).For Yeshua to have used the first person present (I am) in Greek to refer back to the first person cohortative in Hebrew (I'll be being) is a far stretch.
Of course, without resort to complex linguistics, this is demonstrated to be untrue. For, if it were true, the Gospel writer Luke would not have had the messenger Gabriel say (at Luke 1:19) “ego eimi gabriol” (I am Gabriel). Also Luke, would not have had Zachariah, the father of John the baptizer say “ego gar eimi” (I, indeed, am). Even the Gospel writer John has John the baptizer say “ego ouk eimi” (I am not). Matthew recounts (at 26:22) Yesh…
“Wisdom is justified…”
In both of the gospels of Matthew (at 11:19) and Luke (at 7:35), Yeshua is quoted as saying “Wisdom is justified from her deeds (or children).” But, what exactly did Yeshua mean by this?
First of all, I will briefly say that the word translated by both Matthew and Luke as "children" (Gr teknon) is either a mistranslation of the Aramaic word bnyh, which comes from the child root bna "to build," or a correct translation of the same word from the primary root bn "son." The yh suffix (with the dropped a for the root bna) denotes femenine possession. Thus the word should be translated as either "her building" or otherwise "her son." In either case, as we will see, the meaning remains the same.

This passage is not as mysterious as many make it out to be. Luke preserves the thought better than Matthew does.
What Yeshua is doing is comparing the "generation" or "lineage" of the current, unjust Jewish eli…
"I came to fulfill!"

In Matthew 5:17 Yeshua is quoted as saying, “Don’t think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I didn’t come to destroy, but to fulfill.” But, a semitic understanding of what Yeshua said, brings forth a nuanced meaning.Remembering that Yeshua spoke mostly Aramaic and Hebrew rather than Greek, it is easy to see that Yeshua was speaking a short Hebrew poem, which plays on the similar sounding (and similar meaning) Hebrew words mala (to fill a vacant space) and kalah (to make an end, to accomplish).Deuteronomy 31:24 says, And it came to pass, when Moses had accomplished (kalah) writing the words of this law (towrah) in a book, completely (tamiym)…In other words, Yeshua was saying, “I have not come to accomplish the law, but to fill it.”It seems that something is hiding in the subtlety of this phrase. The Hebrew word “mala” means “to fill a vacant space.”What Yeshua was doing was contrasting the concept of observing the general law, but failing to f…