Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Name "Yahovah" in the Ancient Hebrew

Rabbi Shaul, or better known as the Apostle Paul, said in 2nd Timothy 2:15 MKJV “Study earnestly to present yourself approved to God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.”  So as we continue to study the word of God, let’s take a closer look at the Bible from a slightly different point of view.  This point of view being from the original Hebrew language and its historic and cultural context.  It is this approach that I believe Rabbi Shaul was speaking of when he wrote “rightly dividing the Word of Truth.”

The Bible was, for the majority of it, originally written in Hebrew.  But like all languages, Hebrew changed over time in both its written form and its spoken form.  The roots of Hebrew are very ancient.  Some have proposed that Hebrew might be the “original” language spoken by Adam and his descendants up until the confounding of languages at the tower of Babel.  This is a nice thought, but there is no evidence of it being the case.  Hebrew is however one of a family of ancient languages which shared a common alphabet and many common words, much the same way that modern Western European languages share a common alphabet and many common root words.

Hebrew is a very simple but precise language.  In ancient times, much like other languages in antiquity such as that found in Egypt, it was a pictographic language.  Each letter in the Ancient Hebrew was a picture or drawing of some kind and represented a meaning.  When words were constructed of the letters, the meanings of the individual letters combined to give a “picture” of a deeper meaning of the resulting word.  When a language so constructed is used in communications, either spoken or written, the parties understand this added deeper meaning, and it contributes as much to the communication of ideas as the words themselves.

Let’s look at one example of where this added meaning is of profound importance.  That would be with the name of God which first appears in Genesis chapter 2.

Genesis 2:4 MKJV 4 “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,”

The word LORD, spelled with all capitol letters, here and elsewhere in most English translations of the Bible is derived from the Hebrew word Yahovah.  It is number 3068 in the Strong’s Dictionary:

יהוה  Yahovah,  yeh-ho-vaw' from 1961; (the) self-Existent or Eternal; Jehovah, Jewish national name of God:--Jehovah, the Lord.

This name is also represented in a shortened form as found in Psalms 68:4 and translated as the English variation of Jehovah as opposed to LORD.  Psalms 68:4  MKJV “Sing to God, sing praises to His name; praise Him who rides on the heavens by His name JEHOVAH, and rejoice before Him.”  This shortened form of 3068 is number 3050

3050  יה  Yahh,  yaw, a contraction for 3068, and meaning the same; Jah, the sacred name:--Jah, the Lord, most vehement. Compare names in "-iah," "- jah."

Now let’s take a look at the name Yahovah in the Ancient Hebrew.  Again the four letters in Hebrew are:  יהוה The first letter (Hebrew is read right to left) is the letter Yood י. In the Ancient form is was a symbol resembling a hand .  The second and fourth letters are the same one, the Hey ה.  The ancient letter was written as  a symbol that representing a window.  The third letter is the Vav ו.  In its ancient form it resembled a  wooden peg or nail used to bind together various forms of construction.

The meaning of these letters are as follows:

Yood = י  = Hand
Hey = ה  = Reveal
Vav = ו  = Nail
Hey = ה  = Reveal

The deeper meaning of Yahovah is: The hand revealed, the nail revealed.  This gives a powerful picture of the crucified Messiah revealed in the very name of God, first written over 1500 years before his coming!

Yeshua and the disciples would have written and understood a variant of this ancient Hebrew text.  The modern form of Hebrew was not widely accepted until the Middle Ages, but throughout history, the Hebrew language has retained the ancient meanings of the letters.

Now we all remember the Apostle Thomas, the one who doubted and wanted to see the risen Yeshua for himself.  His encounter with Yeshua is recorded in the Gospel of John.

John 20:24-28 MKJV 24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, We have seen the Lord. But he said to them, Unless I shall see the print of the nails in His hands, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe. 26 And after eight days the disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst and said, Peace to you! 27 Then He said to Thomas, Reach your finger here and behold My hands; and reach your hand here and thrust it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, My Lord and my God!*

I believe that Thomas would have understood the deeper meaning contained in the Hebrew letters and in this passage it appears that he recognized this in his statement “My Lord and my God”.

Thomas recognized that Yeshua was truly the Son of God!  He most assuredly understood the deeper meaning of the name Yahovah and made the connection, linking Yeshua to the name of God.  The hand revealed the nail revealed!

שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

*  The Greek word used in the manuscripts of this passage translated as “Lord” is “Kurios”.  It is number 2962 in the Strong’s Dictionary.

2962  κύριος  kurios,  koo'-ree-os.  From kuros (supremacy); supreme in authority, i.e. (as noun) controller; by implication, Master (as a respectful title):-- God, Lord, master, Sir.

The word translated as God is the Greek word Theos.

2316   θεός  theos,  theh'-os.  Of uncertain affinity; a deity, especially (with 3588) the supreme Divinity; figuratively, a magistrate; by Hebraism, very:--X exceeding, God, god(-ly, -ward).

Both of these words are used in the context of the deity of Yeshua in the Gospel of John passage above.  Kurios can be translated as “master” but is not used in the Gospels in reference to Yeshua by the title of Master.  That word is διδάκτορας, number 1320 in the Strong’s and can also be translated as Rabbi in the sense of a teacher.

1320  διδάκτορας  didaskalos,  did-as'-kal-os.  From 1321; an instructor (genitive case or specially):--doctor, master, teacher.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Is the goal of the Hebrew Roots movement to get Jews saved?

This article is in response to a challenge put out to the Hebrew Roots believers by the Jewish scholar and speaker Nehemia Gordon (  He thought Pastor Mark Biltz’s of El Shaddai Ministries ( response was by far the most erudite and clear.  I have reposted it here because I could not have said it better myself.  

Pastor Mark’s response:

Is one of the central goals of the Messianic/Hebrew roots movement to convert Jews to belief in Yeshua or to "get Jews saved"?  If not, what is the purpose of non-Jews emulating Jews in terminology and certain practices?

I can’t speak for everyone but only for myself. First I would say that there probably really is no central goal of the Hebrew roots movement.  Everyone is there for different multiple reasons. As long as you have humans and religions you will have multiple motives. I find some just want to build kingdoms to themselves not unlike some of the Pharisees and Sadducees and many Christian ministers of today. Here I am speaking of many of the leaders. Also, just like the multiple denominations in both Judaism and Christianity you can’t lump the Messianic/Hebrew Roots movements into one motivation.

With that said let me tell you what the over-riding motivation I find with the 600 people who attend our congregation and the 40,000 listeners we have on the internet and the one million hits (on our web site) we get every month what I am hearing from individuals from all denominations and all over the world. We have a great polling pool because of all the different cultures / ethnic groups as well that we have.  The central goal is to know YHVH and to make Him known. Everyone tells me they have been robbed. Their goal is a relationship with the Living God and they feel they’ve been sold a bill of goods.

A verse says: Jeremiah 16:19 “O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit.”

As far as non-Jews emulating Jews in practices and terminology it has nothing to do with trying to convert them but as simple as why do people where name brand clothing of their favorite sports team or want to be like people they admire be they sports heroes, movie stars, etc. Sure you have wan-a-be Jews who are trying to find their identity in Judaism.  Personally, I want to find my identity in being like a child of the Living God. You can’t question everyone’s motives as a group but I think it’s like a younger brother wanting to be like his older brother.

I can’t help but think of the verse: Devarim(Deuteronomy) 4:6-8 “Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?”

I don’t think YHVH wanted the nations who hear of these statutes to not want to emulate them. Israel was to be a light to the nations to draw them to the Living God.  Not so the nations could hear of the statutes then ignore them.

To me, here is the good news / besorah:  Issiah 52:7  “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that brings good tidings, that publishes peace; that brings good tidings of good, that publishes salvation; that says unto Zion, Your God reigns.”

My goal is not to convert Jews to Christianity but to bring non-Jews to a better understanding of YHVH through a better understanding of Torah. I think most Christians do not know YHVH as He really is but know Him as they have tried to create Him in their image rather than understanding they were created in His image.

Many Christians believe they have a relationship with YHVH but they don’t.  As far as “who’s in” and “who is not in” when it comes to a relationship with YHVH I have the same answer. That is above my pay grade! Who am I to say who has a relationship with YHVH and who doesn’t? I am not the door keeper.   I don’t know people’s hearts and who am I to say to YHVH who is allowed in the Olam Haba (the age of the Messiah) and who is not. Sorry but that authority was not given to me neither would I want it.

As far as Yeshua goes I believe that He is the one Moses spoke of: Deuteronomy 18:15 “The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;”

De 18:18 “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.”

Joseph was not recognized by his brothers because he looked Egyptian and spoke another language. Yet he was the one that brought salvation to Israel.   I believe Christianity has hijacked Yeshua and has been presenting an Egyptian which is why Yeshua is not recognized. Just as Jewish children were taken, converted to Christianity and not given back to their parents after the holocaust the same has happened to Yeshua. I believe he desires to go home.

The time is coming when the Jewish people will recognize the role Yeshua played and they will then fulfill their mission in taking Torah to the nations. They will straighten out the Christians theology in what Yeshua was really saying. There will be Christians who will be saying “what can these Jews know about Yeshua” when in actuality (they) will have the correct understanding. In Christianity as you probably know there will be an antichrist and false prophet who deceive the world. They also believe Moses and Elijah will come back. What’s funny is Moses and Elijah will return saying return to Torah and they will they think what do these Jews think they are talking about they must be the antichrist and the false prophet. Then there will be a “slick willy” preacher saying “Forsake Torah, you’re not under the law” and he will be the antichrist they all fall for.

Pastor Mark Biltz
El Shaddai Ministries
Bonney Lake Washington

שלום ברוך
Shalom and Be Blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Fast of Tevet

This Friday, December 17th is the 10th day of Tevet on the Hebrew calendar.  It is one of four minor fast days in the year known as a “low fast” or a fast only during the daylight hours.  The Hebrew name for this day is Asarah BeTevet.  This is a fast in remembrance of the siege of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia and the ultimate destruction of Solomon’s Temple in 586 BCE.  We read in 2 Kings:

2 Kings 25:1-4 MKJV 1 And it happened in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came. He and all his army came against Jerusalem and pitched against it, and built a siege-mound all around it. 2 And the city was besieged until the eleventh year of king Zedekiah, 3 on the ninth of the fourth month, when famine was severe in the city, and there was no bread for the people of the land. 4 And the city was broken up, and by night all the men of war went by the way of the gate between two walls, which is by the king's garden. And the Chaldeans were against the city all round. And the king went the way toward the plain.

On the 10th day of the 10th month, rendering from the religious calendar which begins in Nissan, in the ninth year of Zedekiah's reign, which would be 588 BCE, King Nebuchadnezzar, began the siege of Jerusalem. Two and a half years later, on the 17th of Tammuz, he broke through the city walls.

When the siege finally ended three weeks later, on the 9th of Av, the end of the first Kingdoms in the land and the exile of the Jewish people to Babylon began. The Tenth of Tevet is a part of the cycle of fasts connected with these events, which includes: Shivah Asar B'Tammuz, the 17th of Tammuz and Tisha B'Av, the 9th of Av.

Jeremiah 52:6-7 MKJV 6 And in the fourth month, in the ninth of the month, the famine was very grievous in the city, so that there was no bread for the people of the land. 7 And the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled and went forth out of the city by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the king's garden. (And the Chaldeans were beside the city all around.) And they went by the way of the plain.

The most specific reference to the Tenth of Tevet as a fast, along with the other fasts, appears in Zechariah where it is called the "fast of the tenth month."

Zechariah 8:19 MKJV 19 So says the LORD of hosts: The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah for joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts. Therefore love truth and peace.

Here the Prophet is referencing the fast days as already establish in historical tradition and prophesying that they would be turned into joyous feast days in the future. Other references to the fast can be found in Ezekiel  24:1&2 and Jeremiah 52:4-6. 

According to tradition, the fast also commemorates other calamities that occurred throughout Jewish history on the tenth of Tevet and the two days preceding it.  On the eighth of Tevet, during the time of Hellenistic rule of Judea during the Second Temple period, Ptolemy, King of Egypt, ordered the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, a work which later became known as the Septuagint.  Seventy sages were commissioned to translate the Torah into Greek independently form each other. Ptolemy, expecting the outcome would be a multitude of different translations, and wanting to use the results against the Jews, saying that their leaders can not agree on what the Torah says, was quite surprised.  Tradition has it that all seventy sages independently made identical translations into Greek.

Rabbinical sources see this Greek translation as a tragedy, a kind of watering down of the divine nature of the Torah. They reasoned that with the translation from the original Hebrew, the Torah's legal codes & deeper layers of spiritual meaning would be lost. Many of the commandments contained in the Torah are formulated in terms of specific Hebrew words and without the original Hebrew language, the authenticity and the original deeper meaning of the commandments would be compromised. Many spiritual concepts and cultural ideas contained in the Torah are also drawn from the original Hebrew. As such, these would not be accessible by individuals studying the Torah in Greek alone.  Also Ezra the Scribe, the great leader who brought some Jews back to the land of Israel from the Babylonian exile and who ushered in the era of the Second Temple, died on the ninth of Tevet.

The Fast of Tevet, as with all other minor Jewish fast days, begins at dawn and concludes at nightfall.  In accordance with the general rules of minor fasts as set forth in the Code of Jewish Law, called Halacha, there are no additional physical constraints beyond fasting. Because it is a minor fast day, Halacha exempts from fasting those who are ill, even if their illnesses are not life threatening, and pregnant and nursing women who find fasting difficult. A Torah reading and special prayers are included in the normal observance of this and other minor fasts.

Many of the Jewish people observe this day as a remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust because their dates of death can not be determined and many prefer this day because the official Holocaust Remembrance Day occurs in the Biblical month of Nissan, when mourning was traditionally prohibited.

However you choose to remember this day, keep in mind and pray for the Jewish people, who have suffered greatly throughout history.  Pray for the day when, as prophesied by Zechariah, these minor fast days will be turned into joyous feast days.  Zachariah goes on in chapter 8 speaking of the time when the city of Jerusalem is fully restored and Messiah reigns in judgment and righteousness:

Zechariah 8:20-23 MKJV 20 So says the LORD of hosts: There yet shall be peoples and inhabitants of many cities; 21 and the residents of one shall go to another, saying, Let us go at once to seek favor of the face of the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts; I will go also. 22 And many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to seek the favor of the face of the LORD. 23 So says the LORD of hosts: In those days ten men, out of all languages of the nations, shall take hold, and will seize the skirt of a man, a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.

 שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed
Dan and Brenda Cathcart

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Traditions of Men vs. The Gospel of Yeshua (Jesus)

The following was originally written as a private response to a personal email to me posing questions about the proper place of the law in our Christian lives. Since I have received similar questions from other individuals, I thought it would be appropriate to post it as a blog. I have modified it for the purpose of protecting the identity of the person it was originally written to.

As a Torah (law) keeping Christian, I have received many sometimes borderline hostile responses from otherwise well meaning Christians, to my assertion that the law is not rendered invalid, "fulfilled" by Jesus, or as some put it, done away with by Jesus. (1) In other words, they contend that He fulfilled it, so now we are no longer obligated to keep it. Yet in the same breath, these same individuals will assert that all the moral laws contained in the Torah are still valid and intact. In other words, they tend to pick and choose based on some interpretation of certain New Testament scriptures. Where in scripture is a distinction drawn between the moral laws and the so called ritual worship laws? Where did God the Father or Yeshua the Messiah ever make such a distinction? It is my contention that the Bible is the unified Word of God, the inspired writings of the old Testament Prophets and Apostles of Yeshua (Jesus). Being a unified book, we should figuratively rip out the blank page between the New Testament and the Old Testament and treat it as a truly unified book.

I have a great deal of trouble with “traditions of men” when they interfere with or are put in place of the Torah of God. I find that this is the primary cause of concern of Jesus throughout the Gospel accounts where He is dealing with the Scribes and Pharisees. When we read the teachings of Rabbi Shaul (Paul the Apostle), we look at them through a lens of man made doctrines and traditions that has become the modern Christian church. We say to ourselves that these words of the Apostles must line up with the established doctrines and teachings. But we have the cart before horse. The doctrines and teachings of the Church must line up with the scriptures!

There is one key area with which we can agree that we have common ground. That being that salvation is only by the grace of God through the Messiah Jesus/Yeshua. Salvation cannot be earned by following the “Law of Moses” or any “traditions of man”. I have never advocated that any person is “required” to follow the law in order to achieve salvation. It may surprise most Christians to know that the Jewish people also have always understood that salvation is a gift from God and not something to be gained through “works”.

In the story of the exodus we have a picture of this concept. The Children of Israel were slaves, in bondage and under a heavy burden in a land not their own in Egypt. The LORD sent Moses, a type of Messiah, to bring them out of this bondage and to take them to the land that was promised to them some ten generations earlier through Abraham. It has always been the desire of God to dwell with man here on the earth. This is quite clear from the creation story in Genesis.

Redemption from their bondage and slavery from Egypt was needed, just as we, today need redemption from our slavery and bondage to sin. A pathway was given and the Children of Israel were to choose life or death. A spotless lamb was to be slain and the blood placed on the door posts and lintels of their homes. This was a free will choice between life on one hand, and death on the other. It is the same choice we face today. We can choose life by accepting the sacrifice of the Lamb that God provided (ie: Jesus/Yeshua) and live, or we can choose to remain in sin and die.

Redemption came to those who chose life and obeyed and accepted the sacrifice of the lamb. This redemption was a free gift from God. They did not have to follow a complicated formula of laws and rules to receive this redemption. All that was necessary was the acceptance of the sacrifice of the lamb. This simple act set them free!

They then began their journey to the Promised Land, but first they had to cross the Red Sea. This was their “baptism”, the event where they left their sin behind. You know the story, they passed through on dry ground, several million of them, the mixed multitude and all their possessions. They were hotly pursued by the Egyptian army who foolishly tried to follow them through the parted waters. The Egyptian army, were all drowned. These Egyptians had not accepted the lamb and thus their disobedience was their death.

The Children of Israel then met the LORD at Mt. Sinai where they received a new covenant. They received a contract from God. That is what a covenant is, a contract between two parties. This new covenant at Mt. Sinai, was given only AFTER redemption from Egypt through the “blood of a lamb”. It was given AFTER their baptism through the Red Sea and the destruction of the remains of the Egyptian army!

Now God has always desired to dwell with man. We are made for fellowship with God and for no other purpose. But man is sinful by nature because of disobedience. God is just the opposite. He is righteous and holy and what is sinful can not remain in His presence. So this new covenant at Mt. Sinai is both a revelation of God the Father and an answer to the question of how we should live in the presence of God so that we may dwell with Him.

Redemption comes first as a free gift through the sacrifice of a lamb, then comes a public declaration, a baptism, where we leave our sins behind, drowned in the water. We then open up His word, the Bible, and study to show ourselves approved. We begin our journey to the “Promised Land” to dwell with God and conform our lives to His will. To be holy because He is holy. The exodus story is a perfect picture of how to build a relationship with God. We clearly see that it is all His doing. It is His redemption plan, not our own “works” that save us.

Those of us in the so called “Messianic” movement are often misunderstood on this point. First off, I do not like the term “Messianic”, because it is just that, “messy”. You will find doctrines all over the map just as you will among mainstream Christian denominations as well as among the Jewish people. I prefer to use “Hebrew Roots” although that too can become “messy” because of misperceptions. I am in pursuit of the “Original Church”; an historic, cultural, and doctrinal understanding of Messiah from a strictly Biblical perspective dating back to the beginnings of creation through to the time of Jesus’ first coming. I do not agree with many of the people on my Facebook friends list or with some of their comments that they may leave on my blog posts. I don’t delete them unless they wonder off topic or become personal attacks, etc. But I encourage discussion, and the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom.

It is difficult enough to understand language and culture here in the United States with the wide ranging political disagreements over constitutional issues. The constitution was written a little over 200 years ago and we argue over what the words really mean and what the “intentions” of the founding fathers were. Now we are trying to do this with the scriptures which are 2000 to 4000 years old and from a vastly different culture and language! Our interpretation, and hence, translation of scripture is skewed by our own prejudices, traditions, and perceptions. It is not an easy task to strip these things away and get to the original intentions and thoughts of the writers of the scriptures.

We must put ourselves in the “mind of the author” in order to clearly understand the scripture. Without first doing this, we are left open to interpretations never intended by the writers. We see something that appears to be obvious in our Bible, but our perception is skewed due to our failure to understand the historic, cultural and linguistic context in which it was written.

Let me give you an example outside scripture. There was a 16th century mathematician and astronomer named Nicolaus Copernicus. He created quite the controversy in his time by proposing that the old view of the universe as being earth centered was in error. We now accept the concept of a heliocentric universe without question, but in his day, this was a revolution in the field of science and a heresy in the Church. People could just look up in the sky and see for themselves that everything revolved around the earth. Scientist, mathematicians and philosophers affirmed it and Church doctrines demanded it. There was just one little problem, called the planets. They seemed to wander. They would speed up, slow down and appear to move backwards against the sky at irregular intervals.

The mathematicians and astronomers had a cosmological system and they knew it to be true. They had proofs and observation going back to ancient times. All they had to do was find the answer for the small, insignificant wandering planets. They developed a new theory called homocentric spheres, spheres within spheres, having a common center, the earth. They proposed epicycles and deferents, an orbit around a point on another orbit. They developed the idea of eccentrics, orbits with displaced centers. These were tremendous mathematical inventions and served to preserve the earth centered universe that must be true because we can all just look up in the sky and there it is. But the mathematical solutions preserved a false cosmology and in so doing, prevented people from seeing the real universe as it actually existed.

There were little bits of data left behind that could not be explained, but were the key to showing the fallacy of the entire system. This data was ignored by science and religion because it challenged the “system” and no one dared challenges the system! It was the system itself that provided the means by which all scientific and theological information was processed and interpreted.

Now for the paradigm shift. There are a people on the earth who have been labeled as “wanderers”, planetai in the Greek, from which we get the English word “planet”. These people are the Jews. Following the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE and the later Bar Kokhba revolt in 135 CE, the Jewish people were forced out of their land for the next 2000 years.

The Church, over the centuries, has made the term “the Wandering Jew” a reproach. John Chrysostom, the 4th and 5th century Arch Bishop of Constantinople wrote: “The Jews say that they hope to see their city restored! No, they are mistaken. The Temple will never rise again, nor will the Jews return to their former polity… He whom you crucified did afterwards pull down your city, scatter your people, and disperse your nation throughout the whole world.” (2) Talk about blatant anti-Semitism, and from a revered Church Father. He obviously hadn’t read Ezekiel. From chapter 44 on, Ezekiel speaks of the millennial reign of the Messiah where the Temple is there in the city, and Messiah rules from Jerusalem! The return of the Jewish people to the Promised Land is the single most overtly prophesied event in the Bible and we are seeing the beginnings of its fulfillment in our time!

Historical Christianity has theologically defined itself in opposition to, and in separation from, the Jewish people since the 2nd century. As a theological system, Christianity is based upon a Divine rejection of the Jewish people and therefore any Jewish theology. It is crafted in replacement of Israel. It has produced a history stretching back through the centuries and has grown from that definition. This is the great error in perception that exists today. And like the time of Copernicus, there will be a required complete shift in perception and understanding in order for us to see the real “Biblical universe”.

For nearly 2000 years, Christianity has constructed the religious equivalent of epicycles, deferents, and eccentrics, but they have only served to obscure the real problem. For all their ingenuity and manipulation of data over the centuries, the theologians have only obscured the question. It is the system itself that is in error. No amount of theological manipulation of the data will change that. The system will still be wrong. Jerusalem and the Jewish people are, as the Bible shows, the center of Gods purpose in the earth, the center of his dealings with all the people of the earth.

There is no Jesus without Israel. Or, more to the point, there is no such thing as a Messiah without Israel. He lived in this world as a part of Israel; He gave His life as a part of Israel; and He will return as a part of Israel! By definition, Messiah is the King of Israel, representing, defending, and ruling over His people who are the Priests to the Nations of the earth. His life is in His people, and the life of His people are in Him.

This conceptual shift must take place, and we are seeing its beginnings. The Jewish people are returning to their land just as the Prophets said they would. They are also beginning to understand the Messiah in ways we, from our error filled Christian understanding can not possibly fathom. When we on the Christian side of the equation, realize that the Kingdom of God is centered on the Messiah as the King of Israel, centered on His identity as a JEWISH King, then and only then will the universe make complete sense and all the “planets” will cease to wander.

Before we can discuss specific points in scripture, we must approach them from the same point of view. We will just be going around in circles until we come to the understanding that Jesus was a Jew in every sense of the word. He was born a Jew, raised as a Jew, educated as a Jew, taught his disciples as a Jew, was crucified and resurrected as the Jewish Messiah. And He will return as the Jewish Messiah to reign from Jerusalem just as the Prophets have written so long ago!

We must look at scripture in its historic, cultural and linguistic context or we are doomed to the fate of errant theology built upon misperceptions, misunderstandings, misinterpretations and mistranslations. We will just plane “mis” it. I choose to follow the Torah (Law) of God, not to achieve salvation, but because I am saved by His grace and I want to draw near to Him!

שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed
Dan Cathcart

(The example of Copernicus was taken from Daniel Gruber’s book titled “The Separation of Church and Faith” published in 2005 by Elijah Publishing.

(1) See my previous blog post titled “How Did Yeshua “Fulfill” the Law (Torah)?” on this blog site.

(2) John Chrysostom, Homilies against the Jews, c.137-407 in Williams, A. Lukyn, Adversus Judaeos: A Bird’s Eye View of Christian Apologiae until the Renaissance, Cambridge U. Press, London, 1935, p.134

Thursday, December 2, 2010

How Did Yeshua "Fulfill" the Law (Torah)?

Mt 5:17-22 Do not think that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, Till the heaven and the earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle shall in any way pass from the law until all is fulfilled. 19 Therefore whoever shall break one of these commandments, the least, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of Heaven. But whoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of Heaven. 20 For I say to you that unless your righteousness shall exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of Heaven. (MKJV)

I always found this passage interesting in light of some common Christian theology out there. Some of my friends say that Yeshua (Jesus) came to “fulfill” the law (Torah, ie: commandments) and therefore we are no longer obligated to follow the law. This of course, is nonsense and a total misunderstanding of the linguistic content and context of the passage. Yeshua, after all told us in the Gospel of John.

John 14:15 If you love Me, keep My commandments.

And He also told us:

John 5:30 I can do nothing of My own self. As I hear, I judge, and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of [the] Father who has sent Me.

Look at verse 18 in the Matthew passage above where Yeshua says that “Till heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or tittle shall in any way pass from the law until all is fulfilled.”* The last time I looked, the earth was still here! So my only logical conclusion is that everything is not yet fulfilled, the law is still valid and intact.

The problem comes from reading scripture with preconceived notions or ideas largely stemming from what others have taught us over the years, traditions of men and the like, and not from what the scripture itself says. The other difficulty comes from the time, culture and language distance involved. We are here in the 21st century. Almost 2000 years removed from the time when Yeshua said these words. We fail to grasp the historic, cultural and linguistic context of the scripture we are reading. We look at it from our own mindset, rather than the mindset of the author. In other words, things not only get lost in translation, but also in transmission. It is our duty to study thoroughly in order to properly comprehend the scripture as it says in Timothy

2Ti 2:15 Study earnestly to present yourself approved to God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. (MKJV)

Yeshua most likely spoke Aramaic or Hebrew with His followers. We know from historic evidence that Aramaic and Hebrew were the most common languages in the land of Israel in the first century. There is strong historical evidence that Matthew’s Gospel was originally written in Hebrew (2) and was only later translated into Greek when many Greek speaking gentiles began to come to faith in Yeshua in the late 1st century.(1) It is these later Greek manuscripts that were preserved in the western Greek and Roman culture that we have for reference today.

For the sake of this argument, let’s assume that Yeshua spoke in Hebrew and Matthew recorded His words in Hebrew.  Let’s take a look at the possibilities in the word translated as “fulfill.” First off let’s look at the Hebrew word “qum”, which means “to establish” or “confirm”.

Strong’s #6965.  qum, koom a primitive root; to rise (in various applications, literal, figurative, intensive and causative):--abide, accomplish, X be clearer, confirm, continue, decree, X be dim, endure, X enemy, enjoin, get up, make good, help, hold, (help to) lift up (again), make, X but newly, ordain, perform, pitch, raise (up), rear (up), remain, (a-)rise (up) (again, against), rouse up, set (up), establish, (make to) stand (up), stir up, strengthen, succeed, (as-, make) sure(-ly), uphold, - rising).

There is some evidence that Yeshua would have used this word because of its usage in the Mishnah and its popularity among the rabbinic community in the time of Yeshua in describing the “doing” of the Torah commandments. If this was the word used by Yeshua, then it is clear that He meant not to put the law aside, but to confirm it, to carry it out and to obey it the way that God intended. This would fit perfectly with Yeshua’s statement in Matthew 5:19-20.

Mt 5:19 "Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (NKJV)

The actual word translated as “fulfill” in Matthew 5:17 in the Greek manuscripts of the Gospel of Matthew is “pleroo”. In the Septuagint, (the 3rd century BC Greek translation of the Hebrew Tanakh) the Greek pleroo never translates the Hebrew qum but almost always translates the Hebrew Malei. Now let’s assume that Yeshua used the Hebrew word malei. This is the actual Hebrew word recorded in the Hebrew manuscripts of Matthew. But is “fulfill” the only meaning of the word malei? In order to find out, we have to look at how the word was used in the Septuagint in the context and compare it to the original Hebrew text of the same passages.

Strong’s defines malei as follows: #4390.  male', maw-lay' or malae (Esth. 7:5) {maw-law'}; a primitive root, to fill or (intransitively) be full of, in a wide application (literally and figuratively):--accomplish, confirm, + consecrate, be at an end, be expired, be fenced, fill, fulfill, (be, become, X draw, give in, go) full(-ly, -ly set, tale), (over-)flow, fulness, furnish, gather (selves, together), presume, replenish, satisfy, set, space, take a (hand-)full, + have wholly.

There is strong textual evidence that malei is used in the context of “to confirm” or “to accomplish”. Only by studying the context of the scripture passages where it is used can we understand which meaning is applicable. There are many passages where this word is used in the context of confirm or establish, but for the sake of time let’s look at 1 Kings 1:13-14

1Ki 1:13-14 "Go immediately to King David and say to him, 'Did you not, my lord, O king, swear to your maidservant, saying, "Assuredly your son Solomon shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne"? Why then has Adonijah become king?' 14 "Then, while you are still talking there with the king, I also will come in after you and confirm (malei) your words." (NKJV)

In this case, the word malei is used to mean “confirm”. This fits with the context of Yeshua’s statement in Matthew 5:17 that He came to “confirm” the words of the law (Torah). By Yeshua’s witness, He establishes the relevance and meaning of the law and thereby confirms it rather than abolishing it. He tells His disciples that to be great in the kingdom of God, they are to do the commandments and teach others to do the same (v-19). The only logical interpretation of this passage in Matthew is that regardless of which Hebrew word was used by Yeshua, He came to place the Torah (law) into the lives of the people of God and not to take it away. He came to “establish, confirm or accomplish” His Torah and write it on our hearts as it says in Jeremiah 31:31

Jer 31:31 "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 "not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. 33 "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (NKJV)

Shalom and be blessed
Dan and Brenda Cathcart

* A point of interest is that the last word in both verse 17 and 18 of Matthew 5 are the same English word, fulfill(ed) but are two different Greek words in the Greek manuscripts. Verse 18 uses the Greek word ginomai, ghin'-om-ahee. Number 1096. in the Strong’s Dictionary. Its definition is: a prolongation and middle voice form of a primary verb; to cause to be ("gen"-erate), i.e. (reflexively) to become (come into being), used with great latitude (literal, figurative, intensive, etc.):--arise, be assembled, be(-come, -fall, -have self), be brought (to pass), (be) come (to pass), continue, be divided, draw, be ended, fall, be finished, follow, be found, be fulfilled, + God forbid, grow, happen, have, be kept, be made, be married, be ordained to be, partake, pass, be performed, be published, require, seem, be showed, X soon as it was, sound, be taken, be turned, use, wax, will, would, be wrought.

(1) - See “Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus” Revised Edition. By David Bivin & Roy Blizzard, Jr. Destiny Image. Chapter 4, page 24.

(2) - see “The Greek Jesus vs. The Hebrew Yeshua” by Nehimia Gordon.

How to Test a "Conspiracy Theory"

I know that this blog departs from my usual theme a bit but I get emails and posts on my Facebook wall all the time telling me about this or that “conspiracy” by our government or a corporation or some such and such organization bent on controlling us “peons” through nearly every means imaginable. We humans are strange creatures, we are supposedly intelligent, yet much of the stuff that comes across my desk and desktop is the most illogical, outrageous and in many cases downright stupid theories that I have ever heard of. I have seen them all, from who really killed JFK and Jimmy Hoffa, to which foreign or domestic government entity this week was really responsible for 9/11. Sometimes Items sent to me are not necessarily “conspiracy theories” in the classic sense, but are intended to make the reader feel good or “patriotic” about something. They really fall in the same category because the over-the-top embellishment techniques used are identical to those of the conspiracy theories.

For example, every year about this time some well meaning individuals send me an email containing pictures from the December 7th 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor supposedly “recently found in an old camera in a footlocker”. I got it three times this year so far. The first time I received it was almost 10 years ago and the pictures have not changed. I just shake my head at the gullibility of these otherwise well meaning and intelligent people. (The pictures are actually from the National Archives, are official Navy photographs and were released for publication with the official Navy report on the Pearl Harbor attack in late 1942. The pictures are cropped of course, eliminating the Navy Department nomenclature on the bottom edge of the picture. It doesn’t take much in the way of research to look this up).

So in light of this I thought I would give you, my FB friends 10 “smell tests” that you can apply to any conspiracy theory or like thing that you come across. If any one or more of these tests are true, then you can rest assured that the so-called conspiracy in question is false.

1: “Proof” of the conspiracy is gained from a pattern of connecting the dots between events that are not necessarily linked by causality. No direct, independently verifiable evidence supports the connection except the allegations of the party or parties perpetuating the conspiracy. The supposed evidence will easily fit equally well into other causal connections.

2: The persons (the government agents or corporate personnel) behind the conspiracy would need super human abilities in order to accomplish it. People are generally not as powerful as one might think, except in the comic books.

3: Conspiracy theories tend to be complex and in order for them to be carried out, requiring a large number of simultaneous or sequential elements or events.

4: Because of this complexity, conspiracy theories tend to demand large numbers of people who would need to keep silent about their “work”. The likely hood of a “leak” grows nearly exponentially with the number of people keeping the secret.

5: If the conspiracy theory involves some sort of grand scheme to control a nation, economy or political system then this would require vast resources and hence, people to carry it out. If the conspiracy involves the ultimate domination of the world then even more people would necessarily need to be involved. You do the math based on number 4 above.

6: The conspiracy theory builds on a few small events, or small events within a larger event, that may be true in and of them selves, but then the parties perpetrating the conspiracy theory extrapolate them to gigantic, improbable events. (See number 1 above)

7: A conspiracy theory will assign some kind of sinister meaning to otherwise insignificant, unrelated events.

8: A conspiracy theory will commingle facts and speculation without distinguishing between the two. So much so, that after a while facts and speculation are so inter tangled that they are inseparable from each other.

9: The person who proposes or perpetuates the conspiracy theory is indiscriminately suspicious of all government agencies, corporations or private groups or clubs, which suggests that this person is most likely driven by emotional responses and unable or unwilling to pursue rational thought.

10: The conspiracy theorist refuses to consider alternative explanations (especially from a government. See number 9). They reject all other evidence and seek only that which confirms their pre-conceived notions of the “truth”.

Just because governments and politicians sometimes lie and corporations sometimes cheat, does not mean that there is a conspiracy behind every lie. Stuff just happens that we are totally unprepared for. Events such as 9/11 or the JFK assassination are so horrendous and we are so shocked by them, we tend to gravitate to an equally big imaginary causality. Who could have imagined that a simple box knife that can be purchased at the local dollar store, could destroy several skyscrapers, 4 large commercial airplanes, ground several thousand others, bring an economy to a screeching halt, and kill over 2000 people in the blink of an eye.

The truth is we failed ourselves on 9/11. We failed to imagine what other human beings, from a vastly different culture, mindset and religion could do when determined. We failed to imagine it, because we have no basis for understanding it in our culture or history. Consequently we come up with something that explains it in terms we can comprehend. We create a big picture from small facts that seem to fit perfectly within the framework of the larger event. We build from there, drawing conclusions that, at first glance appear to be logical and make the event understandable in our culture and history. The “conspiracy” is much easier to comprehend than the simpler reality.

We must learn to think rationally and, above all, we must remain credible if we are to take the message of Torah to the nations. Yeshua was a reasoned and rational thinker. (Pardon my use of a partial quote here.) Isaiah 1:18 KJV 18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: … After all he was and is God incarnate!

שלום ברוך
Shalom and Be Blessed.
Dan Cathcart

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Numbers in Scripture and the Feasts of the LORD

Numbers in scripture have meaning. God, as the great creator, is also of course the great mathematician. E. W. Bullinger, a noted theologian of the 19th century, wrote about the significance of various numbers in his book Numbers in Scripture. For instance, everyone knows that God created the heavens and the earth in six days and on the seventh day, God rested. This is the origin of our seven day week. In Leviticus God instituted seven feasts, His divinely appointed days to meet with His people. Because of these and other appearances of the number seven in scripture, seven is the number of spiritual completion. We find that the spiritual meanings of the first seven numbers correspond to the fulfillment of the seven feasts of the LORD.

The number one represents God. We read in Deuteronomy 6:4 that the “LORD our God is one.” He is unity, uniquely Him. There is no other God before Him and He is to be first in our lives. The first feast of the LORD is Passover. On Passover, God sent His one and only son Yeshua to die as the Passover Lamb, the sacrifice for our sins. In Exodus, God says that because He spared the firstborn of the Israelites, they are now set aside for Him. And so on the first feast, we learn that Yeshua as God incarnate died for the sins of mankind. Paul tells us that Yeshua as the final Adam is uniquely qualified to do so.

The number two represents differentiation. On the second day of creation, God separated or differentiated between the heavens and the earth. The second feast is the feast of Unleavened Bread. On the Biblical day, the day begins and ends at sunset. The feast of Unleavened Bread begins on the evening of Passover. On this feast, God’s people are to remove all the leaven from their homes and cities. Paul tells us that leaven represents sin so, on this feast, God separates sin from righteousness. Yeshua died on Passover and was put into the grave just as the Feast of Unleavened Bread began. As He goes into the grave, we see the separation between mortality and immortality. Psalm 16:10 says that God would not allow His Holy One to see decay.

The number three is the number of divine completion. The blessing that God wants to place on His people in Numbers 6 has three parts. The seraphim when they bless God in Isaiah 6:3 cry, “Holy, holy, holy” a repetition of three. The triune God is made of the Father, Son, and the Spirit. The third feast is the Feast of Firstfruits contained within the feast of Unleavened Bread. Yeshua rose from the grave on the third day on the feast of Firstfruits. Paul calls Yeshua the firstfruits of the resurrection. When He rose from the grave, Yeshua once again put on the fullness of the His divinity.

The number four is the number of the creation or the whole world. The directions of the world are fourfold, north, south, east and west. There are four rivers flowing out of the Garden of Eden. The fourth feast is the Feast of Weeks. On the first feast of weeks, God made the covenant with Israel at Mt. Sinai. Exodus 19:6 says that Israel was to be a kingdom of priests. All nations would see that God is the only true God and glorify Him. After Yeshua’s death and resurrection, the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples on the feast of Weeks ten days after His ascension. In Acts 2:17-21 Peter tells us that the Holy Spirit was poured out on all people and as many as call on His name will be saved.

The number five is the number of grace. The Torah contains the five books of Moses. The fifth book in particular, Deuteronomy, is all about God’s love and grace to His people. When Satan tempted Yeshua in the wilderness, Yeshua quoted from Deuteronomy to stop the mouth of Satan. The fifth feast is the feast of Trumpets. On this day, the shofar is blown to remind God to have mercy on His people. This will be the day that the final trumpet, the shofar of God, is blown signaling the resurrection of the dead. It is only by the grace of God that we have eternal life. Paul tells us in Ephesians that it is by grace we have been saved through faith, not by our works.

The number six is the number of man. God created Adam on the sixth day in the image of God to have fellowship with God. But Adam sinned and was separated from God. On Yom Kippur, the sixth feast, the high priest enters the holy of holies, coming into the very presence of God, to make atonement or covering for the sins of the nation of Israel. On that fateful Yom Kippur when Yeshua comes again, He will take away the sins of His people forever. Mankind will be restored and once again bear the image of God ready to fellowship with Him.

The number seven is the number of spiritual completion. On the seventh day, God rested. Hebrews 4:9 tells us there is a Sabbath rest waiting for His people. The seventh feast of the LORD is the feast of Tabernacles. This feast commemorates the time when God dwelt with His people in the wilderness. During this forty year period, the people did not have to work for their food or water; God provided manna from heaven and water from the rock. God tells us in Deuteronomy 29:5 that their clothing and their shoes did not decay! The Feast of Tabernacles looks forward to that day when Yeshua reigns as the King of Israel from Jerusalem. God will dwell with man in the form of Yeshua His son. Revelation 22 tells us that after the millennial reign, The New Jerusalem will descend from heaven. The tree of life will be in the midst of Jerusalem on either side of the river that flows from the throne of God. The throne of God and the Lamb will be forever with man.

שלום ברוך
Shalom and Be Blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Can Someone be Forced to Take the Mark of the Beast?

By Brenda Cathcart

The message that many people hear about the mark of the beast is that we need to be careful not to take it by accident or let the “government” assign a mark to you that may turn out to be the mark of the beast. Back in the 1930’s, when the U.S. government first instituted Social Security numbers, preachers warned that they were the mark of the beast. Back in the 1970’s it was a tattoo, then it was a barcode, now it is a microchip implanted under the skin.

I think we all agree that the beast is a representation of Satan and that Satan wants to be God and imitates God in his deception of mankind. With that in mind, what does the Bible tell us about the mark of the beast? What follows is a short synopsis of a more detailed study in Shadows of Messiah, Volume 2, titled “Sealed for the Day of Redemption.”

1) Revelation 13:16 tells us the mark is on the forehead or the right hand. This is an imitation of the sign God gave the Israelites. They are to bind God’s Word on the foreheads and on the hands (Deut. 6: 6-8) The practice is to write the words of these verses on a tiny scroll placed in a leather box called tefillin which is then tied with leather laces to the forehead and the left hand. The tefillin remind them that God’s commandments are to be on their minds (forehead) and that they are to do them (hand). The left hand is chosen because it is closer to the heart; that is the motivation for doing God’s commandments must be from the heart. The left hand is usually the weaker hand implying that it is God’s strength that enables us to do His commands.

The mark of the beast, in contrast, is to be on the forehead or the right hand indicating that their minds are on the beast and his will. Revelation 14:9 tells us that those who receive the mark of the beast worship him. The right hand is the furthest from the heart and is usually stronger. Man’s motivation is his own selfish interests relying on his own strength.

2) Revelation 13:18 tells us the mark of the beast is the number of the beast’s name. Again, this is an imitation of God! God’s high priest also has a mark on his forehead. This mark is in the form of a gold plate with the words “Holy to Yahweh” on it (Ex. 28:36-38). The high priest wears God’s name on his forehead! Peter tells us that we are a royal priesthood with the purpose of proclaiming God’s praises (1 Peter 2:9). So, what does having the number of the name of the beast on one’s forehead indicate? That person belongs to the beast, worships the beast, is set aside for the beast all for the purpose of praising the beast. The number of the beast is 666. Six is the number of man. One is the number of God. When man has God in his life, his number is 6+1=7. Seven is the number of spiritual completeness. Three is the number of divine completeness. So, three sixes is man without God. It indicates that man and man’s accomplishments are supreme. It is the denial of the power or need for God.

3) Those who worship the beast and take his mark will not be written in the book of life and will be thrown in the lake of fire (Rev. 13:8, Rev. 14:9-11). Those taking the mark of the beast cannot be written in the book of life! Yeshua tells us that there is only one sin that will not be forgiven man and that is the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:31). So, taking the mark of the beast involves blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. In Matthew 12, Yeshua casts out demons by the Holy Spirit but the Pharisees attribute it to the power of Satan. Yeshua warns them that they are close to committing the unforgiveable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Willfully and knowingly attributing an act of God to Satan and vice versa is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Those who receive the mark of the beast commit blasphemy.

We also receive a mark or a seal. Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:30, that the Holy Spirit seals us. Notice that it is an action by the Holy Spirit in response to our profession of faith in Yeshua! We cannot get the seal of God by accident.

Ephesians 1:13 NKJV 13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,

When we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit, Paul tells us that nothing can remove us from God’s hand (Rom 8:38-39). So, we cannot be forced to take the mark of the beast. Even if someone ties us down, implants a chip or tattoos us, we are not receiving the mark of the beast!

4) But wait, doesn’t the Bible say that no one can buy or sell without the mark of the beast (Rev 13:17)? Those who both buy and sell are merchants, traders, and businessmen. John tells us in the Revelation that those who mourn the fall of Babylon will be its merchants and traders! There will be no one left to buy their goods (Rev. 18). Zechariah prophesies that every pot in Jerusalem will be “Holy to the LORD.” These are the same words on the plate that the high priest wears on his forehead. Zechariah goes on to say that there will be no Canaanite in the city of Jerusalem. The literal translation of the word Canaanite is “merchant.” Young’s Literal Translation translates the verse this way:

Zec 14:21 And every pot in Jerusalem, and in Judah, Have been holy to Jehovah of Hosts, And all those sacrificing have come in, And have taken of them, and boiled in them, And there is no merchant (Canaanite) any more in the house of Jehovah of Hosts in that day! (YLT)

Those merchants who put greed above God act in the spirit of the Canaanites whom God told the Israelites to drive out of the Promised Land. We see once again that those who take the mark of the beast will be those who elevate mankind above God instead of humbling themselves before God.

Isaiah 23:9-11 NKJV 9 The LORD of hosts has purposed it, To bring to dishonor the pride of all glory, To bring into contempt all the honorable of the earth. 10 Overflow through your land like the River, O daughter of Tarshish (a merchant vessel); There is no more strength. 11 He stretched out His hand over the sea, He shook the kingdoms; The LORD has given a commandment against Canaan (the merchant) To destroy its strongholds.

God will humble all those who lift themselves up in pride, those who think too highly of themselves. He will destroy the stronghold of the merchant. Let me close with the words of Peter as he exhorts us to humble ourselves, to be watchful against the wiles of Satan and to allow God to lift us up when the Good Shepherd returns. Those who follow Peter’s advice are the antithesis of the beast and those who take his mark.

1 Peter 5:1-11 NKJV 1 The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; 4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. 5 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

שלום ברוך
Shalom and Be Blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Hebrew Word for "day" is יום "Yowm"

The definition of the Hebrew word translated as "day" in English is found in your Strong's Concordance.

#3117 יום "yowm" From an unused root meaning to be hot; a day (as the warm hours), whether literal (from sunrise to sunset, or from one sunset to the next), or figurative (a space of time defined by an associated term), (often used adverb):--age, + always, + chronicals, continually(-ance), daily, ((birth-), each, to) day, (now a, two) days (agone), + elder, X end, + evening, + (for) ever(-lasting, -more), X full, life, as (so) long as (... live), (even) now, + old, + outlived, + perpetually, presently, + remaineth, X required, season, X since, space, then, (process of) time, + as at other times, + in trouble, weather, (as) when, (a, the, within a) while (that), X whole (+ age), (full) year(-ly), + younger.

A definition of a word does not necessarily give you a definition of the term. For that you must look at the context in which it is used. So what does Genesis chapter one, the first place where the word יום appears in the Bible, tell us about the definition of the term?

Genesis 1:5 MKJV 5 And God called the light, Day. And He called the darkness, Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

In this verse the word yowm יום is used twice. The first time it describes what “God called the light”. The second time it defines a period of time between “the evening and the morning”. This seems like a contradiction because the time between “the evening and the morning” is a period of time dominated by darkness or what we call night.

You have to look beyond the English translation and into the Hebrew context. What does this verse mean from the Hebrew cultural perspective? First of all the word yowm is three Hebrew letters "י", the "ו" and the "ם", Hebrew is read right to left. The letters are the Yood, the Vav and the Mem. The yood means hand, the vav means nail, to secure or control and the mem means chaos or waters. So in the literal meaning, yowm means “the hand that controls the waters”.

In Jewish tradition a “day” is defined as “between the evenings”, that is from one evening, or sunset to the next. The understanding is that the “evening” is the beginning of the period of darkness and the “morning” is the beginning of the period of light. And since the Torah describes a “day” (second usage) as “the evening and the morning”, a complete day always begins at sunset and continues to the next sunset including both the night and day (first usage) periods.

Elsewhere in the creation account in Genesis, we see that when God first created the earth and it was without form and void. He then, by His word alone created light. He then by His hand (yood) separated the light from the darkness. It also says in the Genesis creation account that God “separated the waters from the waters”. We see his Hand (yood), separating, or controlling (vav) the waters (mem).

Each day when the sun sets, and each day when the sun rises, remember that it is only by the hand of God that the universe is secure. That the “chaos” is “controlled” by His “hand”.

שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed
Dan Cathcart

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hebrew Origins of New Testament Scripture.

Much of the New Testament documents we have, although written in Greek, are translations from a Hebrew or Aramaic original.  Now, I have probably lost a bunch of you right here if not with the title of this piece, but bear with me and you will see what I mean.  Aramaic is its self a Semitic language structured along nearly identical cultural lines as Hebrew.  Hebrew and Aramaic share a common alphabet, syntactical and grammatical structure and Aramaic was the primary language of the largest Jewish population (1st Century) outside of the land of Israel in Babylon, approx. present day Iraq.  I will present this evidence of a Hebrew/Aramaic original the best I can and I have included many foot notes and an extensive, but non-exhaustive bibliography giving some of the source material so that one may research this for oneself.

We in the West tend to be very euro-centric in our thinking.  This leads us to dismiss entire parallel histories happening outside of our European, Greco/Roman world view.  There is strong evidence of a Hebrew/Aramaic, or Hebraic, origin of NT scripture not only in the scriptures themselves, there are hints in the Greek text that allude to an Hebrew/Aramaic original, but also in histories and NT manuscripts preserved by the early Aramaic speaking congregations in the Middle East.  These Middle Eastern congregations were far more meticulous in maintaining original documents than the western societies were in the early centuries of the Common Era. I will examine some of this evidence of the Hebrew/Aramaic origins contained within the western Greek fragments and manuscripts themselves as well as the remaining Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts from the 4th to the14th centuries and why we do not have much if any earlier Hebrew/Aramaic manuscript evidence in the West.

Before the advent of the Internet, and the vast amount of data available through this tool, we “lay persons”, would never have been afforded the opportunity to research this material on our own.  Raw data in the form of ancient original documents are now available to the average person and Bible student on line.  The vast amount of research being done in the last few decades has brought new light to our understanding of New Testament origins.  Our willingness to open our minds beyond our Western, euro-centric mindset has brought on a much needed paradigm shift in out understanding of the 1st century believers in Yeshua and our own Church history.

This treatise is by no means a comprehensive look at this subject, that would take a large book, but is meant to give you, the reader, an overview of the basic Hebraic nature of the NT scriptures and hopefully will further your journey to draw closer to the Father and to His Son, Messiah Yeshua.

A little Communication Problem Here?

I think everyone will agree that a language will reflect the culture from which it emanates.  The spoken and written language of a given people contains all the cultural idioms, syntactical structure, metaphorical references and other content that is common to the people that speak or write it.  A simple mechanical translation of one language to another renders largely gibberish.  There are words and phraseology in one language that make no sense or have no equivalent in another because of these vast cultural differences.  Let me give you an example:  The Old Testament is largely written in Hebrew, and in the case of the Torah, the first 5 books of Moses, where written more than 3500 years ago.  When we translate the Hebrew to English, we go back to the Hebrew and read it and translate it word for word, right?  Wrong!  Look at figure 1.  The Hebrew of Genesis 1:1 contains 7 words.  When translated to English there are 10 words.  Why is that the case?  Now, look at the 4th Hebrew word, it is not translated at all!  It is completely, and in all English translations, ignored.  This is because this Hebrew word has no English word or phrase equivalence that can be inserted here and have any hope of creating a comprehensible English sentence. (See my post titled “The End is Declared from the Beginning – Part 4 for an explanation available on this blog site).

In translating these vastly different languages one to another, we have to attempt to ascertain the intent of the author or speaker and be able to relate that message to the intended audience.  We have to know something about both, the author and the audience, their culture, their history, their way of thinking, their value system etc.  These all play into how a language is structured and how effective a translation will be.

Jewish Greek?

The translator is the mediator between the audience and the author.  If the translator doesn’t understand what is being said by the author, or has a different cultural mindset than the author and/or audience, then how is there any hope of obtaining an accurate translation?  An accurate translation requires an intimate knowledge of the historic, cultural and linguistic context of the text in question.

In order to understand the NT writings, we must first understand something about the people who wrote them.  Who were they?  Where did they live?  What kind of society did they have, including, and especially, their religious doctrines?  In other words it takes at least a basic sociological study of the culture of 1st century Israel, Judaism and their history up to that point to be able to translate their ideas correctly.

The Septuagint, the 3rd century B.C.E. Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, Tanach (ie: Old Testament), is an indispensable tool for studying the NT scriptures.  The NT Greek scriptures follow very closely the Septuagint in vocabulary and grammar.  And as with the Septuagint, the NT scriptures reflect a Hebraic culture and mindset of 1st century Israel rather than any standard form of Greek language or culture. 

Here is what Isidore of Pelasium, a 5th century Christian writer had to say about the Greek scriptures.  “The Greeks…despise the divine scripture as barbarous language, and composed of foreign sounding words, abandoning necessary conjunctions, and confusing the mind with the addition of extraordinary words.” 1 So at least in the 5th century CE, even the vernacular Greek speakers didn’t think much of the NT Greek.  They found it “confusing”.  If the NT authors’ intention was to communicate the Gospel message of the Messiah to the Greek speaking world outside of the Jewish culture, then why write in such a way that you diminish the message with bad grammar and made up words?  Why would they not use proper Greek language?  It is because the Greek language was written by a pagan, polytheistic people for a pagan, polytheistic culture.  Everything about the Greek language follows the cultural aspects of the society that developed it.

Many linguistic scholars call this Greek of the Septuagint and the NT “translation Greek” because it is not grammatically correct Greek in the Koine or Classical.  It reflects a different and very literal translation from a document or thought from a language with very different structure and cultural ideas.

Nigel Turner said that, “Biblical Greek…is usually so drenched in Semitic idioms and forms of syntax that it is extremely difficult to decide whether a book has been translated from Hebrew to Greek or whether it was originally composed in that language.”  He also said, “We may call this ‘Jewish Greek.’” 2 

The NT scriptures were written in this “Jewish Greek” for a reason.  Those who translated the NT writings into Greek were targeting a Jewish reader, living in the Diaspora, who spoke the native language of their now adopted country.  In other words, they wanted the scripture to be available in the common language of the Jewish people, not just the Synagogue leaders.  These translations were also done for the purpose of maintaining a Hebraic cultural unity among the scattered Jewish people around the known world.  This is the same motivation of the reformers in the 15th and 16th centuries in the Christian Church who, under the treat of death by Church leadership, translated the scriptures from the Latin to the everyday language of the people.  The NT Greek translators, as well as the 70 scholars and Rabbis who created the Septuagint translation of the Tanach, were certainly educated enough to write in proper Greek if they had desired to.  But that didn’t suit their mission.  They took great pains to craft documents that would retain as much of the original Hebraic cultural content as possible.  Any effort to approach these documents in a manor inconstant with their innate Jewish context is a mistake.

Greek was Unpopular in 1st Century Israel.

Hebrew, along with Aramaic, was the language of Judea, Samaria and throughout all of Roman controlled Israel as well as many Jewish enclaves in the Diaspora.  Much of the Jewish people living in the land despised the Greeks and anything Greek as a result of the ravaging of the land, people and the holy places by Antiocus IV Epiphanies (175-163 BCE) and his army less than 200 years earlier as recorded in many histories including 1st and 2nd Maccabees. 

The Hellenization of the Jews during the Greco-Roman era is just another case of the influence of pagan culture seeping into Jewish society.  The Jewish people were set apart by God to be “Priests to the Nations” and a “Light to the World”.  Yet, time and again, as recorded in scripture and other historical documents, they followed after “other gods” and turned away from the LORD.  Each time this has happened in history, it has resulted in a disaster for the Jewish people and it was no different in the 2nd temple era. 

The result of the atrocities perpetrated on the Jewish people during the reign of Antiocus IV Epiphanies was profound.  He did not do this entirely on his own.  He was aided and abetted by many of the Jews who were “Hellenized” and had turned from their ways and followed after the paganism of the Greeks. This, of course, did not sit well with the main body of the Jewish people and the Pharisees who were the developers of the Synagogue system.  During the reign of the Hasmoneans, there was a concerted effort to rid the land of Israel of the Greek influences including the use of the Greek language where practical.

Even the famous 1st century Jewish historian and scholar, Flavius Josephus (37-100 CE) admitted that he was not fluent in Greek and that the speaking of Greek or any other foreign language was largely frowned upon in the Jewish culture. "I have also taken a great deal of pains to obtain the learning of the Greeks, and understanding the elements of the Greek language although I have so long accustomed myself to speak our own language, that I cannot pronounce Greek with sufficient exactness: for our nation does not encourage those that learn the languages of many nations".3

Josephus was born Joseph ben Matthias, a Jew of a priestly family, a descendant of the Hasmoneans.  He was well educated and at age 19, joined the sect of the Pharisees.  The Pharisees were the most orthodox of the Jews of the 2nd Temple era.  The Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Jews of today carry on the traditions and teaching begun by the Pharisees.  If Josephus did not speak Greek until he had to learn it later in life, it is logical that the more common, perhaps less educated Jewish resident of 1st century Israel would not have bothered to learn Greek or any of the “languages of many nations”.  Yeshua chose His disciples from among the common Jewish people of Israel, specifically the area of Galilee where Aramaic was the common language of the people.

Greek or Hebrew/Aramaic Original?

There is much evidence which points towards the New Testament being originally written in Hebrew and/or Aramaic and not Greek.  Biblical textural scholarship is increasingly validating the case for a Hebraic original New Testament.  It is a fact that the original authors of the New Testament Scripture were all Hebrews (Jews) in the land of Israel or from the land of Israel with the possible exception of Luke and Paul.  In the case of the Apostle Paul, he was from Tarsus in Asia Minor originally, but lived and studied most of his life in Jerusalem, and by his own admission, a “Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee” (Philipians 3:5( partial)) born and raised a Jew, trained in the most orthodox of schools under the leadership of Gamaliel.  Paul, or Rabbi Shaul, his proper Hebrew name, was definitely not a “Hellenist Jew” in his personal beliefs.  Although being from Tarsus, Rabbi Shaul would have had an intimate understanding of Greek philosophy and teaching which is evident in the narrative in the book of Acts.  Luke was most likely a Proselyte, a Gentile convert to Judaism.

Over the years, many scholars have viewed the Greek in the Septuagint as well as the Greek in the New Testament manuscripts as the common or vernacular (koine) Greek of the day.  A closer examination reveals that it is not quite that simple.  The koine, or common vernacular Greek was quite different from city to city and regionally due to cultural differences just as English has differences from region to region here in the US and internationally. The Greek NT text retains some innate Hebrew/Aramaic syntax, such as reversed noun/verb pairings that are bad Greek, even in the vernacular, but are perfect Hebrew syntax and grammar.  There are also transliterated words; Hebrew or Aramaic words with Greek spelling so the Greek reader/speaker can pronounce the Hebraic word.  As an example if I write the word “shalom”, I am writing a nonexistent English word.  What I have just written is a “transliteration” of a Hebrew word, not a “translation” of the word.  An approximate translation of “shalom” would be “peace” and as you can see, not even close to a similar spelling.  The NT Greek text contains many such transliterations in order to preserve as much of the Hebraic understanding of the original text as possible.  The transliterated Hebrew/Aramaic word contains an intrinsic Hebrew cultural meaning that can not be communicated by simply using a Greek approximation.  Over time, these transliterations tend to be accepted into the common vernacular of a language and the exact origins of these words tend to be lost. If the original authors of the NT scripture spoke in Greek and wrote their accounts and epistles in Greek from the very beginning, assuming that they are doing so for the benefit of a non-Hebrew (non-Jewish) reader, then why did they use all the intrinsic Hebraic content and grammatical structure that is contrary to the Greek society of the day?  Why use transliterations, idioms and metaphors that make no sense in the Greek culture?

Did Paul write his letters in Greek or Aramaic?  We know that his epistles were sent to synagogues throughout Asia Minor that comprised both Jewish and Gentile believers whose legal faith practices were governed by the authority in Jerusalem.  We have two accounts in the Book of Acts, chapters 9 and 15, to attest to the authority stemming from Jerusalem.

I think that we would all agree from the historical record that Paul was very well educated.  But when we take a close look at the Greek manuscripts and fragments that remain of the Pauline Epistles, there is an inconsistency that is observed in the quality of the writing.  This is not consistent with someone who is fluent in the language in question.  There are marked and distinct differences in the quality and linguistic style of the Greek text.  Galatians is the poorest example and there is some evidence that Paul may have, at least partially, scribed this one in his own hand (Gal. 6:11).  1st Corinthians is much more consistent with someone versed in Greek.  Bible textural scholarship indicates that these two epistles were written within two years of each other.  Why would Paul, who is known to be highly educated, be so inconsistent in his Greek manuscripts?

Our best scholarship places Paul’s death in 67 CE.  He writes of events at the Temple in Jerusalem in the present tense, so his letters could not have been written later than 70 CE, when the Temple was destroyed.  Paul’s letters were not considered scripture at any time in the 1st century.  Marcion was the first Christian leader, later declared a heretic, in recorded history to propose a canon of what he called the “New Testament” Scripture.  This was in about 140 CE, 80 plus years after the time Paul wrote his letters!  The first major figure to codify any widely accepted Biblical canon was Origen of Alexandria (185-254 CE)

When Paul wrote what we know as his second letter to Timothy, he writes

2 Timothy 3:16 KJV All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.

But let’s back up a little and take this in a broader context.

2 Timothy 3:14-17 NKJV But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Paul reminds Timothy in verse 15 that “from childhood you have known the Holy Scripture” and that they “make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus”.  Paul was specifically referring to the Torah, Prophets and Writings, The Tanakh.  Paul was reminding Timothy of the foundation of faith in Yeshua as Messiah that come from and is squarely grounded in the Tanakh!

Again, Paul states in Galatians 6:11 that he has a poor scribal hand and training.  Paul also always traveled with others in attendance.  Both epistles to the Thessalonians open with a salutation from Paul, Silvanus and Timothy.  Several other places in his epistles, he mentions traveling companions.  The scribe Tertius writes his own name at the end Romans (16:22).  With the absence of John Mark at Pamphylia, Paul then travels with Luke and others (see Acts).  Paul is never recorded as traveling without companions. It is highly likely that these fellow travelers provided the service of translating Paul’s communications into Greek for benefit of the Greek speaking believers in Asia Minor and interpreted communications addressed to Paul. Remember that Paul, Rabbi Shaul, was a Jewish man, a Pharisee, highly educated, yes, but first a Hebrew, a Jew.  This accounts for the widely varying Greek style and polish of the Pauline Epistles.

The classical western theological position that Greek was the common language of the Disciples of Yeshua is rather far fetched when we understand the Hebraic nature that is embedded in the Greek text of the manuscripts, and especially that these early followers were themselves Jews from Israel.  They were followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  They were mono-theists, an entirely foreign concept in Greek culture and language.  They were by any definition Jews, and they came to understand their Jewish Messiah by the thousands as recorded in the Book of Acts.  The followers of Yeshua were Jews who studied the Hebrew Tanakh, many being Pharasees, Scribes and Priests, and spoke and wrote the vernacular Hebrew and Aramaic of their land and culture.  They relied on the Tanakh to prove that Yeshua was and is the Messiah, the Holy One of Israel, their promised King and redeemer!  The highest authority of Scripture and ideas from which to make our arguments for the Messiahship of Yeshua come from the Tanakh!  Yeshua Himself taught us this when He appeared to His disciples on the road to Emmas, the account of which is found in the Gospel of Luke:

Luke 24:27 NKJV 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

When we speak to both Jews and Gentiles about the Messiah Yeshua, it is imperative that we base our arguments on the firm foundation of the Tanakh, testified to by the words and deeds of the 1st century disciples of Yeshua themselves, as recorded in the New Testament, so as to establish the authority of the Messiah.

The Gentile Believers and the Western Church

The Rabbinic teachers of the 1st century spoke and taught in Hebrew and/or Aramaic as witnessed by the many Jewish documents dating from this time.  When the Jewish scholars began to write down the “oral law”, what became the foundation for the Talmud,   following the Jewish revolt in 132 CE, and their expulsion from Jerusalem and the rest of Israel, these documents were written in Hebrew and Aramaic.  The early believers of Yeshua as Messiah were still meeting in the synagogues along with the rest of their Jewish brothers.  There is no reason to postulate that the early believers in Yeshua being nearly all Jewish, (again, see the book of Acts), would have chosen to use Greek as their “official language”.  They spoke and wrote in Hebrew and Aramaic.  It makes absolutely no logical sense to postulate otherwise.

The purpose of, and the reason for, the later manuscripts being in Greek is many facetted.  For one, the Jewish population in the Diaspora in Asia Minor and other places in the Greek speaking world, spoke Greek as their primary vernacular language.  As time went on, more and more Gentiles were joining the body of believers in the synagogues.  There was much debate about what should be required of the new Gentile believers (see Acts 15).  Many issues arose between the Jews and the Gentiles with their strange pagan ways.  In other words, there was a clash of cultures going on among the early believers.  Rabbi Shaul, was the Apostle to the Gentiles, and he wrote letters and traveled to these Synagogues throughout Asia Minor addressing the issues as they arose in the various congregations.

As the Gentile believers became the vast majority of the body of Messiah in the Greek speaking world, keeping and maintaining Hebrew and Aramaic documents became less and less important.  This was especially true if those documents were not considered scripture.

After the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE, persecution of the Jews vastly increased.  Many of the Gentile believers who did not want to be associated with the Jewish population and be persecuted themselves, moved “underground”.  In parallel to this, the Greek speaking Gentiles brought more and more of their pagan traditions into their new “Christian” religion, abandoning observance of Jewish traditions and festivals so as not to appear too Jewish and be subject to the murderous persecutions being perpetrated on the Jews.

These violent persecutions took many forms, from outright murder, to killing for sport and show in the arenas.  Along with the persecutions and killings, synagogues were vandalized and sacred writings were burned or otherwise destroyed.  In many cases, Hebrew and Aramaic documents were singled out for destruction because those were without question, Jewish in origin.

The Safe Haven of the Eastern Church.

The Aramaic textural history was preserved by the Eastern Church which resided largely outside of Roman control.  This parallel history is fascinating in the meticulous detail in which these churches kept the original NT documents put in their charge.  The Eastern Church had an accepted cannon of scripture long before the West which included much of the Pauline epistles in their original Aramaic.  The Eastern Aramaic speaking Christians have a solid, provable textual history dating well back into the 1st century.  The Eastern scribes followed the traditional Jewish methodology of copying manuscripts considered scripture where no embellishments or changes were tolerated.  The Western Greek textual history has no such provenance.

The biblical record tells us that three of the early disciples traveled East.  These would be Peter (Keffa), Nathaniel bar Tulmay (Bartholomew) and Thomas.  A very large population of Jewish people, perhaps the largest of all, resided in the former Babylon (today’s Iran/Iraq).  The Biblical record in the Tanakh shows that only a fraction of the Jewish people returned to the land of Israel following the time of the exiles.  See Ezra an Nehemiah. 

A Shift of the Center.

Just as mathematics is the engine and currency of physics and astronomy, so scripture is the currency of theology.  Text, translation and interpretation are the engine that drives our religious world.  Our entire belief system is built on a kind of  theological mathematics.

When we think of the Bible, we usually think of a particular translation that we are most familiar with.  For some it is the KJV, others it’s the NIV or the ASV, etc.  Translations are necessary, but only if they are accurate.  An accurate translation will make the original message available to the reader.  An inaccurate translation distorts the message, sometimes beyond recognition.  A good example of this is found in Genesis 27:39 between the New King James Version and the New International Version:

Genesis 27:39 NKJV Then Isaac his father answered and said to him: "Behold, your dwelling shall be of the fatness of the earth, And of the dew of heaven from above.

Genesis 27:39 NIV His father Isaac answered him, "Your dwelling will be away from the earth's richness, away from the dew of heaven above.

Wow!  Between these two popular translations, we have an example an exact opposite meaning in this verse.  Which is the correct one?  Which is the one that accurately translates the intention of the author?  They can not possibly both be right!  As it turns out, the NIV translation is the one which agrees most with the Hebrew Tanakh and the historic Hebrew literary practices and traditions.

This is a classic example of what happens when a translator, although perhaps skilled in the language, fails to understand the cultural context of the scripture he or she is translating.  Most of our translations of the NT Scriptures contain similar misrepresentations.  There are systematic errors that come about through the failure on the part of the translator or translators to recognize the original linguistic and cultural context.  This may not have been done maliciously, or through a lack of knowledge.  It is possibly simple result of a translator’s misperception of the nature of the text.  NT translators assume that they are dealing with a Greek text written in a Christian context... Let me say that again.  NT translators assume that they are dealing with a Greek text written in a Christian context.  It is this assumption that is a gross error.

An accurate translation requires not only an academic understanding of the language of the text, but an intimate understanding of the historic, cultural and linguistic context in which it was written.  With that in mind, we must begin to shift our center of thinking away from our Western mindset and culture and to a 1st century Hebraic mindset and culture.  We must think like a 1st century Jew!  In this multi-part treatise, I will attempt to examine a great deal of evidence supporting a Hebrew/Aramaic origin of the NT scriptures.  Stay tuned, it will be most interesting and for some of you, it will be a bumpy ride.

שלום ברוך
Shalom and Be Blessed
Dan and Brenda Cathcart

Figure 1


1. Epistle 4.28, in Migne, Patrologia greca, cited in Semitic interference in Marcan syntax, Elliott C. Maloney, Scholars Press, Chico, CA, 1981, p.5
2. Nigel Turner, “The Testament of Abraham: Problems in Biblical Greek,” NTS 1, 1955, pp222-223, cited in the Apocalypse and Semitic Syntax, Thompson, p.108
3. Flavius Josephus, “The Antiquities of the Jews” book 20 11:2


The research for this treatise was derived from these and some other sources. Many of the following are also a recommended reading list.

Matthew Black, An Aramaic Approach to the Gospels and Acts, third edition.
D. Bivin and R. B. Blizzard, Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus.
E. W. Bullinger, The Companion Scriptures.
Dr. F. C. Burkitt, The Earliest Sources for the Life of Jesus.
Prof. C. F. Burney, The Aramaic Origin of the Fourth Gospel.
Epiphanius, Panarion 29:9:4 on Matthew.
Edward Gibbon, History of Christianity.
Dr. Frederick C. Grant, Roman Hellenism and the New Testament.
Dr. George Howard, Hebrew Gospel of Matthew 1980.
Dr. George Lamsa, The Holy Scriptures from Ancient Eastern Manuscripts.
Dr. Alfred F. Loisy, The Birth of the Christian Religion and The Origin of the New Testament)
Dr. Isaac Rabinowitz, Journal of Semitic Studies vol. XVI (1971), pp. 151-156.
Hugh J. Schonfield, An Old Hebrew Text of St. Matthew's Gospel, (1927) p. 7.
Dr. Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus.
R. B. Y. Scott, The Original Language of the Apocalypse
Prof. Charles C. Torrey, Documents of the Primitive Church, entirety. Also, Our Translated Gospels, entirety.
Dr. James Scott Trimm, The semitic Origin of the New Testament.
Max Wiolcox, The Semitism of Acts (1965), entirety.
F. Zimmerman, The Aramaic Origin of the Four Gospels.
Nehemia Gordon, The Hebrew Yeshua vs. The Greek Jesus.
Brad H. Young, Ph..D., Paul, The Jewish Theologian.
Daniel Gruber, The Separation of Church and Faith, Copernicus and The Jews.
The Aramaic English Net Testament, Netzari Press second edition 2009