Monday, 28 May 2012

The meaning of YHVH

YHVH is the four letter name of God in the Old Testament.  It is called the tetragrammaton….because tetragrammaton means ‘four letters’ in Greek.

Arguments have raged over centuries about what the vowels should be in YHVH:
Some say Yahweh
Some say Yehoshua
Some say Jehovah
Some say Adonai
etc, etc…..

The issue is not what the vowels are…..the issue is what does YHVH mean, because the name of a person in Biblical culture denoted that person’s character, personality, and nature.

For example, when God changed Sarai’s name to Sarah, the change reflected Sarah’s change of attitude and nature. 

Sarai means ‘dominator’, ‘ruler’, ‘master’….and Sarah means ‘lady’, ‘mistress’, ‘princess’. 

When Sarah realised that Abraham, her husband, should ‘wear the trousers’ in their marriage, she ceased to be the ‘dominator’, ‘ruler’,
and ‘master’ in the marriage.

So, what does YHVH tell us about the nature and character of  Jesus our Messiah.   To understand the answer we need to look at the Hebrew of YHVH:

The most revealing passage in the Old Testament which explains YHVH is Exodus 3.14-15:
God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’
He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel,
‘I AM has sent me to you.’
God said…. ‘LORD God of your fathers, …has sent me…..

I have set out the transliterated text below:
Pronouns are highlighted in blue and Verbs in red:

A.     God         said      to Moses,      I AM      WHO      I AM.’
       Elohim     yamar    el-Moshe    Ahayah   ashar     ahayah

B.    He said, ‘You shall say to the children of Israel,  
        Yamar           t’amar       l’beni          Ishrael

C.  I AM   has sent me.’
      Ahayah     shalani

D.   God      said,    LORD      God   of your fathers, has sent me.’

      Elohim  yamar  Yahavah  Elohi          avti                  shalani

The Pronoun I’ is aleph, and ‘he’ is Yod. 
The Verb ‘am’, ‘is’, ‘to be’, is  Hayah or havah.

The key to understanding YHVH is in Line D in which the Verb and Pronoun  YHVH is translated ‘LORD’ rather than ‘He is’.  

The Hebrew verbs hayah and havah mean ‘to exist’, ‘to have being’, ‘to have breath’, because that which exists, has being, has breath. In Hebrew thought, as I have noted, the breath is the character, personality, nature, or the being of someone. 

When God says, ‘I AM  WHO I AM’,  He is saying, ‘I exist’, ‘I am being’, ‘I have breath’.

The third person singular, He is, YHVH, means  ‘He exists’, ‘He is Being’, ‘He has breath’. 

Therefore, the four letter Hebrew word, YHVH, and translated ‘LORD’ in the Old Testament, means He is Being’.

It is in, and from, YHVH that we, as human beings, derive our being, as the Psalmist notes:
You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb…I am fearfully and wonderfully made; …my frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, …Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.   Psalm 139.13-16

As Job comments in Job 31.15:
Did not He who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same One fashion us in the womb?

As Isaiah prophesies in Isaiah 44.2:
Thus says the LORD (YHVH) who made you and formed you from the womb…

As The LORD YHVH said to the Prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1.5:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;

As the Apostle Paul conformed in Acts 17.28:'
In Him we live and move and have our being,’ ……because He is Being’. 

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Hang earrings on dogs?

‘Give not that which is holy’ or ‘Hang earrings’?

Give not that which is holy unto dogs, neither cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet and turn again to rend you.   Matthew 7:6
This verse is instructive because it contains two pairs of Aramaic words that have been mistranslated:

tithlon, ‘hang’, was mistranslated as talon, ‘to lead or give’, and it was translated into Greek with the word ‘give’.

qudeshah, ‘earrings’, was mistranslated as qudsha, ‘holy’, with both words spelled the same, and it was translated into Greek with the word ‘holy’.

The correct translation is:
Hang not earrings on dogs, neither cast your pearls before swine,

The other key aspect to this verse is that is a beautiful piece of Semitic poetry. The image of ‘hanging earrings on dogs’ dovetails perfectly with the other half of the line of ‘casting pearls before swine’. This type of poetry is called a Parallelism where two or more agreeing images are joined together.

In the Parallelism of Matthew 7.6 both images show that animals, dogs and swine, used metaphorically as representing ignorant people, should not be given precious things that they will not appreciate or understand:

Hang not earrings on dogs,
neither cast your pearls before swine,

lest they trample them under their feet
and turn again to rend you.    

Friday, 18 May 2012

How does the Bible commentate on itself? (4)

To return to the connections, and the Word and Phrase Associations, between the Old Testament and the Gospels…..

What is the connection between C. Job 9.8  and  N.  Matthew 14.33?

Job 9.8:
God alone spreads out the heavens, and treads on the waves of the sea.

Matthew 14.26&33:
When the disciples saw Him Son of God … then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God.’

Whilst walking on the sea is an impressive feat….to suggest that whoever does so is the Son of God is perhaps an exaggeration. 

Son of God is a Hebrew idiom that actually means ‘the image and physical representation of God Himself’.  Therefore, the disciples assumed, and understood, that because He was walking on the sea, Jesus was God Himself.    They understood that the evidence of walking on the sea was proof that He was God Himself because Job 9.8 is specific and unequivocal:

God alone … treads on the waves of the sea.

Many believe that some of the disciples were ignorant and unlettered fisherman.  This assumption is incorrect.  For example, at least five of the disciples lived in Bethsaida on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee:  Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Philip.

In the first century Bethsaida was a particularly orthodox Jewish village and there were no Gentiles living there. Many orthodox Jews in the first century knew their Scriptures by heart, and the disciples were no exception.  They would have known the verse in Job 9.8, and recognised that Jesus, by walking on the sea, was indicating to them that He was the Messiah, God Himself, Who had become flesh to dwell among them.

On that basis it is not a surprise that they came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God’.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Aramaic Wordplays in the Gospels

There are many, many proofs that the Gospels were written in Aramaic, and subsequently translated into Greek by a translator who was not a native Aramaic speaker….and whose translations leave much to be desired!!

The Apostle John was a fan of Wordplays.  Here are two examples:

John 4.32: 
makultha  = nutrients  or  sevartha  = food   

The usual Aramaic word for ‘food’ is ‘sevartha’ which is used by Luke: 
buy food sevartha for all these people Luke 9.13

In John 4.32  Jesus deliberately uses a different word for ‘food’; makultha that means ‘nutrients’:
But He said to them, I have food makultha  to eat of which you do not know.

Why does Jesus do this?
When we compare makultha; food/nutrients with malkutha, which means ‘kingdom’, we can understand His intention is to teach from the Wordplay that the requirements to find both ‘spiritual food’ makultha, and the Kingdom of God malkutha, are the same; to do His Will.



John 12.24: 

myta = dies  and  mytya  = produces

In a neat wordplay of myta and mytya, Jesus teaches that by ‘dying’ believers ‘produce much’:

Unless a grain of wheat … dies, it remains alone...if it dies, myta it produces  mytya much grain

Note the connections with John 5:24 and Matthew 16.25:

…he who hears My Word …has passed from death into life.

Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

The purpose of Hebrew/Aramaic Wordplays is to help listeners remember teaching.  They work well!!

Friday, 11 May 2012

How does the Bible commentate on itself? (3)

What is the connection between the healing of the paralytic in P. Matthew 9.6 and B. Isaiah 43.25?:

‘That you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins’; then He said to the paralytic, ‘Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.’

I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.

The incident of the paralytic began in Matthew 9.3:
Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.

When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven you.’

And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, ‘Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’

But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, ‘Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’?

The reaction of ‘the scribes’ is correct because they knew the verse in Isaiah 43.25, ‘Who can forgive sins but God alone?’
Jesus said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven you.’ The only logical conclusion from this comment is that Jesus is stating clearly, and unequivocally, that He is God.

The clergy of many Christian denominations do not accept that God alone  can forgive sins. For example, the Roman Catholic Catechism teaches that the Church has the power and authority to forgive people's sins. Here are a few quotes:
There is no offence, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive.
By Christ's will, the Church possesses the power to forgive the sins of the baptized...
Bishops and priests, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, have the power to forgive all sins.

Anglican priests are commissioned to absolve those who turn to Him in faith during their Ordination service.

The Prophet Jeremiah experienced the same problem of priests who hijacked the LORD’s job:
The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; and My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end? Jeremiah 5:31

The real problem is that those today claiming that power have effectively placed themselves equal with Jesus Christ Himself. Whilst they take on the power to forgive all sins, they fail to realise that, according to the incident of the paralytic in Matthew 9, the forgiveness of his sins resulted in his healing and he took up his bed and walked.
When bishops and priests, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, exercise their power to forgive all sins… those forgiven also receive healing for all their physical, mental, and emotional conditions?

The purpose of this blog is NOT to criticize Christian denominations.  Rather, the purpose is to point out that to try and hijack that God alone  can forgive sins…..without the additional element of healing, is to sell believers dramatically short.  What a tragedy!

Until the next blog….

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

How does the Bible commentate on itself? (2)

Here are the answers that match the red OT references to the blue Gospel references…and which indicate clear Word and Phrase Associations:

A. Deuteronomy 2.14                   =       O.  John 5.5    

B. Isaiah 43.25                             =        P.   Matthew 9.6 

C. Job 9.8                                    =        N.  Matthew 14.33

D. Deuteronomy 18.15                =        L.  John 6.14

E. Psalm 107.28-29                    =        K.  Matthew 8.27

F.  Ezekiel 34.11,16                    =        M.  Luke 19.10   

G. Jeremiah 17.13                      =        T.   John 8.6,8  

H. Isaiah 40.3                             =        S.   Matthew 3.1

I.  Zephaniah 1.14-18                 =        Q.   Matthew 3.7

J.  Psalm 119.1,50,142,151       =        R.   John 14.6

We have looked at the commentary on M. Luke 19.10 in  F.  Ezekiel 34.11,16.

What, then, is the commentary on the Phrase Association between O. John 5.5  and A. Deuteronomy 2.14?:

O. A certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty–eight years.

A. The time we took to come from Kadesh Barnea until we crossed over the Valley of the Zered was thirty–eight years 

Why does the phrase ‘thirty-eight years’ only appear twice in the whole Bible, in John 5.5 and Deuteronomy 2.14?
The key to the answer  is what happened at Kadesh:

Numbers 13.26-14.1:
The spies came back to Moses … at Kadesh; they brought back word to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. Then they told him, and said: ‘We went to the land where you sent us. …Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; …We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.’ And they gave the children of Israel a bad report …So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night.

Therefore, as a direct result of the people’s decision to accept the ‘bad report’ of the spies….and to refuse to trust in God, they were condemned to wander in the wilderness for thirty-eight years.

The certain man who had an infirmity thirty–eight years specifically represents the attitude that refuses to trust in God, preferring rather to trust in man.  Later in John’s report we read:
Jesus found him in the Temple, and said to him, ‘See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.’
What ‘sin’ had the man committed that caused Jesus to say, ‘Sin no more’?
No ‘sin’ is mentioned in the report……because ‘sin no more’ is a Hebrew expression that means ‘return to Torah, return to keeping God’s Commandments’.

Jesus then adds, ‘lest a worse thing come upon you’.  What is worse than being paralysed and unable to walk for thirty-eight years?  The answer is death….forever!

In the next blog we will make the connection between the healing of the paralytic in P. Matthew 9.6 and B. Isaiah 43.25.

Friday, 4 May 2012

How does the Bible commentate on itself? (1)

It has often been said that ‘the Bible is the best commentary on itself’.  How does this work?
One of the main keys to commentary is Word and Phrase Association.

For example, in Luke 19.10 Jesus said:
The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost

There are clear Word and Phrase Associations with Ezekiel 34 in the underlined words in verses 11 and 16:
34.11 I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out.
34.16 I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away

But there is more to the commentary than the initial Word and Phrase Association.  It was the custom in the first century to use these Associations to point to the whole passage in which they occur, not just to the specific Associations.

Therefore, in the case of Luke 19.10, Jesus is referring to the whole of Ezekiel chapter 34 in which there are three Prophecies which describe the ‘bad’ shepherds, and what the LORD proposes to do about them:

34.2-3 Thus says the Lord GOD to the shepherds: ‘Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! …You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock.…..

34.10-11 Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; …  ‘For thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out.’

34.20-23 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD to them: ‘Behold, I Myself will judge between the fat and the lean sheep. Because you have pushed with side and shoulder, butted all the weak ones with your horns, and scattered them abroad, therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep. I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them; My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd.

34.31You are My flock, the flock of My pasture; you are men, and I am your God,’ says the Lord GOD.

At the end of the third Prophecy we can identify additional Associations to John 10:

10.9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

10.16 Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

From these Associations we can see that Ezekiel 34 provides an expanded commentary on some comments of Jesus in Luke 19and John 10.

It seems that Ezekiel 34 was one of Jesus’s favourite chapters because there are other references to this chapter elsewhere in the Gospels….and there are many Associations between this chapter and other OT Prophecies, particularly Jeremiah 31.

The references below in red are in the OT, and those in blue are in the Gospels.

Which red references match with which blue references? 

You already have the answer that F matches with M

Enjoy matching the others! The answers will be posted in the next blog.

A. Deuteronomy 2.14                    K.  Matthew 8.27

B. Isaiah 43.25                               L.  John 6.14

C. Job 9.8                                       M.  Luke 19.10

D. Deuteronomy 18.15                   N.  Matthew 14.33

E. Psalm 107.28-29                        O.  John 5.5

F.  Ezekiel 34.11,16                        P.   Matthew 9.6

G. Jeremiah 17.13                          Q.   Matthew 3.7

H. Isaiah 40.3                                  R.   John 14.6

I.  Zephaniah 1.14-18                      S.   Matthew 3.1

J.  Psalm 119.1,50,142,151            T.   John 8.6,8