Forgiven or Passed Over? Part 5

If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord (ʼădônây, אדני), Moses said, let my Lord (ʼădônây, אדני) go among us, for we are a stiff-necked people; pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.[1]

Before I continue to study nâśâʼ[2] and ʽâbar in Exodus 20:7 – Deuteronomy 4:26, I must add another word to the mix.  The Hebrew word sâlach (וסלחת), translated pardon, was unprecedented.  It didn’t occur in Genesis or anywhere else in Exodus.  That the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) called to Moses and spoke to him from the Meeting Tent[3] is fairly explicit in the opening verse of Leviticus.  But I still speculate that at least some of the subject matter recorded there was broached on the mountain before yehôvâh and Moses were so rudely interrupted by Israel’s worship of a golden calf.

The idea that Moses coined a word and then discovered a universe to revolve around it seems to work out all right in particle physics, but it makes me uncomfortable in Bible study.  If yehôvâh had already begun to reveal the elaborate, sometimes tedious, detail of atonement (kâphar, כפר) and forgiveness (sâlach, סלח) it would help to account for Moses’ brass: He called yehôvâh’s intention to destroy Israel in accordance with the forty day covenant evil (Exodus 32:9-14) because he was taken by surprise at the abrupt change in yehôvâh’s tone and the content of his words.

Be that as it may, scribing kâphar and sâlach convinced me that I have mischaracterized Leviticus, and that I was wrong when I wrote that a primary verb to forgive was absent from “holy Hebrew.”  A table showing the translations of sâlach in the KJV, NET and Septuagint follows:

Form of sâlach

Reference KJV NET

Septuagint

סלח Numbers 14:19 Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people… Please forgive the iniquity of this people… ἄφες, a form of ἀφίημι
יסלח Numbers 30:5 …and the LORD shall forgive her, because her father… And the Lord will release her from it, because her father overruled… καθαριεῖ, a form of καθαρίζω
Numbers 30:8 …and the LORD shall forgive her. And the Lord will release her from it.
Numbers 30:12 …and the LORD shall forgive her. …and the Lord will release her from them. καθαρίσει, another form of καθαρίζω
סלחתי Numbers 14:20 I have pardoned according to thy word: I have forgiven them as you asked. ἵλεως[4]
וסלחת Exodus 34:9 and pardon our iniquity and our sin… pardon our iniquity and our sin… ἀφελεῖς, a form of ἀφαιρέω
ונסלח Leviticus 4:20 …make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them. …make atonement on their behalf and they will be forgiven. ἀφεθήσεται, another form of ἀφίημι
Leviticus 4:26 …make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him. …make atonement on his behalf for his sin and he will be forgiven.
Leviticus 4:31 …make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him. …make atonement on his behalf and he will be forgiven.
Leviticus 4:35 …his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him. …his sin which he has committed and he will be forgiven.
Leviticus 5:10 …his sin which he hath sinned, and it shall be forgiven him. …his sin which he has committed, and he will be forgiven.
Leviticus 5:13 …in one of these, and it shall be forgiven him: …by doing one of these things, and he will be forgiven.
Leviticus 5:16 …with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him. …with the guilt offering ram and he will be forgiven.
Leviticus 5:18 …and wist it not, and it shall be forgiven him. …(although he himself had not known it) and he will be forgiven.
Leviticus 6:7 …for him before the LORD: and it shall be forgiven him… …on his behalf before the Lord and he will be forgiven
Leviticus 19:22 and the sin which he hath done shall be forgiven him. …his sin that he has committed, and he will be forgiven
Numbers 15:25 …the children of Israel, and it shall be forgiven them… …for the whole community of the Israelites, and they will be forgiven
Numbers 15:26 And it shall be forgiven all the congregation of the children of Israel… and the resident foreigner who lives among them will be forgiven
Numbers 15:28 …to make an atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him. …to make atonement for him, and he will be forgiven. Not Translated

I thought Leviticus was law: crime, especially capital crime, and punishment.  But Leviticus has much to say about atonement and forgiveness.  It is the good news (εὐαγγέλιον) of the five books of Moses:

If the whole congregation of Israel strays unintentionally and the matter is not noticed by the assembly, and they violate one of the Lord’s (yehôvâh, יהוה) commandments, which must not be violated, so they become guilty, the assembly must present a young bull for a sin offering when the sin they have committed becomes known.[5]  Some priestcraft was spelled out (Leviticus 4:14b-20a) with the result that the priest will make atonement on their behalf and they will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).[6]  For this reason I tell you, Jesus said, people will be forgiven (ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι) for every sin and blasphemy, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven (ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).[7]

Whenever a leader, by straying unintentionally, sins and violates one of the commandments of the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) his God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהיו) which must not be violated, and he pleads guilty, or his sin that he committed is made known to him, he must bring a flawless male goat as his offering.[8]  Again, after some priestcraft (Leviticus 4:24-26a) the priest will make atonement on his behalf for his sin and he will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).[9]  Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, Jesus continued, will be forgiven (ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).  But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven (ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι), either in this age or in the age to come.[10]

If an ordinary individual sins by straying unintentionally when he violates one of the Lord’s (yehôvâh, יהוה) commandments which must not be violated, and he pleads guilty or his sin that he committed is made known to him, he must bring a flawless female goat as his offering for the sin that he committed.[11]  There was some priestcraft (Leviticus 4:29-31a) and the priest will make atonement on his behalf and he will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).[12]  I tell you the truth, Jesus said, people will be forgiven (ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι) for all sins, even all the blasphemies they utter.  But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven (ἄφεσιν, a form of ἄφεσις), but is guilty of an eternal sin” (because they said, “He has an unclean spirit”).[13]

This same ordinary individual may bring a sheep instead: But if he brings a sheep as his offering, for a sin offering, he must bring a flawless female.[14]  After the priestcraft (Leviticus 4:33-35a) the priest will make atonement on his behalf for his sin which he has committed and he will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).[15]  And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, Jesus said, will be forgiven (ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι), but the person who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven (ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).[16]

If a person fails to testify and he is a witness,[17] touches anything ceremonially unclean,[18] touches human uncleanness,[19] or swears an oath, speaking thoughtlessly with his lips,[20] when an individual becomes guilty with regard to one of these things he must confess how he has sinned, and he must bring his penalty for guilt to the Lord (yehôvâh, ליהוה) for his sin that he has committed, a female from the flock, whether a female sheep or a female goat, for a sin offering.[21]  If he cannot afford an animal from the flock, he must bring his penalty for guilt for his sin that he has committed, two turtledoves or two young pigeons, to the Lord (yehôvâh, ליהוה), one for a sin offering and one for a burnt offering.[22]  After the priestcraft (Leviticus 5:8-10a) the priest will make atonement on behalf of this person for his sin which he has committed, and he will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).[23]

If he cannot afford two turtledoves or two young pigeons, yehôvâh continued, he must bring as his offering for his sin which he has committed a tenth of an ephah of choice wheat flour for a sin offering. He must not place olive oil on it and he must not put frankincense on it, because it is a sin offering.[24]  So the priest will make atonement on his behalf for his sin which he has committed by doing one of these things, and he will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).[25]  Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, Peter said to a believing magician who had attempted to buy the Holy Spirit, and pray to the Lord that he may perhaps forgive (ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι) you for the intent of your heart.[26]

The Lord’s holy things (Leviticus 5:14-16 NET):

Then the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) spoke to Moses: “When a person commits a trespass and sins by straying unintentionally from the regulations about the Lord’s (yehôvâh, יהוה) holy things (qôdesh, מקדשי; Septuagint: ἁγίων, a form of ἅγιος), then he must bring his penalty for guilt to the Lord (yehôvâh, ליהוה), a flawless ram from the flock, convertible into silver shekels according to the standard of the sanctuary shekel, for a guilt offering.  And whatever holy thing he violated he must restore and must add one fifth to it and give it to the priest.  So the priest will make atonement on his behalf with the guilt offering ram and he will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).”

If a person sins and violates any of the Lord’s (yehôvâh, יהוה) commandments which must not be violated (although he did not know it at the time, but later realizes he is guilty), then he will bear his punishment for iniquity and must bring a flawless ram from the flock, convertible into silver shekels, for a guilt offering to the priest.  So the priest will make atonement on his behalf for his error which he committed (although he himself had not known it) and he will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).[27]

Then the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) spoke to Moses (Leviticus 6:1-7 NET):

“When a person sins and commits a trespass against the Lord (yehôvâh, ביהוה) by deceiving his fellow citizen in regard to something held in trust, or a pledge, or something stolen, or by extorting something from his fellow citizen, or has found something lost and denies it and swears falsely concerning any one of the things that someone might do to sin – when it happens that he sins and he is found guilty, then he must return whatever he had stolen, or whatever he had extorted, or the thing that he had held in trust, or the lost thing that he had found, or anything about which he swears falsely.  He must restore it in full and add one fifth to it; he must give it to its owner when he is found guilty.  Then he must bring his guilt offering to the Lord (yehôvâh, ליהוה), a flawless ram from the flock, convertible into silver shekels, for a guilt offering to the priest.  So the priest will make atonement on his behalf before the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) and he will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι) for whatever he has done to become guilty.”

When a man has sexual intercourse with a woman, although she is a slave woman designated for another man and she has not yet been ransomed, or freedom has not been granted to her, there will be an obligation to pay compensation.  They must not be put to death, because she was not free.  He must bring his guilt offering to the Lord (yehôvâh, ליהוה) at the entrance of the Meeting Tent, a guilt offering ram, and the priest is to make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering before the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) for his sin that he has committed, and he will be forgiven (sâlach, ונסלח; Septuagint: ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι) of his sin that he has committed.[28]

James wrote (James 5:14-16a NET):

Is anyone among you ill?  He should summon the elders of the church, and they should pray for him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick and the Lord will raise him up – and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven (ἀφεθήσεται, a form of ἀφίημι).  So confess (ἐξομολογεῖσθε, a form of ἐξομολογέω) your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed.

I saved this quotation[29] for last to highlight that all of this priestly machinery of atonement and forgiveness ground to a halt if sinners didn’t acknowledge and confess their sin, whether directly or by bringing the appropriate offering.  This is extremely difficult for the religious mind to do, those who are trying to be declared righteous by the law[30] or attempting to have [their] own righteousness derived from the law.[31]  As I began these studies I wrote that “the religious mind may be nothing more than a subspecies of the carnal mind (KJV) or the outlook of the flesh (NET).”  Now I would simply say that what I call the religious mind is the carnal mind or the outlook of the flesh: because the religious mind is hostile to God, for it does not submit (ὑποτάσσεται, a form of ὑποτάσσω) to the law of God, nor is it able (δύναται, a form of δύναμαι) to do so.[32]

Jephthah sacrificed[33] his daughter to make his own word true rather than confess his reckless oath to keep yehôvâh’s commandments.  But first submission to the law of God is never a pretty sight.  Paul left a vivid description from his own experience of what it is like to die to the law, to have a new self, a new I, a place from which to gain one’s first glimpse of the old self, the carnal mind, the outlook of the flesh or as I have been calling it—the religious mind (Romans 7:15-24 NET):

For I don’t understand what I am doing.  For I do not do what I want – instead, I do what I hate.  But if I do what I don’t want, I agree (σύμφημι) that the law is good.  But now it is no longer me doing it, but sin that lives in me.  For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh.  For I want to do the good, but I cannot do it (NET note 24: Grk “For to wish [want] is present in/with me, but not to do it.”).  For I do not do the good I want, but I do the very evil I do not want!  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me doing it but sin that lives in me.  So, I find the law that when I want to do good, evil is present with me.  For I delight in the law of God in my inner being.  But I see a different law in my members waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that is in my members.  Wretched man that I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?

[1] Exodus 34:9 (NET)

[2] I used the second spelling (nâsâh) offered in Strong’s Concordance in the tables and a previous essay, which confused me when I linked to the Hebrew dictionary.

[3] Leviticus 1:1 (NET)

[4] “I am merciful to them according to your word” (Numbers 14:20b NETS).

[5] Leviticus 4:13, 14a (NET)

[6] Leviticus 4:20b (NET)

[7] Matthew 12:31 (NET)

[8] Leviticus 4:22, 23 (NET)

[9] Leviticus 4:26b (NET)

[10] Matthew 12:32 (NET)

[11] Leviticus 4:27, 28 (NET)

[12] Leviticus 4:31b (NET)

[13] Mark 3:28-30 (NET)

[14] Leviticus 4:32 (NET)

[15] Leviticus 4:35b (NET)

[16] Luke 12:10 (NET)

[17] Leviticus 5:1 (NET)

[18] Leviticus 5:2 (NET)

[19] Leviticus 5:3 (NET)

[20] Leviticus 5:4 (NET)

[21] Leviticus 5:5, 6a (NET)

[22] Leviticus 5:7 (NET)

[23] Leviticus 5:10b (NET)

[24] Leviticus 5:11 (NET)

[25] Leviticus 5:13a (NET)

[26] Acts 8:22 (NET)

[27] Leviticus 5:17, 18 (NET)

[28] Leviticus 19:20-22 (NET)

[29] There are three more occurrences of ἀφεθήσεται in Luke 17:34-36 (KJV) translated left, contrasted to παραλημφθήσεται (a form of παραλαμβάνω) translated taken.  Verse 36 was not in the Textus Receptus of 1550 or the Byzantine Majority Text I consult most often.  It was however in the Textus Receptus of 1598 and thereafter and also in the Essex Gospels of 1175.

[30] Galatians 5:4 (NET)

[31] Philippians 3:9 (NET)

[32] Romans 8:7 (NET)

[33] In an article titled, “Did Jephthah Actually Kill his Daughter?,” on thetorah.com  Professor Jonathan Magonet argued: “The flexibility of the vav conjunctive linking the two statements would allow it to be read here as ‘and’, so that ‘belonging to the Lord’ meant the burnt offering mentioned immediately after.  But the ‘vav’ could also be read as ‘or’, so that whatever or whoever came out would be dedicated to God, and, only should it prove appropriate, would be sacrificed.”  Whether Jephthah “sacrificed” his daughter as a burnt offering or as a lifelong virgin matters very little to my argument here.  It would have mattered a great deal to the hold Jephthah’s “sacrifice” had on my attention, how often I returned to consider this story.  It’s hard to say if that alone would have left my religious mind skulking in the shadows.

Forgiven or Passed Over? Part 4

As I continue to study nâśâʼ[1] and ʽâbar in Exodus 20:7 – Deuteronomy 4:26 I’ll begin with an aside.  The first occurrence of nâśâʼ in this section translated pardon was an angel who will not pardon [Israel’s] transgressions.  A table contrasting two mentions of an angel follows.

The Forty Day Covenant

After the Golden Calf

The Lord said to Moses, “Go up from here, you and the people whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’

Exodus 33:1 (NET)

“I am going to send an angel before you…

Exodus 23:20a (NET)

I will send an angel before you…

Exodus 33:2a (NET)

…to protect you as you journey and to bring you into the place that I have prepared.  Take heed because of him, and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgressions, for my name is in him.  But if you diligently obey him and do all that I command, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will be an adversary to your adversaries.

Exodus 23:20b-22 (NET)

For my angel will go before you and bring you to the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I will destroy them completely.

Exodus 23:23 (NET)

…and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite.

Exodus 33:2b (NET)

Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey.  But I will not go up among you, for you are a stiff-necked people, and I might destroy you on the way.”

Exodus 33:3 (NET)

When the people heard this troubling word they mourned; no one put on his ornaments.  For the Lord had said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people.  If I went up among you for a moment, I might destroy you.  Now take off your ornaments, that I may know what I should do to you.’”  So the Israelites stripped off their ornaments by Mount Horeb.

Exodus 33:4-6 (NET)

It’s worth noting that the angel’s function—to protect—and the warning—Take heed—were both forms of shâmar in Hebrew.  The former (לשמרך) was translated φυλάξῃ (a form of φυλάσσω) in the SeptuagintIf anyone hears my words but does not keep (φυλάξῃ, a form of φυλάσσω) them, Jesus said, I do not judge that person.  For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.[2]  The latter (השמר) was translated πρόσεχε (a form of προσέχω) in the SeptuagintUntil I come, Paul wrote Timothy, give attention (πρόσεχε, a form of προσέχω) to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.[3]

The Hebrew word translated obey in obey his voice was shâmaʽ (ושמע; See Table below) which was translated εἰσάκουε (a form of εἰσακούω) in the Septuagint.  But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard (εἰσηκούσθη, another form of εἰσακούω), and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son; you will name him John.[4]  The Hebrew word translated rebel in do not rebel was mârar (תמר) which was translated ἀπείθει (a form of ἀπειθέω) in the Septuagint.  He who believes (πιστεύων, a form of πιστεύω) in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe (ἀπειθῶν, another form of ἀπειθέω) the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.[5]

And finally pardon was nâśâʼ (ישׁא) in Hebrew which was translated ὑποστείληταί (a form of ὑποστέλλω) in the Septuagint.  You know that I did not hold back (ὑπεστειλάμην, another form of ὑποστέλλω) from proclaiming to you anything that would be helpful,[6] Paul declared to the Ephesian elders.  But here the translators of the Septuagint took a different turn since they didn’t even translate peshaʽ (לפשעכם; transgressions): “For he shall not hold you in undue awe, for my name is upon him.”[7]  It makes me wonder if they were trying to put a better spin on for he will not pardon (or, bear) your transgressions for Greek consumption.

The clause detailing the angel’s purpose—to protect you as you journey[8]—was missing from the restatement of the covenant after the golden calf incident, yet for forty years in the wilderness yehôvâh[9] cared and provided for them.  So why don’t I consider that all of the missing elements of the covenant should be assumed in the later restatement?

I’m no lawyer but I did spend several years calculating and writing the conditions that went into my employer’s boilerplate contracts.  It seems pretty apparent to me that when yehôvâh did not destroy Israel and make a great nation of Moses, when He accepted Moses’ description of that act as evil, then both parties had abrogated the covenant and the contract became null and void.  Care and provision for Israel became a matter of grace, no longer stipulated by contract, by law.

What is clearly missing from the restatement of the covenant is the contractual language: But if you diligently obey him and do all that I command, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will be an adversary to your adversaries.  For my angel will go before you and bring you to the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I will destroy them completely.[10]  This was replaced by a simple unilateral statement: I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite.[11]

I hesitate to call this grace (though it may qualify as election) since yehôvâh called it dread (Deuteronomy 32:26, 27 Tanakh):

I thought I would make an end of them, I would make their memory cease from among men; Were it not that I dreaded (gûr, אגור) the enemy’s provocation, lest their adversaries should misdeem, lest they should say: Our hand is exalted, and not HaShem hath wrought all this.

Accepting that the clauses missing from the restatement of the covenant are truly missing helps me to track the transition from [Sin] (chaṭṭâʼâh, חטאת; Septuagint: ἥμαρτες, a form of ἁμαρτάνω) desires (teshûqâh, תשוקתו) to dominate you, but you must subdue (mâshal, תמשל) it,[12] to Paul’s declaration to believers in Galatia (Galatians 2:20, 21 NET):

I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I do not set aside God’s grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing!

Who would have thought that the way to subdue or rule over sin was to die to it (Romans 6:8-11 NET)?

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  We know that since Christ has been raised from the dead, he is never going to die again; death no longer has mastery over him.  For the death he died, he died to sin once for all, but the life he lives, he lives to God.  So you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Who would have thought that the way to subdue or rule over sin was to die to the law (Romans 7:4-6 NET)?

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you could be joined to another, to the one who was raised from the dead, to bear fruit to God.  For when we were in the flesh, the sinful desires, aroused by the law, were active in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.  But now we have been released from the law, because we have died to what controlled us, so that we may serve in the new life of the Spirit and not under the old written code.

Viewed from this perspective the worship of the golden calf and yehôvâh’s restatement of the covenant follows the pattern of Paul’s explanation to believers in Rome (Romans 5:20, 21 NET):

Now the law came in so that the transgression may increase, but where sin increased, grace multiplied all the more, so that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Why would anyone want transgression to increase?  This is scandalous to the religious mind.  But Jesus taught a Pharisee (Luke 7:40-47 NET):

“Simon, I have something to say to you.”  He replied, “Say it, Teacher.”  “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other fifty.  When they could not pay, he canceled the debts of both.  Now which of them will love him more?”  Simon answered, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”  Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.”  Then, turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman?  I entered your house.  You gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You gave me no kiss of greeting, but from the time I entered she has not stopped kissing my feet.  You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with perfumed oil.  Therefore I tell you, her sins, which were many, are forgiven, thus she loved much; but the one who is forgiven little loves little.”

Ultimately, this love from God Himself subdues and rules over sin (Romans 13:8-10 NET):

Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.  For the commandments, “Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet,” (and if there is any other commandment) are summed up in this, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no wrong to a neighbor.  Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Jesus warned (Matthew 5:17-20 NET):

“Do not think that I have come to abolish (καταλῦσαι, a form of καταλύω) the law or the prophets.  I have not come to abolish (καταλῦσαι, a form of καταλύω) these things but to fulfill them.  I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth pass away not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter will pass from the law until everything takes place.  So anyone who breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever obeys them and teaches others to do so will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you, unless your righteousness goes beyond that of the experts in the law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

After explaining that the law came in so that the transgression may increase, but where sin increased, grace multiplied all the more, Paul continued (Romans 6:1-4 NET):

What shall we say then?  Are we to remain in sin so that grace may increase?  Absolutely not!  How can we who died to sin still live in it?  Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life.

In other words, believers can say with Paul: We have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer we who live, but Christ lives in us.  So the life we now live in the body, we live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved us and gave himself for us.  We do not set aside God’s grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing!

For we too were once foolish, disobedient, misled, enslaved to various passions and desires, spending our lives in evil and envy, hateful and hating one another.  But “when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing (ἀνακαινώσεως , a form of ἀνακαίνωσις) of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior.  And so, since we have been justified by his grace, we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life.”[13]

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.[14]  This is the salvation believers in Philippi were enjoined to continue working out (Philippians 2:12-18 NET):

So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed (ὑπηκούσατε, a form of ὑπακούω), not only in my presence but even more in my absence, continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence, for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort – for the sake of his good pleasure – is God.  Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without blemish though you live in a crooked and perverse society, in which you shine as lights in the world by holding on to the word of life so that on the day of Christ I will have a reason to boast that I did not run in vain nor labor in vain.  But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice together with all of you.  And in the same way you also should be glad and rejoice together with me.

It is much better news than the Septuagint’s translation of Exodus 23:21b: “For he shall not hold you in undue awe, for my name is upon him.”  A table of the translations of shâmaʽ in the KJV, NET and Septuagint from Genesis through Exodus 23:22 follows.

Form of shâmaʽ Reference KJV NET Septuagint
שמע Genesis 16:11 …because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. …for the Lord has heard your painful groans. ἐπήκουσεν, a form of ἐπακούω
Genesis 21:12 hearken unto her voice… Do all that Sarah is telling you… ἄκουε, a form of ἀκούω
Genesis 21:17 …for God hath heard the voice of the lad… …for God has heard the boy’s voice… ἐπακήκοεν, another form of ἐπακούω
Genesis 24:52 …when Abraham’s servant heard their words… When Abraham’s servant heard their words… ἀκοῦσαι, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 26:5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice… …this will come to pass because Abraham obeyed[15] me… ὑπήκουσεν, a form of ὑπακούω
Genesis 27:8 obey my voice according to that which I command thee. do exactly what I tell you! ἄκουσόν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 27:13 …only obey my voice… Just obey me! ὑπάκουσον, another form of ὑπακούω
Genesis 27:43 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice… Now then, my son, do what I say. ἄκουσόν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 29:33 Because the LORD hath heard that I was hated… Because the Lord heard that I was unloved… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 30:6 …and hath also heard my voice… He has responded to my prayer… ἐπήκουσεν, a form of ἐπακούω
Genesis 34:5 And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah… When Jacob heard that Shechem had violated his daughter… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 39:10 …that he hearkened not unto her… …he did not respond to her invitation… ὑπήκουσεν, a form of ὑπακούω
Genesis 42:21 …and we would not hear …but we refused to listen. εἰσηκούσαμεν a form of εἰσακούω
Genesis 42:23 …they knew not that Joseph understood them… …they did not know that Joseph could understand them… ἀκούει, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 7:13 …that he hearkened not unto them… …and he did not listen to them… εἰσήκουσεν, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 7:22 …neither did he hearken unto them… …and he refused to listen to Moses and Aaron…
Exodus 8:15 …and hearkened not unto them… …and did not listen to them…
Exodus 8:19 …and he hearkened not unto them… …and he did not listen to them…
Exodus 9:12 …and he hearkened not unto them… …and he did not listen to them…
Exodus 16:9 …for he hath heard your murmurings. …because he has heard your murmurings. εἰσακήκοεν, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 18:19 Hearken now unto my voice… Now listen to me… ἄκουσόν, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 22:23 I will surely hear their cry… I will surely hear their cry… ἀκοῇ, a form of ἀκοή
Exodus 23:22 But if thou shalt indeed obey… But if you diligently obey him…
ושמע Exodus 23:21 Beware of him, and obey his voice… Take heed because of him, and obey his voice… εἰσάκουε, another form of εἰσακούω
ישמע Exodus 6:30 …and how shall Pharaoh hearken unto me? …why should Pharaoh listen to me? εἰσακούσεταί, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 7:4 But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you… Pharaoh will not listen to you.
Exodus 11:9 Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you… Pharaoh will not listen to you…
Exodus 19:9 …that the people may hear when I speak… …so that the people may hear when I speak… ἀκούσῃ, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 23:13 …neither let it be heard out of thy mouth. do not let them be heard on your lips. ἀκουσθῇ, another form of ἀκούω
וישמע Genesis 14:14 And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive… When Abram heard that his nephew had been taken captive… ἀκούσας, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 16:2 And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. Abram did what Sarai told him. ὑπήκουσεν, a form of ὑπακούω
Genesis 21:17 And God heard the voice of the lad… But God heard the boy’s voice. εἰσήκουσεν, another form of εἰσακούω
Genesis 23:16 And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron… So Abraham agreed to Ephron’s price… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 28:7 And that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother… Jacob obeyed his father and mother…
Genesis 30:17 And God hearkened unto Leah… God paid attention to Leah… ἐπήκουσεν, a form of ἐπακούω
Genesis 30:22 and God hearkened to her… He paid attention to her…
Genesis 31:1 And he heard the words of Laban’s sons… Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were complaining… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 35:22 and Israel heard it. and Israel heard about it.
Genesis 37:21 And Reuben heard it… When Reuben heard this… ἀκούσας, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 45:2 and the house of Pharaoh heard. and Pharaoh’s household heard about it. ἀκουστὸν, a form of ἀκουστός
Exodus 2:15 Now when Pharaoh heard this thing… When Pharaoh heard about this event… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 2:24 And God heard their groaning… God heard their groaning… εἰσήκουσεν, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 18:1 heard of all that God had done for Moses… heard about all that God had done for Moses… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 18:24 So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law… Moses listened to his father-in-law…
שמעו Genesis 37:6 Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: Listen to this dream I had: ἀκούσατε, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 43:25 they heard that they should eat bread… they had heard that they were to have a meal… ἤκουσαν, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 6:9 …but they hearkened not unto Moses… …but they did not listen to him… εἰσήκουσαν, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 6:12 …the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me… If the Israelites did not listen to me…
Exodus 15:14 The people shall hear, and be afraid… The nations will hear and tremble… ἤκουσαν, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 16:20 they hearkened not unto Moses… But they did not listen to Moses… εἰσήκουσαν, another form of εἰσακούω
וישמעו Genesis 3:8 And they heard the voice… Then the man and his wife heard the sound… ἤκουσαν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 34:24 And unto Hamor and unto Shechem his son hearkened all… …the men who assembled at the city gate agreed εἰσήκουσαν, another form of εἰσακούω
Genesis 37:27 And his brethren were content. His brothers agreed. ἤκουσαν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 45:2 Not translated …the Egyptians heard it…
Exodus 4:31 and when they heard that the LORD… When they heard that the Lord… Not Translated
ושמעו Genesis 49:2 Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob… Assemble and listen, you sons of Jacob… ἀκούσατε, another form of ἀκούω
and hearken unto Israel your father. listen to Israel, your father.
Exodus 3:18 And they shall hearken to thy voice: The elders will listen to you… εἰσακούσονταί, another form of εἰσακούω
ישמעו Genesis 11:7 …they may not understand one another’s speech. …they won’t be able to understand each other. ἀκούσωσιν, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 4:1 …nor hearken unto my voice: …or pay attention to me… εἰσακούσωσιν, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 4:8 …neither hearken to the voice of the first sign… …or pay attention to the former sign…
שמען Genesis 4:23 Hear my voice… Listen to me! ἀκούσατέ, another form of ἀκούω
ישמעון Exodus 4:9 …neither hearken unto thy voice… …or listen to you… εἰσακούσωσιν, another form of εἰσακούω
שמעת Genesis 3:17 Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife… Because you obeyed your wife… ἤκουσας, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 18:10 And Sarah heard it in the tent door… Now Sarah was listening at the entrance… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 22:18 …because thou hast obeyed my voice. Because you have obeyed me… ὑπήκουσας, another form of ὑπακούω
Genesis 27:5 And Rebekah heard[16] Now Rebekah had been listening ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 7:16 …hitherto thou wouldest not hear. But until now you have not listened. εἰσήκουσας, another form of εἰσακούω
ושמעתי Exodus 22:27 that I will hear; for I am gracious. I will hear, for I am gracious. εἰσακούσομαι, another form of εἰσακούω
שמעתם Genesis 42:22 and ye would not hear? but you wouldn’t listen? εἰσηκούσατέ, another form of εἰσακούω
שמעתי Genesis 3:10 I heard thy voice in the garden… I heard you moving about in the orchard… ἤκουσα, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 21:26 …neither yet heard I of it, but to day. I did not hear about it until today.
Genesis 27:6 Behold, I heard thy father… Look, I overheard your father…
Genesis 37:17 …for I heard them say… …for I heard them say…
Genesis 41:15 …and I have heard say of thee… But I have heard about you… ἀκήκοα, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 42:2 I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: I hear that there is grain in Egypt.
Exodus 3:7 and have heard their cry… I have heard their cry…
Exodus 6:5 And I have also heard the groaning of the children of… I have also heard the groaning of the Israelites… εἰσήκουσα, another form of ἐπακούω
Exodus 16:12 I have heard the murmurings… I have heard the murmurings… εἰσακήκοα, another form of εἰσακούω
שמעתיך Genesis 17:20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: As for Ishmael, I have heard you. ἐπήκουσά, another form of ἐπακούω
שמעני Genesis 23:11 hear me… Hear me out. ἄκουσόν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 23:13 I pray thee, hear me: Hear me, if you will.
Genesis 23:15 My Lord, hearken unto me: Hear me, my lord. ἀκήκοα, another form of ἀκούω
ישמעני Exodus 6:12 …how then shall Pharaoh hear me… …then how will Pharaoh listen to me… εἰσακούσεταί, another form of ἐπακούω
שמענו Genesis 23:6 Hear us, my Lord: thou art a mighty prince… Listen, sir, you are a mighty prince… ἄκουσον, another form of ἀκούω
שמעוני Genesis 23:8 hear me… then hear me out. ἀκούσατέ, another form of ἀκούω
שמוע Exodus 15:26 If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God… If you will diligently obey the Lord your God… ἀκοῇ, a form of ἀκοή
Exodus 19:5 Not translated …if you will diligently listen to me…
השמע Genesis 21:6 …so that all that hear will laugh… Everyone who hears about this will laugh… ἀκούσῃ, another form of ἀκούω
נשמע Genesis 45:16 And the fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh’s house… Now it was reported in the household of Pharaoh… διεβοήθη, a form of διαβοάω
ונשמעה Exodus 20:19 Speak thou with us, and we will hear You speak to us and we will listen Not Translated
כשמע Genesis 27:34 And when Esau heard the words of his father… When Esau heard his father’s words… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
Genesis 29:13 when Laban heard the tidings of Jacob… When Laban heard this news about Jacob…
Genesis 39:19 when his master heard the words of his wife… When his master heard his wife say…
Exodus 16:8 …for that the LORD heareth your murmurings… …because the Lord has heard your murmurings… εἰσακοῦσαι, another form of εἰσακούω
כשמעו Genesis 39:15 when he heard that I lifted up my voice… When he heard me raise my voice… ἀκοῦσαι, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 16:7 for that he heareth your murmurings… because he has heard your murmurings… εἰσακοῦσαι, another form of εἰσακούω
כשמעם Genesis 34:7 when they heard it: when they heard the news. ἤκουσαν, another form of ἀκούω
וכשמעו Genesis 24:30 and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying… and heard his sister Rebekah say… ἤκουσεν, another form of ἀκούω
תשמע Genesis 41:15 …that thou canst understand a dream… Not translated ἀκούσαντά, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 15:26 If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God… If you will diligently obey the Lord your God… ἀκούσῃς, another form of ἀκούω
Exodus 23:22 But if thou shalt indeed obey But if you diligently obey him… ἀκούσητε, another form of ἀκούω
תשמעו Genesis 34:17 But if ye will not hearken unto us… But if you do not agree to our terms… εἰσακούσητε, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 19:5 …if ye will obey my voice… …if you will diligently listen to me… ἀκούσητε, another form of ἀκούω
אשמע Exodus 5:2 Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice… Who is the Lord that I should obey him… εἰσακούσομαι, another form of εἰσακούω
Exodus 22:23 …I will surely hear their cry… …I will surely hear their cry…

[1] I used the second spelling (nâsâh) offered in Strong’s Concordance in the tables and in a previous essay, which confused me when I linked to the Hebrew dictionary.

[2] John 12:47 (NIV)

[3] 1 Timothy 4:13 (NET)

[4] Luke 1:13 (NET)

[5] John 3:36 (NKJV)

[6] Acts 20:20a (NET)

[7] Exodus 23:21b (NETS)  The Tanakh reads: for he will not pardon your transgression; for My name is in him.

[8] I won’t argue that the angel’s purpose was to keep believing Israelites within the covenant, though I considered it.

[9] In these essays I’ve used several names for the Hebrew יהוה.  Admittedly, I was being catty when I used Jehovah to obliquely reference the undercurrent in religious thought that Jesus died to save us from an evil god.  I abandoned the name Yahweh for reasons akin to the genetic fallacy: I learned Yahweh from Nietzsche.  He was not only an atheist but a philologist as well.  I settled on yehôvâh because it was in Strong’s Concordance, the same source I’ve used for all the other Hebrew words addressed in these essays.  Subsequently I’ve come across an argument favoring Yahweh on YAHWEH’S restoration ministry online in an article titled “The Yehovah Deception: Reinventing a Misnomer.”

The most succinct form of their argument reads: “As confirmed by the Jewish Talmud, hundreds of years before the birth of Yahshua the Messiah the Jews stopped pronouncing the divine Name and began concealing it by reading the vowel points from Adonai into the Tetragrammaton.  The motivation behind this practice was not from irreverence but through a strong veneration for the Name.  They were afraid that if it were pronounced, someone might misuse or blaspheme the Name.  Part of this hesitation doubtless arose from their time in Babylon.  While their reasoning was admirable, it is against the clear teachings of Scripture.”

I find that argument plausible and discouraging.  My own working hypothesis concerning the Masoretes was that they were generally honorable when dealing with the words of Scripture but may have shaded the meaning of certain Hebrew words a bit to defend Jewish religion from Christian scholarship.  As a working hypothesis it limited the search field to points of contention.  The idea that they may be the heirs of those who deliberately corrupted the name of God with vowels from a different word offers no limit to the mischief they may have perpetrated on words of lesser importance.  If true, a searchable list of Hebrew homographs is no mere convenience but an absolute necessity for Old Testament study.  Creating such a list is well beyond my abilities.

My only purpose in using yehôvâh is to remind myself that Lord is not the word used in Scripture.  I was taught from the pulpit that it is disrespectful to call Jesus by name, that Paul called Him Lord, though now I think that was Paul’s way of designating Him yehôvâh (Isaiah 45:18-23; Romans 14:10-12; Philippians 2:5-11; John 5:22, 23).  So for the time being I’ll continue using yehôvâh since I definitely don’t believe the name of God is a magical incantation that must be pronounced correctly for the magic to work.

[10] Exodus 23:22, 23 (NET)

[11] Exodus 33:2 (NET)

[12] Genesis 4:7b (NET)  Here, the Tanakh presents the subduing of sin as a comforting possibility rather than an imperative: …and unto thee is its desire, but thou mayest rule over it (Genesis 4:7b Tanakh).  The Septuagint comforted Cain that he would once again rule over Abel (if he offered the appropriate sacrifice): “Be still, his recourse is to you, and you will rule over him” (Genesis 4:7b NETS).

[13] Titus 3:3-7 (NET)

[14] Romans 10:10, 11 (KJV)

[15] So then faith comes by hearing (ἀκοῆς, a form of ἀκοή), and hearing (ἀκοὴ, another form of ἀκοή) by the word of God (Romans 10:17 NKJV).  No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws (ἑλκύσῃ, a form of ἑλκύω) him (John 6:44a NET)…  And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw (ἑλκύσω, another form of ἑλκύω) all people to myself.

[16] For it is not those who hear (ἀκροαταὶ, a form of ἀκροατής) the law who are righteous before God, but those who do the law will be declared righteous (Romans 2:13 NET).  This is an interesting example.  Relative to Isaac’s word Rebekah was a hearer only because she did everything in her power to deceive her husband and change the outcome of his word.  But was she hearing/obeying yehôvâh (Genesis 25:21-26) instead?  Was her deception necessary?  Would we be reading the history of Esau/Israel rather than Jacob/Israel without it?  Or would yehôvâh have chosen (Malachi 1:1-5) Jacob even if Isaac had blessed Esau as he intended (Romans 9:10-18)?  Was Rebekah’s deception righteous?  Or might her faith have been counted as righteousness (Romans 4:1-5)?

Hypocrisy

You shall not take (nâśâʼ, תשׁא; Septuagint: λήμψῃ, a form of λαμβάνω) the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold guiltless anyone who takes (nâśâʼ, ישׁא; Septuagint: λαμβάνοντα, another form of λαμβάνω) his name in vain.[1]

Three occurrences of forms of nâśâʼ from Genesis 1:1 – Exodus 20:5[2] were translated with forms of λαμβάνω in the Septuagint:

Genesis 21:18 (NET)

Genesis 27:3 (NET)

Genesis 31:17 (NET)

Get up!  Help (nâśâʼ, שׁאי; Septuagint: λαβὲ, another form of λαμβάνω) the boy up and hold him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation. Therefore, take (nâśâʼ, שׁא; Septuagint: λαβὲ, another form of λαμβάνω) your weapons – your quiver and your bow – and go out into the open fields and hunt down some wild game for me. So Jacob immediately put (nâśâʼ, וישׁא; Septuagint: ἔλαβεν, another form of λαμβάνω) his children and his wives on the camels.

Only one of those (Genesis 27:3) was translated take in the KJV and NET before Exodus 20:7.  There is no particular problem with this translation if I’m studying nâśâʼ.  But if I read Exodus 20:7 in English only while trying to be declared righteous by the law[3] or attempting to have my own righteousness derived from the law,[4] the temptation is great to hear it as words I might say when I stub my toe in the dark.  If I don’t say those words then I may consider myself blameless according to the law.

You shall not bear the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold guiltless anyone who bears his name in vain.

This translation might have persuaded me even in English that any and every deviation from righteousness is bearing or taking the Lord’s name in vain.  Unbelievers seem to grasp this better than those who are trying to be declared righteous by the law or attempting to have [their] own righteousness derived from the law.  But unbelievers call it hypocrisy rather than bearing or taking the Lord’s name in vain.  According to Merriam-Webster.com:

The word hypocrite ultimately came into English from the Greek word hypokrites, which means “an actor” or “a stage player”…actors in ancient Greek theater wore large masks to mark which character they were playing…

The Greek word took on an extended meaning to refer to any person who was wearing a figurative mask and pretending to be someone or something they were not.  This sense was taken into medieval French and then into English, where it showed up with its earlier spelling, ypocrite, in 13th-century religious texts to refer to someone who pretends to be morally good or pious in order to deceive others.  (Hypocrite gained its initial h– by the 16th century.)

It took a surprisingly long time for hypocrite to gain its more general meaning that we use today: “a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.”  Our first citations for this use are from the early 1700s, nearly 500 years after hypocrite first stepped onto English’s stage.  

On bibleone.net hypocrisy was distinguished from bearing or taking the Lord’s name in vain by ascribing more evil intent to hypocrisy:

The meaning of the words, “hypocrite” and “hypocrisy,” as used in the Bible by our Lord Jesus Christ (primarily directed toward the “religious” leaders of the day) implies more than a “simple pretense” or “acting out as a stage-player.”  It embodies a purposeful intent, which stems from a deep-seated core of evil.  More than this, it suggests a determined effort to enforce a standard of conduct upon others, which conduct the enforcer knowingly and deliberately refuses to apply to himself–hence, action born of full knowledge and evil intent.  It is not merely the failure to live up to a holy standard–a condition applicable to every believer on any given day.  It is the condition of a person who is controlled by the sin nature to the end-desire of having power over other human beings by imposing on them a set of rules, which he himself intentionally disregards.  It is a condition applicable to either an unbeliever or a believer, i.e., a believer who is outside God’s will and under the influence of the sin nature.

I was particularly taken by the words imposing on them a set of rules.  That is acting at its core.  Some rules are imposed by the writer through the script.  Some are imposed by the director who interprets the script and blocks the scenes.  Most are self-imposed by the actor.  Though actors call them choices,[5] they are rules of behavior, what a particular character will or will not say or do in any given scene, derived from observation, research, experimentation and a deeply imaginative identification with the character to be performed.  Actors can win some arguments with both the writer and the director (since both are more focused on the work as a whole) because good actors ultimately know the individual characters they play better, at least more interestingly.

Don’t misunderstand me, I love actors and fully appreciate what they do, especially film actors.  I’ve had more opportunity to see them work up close, no one famous though a few were recognizable.  I sit with a silly grin on my face watching Amy Adams sing and dance her way through New York City in Enchanted, and am just as rapt watching her decipher an alien language in Arrival.  A brief exchange in Arrival between linguist Louise (Amy Adams) and physicist Ian (Jeremy Renner) encapsulates how I feel about studying the Bible.

Ian: You know, I was doing some reading about this idea that if you immerse yourself into a foreign language, that you can actually rewire your brain. 

Louise: Yeah, the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis…It’s the theory that the language you speak determines how you think and…

Ian: Yeah.  It affects how you see everything.

You were taught with reference to your former way of life, Paul wrote believers in Ephesus, to lay aside the old man who is being corrupted in accordance with deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and to put on the new man who has been created in God’s image – in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth.[6]  It’s not a matter of being renewed (ἀνανεοῦσθαι, a form of ἀνανεόω) by learning Greek or Hebrew, but by immersing oneself in how the Holy Spirit thinks and communicates in Greek or Hebrew.  No matter how hard Amy Adams worked to become Giselle or Louise, no matter how many choices she made, she never became a cartoon princess or a xenolinguist in reality.

Stephen J. Cole, in the “The Deadly Sin of Hypocrisy (Acts 4:36-5:11),” wrote:

While Jesus was tender with many notorious sinners, He used scathing language to denounce those guilty of religious hypocrisy.

The story of Ananias and Sapphira warns us of the danger of the sin of hypocrisy.

None of the Greek words for hypocrite or hypocrisyὑποκριτής, ὑπόκρισις, ὑποκρίνομαι—occur in, or anywhere near, the story of Ananias and Sapphira.  I assume Pastor Cole took an 18th-century definition of hypocrisy—not living up to professed beliefs—or a 13th-century understanding of ypocrite—deliberate deception—and applied it to the story of Ananias and Sapphira.  Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie (ψεύσασθαι, a form of ψεύδομαι) to the Holy Spirit…”[7]  If we think of hypocrisy as something so evil no believer would dare do it, we miss Jesus’ point about doing righteousness as actors play a role, because we do it all of the time.  It’s how we think.  It’s how we speak to one another:

A Christian wouldn’t do that!   A Christian shouldn’t do that!  Christians should do thus and such.  A real Christian would do this or that!

These are the arguments of actors: observing, researching, experimenting, engaging in deeply imaginative thought about what a Christian might be like and trying to perform that as a series of choices—that is, by obeying rules about how a Christian should or should not behave.  It is significantly different from being born from above, possessed (Romans 8:12-17) by his Holy Spirit, filled with God’s own love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.[8]

The simplest reason why ὑποκριτής was translated hypocrite in the 16th century is that the Latin derived actor was understood as an agent or doer and may have confused the reader regarding the contrast Paul had created—building on Jesus’ allusion to the Greek theater—between ὑποκριτής and ποιητής, the doers (ποιηταὶ, a form of ποιητής) of the law.

I’ve wasted too much time assuming Jesus was an angry preacher spouting pejoratives rather than patiently communicating the words of eternal life.  So I’ll take forms of ὑποκριτής at face value and remove the exclamation points from the text.  (They are obvious editorial comments added by translators.)  And then hopefully see Jesus again, see the smile on his face and the twinkle of his eyes as He reveals the name of his Father, God is love.

Be on your guard against the teaching (Matthew 16:5-12) of the Pharisees, Jesus told his disciples, which is acting class (ὑπόκρισις).[9]  Actors observe and judge others.  It is part and parcel of their craft as they prepare a role (Matthew 7:1-5 NET):

Do not judge so that you will not be judged.  For by the standard you judge you will be judged, and the measure you use will be the measure you receive.  Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye,’ while there is a beam in your own?  You actor (ὑποκριτά, a form of ὑποκριτής), first remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Self promotion is part of the job of being a working actor (Matthew 6:1-4 NET):

Be careful not to display your righteousness merely to be seen by people.  Otherwise you have no reward with your Father in heaven.  Thus whenever you do charitable giving, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the actors (ὑποκριταὶ, another form of ὑποκριτής) do in synagogues and on streets so that people will praise them.  I tell you the truth, they have their reward.  But when you do your giving, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your gift may be in secret.  And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.

Actors crave an audience and thrive in the limelight (Matthew 6:5, 6, 16-18 NET):

Whenever you pray, do not be like the actors (ὑποκριταί, another form of ὑποκριτής), because they love to pray while standing in synagogues and on street corners so that people can see them.  Truly I say to you, they have their reward.  But whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.  And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.

When you fast, do not look sullen like the actors (ὑποκριταὶ, another form of ὑποκριτής), for they make their faces unattractive so that people will see them fasting.  I tell you the truth, they have their reward.  When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others when you are fasting, but only to your Father who is in secret.  And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.

Actors never actually become the character they perform by acting (Matthew 15:1-9; Luke 13:14-16 NET):

Then Pharisees and experts in the law came from Jerusalem to Jesus and said, “Why do your disciples disobey the tradition of the elders?  For they don’t wash their hands when they eat.”  He answered them, “And why do you disobey the commandment of God because of your tradition?  For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Whoever insults his father or mother must be put to death.’  But you say, ‘If someone tells his father or mother, “Whatever help you would have received from me is given to God,” he does not need to honor his father.’  You have nullified the word of God on account of your tradition.  Actors (ὑποκριταί, another form of ὑποκριτής), Isaiah prophesied correctly about you when he said, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, and they worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

But the president of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the crowd, “There are six days on which work should be done!  So come and be healed on those days, and not on the Sabbath day.”  Then the Lord answered him, “You actors (ὑποκριταί, another form of ὑποκριτής), does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from its stall, and lead it to water?  Then shouldn’t this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be released from this imprisonment on the Sabbath day?”

Since those attempting to serve God by acting are not led by his Holy Spirit, they do not share the mind of Christ but pursue their own agendas (Matthew 22:15-22; Luke 12:54-56 NET):

Then the Pharisees went out and planned together to entrap him with his own words.  They sent to him their disciples along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are truthful, and teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.  You do not court anyone’s favor because you show no partiality.  Tell us then, what do you think?  Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

But Jesus realized their evil intentions and said, “Actors (ὑποκριταί, another form of ὑποκριτής), why are you testing me?  Show me the coin used for the tax.”  So they brought him a denarius.  Jesus said to them, “Whose image is this, and whose inscription?”  They replied, “Caesar’s.”  He said to them, “Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”  Now when they heard this they were stunned, and they left him and went away.

Jesus also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A rainstorm is coming,’ and it does.  And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and there is.  You actors (ὑποκριταί, another form of ὑποκριτής), you know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky, but how can you not know how to interpret the present time?”

Jesus described the experts in the law and you Pharisees as actors who keep locking people out of the kingdom of heaven.  For you neither enter nor permit those trying to enter to go in.[10]  You cross land and sea to make one convert, and when you get one, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.[11]  You give a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you neglect what is more important in the law – justice, mercy, and faithfulness.  You should have done these things without neglecting the others.[12]   You clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  Blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside may become clean too.[13]  You are like whitewashed tombs that look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of the bones of the dead and of everything unclean.  In the same way, on the outside you look righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy (ὑποκρίσεως, a form of ὑπόκρισις) and lawlessness (ἀνομίας, a form of ἀνομία).[14]  You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous.[15]

Jesus warned of the consequence of an actor masquerading as a minister of the Gospel (Matthew 24:45-51 NET):

Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom the master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their food at the proper time?  Blessed is that slave whom the master finds at work when he comes.  I tell you the truth, the master will put him in charge of all his possessions.  But if that evil slave should say to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and he begins to beat his fellow slaves and to eat and drink with drunkards, then the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not foresee, and will cut him in two, and assign him a place with the actors (ὑποκριτῶν, another form of ὑποκριτής), where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be paid back according to what he has done (ἔπραξεν, a form of πράσσω) while in the body, whether good or evil.[16]  We do not want to appear before the judgment seat of Christ as actors with nothing to show but works (ἔργων, a form of ἔργον) of righteousness that we have done (ἐποιήσαμεν, a form of ποιέω).[17]  We want to have some pattern of behavior that demonstrates we have not ignored his teaching or rejected his salvation, that we have heeded his admonition—above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness[18]—and that each of us is one who practices (ποιῶν, another form of ποιέω) the truth, one who comes to the light, so that it may be plainly evident that [our] deeds (ἔργα, another form of ἔργον) have been done (εἰργασμένα, a form of ἐργάζομαι) in God.[19]

I want to consider another film.  Before I Fall didn’t do very well at the box office.  It’s Groundhog Day as straight-up tragedy.  But I thought it was a deeply moving, poignant film with one fatal flaw.  There are spoilers here for those who are bothered by such things.

Sam (Zoey Deutch), a self-absorbed teenage girl (Samantha), wakes up on the day of her death.  She repeats that day until she gets it right.  “For the first time, when I wake up,” her voiceover says on the last iteration of the last day of her life, “I’m not scared or confused or angry.  Because, for the first time, I truly understand what needs to happen.  I truly understand how to live this day.”  Sam’s transformation from self-absorbed teenage girl to loving daughter, sister and friend is truly breathtaking to behold.

The fatal flaw?  It’s not believable.  And I don’t think Ms. Deutch’s acting is to blame.  Christ-likeness apart from Christ isn’t credible.  Sam’s beautiful transformation is credited to her own knowledge, gained through the experience of repeating the same day over and over (not unlike an actor rehearsing), and her own “big heart.”  And none of us gets to do the same day over and over to acquire such knowledge.  Believers are called to live a new day of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control everyday forever.

Hypocrisy, by the way, isn’t the unforgivable sin.  Living an honest life of sin is never preferable to acting like the righteous.  If the fruit of the Spirit seems AWOL and the only way to obey God’s law is in one’s own strength—and that is possible—by all means do that.  Just don’t mistake that for the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe.[20]  Open the Bible and search diligently for his righteousness once the immediate crisis has passed—win, lose or draw.

My own search began (for the purpose of this discussion) with the Ten Promises.  Though hearing the Ten Commandments as promises wasn’t exactly the silver bullet I hoped at the time, it did begin to change my attitude toward God and my relationship to Him.  So as a conclusion to this essay I invite the reader to hear his promise (Jeremiah 31:31-34) to all who believe, all who are led by his Spirit: You shall not bear the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold guiltless anyone who bears his name in vain.

[1] Exodus 20:7 (NET)

[2] Table 1, Forgiven or Passed Over? Part 3

[3] Galatians 5:4 (NET)

[4] Philippians 3:9 (NET)

[5] An excerpt from a video transcript of John Walcutt teaching young actors (all female apparently) follows:

…as you start to, you know, get more into grown up acting, you’re going to be expected to be able to make choices and what that means is, what we started talking about last week where you could look at material and go, “Hmm, what if I did this? What if I looked at it from this point of view? What if I decided that she is guilty? What if I decided, she’s lying?” When you make choices, your work gets interesting…
The lines are only ten percent of a scene, right? We talked about that. The other 90%  is what’s underneath, that’s where you have to make choices so here’s how I want you to think about it. Once you read through a scene and you start to get an idea of what it’s about, understand it. The first thing I want you to ask yourself is, “Who am I? Who am I in this scene? and if you just say… if you make a choice like, “Okay, I’m a girl.” Well that might be an interesting choice for me but for most of you, it’s not going to be an interesting choice. It has to be more specific. I’m a girl who has issues with her dad. I’m a girl who wants to drop out of school because I can’t stand my teachers. I’m, I’m competitive. I’m angry. I’m, I’ve low self esteem. I’m happy-go-lucky, cheerful optimist.
You make the most interesting choices you can. We call them Hot Choices so that, so that the scene starts to pop. So never say, “I’m just a girl.” Never say, “I’m just her friend.” Always make it as interesting and developed and complex as you can. So first thing you ask yourself, “Who am I?” Second thing you ask yourself, “What do I want?” What do I want in this scene, what is my objective?” And always make it about getting something from the other person, as simple as possible and it can change from line to line. Objectives change so I want to make you smile. I want to make you cry, I want to scare you, I want to wake you up, I want you to say, ”I love you.” I want you to laugh. Those are all choices and they determine how you’re going to say your lines…

As actors mature choices may become more personal or more commercial.

[6] Ephesians 4:22-24 (NET)

[7] Acts 5:3a (NET)

[8] Galatians 5:22, 23 (NET)

[9] Luke 12:1b (NET)

[10] Matthew 23:13 (NET)

[11] Matthew 23:15 (NET)

[12] Matthew 23:23 (NET)

[13] Matthew 23:25, 26 (NET)

[14] Matthew 23:27, 28 (NET)

[15] Matthew 23:29 (NET)

[16] 2 Corinthians 5:10 (NET)

[17] Titus 3:5a (NET)

[18] Matthew 6:33a (NET)

[19] John 3:21 (NET)

[20] Romans 3:22a (NET)

Who Am I? Part 8

I study the Bible for my own benefit primarily.  I’ve been on a work binge lately, long days with no time or energy to study.  The sin in my flesh obtrudes, wanting dominion over my thoughts and motives.  Both ʽâbar and nâsâh await my attention, holding out the promise of deeper access and new insights into the mind of Christ.  I’ve had more than enough of the uncertain gossip on my newsfeed.  I crave the word of God.  But I’m putting that on hold to write this essay.

I woke up the morning I began studying for the previous essay with a philosophical insight.  I typed it into my phone before it faded away.  I’ve written before about the philosophical bent[1] of my mind.  I still have philosophical thoughts and insights but usually keep them to myself.  I assume they are the Holy Spirit working out my own particular flavor of ἀσέβεια.  This one seems relevant somehow:

The primary frustration of being a materialist is that the science based on that materialism never discovers any matter, only ideas obeying laws.  It’s absurd, utterly irrational, unless: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

I offer a couple of corroborating testimonies from the “Criticism and alternatives” section of Materialism on Wikipedia for those who don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the relationship between science and materialism:

In 1991, Gribbin and Davies released their book The Matter Myth, the first chapter of which, “The Death of Materialism”, contained the following passage:

Then came our Quantum theory, which totally transformed our image of matter.  The old assumption that the microscopic world of atoms was simply a scaled-down version of the everyday world had to be abandoned.  Newton’s deterministic machine was replaced by a shadowy and paradoxical conjunction of waves and particles, governed by the laws of chance, rather than the rigid rules of causality.  An extension of the quantum theory goes beyond even this; it paints a picture in which solid matter dissolves away, to be replaced by weird excitations and vibrations of invisible field energy.  Quantum physics undermines materialism because it reveals that matter has far less “substance” than we might believe.  But another development goes even further by demolishing Newton’s image of matter as inert lumps.  This development is the theory of chaos, which has recently gained widespread attention.

— Paul Davies and John Gribbin, The Matter Myth, Chapter 1

Their objections were also shared by some founders of quantum theory, such as Max Planck, who wrote:

As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such.  All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together.  We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind.  This Mind is the matrix of all matter.

— Max Planck, Das Wesen der Materie, 1944

My own insight continued:

Though materialism purports to be the idea that posits all of this lawful behavior within matter itself, it is entirely dependent upon the existence of One with the power and patience to keep all of these ideas obeying all of these laws, lest science collapse into a local observation of immediate phenomena: Adam naming the animals.  Instead of establishing the paramount reality of everyday life, science based on materialism transforms everyday life into an illusion.  

Still, I persist perceiving all of this material around me.  I walk on the floor rather than blending insensibly with it.  I breathe the air rather than dissolving amidst it. Likewise I shower in water and soap, and leave the shower distinct from them as they wash away down the drain.  I put on clothes and take them off without the least confusion between them and me.

I also recalled the event that led me to work on The Tripartite Rationality Index.[2]  I had set Psalm 121 to music for a children’s Sunday school class.  The line—He will not allow your foot to slip—had filled me with hope that I was not on my own with my sin problem, until a child dashed that hope.  As I taught the song he raised his hand at the fateful line.  “I fell down yesterday, how come?” he asked.

I told him I would need a week to think about it.  It was a bad week, arguing within myself about how true the Bible was ultimately.  I had thought childlike faith was naïve and gullible.  But I was the naïve and gullible one, getting all excited about the potential “spiritual truth” of an ancient song even as I had ignored the literal meaning of the words.  That was my life at that time, brief moments of faith and hope swallowed up again in a boiling cauldron of doubt.  Fortunately, that child didn’t confront me a week later demanding an answer I didn’t have.

I worked a straight 6 to 2 shift at the time.  I left work one afternoon, waved to a couple of buddies staring out the second floor window of the factory and stepped into an oil slick from a leaky fifty-five gallon drum.  I was going down, my legs doing a split.  Then I threw my left elbow up into the air and stepped out of the oil.

I was embarrassed at the spectacle I made of myself but didn’t turn to see if my buddies were laughing at me.  As I walked on toward the parking lot I began to wonder how I didn’t fall in that oil slick.

I must have lifted myself out by throwing my elbow up in the air, I thought.  Newton’s third law of motion came to mind: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite re-action.”  Throwing my elbow into the air should have pushed me downward, faster and harder.

I must have lifted myself by pulling my legs back together with my thigh muscles, I surmised, throwing my arm in the air stabilized my balance somehow.  As I walked on I realized my thigh muscles didn’t feel like they had done that kind of work.  My left shoulder, however, was killing me.

Only after I stuck my key in the car door did I turn again, look back at the scene and question aloud, “God?”  Only then did the words of the psalm return to my mind: He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.[3]  As I drove home I argued that I wasn’t worth his time and trouble.

As I think about it now, recalling that I had no sensation of being touched[4] by an unseen hand, it seems more efficient to imagine that God—if God intervened at all—switched off Newton’s third law of motion for the time and space I was in that oil slick.  But even that doesn’t account for the crazy thing I did with my left elbow.

To Make Holy, Part 4

The next form of ἁγιάζω I’ll consider is found in Jesus’ prayer to his Father: Set them apart (ἁγίασον, a form of ἁγιάζω) in the truth; your word is truth.[1]  But I plan to crawl through his prayer on my knees because I believe I can know his holiness here.

I have revealed your name, Jesus prayed, to the men you gave me out of the world.[2]  Though the Greek word translated men is masculine, I’m not convinced that justifies (note 15) translating ἀνθρώποις (a form of ἄνθρωπος) men in the 21st century.  John didn’t use ἄρσενες (a form of ἄῤῥην) for instance, as Paul did when his intent was to distinguish male from human.  But from the beginning of creation, Jesus said, he made them male (ἄρσεν, another form of ἄῤῥην) and female.[3]  And God made humankind (ἄνθρωπον, another form of ἄνθρωπος); according to divine image he made it; male (ἄρσεν, another form of ἄῤῥην) and female he made them.[4]

Also the Greek word translated I have revealed was not a form of ἀποκαλύπτω but Ἐφανέρωσα (a form of φανερόω).  So I think Jesus meant something more than calling God πάτερ, even something more than the mere fact that yehôvâh has a Father.  Jesus revealed (ἐφανέρωσεν, another form of φανερόω) his glory[5] by turning water to wine (John 2:1-11).  He revealed (ἐφανέρωσεν, another form of φανερόω) himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias[6] after he was raised from the dead[7] by telling them where to cast their net to catch fish and by having a charcoal fire ready to prepare their breakfast (John 21:1-14).  Jesus had revealed his Father’s name by demonstrating who the Father is by his own relationship to Him (John 14:8-10 NET).

Philip said, “Lord, show (δεῖξον, a form of δεικνύω) us the Father, and we will be content.”  Jesus replied, “Have I been with you for so long, and you have not known me, Philip?  The person who has seen me has seen the Father!  How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me?  The words that I say to you, I do not speak on my own initiative, but the Father residing in me performs his miraculous deeds.

At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on a Sabbath.  His disciples were hungry, and they began to pick heads of wheat [8] as they made their way,[9] rubbed them in their hands, and ate them.[10]  We may misunderstand this story because we live in a different world.  Most seed farmers sow today is dead, purchased from agribusinesses.  It will not grow a crop that produces viable seed.  We think it is wrong to walk through a farmer’s field to eat without payment the crop he purchased and labored over.

The grain Jesus’ disciples ate was alive, fully able to grow another crop and produce another harvest.  It was from God who provides seed for the sower and bread for food,[11] from God who said to Moses: When you go into the ripe grain fields of your neighbor you may pluck off the kernels with your hand, but you must not use a sickle on your neighbor’s ripe grain.[12]  But when the Pharisees saw this they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is against the law to do on the Sabbath.”[13]

They weren’t wrong (Exodus 16:4, 5; 20:8-11 NET):

Then the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people will go out and gather the amount for each day, so that I may test them.  Will they walk in my law or not?  On the sixth day they will prepare what they bring in, and it will be twice as much as they gather every other day.”

Remember the Sabbath day to set it apart as holy.  For six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord (yehôvâh, ליהוה) your God; on it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, or your male servant, or your female servant, or your cattle, or the resident foreigner who is in your gates.  For in six days the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them, and he rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.

But Jesus defended his disciples’ from the Pharisees accusation by citing hunger as a commonly known exception: “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry – how he entered the house of God when Abiathar was high priest,[14] took and ate the sacred bread, which is not lawful for any to eat but the priests alone, and gave it to his companions?”[15]

His next argument might have been a bit more opaque to the Pharisees: Or have you not read in the law that the priests in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are not guilty (ἀναίτιοι, a form of ἀναίτιος)?[16]  This becomes clearer with Peter’s teaching, one of the men to whom Jesus revealed his Father’s name (1 Peter 2:4-10 NET):

So as you come to [Jesus], a living stone rejected by men but chosen and priceless in God’s sight, you yourselves, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  For it says in scripture, “Look, I lay in Zion a stone, a chosen and priceless cornerstone, and whoever believes (πιστεύων, a form of πιστεύω) in him will never be put to shame.”  So you who believe (πιστεύουσιν, another form of πιστεύω) see his value, but for those who do not believe (ἀπιστοῦσιν, a form of ἀπιστέω), the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, and a stumbling-stone and a rock to trip over.  They stumble because they disobey (ἀπειθοῦντες, a form of ἀπειθέω; disbelieve) the word, as they were destined to do.  But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim (ἐξαγγείλητε, a form of ἐξαγγέλλω) the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  You once were not a people, but now you are God’s people.  You were shown no mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Isaiah prophesied yehôvâh’s description of my chosen people as the people whom I formed for myself, so they might praise (tehillâh, תהלתי; Septuagint: διηγεῖσθαι, a form of διηγέομαι) me.[17]  How we praise and proclaim Him is important.  Are we filled with his own ἀρετὰς (a form of ἀρέτη; translated virtues), his love, his joy, his peace, his patience, his kindness, his goodness, his faithfulness, his gentleness and his self-control, or are we bitter and resentful as we grudgingly strive in our own strength to obey rules that others apparently ignore with impunity?  Malachi prophesied (3:13-18 NET):

“You have criticized me sharply,” says the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה), “but you ask, ‘How have we criticized you?’  You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God.  How have we been helped by keeping his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord (yehôvih, יהוה) who rules over all?  So now we consider the arrogant to be happy; indeed, those who practice evil are successful.  In fact, those who challenge (bâchan, בחנו; Tanakh, tempt) God escape!’”

Then those who respected (yârêʼ, יראי) the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) spoke to one another, and the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) took notice.  A scroll was prepared before him in which were recorded the names of those who respected (yârêʼ, ליראי) the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) and honored his name.  “They will belong to me,” says the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) who rules over all, “in the day when I prepare my own special property.  I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him.  Then once more you will see that I make a distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between the one who serves God and the one who does not.”

I tell you that something greater than the temple is here,[18] Jesus continued.  I turn here to Hebrews, not as the thoughts of some anonymous disciple but, as the teaching that was foremost in Jesus’ mind between his resurrection and ascension (Hebrews 12:18-24 NET):

For you have not come to something that can be touched, to a burning fire and darkness and gloom and a whirlwind and the blast of a trumpet and a voice uttering words such that those who heard begged to hear no more.  For they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.”  In fact, the scene was so terrifying that Moses said, “I shudder with fear.”  But you have come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the assembly and congregation of the firstborn, who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous, who have been made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks of something better than Abel’s does.

If you had known what this means:I want mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent (ἀναιτίους, another form of ἀναίτιος),[19] Jesus continued.  Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath.  For this reason the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”[20]  It was not wrong to capitalize Son of Man, for Jesus certainly meant Himself, but clearly not Himself exclusively.

If I pay attention, He has given me a beautiful contrast between how the disobedient and unbelieving picture God and judge others according to their own image, and how the obedient and believing see Him.  Actually everything Jesus said and did confronting the Pharisees and teachers of the law offers this contrast and reveals his Father’s name, but I’ll consider only one other slightly different example in this essay:

Matthew 15:21-28 (NET)

Mark 7:24-30 (NET)

After going out from there, Jesus went to the region of Tyre and Sidon.

Matthew 15:21

After Jesus left there, he went to the region of Tyre.

Mark 7:24a

A Canaanite woman from that area came and cried out, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David!  My daughter is horribly demon-possessed (δαιμονίζεται, a form of δαιμονίζομαι)!”  But he did not answer her a word.  Then his disciples came and begged him, “Send her away, because she keeps on crying out after us.”  So he answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Matthew 15:22-24

When he went into a house, he did not want anyone to know, but he was not able to escape notice.

Mark 7:24b

But she came and bowed down before him…

Matthew 15:25a

Instead, a woman whose young daughter had an unclean (ἀκάθαρτον, a form of ἀκάθαρτος) spirit (πνεῦμα) immediately heard about him and came and fell at his feet.

Mark 7:25

The woman was a Greek, of Syrophoenician origin.

Mark 7:26a

…and said, “Lord, help me!”

Matthew 15:25b

She asked him to cast the demon (δαιμόνιον) out of her daughter.

Mark 7:26b

He said to her, “Let the children be satisfied first, for…

Mark 7:27a

“It is not right (καλὸν, a form of καλός) to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs,” he said.

Matthew 15:26

…it is not right to take the children’s bread and to throw it to the dogs.”

Mark 7:27b

“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

Matthew 15:27

She answered, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

Mark 7:28

Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, your faith is great!  Let what you want be done for you.”

Matthew 15:28a

Then he said to her, “Because you said this, you may go.  The demon (δαιμόνιον) has left your daughter.”

Mark 7:29

And her daughter was healed from that hour.

Matthew 15:28b

She went home and found the child lying on the bed, and the demon (δαιμόνιον) gone.

Mark 7:30

It is too easy to miss Jesus’ demonstration of his Father here.  When I obsess about what He called the woman I miss that He said, Woman, your faith is great, and honored her request when she accepted his description of her as a dog.  Mark described her socially and genealogically as Greek, of Syrophoenician origin.  Matthew described her lost soul as a Canaanite (1 Corinthians 10:19-22 NET).

Am I saying that idols or food sacrificed to them amount to anything?  No, I mean that what the pagans sacrifice is to demons (δαιμονίοις, a form of δαιμόνιον) and not to God.  I do not want you to be partners with demons (δαιμονίων, another form of δαιμόνιον).  You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons (δαιμονίων, another form of δαιμόνιον).  You cannot take part in the table of the Lord and the table of demons (δαιμονίων, another form of δαιμόνιον).  Or are we trying to provoke the Lord to jealousy?  Are we really stronger than he is?

The word translated pagans (εθνη, a form of ἔθνος) doesn’t occur in the parallel Greek of the NET online.  It is found however in the Stephanus Textus Receptus and the Byzantine Majority Text.

1 Corinthians 10:20 NET Parallel Greek 1 Corinthians 10:20 Stephanus Textus Receptus

1 Corinthians 10:20 Byzantine Majority Text

ἀλλ᾿ ὅτι ἃ θύουσιν[21] , δαιμονίοις καὶ οὐ θεῷ [θύουσιν]· οὐ θέλω δὲ ὑμᾶς κοινωνοὺς τῶν δαιμονίων γίνεσθαι αλλ οτι α θυει[22] τα εθνη δαιμονιοις θυει και ου θεω ου θελω δε υμας κοινωνους των δαιμονιων γινεσθαι αλλ οτι α θυει τα εθνη δαιμονιοις θυει και ου θεω ου θελω δε υμας κοινωνους των δαιμονιων γινεσθαι

After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do; and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do; neither shall ye walk in their statutes,[23] yehôvâh commanded Moses to Speak unto the children of Israel.[24]  Moses knew Israel would not obey yehôvâh’s statutes and prophesied in song (Deuteronomy 32:16, 17 Tanakh):

They roused Him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations (tôʽêbah, בתועבת; Septuagint: βδελύγμασιν, a form of βδέλυγμα) did they provoke Him.  They sacrificed unto demons (shed, לשדים; Septuagint: δαιμονίοις, a form of δαιμόνιον), no-gods, gods that they knew not, new gods that came up of late, which your fathers dreaded not.

With this fresh in my mind I get a better picture of what was going on: Jesus came to town and a demon worshiper complained to Him that her daughter was demon-possessed.  It’s a vivid picture of the iniquity of the mother (in this case) being visited upon her daughter, whether we regard that visitation as punishment from God or the expected result of consorting with demons.  Jesus fully intended to ignore the Canaanite woman because He was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  It is how He understood his mission from his Father.  It is what He taught his disciples (Matthew 10:5-8 NET):

Jesus sent out these twelve, instructing them as follows: “Do not go to Gentile (ἐθνῶν, another form of ἔθνος) regions and do not enter any Samaritan town.  Go instead to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near!’  Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons.  Freely you received, freely give.”

Could there be anything more cruel than casting out a demon from the daughter of a demon worshiper?

Matthew 12:43-45 (NET)

Luke 11:24-28 (NET)

“When an unclean (ἀκάθαρτον, a form of ἀκάθαρτος) spirit (πνεῦμα) goes out of a person, it passes through waterless places looking for rest but does not find it.

Matthew 12:43

“When an unclean (ἀκάθαρτον, a form of ἀκάθαρτος) spirit (πνεῦμα) goes out of a person, it passes through waterless places looking for rest but not finding any.

Luke 11:24a

Then it says, ‘I will return to the home I left.’  When it returns, it finds the house empty, swept clean, and put in order.

Matthew 12:44

Then it says, ‘I will return to the home I left.’  When it returns, it finds the house swept clean and put in order.

Luke 11:24b, 25

Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits (πνεύματα, a form of πνεῦμα) more evil (πονηρότερα, a form of πονηρός) than itself, and they go in and live there, so the last state of that person is worse than the first.

Matthew 12:45a

Then it goes and brings seven other spirits (πνεύματα, a form of πνεῦμα) more evil (πονηρότερα, a form of πονηρός) than itself, and they go in and live there, so the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

Luke 11:26

It will be that way for this evil (πονηρᾷ, another form of πονηρός) generation as well!”

Matthew 12:45b

As he said these things, a woman in the crowd spoke out to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts at which you nursed!”

Luke 11:27

But he replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear (ἀκούοντες, a form of ἀκούω) the word of God and obey (φυλάσσοντες, a form of φυλάσσω) it!”

Luke 11:28

Jesus’ disciples couldn’t tolerate the woman’s loud persistence, so Jesus engaged her.  Still she persisted.  More to the point she accepted Jesus’ description of her as one of the dogs: She answered, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”  (The Pharisees by contrast wouldn’t even accept Jesus’ description of them as actors.[25])  And so Jesus, contrary to his own understanding of his mission from the Father and his own teaching to his own disciples, healed the woman’s daughter because of this woman’s one simple act of faith, believing his description of her as a dog.  Perhaps that faith would lead to more faith in more things Jesus taught and turn this Canaanite woman and her daughter from their faith in demons.

This all reminds me of yehôvâh’s repentance: And the LORD (yehôvâh, יהוה) repented (nâcham, וינחם; Septuagint: ἱλάσθη, a form of ἱλάσκομαι) of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.[26]  How can yehôvâh/Jesus repent of his own covenant, his own understanding or his own teaching, except by submitting his own will to that of his Father?  Who is his Father?

God is love,[27] wrote another of the men to whom Jesus revealed his Father’s name.  Not, Love is god.  This isn’t pagan worship of an idea or ideals achieved by human desire or exertion.  It is rather a shorthand for the name of the Father Jesus revealed to his disciples by his every word and deed.  Paul’s definition of love is the way He, in fact, loves and fills believers with Himself (1 Corinthians 13:1-8a NET):

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but I do not have God, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have God, I am nothing.  If I give away everything I own, and if I give over my body in order to boast, but do not have God, I receive no benefit.

God is patient, God is kind, He is not envious.  God does not brag, He is not puffed up.  He is not rude, He is not self-serving, He is not easily angered or resentful.  He is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth.  He bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  God never ends.

And Jesus said (Matthew 7:21-23; John 3:7; Matthew 12:33a NET):

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven – only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.  On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons and do many powerful deeds?’  Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you.  Go away from me, you lawbreakers!’

Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must all be born from above.’

Make a tree good and its fruit will be good…

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God,[28] Paul wrote believers in Rome.  The Gospel harmony I created to write this essay follows.

Matthew 12:1-8 (NET)

Mark 2:23-28 (NET)

Luke 6:1-5 (NET)

At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on a Sabbath.

Ἐν ἐκείνῳ τῷ καιρῷ ἐπορεύθη ὁ Ἰησοῦς τοῖς σάββασιν διὰ τῶν σπορίμων

Matthew 12:1a

Jesus was going through the grain fields on a Sabbath…

Καὶ ἐγένετο αὐτὸν ἐν τοῖς σάββασιν |παραπορεύεσθαι| διὰ τῶν σπορίμων

Mark 2:23a

Jesus was going through the grain fields on a Sabbath…

Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν σαββάτῳ διαπορεύεσθαι αὐτὸν διὰ σπορίμων

Luke 6:1a

His disciples were hungry…

οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἐπείνασαν

Matthew 12:1b

…and they began to pick heads of wheat…

καὶ ἤρξαντο τίλλειν στάχυας

Matthew 12:1c

…and his disciples began to pick some heads of wheat…

καὶ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἤρξαντο … τίλλοντες τοὺς στάχυας

Mark 2:23b

…and his disciples picked some heads of wheat…

καὶ ἔτιλλον οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ … τοὺς στάχυας

Luke 6:1b

as they made their way.

ὁδὸν ποιεῖν

Mark 2:23c

…rubbed them in their hands…

ψώχοντες ταῖς χερσίν

Luke 6:1c

…and eat them.

καὶ ἐσθίειν

Matthew 12:1d

…and ate them.

καὶ ἤσθιον …

Luke 6:1d

But when the Pharisees saw this…

οἱ δὲ Φαρισαῖοι ἰδόντες

Matthew 12:2a

…they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is against the law to do on the Sabbath.”  He said to them, “Haven’t you read what David did…

εἶπαν αὐτῷ· ἰδοὺ οἱ μαθηταί σου ποιοῦσιν ὃ οὐκ ἔξεστιν ποιεῖν ἐν σαββάτῳ.  ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· οὐκ ἀνέγνωτε τί ἐποίησεν Δαυὶδ

Matthew 12:2b, 3a

So the Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is against the law on the Sabbath?”  He said to them, “Have you never read what David did…

καὶ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι ἔλεγον αὐτῷ· ἴδε τί ποιοῦσιν τοῖς σάββασιν ὃ οὐκ ἔξεστιν; καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· οὐδέποτε ἀνέγνωτε τί ἐποίησεν Δαυὶδ

Mark 2:24, 25a

But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is against the law on the Sabbath?”  Jesus answered them, “Haven’t you read what David did…

τινὲς δὲ τῶν Φαρισαίων εἶπαν· τί ποιεῖτε ὃ οὐκ ἔξεστιν τοῖς σάββασιν; καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς πρὸς αὐτοὺς εἶπεν |ὁ| Ἰησοῦς· οὐδὲ τοῦτο ἀνέγνωτε ὃ ἐποίησεν Δαυὶδ

Luke 6:2, 3a

…when he was in need…

ὅτε χρείαν ἔσχεν

Mark 2:25b

…when he and his companions were hungry – how he entered the house of God…

ὅτε ἐπείνασεν καὶ οἱ μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ, πῶς εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον τοῦ θεοῦ

Matthew 12:3b, 4a

…and he and his companions were hungry – how he entered the house of God…

καὶ ἐπείνασεν αὐτὸς καὶ οἱ μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ, |πῶς| εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον τοῦ θεοῦ

Mark 2:25c, 26a

…when he and his companions were hungry – how he entered the house of God…

ὅτε ἐπείνασεν αὐτὸς καὶ οἱ μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ [ὄντες], [ὡς] εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον τοῦ θεοῦ

Luke 6:3b, 4a

…when Abiathar was high priest…

ἐπὶ Ἀβιαθὰρ ἀρχιερέως

Mark 2:26b

…took…

λαβὼν

Luke 6:4b

…and they ate the sacred bread, which was against the law…

καὶ τοὺς ἄρτους τῆς προθέσεως ἔφαγον, ὃ οὐκ ἐξὸν ἦν

Matthew 12:4b

…and ate the sacred bread, which is against the law…

καὶ τοὺς ἄρτους τῆς προθέσεως ἔφαγεν, οὓς οὐκ ἔξεστιν

Mark 2:26c

…and ate the sacred bread, which is not lawful…

καὶ τοὺς ἄρτους τῆς προθέσεως … ἔφαγεν … οὓς οὐκ ἔξεστιν

Luke 6:4c

…for him or his companions to eat…

αὐτῷ φαγεῖν οὐδὲ τοῖς μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ

Matthew 12:4c

…but only for the priests?

εἰ μὴ τοῖς ἱερεῦσιν μόνοις

Matthew 12:4d

…for any but the priests to eat…

φαγεῖν εἰ μὴ τοὺς ἱερεῖς

Mark 2:26d

…for any to eat but the priests alone…

… φαγεῖν εἰ μὴ μόνους τοὺς ἱερεῖς

Luke 6:4d

…and also gave it to his companions?”

καὶ ἔδωκεν καὶ τοῖς σὺν αὐτῷ οὖσιν

Mark 2:26e

…and gave it to his companions?”

καὶ ἔδωκεν τοῖς μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ

Luke 6:4e

Or have you not read in the law that the priests in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are not guilty?  I tell you that something greater than the temple is here.  If you had known what this means: ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.

ἢ οὐκ ἀνέγνωτε ἐν τῷ νόμῳ ὅτι τοῖς σάββασιν οἱ ἱερεῖς ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ τὸ σάββατον βεβηλοῦσιν καὶ ἀναίτιοι εἰσιν;  λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν ὅτι τοῦ ἱεροῦ μεῖζον ἐστιν ὧδε.  εἰ δὲ ἐγνώκειτε τί ἐστιν· ἔλεος θέλω καὶ οὐ θυσίαν, οὐκ ἂν κατεδικάσατε τοὺς ἀναιτίους

Matthew 12:5-7

Then he said to them…

καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς

Mark 2:27a

Then he said to them…

καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς

Luke 6:5a

“The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath.  For this reason…

τὸ σάββατον διὰ τὸν ἄνθρωπον ἐγένετο καὶ οὐχ ὁ ἄνθρωπος διὰ τὸ σάββατον·  ὥστε

Mark 2:27b, 28a

For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

κύριος γάρ ἐστιν τοῦ σαββάτου ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου.

Matthew 12:8

…the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”

κύριος ἐστιν ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου καὶ τοῦ σαββάτου.

Mark 2:28b

“The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

κύριος ἐστιν τοῦ σαββάτου ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου.

Luke 6:5b

[1] John 17:17 (NET)

[2] John 17:6a (NET)

[3] Mark 10:6 (NET)

[4] Genesis 1:27 (NETS)

[5] John 2:11b (NET)

[6] John 21:1 (NET)

[7] John 21:14b (NET)

[8] Matthew 12:1a (NET)

[9] Mark 2:23b (NET)

[10] Luke 6:1b (NET)

[11] 2 Corinthians 9:10 (NET)

[12] Deuteronomy 23:25 (NET)

[13] Matthew 12:2 (NET)

[14] Mark 2:25, 26a (NET)

[15] Luke 6:4b (NET)

[16] Matthew 12:5 (NET)

[17] Isaiah 43:20b, 21 (NET)

[18] Matthew 12:6 (NET)

[19] Matthew 12:7 (NET)

[20] Mark 2:27, 28 (NET)

[21] A form of θύω

[22] θυει another form of θύω

[23] Leviticus 18:3 (Tanakh)

[24] Leviticus 18:2a (Tanakh)

[25] Romans, Part 9; Romans, Part 10; Romans, Part 12; Romans, Part 26; Romans, Part 49; Romans, Part 60; Romans, Part 71; Romans, Part 83; Sowing to the Flesh, Part 2; My Deeds, Part 1

[26] Exodus 32:14 (KJV)

[27] 1 John 4:8b (NET)

[28] Romans 8:14 (NET)

Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 11

I’ve been considering yehôvâh’s fearful pronouncement: I punish (pâqad, פקד) the sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons for the sin of the fathers who reject me[1]  The third of the three times forms of pâqad were translated punish or punishment in the NET prior to Deuteronomy 5:9 was Leviticus 18:25, and I have brought the punishment (pâqad, ואפקד).  I want to consider it in context.  A table follows with the English translations of Leviticus 18:24-30 from the Hebrew in the NET and Tanakh, and from the Greek Septuagint in the NETS.

Leviticus 18:24-30 (NET) Leviticus 18:24-30 (Tanakh)

Leviticus 18:24-30 (NETS)

Do not defile (ṭâmêʼ, תטמאו) yourselves with any of these things, for the nations which I am about to drive out before you have been defiled (ṭâmêʼ, נטמאו) with all these things. Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things; for in all these the nations are defiled, which I cast out from before you. Do not defile (μιαίνεσθε, a form of μιαίνω) yourselves in any of these ways.  For by all these things the nations I am sending out before your face were defiled (ἐμιάνθησαν, another form of μιαίνω).
Therefore the land has become unclean (ṭâmêʼ, ותטמא) and I have brought the punishment for its iniquity upon it, so that the land has vomited out its inhabitants. And the land was defiled, therefore I did visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land vomited out her inhabitants. And the land became defiled (ἐμιάνθη, another form of μιαίνω), and I repaid their evil because of it, and the land was angry with its inhabitants.
You yourselves must obey my statutes (chûqqâh, חקתי) and my regulations and must not do any of these abominations, both the native citizen and the resident foreigner in your midst, Ye therefore shall keep My statutes and Mine ordinances, and shall not do any of these abominations (tôʽêbah, התועבת); neither the home-born, nor the stranger that sojourneth among you– And you shall keep all my precepts (νόμιμά, a form of νόμιμος[2]) and all my ordinances and not commit any of all these abominations (βδελυγμάτων, a form of βδέλυγμα), the inhabitant and the guest among you who has come
for the people who were in the land before you have done all these abominations, and the land has become unclean (ṭâmêʼ, ותטמא). for all these abominations (tôʽêbah, התועבת) have the men of the land done, that were before you, and the land is defiled– (for the men of the land, who were before you, committed all of these abominations [βδελύγματα, another form of βδέλυγμα], and the land became defiled);
So do not make the land vomit you out because you defile (ṭâmêʼ, בטמאכם) it just as it has vomited out the nations that were before you. that the land vomit not you out also, when ye defile it, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. Otherwise the land will become angry with you when you defile (μιαίνειν, another form of μιαίνω) it, as it became angry with the nations that were before you.
For if anyone does any of these abominations, the persons who do them will be cut off from the midst of their people. For whosoever shall do any of these abominations (tôʽêbah, התועבות), even the souls that do them shall be cut off from among their people. For anyone who commits any of all these abominations (βδελυγμάτων, a form of βδέλυγμα)—the souls that do so shall be exterminated from their people.
You must obey my charge to not practice any of the abominable statutes (chûqqâh, מחקות) that have been done before you, so that you do not defile (ṭâmêʼ, תטמאו) yourselves by them.  I am the Lord your God. Therefore shall ye keep My charge, that ye do not any of these abominable (tôʽêbah, התועבת) customs, which were done before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am HaShem your G-d. And keep my ordinances: not to commit any of all these abominable (ἐβδελυγμένων, a form of βδελύσσω) precepts (νομίμων, another form of νόμιμος) that were done before you, and you shall not be defiled (μιανθήσεσθε, another form of μιαίνω) by them, for I am the Lord your God.

Abominations (tôʽêbah, התועבת; Septuagint: βδελυγμάτων, a form of βδέλυγμα) clearly refers to all acts described in verses 6-22.  Bestiality in verse 23 may be distinguished from abominations as perversion (tebel, תבל; Septuagint:μυσερὸν, a form of μυσερός[3]) or perversion may be a special class of abominations.  But quoting Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind; it is abomination (tôʽêbah)[4] out of context doesn’t make male-on-male homosexual acts a peculiar class of abomination.  It is not more abominable than adultery (verse 20) for instance, or approaching a woman in her menstrual impurity to have sexual intercourse with her[5] for that matter.  And these abominations (with the possible exception of bestiality) were legal/religious statutes in Egypt and Canaan at the time of the Exodus (Leviticus 18:1-5 NET):

The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) spoke to Moses:  “Speak to the Israelites and tell them, ‘I am the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) your God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהיכם)!  You must not do as they do in the land of Egypt where you have been living, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan into which I am about to bring you; you must not walk in their statutes (chûqqâh, ובחקתיהם).  You must observe my regulations and you must be sure to walk in my statutes (chûqqâh, חקתי).  I am the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) your God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהיכם).  So you must keep my statutes (chûqqâh, חקתי) and my regulations; anyone who does so will live by keeping them.  I am the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה).’”

The NET translators tended to translate two Hebrew words—gâlâh (לגלות; uncover) and ʽervâh (ערוה; nakedness)—with the words to have sexual intercourse.  I’ll quote the Tanakh instead for two reasons: 1) My hard core of materialism sweetened with Jesus jelly is all too willing to hear that only sexual intercourse, specifically vaginal penetration with and only with a penis resulting in orgasm, is sin; and, 2) I don’t want to miss yehôvâh’s disruption of nude pagan worship within families, what contemporary witches call skycladFamilies, law and religion are the primary conduits of visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons whether I consider that visiting punishment are the means of transmitting iniquity to others.

The statutes yehôvâh called my statutes to countermand the legal/religious statutes of the Egyptians[6] and Canaanites follow (Leviticus 18:6-19 Tanakh):

None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness.  I am HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה).  The nakedness of thy father,[7] and the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.  The nakedness of thy father’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father’s nakedness.  The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or the daughter of thy mother, whether born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover.  The nakedness of thy son’s daughter, or of thy daughter’s daughter, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover; for theirs is thine own nakedness.  The nakedness of thy father’s wife’s daughter, begotten of thy father, she is thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.  Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father’s sister: she is thy father’s near kinswoman.  Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother’s sister; for she is thy mother’s near kinswoman.  Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy fathers brother, thou shalt not approach to his wife: she is thine aunt.  Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter-in-law: she is thy son’s wife; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.  Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother’s wife: it is thy brother’s nakedness.  Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter; thou shalt not take her son’s daughter, or her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness: they are near kinswomen; it is lewdness.  And thou shalt not take a woman to her sister, to be a rival to her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her lifetime.  And thou shalt not approach unto a woman to uncover her nakedness, as long as she is impure by her uncleanness.

Practicing these would make it extremely difficult for a family to engage in pagan worship.  It would greatly inhibit the family patriarch from seducing the younger women of his family or asserting his “sacred” rights over them.  I won’t deny that it could also inhibit the transmission of recessive traits to offspring.  But that seems almost incidental when the Hebrew is translated literally.

Other statutes of Egypt and Canaan were countermanded as well (Leviticus 18:20-23 Tanakh):

And thou shalt not lie carnally[8] with thy neighbour’s wife, to defile thyself with her.  And thou shalt not give any of thy seed to set them apart to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy G-d: I am HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה).  Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind; it is abomination.  And thou shalt not lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith; neither shall any woman stand before a beast, to lie down thereto; it is perversion.

Adultery and male homosexual acts were not prohibited as uncover nakedness but with the words nâthan (תתן; give) shekôbeth (שכבתך; copulation) in verse 20 and shâkab (תשכב; lie) and mishkâb (משכבי; bed) in verse 22.

All of these abominations defile those who commit them.  But since the land was also defiled, it is perhaps fair to ask if these statutes offer knowledge of sin for the land of Canaan only.  Consider the origin of the Samaritans (2 Kings 17:24-28 NET):

The king of Assyria brought foreigners from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim and settled them in the cities of Samaria in place of the Israelites.  They took possession of Samaria and lived in its cities.  When they first moved in, they did not worship the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה).  So the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) sent lions among them and the lions were killing them.  The king of Assyria was told, “The nations whom you deported and settled in the cities of Samaria do not know the requirements of the God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהי) of the land, so he has sent lions among them.  They are killing the people because they do not know the requirements of the God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהי) of the land.”  So the king of Assyria ordered, “Take back one of the priests whom you deported from there.  He must settle there and teach them the requirements of the God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהי) of the land.”  So one of the priests whom they had deported from Samaria went back and settled in Bethel.  He taught them how to worship the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה).

The king of Assyria and his pagan servant considered yehôvâh a local Canaanite god.  It comes down to one’s faithThat is why I told you that you will die in your sins, Jesus said, for unless you believe that I (ἐγώ) AM (εἰμι), you’ll die in your sins.[9]  I chose the ISV translation because it is the most accurate here in stating that John claimed that Jesus claimed to be the I AM (Exodus 3:14, 15) who spoke to Moses.  Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD (yehôvâh, יהוה), and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.  I, even I, am the LORD (yehôvâh, יהוה); and beside me there is no saviour.[10]  I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.[11]

Do not defile yourselves with any of these things, He said, for the nations which I am about to drive out before you have been defiled with all these things.  Therefore the land (ʼerets, הארץ) has become unclean and I have brought the punishment (pâqad, ואפקד) for its iniquity upon it (Tanakh: I did visit the iniquity thereof upon it), so that the land (ʼerets, הארץ) has vomited out its inhabitants.[12]

The land has vomited out its inhabitants is an amazing word picture of the flood: all the fountains of the great deep burst open and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.[13]  But this was not the flood.  No more than forty years earlier the promised land was a land (ʼerets, ארץ) flowing with milk and honey.[14]  When Israel’s spies came to the valley of Eshcol, they cut down from there a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they carried it on a staff between two men[15]  Was the knowledge that the land has vomited out its inhabitants something only yehôvâh could perceive since He promised, I will never again curse the ground (ʼădâmâh, האדמה) because of humankind?[16]  Or was it prophetic of the war of extermination Israel was about to unleash in Canaan?

And surely your blood of your lives will I require, yehôvâh said after the flood, at the hand of every beast will I require it; and at the hand of man, even at the hand of every man’s brother, will I require the life of man.  Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of G-d made He man.[17]  Then He promised (Genesis 9:9-11 Tanakh):

‘As for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you, and with your seed after you;  and with every living creature that is with you, the fowl, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that go out of the ark, even every beast of the earth.  And I will establish My covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of the flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.’

In this sense then Israel’s army became a limited cleansing flood, as opposed to the flood yehôvâh promised not to unleash again to destroy the earth.  Now if someone deprived me and my family of life and claimed all that I owned for himself and his act was righteous, then I was clearly punished for a serious offense.  This is the way the translators of the Septuagint understood the verse: “And the land became defiled, and I repaid their evil because of it…”  Notice below that yehôvâh repaid the Canaanites’ for defiling the land in the NETS translation of the Septuagint rather than punishing the land for its iniquity in the NET translation of the Hebrew.

Leviticus 18:25 (NET) Leviticus 18:25 (Tanakh) Leviticus 18:25 (NETS)
Therefore the land has become unclean and I have brought the punishment for its iniquity upon it, so that the land has vomited out its inhabitants. And the land was defiled, therefore I did visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land vomited out her inhabitants. And the land became defiled, and I repaid (ἀνταπέδωκα, a form of ἀνταποδίδωμι) their evil because of it, and the land was angry with its inhabitants.

The translators of the Septuagint have tipped their hand here, translating pâqad (ואפקד) ἀνταπέδωκα (a form of ἀνταποδίδωμι).  To them visiting the iniquity was how yehôvâh repaid sin: Vengeance is Mine, and recompense (shillêm, ושלם; Septuagint: ἀνταποδώσω, another form of ἀνταποδίδωμι), against the time when their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that are to come upon them shall make haste.[18]  Here shillêm (ושלם, requital) was translated ἀνταποδώσω (another form of ἀνταποδίδωμ).  Is corruption His?  No; His children’s is the blemish; a generation crooked and perverse.  Do ye thus requite (gâmal, תגמלו; Septuagint: ἀνταποδίδοτε, another form of ἀνταποδίδωμι) HaShem (yehôvâh, ליהוה), O foolish people and unwise?[19]

Here even gâmal (תגמלו) was translated ἀνταποδίδοτε (another form of ἀνταποδίδωμι).  When Isaac grew and was weaned (gâmal, ויגמל) Abraham prepared a great feast[20]  The staff of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted, and brought forth buds, and produced blossoms, and yielded (gâmal, ויגמל) almonds![21]  I can’t say it was wrong to translate gâmal with a form of ἀνταποδίδωμι: After their father’s death Joseph’s brothers feared, What if Joseph bears a grudge and wants to repay (shûb, וישב; Septuagint: requite [ἀνταποδῷ, another form of ἀνταποδίδωμι] us a requittal [ἀνταπόδομα] Genesis 50:15 NETS) us in full for all the harm we did (gâmal, גמלנו) to him?[22]  But it does reveal a particular fixation since the word signifies a ripening of fruit, whether good fruit or bad fruit. (Here, by the way, gâmal was translated ἐνεδειξάμεθα [a form of ἐνδεικνύω;[23] NETS: show] in the Septuagint.)

If I consider who translated the Septuagint their fixation on retribution makes a lot of sense (Deuteronomy 31:24-29 Tanakh):

And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites, that bore the ark of the covenant of HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה), saying: ‘Take this book of the law, and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה) your G-d, that it may be there for a witness against thee.  For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck; behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה); and how much more after my death?  Assemble unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to witness against them.  For I know that after my death ye will in any wise deal corruptly, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the end of days; because ye will do that which is evil in the sight of HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה), to provoke Him through the work of your hands.’

How could they help but perceive their world in terms of retribution (Deuteronomy 32:19-27 Tanakh)?

And HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה) saw, and spurned, because of the provoking of His sons and His daughters.  And He said: ‘I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end shall be; for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faithfulness.  They have roused Me to jealousy with a no-god; they have provoked Me with their vanities; and I will rouse them to jealousy with a no-people; I will provoke them with a vile nation.  For a fire is kindled in My nostril, and burneth unto the depths of the nether-world, and devoureth the earth with her produce, and setteth ablaze the foundations of the mountains.  I will heap evils upon them; I will spend Mine arrows upon them; The wasting of hunger, and the devouring of the fiery bolt, and bitter destruction; and the teeth of beasts will I send upon them, with the venom of crawling things of the dust.  Without shall the sword bereave, and in the chambers terror; slaying both young man and virgin, the suckling with the man of gray hairs.  I thought I would make an end of them, I would make their memory cease from among men; Were it not that I dreaded the enemy’s provocation, lest their adversaries should misdeem, lest they should say: Our hand is exalted, and not HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה) hath wrought all this.’

As I began this study I noticed that the rabbis who translated the Septuagint had translated pâqad (פקד) ἀποδιδοὺς (a form of ἀποδίδωμι) but I really didn’t know what to make of it: Thou shalt not bow down unto them, nor serve them; for I HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה) thy G-d am a jealous G-d, visiting the iniquity (pâqad, פקד; Septuagint: ἀποδιδοὺς, a form of ἀποδίδωμι) of the fathers upon the children, and upon the third and upon the fourth generation of them that hate Me[24]  I was questioning, but still more or less persuaded, that visiting the iniquity was how God repaid sin.  Only through this study itself did I begin to wonder if visiting the iniquity, through family (Mark 3:20, 21), through law, through religion, was how God has consigned all people to disobedience.[25]

If I consider who I am, my developing fixation makes quite a lot of sense, too.  I am the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous[26]  I am one of the no-people of a vile nation.  I am one of the Gentiles who has received salvation by Israel’s transgression, one of the Gentiles Paul addressed in his letter to believers in Rome (Romans 11:22-36 NET):

Notice therefore the kindness and harshness of God – harshness toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.  And even they – if they do not continue in their unbelief – will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.  For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree?

For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.  And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

“The Deliverer will come out of Zion; he will remove ungodliness from Jacob.  And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.”

In regard to the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but in regard to election they are dearly loved for the sake of the fathers.  For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.  Just as you were formerly disobedient (ἠπειθήσατε, a form of ἀπειθέω) to God, but have now received mercy due to their disobedience (ἀπειθείᾳ), so they too have now been disobedient (ἠπείθησαν, another form of ἀπειθέω) in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy.  For God has consigned all people to disobedience (ἀπείθειαν, a form of ἀπείθεια) so that he may show mercy to them all.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgments and how fathomless his ways!  For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?  Or who has first given to God, that God needs to repay (ἀνταποδοθήσεται, another form of ἀνταποδίδωμι) him?

For from him and through him and to him are all things.  To him be glory forever!  Amen.

 

Coda: I attended a pagan feast Christmas evening.  I didn’t know it was a pagan feast until it was over.  It was an ecumenical pagan feast: I was asked to pray before the meal.  Interestingly, I didn’t eat, not because I had some scruple about eating a pagan feast but because I wasn’t hungry.  Caring for my mother has me eating way too much way too often.  My intent was to arrive before Grandmother, Mother and Daughter dispersed so I could visit with them all together.  I arrived earlier than anticipated.

I realized it was a pagan feast when Mother began to outline their preparations for Imbolc.  (I had to look it up, too.)  The women plan to write on paper scrolls what each is grateful for day by day, attach the scrolls to a stick or branch and burn the stick or branch with the scrolls on Imbolc (February 1).  As religious works go, it’s not too bad.

The next morning I delivered coffee and cigarettes to Mother.  She was too depressed to venture out into the cold.  Her lover had left her a few days before.  “I’m just so fucking sad all the time,” she said.  I remembered how the Holy Spirit bolstered me when my wife divorced me, and was reminded of Paul’s letter to struggling believers in Galatia (Galatians 3:2b-5):

Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard?  Are you so foolish?  Although you began with the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by human effort?  Have you suffered so many things for nothing? – if indeed it was for nothing.  Does God then give you the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law or by your believing what you heard?

Of course, Paul meant the law God spoke at Sinai.  But clearly pagan ritual in obedience to pagan law (or creative imagination) was no better at filling Mother with Jesus’ love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.[27]

Two days later Mother asked me to pray for her job interview.  I don’t know whether she also sought Brigid’s aid (though I haven’t met any pagans who believe the gods are real, merely imaginary personifications of nature or ideas).  I left it to God’s discretion when my mother and I prayed.  Mother’s interview went well, and I’m happy that I’m not visiting her in rehab this year.

Back to To Make Holy, Part 4

[1] Deuteronomy 5:9b (NET)

[2] http://www.greekdoc.com/lexicon/no.html#nomimos

[3] http://www.greekdoc.com/lexicon/mu.html#museros

[4] תועבה, Leviticus 18:22 (Tanakh)

[5] Leviticus 18:19 (NET)

[6] http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/people/couples.htm

[7] This seems to have been established as a tradition by Noah’s time (Genesis 9:20-23).

[8] http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/030751338407000113?journalCode=egaa

[9] John 8:24 (ISV)

[10] Isaiah 43:10, 11 (Tanakh)

[11] Isaiah 45:12 (Tanakh)

[12] Leviticus 18:24, 25 (NET)

[13] Genesis 7:11b (NET)

[14] Exodus 33:3a (NET)

[15] Numbers 13:23a (NET)

[16] Genesis 8:21b (NET)

[17] Genesis 9:5, 6 (Tanakh)

[18] Deuteronomy 32:35 (Tanakh)

[19] Deuteronomy 32:5, 6a (Tanakh)

[20] Genesis 21:8 (NET)

[21] Numbers 17:8b (NET)

[22] Genesis 50:15 (NET)

[23] http://www.greekdoc.com/lexicon/end.html#endeiknuw

[24] Deuteronomy 5:9 (Tanakh)  “You shall not do obeisance to them, nor are you to serve them, because I am the Lord your God, a jealous God, repaying (ἀποδιδοὺς, a form of ἀποδίδωμι) the sins of fathers upon children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me…” (Deuteronomy 5:9 NETS)

[25] Romans 11:32a (NET)

[26] Romans 4:5 (NET)

[27] Galatians 5:22, 23a (NET)

Romans, Part 89

But now I go to Jerusalem to minister (διακονῶν, a form of διακονέω) to the saints, Paul continued his letter to believers in Rome.  For Macedonia and Achaia are pleased (εὐδόκησαν, a form of εὐδοκέω) to make some contribution (κοινωνίαν, a form of κοινωνία) for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem.[1]  I’ve written about the poor among the saints in Jerusalem elsewhere[2] and won’t repeat it here.

I have no interest in, or intention of, making rules for (or against) giving beyond what I’ve written about the gift (Romans 12:1-8) of contributing (μεταδιδοὺς, a form of μεταδίδωμι).  For believers in Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to do this,[3] Paul continued.  I’m content to assume that the cheerfulness (2 Corinthians 9:7-15) which accompanies giving in the Spirit is sufficient to guide one into giving in the Spirit so long as one is not hardened by a religious mind.

Paul continued, and indeed believers in Macedonia and Achaia are indebted (ὀφειλέται, a form of ὀφειλέτης) to the Jerusalem saints.  For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things (πνευματικοῖς, a form of πνευματικός), they are obligated (ὀφείλουσιν, a form of ὀφείλω) also to minister (λειτουργῆσαι, a form of λειτουργέω) to them in material things (σαρκικοῖς, a form of σαρκικός).[4]  For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: A partial hardening (πώρωσις) has happened to Israel until the full (πλήρωμα) number of the Gentiles has come in (εἰσέλθῃ, a form of εἰσέρχομαι).[5]

I am the door, Jesus said.  If anyone enters (εἰσέλθῃ, a form of εἰσέρχομαι) through me, he will be saved, and will come in (εἰσελεύσεται, another form of εἰσέρχομαι) and go out, and find pasture.[6]  The sense of indebtedness and obligation becomes personal to me in: if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?[7]  I take this to imply that if Israel had not been hardened they would have received Jesus as yehôvâh come in human flesh and the world as we know it would have come to an end before I ever came into existence.

I told Jesus more than thirty-five years ago that a time we had spent studying together “was better than I had expected…but that I was still inclined to wish for never having been born.”[8]  As I prepared for this essay I came across David Benatar’s book Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence.  What I read online was exceedingly funny, a fact Mr. Benatar addresses early in his introduction:

A version of the view I defend in this book is the subject of some humour:

Life is so terrible, it would have been better not to have been born. Who is so lucky? Not one in a hundred thousand! [Jewish saying]

Sigmund Freud describes this quip as a ‘nonsensical joke’, which raises the question whether my view is similarly nonsensical.

While the idea of an interminable existence (Genesis 3:22-24) in this state of being feels like hell, eternal life fueled by an inexhaustible supply of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control seems more reasonable.  Strip me of all that impedes that gracious flow and I’m golden, ready to enjoy God face to face for as long as He pleases.  Reason, however, cannot persuade me that my existence is better than my nonexistence.  Only revelation can do that (Revelation 4:9-11 NET):

And whenever the living creatures (Revelation 4:6b-8) give glory, honor, and thanks to the one who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders throw themselves to the ground before the one who sits on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever, and they offer their crowns before his throne, saying: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, since you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created!”

I exist at his pleasure, not my own, which is not to say that I am entirely free of the pleasures that wage war (στρατευομένων, a form of στρατεύομαι) in [my] members (James 4:1-10 NASB):

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you (ὑμῖν; 2nd person, dative plural)?  Is not the source your (ὑμῶν; 2nd person, genitive, plural) pleasures (ἡδονῶν, a form of ἡδονή) that wage war in your (ὑμῶν; 2nd person, genitive, plural) members?  You lust and do not have; so you commit murder.  You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.  You do not have because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures (ἡδοναῖς, another form of ἡδονή).  You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?  Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.  Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”?  But He gives a greater grace.  Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  Submit therefore to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

I am not abandoned to defend against the warfare of pleasures in my own strength, as Paul wrote Titus (3:3-6 NASB):

For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures (ἡδοναῖς, another form of ἡδονή), spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.  But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind (φιλανθρωπία) appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior

Years of following Jesus through the Scriptures have made me at first more willing that his Spirit win this conflict of pleasures, and slowly more accustomed to that victory.  He has lifted me from his description of the seed which fell among the thorns: these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures (ἡδονῶν, a form of ἡδονή) of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.[9]  Now the fact that I have received such mercy while most in Israel are still hardened to the Gospel of his grace—though I won’t accuse God of injustice—seems terribly unfair to me.

A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.  “For I tell you (ὑμῖν; plural), you will not see (ἴδητε, a form of εἴδω; plural, you see) me from now until you say (εἴπητε, a form of ῥέω, according to Strong’s Concordance and the NET dictionary, a form of εἶπον a form of λέγω according to Bible Hub and the Koine Greek Lexicon; plural),Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’”[10]  So then, Paul concluded, God has mercy on whom he chooses to have mercy, and he hardens (σκληρύνει, a form of σκληρύνω) whom he chooses to harden.[11]

I’m equating the πώρωσις (hardening) of Romans 11:25 with σκληρύνει (hardens) in Romans 9:18 not only by Romans 9-11 but also from Hebrews 3:12-19 (NET):

See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has an evil, unbelieving heart that forsakes the living God.  But exhort one another each day, as long as it is called “Today,” that none of you may become hardened (σκληρυνθῇ, another form of σκληρύνω) by sin’s deception.  For we have become partners with Christ, if in fact we hold our initial confidence firm until the end.  As it says, “Oh, that today you would listen as he speaks!  Do not harden (σκληρύνητε, another form of σκληρύνω) your hearts as in the rebellion.”  For which ones heard and rebelled?  Was it not all who came out of Egypt under Moses’ leadership?  And against whom was God provoked for forty years?  Was it not those who sinned, whose dead bodies fell in the wilderness?  And to whom did he swear they would never enter into his rest, except those who were disobedient (ἀπειθήσασιν, a form of ἀπειθέω)?  So we see that they could not enter because of unbelief (ἀπιστίαν, a form of ἀπιστία).

And Mark recalled (3:1-6 NET):

Then Jesus entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand.  They watched Jesus closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they could accuse him.  So he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Stand up among all these people.”  Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath, or evil, to save a life or destroy it?”  But they were silent.  After looking around at them in anger (ὀργῆς, a form of ὀργή), grieved (συλλυπούμενος, a form of συλλυπέω) by the hardness (πωρώσει, a form of πώρωσις) of their hearts, he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”  He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.  So the Pharisees went out immediately and began plotting with the Herodians, as to how they could assassinate him.

Israel is not alone in experiencing hardness (Ephesians 4:17-24 NET):

So I say this, and insist in the Lord, that you no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking (νοὸς, a form of νοῦς).  They are darkened in their understanding, being alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardness (πώρωσιν, another form of πώρωσις) of their hearts.  Because they are callous (ἀπηλγηκότες, a form of ἀπαλγέω), they have given themselves over to indecency for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.  But you did not learn about Christ like this, if indeed you heard about him and were taught in him, just as the truth is in Jesus.  You were taught with reference to your former way of life to lay aside the old man who is being corrupted (φθειρόμενον, a form of φθείρω) in accordance with deceitful (ἀπάτης, a form of ἀπάτη) desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your mind (νοὸς, a form of νοῦς), and to put on the new man who has been created in God’s image – in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth.

I am pleased now to pray for Israel and for all:  “My persistent prayer for justice is for the mercy on which everything depends, for it does not depend on human desire or exertion, but on [You] who shows mercy,[12] and, [You have] consigned all people to disobedience (ἀπείθειαν, another form of ἀπείθεια) so that [You] may show mercy to them all.”[13]

This is completely unacceptable to the religious mind.  If it allows any god beyond itself it wants a god who shows me, or some arbitrary designation of us, favoritism while dealing punitively, even violently, with others, designated just as arbitrarily—not me, not us.

Back to Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 11

[1] Romans 15:25, 26 (NET)

[2] Romans, Part 69; Romans, Part 52; Romans, Part 18; Torture, Part 5; Romans, Part 69

[3] Romans 15:27a (NET)

[4] Romans 15:27b (NET)

[5] Romans 11:25 (NET)

[6] John 10:9 (NET)

[7] Romans 11:15 (NET)

[8] You Must Be Gentle, Part 3

[9] Luke 8:14 (NASB)

[10] Matthew 23:39 (NET)

[11] Romans 9:18 (NET)

[12] Romans 9:16 (NET)

[13] Romans 11:32 (NET)

Father, Forgive Them – Part 2

Jesus said (Matthew 23:34-36 NET):

For this reason I am sending you prophets and wise men and experts in the law, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, so that on you will come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.  I tell you the truth, this generation will be held responsible for all these things!

I’ve understood this without much thought just as the NET translators translated it: as Jesus’ justification for what He planned to do to Israel in 70 A.D.  The realization however that the description of events during the siege of Jerusalem has more to do with sin than Christ’s righteousness functions like a ratchet, making it difficult to go back.  I have to admit I have no alternative understanding ready at hand.  But I also have to admit that it takes very little thought to call the most persuasive portion of this translation—this generation will be held responsible for all these things—into serious question.

First, I want to consider one of Zechariah’s more controversial prophecies (Zechariah 12:10 Tanakh):

And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced (dâqar, דקרו), and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

There is a companion prophecy in Revelation (1:7 NET):

Look!  He is returning with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced (ἐξεκέντησαν, a form of ἐκκεντέω) him, and all the tribes on the earth will mourn because of him.  This will certainly come to pass!  Amen.

The translators of the Septuagint couldn’t imagine a scenario in which yehôvâh (יהוה) could be pierced.  Their translation reads: ἐπιβλέψονται πρός με ἀνθ᾽ ὧν κατωρχήσαντο (“and they shall look to me because they have danced triumphantly” – NETS).  The Complete Jewish Bible reads: “And they shall look to me because of those who have been thrust through [with swords]…”[1]

In his “Analysis of Zechariah 12:10 A closer look at what the text of Zechariah 12:10 really says” published on Jews for Judaism online, Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz explained:

Starting with the beginning of Zechariah chapter 12 the prophet speaks of a time when the nations of the world will be gathered against Jerusalem to destroy it (Zec 12:3). On that day, G-d Himself will defend Jerusalem and destroy all of its enemies (Zec 12:4-9). G-d will pour out a spirit of grace and supplication toward the Jews…This new spirit will motivate the Jewish nation to look towards G-d concerning those Jews (collective Jewish Martyrs) (see Hosea 11:1 for the Jewish people described as him. See Ex.1 etc. verbs of oppression in singular. Cf. Deut 32, Hos 8:3 and Ex. 19:2) who have been killed in battle prior to G-d’s divine intervention in fighting our adversaries.

“For I tell you, Jesus prophesied over Jerusalem, you will not see me from now until you say,Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’”[2]

An exhibition—The Great Revolt in the Galilee—in The Reuben and Edith Hecht Museum at the University of Haifa in Israel was reviewed in the June 2013 issue of the Jewish Magazine online by Norman A. Rubin.  He quoted extensively from the preface of the exhibition catalog by Ofra Rimon, the museum curator and director: “The Great Revolt against the Romans…constitutes one of the historic events that are permanently etched in the historical memory of the Jewish people…”  Two writers whose divergent opinions offer an interesting contrast were also quoted in that preface.

“Certainly, small Judea could have resigned itself to its fate and surrendered to Rome – and remained occupied with Torah,” Joseph Klausner wrote in his book, When a Nation Fights for Freedom:[3]

But then the Romans would have laid even a heavier hand on it and oppressed it more and more. An aggressive and abusive nation – in particular, its low-level officials – can sense a weak and submissive nation – and immediately tramples it like clay. Keeping quiet, turning the heart away from the affairs of the State and studying Torah and wisdom – woe is Torah that comes from dejection, alas the wisdom that comes not from expanding knowledge but from the imprisoned spirit in the cage of cruel servitude. Torah – that is the genius and that is the glory of the nation; and where they cease – Torah also ceases. And wisdom that has no vision, no exaltedness, no freedom, it too, is not worth very much.

Meir Shalev was quoted as counterpoint from a newspaper article titled, “Accepted Lies”:[4]

.…Judea was not destroyed because of factionalism and Judaism did not survive because of unity. Judea was destroyed because of the military superiority of the Romans, because of the stupidity and extremism of the Zealots and because of the surrender of the leadership to their Messianic violence. Judaism survived thanks to the wisdom, vision, and moderation of personalities like Rabbi Yochanan ben-Zakkai, who succeeded in escaping these murderous patriots, handing himself over to the Romans, exchanging the Temple for the synagogue and the slaughtered lamb for prayer, and equipping us with the means of cultural and spiritual existence for the time in exile.

Two thousand years after the destruction, two thousand years in which Judaism decried the Zealots and tried to put them out of heart and mind, we returned to Jerusalem. The Temple, fortunately, we have not yet built, but we have already acted like fools and called streets in our cities after those contemptible figures, Shimon bar-Giora, Yochanan of Gush Halav, and Elazar ben-Yair. And now we have added even honey-lipped gatherings of mourning and destruction, where they preach unity between those who do not quite understand the nature of these Zealots and those who see them as exemplars.

Before taking offense at the words “Messianic violence” remember that most in Israel don’t associate Messiah with a loving and gracious Savior who brought forgiveness to those who were dead in [their] transgressions and sins,[5] resurrection[6] and new birth[7] into an eternal life[8] of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control[9] by his own indwelling Holy Spirit.[10]  But consider the story of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai:[11]

The greatest Jewish sage of the time was Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai. He wisely foresaw that Jerusalem was doomed and understood the need to transplant the center of Torah scholarship to another location, to ensure the survival of Torah study after Jerusalem’s destruction. He devised a plan that would allow him to leave Jerusalem, despite the Zealots’ blockade. He feigned death so that he could be carried out of the city. His disciples carried the coffin out of the city’s walls, and Rabbi Yochanan proceeded directly to Vespasian’s tent. He entered the tent and addressed Vespasian as “Your Majesty.”

“You are deserving of death on two accounts,” said Vespasian. “First of all, I am not the emperor, only his general. Secondly, if I am indeed emperor, why did you not come to me until now?”

Rabbi Yochanan answered: “You are an emperor, because otherwise the Holy Temple would not be delivered in your hands.… And as for your second question, the reckless Zealots would not allow me to leave the city.”

While they were speaking, a messenger came and told Vespasian that Nero was dead and he had been appointed the new Roman emperor. Vespasian was so impressed with Rabbi Yochanan’s wisdom that he offered to grant Rabbi Yochanan anything he wanted as a reward. Rabbi Yochanan made three requests. The primary request was that Vespasian spare Yavne – which would become the new home of the Sanhedrin – and its Torah sages.

Rabbi Yochanan thus ensured the continuation of Jewish scholarship after the fall of Jerusalem. Even though they would no longer have a Temple or a homeland, the Jews would always have a spiritual center in the Torah.

Rabbi Yochanan’s “death” was faked, his “resurrection” merely a relocation to another city but his love for the Scriptures was more Christlike than any of the warlords Mr. Shalev excoriated or Mr. Klausner justified.  I tell you the truth, Jesus said, this generation will be held responsible for all these things![12]  The Greek word translated will be held responsible was ἥξει (a form of ἥκω).  A table of all the occurrences of forms of ἥκω in the New Testament follows:

Form of ἥκω Reference KJV NET
ἥκασιν Mark 8:3 …divers of them came from far. …some of them have come from a great distance.

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

καὶ ἐὰν ἀπολύσω αὐτοὺς νήστεις εἰς οἶκον αὐτῶν, ἐκλυθήσονται ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ· καί τινες αὐτῶν ἀπὸ μακρόθεν |ἥκασιν| και εαν απολυσω αυτους νηστεις εις οικον αυτων εκλυθησονται εν τη οδω τινες γαρ αυτων μακροθεν ηκασιν και εαν απολυσω αυτους νηστεις εις οικον αυτων εκλυθησονται εν τη οδω τινες γαρ αυτων μακροθεν ηκουσιν
ἥκει Luke 15:27 Thy brother is come Your brother has returned
John 2:4 …mine hour is not yet come. My time has not yet come.
John 4:47 …he heard that Jesus was come …he heard that Jesus had come back
1 John 5:20 …we know that the Son of God is come …we know that the Son of God has come

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

οἴδαμεν δὲ ὅτι ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ἥκει καὶ δέδωκεν ἡμῖν διάνοιαν ἵνα |γινώσκωμεν| τὸν ἀληθινόν, καὶ ἐσμὲν ἐν τῷ ἀληθινῷ, ἐν τῷ υἱῷ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ. οὗτος ἐστιν ὁ ἀληθινὸς θεὸς καὶ ζωὴ αἰώνιος οιδαμεν δε οτι ο υιος του θεου ηκει και δεδωκεν ημιν διανοιαν ινα γινωσκωμεν τον αληθινον και εσμεν εν τω αληθινω εν τω υιω αυτου ιησου χριστω ουτος εστιν ο αληθινος θεος και η ζωη αιωνιος οιδαμεν δε οτι ο υιος του θεου ηκει και δεδωκεν ημιν διανοιαν ινα γινωσκωμεν τον αληθινον και εσμεν εν τω αληθινω εν τω υιω αυτου ιησου χριστω ουτος εστιν ο αληθινος θεος και η ζωη η αιωνιος
ἥκω John 8:42 …I proceeded forth and came from God… …I have come from God and am now here.
Hebrews 10:7 Then said I, Lo, I come Then I said, ‘Here I am: I have come
Hebrews 10:9 Lo, I come to do thy will… Here I am: I have come to do your will.
ἥξει Matthew 23:36 All these things shall come upon this generation. …this generation will be held responsible for all these things!
Matthew 24:14 …and then shall the end come. …and then the end will come.
Matthew 24:50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day… …the master of that slave will come on a day…
Luke 12:46 The lord of that servant will come in a day… …the master of that slave will come on a day…
Luke 13:35 Ye shall not see me, until the time come Not translated

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

ἰδοὺ ἀφίεται ὑμῖν ὁ οἶκος ὑμῶν. λέγω [δὲ] ὑμῖν, οὐ μὴ ἴδητε με ἕως [ἥξει ὅτε] εἴπητε· εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόματι κυρίου ιδου αφιεται υμιν ο οικος υμων ερημος αμην δε λεγω υμιν οτι ου μη με ιδητε εως αν ηξη οτε ειπητε ευλογημενος ο ερχομενος εν ονοματι κυριου ιδου αφιεται υμιν ο οικος υμων ερημος λεγω δε υμιν οτι ου μη με ιδητε εως αν ηξει οτε ειπητε ευλογημενος ο ερχομενος εν ονοματι κυριου
ἥξει John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me… Everyone whom the Father gives me will come to me…

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

πᾶν ὃ δίδωσιν μοι ὁ πατὴρ πρὸς ἐμὲ ἥξει, καὶ τὸν ἐρχόμενον πρὸς |ἐμὲ| οὐ μὴ ἐκβάλω ἔξω παν ο διδωσιν μοι ο πατηρ προς εμε ηξει και τον ερχομενον προς με ου μη εκβαλω εξω παν ο διδωσιν μοι ο πατηρ προς εμε ηξει και τον ερχομενον προς με ου μη εκβαλω εξω
ἥξει Romans 11:26 There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer… The Deliverer will come out of Zion…
Hebrews 10:37 …he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. …he who is coming will arrive and not delay.

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

ἔτι γὰρ μικρὸν ὅσον ὅσον, ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἥξει καὶ οὐ χρονίσει ετι γαρ μικρον οσον οσον ο ερχομενος ηξει και ου χρονιει ετι γαρ μικρον οσον οσον ο ερχομενος ηξει και ου χρονιει
ἥξει 2 Peter 3:10 …the day of the Lord will come as a thief… …the day of the Lord will come like a thief…

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

῞Ηξει δὲ ἡμέρα κυρίου ὡς κλέπτης, ἐν ᾗ οἱ οὐρανοὶ ροιζηδὸν παρελεύσονται στοιχεῖα δὲ καυσούμενα λυθήσεται καὶ γῆ καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτῇ ἔργα εὑρεθήσεται ηξει δε η ημερα κυριου ως κλεπτης εν νυκτι εν η οι ουρανοι ροιζηδον παρελευσονται στοιχεια δε καυσουμενα λυθησονται και γη και τα εν αυτη εργα κατακαησεται ηξει δε η ημερα κυριου ως κλεπτης εν νυκτι εν η οι ουρανοι ροιζηδον παρελευσονται στοιχεια δε καυσουμενα λυθησονται και γη και τα εν αυτη εργα κατακαησεται
ἥξω Revelation 2:25 …that which ye have already hold fast till I come. …hold on to what you have until I come.
Revelation 3:3 If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief… If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief…
Revelation 3:3 …thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. …you will never know at what hour I will come against you.

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

μνημόνευε οὖν πῶς εἴληφας καὶ ἤκουσας καὶ τήρει καὶ μετανόησον. ἐὰν οὖν μὴ γρηγορήσῃς, ἥξω ὡς κλέπτης, καὶ οὐ μὴ γνῷς ποίαν ὥραν ἥξω ἐπὶ σέ μνημονευε ουν πως ειληφας και ηκουσας και τηρει και μετανοησον εαν ουν μη γρηγορησης ηξω επι σε ως κλεπτης και ου μη γνως ποιαν ωραν ηξω επι σε μνημονευε ουν πως ειληφας και ηκουσας και τηρει και μετανοησον εαν ουν μη γρηγορησης ηξω επι σε ως κλεπτης και ου μη γνως ποιαν ωραν ηξω επι σε
ἥξουσιν Matthew 8:11 …many shall come from the east and west… …many will come from the east and west…
Luke 13:29 …they shall come from the east, and from the west… …people will come from east and west…
Luke 19:43 For the days shall come upon thee… For the days will come upon you…

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

ὅτι ἥξουσιν ἡμέραι ἐπὶ σὲ καὶ παρεμβαλοῦσιν οἱ ἐχθροί σου χάρακα σοι καὶ περικυκλώσουσιν σε καὶ συνέξουσιν σε πάντοθεν οτι ηξουσιν ημεραι επι σε και περιβαλουσιν οι εχθροι σου χαρακα σοι και περικυκλωσουσιν σε και συνεξουσιν σε παντοθεν οτι ηξουσιν ημεραι επι σε και περιβαλουσιν οι εχθροι σου χαρακα σοι και περικυκλωσουσιν σε και συνεξουσιν σε παντοθεν
ἥξουσιν Revelation 3:9 …I will make them to come and worship… …I will make them come and bow down…

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

ἰδοὺ διδῶ ἐκ τῆς συναγωγῆς τοῦ σατανᾶ τῶν λεγόντων ἑαυτοὺς Ἰουδαίους εἶναι, καὶ οὐκ εἰσὶν ἀλλὰ ψεύδονται. ἰδοὺ ποιήσω αὐτοὺς ἵνα ἥξουσιν καὶ προσκυνήσουσιν ἐνώπιον τῶν ποδῶν σου καὶ γνῶσιν ὅτι ἐγὼ ἠγάπησα σε ιδου διδωμι εκ της συναγωγης του σατανα των λεγοντων εαυτους ιουδαιους ειναι και ουκ εισιν αλλα ψευδονται ιδου ποιησω αυτους ινα ηξωσιν και προσκυνησωσιν ενωπιον των ποδων σου και γνωσιν οτι εγω ηγαπησα σε ιδου διδωμι εκ της συναγωγης του σατανα των λεγοντων εαυτους ιουδαιους ειναι και ουκ εισιν αλλα ψευδονται ιδου ποιησω αυτους ινα ηξωσιν και προσκυνησωσιν ενωπιον των ποδων σου και γνωσιν οτι ηγαπησα σε
ἥξουσιν Revelation 15:4 …all nations shall come and worship before thee… All nations will come and worship before you…

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

τίς οὐ μὴ φοβηθῇ, κύριε, καὶ δοξάσει τὸ ὄνομα σου; ὅτι μόνος ὅσιος, ὅτι πάντα τὰ ἔθνη ἥξουσιν καὶ προσκυνήσουσιν ἐνώπιον σου, ὅτι τὰ δικαιώματα σου ἐφανερώθησαν τις ου μη φοβηθη σε κυριε και δοξαση το ονομα σου οτι μονος οσιος οτι παντα τα εθνη ηξουσιν και προσκυνησουσιν ενωπιον σου οτι τα δικαιωματα σου εφανερωθησαν τις ου μη φοβηθη σε κυριε και δοξαση το ονομα σου οτι μονος αγιος οτι παντα τα εθνη ηξουσιν και προσκυνησουσιν ενωπιον σου οτι τα δικαιωματα σου εφανερωθησαν
ἥξουσιν Revelation 18:8 Therefore shall her plagues come in one day… she will experience her plagues in a single day…

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

διὰ τοῦτο ἐν μιᾷ ἡμέρᾳ ἥξουσιν αἱ πληγαὶ αὐτῆς, θάνατος καὶ πένθος καὶ λιμός, καὶ ἐν πυρὶ κατακαυθήσεται, ὅτι ἰσχυρὸς |κύριος| ὁ θεὸς ὁ κρίνας αὐτήν δια τουτο εν μια ημερα ηξουσιν αι πληγαι αυτης θανατος και πενθος και λιμος και εν πυρι κατακαυθησεται οτι ισχυρος κυριος ο θεος ο κρινων αυτην δια τουτο εν μια ημερα ηξουσιν αι πληγαι αυτης θανατος και πενθος και λιμος και εν πυρι κατακαυθησεται οτι ισχυρος κυριος ο θεος ο κρινας αυτην

Clearly, the translation of ἥξει as will be held responsible owed more to an interpretation of—For this reason I am sending you prophets and wise men and experts in the law, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, so that on you will come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar[13]—than to the meaning of any form of ἥκω.

That in itself opens my mind to the possibility that this was Jesus’ lament, predicated on his foreknowledge of what would happen to people who rejected Him, his death for the forgiveness of sins, his resurrection, his new birth into an eternal life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control by his own indwelling Holy Spirit, people who endeavored instead to establish their own righteousness in their own strength against a superior military force who knew nothing of these things.  Consider what Rabbi Irving Greenberg wrote:

The second Destruction…was the end result of a major national religious revival. The “crime” of the Jews was excessive enthusiasm and determination that only God would rule over them. The crushing defeat was all the more devastating. How could it be rationalized?

With my mind open I notice now that everything Jesus said in Matthew 23:34-36 was offered in relation to his question in Matthew 23:33 (NET):

You snakes, you offspring of vipers [e.g., experts in the law and you Pharisees[14]]!  How will you escape being condemned to hell?

I’ll pick this up in another essay.  A table of the Old Testament occurrences of dâqar and its translation in the KJV, NET and the Septuagint follows.

Form of dâqar Reference KJV NET Septuagint
וידקר Numbers 25:8 and thrust both of them through and thrust through the Israelite man and into the woman’s abdomen. ἀπεκέντησεν, a form of ἀποκεντέω[15]
וידקרהו Judges 9:54 …his young man thrust him through …the young man stabbed him… ἐξεκέντησεν,[16] a form of ἐκκεντέω
ודקרני 1 Samuel 31:4 Draw thy sword, and thrust me through Draw your sword and stab me… ἀποκέντησόν, another form of ἀποκεντέω
…these uncircumcised come and thrust me through …these uncircumcised people will come, stab me… ἀποκεντήσωσίν, another form of ἀποκεντέω
1 Chronicles 10:4 Draw thy sword, and thrust me through Draw your sword and stab me… ἐκκέντησόν, another form of ἐκκεντέω
ידקר Isaiah 13:15 Every one that is found shall be thrust through Everyone who is caught will be stabbed ἡττηθήσεται, a form of ἡττάω
מדקרים Jeremiah 37:10 …and there remained but wounded men among them… …that only wounded men were left lying… ἐκκεκεντημένοι, another form of ἐκκεντέω
Lamentations 4:9 stricken through for want of the fruits of the field. struck down from lack of food. ἐκκεκεντημένοι, another form of ἐκκεντέω
ומדקרים Jeremiah 51:4 …they that are thrust through in her streets. mortally wounded in the streets… κατακεκεντημένοι, a form of κατακεντέω[17]
דקרו Zechariah 12:10 …whom they have pierced …the one they have pierced. κατωρχήσαντο, a form of κατορχέομαι[18]
ודקרהו Zechariah 13:3 shall thrust him through will run him through with a sword συμποδιοῦσιν, a form of συμποδίζω[19]

 

[1] Zechariah 12:10 The Complete Jewish Bible

[2] Matthew 23:39 (NET)

[3] Joseph Klausner, When a Nation Fights for Freedom, Historical Essays, Tel Aviv, 1945, pp. 153-189. [Hebrew] See: https://jnjr.div.ed.ac.uk/primary-sources/modern/joseph-klausners-jesus-of-nazareth-1922-a-modern-jewish-study-of-the-founding-figure-of-christianity/ for Mr. Klausner’s view of Jesus.

[4] Excerpt translated from Yediot Ahronot, Saturday Supplement, July 27, 2007, p. 5.

[5] Ephesians 2:1b (NET)

[6] Romans 6:5

[7] John 3:7

[8] John 17:3; Philippians 3:1-11

[9] Galatians 5:22, 23 (NET)

[10] Acts 1:8; John 15

[11] http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/953564/jewish/Rabbi-Yochanans-Request.htm

[12] Matthew 23:36 (NET)

[13] Matthew 23:34, 35 (NET)

[14] Matthew 23:29 (NET)

[15] http://www.greekdoc.com/lexicon/apoke.html#apokentew

[16] http://www.greekdoc.com/lexicon/ekk.html#ekkentew

[17] http://www.greekdoc.com/lexicon/katak.html#katakentew

[18] http://www.greekdoc.com/lexicon/kato.html#katorceomai

[19] http://www.greekdoc.com/lexicon/sumpo.html#sumpodizw

My Reasons and My Reason, Part 8

Considering walking in the light led me back here to try to bring this series of essays to some sort of conclusion.  Much as I might like something more definitive, this—like the rest of my life—will be more in-process.  But it highlights the advantage of taking notes by writing essays.

While it was probably good for me to type out Scripture verses and passages (copy and paste came later) and salutary to suspend my own judgments until a sufficient quantity of God’s own thoughts had washed over and through me, the notes that resulted from this exercise were simply typed lists of Scripture passages bound together only by the Greek or Hebrew word they shared.  Though it shaped my understanding of the Greek or Hebrew word in question, once the meaning of the exercise dimmed in memory my notes didn’t help me recall it.  Writing essays forces me to translate the gestalt that forms from word studies into a linear pattern of words, phrases, sentences and paragraphs that I can return to again and again as new patterns emerge.

This essay begins for all practical purposes with my divorce from my second wife (third wife if you’re willing to count my high school girlfriend).  One of the reasons she divorced me was stated: “I don’t like your sexuality.  And when I do, I don’t like myself.”

I’m persuaded a decade or so later—knowing we get along just fine now that sex and living together are off the table—that it wasn’t female emotional-speak, when a man should hear the emotion conveyed by the words rather than their literal content.  She was a poet, speaking content and feeling in a few precise words.  When I heard them I became the submissive sadist who had goaded her into a discomforting situation.

I was under the most extreme emotional duress, rejected again by another wife after having been accepted (including my masochistic sexuality).  I had believed she was God’s gift to me, that He had given me the desire of my heart and He was about to take that gift away, albeit through my inability to please a wife.  I don’t expect that He will ever taunt Satan with words like, Have you considered my servant Dan?  There is no one like him on the earth, a pure and upright man, one who fears God and turns away from evil.[1]  I was in no shape to say blessed be the name of the Lord.[2]  That was accomplished entirely by the Holy Spirit.  He flooded Paul’s definition of love back into my mind (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a NET):

Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious.  Love does not brag, it is not puffed up.  It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful.  It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.   

That’s not to say that it had ever left entirely.  To Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind[3] and to Love your neighbor as yourself,[4] it’s nice to know what love is.  But under extreme emotional duress Paul’s definition became my mantra.

The obvious advantage of this is that Paul’s definition of love coincides absolutely with the fruit of the Holy Spirit: the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control[5] He is ever-producing in the believer, like a fountain of water springing up to eternal life.[6]  Jesus stood up and shouted out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink.  Just as the scripture says, From within him will flow rivers of living water.’”[7]  And whatever the flow rate in ordinary times I’m convinced He increases it in times of duress, emotional or otherwise.

Though I was completely wrong the first time I was divorced to think that I could love like God and fulfill the law by turning Paul’s definition of love into rules I would obey in my own strength, the Holy Spirit was not wrong to make that definition my mantra.  It reminds me of another mantra from the movie The Patriot.

It comes at the turning point for widower and war veteran Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson).  He has avoided being dragged back into war until now.  He and his two younger sons Nathan (Trevor Morgan) and Samuel (Bryan Chafin) prepare an ambush for the Redcoats who have captured his eldest son Gabriel (Heath Ledger).  “What did I tell you fellas about shooting,” Benjamin asks his obviously frightened young sons.  “Aim small, miss small,” they respond in unison.  Benjamin prays, “Lord make me fast and accurate.”  Nathan repeats “aim small, miss small” as a mantra to steady his breathing.

When I consider sin as a missing of the mark,[8] “aim small, miss small” has a lot to do with how Paul’s definition of love worked as a mantra of righteousness.  A bit of impatience with God or my wife was a long way from atheism or murder.  Aiming at kindness kept the worst of my bitter diatribes at bay.  A little envy did not lead to adultery.  None of these small misses were quite as devastating as missing the absolutes of God’s law.  Paul’s definition of love may well be the God-ordained hedge about the law working in consonance with the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Still, here I am with a desire for that combination of humiliation, pain and pleasure called masochism.  Now, admittedly, I have no desire for missionary-position sex with somebody’s grandmother.  Maybe this is the way sexual desire dies, most kinky last.  I don’t honestly know.  But it leads me aside here to another consideration.

Paul wrote believers in Rome (Romans 8:12-14 NET):

So then, brothers and sisters, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh (for if you live according to the flesh, you will die), but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.

The Greek word translated you put to death was θανατοῦτε (a form of θανατόω).  I’ve been frustrated at times not knowing how to behead, stab, shoot or poison the practices of the body (πράξεις τοῦ σώματος), as distinguished from the works of the flesh (ἔργα τῆς σαρκός).  In the past believers tried asceticism.  Today psychology is all the rage.  But I think that θανατοῦτε is a bit more passive than its English translation may seem.

Brother will hand over (Παραδώσει, a form of παραδίδωμι) brother to death, Jesus prophesied, and a father his child.  Children will rise against parents and have them put to death (θανατώσουσιν, another form of θανατόω).[9]  Here θανατώσουσιν was associated with Παραδώσει, “to give into the hands (of another).”  The brother, the father and the children would not kill directly but surrender their victims to another authority.  And I think that pattern holds.

The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were trying to find false testimony against Jesus so that they could put him to death (θανατώσωσιν, another form of θανατόω).[10]  When it was early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people plotted against Jesus to execute (θανατῶσαι, another form of θανατόω) him.[11]  But when it got right down to it the chief priests and elders handed him over (παρέδωκαν, another form of παραδίδωμι) to Pilate the governor.[12]  Even Pilate handed him over (παρέδωκεν, another form of παραδίδωμι) [to others] to be crucified.[13]  I am to put to death the [practices[14]] of the body by the Spirit (πνεύματι, a form of πνεῦμα, dative case).

If I leave the killing to God, suddenly his beyond intimate knowledge of me as an individual is comforting rather than a threat.  Let the Creator and Lover of my soul perform the spiritual equivalent of neurosurgery in his own time with his own steady hand.  My part is to hand the practices of the body over to Him.  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.

I do, however, recognize another desire of my heart, a desire to do word studies in the Bible to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom [He has] sent.[15]  When I spent countless hours typing Scripture passages, or even copying and pasting them, though I wanted and needed to do it, I felt guilty about all the time I “wasted.”  I should have been making money or music or doing something “good.”  What I’ve learned from all that I’ve suffered is that studying God’s word is doing something good.

Now I have more time off from work than I can actually afford.  Bible study is not only good for me and the thing I look most forward to being off work to do, it is the most economical way to spend idle time.  Also, it is time spent when every inclination of the thoughts of [my mind] is not only evil (raʽ, רע) all the time.[16]  Yes, I have learned a more circumspect view of who and what I am now, as well as my own capacity for doing good (apart from being led by the Holy Spirit).  Why do you call me good? Jesus asked the ἄρχωνNo one is good except God alone.[17]

Of course He chooses which of the desires (mishʼâlâh, משאלת; Septuagint: αἰτήματα, a form of αἴτημα) of my heart (lêb, לבך; Septuagint: καρδίας, a form of καρδία) to grant and which to kill.  The heart (lêb, הלב; Septuagint: καρδία) is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  I the LORD (yehôvâh, יהוה) search the heart (lêb, לב; Septuagint: καρδίας, a form of καρδία), I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.[18]

If I’m honest about it, almost the last thing I would desire now is a wife to disrupt my Bible study routine.  So, unless I plan to attempt a biblical justification for hiring a dominatrix, my masochism will just have to wither away.  Though I failed to find a definitive “masochism is sin”[19] in Scripture I think my life has demonstrated that for me at least masochism is not beneficial (συμφέρει, a form of συμφέρω).  And I’ve spent the better part of a lifetime coming even to that tentative conclusion.  I can certainly afford to be a little patient with the sexual obsessions of others.

I’ve written about Chad Allen before and won’t repeat it here.  The love and grace he demonstrated toward his accusers as producer and actor of Save Me deeply affected me and I loved him, though we had never met.  “The final thing the movie did for me was introduce me to the Gay Christian Network,” I wrote.

While not untrue it was perhaps misleading since the Gay Christian Network was nothing more than the Scriptural musings of Justin Lee to me.  I didn’t always agree with Mr. Lee’s conclusions but his process gave me confidence that the Holy Spirit would work in anyone pursuing God through his word that way.  Now that he has moved on to other endeavors the Gay Christian Network became the writings of Isaac Archuleta to me.  I admit to being somewhat less sanguine about his more psychological approach.

So, can I live in a world where my heart’s desire to do word studies in the Bible is granted while my heart’s desire to enjoy hot, kinky sex with a loving wife is strangled?  The simple answer is no—not on my own, not apart from the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  This brings me back to Habakkuk.  He didn’t describe the fruit of the spirit as a river or a fountain of living water but as the feet of a deer (Habakkuk 3:17-19 NIV):

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.  The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights (NASB: And makes me walk on my high places).

As a coda to this essay: My eighty-six-year-old mother fell again and broke her arm.  My ex-wife is staying with her until I can get there.

Back to Jedidiah, Part 2

Back to Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 11

[1] Job 1:8 (NET)

[2] Job 1:21b (KJV)

[3] Matthew 22:37 (NET)

[4] Matthew 22:39 (NET)

[5] Galatians 5:22, 23 (NET)

[6] John 4:14b (NET)

[7] John 7:37b, 38 (NET)

[8] Greek: ἁμαρτάνω; Hebrew: châṭâʼ (חָטָא)

[9] Matthew 10:21 (NET)

[10] Matthew 26:59 (NET)

[11] Matthew 27:1 (NET)

[12] Matthew 27:2b (NET)

[13] Matthew 27:26b (NET)

[14] πράξεις (a form of πρᾶξις) is from the verb πράσσω, “to ‘practise’, that is, perform repeatedly or habitually.”  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be paid back according to what he has done (ἔπραξεν, a form of πράσσω) while in the body, whether good or evil (2 Corinthians 5:10 NET).

[15] John 17:3b (NET)

[16] Genesis 6:5b (NET)

[17] Luke 18:19 (NET)

[18] Jeremiah 17:9, 10 (Tanakh)

[19] I might try again at another time with a word study of ἀσέλγεια.

My Deeds, Part 2

This is the table representing my unstudied view of the relationship of the clauses of Revelation 2:26-29.

Revelation 2:26-29 (NET)

And to the one who conquers

and

who continues in my deeds until the end,

I will give him authority over the nations –

he will rule them with an iron rod

and

like clay jars he will break them to pieces,

just as I have received the right to rule from my Father –

and

I will give him the morning star.

The one who has an ear had better hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

I’m considering who continues in my deeds until the end, because it tugs the hardest at me to return to my own works.  As the title of this essay suggests my goal is to understand what Jesus meant by τὰ ἔργα μου, translated my deeds.  I’ve begun with τηρῶν (a form of τηρέω), translated who continues.  The most basic understanding of τηρῶν is: Blessed is the one who stays alert and does not lose (τηρῶν, a form of τηρέω) his clothes so that he will not have to walk around naked[1]  It means to keep, not to lose or discard.

In this essay I’ll begin with, The one who says “I have come to know God” and yet does not keep (τηρῶν, a form of τηρέω) his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in such a person.[2]  This occurs in a particular context which I’ll begin for the sake of argument with John’s contrast of light and darkness (1 John 1:5 (NET):

Now this is the gospel message we have heard from him and announce to you: God is light (φῶς), and in him there is no darkness (σκοτία) at all.

This hearkens back to John’s description of Jesus as the Word (λόγος): In him was life, and the life was the light (φῶς) of mankind.  And the light (φῶς) shines on in the darkness (σκοτίᾳ), but the darkness (σκοτία) has not mastered it.[3]  And it mirrors Jesus’ description of Himself: I am the light (φῶς) of the world.  The one who follows me will never walk (περιπατήσῃ, a form of περιπατέω) in darkness (σκοτίᾳ), but will have the light (φῶς) of life.[4]  John continued his letter (1 John 1:6, 7 NET):

If we say we have fellowship with him and yet keep on walking (περιπατῶμεν, another form of περιπατέω) in the darkness (σκότει, a form of σκότος), we are lying and not practicing the truth.  But if we walk (περιπατῶμεν, another form of περιπατέω) in the light (φωτὶ, another form of φῶς) as he himself is in the light (φωτί, another form of φῶς) we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin (ἁμαρτίας, a form of ἁμαρτία).

This brings me back to Jesus’ words to Nicodemus, the light (φῶς) has come into the world and people loved the darkness (σκότος) rather than the light (φῶς), because their deeds were evil.  For everyone who does evil deeds hates the light (φῶς) and does not come to the light (φῶς), so that their deeds will not be exposed.  But the one who practices the truth comes to the light (φῶς), so that it may be plainly evident that his deeds have been done in God.[5]

I admit I had hoped this would be plainly evident to others but apparently my deeds having been done in God is only plainly evident to me.  Most people who know me assume I obey, more or less, a stringent set of rules that I have proven over and over again (to myself) to be incapable of obeying.

If I hadn’t already considered, and before I had considered, πονηρὰ (a form of πονηρός; translated, evil) and φαῦλα (a form of φαῦλος; evil deeds) I would have assumed that walking in darkness was equivalent to walking in sin and walking in the light therefore would mean not sinning.  But as John continued in his letter I gain another line of argument that πονηρὰ and φαῦλα are not equivalent to ἁμαρτίας, at least as far as they relate to Jesus’/John’s concept of walking in darkness or light.  John continued (1 John 1:8-10 NET):

If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin (ἁμαρτίαν, another form of ἁμαρτία), we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.  But if we confess our sins (ἁμαρτίας, a form of ἁμαρτία), he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins (ἁμαρτίας, a form of ἁμαρτία) and cleansing us from all unrighteousness (ἀδικίας, a form of ἀδικία).  If we say we have not sinned (ἡμαρτήκαμεν, a form of ἁμαρτάνω), we make him a liar and his word (λόγος) is not in us.

Walking in the light and being cleansed of sin by the blood of Jesus are associated with acknowledging and confessing one’s own sin, while walking in darkness is associated with saying one does not bear the guilt of sin or has not sinned.  Here is the same information in tabular form.

Reference

Light (φῶς)

Darkness (σκοτία)

1 John 1:5 God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.
1 John 1:6 If we say we have fellowship with him and yet keep on walking in the darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth.
1 John 1:7, 8 But if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:9, 10 But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us.

The one who practices the truth comes to the light (φῶς), so that it may be plainly evident that his deeds (ἔργα, a form of ἔργον) have been done in God as opposed to those who love the darkness and hate the light so that their deeds (ἔργα, a form of ἔργον) [e.g., their deeds of righteousness] will not be exposed as πονηρὰ and φαῦλα.  And we have a hint here that τὰ ἔργα μου, translated my deeds, are deeds done in God as opposed to those done in one’s own strength.  John continued (1 John 2:1, 2 NET):

(My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin [ἁμάρτητε, another form of ἁμαρτάνω].)  But if anyone does sin (ἁμάρτῃ, another form of ἁμαρτάνω), we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One, and he himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins (ἁμαρτιῶν, another form of ἁμαρτία), and not only for our sins (ἡμετέρων, a form of ἡμέτερος) but also for the whole world.

While the goal remains to cease from sin, the question that has plagued me is how?  Jesus’ attitude toward forgiveness was fairly clear when Peter asked how many times must I forgive my brother?[6]  Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, I tell you, but seventy-seven times!”[7]  The note (33) in the NET reads: “Or ‘seventy times seven,’ i.e., an unlimited number of times.”  But long before I have returned to Jesus even seventy-seven times confessing the same sin in the same day I have reworked the commandment in my mind to assuage my own embarrassment.  And so through pride and unbelief I have effectively “lost” or “discarded” the commandment.  John continued (I John 2:3, 4 NET):

Now by this we know that we have come to know God: if we keep (τηρῶμεν, another form of τηρέω) his commandments.  The one who says “I have come to know God” and yet does not keep (τηρῶν, a form of τηρέω) his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in such a person.

Jesus’ patience has taught me (through many a trial and error) that disobeying a commandment and confessing my sin seventy-seven, or seventy times seven, times a day is keeping that commandment.  Rewriting the commandment and denying my sin makes me a liar, and the truth is not in me.  Still, I would prefer not to sin in the first place.  John continued (1 John 2:5, 6 NET):

But whoever obeys (τηρῇ, another form of τηρέω) his word, truly in this person the love (Romans 13:8-10) of God has been perfected.  By this we know that we are in him.  The one who says he resides in God ought himself to walk just as Jesus walked.

While it was virtually impossible to translate forms of τηρέω obey or obeys when confession of sin was the topic of discussion, here the NET translators reverted to obeys.  I assume it is because they did the same to Jesus’ teaching (John 14:23-26 NET):

If anyone loves me, he will obey (τηρήσει, another form of τηρέω) my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and take up residence with him.  The person who does not love me does not obey (τηρεῖ, another form of τηρέω) my words.  And the word you hear is not mine, but the Father’s who sent me.  I have spoken these things while staying with you.  But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and will cause you to remember everything I said to you.

The NET translators believed: The person who has my commandments and obeys (τηρῶν, a form of τηρέω) them is the one who loves me.[8]  Jesus believed: Therefore I tell you, her sins (ἁμαρτίαι, another form of ἁμαρτία), which were many, are forgiven, thus she loved much; but the one who is forgiven little loves little.[9]  Still, both Jesus’ teaching and John’s teaching point one to the same fulfillment of a desire for obedience.  Jesus said, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and will cause you to remember everything I said to you.  John wrote, The one who says he resides in God ought himself to walk just as Jesus walked.

How did Jesus walk (περιεπάτησεν, another form of περιπατέω)?  He was led (ἀνήχθη, a form of ἀνάγω[10]; ἤγετο, a form of ἄγω[11]) by the Spirit that descended and remained on him.  Mark wrote: The Spirit immediately drove (ἐκβάλλει, a form of ἐκβάλλω[12]) him into the wilderness.[13]  Oh, to let go of fear and be ἀνήχθη, ἤγετο and ἐκβάλλει by the Spirit of God.

And the person who keeps (τηρῶν, a form of τηρέω) his commandments, John concluded, resides in God, and God in him.  Now by this we know that God resides in us: by the Spirit he has given us.[14]  A comparison of these verses in the KJV and NET follows.

Reference

KJV

NET

1 John 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. Now this is the gospel message we have heard from him and announce to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.
1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: If we say we have fellowship with him and yet keep on walking in the darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth.
1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. But if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us.
1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.  And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.)  But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One,
1 John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. and he himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world.
1 John 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. Now by this we know that we have come to know God (αὐτόν, a form of αὐτός): if we keep his commandments.
1 John 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. The one who says “I have come to know God (αὐτόν, a form of αὐτός)” and yet does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in such a person.
1 John 2:5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. But whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has been perfected.  By this we know that we are in him.
1 John 2:6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. The one who says he resides in God (αὐτῷ, another form of αὐτός) ought himself to walk just as Jesus (ἐκεῖνος) walked.
1 John 3:24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him.  And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. And the person who keeps his commandments resides in God (αὐτῷ, another form of αὐτός), and God (αὐτὸς) in him.  Now by this we know that God resides (μένει, a form of μένω; literally, he resides) in us: by the Spirit he has given us.

[1] Revelation 16:15b (NET)

[2] 1 John 2:4 (NET)

[3] John 1:4, 5 (NET)

[4] John 8:12 (NET)

[5] John 3:19b-21 (NET)

[6] Matthew 18:21a (NET)

[7] Matthew 18:22 (NET)

[8] John 14:21a (NET)

[9] Luke 7:47 (NET)

[10] http://biblehub.com/greek/321.htm

[11] http://biblehub.com/greek/71.htm

[12] http://biblehub.com/greek/1544.htm

[13] Mark 1:12 (NET)

[14] 1 John 3:24 (NET)