About admin

I have no special credentials to pursue this, except that I’m not on any religion’s payroll. I have no formal religious training. I have no visions or dreams to speak of. I have a kind of compulsion to study the Bible. I blame it on my father. Over and over he quoted Proverbs 4:7 to me as I grew up: Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom; Yea, with all thy getting get understanding. I didn’t always listen to my father when I was young. But now that I am old I am apparently incapable of not running his programing.

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.

 

[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.

Back to Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 3

Back to My Reasons and My Reason, Part 8 

[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)

Forgiven or Passed Over? Part 3

I bogged down in this study a couple of years ago.  I don’t remember whether I balked at how much work it would be or simply recognized the futility of studying ʽâbar alone.  I’ll start again comparing and contrasting ʽâbar with nâsâh.

The translators of the Septuagint chose twenty-two different Greek words for fifty-four occurrences of nâsâh (only fifty-three were actually translated) from Genesis 4:13 through Exodus 19:4 (see table below).  They worked very hard to refine and communicate their own understanding in Greek, which only served to obscure yehôvâh’s mind if I fail to recognize the one Hebrew word—nâsâh—behind all that refinement.

The most concrete meaning of nâsâh is to bear, to lift or carry.  Both lift and carry are evident in: And the people took (nâsâh, וישׁא; Septuagint: ἀνέλαβεν, a form of ἀναλαμβάνω) their dough before it was leavened, their kneading-troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders.[1]  But neither took nor ἀνέλαβεν fully convey the idea of lifting and carrying if I don’t already know nâsâh.

What was important to the translators was that the people took their dough with them before it was leavened.  Intended as a corrective, perhaps, even that added emphasis didn’t prevent religious minds from imbuing unleavened bread with spiritual significance beyond the haste of Israel’s exodus from Egypt (1 Corinthians 5:7, 8 NET):

Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch of dough – you are, in fact, without yeast.  For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.  So then, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of vice and evil, but with the bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

The concrete meaning of nâsâh prevailed in the phrase lift up one’s eyes (Genesis 13:10, 14; 18:2; 22:4, 13; 24:63, 64; 31:10, 12; 33:1, 5; 37:25; 43:29; Exodus 14:10).  It was a bit more abstract in lift up one’s voice (Genesis 21:16; 27:38; 29:11) or lift up one’s feet (Genesis 29:1).  While I lifted up My hand[2] was translated concretely in the Tanakh, it was translated I swore in the NET and I did swear in the KJV.  I want to keep these variations in mind as I consider six occurrences translated forgive or forgiven.

The relatively contemporary translators of the Tanakh, the KJV and the NET all agreed that Cain was not spiritually aware enough to lament his iniquity: My punishment is greater than I can bear[3] (NET: too great to endure), he said in these translations.  The more ancient translators of the Septuagint translated ʽâvôn αἰτία and nâsâh ἀφεθῆναί (a form of ἀφίημι) which a relatively contemporary translator rendered My guilt is too great for me to be forgiven[4] in English.

Of the five occurrences of ʽâvôn in Genesis 4:13 through Exodus 20:5 (see table below) one was translated αἰτία, one ἀδικίαν (a form of ἀδικία), one ἀνομίαις (a form of ἀνομία) and two with forms of ἁμαρτία.  The most concrete meaning of forms of ἁμαρτία is found in its verb form ἁμαρτάνω, “to miss the mark.”  In the occurrence translated ἁμαρτίαι (Genesis 15:16) before Exodus 20, what mark was missed before the law was given?  I would not have known sin (ἁμαρτίαν, another form of ἁμαρτία), Paul wrote believers in Rome, except through the law.[5]  But sin (ἁμαρτία), seizing the opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of wrong desires.[6]

I’ve questioned the idea of ἁμαρτία seizing the opportunity through the commandment in the context of Cain’s murder of his brother Abel.  But if the NET translation of Genesis 4:7b (see comparison below) is more correct than that of the Septuagint (namely, that Cain would rule again over Abel if Cain offered the correct sacrifice), then yehôvâh’s words, you must subdue sin (chaṭṭâʼâh, חטאת; Septuagint: ἥμαρτες, a form of ἁμαρτάνω), would serve as the commandment ἁμαρτία seized, for before the law was given, sin (ἁμαρτία) was in the world, but there is no accounting for sin (ἁμαρτία) when there is no law.[7]

NETS NET
Be still; his recourse is to you, and you will rule over him. …sin is crouching at the door.  It desires to dominate you, but you must subdue it.

The translators of the Septuagint seemed to acknowledge a problem with ἁμαρτία prior to the law with the word ἀδικίαν: G-d hath found out the iniquity (ʽâvôn, עון; Septuagint: ἀδικίαν; NETS: injustice; NET: the sin) of thy servants[8]  The iniquity that concerned Joseph’s brothers wasn’t stealing his silver goblet (44:2).  They knew Benjamin hadn’t taken it but suspected (Genesis 43:18-23) that it had been placed there by the Egyptian’s (e.g., Joseph’s) servant to entrap them.  They had reasoned that yehôvâh was behind their difficulties with the Egyptian and that their iniquity was their injustice toward their younger brother Joseph (Genesis 42:21-23 Tanakh):

And they said one to another: ‘We are verily guilty (ʼâshêm, אשמים; Septuagint: ἐν ἁμαρτίᾳ) concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear (shâmaʽ, שמענו); therefore is this distress come upon us.’  And Reuben answered them, saying: ‘Spoke I not unto you, saying: Do not sin (châṭâʼ, תחטאו; Septuagint: ἀδικήσητε, a form of ἀδικέω) against the child; and ye would not hear (shâmaʽ, שמעתם)? therefore also, behold, his blood is required.’  And they knew not that Joseph understood (shâmaʽ, שמע) them; for the interpreter was between them.

They had not disobeyed a law: Thou shalt not sell thy brother into slavery.  But they had not dealt justly with their little brother, whether a tattletale, a braggart (Genesis 37:5-11) or a father’s favorite.  And I realize here that I am regarding iniquity (ʽâvôn) more like Jesus’ and Paul’s description of the flesh than like a sin, a missing of a mark.  What is born of the flesh (σαρκὸς, a form of σάρξ) is flesh (σάρξ), Jesus said, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.[9]  For when we were in the flesh (σαρκί, another form of σάρξ), Paul wrote believers in Rome, the sinful desires, aroused by the law, were active in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.[10]  Paul continued (Romans 8:5-8 NET):

For those who live according to the flesh (σάρκα, another form of σάρξ) have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh (σαρκὸς, a form of σάρξ), but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit.  For the outlook of the flesh (σαρκὸς, a form of σάρξ) is death, but the outlook of the Spirit is life and peace, because the outlook of the flesh (σαρκὸς, a form of σάρξ) is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so.  Those who are in the flesh (σαρκί, another form of σάρξ) cannot please (ἀρέσαι οὐ δύνανται) God.

The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, yehôvâh told Abraham, and their sin (chaṭṭâʼâh, וחטאתם; Septuagint: ἁμαρτίαι, another form of ἁμαρτία) so blatant that I must go down and see if they are as wicked as the outcry suggests.  If not, I want to know.[11]  Will you sweep away the godly along with the wicked? Abraham asked.  What if there are fifty godly people in the city?  Will you really wipe it out and not spare (nâsâh, תשׁא) the place for the sake of the fifty godly people who are in it?[12]

In the Tanakh nâsâh was translated forgive rather than spare.  In the Septuagint it was translated ἀνήσεις (a form of ἀνίημι) which was translated go free in the NETS.  Abraham asked yehôvâh to bear the sin (chaṭṭâʼâh, וחטאתם) of the majority of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of fifty hypothetical godly (tsaddı̂yq, צדיקם; Septuagint: δίκαιοι, a form of δίκαιος; Tanakh, KJV, NETS: righteous) people who may or may not reside there, then forty-five, forty, thirty, twenty and ten.  And yehôvâh agreed to Abraham’s proposition: If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will forgive (nâsâh, ונשׁאתי; Septuagint: ἀφήσω, another form of ἀφίημι; NETS: I will forgive; KJV, NET: I will spare) all the place for their sake.[13]

I don’t mean to imply that forgive was a bad translation of nâsâh here.  I do intend to highlight the nature of this forgiveness as primarily forbearance on yehôvâh’s part, and to stress that it is only part, a very necessary part, of the forgiveness I hope for from Him.

Joseph’s brothers sought the same forbearance from Joseph after Jacob’s death: “What if Joseph bears a grudge and wants to repay us in full for all the harm we did to him?”[14]  So they sent word to Joseph, saying (Genesis 50:16, 17a NET):

“Your father gave these instructions before he died: ‘Tell Joseph this: Please forgive (nâsâh, שׁא; Septuagint: ἄφες, another form of ἀφίημι; Tanakh, KJV, NETS: forgive) the sin of your brothers and the wrong they did when they treated you so badly.’  Now please forgive (nâsâh, שׁא; Septuagint: δέξαι, a form of δέχομαι; Tanakh, KJV: forgive; NETS: accept) the sin of the servants of the God of your father.”

Though they asked for forbearance I think one could argue that they received so much more (Genesis 50:19-21 NET):

But Joseph answered them, “Don’t be afraid.  Am I in the place of God?  As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose, so he could preserve the lives of many people, as you can see this day.  So now, don’t be afraid.  I will provide for you and your little children.”  Then he consoled them and spoke kindly to them.

Pharoah asked for a similar forbearance: Then Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you!  So now, forgive (nâsâh, שׁא; Septuagint: προσδέξασθε, a form of προσδέχομαι; Tanakh, KJV: forgive; NETS: bear) my sin this time only, and pray to the Lord your God that he would only take this death away from me.”[15]

Moses extended his staff over the land of Egypt, and then the Lord brought an east wind on the land all that day and all night.  The morning came, and the east wind had brought up (nâsâh, נשׁא) the locusts![16]  The death (mâveth, המות) Pharaoh asked Moses to pray that yehôvâh would takeaway was those locusts: Moses went out from Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord, and the Lord turned a very strong west wind, and it picked up (nâsâh, וישׁא) the locusts and blew them into the Red Sea.  Not one locust remained in all the territory of Egypt.[17]

No matter what I think of Cain’s spiritual competence, The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) would speak to Moses face to face, the way a person speaks to a friend.[18]  Moses wrote the words we read in Genesis.  With the first occurrences of both ʽâvôn and nâsâh a son of Adam spoke words that may legitimately be translated, “my iniquity is greater than I can bear.”[19]  That sounds like something I can work with as I continue this study.

I found no occurrence of ʽâbar in this section (Genesis 1:1 – Exodus 20:5) that was, or should have been, translated forgive (see table below).

Form of nâsâh Reference KJV NET Septuagint
מנשׁא Genesis 4:13 …My punishment is greater than I can bear. My punishment is too great to endure! ἀφεθῆναί, a form of ἀφίημι
וישׁאו Genesis 7:17 …and the waters increased, and bare up the ark… As the waters increased, they lifted the ark… ἐπῆρεν, a form of ἐπαίρω
Genesis 37:25 and they lifted up their eyes and looked… …they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites… ἀναβλέψαντες, a form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 42:26 And they laded their asses with the corn… So they loaded their grain on their donkeys… ἐπιθέντες, a form of ἐπιτίθημι
Genesis 46:5 …and the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father… …and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob… ἀνέλαβον, a form of ἀναλαμβάνω
Genesis 50:13 For his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him… His sons carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him… ἀνέλαβον, a form of ἀναλαμβάνω
Exodus 14:10 …the children of Israel lifted up their eyes… Not translated ἀναβλέψαντες, a form of ἀναβλέπω
נשׁא Genesis 13:6 And the land was not able to bear them… But the land could not support them… ἐχώρει, a form of χωρέω
Exodus 10:13 …the east wind brought the locusts. …the east wind had brought up the locusts! ἀνέλαβεν, another form of ἀναλαμβάνω
שׁא Genesis 13:14 Lift up now thine eyes… Not translated ἀναβλέψας, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 27:3 Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow… Therefore, take your weapons – your quiver and your bow… λαβὲ, a form of λαμβάνω
Genesis 31:12 Lift up now thine eyes, and see… Not translated ἀνάβλεψον, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 50:17 Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren… Please forgive the sin of your brothers… ἄφες, another form of ἀφίημι
Genesis 50:17 forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. Now please forgive the sin of the servants of the God of your father. δέξαι, a form of δέχομαι
Exodus 10:17 Now therefore forgive, I pray thee, my sin only this once… So now, forgive my sin this time only… προσδέξασθε, a form of προσδέχομαι
שׁאי Genesis 21:18 Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand… Get up! Help the boy up and hold him by the hand… λαβὲ, a form of λαμβάνω
ישׁא Genesis 32:20 …peradventure he will accept of me. Perhaps he will accept me. προσδέξεται, another form of προσδέχομαι
Genesis 40:13 …within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head… Not translated μνησθήσεται, a form of μιμνήσκω
Genesis 40:19 …within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head… Not translated ἀφελεῖ, a form of ἀφαιρέω
וישׁא Genesis 13:10 And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain… Lot looked up and saw the whole region… ἐπάρας, a form of ἐπαίρω
Genesis 18:2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men… Abraham looked up and saw three men… ἀναβλέψας, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 22:4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes… Not translated ἀναβλέψας, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 22:13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram… Abraham looked up and saw behind him a ram… ἀναβλέψας, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 24:63 and he lifted up his eyes, and saw… Not translated ἀναβλέψας, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 27:38 And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept. Not translated ἀνεβόησεν, a form of ἀναβοάω
Genesis 29:1[20] Then Jacob went on his journey… So Jacob moved on… ἐξάρας, a form of ἐξαίρω
Genesis 29:11 and lifted up his voice, and wept. Not translated βοήσας, a form of βοάω
Genesis 31:17 Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels… So Jacob immediately put his children and his wives on the camels. ἔλαβεν, another form of λαμβάνω
Genesis 33:1 And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked… Jacob looked up and saw that Esau was… ἀναβλέψας, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 33:5 And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children… When Esau looked up and saw the women and the children… ἀναβλέψας, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 40:20 and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker… He “lifted up” the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief… ἐμνήσθη, another form of μιμνήσκω
Genesis 43:29 And he lifted up his eyes, and saw his brother Benjamin… When Joseph looked up and saw his brother Benjamin… ἀναβλέψας, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 43:34 And he took and sent messes unto them from before him… He gave them portions of the food set before him… ἦραν, a form of αἴρω
Exodus 10:19 which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Red sea… and it picked up the locusts and blew them into the Red Sea. ἀνέλαβεν, a form of ἀναλαμβάνω
Exodus 12:34 And the people took their dough before it was leavened… So the people took their dough before the yeast was added… ἀνέλαβεν, a form of ἀναλαμβάνω
תשׁא Genesis 18:24 …and not spare the place for the fifty righteous… …and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty godly people… ἀνήσεις, a form of ἀνίημι
שׁאת Genesis 44:1 …with food, as much as they can carry …as much food as they can carry ἆραι, another form of αἴρω
ותשׁא Genesis 21:16 and lift up her voice, and wept. Not translated ἀναβοῆσαν, another form of ἀναβοάω
Genesis 24:64 And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac… Rebekah looked up and saw Isaac. ἀναβλέψασα, another form of ἀναβλέπω
Genesis 31:10 that I lifted up mine eyes, and saw in a dream… Not translated Not translated

εἶδον, a form of ὁράω

Genesis 39:7 …that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph… …his master’s wife took notice of Joseph… ἐπέβαλεν, a form of ἐπιβάλλω
ונשׁאו Exodus 18:22 …and they shall bear the burden with thee. …and they will bear the burden with you. κουφιοῦσιν, a form of κουφίζω
ונשׁאתי Genesis 18:26 then I will spare all the place for their sakes. I will spare the whole place for their sake. ἀφήσω, another form of ἀφίημι
ונשׁאתני Genesis 47:30 and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their buryingplace… carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place. ἀρεῖς, another form of αἴρω
ונשׁאתם Genesis 45:19 and bring your father, and come. Bring your father and come. ἀναλαβόντες, another form of ἀναλαμβάνω
נשׁאת Genesis 45:23 …ten she asses laden with corn… …ten female donkeys loaded with grain… αἰρούσας, another form of αἴρω
נשׁאתי Genesis 19:21 I have accepted thee concerning this thing also… I will grant this request too and will not overthrow the town you mentioned. ἐθαύμασά, a form of θαυμάζω
Exodus 6:8[21] …the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham… I will bring you to the land I swore to give to Abraham… ἐξέτεινα τὴν χεῖρά μου[22]
נשׁאים Genesis 37:25 …with their camels bearing spicery… Their camels were carrying spices… ἔγεμον, a form of γέμω
Genesis 45:23 …ten asses laden with the good things… …ten donkeys loaded with the best products… αἴροντας, another form of αἴρω
לשׁאת Genesis 36:7 …and the land wherein they were strangers could not bear them… …the land where they had settled was not able to support them… φέρειν, a form of φέρω
Genesis 45:27 …the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him… …the wagons that Joseph had sent to transport him… ἀναλαβεῖν, another form of ἀναλαμβάνω
Genesis 46:5 …the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him. …the wagons that Pharaoh had sent along to transport him. ἀνέλαβον, another form of ἀναλαμβάνω
ואשׁא Exodus 19:4 and how I bare you on eagles’ wings… and how I lifted you on eagles’ wings… ἀνέλαβον, another form of ἀναλαμβάνω

 

Form of ʽâvôn Reference KJV NET Septuagint
עוני Genesis 4:13 My punishment is greater than I can bear. My punishment is too great to endure! αἰτία[23]
עון Genesis 15:16 …for the iniquity of the Amorites is not…[24] …for the sin of the Amorites has not yet… ἁμαρτίαι, a form of ἁμαρτία
Genesis 44:16 …found out the iniquity of thy servants… …God has exposed the sin of your servants! ἀδικίαν, a form of ἀδικία
Exodus 20:5 …visiting[25] the iniquity of the fathers upon the children… …responding to the transgression of fathers… ἁμαρτίας, a form of ἁμαρτία
בעון Genesis 19:15 …be consumed in the iniquity of the city. …will be destroyed when the city is judged! ἀνομίαις, a form of ἀνομία
Form of ʽâbar Reference KJV NET Septuagint
עבר Genesis 15:17 …a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. …a flaming torch passed between the animal parts. διῆλθον, a form of διέρχομαι
Genesis 23:16 current money with the merchant. according to the standard measurement at the time. δοκίμου, a form of δόκιμος
Genesis 32:31 And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him… The sun rose over him as he crossed over Penuel… παρῆλθεν, a form of παρέρχομαι
Genesis 33:3 And he passed over before them… But Jacob himself went on ahead of them… προῆλθεν, a form of προέρχομαι
Exodus 17:5 Go on before the people… Go over before the people… προπορεύου, a form of προπορεύομαι
יעבר Genesis 33:14 Let my Lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: Let my lord go on ahead of his servant. προελθέτω, another form of προέρχομαι
Exodus 15:16 …till thy people pass over, O LORD… …until your people pass by, O Lord… παρέλθῃ, another form of παρέρχομαι
…till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased. …until the people whom you have bought pass by. παρέλθῃ, another form of παρέρχομαι
עברו Genesis 32:16 Pass over before me… Pass over before me… προπορεύεσθε, a form of προπορεύομαι
עברתי Genesis 32:10 …I passed over this Jordan… I crossed the Jordan… διέβην, a form of διαβαίνω
עברתם Genesis 18:5 …for therefore are ye come to your servant. …since you have passed by your servant’s home. ἐξεκλίνατε, a form of ἐκκλίνω
ועבר Exodus 12:23[26] For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians… For the Lord will pass through to strike Egypt… παρελεύσεται, another form of παρέρχομαι
ויעבר Genesis 8:1 and God made a wind to pass over the earth… God caused a wind to blow over the earth… Not translated

ἐπὶ

Genesis 12:6 And Abram passed through the land… Abram traveled through the land… διώδευσεν, a form of διοδεύω
Genesis 31:21 and passed over the river… He quickly crossed the Euphrates River… διέβη, another form of διαβαίνω
Genesis 32:22 and passed over the ford Jabbok. and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. διέβη, another form of διαβαίνω
Genesis 32:23 and sent over that he had. Not translated διεβίβασεν,[27] a form of διαβιβάζω[28]
Genesis 41:46 and went throughout all the land of Egypt. and was in charge of all the land of Egypt. διῆλθεν, another form of διέρχομαι
ויעברו Genesis 37:28 Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen… So when the Midianite merchants passed by παρεπορεύοντο, a form of παραπορεύομαι
Genesis 50:4 And when the days of his mourning were past When the days of mourning had passed παρῆλθον, another form of παρέρχομαι
ויעברם Genesis 32:23 and sent them over the brook… and sent them across the stream… διέβη, another form of διαβαίνω
ועברתי Exodus 12:12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt… I will pass through the land of Egypt… διελεύσομαι, another form of διέρχομαι
תעבר Genesis 18:3 pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: …do not pass by and leave your servant. παρέλθῃς, another form[29] of παρέρχομαι
Genesis 31:52 …thou shalt not pass over this heap… …you will not pass beyond this pile… διαβῇς, another form of διαβαίνω
ותעבר Genesis 32:21 So went the present over before him… So the gifts were sent on ahead of him… παρεπορεύοντο, a form of παραπορεύομαι
והעברת Exodus 13:12 That thou shalt set apart unto the LORD all that openeth the matrix… then you must give over to the Lord the first offspring… ἀφελεῖς, a form of ἀφαιρέω
העביר Genesis 47:21 he removed them to cities from one end… Not translated κατεδουλώσατο, a form of καταδουλόω
תעברו Genesis 18:5 …after that ye shall pass on: After that you may be on your way. παρελεύσεσθε, another form of παρέρχομαι
אעבר Genesis 30:32 I will pass through all thy flock to day… Let me walk among all your flocks today… παρελθάτω, another form of παρέρχομαι
Genesis 31:52 …I will not pass over this heap… …I will not pass beyond this pile… διαβῶ, another form of διαβαίνω

 

[1] Exodus 12:34 (Tanakh)

[2] Exodus 6:8 (Tanakh)

[3] Genesis 4:13 (Tanakh, KJV)

[4] Genesis 4:13 (NETS)

[5] Romans 7:7b (NET)

[6] Romans 7:8a (NET)

[7] Romans 5:13 (NET)

[8] Genesis 44:16b (Tanakh)

[9] John 3:6 (NET)

[10] Romans 7:5 (NET)

[11] Genesis 18:20, 21 (NET)

[12] Genesis 18:23, 24 (NET)

[13] Genesis 18:26 (Tanakh)

[14] Genesis 50:15b (NET)

[15] Exodus 10:16, 17 (NET)

[16] Exodus 10:13 (NET)

[17] Exodus 10:18, 19 (NET)

[18] Exodus 33:11a (NET)

[19] I’ve phrased this in a way that scarcely disguises my assumption, based on an argument I wouldn’t know how to defend, that Hebrew was not the original language Cain spoke with yehôvâh.

[20] “And Iakob, lifting up his feet…” Genesis 29:1 (NETS)

[21]I lifted up My hand” Tanakh

[22] I stretched out my hand  Exodus 6:8 (NETS)

[23] http://www.greekdoc.com/lexicon/ait.html#aitia

[24] Septuagint: ἀναπεπλήρωνται, a form of ἀναπληρόω

[25] Septuagint: ἀποδιδοὺς, a form of ἀποδίδωμι

[26] The Hebrew for Passover is pâsach (ופסח) rather than a form of ʽâbar but in Greek in the Septuagint both words are παρελεύσεται, another form of παρέρχομαι, though Exodus 12:12 was translated διελεύσομαι, another form of διέρχομαι.

[27] http://www.greekdoc.com/lexicon/diab.html#diabibazw

[28] http://en.bab.la/dictionary/greek-english/%CE%B4%CE%B9%CE%B1%CE%B2%CE%B9%CE%B2%CE%AC%CE%B6%CF%89

[29] http://studybible.info/LXX_WH/Genesis%2018:3

To Make Holy, Part 3

When I began to study the Bible I thought Paul wrote Hebrews.[1]  The more I studied, the more I began to know Paul’s other writings, the more I began to suspect that Paul did not write Hebrews.  Someone who knew Paul and his writings must have written it.  But I thought that Romans was the literary parent and Hebrews the literary child until Andrew Schlafly’s entry on Conservapedia—“Mystery: Did Jesus Write the Epistle to the Hebrews?”—flipped me out of the rut I was in.

It’s probably more prudent to say that the Holy Spirit flipped me out of my rut with Mr. Schlafly’s writing, but I want to be sure to share my gratitude with him since I reject his main point: “Jesus spent 40 days on Earth between the Resurrection and the Ascension, and it is implausible that He did not continue His ministry in an effective way.  Writing (or distributing) an Epistle is most plausible activity, given what had transpired.”[2]  After God spoke long ago in various portions and in various ways to our ancestors through the prophets, the writer of Hebrews began, in these last days he has spoken to us in a son[3]

The words to us aren’t an artifact of translating Greek to English.  It is ἡμῖν penned by the author.  Did Jesus write that God spoke to Jesus in a sonThe Son [who] is the radiance of his glory and the representation of his essence, and [who] sustains all things by his powerful word?[4]  The writer of Hebrews continued, so when he had accomplished cleansing for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.[5]  Did Jesus write that He was on earth writing Hebrews and sitting at the right hand of the Majesty on high simultaneously?  Or did He mean that He was someone distinct from this mysterious Son?  “Sit on my right” the Septuagint reads.  The author of Hebrews changed κάθου (a form of κάθημαι; second person present tense) to ἐκάθισεν (a form of καθίζω; third person past tense).

All in all it seems simpler to conclude that Jesus did not write Hebrews personally and that it was written after his ascension (Acts 1:9-11).  But what has grabbed me and won’t let go is Mr. Schlafly’s insight: “this sermon appears identical to the sermon given by Jesus on the road to Emmaus…”[6]  I have carped at Cleopas and the other disciple[7] almost every time I’ve read their story, “Don’t tell me how you felt.  Who cares how you felt!?  Tell me what He said!”  I was utterly unable to hear Hebrews as Jesus’ teaching on the Emmaus road because I was stuck thinking it was a late development dependent upon Paul’s theology in Romans.

This “Epistle was written before any physical persecution of the disciples: ‘In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.’ (12:4) Stephen was martyred around A.D. 37, merely a few years after the Crucifixion of Jesus, so this Epistle was written before then.”[8]  Was Hebrews one of the scrolls or parchments Paul prized?  Was it the literary parent of Romans?

I’ll approach the next occurrence of ἁγιάσῃ (a form of ἁγιάζω) with this possibility in mind, not hearing the scratching of Jesus’ pen perhaps, but listening for the teaching that was foremost in his mind during the forty days between his resurrection and ascension (Hebrews 13:9-16 NET):

Do not be carried away by all sorts of strange teachings.  For it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not ritual meals, which have never benefited those who participated in them.  We have an altar that those who serve in the tabernacle have no right to eat from.  For the bodies of those animals whose blood the high priest brings into the sanctuary as an offering for sin are burned outside the camp.  Therefore, to sanctify (ἁγιάσῃ, a form of ἁγιάζω) the people by his own blood, Jesus also suffered outside the camp (πύλης; literally, gate).  We must go out to him, then, outside the camp, bearing the abuse he experienced.  For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come (Revelation 21:9-27).  Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, acknowledging his name.  And do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for God is pleased with such sacrifices.

To sanctify the people by his own blood, Jesus also suffered outside the camp.  We must go out to him, then, outside (ἔξω) the camp (παρεμβολῆς, a form of παρεμβολή)…  The anonymous author of “Sacrifice Outside the Camp” concluded: “So just as Christ went outside the camp, the readers are also to go outside the camp and thus bear reproach by abandoning the established fellowship and ordinances of Judaism.”  That’s what I thought, too.  In fact, I thought that would be the point of this essay when I thought Hebrews was a late development from the mind of some unknown disciple.  Considering Hebrews as Jesus’ teaching during the forty days between his resurrection and ascension pushes me harder.

I assume that going out to Jesus, outside the camp, is a result of being sanctified by his own blood as opposed to its cause, though the NET translation (We must go out) of ἐξερχώμεθα (a form of ἐξέρχομαι; KJV: Let us go forth) sounds more like a prerequisite.  Are we to go outside the Israelite camp only to join the Roman Catholic camp, the Greek Orthodox camp, the Lutheran camp, the Baptist camp, the Presbyterian camp, the Pentecostal camp or the name-your-favorite-religion camp?  It got me thinking about yehôvâh.

He wasn’t a big fan of law or religion, at least it wasn’t his first choice.  Yet, when he got down to it He spent a good deal of verbiage establishing a legal/religious category called outside (chûts, מחוץ) the camp (machăneh, למחנה), ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς in the Septuagint.  It caused me to wonder if going outside the camp (see table below) meant anything more than trading in one legal/religious system for another.

I thought outside the camp was equivalent to not the camp.  But outside the camp was as much a part of the Israelite camp as the Holy of Holies.  It moved with Israel in total (or in part with its army).  It was a place of execution (Leviticus 24:14, 23; Numbers 15:36).  Or do you not know, Paul wrote the Romans, 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.[9]

It was a place for the unclean (Leviticus 13:46; 14:3), including every leper, everyone who has a discharge (Deuteronomy 23:10), and whoever becomes defiled by a corpse[10] (Numbers 5:3, 4).  Those who are well don’t need a physician, Jesus answered the Pharisees, but those who are sick do.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.[11]

Latrines were there outside the camp (Deuteronomy 23:12).  If someone thinks he has good reasons to put confidence in human credentials (σαρκί, a form of σάρξ), I have more, Paul wrote believers in Philippi: I was circumcised on the eighth day, from the people of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews.  I lived according to the law as a Pharisee.  In my zeal for God I persecuted the church.  According to the righteousness stipulated in the law I was blameless.  But these assets I have come to regard as liabilities because of Christ.  More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things – indeed, I regard them as dung! – that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law, but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ’s faithfulness – a righteousness from God that is in fact based on Christ’s faithfulness.  My aim is to know him, to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings, and to be like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.[12]

The bodies of Nadab and Abihu were carried off there (Leviticus 10:4, 5).  In him you also were circumcised, Paul wrote the Colossians, not, however, with a circumcision performed by human hands, but by the removal of the fleshly body, that is, through the circumcision done by Christ.  Having been buried with him in baptism, you also have been raised with him through your faith in the power of God who raised him from the dead.  And even though you were dead in your transgressions and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he nevertheless made you alive with him, having forgiven all your transgressions.  He has destroyed what was against us, a certificate of indebtedness expressed in decrees opposed to us.  He has taken it away by nailing it to the cross.[13]

But it was not a lawless place (Leviticus 17:3-5 NET).

Blood guilt will be accounted to any man from the house of Israel who slaughters an ox or a lamb or a goat inside the camp or outside the camp, but has not brought it to the entrance of the Meeting Tent to present it as an offering to the Lord before the tabernacle of the Lord.  He has shed blood, so that man will be cut off from the midst of his people.  This is so that the Israelites will bring their sacrifices that they are sacrificing in the open field to the Lord at the entrance of the Meeting Tent to the priest and sacrifice them there as peace offering sacrifices to the Lord.

Do we then nullify the law through faith?  Absolutely not!  Instead we uphold the law.[14]  For God achieved what the law could not do because it was weakened through the flesh.  By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous requirement of the law may be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.[15]  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.[16]

It was a place of purification.  The red heifer was slaughtered outside the camp (Numbers 19:3) and its ashes were kept there (Numbers 19:9).  They must be kept for the community of the Israelites for use in the water of purification – it is a purification for sin.[17]  It was a way station for soldiers returning from battle (Numbers 31:19), the spoils of war (Numbers 31:11-13) and Rahab, her father, mother, brothers, and all who belonged to her[18] (Joshua 6:23).  Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, her father’s family, and all who belonged to her.  She lives in Israel (NET note 46 Heb “in the midst of Israel”) to this very day because she hid the messengers Joshua sent to spy on Jericho.[19]

For the grace of God has appeared, Paul wrote Titus, bringing salvation to all people.  It trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, as we wait for the happy fulfillment of our hope in the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.  He gave himself for us to set us free from every kind of lawlessness and to purify for himself a people who are truly his, who are eager to do good.[20]

It was above all else the place where the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, the way a person speaks to a friend[21] and where Joshua lived (Exodus 33:7-11 NET):

Moses took the tent and pitched it outside the camp, at a good distance from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting.  Anyone seeking the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting that was outside the camp.

And when Moses went out to the tent, all the people would get up and stand at the entrance to their tents and watch Moses until he entered the tent.  And whenever Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses.  When all the people would see the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people, each one at the entrance of his own tent, would rise and worship.  The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, the way a person speaks to a friend.  Then Moses would return to the camp, but his servant, Joshua son of Nun, a young man, did not leave the tent.

Just as the Father has loved me, Jesus said, I have also loved you; remain in my love.  If you obey my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.  I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete.  My commandment is this – to love one another just as I have loved you.  No one has greater love than this – that one lays down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command you.  I no longer call you slaves, because the slave does not understand what his master is doing.  But I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father.  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that remains, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.  This I command you – to love one another.[22]

More than a geographical location or an institutional affiliation to go to Jesus outside the camp seems like a state of the believing heart and mind.  The Spirit is the one who gives life, Jesus said, human nature is of no help!  The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.[23]  To go to Jesus outside the camp is integrally associated with sanctification, but doesn’t appear to be something one does once, rather continually, maybe even progressively until like Joshua one resides there permanently.  Jesus said (John 14:23-26 NET):

If anyone loves me, he will obey (τηρήσει, a 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 (ἀκούετε, a form of ἀκούω) 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.

 

Reference NET Hebrew – outside Hebrew – the camp Septuagint
Exodus 29:14 outside the camp מחוץ למחנה ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς
Exodus 33:7 outside the camp מחוץ למחנה ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς
Exodus 33:7 outside the camp מחוץ למחנה ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς
Leviticus 4:12 outside the camp מחוץ למחנה ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς
Leviticus 4:21 outside the camp מחוץ למחנה ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς
Leviticus 6:11 outside the camp מחוץ למחנה ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς
Leviticus 8:17 outside the camp מחוץ למחנה ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς
Leviticus 9:11 outside the camp מחוץ למחנה ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς
Leviticus 10:4 outside the camp מחוץ למחנה ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς
Leviticus 10:5 outside the camp מחוץ למחנה ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς
Leviticus 13:46 outside the camp מחוץ למחנה ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς
Leviticus 14:3 outside the camp מחוץ למחנה ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς
Leviticus 16:27 outside the camp מחוץ למחנה ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς
Leviticus 17:3 outside the camp מחוץ למחנה ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς
Leviticus 24:14 outside the camp מחוץ למחנה ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς
Leviticus 24:23 outside the camp מחוץ למחנה ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς
Numbers 5:3 outside the camp מחוץ למחנה ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς
Numbers 5:4 outside the camp מחוץ למחנה ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς
Numbers 15:35 outside the camp מחוץ למחנה Both are in verse 36
Numbers 15:36 outside the camp מחוץ למחנה ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς
Numbers 19:3 outside the camp מחוץ למחנה ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς
Numbers 19:9 outside the camp מחוץ למחנה ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς
Numbers 31:13 outside the camp מחוץ למחנה ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς
Numbers 31:19 outside the camp מחוץ למחנה ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς
Deuteronomy 23:10 he must leave the camp מחוץ למחנה ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς
Deuteronomy 23:12 outside the camp מחוץ למחנה ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς
Joshua 6:23 outside the…camp מחוץ למחנה ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς

[1] “As early as the second century, this treatise, which is of great rhetorical power and force in its admonition to faithful pilgrimage under Christ’s leadership, bore the title ‘To the Hebrews.’  It was assumed to be directed to Jewish Christians.  Usually Hebrews was attached in Greek manuscripts to the collection of letters by Paul… As early as the end of the second century, the church of Alexandria in Egypt accepted Hebrews as a letter of Paul, and that became the view commonly held in the East.  Pauline authorship was contested in the West into the fourth century, but then accepted.  In the sixteenth century, doubts about that position were again raised, and the modern consensus is that the letter was not written by Paul.” THE LETTER TO THE HEBREWS

[2] Andrew Schlafly, “Mystery: Did Jesus Write the Epistle to the Hebrews?,” Conservapedia

[3] Hebrews 1:1, 2a (NET)

[4] Hebrews 1:3a (NET)

[5] Hebrews 1:3b (NET)

[6] Andrew Schlafly, “Mystery: Did Jesus Write the Epistle to the Hebrews?,” Conservapedia

[7] His wife, my mother speculates, as do others.  “Would Cleopas leave her in Jerusalem?”

[8] Andrew Schlafly, “Mystery: Did Jesus Write the Epistle to the Hebrews?,” Conservapedia

[9] Romans 6:3, 4 (NET)

[10] Numbers 5:2 (NET)

[11] Luke 5:31, 32 (NET)

[12] Philippians 3:4b-11 (NET)

[13] Colossians 2:11-14 (NET)

[14] Romans 3:31 (NET)

[15] Romans 8:3, 4 (NET)

[16] Romans 13:8-10 (NET)

[17] Numbers 19:9b (NET)

[18] Joshua 6:23a (NET)

[19] Joshua 6:25 (NET)

[20] Titus 2:11-14 (NET)

[21] Exodus 33:11a (NET)

[22] John 15:9-17 (NET)

[23] John 6:63 (NET)

Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 10

“Because you obeyed (shâmaʽ, שמעת; Septuagint: ἤκουσας, a form of ἀκούω) your wife, the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) said to Adam, and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ cursed is the ground thanks to you; in painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.”[1]

The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) had commanded Adam: “You may freely eat fruit from every tree of the orchard, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die.”[2]  Eve saw that the tree produced fruit that was good for food, was attractive to the eye, and was desirable for making one wise, so she took some of its fruit and ate it.[3]  When she brought some to Adam she brought not only her recommendation but empirical evidence that she had both touched it and eaten it and had not died.

Adam preferred the voice of his wife to the voice of yehôvâh.  When Jacob preferred the beautiful Rachel over Leah the Lord saw that Leah was unloved (śânêʼ).[4]  In other words Adam hated the voice of God relative to that of his wife, the voice of God was unloved.  For the sake of argument I’ll describe Adam’s iniquity as defiance: Adam was not deceived,[5] Paul assured Timothy.

Adam’s defiance visited upon Cain became a murderous rage: Cain became very angryCain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.”  While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.[6]  Cain’s murderous rage combined with the memory of the mercy yehôvâh showed him became a defiant self-righteousness in his descendant Lamech, perhaps even incipient tribal law (Genesis 4:23, 24 NET):

Lamech said to his wives, “Adah and Zillah!  Listen (shâmaʽ, שמען; Septuagint: ἀκούσατέ, another form of ἀκούω) to me!  You wives of Lamech, hear my words!  I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for hurting me.  If Cain is to be avenged seven times as much, then Lamech seventy-seven times!”

The upshot of this relatively unhindered visiting of fathers’ iniquity upon the sons was: The earth was ruined in the sight of God; the earth was filled with violence.[7]  So God said to Noah, “I have decided that all living creatures must die, for the earth is filled with violence because of them.”[8]

I began this portion of my study of fear to understand how the translators of the NET “arrived at I punish as a translation of the Hebrew word pâqad (פקד)” in Deuteronomy 5:9.  If punishment could arrest this relatively unhindered visiting of fathers’ iniquity upon the sons before it culminated in a death sentence for all living creatures it would be a welcome relief.  This brings me to the third occurrence of ואפקד (pâqad) translated punish or punishment (and I have brought the punishment) in the NET (Leviticus 18:25 NET):

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.

This was not a reference to the violence of the antediluvian world but to the worship/sexual practices of the inhabitants of Canaan before Israel entered the promised land.  But first I need to consider whether the visiting of the fathers’ iniquity upon the sons was quite as unhindered as I have imagined it.

I was born and raised in the latter half of the twentieth century near the northern edge of the Bible belt in the United States of America.  I am a hardcore materialist with some Jesus jelly smeared on top.  I acknowledge this to confess the iniquity of my fathers, not to blame them or excuse myself, but to begin to claim my freedom from my own acceptance of that iniquity as my truth.

The voice of your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground (ʼădâmâh)![9] yehôvâh told Cain.  I hear this as a poetic reference to yehôvâh’s omniscience (Psalm 139:1-12).  These days I’m not unwilling to take it literally, that Abel’s blood had a voice that yehôvâh could hear crying out from the ground, but it’s not natural to me.  I am the dark side of, Train a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.[10]  Still, opening myself to its possibility gives me a different perspective.

So now, you are banished (ʼârar, ארור) from the ground (ʼădâmâh, האדמה: NET footnote 28): Heb “cursed are you from the ground”), yehôvâh continued, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.  When you try to cultivate the ground (ʼădâmâh, האדמה) it will no longer yield its best for you.  You will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.[11]  To Adam He had already said, cursed (ʼârar, ארורה) is the ground (ʼădâmâh, האדמה) thanks to you; in painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you, but you will eat the grain of the field.  By the sweat of your brow you will eat food until you return to the ground (ʼădâmâh, האדמה), for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you will return.[12]

I can begin to accept these as revelation of the very nature of the ground created by a loving, gracious and holy God, how the earth itself responds to its sinful inhabitants, rather than as post hoc punishments invented in the moment.  And I can begin to see the nature of the earth, the ground we live on, as a deterrent to the unhindered visiting of the fathers’ iniquity upon the sons.

Cain couldn’t supply himself with food by his own cultivation of the ground; the ground would no longer yield its best for him.  Cain built a city, a place where people could live in community and trade with one another for things they all needed.  Did he honor those still righteous enough to cultivate the ground that would not yield its best to him?  Did he learn from them?

The text doesn’t say.  It says, The earth (ʼerets, הארץ) was ruined in the sight of God; the earth (ʼerets, הארץ) was filled with violence.  If I accept that the blood of victims has a voice that yehôvâh can hear crying out from the ground, crying out to Him to act, and multiply that by the increase of population over the many generations I can at least imagine the cacophony in his ears and begin to appreciate his choices (Genesis 6:6, 7 NET):

The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) regretted that he had made humankind on the earth (ʼerets, בארץ), and he was highly offended.  So the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) said, “I will wipe humankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth (ʼădâmâh, האדמה) – everything from humankind to animals, including creatures that move on the ground and birds of the air, for I regret that I have made them.”

The religious mind must sit quietly here to meditate that at this moment in history yehôvâh preferred to destroy all life (air and ground) but that which could be saved in a boat and to start over again rather than to establish a law or a religion (aside from the rudiments of animal sacrifice handed down from Adam, Cain and Abel).  One might say that yehôvâh hated law and religion, law and religion were unloved relative to starting over again with a remnant of the former world.  But after the flood (Genesis 8:20-22 NET):

Noah built an altar to the Lord (yehôvâh, ליהוה).  He then took some of every kind of clean animal and clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.  And the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) smelled the soothing aroma and (yehôvâh, יהוה) said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground (ʼădâmâh, האדמה) because of humankind, even though the inclination of their minds is evil from childhood on.  I will never again destroy everything that lives, as I have just done.  While the earth continues to exist, planting time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night will not cease.”

God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) spoke one law to address violence, “Whoever sheds human blood, by other humans must his blood be shed; for in God’s image God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) has made humankind”[13] and one revised dietary law: Everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea are under your authority.  You may eat any moving thing that lives.  As I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.[14]  I assume that the trees of life and of the knowledge of good and evil did not survive the flood and had become a nonissue (Genesis 3:22).  But in Leviticus yehôvâh was establishing both a law and a religion in clear contrast to those originated by men.  Now that will have to wait for another essay.

In my first draft of this essay I had hoped to avoid Noah’s curse: Cursed (ʼârar, ארור; Septuagint: ἐπικατάρατος) be Canaan![15]  But I couldn’t get away with it.  And I have to admit it is more germane than I want it to be.  If Noah’s story (Genesis 9:20-27) were about almost anyone else we would take it simply as James’ source text (James 3:7-12 NET):

For every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and sea creature is subdued and has been subdued by humankind.  But no human being can subdue the tongue; it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse (καταρώμεθα, a form of καταράομαι) people made in God’s image.  From the same mouth come blessing and cursing (κατάρα).  These things should not be so, my brothers and sisters.  A spring does not pour out fresh water and bitter water from the same opening, does it?  Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers and sisters, or a vine produce figs?  Neither can a salt water spring produce fresh water.

But it was Noah, the heir of the world, who spoke this curse and this blessing so we are taught: “God’s blessing is going to rest directly on Shem, indirectly on Japheth, and His cursing is going to rest upon Ham’s son Canaan.”[16]  “So Ham was cursed and Shem and Japheth were blessed in cooperative unity.  The problem which must arise from the cursing of Canaan is this: Why did God curse Canaan for the sin of Ham?  Beyond this, why did God curse the Canaanites, a nation, for the sin of one man?”[17]  The text is fairly clear that Noah not God spoke both the curse and the blessing.  To this point Moses had been very explicit when ʼĕlôhı̂ym or yehôvâh spoke.  Why do we want to believe that Noah spoke for Him here?

Noah was a godly man; he was blameless (tâmı̂ym, תמים; Septuagint: τέλειος) among his contemporaries.  He walked with God.[18]  Perhaps we want tâmı̂ym to be an absolute term.  But this was not Paul writing, According to the righteousness stipulated in the law [as understood by first century Pharisees] I was blameless (ἄμεμπτος).[19]  Noah was blameless (KJV: perfect) among his contemporaries[20] (dôr, בדרתיו; Septuagint: γενεᾷ), those condemned to death for their violence: Every inclination of the thoughts of their minds was only evil all the time.[21]  About all one can say for sure about Noah is that he wasn’t a murderer and perhaps not every inclination of the thoughts of [his mind] was only evil all the time.

God said to Noah, Make for yourself an ark of cypress wood.  Make rooms in the ark, and cover it with pitch inside and out.[22]  And Noah did all that God commanded him – he did indeed.[23]  Through his faithfulness Noah was declared a herald of righteousness: and if [God] did not spare the ancient world, but did protect Noah, a herald of righteousness, along with seven others, when God brought a flood on an ungodly worldthen the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from their trials, and to reserve the unrighteous for punishment at the day of judgment[24]  By faith Noah, when he was warned about things not yet seen, with reverent regard constructed an ark for the deliverance of his family.  Through faith he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.[25]

But Noah found favor (chên, חן; Septuagint: χάριν) in the sight of the Lord.[26]  As followers of Jesus it is more prudent to believe that Noah’s faithfulness was on account of yehôvâh’s grace rather than due to some inherent quality of Noah’s: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.[27]  There is no one righteous, not even one[28] [i.e., in and of himself] there is no one who shows kindness, not even one,[29] Paul quoted the Psalm of David (Psalm 14:2, 3 Tanakh):

The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.  They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Jesus’ assessment of Noah and of the entire Old Testament is very helpful here: Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must all be born from above.’[30]  Noah didn’t miraculously escape the corruption of the flesh of Adam.  Noah didn’t speak for God unless the text had said that Noah spoke the word of God.

Noah’s “words came to pass, so we believe he was inspired by God.”[31]  I know of no place in Scripture where it is written, “this took place to fulfill Noah’s prophecy.”  Generations of Bible expositors would surely have quoted it if they had found it, so the contention that Noah’s curse and blessing “came to pass” is in the eye of the beholder.

“The act of Ham could not go unpunished.  In the curse of Noah upon Canaan, he was not punishing him personally for something his father Ham had done.  The words of Noah refer not to Canaan himself, but to the nation that would come from him…Though we are not told the exact sin of Ham, we do know that it was reprehensible enough for God to curse the line of his son Canaan.  The judgment was not directed to Canaan personally but rather to his descendants.”[32]  As prophecies go, then—and the Scriptures do not record that Canaan himself was ever enslaved to his brothers—one need not fear Noah as a prophet (Deuteronomy 18:21, 22 NET):

“Now if you say to yourselves, ‘How can we tell that a message is not from the Lord?’ – whenever a prophet speaks in my name and the prediction is not fulfilled, then I have not spoken it; the prophet has presumed to speak it, so you need not fear him.”

“Noah’s words did come to pass in the future, as we read that many of Canaan’s descendants were either killed or put under tribute by Israel (descendants of Shem) during the times of Joshua and the Judges, and later by King Solomon.”  God’s words will come to pass but the simple fact that a man’s words come to pass doesn’t make them God’s words (Deuteronomy 13:1-4 NET):

Suppose a prophet or one who foretells by dreams should appear among you and show you a sign or wonder, and the sign or wonder should come to pass concerning what he said to you, namely, “Let us follow other gods” – gods whom you have not previously known – “and let us serve them.”  You must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer, for the Lord your God will be testing you to see if you love him with all your mind and being.  You must follow the Lord your God and revere only him; and you must observe his commandments, obey him, serve him, and remain loyal to him.

I’m not accusing Noah of being a false prophet.  I’m not accusing Noah of being any kind of prophet at all.  If I’m accusing Noah of anything it is that he spoke angrily, self-righteously, with a hangover.  But what I must believe about God to believe that He cursed a nation of people for something a man did many generations before those people were even born is a very different god than the One I am knowing through the Scriptures.

I concede that one who believes this is God because “many of Canaan’s descendants were either killed or put under tribute by Israel (descendants of Shem) during the times of Joshua and the Judges, and later by King Solomon” may also believe that He will punish the sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons for the sin of the fathers who reject (śânêʼ, לשׁנאי) me[33]  Still, I hope that one may be willing to concede that Noah’s curse was not the love that does no wrong to a neighbor, not the love that is the fulfillment of the law.[34]

While I don’t believe that Noah’s curse, or his blessing, were the immutable Word of God I do think his curse is a terrifying example of God visiting Noah’s iniquity upon Canaan, terrifying precisely because the effect of Noah’s iniquity[35] has seemed so sure and certain that so many have assumed it was divine prophecy.  We’re not told how Canaan reacted to Noah’s curse.  I know how I would react to Noah’s “godliness,” “blamelessness,” and his “walk” with God unless I were willing to forgive him for his drunken rant.  And I know that Canaan’s descendants practiced a law and religion inimical to yehôvâh.

I’ll return to Leviticus 18 in another essay.

Back to To Make Holy, Part 3

[1] Genesis 3:17 (NET)

[2] Genesis 2:16, 17 (NET)

[3] Genesis 3:6a (NET)

[4] Genesis 29:31a (NET)

[5] 1 Timothy 2:14a (NET)

[6] Genesis 4:5b, 8 (NET)

[7] Genesis 6:11 (NET)

[8] Genesis 6:13a (NET)

[9] Genesis 4:10b (NET)

[10] Proverbs 22:6 (NET)

[11] Genesis 4:11, 12 (NET)

[12] Genesis 3:17b-19 (NET)

[13] Genesis 9:6 (NET)

[14] Genesis 9:2b, 3 (NET)

[15] Genesis 9:25a (NET)

[16] J. Ligon Duncan, “The Cursing of Canaan,” Sermon on Genesis 9:18-29, November 22, 1998, First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi

[17] Bob Deffinbaugh, “10. The Nakedness of Noah and the Cursing of Canaan (Genesis 9:18-10:32),” Bible.org

[18] Genesis 6:9b (NET)

[19] Philippians 3:6b (NET)

[20] NET note 32: Heb “Noah was a godly man, blameless in his generations.” The singular “generation” can refer to one’s contemporaries, i.e., those living at a particular point in time. The plural “generations” can refer to successive generations in the past or the future. Here, where it is qualified by “his” (i.e., Noah’s), it refers to Noah’s contemporaries, comprised of the preceding generation (his father’s generation), those of Noah’s generation, and the next generation (those the same age as his children). In other words, “his generations” means the generations contemporary with him. See BDB 190 s.v. דוֹר.

[21] Genesis 6:5b (NET)

[22] Genesis 6:14 (NET)

[23] Genesis 6:22 (NET)

[24] 2 Peter 2:5, 9 (NET)

[25] Hebrews 11:7 (NET)

[26] Genesis 6:8 (NET)

[27] Genesis 6:9 (KJV)

[28] Romans 3:10b (NET)

[29] Romans 3:12b (NET)

[30] John 3:7 (NET)

[31] Troy Lacey, “The Curse of Canaan,” October 12, 2012, Answers In Genesis

[32] Don Stewart, “Why Was Canaan Cursed Instead of Ham?,” Blue Letter Bible

[33] Deuteronomy 5:9b (NET)

[34] Romans 13:10 (NET)

[35] To those who hold that the fourth generation is a limit to Noah’s iniquity, I concede the point.  It would not be accurate to blame Noah’s iniquity for the sins of Canaanites in the time of Israel’s conquest.  My point is that iniquity is like a snowball rolling downhill, gaining mass and momentum, as long as people continue to reject, hate, prefer something other than, yehôvâh.

Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 9

I’ll continue to look at yehôvâh’s fearful pronouncement: I punish the sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons for the sin of the fathers who reject me[1]  Two tables comparing/contrasting four partial verses follow.  In the center columns the Hebrew words read from top to bottom, beside them are my best effort at a word-for-word translation, and then the NET translations are in the outer columns.

Exodus 20:5b

Deuteronomy 5:9b

…responding (פקד) to the transgression (עון) of fathers by dealing with children to the third and fourth generations of those who reject (לשׁנאי) me…

Exodus 20:5b (NET)

visiting פקד פקד visiting …I punish (פקד) the sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons for the sin (עון) of the fathers who reject (לשׁנאי) me…

Deuteronomy 5:9b (NET)

the iniquity עון עון the iniquity
of fathers אבת אבות of the fathers
upon על על upon
sons בנים בנים sons
upon על ועל and upon
the third שלשים שלשים the third
and upon ועל ועל and upon
the fourth רבעים רבעים the fourth
who hate לשׁנאי לשׁנאי who hate

Exodus 34:7b

Numbers 14:18b

…responding (פקד) to the transgression (עון) of fathers by dealing with children and children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.

Exodus 34:7b (NET)

visiting פקד פקד visiting …visiting (פקד) the iniquity (עון) of the fathers on the children until the third and fourth generations.

Numbers 14:18b (NET)

the iniquity עון עון the iniquity
of the fathers אבות אבות of the fathers
upon על על upon
sons בנים בנים sons
and upon ועל על upon
sons(’) בני
sons בנים
upon על
the third שלשים שלשים the third
and upon ועל ועל and upon
the fourth רבעים רבעים the fourth

There doesn’t seem to be anything about the Hebrew words themselves that would compel anyone to translate פקד (pâqad) I punish or עון (ʽâvôn) for the sin.[2]  In fact, forms of pâqad were only translated punish or punishment three other times in the NET prior to Deuteronomy 5:9.  Two occur after Israel worshipped the golden calf.  Moses said (Exodus 32:30-35 NET):

“You have committed a very serious sin, but now I will go up to the Lord – perhaps I can make atonement on behalf of your sin.”

So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Alas, this people has committed a very serious sin, and they have made for themselves gods of gold.  But now, if you will forgive (nâsâh, תשׁא) their sin…, but if not, wipe me out from your book that you have written.”  The Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me – that person I will wipe out of my book.  So now go, lead the people to the place I have spoken to you about.  See, my angel will go before you.  But on the day that I punish (pâqad, פקדי; Tanakh: I visit), I will indeed punish (pâqad, ופקדתי; Tanakh: I will visit) them for their sin.”

And the Lord sent a plague (nâgaph, ויגף) on the people because they had made the calf – the one Aaron made.               

I don’t have any quarrel with describing this plague[3] as punishment, but it occurs in a particular context.  Though Moses offered—wipe me out from your book that you have writtenyehôvâh said, Whoever has sinned against me – that person I will wipe out of my book.  Later in his address recorded in Deuteronomy Moses said:  Fathers must not be put to death for what their children do, nor children for what their fathers do; each must be put to death for his own sin.[4]

Rabbi Dr. Zev Farber in his article “Punishing Children for the Sins of their Parents,” on TheTorah online wrote about “the surprising claim” from Rabbi Yossi bar Chanina in the Babylonian Talmud “that in four cases the prophets overturned a decree Moses makes in the Torah.”  Apparently Rabbi Yossi bar Chanina held that not only Deuteronomy 5:9 but Exodus 20:5 “makes a clear and strong claim that in at least one case—worshipping other gods or idols—God punishes the descendants of the sinner until the fourth generation.”  Rabbi Farber took issue with one of the “four cases”:[5]

The prophet Ezekiel, who was exiled to Babylon in 597, offers a torrent of arguments and rhetoric against the concept of punishing children for the sins of the parents. He does not frame it as an argument against the Torah…but rather he frames it as a response to a popular notion (Ezek 18).

Rabbi Yossi bar Chanina apparently did not accept that “God punishes the descendants of the sinner until the fourth generation” was an erroneous popular notion and so he pit Ezekiel against Moses and even yehôvâh Himself.  This tenacious aspect of the religious mind to justify itself should be familiar to us.  How many generations of English speaking followers of Jesus have believed that ἄνωθεν meant again, Nicodemus’ misunderstanding of Jesus’ words?  How can a man be born when he is old?  He cannot enter his mother’s womb and be born a second time, can he?[6]  Jesus answered (John 3:5-8 NET):

“I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must all be born from above (ἄνωθεν).’  The wind blows wherever it will, and you hear the sound it makes, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going.  So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

I want to simplify the world to consider pâqad in the context of Adam and two of his sons Cain and Abel.  First, for background, consider Paul’s understanding of their situation (Romans 5:12-14 NET):

So then, just as sin entered the world through one man [e.g., Adam] and death through sin, and so death spread to all people because all sinned – for before the law was given, sin was in the world, but there is no accounting for sin when there is no law.  Yet death reigned from Adam until Moses even over those who did not sin in the same way that Adam (who is a type of the coming one) transgressed.

And the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) was pleased with Abel and his offering[7]  But when Cain killed Abel it is apparently possible to argue by the Hebrew words of Deuteronomy 5:9 that yehôvâh punished Abel for Adam’s sin.  It’s not an argument I want to make before the judgment seat of Christ.  Then the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”[8]  Cain lacked David’s knowledge of yehôvâh (Psalm 139:1-12 NET):

O Lord, you examine me and know.  You know when I sit down and when I get up; even from far away you understand my motives.  You carefully observe me when I travel or when I lie down to rest; you are aware of everything I do.  Certainly my tongue does not frame a word without you, O Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה), being thoroughly aware of it.  You squeeze me in from behind and in front; you place your hand on me.  Your knowledge is beyond my comprehension; it is so far beyond me, I am unable to fathom it.

Where can I go to escape your spirit?  Where can I flee to escape your presence?  If I were to ascend to heaven, you would be there.  If I were to sprawl out in Sheol, there you would be.  If I were to fly away on the wings of the dawn, and settle down on the other side of the sea, even there your hand would guide me, your right hand would grab hold of me.  If I were to say, “Certainly the darkness will cover me, and the light will turn to night all around me,” even the darkness is not too dark for you to see, and the night is as bright as day; darkness and light are the same to you.

Cain mistook yehôvâh’s question—Where is your brother Abel?—for ignorance of what he had done rather than as an opportunity to confess, and repent of, his rash act.  We can only imagine how differently this scene might have played out if Cain had expressed his own shock and horror at what he had done in anger, anger directed primarily at yehôvâh’s rejection of his offering.  But I don’t take that to mean that yehôvâh was ignorant that Cain murdered Abel: The voice of your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground![9]  Nor do I take it to mean that David was disputing with Moses or imagining novel qualities of yehôvâh.  I assume that yehôvâh is ever this knowledgeable and Cain was simply ignorant of it.

Cain wasn’t stupid.  Consider his clever evasion to yehôvâh’s question, Where is your brother Abel: I don’t know!  Am I my brother’s guardian?[10]  Apparently, he reasoned that his father had tripped himself up by being too forthright with yehôvâh: I heard you moving about in the orchard, Adam had answered yehôvâh’s question, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.[11]  As Cain understood it, the knowledge Adam let slip—I was naked—enabled yehôvâh to infer what his father had done: Who told you that you were naked? yehôvâh asked Adam.  Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?[12]  But again, I don’t assume that yehôvâh had to infer what He already knew Adam had done simply because Cain didn’t know Him.

In a similar way I assume that the word of yehôvâh (יהוה) that came to Ezekiel is the same word of the same yehôvâh revealed to Moses and recorded in Deuteronomy 5:9.  The erroneous popular notion—Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear (nâsâh, נשׁא) the iniquity (ʽâvôn, בעון) of the father?[13]—that the son should or must die for the father’s sin (Ezekiel 18:20 Tanakh) was the misunderstanding of religious minds no matter how many famous rabbis espoused it.  And so I take the translation of פקד (pâqad) as I punish in Deuteronomy 5:9 as a perpetuation of an erroneous popular notion of religious minds that was clearly corrected in Ezekiel 18.

I am not yet perfected in love.  The first thing that comes to mind when things don’t go my way is that God is punishing me for something.  Faith in yehôvâh comes from the fruit of his Spirit, along with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control.  If I think of verses like Deuteronomy 5:9 from the perspective of sons, grandsons and great grandsons, I will come to the same erroneous conclusion, what Rabbi Farber called Sour Grapes Theology:[14]

The sour grapes theology paints the punishment of descendants as a harsh but necessary way of God dispensing justice. Full punishment of a sinner may include the punishment of his family.

I think it’s more productive to view Deuteronomy 5:9 from the perspective of iniquitous fathers, particularly iniquitous fathers who don’t want the horror of their iniquity visited upon their children.  For [our earthly fathers] disciplined us for a little while as seemed good to them, but [God] does so for our benefit, that we may share his holiness.[15]  My children were not my biological offspring so I won’t even comment on passing on my iniquity via nature.  But the iniquity I passed on to them via nurture was not merely a matter of my inept blundering.

As I think of it now I recall how often I passed on my perverse views of life, the way things “really” work.  And I did so with as much or more conviction than anything I taught them about Christ and his righteousness.  Add to that my own on-again-off-again righteousness—sometimes led by the Holy Spirit, sometimes not so much—and I have a truly horrifying picture of yehôvâh visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children,[16] my children!  And this, when I wanted what was best for them.

I find myself crying aloud with Cain’s words (if not his meaning): My iniquity (ʽâvôn, עוני) is too great to endure (nâsâh, מנשׁא)!  What hope do I have but that which is to be found in the long name of yehôvâhThe Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abounding in loyal love and faithfulness, keeping loyal love for thousands, [bearing] (nâsâh, נשׁא) iniquity (ʽâvôn, עון) and transgression and sin.[17]

In a prophecy that reads so much like history unbelievers doubt its authenticity, yehôvâh spoke of disobedient (Leviticus 26:13-17) survivors (Leviticus 26:39, 40 Tanakh):

And they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them.  And they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, in their treachery which they committed against Me, and also that they have walked contrary unto Me.

Confession of one’s own iniquity is obvious.  Confession of one’s fathers’ iniquity is necessary because we are far too likely to mistake our fathers’ iniquity for the way things are done, especially if those fathers were religious leaders of some note.

In the movie The Shack in a dream within a vision during a life-threatening coma Mack (Sam Worthington) spends a weekend in a cabin at a lake with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  His wife Nan (Radha Mitchell) calls God Papa, a bit too familiar for Mack’s taste at the beginning of the film.

Papa (Octavia Spencer) appears to Mack as the neighbor woman who, looking at young Mack’s bruised face, said, “Daddies aren’t supposed to do that to their kids.  It ain’t love.  You understand?”  Papa explains to adult Mack, “After what you been through, I didn’t think you could handle a father right now.”  But once Mack has God in his hands, so to speak, he has a lifetime of blame to unleash.

“You’re the almighty God, right?” he accuses Papa.  “You know everything.  You’re everywhere, all at once.  And you have limitless power.  Yet, somehow you let my little girl die.  When she needed you most, you abandoned her.”  Mack’s 7-year-old daughter Missy (Amélie Eve) was abducted by a serial killer.  Nothing of her was ever found but her bloodstained dress.  Still, Mack’s first salvo is mostly a ruse that doesn’t quite get to the heart of his issue with God.

That first night he reads himself to sleep with the Old Testament and dreams of Missy’s abduction, a dream within a dream within a vision in a coma.  Missy calls out to him for rescue.  The next morning at breakfast Mack moves one step closer to the real issue.

Mack: Everybody knows you punish the people who disappoint you.

Papa: Hmm.  Nope.  I don’t need to punish people.  Sin is its own punishment.[18]  As difficult as it is for you to accept, I’m in the middle of everything you perceive to be a mess, workin’ for your good.

Later, after a stroll across the lake with Jesus (Aviv Alush), Mack meets Wisdom (Alice Braga) in a cave beneath a waterfall.  She helps him take his first steps toward obeying Jesus’ command: Do not judge so that you will not be judged.[19]  Sitting with Wisdom, Mack approaches the heart of the matter.

Mack: You know, what I don’t understand is how God can love Missy and put her through so much horror.  She was innocent.

Wisdom: I know.

Mack: Did he use her to punish me?  ‘Cause that’s not fair.  And she didn’t deserve it.  My wife and my children didn’t deserve it.  Now, I might.  ‘Cause you know I’m…

Mack can never bring himself to confess that he murdered his father.  Later that day Mack acknowledges being overly hard on God.  Papa responds: “I can work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies.  But that doesn’t mean I orchestrate the tragedies.”

That evening Mack is taken to meet the abusive father he poisoned.  Before he can say anything more than “Dad” his father says, “Mack, I’m so sorry for everything.  I was blind and I couldn’t see you.  I couldn’t see anyone.”  Still, Mack can’t or won’t confess his murder, he only makes excuses.  “Son, I forgive you,” his father continues.  “You’ve become the father I could never be.  And I’m so proud of you.  Can you ever forgive me?”

In the movie Papa protested that she didn’t “orchestrate the tragedies.”  Still, woven into the fabric of The Shack is a serial killer who came to a campground to abduct a little girl.  His victim of opportunity was a murderer’s daughter.  Papa in Mack’s dream in a vision in a coma in a movie may want to leave it to chance or fate or karma, but in Scripture visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children is as much a part of yehôvâh’s self-proclaimed name as forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.[20]  That’s as important in reality as it proved to be in The Shack.

The next morning Papa appears to Mack as a man (Graham Greene).  “For what we have to do today you’re gonna need a father,” Papa explains.  He wants Mack to forgive the man who murdered his daughter.

Mack: So, you just let him get away with it?

Papa: Nobody gets away with anything…I’m not asking you to excuse what he did.  I’m asking you to trust me to do what’s right and to know what’s best.

 

Form of pâqad Reference KJV NET
פקד Exodus 34:7 visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children… responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children…
Exodus 38:21 …as it was counted, according to the commandment of Moses… …which was counted by the order of Moses…
Numbers 1:44 …which Moses and Aaron numbered …whom Moses and Aaron numbered
Numbers 3:15 Number the children of Levi after the… Number the Levites by their clans and…
Numbers 3:39 …which Moses and Aaron numbered at the commandment of the LORD… …whom Moses and Aaron numbered by the word of the Lord…
Numbers 3:40 Number all the firstborn of the males of the children of Israel… Number all the firstborn males of the Israelites…
Numbers 4:37 …which Moses and Aaron did number …whom Moses and Aaron numbered
Numbers 4:41 …whom Moses and Aaron did number …whom Moses and Aaron numbered
Numbers 4:45 …whom Moses and Aaron numbered …whom Moses and Aaron numbered
Numbers 4:46 …whom Moses and Aaron and the chief of Israel numbered …whom Moses, Aaron, and the leaders of Israel numbered
Numbers 4:49 According to the commandment of the LORD they were numbered According to the word of the Lord they were numbered
Numbers 14:18 visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children… visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children…
Deuteronomy 5:9 visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children… I punish the sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons for the sin of the fathers…
יפקד Numbers 16:29 …or if they be visited after the visitation of all men… or if they share the fate[21] of all men…
Numbers 27:16 set a man over the congregation… appoint a man over the community…
פקדי Exodus 32:34 …nevertheless in the day when I visit But on the day that I punish
פקדו Numbers 26:63 …who numbered the children of Israel in the plains of Moab… …who numbered the Israelites in the plains of Moab…
Numbers 26:64 when they numbered the children of Israel… when they numbered the Israelites…
פקדיו Numbers 1:22 those that were numbered of them, according to the number of the names… …all the males numbered of them twenty years old or older…
Numbers 26:54 …be given according to those that were numbered of him. …given according to the number of people in it.
פקדיכם Numbers 14:29 …and all that were numbered of you… …all those of you who were numbered
פקדיהם Numbers 1:21 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Reuben… Those of them who were numbered from the tribe of Reuben were 46,500.
Numbers 1:23 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Simeon… Those of them who were numbered from the tribe of Simeon were 59,300.
Numbers 1:25 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Gad… Those of them who were numbered from the tribe of Gad were 45,650.
Numbers 1:27 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Judah… Those of them who were numbered from the tribe of Judah were 74,600.
Numbers 1:29 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Issachar… Those of them who were numbered from the tribe of Issachar were 54,400.
Numbers 1:31 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Zebulun… Those of them who were numbered from the tribe of Zebulun were 57,400.
Numbers 1:33 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Ephraim… Those of them who were numbered from the tribe of Ephraim were 40,500.
Numbers 1:35 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Manasseh… Those of them who were numbered from the tribe of Manasseh were 32,200.
Numbers 1:37 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Benjamin… Those of them who were numbered from the tribe of Benjamin were 35,400.
Numbers 1:39 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Dan… Those of them who were numbered from the tribe of Dan were 62,700.
Numbers 1:41 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Asher… Those of them who were numbered from the tribe of Asher were 41,500.
Numbers 1:43 Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Naphtali… Those of them who were numbered from the tribe of Naphtali were 53,400.
Numbers 3:22 Those that were numbered of them, according to the number… Those of them who were numbered, counting every male…
Numbers 3:22 …even those that were numbered of them were seven thousand and five hundred. Not translated
Numbers 4:36 And those that were numbered of them by their families were… and those of them numbered by their families were 2,750.
Numbers 4:40 Even those that were numbered of them, throughout their families… those of them numbered by their families, by their clans, were 2,630.
Numbers 4:44 Even those that were numbered of them after their families… those of them numbered by their families were 3,200.
Numbers 4:48 Even those that were numbered of them, were… those of them numbered were 8,580.
Numbers 26:7 and they that were numbered of them were… and those numbered of them were 43,730.
Numbers 26:62 And those that were numbered of them were… Those of them who were numbered were 23,000…
פקודי Exodus 38:21 This is the sum of the tabernacle… This is the inventory of the tabernacle…
Exodus 38:25 And the silver of them that were numbered of the congregation… The silver of those who were numbered of the community…
Numbers 1:45 So were all those that were numbered of the children of Israel… …who could serve in Israel’s army, were numbered
Numbers 2:32 These are those which were numbered of the children of Israel… These are the Israelites, numbered according to their families.
Numbers 2:32 …all those that were numbered of the camps… All those numbered in the camps…
Numbers 3:39 All that were numbered of the Levites… All who were numbered of the Levites…
Numbers 4:37 These were they that were numbered of the families of the Kohathites… These were those numbered from the families of the Kohathites…
Numbers 4:41 These are they that were numbered of the families of the sons of Gershon… These were those numbered from the families of the Gershonites…
Numbers 4:45 These be those that were numbered of the families of the sons of Merari… These are those numbered from the families of the Merarites…
Numbers 26:51 These were the numbered of the children of Israel… These were those numbered of the Israelites, 601,730.
Numbers 26:57 And these are they that were numbered of the Levites… …Levites who were numbered according to their families…
Numbers 26:63 These are they that were numbered by Moses… These are those who were numbered by Moses…
Numbers 31:14 …Moses was wroth with the officers of the host… …Moses was furious with the officers of the army…
ויפקד Numbers 3:16 Moses numbered them according to the word of the LORD… Moses numbered them according to the word of the Lord…
Numbers 3:42 And Moses numbered, as the LORD commanded him… So Moses numbered all the firstborn males among the Israelites…
Numbers 4:34 And Moses and Aaron and the chief of the congregation numbered …Moses and Aaron and the leaders of the community numbered
ופקדיו Numbers 2:6 And his host, and those that were numbered thereof… Those numbered in his division are 54,400.
Numbers 2:8 And his host, and those that were numbered thereof… Those numbered in his division are 57,400.
Numbers 2:11 And his host, and those that were numbered thereof… Those numbered in his division are 46,500.
Numbers 4:49 thus were they numbered of him… Thus were they numbered by him…
ויפקדם Numbers 1:19 so he numbered them in the wilderness of Sinai. And so he numbered them in the wilderness of Sinai.
ופקדתי Exodus 32:34 I will visit their sin upon them. I will indeed punish them for their sin.
ופקדתם Numbers 4:27 …and ye shall appoint unto them in charge… You will assign them all their tasks…
ופקדיהם Numbers 2:4 And his host, and those that were numbered of them… Those numbered in his division are 74,600.
Numbers 2:13 And his host, and those that were numbered of them… Those numbered in his division are 59,300.
Numbers 2:15 And his host, and those that were numbered of them… Those numbered in his division are 45,650.
Numbers 2:19 And his host, and those that were numbered of them… Those numbered in his division are 40,500.
Numbers 2:21 And his host, and those that were numbered of them… Those numbered in his division are 32,200.
Numbers 2:23 And his host, and those that were numbered of them… Those numbered in his division are 35,400.
Numbers 2:26 And his host, and those that were numbered of them… Those numbered in his division are 62,700.
Numbers 2:28 And his host, and those that were numbered of them… Those numbered in his division are 41,500.
Numbers 2:30 And his host, and those that were numbered of them… Those numbered in his division are 53,400.
Numbers 3:34 And those that were numbered of them, according to the number… Those of them who were numbered, counting every male…
Numbers 26:34 …Manasseh, and those that were numbered of them… …Manasseh; those numbered of them were 52,700.
Numbers 26:41 …and they that were numbered of them were… and according to those numbered of them, 45,600.
Numbers 26:50 and they that were numbered of them were… and those numbered of them were 45,400.
ואפקד Leviticus 18:25 …therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it… and I have brought the punishment for its iniquity upon it…
והפקדתי Leviticus 26:16 I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague… I will inflict horror on you, consumption and fever…
ופקודי Numbers 4:38 And those that were numbered of the sons of Gershon… Those numbered from the Gershonites…
Numbers 4:42 And those that were numbered of the families of the sons of Merari… Those numbered from the families of the Merarites…
לפקדיהם Exodus 30:12 …sum of the children of Israel after their number …census of the Israelites according to their number
Numbers 3:43 of those that were numbered of them, were twenty and two thousand… Not translated
Numbers 26:18 …Gad according to those that were numbered of them… …Gadites according to those numbered of them, 40,500.
Numbers 26:22 …Judah according to those that were numbered of them… …Judah according to those numbered of them, 76,500.
Numbers 26:25 …Issachar according to those that were numbered of them… …Issachar, according to those numbered of them, 64,300.
Numbers 26:27 …Zebulunites according to those that were numbered of them… …Zebulunites, according to those numbered of them, 60,500.
Numbers 26:37 …Ephraim according to those that were numbered of them… …Ephraimites, according to those numbered of them, 32,500.
Numbers 26:43 …Shuhamites, according to those that were numbered of them… …Shuhahites according to those numbered of them were 64,400.
Numbers 26:47 …Asher according to those that were numbered of them… …Asherites, according to those numbered of them, 53,400.
בפקד Exodus 30:12 …ransom for his soul unto the LORD, when thou numberest them …ransom for his life to the Lord when you number them
Exodus 30:12 …that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them. …there will be no plague among them when you number them.
Numbers 31:49 …and there lacketh not one man of us. …and not one is missing.
הפקד Leviticus 6:4[22] …or that which was delivered him to keep …or the thing that he had held in trust
תפקד Numbers 1:49 …thou shalt not number the tribe of Levi… …the tribe of Levi you must not number
Numbers 1:50 But thou shalt appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of testimony… But appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of the testimony…
Numbers 3:10 And thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons… So you are to appoint Aaron and his sons…
Numbers 4:23 …until fifty years old shalt thou number them… You must number them from thirty years old and upward…
Numbers 4:29 thou shalt number them after their families… you are to number them by their families…
הפקדים Exodus 30:13 …every one that passeth among them that are numbered Everyone who crosses over to those who are numbered
Exodus 30:14 Every one that passeth among them that are numbered Everyone who crosses over to those numbered
Exodus 38:26 …for every one that went to be numbered …for everyone who crossed over to those numbered
Numbers 1:44 These are those that were numbered These were the men
Numbers 1:46 Even all they that were numbered were… And all those numbered totaled 603,550.
Numbers 2:9 All that were numbered in the camp of… All those numbered of the camp of Judah…
Numbers 2:16 All that were numbered in the camp of Reuben… All those numbered of the camp of Reuben…
Numbers 2:24 All that were numbered of the camp of Ephraim… All those numbered of the camp of Ephraim…
Numbers 2:31 All they that were numbered in the camp… All those numbered of the camp of Dan…
Numbers 4:46 All those that were numbered of the… All who were numbered of the Levites…
Numbers 7:2 …over them that were numbered …had been supervising the numbering.
תפקדו Numbers 1:3 …thou and Aaron shall number them by their armies. You and Aaron are to number all in Israel…
Numbers 4:32 …and by name ye shall reckon the instruments… You are to assign by names the items…
תפקדם Numbers 3:15 …a month old and upward shalt thou number …a month old and upward you are to number.
Numbers 4:30 …unto fifty years old shalt thou number them… You must number them from thirty years…
הפקדים Numbers 31:48 And the officers which were over thousands of the host… Then the officers who were over the thousands of the army…
התפקדו Numbers 1:47 …were not numbered among them. …were not numbered among them.
Numbers 2:33 But the Levites were not numbered among the children of Israel… But the Levites were not numbered among the other Israelites…
Numbers 26:62 …they were not numbered among the children of Israel… …they were not numbered among the Israelites…
מפקודי Numbers 26:64 …whom Moses and Aaron the priest numbered …a man among these who had been among those numbered by Moses…

Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 10

[1] Deuteronomy 5:9b (NET)

[2] I also notice that the qualifications לשׁנאי (translated: of those who reject me) and מצותי ולשמרי לאהבי (translated: those who love me and keep my commandments ) have vanished from occurrences after the end of the forty-day covenant.  I won’t say more since they reappear in Moses’ history lesson (Deuteronomy 5:5-10).

[3] Leviticus 26:14-17 may give some hint what this plague may have been.

[4] Deuteronomy 24:16 (NET)

[5] Rabbi Dr. Zev Farber, “Punishing Children for the Sins of their Parents,” TheTorah

[6] John 3:4 (NET)

[7] Genesis 4:4b (NET)

[8] Genesis 4:9a (NET)

[9] Genesis 4:10b (NET)

[10] Genesis 4:9b (NET)

[11] Genesis 3:10 (NET)

[12] Genesis 3:11 (NET)

[13] Ezekiel 18:19a (Tanakh)

[14] Rabbi Dr. Zev Farber, “Punishing Children for the Sins of their Parents,” TheTorah

[15] Hebrews 12:10 (NET)

[16] Deuteronomy 5:9 (Tanakh)

[17] Exodus 34:6b, 7a (NET)

[18] “Sin is its own punishment,” is practically the definition of ʽâvôn but that will have to wait for another essay.

[19] Matthew 7:1 (NET)

[20] Exodus 34:7 (KJV)

[21] peqûddâh

[22] According to NET online this is piqqâdôn rather than pâqad as it is listed in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.

Romans, Part 88

This is the reason I was often hindered from coming to you,[1] Paul continued his letter to believers in Rome.  The hindrance here was Paul’s own φιλοτιμούμενον (a form of φιλοτιμέομαι), translated I desire (NET) and have I strived (KJV), his own fondness for honor: And in this way I desire to preach where Christ has not been named, so as not to build on another person’s foundation, but as it is written: Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.”[2]  But in two other letters Paul used forms of φιλοτιμέομαι without a hint of pride (1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 NET):

Now on the topic of brotherly love (φιλαδελφίας, a form of φιλαδελφία) you have no need for anyone to write you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.  And indeed you are practicing it toward all the brothers and sisters in all of Macedonia.  But we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, to aspire (φιλοτιμεῖσθαι, another form of φιλοτιμέομαι) to lead a quiet life, to attend to your own business, and to work with your hands, as we commanded you.  In this way you will live a decent life before outsiders and not be in need.

Granted, Paul’s own aspiration was to preach where Christ has not been named, so as not to build on another person’s foundation, while his aspiration for Macedonian believers was that they lead a quiet life, to attend to [their] own business, and to work with [their] hands, as we commanded [them].  But that implies a sense of order and rank, not necessarily a prideful aspiration on Paul’s part.  To the Corinthian believers he wrote (2 Corinthians 5:1-10 NET):

For we know that if our earthly house, the tent we live in, is dismantled, we have a building from God, a house not built by human hands, that is eternal in the heavens.  For in this earthly house we groan, because we desire (ἐπιποθοῦντες, a form of ἐπιποθέω) to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed, after we have put on our heavenly house, we will not be found naked.  For we groan while we are in this tent, since we are weighed down, because we do not want to be unclothed, but clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.  Now the one who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment.  Therefore we are always full of courage, and we know that as long as we are alive here on earth we are absent from the Lord – for we live by faith, not by sight.  Thus we are full of courage and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.  So then whether we are alive or away, we make it our ambition (φιλοτιμούμεθα, another form of φιλοτιμέομαι) to please him.  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 while in the body, whether good or evil.

Surely Paul’s ambition to preach where Christ has not been named, so as not to build on another person’s foundation, was part of his ambition to please God.  Still, I wonder how different church history might have been if Paul had arrived first in Rome.  He had desired (ἐπιποθίαν, a form of ἐπιποθία) to come to them for many yearsBut now there is nothing more to keep me in these regions, and I have for many years desired to come to you when I go to Spain.[3]  For I hope to visit you when I pass through and that you will help me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while.[4]  He acknowledged the same at the beginning of his letter to them (Romans 1:8-13a NET):

First of all, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the whole world.  For God, whom I serve in my spirit by preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness that I continually remember you and I always ask in my prayers, if perhaps now at last I may succeed in visiting (ἐλθεῖν, a form of ἔρχομαι) you according to the will of God.  For I long to see you, so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, that is, that we may be mutually comforted by one another’s faith, both yours and mine.  I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I often intended to come (ἐλθεῖν, a form of ἔρχομαι) to you (and was prevented until now)…

The Greek word translated was prevented was ἐκωλύθην (a form of κωλύω).  It seems to be a stronger hindrance (see the table below) than ἐνεκοπτόμην (a form of ἐγκόπτω) in Romans 15:22, though Paul strengthened ἐνεκοπτόμην with πολλὰ (a form of πολλός).  So while he listed his own desire for honor at the end of his letter as the reason he was hindered from visiting Rome, there is a hint here that visit was deliberately delayed as something not yet ἐν τῷ θελήματι τοῦ θεοῦ (“in” or “by the will of God;” NET: according to).

I suppose I imagine that if Paul had preceded Peter in Rome churches might have become more facilitators than arbiters of the new covenant.  I’m thinking especially here of for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD.[5]  But historically the western church became the de facto government after Constantine moved his capital east.  Even Paul proposed governmental functions for the church to deal with those who were not led by the Spirit (1 Timothy 1:5-11) in Corinth (1 Corinthians 6:1-8 NET):

When any of you has a legal dispute with another, does he dare go to court before the unrighteous (ἀδίκων, a form of ἄδικος) rather than before the saints (ἁγίων, a form of ἅγιος)?  Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world?  And if the world is to be judged by you, are you not competent to settle trivial suits?  Do you not know that we will judge angels?  Why not ordinary matters!  So if you have ordinary lawsuits, do you appoint as judges those who have no standing in the church?  I say this to your shame!  Is there no one among you wise enough to settle disputes between fellow Christians (ἀδελφοῦ, a form of ἀδελφός)?  Instead, does a Christian (ἀδελφὸς, another form of ἀδελφός) sue a Christian (ἀδελφοῦ, a form of ἀδελφός), and do this before unbelievers (ἀπίστων, a form of ἄπιστος)?  The fact that you have lawsuits among yourselves demonstrates that you have already been defeated (ἥττημα, a form of ἥττημα).  Why not rather be wronged?  Why not rather be cheated?  But you yourselves wrong and cheat, and you do this to your brothers and sisters (ἀδελφούς, another form of ἀδελφός)!

To speculate whether western churches would be different if Paul had preceded Peter to Rome is ultimately foolishness.  We who have been drawn to Christ by the kindness of God are the ἐκκλησία.  The character of our churches here and now is determined predominantly by our faith.  Are we facilitators of the new covenant or arbiters, judges with evil motives (James 2:1-4 NET)?  When Jesus said Do not judge[6] He knew to whom He spoke, intimately, both as Creator and a partaker of our humanity.

We judge everything.  We judge the weight of an object before we pick it up.  We judge the distance and velocity of the things we see around us.  We judge everyone: beautiful, ugly, rich, poor, friendly, aggressive, lying, truthful, wise, foolish.  I don’t think Jesus’ point was that we stop doing the thing that makes it possible for us to live and move in this world.  His point was—that after we make those instinctive judgments about other people—we love them as those for whom Christ died with his own love that flows through us from his Spirit, believing with his own faithfulness that flows through us from His Spirit that we have set our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of believers.[7]

I did a word study of ἐλθεῖν (a form of ἔρχομαι), translated from coming and to come, not because I thought there was anything mysterious about Paul’s usage of the word in Romans 15:22 and 23, but because I know I’ll want a good grounding in the usage of forms of ἔρχομαι when I come around again to Matthew 23:34-36.  Doing so exposed me to an interesting study in John’s Gospel narrative that I think pertinent here as it relates to judging others.

Jesus spoke to the Ἰουδαῖοι (a form of Ἰουδαῖος), translated Jewish leaders.  I’ll leave it in Greek here because I don’t think being Jewish had anything to do with it beyond the historical fact that they were hardened (Isaiah 6:9-12; Matthew 13:10-17) to the point of being enthralled with what I have called the religious mind.

You study the scriptures thoroughly, Jesus said to those with religious minds, because you think in them you possess eternal life, and it is these same scriptures that testify about me, but you are not willing (θέλετε, a form of θέλω) to come to me so that you may have life.[8]  He continued addressing those with religious minds: No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.  It is written in the prophets,And they will all be taught by God.’  Everyone who hears and learns from the Father comes to me.[9]  Later Jesus explained his teaching to his disciples (John 6:63-65 NET):

The Spirit is the one who gives life; human nature (σὰρξ, a form of σάρξ) is of no help!  The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.  But there are some of you who do not believe…Because of this I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has allowed (δεδομένον, a form of δίδωμι; literally, given) him to come” (KJV: except it were given unto him of my Father).

Then Jesus said (John 7:33-36 NET):

“I will be with you for only a little while longer, and then I am going to the one who sent me.  You will look for me but will not find me, and where I am you cannot come.”

Then the Ἰουδαῖοι said to one another, “Where is he going to go that we cannot find him?  He is not going to go to the Jewish people dispersed among the Greeks and teach the Greeks, is he?  What did he mean by saying, ‘You will look for me but will not find me, and where I am you cannot come’?”

Then Jesus said to them again (John 8:21-24 NET):

“I am going away, and you will look for me but will die in your sin.  Where I am going you cannot come.”  So the Ἰουδαῖοι began to say, “Perhaps he is going to kill himself, because he says, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’”  Jesus replied, “You people are from below; I am from above.  You people are from this world; I am not from this world.  Thus I told you that you will die in your sins.  For unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins.”

When Judas had gone out, Jesus said [to his remaining disciples] (John 13:31-38 NET):

“Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in him.  If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him right away.  Children, I am still with you for a little while.  You will look for me, and just as I said to the Ἰουδαίοις, ‘Where I am going you cannot come,’ now I tell you the same.

“I give you a new commandment – to love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples – if you have love for one another.”

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, but you will follow later.”  Peter said to him, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now?  I will lay down my life for you!”  Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me?  I tell you the solemn truth, the rooster will not crow until you have denied me three times!”

Apart from the Holy Spirit we are no different than the worst of sinners or the hardest of those with religious minds.  For who concedes you any superiority? Paul wrote believers in Corinth.  What do you have that you did not receive?  And if you received it, why do you boast as though you did not?[10]

You were running well, Paul wrote believers in Galatia, who prevented you from obeying the truth?[11]  I was drawn here because ἐνέκοψεν, translated prevented, is a form of ἐγκόπτω like ἐνεκοπτόμην, translated I washindered in Romans 15:22.  It’s not wrong to translate μὴ πείθεσθαι (a form of πείθω; to convince, persuade) from obeying.  Several of the occurrences of forms of πείθω are linked directly to the action that conviction or persuasion produced.

The chief priests and the elders persuaded (ἔπεισαν, another form of πείθω) the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed.[12]  When Pilate asked, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Christ?”  They all said, “Crucify him!”[13]  In Lystra Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and after winning the crowds over (πείσαντες, another form of πείθω), they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city[14] 

Paul went to the Jews in the synagogue [in Thessalonica], as he customarily did, and on three Sabbath days he addressed them from the scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead, saying, “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.”  Some of them were persuaded (ἐπείσθησαν, another form of πείθω) and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large group of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women.[15]

Demetrius, a silversmith in Ephesus, complained that Paul has persuaded (πείσας, another form of πείθω) and turned away a large crowd, not only in Ephesus but in practically all of the province of Asia, by saying that gods made by hands are not gods at all.[16]  A centurion was more convinced (ἐπείθετο, another form of πείθω) by the captain and the ship’s owner than by what Paul said.[17]  So he ignored Paul’s warning that the voyage is going to end in disaster[18] and they weighed anchor and sailed close along the coast of Crete[19] directly into a storm that ran them aground two weeks later.

So while it is not wrong to focus on the obedience aspect of forms of πείθω, it is a bit of misdirection in Galatians 5:7 since obedience was not really at issue.  Believers in Galatia were all too willing to obey the commands of anyone who came along in the name of Christ.  Apparently some had come preaching circumcision.  Listen!  I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you at all![20]  He said this not to the disobedient but the overly obedient.  For the act of circumcision as a body modification was meaningless to Paul vis-à-vis the Gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 7:17-19 NET):

Nevertheless, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each person, so must he live.  I give this sort of direction in all the churches.  Was anyone called after he had been circumcised?  He should not try to undo his circumcision.  Was anyone called who is uncircumcised?  He should not get circumcised.  Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing.  Instead, keeping God’s commandments is what counts.

Paul’s concern was the persuasion (πεισμονὴ, a form of πεισμονή; Galatians 5:8) that led to the obedience of circumcision.  His concern was that the desire for circumcision indicated that the Galatian believers were not persuaded of the truth of the grace of Christ and were, in fact, following a different gospel.[21]  The act of circumcision among Gentile believers signified a different persuasion to Paul, a different faith that the Holy Spirit they had received was incompetent and required the aid of the σαρκὶ (a form of σάρξ), translated human effort (Galatians 3:2b-5 NET):

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 (σαρκὶ, a form of σάρξ; literally, flesh)?  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?

You who are trying to be declared righteous by the law have been alienated from Christ, Paul wrote obedient believers persuaded by an incorrect persuasion, you have fallen away from grace!  For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait expectantly for the hope of righteousness.  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision carries any weight – the only thing that matters is faith working through love.[22]  None of this was written to disobedient people unwilling to obey God’s commands.

The tables I used to write this essay for forms of κωλύω and πείθω follow.  I’ve just become aware of the differences in the Greek between the received text (Stephanus Textus Receptus) and the parallel Greek in the NET.  At those points where the form of the Greek word is different I’ve broken the table to insert the full Greek text of the verse.

Form of κωλύω

Reference KJV

NET

ἐκωλύομεν (εκωλυσαμεν) Mark 9:38 we forbad him, because he followeth not us. we tried to stop him because he was not following us.

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

Ἔφη αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰωάννης· διδάσκαλε, εἴδομεν τινα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι σου ἐκβάλλοντα δαιμόνια καὶ ἐκωλύομεν αὐτόν, ὅτι οὐκ ἠκολούθει ἡμῖν απεκριθη δε αυτω ο ιωαννης λεγων διδασκαλε ειδομεν τινα τω ονοματι σου εκβαλλοντα δαιμονια ος ουκ ακολουθει ημιν και εκωλυσαμεν αυτον οτι ουκ ακολουθει ημιν απεκριθη δε αυτω ο ιωαννης λεγων διδασκαλε ειδομεν τινα τω ονοματι σου εκβαλλοντα δαιμονια ος ουκ ακολουθει ημιν και εκωλυσαμεν αυτον οτι ουκ ακολουθει ημιν

Form of κωλύω

Reference KJV

NET

ἐκωλύομεν (εκωλυσαμεν) Luke 9:49 we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. we tried to stop him because he is not a disciple along with us.

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

Ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ Ἰωάννης εἶπεν· ἐπιστάτα, εἴδομεν τινα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι σου ἐκβάλλοντα δαιμόνια καὶ ἐκωλύομεν αὐτόν, ὅτι οὐκ ἀκολουθεῖ μεθ᾿ ἡμῶν αποκριθεις δε ο ιωαννης ειπεν επιστατα ειδομεν τινα επι τω ονοματι σου εκβαλλοντα τα δαιμονια και εκωλυσαμεν αυτον οτι ουκ ακολουθει μεθ ημων αποκριθεις δε ο ιωαννης ειπεν επιστατα ειδομεν τινα επι τω ονοματι σου εκβαλλοντα δαιμονια και εκωλυσαμεν αυτον οτι ουκ ακολουθει μεθ ημων

Form of κωλύω

Reference KJV

NET

ἐκωλύσατε Luke 11:52 …them that were entering in ye hindered. you hindered those who were going in.
ἐκώλυσεν Acts 27:43 kept them from their purpose… prevented them from carrying out their plan.
2 Peter 2:16 forbad the madness of the prophet. restrained the prophet’s madness…
ἐκωλύθην Romans 1:13 …but was let hitherto… …and was prevented until now…
κωλύει Acts 8:36 …what doth hinder me to be baptized? What is to stop me from being baptized?
3 John 1:10 …and forbiddeth them that would… …but hinders the people who want to do so…
κωλύειν Acts 24:23 …and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister… …and not to prevent any of his friends from meeting his needs.
κωλύεσθαι Hebrews 7:23 …because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: …because death prevented them from continuing in office…
κωλύετε Matthew 19:14 …and forbid them not… …and do not try to stop them…
Mark 9:39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: But Jesus said, “Do not stop him…
Mark 10:14 and forbid them not: and do not try to stop them…
Luke 9:50 And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him…
Luke 18:16 …and forbid them not: …and do not try to stop them…
1 Corinthians 14:39 …and forbid not to speak with tongues. …and do not forbid anyone from speaking in tongues.
κωλύοντα Luke 23:2 …and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar… forbidding us to pay the tribute tax to Caesar…
κωλυόντων 1 Thessalonians 2:16 Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles… because they hinder us from speaking to the Gentiles…
1 Timothy 4:3 Forbidding to marry… They will prohibit marriage…
κωλῦσαι Acts 10:47 Can any man forbid water… No one can withhold the water…
Acts 11:17 …what was I, that I could withstand God? …who was I to hinder God?
κωλύσῃς Luke 6:29 forbid not to take thy coat also. do not withhold your tunic either.
κωλυθέντες Acts 16:6 and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost… having been prevented by the Holy Spirit…

 

Form of πείθω Reference KJV

NET

ἔπεισαν Matthew 27:20 …chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask… …chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas…
ἐπείσθησαν Acts 5:40 (39) And to him they agreed [verse 39] He convinced them…
Acts 17:4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas… Some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas…
ἔπειθεν Acts 18:4 and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. attempting to persuade them.
ἐπείθετο Acts 27:11 Nevertheless the centurion believed the master… But the centurion was more convinced by the captain…
ἔπειθον Acts 13:43 persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. and were persuading them to continue in the grace of God.
ἐπείθοντο Acts 5:36 …as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. …all who followed him were dispersed and nothing came of it.
Acts 5:37 …even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. …and all who followed him were scattered.
Acts 28:24 And some believed the things which were spoken… Some were convinced by what he said…
ἐπεποίθει Luke 11:22 …he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted …he takes away the first man’s armor on which the man relied
πείσαντες Acts 12:20 …having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend And after convincing Blastus, the king’s personal assistant…
Acts 14:19 …who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out… …and after winning the crowds over, they stoned Paul and dragged him out…
πείσας Acts 19:26 …Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people… …Paul has persuaded and turned away a large crowd…
πείσομεν Matthew 28:14 …we will persuade him, and secure you. …we will satisfy him and keep you out…
1 John 3:19 …and shall assure our hearts before him. …and will convince our conscience in his…
πεισθῇς Acts 23:21 But do not thou yield unto them: So do not let them persuade you to do…
πεισθήσονται Luke 16:31 If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. If they do not respond to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.
πείθεις Acts 26:28 Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. are you persuading me to become a Christian?
πείθεσθαι Galatians 5:7 …who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? …who prevented you from obeying the truth?
James 3:3 …put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us… …put bits into the mouths of horses to get them to obey us…
Πείθεσθε Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you… Obey your leaders and submit to them…
πείθω Galatians 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Am I now trying to gain the approval of people, or of God?
πείθων Acts 19:8 …disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. …addressing and convincing them about the kingdom of God.
Acts 28:23 persuading them concerning Jesus… and trying to convince them about Jesus…
πείθομαι Acts 26:26 …for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him… …because I cannot believe that any of these things has escaped his notice…
πείθομεν 2 Corinthians 5:11 we persuade men… we try to persuade people…
πειθομένοις Romans 2:8 …and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness… …do not obey the truth but follow unrighteousness.
πειθομένου Acts 21:14 And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased… Because he could not be persuaded, we said no more…
πειθόμεθα (πεποιθαμεν) Hebrews 13:18 …for we trust we have a good conscience… …for we are sure that we have a clear conscience…

NET Parallel Greek

Stephanus Textus Receptus

Byzantine Majority Text

Προσεύχεσθε περὶ ἡμῶν· πειθόμεθα γὰρ ὅτι καλὴν συνείδησιν ἔχομεν, ἐν πᾶσιν καλῶς θέλοντες ἀναστρέφεσθαι προσευχεσθε περι ημων πεποιθαμεν γαρ οτι καλην συνειδησιν εχομεν εν πασιν καλως θελοντες αναστρεφεσθαι προσευχεσθε περι ημων πεποιθαμεν γαρ οτι καλην συνειδησιν εχομεν εν πασιν καλως θελοντες αναστρεφεσθαι

Form of πείθω

Reference KJV

NET

πέπεισμαι Romans 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life… For I am convinced that neither death, nor life…
Romans 14:14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus… I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus…
Romans 15:14 And I myself also am persuaded of you… But I myself am fully convinced about you…
2 Timothy 1:5 …and I am persuaded that in thee also. …and I am sure is in you.
2 Timothy 1:12 …and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him… …and I am convinced that he is able to protect what has been entrusted to me…
πεπεισμένος Luke 20:6 …for they be persuaded that John was a prophet. they are convinced that John was a prophet.
Πεπείσμεθα Hebrews 6:9 we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation… we are convinced of better things relating to salvation.
πέποιθα Galatians 5:10 I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded… I am confident in the Lord that you will accept no other view.
Philippians 2:24 I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly. I am confident in the Lord that I too will be coming to see you soon.
πεποίθαμεν 2 Thessalonians 3:4 And we have confidence in the Lord touching you… And we are confident about you in the Lord…
πέποιθας Romans 2:19 And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind… if you are convinced that you yourself are a guide to the blind…
πέποιθεν Matthew 27:43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: He trusts in God – let God, if he wants to, deliver him now
2 Corinthians 10:7 If any man trust to himself that he is Christ’s… If anyone is confident that he belongs to Christ…
πεποιθέναι Philippians 3:4 …thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh… …thinks he has good reasons to put confidence in human credentials…
πεποιθὼς 2 Corinthians 2:3 having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all. since I am confident in you all that my joy would be yours.
Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing… For I am sure of this very thing…
Philippians 1:25 And having this confidence And since I am sure of this…
Philemon 1:21 Having confidence in thy obedience… Since I was confident that you would obey…
Hebrews 2:13 …I will put my trust in him. …I will be confident in him…
πεποιθοτας Mark 10:24 …how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter… omitted
Luke 18:9 …unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous… …to some who were confident that they were righteous…
Philippians 1:14 …in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds… having confidence in the Lord because of my imprisonment…
πεποιθότες 2 Corinthians 1:9 …that we should not trust in ourselves… …so that we would not trust in ourselves…
Philippians 3:3 …and have no confidence in the flesh. …and do not rely on human credentials…

 

[1] Romans 15:22 (NET)

[2] Romans 15:20, 21 (NET)

[3] Kenneth Berding, “Paul’s Fourth Missionary Journey (And I Don’t Mean His Trip to Rome),” The Good Book Blog

[4] Romans 15:23, 24 (NET)

[5] Jeremiah 31:34b (Tanakh)

[6] Luke 6:37 (NET)

[7] 1 Timothy 4:10b (NET)

[8] John 5:39, 40 (NET)

[9] John 6:44, 45 (NET)

[10] 1 Corinthians 4:7 (NET)

[11] Galatians 5:7 (NET)

[12] Matthew 27:20 (NET)

[13] Matthew 27:22 (NET)

[14] Acts 14:19 (NET)

[15] Acts 17:2-4 (NET)

[16] Acts 19:26 (NET)

[17] Acts 27:11 (NET)

[18] Acts 27:10a (NET)

[19] Acts 27:13b (NET)

[20] Galatians 5:2 (NET)

[21] Galatians 1:6 (NET)

[22] Galatians 5:4-6 (NET)

Who Am I? Part 7

In another essay I presented his Jewish and Roman trials as a kind of ultimate tempting of the flesh of Adam and an ultimate proving of the Holy Spirit which descendedin bodily form like a dove[1] upon Jesus the Christ or Messiah.  I characterized those trials as a time “when sinners, Jerusalem, the whole world, perhaps even the created cosmos were in extreme danger of falling into the hands of an angry God.”  I want to continue with his crucifixion.

Nail me to a cross and I’m stuck there but Jesus said (John 10:17, 18 NET):

This is why the Father loves me – because I lay down my life, so that I may take it back again.  No one takes it away from me, but I lay it down of my own free will.[2]  I have the authority to lay it down, and I have the authority to take it back again.  This commandment I received from my Father.

It says to me that at any moment throughout his ordeal of ultimate humiliation Jesus, yehôvâh in the flesh of Adam,[3] could have decided that enough was enough, sat down at the right hand of his Father in heaven and been none the worse for wear—personally.

As they led him away, Luke recorded in his Gospel narrative, they seized Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country.  They placed the cross on his back and made him carry it behind Jesus.[4]  Matthew and Mark recorded the same incident.  I might have assumed that He was too holy to carry his own cross except that John recalled Jesus carrying his own cross (John 19:16, 17 NET).  Apparently the One who said, If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me,[5] was too weak to carry his all the way to his crucifixion.

Two other (ἕτεροι, a form of ἕτερος) criminals (κακοῦργοι, a form of κακοῦργος) were also led away to be executed with him.[6]  Isaiah had prophesied, he was numbered with the transgressors,[7] though he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.[8]  But with the words ἕτεροι κακοῦργοι δύο Luke captured (See: ἕτεροι; Luke 11:15, 16) the social reality of Jesus as one of three criminals condemned to death by the duly authorized governor of Judea.  His punishment was neither cruel nor unusual under the prevailing standards of their socially constructed reality.

A great number of the people followed him (Luke 23:27-31 NET):

among them women who were mourning and wailing for him.  But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.  For this is certain: The days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore children, and the breasts that never nursed!’  Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’  For if such things are done when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”) and offered Jesus wine mixed with gall to drink.  But after tasting it, he would not drink it.[9]  There they crucified him along with two others, one on each side, with Jesus in the middle.[10]  But Jesus said, “Father, forgive (ἄφες, a form of ἀφίημι) them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”[11]

Jesus, naked[12] on the cross, looked down as the soldiers who crucified Him took his clothes and made four shares, one for each soldier, and the tunic remained. (Now the tunic was seamless, woven from top to bottom as a single piece.)  So the soldiers said to one another, “Let’s not tear it, but throw dice to see who will get it.”  This took place to fulfill the scripture that says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they threw dice.”  So the soldiers did these things.[13]  David (1 Samuel 16:1 – 1 Kings 2:11) had prophesied, they look and stare upon me.  They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.[14]

Then they sat down and kept guard over him there.[15]  It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him.[16]  That would be the second morning since the night of his arrest with little or no sleep for Jesus.  The people also stood there watching, but the rulers ridiculed him, saying, “He saved others.  Let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, his chosen one!”  The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!”[17]

Pilate also had a notice written and fastened to the cross, which read: “Jesus the Nazarene, the king of the Jews.”[18]  Thus many of the Jewish residents of Jerusalem read this notice, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the notice was written in Aramaic (Ἑβραϊστί; literally, in Hebrew; NET note 67), Latin, and Greek.  Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The king of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am king of the Jews.’”  Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”[19]

Those who passed by defamed him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha!  You who can destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself and come down from the cross!”  In the same way even the chief priests – together with the experts in the law – were mocking him among themselves: “He saved others, but he cannot save himself!  Let the Christ, the king of Israel, come down from the cross now, that we may see and believe!”[20]  He trusts in God – let God, if he wants to, deliver him now because he said, ‘I am God’s Son’!”  The robbers who were crucified with him also spoke abusively to him.[21]  One of the criminals who was hanging there railed at him, saying, “Aren’t you the Christ?  Save yourself and us!”[22]

This is the point in the story where I wished Jesus would come down from the cross as more than twelve legions of angels came screaming out of the sky to the tune of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries to kill everyone who mocked Him.  Actually it is the ideal of the Sicarii—walking up to an “enemy” (anyone who disagrees with my “truth”) plunging a long knife into him several times and melting away again into the crowd—that appeals to the sin in my flesh more than the straight-up warfare of the Zealots.  Cowardice prevented me from ever actualizing the murderous intentions of my heart.  And until the moment that sentence formed in my mind I hadn’t thanked God for that fear.  All this may help explain why years of imitating the Pharisees felt like a step toward godliness to me.

But the other [criminal] rebuked him [the former criminal], saying, “Don’t you fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?  And we rightly so, for we are getting what we deserve for what we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.”  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom.”  And Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise”[23] as a door of hope opened (Hosea 2:14-17 Tanakh).

Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.  And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.  And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD (yehôvâh, יהוה), that thou shalt call me Ishi (ʼı̂ysh, אישי); and shalt call me no more Baali (baʽălı̂y, בעלי).  For I will take away the names of Baalim (baʽal, הבעלים) out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name.

As confessions go, And we rightly so, for we are getting what we deserve for what we did is nothing compared to Achan’s confession (Joshua 7:19-25 Tanakh)

And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me.

And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.

So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it.

And they took them out of the midst of the tent, and brought them unto Joshua, and unto all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the LORD.

And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor.

And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day.  And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.

I wonder now whether Achan and his sons and his daughters, after suffering the punishment of criminals, face an implacable Judge or a merciful Savior, not because of the merits of Achan’s confession but because of the merits of that Savior: But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.[24]

Now standing beside Jesus’ cross were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  So when Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing there, he said to his mother, “Woman, look, here is your son!”  He then said to his disciple, “Look, here is your mother!”  From that very time the disciple took her into his own home.[25]

Now from noon until three, darkness came over all the land.  At about three o’clock Jesus shouted with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”[26] that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”[27]  After six hours on the cross Jesus lamented his loneliness even as He affirmed his confidence in the Scripture, written for his comfort (Psalm 22:6-18) for the very moment He prayed it (Psalm 22:1, 23, 24 Tanakh):

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.  For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.

When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.”  Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink.  But the rest said, “Leave him alone!  Let’s see if Elijah will come to save him.”[28]  After this Jesus, realizing that by this time everything was completed, said (in order to fulfill the scripture [Psalm 22:15]), “I am thirsty!”  A jar full of sour wine was there, so they put a sponge soaked in sour wine on a branch of hyssop and lifted it to his mouth.  When he had received the sour wine, Jesus said, “It is completed!”[29]  David had already spoken for Jesus’ failing breath (Psalm 22:25-31 Tanakh):

My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.  The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.  All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.   For the kingdom is the LORD’s: and he is the governor among the nations.  All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.  A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.

The temple curtain was torn in two.  Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”  And after he said this he breathed his last.[30]  The earth shook and the rocks were split apart.  And tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had died were raised.  (They came out of the tombs after his resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.)[31]

Now when the centurion, who stood in front of him, saw how he died, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”[32]  And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts.[33] 

Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me? Jesus asked.  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.[34]  And in the letter to the Hebrews we are encouraged: Think of him who endured such opposition against himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up.[35]  I tell you the solemn truth, Jesus promised, the person who believes in me will perform the miraculous deeds that I am doing, and will perform greater deeds than these, because I am going to the Father.[36]  For, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.[37]

The Gospel harmony I made to write this essay follows.

The Crucifixion

Matthew Mark Luke

John

So they took Jesus, and carrying his own cross…

 John 19:16b, 17a

As they were going out, they found a man from Cyrene named Simon, whom they forced to carry his cross.

Matthew 27:32

The soldiers forced a passerby to carry his cross, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country…

Mark 15:21a

As they led him away, they seized Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country.  They placed the cross on his back and made him carry it behind Jesus.

Luke 23:26

(he was the father of Alexander and Rufus).

Mark 15:21b

A great number of the people followed him, among them women who were mourning and wailing for him.  But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.  For this is certain: The days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore children, and the breasts that never nursed!’  Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’  For if such things are done when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Luke 23:27-31

Two other criminals were also led away to be executed with him.

Luke 23:32

They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”)…

Matthew 27:33

They brought Jesus to a place called Golgotha (which is translated, “Place of the Skull”).

Mark 15:22

So when they came to the place that is called “The Skull” …

Luke 23:33a

…he went out to the place called “The Place of the Skull” (called in Aramaic Golgotha).

John 19:17b

…and offered Jesus wine mixed with gall to drink.  But after tasting it, he would not drink it.

Matthew 27:34

They offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.

Mark 15:23

When they had crucified him…

Matthew 27:35a

Then they crucified him…

Mark 15:24a

…they crucified him there…

Luke 23:33b

There they crucified him…

John 19:18a

…along with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.

Luke 23:33c

…along with two others, one on each side, with Jesus in the middle.

John 19:18b

[But Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”]

Luke 23:34a

…they divided his clothes by throwing dice.

Matthew 27:35b

…and divided his clothes, throwing dice for them, to decide what each would take.

Mark 15:24b

Then they threw dice to divide his clothes.

Luke 23:34b

Then they sat down and kept guard over him there.

Matthew 27:36

It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him.

Mark 15:25

The people also stood there watching, but the rulers ridiculed him, saying, “He saved others.  Let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, his chosen one!”  The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!”

Luke 23:35-37

Above his head they put the charge against him, which read: “This is Jesus, the king of the Jews.”

Matthew 27:37

The inscription of the charge against him read, “The king of the Jews.”

Mark 15:26

There was also an inscription over him, “This is the king of the Jews.”

Luke 23:38

Pilate also had a notice written and fastened to the cross, which read: “Jesus the Nazarene, the king of the Jews.”

John 19:19

Thus many of the Jewish residents of Jerusalem read this notice, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the notice was written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The king of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am king of the Jews.’”  Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

John 19:20-22

Now when the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and made four shares, one for each soldier, and the tunic remained. (Now the tunic was seamless, woven from top to bottom as a single piece.)  So the soldiers said to one another, “Let’s not tear it, but throw dice to see who will get it.” This took place to fulfill the scripture that says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they threw dice.”  So the soldiers did these things.

John 19:23, 24

Then two outlaws were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.  Those who passed by defamed him, shaking their heads  and saying, “You who can destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself!  If you are God’s Son, come down from the cross!”  In the same way even the chief priests – together with the experts in the law and elders – were mocking him: “He saved others, but he cannot save himself!  He is the king of Israel!  If he comes down now from the cross, we will believe in him!

Matthew 27:38-42

And they crucified two outlaws with him, one on his right and one on his left.  Those who passed by defamed him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who can destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself and come down from the cross!”  In the same way even the chief priests – together with the experts in the law – were mocking him among themselves: “He saved others, but he cannot save himself!  Let the Christ, the king of Israel, come down from the cross now, that we may see and believe!”

Mark 15:27-32a

He trusts in God – let God, if he wants to, deliver him now because he said, ‘I am God’s Son’!”

Matthew 27:43

The robbers who were crucified with him also spoke abusively to him.

Matthew 27:44

Those who were crucified with him also spoke abusively to him.

Mark 15:32b

One of the criminals who was hanging there railed at him, saying, “Aren’t you the Christ?  Save yourself and us!”  But the other rebuked him, saying, “Don’t you fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?  And we rightly so, for we are getting what we deserve for what we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.”  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom.”  And Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Luke 23:39-43

Now standing beside Jesus’ cross were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  So when Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing there, he said to his mother, “Woman, look, here is your son!”  He then said to his disciple, “Look, here is your mother!”  From that very time the disciple took her into his own home.

John 19:25-27

Now from noon until three, darkness came over all the land.

Matthew 27:45

Now when it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.

Mark 15:33

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, because the sun’s light failed.

Luke 23:44, 45a

At about three o’clock Jesus shouted with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.”  Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink.  But the rest said, “Leave him alone!  Let’s see if Elijah will come to save him.”

Matthew 27:46-49

Around three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  When some of the bystanders heard it they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah!”  Then someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Leave him alone!  Let’s see if Elijah will come to take him down!”

Mark 15:34-36

After this Jesus, realizing that by this time everything was completed, said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty!”  A jar full of sour wine was there, so they put a sponge soaked in sour wine on a branch of hyssop and lifted it to his mouth.  When he had received the sour wine, Jesus said, “It is completed!”

John 19:28-30a

Then Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and gave up his spirit.  Just then the temple curtain was torn in two, from top to bottom.

Matthew 27:50, 51a

But Jesus cried out with a loud voice and breathed his last.  And the temple curtain was torn in two, from top to bottom.

Mark 15:37, 38

The temple curtain was torn in two.  Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”  And after he said this he breathed his last.

Luke 23:45, 46

 

 

Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:30b

The earth shook and the rocks were split apart.  And tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had died were raised.  (They came out of the tombs after his resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.)

Matthew 27:51b-53

Now when the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and what took place, they were extremely terrified and said, “Truly this one was God’s Son!”

Matthew 27:54

Now when the centurion, who stood in front of him, saw how he died, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”

Mark 15:39

Now when the centurion saw what had happened, he praised God and said, “Certainly this man was innocent!”

Luke 23:47

And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts.

Luke 23:48

Many women who had followed Jesus from Galilee and given him support were also there, watching from a distance.

Matthew 27:55

There were also women, watching from a distance.

Mark 15:40a

And all those who knew Jesus stood at a distance, and the women who had followed him from Galilee saw these things.

Luke 23:49

Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

Matthew 27:56

Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome.  When he was in Galilee, they had followed him and given him support.  Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were there too.

Mark 15:40b, 41

 

[1] Luke 3:22a (NET)

[2] The words free will were added by the translators to the Greek word ἐμαυτοῦ translated my own.

[3] Romans, Part 55; My Reasons and My Reason, Part 5; Romans, Part 38; Fear – Genesis, Part 6; Who Am I? Part 2

[4] Luke 23:26 (NET)

[5] Matthew 16:24 (NET)

[6] Luke 23:32 (NET)

[7] Isaiah 53:12b (Tanakh)

[8] Isaiah 53:9b (Tanakh)

[9] Matthew 27:33, 34 (NET)  David Mathis offers the following explanation in his blog post “The Wine Jesus Drank” on desiringGod.

[10] John 19:18 (NET)

[11] Luke 23:34a (NET)

[12] Stephen Ray, “Was Jesus Crucified Naked?,” Defender’s of the Catholic Faith

[13] John 19:23, 24 (NET)

[14] Psalm 22:17b, 18 (Tanakh)

[15] Matthew 27:36 (NET)

[16] Mark 15:25 (NET)

[17] Luke 23:35-37 (NET)

[18] Though it differs slightly from the synoptic Gospels I’m going with John’s account because he, the disciple whom [Jesus] loved, was actually there (John 19:25-27) near enough to read it.

[19] John 19:19-22 (NET)

[20] Mark 15:29-32a (NET)

[21] Matthew 27:43, 44 (NET)

[22] Luke 23:39 (NET)

[23] Luke 23:40-43 (NET)

[24] 1 John 1:9 (NET)

[25] John 19:25-27 (NET)

[26] I had thought and written that this was Aramaic.  E. A. Knapp in his article “Did the Messiah Speak Aramaic or Hebrew? (part 2)” on Torah Class online disputes that.

[27] Matthew 27:45, 46 (NET)

[28] Matthew 27:47-49 (NET)

[29] John 19:28-30a (NET)

[30] Luke 23:45b, 46 (NET)

[31] Matthew 27:51b-53 (NET)

[32] Mark 15:39 (NET)

[33] Luke 23:48 (NET)

[34] John 14:10 (NET)

[35] Hebrews 12:3 (NET)

[36] John 14:12 (NET)

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

Father, Forgive Them – Part 1

Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing,[1] Jesus prayed from the cross.  It isn’t found in some early manuscripts so it’s in single brackets in the NET (note 81) translation.  I don’t intend to argue the Is it really true that God said[2] aspect here.  I’m more interested in what He meant when He said it since less than forty years later Roman armies quashed a Jewish revolt.  The death toll was staggering and the temple in Jerusalem was completely destroyed.

“Israel’s sins were responsible for the” destruction of the temple Rabbi Irving Greenberg wrote.  “But what were the sins?  Interestingly, the Rabbis focused on Jewish divisiveness.  Unjustified hatred among the people had invited the tragedy…”[3]  Eliezer Cohen, an editor of The Jewish Magazine online, called it punishment:[4]

The calamity of two thousand years in the exile requires understanding…the sages…told us that the first Temple was destroyed because of three things: sexual immorality, widespread murder and idolatry.  The second Temple was destroyed because of one reason: baseless hatred (sinat chinam).

Sexual immorality, murder and idolatry are three grave sins for which a person is obliged to give his life rather than transgress.  Baseless hatred is not considered such a severe sin.  For the sin of sexual immorality, murder and idolatry the Jews had their Temple destroyed and were exiled for a period of only seventy years.  After this period, they came back to their land and rebuilt the second Temple which stood another 400 plus years.

Yet for the comparatively minor sin of baseless hatred the second Temple was destroyed and we were exiled for almost two thousand years!  The punishment seems out of proportion to the crime!!

Though his reasons were different the church historian Eusebius, writing about the destruction of the temple under the Roman emperor Vespasian, seemed to describe it as divine punishment:[5]

For the Jews after the ascension of our Saviour, in addition to their crime against him, had been devising as many plots as they could against his apostles.  First Stephen was stoned to death by them, and after him James, the son of Zebedee and the brother of John, was beheaded, and finally James, the first that had obtained the episcopal seat in Jerusalem after the ascension of our Saviour, died in the manner already described.

John Chrysostom called it grievous wrath and punishment:[6]

‘I ask the Jews, whence came upon them so grievous wrath from heaven more woeful than all that had come upon them before?  Plainly it was because of the desperate crime and the denial of the Cross.  But He shews that they deserved still heavier punishment than they received, when He adds, “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved;” that is, If the siege by the Romans should be continued longer, all the Jews would perish; for by “all flesh,” He means all the Jewish nation…”

“This early Christian understanding that the Jewish people were being punished for their rejection of Christ may seem very harsh today,” Robin A. Brace explained:[7]

but we must understand that this was a widespread view for many hundreds of years.  Only now, in an age of ‘political correctness,’ ‘liberal values,’ and a concern for ‘human rights,’ has it become unfashionable to express such a view.  Yet let there be no doubt that when the people of Judea demanded that Barabbas the robber should be released and that Jesus should be condemned, those people apparently accepted a curse upon themselves and upon their children for their rejection of Jesus.  Scripture itself states,

Mat 27:25: ‘Then all the people answered and said, Let His blood be on us and on our children.’

The end of the second temple era “was an era of great political upheaval internally, with an ongoing struggle for supremacy amongst different groups of Jews:”[8]

  1. The Pharisees were the led by the rabbis and Sanhedrin…they were careful to maintain ritual purity, and separated themselves from those who did not strictly observe these laws.
  2. The Sadducees rejected the Oral Torah and the leadership of the rabbis…Those who wanted to befriend the Romans were mostly Sadducees.
  3. The Zealots were passionate nationalists who broke away from the Pharisees because they wanted to fight the Romans at all costs, while the Pharisees hesitated.
  4. The Sicarii were against any form of government altogether. “Sicarii” literally means “dagger-men.”  They resorted to stealth and terrorism to achieve their objectives.  They would carry small daggers under their cloaks and stab their enemies – Romans or Roman sympathizers, often wealthy Jews and elites associated with the priesthood – and then blend into the crowd.

“By 66 CE, the Jews in many of the coastal cities were treated as despised outsiders:”[9]

On one day in Jerusalem, 3,600 Jews were killed by Roman troops who had been sent in to quell the riots. Florus hoped the Jews of Jerusalem would try to avenge the slaughter so he could justify the mass killing of the Jewish population, loot their possessions, and seize the Holy Temple.  Instead, the Jews organized a march seeking to make peace with the governor.  The Roman soldiers, lusting for blood, charged into the crowd of marchers, killing many Jews, and continued on to the Temple Mount.  Many Jews had gathered in there to block the entrances.  They were successful, and the Roman soldiers retreated.

But now the Jews began revolting against the Romans throughout the land.  In ever-increasing numbers they joined the movement of the Zealots who were openly preparing for warfare against the Romans.

“The story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza was the pivotal event that ignited Nero’s rage and caused the destruction of the Holy Temple:”[10]

A Jew who had a friend named Kamtza and an enemy named Bar Kamtza made a feast.  He told his servant to invite Kamtza, but by mistake the servant invited Bar Kamtza …when the host noticed Bar Kamtza, he demanded that he leave…Bar Kamtza was embarrassed…“I am willing to pay the full cost of the feast, but do not embarrass me any more…”  The host had Bar Kamtza dragged from the feast and thrown into the streets…Bar Kamtza went to Emperor Nero and told him that the Jews were planning a rebellion against him.

“Vespasian’s troops brutally conquered the north of Israel, eradicating all resistance:”[11]

Meanwhile, the Jewish factions – now increasingly concentrated in Jerusalem – moved beyond power struggles into open civil war.  While Vespasian merely watched from a distance, various factions of Zealots and Sicarii fought each other bitterly, even those that had common goals.  They killed those advocating surrender.  Thousands of Jews died at the hands of other Jews in just a few years.

Long before, the residents of Jerusalem had stored provisions in case of a Roman siege.  Three wealthy men had donated huge storehouses of flour, oil, and wood—enough supplies to survive a siege of 21 years.

The Zealots, however, wanted all-out war.  They were unhappy with the attitude of the Sages, who proposed sending a peace delegation to the Romans.  In order to bring things to a head and force their fellow Jews to fight, groups of militia set fire to the city’s food stores, condemning its population to starvation.  They also imposed an internal siege on Jerusalem, not letting their fellow Jews in or out…

In 69 CE, Vespasian returned to Rome to serve as emperor, but first he appointed his son, Titus, to carry on in his stead.  In 70 CE, Titus came towards Jerusalem with an army of 80,000 soldiers.

“In honor of Passover, many Jews from all over Judea risked their lives to make their pilgrimage to Jerusalem, arriving just ahead of the swiftly-approaching Roman army:”[12]

When they arrived, they found a city divided among warring factions, even as the Romans were in sight.

An unlikely alliance of Pharisees and Sadducees – both of whom did not want to engage the Romans in war – held control of large swathes of the city.  The Sicarii, led by Simon ben Giora, held much of the Upper City and parts of the Lower City.  The Zealots, divided amongst themselves, controlled the Temple area: A moderate faction, led by Eleazar ben Simon, camped in the Temple complex itself while the extreme Zealots, led by Yochanan of Gush Chalav, camped on the Temple Mount—in between the moderate Zealots and the Sadducees.

The moderate Zealots generously opened the gates of the Temple so the Jews could come in and offer their Paschal sacrifices.  But the extremists, pretending to be Jews coming to offer sacrifices, also entered.  Once inside, they took out their swords and began to kill moderates as well as visiting Jews.

“On the day after Passover, Titus started engaging in active warfare.  Now, finally, all the factions in Jerusalem had no choice but to work together and fight their common enemy.”[13]  “When Titus saw he could not conquer them by force, he decided to starve the Jews into submission:”[14]

A terrible hunger now ravaged the overcrowded city.  Soon the last stores of food dwindled down.  Rich people gave all their wealth for a bit of food.  Even leather was cooked and eaten.  At first the Zealots had not been affected by hunger because they took other people’s food, but eventually they too became desperately hungry, eating their horses and even their horses’ dung and saddles.

In Josephus’s account (The Jewish Wars, 5:10): “The roofs were filled with women and small children expiring from hunger, and the corpses of old men were piled in the streets.  Youths swollen with hunger wandered like shadows in the marketplace until they collapsed.  No one mourned the dead, because hunger had deadened all feeling…”

The streets were soon filled with corpses, and, as it was hot summer weather, terrible epidemics broke out. Hundreds of people were found dead every morning.  In their despair, many of the Jews tried to leave the enclosure of Jerusalem under the cover of night to seek something edible in the fields.  They were easily captured, and Titus had them crucified in plain view of the city’s defenders on the wall.  In one night, Josephus tells us, five thousand Jews were discovered searching for food and were all crucified.

“Knowing the dire situation in the Jewish camp, Titus sent his spokesman, Josephus, to convince the Jews to surrender.  The Jewish warriors turned deaf ears to his words and ejected him contemptuously from their presence.  The battle now raged in the Temple area.”[15]  “According to Josephus, Titus did not want the Temple to be burnt, apparently because a standing (but vanquished) Temple would reflect more on Rome’s glory:”[16]

It was a Roman soldier acting on his own initiative who, hoisted on the shoulders of another soldier, threw a firebrand into the Temple.  Titus tried to put a stop to the fire, but in the chaos, his soldiers did not hear him.  (Other historians contradict this account of Titus’s enlightened perspective and report that Titus ordered the Temple destroyed.)

In either case, before long, the Temple was engulfed in flames.  The Jews frantically tried to stop the fire, but were unsuccessful.  In despair, many Jews threw themselves into the flames.  The Roman soldiers rushed into the melee.  Romans and Jews were crowded together, and their dead bodies fell on top of each other.

Josephus recalled the carnage:[17]

Crowded together around the entrances, many were trampled down by their companions; others, stumbling on the smoldering and smoked-filled ruins of the porticoes, died as miserably as the defeated.  As they drew closer to the Temple, they pretended not even to hear Caesar’s orders, but urged the men in front to throw in more firebrands.  The rebels were powerless to help; carnage and flight spread throughout.

Most of the slain were peaceful citizens, weak and unarmed, and they were butchered where they were caught.  The heap of corpses mounted higher and higher about the altar; a stream of blood flowed down the Temple’s steps, and the bodies of those slain at the top slipped to the bottom…

While the Temple was ablaze, the attackers plundered it, and countless people who were caught by them were slaughtered.  There was no pity for age and no regard was accorded rank; children and old men, laymen and priests, alike were butchered; every class was pursued and crushed in the grip of war, whether they cried out for mercy or offered resistance.

Through the roar of the flames streaming far and wide, the groans of the falling victims were heard; such was the height of the hill and the magnitude of the blazing pile that the entire city seemed to be ablaze; and the noise – nothing more deafening and frightening could be imagined.

There were the war cries of the Roman legions as they swept onwards en masse, the yells of the rebels encircled by fire and sword, the panic of the people who, cut off above, fled into the arms of the enemy, and their shrieks as they met their fate.  The cries on the hill blended with those of the multitudes in the city below; and now many people who were exhausted and tongue-tied as a result of hunger, when they beheld the Temple on fire, found strength once more to lament and wail.  Peraea and the surrounding hills, added their echoes to the deafening din.  But more horrifying than the din were the sufferings.

The Temple Mount, everywhere enveloped in flames, seemed to be boiling over from its base; yet the blood seemed more abundant than the flames and the numbers of the slain greater than those of the slayers.  The soldiers climbed over heaps of bodies as they chased the fugitives.

It’s a horrifying story.  But is it knowledge of God, how He treats people who are dearly loved (ἀγαπητοὶ, a form of ἀγαπητός)?  I thought so and became an atheist when God didn’t measure up to my expectations.  But now I think it’s the religious mind that seeks out guilt to assign blame: Rabbi, who committed the sin that caused him to be born blind, this man or his parents?[18]  “They deserved it,” mitigates the horror a bit.  But I can no longer conscience standing before the judgment seat of Christ with this story as proof of how God treats people.

If anything, this story describes how sin treats people.  It is not a story (Galatians 5:13-26) of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe.[19]

Back to Who Am I? Part 7

[1] Luke 23:34a (NET)

[2] Genesis 3:1b (NET)

[3] Rabbi Irving Greenberg, “Destruction As Punishment,” myjewishlearning.com

[4] Eliezer Cohen, “Baseless Hatred and the Destruction of the Temple,” The Jewish Magazine

[5] Quoted from: Robin A. Brace, “Jerusalem, AD70: The Worst Desolation Ever?,” ukapologetics.net

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8]The Factions of the Second Temple Era,”  Chabad.org

[9]Revolt against Rome,” Chabad.org

[10]The Story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza,” Chabad.org

[11]Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai’s Request,” Chabad.org

[12]The Last Passover,” Chabad.org

[13]Battle,” Chabad.org

[14]Starvation,” Chabad.org

[15]The Seventeenth of Tammuz,” Chabad.org

[16]The Destruction of the Temple,” Chabad.org

[17]The Romans Destroy the Temple at Jerusalem, 70 AD,” eyewitnesstohistory.com

[18] John 9:2 (NET)

[19] Romans 3:22 (NET)

My Deeds, Part 1

In another essay I contrasted 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 and Revelation 2:26-29.  I’ve wanted to return to the latter for a while.  Here is a table representing my unstudied view of the relationship of its clauses in English.

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.

To begin I’ll consider 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.  But first I’ll look into 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 and his shameful condition be seen.[1]  It means to keep, not to lose or discardHe who has My commandments and keeps (τηρῶν, a form of τηρέω) them, Jesus said, is the one who loves Me.[2]

In another essay I described shacking-up “with my girlfriend du jour” as a time when “I began to walk in the grace of Christ’s salvation.”  Of course, I shacked up with my girlfriend because I was trying to believe that Christ put an “end” to the law and all things were “lawful” for me.  In other words, I was attempting to lose or discard Jesus’ commandments (ignoring for the moment that the main “commandment” at issue in my mind was the suspect “sin of premarital sex”).

Jesus wasn’t perplexed by my conundrum.  Suddenly I was filled with desire to write a rock opera about Him.  I became immersed in the words of the four Gospel narratives.  Among those words was: He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me.  Though I read the word keeps, I heard the word obeys.  I thought keeps meant obeys at that time: The person who has my commandments and obeys (τηρῶν, a form of τηρέω) them is the one who loves me.[3]

So when I married my roommate, though I had certainly fallen away from grace since I was trying to be declared righteous by the law,[4] I was done for the moment with my attempt to lose or discard Jesus’ commandments.  I can’t say I was obeying them.  Obedience apart from grace is hypocrisy, an actor playing at righteousness.

The Circle in the movie of the same name is a religious cult/high-tech company.  There are many spoilers here.  During a weekly worship service called Dream Friday tech evangelist Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks), one of the founders, introduces a new low-cost, wireless, internet-enabled camera to the faithful, called Circlers.  These cameras, connected to The Circle, are being placed all over the world.  “There needs to be accountability,” Eamon preaches.  “Tyrants and terrorists can no longer hide.  We will see them.  We will hear them.  We will hear and see everything.  If it happens, we’ll know.  We’re calling it SeeChange.”

A new employee Mae Holland (Emma Watson) sits in the congregation drinking the Kool-Aid (as she admits to another Circler later in the film).  “We will see it all because knowing is good,” Eamon proclaims, “but knowing everything is better.”

“We need accountability.  We need openness,” Tom Stenton (Patton Oswalt), COO of The Circle, concurs as he introduces Congresswoman Olivia Santos (Judy Reyes) at another worship service.  “I intend to show exactly how democracy can and should be,” Congresswoman Santos thrills Tom’s congregation.  “Starting today, my every meeting, my every phone call and email will be accessible to my constituents and to the world in real time.”

“Hello, democracy!  Open and accountable!” Tom seals the deal.

One night SeaChange cameras and monitoring help save Mae’s life after a misguided kayaking accident.  Tom and Eamon counsel her after the incident.  “I am a believer in the perfectibility of human beings,” Eamon admits.  “When we are our best selves, the possibilities are endless.  There isn’t a problem that we cannot solve.  We can cure any disease, and we can end hunger.”  Mae is a repentant convert.  “Without secrets,” Eamon concludes, “without the hoarding of knowledge and information, we can finally realize our potential.”

“I committed a crime” Mae confesses before the Circlers.  “I borrowed a kayak without the owner’s knowledge, paddled out to the middle of the bay and I wasn’t wearing a life jacket.”

“So, Mae,” Eamon asks, “do you think you behave better or worse when you are being watched?”

“Better.  Without a doubt.”

“What happens when you’re alone and unobserved?”

“Well, for starters, I steal kayaks.  Seriously, I do things I don’t wanna do.  I lie…secrets are lies.  Secrets are what make crimes possible.  We behave worse when we’re not accountable.  I was my worst self because I didn’t think anyone was watching.  I thought that I was alone…Knowledge is a basic human right.  Access to all possible human experience is a basic human right…From now on I’ll be wearing a modified SeeChange camera at all times.  I’m going fully transparent.”

My personal logline for The Circle is “Cyber-bullying with a great warm smile.”  But the attempt to drive a preachy plot with a series of worship services didn’t fare any better for a mainstream movie than it does for a Christian film.  And when Tom and Eamon bully Mae in front of the congregation into becoming complicit in her friend’s accidental death, she doesn’t rise up and race against the clock and certain death to consume The Circle in slow-motion fireballs.  The Circle is not presented as evil through Mae’s eyes but as a necessary good.

From the beginning she believed that the needs of society and the needs of the individual are the same.  “When someone dies in a plane crash,” she explains to her disbelieving parents, clinging desperately to their sick old ideas of personal privacy, “you don’t abandon planes.  You make them safer.”  And with the self-assurance that “I’m the only one who can do this,” Mae flips the script on Eamon and Tom, becomes high priestess of the cult and leads the Circlers into the light.

Still, I enjoyed the film’s depiction of the religious mind in a non-theistic context.  And it was a welcome reminder that forced righteousness under an ever-watchful eye is not the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe.[5]  The table below contrasts the NASB and NET translations of John 14:21.

NASB

NET

He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him. The person who has my commandments and obeys them is the one who loves me.  The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will reveal myself to him.

Though keeps may be a lower standard than obeys, the flow here is still fairly clear and appears that there is something one must do before Jesus will disclose or will reveal Himself to that person, not to mention love.  I looked into ἐμφανίσω (a form of ἐμφανίζω) the Greek word translated will disclose and will reveal.  It only occurred this once, so I made a table of all the forms of ἐμφανίζω.

Form of ἐμφανίζω Reference KJV

NET

ἐμφανίσατε Acts 23:15 …ye with the council signify to the chief captain… …you and the council request the commanding officer…
ἐμφανίσω John 14:21 …I will love him, and will manifest myself to him… …I will love him and will reveal myself to him.
ἐμφανισθῆναι Hebrews 9:24 to appear in the presence of God for us… and he appears now in God’s presence for us.
ἐμφανίζειν John 14:22 …thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? …you are going to reveal yourself to us and not to the world?
ἐμφανίζουσιν Hebrews 11:14 …they that say such things declare plainly …those who speak in such a way make it clear
ἐνεφάνισαν Acts 24:1 …who informed the governor against Paul. …they brought formal charges against Paul to the governor.
Acts 25:2 Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him… So the chief priests and the most prominent men of the Jews brought formal charges against Paul to him.
Acts 25:15 …the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me… …the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me about him…
ἐνεφάνισας Acts 23:22 See thou tell no man that thou hast showed these things to me. Tell no one that you have reported these things to me.
ἐνεφανίσθησαν Matthew 27:53 …and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. …and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

The most basic meaning is to appear in person (Hebrews 9:24; Matthew 27:53).  And that sense was certainly true in John 14:21 and 22:  After his resurrection Jesus appeared (ἐφανερώθη, a form of φανερόω) in a different form to two of them while they were on their way to the country.[6]  Then he appeared (ἐφανερώθη, a form of φανερόω) to the eleven themselves, while they were eating[7]  After this Jesus revealed (ἐφανέρωσεν, another form of φανερόω) himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias.[8]  This was now the third time Jesus was revealed (ἐφανερώθη, a form of φανερόω) to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.[9]  But not once did He reveal Himself in person to Ananias, Caiaphas, the Pharisees (other than Saul) or the experts in the law after his resurrection.

“Lord, what then has happened” Judas (not Iscariot) asked, “that You are going to disclose (ἐμφανίζειν, another form of ἐμφανίζω) Yourself to us and not to the world?”  Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me [e.g., if anyone has My commandments and keeps them], he will keep (τηρήσει, another form of τηρέω) My word (λόγον, a form of λόγος); and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.  He who does not love Me [e.g., does not have or keep My commandments] does not keep (τηρεῖ, another form of τηρέω) My words (λόγους, another form of λόγος); and the word (λόγος) which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.[10]

I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, Jesus said.  But you want to kill me, because my teaching (λόγος) makes no progress among you[11] (NASB: My word has no place in you).  And, Having no regard for the command of God, you hold fast to human traditionThus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down.[12]  In other words, they did not keep his word or his commandments and He did not disclose or reveal Himself to them by a personal appearance after his resurrection.

There are five other occurrences (Acts 23:15, 22; 24:1; 25:2, 15) of forms of ἐμφανίζω which included personal appearance but the communication of certain information was also of key importance.  I’ll highlight two of them because they remind me of my own experience studying the Bible.

The chief priests and the most prominent men of the Jews brought formal charges (ἐνεφάνισαν, another form of ἐμφανίζω) against Paul to[13] Festus, the Roman governor.  Describing those charges Festus said (Acts 25:15-19 NET):

When I was in Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed (ἐνεφάνισαν, another form of ἐμφανίζω) me about [Paul], asking for a sentence of condemnation against him.  I answered them that it was not the custom of the Romans to hand over anyone before the accused had met his accusers face to face and had been given an opportunity to make a defense against the accusation.  So after they came back here with me, I did not postpone the case, but the next day I sat on the judgment seat and ordered the man to be brought.  When his accusers stood up, they did not charge him with any of the evil deeds (πονηρῶν, a form of πονηρός) I had suspected.  Rather they had several points of disagreement with him about their own religion (δεισιδαιμονίας, a form of δεισιδαιμονία) and about a man named Jesus who was dead, whom Paul claimed to be alive.

In Jerusalem the information Festus received from the chief priests and the elders of the Jews formed an image in his mind based largely on his own knowledge and experience—the evil deeds I had suspected.  On further examination at trial in Caesarea Festus’ erroneous ideas were corrected—they had several points of disagreement with him about their own religion and about a man named Jesus who was dead, whom Paul claimed to be alive.  Though Festus received more information and even some more clarity about Paul’s situation, he acknowledged: I was at a loss how I could investigate these matters[14]  My point here is that the information, and understanding the information presented, had taken precedence over the personal appearance aspects of ἐμφανίζω.

Finally, one occurrence of a form of ἐμφανίζω referenced people of the past, known only through Scripture: These all died in faith without receiving the things promised, but they saw them in the distance and welcomed them and acknowledged that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth.  For those who speak [e.g., through words recorded in the Bible] in such a way make it clear (ἐμφανίζουσιν, another form of ἐμφανίζω) that they are seeking a homeland.[15]  And it is in this way that I think Jesus’ words have meaning for me here and now.  He will disclose or will reveal Himself to me through Scripture if I love Him, which means if I have his commandments and keep them.

So why was I filled with desire to write a rock opera about Jesus even as I attempted to lose or discard his commandments?  Why wasn’t I filled with desire to write a rock opera about Aleister Crowley?  I certainly knew of him.  No one gets very deep into rock music without hearing about its patron saint. “Harm None, Do as You Will” was much closer to my mantra at that moment than anything Jesus had said.

Before Jesus said—He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me—He said—If you love Me, you will keep (τηρήσετε, another form of τηρέω) My commandments.[16]  Then[17] he introduced the Holy Spirit (John 14:16, 17 NASB).

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

If I remember that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control,[18] then what Jesus said logically was:

  1. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
  2. You will love Me (e.g., the fruit of the Spirit).
  3. Therefore, you will keep My commandments.

The simple answer to my question then is that I was filled with desire to write a rock opera about Jesus because his Holy Spirit is alive and well.  Aleister Crowley is dead.  (I’ll ignore for the moment that spirits which may or may not have influenced him are alive still.  They obviously had little or no influence on me.)  But what do I make of Jesus’ other statement?  He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.

The implication here is that if I do not have and keep his commandments He will not disclose Himself to me.  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, He also said, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.[19]  How do I reconcile these two?

Do not extinguish the Spirit,[20] Paul wrote the Thessalonians without any explanation.  I think I’ve found here one way to extinguish the Spirit (in me, not in anyone else); namely, to lose or discard Jesus’ commandments, whether deliberately by conscious rejection or holding fast instead to the traditions of human religion so that his teaching (λόγος) makes no progress in me.  But if I were to teach others the traditions of human religion that nullify the word of God, though my power would be less than absolute, I might become instrumental in extinguishing the Spirit in them as well. 

I’ll pick this up in another essay.

My Deeds, Part 2

[1] Revelation 16:15b (NET)

[2] John 14:21a (NASB)

[3] John 14:21a (NET)

[4] Galatians 5:4 (NET)

[5] Romans 3:22a (NET)

[6] Mark 16:12 (NET)

[7] Mark 16:14 (NET)

[8] John 21:1a (NET)

[9] John 21:14 (NET)

[10] John 14:22-24 (NASB)

[11] John 8:37 (NET)

[12] Mark 7:8, 13a (NET)

[13] Acts 25:2 (NET)

[14] Acts 25:20a (NET)

[15] Hebrews 11:13, 14 (NET)

[16] John 14:15 (NASB)

[17] By adding then to the text the NET translators have made it seem as if Jesus said, If you love me and you keep my commandments then I will ask the Father…   This then however does not make the second clause logically dependent on the first two.  It is simply an irregular translation of (καγὼ, a form of κἀγώ) and means no more than Jesus said this then He said that as they acknowledge in a footnote 36.

[18] Galatians 5:23, 24a (NET)

[19] John 14:26 (NASB)

[20] 1 Thessalonians 5:19 (NET)