Forgiven or Passed Over? Part 4

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

The Forty Day Covenant

After the Golden Calf

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

Exodus 33:1 (NET)

“I am going to send an angel before you…

Exodus 23:20a (NET)

I will send an angel before you…

Exodus 33:2a (NET)

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

Exodus 23:20b-22 (NET)

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

Exodus 23:23 (NET)

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

Exodus 33:2b (NET)

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

Exodus 33:3 (NET)

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

Exodus 33:4-6 (NET)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[2] John 12:47 (NIV)

[3] 1 Timothy 4:13 (NET)

[4] Luke 1:13 (NET)

[5] John 3:36 (NKJV)

[6] Acts 20:20a (NET)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[11] Exodus 33:2 (NET)

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

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

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

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

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

Deuteronomy, Part 1

I intend to do a detailed study of Deuteronomy.  It coincided with my reading of an article in Newsweek, but I don’t know yet if that is anything more than a coincidence.  This is what Moses said to the assembly of Israel in the Transjordanian wastelands,[1] the book of Deuteronomy begins.  It struck me this time as an open invitation to compare Deuteronomy with what the Lord told Moses to say—Speak to the Israelites and tell them[2]—in Numbers 33:50-36:13 (NET).  I noticed immediately that what Moses said in Deuteronomy is considerably longer than what the Lord told him to say in Numbers.

Moses addressed the Israelites just as the Lord had instructed him to do.[3]  The note in the NET reads: “Heb ‘according to all which.’”  The Septuagint reads, κατὰ πάντα ὅσα ἐνετείλατο κύριος αὐτῷ πρὸς αὐτούς (literally, “following all as great as the Lord commanded him toward them”)

While I am willing to accept that God said more to Moses than is recorded in Numbers if Moses addressed the Israelites [according to all which] the Lord had instructed him to do, I notice that this same word ʼăsher was translated what in verse 1, whose twice in verse 4, that in verse 8 and just as in verse 11.  The problem is that verse 11 has a slightly different form of ʼăsher (כאשר) from all the other occurrences (אשר).  If Moses addressed the Israelites [, what] the Lord had instructed him to do, I think it only prudent to compare what Moses said to other passages with an open mind to potential differences between what Moses said and what the Lord told Moses to Speak to the Israelites and tell them.

Deuteronomy

Exodus, Numbers

The Lord our God spoke to us at Horeb and said, “You have stayed in the area of this mountain long enough.  Get up now, resume your journey…

Deuteronomy 1:6, 7a (NET)

The Lord said to Moses, “Go up from here, you and the people whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt…

Exodus 33:1a (NET)

…heading for the Amorite hill country, to all its areas including the arid country, the highlands, the Shephelah, the Negev, and the coastal plain – all of Canaan and Lebanon as far as the Great River, that is, the Euphrates.

Deuteronomy 1:7b (NET)

“Give these instructions to the Israelites, and tell them: ‘When you enter Canaan, the land that has been assigned to you as an inheritance, the land of Canaan with its borders,  your southern border will extend from the wilderness of Zin along the Edomite border, and your southern border will run eastward to the extremity of the Salt Sea, and then the border will turn from the south to the Scorpion Ascent, continue to Zin, and then its direction will be from the south to Kadesh Barnea.  Then it will go to Hazar Addar and pass over to Azmon.  There the border will turn from Azmon to the Brook of Egypt, and then its direction is to the sea.  And for a western border you will have the Great Sea.  This will be your western border.  And this will be your northern border: From the Great Sea you will draw a line to Mount Hor; from Mount Hor you will draw a line to Lebo Hamath, and the direction of the border will be to Zedad.  The border will continue to Ziphron, and its direction will be to Hazar Enan.  This will be your northern border.  For your eastern border you will draw a line from Hazar Enan to Shepham.  The border will run down from Shepham to Riblah, on the east side of Ain, and the border will descend and reach the eastern side of the Sea of Chinnereth.  Then the border will continue down the Jordan River and its direction will be to the Salt Sea.  This will be your land by its borders that surround it.’”

Numbers 34:2-12 (NET)

Look! I have already given the land to you.  Go, occupy the territory that I, the Lord, promised to give to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to their descendants.”

Deuteronomy 1:8 (NET)

…to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’

Exodus 33:1b (NET)

I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite.  Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey.  But I will not go up among you, for you are a stiff-necked people, and I might destroy you on the way.”

Exodus 33:2, 3 (NET)

The borders of the land of Israel were part of the instructions the Lord gave to Moses.  I won’t try to compare the geography of ancient place names.  The Lord’s statement—I will not go up among you, for you are a stiff-necked people, and I might destroy you on the way—was not repeated here in Deuteronomy.  When the people heard this troubling word they mourned.[4]  I think this troubling word is part of a covenant of law, the ministry that produced death and condemnation[5] as Paul called it.

I almost missed how momentous this insight is for me.  There were days between those sentences, days of data-gathering and meditation on pânı̂ym (פני) before I recognized something about me: I will not go up among you, for you are a stiff-necked people, and I might destroy you on the way, was the essential feature of God’s holiness as that holiness pertained to me.  I can’t trace its origin.  It’s so deep inside me it seems self-evident.  It’s the reason I thought salvation was essentially a way for God to overcome his holiness.

But prior to the law the Lord didn’t speak this way to Cain[6] after Cain murdered his brother.  Cain was banished, however, from the Lord’s presence or faceSurely You have driven me out this day from the face (pânı̂ym, פני; Septuagint: προσώπου) of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face (pânı̂ym, ומפניך; Septuagint: προσώπου).[7]  So Cain went out from the presence (pânı̂ym, מלפני; Septuagint: προσώπου) of the Lord and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.[8]

God’s covenant with Abraham had one human requirement, one law, if you will—circumcision (Genesis 17:9-13 (NET):

Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep the covenantal requirement I am imposing on you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.  This is my requirement that you and your descendants after you must keep: Every male among you must be circumcised.  You must circumcise the flesh of your foreskins.  This will be a reminder of the covenant between me and you.  Throughout your generations every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, whether born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not one of your descendants.  They must indeed be circumcised, whether born in your house or bought with money.  The sign of my covenant will be visible in your flesh as a permanent reminder.”

Moses, as a resident foreigner in a foreign land,[9] had not kept that one requirement with his own son.  Apparently, even after the Lord sent him back to Egypt to free Israel, Moses didn’t honor the covenant with God.  Now on the way, at a place where they stopped for the night, the Lord met Moses and sought to kill him.  But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off the foreskin of her son and touched it to Moses’ feet, and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me.”  So the Lord let him alone.  (At that time she said, “A bridegroom of blood,” referring to the circumcision.)[10]

This “Lord” who met Moses and sought to kill him was not some generic lord.  The Hebrew word is yehôvâh (יהוה) disguised in translation, I assume, as a religious attempt to obey the commandment: You shall not take the name of the Lord (yehôvâh,  יהוה) your God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהיך) in vain, for the Lord (yehôvâh,  יהוה) will not hold guiltless anyone who takes his name in vain.[11]  The story of yehôvâh, Moses and Zipporah leads me to consider that Moses’ slowness to honor the covenant was out of consideration for his foreign wife’s sensibilities.  They had discussed it.  She knew exactly what to do when yehôvâh (יהוה) sought to kill her husband.  But as I begin to study the face or presence of yehôvâh (יהוה) I will refrain from speculating how Zipporah knew that it was He who sought to kill him.

Even so Moses was deeply troubled, though perhaps not surprised, by the Lord’s declaration, I will not go up among you, for you are a stiff-necked people, and I might destroy you on the way.  But yehôvâh[12] (יהוה) reassured him: My presence (pânı̂ym, פני; Septuagint: αὐτὸς, self) will go with you, and I will give you rest.[13]  And Moses expressed for me what is the heart of the issue, If your presence (pânı̂ym; פניך; Septuagint: αὐτὸς σὺ, yourself) does not go with us, do not take us up from here.  For how will it be known then that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people?  Is it not by your going with us, so that we will be distinguished, I and your people, from all the people who are on the face (pânı̂ym;[14] פני) of the earth?[15]

In the Septuagint pânı̂ym (פני) was translated αὐτὸς (self) here rather than προσώπου (face).  It seemed to discount the efficacy of I will not go up among you, while it challenged my attempt to hold both statements true by casting pânı̂ym as another entity.  Yet αὐτὸς may well be another attempt to deal with this conundrum.  It implies something related but other than the I which would be understood from the Greek verb alone.  And the verbs were different.  I will not go up among you was μὴ συναναβῶ μετὰ σοῦ.[16]  My presence will go with you was αὐτὸς προπορεύσομαί σου.[17]  The verb προπορεύσομαί (a form of προπορεύομαι) means to precede, go before.  It’s a subtle distinction, but it still implied some distance to spare Israel from destruction.

The rabbis who translated the Septuagint were, and I am, seeking to no One we don’t entirely comprehend.  Our reference frames are different as well.  The rabbis believed yehôvâh ʼĕlôhı̂ym (אלהים יהוה) in a culture in which there were other ʼĕlôhı̂ym (אלהים) to choose.  Now, in my culture I will trust yehôvâh ʼĕlôhı̂ym (אלהים יהוה) or I will depend on myself.  I don’t see any other options.  So I decided to look deeply into pânı̂ym (פני).  I made it through Genesis thus far and some preliminary observations follow.

In the beginning the face or presence of the Lord had a location in space and time.  There were times when his face or presence was present in a location and times and locations when and where his face or presence was not.  Adam and Eve hid themselves from the presence (pânı̂ym, מפני; Septuagint: προσώπου) of the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהים) among the trees of the garden. [18]  And I assume that Adam and Eve did not eat the forbidden fruit nor did Cain murder Abel in the presence of yehôvâh ʼĕlôhı̂ym.  Of course, I had to quote from the NKJV here because the NET blurred any potential distinction between the presence of the Lord God and the Lord God: and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the orchard.[19]

These spatial/temporal limitations were so much a part of the word pânı̂ym that it could mean prior to something occurring in time: Lot looked up and saw that the Jordan River valley was well-watered (before [pânı̂ym, לפני; Septuagint: πρὸ] the Lord [yehôvâh, יהוה] obliterated Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה), like the land of Egypt, all the way to Zoar.[20]  Bring me some wild game and prepare for me some tasty food, Rebekah overheard Isaac say to Esau; Then I will eat it and bless you in the presence (pânı̂ym, לפני; Septuagint: ἐναντίον) of the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) before (pânı̂ym, לפני; Septuagint: πρὸ) I die.[21]

(It may be worth noting that Isaac didn’t mention the presence of the Lord to Esau.  Rebekah said it to Jacob.  Rebekah was the sister of Laban.  A generation later, Jacob’s wife Rachel thought it expedient to steal Laban’s household idols.  In a guilt by association sort of way it may be necessary to consider that all Rebekah meant by the presence of the Lord was in proximity to a household idol designated yehôvâh.)

It is not our custom here, Laban explained after he put Leah into Jacob’s wedding bed rather than Rachel, to give the younger daughter in marriage before (pânı̂ym, לפני; Septuagint: πρὶν) the firstborn.[22]  These were the kings, Moses began a king list, who reigned in the land of Edom before (pânı̂ym, לפני; Septuagint: πρὸ) any king ruled over the Israelites.[23]  And finally, Your father gave these instructions before (pânı̂ym, לפני; Septuagint: πρὸ) he died,[24] Joseph’s brothers lied by a messenger they sent to Joseph.

The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) appearedby the oaks of Mamre.[25]  Abraham looked up and saw three men (ʼı̂ysh, אנשים; Septuagint: ἄνδρες) standing across from him.[26]  The word ʼı̂ysh occurred first from the mouth of Adam: this one will be called ‘woman,’ (ʼishshâh,  אשה) for she was taken out of man (ʼı̂ysh, מאיש; Septuagint: ἀνδρὸς).[27]  Abraham took some curds and milk, along with the calf that had been prepared, and placed the food before (pânı̂ym, לפניהם; Septuagint: παρέθηκεν) them.[28]  Another Hebrew word was also used for the three men Abraham saw when yehôvâh appeared, according to the NET website:  When the men (ʼĕnôsh, האנשים; Septuagint: ἄνδρες) got up to leave, they looked out over Sodom.[29]  (A note in the NET acknowledged that the Hebrew was actually “toward the face [pânı̂ym, פני; Septuagint: πρόσωπον] of” Sodom.)  One of the three men was yehôvâhThemen (ʼı̂ysh,[30] האנשים; Septuagint: ἄνδρες) turned and headed toward Sodom, but Abraham was still standing before (pânı̂ym, לפני; Septuagint: ἐναντίον) the Lord[31] (yehôvâh, יהוה).

In the next chapter the two men who left for Sodom were called angels, essentially a transliteration of the Greek or Latin words for messenger or envoy: The two angels (malʼâk,  המלאכים; Septuagint: ἄγγελοι) came to Sodom in the evening.[32]  Later they were called men again: Only don’t do anything to these men (ʼı̂ysh, לאנשים; Septuagint: ἄνδρας), for they have come under the protection of my roof,[33] Lot said.  So the men (ʼı̂ysh, האנשים; Septuagint: ἄνδρες) inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house as they shut the door,[34] Moses wrote.  Then the two men inside struck the men (ʼı̂ysh, האנשים; Septuagint: ἄνδρας) who were at the door of the house, from the youngest to the oldest, with blindness.[35]  After that demonstration the men inside the house were called visitors (ʼı̂ysh, האנשים; Septuagint: ἄνδρες) in the NET.[36]  But later, even the NET called them men again: When Lot hesitated, the men (ʼı̂ysh, האנשים; Septuagint: ἄγγελοι[37]) grabbed his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters because the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) had compassion on them.[38]

I have belabored this point because, though the ancient word may not be species specific[39] in a scientific sense, there is enough here, that if one believed Moses[40] about yehôvâh as a man visiting Abraham, he would not dismiss Jesus so easily as a blasphemer: The Jewish leaders replied, “We are not going to stone you for a good deed but for blasphemy, because you, a man (ἄνθρωπος), are claiming to be God.”[41]

I’ll pick this up again in the next essay.

Back to Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 4

[1] Deuteronomy 1:1a (NET)

[2] Numbers 33:51a (NET)

[3] Deuteronomy 1:3b (NET)

[4] Exodus 33:4a (NET)

[5] 2 Corinthians 3:7-10 (NET)

[6] Genesis 4:8-16 (NET)

[7] Genesis 4:14a (NKJV)

[8] Genesis 4:16 (NET)

[9] Exodus 2:22 (NET)

[10] Exodus 4:24-26 (NET)

[11] Exodus 20:7 (NET)

[12] Moses spoke to yehôvâh (יהוה) in Exodus 33:12, 13 (NET)

[13] Exodus 33:14 (NET)

[14] Face wasn’t exactly translated in the Septuagint: ὅσα ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἐστιν (“as great as upon the earth is”) much as face of the ground wasn’t exactly translated in Genesis 4:14 (NET).

[15] Exodus 33:15, 16 (NET)

[16] http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Exo&c=33&t=LXX#s=t_bibles_83003

[17] http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Exo&c=33&t=LXX#s=83014

[18] Genesis 3:8b (NKJV)

[19] Genesis 3:8b (NET)

[20] Genesis 13:10 (NET)

[21] Genesis 27:7 (NET)

[22] Genesis 29:26 (NET)

[23] Genesis 36:31 (NET)

[24] Genesis 50:16b (NET)

[25] Genesis 18:1 (NET)

[26] Genesis 18:2a (NET)

[27] Genesis 2:23b (NET)

[28] Genesis 18:8 (NET)

[29] Genesis 18:16a (NET)

[30] I’m not sure why האנשים highlights as ʼĕnôsh in Genesis 18:16 (NET) and ʼı̂ysh in Genesis 18:22 (NET), whether it is a subtlety of the Hebrew language or a mistake on the NET website (though Strong’s Concordance concurs).  See also: Genesis 19:10, 11, 12, 16 (NET)

[31] Genesis 18:22 (NET)

[32] Genesis 19:1 (NET)

[33] Genesis 19:8 (NET)

[34] Genesis 19:10 (NET)

[35] Genesis 19:11a (NET)

[36] Genesis 19:12 (NET)

[37] The rabbis who translated the Septuagint switched back to ἄγγελοι as the men functioned as envoys of the compassion of yehôvâh)

[38] Genesis 19:16 (NET)

[39] You must take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, the male (ʼı̂ysh, איש; Septuagint: ἄρσεν) and its mate, two of every kind of unclean animal, the male (ʼı̂ysh, איש; Septuagint: ἄρσεν) and its mate… (Genesis 7:2 NET)

[40] John 5:46 (NET)

[41] John 10:33 (NET)