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)?

Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 11

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

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

Leviticus 18:24-30 (NETS)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back to To Make Holy, Part 4

[1] Deuteronomy 5:9b (NET)

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

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

[4] תועבה, Leviticus 18:22 (Tanakh)

[5] Leviticus 18:19 (NET)

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

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

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

[9] John 8:24 (ISV)

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

[11] Isaiah 45:12 (Tanakh)

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

[13] Genesis 7:11b (NET)

[14] Exodus 33:3a (NET)

[15] Numbers 13:23a (NET)

[16] Genesis 8:21b (NET)

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

[18] Deuteronomy 32:35 (Tanakh)

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

[20] Genesis 21:8 (NET)

[21] Numbers 17:8b (NET)

[22] Genesis 50:15 (NET)

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

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

[25] Romans 11:32a (NET)

[26] Romans 4:5 (NET)

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

Fear – Exodus, Part 7

When he approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses became extremely angry.  He threw the tablets [of the law] from his hands and broke them to pieces at the bottom of the mountain.[1]  Moses saw that the people were running wild, for Aaron had let them get completely out of control, causing derision from their enemies.[2]

King James’ translators painted a more vivid picture of how out of control the people were running wildMoses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies).[3]  Even in this translation Aaron’s role seems potentially passive.  By conceding to their demands for a golden calf Aaron made them naked (euphemistically speaking) unto their shame among their enemiesJohn Nelson Darby[4] gave this verse a different twist in his translation: Moses saw the people how they were stripped; for Aaron had stripped them to [their] shame before their adversaries.  This sounds more like Aaron as officiating priest commanded the people to strip for πορνεία,[5] the ritualized sexual worship they had practiced in Egypt.[6]

The translators of the NET do not believe that the Israelites engaged in such worship[7] in Exodus 32 (nor that the Greek word πορνεία[8] refers to it, as far as I can tell).  The note on the word translated running wild and completely out of control reads: “The word is difficult to interpret. There does not seem to be enough evidence to justify the KJV’s translation ‘naked.’ It appears to mean something like ‘let loose’ or ‘lack restraint’ (Prov 29:18). The idea seems to be that the people had broken loose, were undisciplined, and were completely given over to their desires.”  In 1 Corinthians 10:7, however, Paul’s quotation of Exodus 32:6—The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play—the note reads: “The term ‘play’ may refer to idolatrous, sexual play here, although that is determined by the context rather than the meaning of the word itself (cf. BDAG 750 s.v. παίζω).”

Whoever is for the Lord, come to me, Moses said.  All the Levites gathered around him, and he said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Each man fasten his sword on his side, and go back and forth from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and each one kill his brother, his friend, and his neighbor.’”[9]

I have seen this people, the Lord had said to Moses on the mountain.  Look what a stiff-necked people they are!  So now, leave me alone so that my anger can burn against them and I can destroy them[10]  With these words in his mind, though he had pleaded with the Lord to turn from your burning anger, and relent of this evil against your people,[11] when he saw their sin with his own eyes Moses formed an ad hoc militia or national guard.  Here I can see the ministry that produced death (θανάτου, a form of θάνατος)[12] – carved in letters on stone tablets[13] functioning as the ministry that produced condemnation (κατακρίσεως, a form of κατάκρισις).[14]

Though I have considered whether Moses had a change of heart, I think it was the same Spirit, who through Moses’ words caused the Lord to relent over the evil that he had said he would do to his people,[15] who spoke the words through him, Each man fasten his sword on his side, and go back and forth from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and each one kill his brother, his friend, and his neighbor.  And He did this for the very same reason, to spare most of the people of Israel, to remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel your servants, to whom you swore by yourself and told them, “I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken about I will give to your descendants, and they will inherit it forever.”[16]

The Levites did what Moses ordered, and that day about three thousand men of the people died.[17]  The Levites were not included in the census of males twenty years old or older who could serve in the army.[18]  Whether their number was comparable to the other clans (50,000) or half the size of the smallest clan (16,000), their campaign was not exceptionally ruthless.  Apparently these deaths served no other purpose than to restore order, to bring a halt to the people’s play.

The deaths of three thousand men had provided no atonement (Exodus 32:30-32 NET).

The next day Moses said to the people, “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 their sin…, but if not, wipe me out from your book that you have written.”

In fact, Moses was unable to make atonement for those who sinned.  And the deaths of three thousand men were not sufficient punishment (Exodus 32:33-35 NET).

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, I will indeed punish them for their sin.” And the Lord sent a plague on the people because they had made the calf – the one Aaron made.

This is law.  This is fear-based righteousness.  It is not the fear of witnessing the catastrophic destruction of the Egyptian army.  It is not the fear of hearing a voice from something like a volcano in full ash eruption.  It is the fear of leaders (Moses and the Levites) using lethal force to uphold the law, and the fear of God as a potential enemy.

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.’  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.”[19]

It sounds wonderful.  The Lord will lead and guide them into a land of plenty.  But the fear must be ever present.  But I will not go up among you, the Lord continued, for you are a stiff-necked people, and I might destroy you on the way.[20]

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.[21]

It may not have occurred to Moses to consider his exalted position the ministry that produced death or the ministry that produced condemnation, though he seemed to recognize it in respect to the Levites who followed him.  “You have been consecrated today for the Lord,” he said to them, “for each of you was against his son or against his brother, so he has given a blessing to you today.”[22]  But it did occur to him to seek something more from God, something we might call a ministry of the Spirit[23] or a ministry that produces righteousness.[24]

Moses said to the Lord, “See, you have been saying to me, ‘Bring this people up,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me.  But you said, ‘I know you by name, and also you have found favor in my sight.’  Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your way, that I may know you, that I may continue to find favor in your sight.  And see that this nation is your people.”[25]

“All things have been given to me by my Father,” Jesus said.  “No one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son decides to reveal him.”  Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see!  For I tell you that many prophets and kings longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”[26]

And the Lord said [to Moses], “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”  And Moses said to him, “If your presence 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 of the earth?”[27]

The Two Covenants

Fear – Exodus, Part 8

Back to Fear – Numbers, Part 4


[1] Exodus 32:19 (NET)

[2] Exodus 32:25 (NET)

[3] Exodus 32:25 (KJV)

[7] Note 22

[9] Exodus 32:26, 27 (NET)

[10] Exodus 32:9, 10a (NET)

[11] Exodus 32:12b (NET)

[13] 2 Corinthians 3:7 (NET)

[14] 2 Corinthians 3:9 (NET)

[15] Exodus 32:14b (NET)

[16] Exodus 32:13 (NET)

[17] Exodus 32:28 (NET)

[19] Exodus 33:1-3a (NET)

[20] Exodus 33:3b (NET)

[21] Exodus 33:7-11a (NET)

[22] Exodus 32:29 (NET)

[23] 2 Corinthians 3:8 (NET)

[24] 2 Corinthians 3:9 (NET)

[25] Exodus 33:12, 13 (NET)

[26] Luke 10:22-24 (NET)

[27] Exodus 33:14-16 (NET)