Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Taking a Break

I will be taking a short break from posting while I work on some other pressing projects. I hope to be back soon.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Idle And Mocking Youths.

And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them. 2Kings 2:23-24

Here is some useful information regarding this episode:

Needless difficulty has been felt in explaining this incident in consequence of a somewhat defective translation. The path of the prophet Elisha lay through the district of Bethel, the stronghold of idolatry in Israel (1 Kings xii. 28—33), where, as in Dan, stood one of the golden calves set up by Jeroboam.

In this place insult offered to Jehovah's prophet would be intended as insult to Jehovah, and, so regarded, it was properly met by an immediate and terrible punishment.

It appears that there was a number of idle young men on the outskirts of the town, lawless, rude, and amusing themselves with rough play. They are called " children," but the same Hebrew word is used in 1 Kings xii. 8, 10, 14, where it is applied to young men of the same age as King Rehoboam. In all the languages of the East the words "child" and "children" often denote simply a social relation, and are constantly applied to full-grown persons, as in the New Testament.

"No one who has travelled in the East can have failed to notice the extreme lawlessness of a certain class of boys and young men living on the outskirts of a town, especially toward a Jew, a Christian, or a European, who should happen to be passing by alone or unprotected. Let him go, for instance, to the castle hill of Smyrna, and, if it be a holiday and the 'boys' (oghlans) are out, he will perceive stones whizzing past him, and will hear the shouts of ' Frank,' ' hat-wearer'-- rallying the rowdies of the vicinity, and warning him to beat a hasty retreat."

Monday, June 27, 2011

Smelling the Garments

And he came near, and kissed him: and he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son [is] as the smell of a field which the LORD hath blessed: Gen. 27:27

From Roberts's Oriental illustrations we find the following interesting notes:

—The natives of the East are universally fond of having their garments strongly perfumed; so much so, that Europeans can scarcely bear the smell. They use camphor, civet, sandal-wood, or sandal oil, and a great variety of strongly- scented waters.

It is not common to salute, as in England ; they simply smell each other; and it is said that some people know their own children by the smell. It is common for a mother or father to say, " Ah, child, thy smell is like the Sen-Paga-Poo." The crown of the head is the principal place for smelling.

Of an amiable man it is said, " How sweet is the smell of that man! The smell of his goodness is universal."

That delightful traveller, Captain Mangles, R.N., informed me that while on a short visit at the house of Mr. Barker, our consul at Aleppo, he heard Mrs. Barker, who was a Greek lady, say something to her child, accompanied by signs of great endearment. Mr. Barker said to Captain Mangles, " You do not understand her ; she says, ' Come hither, my darling, and let me smell thee.' "

Friday, June 24, 2011

Lying Among the Sheepfolds

Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold. Psalm 68:13

Psalm 68:13 contains a tremendous truth not seen in most English translations of the Bible.

Psalm 68:13a is translated in the English Bibles as “though ye have lien among the pots,” which says you have been lying among the pots and pans in an Oriental kitchen. In the East (Orient), the cooks often sleep in the kitchen, and all they know are pots and pans, because they are not exposed to culture outside the kitchen. They do not even take the food to the table in another room. Their life is centered on the room with the pots and pans; the kitchen.

In contrast, the Telugu translation of the Bible, done by Oriental scholars gives a translated version that emanates with deeper spiritual meaning and implications. The first half of the Telugu Bible reads as follows:

Psalm 68:13a Though you have been lying in the midst of the sheepfolds,

The two versions paint entirely different pictures. The Telugu Bible (the Eastern Bible) refers to destitute men who wander without a home, family or friends. These men wander aimlessly with no destination. Wearing tattered clothes, they suffer the winter chill. With no money, they are unable to hire a room for the night. So, seeking help from the physical world, permission is sought from a shepherd to sleep with the sheep where rest and warmth is found.

The origin of the figure of speech “lying among the sheepfolds” represents the destitution inherent in this situation. The sheepfold is a place of dung, mud, and muck; however, it offers rest and warmth to the weary and downtrodden. A person in this situation is in a state of constant conflict, knowing that he should be doing more to better his situation. This shame becomes a constant mental burden while lack of proper nutrition and care wears down the physical body. Sickness, weakness, and weariness are the result, with no way of getting out of this downward spiral.

The spiritual implications of this part of the verse are strikingly clear: we are destitute and homeless without God, the Father of our living lord and savior, Jesus Christ.

Now we will focus on the 2nd half of Psalm 68:13b where God tells us with vivid imagery His deliverance through Jesus Christ. Both the King James Bible and the Telugu Bible say: Psalm 68:13b …yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver and her feathers with yellow gold.

In Oriental thought, the “dove” represents peace, “silver” represents strength meaning “God will bless you, and lift you up”, and “yellow gold” represents prosperity.

The dove was the first bird to be tamed. Faithful and easily procured, the dove takes and returns messages. These birds are loved and accepted by everyone. Often the dove is a pet that the owners decorate with silver coins on the wings and yellow gold (thin gold leaf, used for decoration) on the feathers. As the doves are adorned, so are we adorned and accepted in the beloved.

Psalm 68:13 has the following meaning: Though you have been lying among the sheepfolds; yet will you be peaceful, strong, and prosperous. Look at the Israelites in bondage in Egypt; they were figuratively in the dirt and dung of the sheepfold, looking to the material, physical world, lazily waiting to eat the old grass about to be discarded. However, when they sought deliverance from God, He gave them deliverance from Egypt into the land of milk and honey adding peace, strength, and prosperity to their lives.

In our lives, God through His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, delivers us from spiritual enslavement into the land of milk and honey (Christ within). Then he adds peace, strength and prosperity to us who now have the glorious freedom as a son of God. When we are saved, our broken hearts and feeble bodies are made whole (sōzō). As a child of God no longer under the bondage of this world (lying among the sheepfolds), we are able to claim what is already ours: peace, strength and prosperity.

Orientalisms of the Bible by Bishop K. C. Pillai, D.D., American Christian Press, 1986, 3rd printing 1998 (p.37-43).

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Christ In You

To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Colossians 1:27

In the Bible lands and times mirrors were made of polished golden metals. When a person looked in the polished metal he could see himself. But when another person saw the reflection of the person looking in the mirror he would see a glint of gold on their face and their face was brilliant!

When we focus on the Christ in us we see the brilliant glory of the spirit of God in us and we are changed into the same image reflecting brighter and brighter!


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Constrained by the Love of Christ

For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead...II Corinthians 5:14

In the Bible lands culture, to constrain a person means to ask him over and over at least three times. If you were to ask me to come to dinner at your house it would not be polite for me to immediately accept your invitation.

The first time you asked me, I would politely refuse and give you a good excuse for why I could not come.

Then you would tell me how you really wanted me to come and ask me a second time. Again, I would give you a good excuse for why I could not make it.

If you really wanted me to come you would ask a third time. Upon the third request, I would know that you really wanted me to come and I would accept your invitation. This is called constraining in the Bible lands.

The love of Christ manifest in his death and resurrection constrains us to live for him. We are reminded over and over of his love.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Sabbath Day's Journey

Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey. Acts 1:12

The Old Testament Law set aside the Sabbath as a day of rest. The people in the Bible lands and times did not work or travel on the Sabbath. The legalistic Pharisees even set a specific distance (2,000 cubits) that a person could legally travel on the Sabbath day.

In practice, people did not travel far on the Sabbath. Jesus and his disciples stayed in the town of Bethany and traveled back and forth to Jerusalem on many Sabbath days. The east side of the Mount of Olives near Bethany was about two miles from Jerusalem. Certainly, many of the Judeans in Bethany would travel to the Temple in Jerusalem on the Sabbath.

The expression "a Sabbath day's journey" simply meant a short distance, such as one would normally travel on the Sabbath.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Treasures in Heaven

Remembering that scriptures can be understood and appreciated on many different levels, I thought this was an interesting and helpful perspective of Matthew 6:19-21.

Dr. K.C. Pillai, a Hindu convert to Christianity, was a Bishop at large of the Indian Orthodox Church in Madras, India. When he came to the United States many years ago, his mission was to acquaint Christians with the Orientalisms of the Bible, or as he referred to it, "to give light through an eastern window."

Matthew 6: 19-21
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

"The western interpretation of this scripture is that the treasure refers to money which is laid up in the world. Therefore, it is not security at all because moth and rust corrupt it, and thieves may steal it. On the other hand, money and labor given to the church, or some other worthy cause, is treasure stored in heaven. But as in all cases where symbols and figures of speech are used, the proper understanding of the scripture must come from its spiritual meaning. Christ was not referring to money. The "treasure" mentioned here simply means our thoughts. In fact, there are several symbols used in this passage. Let me explain them.

"Heaven" speaks of the realm of the Spirit. "Earth" is the realm of matter, which is material things. The "moth" is fear that eats away our thoughts. "Rust" is worry that corrodes and destroys godly, positive thoughts, and "corrupt" means to breed. In the light of Oriental philosophy then, these scriptures should read as follows: "Let not your thoughts be centered in material things where fears and worries breed defeat and frustration, and where the doubts break through and steal your thoughts. But let your thoughts be centered in the Spirit, where neither fear nor worry breeds defeat and frustration, and where doubts do not break through and steal your thoughts. For where your thoughts are, there will your heart be also".

If our thoughts are centered in material things, our lives will surely be plagued with defeat, frustration, and despair. The reason for this is that the things we see are not really dependable. We watch them come and go. And the things we think are real substance vanish before our eyes. Everything we know through our five senses is in a state of change and decay. But when our thoughts are on God, there are no fears, no worries, defeats, or frustrations. We are not staking our lives on that which changes, but on Him who changes not. Since there is no means of communication between the Spirit and the things of the earth, there can , therefore, be no satisfaction in them. But God, who is Spirit, can speak to the spirit within us. The oneness of Himself with our spirit enables us to be satisfied through fellowship with Him. Man's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. Man cannot live by bread alone. To flourish, he must rather live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Blessing From Heaven

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Matt. 5:45

In our culture where we have sayings like "Don't rain on my parade," generally rain is not looked upon as a blessing. I have heard this scripture used to support that thought. But we have it all wrong.

Here is an insight regarding this topic:

"Wow, has our reaction to rain changed over the centuries! Today, we wake up, look outside and say, "Oh, it's raining" and view the rain as "good" or "bad" depending on whether we plan to be outdoors or not. Rain has become just another facet of life. But it didn't always use to be this way.

Once upon a time, our ancestors viewed rain very differently. They would wake up, look outside and say, "Thank you, God, for your life-giving blessing of rain." They realized that rain was the key to their survival and to the survival of the world. They knew that too little rain or too much rain could destroy the crops that provided their food. Rain, in Jewish tradition, is far more than just a natural resource. It is considered nothing less than a magnificent blessing.

[Jewish rabbis] taught: The sending of rain is an event greater than the giving of the Torah. The Torah was a joy for Israel only, but rain gives joy to the whole world, including birds and animals, as it is said: You take care of the earth and irrigate it. (Psalm 65:10) .

Nor was rain viewed merely as a natural phenomenon determined by wind, air pressure, dew point or other meteorological conditions. Deuteronomy makes it clear that there is a direct relationship between the rains we receive and the life-choices we make. "And if you will carefully obey my commands which I give you today…I will give rains for your land at the right season…Beware lest your heart…turn and serve other gods and worship them, for then the Lord's anger will blaze against you, and He will shut up the skies so that there will be no rain." Deut. 11:13-17 condensed

The Jerusalem Talmud goes on to tell us that four specific actions can result in the lack of rain:

For four sins rain is withheld – idolatry, unchastity, bloodshed and because of those who promise publicly to give charity but do not.

And not only do we speak of rain in our daily prayers, we actually insert into our worship service, at the conclusion of Sukkot, a special prayer for rains to fall on the land of Israel.

Ultimately, Jewish tradition views rain as it views rainbows – a part of nature that directly represents God's "personal" involvement in Creation. Rainbows are a sign of God's pledge never again to destroy the world with water. Rainbows are created directly by God, just as rain is. Talmud Taanit 2 tells us, Three things are kept in God's hands and never delivered to an angel: one of them is the key to rain".

Rain in Jewish Tradition
Culled from
The Jewish Sourcebook on the Environment and Ecology
by Ronald H. Isaacs)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Feasting on the Word

"In John's gospel, Jesus is presented as the Living Word. John says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us ..." (John. 1:1 & 14).

Jesus was and is the authentic Living Bible. He was and is the Living Psalms, the Living Proverbs, the Living Torah (Law). Had Jesus depreciated the word in the least, he would have depreciated himself. We must understand that there is a great similarity between Jesus as the Living Word and the written word which we hold in our hands. To follow that word is to follow him; to desire it is to desire him.

One professor friend in Israel describes it this way:

Jesus is the Word; the Bible is the word about the Word; preaching is the word about the word about the Word; and theology is the word about the word, about the word, about the Word.

As Jesus taught in the synagogue at Capernaum he made a statement so astounding that his religious listeners spurned him and many of his own disciples turned against him. Jesus said: "...I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you" (John 6:53).

The Master was simply offering himself as food for his people. Those who were hungering and thirsting after him were in a very real sense feasting on the Word of God."

Jim Gerrish

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

God With Us

For this is what the high and lofty One says— he who lives forever, whose name is holy: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. Isaiah 57:15 NIV

We all know that God dwells in a place of celestial perfection.

"Yet in Isaiah, it actually says that God also lives with the one who grieves and with the one who is crushed by the burdens of life here on earth. He really dwells here too, but the place you find him most is in the squalor – the depressing places that no one wants to go.

This actually changes my perception of God. I used to think of God as happily disconnected from us here. I would ask God why we all couldn’t be happy like he is. But then it hit me that if I genuinely love someone who is hurting, I don’t live a happy life as long as they are in pain. If God is truly empathetic with his people, he really doesn’t just dwell in paradise. If our goal is only to be happy, we’re asking for something that even God doesn’t have, until he brings healing and redemption to the earth.

In Isaiah 63:9, it says, “In all their affliction, he was afflicted.” God suffers as long as his people do. He is both on his heavenly throne, but fully with us here, and the place we can most join him is in healing the hurts of others. "

Lois Tverberg

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Bible is Like Star Trek pt.2

"Let’s look at how an ancient person would read the book of Ruth. I used to simply see it as a nice story about a widow who found a good husband because she was kind to her mother-in-law.

But if we lived in biblical times, we would be curious about Ruth’s ancestors, and our ears would prick up to the fact that Ruth was a Moabite. Immediately we’d think of the scandalous past of her people, and it would cast her story in a different light. We’d recall that when the weary Israelites were journeying to the Promised Land, the Moabites lured the Israelites into sexual immorality and worshipping idols (Numbers 25:1). From that time on, the Moabites were associated with sexual immorality, even more disgusting because it was how they worshipped their “gods.” Because of that sin, God declared that Moabites were barred from being a part of the assembly of Israel in Deuteronomy 23:3. Was their sin ever forgivable, we’d wonder?

Then we’d think back to the origins of the Moabites in Genesis 19:30-38. After Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, we read the not-so-nice story of when Lot’s daughters got their father drunk so that they could become pregnant by him, since their husbands had refused to leave the city and died. One of Lot’s daughters gave birth to a son named Moab, and he became the father of the Moabite people. So that’s why the Moabites are so immoral! This would make complete sense to us, because we’d expect that people would be defined by their ancestry.

Keeping these ideas in mind, now let’s turn to Ruth. She was a Moabite woman who had returned to Israel with her mother-in-law after her husband died. An ancient listener would immediately wonder, was she as immoral as those who came before her? She said that she would worship the God of Israel, but would God ever accept her? We even find her in the same situation as Lot’s daughters! Like them, she was a widow who desperately needed children. Naomi even told her to approach Boaz when he was sleeping outside by his harvest, after he had eaten (and drunk) his fill.

But unlike her ancestors, Boaz proclaimed that she was a virtuous woman (Ruth 3:10). He then married her, and her son became the grandfather of King David. Not only that, but Ruth even appears in Matthew 1:5 as part of the line of Christ! She turned from her people’s unseemly past to embrace the God of Israel. Not only did he accept her and cleanse her from her history, but he gave her a key role in his supreme act of salvation!

Those of us who struggle with an embarrassing family history or an immoral past should rejoice to see how God redeemed Ruth and used her for his wonderful purposes.

Understanding how texts interrelate has given me a whole new perspective on reading the Bible. When I used to read the stories by themselves, some of them frustrated me because they didn’t show me how to live. But the difficult ones have a far deeper purpose. They illustrate how the terrible sinfulness of man runs throughout history, but then how God graciously intervened to bring Christ into the world.

We need to read with the eyes of an ancient person in order to see how that message is woven into the fabric of the Bible from beginning to end."

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Bible is Like Star Trek pt.1

Some more insights from Lois Tverberg:

"Back when I was in school, my friends and I were huge fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Every Monday morning, all we talked about was the previous evening’s new episode. At first we just focused on the science fiction, discussing how Jean-Luke Picard dealt with whatever strange planetary life form that he had encountered that week.

But after a while, we became engrossed in the plots that were interwoven into many episodes and would surface again in later programs. Data, the android, would discover one week that his creator had also fashioned an evil twin “brother” named Lore, and weeks later, their relationship would come up in the characters’ conversation. Months later Lore would return, now possessing the “emotion-chip” that Data had dearly desired since he was first built.

Over time we saw that key to enjoying the show was paying attention to the crew’s offhand remarks about the past, and then thinking back to how earlier episodes shed light on the current story. Like any well-written series, each program would tell a good story, but a long-time follower would be able to see how the intrigue grew as the plot thickened over time.

As I learned to read the Bible in its ancient Eastern setting, I discovered that it’s actually a lot like this. Why? Because memory and history were central to the fabric of ancient Eastern culture. The ancients were very aware of ancestral relationships and oral history handed down to them, and used it to understand later events. Especially important to them was the first place they found something, because it usually set up relationships and patterns that would come up again and again.

Being aware of this has greatly enriched my Bible study, because the Scriptures are written with this in mind. As a child, my Bible story book trained me to read the Scripture as a series of short stories, mostly unrelated, each with its own moral lesson. Only after learning about its Eastern setting did I discover that the Old Testament especially is an epic saga with a delightfully interwoven plot.

Sometimes the Bible includes stories that hardly seem to be moral examples, and I used to wonder why they were there. But they need to be there to explain the deeper meaning of later events."


Friday, June 10, 2011

Ancient Hebraic Perspective --- Good

"What does "good" mean? The first use of this word is in Genesis chapter one where calls his handiwork "good". It should always be remembered that the Hebrews often relate descriptions to functionality.

The word tov would best be translated with the word "functional". When looked at his handiwork he did not see that it was "good", he saw that it was functional, kind of like a well oiled and tuned machine.

In contrast to this word is the Hebrew word "ra". These two words, tov and ra are used for the tree of the knowledge of "good" and "evil". While "ra" is often translated as "evil" it is best translated as "dysfunctional".

AHLB# 1186-J

If you have enjoyed this perspective, may I recommend Jeff's website? It is an absolute treasure trove of wonderfulness.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ancient Hebraic Perspective --- Praise

"The word praise is an abstract word that has no relationship with the ancient Hebrew's concrete way of thinking. While the word halel is translated as "praise" it is also translated as "shine" as in Job 29:3:

When his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness;

The original meaning of halel is the North Star. This star, unlike all of the other stars, remains motionless and constantly shines in the northern sky and is used as a guide when traveling. In the Ancient Hebrew mind we praise God by looking at him as the guiding star that shines to show us our direction."

AHLB# 1104-B

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ancient Hebraic Perspective --- Holy

"When we use the word holy, as in a holy person, we usually associate this with a righteous or pious person. If we use this concept when interpreting the word holy in the Hebrew Bible then we are misreading the text as this is not the meaning of the Hebrew word qadosh (pronounced Kah-dosh with a long "o" sound).

Qadosh literally means "to be set apart for a special purpose". A related word, qedesh, is one who is also set apart for a special purpose but not in the same way we think of "holy" but is a male prostitute (Deut 23:17).

Israel was qadosh because they were separated by the other nations as servants of God. The furnishings in the tabernacle were qadosh as they were not to be used for anything except for the work in the tabernacle. While we may not think of ourselves as "holy" we are in fact set apart from the world to be God's servants and representatives."

AHLB# 2700

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ancient Hebraic Perspective --- Break

"While the word keep, as in "keep the commands of God" does not mean obedience but guarding and protecting, the meaning of "break the commands of God" does not mean disobedience.

The Hebrew word parar, translated as break, is the treading of grain on the threshing floor by oxen to open up the hulls to remove the seeds. To the Ancient Hebrews, breaking the commands of God was equated with throwing it on the ground and trampling on it.

In both cases, keeping and breaking are related to ones attitude toward the commands. A child who disobeys his parents and is genuinely apologetic shows honor and respect to his parents. But a child who willfully disobeys with no sign of remorse has trampled on his parents teachings and deserves punishment."

AHLB# 1388-B

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ancient Hebraic Perspective --- Covenant

"While the Hebrew word beriyt (pronounced bear-reet) means "covenant," the cultural background of the word is helpful in understanding its full meaning. Beriyt comes from the parent root word bar meaning grain. Grains were fed to livestock to fatten them up to prepare them for the slaughter.

Two other Hebrew words related to beriyt and also derived from the parent root bar can help understand the meaning of beriyt. The word beriy means fat and barut means meat. Notice the common theme with beriy and barut, they have to do with the slaughtering of livestock.

The word beriyt is literally the animal that is slaughtered for the covenant ceremony. The phrase "make a covenant" is found thirteen times in the Hebrew Bible. In the Hebrew text this phrase is "karat beriyt". The word karat literally means "to cut".

When a covenant is made a fattened animal is cut into pieces and laid out on the ground. Each party of the covenant then passes through the pieces signifying that if one of the parties fails to meet the agreement then the other has the right to do to the other what they did to the animal (see Genesis 15:10 and Jeremiah 34:18-20)."

AHLB# 1043-H

Friday, June 3, 2011

Ancient Hebraic Perspective --- Faith

"The Hebrew root aman means firm, something that is supported or secure. This word is used in Isaiah 22:23 for a nail that is fastened to a "secure" [or "sure"] place. Derived from this root is the word emun meaning a craftsman. A craftsman is one who is firm and secure in his talent.

Also derived from aman is the word emunah meaning firmness, something or someone that is firm in their actions. When the Hebrew word emunah is translated as faith, misconceptions of its meaning occur. Faith is usually perceived as a knowing while the Hebrew emunah is a firm action.

To have faith in God is not knowing that God exists or knowing that he will act, rather it is that the one with emunah will act with firmness toward God's will."

AHLB# 1290-C

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ancient Hebraic Perspective --- Life

Another author I've enjoyed is Jeff Benner who wrote Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible. His studies on the most ancient pictographic forms of Hebrew words are fascinating.

"On a frequent basis we attach a meaning of a word from the Bible based on our own language and culture to a word that is not the meaning of the Hebrew word behind the translation. This is often a result of using our modern western thinking process for interpreting the Biblical text.

For proper interpretation of the Bible it is essential that we take our definitions for words from an Ancient Hebraic perspective. Our modern western minds often work with words that are purely abstract or mental while the Hebrew's vocabulary was filled with words that painted pictures of concrete concepts. By reading the Biblical text with a proper Hebrew vocabulary the text comes to life revealing the authors intended meaning. "

Here is one example from Brenner's book (AHLB# 1171-A) :

The Hebrew word hhai (or chai) is usually translated as life.

In the Hebrew language all words are related to something concrete or physical, something that can be observed by one of the five senses. Some examples of concrete words would be tree, water, hot, sweet or loud.

The western Greek mind frequently uses abstracts or mental words to convey ideas. An abstract word is something that cannot be sensed by the five senses. Some examples would be bless, believe, and the word life.

Whenever working with an abstract word in the Biblical text it will help to uncover the concrete background to the word for proper interpretation. How did the ancient Hebrew perceive "life"?

A clue can be found in Job 38:39, "Will you hunt prey for the lion and will you fill the stomach of the young lion?". In this verse the word "stomach" is the Hebrew word hhai. What does the stomach have to do with life?

In our culture it is very uncommon for anyone to experience true hunger but this was an all too often experience for the Ancient Hebrews. To the Ancient Hebrews life is seen as a full stomach while an empty stomach is seen as death.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Reading in Translation

Here are some quotes that relate to the next several posts I'll be doing.

"Our sacred literature does not use obscure language, but describes most things in words clearly indicating their meaning. Therefore it is necessary at all times to delve into the literal meaning of words to achieve complete understanding of what is actually meant."
--Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888)

"Reading the Bible in translation is like kissing your new bride through a veil."
--Haim Nachman Bialik (Jewish Poet, 1873-1934)

"Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we can think about."
--Benjamin Lee Whorf (Hebrew Linguist, 1897-1941)

"The Bible is a book that has been read more and examined less than any book that ever existed."
--Thomas Paine (Author, 1737-1809)