by haRold Smith
from Jerusalem, Israel
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2Timothy 3:16
"He is in the way of life that keeps instruction: but he that refuses reproof goes astray." Proverbs 10:17
"For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life." Proverbs 6:23
Wow. You guys really called me on the carpet over that last article, ("His Name is Y'shua."). I got a sack load of email wanting me to clarify my position on some things, correct me on other positions and challenge me on still yet others. I humbly receive them all. If we are truly living the Spirit of the Lord, reproof and correction should not come as an offense but should become a way of life if we are to remain clear in His Truth.
To start with, the whole purpose of this writing is meant as an illumination, an aid to help bring believers up to speed on and as a point of contact with their Jewish roots - not as an exegetical exercise for the literarily elite and I don't mean that as a slur. For too many centuries the Jewish influence among the "Christian" community has been subject to and the object of a deliberate attempt to put distance between believers in the Way of Yeshua and their Jewish brethren while, at the same time, attempting to serve the same God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as they do. The scripture says it is WE, the Gentile believers who have been grafted INTO the Jewish Root - not the other way around.
I will be the first to admit there are flaws in my understanding of things Jewish and, most certainly, in the more rigorous aspects of the Hebrew language itself. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, attempting to hold myself out as an expert in any of these fields on the level of any learned scholar. I am still learning and, if you read the whole of this adventure from the rest of the writing on my website, I believe you will find that to be a frequently repeated invocation. These articles are meant to be viewed as an expression of a life lived in His Presence - not because of who I am or what I know, but because of Who HE is and what He has done in me. If He can do it with me, He can with anybody.
As a consequence, I welcome reproof and correction for my sole desire is to embrace Truth. Truth, however, is not subjective. Truth is a Spirit and will not be confined to the limitations of the structure of "man-think" - regardless of how "true" we think them to be. This aspect of His character was first made evident in the valley of Shinar in Genesis and reinforced in scripture up to and since the episode recorded on the Mount of Transfiguration where Peter wanted to build tabernacles to contain the Holy Spirit. Consequently, I hold what comes to me as reproof up to the same Light and Standard as I hold myself to - the testimony and the Life Yeshua lived among us.
So, one time with this article, I would like to share some of what has come my way to clarify position, apologize for mistakes, rebut inconclusiveness and to spread enlightenment. There is some good stuff here, folks. The original text is in italics, the question from the reader is in bold, and my response follows.
On the way the name Y'shua was presented:
"I call Him Y'shua for a simple reason - it is His Name. That was the Hebrew name given to Him by His Father when He was conceived in Mary's Hebrew womb, the same as when your parents gave you the name you go by."
Actually the Hebrew can't be spelled this way into English because of the sere (it is pronounced "ay") under the yod, it is spelled in English as Yeshua, and not Y'shua (the apostrophe is used if a shewa [or, depending on the authority it's pronounced sh'va] is used under the letter). Also, the spelling "Y'shua" was actually invented 20-30 years ago by a group of Jewish believers to see if they were influential enough to impact the messianic market (strange but true). I mention this, not because it is particularly significant, but because with it he makes a point about Messiah's Hebrew name, but I suspect he's not familiar with Hebrew himself.
He is correct in his suspicion. I am just learning Hebrew and have much to learn about the nuances of this beautiful and wonderful language. Yeshua it will be from now on. However, in spite of the technical aspects of the lettering, the point of the statement remains the same.
On where the New Testament originated:
"All the books of the New Testament were originally written by Jewish believers in Hebrew. In fact, the whole of the New Testament is a translation from Hebrew into Greek and, from the Greek, into English."
Please � what is your source for saying that the original NT was written in Hebrew and then translated into Greek? I have never heard that before. It goes against what most scholars believe. Are there any Hebrew manuscripts around that prove this?
You are correct in the assertion that there are no Hebrew New Testament manuscripts in existence that we know of, that what has come to us was penned in Greek. But, there are no original Greek manuscripts in existence, either - the only earliest copy of a Greek manuscript is a fragment of the book of John, which was only found about 50 years ago, dating to around 125 AD, so nothing can be "proven" one way or another. (www.religionfacts.com).
But, consider this: Hebrew was the language of the Hebrew people until after the time of the Jewish diaspora out of the Land and throughout the nations beginning with the second destruction of the temple (in 70 AD). It became a "lost" language only after they were scattered among the nations, until Eliezer Ben-Yehuda began his work of reviving it in the late 1800's. (Eliezer Ben-Yehuda).
The Aramaic and Greek languages were a commonly used base of communication between different nationalities of people under the umbrella of the Roman Empire which spanned over many diverse cultures, much as English is used today across the globe due to the British influence in so many places. But each culture still maintained their own identity within and among their own people, just as we see they do today. So did the Hebrew within and among each other even though, as a people, they were technically under the rule and governance of other nations.
The point of the statement was that the originators from where the books that were penned in Greek came from, with the exception of Luke, were all Hebrew. They thought in Hebrew, they spoke in Hebrew, they related to other Hebrews in Hebrew and they wrote in Hebrew - all of this from a Hebrew mindset. Even who did the actual penning of the Greek manuscripts we do have in our possession today is in perpetual dispute, but they all originated with those early Hebrews - who lived and thought and wrote in Hebrew.
On the significance of the tallit:
"When every Jewish boy turns 13 years of age, he becomes a bar mitzvah (literally - son of the commandment) and is obligated to begin to observe the commandments of Moses. At that time, he is given a tallit that he takes with him everywhere he goes for the rest of his life for use in his morning prayer. It is what is draped "around" or, more precisely, over the head during prayer and, traditionally, that same tallit is placed over the head of one who has died as they lie in their grave or tomb." (John 20:3-9).
Bar Mitzvah boys have suitably sized tallit (children's size, much smaller than what adults use. This statement was not intended to mean it was the exact, same piece of cloth he received as a boy but the culture he carries with him throughout his life.
When Yeshua was raised from the dead, He arose miraculously out of His grave cloths � that's why they remained unwrapped in the empty tomb, as with the head wrapping as well � what is translated folded. This matter of Yeshua "removing His tallit from His head" is not factual.
These two words, remained unwrapped, while perhaps captured in the imagery of our mind, are not actually found to be in the scriptures mentioned and are a matter of conjecture. If this particular piece of cloth was no different from the rest, why, then, would the scripture make a point of it being treated differently than the rest - folded, laying apart from the rest of the clothing - if it were not, actually, different? I never said it "replaced" the traditional head-wrapping, or that it was "wrapped" around his head, just that it was "laid over" his head as He would have had it in prayer throughout His Life.
On being Jewish:
"Because of Y'shua and with my embrace of His Life, I have been reborn into the Spirit of the Father (the very same Father that fathered Him) and scripture says that, because of that rebirth, the same DNA courses through my body as that of my Brother, Y'shua - flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone (Ephesians 5:30). Hence, I am Jewish and, by virtue of such birth, am recognized by the Sovereign of Sovereigns as a citizen of the Commonwealth of Israel."
This fact is true. Being part of the commonwealth of Israel makes you a Jew as much as being part of the British Commonwealth makes you British � it doesn't make you Jewish. In Yeshua, Jews remain Jews and Gentiles remain Gentiles (see Rom 11:14).
There are those who would say, "well, that's a spiritual take on things," but Yeshua's message was consistently one of bringing the reality of the Spirit of the Kingdom that lies within (see Luke 17:20-21) to behold as reality in this earthly realm and in Galatians 3:26-29 it specifically says there is no more Jew, no more Gentile - we are one.
On One New Man:
"God is in the process of creating of us both One New Man that will transcend both, where there will no longer be Jew nor Gentile."
This is not as he says it; we're already One new man, even though we are Jews and Gentiles. Our diversity will remain apparently into the new heaven and new earth and in the New Jerusalem (see Revelation 21:27). He possibly confuses unity and uniformity; we have unity with our diversity.
While I agree with this statement generally, the challenge is to see ourselves as that One New Man as a reality in this earthly realm today, what the ultimate outcome of that process will look like is still unknown. Galatians 3:26-29 gives us a glimpse. We have a tendency to want to try to comprehend an inconceivable, infinite spirit through the binoculars of a transient, finite mind. This whole dialogue is designed to give an expansion to the narrowness of the religious confines we continually find ourselves embroiled in among ourselves as believers.
One of the problems constantly encountered when writing these articles is the decision of how much space to allocate to each detail of information given so as not to detract from the overall point being made and still keep the project under the size of a novel.
What I am attempting to advance on a regular, consistent basis with these writings is, because of what Yeshua did for us and resultantly made available to us - regardless of our status or station in life or knowledge of the higher things of this world - is the ability for any one of us to be able to enjoy the same measure of relationship with the Father AS HE DID - in the reality of our present situation: first in Spirit and, only then, in truth - not sacrificing one for the other but as a manner of approach. The men the Father gave to Yeshua to fulfill His Purposes were not of the educated and enlightened of His day. They were common, uneducated fishermen that, through a relationship with the Father as exampled by Yeshua, revolutionized the world. I believe there was purpose in those choices then to confound the wisdom of the world and I don't see where that has changed any by today's standards.