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the place of the gods

the place of the gods...
Defining Enemies

Warfare: Part One

by haRold Smith
a citizen of the Commonwealth
(Ephesians 2:12)

When Yeshua came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" So they said, "Some say John the Immerser, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Yeshua answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My assembly, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it…"
Matthew 16:13-18

Words mean things. While it is imperative to understand the meaning of the words of scripture, how history and geography affected those who penned the words is just as important to understand. Wars, both physical as well as theological, have long been waged over this passage from Matthew 16 as a result of not considering the influence original history and geography had on the shaping of those words. As exposed in the last series even though the phrase "the Church" (click on highlighted words to view content), is found not to be a scriptural entity, it still has become the foundation of a "new" covenant replacing the Promise of the Hebrew Elohim to Israel and the subsequent deliberate process of separating Hellenistic Christianity from Hebraism. Thus, a re-interpretation of the Hebrew Messianic Writings became necessary to justify replacing the Only True Holy One of Israel spoken of entirely in scripture with another universal "god of mankind" - but, yet, still seem to be compatible with Hebrew scripture. This new Roman religion, (for that is what Christianity became - see the Origins and Errors of Replacement Theology), soon did not tolerate members professing to be Christian while retaining Hebrew practices - eventually causing them to disappear as a movement. Consequently, in order to be considered Christian even today, one becomes obligated to reject Hebraism. However, In so doing, the perspective of these Hebrew writers whose words were influenced by their Hebrew history and geography is lost in 1700 years of changing cultural context overwriting the meaning of those words (see Who's Word Is It? for an in-depth look).

Which brings us to the history and geography behind the words of Yeshua above that were given in the region surrounding the city then known as Caesarea Philippi (known as Baal Hermon and Baal Gad in the Original Writings) which was located at the foot of Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights just to the north of the Kinneret (sea of Galilee), Outside the city was a sacred precinct from which flowed one of the largest springs feeding the Jordan River. The abundant water supply made the area very fertile and attractive for religious worship. Today the area is a nature reserve while also preserving the remains of a pagan culture which once included a temple, courtyards, and a cave. Without an appreciation of this geography within the context of His words, it is nearly impossible to understand the exchange Yeshua makes with His disciples in one of the most recognized pagan sites in Israel. A massive rock, hundreds of feet long and high, stands before them. At its base is a giant grotto considered by pagan worshippers to be a passage into the underworld. This is the place of the gods - and here it becomes appropriate for Yeshua to ask, "Who do you think that I am?" Now, with this geography in mind - let's look again at Matthew 16 from the history surrounding the words of Yeshua.

When our modern translations quote Peter as replying, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God", there are two glaring discrepancies with the history of the Hebrew people in that translation. Before those discrepancies are expounded upon, however, it is important to remember that these were Hebrews speaking in their native tongue of Hebrew to each other. While Greek certainly was the universal language spoken between citizens of different cultures mixing regularly (probably between Yeshua, who spoke Hebrew, and Pilate, who spoke Latin - the language of Rome), those of the same ethnic origin spoke the language they were raised in and had in common. Among each other, Hebrews spoke Hebrew. This fact is validated in the inscription placed above Yeshua's head at His crucifixion that was written in the three commonly spoken languages of the day - Hebrew, Greek and Latin (John 19:20). We also can see that phenomena present in the world still today - even though English has become the universal language, those raised in their native France still speak French to their neighbors and in Japan they speak Japanese among themselves, etc. We must also be constantly reminded that there were no "Christians" around when these words were spoken. That religion did not begin appearing in history for another 150 to 200 years (see the Gentile for more). Consequently, the first discrepancy in this verse is found in the term "Christ", coined from the Greek word, christos meaning "anointed" to support the agenda of this new religion (which was added only at a later date to the Greek manuscripts by Latin translators from which the English is derived). The Hebrew word for "anointed" used throughout the Original Writings is mashiach, which is more correctly translated as "Messiah". This subtle change underscores the deliberate separation from the Hebrew origin and purpose describing the Person. Secondly, the English word "God" in this verse is translated from the Greek word theos whose definition is "a god or goddess, a general name given to deities". But, since the Greeks worshipped multiple deities, we see this cultural influence overwriting the translation of the Hebrew name, Elohim (also translated as "God" in Genesis 1:1). But, Elohim is specific and unique to Hebraic thinking - occurring only in Hebrew and in no other ancient Semitic language. So, Peter's exclamation should more accurately be translated as, "You are the Mashiach, the Son of the living Elohim". Peter was speaking out of his Hebraic historical knowledge and relationship with the Unique and Only True Elohim of Israel - not some generalized god. The importance of translation in this verse will be seen a little further on.

...the grotto of the Greek god Pan
Yeshua responds with, "Simon Bar-Jonah, how blessed you are! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but the Spirit of my Father in heaven." The Greek to English translation continues with Yeshua seemingly bestowing upon the person Simon Bar-Jonah a new name accompanied with the charge of building Yeshua's invincible "church"; "…and I also say that you are Peter (Greek Petros) and upon this rock (Greek petra) I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." There are some more glaring discrepancies with the conventional interpretation of this passage. The first is that Yeshua did not issue Simon a new name that day. The first report of Yeshua giving him a "nickname" is actually found in John 1:42 where, in Hebrew, he is called "Shim'on, known as Kefa (Greek Petros, English Peter)". While the Greek Petros does mean "rock", Kefa in Hebrew also means "rock", He already was known as a "rock" prior to Yeshua using it that day. Aramaic words and expressions appear intermittently throughout the Messianic Writings (the Aramaic word, Cephas, appears in John 1:42 in most English translations). As a "sister language" to Hebrew it becomes most useful in giving insight to the actual words used in Hebrew by these Hebrews. Secondly, the conjunctive Greek word, kai (translated "and") grammatically can just as easily be translated "but" - which places an entirely different emphasis on the context.

Finally, since the Greek word used for rock, petra, sounds similar to the Greek name, Petros, much has been made by biblical scholars over the word play between these two Greek words - which makes it seem logical this verse is about Peter. But, we must remember that Yeshua did not speak from a Greek platform of logic - He said He did not speak anything unless He was first taught it from His Hebrew Father (John 5:30, John 8:28, also read My Big Fat Greek Mindset, part one and part two for an in-depth look at how most come to see the scriptures from an altered viewpoint). Thus, Yeshua was using Shim'on's nickname for comparative purposes only. Whereas Kefa is called "A rock", YHVH is called "THE Rock" in Deuteronomy 32:3-4 and described as the One Whose "work is perfect (from the Hebrew, tamiym, meaning complete)". If there is any word play invoked, it would be Yeshua's use of the literal meaning of Kefa to bring together the understanding of the Tsur, (Rock) used here in Deuteronomy, Psalm 18:46, Psalm 61, Psalm 62, and Isaiah 51:1 (here translated as "One"). The more correct translation of this portion of the verse without placing any preconceptions upon it should be rendered, "…and I also say you are Kefa (a rock), but upon THIS ROCK (YHVH) I will build…" Yeshua is drawing from the historical Hebrew relationship with the Hebrew Elohim to make a statement concerning the faithfulness of YHVH to complete His Promise - something these non-gods under the boulder they are standing before are unable to do and revealing the significance of Kefa's earlier conclusion of Yeshua being that Promised Messiah.

There is more - the Greek word translated "build" is oikodomeo and actually means "to RE-store by building, to RE-build, to RE-pair, to RE-establish upon a foundation." All of these Hebrews who believed in the Hebrew Elohim were familiar with the purpose of the Messiah - to RE-store the Kingdom of YHVH to His family of Israel (Matthew 15:24, Luke 4:43, Acts 1:6, and Acts 15:16 here called "David's fallen tent" quoting Amos 9:11). The question posed in Yeshua's day was not whether Hebrews believed in YHVH as their Elohim or not. They all believed, particularly concerning the disciples He was speaking to in this passage - that they were "of faith" was what made them Hebrew. The question was whether Yeshua was that Promised Messiah sent by Elohim - or not. As already exposed in the article, "the Church", the Greek word, ekklesia, translated "church" in this passage from Matthew is not a scriptural entity - not something new and unique to the Messianic Writings. Rather, it has become a traditional entity that, instead, should be read in the Hebrew context of qehelah, or assembly spoken of in Leviticus 8:4. Lastly, we come to the most glaring discrepancy of them all, "…and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." Hades is just another Greek god - the god of the underworld. Yeshua does not believe in other gods, only in the Hebrew Elohim - why, then, would He seemingly be ascribing power to a god He knows is non-existent? Again, when we remember that Yeshua said He did not speak anything unless He was first taught it from His Hebrew Father (John 5:30, John 8:28), the Hebrew phrase the Hebrew Yeshua would be quoting is, "…and your seed shall possess the gate of His (YHVH's) enemies", found in the promise YHVH made to Abraham concerning the Messiah (Genesis 22:17-18, Galatians 3:16), The Hebrew word, yarash (translated "possess"). actually means "to inherit, to occupy" - which brings to the forefront the role of the status of the firstborn, the Kinsman Redeemer, as the inheritor of the Promise of YHVH. Now, understanding Yeshua's Hebrew perspective, we can see the enemies that the Seed, the Messiah, shall inherit are YHVH's enemies. Thus, the correct rendering of this passage from its original Hebrew perspective should be:

"You are the Mashiach, the Son of the living Elohim". Yeshua responds, "Shim'on Bar-Yochanan, how blessed you are! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but the Spirit of My Father in heaven. And I also say you are Kefa (a rock), but upon THIS ROCK (YHVH) I will restore His Kingdom to the qehelah by occupying the gate of His (YHVH's) enemies." Matthew 16:16-18

By reading this verse from its scriptural, Hebrew perspective the true meaning is placed back into the words and this dynamic exchange taking place in this historical setting is restored. Yeshua was not creating a "new religion" with "Peter" as its chief administrator - He was solidifying the Promise of the Father to restore what had been lost to His Family, Israel, in the face of YHVH's enemies (Psalm 23:5). So, then, just who are YHVH's enemies? That Yeshua picked this spot, standing before this looming boulder which is the centerpiece around the worship of so many pagan gods considered deities apart from the One True Holy Elohim of Israel should make it clear that YHVH's enemies are non-gods that focus attention and faith away from the Elohim of Israel. They do this through the illusion of power which is the gateway of fear - the fear of death (Hebrews 2:11-15, see Faith or Fear). What is death? Romans 3:23 tells us that death is separation from the Source of Life. The condemnation spoken of by Yeshua in John 3:17-21 is translated from the Greek word krisis and means "separation". To love darkness more than Light is what separates men from YHVH, the Source of Life - who IS Light (1John 1:5). This is where divorcement from YHVH's Words (mistakenly translated "commandments" - see Exodus 20:1) prevents a truthful understanding of scripture.


...the nehushtan
The first of YHVH's Words are, "You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself any graven image to bow down or to serve them." Why? Because verse 5 says those who do so hate YHVH - the Source of Life. To worship other gods by serving them separates those who do so from the Source of Life and is YHVH's definition of hatred. They make themselves enemies, thereby separating themselves from the Truth of there being only One True Elohim of Israel. While standing in front of this edifice devoted to the worship of many pagan gods, Yeshua extols the significance of Peter's exclamation of Him as the Promised Seed, the Messiah of the Rock Who is the Only Living Elohim. This is the One who inherits, possesses, occupies the gate of His Father's enemies. Many reading this will say to themselves, "I don't hate God - I don't worship idols of graven images". Here, again, is seen the consequence of setting aside YHVH's Words. Yeshua upheld the Words of His Hebrew Father when He said that what we worship is what we serve (Matthew 4:10, Deuteronomy 11:16), What we serve is what we give ourselves to - people SAY what they believe, but they DO what they value. A graven image is the definition of an idol. How many "Christians" worship an image of the cross without an understanding that it has become the nehushtan spoken of in scripture and that Yeshua said He would become in John 3:14-15? Thus, those clinging to their idol become separated from, placed in conflict with and enemies of the Only True Elohim of Israel, the Source of Life - without even being aware of it. Following the tradition of men handed down to them that says the Original Words of the Elohim of Israel are of no consequence anymore places them in a tragic position of ignorance in regard to the Truth of ALL scripture (Mark 7:13), including the Messianic Writings, which were written by Hebrews from a unique historical Hebrew perspective (see One Spirit for more explanation).
The Warfare Series
Part One - Defining Enemies
Part Two - Chasing Lucifer
Part Three - Confronting Evil
Part Four - the Real Enemy
Part Five - Authority

Yeshua said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words ; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me." John 14:23-24

Please feel free to email me at While not claiming to have all the answers, it would be an honor to partake with you of what the Spirit is uncovering.