Ponder Scripture Newsletter
By Larry and June Acheson
Newsletter #6: Ab 2011 (Fifth Month of the Scriptural Year)
Over the years, June and I have taken a lot of flack from Sacred Name believers about the name we use in reference to the Messiah. We decided to devote a special section of this month's newsletter to the study of the Messiah's name because, once again, we have been challenged on this topic.
As you know, the Holy Scripture was originally written without any vowel points. With the use of ‘vowel dissimilation’ only a slight change occurs, but the slight change REMOVES the Name of Yahweh, effectively shutting off SALVATION FROM YAHWEH to those who are deceived into using the name Yeshua, according to Acts 12.
According to the above author, if you refer to the Messiah as Yeshua, salvation has been shut off from you. Since those who are not saved are condemned, this sounds like a condemning remark to me.
Other Sacred Name believers are more tolerant of those who use the form Yeshua, yet they insist that it is not correct and they maintain that referring to the Savior as Yeshua involves the same principle outlined by the above author – removing the Father’s name from the Son’s name.
What many Sacred Name believers do not understand is the fact that the Father’s name is indeed in the name Yeshua. Of course, they will shake their heads and say, “You’re wrong” without batting an eye and usually without lifting a finger to research my reasoning. The name Yeshua, in Hebrew, is spelled ישׁוע. The key to this name is the first letter, the yod (י). That (י), contrary to what some Sacred Namers are willing to admit, is the initial of the Father’s name. For those who are skeptics, all I have to do is provide an illustration of the name that Moses gave to the man commonly known as Joshua son of Nun. Before Joshua’s name was changed, his name was Hoshea. This name is spelled הושׁע, and is word #1954 in Strong’s. Few people are aware that when Moses changed this man’s name, all he did was add a yod (י) to it! Thus, the name הושׁע (Hoshea) became יהושׁע (Yahushua). Observe, if you will, that Moses did not add “YAHU” (יהו) to the name Hoshea! All he added was a yod, which by itself represents the name Yahweh. This sufficiently demonstrates that the “yod” is and was considered the “initial” of Yahweh’s name.
Please bear in mind that the name Hoshea means “salvation.”1 Simply by tacking on the Hebrew letter “yod” (י) to that name, we form a name meaning “Yahweh is salvation.” Thus, we have just demonstrated that a name containing the yod prefix can be said to simultaneously contain the initial of Yahweh’s name. The following chart vividly illustrates this point:
You would think that those folks who continually harp that “the Father’s name is removed from the form pronounced Yeshua” would read the above commentary and at least understand that we have a valid point. Of course, some folks do understand that we have a point, so if you fall into that category, then I am not directing my comments to you. However, it seems that there are quite a few people out there who just don’t “get it.”
A few weeks ago, I had a phone conversation with a Sacred Name believer who told me that the reason he doesn’t use the form Yeshua is because he feels it is wrong to remove the Son’s name from the Father’s name. In response to his comment, I explained the above example involving Joshua son of Nun and how all Moses did was add a yod to the name Hoshea to transform a name that means “salvation” to a name that means “Yahweh is Salvation.” Once I explained this to the caller, he seemed to understand that it is not possible to have “removed” the Father’s name from the name Yeshua when all you need is the “yod” to represent the Father’s name (and Yeshua -- ישׁוע -- does indeed contain the yod). The way I look at it is like this: If using the yod (י) to represent the Father’s name is sufficient for Yahweh, then who am I to say otherwise? Nevertheless, some Sacred Name folks, without really bearing down and diligently studying this matter, seem all too willing to say otherwise. Anyway, once I offered the above explanation to the caller, I thought we had resolved the issue.
However, a few minutes later, the man offered another protest to the form “Yeshua.” He said, “It seems that His name should be ‘Yahushua’ because isn’t there a verse of Scripture where it says, ‘My name is in him’?” (Exodus 23:21) In other words, once again, from the Sacred Name believer’s perspective, with the form “Yeshua,” the Father’s name is not “in Him.” We were back to “square one.” Obviously, I was frustrated because I had to once again explain that the Father’s name is indeed in the name Yeshua. Frankly, I don’t think he ever understood, and I began to realize that he has been duly indoctrinated into the Sacred Name Movement mentality that the form Yeshua is the result of a Jewish conspiracy to remove the Father’s name from the Son’s name.
I’ll Tell You How To Pronounce His Name – But I Won’t Tell You What My Name Is!
Just the other day another Sacred Name believer called me to let me know that I don’t know how to properly spell or pronounce the Messiah’s name. He insisted that I go to www.eliyah.com and read this “new” article titled “Why Yahushua?” which (he says) proves beyond a shadow of doubt that the correct name for the Savior is Yahushua, which is spelled יהושׁע in Hebrew.2 I skimmed the study while we visited over the phone (yes, it’s that brief) and I quickly determined that it is a modification of the same article I have previously read from the same anonymous author. When I explained to my friend that I address these and other arguments in our full-length study, he countered that he has read our full-length study and he insisted that I did not address them. I decided that maybe I should present my response in a different format and maybe from a different angle. This time I'm answering the specific arguments raised against the form Yeshua in the article "Why Yahushua?"
For starters, I find it a bit strange that the author doesn’t want the reader to know who he is. Granted, I already know the author’s identity by virtue of the fact that I have known him since the early 1990’s. However, when you peruse his web site, you will not find this author’s name anywhere, which presumably means he doesn’t really want readers to know who he is. It seems rather ironic that an individual would expend so much effort into promoting his view of how a certain name should be pronounced, yet he withholds his own name from his readers. I’m not so much opposed to anonymous authors as I am confused over why they find it sooooo important that people know how to identify the Creator (and His Son) by name – to the point of even pronouncing it a certain way – yet they don’t want anyone to know their own name. It’s like they’re saying, “Hey, make sure you pronounce the Messiah’s name the same way I do! Oh, by the way, I’m not going to tell you what my own name is!”
When you access the article, here is what you see (and what you don’t see, i.e., no author’s name):
This author explains why he uses “Yahushua” in reference to the Messiah, but he doesn’t explain why he uses “no name” in reference to himself.
Although I may not be opposed to the writing of anonymous articles, per se, this is not to say that I support authoring anonymous articles, either, because I personally find it to be an indication that the author is afraid of something. I mean, if you don’t want people to know who you are, doesn’t that mean you’re hiding or that you have something to hide? Some folks have told me they prefer to remain "modestly anonymous" because they don’t want to parade their name before others, as though they might be regarded as seeking publicity for themselves. They feel that remaining anonymous is a humble approach. Right. I don’t buy that explanation because, for one, choosing to remain "modestly anonymous" out of a desire to not be the recipient of the next Pulitzer Prize presumes that the content of the article is really that noteworthy or accurate. What if the content is shown to be inaccurate? Who is willing to assume responsibility for dispensing bogus information under the guise of truth? Certainly not the author of "Why Yahushua?" because he doesn't want anyone to know who he is. I might also add that I know the authors of Scripture in general identified themselves for their reading audience, and no one is about to accuse them of being proud or arrogant. The book of Hebrews is an exception to this rule, so I suppose the author of “Why Yahushua?” prefers to be an “exception to the rule.”
I hope I’m not committing a breach of confidence by revealing the first name of the author of “Why Yahushua?” His name is Tom. I am only revealing his first name because in the course of this response to his article, I would like to occasionally make reference to the author by name instead of constantly referring to him as “the author.” If you read Tom’s article, you will notice that the first three sections of his study are not really relevant to my reason for addressing his conclusion in this month’s newsletter. The first section has to do with Tom’s belief that the Messiah’s name is important, and we certainly agree with him on that. The second section of Tom’s study addresses the origin of the form “Jesus,” and I am encouraged by the report of Tom’s conclusion about this name. Many Sacred Name folks attempt to identify and vilify “Jesus” with the Greek idol Zeus, but Tom rightly denounces that connection, even pointing out that the Greek form Iesous, from which “Jesus” is derived, was used in reference to Joshua son of Nun in the Greek Septuagint centuries before the Messiah was even born. Certainly the Hebrew scholars who translated the Septuagint from Hebrew to Greek would not have selected a transliteration such as “Iesous” if they knew it has a pagan origin.
Things start to get interesting in the next section of Tom’s article, which he simply titles “Yehoshua.” Without going into a lot of detail, I will say that his premise may be correct, but I am at complete odds with his conclusion. What is his premise? Originally the Hebrew name יהושׁע may have been pronounced Yahushua instead of Yehoshua. Since I wasn’t present in the 5th century bce to hear whether the vowel sound was an “ah” versus an “eh," I have no choice but to acknowledge that Tom’s findings about the original pronunciation of the form Yehoshua may possibly be correct. Nevertheless, regardless of how correct Tom’s premise is, I must report that his conclusion is completely irrelevant to the discussion of how to pronounce the Messiah’s name because there is no rule requiring the form of the Messiah’s name that He was given at birth to precisely match the original form of that same name. Here is what Tom wrote:
The Murashu texts, dated 5th century BCE and written on clay tablets in cuneiform script, lists the names of about 70 Jewish settlers in Persia. In these tablets, vowels are used. The Hebrew names which begin with יהו (Yod Heh Waw) are all written "Yahu-" and never "Yeho".
"In the cuneiform texts Yeho [YHW], Yo [YW] and Yah [YH] are written Yahu, as for example in the names Jehu (Yahu-a), Jehoahaz (Yahu-khazi) and Hezekiah (Khazaqi-yahu)" A. H. Sayce in "Higher Criticism" notes on p. 87
Notice that not only were names beginning with "Yeho" written as "Yahu", but also names beginning with "Yo" such as "Yochanan" (John) and "Yoel" (Joel) were written as "Yahu". This indicates John and Joel were originally pronounced "Yahuchanan" and "Yahuel".
On the surface, Tom’s claim that we should pronounce the Messiah’s name Yahushua because that’s the way that name was originally vocalized seems reasonable. I say this even though Tom doesn't explain how it is possible to determine what cuneiform vowels are, much less how to recognize the difference between a cuneiform "eh" sound symbol and a cuneiform "ah" sound symbol (how does a linguist point to a certain symbol and say with confidence, "That's an 'ah' sound"?). Nevertheless, let's say that the experts in Semitic linguistics are indeed able to accurately determine how ancient words were pronounced by looking at "cuneiform vowels." Do we really need to go back 500 years prior to the birth of the Messiah to determine how His name was pronounced? Should our goal be to pronounce the Messiah’s name in that name's most original form or should it be to pronounce it with the form by which He was actually named at birth? Of course, Tom believes that he achieves both goals with the form Yahushua (יהושׁע). However, we believe the historical evidence supports the Messiah having been given the name Yeshua (ישׁוע). Tom ignores the historical evidence (which he feels was tampered with), instead citing his interpretation of a passage in Zechariah as evidence of the “prophetic name.” We present detailed historical evidence about the Messiah’s name while addressing Tom’s interpretation of the passage in Zechariah in our study Name of the Messiah.
If the Messiah’s given name at birth is ישׁוע, which is considered the “short form” of the longer form יהושׁע, then it only makes sense that we refer to him with that shorter form. For anyone to maintain that we should refer to Him with the long form "because it's the original form" would be the same as saying we should pronounce Jenny’s name as “Jennifer” because that’s the original form of the name “Jenny.” Never mind the fact that “Jenny” is what appears on her birth certificate! It would be like saying we should pronounce Mike’s name as “Michael” because that’s the original form of the name “Mike.” Again, never mind that “Mike” is the name on his birth certificate! In my own case, it would be like referring to me as “Lawrence,” even though “Larry” is on my birth certificate. I’ve actually been called “Lawrence” on quite a few occasions, and it’s never bothered me; however, that doesn’t mean it’s my name! What would be most helpful in the case of the Messiah’s name would be to see the name that is on His birth certificate. Since He didn’t have a birth certificate for us to examine, the only viable option is to find the name that is found within the existing written records. Texts such as the Hebrew Matthew validate that His name was spelled yod, shin, waw, ayin (ישׁוע). Please note that this is not the spelling advocated by many within the Sacred Name Movement, including Tom. They insist that we should refer to Him with the long form (יהושׁע), which is vocalized Yahushua.
Therefore, as noble as Tom’s intentions are, they are based on flawed reasoning. Our focus should be on what name was actually given to the Son of Yahweh, not on what the original form of that name is.
Presumption of Guilt
When it comes to pronouncing יהו as “Yeho” versus “Yahu” at the beginning of a person’s name, Tom follows the principle of “guilty until proven innocent.” He believes the scribes, who had already vowel-pointed the Tetragrammaton so as to not be pronounced “Yahweh,” did this same thing with any name starting with יהו:
Notice that there are other names listed in the Strong's concordance which contain the first three letters of Yahweh's name. And just like Yahweh's name which starts with the "Yeho" vowel points, they use the "Yeho" vowel points in "Yehoram", "Yehosheba", "Yehoshaphat" and numerous other names which contain the first part of Yahweh's name. The scribes apparently did not want anyone to accidentally pronounce the Heavenly Father's name when saying these other names, so they changed the vowel points of those names as well.
Notice Tom’s use of the word “apparently” within his statement that the scribes “apparently” didn’t want anyone to accidentally pronounce the Heavenly Father’s name when vocalizing a name that begins with יהו. Tom is left with no choice but to use words such as “apparently” because he doesn’t actually have any evidence to support his theory.
While it may possibly be true that in the most ancient of times these names carried the “yahu” pronunciation, many scholars believe that by the time the Jews returned from the Babylonian exile, the “yeho” pronunciation was the accepted form. Not only that, but leading Hebrew scholars believe this form has the blessing of Yahweh. Nineteenth century Hebrew scholar Wilhelm Gesenius, in his Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, offers a pronunciation insight that many Sacred Name folks would consider to be downright offensive:
The pronunciation of the Jews of the present day is very divergent. The Polish and German Jews adopt a worse one, partly like the Syriac, while the Spanish and Portuguese Jews, whom most Christian scholars (after the example of Reuchlin) follow, prefer a purer one, more in harmony with the Arabic.
The manner in which the Septuagint (lxx) wrote Hebrew proper names in Greek letters, furnishes an older and more weighty tradition. Several, however, of the Hebrew sounds they were unable to represent for want of corresponding characters in the Greek language, e.g., שׁ ,ק ,צ ,ע ,ט (in which cases they made the best shifts they could).3
It goes without saying that, in general, the Greek transliteration of names beginning with יהו in Hebrew is the “Yey” sound, not the “Yah” sound as required by Sacred Name authors such as Tom. Curiously, those ancient Greek authors who wrote of the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton offered the “Yah” prefix, which is one of the major reasons that many scholars support the ancient pronunciation Yahweh. Sacred Name believers, who tend to not be proficient in Hebrew and frequently exhibit a lack of understanding about pronunciation nuances within any given language, feel that if the first syllable of the Creator's name is vocalized "Yah," then any name beginning with יהו must likewise carry that same sound. Such a consistency requirement is not linguistically the way the Hebrew language works, and this is even the case within the parameters of our own English language. In the English language, there are common pronunciation inconsistencies, which is why we see words such as "break" vs. "streak," "laughter" vs. "daughter," "beard" vs. "heard," "lost" vs. "post," "worm" vs. "storm" and "monkey" vs. "donkey."
We thus see that Tom bases his conclusion on his unsubstantiated hunch that the scribes deliberately mis-vowel-pointed not only the Tetragrammaton, but also every name that begins with יהו in Hebrew. Wilhelm Gesenius differs with Tom’s conclusion, maintaining that the ancient Greek transliterations furnish “an older and more weighty tradition.”
This brings us to what we feel is the primary thrust of Tom’s argument – his “anti-Yeshua” commentary:
Much used by the Messianic movement, "Yeshua" is actually an Aramaic form of the Hebrew name "Yahushua". In the Hebrew script, Yeshua ישׁוע is not spelled the same as Yahushua יהושׁע. The "Yeshua" name, spelled ישׁוע (Yod Shin Waw Ayin), is found in the books of Nehemiah and Ezra where it lists the names of those who returned from the Babylonian exile. One of them is called "Jeshua, the son of Jozadak":
Ezra 3:2 Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the Elohim of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of Elohim.
In Tom’s writings, he emphasizes his belief that the form Yeshua is not “really” Hebrew, but that it is instead an Aramaic form of the longer form Yahushua. What is amazing is that he makes this claim while spelling this name in the “Hebrew script.” We understand that, upon the Jews’ return from Babylonian exile in the 5th century bce, there were some changes in the way they spelled some names, including the name Yahushua, as evidenced by the above reference taken from the book of Ezra. The fact that the form Yeshua was considered acceptable enough to nobly appear in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, including as a reference to Joshua son of Nun (Neh. 8:17), should be sufficient evidence that it is not regarded by Yahweh as being a corrupt or otherwise “messed up” form of Yahushua. Tom, however, disagrees:
Should we shorten the name of the Messiah to the point where remove all reference to the Father and change the meaning altogether? Why mess with it, I would say we should leave it the way it is.4
Once again, we feel that it is important to understand that the name Yeshua is widely recognized by scholars as being a shortened form of the original Yahushua. Since Yahushua is a Hebrew name and since Yeshua is a shortened form of that name, it should be clear that Yeshua is also a Hebrew name. The fact that this shortening occurred during the Babylonian Captivity may make for an interesting side note, but it is still spelled with Hebrew characters, and the fact that the Almighty has no problem in His inspired Word with shortening Joshua son of Nun’s name to Yeshua should make it plain that Yahweh does not regard the shortening process as “messing with it.”
Tom’s remark about messing with the form Yahushua was made back in 1999 (when he posted commentaries under the pseudonym “EliYah”), but his recent article indicates that he still casts the same rejection of the form Yeshua that he offered back then. Actually, in his 2011 article, Tom paints an even more sinister picture of the form Yeshua than the one he offered in 1999. He opens his 2011 commentary by emphasizing the Aramaic influence on shortening the form Yahushua (יהושׁע) to Yeshua (ישׁוע):
"Jeshua the Son of Jozadak" is the same High Priest mentioned in Zechariah 6:
Zechariah 6:11 Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest;
Notice that in Zechariah, he is not called "Jeshua the son of Jozadak" but he is called "Joshua the son of Josedech" (Heb. Yahushua the son of Yahutsadak). This reflects the Hebrew spelling of the same name. So in Zechariah, he is called Yahushua but in Ezra he is called Yeshua. The book of Nehemiah also changes the name of Joshua the son of Nun to "Jeshua, the son of Nun":
Nehemiah 8:17 And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths: for since the days of Jeshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness.
The change in spelling to "Jeshua/Yeshua" (ישׁוע "Yod Shin Waw Ayin" ) is due to the Aramaic influence during the exile. In fact, parts of the book of Ezra are written in Aramaic. For confirmation, look at your Strong's Lexicon:
Notice that #3442 and #3443 are the same exact word with the same Hebrew spelling, but this lexicon lists them separately. Why is this? Well, if you looked up "Jeshua" in the concordance, you will notice that it lists "Jeshua" in Ezra 3:2 as coming from #3442 and "Jeshua" in Ezra 5:2 coming from #3443. The reason for the two different Strong's word numbers is Ezra 5:2 is a part of the book of Ezra which was written in Aramaic (Ezra 4:8 through 6:18; 7:12-26). This is why #3443 mentions "Yeshuwa" as coming from "Chaldean" in the above definition (3443. ישׁוע Yeshuwa' (Chald.)). Therefore, "Yeshua" is actually an Aramaic rendering of "Yahushua".
Tom, in his commentary above, seems to expend a great deal of effort in attempting to prove that the form Yeshua isn’t really Hebrew at all, but rather an “Aramaic rendering.” In spite of his efforts to disparage the form Yeshua, Tom fails to answer how and why Yahweh would approve of the shortened form ישׁוע appearing in His Word. If the authors of Ezra and Nehemiah wrongly shortened or, as Tom puts it, “messed up” Yahushua so as to produce the hybrid Yeshua, then does Tom consider those two books to be a part of the inspired Word of Yahweh? He stops short of claiming that they are not; however, in our study Name of the Messiah, we address the assertion from a leader within the Sacred Name Movement that the books of Ezra and Nehemiah are "not books necessarily of inspiration."
Since it is true that the form Yeshua (ישׁוע) didn’t appear within the framework of the Hebrew language until the Jews’ return from their seventy-year period of Babylonian Captivity, we can agree with Tom that there was an Aramaic influence that resulted in the name Yahushua being shortened to Yeshua. Our disagreement, then, lies with whether or not this same form was used over 500 years later in naming the Son of Yahweh. Tom doesn’t seem to have so much of a problem with shortening the name as he does with allowing such a “messed up” form to be given to the Son of the Most High:
I wish to express that I do not believe it was wrong of someone to shorten the name of Yahushua son of Yahutsadak to "Yeshua". The Messiah's name is certainly of higher importance due to the scriptural reasons I set forth at the beginning of the post. The name "Yeshua" (technically meaning 'Salvation', not 'he is salvation') is certainly not inherently evil.5
The above is an excerpt from a commentary that Tom submitted to a forum discussion back in 1999. We thus see that Tom doesn’t really mind the shortening of Yahushua to Yeshua, so long as this process is not applied to the Messiah's name. Of course, this is Tom’s opinion; regrettably, his opinion is not supported either by Scripture or the record of history. Tom does not bill himself as a Hebrew scholar, yet in the above commentary, as he also does in his “Why Yahushua?" study, he nevertheless asserts himself as though he is an expert in Hebrew semantics. A novice Bible student would likely form the impression that Tom is a Hebrew scholar. As we are about to see, Tom inadvertently exposes his lack of expertise in Hebrew semantics by drawing a biased conclusion that clashes with the conclusion shared by qualified Hebrew scholars.
In the above 1999 commentary, Tom asserted that “Yeshua” technically means “Salvation,” not “He is Salvation.” Coming from a non-Hebrew scholar, we would expect him to back up his commentary with evidence supported by experts in the Hebrew language. However, he chose not to do so.
Now, in 2011, Tom attempts to malign the meaning of “Yeshua,” asserting that it doesn’t even mean “salvation” at all! Here is what he now writes:
Now, some claim that Yeshua ישׁוע is a pure Hebrew word which isn't derived from "Yahushua" at all, but that it is a Hebrew word meaning "Salvation". The problem with that is the Hebrew word for "Salvation" is not ישׁוע (yeshua) at all! The Hebrew word for "Salvation" is word number #3444.
We find the above commentary to be very strange. First, Tom mentions that some folks claim Yeshua (ישׁוע) is a pure Hebrew word which isn't derived from “Yahushua” at all. In all our years of studying the issue of the Messiah’s name, we have never heard anyone make this claim. Where did Tom hear of it? He doesn’t share his source, so we are left to take his word for it. Tom proceeds to take another giant leap by declaring that Yeshua doesn’t even mean “salvation.” We find it interesting that someone who takes such leaps in asserting themselves as experts in Hebrew would go from writing that Yeshua means “salvation” (in 1999) to declaring that it doesn’t mean “salvation” at all (in 2011). Does Tom really know what ישׁוע means? Why has this “expert” in Hebrew semantics deviated from believing that ישׁוע means “salvation” to now insisting that it doesn’t?
The name Yeshua, as exhibited by the Strong’s Concordance listing that Tom supplied above, means “He will save.” “Salvation,” then, is inherent in the meaning of this word. Tom disagreed with the meaning supplied by Strong’s back in 1999 and now he believes “salvation” should be completely removed from consideration as a possible meaning for this name! Does Tom really believe he is more qualified in Hebrew semantics than James Strong, who compiled Strong’s Concordance? That is the impression we are left with. We might think that Tom really does know something that James Strong didn’t if it weren’t for the fact that other Hebrew scholars also clash with Tom’s conclusion.
In addition to being at odds with James Strong, Tom’s conclusion that Yeshua doesn’t carry the meaning “salvation” contradicts the explanation offered by Benjamin Davidson, author of The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon. We might ask if Tom is more qualified in Hebrew semantics than Benjamin Davidson. Davidson’s lexicon presents the name Yeshua as meaning “he shall be a deliverance, i.e. deliverer.”6 Please note that “deliverer” is synonymous with “savior.” According to The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon, this same name is presented alongside the long forms יהושׁוע and יהושׁע and means “'י is salvation.”7 As we demonstrated earlier, the Hebrew “י” is used to represent the name “Yahweh.” Contrary to what some folks may believe, it is no worse to use the abbreviated י as a designation of Yahweh’s name than it is to use the abbreviated יהו.
The above-listed authorities on Hebrew semantics, in stark contrast to Tom, hold that the meaning of “salvation” is inherent in the Hebrew name ישׁוע. We hope you understand why we put more stock in the meaning as presented by these Hebrew scholars as opposed to the meaning offered by Tom (a.k.a. “EliYah”), who is not a qualified Hebrew scholar. This is not to say that June and I are qualified Hebrew scholars; however, as we have demonstrated, those who are qualified are in agreement that ישׁוע does indeed mean “He will save.”
First-century Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria also bears witness to the ancient understanding that “salvation” is inherent in the name Yeshua. In his treatise titled “On the Change of Names,” Philo explains that this name means “the salvation of the Lord.8 What makes Philo’s commentary so interesting is the fact that he never used the form Yahushua in his writings. Philo wrote in Greek and used the Greek form ᾿Ιησους (Iesous, pronounced Yey-soos). Many Sacred Name believers utterly reject the form᾿Ιησους as an outright butchering of the form Yahushua. While we understand their concern, it can be demonstrated that the Greeks were only transliterating the form Yeshua within the limited parameters of their language, which doesn’t have a “sh” sound, and masculine names generally end in an “n” or an “s.” The resulting form, pronounced Iesous, is not such a bad rendering when viewed from this perspective.
For Philo to write that ᾿Ιησους means “salvation of the Lord” is significant in that this first-century author, who was a contemporary with the Messiah, understood that the name ישׁוע does indeed carry the intrinsic meaning of salvation. Even more significant is the fact that Philo, while not using the Tetragrammaton in his writings, regarded the form ᾿Ιησους as meaning “salvation of Yahweh.” Remember, when Moses changed the name הושׁע (Hoshea) to יהושׁע (Yahushua), all he did was add a yod to transform a name meaning “salvation” to a name that means “Yahweh is salvation.” Thus, it is reasonable to believe that Philo saw the Tetragrammaton in the name᾿ Ιησους, which means he in turn saw it in the form Yeshua (ישׁוע). The Wikipedia article “Names of Jesus and his family” echoes this same understanding:
By the time of the 1st century, many were interpreting this (the Messiah’s name) as "Yahweh saves" or "May Yahweh save." This understanding is attested in the work of the philosopher Philo: "Joshua [᾿Ιησους] means 'the salvation [σωτηρία] of the Lord.'" This popular etymology is also implied in Matthew 1:21.9
Please bear in mind that the Greek language makes no distinction between the long form and the short form of the name יהושׁע. Both forms are rendered ᾿ Ιησους. While we appreciate Tom’s apparent desire to honor our Heavenly Father to the extent of incorporating the first three letters of the Tetragrammaton into His Son’s name, his bias does not seem to allow him room to see that even a first-century scholar contradicts his understanding of Hebrew semantics. Although Tom is not really a Hebrew scholar, he once again expounds on Hebrew linguistics as though he is, this time incorporating the modern Hebrew vowel points into his argument:
Take a look again in the above lexicon graphic and see the differences between 3442/3443 and 3444. They are:
· There is an additional Hebrew letter at the end (the "Heh"). ישׁוע uses the silent (but anciently guttural) "Ayin" letter to end the word, but #3444 ends in the letter "Heh". While vowel letters under both words indicate they have have a similar sounding ending, the different spelling indicates they are two different words.
· In #3444 (Yeshuwah) there is a different vowel pointing under the first Hebrew letter (Yod [remember Hebrew reads from right to left]). 3442/3443 (YESHUA) has 2 horizontal dots underneath the first letter like this: יֵ. These two horizontal dots represent the Hebrew Vowel point "Tsere" (pronounced Tsey-rey) which produces the "ey" sound as in the English word "Hey". But #3444 has two vertical dots underneath the first letter like this יְ. The two vertical dots represent the Hebrew vowel point "Sheva" which is a very short "e", somewhat like our "E" sound in the word "Average" (Check the first page of your Strong's Hebrew Lexicon for verification of this).
Incidentally, the יְ (Sheva) is also the vowel point used by the scribes in "Yehoshua" and it is why you will sometimes see "Yehoshua" or "Yeshua" written as "Y'hoshua" and "Y'shua". The purpose of the ' is to indicate the presence of the sheva vowel point in Hebrew. But as you can see, "Yeshua" does not contain that vowel point at all. "Yeshua" uses the "Tsere" Hebrew vowel point which produces an "ey" sound. So Yeshua and Y'shuah are actually pronounced differently. The Strong's Lexicon indicated this when it gave the pronunciation of ישׁוע as 'yay-shoo-ah', but #3444 as 'yesh-oo-aw'.
So the name "Yeshua" and the Hebrew word "Y'shuah" are not the same. "Yeshua" is the Aramaic form of "Yahushua" and "Y'shuah" is the Hebrew word for "Salvation". Therefore, in spite of what some may say, I find no evidence to suggest that ישׁוע ("Yeshua") means "Salvation" in Hebrew. "Yeshua" is actually not an authentic Hebrew word meaning "salvation". For it to mean "Salvation" it would have to have the Hebrew letter "heh" added to the end of it, changing the spelling to ישועה (Yod Shin Waw Ayin Heh) and it would need to have the יְ "Sheva" vowel point under the Yod. These things further indicate that "Yeshua" isn't from Hebrew, but is an Aramaic form of "Yahushua".
All the above commentary amounts to is the testimony of a non-qualified Hebrew student who now asserts his position based on Hebrew vowel points, which weren’t even contrived until their appearance during the Middle Ages by the Masoretes. Tom somehow manages to incorporate his “vowel point reasoning” into his argument and conclude, contrary to the meanings specifically listed by James Strong, Benjamin Davidson and The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon, that ישׁוע doesn’t really mean “salvation” or “He will save.” Certainly, those Sacred Name adherents who agree with Tom’s bias can be expected to jump on his bandwagon, which explains why the Sacred Name believer that I mentioned earlier called my attention to Tom’s article.
Having thus presented his position from a biased, ill-founded premise, Tom offers the following conclusion:
Since the Heavenly Father's name (Yahweh) is a Hebrew name, I would not expect to see His Son's name coming from some other language, whether it be Greek, Latin, Aramaic or English. I realize that the other forms seem to be more popular, but "Yeshua" is no more correct than "Iesous?" If neither of these languages do it right, why not return to the original and correct form?
In response to Tom’s conclusion, I feel I should point out that we have established that, in fact, the form ישׁוע, pronounced Yeshua (or as Tom points out, “yay-shoo-ah”) is indeed a Hebrew name, which is shortened from the longer form יהושׁע. Regardless of the Aramaic influence, this shortened form had the blessing of Yahweh insofar as being used in reference to Joshua son of Nun (Neh. 8:17), and the historical evidence supports that this same shortened form was also used in reference to the Son of Yahweh. Like it or not, this form appears in the Hebrew Matthew documents.
The study of the Messiah’s name is really not very complicated, but Sacred Name believers such as Tom seem intent on making it that way. The record of Scripture, combined with historical evidence, support the understanding that the Son of the Most High was given the name ישׁוע at birth. Tom says, “No, that can’t be right because ישׁוע isn’t a Hebrew name – it’s Aramaic!” That would be like saying, “Joseph isn’t a Hebrew name, it’s English!” Those who check out the origin of the name Joseph understand that, yes, the way it is pronounced bears the results of English influence, but it really is a Hebrew name that has been handed down to us.
In our full-length study, we cover many of the same points addressed here, as well as all the other arguments that Tom raises in support of his belief that the only possible name for the Messiah is Yahushua.
1 For references
substantiating that Hoshea means “salvation,” please consult Cruden’s
Complete Concordance, The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius
Hebrew-English Lexicon and The Expositor‘s Bible Commentary,
Vol. 2, Frank E. Gæbelein, Gen. Editor, Zondervan Publishing House,
Grand Rapids, MI, 1990, p. 806. Other references list such meanings as
“help” and “deliverer.”
It was patently offensive- outrageous - a slap in the face of every person of faith in America - when NBC decided to cut the phrase ''under God'' from the Pledge of Allegiance during its broadcast of the U.S. Open golf tournament in Washington, D.C.
They did it not once, but twice - marring a patriotic tribute that should have made every American proud. Instead, they scorned the faith of our Founding Fathers - a clear-cut case of ''political correctness'' run amok.
NBC must put a policy in place that will guarantee such an affront never happens again, and that is exactly what the ACLJ is pressing them to do.
We took the lead from the onset, mounting a nationwide drive to call on NBC to do the right thing. Our Government Affairs team is working with Members of Congress who recognize the importance of our nation's religious heritage. We have already mobilized tens of thousands of concerned citizens. But to keep the pressure on- in addition to all of our ongoing work on behalf of life and liberty- we need your support. Please give a generous online contribution to help us continue this crucial battle while at the same time working to protect your constitutional freedoms, religious liberties around the world, and the lives of the unborn. This is not about just one telecast. This is part of a dangerous, ongoing trend to erase expressions of the Christian faith from public view on every level of American life. Our religious and constitutional freedoms have never been under greater attack.
The ACLJ is fighting back on multiple fronts. We have vigorously defended the constitutionality of the phrase ''under God'' in the Pledge of Allegiance in courtrooms across the nation, and we continue to do so in the face of lawsuits by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), the ACLU, and other radical groups. We're also fighting to preserve the cross at war memorials, and we are back at the Supreme Court of the United States right now protecting public displays of the Ten Commandments. But every case requires enormous effort and expense - legal research and writing, court filings, and more - which makes your support today so important. It is clear that anti-faith groups like the FFRF and the ACLU will not stop until they silence Christians - and eradicate every last public sign and symbol of Christianity.
I urge you to give a tax-deductible contribution right now, to help us answer attacks on your faith and your freedoms - most critically at this moment, pushing for NBC to ensure ''under God'' as part of the Pledge of Allegiance on all future broadcasts.
''Under God'' is not a throw-away line, an afterthought. It has been an essential component of the Pledge for more than half a century - designated by the United States Congress. It is not the place of a television network to throw God out of our national life.
If we sit idle and allow this outrage to stand, the door could very well open for the removal of our National Motto, ''one nation under God,'' from our currency. Our country, founded squarely on Judeo-Christian principles, could be systematically stripped of any and all messages rooted in our religious heritage. The ACLJ is committed to sending a strong message that we will not back down when it comes to the freedom of expressing our Christian beliefs in words and images.
Thank you for your patriotism and for standing up for America's religious heritage.
Jay Sekulow ACLJ Chief Counsel
Newsletter #3: Ziv 2011 (Second Month of the Scriptural Year)
What follows is the response I sent to our friend:I appreciate your questions. First, I am glad that you have no doubt that men are to wear tassels (tzizits). We are in agreement! :-) Secondly, I personally believe that you answered your own question when you wrote, "We have Yeshua's example." Yeshua is indeed our Example. Of course, Yeshua is male, so the question is this: “Is His example of obedience when it comes to wearing tassels an example for men only or does it apply to both men and women?” Please don't get me wrong. I understand that there are some laws that are specific to males as opposed to females. I trust we both understand the how's and why's of these gender-specific laws. The question, then, is this: "Is the law of the tzitzits a gender-specific law?" The answer to that question has been debated by Jewish rabbis as well as Christians. The very fact that ancient Judaism debated this issue suggests something of importance to me that I believe merits serious consideration: If even those ancients couldn't agree on whether or not this commandment includes women, shouldn't we err on the side of safety? To put it another way, since I presume that we all share the same goal of pleasing Yahweh, and since we agree that the Hebrew "ben" can be inclusive of females, and since it certainly involves remembering to obey Yahweh’s commandments, and since women are just as prone to forgetting as men are (no offense intended), then how could a woman possibly displease the Almighty by deciding to wear tassels? In fact, wouldn't Yahweh be honored by a woman who wears tassels as a show of faith in His Word? Of course, I am male, so I cannot speak for women. We obviously cannot help being male or female -- I leave that up to Yahweh. That having been said, I will frankly state that if I were a woman, I would wear the tassels. Of course, as a man, I wear the tassels with the understanding that most men do not wear them, and I do not feel that it is my place to pass judgment on those who do not share my view. I usually wear my tassels as a "tallit katan," which is worn underneath my garments, not because I'm ashamed to be seen wearing tassels (as some have implied over the years), but because I am aware of some negative sentiments that have been directed at those who openly wear tassels and of how some folks consider those who openly wear them to be "weird." Rather than deal with such a negative, misappropriated and misconstrued first impression, I prefer to share my view with others in a more private setting. You might say that I prefer the subtle approach as opposed to the "show and tell" approach. People who get to know me will soon find out that I wear tassels, and in this society, that is how I personally prefer for others to find out that I wear tassels. I like to start slow. For example, it usually starts with sharing with someone that June and I keep the Sabbath. If they pursue a discussion, they will soon find out that we don't eat pork or seafood, we keep the feasts, things like that. The thing is, they find out about these things as a result of asking me questions, not from me "tooting my horn," so to speak. My former manager was a "question box" of sorts, and he would ask me all kinds of questions about my faith. On one occasion, he told me that he appreciated my approach and how I wasn't like someone else he had met who paraded his beliefs before others in a "holier than thou" manner. My guess is, the person my manager referred to probably didn't intend to convey a "holier than thou" approach -- but that is how he was perceived. It is SO EASY to be mis-perceived and hence, misunderstood. I try to avoid being misunderstood. If we lived in an open society where it was understood that those who obeyed Torah wore tassels, I would definitely wear my tassels on the outside. As it is, hardly anyone even knows why an individual would choose to wear tassels, unless it's for decoration. Anyway, I felt I should offer you this explanation of why I don't normally wear tassels on the outside of my clothing because, just as outsiders may get the wrong impression if I do wear them on the outside, those who are Torah observant sometimes get the wrong impression if I don't! You wrote, "There is no example, I know of, where a woman wore them." I reply: This reminds me of an article I read where the author essentially wrote the same thing that you wrote above. The thing is, in his extensive article, the only example he could provide of where a man wore them was the example of Yeshua and the woman who touched the hem (tzizit) of His garment. My reaction: Well, OF COURSE Yeshua wore the tassels! He is our Example! I would believe that Yeshua wore the tassels even if we didn't have the Hebrew text of Matthew to refer to (where the Hebrew word "tzizit" appears). But you know what? Even if someone could provide half a dozen or more passages where men wore tassels, would this prove that women did not? Of course it wouldn't! What we need is a verse of Scripture stating that women did not wear them, and there is no such verse that I'm aware of. You also wrote: "The scripture in Num. 15:37-41 could have been translated: Speak unto the SONS.... If that had been done, would we [women] obey that?" I reply: The problem lies not with the Hebrew text, but with our English language, where we clearly make a distinction between "sons" and "daughters." At the same time, when both "sons" and "daughters" are included in the reference, we often use the gender-neutral term "children." In other words, if a couple has a son and a daughter, they would not say, “We have two sons.” They would say, “We have two children.” In Hebrew, there is no gender-neutral choice that can be selected. Even though the couple has both a son and daughter, they have to say, “We have two ben.” Do you know any Spanish? If you do, this might help you to better understand the problem with languages. In Spanish, if I make a reference to a male friend, I use the word “amigo.” If I refer to a female friend, I use the word “amiga.” If I refer to a group of friends that consists of 99 females, but just ONE male, I must use the word “amigos.” That’s just the way the Spanish language works. So if I were to say, “My friends live in Dallas,” I would say, “Mis amigos viven en Dallas,” even though only one of those friends is a male. The person I’m talking to might think that half of my friends are male and half are female, not having any idea that only one of my many friends is a male! If I were to want to convey to the person I’m talking to that only one of my friends is male, I would need to specify this to him or her. I would have to clarify my remark something like this: “Tengo 99 amigos, pero sólo uno es hombre.” (I have 99 friends, but only one is a man). In Spanish, the term “amigos” could easily be construed as exclusively referring to male friends. In English, we have the advantage of a gender-neutral term such as “friend,” which can be used to refer to either men or women. The Spanish don’t have that luxury, which is why they would have to clarify that only one of the 99 friends is male. It’s the same with the term “ben” in Hebrew. It can collectively refer to 99 females and 1 male. I hope you get my point, which is this: If Yahweh truly wanted us to understand that females are excluded from wearing tassels, I am persuaded that He would have made a stipulation similar to the circumcision law: “Every male (zakar) shall wear tzizits.” If I were a woman, I would have to wonder, “Why didn’t Yahweh specify that only the males (zakar) are to wear tassels?” Why did He choose a term (ben) that can be used to refer to both males and females? There is something else that I believe we need to consider: In Deuteronomy 22:12, the command to wear tassels is repeated, which in and of itself speaks for how important this law is to Yahweh. However, please take a look at the preceding verse (v. 11), where it says, “Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, of woolen and linen together.” Notice that the topic of verse 11 is CLOTHING! And no one questions the fact that “Thou” is a reference to both men and women. Then, in verse 12, we read:
12Thou shalt make thee fringes upon the four quarters of thy vesture, wherewith thou coverest thyself.Since it is a “given” that the “Thou” in verse 11 is a reference to both men and women, why should we question who “Thou” refers to in verse 12? On a side note, is it just a coincidence that verses 11 and 12 are both about clothing? Moving along, you wrote the following: “Now to the little boys. How soon do they start wearing them? We know we don't attach them to diapers.” I reply: Of course, no child under the age of two would understand why his parents are making him (or her) wear tassels, but if that’s the way the parents want to do it, then more power to them! Another thought is to not require the child to wear tassels until they have reached what is commonly referred to as “the age of accountability.” Strangely, June and I never mandated that our children wear tassels; yet, they began wearing them on their own when they realized that this is an expectation of Yahweh. Maybe we used the wrong approach, but I personally am not inclined to tell you or anyone that you need to wear tassels (even though I do believe you should!). In the course of studying Scripture, if we become persuaded that we should obey the Torah, we eventually come face-to-face with Numbers 15:37-41 and Deuteronomy 22:12. When I read those two passages, I am persuaded that they were put there for a reason – to help us to remember to obey, which in turn can only result in blessings. Yahweh wants to bless His children, so I cannot imagine Him putting in a commandment such as this that can be carried out by both men and women unless He expected both men and women to follow through on the directive. If you do not feel that you should wear tassels … if you are not convicted to wear them … then that is your decision to make, just as it is your decision to obey or disobey any other commands. In the same way, if we teach our children to obey Torah, they will one day be confronted with these verses, and it will be their decision to make. As our children matured, I personally hoped that they would decide to obey the commandment to wear tassels, but even if they hadn’t made that decision, I would still love them. You wrote: “The reason they are worn: ... YOU may ‘look’ upon them and remember all the commandments.... So they are for YOU, why do they need to be seen by others?” I reply: I agree with your observation here. YOU are the only one who needs to see them. I have a commentary that a man shared with me some 20 years ago that I may let you in on one of these days. His commentary had to do with the importance of the individual who wears the tassels being the only one who REALLY needs to see them. You wrote, “Also, now that the Holy Spirit is given, and the commandments are written on our hearts, why do we need an outward sign?” I reply: First of all, I believe I answered this question in the “Answers to Objections” section of our study “Wearing Fringes: Are They For Believers Today?” Secondly, couldn’t a non-Sabbathkeeper ask the same question in reference to Sabbath observance? Isn't Sabbath observance an outward sign of our faith? Finally, you wrote: “Sometimes woman's clothes are made so they can not be attached to a dress for instance.” I reply: Well, June is a little like me in that she often wears the tassels under her outer garments. However, we are acquainted with women who only wear dresses and they have various ways of affixing the tassels. If you wish, we can put you in contact with a woman who does this. I hope this helps you! While I’m sure I made my opinion on this matter clear, at the same time I hope I made it equally clear that we are not out to pass judgment on anyone. I want to point out that you might see me at an assembly somewhere and conclude that I don’t wear tassels. While you would be mistaken, at least I am not persuaded that you would think any less of me. On the other hand, someone else would see me and reach the same conclusion (that I don’t wear tassels), but judge me as a disobedient rebel. That person, like you, would be mistaken about whether or not I wear tassels, but I would rather consider someone like YOU as being a friend as opposed to the person who judged by appearance. I hope you understand what I’m trying to convey here! Whatever you decide, I wish you Yahweh blessings! Love in Messiah, Larry
Although I was admittedly hoping that my response would put to rest all of my friend's concerns about whether or not the commandment to wear tassels applies to women, I later found out that she is still struggling with this issue. Since we are sure that she is not the only one who has not yet resolved this issue in her mind, I have decided to incorporate the follow-up questions that she posed later that same month. In that e-mail, she included the response that she received from a Jewish rabbi:Hello Larry, I am sorry to be such a pest... I looked at the Jewish Encyclopedia (do you know it's now available online) for related articles and it seems that the Jews, the ones that should know, state that the way these fringes were attached, was to male's clothing. If you want to I can send you these articles. Then I thought about "asking the Rabbi." I am sending you his reply. I don't understand his reasoning, it's not about the word "ben" according to him. Can you explain to me what it is that he says? I know he clearly states it's not for women... Larry, I have been baptized since 1977, I have never had a problem putting away wrong things and doing what Yahweh's commands. But I have been struggling with this subject for a long time. I cannot do it until I fully understand. My son and his wife do not have a problem with this but I do and two more ladies in our group do also. I feel bad about this, I want to be obedient in every thing, but I have to understand. Is that wrong? Please be patient with me. Thank you for trying to help. Shalom, your sister2 Here is the "Ask the Rabbi's" response that my friend forwarded me: (I have blocked out her name):
While June and I would like to respect the answer that the Jewish rabbi gave our friend, we frankly do not. The first clue that there is a problem is when he writes, "There is a rule ...," while choosing to not offer a reference of where this "rule" may be found. A naive believer who just accepts answers from men claiming authority would accept his answer without question, and that is precisely what Rabbi Moshe Newman is hoping our friend will do. Do not question where the rule about women not being commanded to obey "time-related mitzvahs" comes from; just accept it and move on. Unless we have missed it, this "rule" is not found within the text of Scripture. In fact, we can think of several "time-related mitzvahs" that apply to women, such as the periods of time wherein a woman is ritually "unclean" after childbirth. What follows, then, is my response to our friend:Thank you once again for touching base. I do appreciate your hesitancy to wear fringes because I agree that we should not just "dive in" to anything without thoroughly checking it out first. So long as you are earnestly seeking the answer with all your heart, then you should feel free to ask any and all questions that come to your mind. I will state here that I feel I thoroughly checked this teaching out back in 1987, which is when I first began wearing the tassels. When I first began wearing them, I was taught that it is a command that is reserved for men only. At first, I accepted that answer, as did June. Later, we were challenged by a well-studied brother who politely explained that the command is not restricted to men. I knew he was mistaken, so I determined to prove him wrong. As you know by now, I was the one who (now) feels he was proven wrong. I realize you lean towards believing that I had it right in the first place. Nevertheless, nothing you have written to this point has served to persuade me that women should not wear tassels. Here are the primary areas of concern, which I do not feel you have addressed: 1) Why didn’t Yahweh specify that only the males (zakar) are to wear tassels? Why did He choose a term (ben) that can be used to refer to both males and females? 2) Are only men prone to forgetting to obey Yahweh's commandments? Do women not need to be reminded? 3) Presuming that women really are not commanded to wear tassels, would Yahweh be offended if a woman, in ignorance, thought that this commandment applied to her and began wearing tassels? 4) Why is this particular example that was set by Yeshua one that is not appropriate for women to follow? 5) How can we know that none of the pious matriarchs of old wore tassels? 6) How can we know that any of the pious patriarchs of old wore tassels?' 7) Why would a woman feel uncomfortable about wearing tassels? About the response to your "Just Ask the Rabbi" question: Like you, I do not understand his reasoning. The reason I do not understand his reasoning is because, to me, it is nonsensical. Keep in mind that he is basing his answer on the Talmud. According to Menachot 43a, Rabbi Simon exempted women from wearing tassels because he considered Numbers 15:37-41 to be "a positive mitzvah limited by time and from all positive, time bound mitzvot women are exempt.” Is that reasoning even SUPPOSED to make sense?? Hmmmm, let's see if I can apply Rabbi Simon's understanding to other "time-bound mitzvot" -- Isn't the Sabbath a positive, time-bound commandment, too? Should women be obligated to observe the weekly Sabbath? I hope you don't mind my suggesting that we stick with Torah and be leery of men's interpretations of it. The Talmud is a commentary/interpretation of Torah. I value the Talmud for its historical value, but that is it. I also value the articles in the Jewish Encyclopedia, but if the authors of its articles regard the command of Nu. 15:37-41 to be for men only, does that make it so? On what basis? As I mentioned in my previous e-mail, ancient Judaism debated as to whether or not women were included in the commandment to wear tassels. This means that there were ancient Jews who agreed that women were included in that command. Other ancient Jews, as we also know, disagreed. It is up to us to determine which group was correct. I have already formed my conclusion. Would you like to read what some modern-day Messianic Jews have to say about this topic? Here is the link to a Messianic Jewish web site: http://www.heartofisrael.net/teachings/rabbi/covering2.htm You are very kind in asking me to be patient with you. I try to always be patient, but I do occasionally need to be reminded to be patient, and if I ever demonstrate otherwise, please, please let me know. Based on the way you present yourself, if I ever demonstrate impatience with you, then I will need a gentle reminder about how we're supposed to bear the fruits of the spirit, one of which is patience. Feel free to give me that reminder as needed. May Yahweh bless you as you continue in service to Him and His Son. Love in Messiah, Larry & June
This, then, is where we have left off with our discussion about women wearing tassels. Obviously this is a big step for men and an even bigger one for women. Unless someone can demonstrate otherwise, Yahweh knows best about what His children need to do, and He found it necessary to command through His servant Moses that the "children of Israel" wear tassels. In our opinion, we do not need to split hairs about whether or not "children" is inclusive of women, but as we can see, this is a controversial topic that many would prefer to not even deal with. We are grateful for people like our friend, who is actively studying the pros and cons of women obeying this commandment.
Newsletter #2: Abib 2011 (First Month of the Scriptural Year)Should We Kill a Lamb for Passover? by Larry and June Acheson
Another argument in favor of killing a lamb for Passover is the fact that this offering was not originally designated as a priestly function, or at least it was not an act that was required to be carried out by the Levitical priesthood. After all, if you read the story of the first Passover (Exodus 12), you will find that each individual household was to kill a lamb on Abib 14. Even first-century Jewish theologian Philo wrote:
So if the Passover lamb is not regarded as being a sin offering ... and if this sacrifice is something that was carried out by individual households instead of the Levitical priesthood, then certainly we can see that it is not your "typical" sacrifice.
The Messiah Our Passover is Sacrificed for Us - Does This Mean No More Passover Lambs Are to Be Sacrificed?
We were recently copied on an e-mail in which the sender wanted to know of any locations where she could go to attend a Passover gathering in which a lamb would be killed. Her seemingly innocent request generated a negative response from a man who asked, "Why? Isn't Yeshua's passover sacrifice good enough for you? 'Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even the Messiah our passover is sacrificed for us,' 1 Cor. 5:7."The above question seems like a tough one to answer; however, those who believe that we should kill a lamb for Passover have a response. They would answer that they can see why one might regard 1 Corinthians 5:7 as an indication that, since the Messiah our passover has been sacrificed, this means no more lambs should be killed for Passover. However, all Messianic believers agree that Yeshua is our Passover lamb who was sacrificed for us. Does Yeshua's fulfilling the Passover sacrifice mean that no more lambs should henceforth be killed for Passover? Those who support killing a lamb for Passover might answer that if such is the case, then what would need to be included with 1 Corinthians 5:7 would be the words " ... therefore we no longer need to offer lambs for the passover sacrifice." Several years ago, a friend sent us an article in which the author promotes killing a lamb for Passover. The author had already been confronted by individuals who pointed out what they felt was a lack of understanding on his part with regard to the proper interpretation of 1 Corinthians 5:7. In his article, he addressed their reasoning as follows:
We believe the author's point, based on the wording of 1 Corinthians 5:7-8, is valid. Before we go any further, let's take a look at this passage:Finally, I would like to address a few of the arguments used against keeping the Passover according to Exodus 12. Paul's statement in I Cor. 5:7-8 that "Messiah is our Passover" is one of the most often used passages to justify not killing a lamb. Many will argue that since Paul stated that Yeshua is our Passover he replaced the ordinances given in Exodus 12. A close examination of this passage will show otherwise. In this passage, Paul is using an analogy to show that Messiah typifies the Passover just as sincerity and truth typify unleavened bread. Using the same line of reasoning that many use to say we don't need to slaughter a lamb, one can say we don't need to eat unleavened bread since sincerity and truth replace it. Certainly those who do not kill a lamb based on this passage wouldn't suggest that we eat leavened bread during the feast!2
When I view the above passage from the perspective offered by those who kill a lamb for Passover, I understand and appreciate their reasoning. From their perspective, no Torah-observant believer would dare to suggest that we literally substitute unleavened bread with "sincerity and truth" during the Feast of Unleavened Bread; in the same way, why should we take Paul's words to mean that the sacrifice of Yeshua as the true Passover lamb must prove that no more lambs are to be offered at Passover? Here, I believe, is the perspective offered by those who kill a lamb for the Passover: In ancient times Yahweh instituted the killing of a lamb on Abib 14, knowing that this innocent creature represented and pointed to His yet-to-be-born Son, who would be the fulfillment of the innocent "Lamb" who suffered, bled and died for the sins of the world in our place. Just as those lambs represented the One who was to come, the lambs killed today point backwards to that same True Lamb, not as a substitute, but as a reminder of what a tremendous sacrifice was made at Calvary. Those who have witnessed the slaying of a lamb for Passover understand the heart-wrenching experience of witnessing the life being drained from such an innocent creature and are reminded of the great price that the True Lamb paid for our deliverance from the bondage of sin, as well as how the Passover sacrifice demonstrates Yahweh's great love for us.6Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
The perspective of those who believe we should kill a Passover lamb, if I understand it correctly, is something like this: If it wasn't wrong in the past to kill a lamb that represented the future redemption of mankind, is it wrong in the present to kill a lamb that represents and causes us to more deeply reflect upon the redemption (passing over) that was given to us both by the deliverance from bondage in Egypt and the deliverance from the bondage of sin by Yeshua's offering of Himself?
When we put all of this information together, we can now see that there are at least three factors that might seem to support killing a Passover lamb:1. Killing a lamb is a remembrance (memorial) of the True Lamb, whose shed blood delivers us from bondage. In killing the lamb, we are reminded of His sacrifice, which delivers us from the bondage of this world. His kingdom, as we know, is not of this world. 2. The Passover sacrifice was never classified as a sin offering. 3. The original Passover sacrifice was performed by individual households instead of by the Levitical priesthood. While I'm sure I've left out some factors influencing various believers to kill a lamb for Passover, the above reasoning serves as what we remember hearing.
Where Is the Passover Lamb to Be Slaughtered?Another area of concern lies with where we are to kill the Passover lamb, and it is this concern that has prevented June and me from ever deciding to kill a lamb for Passover, nor can we endorse such a thing at this time. Since this is such a critical factor for us, and since it has also been an area of concern for other believers, we have decided to address this particular aspect of the Passover sacrifice here in this newsletter. For those of you already familiar with the ordinances of Passover observance, we will jump right to the text in which we read of "where" the Passover lambs may be sacrificed. Shown below is Deuteronomy 16:5-6:
This passage is the source of a great deal of controversy between those who believe we should sacrifice a lamb at Passover and those who believe we should not. The gist of this directive is that we are not to sacrifice the Passover lamb in just any place that we deem suitable. Rather, it must be a place of Yahweh's own choosing -- the place where He Himself chooses to place His name. That place is none other than Jerusalem. It seems that several folks in this day and age are of the opinion that this command can somehow be spiritualized and that when we read that where two or three are gathered in Yeshua's name, He is there (Matt. 18:20), this means that Yahweh's name is automatically "placed" in that location. In fact, some believers have used this reasoning to impute sin to June and me for keeping a feast at home instead of going to some feast gathering that has been approved or designated by some modern-day "elder." We address this line of reasoning in our study "Is It a Sin to Stay Home During Yahweh’s Feasts?" If Yahweh has truly given authorization for any designated "elder" to determine that Yahweh's name is in a certain place, then it must be okay to place Yahweh's name in many places -- instead of "the" place that is designated in Torah. In effect, those who teach that Yahweh's name is now wherever an "elder" so determines are effectively teaching that there has been a change in the law. Is this true? Are we now required to attend a feast gathering at an "elder-approved" site? Again, we address the answers to these questions in our study titled "Is It a Sin to Stay Home During Yahweh’s Feasts?" and we believe the answer to both questions is, "No." The evidence from Scripture shows that Yahweh has chosen Jerusalem and until we see that it has been "unchosen" with another city (or cities) designated in its place, it is the only place where the Passover lamb can be offered. Proponents of sacrificing a lamb for Passover do present an argument to our reasoning; surprisingly, their defense of killing a Passover lamb includes a show of support that Jerusalem is still Yahweh's chosen place for killing the Passover lamb. However, since many of us are now "too far" from Jerusalem, they are persuaded that we can kill the lamb wherever we choose. The following comes from the article "Are We Correctly Observing Passover?":5Thou mayest not sacrifice the passover within any of thy gates, which Yahweh thy Almighty giveth thee:
We are persuaded that there are several inaccurate remarks in the above commentary, not the least of which we highlighted for you. Where in Scripture are we ever told, "If you are too far from the place where Yahweh has chosen to place His name, keep the festival where you live"? There are none that we are aware of and the author chose to not validate his conclusion with a supporting text of Scripture. We do not feel that the need to validate potentially controversial statements of this nature can be emphasized enough, and the author seems to have elected to insert an authoritative, yet certainly controversial, piece of information that, if true, would drastically change the tenor of this discussion. Without the benefit of Scriptural documentation, the reader is left to either just take his word for it or do as June and I are doing by questioning the accuracy of the remark. At this point in our study, we feel it is appropriate to demonstrate that, by Scriptural command, the first Passover sacrifices -- performed in Egypt as the precursor to the Plague of the Firstborn -- were carried out in a vastly different manner than the subsequent Passover sacrifices were. This fact, which we are about to demonstrate, provides what we feel may be a vital link that is missed by those who currently believe we should kill a Passover lamb each year. If you read the instructions for keeping that very first Passover (Exodus chapter 12), you will notice that each household was instructed to keep the lamb until the 14th day. They weren't given instructions about where to kill the lamb for that very first Passover observance. However, once the Israelites departed Egypt, a directive was given pertaining to any sacrifices performed by the Israelites. That directive is found in Leviticus chapter 17:The other major argument against killing a lamb for Passover is found in Deut. 16:5, 6, where Yahweh tells them not to kill within their gates but to kill the Passover where Yahweh chooses to place His name. The argument goes something like this, "Since Yahweh placed His name in Jerusalem, that is the only place where we may kill the lamb." Or "Since we don't know where He has placed His name, we cannot slaughter the lamb." The problem with that argument is that if we are going to use it for not killing the lamb then we also must use it for all of the feasts. In Deut. 16 we are commanded to appear before Yahweh three times during the year in the place where He chooses. If we don't know where to kill the lamb, then we don't know where to keep the feast. We are commanded to do both, so what is the answer? The answer is that during that time if you lived in the vicinity of Jerusalem you had to keep it there. If you were far away, you were to keep it where you lived. I've come to this conclusion for two reasons. The first being that the early messianic believers were scattered all over the Roman Empire and it would have been impossible if not extremely difficult for believers to travel to Jerusalem three times a year. There is good evidence that the apostle Paul did not keep every feast in Jerusalem. The second reason is a comment made by Josephus on Deut. 16 which indicates this command applied to those who lived within the bounds of Israel.3
The instructions in Leviticus chapter 17 were given during the Israelites' first year of having departed Egypt. This passage makes it clear that any sacrifices performed by the Israelites going forward were to be brought to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. When the tabernacle was eventually replaced by the temple, the sacrifices were to be brought to that location. No mention is made of what to do if you happened to be "too far" from the tabernacle or, later, too far from the temple. No provision was made for offering sacrifices in distant lands, yet the above author presumes that if you are simply too far from the tabernacle/temple, you can designate your own sacrificial site. Based on the instructions found in Leviticus 17, his solution is unscriptural. The danger in the above author's approach lies in the fact that he is assuming a sacrificial alternative to the door of the tabernacle/temple, even though none is mentioned. In fact, verse 7 suggests that if any should deviate from the mandate given in Leviticus 17, sacrifices made anywhere other than the door of the tabernacle constitute "sacrifices unto devils." Remember, deviating from Yahweh's established directions constitutes rebellion and, as Samuel puts it, "Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft" (I Samuel 15:23). Numbers chapter 9 actually addresses what should be done if a Torah-observant believer is far away from the tabernacle/temple and wants to observe Passover. Does this chapter offer a provision for killing a Passover lamb in whatsoever distant city the believer happens to find himself? No; rather, the believer is instructed to observe Passover in the second month (presuming he is back in Israel by then):1And Yahweh spake unto Moses, saying,
The provision made for the Israelites who are "out of pocket" at the time of the first Passover observance is not to offer a lamb in whatsoever location they happen to find themselves; rather, it is to forego the observance of the first month and observe it at the tabernacle/temple during the second month.9¶ And Yahweh spake unto Moses, saying,
Where Do We Keep the Feasts?Now that we have established "where" the Passover lamb is to be sacrificed, we can address other concerns found in the study "Are We Correctly Observing Passover?" What about the argument that if you cannot determine where to kill the lamb, then we cannot determine where to keep the feast? Let's take another look at the following reasoning:
For those who believe we should keep the feasts, we agree that the reasoning as expressed above has merit. Sadly, as we addressed in our study "Is It a Sin to Stay Home During Yahweh’s Feasts?" there are individuals and groups out there who teach you that unless you find an "elder-designated" feast site to gather for the appointed festivals, then you are sinning. In actual fact, they are the ones who are missing the mark because they have taken it upon themselves to usurp Yahweh's authority by determining of their own volition "where" Yahweh has placed His name. Only Yahweh establishes "where" His name is placed, and Scripture repeatedly specifies that Jerusalem is that place. Here are just a few:The problem with that argument ["Since we don't know where He has placed His name, we cannot slaughter the lamb"] is that if we are going to use it for not killing the lamb then we also must use it for all of the feasts. In Deut. 16 we are commanded to appear before Yahweh three times during the year in the place where He chooses. If we don't know where to kill the lamb, then we don't know where to keep the feast. We are commanded to do both, so what is the answer? The answer is that during that time if you lived in the vicinity of Jerusalem you had to keep it there. If you were far away, you were to keep it where you lived.
... Jerusalem, which I have chosen before all the tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever. -- 2 Chronicles 33:7
Great is Yahweh, and greatly to be praised
We have encountered some believers who maintain that Jerusalem is not presently the place where Yahweh has chosen to place His name. To be sure, Jerusalem has had its share of calamities, and from what we hear there aren't currently many righteous believers in that city. So does this mean we can arbitrarily decide that some other location is where the Almighty's name should be placed? Our answer is no. Scripture doesn't offer us an alternative place, and since Jerusalem was Yahweh's chosen place, and since it will be His chosen place, we feel safe in presuming that unless we are specifically told otherwise, it is still the place where Yahweh has chosen to place His name. As an example of what we mean, during the Babylonian Captivity, when Jerusalem was utterly forsaken by Yahweh, no one argued that His name had been placed in Babylon, nor is there a record of groups of believers assembling in Babylon to kill a Passover lamb. When the 70-year captivity ended and the temple was rebuilt, the sacrifices resumed. We are persuaded that this same parallel exists today. A believer who refers to himself as an "elder" recently held a feast in the state of Tennessee, and he expressed the opinion that, based on his decision to hold the feast there, which was presumably based on the authority he feels he has been given from Yahweh, that his chosen feast site was a "chosen place." He believes that Jerusalem, on the other hand, is no longer chosen and that it is now regarded as Sodom (Revelation 11:8). Of course, he is free to believe as he wishes, but I decided to check the crime statistics of the city where he kept the feast and it turns out that property crimes are higher there than average for cities in that state. So although Yahweh hasn't designated any city other than Jerusalem as the place where He has chosen to place His name, this elder feels he has been given the authority to make such a determination; yet, even by Tennessee standards, the city he chose would not exactly earn an "All American City" award! For those of us who commemorate Yahweh's festivals, the question arises as to how we obey the command in Deuteronomy 16:16, where all males are instructed to go to the place chosen by Yahweh (note: chosen by Yahweh, not men). If we can understand that Jerusalem is the place chosen by Yahweh, then we should similarly understand that we here in the United States cannot reasonably be expected to go to Jerusalem three times a year. The expectation, then, is limited to those who live in the land of Israel. This expectation is implied in such verses as Number 9:10, where an individual who is on a journey during the first month of the year is not expected to keep the Passover in Jerusalem. However, presuming he will be back home by the second month of the year, he instead observes Passover during that second month. What if he has no way of making it back to Jerusalem? Josephus also understood that only residents living in the land of Israel were expected to participate in feast observances. In his Antiquities of the Jews, Flavius Josephus expressed his understanding that the commandment to observe the festivals in Yahweh's chosen place is restricted to those living in the land of Israel:For Yahweh hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. -- Psalm 132:13
Notice that Josephus did not write that those who lived outside the bounds of Israel are expected to keep the feasts "where they are," as expressed by the author of "Are We Correctly Observing Passover?" Does this mean that those who do not live within the land of Israel are exempt from being required to keep the feasts? Well, yes it does. This having been said, we wholeheartedly support commemorating the feasts to the best of our abilities, including abstaining from regular work on the holy days. Certainly, if we can also meet with others during these times, it is a great opportunity for strengthening and building relationships as well as growing in a deeper knowledge of Yahweh's ways. However, based on what we understand from Scripture, it is not for us to arbitrarily declare a remote locale as "Yahweh's Approved Feast Site" or otherwise regard it as a place where He has placed His name. As suggested by the author of "Are We Correctly Observing Passover?" the same thing that applies to the feasts applies to killing the Passover. Killing a Passover lamb is only sanctioned at the place where Yahweh has placed His name. To presume that Yahweh has now expanded that mandate so as to encompass any city designated by men is just that -- a presumption at best. At worst, it is regarded by Yahweh as a "sacrifice unto devils." The author of "Are We Correctly Observing Passover?" listed two reasons for why he believes we are required to kill a lamb for Passover, even though we may not live in the land of Israel. Let's review those reasons one more time:Let those that live as remote as the bounds of the land which the Hebrews shall possess, come to that city where the temple shall be, and this three times in a year, that they may give thanks to the Almighty for his former benefits, and may entreat him for those they shall want hereafter; and let them, by this means, maintain a friendly correspondence with one another by such meetings and feastings together, for it is a good thing for those that are of the same stock, and under the same institution of laws, not to be unacquainted with each other; which acquaintance will be maintained by thus conversing together, and by seeing and talking with one another, and so renewing the memorials of this union; for if they do not thus converse together continually, they will appear like mere strangers to one another.4
We have already explained why neither of the above two reasons can rationally be considered as valid, but this would be an excellent opportunity to summarize them. First, the fact that early Messianic believers were scattered doesn't validate foregoing the Torah requirement to kill the Passover lamb in Yahweh's chosen place. We are persuaded that it is rather unbecoming of believers otherwise bent on obeying Torah to bend the Torah instructions so as to expand the "place" where Yahweh has placed His name to "places" where He has placed His name. We should not overlook the author's commentary about the Apostle Paul not keeping each and every feast in Jerusalem. We agree that the Apostle Paul did not keep every feast in Jerusalem. We are persuaded that some folks misinterpret the mention of festivals as being references to "festival observances" rather than time markers. For example, we do not read that the Apostle Paul literally observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread with all its rites and ceremonies while in Philippi, although we are persuaded that he did the best he could (Acts 20:6). Did that include killing a Passover lamb in Philippi? We are not told, but if he did, he certainly did not comply with the Torah instructions that we have previously mentioned and we know from Paul's own testimony that he did not sin against the law of the Jews (Acts 25:8). Since we are not told what the Apostle Paul did during his stay in Philippi, we can only presume at best. We are not told that he participated in killing a Passover lamb; this would have been a perfect opportunity for Luke to have demonstrated the understanding of early believers regarding this matter. In view of the silence, we are persuaded that the believers did not advocate killing a Passover lamb outside of Jerusalem. Also, please consider the certain turmoil that would have been created if Yeshua’s disciples had gone to various locations and killed lambs. As we have already pointed out, the command is to kill the lambs at the place chosen by Yahweh, which was understood by Judaism as being Jerusalem. If the Apostle Paul had gone to such places as Philippi and killed lambs for Passover, the news of this practice would have spread like wildfire among his fellow Jews. Such a controversial deviation from the accepted ritual would have been recorded for us to read. Yet, once again, the New Testament is silent about killing a Passover lamb anywhere other than in Jerusalem. The mention of the Feast of Unleavened Bread in conjunction with Paul's sailing away from Philippi, then, can reasonably be regarded as a "time marker" instead of evidence that he participated in a Passover sacrifice there. We personally believe that he abstained from leavened products during that time and that he in essence commemorated the Feast of Unleavened Bread, including the Memorial Supper, with believers in Philippi. However, we can abstain from leavened products whenever and wherever we so choose! This is not the case with killing a Passover lamb, and since there is no record that the Apostle Paul did such a thing while in Philippi, we are persuaded that we err on the side of safety by believing that he did not. In fact, we challenge anyone to produce an approved Scriptural example of any believer killing a Passover lamb anywhere outside of Jerusalem. If it is so important for us to understand that it is now permissible to kill a Passover lamb outside of Jerusalem, then why has Yahweh allowed such an important matter to be subject to interpretation instead of giving us a plain example that would stop all arguments? For this reason, we maintain that the Apostle Paul commemorated the feasts when outside of the land of Israel, but that he did not "observe" them, per se, as in participating in any sacrificial rites or expressing an expectation that believers either gather at a pre-designated feast site or else be found guilty of sin. The above author's second reason for believing that we are to kill a Passover lamb "where we are" if we live too far from the land of Israel simply makes no sense to us. His expressed reasoning is that Josephus wrote that the command to kill a Passover lamb applies to those who lived within the bounds of Israel. This is actually our reasoning for believing that the law pertaining to killing a Passover lamb only applies to those living in the land of Israel! The comment from Josephus that the above author refers to is the same commentary that we cited above from Antiquities of the Jews. If Josephus wrote that the law about killing the Passover lamb only applies to those living within the bounds of Israel, then why say that Josephus meant that it also applies to those living outside the bounds of Israel? Are we missing something? So there you have it: The command to kill a Passover lamb applies to those living in the land of Israel and also requires that there be a temple. Since there is no current temple in existence, even for those living in the land, the instructions for killing a Passover lamb cannot currently be carried out in accordance with how Torah instructs it to be done. Moreover, since there are no approved Scriptural examples of any believers killing a Passover lamb anywhere outside of Jerusalem, it seems to be quite presumptuous on our part to do such a thing.If you were far away, you were to keep it where you lived. I've come to this conclusion for two reasons. The first being that the early messianic believers were scattered all over the Roman Empire and it would have been impossible if not extremely difficult for believers to travel to Jerusalem three times a year. There is good evidence that the apostle Paul did not keep every feast in Jerusalem. The second reason is a comment made by Josephus on Deut. 16 which indicates this command applied to those who lived within the bounds of Israel.
The Messiah's Passover Sacrifice: Was It a Sin Offering?As we bring this study to a close, I would like to mention a recent discussion about the topic of killing a lamb for Passover. This "discussion" was carried out via group e-mail (the same group e-mail discussion that I mentioned earlier). As one who has been sympathetic to both sides, I tried to take a neutral position with a focus of exhibiting understanding of those who kill a Passover lamb each year. My focus was geared in this direction because, as can be expected, the majority view tends to favor not killing a Passover lamb and as it turned out, I was the only one who spoke up in their defense. A participant in that discussion presented a view of Hebrews chapter 10 that many, including myself, have previously overlooked and his argument adds yet another dimension to this topic that should not be ignored. He demonstrated that although the Passover sacrifice is not considered a "sin offering," nevertheless, it really is. If the Messiah's fulfillment of the Passover lamb did not represent a sin offering, then who died for our sins? We will need to see a satisfactory answer from those who kill a Passover lamb each year before we can hope to feel comfortable about killing a Passover lamb because if this sacrifice is a sin offering, we are indeed conveying an understanding that Yeshua's sin sacrifice was not sufficient. Hebrews chapter 10 not only presents the Messiah as the offering for our sins, but He is presented as having offered Himself as "one sacrifice for sins for ever" (Heb. 10:12). If Yeshua's sacrifice is considered as "one sacrifice for sins for ever," then why should we continue offering a Passover lamb year after year? As we ponder the significance of this reasoning, let's review Hebrews 10:1-25:
If we can understand and acknowledge that Yeshua's fulfillment of the Passover sacrifice simultaneously fulfilled all the sin offerings and yes, even the thanksgiving offerings ... once for all ... then why should we need to repeat killing a Passover lamb each year? Not only do we miss the mark by arbitrarily deciding "where" Yahweh's name is to be placed, and not only do we ignore the mandate that this offering must be brought to the door of the tabernacle/temple, but we also seem to overlook the fact that when Yeshua offered Himself as that Passover offering, He offered that one sacrifice for sins for ever. In Remembrance of Me As mentioned previously in this study, Yeshua is plainly referred to as the Passover lamb in I Corinthians 5:7. We can certainly pause and reflect upon the fact that He is the representation of that lamb that was killed for each Passover. However, this is not what He told us to eat “in remembrance” of Him. He gave His disciples the bread and the cup, instructing them to eat and drink of those substances in remembrance of Him. While the lamb can be thought of as the memorial to the true Passover lamb, this is not what Yeshua instructed His disciples to do “in remembrance” of Him. Certainly, if He expected His followers to kill and eat a Passover lamb “in remembrance” of Him, we would be able to plainly read such instructions. However, no such instructions are given. As we bring this study to a close, we would like to express that we anticipate mixed reviews in response to what we have presented. While we have attempted to offer a balanced perspective, there is bound to be information that we have inadvertently omitted and we are certain that those who believe we should kill a lamb at Passover will help to make certain that we address their perspective and any contingencies that they feel we have overlooked. We are gratified that, to this point, the response we have received from the other camp has been respectful. Here is an excerpt from an e-mail that we received from an individual who kills a lamb for Passover each year: I would ask that you post my response in your newsletter or website so everyone can read it. I know you are not one to ignore the other side and I appreciate that aspect of your character. You and June try to address the arguments used by the opposing side. I have read enough of your articles to make that determination. I also am open to correction and if YHWH reveals to me that it is wrong for me to kill a lamb for Passover than I will stop. It will take Him to do so, and I always want to examine my heart to make sure it is pure and I would pray you and June do the same. None of us are immune from allowing our own prejudice or bias to get in the way.5 Our friend indicated that he will be working on a response to our commentary. As time allows, then, we will expand on this study as we incorporate other ideas and perspectives into the discussion. Our observation has been that those who do not believe we should kill a lamb for Passover have been intolerant and disrespectful towards those who kill a lamb each year. If nothing else, we are hopeful that what we have written will at least contribute towards bringing the two sides a little closer together. If we can better understand that the motives on both sides of this issue are noble with the ultimate goal of pleasing the Father, we’ll be that much closer to achieving the unity that He wants us to have. ___________________________________ 1 Philo of Alexandria, Questions and Answers on Exodus, Book I, translated by Ralph Marcus, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1970 (first printed in 1953), p. 18. 2 From "Are We Correctly Observing Passover?" by an anonymous author, p. 2. Although the article is not dated, it was mailed to us in August 2003. 3 Ibid, p. 2. 4 Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book IV, ch. VIII, sect. 7. 5 Excerpt from an e-mail that we received on May 1, 2011. Abib 2011 New Moon June and I were blessed to see the new moon that marked the start of the new Scriptural year on April 4, 2011. We welcome new moon photos and we may even post yours on our web site if you would like to send us one of your next new moon sighting. Please send it to seekutruth at aol dot com. Thank you!1For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. 7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O Almighty. 8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; 9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O Almighty. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Yeshua Messiah once for all. 11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of the Almighty; 13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 15 Whereof the Holy Spirit also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith Yahweh, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. 19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Yeshua, 20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21 And having an high priest over the house of the Almighty; 22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Newsletter #1: Shebat 2011 (11th month of the Scriptural year)
Should We Pray That Our Flight Not Be On the Sabbath Day?
anuary 2011 marked the 25th anniversary of Sabbath observance for June and me. We have lots of memories of our journey since that venture into the unknown. I remember that not long after June and I made the decision to observe the weekly Sabbath, we made the mistake of sharing our new-found truth with several of our best friends. Some might say our mistake was in forcing our view on others and expecting them to believe us "or else." But no, we expected them to study this issue on their own and let us know what they came up with, just in case we had reached a premature and incorrect conclusion. We were (and are) willing to pursue scholarly inquiry with anyone who wanted to study this topic with us. This is something that all believers should do:
21Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good. (I Thessalonians 5:21)
Even today, 25 years into Sabbath observance, June and I often find ourselves challenged by others on various Scriptural topics. How do we respond? When someone brings up a topic that they want June and me to study, we often answer that we will do our best to look at their information and get back with them as time allows. Sometimes we tell them we are simply too strapped for time, so we ask them to bear with us and even remind us of our commitment if we have delayed too long. So what was the mistake that June and I made early into our Sabbathkeeping experience? I would say it was impatience. When a very dear couple ignored the information we had given them, after a few months' worth of waiting, I decided that it was time to write them a letter. My letter was specifically directed to the husband, whose name is Jim. When that letter was ignored, I decided to write another, this time with a strong implication that our friend was unable to answer our reasoning, yet unwilling to change. Actually, I am persuaded that this is the way many people are, but if you suggest such a thing to them, you can forget about them remaining on friendly terms with you!
Not only did our friendship with that couple disintegrate, but Jim sent us a massive 37-page response that contained some of the most ridiculous arguments that we could imagine. Moreover, the tone of his letter confirmed that we were no longer friends. I now realize that maybe if I had been a little more patient, Jim's reply might have been softer and maybe we could have reasoned through some of the rationale that he presented without insulting each other's intelligence. Sometimes taking things one at a time produces the best results. With his 37-page letter, I didn't quite know where to begin. How do you respond to such a lengthy letter without composing a longer one?
One point from Jim's letter that took me by surprise was his approach towards Matthew 24:20. This is where Yeshua the Messiah told His followers to pray that their flight not be in the winter or on the sabbath day. Of course, in the preceding verses, He foretold the impending destruction of Jerusalem. He warned those in Judea to flee into the mountains, then in verse 20 He added:
20But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day.
Many scholars understand Yeshua's warning to be in reference to the destruction of the temple in 70 CE. Of course, if this is true, it behooves us to understand why Yeshua would suggest that we pray that our flight not be on the Sabbath if He foreknew that the Sabbath would be "done away" at the time of His death and resurrection. Why should we pray that our flight not be on the Sabbath if the Sabbath is no longer in effect? This, then, was a point that I raised in my letter to my soon-to-be ex-friend, Jim. Here is his response:
I think what Jim is trying to say is, "Since two out of the three passages that describe this same prophecy don't mention the word 'Sabbath,' this must mean that the lone passage that does make reference to the Sabbath should be ignored." This would be like saying that we can't really believe that Yeshua stayed behind at the temple when he was 12 (Luke 2:41-49) because this account only appears once in the entire New Testament.
Jim was careful enough with his response that he made sure we knew that he wasn't completely blotting Matthew 24:20 from his Bible. Rather, he claimed, June and I were completely misinterpreting Yeshua's words. The reference to the Sabbath was not to the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE; rather, as Jim pointed out, it was a reference to the time of the very end. By that time, Jim claims, the Sabbath will be reinstated. In the meantime, during the particular "dispensation" that we are now in, the Sabbath is not necessary.
For those of you who might just happen to agree with Jim's reasoning, I can only ask that you try to picture the audience to whom Yeshua was speaking. Were they supposed to figure out, from His words, that the Sabbath was about to be "done away," but don't worry, it'll be reinstated in around 2,000 years? Yes, that is precisely what Jim would expect you to believe. Of course, you can believe whatever you want, but when it comes to something as important as the Creator's law, I think we should be absolutely certain the Sabbath has been "done away" or "suspended" before teaching it to others.
Please keep in mind that Yeshua uttered the prophecy of Matthew 24 just two days before His crucifixion. If you follow the sequence of events as described by the Apostle Matthew, you will find that Yeshua continues His Matthew 24 discourse on into chapter 26 where, in verse one, we read, "When Yeshua had finished saying all these things, He said to His disciples, 'You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.'"
Two days before His crucifixion, Yeshua advised His followers to pray that their flight not be on the day of the weekly Sabbath. Something tells me He didn't have any thoughts of its being "done away" in the back of His mind. Something to think about: When we read the cautionary warnings found in Scripture, they are usually in the form of admonitions to beware of those who teach against obedience to the law. In fact, in Daniel chapter 7, a prophecy of the end times, we read of a beastly power that would think to change times and laws (Daniel 7:25), but we later read that this beastly power's authority will be taken away and the kingdom will be given to "the people of the saints of the most High" (v. 27). When we consider this truth in conjunction with the fact that Yeshua told His followers to not think that He had come to destroy the law (Matt. 5:17-19), we should be able to understand that when Yeshua advised His followers to pray that their flight not be on the Sabbath, we should indeed pray to that end. June and I prefer to rest on the Sabbath, not travel.
This is the name of our Creator, Yahweh, sometimes called the Tetragrammaton. It is given here in (A) the Phoenician script, (B) the Ivrit Kadum (Paleo-Hebrew) script, and (C) the Modern Hebrew script (a stylization of Aramaic).
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