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Baptism is the new birth

Paul consistently taught that those receiving baptism are dead, meaning not saved prior to baptism. There is only one explicit instance under the New Testament that arguably people were baptized after they were already saved in Acts 10, and this was done in order to demonstrated that Gentiles can also receive the Holy Spirit. Dead people get baptism according to Paul. He did not teach born again believers get baptized, he taught believers get baptized to become born again! According to St Paul we are buried in baptism–this alludes to being dunked in the water–this metaphor loses much meaning if the baptism is dry and the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Paul teaching baptism is death and resurrection, that is the burial of the old man and a resurrection with Christ through faith:

in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been BURIED WITH HIM in BAPTISM, in which you were also RAISED UP with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the UNCIRCUMCISION of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions–Colossians 2:11-13

Paul is saying people getting baptized are:
1) Dead and being buried with Jesus
2) Uncircumcised
3) Without forgiveness of sins
4) Are then made alive and resurrected with Christ through faith
5) Become ‘circumcised’
6) Have the forgiveness of transgressions
Colossians 2 on baptism and Ephesians 2 (saved by grace through faith) are parallel passages
On top of this, Colossians 2 is a parallel passage of Ephesians 2 which teaches salvation by faith because of grace. Many of the terms are the same used, both chapter speak of “being dead in transgressions,” “raised up” with Christ, being “circumcised.” Then goes on like Colossians 2 about not being required to keep Mosaic dietary and ceremonial laws.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were DEAD in our TRANSGRESSIONS, made us ALIVE together WITH CHRIST (by grace you have been saved), 6 and RAISED UP with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through FAITH; and [h]that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. 11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “CIRCUMCISION,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands–Ephesians 2:4-11

So, the conclusion is Ephesians 2:8-9 passage teaching salvation by faith because of grace is about baptism itself, since its in the exact same place Paul puts in in Colossians 2!
Paul teaching Baptism is being clothed with Christ and links to being a son of God through faith

 

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.–Galatians 3:26-27

Paul teaches baptism–“washing of regeneration” saves, not deeds

He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit –Titus 3:5

 

Paul teaching remission of sins by the mercy of God thru the “washing of regeneration” (baptism) and renewing by the Holy Spirit. This is the same teaching as Ephesians 2:8-9, Colossians 2:10-13, Acts 2:38

If Paul wanted to teach baptism was purely symbolic he sure failed by consistently mentioning baptism when talking about regeneration, being a son of God, being clothed with Christ, being raised alive with Christ.


Romans 6: Paul teaches Baptism is burial with Christ and resurrection, those getting baptized are considered dead and come up alive
 

Romans 6, Paul again teaches baptism=buried with Christ, going from dead in sins to new life:

How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.–Romans 6:2-4


Then, Paul goes on to say that we were crucified with Christ! So. a person being baptized is crucified->buried->resurrected.


Paul was saved at baptism

 

Paul’s conversion, when was Paul saved? He believed on the road to Damascus and when he appeared to Ananias, but was he saved? No.

Luke tells us what Paul died to wash away his sins–call on the Name and be baptized:

Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’–Acts 22:16

 

John 3 Jesus preaches on being born again then starts baptizing
 
John 3 Jesus preaches on the need to be born again, and mentions its by WATER AND SPIRIT. The rabbinical literature we have confirms baptism=new birth, yet Nicodemus did not understand this, which explains why Jesus is astonished he doesn’t know what born again means. Immediately after Jesus preaches on new birth and that He is the Savior–that VERY first thing he does is baptize people:

 

After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He was spending time with them and baptizing. –John 3:22


Old Testament Prophet Ezekiel says God cleanse iniquity with water and gives a new heart and His Spirit
 
Ezekiel teaching watered is used to cleans from “all uncleanness,” “idols” then goes on to say He will give a new heart, and THEN place the Spirit with in you–same thing the NT, Paul, Jesus say about baptism–afterwards you are give the baptism of the Spirit, while the first baptism was Christ’s.

 

And I will sprinkle CLEAN WATER upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep Mine ordinances, and do them.–Ezekiel 36:25

 
Does the New Testament teach the Holy Spirit Baptism saves and not water Baptism?
 
The “baptism of the Holy Spirit” in Acts caused the “speaking of the tongues” and was called the “gift of the Holy Spirit” which every time except in Acts 9 happened AFTER water baptism by laying on of hands.

the GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT should have been poured out on the Gentiles also, they could hear them speaking in TONGUES and glorifying God.–Acts 10:45-46

As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them as it had upon us at the beginning, and I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’–Acts 11:15-16

Therefore, ‘gift of the Holy Spirit’=’speaking in tongues’=’baptism of the Holy Spirit, and elsewhere =”laid hands” (Acts 19:3)

Gentiles were give the Holy Spirit prior to water baptism to show Jews they were accepted by God, every other instance in the NT water baptism comes first then Holy Spirit baptism

 
Was the “good thief” baptized?
 

The Bible does not tell us for certain, but we are told is that 1) Jesus baptized more than John, 2) John baptized all of Jerusalem and Judea, 3) many people apostatized because Jesus’ teaching of “eating his flesh” and “drinking his blood.” So if Jesus baptized more than John and John baptized the people of Judah and Jerusalem, its possible that the thief/insurrectionist may have been included, but apostacised as some of Jesus’ disciples did when not believing Jesus’ doctrine.

Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John–John 4:2

And ALL THE COUNTRY of JUDEA was going out to him, and ALL THE PEOPLE OF JERUSALEM, and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.–Mark 1:5

As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. –John 6:66

In conclusion, it IS possible the thief died baptized as a repentant apostate. Regardless, if he was or not, the NT does not say baptism is the SOLE means of becoming born again–ordinarily calling on the Name is part of baptism–but when not available–all those “who call upon the Name of the Lord will be saved.”

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Hebrew text of the Book of Sirach

The book of Sirach was one of several books questioned during the Reformation and by a few early Christians (but was overwhelmingly considered canonical and quoted).  Protestantism in its current forms today, especially among Evangelicals, rejects the book completely as Holy Scripture. The common criticism of the book was not it was not written in Hebrew, but just Greek, Latin and other languages. However, thanks in part of archaeology, the Dead Sea Scrolls among other discoveries, large parts of Sirach are being recovered in Hebrew text! This certainly had to be the case since Sirach is quoted several times in the Talmuds as Scripture–although it was eventually excluded from the Pharisaic canon (as were almost Ezekiel, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Songs of Solomon).

Here is a site dedicated to ancient manuscripts of Sirach!

A link to the verses found in manuscripts. at present whole chapters are missing still, but several chapters have been found.


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Isaiah 53:8 and countermissionaries

Isaiah 53:8 is considered by some Counter Missionary Jews to be the smoking gun evidence that Isaiah 53’s suffering servant is the collective people of Israel rather than a single physical person–certainly not a Messiah, particularly Jesus Christ.

Here is how the RSV translates Isaiah 53:8, I will supply alternate translations including Jewish later.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away;  and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?–Isaiah 53:8

The Hebrew text as found in the Masoretic Text (the Isaiah Scroll from the Dead Sea Scrolls differs)

מֵעֹצֶר וּמִמִּשְׁפָּט לֻקָּח, וְאֶת-דּוֹרוֹ מִי יְשׂוֹחֵחַ:  כִּי נִגְזַר מֵאֶרֶץ חַיִּים, מִפֶּשַׁע עַמִּי נֶגַע לָמוֹ

There are about 3 main reasons I’ve come across that they use for this claim, and they are:

1) The Servant in Isaiah is always Israel, and they consider the servant innocent
2) Lamo לָמוֹ is used in Isaiah 53:8 and “properly translated means to them’ ” and never “to him”
3) The phrase eretz hayim  אֶרֶץ חַיִּים “land of the living” is an expression for the “land of Israel”

Counter Missionary claim #1: The Servant in Isaiah is always Israel, and they consider the servant innocent.

My Response: Most of the time in Isaiah the servant is named as Israel/Jacob, however, David is called God’s servant in Isaiah 37:35, the Prophet Isaiah is called His servant in Isaiah 20:3, Eliakim is called God’s servant in Isaiah 22:20.  Israel is called God’s servant several times too, the closest appearance where Israel is named is Isaiah 49:3 “you are my servant Israel.” Afterwards the servant is not given a name. Calling the servant Israel is not completely incompatible with Christianity since in the 2nd Century the Christian writer St Justin Martyr wrote:

Accordingly the name Israel signifies this, A man who overcomes power; for Isra is a man overcoming, and El is power. And that Christ would act so when He became man was foretold by the mystery of Jacob’s wrestling with Him who appeared to him, in that He ministered to the will of the Father, yet nevertheless is God, in that He is the first-begotten of all creatures. For when He became man, as I previously remarked, the devil came to Him—i.e., that power which is called the serpent and Satan—tempting Him, and striving to effect His downfall by asking Him to worship him. But He destroyed and overthrew the devil, having proved him to be wicked, in that he asked to be worshipped as God, contrary to the Scripture; who is an apostate from the will of God. For He answers him, ‘It is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.’ [Matthew 4:10] Then, overcome and convicted, the devil departed at that time. But since our Christ was to be numbed, i.e., by pain and experience of suffering, He made a previous intimation of this by touching Jacob’s thigh, and causing it to shrink. But Israel was His name from the beginning, to which He altered the name of the blessed Jacob when He blessed him with His own name, proclaiming thereby that all who through Him have fled for refuge to the Father, constitute the blessed Israel. –St Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, Chapters 125

Furthermore, the Messiah, as King of Israel, would represent or embody in some way Israel. Jesus in the New Testament is often described in terms and His life is told in such a way that it embodies Israel’s history, like his nativity story with Herod killing innocent children, or going to Egypt recalls the Exodus story.  A number of things concerning Israel are applied to the Christ.  However, concerning the actual people of Israel they are not actually blameless like the Servant mentioned in Isaiah 53.  Jews present Israel as being the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 that is suffering due to the wicked gentiles, unjustly since they have done no wrong.  This is ironic since the Jews will also claim their diaspora and the long period of time they’ve been without their land and government and Messiah is attributed to their sinfulness and lack of faithfulness as a whole–hardly blameless. So, some Jews have to mitigate the innocence of the Suffering Servant as referring to his lack of Idolatry–though no such thing is ever implied in the passage.

Counter Missionary claim #2: Lamo לָמוֹ is used in Isaiah 53:8 and “properly translated means to them’ ” and never “to him”

This claim is largely true, my software shows that לָמוֹ appears 59 times in 57 verses in the Masoretic text of the Hebrew bible, in the vast majority of them its being used in a context of plurality or implied plurality, however, there are a few possible exceptions the most commonly used one is a few chapters earlier in Isaiah:

yea, he maketh a god, and worshippeth it; he maketh it a graven image, and falleth down thereto [לָמוֹ ].–Isaiah 44:15

אַף-יִפְעַל-אֵל וַיִּשְׁתָּחוּ, עָשָׂהוּ פֶסֶל וַיִּסְגָּד-לָמוֹ–Isaiah 44:15 (Masoretic Text)

Or as the 1985 JPS translates it “He also makes a god of it and worships it, Fashions an idol and bows down to it.”  Most English translations agree, however, some other Jewish translations insist it also means “to them” (Stone Tanach)–suggesting the person is bowing to both the image and the ‘god,’ however, the earlier part of the sentence already addresses the person as worshiping the ‘god’ itself. Counter-missionaries appeal to the LXX for a rare instance to try to bolster their claim, however the LXX differs significantly here, since instead of having 2 almost redundant sentences about making a god/image, it says “But the rest they fashioned into gods and they do obeisance to them.” Which makes a idol’s maker plural, and the deities plural, and omits the second part about “making an image and bowing…” So appealing to the LXX does not solve any issue in this instance!

The LXX for Isaiah 53:8 mentions “death” which fits the context perfectly, incidentally the only different between לָמוֹ and the Hebrew word death is a tau after the vav, (also the only difference between the tav and vav is the tav in older scripts of Hebrew has an extra stroke). The LXX reads:

ἀπὸ τῶν ἀνομιῶν τοῦ λαοῦ μου ἤχθη εἰς θάνατον [thanaton, death]–Isaiah 53:8 LXX

“he was led to death [θάνατον, thanaton] on account of the acts of lawlessness of my people”–Isaiah 53:8 (NET translation of the LXX)

Or, if we were to keep to translations within modern Judaism following the Masoretic text, we have the 1985 JPS which reads “For he was cut off from the land of the living, Through the sin of my people, who deserved the punishment.” Showing “he” received what they “deserved.”

Counter Missionary claim #3: “land of the living” is a term for the land of Israel.

This is an assertion they make but cannot prove based on context, the most obvious meaning is that it is an expression of death (which Isaiah 53 is full of)–not deportation from Israel. In fact verse 7 even says “as a lamb that is led to the slaughter,” and verse 9 “grave with the wicked, and with the rich his tomb.” In fact verse 8 in the LXX explicitly uses the Greek word for death.  Other than being an expression of life/death, its used as a expression for the Temple area.  Let’s look at all the instances “land of the living” is used.

The first example is from Isaiah 38:11–the only other time the expression is used in Isaiah:

I said: I shall not see YAH, even YAH in the land of the living בְּאֶרֶץ הַחַיִּים, b’eretz hahayyim] ; I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world.–Isaiah 38:11

אָמַרְתִּי לֹא-אֶרְאֶה יָהּ, יָהּ בְּאֶרֶץ הַחַיִּים; לֹא-אַבִּיט אָדָם עוֹד, עִם-יוֹשְׁבֵי חָדֶל–Isaiah 38:11 (Masoretic Text)

The context is the King of Judah (Hezekiah) remembering when he was sick and persecuted, fearing for his life, the previous verse even mentions he feared he would wind up in the netherworld (sh’ol). Land of the living here seems to just be another expression for life/death, though POSSIBLY also of the Temple since the poem ends in verse 20 with “this is why we offer up music all the days of our lives at the House of the LORD.” Regardless, its an expression of physical death here.

My second example is from passage similar to Isaiah 53–Jeremiah 11:19 where the Prophet Jeremiah talks about people wanting to kill him. Here is the passage:

But I was like a docile lamb that is led to the slaughter; and I knew not that they had devised devices against me: ‘Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and let us cut him off from the land of the living [ מֵאֶרֶץ חַיִּים , méretz hayyim], that his name may be no more remembered.’–Jeremiah 11:19

וַאֲנִי, כְּכֶבֶשׂ אַלּוּף יוּבַל לִטְבוֹחַ; וְלֹא-יָדַעְתִּי כִּי-עָלַי חָשְׁבוּ מַחֲשָׁבוֹת, נַשְׁחִיתָה עֵץ בְּלַחְמוֹ וְנִכְרְתֶנּוּ מֵאֶרֶץ חַיִּים–וּשְׁמוֹ, לֹא-יִזָּכֵר עוֹד–Jeremiah 11:19 (Masoretic text)

This was a plot of the people of Anathoth to kill Jeremiah.  The mention of a lamb led to slaughter, destroying a tree with fruit, cutting from the land of the living, and not letting his name be remember all refer to death, and have nothing to do with being deported from the land of Israel. Interesting, both this passage and Isaiah 53 mention a “lamb led to slaughter,” and being “cut from the land of the living” –מֵאֶרֶץ חַיִּים méretz hayyim. Verse 15 mentions the “House of God” but it land of the living does not seem to refer to the Temple at all here.  There is no reason why we should not think this is not referring to physical death.

My third example is from the book of Job, it is talking about where Wisdom can be found–the point is no where on earth, or as it says “in the land of the living.” Job 28 was not talking about Israel, the most natural understanding is that it cannot be found among living humans.

 Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living [בְּאֶרֶץ הַחַיִּים beretz hahayyim] –Job 28:13 (speaking about where wisdom is found, not on earth)

 לֹא-יָדַע אֱנוֹשׁ עֶרְכָּהּ;    וְלֹא תִמָּצֵא, בְּאֶרֶץ הַחַיִּים –Job 28:13

The closest I have seen verses come to calling the land of Israel the “land of the living” are in the Psalms, where the TEMPLE, not all of Israel’s land is called the land of the living.

If I had not believed to look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living [בְּאֶרֶץ חַיִּים, b’eretz hayyim] !–Psalm 27:13

לוּלֵא–הֶאֱמַנְתִּי, לִרְאוֹת בְּטוּב-יְה*ה:    בְּאֶרֶץ חַיִּים–Psalm 27:13 (Masoretic text)

We know Psalm 27:13 is referring to the area of the temple because in Psalm 27:4 the Psalmist says “that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life…. to visit early in His temple.” In fact the Jewish Study Bible for this verse notes that land of the living is contrasted with the “land of the dead,” and that it is a “metaphor for the temple.”

The next time the phrase appears is Psalm 52:7

God will likewise break thee for ever, He will take thee up, and pluck thee out of thy tent, and root thee out of the land of the living [ מֵאֶרֶץ חַיִּים , méretz hayyim]. Selah–Psalm 52:7

 גַּם-אֵל,    יִתָּצְךָ לָנֶצַח יַחְתְּךָ וְיִסָּחֲךָ מֵאֹהֶל;    וְשֵׁרֶשְׁךָ מֵאֶרֶץ חַיִּים סֶלָה–Psalm 52:7 (Masoretic text)

Verse 10 of this psalm, the psalmist contrasts the person who is rooted from the land of the living with himself who is ‘like a thriving olive tree in God’s house”…God’s house being a common term in the Hebrew Bible for the Temple. The verse correspond to each other, one is “rooted from the land of the living” v.7 and the other is “thriving…in God’s house” v.10.  The JSB notes that the Olive Tree metaphor is used because olive oil is used in the Temple, and in v 10 that “It is uncertain if the Psalmist is a religious official in the Temple (God’s house), or is a lay Israelite who wants to enjoy God’s proximity at the Temple (see Ps. 23.6 n).” It seems most likely that “land of the living” here is just an expression for living, since its paralleled with “your tent.”

The next occurrence in the Psalms is in Psalm 116:9, where the plural form is used “landS of THE living” (most of the other verses did not use the word “the” and always used singular “land”):

 I shall walk before the LORD in the lands of the living [ בְּאַרְצוֹת, הַחַיִּים , b’aretzot hahayyim].–Psalm 116:9

אֶתְהַלֵּךְ, לִפְנֵי יְה*ה–    בְּאַרְצוֹת, הַחַיִּים–Psalm 116:9 (Masoretic Text)

This is plainly an expression of death as seen by previous verse “For Thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling.” In verse 8 the Psalmist was at the risk of death and stumbling (not being able to walk) and now he can walk (and not stumble) in the lands of the living! Walking being a likely expression for keeping God’s commandments and serving him. Lands of the livings here may also be associated with the temple since the Psalmist goes on and talks about the idea of giving sacrifices to God in the Jerusalem Temple v19.

The last instance I found “land of the living” in the Psalms is 142:6 which states:

I have cried unto Thee, O LORD; I have said: ‘Thou art my refuge, my portion in the land of the living [בְּאֶרֶץ הַחַיִּים , b’eretz hahayyim].’–Psalm 142:6

  זָעַקְתִּי אֵלֶיךָ, יְה*ה: אָמַרְתִּי, אַתָּה מַחְסִי; חֶלְקִי, בְּאֶרֶץ הַחַיִּים–Psalm 142:6 (Masoretic text)

Psalm 142 is another psalm about persecution at the risk of death, just as many of the previous examples. Verse 5 states “there is no one that cares for my life!” Here it is just an expression for life on earth.

Finally, the phrase “land of the living” is used several times in the book of Ezekiel, more than any other book in the Hebrew bible–and again all as expressions for life/death.

then will I bring thee down with them that descend into the pit, to the people of old time, and will make thee to dwell in the nether parts of the earth, like the places that are desolate of old, with them that go down to the pit, that thou be not inhabited; and I will set glory in the land of the living [בְּאֶרֶץ חַיִּים , b’eretz hayyim];-Ezekiel 26:20

וְהוֹרַדְתִּיךְ אֶת-יוֹרְדֵי בוֹר אֶל-עַם עוֹלָם, וְהוֹשַׁבְתִּיךְ בְּאֶרֶץ תַּחְתִּיּוֹת כָּחֳרָבוֹת מֵעוֹלָם אֶת-יוֹרְדֵי בוֹר–לְמַעַן, לֹא תֵשֵׁבִי; וְנָתַתִּי צְבִי, בְּאֶרֶץ חַיִּים–Ezekiel 26:20 (Masoretic Text)

The above translation (of וְנָתַתִּי צְבִי ) taken from a very old translation of the JPS and is widely debated by English bible translators and Jews. The new JPS translation found in the Jewish Study Bible says “and shall not radiate splendor in the land of the living” then also notes the Hebrew is uncertain. The Jewish commentary RaShI takes the verse as being positive and says its as if God said, “And I shall bestow beauty upon Jerusalem.” This is absurd considering its completely out of place with the tone of the passage which is nothing but threats to Tyre about its demise.  The LXX translates “וְנָתַתִּי צְבִי בְּאֶרֶץ חַיִּים” as “nor rise upon a land of life.”

The next several instances we find the phrase “land of the living” in Ezekiel is Ezekiel 32, which is unnecessary to comment on since its obviously about simple the destruction of certain pagan nations based on all the talk of the pit/grave, death, sword…:

 Asshur is there and all her company; their graves are round about them; all of them slain, fallen by the sword; whose graves are set in the uttermost parts of the pit, and her company is round about her grave; all of them slain, fallen by the sword, who caused terror in the land of the living [בְּאֶרֶץ חַיִּים ,b’eretz hayyim]. There is Elam and all her multitude round about her grave; all of them slain, fallen by the sword, who are gone down uncircumcised into the nether parts of the earth, who caused their terror in the land of the living [בְּאֶרֶץ חַיִּים ,b’eretz hayyim]; yet have they borne their shame with them that go down to the pit. They have set her a bed in the midst of the slain with all her multitude; her graves are round about them; all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword; because their terror was caused in the land of the living [בְּאֶרֶץ חַיִּים ,b’eretz hayyim], yet have they borne their shame with them that go down to the pit; they are put in the midst of them that are slain. There is Meshech, Tubal, and all her multitude; her graves are round about them; all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword; because they caused their terror in the land of the living [בְּאֶרֶץ חַיִּים ,b’eretz hayyim]. And they that are inferior to the uncircumcised shall not lie with the mighty that are gone down to the nether-world with their weapons of war, whose swords are laid under their heads, and whose iniquities are upon their bones; because the terror of the mighty was in the land of the living [בְּאֶרֶץ חַיִּים ,b’eretz hayyim]. But thou, in the midst of the uncircumcised shalt thou be broken and lie, even with them that are slain by the sword. There is Edom, her kings and all her princes, who for all their might are laid with them that are slain by the sword; they shall lie with the uncircumcised, and with them that go down to the pit. There are the princes of the north, all of them, and all the Zidonians, who are gone down with the slain, ashamed for all the terror which they caused by their might, and they lie uncircumcised with them that are slain by the sword, and bear their shame with them that go down to the pit. These shall Pharaoh see, and shall be comforted over all his multitude; even Pharaoh and all his army, slain by the sword, saith the Lord GOD. For I have put My terror in the land of the living [בְּאֶרֶץ חַיִּים ,b’eretz hayyim]; and he shall be laid in the midst of the uncircumcised, with them that are slain by the sword, even Pharaoh and all his multitude, saith the Lord GOD.’–Ezekiel 32:22-32

  שָׁם אַשּׁוּר וְכָל-קְהָלָהּ, סְבִיבוֹתָיו קִבְרֹתָיו; כֻּלָּם חֲלָלִים, הַנֹּפְלִים בֶּחָרֶב.  אֲשֶׁר נִתְּנוּ קִבְרֹתֶיהָ, בְּיַרְכְּתֵי-בוֹר, וַיְהִי קְהָלָהּ, סְבִיבוֹת קְבֻרָתָהּ; כֻּלָּם חֲלָלִים נֹפְלִים בַּחֶרֶב, אֲשֶׁר-נָתְנוּ חִתִּית בְּאֶרֶץ חַיִּים.  שָׁם עֵילָם וְכָל-הֲמוֹנָהּ, סְבִיבוֹת קְבֻרָתָהּ; כֻּלָּם חֲלָלִים הַנֹּפְלִים בַּחֶרֶב אֲשֶׁר-יָרְדוּ עֲרֵלִים אֶל-אֶרֶץ תַּחְתִּיּוֹת, אֲשֶׁר נָתְנוּ חִתִּיתָם בְּאֶרֶץ חַיִּים, וַיִּשְׂאוּ כְלִמָּתָם, אֶת-יוֹרְדֵי בוֹר.  בְּתוֹךְ חֲלָלִים נָתְנוּ מִשְׁכָּב לָהּ, בְּכָל-הֲמוֹנָהּ–סְבִיבוֹתָיו, קִבְרֹתֶהָ; כֻּלָּם עֲרֵלִים חַלְלֵי-חֶרֶב כִּי-נִתַּן חִתִּיתָם בְּאֶרֶץ חַיִּים, וַיִּשְׂאוּ כְלִמָּתָם אֶת-יוֹרְדֵי בוֹר, בְּתוֹךְ חֲלָלִים, נִתָּן.  שָׁם מֶשֶׁךְ תֻּבַל וְכָל-הֲמוֹנָהּ, סְבִיבוֹתָיו קִבְרוֹתֶיהָ; כֻּלָּם עֲרֵלִים מְחֻלְלֵי חֶרֶב, כִּי-נָתְנוּ חִתִּיתָם בְּאֶרֶץ חַיִּים.  וְלֹא יִשְׁכְּבוּ אֶת-גִּבּוֹרִים, נֹפְלִים מֵעֲרֵלִים:  אֲשֶׁר יָרְדוּ-שְׁאוֹל בִּכְלֵי-מִלְחַמְתָּם וַיִּתְּנוּ אֶת-חַרְבוֹתָם תַּחַת רָאשֵׁיהֶם, וַתְּהִי עֲו‍ֹנֹתָם עַל-עַצְמוֹתָם–כִּי-חִתִּית גִּבּוֹרִים, בְּאֶרֶץ חַיִּים.  וְאַתָּה, בְּתוֹךְ עֲרֵלִים תִּשָּׁבַר וְתִשְׁכַּב–אֶת-חַלְלֵי-חָרֶב.  שָׁמָּה אֱדוֹם, מְלָכֶיהָ וְכָל-נְשִׂיאֶיהָ, אֲשֶׁר-נִתְּנוּ בִגְבוּרָתָם, אֶת-חַלְלֵי-חָרֶב:  הֵמָּה אֶת-עֲרֵלִים יִשְׁכָּבוּ, וְאֶת-יֹרְדֵי בוֹר.  ל שָׁמָּה נְסִיכֵי צָפוֹן כֻּלָּם, וְכָל-צִדֹנִי:  אֲשֶׁר-יָרְדוּ אֶת-חֲלָלִים, בְּחִתִּיתָם מִגְּבוּרָתָם בּוֹשִׁים, וַיִּשְׁכְּבוּ עֲרֵלִים אֶת-חַלְלֵי-חֶרֶב, וַיִּשְׂאוּ כְלִמָּתָם אֶת-יוֹרְדֵי בוֹר.  אוֹתָם יִרְאֶה פַרְעֹה, וְנִחַם עַל-כָּל-הֲמוֹנֹה–חַלְלֵי-חֶרֶב פַּרְעֹה וְכָל-חֵילוֹ, נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְה*ה.  כִּי-נָתַתִּי אֶת-חתיתו (חִתִּיתִי), בְּאֶרֶץ חַיִּים; וְהֻשְׁכַּב בְּתוֹךְ עֲרֵלִים אֶת-חַלְלֵי-חֶרֶב, פַּרְעֹה וְכָל-הֲמוֹנֹה–נְאֻם, אֲדֹנָי יְה*ה–Ezekiel 32:22-32(Masoretic text)

Conclusion: The phrase “the land of the living” never anywhere else in the Hebrew Bible refers to the land of Israel, but is an expression for physical death, or the Temple itself.


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Meaning the Name of Mary

The name of Mary, like the Name of Jesus, is used in both Old and New Testaments. However, unlike Jesus which means “salvation,” the name of Mary can potentially mean many different things, which are not necessarily mutually exclusive. I will show why I believe the meaning “exalted” is appropriate for the meaning to fit the Blessed Virgin Mary

The name Mary in Hebrew Miriam is spelled identical to two other words in the Hebrew bible “bitter ones” and “exalted” (from the word רום , rum meaning lifted up as in Deuteronomy 17:20) the Syrian Christians have favored the latter explanation. Some have also proposed it means “rebel” (from root meri, מרי meaning “rebellion” as in Numbers 17:25)  rebel and bitter maybe linked since they represent the resentment the Hebrews felt under Egyptian bondage. Bitter herbs were used to represent slavery in Exodus 12’s Passover meal. Perhaps, if “bitter”/ “rebel” is the meaning, she rebelled against those of her time by being obedient to the Law of God, and certainly she rebelled by not letting her son be killed by King Herod!” The Miriam in the Torah seems to be called Miriam from the word “bitter,” because we do not see her named until Exodus 15 where the word bitter is used. However, this could possibly be the new meaning taken on by her name if what holds true for Miriam is the same for Moses and Aaron–that is Egyptian names given Hebrew meaning, then Miriam may be Meryamon or Mariamne possibly meaning “beloved of Amon.” A popular explanation–stella mar [star of the sea] among Latins was popularized by a misreading of St Jerome “stilla maris” which means “drop of the sea.” St Jerome took Miriam as being from mar, מר “drop” [only used in Isaiah 40:15 as k’mar, כְּמַר–“as a drop”] and yam, יָם meaning “sea” as in Genesis 14:13 where the “Salt Sea” is referenced.  מר , mar can also mean myrrh as in Exodus 30:23.  Mar in Aramaic is the word for “lord” as in Daniel 4:19  (v16 in some texts), where mari,  מָרִאי or מָרִי is used, “lady”/”mistress” (mistress in the older usage meaning a respectable woman, not the modern expression for a home-wrecker) would probably be a similar word, though never used in any Aramaic biblical text, but is used in the “Jerusalem” Talmud (Sanhedrin 23) in the form מרתה, marta (similar to Martha, like the name in the New Testament). Some also believe the name could mean Lady Sea, or Bitter Sea.

First, for the Hebrew name of Mary we look at Exodus, where Moses’ sister Miriam is named:

And Miriam [Miryam, מִרְיָם] the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.–Exodus 15:20

The spelling מרים (no vowels, with no vav, lammed, etc prefixes) appears 16 times in the Hebrew Bible (not including the ‘Deuterocanonicals’) in 14 verses. The name Miriam in any form appears 15 times in 13 verses (with and without the vav, lammed ‘prefix’). There are 3 meaning it is translated as: Miriam, bitter ones, and exalted. Here are the some appearances of the spelling מרים (no vowels, with no vav, lammed, etc prefixes) in red, underlined are words that are similar or have the same root:

And Miriam [Miryam, מִרְיָם] the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.  And Miriam [Miryam, מִרְיָם]  sang unto them: Sing ye to the LORD, for He is highly exalted: the horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea.–Exodus 15:20-21

And when they came to Marah [Maratah, מָרָתָה]  , they could not drink of the waters of Marah [מִמָּרָה, mimmarah] for they were bitter [mirim, מָרִים]. Therefore the name of it was called Marah [marah, מָרָה ].–Exodus 15:23

every one lifting up [mérim, מֵרִים] a heave-offering [t’rumatתְּרוּמַת] of silver and brass have brought in the heave-offering [t’rumatתְּרוּמַת] of the LORD; and every one with whom hath been found shittim wood for any work of the service brought it in.–Exodus 35:24 Young’s Literal Translation (most translations do not literally translate it as “lifting up”, also I removed the ‘J name’)

The wise shall inherit honour; but as for the fools, they carry away [mérim, מֵרִים]  shame.–Proverbs 3:35

He that is slow to anger is of great understanding; but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth [mérim, מֵרִים] folly.–Proverbs 14:29

and because of the greatness that He gave him, all the peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew, and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he raised up [marim, מָרִים] , and whom he would he put down.–Daniel 5:19 (Aramaic portion)

Exalted seems more reasonable for Mary of the New Testament, it would perhaps fit in with why the Angel Gabriel said “blessed are you among women”–that is she is exalted among women. In fact, in the Magnificat Mary refers to herself as “lifted up”::

He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly–Luke 1:52

We see here she refers to the lowly being “lifted up”, this is related to Mary herself because she a few verses prior she calls herself “lowly”:

For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.–Luke 1:48

Sometimes Protestants claim that Catholics “exalt Mary!” However, Mary says that God is the one that exalted her and, in fact, her name may mean exalted!

For more information see Catholic Encyclopedia “Name of Mary”


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The LDS and worship of Jesus

Traditional, historical Christianity renders worship and prayer to the second person of the Trinity–the Son, Jesus Christ.  This adoration is equal to the level given to the Father, and is not a lesser form of veneration as would be given to the saints.  This is based on the understanding that the Trinity is one God and three Persons that are equal. The Holy Scriptures occasionally make direct reference to addressing Jesus in prayer (eg Acts 7:59, John 14:14, 1 Cor 1:2, 2 Thes 2:16).  However, this is not believed by religious movements that reject Trinitarianism as “pagan” doctrine, especially ones that believe the New Testament has been corrupted.

The Mormons sometimes say “we also worship Jesus.” However, this is a common careless slip, since Mormonism discourages and rejects Jesus worship and says they only worship Heavenly Father. This is odd since the Book of Mormon gives explicit instructions to worship Jesus:

And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out.–2 Nephi 25:29

But the common Mormon response and interpretation is that “worship” means being “in awe of” and “honor.” This can be summed up with former LDS member of the Quorum of the Twelve, Apostle/Elder Bruce R McConkie who stated:

1. We worship the Father and him only and no one else.
We do not worship the Son, and we do not worship the Holy Ghost. I know perfectly well what the scriptures say about worshipping Christ and Jehovah, but they are speaking in an entirely different sense—the sense of standing in awe and being reverentially grateful to him who has redeemed us. Worship in the true and saving sense is reserved for God the first, the Creator.–Bruce R McConkie, Our Relationship with the Lord, March 2, 1982

So to be clear, Mormons only worship “Heavenly Father,” not the Son, and certainly not the Holy Ghost–a person Mormons do not even know where He came from (The Father, a brother of the Father, somewhere else?).

The problem with the usual Mormon interpretation of this verse is that it does fine to explain away one word–worship, but does nothing to explain the rest of the verse that says, “worship him with all your might, mind, and strength.” This is obviously something the Bible says about God the Father, a point some LDS know so they construe the verse as being about worshiping the Father in “Jesus’ Name” though the verse is strictly about Jesus. If you are told to worship Jesus with all that you have–your might, mind, and strength, what else is left? That is everything, which means that is the same worship that the Father is to be given! Even, the Doctrine and Covenants, another one of the many Mormon additions to Scripture refers to the same verse in the Torah, Deuteronomy 6, when it says:

 Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.–Doctrine and Covenants 4:2

And again in,

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy might, mind, and strength; and in the name of Jesus Christ thou shalt serve him”–Doctrine and Covenants 59:5

To a Mormon when the D&C says “God” that means “Heavenly Father.” So why is Jesus being given worship that Mormons say should only be given to Heavenly Father? To make things even more confusing–to the LDS Jehovah is the Old Testament name of Jesus, which the D&C often just uses “Lord” for. D&C 59:5 also seems to contradict 2 Nephi 25:29 which says to worship Jesus with all your might, mind and strength, but here in D&C 59:5 it makes a distinction between “Lord the God” and “Jesus Christ” that it says you worship God in the name of. But if we were to look at Deuteronomy 6:4 in Hebrew it uses the word transliterated as Jehovah.

And thou shalt love the LORD [YHVH/Jehovah] thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

וְאָהַבְתָּ, אֵת יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, בְּכָל-לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל-נַפְשְׁךָ, וּבְכָל-מְאֹדֶךָ

יְהוָה is the Hebrew spelling for LORD/Jehovah/YHWH. So, the verse is saying to worship Jesus, is we accept the LDS interpretation Jehovah=Jesus. LDS.org on who Jehovah is, in the Jesus Christ and the Everlasting Gospel Teacher Manual, 2015 states:

“In testifying of the Savior Jesus Christ, modern prophets have declared: “He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament” (“The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles,” Ensign or Liahona, Apr. 2000, 2). Jesus Christ, as Jehovah, established Heavenly Father’s everlasting gospel on the earth in every dispensation of time in order to gather in every one of God’s children who were lost.”–Lesson 5: Jesus Christ Was Jehovah of the Old Testament. Jesus Christ and the Everlasting Gospel Teacher Manual, 2015

But, even if we were to pretend Jehovah is not meant in the verse in 2 Nephi 25:29, it still renders to Jesus something Latter Day Saint theology says is reserved for Heavenly Father alone. Interestingly, from personal experience there is a very small minority within the LDS that confess that it is acceptable to pray and worship Christ in the fullest sense because the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants mention it, despite the rejection of the practice by church leadership.