Bible Studies from the Original Context

Hebrew Nuggets

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Hebew Nugget #226: Learning to Wait upon God

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The verse we are focusing on is Exodus 24:12, “And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.” Note the English phrase, “come up”, is translated from the Hebrew word  עֲלֵ֥ה (ah-leh) (Strong’s #5927) which means, “to go up”. God knew that in order for Moses to obtain the complete revelation that He had for Him, Moses needed to disengage from his surroundings so that he could focus completely upon God. So, God commanded Moses to come up to the top of Mt. Sinai.  

 

The phrase, “be there” in verse 24 is translated from the Hebrew phrase, הְיֵה־שָׁ֑ם  – (h’yeh sham). In the previous verses, the elders of the children of Israel had offered sacrifices to God. However here, no mention is made of building an altar, or offering sacrifices.  Moses waited six days (verse 16) atop Sinai before God called to him from the cloud on the seventh day.  What did Moses do during those six days?  He was not reading the Bible because he had not written it yet!  He was not reading commentaries as there were not any.  He was not talking to anyone because he was alone.  God said He wanted Moses to just “be there”. Moses waited and meditated upon God. Patience is a lost art in our society today. Everyone wants everything to happen instantly. However if we truly want to know God, we must learn patience and to wait upon God. 

 

Moses experienced God face to face as Deut. 34:10 tells us, “And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face.”  This phrase, “face to face” (Hebrew: פָּנִ֖ים אֶל־פָּנִֽיםpanim el panim) is repeated three other times in the T’nakh: Ex. 33:11; Num. 14:14; Deut. 5:4.  The Bible tells us clearly that no other prophet in Israel ever knew God the way Moses did. Certainly Moses’ “waiting ability” had much to do with his closeness to God!  Our modern society has programmed the younger generation to need constant external stimuli so they are always on the smartphone – texting, tweeting, facebooking and seeing what is trending. This behavior has produced an entire generation with no original thinkers – everyone believes what is trending or what they are told to believe by someone else, by the news agencies (which are not reliable), or by the ‘movement’ they identify with. Few people think their own original thoughts and even fewer think deep thoughts about God! However, the only time we can do deep thinking (ie, Biblical meditation) is when all external stimuli are turned off.  Biblical meditation means to deeply ponder and pray over Biblical truths. We have produced a generation that does not know how to wait on God like Moses had to wait and because of that, we do not experience God like Moses experienced Him either.

 

Time our most precious gift: So what did Moses do while waiting on God? Well, he was giving to God his most precious possession: time! God puts a high priority upon our fellowship with Him and wants a close relationship with us.  He is a person, and as with any person that we are close to, we must invest time in our relationship with them or we drift apart. No one today has time for anyone anymore. Everyone is “busy”. In the old days, people used to visit their friends. Then the phone came and they replaced visits with calls.  Then calls were replaced with emails. Now we are fortunate if we get a simple text. Our generation which has all the technology, has almost zero true communication. Tragically, the same is true with our relationship with God. He does not want to hear from us once a week while we are running out the door to work! He created us for fellowship and He will never give us peace without this deep relationship with Him!  

 

Note the final phrase in Exodus 24:12, “that thou mayest teach them.” God’s purpose in giving the Law to Moses was so that he could in turn, teach it to the children of Israel. The best Bible teachers are those who spend time knowing God. I do not mean knowing “about” God by reading a book. I mean, “knowing God”. The only way to truly know someone is to be with them a lot! Like He did to Moses, God will sometimes place us in a ‘desert place’ of life so that we can be removed from things that are distracting us from seeking Him.  He may remove us from family, friends, activities, or even our job or ministry. He desires to speak with us and He desires that we listen to Him. Only then will our words have power and relevance to our hearers. Do not despair if you find yourself in a ‘desert place’ of God’s making, but rather move forward to God. “Be there!” with Him and trust that He has designed this circumstance especially for us so that we may draw closer to Him. Moses is our example. He knew God ‘face to face’.  I sure want to know God that way! Don’t you?

Hebrew Nugget 225: Life in the Secret Place

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This week’s Torah Portion, יִתְר֨וֹ (Yitro, the English translation is ‘Jethro’), covers Exodus 18, 19 & 20. Chapter 18 speaks about Yitro (Jethro), Moses’ father-in-law who is the “priest of Midian” according to Exodus 2:16.  Remember that Moses had lived in Jethro’s clan for 40 years in the land of Midian, in Arabia, before returning to Egypt after the burning bush episode.  Now Jethro, along with his daughter, Zipporah ( צִפֹּרָ֖ה), who is Moses’ wife, comes to visit Moses. Jethro gives Moses some sound advice and then departs again “into his own land” (Ex. 18:27).

Israel was exactly three months out of Egypt when they entered the wilderness of Sinai according to Ex. 19:1.   Verse 3 says, “And Moses went up unto God…”.  The Hebrew: וּמֹשֶׁ֥ה עָלָ֖ה אֶל־הָאֱלֹהִ֑ים 

Transliterated as Moshe ah-lah el-HaElohim.  The very important verb ah-lah (עָלָ֖ה) is used which means literally ‘to go up’.  

Notice the beautiful words that I am calling God’s preamble to the giving of the law in verse 4: “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.” (Ex. 19:4).  The Hebrew word for eagle is nesher and we see it here in the plural, nesherim (נְשָׁרִ֔ים ).  God’s view of the Ten Commandments (and eventually the Law) was God’s way to prepare the children of Israel to come to Him as the eagles came to Him.  God did not mean for the focus of Israel to be on the Law itself, but rather, on Him!  God’s Word is extremely important because it is the path to God.  But we worship God, not His Word. He seeks a personal relationship with each of us, not just a knowledge of His word.

As we read the passage carefully, I count that Moses went up to Sinai (and back down to the people) a total of four times by the end of chapter 20.

Ex. 19:1 “Moses went up unto God”

Ex. 19:7 “Moses came and called for the elders”

(obviously he had come back down)

Ex. 19:8 “Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD”

(obviously he had gone back up to Sinai)

Ex. 19:14 “Moses went down from the mount unto the people”

(in order to sanctify them as God commanded)

Ex. 19:20 “Moses went up” (ie, to God on Sinai)

[This time, Sinai was on fire and there were earthquakes – signaling volcanic activity]

Ex. 19:25 “Moses went down unto the people”

[Again, God sends Moses down with further cautions to the people of Israel to not touch the mountain] 

In Exodus 20, God verbally gives the Ten Commandments, speaking them out loud for all the camp of Israel.  The two tablets of stone also known as the Two Tablets of the Covenant – Sh’nei Luchot HaB’rit 

( שני לֻח֥וֹת הַבְּרִֽית), are not given until chapter 31.  The people are now in fear and awe of God – which they had not been before despite the plagues and miracles that God had performed for them in Egypt. 

Notice verse 21, “And the people stood afar off, and Moses DREW NEAR unto the thick darkness where God was.”  There was something very special about Moses.  First, he had a great godly fear and respect of God, yet he was NOT AFRAID to approach Mt. Sinai when the people were afraid.  The people on the other hand, did not have the godly fear of God (evident in their worship of the golden calf that we will see in a few more chapters), yet they were AFRAID of God.  Their fear was same that Adam and Eve had in the garden after they sinned.  Remember what Adam said in Genesis 3:10,  “And he [Adam] said, I heard thy voice [God’s] in the garden, and I was afraid.

Secondly, Moses did not think of any sacrifice as ‘too much trouble’ to get closer to God. Think of him walking up and down Mt. Sinai now FOUR TIMES! Remember that he was 80+ years old!  [He had to be very fit by the way!]  He had such a desire for God, that he did not think of this as bothersome!

God wanted the Israelites to be close to Him as is evident by His words in Ex. 19:4, “I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.”  As we continue to study Moses life, we see that He realized a closeness to God that few people do and this passage gives us a glimpse as to why – Moses took TIME to be close to God! Time is the greatest gift we can give to anyone.  Not money or other gifts, but just time. Moses took time to listen to God and God listened to Moses. If we want to be close to God, it is simply a matter of spending more TIME with Him – reading His Word and in prayer. (The same is true of our family and friends too. Time is always the greatest gift!)

Jewish tradition attributes Psalm 91 to Moses. Who else could pen those majestic words except that man who lived in the secret place?  “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1  That is where I want to be also!  Don’t you? 

Hebrew Nugget 224: How to be Prosperous

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Tu B’Shvat literally means, “the 15th of the month of Sh’vat” and is also known as the “New Year for the Trees”. It is the date decided upon by Jewish sages as the day to calculate the age of trees for the purpose of tithing.  The practice of tithing the fruits of trees is detailed in Leviticus 19:23-25. However, scholars have also discovered that in ancient Israel, it was also a day for the planting of trees especially “marriage trees.” It was customary for parents who had been blessed with children during the preceding year to plant a tree on Tu B’Shvat in honor of the baby.  Cedars (Heb. Erez – ארץ) were planted for boys, cypress trees (Heb. Bah-rosh – ברוש ) for girls. When the children grew up and married, the trees were cut down and used as part of the chuppah (marriage canopy).

After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD, it was no longer possible to bring the tithes from the fruit trees to the Temple. Thus began the era of the Diaspora (which is a Greek word), to use the Hebrew term – Galut – גלות . At Tu B’Shvat each year, Jews began a custom of eating what is known as the Seven Species of fruit (Shivat Haminim in Hebrew).  They are first mentioned in the T’nakh in Deuteronomy 8:8, speaking of the land of Israel: “A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey.”  [Note: the ‘honey’ refers to date palm honey and thus, dates being one of the Seven Species.]

  • Wheat – חִטָּה֙ (chitah)
  • Barley – שְׂעֹרָ֔ה (se’orah)
  • Grapes – גֶ֥פֶן (gefen)
  • Figs     – תְאֵנָ֖ה (te’enah)
  • Pomegranates – רִמּ֑וֹן (rimon)
  • Olives – אֶֽרֶץ־זֵ֥ית (zayit)
  • Dates – דְבָֽשׁ (d’vash)

Later this practice of eating these fruits on Tu B’Shvat grew into a seder, similar in form to Passover, but using the fruits and nuts of the Seven Species.  Today the Tu B’Shvat seder is increasing in popularity.  

  

In the late 1800’s, God was raising up many people who would help the state of Israel to be established. In 1884, German mathematician and Zionist Hermann Schapira proposed an agency which became known as the Jewish National Fund (JNF) – and was officially founded in 1901 by Theodore Herzl. Before the founding of the state of Israel, the JNF was characterised by small “blue boxes” that every Jewish household in America used to collect money to help purchase the land of Israel. Very often the very leftist news media leaves out the facts so I will share them with you! During the past 100 plus years, the JNF has purchased hundreds of thousands of acres of land in Israel for Jewish settlements. The land of Israel actually belongs two-fold to the Jewish people!  It was given by God Himself, and then the JNF purchased it with the hard earned money of the Jewish people! It is not ‘occupied territory’ no more than South Carolina is ‘occupied territory’ in the USA!

Tu B’Shvat is always celebrated in late winter – not spring.  The Psalmist wrote about the tree that brings forth fruit, “in his season.”  A fruit tree does not have fruit year-round, but only when it is the season for fruit! Trees do not rest each night like people, but winter time is when trees rest. In the spring, they wake up! Our lives pass through seasons as well.  If we find ourselves in the ‘winter time’, we must not worry, but be patient and wait on the Lord. God will allow us to bear fruit when it is our season. I want the kind of prosperity that the writer of Psalm 1 wrote about. It does not come from money, but from meditating on the Word of God.


It is also an important tradition to plant a tree in Israel in honour of someone or in memory of someone through the JNF. The first time that I visited Israel, I planted trees in honour of my parents, of a dear friend and prayer warrior and of my Hebrew teacher.  Thousands upon thousands of trees are planted in Israel by the JNF on Tu B’Shvat.  If you get to visit Israel, be sure to honour a loved one by planting a tree in their honour. 

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Hebrew Nugget 223: Lessons from the School of the Desert

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This week we begin the book of Exodus and the Torah portion, Sh’mot (שְׁמוֹת ), which means ‘names’. This is the 2nd word in the Biblical Hebrew text which begins: וְאֵלֶּה שְׁמוֹת <- (v’eh-leh sh’mot) – translated as, “and these are the names”. Sh’mot (“names”) is also the Hebrew name of the book of Exodus.  Chapter’s 1-2 let us know that hundreds of years (430 of them) have passed since the closing events of Genesis 50. Also, we are introduced to Moses and his younger years.  When Moses kills the Egyptian in ch. 2, he forever leaves his life of grandeur in Egypt (as Pharaoh’s daughter’s son) and flees to the land of Midian to become a humble shepherd. Here he lives for 40 years.

Where God Spoke to Moses

A few years ago, I took a class on Bible geography with Dr. Jonathan Lipnick of eTeacher and He taught us a very important observation, “The physical setting of the Bible plays a major role the theology of the Bible.  To understand the God of the Hebrew Bible, you must understand the place (ie, Israel!) where He has that relationship with His people. The Bible would not be the book we know if it were situated anywhere else.”

Exodus 3:1-2 gives us the geographical setting for the passage under consideration: “Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.”  Notice I highlighted the phrase, “backside of the desert”. The Hebrew word translated as ‘desert’ is מִּדְבָּר (mid-bar) and means exactly that – ‘desert’. If you have ever visited Israel and gone to my favorite places – the Judean Wilderness or the Negev, then that is the mid-bar. (Although Moses is not in Israel at this time, but in Midian.)

The desert is in general a still and quiet place.  I love the desert and love to visit desert places.  Many prophets received revelations from God while in the desert (among them, Moses, David and the apostle Paul).  It is not that God is more real in the desert than in other places, because God is everywhere present.  It is just that we are so easily distracted from knowing God due to the many distractions of life.  In the desert, we detach from the noisiness of everyday life that demand our attention and can focus on God.  It is then that God can speak to our heart. I think it is most important that Moses was not just in the desert, but in “the backside of the desert” when God gave Him this revelation. God wanted Moses in a place where He had his undivided attention before He revealed to him His most important name!

What God Spoke to Moses

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who was the Chief Rabbi of the UK from 2001 – 2013, wrote that Moses asked God two questions at the ‘burning bush’: Who am I? and Who are you?  God’s answer to the second question is worth close examination. In Exodus 3:14, God tells Moses, 

אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה – transliterated as Eh-he-yeh asher eh-he-yeh. The word that is repeated twice, אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה (eh-he-yeh) is the future tense form of the verb ‘be’ – (ie, “I will be”). So literally the phrase is, “I will be what I will be.”  In the AV this phrase is translated as, “I AM THAT I AM”. However, the reader must remember that in Hebrew, the verb ‘be’ does not have a present tense form – only future and past. Therefore there is no way to say, ‘I am’ or ‘he is’ or ‘we are’.  You can say ‘I was’ or ‘he will be’.  Also, there are NO CAPITAL letters in Hebrew so all capitalization in English translations is added by the translators. Capitalization does not exist in the original Hebrew text.

The following concept is very important. The root of the verb that is repeated twice in the Hebrew text, אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה, is היה (Strong’s #1961) – the verb ‘to be’. Now, look how similar the Hebrew letters are for the verb ‘be’ (היה) to the letters in God’s covenantal name – יְהוָֹה (also known as the tetragramaton – a Latin phrase meaning “the four letters”). The Hebrew word for the verb ‘to be’ or ‘to exist’ is basically derived from God’s name!  Thus etymologically, we see that all existence is derived from God! God does not officially introduce the name יְהוָֹה to Moses until Exodus 6:3, although Moses has used it many times already in Exodus and in Genesis (remember that he wrote these books). 

Rabbi Sacks reminds us that God really never answered Moses’ first question as to why He had chosen him.  However God did assure Moses of success.  Rabbi Sacks explains God’s viewpoint this way, “You [Moses] will succeed because I am not asking you to do it alone. I am not really asking you to do it at all. I will be doing it for you. I want you to be My representative, My mouthpiece, My emissary and My voice.”  He goes on to say, “In the Tanakh as a whole, the people who turn out to be the most worthy are the ones who deny they are worthy at all. … The heroes of the Bible are not figures from Greek or any other kind of mythology. They are not people possessed of a sense of destiny, determined from an early age to achieve fame. They were people who doubted their own abilities. There were times when they felt like giving up. Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah and Jonah reached points of such despair that they prayed to die. They became heroes against their will. There was work to be done – God told them so – and they did it. It is almost as if a sense of smallness is a sign of greatness.” To this great insight, I simply say, ‘amen’.

There are so many great applications from this passage that just “fall out” if we are faithful to study out the details of history, culture, geography and language.  The inductive method of Bible study will always give the best grasp of the Bible truths.

There are many qualities of the desert that God can create in our life regardless of where we live geographically, and one of them is that of ‘limited resources’. God often puts His servants into ‘desert situations’ regardless of where they are living to teach them the same principles that He taught Moses, and the children of Israel and David and Paul. So if we find ourselves in a desert of God’s making, let us not fret, but rather rejoice that God is wanting to speak to us and give us a deeper view of Himself and so He is sending us to the school of the desert.

Don’t Leave My Bones in Egypt

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This weeks Torah Portion, ‘Vayechi’, is named for the first Hebrew word of Genesis 47:28 – וַיְחִ֤י יַעֲקֹב֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם <- (‘Vayechi Ya’cov b’eretz mizraim).  The AV translates it exactly as written, “And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt…”  The first Hebrew word in the above phrase is וַיְחִ֤י(vah-yi-chi). The root of וַיְחִ֤י is חיה and means ‘live’!  Often it is used in the plural, חַיִּים֙ – chaim, like in Genesis 2:9 speaking of the ‘tree of life’. However, it is always translated into English in the singular ‘life’. Chaimis a frequently used Hebrew word. Perhaps you have heard the phrase l’chaim meaning, ‘to life’.  Chaim is also a popular male name in Israel.  Israel’s first president was Chaim Weizemann.

Jacob’s life was basically lived in three different places.  For 77 years he lived in Hebron ( חֶבְר֑וֹן ) with his parents – Isaac and Rebekkah.  [This was also where Abraham had lived.] Then he left Hebron (not as young man as many tell the story, but at the age of 77), to find a wife among Rebekah’s family back in Syria ( Padanaram). He lived there for 20 years where he married his wives and had 11 sons and one daughter. Upon his return to Hebron, Rachel gave birth to the 12th son, Benjamin, but died in childbirth and Jacob buried her near Bethlehem. Jacob lived 33 more years back in Hebron.  The last 17 years of Jacob’s life, however, were spent in Egypt.  At the time of his death, he commanded his sons to return his body to the family burying place, the cave of Machpelah in the plains of Mamre that Abraham had purchased from Ephron the Hittite.
The 12 sons of Jacob all died in Egypt, but only Joseph had the faith to tell the children of Israel, “God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.” (Genesis 50:24-25) The final sentence of Genesis says, “So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.” (Genesis 50:26)  The English word ‘coffin’ is translated from the Hebrew word אָר֖וֹן (ah-ron) which literally means a closet, or something with doors that you store things in.  In this case, Joseph’s body was stored inside.  As Viceroy of all of Egypt, Joseph could have no doubt requested to be buried in one of the great Pyramids where the Pharaohs were buried. Joseph had lived most of his life exiled in Egypt, but he never forgot that Egypt was not his home and he did not want his final resting place to be there! Joseph was the only one of the 12 brothers whose final resting place was Israel. The children of Israel honored his wish and when they left Egypt on the first Passover, Moses himself made sure they took the bones of Joseph as he had commanded: “And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you. ” (Exodus 13:19) This action guaranteed his placement into the honor roll of faith in Hebrews 11: “By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.” (Hebrews 11:22) It takes a huge amount of faith to pray prayers that we know won’t be answered in our lifetime. Joseph had that kind of faith! I want this kind of faith too!

The Unseen Hand

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Edith Samuel, in her book, “Your Jewish Lexicon”, says that chesed is one of the “most high-frequency words” in the Jewish lexicon. Chesedחֶסֶד [remember in Hebrew the ‘ch’ is pronounced as in ‘Bach’] occurs 237 times in the Hebrew Scriptures (Strong’s #678) and is most often translated into English as the old fashioned word, ‘lovingkindness’, but also ‘mercy’ and ‘kindness’.
The best way to explain the concept of chesed is to look at someone who exhibited it to others. One of the greatest examples is found in today’s Torah portion when Joseph reveals his true identity to his brothers. During his 20 years in Egypt, God had taught Joseph some powerful lessons, preparing him to be the preserver of his family ie, the Jewish people!  During the same 20 years, Joseph’s brothers had been suffering with a very guilty conscience! In Genesis 42, the first time they meet Joseph (and of course they did not recognize him), he calls them spies, they reply, “And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.” (Gen. 42:21) Apparently they had an agreement among themselves never to tell the real truth about Joseph since they told Joseph in verse 13 that one brother “is not”. Joseph’s actions towards his brothers, before he reveals who he is, it not due to revenge, but he is trying to bring them to the point of repentance and freedom from their guilt. He realizes that while he was imprisoned in Egypt, they have been imprisoned inside of their guilty conscience. Finally when Joseph did reveal his identity, his brothers “could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence.” (Genesis 45:3) Again, it was their guilty conscience that caused them to be “troubled at his presence”.
Because Joseph is full of chesed and forgiveness, he is the initiator in the entire event of restoration. Joseph immediately shares with his brothers the very powerful, life changing lesson that God had taught him.  From man’s perspective, Joseph was sold into Egypt.  Genesis 37:28 specifically states, “… they [his brothers] … sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.”  However here in Genesis 45, Joseph is able to say, “Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.” (Gen. 45:5)God had taught Joseph one of the most important lessons of life – God is in control of every event and if we trust completely in Him, His unseen hand will work it out for our good. Joseph said that God SENThim into Egypt to preserve the very ones who had harmed him – his family.  In order for Joseph to be able to preserve his family from the coming famine, God had to send this special trial into his life to mature him. The twenty years in Egypt was not an intellectual pursuit of God by Joseph.  Joseph did not even  have the Word of God!  It had not been written yet.  All Joseph had was God!! God taught Joseph to view life from His perspective, instead of man’s perspective which is very limited because we are finite. Therefore, Joseph learned that bad things are often good things in disguise. Now it was time for Joseph to teach this lesson to his family. When the brothers least deserved kindness from Joseph, he gave it.  He forgave them and sought their good and wanted to preserve them from the famine. God deals the same way with us.  When we least deserve it, God shows us lovingkindness and forgiveness – usually through other people. Do you recognize God’s chesed towards you in all situations? The next time something ‘bad’ happens, remember that it may turn out to be the best thing to ever happen if we will view it from God’s perspective!

Nugget 218: When Days are Dark

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The Golden Menorah that was in Solomon’s Temple (originally in the Tabernacle) is first mentioned in Exodus 25 where God gave the instructions for making the Tabernacle and all of its ‘furniture’. Called the מְנֹרַ֖ת זָהָ֣ב – (menorah zhav), meaning ‘golden menorah’, it is the first item mentioned in verses 31-40. The Hebrew word מְּנוֹרָה – ‘menorah‘ is translated as ‘candlestick’ in the KJV, but it is important to remember that the golden menorah was not a candlestick and it did not burn candles! The Golden Menorah (it was solid gold!) had six branches, three off of each side of the main stem. [See photo above.] Each branch along with the main stem held a ‘lamp’ for a total of seven lamps that burned “pure olive oil” (ie, kosher).  Leviticus 24:1-2: “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually.”
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Nugget 217: Peace on Earth

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The night of Jesus birth, a host of angels appeared to the shepherds watching the flocks just outside of Bethlehem and sang their heavenly chorus, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14) Peace! The Hebrew word is shalom (שָׁלוֹם). The world at the time of Jesus’ birth was anything but peaceful, so I am sure the shepherds were pleasantly surprised to hear the angels announcement.

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Nugget 216: Israel – Prince with God

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The Etymological Origin of the Word ‘Israel’

According to Webster, etymology is, “the tracing of a word back as far as possible in its own language.” The first occurrence of the word ‘Israel’ (yisrael) – יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל in the Hebrew Bible is found in this week’s Torah portion in Genesis 32:28. In this passage, the angel of the LORD confronts the patriarch Jacob at Peniel and changes his name: “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.” What does ‘Israel’ ( יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל <-) mean? First, note that the last two letters, אל, (El), is one of the names for God and occurs 6,581 times in the Hebrew T’nakh.  [The longer form of this word is אלוהים (Elohim) and occurs 2,602 times in the T’nakh.] (more…)

Nugget 215: Jacob’s Ladder

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The first line of text in this week’s Torah portion:

וַיֵּצֵ֥א יַעֲקֹ֖ב מִבְּאֵ֣ר שָׁ֑בַע וַיֵּ֖לֶךְ חָרָֽנָה <
For the Hebrew students, I will write the Hebrew in transliteration and translation: Vayetze (and went out) Yakov (Jacob) mi-be’er sheva(from Be’er Sheva) vahYehlech (and walked) haranah (to Haran). Pay attention that in Hebrew, the verb likes to be first in the sentence because it is the most important part of speech.  The first word in the text is the name of this Torah portion – וַיֵּצֵ֥א -(vayetze).  The root (יצא) means ‘to go out’ or ‘to come out’. This Torah portion begins and ends with two major events concerning stones and has a third event in the middle! Let’s look at each. Gen. 28:10-15 is a very important passage because here God reconfirms His covenant with Jacob:

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Bible Studies from the Original Context

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