Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Moving Time!

This blog has been dormant for the better part of a year, but I've been busy setting up a new home for my random thoughts and design wackiness. I found it easier to consolidate everything using the Wordpress platform.

My personal blog (including the Design 613 project has moved to Robert W. Williams - Thoughts & Musings

My other graphic work is now at Melek Design (if you just want to see the artwork)

I've moved most of the content to the new locations, and this blog is staying put as an archive.  Please update your subscriptions and saved links to the new locations and stop by to say hello!

Also, if you want to display any content from this blog on your own site, email me for permission before doing so.

See you soon!
Robert


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mitzvah #7: To Swear By God's Name!

The seventh of the positive commandments (which should be done; as opposed to the negative mitzvot, "which should not be done") according to Moishe (Moses)Maimonides is "To swear by God's name." as it is written in Deuteronomy 6:13
"Thou shalt fear Yahveh thy God, and serve Him, and shalt swear by His name. (KJV)"

You may have noticed that Maimonides used the same verse for mitzvot #4 and #7.  That saves me some work and provides a nice segue into talking about oaths and swearing (not the "road rage" kind that people do on the freeway, but the Biblical kind.)  There is an apparent contradiction between this mitzvah (commandment) and a couple of passages in the New Testament that I hope to be able to explain how I've come to see it as a non-contradiction (i.e. the problem lies in our modern understanding of an antique translation).

Here is a quick breakdown of the verse: (see Mitzvah #4 for a bigger picture view)
• et—YHVH (the LORD): Yahveh, the proper name of God
(Related articles:  The Name of GodGod's Name in Vain
• e-lo-hei-kha (thy God): your God, His majesties
(From the root Elohiym)
• ti-ra (fear): Properly, to tremble with joy, to reverence
• v’-o-to (Him and to):
• ta-a-vod (serve): take on imposed servitude
• u-vish-mo (by His name): name, rank, authority
• ti-sha-ve-a (thou shalt swear): seven, as it was considered a sacred number and oaths were confirmed by seven sacrifices, or seven witnesses or pledges. This usage is found in Niphal: (one of seven classes that Hebrew words fall into that gives additional, specialized meaning) to swear (eg. by God, by idols, by anyone) i.e. To swear one's allegiance to God

In this passage, Yahveh instructs us to swear an oath of allegiance to Him; however, there are two instances in the New Testament writings where it seems to state the opposite (i.e. that we are to refrain from swearing at all).  Let's take a look at both of them.

The first instance is in Matthew 23:16-22 (NIV)
“Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ 17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ 19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22 And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it."
The context of this chapter is Yeshua dealing with hypocrisy on the part of some of the Parishim (Pharisees), the Jewish religious leaders.  In modern English, the word "Pharisee" has become synonymous with hypocrite, but it's important to understand that all Pharisees were not bad. The Pharisees as a group were the doctors of Torah, whose position it was to teach the people how to walk out Yahveh's commandments.  There were some in that group who were self-righteous and only looked out for themselves, and it sure seems like those are the ones that the Gospels record most of Yeshua's interaction with.  I once heard a quote:
"There are only about six really bad people in the world; they just get around a lot!"  
Perhaps that was the situation with Yeshua and the Pharisees in the Gospels.  If you pay close attention when you read, you will notice many times when the Parishim came to Yeshua's aid, and He had worthwhile conversations with them.

In Matthew 23, Yeshua was pointing out to these Parishim in particular that they were swearing by means other than what Yahveh commanded in Deuteronomy 6:13. It's important to understand that in their world, one did not run around correcting the doctrine of everyone else (which seems to be common practice in our culture today).  The fact that Yeshua was addressing their hypocrisy shows that, more likely than not, He had been schooled as a Pharisee.

A couple of highlights from the chapter.
   • Verse 3: (Yeshua to His disciples) "Do as the Parishim instruct you, but do not do as they do." (i.e. they ask more from the people than they are willing to do themselves)

   • Verse 28: These Parishim made the outside look righteous, but their hearts were wicked.  Their allegiance was not to Yahveh, but to fame, gold, popularity, etc.  Yeshua was simply pointing out that they had married themselves to something other than Yahveh, and in doing so, had broken their oath of faithfulness to Him.

The second instance is in James 5:12 
"But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and [your] nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation."
This seems as though Yaakov (James) is commanding believers to refrain from making any oath, which would seemingly overturn Yahveh's commandment in Deuteronomy 6:13.  However, if we back up just a few chapters in Yaakov's letter, we find this passage in James 2:8-12: (I replaced every instance of "law" with "Torah" for clarification, since that is the subject)
"If ye fulfil the royal Torah according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: 9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the Torah as transgressors. 10 For whosoever shall keep the whole Torah, and yet offend in one [point], he is guilty of all. 11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the Torah. 12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the Torah which brings liberty."
It would be silly to think that Yaakov is advocating obedience to Torah in one part of his letter, and then completely reversing that position later on.  As was often the case, he used Leviticus 19:18 "Love your neighbor as yourself." as a summary of the entire Torah, then gives a few examples from the 10 Commandments that expand on the concept of loving one's neighbor, before urging his readers to live according the what is written in the Torah (which happened to be the foundation of the Tanakh, or Scriptures).  With that in mind, lets revisit what is being communicated in 5:12:
   • swear not by heaven
   • swear not by earth
   • swear not by any other oath
(i.e. there is one oath that we should swear by.)
   • let your yea be yea
(Hebrew idiom, meaning: "make this vow with the truth (i.e. truly make this vow with Yahveh), lest you fall into condemnation"(Failure to make a vow to Yahveh will result in our falling into condemnation)

I hope it has become clear through my ramblings that there is one oath that we are expected to make, and it is a vow of faithfulness to Yahveh, to be His pure and set-apart bride. (Being His Bride being the common thread running through every mitzvot thus far.

Here is my picture translation of Deuteronomy 6:13:
You will quiver in reverence and joy of Yahveh your God and take on His imposed servitude, and make an oath, a pledge, an allegiance and promise by His authority.
I'll try to spend the remainder of the week working tying it all together in the summary. Until then, shalom v' shalom! (Peace multiplied upon peace to you!)
__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

My translations are done using Bible Study Methodology 101, developed by Dr. Robert Allon
For more information about the course, click the links above, or read the four part introduction linked below:
BSM 101 Intro: Part 1
BSM 101 Intro: Part 2
BSM 101 Intro: Part 3
BSM 101 Intro: Part 4

Mitzvah #6: To cleave to God.

The sixth of the positive commandments (which should be done; as opposed to the negative mitzvot "which should not be done") according to Moishe (Moses) Maimonides is "To cleave to God," as it is written in Deuteronomy 10:20
"Thou shalt fear Yahveh thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name. " (KJV) 

Within this verse, I think we can find the foundation of all the mitzvot and the heart of those we have studied thus far.  The meaning of the Hebrew word dabaq, translated into English as "cleave" is pretty astounding in how it pertains to our relationship with God (and how the thread runs from the beginning of Scripture to the end of the Apostolic Letters.)  Once again, I hope I can do the passage justice as I try to shed light on how I have come to understand it.

Here is my breakdown of the verse.  You'll notice that most of the word have been covered during the past few mitzvot studies:

• et—YHVH (the LORD): Yahveh, the proper name of God
(Related articles:  The Name of GodGod's Name in Vain

• e-lo-hei-kha (thy God): your God, His majesties (From the root Elohiym)

• ti-ra (fear):

• o-to (pointer):

• ta-a-vod (serve): imposed servitude (Fuller explanation)
Also,  (Mt. 4:10) "Then Yeshua said to him, Get away, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." (quote of Deut. 6:13, translated in Mitzvah #4)


• u-vo (and to): 

• tid-baq (Him cleave): to cleave, to adhere, TO BE GLUED, hence to be attached to anyone, to be lovingly devoted.

For a fuller understanding of what it means to dabaq, look at one verse the Hebrew word was connected to in the Septuagint (For the Greek kol-lei-thei-sei--my weak phonetic transliteration of the actual word):
Matthew. 19:5  "And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh" (Yeshua quoting Genesis 2:24)
To "cleave to God" is to become "one flesh" with Him. (i.e. to become His bride!)

• u-vish-mo (by His name): name, rank, authority (Fuller explanation)

• ti-sha-ve-a (swear): seven, as it was considered a sacred number and oaths were confirmed by seven sacrifices, or seven witnesses or pledges. This usage is found in Niphal: (one of seven classes that Hebrew words fall into that gives additional, specialized meaning) to swear (eg. by God, by idols, by anyone) i.e. To swear one's allegiance to God (I plan to explore more about this oath in the next Mitzvot study.)


Here is my picture translation of Deuteronomy 10:20:
You will tremble in joy and reverence of Yahveh your majestic God and take on his imposed servitude and firmly adhere to Him like glue, becoming His bride, and you will make this oath by His authority!
__   __   __   __   __   __   __   __

My translations are done using Bible Study Methodology 101, developed by Dr. Robert Allon
For more information about the course, click the links above, or read the four part introduction linked below
BSM 101 Intro: Part 1
BSM 101 Intro: Part 2
BSM 101 Intro: Part 3
BSM 101 Intro: Part 4

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mitzvah #5: To Pray to God!

The fifth of the positive commandments (which should be done; as opposed to the negative mitzvot "which should not be done") according to Moishe (Moses) Maimonides is "To pray to God," as it is written in Exodus 23:25:
"And ye shall serve Yahveh your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee." (KJV) 
"...and this service is prayer."


Here is my breakdown of the verse:
• va-a-vod-tem (and you shall serve): forced labor (To be Yahveh's servant, we must take His yoke upon us, but His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.)

I  expanded on the meaning of imposed servitude to God under the entry for serve in the previous post, but here is an additional reference: (Mt. 4:10) "Then Yeshua said to him, Get away, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." (quote of Deut. 6:13, translated in Mitzvah #4)

• et YHVH (the LORD): Yahveh the proper name of God

• e-lo-hei-khem (your God): God, His majesties (From the root Elohiym)

• u-ve-rakh (and He shall bless): to bend at the knees, TO KNEEL DOWN. The primary idea lies in breaking down a camel (causing him to kneel), so that his load may be lightened or so goods may be loaded on.  During the process of breaking down a camel, its physical needs are also tended to. Piel: (one of seven classes that Hebrew words fall into that gives additional, specialized meaning)  to invoke God, to praise, to celebrate, to adore, to bless God, which can only be done on bended knee; to bless, to cause to prosper.

• et-lakh-m’-kha (thy bread): food
[Side note: Bethlehem is made up of beit (house) + lechem (of bread); therefore Bethlehem is the "house of bread" from which the Bread of life came forth.]

• v’-et-mei-mei-kha (and thy water): water

• va-ha-si-ro-ti (and I will take away): turn aside, go away, depart from a way or path.

• ma-kha-lah (sickness): properly, grief, sadness, brokenheartedness, wounded heart

Although this word is often translated into English as disease or sickness the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Tanakh, or Old Testament) connects it to  Mt. 4:23 "And Yeshua went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease (makhalah) among the people."  It's clear in this reference that Yeshua healed the people from sickness in addition to brokenheartedness (makhalah)

• m-qir-be-kha (from the midst of thee) the interior, midst of anything

 Here is my picture translation of Ex 23:25:
And you will take on the imposed servitude of Yahveh your majestic God; and I will prosper your food and water and I will cause heartache to turn away from midst of you.
__   __   __   __   __   __   __   __

My translations are done using Bible Study Methodology 101, developed by Dr. Robert Allon
For more information about the course, click the links above, or read the four part introduction linked below
BSM 101 Intro: Part 1
BSM 101 Intro: Part 2
BSM 101 Intro: Part 3
BSM 101 Intro: Part 4

Mitzvah #4: To Fear God.

The fourth of the positive commandments (which should be done; as opposed to the negative mitzvot, "which should not be done") according to Moishe (Moses)Maimonides is "To fear God." as it is written in Deuteronomy 6:13
"Thou shalt fear Yahveh thy God, and serve Him, and shalt swear by His name. (KJV)"

 The phrase "fear of God" perhaps is not clearly stated in modern English as when Yahveh spoke the words to Israel recorded in Deut. 6:13.  I have acted under a mistaken assumption as to what that phrase really meant many times in my life.  Are we supposed to be afraid of God?  If so, to what degree?  Should be be terrified to the point of living our lives after a superstitious manner?  Or should we just demonstrate the fear of God by behaving a little more respectably while we are attending church?  As a child, I was afraid of what God might do to me if I sinned.  Funnily enough, it didn't keep me from sinning, but it added a heavy cloud of condemnation to everything I did.  As we journey through installment #5 of Design 613, I hope to shed some light on what it meant to the Hebrew mind to "fear God."

Here is my breakdown of the verse:
• et YHVH (the LORD): Yahveh, the proper name of God
(Related articles:  The Name of GodGod's Name in Vain

• e-lo-hei-kha (thy God): your God, His majesties (From the root Elohiym)

• ti-ra (thou shalt fear): Properly, to tremble; to reverence.

Jewish tradition says the curtains to the Holy of Holies (where the Ark of the Covenant resided) trembled before the presence of God. It's not possible to know for certain whether this was factual, but even if it is not, it shows the degree of reverence that the sages placed upon the place where God's glory dwelt among Israel.

The trembling spoken of in this passage should not be understood being done out of fear, but rather excitement, as of two lovers on their wedding night; trembling in anticipation of being in each other's presence, quivering in excitement at what is to come.  This may seen a bit graphic to our Western minds, but such imagery was common in Biblical Hebrew, which was less abstract and was more concept-founded. (eg. 'ahav, translated as "love", refers to the sound of panting, either from pursuit or intimacy.  The harder the breathing, the more intimate the 'ahav.)

• v’-o-to (Him):

• ta-a-vod (and serve): To labor, to work, to bestow labor upon someone; to serve or work for another (i.e. forced labor)

The idea of being subject to forced labor to God may be a turnoff to some, and could be the reason why many reject taking on the yoke of God's law.  However, we need to realize that humanity will always be subject to something.  If we don't serve our Creator, we will serve the resistance, or ourselves, but we will always serve something.

Shaul (Paul) reminded the assembly at Rome of this very thing in Rom 6:6 "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [Mashiach], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that hereafter we should not serve sin."

Consider Yeshua's words in Matthew 11:30, regarding serving God (i.e. observing His Torah and commandments) ""For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light."

Additionally, Shaul wrote in 1 Cor. 10:13, where he vouches that Yahveh is faithful and "...will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able (to bear)..." Servitude to God was a familiar concept to the apostles--Shaul (Paul), Yaakov (James), Keipa (Peter) and Yehudah (Jude) all referred to themselves after this manner (Rom. 1:1, Gal. 1:10, Tit. 1:1, James 1:1, 2 Pet. 1:1, Jude 1:1)

If this is the case, then who wouldn't want to be subject to forced labor at the hand of Yahveh?

• u-vish-mo (by His name): name, rank authority
Here is another term whose meaning has changed quite a bit in modern English.  The English meaning was closer to the Hebraic understanding 400 years ago when the King James Version was translated, as the phrase "stop in the name of the law" is understood that it represents the law as a whole, and not the authority of someone whose last name was "Law."  Here are some of the ways the Hebrew root shem (name) was used Biblically:
• "a celebrated name" refers to fame
• "to make oneself a name" refers to acquiring fame
• "a good name" refers to a good reputation
• "to blot out one's name" refers to the memory of someone after their death
• "the celebrated name of God" is the estimation of men concerning God
• "for his name's sake" refers to what hearing or thinking about His name leads one to expect
• (Ps. 138:2) "thy word hast thou exalted above all thy name"
   (i.e. God's word is established on the basis of His authority-the things He has done)
• (Ps. 54:1) "Save me, O God, by thy name..." refers to the aid that God being present    provides to man.
From it's usage, it should be clear that it refers less to the spoken syllables of a person's name and more to what is behind, and gives credence to, someone's authority.

Here is the entry for onoma from Thayer's Lexicon of Greek (New Testament) regarding how "name" was used in the New Testament writings: "By a usage chiefly Hebraistic, the name is used for everything which the name covers, everything the thought or feeling of which is roused in the mind by mentioning, hearing, remembering the name (i.e. for one's rank, authority, interests, pleasure, command, excellences, deeds, etc)."



• ti-sha-ve-a (and shalt swear): seven, as it was considered a sacred number and oaths were confirmed by seven sacrifices, or seven witnesses or pledges. This usage is found in Niphal: (one of seven classes that Hebrew words fall into that gives additional, specialized meaning) to swear (eg. by God, by idols, by anyone)
i.e. To swear one's allegiance to God

I went into more detail than I have in past entries, but I think it's important to help get a sense of how certain words and phrases were used in Biblical Hebrew contrasted to the way they are used today.  Here is my picture translation of Deuteronomy 6:13:
You will tremble in excitement and reverence in the presence of Yahveh your majestic God, and take on His imposed servitude and make an oath of allegiance by His authority.
__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

My translations are done using Bible Study Methodology 101, developed by Dr. Robert Allon
For more information about the course, click the links above, or read the four part introduction linked below:
BSM 101 Intro: Part 1
BSM 101 Intro: Part 2
BSM 101 Intro: Part 3
BSM 101 Intro: Part 4

Progress Note #1

My apologies for not posting last week.  Amid the rigors of my normal work week, I hit a small snag with the Design 613 project that I had to work through.  I'm happy to say that I think I've figured out a solution and will do my best to make up for the lack of posting over the last couple of weeks.

From the outset, I knew that I would run into overlapping themes at some point.  For example, Mitzvot #10 and 11 are based on the same verse (Deut 6:7), as are Mitzvot 12 and 13, regarding the tying of teffilin/phylacteries (Deut 6:8).  I think I will run into a similar situation with some of the mitzvot regarding Yahveh's appointed times (Lev 23).

However, I did not anticipate it occurring this early in my journey, and as a result, it threw me for a loop for a few days.  I think the best approach to avoid repetition is to deal with Mitzvot #4-#7 as a unit because although Maimonides gleaned a different principle from each one, a singular thread runs throughout (interestingly enough, the same thread traces back to the first 3 mitzvot as well).  The solution I have arrived at is to translate each mitzvah separately (as I have been), but reflect on them collectively in the Summary post, focusing on the thread that links them together.  The thread was one of the aspects of Hebrew study that first stood out to me and really kindled my interest in learning to dig deeper.  I hope that I can present it (as well as a student can do) in a way that makes it as interesting to you as it first appeared to me.

Here is the lineup of mitzvot I hope to cover this week:
#4 - To fear God (Deut 6:13)
#5 - To pray to God (Ex 23:25)
#6 - To cleave unto God (Deut 10:20)
#7 - To swear by God's name (Deut 6:13)

Until then, shalom v' shalom! (Peace multiplied upon peace to you!)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mitzvah #3: Summary

The third of the positive mitzvot (commandments) is:
To desire, breathe after, long for, be inclined and intimate with YHVH, your God with all of your heart, and all of your soul, and all of your might. (i.e. to the highest degree)


It is not God ordering us to muster up this high degree of love for Him, but rather He is telling us what will happen when we enter into a covenant relationship with Him.


To reflect on my former view about the Law (Torah), before I determined to study what was written in it (a view which is shared by many Christians): "The Law was at best, temporary.  It was replaced by grace when Jesus came, and God no longer expects us to be burdened by it's demands and the bondage that accompanies it."


Now compare that view with the first three Mitzvot (commandments) we have covered thus far:
1) To know Yahveh intimately as your God, the one who personally led you out of your dwelling place of bondage (sin). 


2)  To hear, fully understand, and obey that Yahveh is your God, His majesties, and that He is mighty and sovereign through the twisting and binding of his innumerable attributes. 


3) To desire, breathe after, long for, be inclined and intimate with YHVH, your God with all of your heart, and all of your soul, and all of your might. (i.e. to the highest degree)


Is there any part of those statements that a professing Christian would disagree with or claim to be temporary, outdated, unnecessary, or bondage?  Perhaps it's time for believers in Mashaich (Messiah) to take a closer scrutiny of God's law and investigate it's foundation of grace and love on Yahveh's part toward the crown of His creation--humanity.  Torah is a gift, the conditions of the marriage covenant between the King of the universe and His bride that He's crazy about (that's us!)  May we strive to be as passionate toward Him as His demonstration toward us.


Here's this week's media:
A little more on 'ahav
My translation of the 46th Psalm

And here is my Design 613 for this week. The application I used to create it added a white frame around it when I rendered it; unexpected, but I rather like it that way.  I've uploaded both versions.



The past two weeks were really hectic for me: a wedding, a funeral, and our Sukkot celebration getting sidetracked by both events plus really nasty weather.  As I'm getting back on top of things, I'll try to double up and get Mitsvah #4 posted by the end of the week.  See you soon!
__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

My translations are done using Bible Study Methodology 101, developed by Dr. Robert Allon
For more information about the course, click the links above, or read the four part introduction linked below:
BSM 101 Intro: Part 1
BSM 101 Intro: Part 2
BSM 101 Intro: Part 3
BSM 101 Intro: Part 4