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“… out of Tziyon will go forth Torah, the word of ADONAI from Yerushalayim.”
(Isaiah 2:3)

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Please read the Introductory Notes to this commentary.

For a glossary of unfamiliar terms, CLICK HERE. For assistance in
pronouncing Hebrew terms, a pronunciation guide is located HERE.

My short comments on the text are notated in “maroon pop-up text tipsMy comment is displayed like this.” which are accessed by “hovering” your mouse over the text or tapping your touch screen. [A few short comments look like this.] Longer comments are included in footnotes or links to other pages. Sometimes my paraphrase provides all the commentary needed to clarify the passage. I have added emphasis to some phrases simply to call them to your attention. Explanations of Greek and Hebrew words are from the NAS Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible with Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries Copyright © 1981, 1998 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved In order to get the most from these pages, please follow all the hyperlinks, nearly all of which will open in a new tab or window.

Introductory Notes and Comments
Bible Books Index  •  Global Notes  •  Biblical Numerology
Torah  •  Neviim  •  Kituvim  •  Apocrypha  •  Apostolic Writings

Global Notes

This page contains notes that apply globally across the entire Tanakh and Apostolic Writings and, in some sense, across the entire website. I have collected them here so I don’t have to repeat the same note on multiple pages. They are listed here in somewhat alphabetical order just so I can find them more easily.

See also: Biblical Numerology

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ADONAI (Hebrew יְהוָ֛ה, yud-heh-vav-heh, YeHoVaH) is a traditional circumlocution (a way of saying one thing to avoid saying another) that was developed by the Jewish people to avoid speaking the sacred four-letter Name of the Creator (יְהוָֹה). Jewish tradition teaches that this was so people might not might violate His commandment to not use His Name improperly (Exodus 20:7). The Hebrew word אֲדֹנִ֗י (adonai or adonay) or אָדוֹן (adon) means lord or sir. When printed in all capitals (ADONAI) or small capitals (ADONAI) the Jewish versions of the Bible it indicates that the Sacred Name (יְהוָֹה) appears in the Hebrew text, and is rendered as LORD or LORD in most English translations.

ADONAI Elohim: When the Hebrew word Adonai or the word Elohim is used in conjunction with the Sacred Name, I render it as  יְהוָה֒ Elohim, ADONAI Elohim, Adonai ELOHIM, YeHoVaH Elohim, depending upon the word order in the original; most English translations render the paired words as LORD God or Lord GOD, the capitalized word indicating the tetragrammaton (יְהוָה֒).

The name of God most often used in the Hebrew Bible is the Tetragrammaton (יהוה, YHWH or YHVH). Owing to the Jewish tradition viewing the divine name as too sacred to be uttered it was replaced vocally in the synagogue ritual by the Hebrew word Adonai (“Lord”), which was translated as Kyrios (“Lord”) in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew scriptures. It is frequently anglicized as Yahweh or — gramatically impossibly — “Jehovah” and written in most English editions of the Bible as “the LORD.

Rabbinic Judaism describes seven names which are so holy that, once written, should not be erased: יהוה (YHWH or YHVH) and six others which can be categorized as titles are El (“God”), Eloah (“God”), Elohim (“Gods”), Shaddai (“Almighty”), Ehyeh (“I Will Be”), and Tzevaot (”[of] Hosts”). Other names are considered mere epithets or titles reflecting different aspects of God, but Khumra [a prohibition or obligation in Jewish practice that exceeds the bare requirements of Halakha (Jewish law)] sometimes dictates special care such as the writing of “G-d” instead of “God” in English or saying Ṭēt-Vav (טו, lit. “9-6”) instead of Yōd-Hē (יה, lit. “10-5” but also “Jah”) for the number fifteen in Hebrew.

Contrary to most Jewish tradition, early in the second century of the Common Era, after a long period of Jewish rebellion against their authority, Rome began prohibiting the Jews, under pain of death, from praying to or speaking aloud the Covenantal Name of the Most High (יְהוָֹה). In an effort to protect the people (and themselves) from the Romans, the Rabbis issued a Takanah — a Rabbinical edict which, in direct violation of Torah, adds commandments to or takes commandments away from the Torah — prohibiting the Jewish people from speaking The Name. They went so far as to erase one or more of the vowel points from the word in their Torah scrolls so the reader would be reminded to say Adonai instead of uttering the Sacred Name. See “Some Thoughts on the Sacred Name.”

The Angel of ADONAI, The Angel of the LORD. When used with the definite article (the), this title refers to ADONAI when He appears in human form prior to His incarnation as Yeshua. The literal translation of both the Hebrew and Greek words rendered “angel” in the Scriptures is “messenger” and is almost always used in conjunction with the Sacred name יְהוָ֖ה. Thus the phrase “angel of the LORD” can also be rendered as “messenger of ADONAI” or “messenger of HaShem.” When used with the definite article (“the”) the Angel of ADONAI is recognized as ADONAI by those to whom He speaks, and He accepts their worship. Created angels, on the other hand, correct those who offer them worship (Rev. 19:10, Rev. 22:8-9). See Angel of the Lord and Theophany

Aliyot. When the Torah is read in the synagogue, the Parashah (Torah portion) is divided into eight sections. Each section is called an 'aliyah (going up) and is read by a different member of the congregation who “goes up” to the bema to read. Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews divide the parashot slightly differently, as indicated in the aliyah number indications. The blessings to be recited before and after each reading are here.

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~ B ~

Beit Din (literally, House of Judgment, or House of Law) is a Jewish court of law. HaShem gave the obligation to establish courts of law in the verse, “Appoint judges and officers in all your gates.” (Deut 16:18)

In ancient Israel there was an intricate network of courts. A high court (called the beit din hagadol, “great house of law”) of 71 sages would convene in Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount. This court went back to Moses himself, who called for 70 elders to join him in guiding the nation, making 71 elders altogether. (Num 11:16) In later generations, the wisest sage on the court, called the nasi (prince), took the place of Moses. This court had the final say on all legal matters.

There were several courts of 23 judges, which would meet in Israel’s larger cities. Like the great court, these courts were authorized to administer monetary rulings, as well as corporal and capital punishments.

In small communities (comprising less than 120 adult males) there were courts of just three (or more, provided that the number remained odd), which were not authorized to administer corporal or capital punishments.

It should be noted that it was very uncommon for the death penalty to be administered. The sages in the Talmud state that any court that would execute as often as once every 7 years — or, according to an alternative tradition, 70 years — was considered “murderous.” (Surce:

Upon His resurrection, Yeshua took that authority away from the Sanhedrin and other Jewish Elders and conferred it upon His Apostles (Mark 12:1-9, especially Mk 12:9). The Apostles who remained in Jerusalem, Ya'akov (Yeshua’s half-brother identified as “James” in most English Bibles), Kefa (Peter), and Yochanan (John) established a Beit Din in Jerusalem as the final legal authority for the Messianic Community in Israel and in the Diaspora. They held the same authority over the Messianic Community as the Vatican holds over the Roman Church, and Ya'akov held the same authority as does the Pope.

Berakah. בְּרָכָה, plural Berakot. The Greek text frequently uses the term εὐχαριστήσας (eucharistēsas), from eucharistos; to be grateful, i.e. to express gratitude; specially, to say grace at a meal. However, this is an unfortunate Christian interpretation of the word that has crept into English Bibles. Jewish people do not say a “grace” before a meal; instead, there is a special “Grace After Meals” that is often recited.

Before meals there is a special form of prayer, a berakah, that begins with the words “Blessed are You, O LORD, our God, King of the Universe.” Each benediction begins “baruch atah ADONAI Elokheinu, Melech haolam …” (Blessed Are You YeHoVaH, our God, King of the Universe …). The endings depend specifically on what is to be eaten or drunk:

 • For Bread: “…Hamotzie lechem myn ha'aretz.” (Who brings forth bread from the ground)

 • For Wine & Grape juice: “…Boreiy pree hagafen” (Who creates the fruit of the vine)

 • For Most Desserts: “…Boreiy minei mezonot” (Who creates various types of foods)

 • For Fruits: “…Boreiy pree ha'etz” (Who creates the fruit of the trees)

 • For Vegetables: “…Boreiy pree ha'adamah” (Who creates the fruits of the ground)

 • For Drinks, Meat, Fish, Cheese: “…Shehakol Nihyah bidvaro” (Everything was created through His words)

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Day Names. First century Israel did not use day names that are named for pagan deities as we do now:

In Israel everything revolved around Shabbat (the Sabbath). Days were counted, not named, as (1) “the first day of the week,” (2) “the second day of the week,” (3) “the third day of the week,” (4) “the third day toward Shabbat,” (5) “the second day toward Shabbat,” (6) “erev Shabbat (the day before Shabbat, or Shabbat eve),” and (7) Shabbat.

Double-edged sword. In Isaiah 49:1-3 this imagery first appears when Yeshua the Messiah is identified with the Jewish people. This sword is the Word of God (Rev 6:9; Eph 6:17). With this sword Yeshua, as judge and king, strikes down nations (Rev 19:15), as He had warned them He would do (John 12:48-49). The Word of God is well-suited for judging, as it can discern the truth of people’s innermost being (Heb 4:12-13).

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~ E ~

Ego Eimi. Greek ἐγὼ εἰμί, I AM, the sacred covenant name (Hebrew אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה, ’eh·yeh) by which YeHoVaH revealed Himself to Moshe (Exodus 3:14).

Elohim. The Hebrew word most often rendered “God” in the Tanakh is אֱלֹהִ֑ים (Elohim), the intensive plural of the Hebrew word אֱלוֹהַּ (Elohah, Mighty One), and frequently with the definite article (הָ, ha), the Elohim; that is, the one and only God, and so I have rendered the word throughout my paraphrase, primarily because I wish to emphasize the “plural oneness” of HaShem. Elohim is a title of the Most High, not His name. Note that the word “Elohim” is a plural noun, but always takes a singular verb when referring to God. Some call this usage the “plural of majesty” as vane monarchs often refer to themselves in the plural; but the “plural of majesty” always takes a plural verb [as attributed to Queen Victoria, “We are not amused”]. In Hebrew thought it is a plural intensive, or a plural that denotes magnitude or greatness, as in “the very God” or “the God of all gods,” indicating that nowhere in the entire universe is one who is as glorious as the God of Avraham, Yitzhak, and Ya'akov — the God of Israel.

The use of the plural form also strongly suggests [to me; please feel free to disagree], though certainly does not prove — or even indicate — His compound nature as HaAbba (the Father), HaBen (the Son), and Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit). The consistent use of singular verbs with this title indicate His indivisible and indissoluble oneness. Read a more in-depth discussion HERE.

After “Elohim,” the Hebrew frequently has the two letters “Aleph Tav” (א the first, and ת the last letters of the Hebrew alphabet) as a “grammatical marker,” but see Isaiah 44:6: Thus says יְהוָה֒ (YeHoVaH), Isra'el's King and Redeemer, יְהוָה֒ צְבָא֑וֹת (YeHoVaH-Tzva'ot, God of Hosts or God of Armies): “I am the first, and I am the last; besides me there is no God.” Compare this to the Greek phrase “I am the Alpha [Α] and the Omega [Ω], the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Rev. 22:13) I believe the Sages included this marker to ensure the reader understands that the word is not referring to humans or angelic beings who are sometimes referred to as elohim, or “mighty ones” (e.g., Ps 82:6; Isa 41:23; Jn 10:34).

Eyewitness Testimony to the Resurrection. The resurrection of Yeshua is one of the most well-attested to events in all of history. Jewish law requires the testimony of two or three witnesses to establish any fact in any court of law (Matt 18:16; 2Cor 13:1; 1Tim 5:19; Heb 10:28; Deut 19:15; Deut 17:6. The eyewitnesses to His resurrection far exceed that requirement:
1. Miryam (Mary) of Magdala - Mark 16:9-10
2. The other women with Miryam - Matt 28:8-10
3. Shimon Kefa (Simon Peter) - Luke 24:34
4. The disciples on the road to Emmaus - Luke 24:13-32
5. The disciples except T'oma (Thomas) - John 20:19-25
6. The disciples including T'oma - John 20:26-31
7. Seven disciples by the Sea of Galilee - John 21
8. Over 500 Believers - 1 Corinthians 15:6
9. Ya'akov (James) - 1 Corinthians 15:7
10. Rav Sha'ul (Paul) -  Acts 9:1-6

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~ F ~

Faith. Greek pistiß, pistis, conviction of the truth of anything; the predominate idea of trust (or confidence) in HaShem and His Messiah, hence the Complete Jewish Bible generally translates the word as “trust”; for the Messianic Believer it means to be absolutely convinced of, and totally confident in, the fact that Yeshua is exactly Who He claims to be, and that He will do exactly that which He has promised to do.

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Gehenna, Hebrew Gei-Hinnom (הִנֹּ֑ם גַּיְא), Valley of Hinnom, was a valley outside the walls of Jerusalem that served as the dumping place for the city’s refuse. It begins west of the Jaffa gate, turns south for about a third of a mile, and gradually curves east to join the Kidron valley. During the time of the Monarchy, Gehinnom, at a place called Topheth, was the scene of idolatrous practices in the days of Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:3) and of Manasseh, who “made his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom” (2 Chronicles 33:6), but Josiah in the course of his reforms “defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children (margin ‘son‘) of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech” (2 Kings 23:10). It was on account of these evil practices that Jeremiah (Jer 7:32; 19:6) announced the change of name. Jeremiah repeatedly condemned this cult and predicted that on its account Topheth and the Valley of the Son of Hinnom would be called the Valley of the "Slaughter" (Jer. 19:5–6). Into this valley dead bodies were probably cast to be consumed by the dogs, as is done in the Wadi er-Rababi today, and fires were here kept burning to consume the rubbish of the city. As the flames from the burning refuse never died out, it is used as a fitting metaphor for the place of torment reserved for the wicked after death, i.e., hell. See Sh'ol.

God-Fearer. A non-Jew who has embraced the God, the Torah, the Land, the People, and the lifestyle of a Jew; for all intents, living as a Jew, but short of formal “conversion.”

Gospel/Good News. Hebrew בָּשַׂר (basar), Greek εὐαγγέλιον (euangelion). We get the word “Gospel” from the Old English HaShem [good, not deity] spel [news], and the concept of “Good News” is not at all new to the writers of the Apostolic Scriptures that Christians call “the New Testament.” The Hebrew word with the same meaning is בָּשַׂר (basar) and it is used frequently throughout the Tanakh, or Hebrew Scriptures. For example:

Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news [basar], Lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news [basar]; Lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!” (Isa. 40:9)

How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news [basar], Who announces peace And brings good news [basar] of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, "Your God reigns!" (Isa. 52:7)

The Spirit of Adonai ELOHIM is upon me, because ADONAI has anointed me to announce good news [basar to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted; to proclaim freedom to the captives, to let out into light those bound in the dark; to proclaim the year of the favor of ADONAI … (Isa. 61:1-2)

“The year of the favor of ADONAI” is the Messianic Kindgom Age, and the basar is that ADONAI reigns as King! See also the Introduction to the Gospels and Acts.

The “Gospel” as it is being taught in nearly all churches is simply: “believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sin so you can have a personal relationship with Him and go to heaven when you die.” (In fact, nowhere in the Bible does it say that righteous people go to heaven when they die. But that’s a topic for another article.) While this is an important part of the “Personal Salvation Gospel,” it is not the “Good News” that Yeshua or the emissaries taught.

The “Good News” to Jews as taught by Yeshua and His Emissaries consisted of just nine words: “Repent [turn away from sin and return to God and His Torah], for the Kingdom of God is at hand!” This included eternal life through the completed work of Messiah.

The “Good News” to pagan Gentiles who had never had a relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is that through faith in the completed work of Yeshua HaMashiach they could have eternal life (personal salvation), and become full members of HaDerek (The Way), and become full citizens of the Commonwealth of Israel without having to undergo ritual conversion to Judaism.

Grace. Greek χάρις (charis); charis answers directly to Hebrew חֵן (khane), “grace, extension-toward.” Both refer to God freely extending Himself (His favor, grace), reaching (inclining) to people because He is disposed to bless (be near) them.

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HaDerek (The Way). For almost 300 years after the death and resurrection of Rabbi Yeshua ben Yosef, the Jewish Messiah (ca 28 CE), the people who followed His teaching were members of an almost-exclusively Jewish sect who called their way of living haDerek (הדֶּרֶךְ), The Way — the way to properly live out the Torah in daily life. Some called them Natzratim (Nazarenes) because they followed the teachings of Rabbi Yeshua haNatzrati (the Nazarene). By about 44 CE the people in Antioch were calling them “Messianic” because they followed “the way of the Messiah” (Acts 11:26).

HaShem is Hebrew for “the Name” (יְהֹוָה‎, yud-heh-vav-heh, YeHoVaH) and is used to refer to “Him Whose Name is too sacred to be pronounced.” Although this prohibition is not Biblical, but one of the takanot, it is common practice among the Jewish people. See Elohim.

Heavens. Greek and Hebrew use the same word οὐρανοῦ (ouranou) or הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם (haš·šā·ma·yim) for “heaven,” “the heavens,” “the sky,” and “the air.” In Hebrew thought there are three heavens. The first heaven is earth’s atmosphere, the second heaven is the created cosmos, the third heaven is outside of the space/time continuum and is the dwelling place of the Most High God.

Hebrew Timekeeping. The Jewish day is of no fixed length. Based on the classic rabbinic interpretation of Genesis 1:5 ("There was evening and there was morning, one day"), a day in the rabbinic Hebrew calendar runs from sunset (the start of "the evening") to the next sunset. The same definition appears in the Bible in Leviticus 23:32, where the holiday of Yom Kippur is defined as lasting "from evening to evening". Halachically, a day ends and a new one starts when three stars are visible in the sky. The time between true sunset and the time when the three stars are visible (known as 'tzait ha'kochavim') is known as 'bein hashmashot', and there are differences of opinion as to which day it falls into for some uses. This may be relevant, for example, in determining the date of birth of a child born during that gap.

There is no clock in the Jewish scheme, so that the local civil clock is used. Though the civil clock, including the one in use in Israel, incorporates local adoptions of various conventions such as time zones, standard times and daylight saving, these have no place in the Jewish scheme. The civil clock is used only as a reference point – in expressions such as: "Shabbat starts at …". The steady progression of sunset around the world and seasonal changes results in gradual civil time changes from one day to the next based on observable astronomical phenomena (the sunset) and not on man-made laws and conventions.

In Judaism, an hour is defined as 1/12 of the time from sunrise to sunset, so an hour can be less than 60 minutes in winter, and more than 60 minutes in summer. This proportional hour is known as a sha'ah z'manit (lit. a time-related hour). A Jewish hour is divided into 1080 halakim (singular: helek) or parts. A part is 3⅓ seconds or 1/18 minute. The ultimate ancestor of the helek was a small Babylonian time period called a barleycorn, itself equal to 1/72 of a Babylonian time degree (1° of celestial rotation). These measures are not generally used for everyday purposes.
Source: Wikipedia, “Hebrew Calendar”

Herodians. Member of a Jewish sect associated with the Pharisees in opposition to Yeshua, and assumed to be supporters of Herod the Great’s dynasty.

Hinneh: Hebrew הִנֵּ֣ה; Greek ἰδοὺ (idou). Usually translated as “behold,” “see,” or “consider,” means look at, take notice, observe, see, or gaze at; i.e., listen very carefully, because what I am going to say is very important. It is often used as an interjection.

Hinneni: Hebrew הִנֵּֽנִי, “behold me.” As noted above, Hinneh means means look at, take notice, observe, see, or gaze at, and denotes that something important is about to be said. We may understand this use to be equivalent to the English idiom “I’m all ears.” The speaker is indicating that he is ready to listen intently and pay close attention to what is about to be said, with the full intention to obey whatever he is being told.

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~ J ~

James. Hebrew יַעֲקֹ֑ב, Ya'akov. For reasons that were obviously political and (in my opinion) in deference to King James, the so-called “translators” of the horribly inaccurate version that bears his name arbitrarily chose to render the name Ya'akov as “James” every time it appears in the Apostolic Writings, but left the identical Hebrew name as “Jacob” in the Tanakh. (See “King James’ Instructions to the Translators.”)

 The half-brother of Yeshua by that name (Matt 13:55, Gal 1:9) did not believe his Brother was the Messiah unil after the resurrection. History tells us that he became the spiritual leader (the true “first Pope”) of the Messianic Community in Jerusalem and a member of the Messianic Beit Din (confirm at Acts 15:13, Acts 21:18, 1Cor. 15:7, Gal 1:19, Gal 2:9), which replaced the Sanhedrin in authority for HaDerek, The Way, as first-century Messianic Judaism was known.

Judeans.  See Y'hudim. A distinction needs to be drawn between the terms “Judeans” and “Jews” when trying to understand the Apostolic Writings, particularly the Gospels. The “Jews” were the am haretz, the “people of the land,” the ordinary folks. They flocked to Yeshua literally by the tens of thousands. The “Judeans” were the apostate religous leaders who were only concerned with their own prestige and power. They saw Yeshua only as a serious threat to their privileged position.

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~ K ~

Kingdom of God/Heaven. (see “Is At Hand,” below) The Kingdom of Heaven referred to by Mattityahu and the Kingdom of God spoken of by Mordacai (Mark), Lucas (Luke), Yochanan (John), and Sha'ul (Paul) refer to exactly the same thing. Neither phrase has anything at all to do with the Christian notion of a celestial dweling place for the righteous dead. Rather, it refers to the Messianic Kingdom on earth that begins with the thousand-year earthly reign of King Yeshua and carries over into the eternal Olam Haba. Literally, it refers to any time and place where created beings submit to ADONAI as Lord and King. Please read this article.

One of the greatest tragedies of the last 2,000 years is that the Gentile Church has totally departed from the key message of Yochanan, Yeshua, and the Emissaries (Apostles): “Repent, for God’s Kingdom is at hand!” This is mostly because they have lost track of the concept that for over 100 years after the resurrection, the Jewish sect called “The Way” was almost exclusively Jewish, and all the Apostolic letters were written in Hebrew, by Torah-observant Jewish rabbis, (except for Dr. Luke, who was probably not a rabbi) to an audience of both Jews and non-jews who were thoroughly ensconced in a Torah-pursuant Jewish lifestyle, who met not in churches but in synagogues.

They do not understand that these people very carefully avoided speaking God’s name or even referring to Him directly. They developed what are called “circumlocutions,” using various words and phrases as an alternative to a direct reference to God. Among those circumlocutions include “heaven” and “throne.” So the phrase “Kingdom of Heaven” has absolutely nothing to do with a place where people vainly hope to spend eternity after they die. “Kingdom of Heaven” actually refers to the time and place to which all Israel was looking forward, during which God, through His Messiah, will rule and reign physically on earth, and the Torah will be the “law of the land” for the whole earth. By extension, God’s Kingdom is any time and place where He is honored and obeyed as King. If you accept the absolute rule of God over your life, then you are right now living in His Kingdom.

The simplistic message of the Gentile Church has for 1,700 years essentially been: walk down the church aisle; concede to the historical fact that Yeshua is the Son of God, the Messiah; get dunked in a heated bathtub or have some water splashed on your face; now you get to go to heaven when you die. Unfortunately there is absolutely no Scripture to support the idea of “going to heaven” when we die.

When properly understood, the True Gospel — the message of “the Kingdom of God” as taught by Yochanan, Yeshua, and the Emissaries — is to turn away from your sin — defined as disobedience to God’s Torah (1John 3:4) [“lawlessness” (NAS); breaking of law” (CSB); violation of Torah (CJB)] — submit to the Kingship of God and be restored to Him, obey His commandments as given in the Torah, and you will inherit eternal life in the Olam Habah (the world that is to come).

… Is At Hand. This phrase is translated several different ways in English versions. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Berean Study Bible) “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!” (Holman Christian Standare Bible) “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (New American Standard Bible) “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (King James Bible) The words “is near” or “is at hand” translate the Greek word ἤγγικεν (ēngiken) come near, approach; from eggus; to make near, i.e. approach. The same word in Matt 26:46 is used to translate “the one who betrays Me is at hand!” So here we are, 2,000 years after Yeshua spoke these words, and the Kingdom is still not here. So why not? Was Yeshua wrong or was He misleading the people? No, the Kingdom is not here yet because Israel has not yet corporately repented, though millions of individual Israelites have repented and been redeemed. The sages taught in a midrash that “… if Israel would repent for even a single day, they would be immediately redeemed and immediately the Son of David would come. How do we know this? From Psalm 95:7 where it says, ‘For He is our God and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand, today if you hear His voice.’” They took this to mean, “If you repent, even a single day.” Repentence ushers in the Kingdom; it ushers in the redemption. So neither Yochanan the Immerser, nor Yeshua, nor His Emissaries were misleading the people. The day that Israel corporately repents — whether 2,000 years ago or 1,000 years in the future — that will be the day that Yeshua formally establishes His Kingdom on earth. The Kingdom is literally near at hand; it just needs for Israel to reach out and grasp it. But what if the people of Israel do not repent and the time for the Kingdom arrives. Then, the sages say, HaShem will send them a despotic ruler like Haman to bring them to repentence. It seems as if that is what America is requiring to bring our nation to repentence. Perhaps the anti-God “rulers” in the 2021-2025 administration will being America to repentence. If not, maybe it will take the Antichrist!

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~ L ~

Lashon hara. Lashon hara (or loshon horo) (Hebrew: לשון הרע‎; “evil tongue”) is the halakhic term for derogatory speech about a person, which emotionally or financially damages them or lowers them in the estimation of others. Lashon hara differs from defamation in that lashon hara is truthful speech rather than lies. Lashon hara is considered to be a very serious sin in the Jewish tradition. The communicator of lashon hara violates the prohibition of lo telech rachil b'ameicha (“do not go out as a talebearer among thy people”). Speech is considered to be lashon hara if it says something negative about a person or party, is not seriously intended to correct or improve a negative situation, and is true.

Law. Greek νόμος, ου, ὁ, (nom'-os): that which is assigned, usage, law. One of the great difficulties in interpretation of the Greek New Testament, particularly in the writings of Rav Sha'ul, is that there is no Greek word for the concept of “legalism,” so he is stuck with the word nomos. I believe that all of the Apostolic Writings were originally penned in the primary language of their writers. (See “Were the Apostolic Scriptures Written in Hebrew” for a lengthy discussion.) Unfortunately, the Greek language likewise has no direct equivalent of the Hebrew word תּוֹרָה, Torah, instruction, which in it’s narrowest and most technical use refers to the instruction contained in the five Books of Moses. The closest word in Greek is νόμος, nomos, any law whatsoever, which is used in the Greek text to translate the Hebrew word Torah. Neither is there a Greek word for either “takanot” (Rabbinical rules outside of the Torah of Moses) or for “legalism.” To this difficulty is added the long-standing Jewish tradition of including the takanot within the general use of the word “Torah,” that is, the entire body of Jewish jurisprudence. So to the interpreter comes the task of determining from the context (as read with Jewish eyes) to which sense the word “nomos” is being used.

Leaven (Greek zume, zume) is yeast or any similar dough-rising or fermenting agent. It was used by taking a small portion of any dough that had raised and set it aside for later use as a “starter.” A small portion of the starter could then be added to the ingredients of a new loaf, like a sourdough starter or any of the various popular “friendship” breads. The word is also used metaphorically of inveterate mental, doctrinal, and moral corruption, viewed in its tendency to rapidly infect others.

Leper/Leprosy. In the Scriptures the Hebrew word for leper is מְצֹרָ֣ע (mə·ṣō·rā‘) and for leprosy is וְ֠הַצָּרַעַת (wə·haṣ·ṣā·ra·‘aṯ, tzara‘at). The Greek for leper is λεπροῦ (leprou) and for leprosy it is λέπρα (lepra). None of these words refer to the disease now called Hansen's Disease. In the Bible, tzaraat is a skin disease that can take many different forms, and in particularly bad cases can manifest itself on one’s clothing, belongings, and house, in addition to the skin. See Tzaratt -- A Biblical Affliction.

Little Faith. Throughout His ministry we see Yeshua often calling people “you of little faith.” Many interpreters assume this is a rebuke to people who exhibit a low level of faith. I prefer to think of it as a term of endearment spoken as one would speak to a little child who is really struggling to understand a complex problem. I therefore render it as “Little Faith.”

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 ~ M ~

Mashiach (Moshiach). Hebrew מָשִׁ֖יחַ, Messiah; Greek Χριστός, Christos, Christ: Anointed. The Jews anointed three classes of people by pouring olive oil over their head as a symbol of Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit: prophets, priests, and kings. Since Yeshua serves eternally in all three offices, He is The Anointed One.

Messianic Community. Hebrew מִקְרָא (miqra), assembly, a convocation; Greek ἐκκλησία (ekklēsia), called out; mistranlated in most English Bibles as “Church,” referring to the Messianic sect of Judaism that called itself HaDerek, the Way. Depending on the context, it may refer to the movement in general or to a specific community, just as the word “Church” is used to refer to Christianity in general or to a local congregation. Thus I sometimes render this word as “assembly.”

Minhag (Hebrew: מנהג‎ “custom”, pl. מנהגים‎, minhagim) is an accepted tradition or group of traditions in Rabbinical Judaism that have become law. In addition to the 613 commandments, observant Jews consider halakha, Jewish law as derived from the Talmud, but nearly always contrary to Torah, binding upon all Jews. In addition to these, there have always been customs. Some customs were universally adopted (e.g. wearing a head covering), or almost universally (e.g. monogamy). Others are observed by major segments of Jewry but not by others (e.g. not eating kitniyot on Passover). Other customs are bound to certain localities or groups that originated in certain localities. Obedience to minhag is obedience to the Rabbis instead of obedience to HaShem. See also Takanot.

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~ N ~

Name. Hebrew ~X, shem, does not just refer to the “name” — the string of letters or the sound of those letters — by which we know who is being referred to. The word “shem” speaks to a person’s renown, reputation, fame, glory, or even authority; everything that is known about the person. In Judaism it is common practice to refer to God as “HaShem,” or “The Name,” as a way of avoiding the unspeakably holy Name of יְהוָה֒ (yud-hey-vav-hey). When we do that, we should be reminded that He is ever so much more than just the sound by which we refer to Him. And when we pray in “the Name of Yeshua” we should know that we are not just “name-dropping” so the Father will pay greater attention to our petition. We are reminding ourselves that what we are asking of the Father, we are asking in full trust and confidence in the reputation of all that Yeshua is and all that He has done, and we are asking in the authority of Yeshua because we are asking for something that will being glory to both Him and the Father.

Yeshua has specifically called us and appointed us for service to the Kingdom, so that the works that we do will have lasting value both in the Olam HaZeh and in the Olam Haba. “My Name” means “My authority,” as in the authority of a police officer to perform his assigned governmental duties in the name (authority) of the government; e.g., “Stop, in the name (authority) of the law.” Yeshua has given us His heavenly “debit card” along with the authority to use it in the performance of the work of the Kingdom. Whatever we need to perform our assigned duties in the Kingdom we are to charge to His account. “Father, I need this in order to perform the work that your Son has commissioned me to perform, so I’m asking that You do this and charge it to His account.”

Ninth Hour. Nine “hours” after sunrise, or about 3:00 pm when the daylight and nighttime are of equal length. In Hebrew timekeeping, an “hour” is defined as 1/12 of the time from sunrise to sunset, regardless of the length of daytime.

In the Levitical service, there were two daily sacrifices to purify the Temple, the “morning sacrifice” and the “evening sacrifice.” The Daily Sacrifice (Exodus 29:38-39,, Daniel 8:12; Dan 11:31; Dan 12:11) consisted of a burnt offering of two lambs of a year old, which were daily sacrificed in the name of the whole nation, the first at dawn and the second at “evening” (Daniel 9:21), or more correctly, “between the two evenings.” All Israel was called to prayer during the time of the evening sacrifice, thus it was called “the Hour of Prayer.”

“Now this is what you are to offer on the altar: two lambs a year old, regularly, every day. The one lamb you are to offer in the morning and the other lamb at dusk.” (Exodus 29:38-39)

See also “Hebrew Timekeeping.”

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~ O ~

Omein. (Hebrew אָמֵ֥ן, 'amen, from אֹֽמֶן 'oman; sure, true, faithfulness; Greek ἀμήν amen) verily, truly, so be it; truth has become true.

When doubled, “Omein, omein,” particularly at the beginning of a statement, it denotes absolute certainly. Yeshua frequently uses this phrase when introducing some absolute truth He is about to reveal.

At the end of the discourse it means “so it is,” “so be it,” “may it be fulfilled.” It was a custom, which passed over from the synagogues to the Christian assemblies, that when he who had read or discoursed, or had offered up solemn prayer to God, the others responded “Amen,” and thus made the substance of what was uttered their own.

The word “amen” is a most remarkable word. It was transliterated directly from the Hebrew into the Greek of the New Testament, then into Latin and into English and many other languages, so that it is practically a universal word. It has been called the best known word in human speech. The word is directly related — in fact, almost identical — to the Hebrew word for “believe” (!ma aman), or faithful. Thus, it came to mean “sure” or “truly,” an expression of absolute trust and confidence. [Thayer and Smith. “Greek Lexicon entry for Amen.” The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon, 1999.] [RETURN]

Oneg or Oneg Shabbat. Literally Joy, Joy of Sabbath, or Sabbath Joy. An informal Sabbath gathering in a synagogue or private home to express outwardly the happiness inherent in the Sabbath holiday. Now more social than religious, the group entertains itself with music, drama, community discussions, lectures, or the singing of religious melodies — all in keeping with the biblical injunction, “and call the Sabbath a delight” (Isaiah 58:13). Usually food is provided to complement the congenial atmosphere and perpetuate in spirit the Talmud’s recommendation to eat three full meals that day. In many Messianic Jewish congregations this takes the form of a potluck dinner following the Shabbat service.

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~ S ~

Sabbath’s Journey, or Sabbath-Day’s Journey. 2,000 cubits, or about 1,000-1,200 yards. The maximum distance allowed by halakhah to be traveled on Shabbat. However, what the Torah says is: “Everyone is to stay where they are on the seventh day; no one is to go out” (Exod 16:29). Read the article HERE.

Saint, Greek ἅγιος hagios: One who is set apart by HaShem as His special treasure and for His special purpose. Derived from agnoß, hagnos, exciting reverence, venerable, sacred; pure, pure from carnality, chaste, modest, pure from every fault, immaculate, clean. The Greek noun form of the Hebrew adjective קָדוֹשׁ (qadosh), to be consecrated or set apart for a specific purpose, and therefore “different (distinguished/distinct)” – i.e. “other,” because special to the Lord.

Sanhedrin. The Jewish supreme court was called the Sanhedrin (“Council”) or Sanhedrin ha-Gadol (“the Great Council”) and consisted of 70 elders plus a president or Nasi (prinnce), known as rabbis after the destruction of the Temple. Any laws and Takanot (decrees) issued by the Sanhedrin were binding on the entire Jewish nation. Although lower courts consisting of 23 judges could try capital cases, only the Sanhedrin had authority over cases involving the king, capital crimes committed by the high priest, or crimes committed by an entire tribe or city. Powers exclusive to the high court also included:

  • Crowning a king.

  • Authorizing “voluntary” wars (milchemet hareshut), such as wars for the sake of expanding the country’s borders.

  • Expanding holy sites, such as Jerusalem and the courtyard of the Holy Temple.

  • Appointing lesser courts of 23 judges.

The Mishnah tractate Sanhedrin (IV:2) states that the Sanhedrin was to be recruited from the following sources: Priests (Kohanim), Levites (Levi'im), and ordinary Jews who were members of those families having a pure lineage such that their daughters were allowed to marry priests. In the Second Temple period, the Great Sanhedrin met in the Hall of Hewn Stones in the Temple in Jerusalem. The court convened every day except festivals and the sabbath day (Shabbat).

A Synhedrion is mentioned 22 times in the Greek New Testament, including in the Gospels in relation to the trial of Yeshua, and in the Acts of the Apostles, which mentions a ″Great Synhedrion″ in chapter 5 where rabbi Gamaliel appeared, and also in chapter 7 in relation to the stoning death of Saint Stephen.

Rabban Shimon ben Hillel served as Nasi from 9 to 30 CE, and Rabban Gamaliel the Elder served from 30 to 50 CE.

Read the articles on the Jewish Court system at and

Sh'ol. Sheol, the place of the dead; definitely not hell. See Gehenna. The word is used as a metaphor for the grave, and speaks of the “dwelling place” of the dead. My personal belief [this is only my opinion, so please feel free to disagree] is that before Yeshua’s Resurrection it was the resting place of the dead to await their resurrection (Luke 16:19-31). I believe that between His death and Resurrection, Yeshua went into Sh'ol and announced to the dead, both the righteous and unrighteous, that the work of redemption had been completed (1Pet 3:19). I further believe that He then transported the righteous dead directly through time and space to the Olam Haba (Eph 4:8), leaving only the unrighteous dead in Sh'ol to await the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev 20:11).

Sha'ul/Paul. Sha'ul of Tarsus (Hebrew: שאול התרסי‎, Romanized: Sha'ūl ha-Tarsī; Greek: Σαῦλος Ταρσεύς, Romanized: Saũlos Tarseús) lived approximately 5 BCE to between 64 and 67 CE. He was born in the Roman city of Tarsus in Asia Minor, what is now southern Turkey, the son of Roman Citizens who were devout Jews, Pharisees.

Because he was born in the Diaspora [wherever Jews reside outside of the Land of Israel], he was named Paul at his birth and given his shem kodesh (religious, or literally, holy name), Sha'ul, at his b'ris (dedication, circumcision) on his eighth day.  To this day, nearly all male Jews in the Diaspora have two names — their “secular” name in the dialect used in their country of residence and the Hebrew name given to them at their b'ris. For example, my Hebrew name is Ari ben Gavriel ha Levi — Ari (Lion) son of Gavriel (Warrior of God) the Levite — but since I live in the United States, when dealing with the non-Jewish world I use my Amercan name, Rick Sawyer. So, he was always Paul among the Gentiles in the Diaspora and Sha’ul in Israel or when among his Hebrew kinsemen in the Diaspora.

At what was presumably a very early age, Sha'ul was found to have a remarkable mind and talent for learning so, at great expense, his parents sent him to Jerusalem to study Torah at the feet of the great Sage and Prince of the Sanhedrin, Raban Gamliel the Elder, son of Simeon ben Hillel and grandson of the great Jewish teacher Hillel the Elder. By the time he appears in Scripture, he was between 35 and 38 years old, was very probably a well-respected member of the Sanhedrin, probably Gamliel’s star disciple, and the most likely candidate to inherit the chair of his mentor as Prince of the Sanhedrin upon the death of Gamliel. Had he not encountered Yeshua, history would quite likely have regarded him as the greatest Jewish sage of all time.

He was absolutely on fire with his love for HaShem and dedication to Torah, and was, literally, violently opposed to anyone who dared challenge its absolute authority over all aspects of life. When the fledgling sect of Yeshua-followers, dubbed “Messianics” at Antioch but referring to themselves as HaDerek, The Way, began spreading the supposedly false rumor that their Rabbi, Yeshua — Who had been crucified by the Romans for high treason, claiming to be the new King of Israel, and making Himself out to be the Messiah promised by the Prophets of old — had been resurrected from the dead, that was more than he could stand. He went to his colleagues at the Sanhedrin and obtained warrants to totally annihilate this sect of blasphemers.

It is almost universally taught in the Church that Saul of Tarsus “converted to Christianity” and changed his name to Paul. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Rav (“Rav” is a short term for “Rabbi”) Sha'ul never “converted” to any other religion than Judaism, Christianity or otherwise. “Christianity” did not come into existence until until it was created by Constantine in the early fourth century, well over 250 years after the death of the great rabbi (see HERE). He was born, lived his entire life, and died as a Torah-pursuant Jew. After his personal encounter with the resurrected Yeshua, his zeal for Torah was refined and redirected. He became a zealous follower of the Jewish sect known as “HaDerek” (“the Way”). Near the end of his life he made the claim “Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees,” (Acts 23:6) not “I was a Pharisee,” so his zeal for Torah never waned. See also Sha'ul the Letter Writer.

Shalom ~wlX, Shalowm: “peace,” but much more than simple lack of strife. It includes everything that one might need for absolute ease of spirit:

  1. completeness, soundness, welfare, peace
    1. completeness (in number)
    2. safety, soundness (in body)
    3. welfare, health, prosperity
    4. peace, quiet, tranquillity, contentment
    5. peace, friendship
      1. of human relationships
      2. with God especially in covenant relationship
  2. peace (from war)
  3. peace (as adjective)

Shliach. Apostle, Emissary. Hebrew שליח‎, shliach/shaliach, pl. שליחים/שלוחים‎, shlichim/shluchim; Greek ἀπόστολος (apostolos), a representative sent on a mission or errand; a delegate; especially, an ambassador of the Gospel; officially a commissioner of Messiah. The apparent qualifications for Shliach are to be (a) an eye-witness (either in person in via a vision) to the resurrected Yeshua and (b) specifically commissioned by Him to be His witness. [RETURN]

Sicarius. After Israel came under the control of the Roman Empire, a group of political activists known as Zealots arose, who both advocated and attempted to bring about the overthrow of Rome. A particularly violent subgroup of the Zealots was a band of assassins known as the Sicarii (also spelled Sacarii), or assassins (also known as “dagger men”), after the Latin word for the short ice-pick-like daggers with which they dispatched (usually via a quick thrust to the base of the brain) anyone they felt to be a Roman sympathizer. Among Yeshua’s talmidim were at least two members of the party of the Zealots: Shim'eon Zealotes (Simon the Zealot) and Y'hudah the Sicarius (Judah the Assassin), usually translated into English as “Judas Iscariot.” Bar-Abba (Barabbas, or Son of a Father), who was released by Governor Pilate in exchange for Yeshua’s execution (Matthew 27:11-25), is thought to have been a notorious Sicarius, and was probably a close associate of Y'hudah.

Son of Man. Critics argue that Yeshua probably did not actually know that He was the Messiah, because He frequently referred to Himself as Ben Adam, the Son of Man. They claim that the phrase ben adam, son of man, as used by modern Hebrew speakers, is used as equivalent to English “that guy,” as in “Who’s that ben adam standing over there?” or “Here comes that ben adam.” However, in Jewish thought it is also a title for Messiah. Daniel 7:13. That He was fully aware of His true status is clear from numerous passages: e.g., Mark 1:23-25; Matt 16:13-17; Matthew 11:1-6

Stauros (stauroß): an upright stake, esp. a pointed one. I have elected to simply transliterate the original Greek term in my paraphrase for two reasons. First, unfortunately, there is much debate, especially among those within the Messianic Jewish Community, as to whether the instrument of Yeshua’s execution was a single upright stake or one with a cross-bar. How sad that a question of zero significance divides the bretheren. Second, the traditional T-shaped cross has been a symbol of Jewish persecution by the Church for the past 1,700 years, so that just the word “cross” is sufficient to turn many ethnic Jews away from the truth of the Messiah.

“A well known instrument of most cruel and ignominious punishment, invented by the Phoenicians and borrowed by the Greeks and Romans; to it were affixed among the Romans, down to the time of Constantine the Great, the guiltiest criminals, particularly the basest slaves, robbers, the authors and abetters of insurrections, and occasionally in the provinces, at the arbitrary pleasure of the governors, upright and peaceable men also, and even Roman citizens themselves.” [The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon]

“The gibbet on which crucifixion was carried out could be of many shapes. Josephus says that the Roman soldiers who crucified the many prisoners taken during the Siege of Jerusalem under Titus, diverted themselves by nailing them to the crosses in different ways; and Seneca the Younger recounts: ‘I see crosses there, not just of one kind but made in many different ways: some have their victims with head down to the ground; some impale their private parts; others stretch out their arms on the gibbet.’

“At times the gibbet was only one vertical stake, called in Latin crux simplex. This was the simplest available construction for torturing and killing the condemned. Frequently, however, there was a cross-piece attached either at the top to give the shape of a T (crux commissa) or just below the top, as in the form most familiar in Christian symbolism (crux immissa). The most ancient image of a Roman crucifixion depicts an individual on a T-shaped cross. It is a graffito found in a taberna (hostel for wayfarers) in Puteoli, dating to the time of Trajan or Hadrian (late 1st century to early 2nd century CE). … Irenaeus (c. 130–202), a Christian writer, describes it as composed of an upright and a transverse beam, sometimes with a small projection in the upright.” []

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~ T ~

Takanot (singular takanah, תקנה) — “Takkanah … An enactment which (1) revises an ordinance that no longer satisfies the requirements of the times or circumstances, or which (2), being deduced from a Biblical passage, may be regarded as new” (

The Oral Tradition, Tradition of the Fathers, or “Oral Torah” — are Rabbinical regulations, now codified in the Talmud, that either add to or subtract from the requirements of Torah in direct violation of Torah; laws enacted by the Rabbis that change or negate Torah law. Obedience to Takanot is obedience to the Rabbis instead of obedience to HaShem. In fact, some rabbis claim that when they make takanot, even HaShem must obey their decisions. But in my mind the issue is forever resolved by Kefa (Peter): “Kefa and the other emissaries answered, ‘We must obey God, not men’” (Acts 5:29). Do I think all takanot are wrong? Not at all. If you feel that following takanot brings you closer to the walk with the Almighty you desire, or if you feel that takanot are appropriate to your identification with Israel, then by all means, follow whatever takanot you desire. I do not, however, believe that viewing takanot as authoritative or binding upon a Messianic Believer (believer in Yeshua) is appropriate.

In order to obey the mitzvot of יְהוָה֒ your God which I am giving you, do not add to what I am saying, and do not subtract from it. (Deut 4:2)

Everything I am commanding you, you are to take care to do. Do not add to it or subtract from it. (Deut 12:32)

Every word of God’s is pure; He shields those taking refuge in Him. Don't add anything to His words; or He will rebuke you, and you be found a liar. (Proverbs 30:5-6)

I warn everyone hearing the words of the prophecy in this book that if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues written in this book. And if anyone takes anything away from the words in the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the Tree of Life and the holy city, as described in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19)

The Sages claim that the Takanot (Mishah) is that body of teaching that God gave to Moses at Sinai which he did not commit to writing, but passed on orally down through the generations. However, the written Torah says: “Moses wrote down all the words of יְהוָה֒.” (Exodus 24:4) Through the oral tradition, the Takanot, the sages assigned to themselves the same authority as Moses had, therefore rendering their own opinions as authoritative, or even more so, than the Torah.

One such rediculous rule is that when putting one’s shoes on, one must first put the right shoe on without tying it, then put the left shoe on, tie it, then tie the right shoe. To put shoes on any other way is a “sin,” a violation of their complex rules.

This is why I personly consider myself a Messianic Karaite Jew (please see “Philosophy”) and do not hold the Talmud or Midrash as authoritative in any way. They are, however — as commentary on the Torah — of great value as the treasury of centuries of Jewish case law, and provide extremely valuable insight into the minds of the Sages as they interpreted Torah. And if you personally feel that HaShem is calling you to follow them, then by all means, please listen to Him and not to me! has an extensive article on Takanot, as does the Jewish Encyclopedia. Refer to Yeshua’s teaching regarding takanot in Matthew 15 and Mark 7.

See also Minhag.

Tanakh is the Hebrew Bible, also erroneously called “Old Testament.” It is an acronym (TNK) for the three divisions of the Hebrew Scriptures: Torah (the five books of Moses, or Pentateuch in Greek), Nevi'im (Prophets), and Kituvim (the rest of the books).

Torah, Hebrew תּוֹרָה, is best translated as “Divine Instruction” rather than “Law,” even though it contains both civil and ecclesiastical laws for the Commonwealth of Israel. The term “Torah” may refer to either the Five Books of Moses, the entire TaNaKh (Hebrew Scriptures), or the whole Bible (including the Ketuvei HaShalichim, or Apostolic Writings), depending on usage. My use of the word “Torah” never refers to the Talmud (the “Oral Tradition” or “Oral Torah”) but, while I do not consider the Talmud or any other commentary on the Scriptures as the Word of God, I believe that the writings of Oral Tradition, such as the Talmud, the Mishnah, and the Midrash Rabbah, also contain further insight into the character of God and His dealings with His people. This becomes a problem when interpreting the Apostolic Writings.

I believe that all of the Apostolic Writings were originally penned in the primary language of their writers. (See “Were the Apostolic Scriptures Written in Hebrew for a lengthy discussion.) Unfortunately, the Greek language has no direct equivalent of the Hebrew word תּוֹרָה, Torah, instruction, which in it’s narrowest and most technical use refers to the instruction contained in the five Books of Moses. The closest word in Greek is νόμος, nomos, any law whatsoever. Thus there is no Greek word for “takanot” (Rabbinical rules outside of the Torah of Moses) or for “legalism.” To this difficulty is added the long-standing Jewish tradition of including the takanot within the general use of the word “Torah,” that is, the entire body of Jewish jurisprudence. So to the interpreter comes the task of determining from the context (as read with Jewish eyes) to which of these four senses the word “Torah” is being used.

Tzara‘at. See Leper/Leprosy. See also Tzaratt -- A Biblical Affliction.

Tzitzit. The word tzitzit (צִיצִית) is literally defined as “fringes,” and refers to the strings attached to the corners of the tallit, the Jewish prayer shawl. It also refers to the poncho-like mini-tallit that is worn throughout the day, often under a shirt. Here’s how the mini-tallit came to be:

God commanded the Jewish people to affix fringes to the corners of their clothing so that they would constantly remember Him and His commandments. (Numbers 15:38-41.) At that time, the common garment was a simple sheet of cloth, and the mitzvah was to affix fringes to each of its four corners. But styles changed over the centuries, and the simple garments of biblical times were replaced with robes, jackets, trousers, and shirts. What would happen to the tallit? Jewish men then began to fulfill the mitzvah in the following two ways:

a) During prayer, we drape ourselves in a tallit gadol (“big tallit”), which has essentially remained the same since ancient times. (Read about the Tallit here.)

b) We wear a little “poncho” called a tzitizit, tallit katan (“small tallit”), or arba kanfot (“four corners”). For most of us, it fits neatly under a shirt.

TzitzitThe fringes attached to the tallit of either size are called tzitzit. They are almost always made of white wool, and must be spun with the sacred intention that they be used for the mitzvah (commandment).

On each corner, four threads are threaded through a hole and looped over, so that there are eight strings hanging down. A series of double knots and coils then join the first few inches of each corner’s tassel into a single cord. The remainder of the eight threads are then free to hang down.

The eight strings and five knots are a physical representation of the Torah’s 613 mitzvot (commandments). It works like this: Each letter in the Hebrew alphabet has a corresponding numerical value (gematria). The numerical values of the five letters that comprise the Hebrew word tzitzit add up to 600. Add the eight strings and five knots of each tassel, and the total is 613. [, accessed 2 January 2020]

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~ W ~

Word. Greek λόγος (logos). From lego; something said; by implication, a topic, also reasoning or motive; by extension, a computation; specially, the Divine Expression. Literally, a logos is the sound (or its written equivalent) by which an object is identified, and encompasses all that is to be known about that object; therefore a logos is an exact representation of that object. A word, uttered by a living voice, embodies a conception or idea of what someone has said. About 500-600 B.C.E, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus first used the term Logos to designate the divine reason or plan which coordinates our changing universe; that is, the Mind that is behind all order in the created universe, which causes the universe to obey the natural laws, such as gravity, mathematics, and morality. Without this divine Mind, or “the Word,” the universe would collapse into utter chaos. “Philo (20 B.C.E - 50 C.E.), a Jewish philosopher heavily influenced by Plato, taught that the logos was God’s creative principle in the realm of pure thought, which cannot have any direct association with anything in the tangible realm of matter. [Charles Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary, Volume 4, Insights on John. Tyndale, 2014, Kindle version, location 524.]

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.”(See John 1:1-2 and notes.)

In Hebrew thought, the eternal Word and the eternal Torah are one and the same. According to the Midrash (Bereshith Rabba), the Torah was created prior to the creation of the world, and was used as the blueprint for Creation. “The Torah was to God, when he created the world, what the plan is to an architect when he erects a building.” Since Yeshua has been revealed as the eternal Word (the Logos), it follows that Yeshua is also the eternal Torah. Thus, Torah can never be done away with unless Yeshua can be done away with.

Works of Torah (rendered “works of Law” or “works of the Law” in most English Bibles). Throughout his letters, Rav Sha'ul uses this phrase to refer to the outward identifying signs of Jewish people, consisting primarily of:
   • dietary restrictions,
   • observance of the seven Appointed Times, and
   • circumcision.

The issue has never been whether God’s people, whether Jewish or non-Jewish should obey God’s loving instructioins for all His children as recorded in the Torah. Yeshua settled that argument:

 “For I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the Law [Torah] until all things are accomplished” (Matt 5:18).

Writing to an almost-exclusively non-Jewish audience, the issue that Sha'ul was consistantly dealing with was that a person is declared righteous through faith in Yeshua rather than through identification with the Jewish people by imitating their conduct and taking upon themselves those outward identifying signs.

 Kefa (Peter) said about Sha'ul’s letters:

Indeed, he speaks about these things in all his letters. They contain some things that are hard to understand, things which the uninstructed and unstable distort, to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. (2Pet 3:16)

One of the greatest tragedies to overtake the Family of God, based primarily upon a gross “distortion by uninstructed and unstable” teachers (whether intentional or unintentional) of Rav Sha'ul’s letters, is that the non-Jewish Believers in Yeshua have chosen to separate themselves from the very roots of their faith. In total opposition to what the first-century Messianic Believers practiced, nearly all Gentiles who have come to faith in the Jewish Messiah have determined to remove virtually everything Jewish from their faith and practice, especially God’s Torah.

We know, of course, that nobody has ever been declared righteous before God based on Torah-observance, because Torah does not lead to righteousness; rather, it provides the guidelines by which those who have already been declared righteous are to conduct themselves.

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~ Y ~

Y'hudim. Because the Greek language simply doesn’t contain the necessary vocabulary, throughout the entire Apostolic Writings, the text frequently refers to the Ἰουδαῖος, Ioudaios, Jews, without making a distinction between the Jewish people as an ethnic group, Jewish people living throughout Israel, Jewish people living specifically in Judea, and the corrupt Jewish leadership (which I have generally rendered as “Judeans”). Because antisemitism is so common, especially in the Christian Church’s heritical Replacement Theology, I have made an effort to make a distinction in my paraphrase or in the notes and comments, based on context.

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Anxiously awaiting Mashiach’s return