September 5, 2015 Shabbat Midrash
©2015 Mark Pitrone and Fulfilling Torah Ministries
September 5, 2015 – Year 3 Sabbath 25
Deuteronomy 3:23-29 – Jeremiah 32:1-44 – Psalm 122 – Romans 2:1 – 3:31
Devarim 3.23-29 – After admonishing Yehoshua to not fear the Canaanites, because Yehovah would fight against them as he’d fought against Sihon and Og, the Amorite kings, Moshe turned immediately to our 7-verse Torah portion for today. He begins by saying that all he’d just told Yehoshua – about the utter destruction Yehovah had brought against the Amorites in fulfillment of his promise to Avraham 430 years before, and how Yehovah would continue to do so for Yisrael – was just the BEGINNING of Yehovah’s plan for Yisrael. He exalts Yehovah, (calling him Adonai Yehoviyh) because there is no other elohim who can do all the mighty and miraculous works that Yehovah can and continues to do. And then he asked Yehovah to relent and allow him to walk the land of promise. Chumash has salient things to say about this in the overview of the passage on p. 26. Cf www.livejournal.com/users/avrom/116574.html and disregard the Cyrillic letters. That is pretty much the smallest version of the land grant to Avraham. So some rabbis think, and I concur, that Moshe was telling Yehovah that he loved Torah so much that he just wanted to walk the land and to be allowed to perform the mitzvoth that can only be properly kept in the land. He specified 3 things he wanted to see; the land beyond Yarden, THAT good mountain and Lebanon. Moshe had already seen the land on the side of Yarden from which he spoke, which is also a part of the Avrahamic land grant. Now, he longed to walk the land on the other side of Yarden. THAT good mountain probably speaks of the mount of the Akeida, where Avraham and Yitzhak had offered (Gen.22), though I suppose it could speak of the mount of blessing (Gerizim). The Temple mount is much more likely.
Lebanon is ALSO a part pf the Avrahamic land grant, within the boundaries Yehovah had spelled out in B’midbar 34
7 And this shall be your north border: from the great sea ye shall point out for you mount Hor: 8 From mount Hor ye shall point out your border unto the entrance of Hamath; and the goings forth of the border shall be to Zedad: 9 And the border shall go on to Ziphron, and the goings out of it shall be at Hazarenan: this shall be your north border.
I found this on Wiki (it’s GOTTA be true!) concerning the entire land grant to Avraham:
The ‘Red Sea’ corresponding to Hebrew Yam Suf was understood in ancient times to be the Erythraean Sea, as reflected in the Septuagint translation. Although the English name ‘Red Sea’ is derived from this name (Erythraean derives from the Greek for red), the term denoted all the waters surrounding Arabia – Including the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf, not merely the sea lying to the west of Arabia bearing this name in modern English. Thus, the entire Arabian peninsula lies within the borders described. Modern maps depicting the region take a reticent view and often leave the southern and eastern borders vaguely defined [or undefined – Mark]. The borders of the land to be conquered given in Numbers have a precisely defined eastern border which included the Arabah and Yarden.
Moshe asked to walk the entire portion defined in Num.34 west of Yarden. He throws the one last zing at the people for his own failing. He was the meekest mere man ever to live, but he had one fault we all have – he was willing to pass the buck. He said “Yehovah was angry with me for your sakes.” That can mean a couple of things. That 1) Yehovah punished Moshe because of his shortcoming that came as a result of Yisrael’s murmuring for the umpteenth time, or 2) that Yehovah put his wrath that was Israel’s against Moshe, the appointed tzadik, as a shadow of the wrath he poured out on Yeshua as our appointed tzadik, or 3) both. The more I learn of the role of the tzadik in Hebrew thought, the more I think it was #3. I think Moshe’s only real shortcoming was his ability to pass the buck for his own descent into the flesh, which he did only once. I don’t think his repeated request to go into the land was fleshly, but truly spiritual. I also think that he saw far more in his death than he’d have been able to had he actually walked the land in his physical flesh. At any rate, Yehovah finally commands Moshe to speak no more about it. And Moshe doesn’t (to Yehovah, at least). Then Yehovah told Moshe to go up Mt. Pisgah and he will give him the ability to see all he wanted to see, but not to actually walk there (until he set foot on Mt. Hermon in the presence of Yeshua; Matt.17.1, Mk.9.2). Q&C
YirmeYahu 32 – The time is near the end of TzedikiYahu’s (i.e., Yehovah is my Righteousness) reign. This is the final siege of Yerushalayim, the last of the Yehudim to be taken into Bavel are about to be carried away. TsedikiYahu, who started out as a vassal of Nebuchadnezzar had rebelled and Neb came to put an end to Yehudah’s rebellion for good. YirmeYahu had told King TzedikYahu that this spanking was from Yehovah, and that he should submit to it. If he did, he might come back from there before he died. So TzedikiYahu had YirmeYahu imprisoned until he would change his prophecy to match the rest of the so-called Navim, who basically blew smoke up TzedikiYahu’s posterior.
While YirmeYahu was in the royal prison, he received a Word from Yehovah that his cousin would come to offer his field for redemption. Then, his cousin Chaname’el came to him in the prison and asked him to buy his field in Anathoth as the kinsman redeemer (“The right of redemption is yours”, he said). Cf Vayikra 25:
23 The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me. 24 And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land. 25 If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold. 26 And if the man have none to redeem it, and himself be able to redeem it; 27 Then let him count the years of the sale thereof, and restore the overplus unto the man to whom he sold it; that he may return unto his possession. 28 But if he be not able to restore it to him, then that which is sold shall remain in the hand of him that hath bought it until the year of jubile: and in the jubile it shall go out, and he shall return unto his possession. (Lev.25.23-28)
YirmeYahu, being a righteous man and knowing by Yehovah’s Word that they would return to Yehudah after the 70 years were complete (25.11-12, 29.10), did redeem it from his cousin for 17 shekels of silver, so that the land he’d inherited would not be lost for his family. The redemption was before witnesses, sealed according to Torah and custom, and the deed was given to Baruch, YirmeYahu’s scribe, before all the witnesses so that noone could legitimately claim that it was not purchased legally and lawfully. YirmeYahu knew full well that Yehudah would return to their inheritance. (Anathoth was one of the 13 Levitical cities that were given to Aharon’s sons in Yehoshua 21.18. It was about 8 miles north of Yerushalayim. YirmeYahu was a son of Zadok, son of Aviathar, son of Aharon. So must Chaname’el have been.) So he told Baruch before all the witnesses to take both the sealed deed and the open deed and place them in earthen vessels for long-term safekeeping, a la the Dead Sea Scrolls. He knew they were going away into exile, and that he would need these deeds to prove his ownership of the land when he returned.
YirmeYahu knew that they would return and the field would revert to him and his children upon their return. I infer that Chaname’el was daring YirmeYahu to “put up or shut up”, which inference I get from Jerry saying in v.8 “then I knew this was the Word of Yehovah”, as if Chaname’el had been among the priests who were prophesying smooth words to King TzedikiYahu, and YirmeYahu didn’t naturally trust him. Of course, he could have been talking about the Word he got in v.7 and I may be all wet about Chaname’el.
YirmeYahu begins to bring praises before Yehovah (he calls him Adonai Yehoviyh, just like Moshe did in the Torah portion today and Avraham did when he received the covenant. Look at the note to Gen.15.2 on pg.73 of Schottenstein’s Chumash) when the deal was finalized and the deeds sent off for safe-keeping with a trusted scribe. He praises Yehovah for his mighty works and faithfulness to Yisrael over the years, even when Yisrael had not been faithful. When Israel was unfaithful for about 200 years Yehovah brought destruction on her and carried her off to physical oblivion in Assyria – an exile from which she’s yet to return. And Yehudah, after seeing the fruit of Israel’s idolatry, did exactly the same thing, even though she had greater witness to the mercy of Yehovah with the Temple and atonement being offered there every year, and the continual minchah offerings being offered daily. YirmeYahu sees ‘the goodness and severity of Elohim’ in the prophecy and the action he was commanded to take: severity in the coming exile, and goodness in the remnant’s subsequent deliverance back to their inheritance. He praises Yehovah for those things he’d been shown and that he’d shared about the Chaldeans and the siege and the pestilence and such, but also that his wrath has limits, and that he will perform his promise to Avraham and Yisrael as he told YirmeYahu that his purchase would be made good.
As if in answer to the praises YirmeYahu laid on Yehovah, another Word came through to YirmeYahu right then. First (vv.28-36) Yehovah describes all the ways that both houses of Israel have despised him and turned to gods that are not gods and committed abomination in his face (once again showing the severity of Elohim). But then he speaks his goodness to them (vv.37-44), that he will not utterly forsake his children, but will call out the righteous remnant of them to enjoy all the fruits of righteousness in the Kingdom of Moshiach and (to my mind) the remnant of THAT age to the New Creation wherein dwelleth righteousness. He says he will cause that remnant to ‘dwell safely’. The remnant that populates the Kingdom will dwell in unwalled cities and villages (Ez.38-39), but there will be an ultimate fulfillment of that Gog uMagog battle in which there will be no walls around cities in the land – in the Millennial Kingdom. There are STILL walls around some cities in the land. Yerushalayim still has walls. Have you ever been to San Juan, P.R.? Talk about walls! That town has never been successfully invaded from the sea. If you go there you will understand why. To build a useable siege mound, you’d have to start a few miles out to sea in mile-deep water. There will be no such walls in the Millennium. When Gog uMagog come up against a land of unwalled villages, where people dwell safely, it can only be during the Kingdom. YirmeYahu’s prophecy here is about the New Creation where ALL will dwell safely and everyone will have Torah written on their hearts – the fulness of the New Covenant of which we partake today.
And YirmeYahu, who never returned to his property but died and was buried in exile, will already have a field in Anathoth. Q&C
Tehellim 122 – This third song of ascent was sung on the 3rd wide step, the 6th of the 42 steps leading up to the treasury. The singing of the first song was done at the bottom of the stair. Then the 3rd step up was wider than the first 2 and when the procession got to it they would sing the 2nd song of ascent. Then the 6th step was wider than the 4th and 5th, and the 3rd song of ascent would be sung there, and so on at each 3rd and wider step until on the 42nd step, the top of the stair, which is also the platform leading to the doors of the treasury, the last song would be sung. When the leaders of the procession reached that top step there would be a veritable cacophony of praise being lifted up to Yehovah as all 15 songs were sung at once. Singing Psalms in Rounds.
David loved going up to Beit Yehovah. He loved Yerushalayim because it was the city of the Great King, where Yehovah had placed his Name. The word xlated in KJV as ‘compact’ is H2266, chabar, meaning ‘joined (by enchantment)’ or ‘mystically joined’. I don’t think David is talking about witchcraft, but the fact that the physical universe and the spiritual come together there. David Flynn’s Temple at the Center of Time treats this idea quite well. The place to which the tribes go up is the place where Yehovah has placed his Name and his Testimony – Beit Yehovah. Thrones of judgment are likened to the thrones of Beit David. I think this is a reference to the Kingdom Millennium, when the resurrected tzadikim will rule with Moshiach – he from Yerushalayim, we from our vice-regencies in his Name. We pray for the Shalom of Yerushalayim now, but will also do so then. Prosperity for our vice-regencies may be dependent on our love for Yerushalayim and our King. If King Yeshua has Shalom in Yerushalayim as a result of our prayers, it will filter back to us and the areas over which we will have authority. This will all be done for the sake of both houses of Yisrael and the whosoevers as they are in Moshiach, for the Shalom of Yerushalayim will spread to the whole earth. Q&C
Romiyah 2-3 – Remember the last few verses of Romans 1 as we start looking at ch.2. One of the most important rules of scripture interpretation is this: “When you see a wherefore or a therefore, look to see what it’s there for.” Wherefore means ‘for which reason or why’, while therefore means ‘for THIS reason or consequently’. Wherefore explains why it happened to them, therefore explains what will result if we don’t pay attention. Ch.2 begins with the word ‘therefore’, so Sha’ul wants us to be mindful of what he’s just said and not take him out of context. Part of the context is to whom he is writing – in this case he is writing to a synagogue in Rome that started out as a Jewish dominated kahal or congregation, but had in recent years become more and more gentile populated. This means that the paganism of Rome was beginning to be seen in the synagogue, and that was the purpose of ch.1.18-32. In other words, it in this 2nd apostrophe of the letter, Sha’ul is mainly writing to the gentiles of the Roman kahal, who were bringing their pagan practices into it. An apostrophe is a rhetorical device by which he addresses a larger or different audience than the one to whom he is generally writing.
Vv.1-4 – The last paragraph of ch.1 begins at v.24, which begins with a wherefore that refers to vv.18-23. Y’hovah had given them (the pagan Greeks) up to their own lusts because they had refused to acknowledge that he was their Maker and Master and we (gentiles) need to be mindful of that, remembering to not sin like they had and to ‘therefore’ bring the wrath of Y’hovah down on us. In all actuality, ch.1 was a set up for ch.2. Sha’ul gave them 1.18-32 to set them up for this warning. He’s saying, “You all agree that these guys deserved their judgment, but you refuse to see that you are guilty, too, and deserve at LEAST what they got.” ‘Wherein thou judgest another thou condemnest thyself’ refers to the 9th commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” The condemnation for bearing false witness is to get the same punishment that would be received if the accused were found guilty.
Deut.19.18-21 And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; 19 Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. 20 And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you. 21 And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
So be sure to be guiltless before you condemn someone, or bring accusation, or gossip about someone. If you are not innocent, you will possibly receive greater condemnation than the accused because you knew the requirements and the judgments and did it anyway (Jms.3 – all of it). That this is the subject of v.1 is attested to in v.2, where we are assured of the true testimony of Y’hovah against those wicked men of 1.18-32.
Think about v.3 for a minute. A Mark paraphrase of that verse in context is; “What makes you think that you can judge someone else when you are guilty of the same thing? Do you really think that you won’t receive the same punishment you want exacted on him? Don’t count on it, Bozo.” Please note that the judgment of Elohim has been given in Deut.19.
V.4 should wake us all up, too. The word ‘despise’ does not mean to hate, but to think of no value, to consider worthless, to contemn or hold in contempt. Do you think that Y’hovah’s goodness is because you deserve to not be condemned? His goodness and forbearance towards us (the fact that he doesn’t ‘lower the boom’ as soon as we sin) is to the end that we repent of our wickedness and turn to go HIS way and not our own. Now we who are sitting here, including myself, need to apply this to ourselves. We are getting a warning that if we despise his goodness to usward, we will go down the road of those he spoke about in 1.18-32. We are guilty before Y’hovah due to our own sin. The Torah was given to us to be a true witness against us in Y’hovah’s court, which (Torah) is right here in our own hearts. We need to examine our own lives to be sure that what we are doing is not sin. And sin is transgression of the Torah. To despise his goodness and forbearance is to presume that he will not judge us righteously, as it says in
11 Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. (Ecclesiastes 8.11).
Vv.5-11 tell us that Y’hovah will judge all men righteously. Look at these verses closely. They do NOT say that if you just believe scripture to be true you are saved. It says that if you really BELIEVE it, you will act like it. If the works don’t follow the belief, then the belief is not unto salvation. V.5 says that if you despise (think of no value or not to be feared) the wrath of Elohim you will partake of it. V.6 says that we will ALL be judged according to our works, not that to which we’ve mentally assented, i.e.; believe. V.7 says that we who are obeying Y’hovah will see eternal life, while v.8 says that those who are disobedient will see his ‘indignation and wrath.’ This says NOTHING about what we’ve agreed is true, but what we’ve DONE about what we’ve acknowledged to be truth. This is because,
Proverbs 23 1 When thou sittest to eat with a ruler (to partake of government largesse), consider diligently what is before thee: 2 And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. 3 Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat. 4 Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. 5 Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven (especially to those who are ‘given to appetite). 6 Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats: 7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. 8 The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words (you’ll be sorry you took what you didn’t earn – especially the favor of the rich or powerful).
Prov.23.7 means this – Don’t listen to a man’s words to see what’s in his heart. Look at the result of his actions. He may say, “Eat my good food”, but mean, “I want to poison you.” We know a man’s character by the fruit of his deeds, not the words of his mouth. Likewise, the salvation of a man is known by his fruits, not his words. If he SAYS he’s saved, but is an habitual sinner, you can rest assured that he is NOT saved. And this is righteous judgment, because this is the test that Y’hovah is going to use. He will judge us by our works, not our words.
Rom.2.9 says that judgment begins with the Jews 1st. This is because they have had the oracles of Elohim revealed to them and they shared them with us. And they do so every time we open the pages of scripture, for all the authors were Hebrews (w/the possible exception of Job and Luke). There is scripture that says the teacher is due a double portion (1Tim.5.17). This is true of both honor and judgment (Jms.3.1). V.10 says that blessings also begin with the Jews and afterward the gentiles. This is the way prophecy tells us it will play out in the end, also. 1st comes the time of Jacob’s trouble, in which all Israel will be tried and the faithful will call on the Name of Y’hovah; then comes the wrath of Elohim on all who oppose him, in which time all the faithful gentiles will also call on him. All who trust Y’hovah will be saved to repopulate the earth in the Millennium. All opposed will perish, and be kept in the grave until the time of final judgment. Q&C
Rom.2.12-16 – This is a very misunderstood passage in the ‘church’s’ perspective, mainly because they do not read it in context. Vv.13-15 are a parenthetical explaining v.12. V.16 is the end of the sentence begun in v.12. The parenthetical can be removed and not do harm to the sentence – it’s there as further explanation. Here it is without the parentheses:
12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 13 (… 14, … 15, …) 16 In the day when Elohim shall judge the secrets of men by Yeshua haMoshiach according to my gospel.
All sinners will be judged according to Torah, for sin is the transgression of Torah in 1Jn.3.4. Notice that those who sin without Torah (lawless, grk. anomos) are not judged by it, they PERISH in their Torahlessness (grk, anomos), but those who sin IN Torah are judged BY Torah. Can a person be judged by Torah and NOT perish? You betcha! What is it that Y’hovah will judge by Messiah Yeshua?
What are the ‘secrets of men’? ‘Secrets’ is from the Greek word ‘kruptos’, the root of the English word ‘cryptic’ – secret, hidden, occult. In other words, he will judge us over what we’ve kept hidden, or what we have NOT repented of and confessed. The secret (pun intended) to being judged in Torah but not condemned by Torah is to use Torah lawfully, i.e.; use it to show us where we’ve sinned and then repent of it and confess it to Y’hovah.
1Jn.1.9, “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
To be judged by Torah is to be ‘under Torah’, to be subject to it’s curse. Messiah became the curse of Torah for us (Gal.3.13). When one is in Messiah, he is no longer subject to its curse and is thus no longer ‘under the Law’ (6.14, Gal.3.23).
The parenthesis of 13-15 shows us the ‘doers of Torah’ are justified, whether they knew they were doing Torah or not. And those who hear Torah and don’t do it are condemned by it, regardless what they thought to the contrary.
Jas.1.22, “… be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”
Rom.2.17-29 – This is the 3rd ‘apostrophe’ of the letter, a rhetorical device by which he addresses a larger or different audience than the one to whom he writes primarily, in this case specifically the Jews of Rome. In vv.4-16 he’d addressed any believer who reads the letter – his general audience, both Jew and Greek.
Again, this is a passage that is badly misunderstood by the church due to a lack of historical and cultural context. Remember what the word circumcision meant to the Jews, and especially the rabbis. Circumcision was the last act of a proselyte before he became a full member of the synagogue and Temple. Remember also that the argument in Acts 15 was NOT that the gentiles just have their foreskins trimmed, but that they go through all the stuff that proselytes were made to do and then be circumcised and only THEN be admitted into ‘The Way’. If you keep this in mind, this scripture will NOT be so cryptic.
Sha’ul says in vv.17-20 that the Jews who are the leaders of the synagogue acknowledge the law as their guide and are thoroughly versed in it and believe it. V.17 says they ‘rest in the law” and they “boast of Eloha”. These are of the same faction as the ‘Pharisees which believed’ in Acts 15. They think that their position as teachers of Torah secures their place in the Kingdom. But the law that they are resting in is the oral tradition, not the written Word, as can be inferred from v.20. They have ‘the ‘form’ of knowledge and truth of Torah’,
‘having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof’ 2Tim.3.5.
Oral Torah has a form of godliness, indeed often IS godly (when it supports and agrees with Torah), but it is mere commentary, like the Chumash and the Midrash or Matthew Henry’s and Barnes’ Notes, a useful tool to help understand Y’hovah’s truth.
These very well know Y’hovah’s will and approve it, having Torah as their basis for belief. The word translated ‘approvest’ is the greek word dokimadzo, which means to test and prove – to make current after it is assayed, as in silver and gold. It means they have tried the will of Y’hovah, found it worthy and use it like they use currency. They learned Y’hovah’s will through his Word and are certain that they can lead those who are spiritually blind (in darkness), able to teach the foolish (won’t acknowledge Y’hovah (Ps.14.1, 53.1, Prov.18.2, 24.7, Ecc.2.14) and babes (spiritual infants, pre-teens – ruled by emotions rather than intellect). What are they thinking? All 4 types; the blind, the ones in the dark, the fools and the babes; are the same people called by different names. All of those designations are Hebrew idioms for wanting the truth on their own terms. These teachers think that they will be able to lead these people to the way of Elohim. But their lives show that they are no different from those they aspire to lead. Vv.21-23 say in a Mark paraphrase, ‘You want to teach, but who has taught you? You teach the 10 words very well by the words of your lips, but do the words of your life agree?’ This is something we all, myself included, need to keep in mind at all times. Our words should match our works, and vice versa.
Vv.23-24 – It was the Jewish leadership’s job to bring the proselytes along in the truth of Torah. When they taught one thing with their lips and another with their lives, they brought reproach on Y’hovah’s Name. Notice that there is a period at the end of v.24. The thought is not continued into v.25 – that is a new sentence altogether. So, Paul is NOT saying, “It is written,” and then v.25ff. He is saying that the situation in v.24 is written about in scripture (Lev.24.10-23). One of the mixt multitude blasphemed Y’hovah’s Name. He was held while Moshe got Y’hovah’s counsel and then he was taken w/o the camp and stoned to death (for the purpose of removing his genes – and this sin – from the pool). Paul is saying that these men are worthy of the same punishment, were it not for the forbearance of Y’hovah (as discussed above). They need to repent and start going Yah’s Way themselves.
Vv.25-29 – Remember the real meaning of circumcision is not just the snip, but the whole process leading up to it, as discussed earlier and as Shaul discusses in these verses. True circumcision is not that of the flesh, but of the heart. Y’hovah has always wanted our hearts to be circumcised, which means set apart unto him and to obey him. As physical CC was what set Israel apart from the world, so CC of the heart is what set’s us apart from the world. It is an attitude of desire, even lust, for Y’hovah to make his heart my own – to make me echad with him.
In v.25, Shaul says that the physical CC without the works of Torah is to be unCC’d in heart, while v.26 says that being physically unCC’d with works of Torah is to be CCd in heart. V.27 says that gentiles who were never ‘snipped’, but who obey Y’hovah will judge those who have been ‘snipped’, but go their own way.
Vv.28-29 – There are physical Jews who do not know the ways of Y’hovah, while there are physical non-Jews who do know his ways. Therefore, there are physical sons of Abraham and there are nonphysical sons of Abraham who are CC’d in heart, just as there are both who are not. Those with CC’d hearts are true Israel. Those without, aren’t. Q&C
Romans 3 – Remember what the word circumcision meant to the Jews, and especially the rabbis. Circumcision was the last act of a proselyte before he became a full member of the synagogue and Temple. Remember also that the Pharisee’s argument in Acts 15 was NOT that the gentiles just have their foreskins trimmed, but that they go through all the stuff that proselytes were made to do and then be circumcised and only THEN be admitted into ‘The Way’. If you keep this in mind, this scripture will NOT be so cryptic.
Vv.1-4 – While we look at v.1 remember that there are words added by the translators to ‘clarify’ or ‘facilitate understanding’ for the reader who is not so well versed in the scriptures or the ancient languages. For the most part they do a good job of that. Once in a while we see some preconceptions or pet doctrines that are shored up by these additions. As an example I submit Col.2.16-17, where the translators added the words ‘is’ and ‘days’ without any real reason for it, in fact it kind of hampers the flow of the reading and thought. Here’s Col.2.16-17, the entire sentence;
16 “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.”
This passage is speaking of the Colossian gentile believers who are starting to obey Torah and forsaking their pagan ways. Their old pagan ‘pastors’ and ‘priests’ are giving them a hard time about their Torah observances of the sabbath, new moons, festivals of Y’hovah, and eating and drinking clean foods. Paul is telling them that it is not up to the pagans to judge them, ‘but the body of Messiah.’ IOW, the body of Messiah, the Messianic ‘Beit Din’, is who should judge whether their actions are in accordance with scripture (as they had done in Acts 15) not the pagans and paganism they’d abandoned. The rendering, ‘the body is of Christ’ doesn’t even fit, and the wording is awkward. “Let no man judge you… but the Body of Messiah”. A ‘shadow’ is an outline of that which is ‘shaded’, like an ‘ensample’ or an inkling of good things to come. The translators want us to think that it is the body of Messiah that is casting the shadow, when the text says that the things casting the shadow are the promises of Y’hovah for the New Creation, as is shown in prophecies of Tanakh in most of the prophets. But the sentence says, “Which are a shadow of things to come;” not which were a shadow. Messiah had already come. If it was HIS shadow that the new moons, feasts, sabbath and clean food instructions had FOREshadowed, does it not follow that Sha’ul would have used the past tense? These were and are STILL foreshadowing something, like Messiah’s return and his Kingdom at the end of the age.
Back to Rom.3.1 – There are couple of ‘wordplays’ in this verse. The word ‘advantage’ is from grk. perissos – beyond or superabundance, and the word ‘circumcision’ is from grk. peritome – to cut around. The word ‘profit’ is from grk. aphelia which literally means ‘advantage’. So the translators decided that ‘superabundance’ in clause A = advantage, while ‘advantage’ in clause B = profit. So let’s look at the change when we go ‘literal’. “What exceeding abundance does the Jew have? And what advantage is CC?”
Vv.2-4 – “Much every way!” And the reason is that we have the Word of Y’hovah through Israel. Every human author (except Job and Luke?) was an Israelite. Just because some Jews don’t believe, does that mean the faith of Y’hovah (Torah) is useless. No way, dude! Elohim will always be the source of truth, and man the source of lies. Even though Israel did not remain true to Y’hovah, Y’hovah remains true to Yisrael. Q&C
Vv.5-8 – What does ‘commend’ mean? In English, it means “to present as worthy of notice” But the greek word, sunestao, here literally means to ‘stand with’ or ‘together’. The greek word says that the righteousness of Elohim stands in us together with our unrighteousness so that he is not unrighteous to chastise us when we sin. I think this chastisement begins with our own knowledge of and our remorse over our sin as soon as we commit it. If we repent and confess it to him, he is righteous and just to forgive us. If we don’t repent, he will bring ever increasing and stronger chastisements until we do. His chastisement is always to the end of encouraging us to turn from our own ways and return us to his way.
But that is not what he is saying in vv.7&8. He is saying that he has taught the truth of Elohim to both Jews and Greeks, but the Pharisees are accusing him of the sin of teaching Jews to ignore Torah and not instructing the gentile proselytes in it. Nothing could be further from the truth, as we saw in our brief study of Acts 15. The Jews are persecuting him for rightly teaching the truth of Elohim. Cf. 8.
28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love Eloha, to them who are the called according to purpose.”
The difference between these verses is that in ch.3.8 Paul speaks as a man, who is slanderously reported as purposely working iniquity to watch Elohim work it out for his good, while in ch.8 he speaks according to the Ruach, that Y’hovah is making the circumstances that confront us to work out for our good. The first is presumption and sin that Sha’ul is being accused of; the second is faith and life that Sha’ul is really after despite the accusations against him.
Vv.9-18 – Remember that the central theme of scripture is the ‘Shema’ in Deut.6.4, “Shema, Yisrael, Y’hovah Elohenu Y’hovah echad.” “Hear O Israel, Y’hovah is our Elohim, Y’hovah is one.” The Shema is the gospel in a nutshell. As Y’hovah is one (Is.44.6 [w/Rev.1.8&11. 21.6, 22.13], 45.18&21), so should we be (Rom.15.6, 1Cor.1.10, Gal.3.28, Eph.1.10, 2.11-18), both with each other and also with him. The ultimate outcome of the gospel in us is to become one with Y’hovah, to have true peace with him. (That was ‘plan A’ with Adam.) We need to keep this in mind throughout Romans.
Paul, a Jew, is saying that even though it is through the Jews that we have the truth of Y’hovah, Jews are not better than Greeks, either intrinsically or morally. He then proves by using scripture that this is true. In vv.10-18 he quotes midrashically (not a direct quote, but one that hits the point he is making – a common Pharisaic practice) Ps.14.
1 “The fool hath said in his heart, No Eloha. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, none that doeth good. 2 Y’hovah looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, seek Eloha. 3 They are all gone aside, they are together become filthy: none that doeth good, no, not one.”
He then quotes, again midrashically, Ps.5.
9 “For no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part very wickedness; their throat an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue”
3 “They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders’ poison under their lips. Selah.”
Do you see how Sha’ul juxtaposes one portion of a verse from one psalm with another portion of a verse from another psalm and quotes them as if they are one? This is standard Hebraic teaching style, one that is used repeatedly, both in scripture and in Talmud and even Zohar. He continues in the same vein in v.14, where he quotes Ps.10.
7 “His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue mischief and vanity”
and juxtaposes it with Is.59.
7 “Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts, thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction in their paths. 8 The way of peace they know not; and no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace,”
1 “The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, no fear of Eloha before his eyes.”
I think he’s made his point that we are all one in that there is nothing intrinsically good about mankind, and that we are incapable of even seeking to do good. “There is none righteous; no, not one.” But Elohim’s plan is for us to be one with each other and with him.
Rom.3.12 quotes v.1 above, which says, “A FOOL has said in his heart, There is no Eloha”. So when he says in the same verse, “there is none that doeth good”, to whom is he referring? If you said, “The fool who says there is no Eloha”, you would be correct. It has nothing to do with faithful Torah observance, but with the state of the children of men. Every ‘they’ in Ps.14.1-3 refers to ‘the fool’ of v.1.
The fear of Elohim is the beginning of wisdom. Fear of Elohim is 1) abject terror of what he can and is justified in doing to us, which engenders 2) awe at his majesty and wondrous works, which leads us to 3) keeping his ways as he reveals them to us. Q&C
Vv.19-20 – Who is ‘under the law’? And what law is he under? Let’s look at the context first, to see if we can answer these questions. The verse says that every mouth is stopped and the entire world is guilty before Elohim. I think we can safely say that the whole world is ‘under the law’. Everyone is under its jurisdiction and must answer to it, even if he hasn’t been made intellectually aware of its existence, as we saw in ch.1. When he becomes aware of the Torah of Y’hovah, he knows both his sin and that he is a sinner, and that he cannot be justified by doing works of Torah.
But I don’t think that’s all that’s here. I think Paul may be talking about 2 different laws, the Torah of Y’hovah and the oral torah of the Jews. I think this is the only way to rectify the contradiction of 3.20 and 2.13 (as well as Jas.1.22). We know that there are no real contradictions in scripture, so when we see one we need to ask Abba to show us the reconciliation. The ‘2 law’ explanation is all I can figure. Let me substitute what I think are the 2 laws where they fit:
19 “Now we know that what things soever Torah saith, it saith to them who are under the (oral) law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before Elohim. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the (oral) law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by Torah the knowledge of sin”
Jas.1. 22 “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”
The traditions of the fathers (oral Torah) had become (and still is) as binding or more so upon the Jews as was the revealed Word of Y’hovah. Paul was at odds with the Pharisees because he was exposing the truth to the people. Q&C
Vv.21-26 – This is one sentence with at least 7 clauses. Some folks have said that the guy who punctuated the KJV must have been riding a mule with one leg shorter than the others on a very uneven road, but I think that is not true. The punctuation is important. The colon separates two different ideas that could stand alone, the second (and/or third) illustrating the first: the semicolon conjoins 2 clauses, the second adding to the first: while the comma separates phrases that say the same thing in different words.
Elohim’s righteousness is not subject to any law because he decreed the law. Since he created it, he is not subject to it. That is NOT to say that he didn’t abide by it when he walked among us in the flesh, but that, as Spirit and the Creator of all, he cannot be subject to anything. His flesh HAD to learn to abide by Torah (Heb.5.8), to justify us thereby.
Y’hovah’s righteousness is manifested (made plain) in the Torah and the prophets (and the writings). His Word witnesses to his righteousness, which is by the faith OF Yeshua, not faith IN Yeshua. Our own faith is useless in our justification. Only Yeshua’s faith has efficacy for us. What does that mean? What is Yeshua’s faith? Does faith mean what I believe? Or is it tied up in what I do about what I believe?
Hebraically speaking, faith is action, not thought. James’ epistle is chock full of examples of faith being the action that comes from our strong convictions, as opposed to just saying or thinking rightly. Yeshua showed his faith by doing the will of his father in heaven. In Ps.40.7-10, Messiah says,
“7 Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book written of me, 8 I delight to do thy will, Elohai: yea, thy Torah within my heart. 9 I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, Y’hovah, thou knowest. 10 I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.
Messiah’s faith is one that works. So should ours be.
That is not to say that what you believe is not important, for if you act on wrong doctrine it will not be a source of eternal blessing or reward to you and it may be sin. It is whom you believe and trust that decides if you have eternal life. The difference in v.22 is the difference between Jew and Greek. It is Y’hovah’s will to destroy that difference and make us and himself ‘echad’, as he is one.
V.23 is possibly the best-known and most quoted verse of the Apostolic texts. It is one of those verses that is cut and dried, no possibility of misconstruction. And it is not a new teaching; it’s been around for at least 1000 years before Sha’ul. Cf.1Ki.8.46a, Ecc.7.20, Is.64.6. All men are sinners. The glory of Elohim can’t be theirs – they can’t even approach to it. We all fall short. And it illustrates v.22, as a colon separates it. But v.24 is the other side of the seesaw from v.23. “All have sinned; … being freely justified through the redemption…” The redemption is the payment in full of the sin debt we all owed. The next colon illustrates Yeshua’s orders and the plan of Elohim to reconcile us to himself. In fact the word ‘propitiation’ is from the greek hilasterion that is from the word hilastos, which means ‘conciliate.’ The propitiation is for those who will trust Yeshua for salvation, those who are reconciled through trust in his finished work.
The comma in v.25 sets apart two phrases that say the same thing.
“Whom Elohim hath set forth a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his (Elohim Avinu’s) righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of Elohim;”
Elohim set forth Yeshua as our propitiation through faith in his blood and through the forbearance of Elohim. The righteousness declared is Elohim’s in remitting our past sins.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)
He (Elohim Avinu) has set him (Yeshua) forth in v.25 to DECLARE his (Elohim Avinu’s) righteousness in v.26, so that Avinu can be the justifier of all who believe in Yeshua. Avinu justifies those who believe in Yeshua by making Yeshua our propitiation or conciliation to Avinu through faith in his blood, which contextually equates to his death.
Where is boasting? Are the Jews intrinsically better than the gentiles? No. They have had the advantage of having Tanakh, which has made them better OFF, but not intrinsically better. Cause for boasting ain’t in us, if you’ll but remember Eph.2.8-9. We are justified by faith alone, not by our works of some man made oral law. And we show our justification by our works of Y’hovah’s Torah, for Elohim is the justifier of both Jews and gentiles by faith without deeds of the oral law. We do not make Torah void: we establish it. Q&C
End of Shabbat Bible Study.