We note that if choosing to do the hard thing of rebuking a brother or sister’s repeated sin behaviour means saving his or her soul, then the opposite is also true. Failing to rebuke a brother or sister’s repeated sin behaviour means giving them over to the possibility of death.
Yaakov 5:1-20 (Author’s convergent translation from Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew)
1 Lead, go to, now, you wealthy people, weep and wail, lament over the wretchedness, miseries of yourselves which are coming. 2 Your riches are corrupted, decaying and your garments have become moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and your silver is corroded, and their poison will follow as a testimony, witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. You have stored up treasure in these last days! 4 Behold, now, pay attention the wages of the workers who harvested your lands, which you have defrauded those who, cry out; and the outcry of those who reaped has entered into the ears of the LORD Who goes warring. 5 You have lived in luxury on the earth and for pleasure; you have feed your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous one; he offered you no resistance. 7 Be patient, therefore Jewish brothers and sisters, until the coming of the LORD. The vinedresser waits expectantly for the precious fruit of the land, with longsuffering patience, until he receives the early and latter rains. 8 You also be patient, longsuffering; strengthen, establish your hearts, core being, for the coming of the LORD is near, close at hand. 9 Don’t hold grudges against one another Jewish brothers and sisters, lest you face condemnation; behold, now, pay attention the Judge is standing before, in the door/opening. 10 Receive, my Jewish brothers and sisters, the prophets who have spoken in the name of the LORD as an example of affliction, distress, trouble, and of patient longsuffering. 11 behold, now, pay attention we count those blessed, happy who endure, are patient, abiding. You have heard of the patient endurance of Iyov[H] (Job) and have seen the goal of the LORD, that the LORD is full of compassion, extremely kind and mercifully tender. 12 Now before, at the head of all things, essences, substances, individual and collective, my Jewish brothers and sisters, do not swear, not by the heavens or by earth or with any other oath; now your yes is yes, and your no, no, so that you do not fall into hypocrisy. 13 Is anyone among you afflicted, suffering, troubled? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing psalms. 14 Is anyone among you weak, sick, diseased, impotent? He should call for the elders of the gathered believers and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the LORD; 15 and the prayer, vow of the faith, trust, belief will save, make whole, heal the one who is sick, weary, faint and the LORD will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, missing the mark set by God’s holiness they will be forgiven him. 16 Therefore, confess your sin offences to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed, made whole. Much can be accomplished in the prayer request of a righteous person, when it is made of effect, strengthened. 17 Eliyahu[H] (Elijah) was a man subject to passions just as we are, and he prayed praying that it might not rain, and it didn’t rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the heavens gave rain and the land produced its fruit. 19 My Jewish brothers and sisters, if anyone among you is deceived, wanders from the truth and someone turns him back, 20 let him know, perceive, understand that the one who turns a sinner from the delusion, error of his way, that same one saves his soul, life, breath from death and covers a multitude of sins.
Yaakov 5:1-20 (Line upon line)
1 Lead, go to, (age[G]) now (nun[G]), you wealthy people (plousios[G]), weep (klaiō[G]) and wail, lament (ololuzō[G], za’aku heiy liylo[H]) over (epi[G]) the wretchedness, miseries (ho talaipōria[G], latzarot[H]) of yourselves which are coming (ho eperchomai[G], etchem[H]). 2 Your riches (ploutos[G], ashrechem[H]) are corrupted, decaying (sēpō[G]) and your garments (himation[G], yochal[H]) have become moth-eaten (sētobrōtos[G]).
1 Lead, go to, now, you wealthy people, weep and wail, lament over the wretchedness, miseries of yourselves which are coming. 2 Your riches are corrupted, decaying and your garments have become moth-eaten.
Again, the temptation to relegate this part of Yaakov’s teaching to outsiders rather than Jewish believers is unfounded. There are always rich among us, there will always be poor believers. Although the language is harsh it is also familiar. Yaakov knows he is speaking to Jews who are immersed in Torah, the prophets and writings of HaShem. The Tanakh uses similar terminology in Psalm 73 and Isaiah 5:8-9. These words are an admonition with the intent to encourage repentance, a tishuvah (turning back) to right action in Messiah.
“Woe to you who add house to house
and join field to field
till no space is left
and you live alone in the land.
9 The Lord Almighty has declared in my hearing:
“Surely the great houses will become desolate,
the fine mansions left without occupants.”
Isaiah 5:8-9 NIV
Yaakov speaks not to all rich people but specifically those who become rich through corrupt practices, and those who trust in their riches rather than in God through Messiah. This is made clear by the context of the latter part of the previous chapter and is emphasised by the present phrasing “Your riches are corrupted” which describes the fruit of wicked intentions. Further, verse 4 describes the withholding of the wages of employees. Additionally Yaakov is speaking specifically to those corrupted rich people within the Messianic Jewish communities of the early body of believers. Meaning that in some cases they are withholding the wages of fellow believers and in those cases where they are withholding the wages of employees from outside the community they are bearing false witness of Messiah.
This is a warning given to believers with the intention of preventing their being led astray by the love of worldly wealth.
3 Your gold (chrusos[G], hazahav[H]) and your silver (arguros[G], hakesef[H]) is corroded (katioō[G]), and their poison (ios[G]) will follow (esomai[G]) as a testimony, witness (marturion[G], le’eid[H]) against you and will consume (phagō[G]) your flesh (sarx[G], besarchem[H]) like fire (pur[G], kaeiysh[H]). You have stored up treasure (thēsaurizō[G]) in these last days (eschatos hēmera[G], acharit-hayamim[H])!
3 Your gold and your silver is corroded, and their poison will follow as a testimony, witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. You have stored up treasure in these last days!
“Last days,” This is an allusion to the imminent judgement of God and a testimony against the ludicrous behaviour of hording wealth only to see it destroyed. The treasure that the corrupted rich are storing is temporary, unsatisfying. Yaakov will soon call for patient trust in Messiah, a position that will bear fruitful and eternal treasure. Those being rebuked here could be likened to a drug addict storing up drugs prior to an overdose.
4 Behold, now, pay attention (idou[G], Hinei[H]) the wages (ho misthos[G], sechar[H]) of the workers (ergatēs[G], hapoaliym[H]) who harvested (amaō[G]) your lands (chōra[G]), which you have defrauded (apostereō[G]) those who, cry out (krazō[G]); and the outcry (boē[G]) of those who reaped (theridō[G], hakotzriym[H]) has entered into (eiserchomai[G]) the ears (ho ous[G], veazneiy[H]) of the LORD Who goes warring (kurios sabaōth[G], YHVH Tzevaot[H]).
4 Behold, now, pay attention the wages of the workers who harvested your lands, which you have defrauded those who cry out; and the outcry of those who reaped has entered into the ears of the LORD Who goes warring.
This is straight out of the Torah, its Biblical Judaism 101:
“The wages of a hired man shall not stay with you until morning.” – Leviticus 19:13
See also: Deuteronomy 24:14-15 and Malachi 3:5
5 You have lived in luxury (truphaō[G]) on the earth (ho gē[G], ba’aretz[H]) and for pleasure (spatalaō[G]); you have feed (trephō[G]) your hearts (kardia[G], lib’chem[H]) in a day (hēmera[G], leyom[H]) of slaughter (sphagē[G], tivchah[H]). 6 You have condemned (katadikazō[G], hirsha’tem[H]) and murdered (phoneuō[G], hamiytem[H]) the righteous one (dikaios[G], et hatzadiyk[H]); he offered you no resistance (antitassomai[G], lo amad bifneiychem[H]).
5 You have lived in luxury on the earth and for pleasure; you have feed your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous one; he offered you no resistance.
We note that those being reprimanded are those who have lived “for pleasure”. This of course is the definition of Hedonism, a form of Idolatry.
“you have feed your hearts in a day of slaughter.” This can be understood to mean that those being accused have continued to fatten themselves while others are slaughtered, or that they are storing up earthly goods for themselves thinking they have a long future before them, not knowing that like the rich hoarder of Yeshua’s mashal, parable (Luke 12:13-21) they would soon lose their lives and be unable to enjoy their temporal riches.
It’s important to remember that this is not an inevitable outcome but a warning intended to produce repentance.
HaShem hears the cry of the spilled blood of a righteous one and the agony of the oppressed. This too is a familiar refrain from the Tanakh; Genesis 4:10, Exodus 3:7
The text is not accusing the corrupt wealthy of the synagogue of murdering people, rather, as is taught elsewhere in the New Testament, Yaakov is conveying the idea that when a believer mistreats the oppressed and poor it is as if he is crucifying Messiah again. This is why the text reads “You have condemned and murdered the righteous one; he offered you no resistance.”
7 Be patient (makrothumeō[G]), therefore (oun[G]) Jewish brothers and sisters (adelphos[G], achay[H]), until the coming (ho Parousia[G], ad bo[H]) of the LORD (ho kurios[G], HaAdon[H]). The vinedresser (geōrgos[G], haikar[H]) waits expectantly (ekdechomai[G], yechakeh[H]) for the precious (ho timios[G], hatovah[H]) fruit (karpos[G], litvuat[H]) of the land (ho gē[G], ha’adamah[H]), with longsuffering patience (makrothumeō[G]), until he receives (lambanō[G]) the early, autumn (prōimos[G]) and latter, spring (opsimos[G]) rains (huetos[G]). 8 You also (kai[G]) be patient, longsuffering (makrothumeō[G]); strengthen, establish (stērizō[G], amtzu[H]) your hearts, core being (kardia[G], lib’chem[H]), for the coming (ho Parousia[G]) of the face LORD (ho kurios[G], peneiy HaAdon[H]) is near, close at hand (eggizō[G], hineih baiym[H]).
7 Be patient, therefore Jewish brothers and sisters, until the coming of the LORD. The vinedresser waits expectantly for the precious fruit of the land, with longsuffering patience, until he receives the early autumn and latter spring rains. 8 You also be patient, longsuffering; strengthen, establish your hearts, core being, for the coming of the LORD is near, close at hand.
Those who work the land and do business are to do so with patient expectation of the coming return of the King Messiah Yeshua. Not seeking the wealth of this temporary world but rather practicing longsuffering in waiting for the eternal wealth of the Olam Haba (world to come).
We note that the establishing of the heart, core being, is the result of patiently trusting in Messiah and His promised return. His return is nearer each moment, now and yet fully manifest.
Patience, not boasting, is the path of the believer. It’s not patience in and off itself, rather it’s patience born of hope, that hope is in the Messiah’s return.
“Fruit of the land” is a quotation from the brachah (blessing) for eating berries and vegetables. A vinedresser or farmer’s patience is rewarded by the harvest.
The autumn rains are mentioned first, this was contrary to the rhythm of the Greek world which measures it’s year using different spiritual markers. This is counterintuitive to the Gentile mind which understands early in relationship to spring and late in relationship to fall. However, the Biblical Hebrew calendar understands the first rains at Sukkot (fall) as early, and the rains following Pesach (spring) as late.
The Greek terms used refer to the autumn or fall rains as “early” and the spring rains as “latter”. This is because Yaakov is using Greek terms to convey a Hebraic idea. This is consistent with the rainfall in the land of Israel. For the most part it rains significantly no more than twice a year in Israel; the early, or former rain, comes shortly after Sukkot (the festival of shelters) in the month Chesvan, (approx. October). The latter rain is in Nisan, (approx. March) prior to the first harvest (barley).
The Jewish High Holy days (along with the early rains) occur at the end of the year approaching fall and winter, this is a metaphor for judgment. The spring rains coincide with Yom ha-bikkurim—day of first fruit, this is a metaphor for new life, resurrection. Again Yaakov is reminding Jewish believers in the diaspora that their roots are of the land and are intrinsically linked to the spiritual year as laid out in the Torah. Death, judgment and new life continue to be part of their journey. In the end it is the hope of new life, eternal life, which they must focus on.
“for the coming of the Lord is near, close at hand.” Perhaps not near in terms of earth history, but in terms of eternal consciousness, very near. Therefore His return is now nearer still.
9 Don’t hold grudges (stenazō[G]), against one another Jewish brothers and sisters (adelphos[G], achay[H]), lest you face condemnation (katakrinō[G], pen-tishafeitu[H]); behold, now, pay attention (idou[G], hineih[H]) the Judge (ho kritēs[G], hadayan[H]) is standing before (pro[G]), in the door/opening (bapatach[H]). 10 Receive (lambanō[G]), my Jewish brothers and sisters (mou adelphos[G], achay[H]), the prophets (ho prophētēs[G], hanevi’iym[H]) who have spoken in the name (ho onoma[G], beshem[H]) of the LORD (ho Kurios[G], YHVH[H]) as an example (hupodeigma[G]) of affliction, distress, trouble (kakopatheia[G]), and of patient longsuffering (makrothumia[G]).
9 Don’t hold grudges, against one another Jewish brothers and sisters, lest you face condemnation; behold, now, pay attention the Judge is standing before, in the door/opening. 10 Receive, my Jewish brothers and sisters, the prophets who have spoken in the name of the LORD as an example of affliction, distress, trouble, and of patient longsuffering.
The phrase “lest you be condemned” is specifically referring to one judged, found wanting and sentenced, and not simply to the act of judgement.
“The Judge is standing at the door,” In God Yeshua is Head and Judge of the body of believers. A similar warning is given to the body of believers of Laodicea:
“14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the [k]Origin of the creation of God, says this: 15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have no need of anything,” and you do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to apply to your eyes so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. 21 The one who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne. 22 The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” -Revelation 3:14-22 NASB
11 behold, now, pay attention (idou[G], hineih[H]) we count those blessed, happy (makarizō[G]) who endure, are patient, abiding (hupomenō[G]). You have heard of the patient endurance (hupomonē[G], savlanut[H]) of Iyov[H] (Job: persecuted, treated as an enemy) and have seen (eidō[G]) the goal (telos[G]) of the LORD (ho Kurios[G], YHVH[H]), that the LORD (ho Kurios[G], YHVH[H]) is full of compassion, extremely kind (polusplagchnos[G]) and mercifully tender (oiktirmōn[G]).
11 behold, now, pay attention we count those blessed, happy who endure, are patient, abiding. You have heard of the patient endurance of Iyov[H] (Job: persecuted, treated as an enemy) and have seen the goal of the LORD, that the LORD is full of compassion, extremely kind and mercifully tender.
It's interesting to note that Seder Olam Rabbah (c. 3. p. 9.) one of the traditional commentaries of the rabbis says that Job suffered for 12 months. This is based on the Hebrew text of Job 7:3.
Here perseverance is the key. One might become impatient, but like Job we must overcome impatience with perseverance, trusting, like Job, in the compassionate mercy of God, the ultimate positive outcome, Messiah’s return and an eternity of prosperity in God.
“I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;” -Job 19:25-26 NIV
12 Now before, at the head (pro[G], verosh[H]) of all things, essences, substances, individual and collective (pas[G], davar[H]), my Jewish brothers and sisters (mou adelphos[G], achay[H]), do not swear (omnuō[G]), not by the heavens (ouranos[G], vashamayim[H]) or by earth (gē[G], va’aretz[H]) or with any other oath (horkos[G]); now (de[G]) your yes (nai[G], hein[H]) is yes, and your no (ou[G], lo[H]), no, so that you do not fall into hypocrisy (hupokrisis[G]).
12 Now before, at the head of all things, essences, substances, individual and collective, my Jewish brothers and sisters, do not swear, not by the heavens or by earth or with any other oath; now your yes is yes, and your no, no, so that you do not fall into hypocrisy.
“Now before” Before you address all that is in error among you, and keeping the righteous patience of the prophets, turn away from vain oaths and deception and firmly establish a practice of keeping your word without even a hint of hypocrisy.
This is similar to Yeshua’s teaching in Matthew 5:33-37 and links to the frivolous boasting of the traders in 4:13-17. Simply put, oath taking was a big part of Jewish culture at the time and had become a means for justifying daily deception as a lesser form of communication. In short, Yaakov is saying “Speak the truth and don’t make promises you have no intention of keeping.”
13 Is anyone among you afflicted, suffering, troubled (kakopatheō[G])? He should pray (proseuchomai[G], yitfaleil[H]). Is anyone cheerful (euthumeō[G])? He should sing psalms (psallō[G], yezameir[H]). 14 Is anyone among you weak, sick, diseased, impotent (astheneō[G])? He should call (proskaleomai[G], yikra[H]) for the elders (presbuteros[G], zikneiy[H]) of the gathered believers (ekklēsia[G], hakehilah[H]) and they are to pray (proseuchomai[G], veyitplalu[H]) over him, anointing (aleiphō[G], viysuchuhu[H]) him with oil (elaion[G], shemen[H]) in the name (ho onoma[G], beshem[H]) of the Lord (ho Kurios[G], YHVH[H]);
13 Is anyone among you afflicted, suffering, troubled? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing psalms. 14 Is anyone among you weak, sick, diseased, impotent? He should call for the elders of the gathered believers and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the LORD;
Both prayer and singing are forms of conversation with God. It seems that Yaakov’s best advice is this, “Be in relationship with the Creator.” As opposed to doing in relationship with the world.
Both the weary and the ill are offered anointing here. Oil has been used by Israel’s priests to anoint her Kings for centuries. It is a symbol of the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit) and the rich blessing and healing of God.
"whoever has a sick person in his house, let him go to a wise man, and he will seek mercy for him.'' -R. Phinehas ben Chama (Talmud Bavliy Bava Bathra, fol. 116. 1.)
15 and the prayer, vow (euchē[G], utefilat[H]) of the faith, trust, belief (pistis[G], haemunah[H]) will save, make whole, heal (sōzō[G], toshiya[H]) the one who is sick, weary, faint (kamnō[G]) and the Lord (ho Kurios[G], YHVH[H]) will raise him up (egeirō[G], yekiymenu[H]), and if he has committed sins, missing the mark set by God’s holiness (hamartia[G], chata[H]) they will be forgiven (aphiēmi[G], yisalach[H]) him.
15 and the prayer, vow of the faith, trust, belief will save, make whole, heal the one who is sick, weary, faint and the LORD will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, missing the mark set by God’s holiness they will be forgiven him.
The faith spoken of here is not faith in healing, rather it is faith in the Healer, Messiah Yeshua/God the Father. This prayer will be the vehicle for revelation to the needy one. He will be delivered from needless toil and lifted up or awakened from his disappear or illness, made whole—not necessarily physically well but whole/complete, spiritually speaking. As a result of this prayer of faith in Messiah, sin will be covered and forgiven losing its temporal authority.
16 Therefore, confess (exomologeō[G]) your sin offences (hamartia paraptōma
[G]) to one another, and pray (euchomai[G], vehitpalalu[H]) for one another so that you may be healed, made whole (iaomai[G], teirafeiu[H]). Much (polus[G], gadol[H]) can be accomplished in the prayer request (deēsis[G], tefilat[H]) of a righteous (dikaios[G], hatzadiyk[H]) person, when it is made of effect, strengthened (energeō[G], bechazkah[H]).
16 Therefore, confess your sin offences to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed, made whole. Much can be accomplished in the prayer request of a righteous person, when it is made of effect, strengthened.
“Therefore” Because the prayer of faith in Messiah brings healing, wholeness and the forgiveness of God.
Openly vocalizing our sin as confession to one another can be a very powerful source of release from the burden of it. This is something the Catholic Church does well. It is true to say to a brother or sister, “Go in peace, your sins are forgiven.” We are not saying that we have forgiven their sins, we are simply acknowledging that through the blood covering of Messiah’s sacrifice, their sin is forgiven.
The purpose of this open confession is not to publicly humiliate or give opportunity for gossip. It should be undertaken only with trusted believers and then only by the leading of the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit).
In petitioning God on behalf of one another we are to be motivated by mercy because “mercy triumphs over judgment.” Therefore we see the work of God here, denouncing false judgment and vindictiveness and announcing mercy and freedom. The result? Wholeness.
Rav Eliezar of the Talmud also teaches that the prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective (Talmud Bavliy Succah, fol. 14. 1. & Yebamot, fol. 64. 1.).
17 Eliyahu[H] (My God He is YHVH) was a man (anthrōpos[G], enosh anush[H]) subject to passions (homoiopathēs[G]) just as we are, and he prayed (proseuchomai[G], vehitpaleil[H]) praying (proseuchē[G], tefilah[H]) that it might not rain (brechō[G], matar[H]), and it didn’t rain (brechō[G], matar[H]) on the land (ho ge[G], ba’aretz[H]) for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed (proseuchomai[G], vayitpaleil[H]) again, and the heavens (ouranos[G], vehashamayim[H]) gave (didōmi[G], nat’nu[H]) rain (huetos[G], matar[H]) and the land (ho ge[G], ha’aretz[H]) produced its fruit (karpos[G], et-piryah[H]).
17 Eliyahu[H] was a man subject to passions just as we are, and he prayed praying that it might not rain, and it didn’t rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the heavens gave rain and the land produced its fruit.
It’s important to note here that the type of prayer being spoken of is a form of fervent listening. After all, the narrative concerning Eliyahu’s (Elijah’s) life tells us only that he heard from God that the heavens would be shut up, following which he heard from God again some years later that the heavens would release rain upon the land. The pattern goes like this: Listen… No rain. Listen… rain. Listen… drought and death born of idolatry. Listen… Life giving waters welling up from Messiah in you. It is the Patient, or rather, persevering Eliyahu (like the farmer of verse 7), who received the later rain.
It is interesting to note that in the account of Elijah’s prophetic word to Ahab regarding God sending rain there is no explicit mention of prayer (1 Kings 18:42). In the account Elijah goes up to the top of Mt Carmel, throws himself to the ground, puts his face between his knees. Each of these actions are considered kinetic prayer.
Our sages say “Elijah went up to the top of Carmel, to pray, and he cast himself down upon the earth, to pray for rain; and he put his face between his knees and prayed, and said to his servant, go up now, look toward the sea; and this he said while he was in his prayers" - Yarchi, Kimchi, Ralbag, & Laniado in loc.
In each action we are praying. This is why the text of Yaakov 5:17 reads “he prayed praying”. This is a Hebrew idiom employed to denote passionate and committed prayer (Zohar in Gen. fol. 31. 1. & Imre Binah in ib). Elijah’s entire life, motivation, thought, action, was a living conversation with God. Yaakov encourages us with the words “Eliyahu[H] was a man subject to passions just as we are…”
Yaakov uses the example of praying for rain because it is such a significant part of Biblical Jewish practice and of the subsequent generations of Israel in the land. Many of our rabbis are recorded as having sought God for the provision of rain. Jewish tradition is filled with these accounts (Talmud Bavliy Moed Katon, fol. 28. 1. & Taanit, fol. 19. 1. 23. 1. 24. 2. 25. 2. & Yoma, fol. 53. 2.)
“The heavens gave rain” is an allusion first and foremost to the fact that God, Who is the Creator of the heavens, gave rain. Not just the physical rain that ended the drought in the land of Israel but also the cleansing rain of His Spirit bringing repentance and spiritual revival to the people of the land of Israel.
19 My Jewish brothers and sisters (mou adelphos[G], achay[H]), if anyone among you is deceived, wanders (planaō[G], yiteh[H]) from the truth (ho alētheia[G], min haemet[H]) and someone turns (epistrephō[G], yeshiyvenu[H]) him back, 20 let him know, perceive, understand (ginōskō[G], yeida-na[H]) that the one who turns (epistrephō[G], hameishiyv[H]) a sinner (hamartōlos[G], et hachotei[H]) from the delusion, error (planē[G]) of his way (hodos[G], darko[H]) that same one (autos[G]) saves (sōzō[G], yoshiya[H]) his soul, life, breath (psuchē[G], et-nafsho[H]) from death (Thanatos[G], mimavet[H]) and covers (kaluptō[G], veychaseh[H]) a multitude (plēthos[G]) of sins (hamartia[G], al-hamon peshaiym[H]).
19 My Jewish brothers and sisters, if anyone among you is deceived, wanders from the truth and someone turns him back, 20 let him know, perceive, understand that the one who turns a sinner from the delusion, error of his way that same one saves his soul, life, breath from death and covers a multitude of sins.
Finally, and with concise literary beauty, Yaakov reminds us that in Messiah we live and breathe to see others reconciled to God.
We note that if choosing to do the hard thing of rebuking a brother or sister’s repeated sin behaviour means saving his or her soul, then the opposite is also true. Failing to rebuke a brother or sister’s repeated sin behaviour means giving them over to the possibility of death. Offering confession and forgiveness at times means challenging others. This is why Yaakov has said previously “the one who knows to do the good and does not, he does sin”. This requires wisdom and care. Love acts to guide others away from the self-harm of sin. With our rebuke comes the good news that Mercy YHVH Himself triumphs over condemnation.
Copyright 2022 Yaakov Brown
Amos was a lay person and a manual labourer who prophesied in obedience to the call of Hashem. This encourages us to ask, “Have I allowed myself to be defined by my work, or am I owning my identity as a child of God, understanding that my vocation is the outworking of His redemptive purposes?” There is no such thing as an unqualified child of God.
Author (Human Writer):
According to the first verse of the scroll of Amos, Amos whose name means “Burden, load, carry”, prophesied over Israel during the reigns of Uziyah (My strength is YHVH) [king of Judah 792-740 BCE, a.k.a Azariyah 2 Kings 15:1] and Yeroboam II (People of contention) [king of the northern tribes 793-753 BCE].
The text tells us that Amos was a resident of Tekoa (Trumpet blast), a small town situated in the allotment of the tribal land of Judah 15 kilometers south of Beit-Lechem (House of Bread) [Bethlehem], and 27 kilometers from Yerushalaiym (Flood of Peace) [Jerusalem].
Amos, unlike his contemporaries, was not a professional prophet. Answering Amatziyahu the qualified (by way of appointment among the northern tribes), albeit apostate priest of Beiyt-El, Amos says:
“I wasn’t a prophet or the son of a prophet, but I was a sheep herder, and I also took care of fig trees. But Adonay (YHVH) took me from following the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’” -Amos 7:14b-15 (Author’s translation)
Amos was a lay person and a manual labourer who prophesied in obedience to the call of Hashem. This encourages us to ask, “Have I allowed myself to be defined by my work, or am I owning my identity as a child of God, understanding that my vocation is the outworking of His redemptive purposes?” There is no such thing as an unqualified child of God.
Note that Adonay took Amos from following the flock (literal sheep) and positioned him to direct the flock (metaphorical sheep) of Israel.
The main part of the ministry of Amos is presumed by some to have taken place between 760 and 750 BCE, only 30 years before the Assyrian captivity of the northern kingdom (722-721 BCE). Amos, whose contemporaries were Hoshea (He saves) [Hosea], Yonah (Dove) [Jonah], and Yishayahu (YHVH, He has saved) [Isaiah], ministered to Israel at a time when both kingdoms were enjoying prosperity (2 Kings 14:23-15:7; 2 Chronicles 26). A time when both the northern tribes and, Y’hudah (Praise) [inclusive of Benyamin (Son of my right hand)] were practicing idolatry, immorality, injustice and oppression of the poor.
Rav Avraham Zacut*, and Rav David Ganz**, suggest that the ministry of Amos followed on from that of Hosea, and was prior to that of Isaiah. They say that Amos received (was taught) the Torah from Hosea, and Isaiah received (was taught) the Torah from Amos.
*Yuchasin, fol. 12. 1. **Tzemach David, fol. 13. 1. 2.
Although Amos was from Judah, he was sent by God to pronounce judgement on the northern kingdom (10 tribes) of Israel, and is likely to have ministered primarily out of Beit-El (House of God, Judge) [Bethel] (7:10-13 ref. Genesis 12:8). One of the main centers of apostate worship in the north.
It's interesting to note that three of Israel’s latter prophets, Joel, Jeremiah and Haggai all quote the prophet Amos (Amos 1:2-Joel 3:16; Amos 4:9-Jeremiah 25:30; Amos 9:13-Haggai 2:17 & Joel 3:18).
The scroll of Amos is set during the period of divided monarchy when Bethel was used by the northern kingdom as a central location for cultic worship in direct contradiction to God’s instruction (the instruction to center all worship of Adonay in Jerusalem is found in Deut. 12:10).
The illegitimate worship rites conducted at Bethel are condemned by God through Amos. Thus, the primacy of Jerusalem is implied. Israel’s unique relationship to God and her position among the nations is emphasized (2:6-3:2; 9:7), and as is the case with numerous prophetic works of the Nevi’im (Prophets of Israel), moral living is given primacy over the offering of vain sacrifices.
With regard to modern rabbinical practice as it relates to the yearly Torah cycle, it’s worth noting that Amos 2:6-3:8 is the haftarah (completion/fulfilment of instruction) read alongside parashah (portion) Va-yeshev [And dwelt Jacob] (Gen. 37:1-40:23), and in Ashkenazi tradition Amos 9:7-15 is read as haftarah for parashah Acharei Mot [After the deaths] (Lev. 16:1-18:30). The former passage tells of Joseph being sold into slavery and the latter of the events following the deaths of Aron’s two sons after they had offered foreign fire before the Lord, that is fire of human origin or fire used for idolatrous worship. Both Torah portions have significant thematic connections to the scroll of Amos. However, a comparative study of the portions in question is beyond the scope of this introduction.
As is always the case we remember that the scrolls of Scripture in their original languages do not have chapter and verse divisions. While for scholarship reasons and ease of locational referencing, chapter and verse distinctions are of some value, and while we ourselves have chosen to teach the text using the commonly used divisions, it is nonetheless of great importance that we view the scroll of Amos as a whole document and do not become guilty of de-contextualizing it in order to promote preconceived modern notions based on the use of secular scholarship practices.
One modern example of a popular false conclusion adopted from the scroll of Amos relates to an oversimplification of justice by those who promote secular “social justice”, using it as a means for political gain. This form of “social justice” is based on a misreading and de-contextualizing of chapter 5 verse 24.
Such is the influence of the secular counterfeit of social justice upon both contemporary Jewish and Christian scholars, that some introductions to the book of Amos, citing 5:24 go so far as to say that “social justice” is the primary theme of this work. Frankly, that’s utter nonsense! Amos 5:24 does not diminish justice by confining it to one part of its whole (social justice), rather, within the context of the scroll of Amos justice in its fullness as an attribute of God is being taught. Thus, we read “Let justice roll on like a river…” and not, “Let social justice roll on like a river…” When we qualify the text of Scripture by insisting that it placate our modern political leanings, we disqualify ourselves as teachers of sound doctrine.
Justice is one of the primary themes of the scroll of Amos, alongside repentance, righteousness and reconciliation.
The scroll begins with the pronouncement of God’s judgement against the nations, the last of whom are Judah and Israel God’s chosen people. Through Amos God calls for repentance and warns of the Day of the Lord. However, as is the case with many of the prophetic writings, a rhythm of blessing, rebuke, punishment, repentance and restoration once again shows that God’s mercy both precedes and is the result of His judgement. Thus, the scroll of Amos begins with blessing in the form of a warning (1:1-2) and ends with the promise of Israel’s redemption, reconciliation and restoration (9:11-15).
Names and Their Meanings:
It’s important to note that the people named in the text are historical figures and the towns and cities are historical locations, likewise the peoples named are historical peoples. In addition to this each proper noun has a meaning that denotes the prophetic outcomes being discussed. From before the beginning God saw the end of these people, peoples and places and forenamed them accordingly. God’s foresight does not negate human freewill. Human sight is limited to time and space while God’s sight is unlimited.
Amos 1 (Author’s translation)
1 Words of Amos, who was among the sheep herders from Tekoa, which he saw, perceived, beheld, prophesied upon Israel in the days of UziYah king of Y’hudah, and in the days of Yeroboam son of Yoash, king of Yisrael, two years before the shaking. 2 And he said, “The Lord from Zion will roar, and from Yerushalayim has set in place His voice; and there is mourning in the pastures of the shepherds’, and the head of Ha-Carmel withers, dries up.” 3 Thus, says the Lord: “Upon three rebellions of Damascus, and upon four, I will not turn away, upon the threshing in the sledges of the iron specifically Ha-Gilead. 4 And I will send My fire into the house of Hazael and it will devour the citadels of Ben Hadad. 5 I will break the bar of Damascus, and I will cut off the inhabitant from the Valley of Aven, and he who holds a sceptre, from Beiyt Eden; and they will go into captivity, the people of Aram to Kiyrah,” says the Lord. 6 Thus, says the Lord: “Upon three rebellions of Gaza, and upon four, I will not turn away, upon them is the removal into captivity of those dwelling in peace to imprisonment to Edom. 7 And I will send My fire on the wall of Gaza and it will devour the citadels. 8 And I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and he who holds a sceptre, from Ashkelon; and I will turn My hand upon Ekron, and the remnant of the Philistines will perish,” says Adonay the LORD. 9 Thus, says the Lord: “Upon three rebellions of Tyre, and upon four, I will not turn away, upon the imprisonment of captivity of those dwelling in peace to Edom, and he did not remember a covenant of brothers. 10 And I will send My fire on the wall of Tyre, and it will devour the citadels.” 11 Thus, says the Lord: “Upon three rebellions of Edom, and upon four, I will not turn away, upon his pursuit of his brother with the sword and destroying his compassion; his anger also tears apart continually, and his wrath is guarded, kept maintained perpetually. 12 And I will send My fire on Teman and it will devour the citadels of Botzrah.” 13 Thus, says the Lord: “Upon three rebellions of the children of Amon, and upon four, I will not turn away, upon their ripping open the pregnant women of Gilead, in order to enlarge their territories. 14 And I will kindle My fire on the wall of Rabbah, and it will devour the citadels amid soundings of alarm on the day of battle, in a raging storm on the day of gale force winds. 15 Their king will go into captivity, he and his princes together,” says the Lord.
Amos 1. Line Upon Line:
1 Divreiy Words, essences, substances of Amos (Burden, load, carry), who was among va-nokediym the sheep herders (Heb. root. nakod: speckled, marked sheep & goats) from Tekoa (Trumpet blast), which he chazah saw, perceived, beheld, prophesied al upon Israel in the days of UziYah (My strength is YHVH) [Uzziah] king of Y’hudah (Praise) [Judah], and in the days of Yeroboam (People of contention) Jeroboam son of Yoash (YHVH’s fire) [Joash], king of Yisrael (overcome in Elohim/Judge/God) Israel, two years before ha-ra’ash the shaking (earthquake).
1 Words of Amos, who was among the sheep herders from Tekoa, which he saw, perceived, beheld, prophesied upon Israel in the days of UziYah king of Y’hudah, and in the days of Yeroboam son of Yoash, king of Yisrael, two years before the shaking (earthquake).
“Words of Amos”
A number of Jewish commentators suggest that Amos was named “Burden” due to an impediment of the tongue. His tongue being burdened, he stammered*. There are of course other prophetic characters of Scripture who suffered speech difficulties. Moses refers to himself as aral sefatayim “I am a man of impeded lips” (Ex. 6:12), and some of those who despised Rav Shaul (Paul the Apostle) said of him “His letters are weighty and strong, but in person he is unimpressive and his speech contemptible” (2 Cor. 10:10).
However, in seeking to understand the name of the prophet Amos we look to the context of his scroll which infers that his name relates to the “burden” of the LORD, a weight of God’s living words (divreiy)v.1. Words he could not keep from coming forth, like the fire in the belly of Jeremiah (Jer. 20:9).
*Vayikra Rabbah, sect. 10. fol. 153. 3. Abarbinel Praefat. in Ezek. fol. 253. 3.
“who was among the sheep herders from Tekoa”
Unlike the prophet Yishayahu (YHVH He is my Salvation) [Isaiah] who was a member of the royal court, and the prophet Yeremiyahu (Exalted by YHVH) [Jeremiah] who was a priest, Amos was a lowly herdsman (noked [sheep raiser 1:1, from nakod: speckled, marked], a boker [cattle herdsman 7:14, from bakar: enquire, seek, consider]) and an orchardist (a tender of figs)7:14.
It's possible that Amos was a wealthy man. The Hebrew noked is elsewhere translated “Sheep Master” (2 Kings 3:4), however, its meaning is elevated in 2 Kings by the fact that the person being spoken of is himself a king, Mesha the king of Moab.
Needless to say, Amos was a hardworking member of the am ha’aretz (common people of the land). Amos was called to prophecy, but it was not his profession. Among his contemporaries he was the country hick at the prophets’ guild meetings.
The home town of Amos, Tekoa shares its root (taka, “blow, sound”) with the verb tekiyah, the long blast sounded at the beginning and end of the shofar liturgy of Rosh Hashanah. This is a blast of the shofar that calls Israel to listen, hear, and gain understanding from God, and is followed by shevarim the wailing blasts of repentance. Teruah the 9 staccato blasts of alarm are next and precede the final blast of judgement tekiah gedolah (great long blast). Thus, the first tekiah blast points to the tekiah gedolah (great long blast) and final judgement. It is significant that the name of the home town of Amos denotes the calling and judgement of God announced by the tekiyah blast of the shofar. Amos is called of God to proclaim judgement against the nations, and against Judah and Israel. Following the rebuke to the nations he continues his scroll with a detailed rebuke of Israel and a call to repentance. He announces the judgement of God and concludes with a promise of future redemption and restoration.
It's worth noting that the Mishnah mentions Tekoa the home town of Amos as being famous for its olive oil production (Mishnah Menachot, c. 8. sect. 3.). Thus, there is a symbolic connection to the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit).
“He saw, perceived, beheld, prophesied upon Israel”
What Amos perceived of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) is prophesied “upon” Israel as an indictment that must be addressed. The “burden” or weight of the words of Amos will be heavy upon the people of Israel if they remain unrepentant, whereas in repentance the burden becomes light (9:11-15 ref. Matt. 11:28-30).
We note that although the scroll begins by pointing out that these words are spoken upon Israel, the prophet nonetheless starts by pronouncing judgement on the neighbouring nations. Ultimately God is concerned with the redemption of all peoples.
“Israel in the days of UziYah king of Y’hudah, and in the days of Yeroboam son of Yoash, king of Yisrael,”
At the time of his prophesying Jeroboam II (called Jeroboam son of Joash in order to distinguish him from Jeroboam son of Nebat) the northern king had been victorious in conquest and successful in accumulating riches. Thus, those over whom he reigned enjoyed prosperity and as a result of their comfort became inclined toward idolatry and depravity.
Both the kingdom of Judah under Uziyah (a.k.a Azariyah 2 Kings 15:1) and the northern kingdom under Yeroboam II, were idolatrous, prideful, rebellious, complacent, gluttonous, unjust and forgetful people. Through Amos God threatens discipline if they do not repent. In fact, knowing that they won’t repent God promises discipline and as a result of His sacrificial love, deliverance and restoration.
“two years before the shaking (earthquake).”
This earthquake was a memorable one and therefore anchors the prophecy to a certain period in Israel’s history prior to the captivity of the northern kingdom. Zechariah speaks of it many years later (520 BCE), explaining that the earthquake occurred in the days of Uziyah (Zechariah 14:5). Based on the chronology of the kings (2 Kings 14:23; 15:1), the earthquake would have had to have taken place in the earlier half of Uziyah’s reign and not as some suggest in the latter part of his reign when he attempted to enter the Temple and was struck with leprosy.
Interestingly Amos 9:1-6 can be understood as describing an earthquake. Throughout Scripture there is a connection between the shaking of the earth and the judgement of God (Exodus 19:18, Judges 5:4, 2 Samuel 22:8, Psalm 18:7, Psalm 68:8, Isaiah 14:16, Habakkuk 3:6, Matthew 27:51, Hebrews 12:26).
2 And he said, “YHVH (Mercy) The Lord mitziyon from Zion will roar, umiyerushalayim and from Jerusalem yitein has set in place kolu His voice; ve’avelu and there is mourning in the pastures of ha’roiym the shepherds’, and the rosh head (summit) of ha-carmel (garden, orchard) the Carmel veyaveish withers, dries up.” 3 Thus, says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord: “Al Upon sheloshah three pisheiy rebellions of Damesek (Silent sackcloth weaver) Damascus, ve'al and upon arba’ah four, lo ashiyvenu I will not turn away, al-dusham upon the threshing bacharutzot in the sledges habarzel of the iron et ha-gilead (Witness heap, memorial) specifically the Gilead.
2 And he said, “The Lord from Zion will roar, and from Jerusalem has set in place His voice; and there is mourning in the pastures of the shepherds’, and the head of the Carmel withers, dries up.” 3 Thus, says the Lord: “Upon three rebellions of Damascus, and upon four, I will not turn away, upon the threshing in the sledges of the iron specifically the Gilead.
“The Lord from Zion will roar, and from Jerusalem has set in place His voice”
The judgement of God is seen by the nations and the tribes of Israel as being spoken forth from the place where God has made His Name to dwell (Deut. 12:5-12; Josh. 21:41-43). God has firmly established His voice in Jerusalem the eternal capital of Israel God’s people. This reads as an instant rebuke to both the neighbouring nations who seek to conquer Jerusalem and to the northern tribes who have turned their backs on the Temple in Jerusalem and have set up apostate worship practices in Samaria, in Dan, and in Bethel.
The roaring imagery may reflect the coming earthquake described in the first verse (Iben Ezra).
We note that the nations mentioned are neighbours Israel rather than distant enemies. Assyria and Egypt for example are not mentioned. The nations are indicted for breaking universally moral law (Noachide), whereas, in the next chapter following the rebuke of Moab, Judah and Israel are charged against the breaking of God’s covenant of distinction specifically made with Israel. This remains the modus operandi of God’s judgement as it is outworked throughout history to this very day. In terms of human allegory, the blood born son is held to a higher standard because it is his example that reflects upon the Father’s character.
“and there is mourning in the pastures of the shepherds’”
Amos is a shepherd but the text of the first chapter uses the Hebrew noked (sheep herder) in referring to his vocation whereas the Hebrew roiym (plural of ra’ah) is used when the Lord’s voice first speaks His judgement against the shepherds of the nations, and of Judah and Israel.
The mourning within the pastures, that is the habitations of the shepherds has obvious significance. Mourning occurs following absence or death. Thus, the absence and death of the shepherds is the intended meaning of the mourning pastures. Additionally, mourning denotes repentance. To use a mashal (parable) In light of the deaths of false shepherds the sheep repent.
“the head of the Carmel withers, dries up”
Carmel simply means “fruitful” and therefore is a fruitful mountain in the land of Israel. There were at least two mountains by this name at that time, one in the tribe of Judah, near where Nabal lived (1 Sam. 25:2), and the more well-known one in the tribe of Asher, near Akko north-west of Tekoa on the west coast of Israel. Some think the former is meant, because it is nearer Tekoa, and therefore more familiar to Amos. However, this seems unlikely given that first of all the Hebrew does not read as “carmel” but as “ha-carmel”, which denotes the primacy of the mountain in question and its significance to all Israel, and secondly because the message of Amos is primarily given to the northern tribes and is meant to indict Israel from top to bottom. The rosh “head” or top of the mountain is said to wither and dry up and thus, signifies the demise of the northern kingdom.
“Upon three rebellions of Damascus, and upon four, I will not turn away,”
We note that the root action that proceeds from idolatry and informs all sin behaviours, pesha from pasha, rebellion is emphasised here. What follows is an indictment against the surrounding nations and ultimately against Israel God’s chosen. The threefold repetition “Upon three rebellions” which points to the wilful and perpetual nature of the sins of the nations is sealed with the fourth indictment “and upon four” which makes their coming punishment a forgone conclusion.
God, Who sees all things and the end from the beginning, Who exists outside of time and space and in Whom all things exist and have their being, speaks into time and space through His servant Amos the things that have already occurred from God’s perspective.
This does not mean that the freewill of the nation’s unto repentance has been revoked, rather, it means that God has already seen the outcome of the chosen actions of the nations.
Put concisely God is saying “I will not allow wonton rebellion to go unpunished!” We should remember with fear and trembling that those who enable the sin of the unrepentant become participants in that sin, and those who have it in their power to punish the unrepentant and fail to do so are guilty of compounding the suffering of their victims. The practice of neglecting justice under the guise of practicing social justice, which has become all too popular in the modern church, is abhorrent to God. “For three examples of rebellion… even for a fourth”, He will not withhold discipline, how much more so against the global rebellions of the modern church.
The indictment begins with Damascus the then capital of Aram (modern Syria), and her continuing attacks against Ramot Gilead in the tribal land of Manasseh. The Jewish commentator Kimkhi understands “Upon three rebellions of Damascus, and upon four”, to refer to specific seasons in which the Arameans (Syrians) oppressed the people of Israel: first in the times of Baasha, then in the times of Ahab, a third time in the days of Jehoahaz the son of Jehu, and the fourth in the times of Ahaz. Thus, the head of Aram (Syria), Damascus, will not escape the certain punishment of God.
“upon the threshing in the sledges of the iron specifically the Gilead.”
This is a description of the threshing of grain which used to be threshed out by iron teeth protruding from a wooden block, the top of which was filled with stones to weight it down. It was drawn over the sheaves in order to beat and separate out the grain on the threshing floor. This is a metaphor for the way Hazael of Aram (Syria) treated the Reubenites and Gadites and the half tribe of Manasseh (2 Kings 7:12; 10:32).
4 Veshilachtiy And I will send My eish fire bebeiyt into the house Chazaeil of Hazael (Sees, perceives – God, the Judge) ve’achelah and it will devour armenot the citadels (mountain top fortresses) of Ben (Son of) Hadad (mighty, proper noun of a false deity).
4 And I will send My fire into the house of Hazael and it will devour the citadels of Ben Hadad.
“I will send My fire into the house of Hazael and it will devour the citadels of Ben Hadad.”
As is so often the case in Scripture, the fire of God’s wrath is not pictured here as a warm campfire but as a blazing inferno of wrath. Those within the modern church context who foolishly ask God to consume them with His fire would be wise to repent before the fire comes.
Hazael and Ben Hadad are kings of Aram (Syria) [2 Kings 8:7-15; 13:22-25]. Aram being the nation indicted in the previous verse. The fire of God will destroy the house and kingly succession of Hazael’s progeny and will devour the legacy built by Ben Hadad.
5 Ve’sharvartiy I will break beriyach the bar (of the gate) of Damesek (Silent sackcloth weaver) Damascus, vehichratiy and I will cut off yosheiv the inhabitant mibikat-aven from the Valley of Aven (vanity), vetomeich and he who holds sheivet a sceptre (staff), from Beiyt (House of) Eden (Pleasantness, delight, luxury); vegalu and they will go into captivity, am-Aram (Exalted, fortress) the people of Aram (Syria) to Kiyrah (Wall, a fortress of Moab),” says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
5 I will break the bar of Damascus, and I will cut off the inhabitant from the Valley of Aven, and he who holds a sceptre, from Beiyt Eden; and they will go into captivity, the people of Aram to Kiyrah,” says the Lord.
“I will break the bar of Damascus”
This refers to the bar that both locks and strengthens the main gate of the city as protection against invaders.
The gods of the Arameans were gods of the valleys (1 Kings 20:23), thus, Aven may refer to a specific deity.
The wordplay in the Hebrew names Aven (vanity, delusion) and Beiyt Eden (house of pleasantness) is clear. Those within Aram who dwell in the vanity and delusion of idolatry will be cut off and the ruler (sceptre) who enjoys the luxury born of the house of pleasantness (pointing to the east and toward kiyrah the place the Arameans came from) will go into captivity. The Assyrians exiled the Arameans to Kiyrah after they had put an end to the kingdom of Aram (2 Kings 16:9).
6 Thus, says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord: “Al Upon sheloshah three pisheiy rebellions of Aza (Strong) Gaza, ve'al and upon arba’ah four, lo ashiyvenu I will not turn away, al upon them is haglotam the removal galut into captivity shelemah of those dwelling in peace lehasgiyr to imprisonment le-Edom (Red, of Esau, opposed to Jacob [Israel]) to Edom. 7 And I will send My eish fire bechomat on the wall of Aza (Gaza) ve’achelah and it will devour armenotayah the citadels (high fortresses).
6 Thus, says the Lord: “Upon three rebellions of Gaza, and upon four, I will not turn away, upon them is the removal into captivity of those dwelling in peace to imprisonment to Edom. 7 And I will send My fire on the wall of Gaza and it will devour the citadels.
Gaza here is mentioned as the head over all the Philistine cities of that time. The three others mentioned by name are Ashdod, Ashkelon and Ekron. Just as judgement was coming against all of Aram, so too it was coming against all of the Philistines. These same Philistine cities are mentioned in the same order in Zephaniah 2:4
“upon them is the removal into captivity of those dwelling in peace to imprisonment to Edom.”
This refers to the Philistines carrying away all the wealth of the house of Jehoram king of Judah, along with his sons and his wives, leaving behind only one son, the youngest, Jehoahaz, as recorded in 2 Chronicles 21:17.
“7 And I will send My fire on the wall of Gaza and it will devour the citadels.”
The fire of God’s judgement is sent upon “the walls”, that is to tear down the defences of Gaza. This prophecy has multiple historical fulfilments from Uziyah (2 Chronicles 26:5), to Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:8), and on to the secular tyrant Alexander the Great, who, after he had taken Tyre, besieged Gaza.
8 Vehichratiy and I will cut off yosheiv the inhabitant maashdod from Ashdod (Powerful destroyer), vetomeich and he who holds sheivet a sceptre (staff), maashkelon from Ashkelon (Fire weighed out); vahashivotiy and I will turn yadiy My hand al upon Ekron (Torn up by the roots), veavedu she’eiriyt Pelishtiym and the remnant of the Philistines (Immigrants) will perish,” says Adonay YHVH (Mercy) the Lord, the Unpronounceable Name (Mercy).
8 And I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and he who holds a sceptre, from Ashkelon; and I will turn My hand upon Ekron, and the remnant of the Philistines will perish,” says Adonay the Lord.
Ultimately the remnant of the ancient Philistines was wiped out leaving no connection to a modern people group. Some think that this was finally accomplished during the time of the Maccabees (1 Maccabees 10) [167-37 BCE].
9 Thus, says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord: “Al Upon sheloshah three pisheiy rebellions of Tzor (Flint rock) Tyre, ve'al and upon arba’ah four, lo ashiyvenu I will not turn away, al upon hasgiyram the imprisonment of galut captivity shelemah of those dwelling in peace le-Edom (Red, of Esau, opposed to Jacob [Israel]) to Edom, velo and he did not zacheru remember beriyt a covenant of achiym brothers.
9 Thus, says the Lord: “Upon three rebellions of Tyre, and upon four, I will not turn away, upon the imprisonment of captivity of those dwelling in peace to Edom, and he did not remember a covenant of brothers.
Tyre is the ancient coastal Phoenician merchant Island city that was allied to Israel by a treaty “of brotherhood” during the reign of King David (1 Kings 5:1). This relationship continued through the reigns of Solomon (1 Kings 5:12) and Ahab, whose father in law ruled Tyre and Sidon (1 Kings 16:30-31).
The specific sin of the Phoenicians was that they took captives of the northern tribes and sold them to Edom. However, the greater sin was that they had broken a covenant of brotherhood with Israel that had been long established. With regard to covenant, this indictment reflects the indictment that God brings against Israel and Judah.
10 And I will send My eish fire bechomat on the wall of Tzor (Flint rock) Tyre, ve’achelah and it will devour armenotayah the citadels (high fortresses).”
10 And I will send My fire on the wall of Tyre, and it will devour the citadels.”
Tyre was an Island port that was extremely difficult to conquer, and yet God promises to destroy by fire her walls and devour (dismantle) her citadels. Alexander the Great conquered Tyre in 332 BCE by constructing a causeway between the mainland and the Island.
11 Thus, says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord: “Al Upon sheloshah three pisheiy rebellions of Edom (Red, of Esau, opposed to Jacob [Israel]), ve'al and upon arba’ah four, lo ashiyvenu I will not turn away, al upon radefo his pursuit of his brother va’cherev achiyv with the sword veshichet and destroying rachamayv his compassion; vayitrof la’ad-apo his anger also tears apart continually, ve’evrato and his wrath shemara is guarded, kept netzach maintained perpetually.
11 Thus, says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord: “Upon three rebellions of Edom, and upon four, I will not turn away, upon his pursuit of his brother with the sword and destroying his compassion; his anger also tears apart continually, and his wrath is guarded, kept maintained perpetually.
Edom, the nation descended from Esau (Gen. 25:23-30; 27:39-40; 36) was a brother to Israel (Jacob). In spite of Jacob’s reconciliatory actions toward Esau, Esau never truly forgave Jacob*, nor did his descendants. The nation of Edom was a perpetual thorn in the side of Israel. Thus, God commands punishment against Edom for her unrelenting persecution of His chosen people Israel.
*For further study read my article on Genesis 33: https://www.bethmelekh.com/yaakovs-commentary/genesis-33-jacob-goes-out-to-meet-esau
12 And I will send My eish fire beteiyman on Teman (Southward) ve’achelah and it will devour armenotayah the citadels (high fortresses) of Botzrah (enclosure, sheepfold).”
12 And I will send My fire on Teman (Southward) and it will devour the citadels of Botzrah.”
This denotes a purging fire throughout the kingdom of Edom from the then capital Teman to Botzrah.
13 Thus, says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord: “Al Upon sheloshah three pisheiy rebellions of benay the children of Amon (Peoples), ve'al and upon arba’ah four, lo ashiyvenu I will not turn away, al upon bikam their ripping open harot the pregnant women of Gilad (Witness heap, memorial) Gilead, lima’an in order to harchiyv enlarge et-gevulam their territories.
13 Thus, says the Lord: “Upon three rebellions of the children of Amon, and upon four, I will not turn away, upon their ripping open the pregnant women of Gilead, in order to enlarge their territories.
Notice that benay “children” are added to the indictment against Amon. The Hebrew benay is not used in the previous indictments against other nations nor in the indictments that follow.
The murder of unborn children was a means for enlarging territory for a period of at least two generations. It was a heinous premeditation, which is why in the “rebellions” three and fourfold the “children” of Amon are added to the indictment. God’s justice meted out against the sin of a single generation of those mentioned previously, will be meted out twofold against the twofold generational sin of Amon. This due to the exalted depravity of the actions of the people of Amon.
14 And I will ve’hitzatiy kindle My eish fire bechomat on the wall of Rabbah (Great) [Rabbah-Ammon], and it will devour armenotayah the citadels (high fortresses) amid bitruah (in teruah) soundings of alarm beyom on the day milchamah of battle, besa’ar in a raging storm beyom on the day of gale force winds. 15 Ve’halach malkam Their king bagolah will go into captivity, hu vesarayv he and his princes yachdav together,” says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
14 And I will kindle My fire on the wall of Rabbah, and it will devour the citadels amid soundings of alarm on the day of battle, in a raging storm on the day of gale force winds. 15 Their king will go into captivity, he and his princes together,” says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
Rabbah Ammon (2 Sam. 12:26) was the capital of the kingdom of the Ammonites and therefore symbolises the destruction of their rulers, and subsequently the entire kingdom (Jeremiah 49:2).
The use of the Hebrew yatzat “kindle” here in relation to the fire of God’s wrath, rather than the previously used shalach “send”, denotes an act of destruction by fire that the Lord is kindling in their midst as opposed to sending via His hand. This kindling may refer to the raising up of Nebuchadnezzar, who is referred to by Jeremiah as God’s servant (Jeremiah 25:9; 27:6; 43:10).
The Hebrew bit’ruah a contraction meaning “in sounding”, refers specifically to the shofar sound denoting alarm (9 staccato blasts), which is used to draw connection between the prophet’s hometown (Tekoa), and his calling and role*.
*See notes on verse 1.
15 Their king will go into captivity, he and his princes together,” says YHVH (Mercy) the Lord.
This refers to Baalis the last king of Ammon, who was an accessary to the murder of Gedaliah, (Jer. 40:14) whom the king of Babylon had set over the remnant of the Jews left in Judea. This provoked the king of Babylon to send Nebuzaradan his general against Baalis, putting Ammon to fire and sword, destroying the capital city Rabbah Ammon, and carrying Baalis and his nobles into captivity (cf. Jer. 49:3).
Copyright 2022 Yaakov Brown
Our identity in Messiah informs our actions. When our actions contradict our identity they are not cause for changing our identity, rather they are a sign that we have forgotten who we are. The misuse of something does not define it. Our actions do not define us, we define our actions. In Messiah we have become children of God. Our identity is firmly established in eternal blood.
Psalm 51 is perhaps the most commonly known of the Tehillim (Psalms) of repentance is widely used, and forms a blueprint for the order of approach of a truly repentant believer. It is however, therefore, often decontextualised. It’s use as an order of repentance is admirable and should be encouraged, but without disregard for its context.
Certain phrases from Psalm 51 have become popular mantras among believers, and for the most part are employed to godly effect. However, the decontextualization of these phrases has in some cases led to false or at very least misleading theological conclusions. One such phrase “Take not Thy Holy Spirit from me” has been sorely abused by some Christian theologians who wrongly conclude that this phrase conveys the possibility that one can lose one’s salvation. Something Scripture utterly refutes. God our Deliverer, saves and makes eternally secure all who come to Him through Yeshua the King Messiah.
“27 My sheep hear, listen to, receive My voice (sound), and I know them intimately, and they follow Me; 28 and I give to them life without end, and they will never be destroyed into the unbroken age; and no one will seize them out of My hand. 29 The Father, Who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to seize out of the hand of the Father. 30 I and My Father we are one, a complex unity.” - John 10:27-30 (Author’s translation)
Those whom He has made secure He fills with His Spirit as a guarantee of their eternal security (Eph. 1:13-14).
“13 And you also were included in Messiah when you heard the message of truth, the good news of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is deposited as a guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” -Ephesians 1:13-14 (Author’s translation)
Therefore a contextual Hebraic understanding of this Psalm is much needed in order to clear up the misunderstandings which have resulted from the presumptive interpretation of certain mainstream Christian theologians.
Tehillim (Psalms) 51: Author’s Translation
(1) For the preeminent director. A Psalm, melody of David, (2) when came Natan the prophet to him, after he had gone in to Bat-sheva. 1 (3) Be gracious, pity, show favour to me, Elohim Judge, according to Your faithfulness, kindness, goodness; According to the greatness, abundance, multitude of Your womb (compassion); wipe out, obliterate, exterminate my rebellion (transgression). 2 (4) Wash (by treading) me numerous times (thoroughly) from my perversity (depravity), and from my habitual sinful condition (missing the mark) cleanse, purify me. 3 (5) For my rebellion I acknowledge, and my habitual sin is before me continually. 4 (6) Against You, You only, I have missed the mark, habitually sinned and what is evil in Your sight I have done, so that You are justified when You speak, blameless, pure, translucent when You judge. 5 (7) Behold, in perversity I was brought forth, and in sin my mother conceived me. 6 (8) Behold, truth You desire in the innermost being, and in the secret (close to the chest) place, wisdom You make known to me. 7 (9) Purge me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash (tread) me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 (10) Make me hear, listen, obey joy, and transcendent gladness; may the bones, self, substance You have broken rejoice. 9 (11) Hide, conceal Your face (gaze) from my habitual sins, missing the mark and all my depraved deeds, wipe out, exterminate, obliterate. 10 (12) A heart, core being, centre of purity create (from scratch) in me, Elohim, Judge, and renew a right, willing, free, steadfast spirit within me. 11 (13) Not, Never (won’t) cast me away from Your face (a position of intimacy face to face), and the Spirit of Your holiness not, never (won’t) snatch from me. 12 (14) The turning of me is the joy of Your salvation, and a spirit willing, noble and generous uphold in me. 13 (15) I will teach rebels (wrongdoers) Your way, and sinners (those who miss the mark set by Your holiness) toward You will turn. 14 (16) Deliver (snatch away) me from the guilt of bloodshed, Elohiym, Judge, Eloheiy, God, Judge of my salvation; My tongue will overcome with a cry, proclaiming the joy found in Your righteousness. 15 (17) Adonay, open my lips, and my mouth will make known Your praise. 16 (18) For You don’t take pleasure in a sacrifice, and the giving of a whole burnt offering You do not take pleasure in. 17 (19) The sacrifices of Elohiym, Judge, are a broken spirit; a heart broken and contrite, Elohiym, Judge, You will not despise. 18 (20) Do good in Your favour to the Tziyon; build the walls of Yerushalayim. 19 (21) Then You will delight in sacrifices of righteousness, burnt offering and whole burnt offering; they will ascend, offering upon Your altar, calves.
A Summation of Tehillim (Psalms) 51:
Tehillim (Psalms) 51 Line Upon Line
(1) (Lamnatzeiach) For the preeminent director. (Mizmor) A Psalm, melody (ledavid) of David [beloved], (2) when came (Natan) Nathan [giver] (Hanaviy) the prophet to him, after he had (ba el) gone in to (Bat-sheva) Bathsheba (daughter of seven, blessing, covenant).
(1) For the preeminent director. A Psalm, melody of David, (2) when came Natan the prophet to him, after he had gone in to Bat-sheva.
It's unfortunate that the Christian tradition of numbering of the Psalms and the positioning of the introductory phrases prior to the main text (making them preamble, or a sort of supplementary title as is the case in many English translations) often detracts from the importance of the introduction.
The introductory phrasing of the Psalms has a unique role as part of the whole and is deserving of its own numbering. While the Holy Spirit is the author of Scripture, the writers and their stories also inform the text and give it context. We should not brush over the introductory verses.
The Jewish publications of English translations rightly number the introductory verses, giving them position within the Psalm’s whole and thus emphasising their unique role and importance. Therefore, I’ve added the Jewish numbering in brackets, knowing that the majority of our community are English speakers who are more familiar with the Gentile Christian system of numbering.
“For the preeminent director” That is, the director over the priests assigned to the music worship service. This intimate Psalm of desperate repentance concerning David’s private sin was intended for use in public worship as both an individual and corporate cry of penitence.
In repentance David exposes his sin and the grief he feels over his sinful state before the entire nation of Israel. A person of noble character is not only proved in right action but also in the way he repents of wrong action. For the disciple of Messiah there is no such thing as secret sin.
Our identity in Messiah informs our actions. When our actions contradict our identity they are not cause for changing our identity, rather they are a sign that we have forgotten who we are. The misuse of something does not define it. Our actions do not define us, we define our actions. In Messiah we have become children of God. Our identity is firmly established in eternal blood.
“A Psalm, melody of David” This Psalm was composed by David.
“when came Nathan the prophet to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.” David composed this Psalm following the rebuke of God through Nathan the prophet concerning David’s adulterous act in going in to (having illicit sexual intercourse with) Bathsheba and his subsequent role in the murder of Uriyah [My light is YAH] Bathsheba’s husband, in an attempt to cover up his initial sexual sin (2 Samuel 12:1-25).
We note that by his adulterous and murderous actions David sinned against God (v.4 ), the nation of Israel over whom he ruled as king (v.18 ), his own soul (1 Cor. 6:18-20), Bat-sheva (daughter of blessing), and therefore, against the blessing of God over his life, and against Uri-yah (my light is YAH), and therefore, David blinded himself to God’s light. Thus, for some time following the act of adultery, David was numb to the conviction of God’s Spirit. As evidenced in his need to receive the rebuke for his sin directly from Nathan the prophet, who spoke by the Holy Spirit.
The composing of this Psalm is likely to have taken place while David besought the LORD regarding the life of the child that had been seeded by his adultery. A child that remains nameless in the text but is nonetheless a child of the daughter of blessing [Bat-sheva] (2 Samuel 12:16).
1 (3) (Choneiniy) Be gracious, pity, show favour to me, (Elohim) God, Judge, (kechasdekha) according to Your faithfulness, kindness, goodness; (kerov) According to the greatness, abundance, multitude of (rachameykha) Your womb, compassion, (mecheih) wipe [blot] out, obliterate, exterminate (fesha’ay) my rebellion, transgression.
1 (3) Be gracious, pity, show favour to me, Elohim Judge, according to Your faithfulness, kindness, goodness; According to the greatness, abundance, multitude of Your womb (compassion); wipe out, obliterate, exterminate my rebellion (transgression).
Hebrew Poetic Groupings (emphasising meaning*):
*Hebrew poetry uses repetition rather than rhyme. Synonyms are used to emphasize key points.
“Be gracious, pity, show favour to me, (Elohim) God, Judge” David, being convicted of sin does not run from God but toward Him. David is familiar with God’s character and appeals to His grace and favour. It’s important to note that David does not call on God using the Holy unpronounceable Name YHVH, which denotes mercy, rather he calls on God as Elohim the Judge of all. This is because David has become aware of the injustice of his actions and the rightful punishment he deserves in accordance with the moral standard set by God’s holiness. When on trial a repentant criminal asks the Judge (Elohim) for Mercy (YHVH).
The repetition of Elohim (x5) in this Psalm points to the just nature of the Creator and inspires the necessary awe that must accompany repentance. The proper noun YHVH is not used even once in the entirety of this Psalm, while Adonay, the generic title meaning Lord, or Master, is used only once.
“according to Your faithfulness, kindness, goodness” Knowing that God is faithful, good, and kind, David does not appeal only to the common grace of God which allows “the rain to fall upon the wicked and righteous alike”, he also appeals to the saving grace of God for the eternal forgiveness of sin. This is evidenced in the specificity of the confession of David (it is also pointed to by the introduction which places the context firmly in the aftermath of a particularly heinous sin act).
“According to the greatness, abundance, multitude of Your womb, compassion,” In Hebrew this line is powerful. It’s a tragedy that English translations fail to convey it. The Hebrew “racham”, womb, is used metaphorically to denote mercy. Thus, both God’s womb (figuratively) and the mercy that it conveys, are the intended meaning.
The use of the word “racham”, womb, is of great importance because in relationship to God it is the counterpoint to the womb of the human mother which exists in a sin affected world (v.5).
“wipe [blot] out, obliterate, exterminate my rebellion, transgression.” By the Spirit of God David shows that he has come to understand that all sin is the result of the idolatrous root “pasha”, rebellion. Further, David does not only request “kaparah” covering alone, but seeks “machah”, a complete and everlasting blotting out of his rebellion.
Rebellion here is seen as the foundation for “chata”, missing the mark set by God’s holiness. Therefore, David is seeking salvation from his sin nature (a tendency toward the yetzer hara [evil inclination]), and not just forgiveness of the specific sin of adultery and the related sins that followed.
2 (4) (Herev kabeseiniy) Wash [by treading] me numerous times [thoroughly] (mei’avoniy) from my perversity, depravity (umechatatiy) and from my habitual sinful condition [missing the mark] (tahareniy) cleanse, purify me. 3 (5) For (fesha’ay) my rebellion (aniy eida) I acknowledge, (vechatatiy) and my habitual sin (negdiy tamiyd) is before me continually.
2 (4) Wash (by treading) me numerous times (thoroughly) from my perversity (depravity), and from my habitual sinful condition (missing the mark) cleanse, purify me. 3 (5) For my rebellion I acknowledge, and my habitual sin is before me continually.
Hebrew Poetic Groupings (emphasising meaning):
“Wash [by treading] me numerous times [thoroughly] from my perversity, depravity and from my habitual sinful condition [missing the mark] cleanse, purify me.” “Wash me” acknowledges that David cannot wash himself clean of his sin. “Treading” means that the process of cleansing is violent and “Numerous times” acknowledges the need for the purification process to be ongoing within time and space.
Three different Hebrew words are used to describe sin in these verses:
a. avon (depravity)
b. chata (habitual sin, missing the mark set by God’s holiness)
c. pasha (rebellion). The former two are fruit of the sin of rebellion which is the progeny of idolatry.
“For my rebellion I acknowledge,” Idolatry is the root of all sin (1 Tim. 6:10) and is manifest in rebellion. This is why in spite of the use of three different Hebrew words for sin within the first few verses, “pasha” meaning rebellion is mentioned as the primary cause and the root that must be acknowledged in order for it to be rooted out. Rebellion informs the habitual sin nature “yetzer hara”.
“and my habitual sin is before me continually.” Those whose hearts are soft toward God cannot continue to function in peace while carrying the weight of unrepented sin. The Spirit of God plagues the mind and heart of the believer unto repentance and freedom. The grief of the Holy Spirit purposes sanctification in the believer.
David is seeking freedom from what he knows to be fallen human nature, a tendency toward evil in spite of God’s goodness. He realises that as much as he loves God and desires right relationship in Him, he is unable to achieve reconciliation with God in his own strength.
4 (6) (Lecha) Against You, (levadecha) You only, (chatatiy) I have missed the mark, habitually sinned (vehara) and what is evil (be’eiyneycha) in Your sight (asiytiy) I have done, so that (titzdak) You are justified (bedavrecha) when You speak, (tizkeh) blameless, pure, translucent (ve’shafetecha) when You judge.
4 (6) Against You, You only, I have missed the mark, habitually sinned and what is evil in Your sight I have done, so that You are justified when You speak, blameless, pure, translucent when You judge.
Hebrew Poetic Groupings (emphasising meaning):
“Against You, You only, I have missed the mark, habitually sinned” In God all things exist and have their being, therefore, all sin is ultimately against God alone. This does not negate David’s obligation to make restitution to the specific human beings affected by his sin, and to the nation he rules over, rather it addresses sin at its root as a systemic problem within fallen creation.
“and what is evil in Your sight I have done,” In the same way that all sin is ultimately sin against God, all sin is seen by God. There is nowhere to hide from God’s just judgement.
“You are justified when You speak, blameless, pure, translucent when You judge.” God’s nature qualifies Him as Judge over His creation. His judgement is pure, blameless, so much so that in terms of comparison to the seen created things it is described as being translucent, so pure as to be clear, see through, undefiled (Rom. 3:4; 3:25).
5 (7) (Hein) Behold, (beavon) in perversity (cholaltiy) I was brought forth, (uvecheitiy) and in sin (imiy) my mother (yachematniy) conceived me. 6 (8) (Hein) Behold, (emet) truth (chafatzta) You desire (vatuchot) in the innermost being, (uvesatum) and in the secret [close to the chest] place, (chochmah) wisdom (todiyeniy) You make known to me.
5 (7) Behold, in perversity I was brought forth, and in sin my mother conceived me. 6 (8) Behold, truth You desire in the innermost being, and in the secret (close to the chest) place, wisdom You make known to me.
Hebrew Poetic Groupings (emphasising meaning):
“Behold, in perversity I was brought forth, and in sin my mother conceived me.” We note that both this verse and the following verse begin with the Hebrew “Hein”, pay attention, now, listen up!
None of the many and varied attempts to impugn the character of David’s parents hold up to critique, nor do any of the suppositions regarding practical reasons for any perceived prenatal sin of David.
David was born of legitimately married parents and in accordance with pure sexual conduct. We note that elsewhere David acknowledges “I sinned” (4 ), but here he speaks of being conceived and brought forth from the womb in a general environment of depravity (avon) and habitual sin (chata).
Therefore, this verse speaks of the sin affected creation, the world in which David was conceived and birthed. It is an acknowledgement that not only has “sin entered the world… and death through it” (Rom. 5:12) but also that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”(Rom. 3:23).
In short, David was not conceived in a sinful sex act, nor did his pre-conscious inception sin, but he was conceived and born into a sin affected world. Thus, “in perversity (a society prone to sin) I was brought forth, and in sin (a world where the habitual missing of the mark set by God’s holiness is the norm) my mother conceived me.”
“Behold, truth You desire in the innermost being, and in the secret [close to the chest] place, wisdom You make known to me.” Where the former verse says “Behold, all have sinned”, this verse says “Behold, God desires to reconcile all to himself”, making Himself known through the redeeming work of His son our King Messiah Yeshua. “The secret place close to the chest” denotes divine intimacy.
7 (9) (Techate’einiy) Purge me (ve’eizot) with hyssop, (ve’ethar) and I will be clean; (techabeseiniy) wash [tread] me, (umisheleg albiyn) and I will be whiter than snow. 8 (10) (Tashmiyeiniy) Make me hear, listen, obey (sason) joy (vesimshah) and transcendent gladness; (tageilenah atzamot dikita) may the bones, self, substance You have broken rejoice.
7 (9) Purge me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash (tread) me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 (10) Make me hear, listen, obey joy, and transcendent gladness; may the bones, self, substance You have broken rejoice.
Hebrew Poetic Groupings (emphasising meaning):
“Purge me with hyssop, and I will be clean” Ancient tribes of the Levant are thought to have used Hyssop as a cure for digestive and intestinal problems, infection of the airways, poor circulation, skin problems, and other conditions. While its use in the healing of these conditions is not supported by empirical scientific data, it nonetheless gives context regarding the symbolism being employed by Scripture.
The Torah refers to hyssop three times in relation to cleansing:
In all three instances Messiah Yeshua and His substitutionary atoning blood sacrifice as Lamb of God is prefigured.
Messiah the Pesach Lamb (1 Cor. 5:7):
Exodus 12 details the redemption of life of the first born sons of Israel purchased by the blood of the Pesach lamb, which is painted on the door frames of Israel’s homes using a branch of hyssop. The meaning is clear, the blood of the lamb redeems the lives of Israel’s first born.
Messiah the Reconciler of Community (2 Cor. 5:18):
Leviticus 14 details the process of the ritual cleansing of a leper. The Torah infers that sin as a present entity which causes all disease, suffering and death, and is therefore, ultimately the cause of leprosy, though this does not mean that an individual’s personal sin is necessarily the cause of his leprosy, or any other disease for that matter.
We note that the inclusion of hyssop in these purification rites for leprosy, is just one aspect of the process. In addition to the hyssop, two birds are used, one sacrificed and one set free. After the rites are performed and the leper has shaved and washed, he may enter the camp of Israel but must remain outside his family tent for seven days, at which point a lamb is offered as a trespass offering and its blood placed on the right ear (hearing, understanding), the right thumb (actions, strength) and the big toe of the right foot (balance, direction, the way we walk). This is done as a symbolic gesture showing the desired restoration of the entire soul of the leper who has been cleansed.
The ultimate goal of these rites is to reconcile the leper, who has been an outcast (having been outside the camp of Israel), to the community of Israel and to the Mishkan (Tent of meeting) where Israel worships God. Therefore, the goal is to reconcile the leper to God Himself (both symbolically and literally).
Messiah the Resurrection and the Life [Who Separates the Redeemed unto God] (John 11:25):
Numbers 19 details the cleansing rites of the ashes of the Red Heifer and the water of separation and purification. The combined ashes and water are used for the ritual separation and purification of one who has touched a dead body.
Death is the result of sin and the touching of the dead body a reminder of the fruit of all sin. Therefore the sacrificial ashes of the Red Heifer and the water of separation are symbolic of cleansing the living of the touch of death, a living metaphor of resurrection and eternal life.
In summation, David is calling on every cleansing, redemptive and life giving aspect of these three instances of the use of the hyssop and the atoning blood it carries, which is painted upon Israel, as a symbol of atonement (both individual Israelites and Israel as a community).
“wash [tread] me, and I will be whiter than snow” These words of David used in personal repentance and given for use in corporate repentance (v.0 ) are later employed by Isaiah as an admonishment to the people of Israel.
‘“Come now, and let us debate your case,”
Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet,
They shall become as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be like wool.”’ -Yishayahu (Isaiah) 1:18 NASB
“Make me hear, listen, obey joy and transcendent gladness” As a result of God’s redemptive work in Messiah Yeshua and through His substitutionary blood, David’s ears are opened to the transcendent joy of God. A joy and practice of gladness in God’s spirit that is applied through obedience through Salvation (Yeshua).
“may the bones, self, substance You have broken rejoice” In context the plain meaning here is that of transformation of the broken sin affected human soul into the transcendent rejoicing, redeemed person of eternity. God has brought David to a point of brokenness and repentance in order to redeem him and bring him into life everlasting, an outcome of great rejoicing.
“The light of the eyes rejoices the heart: a good report makes the bones healthy.” -Mishlei (Proverbs) 15:30
9 (11) (Hasteir) Hide, conceal (Paneycha) Your face [gaze] (mechata’ay) from my habitual sins, missing the mark (vechol-avontay) and all my depraved deeds (mecheh) wipe [blot] out, exterminate, obliterate. 10 (12) (Leiv tahor) A heart, core being, centre of purity (bera-liy) create [from scratch] in me, (Elohim) God, Judge, (veruach nachon chadeish) and a new, right, willing, free, steadfast spirit (bekirbiy) within me.
9 (11) Hide, conceal Your face (gaze) from my habitual sins, missing the mark and all my depraved deeds, wipe out, exterminate, obliterate. 10 (12) A heart, core being, centre of purity create (from scratch) in me, Elohim, Judge, and renew a right, willing, free, steadfast spirit within me.
Hebrew Poetic Groupings (emphasising meaning):
“Hide, conceal Your face [gaze] from my habitual sins, missing the mark” How is it possible for any deeds to be hidden from the all-knowing, all-seeing God of creation? The answer is in the following clause…
“all my depraved deeds wipe [blot] out, exterminate, obliterate.” God alone has the ability to blot out sin. He created the possibility of sin knowing that love could not exist without freewill. However, In Himself He manifested the obliteration of sin and death before the creation of the worlds. “The Lamb slain before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:19-20; Revelation 13:8).
We note that in addition to the metanarrative of redemption, these verses also convey David’s desire for intimate connection with His Creator. David is aptly named “beloved”, a man after God’s own heart. God’s desire being to reconcile humanity to Himself.
“A heart, core being, centre of purity” The Hebrew “Lev”, Heart, is the convergent centre of being rather than the seat of emotion. The seat of emotion in Hebrew thought is the gut or lower abdomen.
It is not pure emotions David is asking for but a state of being that can only be received from God. Purity of the entire being, a purity created by God alone, at its convergent centre of human existence.
“create [from scratch] in me, Elohim, God, Judge,” The Hebrew “bera-liy” from the root “bara” refers to a type of creation that only God can enact. Ex Nihilo (from nothing). In this case it refers to a transforming work that changes the stony heart of sin affected man into the soft heart of an eternally redeemed new creation through Messiah Yeshua the King. David is requesting the saving work of Messiah 1000 years before Yeshua’s birth into time and space.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah that one is a new creation; the old has gone; behold, the new has come.” -2 Corinthians 5:27
“and a new, right, willing, free, steadfast spirit within me.” While the Hebrew can be rendered “renew”, and in one sense the believer is constantly being renewed of spirit, the better and more literal translation is “and a new spirit within me”. Once again David, speaking by the Spirit prophecies the work of Yeshua which will give every believer, past, present and future, unbroken access to the present filling of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit being the “new Spirit” that transforms the fallen spirit of the sin affected human being.
11 (13) (Al-tashliycheiy) Not, never (won’t) cast me away (milefaneycha) from Your face (position of intimacy face to face), (veruach kadshecha) and the Spirit of Your holiness (al-tikach) not, never (won’t) snatch from me. 12 (14) (Hashivah) The turning (liy) of me is (seson) the joy (yishecha) of Your salvation, (v’ruach) and a spirit (nediyvah) willing, noble and generous (tismecheniy) uphold in me.
11 (13) Not, Never (won’t) cast me away from Your face (a position of intimacy face to face), and the Spirit of Your holiness not, never (won’t) snatch from me. 12 (14) The turning of me is the joy of Your salvation, and a spirit willing, noble and generous uphold in me.
Hebrew Poetic Groupings (emphasising meaning):
“Not, Never (won’t) cast me away from Your face (position of intimacy face to face), and the Spirit of Your holiness not, never (won’t) snatch from me.” The Hebrew can be translated “Don’t cast me away…” and “don’t take Your Holy Spirit”. However, it is just as accurate to render it “Won’t cast me away” and “won’t take Your Spirit of holiness”. The latter being more consistent with the context and goal of the Psalm.
David is describing what will happen following the transformation of his soul and not as some wrongly interpret, inferring that somehow the salvation established by God’s blood could ever be reversed by human weakness. A curse on that lie!
David is once again affirming prophetically that God our Deliverer, saves and makes eternally secure all who come to Him through Yeshua the King Messiah (John 10:27-30). Those whom He has made secure He fills with His Spirit as a guarantee of their eternal security (Eph. 1:13-14).
“The turning of me is the joy of Your salvation,” This is the literal reading of the Hebrew text and conveys the meaning that the receipt of God’s offer of salvation by a repentant human being is the joy of God’s Salvation (Yeshua). In short, the transcendent joy of salvation is the convergence of the joy of God and the joy of the soul transformed in God through Messiah Yeshua.
“a spirit willing, noble and generous uphold in me.” The continued security of David’s salvation and the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit is upheld by God.
God upholds the redeemed. The redeemed do not uphold themselves.
13 (15) (Alamedah) I will teach (foshe’iym) rebels [wrongdoers] (Deracheycha) Your way, (vechataiym) and sinners [those who miss the mark] (eilecha) toward You (yashuvu) will turn. 14 (16) (Hatziyleiniy) Deliver [snatch away] me (midamiym) from the guilt of bloodshed, (Elohiym) God, [Judge] (Eloheiy) God [Judge] (teshuatiy) of my salvation; (teranein leshoniy) My tongue will overcome with a cry, proclaiming the joy found (tzidkatecha) in Your righteousness.
13 (15) I will teach rebels (wrongdoers) Your way, and sinners (those who miss the mark set by Your holiness) toward You will turn. 14 (16) Deliver (snatch away) me from the guilt of bloodshed, Elohiym, Judge, Eloheiy, God, Judge of my salvation; My tongue will overcome with a cry, proclaiming the joy found in Your righteousness.
Hebrew Poetic Groupings (emphasising meaning):
“I will teach rebels [wrongdoers] Your way, and sinners [those who miss the mark] toward You will turn.” Because You have saved me, says David, I will share the Good News of how you offer salvation to all those willing to repent. As a result many will turn to God and enter eternal life through the King Messiah Yeshua.
“Deliver [snatch away] me from the guilt of bloodshed, Elohim, God, [Judge] Eloheiy God [Judge] of my salvation;” David acknowledges that his rightful punishment for the murder of Uriyah is death. Therefore, he asks of a repentant heart to be delivered from the temporal death that should be meted out in punishment (something God has already established for him in mercy). David has now also been delivered from eternal death through his acceptance of God’s redemptive work in Messiah (the resurrected and transcendent Messiah unbound by time and space).
David makes his request to Elohim the Judge and God of Yeshua (Salvation), Who is God with us.
“ My tongue will overcome with a cry, proclaiming the joy found in Your righteousness.” The mourning of David’s repentant mouth will overcome in God’s redemptive provision and proclaim the joy found in God’s righteousness.
15 (17) (Adonay) Lord, (sefatay tiftach) open my lips, (upiy) and my mouth (yagid) will make known (tehilatecha) Your praise. 16 (18) For (lo-tachpotz) You don’t take pleasure in (zevach) a sacrifice, (ve’eteinah) and the giving (olah) of a whole burnt offering You (lo) do not (tirtzah) take pleasure in.
15 (17) Adonay, open my lips, and my mouth will make known Your praise. 16 (18) For You don’t take pleasure in a sacrifice, and the giving of a whole burnt offering You do not take pleasure in.
Hebrew Poetic Groupings (emphasising meaning):
“Adonay, open my lips, and my mouth will make known Your praise.” The more intimate title “Adonay” is used only here in Psalm 51. It follows David’s confession, genuine repentance, receipt of God’s judgement and mercy, and his commitment to being upheld in God’s Spirit. Having been transformed from a child of humanity (ben adam) into a child of God (ben Elohim) through Messiah, David now uses the intimate title “Lord”.
God accepts and takes pleasure in the praises of a truly repentant mouth.
“For You don’t take pleasure in a sacrifice, and the giving of a whole burnt offering You do not take pleasure in.” This must be understood contextually and weighed against the pleasure that God clearly takes in the sacrifices and offerings of verse 19 (21).
Some time had passed between David’s adulterous act with Bathsheba, his plotting to kill Uriyah, the death of Uriyah and the receipt of the prophet Nathan’s rebuke from God.
In the interim David likely offered sacrifices and whole burnt offerings in accordance with his custom of keeping Torah. However, they were the sacrifices and offerings of a man who was attempting to hide his sin and at one point even plotting to commit greater sin (Uriyah’s murder). Thus, they were the sacrifices and offerings of a hypocrite, sacrifices that God takes no pleasure in, nor do the unrepentant find merit in them.
17 (19) (Zevacheiy) The sacrifices of (Elohiym) God, Judge, (ruach nishbarah) are a broken spirit; (leiv) a heart (nishbar) broken (venidkeh) and contrite (Elohiym) God, Judge, (lo tivzeh) You will not despise. 18 (20) (Heiytiyvah) Do good (virtzoncha) in Your favor (et Tziyon) to the Zion [parched land]; (tivneh) build (chomot) the walls (yerushalayim) of Jerusalem.
17 (19) The sacrifices of Elohiym, Judge, are a broken spirit; a heart broken and contrite, Elohiym, Judge, You will not despise. 18 (20) Do good in Your favour to the Tziyon; build the walls of Yerushalayim.
Hebrew Poetic Groupings (emphasising meaning):
“The sacrifices of Elohim, God, Judge, are a broken spirit; a heart broken and contrite Elohim, God, Judge, You will not despise.” David returns here to using Elohim (Judge) because in showing the difference between vain sacrifices and true sacrifices David is recalling his heinous sin in offering sacrifices while planning murder.
However, the Merciful (YHVH) Judge (Elohim) has shown David that He accepts the sacrifices of a broken (repentant) spirit, a broken (repentant) and contrite (mournfully grieved) heart (core being). These sacrifices offered by David have been accepted by God, Elohim has not despised them but has instead welcomed David as a son through the blood of His own Son the King Messiah Yeshua.
“Do good in Your favor to the Zion [parched land]; build the walls of Jerusalem.” David, as King over Israel, realises that his sin has not only affected him, Bathsheba, Uriyah, their households and neighbours, but also all of Israel, both in the hearing of it and by way of the practical and spiritual ramifications (repentance does not always negate the practical outcomes of sin in this temporary world). As head of the people David carries authority over the nation. Therefore, by defiling his own head (authority over his body) he has defiled the entire nation.
Thus, David asks God’s favour upon Israel, her land and her people (Tziyon denotes both), and asks that God build walls (both physical and spiritual) of Flooding Peace (Jerusalem). We note that through God’s grace and mercy Tziyon, parched land, receives Yerushalayim, floods of peace.
19 (21) Then (tachpotz) You will delight (zivcheiy-tzedek) in sacrifices of righteousness, (olah) burnt offering (vecholiyl) and whole burnt offering; (Ya’alu al mizbachacha) They will ascend, offering upon Your altar (pariym) calves.
19 (21) Then You will delight in sacrifices of righteousness, burnt offering and whole burnt offering; they will ascend, offering upon Your altar, calves.
Hebrew Poetic Groupings (emphasising meaning):
“Then You will delight in sacrifices of righteousness, burnt offering and whole burnt offering” A truly repentant people are able to offer sacrifices prescribed by Torah in righteousness. Sacrifices that will be accepted.
Iben Ezra and Kimkhi suggest that the “olah” sacrifice, burnt offering, refers to the daily sacrifice and the additional ones of various beasts and birds (Lev. 1), while the “choliyl”, whole burnt offering refers specifically to the meat offering of the priests which was to be completely consumed (Lev. 6:22). Therefore, both the people of Israel who in repentance brought their sacrifices to the priests, and the repentant priests who received their portion from the people as representatives of the people, and subsequently offered them before God, are represented here together in a corporate repentant practice of sacrifice and offering before HaShem (YHVH).
“They will ascend, offering upon Your altar calves.” 150 years after this psalm was composed this same imagery is employed by Hosea the prophet 14:2 (750-722 BCE)
“Take with you words, and turn to the YHVH (Mercy): say unto Him, ‘Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the (pariym) calves (sacrifices) of our lips.”
Therefore, Hosea connects the imagery of the Torah prescribed sacrificing of calves to the figurative application used by David in this Psalm, as being “the sacrifices of repentant lips”.
All of this points to the heavenly Mishkan (Tent of meeting) and the transcendent altar of God upon which no earthly animal may be sacrificed. The altar which has been sprinkled with Messiah’s eternal blood for the redemption of all who repent (Hebrews 13), always firstly and continually for the Jewish people and also continually for the nations (Rom. 1:16).
Applying the Principles of the Summation of Tehillim (Psalms) 51:
From the summation of this Psalm we can glean an order of repentance and reconciliation, and employ it in practice for working out our faith in Yeshua with fear, awe and trembling before God, Who has made us immutably secure.
“5 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that Elohim the Judge is Light, and in Him there is no darkness. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Yeshua His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” -1 Yochanan (John) 1:5-10 (Author’s translation)
Copyright 2022 Yaakov Brown
The same fire that warms the righteous consumes the wicked.
As is the case with all of Hebrew Scripture, there are no chapter breaks in the scroll of the 12 Prophets in which Hosea is located. It’s important to see the text of this chapter as a continuation of the previous chapter:
“Ephraim has provoked bitter anger; and his blood will be left upon him, and his scorn Adonai will return to him.”
1 When Efrayim (doubly fruitful) spoke, reteit trembling. He nasa hu lifted himself up beYisrael in Israel, vayesham and incurred guilt baBa’al in Baal (master, lord, husband, Canaanite fertility deity) vayamot and died.
“When Ephraim spoke, trembling.” This is most likely an allusion to Jeroboam trembling before Solomon in whose court he had served prior to his rebellion and the setting up of the northern kingdom (1 Kings 11:26).
The text speaks of Ephraim (the kings of northern Israel) who exalted himself (pride) in Israel (the 10 northern tribes), in the past tense saying that he has already died as a result of his guilt in worshipping the Canaanite fertility deity Ba’al. In other words, the end of the northern kingship was predetermined by the idolatrous actions of her first king (1 Kings 12:25-33) and the subsequent actions of Ahab, who sinned in worship of Ba’al under the influence of Jezebel (1 Kings 16:31).
With regard to the pride that caused Jeroboam to engage Ba’al Rashi says:
“As soon as he assumed greatness and became guilty with Baal.”
“‘he died’ i.e., Jeroboam’s dynasty was terminated, and so was Ahab’s dynasty. Jonathan renders: When one of the house of Ephraim would speak, fear would seize the nations. They were great among Israel, but when they sinned by worshipping idols, they were slain.” -Rashi
There is strong textual evidence supporting an intrinsic link between the calf deities of Jeroboam, the calf of Sinai and the Ba’aliym (Canaanite deities). Therefore, it is inconsistent to make the claim that the tribes of the north considered the calves to be representations of YHVH. They clearly linked the calves to the false Canaanite deities the Ba’aliym. The fact that there were two calves (1 Kings 12:29) supports this polytheistic understanding, and blatantly contradicts a monotheistic Deity. Both the leaders of Israel (Sinai) [Exodus 32:4] and Jeroboam I [1 Kings 12:28] had appropriated the actions of YHVH and attributed them to other gods (calf deity of Egypt, calf deity representing Baal).
The text teaches us that humble position does not necessarily denote a godly outcome. It is true that the Scripture says “humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up” (Yaakov 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6), however, although Jeroboam was in a humble position before the Lord he had not humbled himself but had been appointed as servant to Solomon (1 Kings 11:26). Additionally Jeroboam lifted himself up (God allowed his kingship in response to Solomon’s disobedience, He did not appoint Jeroboam). His belief in his own strength over that of the Lord’s (in spite of the fact that the prophet Ahijah [1 Kings 11:26-39] had informed him that it was YHVH Who was allowing him to have dominion over the 10 northern tribes) resulted in idolatry.
Note: In this verse “Israel” is used of the 10 tribes and not all of Israel (as some foolish commentators suggest). We know this because the kings of the north beginning with Jeroboam I lifted themselves up over the 10 tribes of the north only. The sin of the southern kingdom under Solomon was the worship of Ashtoret, Molek and Chemosh (1 Kings 11:4-8) and not the worship of Ba’al (who is not mentioned in the indictment against Solomon), as is the case concerning the indictment of Israel in the present verse. Therefore, the resulting death is that of the northern kingship and the exile of the northern tribes, and not, as some erroneously suggest, the death of all Israel (all 12 tribes).
2 And now yosifu they increase lachato their sin (miss the mark of God’s glory), vayasu and they have made lahem for them maseichah cast metal icons, mikasoam from silver, kitvunam skilfully made atzabiym idols ma’aseih charashiym kuloh lahem all from the work of an engraver, to them. Heim They omeriym say zovecheiy adam “sacrifice a man (human sacrifice) agaliym yishakun kiss the calves [alt. they say ‘a man sacrifices to calves he kisses!’]”
This is a description of human sacrifices offered to man-made cast metal and silver plated idols. “They increase their sin” is an allusion to the fact that idolatry diversified and increased under the reign of Ahab and was maintained under the reigns of the pursuant kings of the north. In short the calf idol worship was merely the beginning.
The silver mentioned tells us that idols other than the calves of Bethel and Dan (made of gold ref. 1 Kings 12:28) were being made.
Sadly, human sacrifice to false gods was not alien to Israel (2 Kings 17:17; 23:10; Eze. 20:26; Mic. 6:7).
“Kiss the calves” This is an allusion to worship of the two calf deities of Bethel and Dan. A “kiss” is a symbolic act of intimacy, homage, submission (Psalms 2:12; 1 Kings 19:18).
“Those who sacrifice man may kiss the calves The priests of Molech say to Israel, “Whoever sacrifices his son to the idol is worthy of kissing the calf” for he has offered him a precious gift. So did our Sages explain this in Sanhedrin (63b), and it fits the wording of the verse better than Jonathan’s translation.” -Rashi
“Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” -1 Kings 19:18 NIV
3 Lachein Therefore, yihu they have become ka’anan-boker like a morning cloud vechatal and like night mist (dew) mashkiym holeich and leave early, kemotz like chaff yesoeir driven by the storm winds migoren from the threshing floor, ucheashan and like smoke meiarubah from a chimney.
Each of the examples given here are short lived, they appear and are gone soon after. The inference is that the northern kingdom and its kingship, will, historically speaking, be brief.
4 Ve’Anochiy And I Am YHVH the Lord Eloheycha your God/Judge, meieretz mitzrayim from the land of Egypt (double distress); veilohiym zulatiy lo and no gods but Me teida did you know umoshiya nor any other saviour.
YHVH reminds Ephraim (northern tribes) that He is her God and Judge, and has been from before she existed as a people. He has been with Israel from her bondage in Egypt and is the One Who delivered her from her captivity.
“no gods but Me” is in response to the false claim of Jeroboam I, who pointed out the calf idols and said “Behold your gods, Israel, that brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” (1 Kings 12:28).
5 Aniy I yedatiycha yes I knew you bamidbar in the desert be’eretz taluvot in the land of drought.
YHVH was present, in the cloud of the presence, in provision of quail and manna, in provision of water, leading Israel through her desert journey, and continuing to do so even after she had rebelled against Him (Numbers 13 & 14).
6 Kemariytam Because of their pasture, vayisbau they became full, shaveu they were satisfied [alt. they became fully filled], vayarom and exalted with pride libam in their inner being (heart); al-kein shecheichuniy Therefore they’ve forgotten Me.
Due to God’s provision and care Israel became comfortable, full, “well grazed”. Rather than give glory to God for their comfort as their forefather Abraham had done, Israel instead turned to other gods and appropriated God’s gifts naming them as evidence of the provision of false gods.
7 Vaehiy And I will become lahem to them kemo like shachal a lion; kenamer like a leopard I al-derech I will lie in wait in the way, ashur observing.
YHVH previously depicted as the Shepherd of Israel (4:16) is now seen as a Lion Who, like a leopard, a bear, and other predatory wild animals, attacks the sheep and rips them apart (cf. Jeremiah 5:6).
God is pictured figuratively as a Lion throughout Hebrew Scripture. YHVH as Lion is both a terrifying and comforting use of imagery. When Israel sins He comes as a Lion of discipline (Hosea 13:7-8), and when Israel repents He comes as a Lion of fierce protection and comfort (Hosea 11:10-11).
“A lion has roared! Who will not fear?
The Lord God has spoken! Who can do anything but prophesy?” -Amos 3:8 NASB
“I yes, I will lie in wait in the way, (Ashur) observing.” The Lord will not only attack in discipline, He will lie in wait even as Israel is taken into exile. The Hebrew “ashur” observe is identical in spelling to the proper noun of the Empire. Thus, HaShem will ashur (observe) them on the way to Ashur.
“by the way I will lurk Heb. אָשּׁוּר. Every instance of אָשּׁוּר in Scripture is punctuated with a “dagesh,” but this one is “weak,” since it is not a place name but it means, “I will lurk and ambush.” Comp. (Num. 24:17) “I see him (אֲשּׁוּרֶנוּ) but not near.” -Rashi
Both the king of Assyria and Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon are referred to as lions scattering the sheep of Israel:
“Israel is a scattered [a]flock, the lions have driven them away. The first one who devoured him was the king of Assyria, and this last one who has gnawed his bones is Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.” -Jeremiah 50:17 NASB
8 Efgesheim I will encounter them kidov like a bear shakul bereaved of her cubs, ve’ekra and tear open segor the enclosure libam of their inner being (hearts); veocheleim I will eat them sham there kelaviy like a lioness, chayat hasadeh a beast of the land tevake’eim that tears them to pieces.
The imagery of the bear is ambiguous. HaShem comes as a bear bereaved of her cubs. Israel are His cubs, and at the same time are the abductors of His cubs (leading their own children astray) [cf. 2 Sam. 17:8; 2 Kings 2:24; Pr. 17:12].
Rashi rightly observes that HaShem is bereaved in the loss of His children the people of Israel and in the need for the disciplining of them.
“as a bereaving bear Heb. שַׁכּוּל. Like שּׁוֹכֵל, as you say חָנּוּן, gracious, and רַחוּם, merciful, so שַּׁכּוּל, i.e., entirely attired with bereavements and ready to bereave people.” -Rashi
“tear open the enclosure of their inner being (hearts)” This denotes the “heart surgery” that will be required in order to fix Israel’s disobedient heart of stone and make it a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19). The heart is the core being and the centre of consciousness. Note that the Hebrew libam (hearts) is plural and that the text says “their”. Therefore the present text denotes God’s intention to open and convert the heart of rebellion at the centre of His people.
“And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,” -Ezekiel 11:19 NASB
The Targum Yonatan supports this understanding:
“My word shall meet them as a bear bereaved, and I will break the wickedness of their hearts…'' -Targum Yonatan
9 Shichetcha It is to your own destruction, Yisrael (overcome in God) Israel, kiy-viy ve’ezrecha that you are against Me, against your help.
God would help Israel, but she has turned her back on Him. The northern kingdom will suffer the consequences of their own sin and therefore, “your own destruction”. The destruction that is coming is a direct consequence of Israel’s poor political decisions and abhorrent worship practices (sacrificing children to false gods). Israel has weakened herself. God will simply pull back His hand of protection and Israel’s discipline will be the fruit of her actions. As I have previously stated, sin, among other things, is self-harm.
Now, as always, our help is in YHVH, and not of our own strength.
10 Ehiy Where is malkecha your king, eifo where? Veyoshiyacha And who will save you bechol-areycha in all your cities? Veshofeteycha And your judges/rulers, asher to whom amarta you said, “tenah-liy melech Give me a king vesariym and princes”?
“Where is your king?” This can be understood as a rhetorical question relating to the withdrawing of YHVH’s (King of Israel) hand. It may refer to the death of Israel’s (the northern kingdom) last king. The former is the most likely given the follow up question “And who will save you?” In short, “Without Me (YHVH) Who will save you?”
And where are “your judges?” God is Israel’s Judge. Israel had asked both God and her human judges and rulers for a king like the other nations (1 Sam. 8:5, 20), however, here the text is referring to the request of the northern tribes for a king other than the king of Judah (1 Kings 12:26).
“I will be, where is your king? Heb. אֱהִי מַלְכְּךָ אֵפוֹא. Jonathan renders: Where is your king? But I say that it is unnecessary to interpret it other than its apparent meaning. I will be standing from afar to see where your king is, for I will make Myself see what your end will be, where your saviour is.” -Rashi
11 Eten-lecha I gave you melekh a king beapiy while My nostrils flared (fierce anger), ve’ekach and snatched him away be’evratiy in the excess of My wrath.
The monarchy of the northern kingdom is considered apostate and rebellious by God Who had allowed it in His anger against Solomon’s sin but did not appoint its kings (1 Kings 12:16). Additionally the first king of all 12 tribes of Israel was given as a response to rebellion against God and that same king Saul likewise rebelled and was taken away by God (killed by the Philistines) [1 Sam. 8:7].
12 Tzarur Bound up avon is the perversity of Efrayim; tzefunah chatato His hidden sin (missing the mark of God’s glory).
The sin of Ephraim is more than a simple missing of the mark, it is intentional and perpetual perversity. It is bound up, kept for a time of punishment. Additionally, the depravity of Ephraim has bound him up. Perversity binds the one who practices it. It comes back upon the sinner. The fornicator contracts a deadly sexually transmitted disease, the murderer is killed by the relative of his victim, the liar tells so many lies that when he speaks the truth he is not believed to his hurt and so on.
"the sins of the house of Ephraim are treasured up; they are reserved to punish all their offences;'' -Targum Yonatan
"the sins of the house of Ephraim are treasured up; they are reserved to punish all their offences;'' -Job 14:17 NASB
13 Chevleiy The (umbilical) cord yoledah of childbirth yavou will wrap (come) around (on) lo him; hu-vein lo chacham He is not a wise son (brain oxygen starved at birth), kiy for eit-lo ya’amod it is not the time to remain, bemishbar in the breaking forth baniym of children [alt. the time for hesitation is not at the moment of birth].
First and foremost this is an analogy concerning new birth. Israel has been offered numerous opportunities to repent and be delivered into a new season of favour in right standing with God, but has instead resisted to her own hurt.
The analogy speaks of a child who knows that it’s time to break forth from the womb but instead twists itself into a breech position and in doing so strangles itself on its own umbilical cord, starving itself of oxygen and impairing its cognitive development. In these circumstances the father of ancient Israel must come and forcibly move the baby into birthing position or cut open the mother performing a C-section delivery. In both cases there is great suffering as a consequence but the baby’s life is saved.
Therefore, YHVH is explaining to His wayward people that they have placed themselves in a position where they are unable to see the predicament they have put themselves in, nor are they able to deliver themselves.
"distress and trouble shall come upon them, as pains on a woman with child; he is not wise to know my fear:'' -Targum Yonatan
14 Miyad From the hand of sheol (the place of the departed) efdeim shall I ransom them? Mimavet From death egaleim I will redeem them! Ehiy Where are they? Devareycha Your plagues mavet Death, Ehiy Where are they? katavecha Of your destruction Sheol (the place of the departed), nocham repent! Yisateir It shall be concealed (covered) from mei’eiynay My eyes.
“From the hand of sheol (the place of the departed) shall I ransom them?” The question is rhetorical, the answer is “Of course yes, I will ransom them!”, in fact the answer is given in the proceeding phrase.
Note: Sheol is NOT the grave (kever). Sheol is the holding place of the departed. Nor are Biblical Israelites (Jews) buried under the earth. Therefore, kever (grave) in Biblical Hebrew means an above ground interment in either a tomb or by piling large rocks over the body above ground. Numerous false theologies regarding death and the afterlife can be avoided by this one simple piece of basic Hebrew understanding.
“From death I will redeem them!” This is a promise, the answer to the previous question. YHVH will redeem Israel from death, not natural death (although He has often delivered Israel this way) but from eternal death. We know that at the time of Israel’s exile to Assyria many died, therefore, HaShem is not alluding to the temporal death of the body but to the eternal death of the soul/spirit, the neshama (transcendent consciousness). Hosea is prophesying the redemption that comes through Yeshua the King Messiah, through His atoning/covering blood and His resurrection living. The fullness of this promise culminating in the salvation of all the remnant of Israel (Romans 11:25-27).
“Where are they? Your plagues Death, Where are they? Of your destruction Sheol (the place of the departed), repent! It shall be concealed (covered) from My eyes.”
How does God conceal death? By covering it. Kippur, to cover, atone for. The beginning of the verse explains that the concealing of death will come about through “ransom” and “redemption”. Therefore, the covering and concealment of death from the eyes of HaShem will be made possible through vicarious sacrifice, a kaparah (atonement, sacrifice, reconciliation) that puts death to death permanently. Those who have met Yeshua the King Messiah know that He performed that atoning sacrifice by giving His sinless body into the hands of God and died on the Roman cross, rising again on the third day according to Scripture and thus offering redemption through the ransom He paid, perpetually to the Jew first, and also to the nations in perpetuity unto the judgement and life everlasting (Romans 1:16).
It is this verse that Rav Shaul is quoting in 1 Corinthians 15:55:
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?” (NIV)
“I am He Who would ransom them from the clutches of the grave and redeem them from death…” -Rashi
15 Kiy For hu he bein among achiym brothers and sisters yafriy is fruitful, yavo kadiym ruach an east wind will come, YHVH (Mercy) The Lord mimidbar from the wilderness oleh comes up; ve’yeivosh mekoro and his fountain will become dry veyecherav and dried up ma’yano his spring; hu yishseh he will plunder otzar the treasure kol-keliy chemdah of all the precious vessels.
“For he among brothers and sisters is fruitful” This refers to Ephraim and is the literal meaning of his name. Ephraim was prophesied to be fruitful (Gen. 48:10-20), and became a powerful tribe (Judges 8:1-3; 12:1-7; 1 Sam. 1:1-4). Prominent leaders such as Joshua (Josh. 24:30) and Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:26) came from Ephraim and the tribe was subsequently named for the 10 tribes of the north.
“An east wind will come” This refers specifically to the wind of the Assyrian empire wielded by God as a sword of discipline (Hosea 5:13, 7:11, 8:9; 2 Kings 17:3).
The Targum supports this understanding:
"now will I bring against him a king strong as a burning wind;''-Targum Yonatan
The king of Babylon is also referred to as a violent wind in Jeremiah 4:11.
The “east wind” is used as a metaphor for false knowledge (Job 15:2), imminent onslaught (Isaiah 27:21), a scattering force (Jeremiah 18:17), it is a wind of discipline wielded by YHVH for the purpose of returning His people to Himself.
“The Lord from the wilderness comes up;” The Lord is in control of all that is about to happen, He is wielding the winds of Assyria and Babylon.
"by the word of the Lord, through the way of the wilderness shall he come up;'' -Targum Yonatan
“And his fountain will become dry and dried up his spring” This is a metaphor for the drying up of Israel’s access to the living waters of YHVH poured out on the faithful among His people.
The LORD is the fountain of Israel, who have access to His waters through repentance and return.
“Lord, the hope of Israel, All who abandon You will be put to shame. Those who turn away on earth will be written down, Because they have forsaken the fountain of living water, that is the Lord.” -Jeremiah 17:13 NASB
It is also a metaphor denoting the reduction of progeny over the period of exile (cf. Deut. 33:28). Israel (the sons of Jacob) are called the “fountain of Jacob” in Scripture (Psalms 68:26).
The fear of the Lord is also called a fountain (Prov. 14:27). Therefore, this is an indication that Israel’s fear of God has dried up and resulted in Israel’s discipline.
“He will plunder the treasure of all the precious vessels.” This does not concern the vessels of the Temple which were taken away over 100 years later by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Chronicles 36:7). Rather it refers to vessels associated with the worship of false gods, removed by the Assyrians when they invaded the northern territories of Israel.
“he shall destroy the house of his treasures, and shall lay waste the city of his kingdom; he shall spoil the treasuries, all vessels of desire.'' -Targum Yonatan
16 [14:1] Tesham Shomeron (guardian mountain) Samaria will pay for her guilt (offense), kiy Because maretah she rebelled beiloheyah against her God. Bacherev In the sword yipolu they will fall oleleiyhem their infants yerutashu dashed to pieces vehariyotayv and their pregnant women yevukau will be ripped apart.
Samaria was the head/capital of Ephraim (Isaiah 7:9) which was besieged for three years by Shalmaneser king of Assyria (the east wind); and eventually conquered and its inhabitants taken into exile (2 Kings 17:5) [Assyria invaded in 734 BCE then conquered and exiled its residents between 722 and 721 BCE]. Samaria was a hot bed of idolatry and vile sacrificial practices to false deities, a beacon of pagan worship. God would give a foreign idolater the strength to topple it and destroy its altars. Samaria’s guilt would come upon her own head because she rebelled against her God to her own harm.
1  Shuvah Return, Yisrael, ad to YHVH the Lord Eloheycha your God/Judge, kiy for chashalta you have stumbled ba’avonecha in your depravity.
"return to the fear of the Lord.'' -Targum Yonatan
“to the Lord your God One taught in the name of Rabbi Meir: Return, O Israel, while He is still יהוה, with the Divine Attribute of Mercy; otherwise, He is אֶלֹהֶיךָ with the Divine Attribute of Justice, before the defense becomes the prosecution. [from Pesikta d’Rav Kahana, p. 164a]” -Rashi
YHVH continues to offer a hand of mercy and calls Israel to return to Him and turn away from her depravity. The rhythm of Mercy, judgement and the fruit of judgement Mercy, continues just as it does in the words of Hosea’s contemporaries (Isaiah, Amos, Micah).
"great is repentance, for it brings a man to the throne of glory;'' -Talmud Bavliy Yoma, fol. 86. 1.
Rashi understands this as a warning to the southern kingdom of Judah (& Benjamin):
“Return, O Israel You, who are in the land of Judah, lest what happens to Samaria happens to you. Therefore, the topics are juxtaposed. This can be compared to a king against whom a province rebelled. The king sent a general and commanded him to destroy it. That general was expert and deliberate. He said to them, “Take for yourselves days (sic); otherwise, I will do to you as I have done to such-and-such a province and to its allies, and to such-and-such a prefecture and to its allies.” Therefore it says, “Samaria shall be accounted guilty,” and then Scripture says: “Return, O Israel.” As is found in Sifrei in the section commencing. (Num. 25:1), “And Israel abode in Shittim.” -Rashi
2  Kechu Take imachem with you devariym words, essences, things veshuvu and return el-YHVH to the Lord. Imru Say to Him, “Eilayv away kol-tisa avon take all depravity away vekach-tov and receive good uneshalemah and a covenant of peace, wholeness, wellbeing pariym sefateiynu fruit [calves] of our lips.
The text uses “devariym” (words, essence, things) rather than ketuviym (written words) or Torah (Instruction) because God is admonishing Israel to carry and walk in His living Word that is His written Word in action, the Word not only the Torah but of the prophets and writings, the right action of faith in Him, Halakhah (the way we walk). Yeshua the King Messiah is revealed as the Living Word (Davar) Essence of the Universe Who is both Author and Goal of the TaNaKH (Bible) [John 1; Romans 10:4]. We note that only in the Word is Israel able to return to YHVH (Mercy).
“Say to Him, “take all depravity away and receive good and a covenant of peace, wholeness, wellbeing fruit [calves] of our lips.” This is an instruction to the people to ask God to take away all their iniquity through a covenant that brings peace. This is a reference to the blood sacrifice of Yeshua the King Messiah and the covenant of peace that His shed blood establishes. Only by receiving it can Israel be saved from the rightful punishment for her sin. We note that this covenant becomes an act of worship that overflows from her lips, that is, the testimony of salvation through Yeshua the King Messiah. This is why the ambiguity occurs in the Hebrew text. The Hebrew prym can mean either the plural of fruit peri or of calf par. This is because the author of the prophetic work is conveying the Divine Word of God indicating both sacrifice and the testimony of that same sacrifice as it is heard on the lips of those who receive it. The ambiguity therefore, conveys an intended convergent meaning.
“and teach [us the] good [way] Heb. וְקַח-טוֹב. And teach us the good way. Another explanation: The few good deeds in our hands take in Your hand and judge us accordingly. And so does David say (Psalms 17:2): “Let my sentence come forth from before You, may Your eyes behold the right.” Another explanation: And accept good And accept confession from us, as it is said (Psalms 92:2): “It is good to confess to the Lord.
and let us render [for] bulls that we should have sacrificed before you, let us render them with the placation of the words of our lips.” -Rashi
3  Ashur (a step) Assyria lo yoshiyeinu will not save us, al-sus lo nirkav on horses we will not ride; velo-nomar and nor will we say od again, ‘eloheiynu Our god’ lema’aseih To the work yadeiynu of our hands; asher-becha For in You yerucham there is mercy, compassion for yatom the fatherless.”
These words continue the proposed confession of repentant Israel at a future time post exile. Assyria to whom the northern kings had turned would not only not save them but would in fact conquer and subjugate them.
“Assyria shall not save us Say this also before Him, “We no longer seek the aid of man, neither from Assyria nor from Egypt.” -Rashi
“nor will we say again, ‘Our god’ To the work of our hands” Part of Israel’s repentance involves turning their backs on all false idols. I am reminded of the son of a Hindu High Priest who came to faith in our community and was being immersed (tevilah) in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He excitedly answered my question to him, “Do you choose to worship of the God of Israel alone, do you forsake the worship of all other Gods? Do you acknowledge that Yeshua the King Messiah is Imanu with us El God?” his response was a resounding “I do!”
When we turn to God in Messiah we are in one sense taking a wedding vow, “I cleave to You alone, forsaking all others…”
“For in You there is mercy, compassion for the fatherless.” An acknowledgement that only the Greatest of father’s the Creator of the universe can truly understand and gift compassion for the fatherless.
4  Erpa I will heal, repair meshuvatam their turning away, ohaveim I will love them nedavah freely, voluntarily, kiy Because shav afiy turned away is My flaring nostril (anger) mimenu from them.
“I will heal, repair their turning away” This is a certain promise. YHVH will heal, repair, cure Israel of her turning away. In short, turning away from God is an illness that leads to death. Through His Son the King Messiah He has provided the cure for that illness and with it wholeness and eternal life.
“I will love them freely, voluntarily” The Calvinists avoid this verse because it describes free will as an attribute of God and is therefore one of many Scriptures that refute their false supposition. In fact, without free will there is no love, only mindless robotic subjugation.
“Because turned away is My flaring nostril (anger) from them.”
God will yet turn away His wrath from His people because His purpose has always been to discipline them unto repentance and restoration.
“I will remedy their backsliding Said the prophet: So has the Holy Spirit said to me. After they say this before Me, I will remedy their backsliding, and I will love them with My charitable spirit. Although they do not deserve the love, I will love them charitably since My wrath has turned away from them.” -Rashi
5  Eyeh It will be chatal like night mist (dew) leYisrael to Israel; kashoshanah He will blossom like the lily, veyach And he will cast forth sharashayv his roots kalevanon like Lebanon (whiteness from lavan).
“It will be like night mist (dew) to Israel” Here, it’s the wrath of God that will disperse like the dew. This is the counterpoint to Ephraim’s temporal reign and Israel’s (northern tribes) fading prosperity in the land (v.3).
“He will blossom like the lily, and he will cast forth his roots kalevanon like Lebanon (whiteness, from lavan).” Whiteness, purity, is multiplied here (Lilly [white] & Lebanon [whiteness]). This is an allusion to the purity that will blossom and put down roots as a result of the salvation that comes through Yeshua the King Messiah from YHVH the Deliverer of Israel.
"they shall dwell in the strength of their land, as a tree of Lebanon, which sends forth its branch.'' -Targum Yonatan
There is also a picture of strength such as that of the strong well rooted trees of the northern region (not the modern state of Lebanon).
“and it shall strike I.e. the dew shall strike its roots and cause them to prosper like the Lebanon like the roots of the trees of the Lebanon, which are large.” -Rashi
6  Yeilechu And he will send out yonekotayv his young branches, vihiy like chazayit an olive tree hodo in its beauty, vereiyach lo and his aroma kalevanon like Lebanon (whiteness).
"they shall multiply or increase with sons and daughters:'' -Targum Yonatan
When Israel returns to HaShem through the King Messiah, he will send out his branches like an olive tree and his aroma will draw the nations to the purity (Lebanon/whiteness) of Messiah in him. This has a correlation to the olive tree imagery of Rav Shaul (Romans 11).
“Its branches shall go forth Sons and daughters shall increase and it shall be Their beauty shall be like the beauty of the menorah of the Temple, and their fragrance like the fragrance of the incense.” -Rashi
7  Yashuvu yosheveiy They shall return and dwell vetzilo in His shadow yechayu they will revive dagan grain veyifrechu and sprout forth chagafen like a grape vine. Zichro keyeiyn His remembrance, memorial like wine levanon of Lebanon.
“They shall return and dwell in His shadow” This is a reference to God and is also seen by our ancient Jewish forebears as a reference to the King Messiah. Therefore, acknowledging an intrinsic link between the two.
"and they shall be gathered out of the midst of their captivity, they shall dwell under the shadow of their Messiah;'' -Targum Yonatan
“they will revive grain and sprout forth like a grape vine. His remembrance, memorial like wine of Lebanon.” Redeemed Israel (chosen, ethnic, religious, empirical) will be revived in Messiah and produce fruit, the fruit that Ephraim should have produced but did not. The true King will be of Judah and will be the Vine Who breaks forth and spreads in righteousness. His Name/Remembrance will be like whiteness/purity, the strength of the trees of Lebanon (the northern mountain ranges of ancient Israel).
“its fragrance shall be like the wine of Lebanon Jonathan renders: Like the remembrance of the blasts of the trumpets over the old wine poured for libations in the Temple. For they would blow the trumpets over the libations when the Levites would recite the song.” -Rashi
8  Efrayim, mah-liy od says what more have I to do la’atzabiym with idols? Aniy I aniytiy I answer va’ashurenu and watch over you. Aniy kivrosh I am like a juniper ra’anan luxuriant, green. Mimeniy From Me peryecha your fruit nimtza is attained.
"they of the house of Israel shall say, ‘what is it to us to serve idols anymore?’ ‘I by my Word will receive the prayer of Israel, and will have mercy on him:’'' -Targum Yonatan
Redeemed Ephraim (kings and tribes of the north) who will come under the kingship of Judah over all Israel, will say “What more do I have to do with idols?” In short, “I’m forever done with idolatry!”
“Ephraim will say, ‘What more do I need to follow the images?’ And they will turn away from idolatry. I will answer him I will answer him from his trouble.” -Rashi
“I, yes, I answer and watch over you.” YHVH will answer redeemed Ephraim in her repentance and say “I hear and answer you with mercy and protection!”
“I am like a juniper luxuriant, green. From Me your fruit is attained.” This is the only instance in the Tanakh where God is figuratively compared to a tree and it is not a cedar but a juniper (a fruit bearing evergreen tree). We note that the fruit of redeemed Ephraim is not of Ephraim but of God. Ephraim in her sinful state bore fruit of destruction but through the King Messiah she has been created anew to bear the fruit of God’s character.
“Therefore if anyone be in Messiah, he is a new creation: the old has gone; behold, pay attention, all things have become new.” -2 Corinthians 5:17 (Author’s translation)
Our righteousness is in God and not of ourselves. Our right actions proceed from the Spirit of God in us through the King Messiah Yeshua.
9  Miy Who chacham is wise, veyavein let him understand, discern, consider eileh these things; Navon understand, ve’yeida’eim and they will know, comprehend. Kiy For yeshariym straight, right darcheiy are the ways YHVH of the Lord (Mercy), vetzadikiym and the righteous ones yeilechu will walk vam in them, ufoshe’iym and rebels, transgressors yikashelu shall stumble vam in them.
This final challenge is issued to all who have ears to hear. It is much like the former challenge of HaShem to the tribes of Israel as they entered the land:
15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil. 16 What I am commanding you today is to love Adonai your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His mitzvot, statutes and ordinances. Then you will live and multiply, and Adonai your God will bless you in the land you are going in to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you do not listen, but are drawn away and bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I tell you today that you will certainly perish! You will not prolong your days on the land, where you are about to cross over the Jordan to go in to possess. 19 “I call the heavens and the earth to witness about you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore choose life so that you and your descendants may live, 20 by loving Adonai your God, listening to His voice, and clinging to Him. For He is your life and the length of your days, that you may dwell on the land that Adonai swore to your fathers—to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob—to give them.” -D’varim (Deuteronomy) 30:15-20 TLV
“Who is wise and will understand these Who among you is wise and will ponder to put his heart to all these and return to Me?” -Rashi
“Who is wise, let him understand, discern, consider these things; understand, and they will know, comprehend.” Only those who take the time to pause and consider these things will gain the understanding required to act on the warning of God in repentance. Today many pass on information they have no real knowledge of, spreading rumours and falsehoods on social media, email, message boards and the like without bothering to consider, discern, investigate and learn the truth of a mater. We would do well to take pause here and allow the Spirit of God to expose our hearts, and with sober judgement to access the state of our being and repent.
“For straight, right are the ways YHVH of the Lord (Mercy), and the righteous ones will walk in them, and rebels, transgressors shall stumble in them.” To the wicked the Instruction/Ways of YHVH (the Torah) are an indictment that condemns them to death, but that same Way/Instruction (Torah) points the righteous to its Goal Yeshua (Romans 10:4). How does one know that he is redeemed? The evidence of Messiah in us is seen in our halakhah (the way we walk), “For straight, right are the ways of Mercy (YHVH), and the righteous ones will walk in them!”
The same fire that warms the righteous consumes the wicked.
Copyright 2021 Yaakov Brown
Founder of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community,