The difference between a Stranger (Nekar) and a Foreigner (Ger).

The difference between a Stranger (Nekar) and a Foreigner (Ger). Pic B

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By: William Jackson

Doing a study for Passover, I found what appeared to be a inconsistency in Exodus 12. In verse 43 it says that a “foreigner” is not to eat the Passover meal, but in verse 48 it says a “foreigner” can eat the Passover meal. Is this a contradiction? I first looked up the Hebrew word for foreigner in verse 43, it is “nekar”. I then looked up the Hebrew word for foreigner in verse 48, it is “ger”. So, I went to a lexicon and that wasn’t much better:

Nekar (nay-kawr’) = alien, foreigner, stranger (1)

Ger (Gare) = alien, foreigners, immigrants, sojourner, stranger (2)

It’s like the two words are the same. Kind of like our word alien. Without putting legal or illegal in front of it, it could be either good or bad. Frustrated, I dug into the Tanakh and research the verses that used nekar and the ones that used ger. From this study, I found the two distinct meanings for each word. In this article, I will refer to ger as foreigner and nekar as stranger to eliminate confusion.

The Stranger/Nekar:

Most of the verses that use Nekar seemed to be talking about strange gods which are pagan. In these situations, Israel was told to separate themselves from the nekar gods (Genesis 35:2, 4, Deuteronomy 31:16, 32:12, Joshua 24:23, Judges 10:16, 1 Samuel 7:3, 2 Chronicles 14:2, 33:15, Psalms 81:10, Daniel 11:39, Malachi 2:11). When Nekar is referring to people it’s stranger instead of strange. We are told, here again, to separate ourselves from nekars (strangers), Nehemiah 9:2, 13:30, Psalms 144:7,144:11,Ezekiel 44:7-9. The stranger appears not to just be only a none Jew. He appears to be somebody with distinctly different beliefs then the Torah observant people (Genesis 17:12, Nehemiah 9:2, Psalms 144:7, Psalms 144:11).

The Foreigner/Ger:

Now lets look at “ger”. The first time it is used in the Torah is when Abram’s (Abraham’s) off springs will be gers (foreigners), Genesis 15:13. And latter on, Abram calls himself a ger (Genesis 23:4). And then, Moses names his son Gershom from the root word ger (Exodus 18:3, 2:22). Even HaShem refers to the Israelites as gers in relation to His land (Leviticus 25:23). Certainly no negative meanings here (3). Whereas Adonai wants the Israelites to separate from the Nekar (stranger), He encourages community with the Ger (foreigner). Adonai tells us the Gers will follow the same laws as the Israelites (A), in turn, the Israelites will treat the Gers respectfully (B):

A. Israelites and Gers follow the same laws:

Exodus 12:19; 48-49; 20:10, 23:12

Leviticus 16:29, 17:8, 10, 12-13, 15, 18:26, 20:2, 22:18, 24:16, 24:22

Numbers 9:14, 15:14-16; 26, 29-30, 19:10, 35:15

Deuteronomy 1:16, 5:14, 16:11, 16:14, 29:11, 31:12

B. Israelites are commanded to show compassion to the Ger:

Exodus 22:20, 23:9

Leviticus 19:10, 33-34, 23:22, 25:35

Deuteronomy 10:18-19, 14:29, 23:8, 24:14,17,19-21, 26:11-13, 27:19, 29:13

Differences between Gers (foreigners) and Nekars (strangers):

The Ger (foreigner) and Nekar (Stranger) are both none Jews but each holds a different belief systems. The Stranger worships his own god or gods (pagan), maybe he is even an agnostic or atheist. The foreigner worships YHVH, the Elohim of Israel, Maybe this was the sticking point to why he had to be circumcised to take the Passover meal (Exodus 12:44,48). This would have been a sign that he committed to the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 17:10-27, 21:4, 34:14). But, this does not mean he is a postulate or convert (4).

Conclusion:

Adonai says that the stranger (nekar) will eventually submit to Him (2 Samuel 22:45-46, Psalms 18:45, Isaiah 60:10-15). Obviously, the foreigner (ger) has already submitted to Him, which confirms another distinction between the two. Although the nekar worships strange gods or no gods there is still hope for him. Adonai will bless the stranger that joins himself to Him (Isaiah 56:3-7) thus making him a foreigner (ger).

References:

(1) Strong’s Lexicon, (H5236)

(2) Strong’s Lexicon, (H1616)

(3) By David L. Lieber, Stranger and Gentile, Jewish Virtual Library

(4) By Stuart Krauss, The word “GER” in the Bible and it’s implications, JewishBible.org

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Seven Passover (Pesach) Instructions from the Torah

Seven Passover (Pesach) Instructions from the Torah Pic A

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By: William Jackson

Many of us concern ourselves with “are we doing the Passover as YHVH commanded?”. Some are new to this walk and others don’t have community. Additionally, there are those that feel compelled to discern between Torah and tradition. Here are seven steps (with sub-points) that are taken directly from HaShem’s word. There are some helpful sites at the bottom of this list. I hope you have a wonderful Pesach, and that this list helps.

1. Whom is required to keep Passover:

images (1)

a. Every Israelite must keep Passover (Exodus; 12:14, 42, 47, 13:3,10, Numbers 9:3, 10, 13, Deuteronomy 16:1).

b. A Foreigner/Gentile may keep Passover but, they must be circumcised (Exodus 12:19, 48-49, Numbers 9:14.).

2. Start times for Passover:

a. First Passover Starts Time:

Passover starts on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Nissan. It begins between sundown and complete darkness (Exodus 12:3-6, Leviticus 23:5, Numbers 9:1-5, 28:16-17, Joshua 5:10)

Nisan is the first month on the Jewish calendar. The Jewish calendar is based on a lunar cycles. Thus, Nissan usually falls between our March and April time frame.(1) . This year Passover starts the evening on March 30th. Also, as a side note, sometimes in Torah Nisan is called Aviv (Exodus 13:4, 23:15, 34:18).  Aviv is the Hebrew name of the month, Nisan is the Assyrian name for the same month, a byproduct of the later exile.    

b. Second Passover Start Time:

images

Some people can not keep Passover on the scheduled date (unclean or traveling). They are still commanded to observe it, so HaShem designated a second date. “…he will observe it in the second month on the fourteenth day at dusk”(Numbers 9:6–13, 2 Chronicles 30:2-3). This is the Hebrew month of Iyar. It falls between our April – May. This year the second Passover is May 3, 2015.

3. Removing the Leaven (Hametz):

Clear the house of leaven on the first day of Passover. Keep leaven from the house and do not eat it for the next 7 days (Exodus 12:15, 19, 13:3, Deuteronomy 16:3)

Note: The Hebrew word “hametz” is translated as leavened bread. It refers to food prepared from one of five grains (wheat, barley, oats, spelt, and rye), and has been allowed to ferment and rise

(2).

4. First Day of Passover:

images (2)

a. Have a Holy Convocation. Don’t do any kind of ordinary work, except for food preparation (Exodus 12:16, Leviticus 23:7, Numbers 28:18)

b. Have a meal (Exodus 12:8, Deuteronomy 16:7, 2 Chronicles 35:13). In appendix A, below, is a list of Kosher Companies that deliver Passover foods to customers.

(1) Eat the meal with unleavened bread (Exodus 12:8, Numbers 9:11, Deuteronomy 16:3).

Note: If you cannot buy “matzah” (unleavened bread) in your local stores, Amazon sells it between $10 and $20 per pound (Amazon: Matzah).

(2) Eat the meal with bitter herbs. This is “maror” in Hebrew and the most common choices are fresh grated horseradish, romaine lettuce, and endive (3) (Exodus 12:8, Numbers 9:11).

Note: Endive is a leaf vegetable belonging to the daisy family.

(3) Don’t break any bones in the Passover meal (Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12).

(4) None of this meal will be left for the next day, no leftovers (Exodus 12:10, 46, Numbers 9:12).

c. Remember what happened this day and tell others (Exodus 12:14, 26-28, 13:3, Deuteronomy 16:3). Appendix B, below, has options that may be able to assist with educating yourself and others.

5. Eat unleavened bread (matzah) for 7 Days starting on Passover (Exodus 12:15, 23:15, Leviticus 23:6, Numbers 28:17)

6. Bring an offering made by fire to Adonai for seven days (Leviticus 23:8).

7. On the seventh day is a Holy Convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work (Exodus 12:16, Leviticus 23:8, Numbers 28:25).

Conclusion:

“This will be a day for you to remember and celebrate as a festival to Adonai; from generation to generation you are to celebrate it by a perpetual regulation…” (Exodus 12:14).

Annex A, Kosher Delivery Services for Passover

a. Aviglatt Kosher Delivered Anywhere

b. Food Direct, Kenny & Ziggy’s Passover Dinner for Five

c. KOL Foods, 100% Grass Fed, Kosher

d. Grow and Behold, Kosher Pasteurized Meats

e. My Kosher Market

Annex B, Teaching Options to Remember the Exodus

Readings

Exodus12:21-51 Moses instructs the elders of Israel in all of the laws of Passover.

Psalms 113–118 These Psalms are used for praising HaShem and give Him thanks during His Holidays.

Short Youtube films:

Passover Pesach – 10 plagues 7 minutes

Moses Passover 10th Plague 10 minutes

Parshat Va’eira: The Ancient Plagues of Egypt 5 minutes

Parshat Bo: Moses and Aaron Come to Pharoah 4 minutes

Parshat Beshalach: Let Them Eat Manna 4 minutes

Shalom Sesame: It’s Passover, Grover! (2010) 8 minutes

References:

(1) The Jewish Month, Chabad.org

(2) By Rabbi Ronald H. Isaacs, Leaven (Hametz), MyJewishLearning.com

(3) The Bitter Herbs, Chabad.org

The Good Inclination, Yetzer HaTov

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By: William J Jackson

Because of free will, men and women have the right to follow our good or bad inclinations. In Hebrew, this is “Yetzer HaTov” (good inclination) and “Yetzer HaRa” (bad inclination). This article is dedicated to the explanation of our good inclination, and how we can feed it to offset our bad inclination. In short, how do we strengthen ourselves to battle against sin? For a better understanding of the bad inclination, please refer to the previous article “The Evil Inclination, Yetzer HaRa” (1)

The general understanding is that the yetzer hara (bad inclination) is older than the yetzer hatov (good inclination) (2). The reason why is because we are born with the yetzer hara ( Genesis 8:21, Job 15:14, 25:4, Psalm 51:7). But, we do not gain the yetzer hatov (good inclination) until we reach the age of accountability. The age of accountability is when a young adult can make moral decisions that are not self focused. In Judaism, the “age of accountability” is traditionally 13 years plus one day for boys, 12 plus a day for girls (3). As far as the Torah is concerned the age of accountability appears to be 20 (Exodus 30:14, Leviticus 27:1-3, Numbers 1:3, 18).

From a scientific standpoint, the human brain has a growth spurt in the frontal cortex, just before puberty. This is at the age 11 in girls, and 12 in boys. So, between the ages of 13 and 18 the brain is maturing (4). In theory the Jewish ages of 12 and 13 would be the earliest stages of mental adulthood, whereas Tanakh’s age of 20 years would be a safer bet, taking into account late bloomers. We also know that the moral reasoning in adolescence follows us into adulthood (5). This would be the yetzer hara (bad inclination). Much of our adult life is fighting these negative impulses or adopting a yetzer hatov (good inclination) .

When viewing our biblical ancestors (the Patriarchs) we can see this pattern. Jacob exhibit’s a lot of the yetzer hara (bad inclination) while he was in his fathers home. In Genesis 25:29-32 Jacob manipulates his brother Esau’s birthright for a bowl of food. Later, Jacob lies to his father for the same birthright Genesis 27:5-29. All this conniving causes Jacob to flee. In Genesis 28:12-14 Jacob is introduced to HaShem. From this point over the course of 22 years Jacob matures. In Genesis 32:29 Jacob is now named Israel “because you have shown your strength to both God and men and have prevailed.” The same thing with Abram. He got the call to serve Adonai in Genesis 12:1-3, but it took 24 years for his name change to Abraham, “…because I have made you the father of many nations.” (Genesis 17:5). Through these accounts, adopting the yetzer hatov (good inclination) , appears to be more of a process then an immediate change. Some like David appear to start out strong in in the yetzer hatov. But unguarded and not maintained the yetzer hara (bad inclination) cane overtake it. This is evident as we see with King David’s affair with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). In Psalms 51 King David is trying to regain his yetzer hatov (good inclination) . He is repentant with prayer to YHVH for the sin he committed.

One of our best poster boys for the yetzer hatov (good inclination) is Joshua and Caleb. We see in Numbers 14:22, 26-27 Adonai had it with the Israelites complaining, testing Him and their contempt. As punishment he would not let them come into the promise land (Numbers 14:23, 28-30). The exceptions were Caleb “…because he had a different Spirit with him and has fully followed me…” (Numbers 14:24), and Joshua (Numbers 14:30). Interestingly, the Israelites under the age of 20 were allowed into the promise land (Numbers 14:29). This supports the argument for the age of accountability.

Conclusion:

The answer here is to have a circumcised heart (Deuteronomy 10:16, 30:6, Leviticus 26:41, Jeremiah 4:4, 14) So what does this mean? Looking at these verses it means to love Adonai, clean sin out of your heart and don’t resist. Another way of saying it is to return to the Lord, YHVH, through the fulfillment of Torah, and its commandments (6). Repentance is a crucial part in this process (Isaiah 6:10, Jeremiah 31:18, 34:15, Ezekiel 14:6, 18:21, 28, Ezekiel 33:11, Proverbs 1:23, Job 42:6).

Proverbs 9:9 –

Give to a wise man, and he grows still wiser;
teach a righteous man, and he will learn still more.

References:

(1) By William J Jackson, (March 23, 2015) The Evil Inclination, Yetzer HaRa, Center for Tanakh Based Studies

(2) By Jeffrey Spitzer, The Birth of the Good Inclination, MyJewishLearning

(3) Bar Mitzvah 101, Chabad.org

(4) By Sarah Spinks, Adolescent Brains Are A Work In Progress, PBS.org

(5) By Kendra Cherry Psychology Expert, Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development, Stages of Moral Development

(6) Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, Chassidic Discourse on Circumcision, Chabad.org

Two Weeks Past the Cross (On Boat Rocking)

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BY: TCLeach at http://throughanewlens.blogspot.com/

If you were in a boat with me and it started rocking, you could be assured that I wasn’t the one rocking it! Rocking boats never made it onto my resume’. Quite the opposite is true about me. I grew up in a home where boat rocking was dangerous. I learned quickly to be quiet and steady, with no visible rocking at all. This has served me well in my adult life, but it has held me back, too. Had I been a natural boat rocker when I first stepped into faith ten years ago, I would have rocked and rocked until I had no question marks in the margins of my Bible. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, be easy on me. I do not claim to hold all of the answers. But I am learning that those question marks I jotted in the beginning of my journey are all the ones regarding HaShem to be One. Not sharing His glory, not putting my Salvation in anyone’s hand but His own. By learning the answers to the question marks I made in the Old Testament writings (the Tanakh) so long ago, the ones I had in the new writings cleared up on their own. But I digress. I rocked the boat this week, I did! I came to the point where those closest to me, those with whom I have prayed, laughed, cried and rejoiced, had to be told that I was no longer praying in Yeshua’s (Jesus’) name, like they are. It took me all week to have those conversations. My spirit had shalom, but my palms were sweating, and I lacked the words to adequately express myself.

Because my greatest desire right now in my life is to bring glory to HaShem, I sought His prompting in my spirit for me to know when to share, and know when to be still. I didn’t rush. I wrote each note on my notepad, and waited. Little by little, I was able to discern when the time was right to approach each friend. I told them that I would be happy to speak with them over the phone about my decision, which is a regular event for me with for most of this group.  I explained that I wanted to message them first, so that they had time to consider what I was telling them, instead of putting them on the spot to reply. It didn’t take long for those replies to begin filling my inbox! Remember, Christianity teaches that if we walk away from Yeshua, we are damned, unable to be redeemed.  Furthermore, the New Testament writers tell them to deny those who’ve denied him. I’m so blessed to have friends concerned about my soul’s eternal fate! I understand their concerns, and I appreciate them. They are the same concerns I took into this study a year or so ago with me!

I sat with The Father as I read the responses, and then just sat quietly and waited until I had prayerfully considered each of my  answers before sending them. A third of the replies were quite surprising! It seems I am  not the only one in my circle of friends who’s had some serious questions regarding Yeshua’s role in HaShem’s plan, if he has one at all. The second third were pleasant. I had braced myself for the worst, but did not get it from these friends, even though they disagree with my decision. The third third was exactly what I was braced for. I’m truly glad I took the extra time with HaShem concerning this issue! I needed the extra shalom, patience and self-discipline I can receive from only Him before sending my replies to them. Their messages were rough and accusing, I won’t lie.

For the rapid-fire questions coming my way, I kept my answers short and polite. They wanted details, details, and more details! And some were primed to argue, no matter how many times I expressed that arguing was not my desire. After all, I didn’t ask any of them to deny Yeshua’s Saviorship. I only told them that I have. When they asked for all the Scriptures that made up my mind and for the supposed inaccuracies in the new writings, I definitely was nudged in my spirit for the reply. I simply told them that nothing I have found is hidden. It’s written in Tanakh in black and white, clearly. And the rest, the historical facts that were my third witness, are available through any search engine. The Scriptures say that when we seek HaShem with all of our heart, we will find Him. (Jeremiah 29)

My plan is to stay still while the dust settles. One of my sisters made a public proclamation that she and I are no longer walking in agreement, and why. Now my decision is public knowledge, instead of one on one conversations. That dust may take a spell to settle! But that’s okay, because there’s one thing I do understand now that I hadn’t quite grasped yet in my ten year journey. My purpose is to magnify the One True God. To walk with Him and within His statutes. To have a relationship with Him, and to do something good in this world while I’m sojourning here. He’s got everything else! See you next week, and remember, If you have acquired wisdom going through this same transition, I welcome it. And if you are here where I am, you are not alone! More people than you think have the same questions that started you on your quest! Most people are afraid to even mention their questions because, oh boy, does the boat rock then! Shalom If you’d like to add Teri-Jo C Leach as a FB friend go to: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009124945028&fref=nf

One Week Past the Cross (Red Flags)

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One Week Past the Cross (Red Flags)

BY: TCLeach at http://throughanewlens.blogspot.com/

It’s been one week since I have stepped away from the cross of Yeshua (Jesus). For the years that I have been walking in The Way, I have believed that his death and subsequent resurrection were my Salvation. But about a year ago, red flags started popping up in my spirit as I read The Scriptures. I spent a good amount of time ignoring the flags. After all, they wave in the face of everything the New Testament writings teach! I came to a point where I realized that if something doesn’t align with Torah (The five books of Moses) and with the Prophets, then it has to be discounted as accurate.  Having a Messiah who attoned for my sin wasn’t adding up for me. Or a human sacrifice, with us “drinking” his blood.  It started me on a quest for knowledge and understanding. For a year now, before I read any Scripture,  this has been my prayer:

“Father in Heaven, show me Your Messiah, and show me who Yeshua is to me.”

Faithful as He is, God didn’t disappoint me! Once I started searching, He bombarded me with pertinent Scriptures, even more red flags! My aim in journaling this fork on the Narrow Path for me is trifold. I share it (1) To give honor to YHWH, The Creator of all, and the One True God. (2) To encourage others and be encouraged as we unlearn the lies of the Catholic Church. (3) To have an outlet for all the information, and emotion, that comes along with seeking truth. I pray that you will find inspiration here, and be motivated to study The Scriptures for yourself. Welcome and Shalom!

Some of the first red flags I found came from Yeshua, himself (according to the New testament). I asked myself if this verse true: “All the words I am commanding you, guard to do it – do not add to it nor take away from it.” (Deuteronomy 12)  If it is true, then why do we see Yeshua saying (more than once) “I know you’ve heard….but I tell you this..” Now, my first thought was that he is God, he can change it if he wants. But that red flag doesn’t fly. If that were the case, the first Scripture would have added the caveat, “Unless I add or take away from it.”  He is a precise and perfect God, leaving out no important detail. We can take His sentences at face value! And, His Word stands forever. (Psalm 119) I don’t think God could have stated it any clearer than this, taken  from the KJV, a common translation of The Scriptures: “I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour. (Isaiah 43)

After I noticed this, I dug into Torah and Tanakh (the Old Testament writings) with eyes set on finding this end of times Messiah, whom The NT claims is Yeshua. I will cover this in more detail in later posts, but the most glaring thing I noticed is this: Nowhere in Tanakh could I find a Messiah who would atone for my sin. Or one that would come twice. Nowhere could I find an indication than anyone but God Himself would be my Salvation! I will share three examples, but challenge you to find some of your own. In this age of information, we can simply search for anything with key-words! I am again using KJV, but only for its familiarity. I prefer “The Scriptures” by the Institute for Scripture Research (ISR) They stay much truer to the original Hebrew writings. But make no mistake; God will bring you His truth through any means He chooses! Just get started in your own Bible, and be teachable, not stiff-necked.

Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. (Isaiah 12)

Salvation belongeth unto the Lord: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah. (Psalms 3)

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: (Deuteronomy 6)

And so, I saw red flags in the back of my Bible, and in the front. Two witnesses. The next thing I did was some historical research, by people who weren’t trying to sway me in either direction. Just the facts please. I searched this phrase “inaccuracies in the New Testament”.  I was astounded by what I found! I will be looking closer at some of these inaccuracies in future writings, but here I’ll suffice it to say that they were (in totality) the third witness for me. Some things are profoundly misunderstood and commonly accepted!

My eternity is at stake, how could I not study this out through a new lens? The lens of The Father’s eternal Torah, and the writings of the Tanakh!

This week, my mind has been filled to overflowing! It’s been a very spiritual and very emotional experience. I’ve cried out to God and cried out every tear I had! This new truth, which is really the Ancient Truth, only new to some, brings all kinds of new revelation of its implications! I am overwhelmed and overjoyed at the very same moment! I’ve just been absorbing it all. Breathing it in. Deciding what will be next for me, now that I’ve made this first step. Only those closest to me know that I have taken this step, and now, you know, too.  I’m happy to have you with me as I sojourn here, journaling my journey! I welcome wisdom from those who have been right here, and who have grown. I welcome wisdom from those who have always stood here, knowing from Whom your Salvation comes. I also welcome those of you who, like me, have more questions than answers at this point. Let’s find answers together, we serve The One who gives them to all who will heed Him, and serve Him alone.  I’ll see you next week! Shalom.

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The Evil Inclination, Yetzer HaRa

The Evil Inclination, Yetzer HaRa Pic A

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By: William Jackson

Some call it “the original sin”, that’s when Adam eats of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). From this was supposedly born “man’s sin nature” (1) . But wait a minute. If Adam didn’t have a “sin nature” before he ate of the fruit how was he tempted? Also, some credit the serpent as being Satan. Why, because he tempted Eve? For that matter it was Eve who tempted Adam. Does that make her Satan? No, it doesn’t. The reason our first couple ever sinned was because they had “free will”. What is free will ? It’s the ability people have to choose which impulse to follow: good or bad (2). In Hebrew this is called “Yetzer HaRa” (the bad inclination) and “Yetzer HaTov (the good inclination).

When we embrace this concept we realize that we are responsible for changing our behavior and for every choice that we make. I mean seriously, nobody gets away with “the devil made me do it”. And, although our relationship is crucial with HaShem in removing sin from our lives, we cannot hand over our responsibilities to a Messiah. This is where we forge our relationship with YHVH.

One of the best depictions of our yetzer hara (evil inclination), being our responsibility is Genesis 4:7. Here, Abel has given an acceptable offering to YHVH, whereas his brother Cain did not. Cain, being disappointed, was counseled by HaShem. YHVH said: “…if you don’t do what is good, sin is crouching at the door — it wants you, but you can rule over it.” The concern here was Cain’s anger towards his brother. Cain did not heed HaShem’s warning and he ended up killing his brother Abel ( Genesis 4:8). I believe that one of the most important lessons here, is that Cain was clearly accountable to control his yetzer hara (evil inclinations); as HaShem told Cain that he was responsible to master or rule over it. It is also true that we look toward Hashem for strength to overcome our sin or yetzer hara (Exodus 15:2, Joshua 1:9-11, Isaiah 41:10, Psalm 119:23). But, we cannot blame the devil or someone else when we don’t choose correctly, and we can’t give this responsibility to a deity, as it‘s our responsibility.

Ironically, the yetzer hara is not completely bad. It is not this demonic force that pushes a person to do evil. Rather it drives towards pleasure or property or security, which if left unlimited, can lead to evil (3). The yetzer hara can motive people to be productive as long as it remains in perspective. Once it is in excess or out of moral context it becomes sinful. Here’s a simple equation that proves our point:

Motivator > Good Moral Context > Bad Moral Context:

Hunger > Nourishment > Gluttony

Pride > Dignity > Arrogance

Money > Responsibilities > Greed

Work > Provision > Distraction from God and Family

Rest > Restores > Slothfulness

Sex > Intimacy with Spouse > Deviance

Etc.. (What cravings can you add, and what are their good and bad moral contexts?)

Simply said, God has commanded us to turn from the yetzer hara (Isaiah 1:16, 2 Kings 17:13, Jonah 3:8 ). If we do this, He will give us blessings (Jeremiah 7:3, Isaiah 30:15, Jonah 3:10, Psalm 85:9). If we don’t turn from the yetzer hara there are certainly curses (Jeremiah 26:3, 36:7, Zechariah 1:4-6, 2 Kings 17:22-23, Psalm 7:13-17, 68:22). If there is an antidote for the yetzer hara then it is the Torah; (4) but that still requires work on our behalf. Living righteously and Torah will lead to “Yetzer HaTov” which is “the good inclination”. We will talk about this on Wednesday, March 24, 2015.

References

(1) What is original sin?, Gotquestions.org

(2) Human Nature, Level Advanced, Judaism 101

(3) By Jeffrey Spitzer, The Birth of the Good Inclination, My JewishLearning

(4) Evil, Is Man Intrinsically, Ask a Rabbi, Ohr Somayach International

Sheol; Life after Death

Sheol; Life after Death Pic A

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By: William J Jackson

When many of us think of the afterlife, our minds conjure up images of Heaven and Hell. Most of these images are inspired by both religious doctrine and movies. But, what does YHVH say about His world beyond the living? Where did scholars and producers come up with this imagery, and are they right? We will look for our answers in HaShem’s word, the Tanakh (Old Testament).

Our journey will take us to Sheol. This is the Hebrew term for the place of the dead, or the underworld of the Tanakh. The concept of Sheol begs these questions:

  1. What is Sheol like?

The Tanakh has much to say about Sheol.

a. Place of darkness; Psalm 88:7, 13, Job 10:21, 22

b. A Wasteland; Jeremiah 2:6, Psalm 88:13

c. Silent; Psalm 115:17

d. It’s located in low places; Numbers 16:30, Ezekiel 31:14,Lamentations 3:55; Jonah 2:7, Job 26:5

e. People have no memory: Isaiah 26:14, Ecclesiastes 9:5,Psalm 6:6

f. People don’t praise God there; Psalm 6:6, 30:10, 88:11, 115:17

g. Its like sleeping; Job 14:10-12, Ecclesiastes 9:10, Daniel 12:2, 1 Kings 2:10

2. Who goes to Sheol ?

Everyone goes to Sheol. When we die, God’s spirit (the ruach) returns to Him (Ecclesiastes 12:7, 30:20-21, Job 34:14-15,Psalm 104:29-30). The remainder of our soul goes to Sheol (Job 3:11-19, 1 Samuel 2:6, Psalm 89:49).

  1. Being rescued from Sheol.

In 1 Samuel 2:6 it says that God brings us down to Sheol but then He brings us up. He basically redeems us from this place Psalm 16:10, 30:4, 49:16 and Job 33:29-30 . But, it also appears that not everyone will be rescued from this pit; Hosea 13:14, Psalm 9:18, Proverbs 9:18 and Proverbs 22:14. So who is rescued? It seems to be the repentant and righteous; Isaiah 38:17, Job 33:22-24, 28, Proverbs 15:24 . Daniel 12:2 sums it up best:

“Many of those sleeping in the dust of the earth will awaken, some to everlasting life and some to everlasting shame and abhorrence.”

  1. What happens to the truly wicked?

There are some teachings that the truly wicked will be destroy, this implies their souls. This can be supported by Psalm 37:20, where it says “For the wicked will perish; Adonai’s enemies will be like sheep fat, ending up as smoke, finished.” This is also found in Deuteronomy 29:19, Judges 5:31 and Psalm 68:3. When we read Ezekiel 18 it tells us the wicked will die and the righteous will live ( Ezekiel 18:4, 18, 20-26, 31-32 ). The thing that always puzzled me, is that we are all going to die, good and bad. But, lets look at the Hebrew word that is used here for death, “maveth”. Maveth can mean death but also can mean destroyed. The Hebrew word “muth” is used to specify death. It is possible that the significantly wicked will completely perish. So, who is that wicked? Read Ezekiel 18, it is very specific and thorough.

  1. The Resurrection

The resurrection is confirmed in Tanakh (Ezekiel 37:12, Job 19:25-27). As we see in Isaiah 26:19 and Daniel 12:2 it appears to be talking about a resurrection that will take place in the “end time”. Many believe this will be the messianic age which will be ushered in by Elijah the prophet Malachi 3:23-24 .

  1. So where did we get our ideas of Hell?

The Jewish describe a spiritual place called “Gehinnom.” This is usually translated as “Hell” (1) . References to Gehinnom are a fiery place of judgment. This can be found in literature of the Second Temple period. The Talmud embellished this idea, claiming that Gehinnom is 60 times hotter than earthly fire (Berakhot 57b) (2).

The Christian idea of Hell, also like the Talmudic version, is a fiery furnace; Matthew 13:50, Mark 9:48 and Revelation 14:10 . Also, for Christians, Hell was designed originally for Satan and his demons (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10). It is a punishment for sinners and those that reject Christ; 2 Peter 2:1, Revelation 20:11-15 (3) .

Conclusion:

We only have one witness that has come up from Sheol to give us a testimony, and that is the ghost of the prophet Samuel in 1 Samuel 28. We can hear his disgruntled attitude, when he answers King Saul “Why have you disturbed me and brought me up?” ( 1 Samuel 28:15 ). This is a stark comparison to the New Testament story about the rich man and Lazarus in Sheol (Luke 16:19-31). As you know, the rich man is in a hellish Sheol. He asks Abraham to “have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.”. These testimonies are worlds apart. Lets just remember the Tanakh comes from HaShem. That means this is the concept of Sheol we should honor. Understanding Sheol is interesting; but the real question should be “how can I be redeemed from Sheol by HaShem“.

This article is dedicate to Danielle Jackson, my wife, for always asking the challenging questions in her quest to seek truth.

References:

(1) By Aron Moss, What Is the Jewish Belief on Hell?, Chabad.org

(2) Life After Death, MyJewishLearning

(3) Sid Litke (May 25, 2004) What the Bible Says About Hell, Bible.org