Month: September 2014

What is the difference between between a law, commandment, and statue?

While reading in Deuteronomy, I noticed four words that seemed to be on repeat: commandments, statutes, rules, and laws. If I was having a casual conversation about the “do’s and dont’s” of today’s culture I could use these four words interchangeably and no one would think twice. However, verses such as Deuteronomy 6:1, and Deuteronomy 11:1 make me question if those words each had a separate meaning to the Hebrew culture.

Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the rulesthat the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, ” (Biblegateway.com).  Deuteronomy 6:1

“You shall therefore love the Lord your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his rules, and his commandments always.” (Biblegateway.com). Deuteronomy 11:1

Coming from a book that is very accurately and literally interpreted my first guess is that each of these words has a different meaning.

my english hebrew dictionary learn hebrew

In order to see if my instincts were correct,  I went back to translations and started looking into the Hebrew meanings of each word. The first word I needed to figure out was Commandment. “The second significant noun here is the feminine plural of mitsevâh (îÄöåÈä) [pronounced mitse-AH], which means, commandment, prohibition, precept, that which is forbidden, constraint, proscription, countermand. This is nearly always translated Laws, Commandments, Ordinances and Statutes” (http://kukis.org/). The original 10 commandments is essentially a list telling people what is not allowed, what is forbidden. Therefore, this leads me to understand that when I read the word commandment in the Old Testament, I can be sure to understand that Moses is referencing the original 10. Although, there are the main ten commandments which were written on stone tablets, in reality there were 613 commandments of the Old Testament. (http://www.swartzentrover.com). So if “commandments” is referencing the first 10, what word refers to the other 613?

The 613 Commandments in the Torah

When researching the Hebrew meaning of the word statues I found that traditionally the word has another meaning. ” The masculine form of this word found more often in the Old Testament: chôq (çÉ÷) [pronounced khoke], and it means, decree, that which is decreed; statute; boundary, defined limit; an appointed portion of labor, a task. The key concept here is the setting of a boundary or a limit. Sometimes these kinds of words can have very different meanings and sometimes the shadings are lost to us” (http://kukis.org/). It is important here to understand that this word is referring to limitations. Where as commandments are more significant in way of living and honoring, statues are more important to the specificity of things.

This leads us to the difference of the 10 Commandments and the Law of Moses. There are the 10 original commandments that Yahweh gave his people. An original 10 to live by. If you look at the rest of the commandments of the Old testament you see that the rest of the commandments are a breakdown of the original 10. (answer.com). That falls perfectly into play the difference of actual meaning between the words. Since statues means specificity, it is logical that is refers to Mosaic Law which is the specifics of the 10  commandments.

... Law of Moses, and were attentive as he read from the Law of God from

Finally, we have the word Law. “The final word is þôwrah (èåÉøÇä or èÉøÇä) [pronounced TOH-rah], which means, instruction, doctrine;[human and divine] law, direction, regulations, protocol; custom; it is transliterated Torah. It is nearly always translated law, laws” (http://kukis.org/). This would mean that the word Law is referencing, Law of God written on the hearts of men; and this is the concept of right and wrong. (http://kukis.org/).

in playing devils advocate, the other argument is that all these words essentially mean the same thing. The main reason that they keep repeating is to place emphasis on the rules that Yahweh is setting. “All four of these Hebrew words are used throughout the writings of Moses to refer to commands from God to be obeyed by God’s people. Distinctions are sometimes made regarding one word from the other, yet the overall principle is one of obedience to all that the Lord commands, whether it’s a general command, a prescribed law, a legal verdict, or a religious festival or ritual.” (Gotquestions.org).

Same Word Different Meaning - Homonyms Matching Puzzles

I think it is essential to understand the small differences like these to help understand what the original text meant. I find it fascinating that today we can use the same word for many different meanings but the Hebrew culture had such specifics and intent with each word they passed down.

Did the Hebrews really travel with 2,000,000 people through the wilderness?

When we first begin in numbers we see that God has asked Moses to take a census of all the men who were able to serve in the Hebrew army. “And there shall be with you a man from each tribe, each man being the head of the house of his fathers.”  (Numbers 1:4). The numbers of these men total to 603,550; and that is excludes the Levi tribes! This suggests that the number of people that Moses and Aaron were guiding through the wilderness was over 2,000,000. (Answers.com). When looking into the numbers I found multiple scholars who agreed that if the army was in fact over 600,000; the amount of people traveling through the wilderness was 2,000,000 to 2,500,000. 

That seems like quite a large group to be camping with. My question this week is, did this story get lost in translation, exaggerated over time, or is it plausible that these numbers are correct?

My first reaction is that the story got lost in translation. When looking into this theory I found that the Hebrew word for “thousand” is the same for the word “chief”. This could mean that we used the wrong meaning and the real numbers are supposed to be translated as one figure less. “For example, the 46,500 of Reuben (1:20) is read as 45 chiefs and 1,500 fighting men, the 59,300 of Simeon (1:23) is read as 58 chiefs and 1,300 fighting men, etc.” (Biblestudytools.com). When I started to research more I found more information to back this theory that the translation is wrong. “The Hebrew word translated as “thousand” in these population figures actually refers to an indeterminate-size clan, troop or family. The Hebrew word itself is transliterated ‘elep and also carries the meaning of a family complex or clan in some cases, such as family. This would mean that the results for the first census adds up to 598 families or troops consisting of a total of 5550 men and the results for the second census is nearly the same at 596 families or troops consisting of 5730 men.” (Accuracyingenesis). Both of these sources imply that the population, though still large, would be around 20,000 to 40,000.

One theory is that in fact, these are true numbers. The Bible has covenants and promises to the Hebrew people that will prosper with big tribes and large nations. If you look back at what the earlier books say, it seems acceptable that the Iseralites were traveling with that many people. If we look back to the book of Exodus we see the Egyptian pharaoh deciding to make the Isrealites his slaves because he was worried about their numbers they might be able to over power them. “He was so concerned that he attempted to reduce the slave numbers by pressuring the midwives to kill the Hebrews’ newborn sons (Exodus 1:8,15). No exact numbers are given, but if the king was worried the Hebrew population could soon outnumber the Egyptians’, then there is strong reason to believe a vast number of Jewish people lived in the region at the time of the Exodus.”(Gotquestions.org)

... story of Moses leading the children of Israel through the wilderness

Finally, another way to look at these numbers is to look at them as symbolic not mathematical.The research that I found would agree with the theory that the Isrealites may have exaggerated just a bit in their numbers. “The numerical value of the Hebrew letters in the expression bene yisra’el  equals 603 (the number of the thousands of the fighting men, 1:46); the remaining 550 (plus 1 for Moses) might come from the numerical equivalent of the Hebrew letters in the expression “all the men . . . who are able to serve in the army” (1:3).” (biblestudytools.com). This simply means that the these books are supposed to be translated symbolically not literally.”In the same way that most do not understand creation to have occurred in the span of 168 hours. The Bible is to be read seriously but not literally.” (http://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/).

After all this, I believe that the translation was lost somewhere over time. If we misunderstood the translation of the word thousand and instead of 2,000,000 there were 20,000 traveling it makes more sense.

Betrayal

From the beginning of the book of Exodus to the end, the Hebrews witnessed time and time again, the power of Yahweh. They watched Him place ten plagues on Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea,and awoke to manna  on the ground every morning. Yet, when Moses had been gone for 40 days and 40 nights speaking to God; the Isrealites turned to Aaron and asked for a new god. Then Aaron had the brilliant idea of fashioning a new god out of gold.

Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.”
~ Exodus 32:2-5

 

Why is it the Hebrews could easily turn and go against something that God had specifically asked them not to do?

There are several different theories that explain why the Israelites were easy to turn against Yahweh. The explanation that the book of Exodus gives us is short and simple. Exodus 32:22 simply states that people are prone to evil. 

That’s it? This idol cost 3,000 people their lives and the explanation that  the story is offering me is that people are evil?

After doing research into the culture of the Hebrews I found more information that further explains their actions. One explanation could be that it was a misunderstanding. Of course, the people knew they were not to create a false idol but once the calf was built Aaron proclaims it as the same god who brought them out of Egypt. Aaron wasn’t saying that the golden calf was a replacement for the true God, he was claiming that this calf represented the true God who had brought them out of Egypt. (lavistachurchofchrist.org).

The people of this time were accustomed to seeing their gods and idol worship. For them it was part of their culture to be able to see what they were worshiping. When Moses had remained absent for 40 days they no longer had a clear direction and thought it be easier to return to their cultured ways of worship. (gotquestions.org

I also found in my research that the Israelites had for a long time worshiped the moon god. The golden calf in Exodus was made while Joshua and Moses were on the mountain. There is strong biblical evidence that Joshua was worshiped as a sun god before his story evolved in Hebrew legend to that of a mortal hero. If so, the symbolism of the story is that when the sun god is away (night time) then the people worship the moon god. (gotanswers.com)

 

I do! I think?

You put on the pretty white dress. Check for the 100th time that you have your something old, new, borrowed, and blue. The procession starts, and your big day is FINALLY here.

Just like Adam and Eve, right?

Probably not. The early books of Genesis talk about many marriages but never go into detail of how they are married and what that commitment means.

In the first book of Genesis, there is a very common theme; everything that God created was good. In Genesis 2:18 we hear a different song. “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Then in Genesis 2:24 we get our first idea of marriage when God claims “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” 

So if the first marriage was given by God to Adam as a help to him, then how do we go to Isacc’s and Rebekah marriage where seemingly all it took was for him to take her.”Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her.“(Genesis 25:67)(Biblegateway) If that is all it takes for people to be married; than I am sure there are people running around with more spouses than they’d care to admit. So much for commitment issues, right?

There are different view points as to what makes a marriage official in God’s eyes. The least likely of the theories meaning a consummation of the marriage. You’re welcome, Hugh Hefner. Although Genesis doesn’t go into much detail of the ceremony itself, I have come to understand that the requirements of a marriage aren’t as complicated as they might seem.According to my research there are a few requirements to sustain a marriage.  “As long as the requirements are reasonable and not against the Bible, a couple should seek whatever formal governmental recognition is available. A couple should follow whatever cultural and familial practices are typically employed to recognize a couple as “officially married.” If possible, a couple should consummate the marriage sexually, fulfilling the physical aspect of the “one flesh” principle.” (GotQuestions.com). From reading Genesis 25, I have come to understand that the girls father is to be paid and the marriage must be consummated. The current laws of the land where what dictated the ceremony. Although there were many faults of marriage in the Bible, the marriage was created for a man and woman to stay exclusive to one another. (http://minuteswithmessiah.tripod.com/question/marriage.html)

This led me into looking into the constitution of marriage. God created marriage, to be good! Why? What is the point of having a partner? While looking into this I saw there are 5 main reasons that God created marriage. 

“1. To Avoid Fornication. (I Corinthians 7:2) “Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.” 

2. Procreation And Rearing Functional Children. 

3. To Serve And Love Another.

4. For Two To Become One.

5. Husbands And Wives As Christ And The Church. The home is a reflection of Christ and the Church. “

(http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Purpose-of-Marriage-According-to-God&id=1950894)

happy-married-couple

Seems almost simpler, doesn’t it? Here is some gifts, I promise to be yours, and they lived happily ever after. . http://youtu.be/lWtTdRmSrYQ?t=2m4

Of course, after further reading the stories you soon discover a marriage then is no easier than a marriage now. None the less, it is a blessing from God. No matter how it happens, or the ceremony it takes for it to be official, it is still a sacred thing.