Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Three Essential Hebrew Words Bible Readers Must Know Part 2


TZEDAQAH is a difficult word for English speakers to understand. At first glance it appears to mean something that simply makes no sense -- a combination of charity and justice. In English, charity is voluntary while justice is mandatory. This problem was created when translators incorrectly linked the Hebrew word charity to TZEDAQAH. They should have linked it to loyalty.


TZEDAQAH is a combination of loyalty and justice.


1. Loyalty to the community in conduct and honesty.


2. Justice by eliminating things that decrease SHALOM or create disorder in the community.


There is a far cry between TZEDAQAH, with its implications of social justice, and the word “charity.” In the case of “charity”, the recipient sees himself beholden to the donor, whose action is voluntary. TZEDAQAH, on the other hand, has to be performed as a matter of obligation and the recipient is in no way indebted to the donor. The needy have a right to TZEDAQAH, while those possessing means have a duty to give it. Even a person who receives TZEDAQAH must in turn give TZEDAQAH.


In the Jewish culture, people do not ultimately own everything. What people have is ultimately God's and He merely lends it to people. He gives it to people in trust and one of the conditions of that trust is that “people must share what they own with people who have less than they have.”


TZEDAQAH is the foundation of social justice because acts of TZEDAQAH fulfill legal and moral obligations of community members to do what is right in all relationships. Acts of TZEDAQAH are concrete acts, not abstract notions.

Members of the community must be taught about TZEDAQAH because it is not an inherent human characteristic. It is a learned trait resulting from the sustained performance of obligations through the constant pursuit of justice by performing acts of TZEDAQAH.




Isaiah’s prophesy (32:11-18) helps us see the big picture better.



“Tremble, you complacent ones! Quake, O confident ones. Strip yourself naked and put cloth around your loins. Beat your breasts, lamenting for pleasant fields and fruitful vines.


Thorns and briers shall spring up on the land of My people, even over the houses of joy in the jubilant cities, because the palace has been forsaken, the multitude of the city has been abandoned, rampart and tower are instead caves until forever, a joy for wild donkeys, a pasture for flocks – until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high.


Then the desert becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is counted as a forest. MISHPAT (justice) shall dwell in the desert, and TZEDAQAH shall reside in the fruitful field. The work of TZEDAQAH will be SHALOM, and the service of TZEDAQAH will be tranquility and safety until eternity. And My people will dwell in homes of SHALOM – safe homes in secure resting places.”


Now let’s review what we learned in the discussions about TOV, TZEDAQAH and SHALOM -- and put the pieces together.


Acts of TZEDAQAH measure TOV and increase SHALOM.


Acts of TZEDAQAH demonstrate one’s loyalty and faithfulness to the community.


Acts of TZEDAQAH are acts of justice because they eliminate things that decrease SHALOM or disrupt order in the community.


Failure to do acts of TZEDAQAH measure evil and decrease SHALOM and/or disrupts order in the community.


Failure to do acts of TZEDAQAH is being disloyal and unfaithful to the community.


Failure to do acts of TZEDAQAH makes a person guilty of a crime because SHALOM is decrease.


A person who does acts of TZEDAQAH is called a TZADIQ

a good and/or innocent person.


A person who fails to do acts of TZEDAQAH is called –

an evil and/or guilty person.


Understanding this is an absolutely essential requirement for understanding the Jewish Scriptures and the teachings of the Jewish Jesus.


The status of each person – innocent or guilty

at the moment of death or on the Great Day of Judgment,

determines his or her ultimate destiny.


I will continue this discussion in my next email.


May your Shalom increase,

Jim Myers


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Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Three Required Hebrew Words for Every Bible Reader’s Vocabulary


The three Hebrew words above have no English equivalents. The English words used to translate them are not accurate meanings. At a minimum, it would take a sentence or more to convey the Hebrew meanings to English readers. In order to understand TOV, SHALOM, and TZEDAQAH in the context in which they appear, you need to do two things.


1. Add their transliterations and meanings to your vocabulary and use the transliterations when you read and discuss verses in which they appear.


2. Use an interlinear Bible (it has Hebrew and English words) to locate the Hebrew words or use BHC translations of Bible portions in your Bible studies. (See Website Page)


The Story of TOV


The Hebrew word TOV appears seven times in the first story in Genesis. The first appearance is in Genesis 1:4.


And God saw the light, that it was TOV.


Most translators translate “TOV” as “good.” Translators generally use lexicons (dictionaries) that list several English words as options for translating. In addition, we must look for “contextual meanings that emerge from the context in which they appear.” As I said above, TOV appears seven times in Genesis 1 and from that context this contextual meaning emerged:


TOV is the standard the Creator used to

measure the results of His actions.


Acts that measure TOV protect lives, preserve lives,

make lives more functional, and/or increase the quality of life.”


As you can see, the English word “good” doesn’t reflect the meaning of the Hebrew word TOV.


The Story of Shalom


Dr. William Chomsky, Noam Chomsky’s father, provides the following meaning for “SHALOM.”



The word shalom, usually rendered by ‘peace,’ has in effect little in common with its English equivalent. Shalom does not have the passive, even negative, connotation of the word ‘peace.’ It does not mean merely the absence of strife. It is pregnant with positive, active and energetic meaning and association. It connotes totality, health, wholesomeness, harmony, success -- the completeness and richness of living in an integrated social milieu.”



A description of “the completeness and richness of living in an integrated social milieu” was given in my previous email. It is the Creator’s vision of “what human life in His kingdom would be like.”


● People will reflect the image of God through their TOV acts. The will be actively engaged in protecting each other’s’ lives, preserving each other’s lives, making each other’s lives more functional, increasing the quality of life for each other.


● People will also be actively engaged as the Creator’s Co-Shepherds over all life on earth.


Acts that measure TOV increase SHALOM.


I will discuss TZEDAQAH in my next email. It is one of the most important words in the Hebrew Scriptures and the teachings of Jesus. But in closing I want to give you a chance to put what you learned above to work. Below is the BHC translation of Psalm 34:14. Using the above information, write your commentary about what the verse meant to the author and readers of the ancient Hebrew text.


Depart from evil and do TOV;

seek SHALOM and pursue it.


May you SHALOM increase,

Jim Myers


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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Return! Walk with God and His Kingdom.


The Great Day of Judgment” plays an important role in the teachings of Jesus. Everything that happens to people on that day will be based on whether God sees them as being innocent or guilty.


God will punish the guilty and deliver the innocent.


In the Story of the Great Flood, God saw that Noah was innocent (a TZADIQ) and God saw that others were guilty. The guilty were wiped from the face of the earth by a flood. God gave Noah instructions about how to build the thing that would deliver animals and birds, as well as Noah and his family. Noah built the ark and it saved their lives.


As I said in my last email (click here to read), in the teachings of Jesus, the ark is “the Kingdom of God.” It will deliver the innocent from being destroyed like the guilty. The people listening to Jesus wanted to know the answer to one question.


What does one have to do to be in the Kingdom of God?


Jesus said one word and they knew exactly what it meant.




English translations say, “Repent!” The Hebrew word Jesus spoke was “TESHUVAH!” Neither of the English words above communicate an accurate translation of the meaning of the Hebrew word Jesus spoke. As a matter of fact, the English language is incapable of accurately communicating any ancient Hebrew message in a word-for-word translation. We equip Explorers of Biblical Heritages with guidelines and models that remove linguistic and cultural barriers that are between them and the meanings of the ancient Hebrew words.


Thinking in Ancient Hebrew Model #1


An action is regarded as being either completed or incompleted.


Hebrew knows of no past, present, or future tense.


Hebrew has a perfect tense (a completed action) and an imperfect tense (an action that has not been completed).[i]


Speakers of the English language view the world, and communicate what they see, through past, present, and future tenses. We see the world through time-based models.


Jesus viewed his world, and communicated what he saw, through actions-based models.


So, the first thing we need to know about the Hebrew word Jesus spoke (TESHUVAH) is this -- What actions must be completed for people to be innocent? The answer to that question is found in the Story of TESHUVAH in Ezekiel 18. Below are verse 26 and 27):


If an innocent person turns from his acts of TZEDAQAH

and commits sin, he will die for it;

because of the sin he has committed he will die.


If a guilty person turns from the acts of RAH (evil) he has committed

and does acts of MISHPAT (justice) and TZEDAQAH,

he will save his life.


TESHUVAH occupied a central place in the Judaisms of the time of Jesus (and still does today). Broadly defined, TESHUVAH is more than “just repentance from sin.”


TESHUVAH is a spiritual reawakening:

a desire to strengthen the connection between oneself and God,

and a desire to strengthen one’s connections to people.


All forms of TESHUVAH, however diverse and complex, have a common core:


The belief that human beings have it in their power

to effect inward change.[ii]


Now let’s apply the information above to the words of Jesus:


Return to God now.

Walk with God every day.

Then when the Great Day of Judgment comes,

you will be in the Kingdom of God and be saved.


TESHUVAH is not a religious ritual. It involves specific steps that must be done in a specific order to become “a completed action.” I will tell you about those steps in my next email.



Jim Myers


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[i] A Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew (Second Edition) by J. Weingreen; © 1959 by Oxford University Press; New York, NY; p. 56.

[ii] TESHUVAH: A Guide for the Newly Observant Jew by Adin Steinsaltz © 1982 by The Domino Press, Jerusalem Israel. Translation © 1987 by The Free Press, a division of Macmillan, Inc., New York, NY; p. 3.

Monday, May 17, 2021

God Punishes the Guilty and Gives Instructions to the Innocent


The Hebrew Scriptures reveal that the Creator of the Heavens and Earth created human life as the pinnacle of creation. He fashioned the first humans in His own image. The Torah teaches that human life has purpose and dignity because God is a moral being who alone created the entire universe. God expects that just as He is holy, so too humans will be holy. God’s moral nature is a guarantee that He will sustain and protect the world. In order to do so, God gave a moral law and judges humans by its strict standards, meting out reward and punishment accordingly.[i]


This is clearly seen in the stories of Adam and Eve, Cain and Able, and Noah. The story of Noah adds a new lesson to what the previous stories taught – it was the judgment of the entire human population. “The Day of the Vengeance of God” in Isaiah and “The Great Day of Judgment” in Malachi are related to “The Story of the Great Flood.”


In my last email, that is why I said that Jesus used the “The Great Day of Judgment” as “a call to action,” not “an unchangeable ultimatum,” in his teachings. In “The Story of the Great Flood” many people lost their lives, but one family and a pair of each of the animals and winged creatures did not die. Why didn’t they die? The answers are found in Genesis 6:5-9.


● Yahweh saw that human evil (RAH) was great in the earth. (People were doing many things that destroyed lives, harmed lives, made lives less functional and decreased the quality of life.)


● Every imagination of the thoughts of human hearts was only evil (RAH) all day long. (People were imagining and thinking about doing things that would destroy lives, harm lives, make lives less functional and decrease the quality of life all day long.)


● Noah found favor in the eyes of Yahweh. (Noah was chosen so that the blessing bestowed on the first humans [ADAM#1] should be realized in him and in his seed after him).[ii] The Hebrew word translated “blessed” means “to endow and give the capacity to achieve the assigned functions.” The first humans were given the capacity to function as the Creator’s Co-Shepherds over all life on earth, and be the Guardians and Protectors of human lives.)


● Noah was a (TZIDIQ) man. (TZIDIQ is a Hebrew word that in this context means “innocent.”)


● Noah walked with God. (Noah followed God’s instructions.)


Below are key points from The Story of Noah that Jesus and his Jewish followers clearly understood.


1. God punishes guilty people.


The people who died in the flood were guilty of doing acts that were evil (RAH) – acts that destroyed human lives, harmed human lives, made people’s lives less functional, and decreased quality of life of other people.


2. God provides innocent people with instructions for a way to safety.


Noah was an innocent man because he did acts that protected human lives, preserved human lives, made people’s lives more functional, and increased the quality of life of people. The things that Noah did are called “acts of TZEDAQAH” (a word that has no English equivalent).


3. Innocent people must follow those instructions.


God gave Noah instructions for how to build an ark. Noah and his family built it. God did not build it for him. God closed the door of the ark after the animals, Noah’s family, and Noah was safely on board.


This is why I said Jesus used the “The Great Day of Judgment” as “a call to action.” The followers of Jesus viewed him as “a person like Noah.” What they wanted to know was the answer to one question:


What instructions did God give Jesus that

will be a way to safety on “The Great Day of Judgment”?


This is the answer Jesus gave them:


Turn around!

The Kingdom of God is now here!


The ark in the teachings of Jesus is “The Kingdom of God.” The instructions for building it is – “Do TESHUVAH!” (the Hebrew word translated above as, “turn around.”) I will tell you “The Story of TESHUVAH” in my next email.



Jim Myers


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[i] What Do Jews Believe? The Spiritual Foundations of Judaism by David S. Ariel © 1995; Schocken Books, New York, NY; p. 16.

[ii] A Commentary on the Book of Genesis Part One: From Adam to Noah by U. Cassuto © 1964 The Magnes Press (reprinted 1992), The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel; p. 307.


Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Yeshua, the Anointed One, Son of God and King


We still have one more word to explore before we will know what the words Jesus Christ Son of God meant to Jesus, his Jewish followers and other members of the Jewish culture. That word is “Jesus.” The history of the name “Jesus” begins in an account in the Torah (first five books in the Bible). Yahweh commanded Moses to choose one man from each of the twelve tribes to spy out the land of Canaan (Numbers 13:8, 16).


Of the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Nun . . . These are the names of the men which Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Hoshea, the son of Nun, Yehoshua (Joshua).


The root word of Hoshea means "salvation," but at that time salvation did not mean “saved from Hell.” It meant “being delivered from some danger or threat.” When Moses changed Hoshea to Yehoshua the meaning of the name changed to "Yahweh-is-Salvation."


In the 5th Century BCE, the name Yehoshua was shortened to Yeshua (Ezra 2:2 and Nehemiah 8:17):


Those who came with Zerubbabel were Yeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah . . .


So the whole assembly of those who had returned from Babylonian

Captivity made booths and sat under the booths;

for since the days of Yeshua the son of Nun until that day

the children of Israel had not done so. And there was very great gladness.


By the 1st century CE, probably due to Hellenistic influence, Yeshua was shortened to Y'shua. In the Greek New Testament, the name Yeshua appears two times as Iesous (Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8):


Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Iesous

into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drove out

before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David.


For if Iesous had given them rest, then he would not

afterward have spoken of another day.


In 382 Jerome made a Latin translation of the Christian Scriptures called the “Vulgate,” or “Common Bible.” Jerome translated the Greek word Iesous as Iesus. The Latin spelling and pronunciation of Iesus dominated the Western Christian world for almost 1,000 years.[i]


It should be noted that in the Talmud (6th century CE) the name Yeshu is used as a reference to the “Christian Jesus” instead of Yeshua. Yeshu is an acronym for “yemach shmo u'zikro,” which means "may his name be blotted out."[ii] This clearly reflects Jewish views that will be repeated in Rabbinic Judaism.


The Norman invasion of 1066 introduced the letter "j" to England, but the sound of “j” did not exist in Old English. In 1384, John Wycliffe made the first English translation of the New Testament from Latin. He preserved the Latin spelling and pronunciation of Iesus.[iii] The letter “Jwas first distinguished from “'I” by the Frenchman Pierre Ramus (1515 – August 26, 1572) in the 16th century. He was a Protestant convert who was killed during the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.[iv]


The letter “J” did not become common in Modern English until the 17th century. The 1611 edition of the King James Version, continued to use the name Iesus.[v] It would be in later editions of the King James Version that the hard "J" sound replaced male names that began with I or Y -- Iakob became Jacob, Yohan became John, and Iesus became Jesus.


The word “Jesus” did not appear in any Bible until the 18th century CE.

Columbus had arrived in the Americas over 200 years earlier.

That was when people began calling him “Jesus.”


Now let’s update what “Jesus Christ Son of God” meant to the Hebrew speaking first century CE Jewish culture:


Yeshua, the Anointed One, Son of God and King.


“He is the One called by God to preach the gospel to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, set at liberty those who are oppressed, and proclaim the year of favor of Yahweh.”


Understanding “Yeshua’s Kingdom” requires an understanding of “the different Judaisms” that existed then. The Late Second Temple Period is one of the least understood periods in Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism. Yeshua specifically targeted “conflicts between those Judaisms” in his teachings. His goal was to “prepare people to be gathered together by God” before He did to them what He did to Noah’s generation -- except this time He would use fire instead of water! And, Yeshua expected that to happen in his lifetime.



Jim Myers


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