Friday, October 3, 2014

Yom Kippur Before the Temple was Destroyed

Today (October 3, 2014) at sundown is the beginning of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It is by far the most widely observed of Jewish holidays and fast days. Synagogues are packed with families in Israel, as well as throughout the diaspora. It has been the most important Jewish holiday throughout the centuries, going back into the Second Temple Period -- the times of the Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes and the Jesus Movement. A good way for Christians to understand its importance is to compare it to what Easter means to Christians. In this article I am going to focus on Yom Kippur during the Late Second Temple Period, rather than the rituals now practiced in synagogues. Keep in mind that what follows will reflect what Jesus and his original followers experienced every year. There are hints in the Synoptic Gospels that the final year of the life of Jesus may have coincided with the Year of Jubilees, but we will look at what happened every year at the Temple. The fact that the highest official of the Temple, the High Priest, was required to personally officiate the rituals, made the importance of Yom Kippur very clear to everyone. Download or read the compete article at --

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Love Your Neighbor: Only Israelites or Everyone?

It’s one of the most famous lines in the Bible:

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18).

Impressive. Fascinating. Inspiring. Capable of a thousand interpretations and raising 10,000 questions. A remarkable proposition coming out of ancient Judah, which was embedded in the Near Eastern world of wars, slavery, class and ethnic divisions and discriminations of all kinds.

One interpretation of this verse that has been making the rounds for years turns this grand idea on its head: The claim is that the verse means to love only one’s fellow Israelites as oneself. Instead of being inclusive, it’s actually exclusive. Is there anything to this claim?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

SHAVU’OT (Pentecost) Begins at Sundown Today

Both Rabbinic Judaism and Christianity link Shavuot to specific historical events that play important roles in establishing the legitimacy of their movements.  

For Rabbinic Judaism it was their teaching that G-d gave two different types of laws on Mt. Sinai, the Written Law and the Oral Law.  

For Christianity it was the descent of the Holy Spirit on the congregation of believers gathered at the Temple in Jerusalem for Shavuot.  

In the New Testament, SHAVU’OT is called Pentecost (Ancient Greek: Πεντηκοστή [ἡμέρα], Pentēkostē [hēmera], "the fiftieth [day]"). The name “Pentecost” reflects the 50 day period between PESACH and SHAVU’OT.

This year SHAVU’OT begins at sunset June 3rd and continues to sunset June 5th. It is an important event that should be understood by all who have a biblical heritage. Remember and give thanks for the “crops” that provide for your needs today – those raised in fields by farmers and those earned by your labor at your work.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Using the Culture Key to Unlock the Meanings of the Words of the Bible

We all think, act, and communicate in ways
that are primarily predetermined by our culture.

We didn't choose our culture any more than we chose our parents.  We are born and immediately immersed in whatever culture we happened to live in. If you had been born in another culture – you would be a very different person than you are today. Read the complete article at --

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu corrects Pope Francis – Jesus spoke Hebrew

What language did Jesus speak? Beginning in the middle of the nineteenth century a mistaken notion – Jesus only knew and spoke Aramaic -- took hold that has by-and-large continued to dominate both scholarly and popular opinion. Yet, the results of a century of archaeological evidence have challenged this assumption and brought a sea change of understanding regarding the linguistic environment of first-century Judaea. The inscriptional and literary evidence reflects a reality not unlike what we find with the Dead Sea Scrolls. Of the 700 non-biblical texts from the Qumran library, 120 are in Aramaic and 28 in Greek, while 550 scrolls were written in Hebrew. Read the complete article at --

Friday, April 25, 2014

BHC Bible Study Guideline

Back in the late 1980s, after participating in discussions that took place in our Bible studies and meetings in which endless arguments and debates flared up over the interpretations of verses or religious doctrines, I created the BHC Bible Study Guideline.

Our Belief Systems must be large enough to include all the Facts;
Open enough to be tested; and,
Flexible enough to change when errors or new Facts are discovered!

It was amazing to witness the transformation that took place when the participants focused on identifying or finding the facts and then comparing them to their beliefs – especially when hardcore fundamentalists were involved.

It didn’t take long for participants to realize that –
people who ignore the Facts, refuse to be tested, and cling to errors –
are living lives & making important decisions based on illusions – not truths –
and that doesn’t really make any sense!

If the BHC Bible Study Guideline has benefited your life – or if its new to you, but you can see its value when used in Bible studies and discussions of religion -- please let us know by clicking here & “Liking” the BHC Facebook Page.

If you would like to show that you value & appreciate it by donating today –

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Pharisees Sat in Moses’ Seat

Then Yeshua said to the crowds and to the disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore, whatever they may tell you do and keep; but do not do according to their works; because they say and do not.” (Matthew 23:1-3)

The three verses above contain clues that reveal a great deal about the real Yeshua and his Jewish world. The first clue reveals a great deal about the two groups that gathered to hear him – the crowds and the disciples. The information recorded in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark & Luke) also reveal a great deal about Yeshua as a rabbi. There can be little doubt that this was how most of the Jewish people viewed Yeshua. However, it is important to understand that being a rabbi before 70 CE in Judea and Galilee was very different from being an American rabbi today. Pay close attention to the underlined words below:

There were hundreds and perhaps thousands of such rabbis circulating in the land of Israel in Jesus’ day. These rabbis did not hesitate to travel to the smallest of the villages or the most remote parts of the land. They would often conduct their classes in the village square or out under a tree (Safrai, ibid, 965). In some instances, classes would be conducted in someone’s home. Often these classes were small. The rabbis did not hesitate to teach as few as four or five students. According to custom, one could not charge for teaching the Scriptures, so the itinerant rabbi was dependent upon the hospitality and generosity of the community . . . The rabbi’s stay in the community might last from only a few days to weeks, or even months. However, for the long term student (“disciple”), learning from a rabbi meant traveling, since the rabbi was always moving from place to place. If one wanted to learn from a rabbi, one had to “follow after him.” 1

The disciples of a rabbi – his “talmid” – would accompany the teacher on all his travels and tasks . . . talmidim (plural) were expected to be at the service of the rabbi . . . This, of course, was part of their continuing education. 2

Now let’s update the opening of the above account to include the above information:

“Then Yeshua said to the crowds and to the talmidim . . .”

Those gathered before Yeshua were members of the public and his talmidim, so it is important to watch for points that would be important to each group. I would have liked to have been with his talmidim when they gathered later and discussed what Yeshua taught that day. After all, the talmidim traveled with him from town to town with Yeshua. They would listen to him teach large public crowds and then be taught as members of his small inner circle who had the privilege of being taught by him daily.

Now let’s look at the next clues in the above verse:

“The scribes and the Pharisees sat in Moses’ seat.”

Yeshua would have called these two groups the SOFERIM (scribes) and the PERUSHIM (Pharisees). The PERUSHIM is the party (sect) representing the religious views, practices, and hopes of the kernel of the Jewish people in the time of the Second Temple and in opposition to the priestly Sadducees. They were accordingly scrupulous observers of the Torah as interpreted by the SOFERIM, or Scribes, in accordance with tradition. The Pharisees formed a league or brotherhood of their own ("HABURAH"), admitting only those who, in the presence of three members, pledged themselves to the strict observance of Levitical purity, to the avoidance of closer association with the 'AM HA-AREZ (“the people” [the ignorant and careless boor]), to the scrupulous payment of tithes and other imposts due to the priest, the Levite, and the poor, and to a conscientious regard for vows and for other people's property. They called their members "HABERIM" (brothers), while they passed under the name of "Perishaya," or "Perushim." The aim and object of the Torah, according to Pharisaic principles, are the training of man to a full realization of his responsibility to God and to the consecration of life by the performance of its manifold duties: “the one is called "'OL MALKUT SHAMAYIM" (the yoke of the Kingship of Heaven [God]) and the other "'OL HAMIZWOT" (the yoke of His commandments). 3 The last two phrases appear in Yeshua’s teachings too.

Our next clue is the phrase “sat in Moses’ seat.” What was “Moses’ seat”? It was the name given to a special chair of honor in synagogues where an authoritative teacher of the Torah sat. The teacher in practice exercised the authority of Moses in teaching and explaining the words of the Torah. The picture below is a “seat of Moses” that was unearthed at the synagogue in the city Chorazim. 4

The last clue is the underlined word in the following translations:

The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. (King James Version)

The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses seat. (American Standard Version)

Dr. Robert Lindsey recognized the importance of this clue:

The verb “sit” in Greek is an aorist. So, to be consistent with the grammar one should translate that the scribes and Pharisees “sat” on Moses’ seat.”

The New American Standard reads, “have seated themselves on the chair of Moses.”

Excellent! The translators recognized a Hebraism! The Greek translator simply had followed the patter that an aorist in Greek replaces the simple past tense in Hebrew although the Hebrew verb may or may not represent a simple past in meaning.

This idiom of “sitting” occurs in the Old Testament. Examples are:

Then sat Solomon upon the throne of David his father; and his kingdom was established greatly. (1 Kings 2:12)

And say, Hear the word of the Lord, O king of Judah, that sat upon the throne of David, thou, and thy servants, and thy people that enter in by these gates. (Jeremiah 22:2)

To sit on the seat of somebody” means literally “to take over his authority.” It is a Hebraism. It is a Hebraism that shines through despite the fact that a Greek translator has translated the verb as simple past. Most English translators have felt compelled to do something with it. They cannot write, “The scribes and Pharisees sat on Moses’ seat”, so they have written “sit.” Once again this is a strong indication that Hebrew stands behind the Greek. 5

When we see the words of the Synoptic Gospels through the lens of the Jewish culture of the Real Yeshua, we find an abundance of clues that help us see the words through his eyes. Here, they shed light on the Hebrew though beneath the Greek words and give us new insights to the relationship of Yeshua to the PERUSHIM and SOFERIM.

I hope that you found this blog informative and it helped you more accurately understand the Real Yeshua -- who is very different from the many “theological Jesus’s” created by Gentile theologians centuries after Yeshua was crucified.

If you found this informative and would like see more blogs like it, I am going to ask you to do two things:

(1) If you did benefit from this study, go to our Facebook page by CLICKING HERE & “LIKE IT.

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Thank you & SHALOM!

5 The Jesus Sources: Understanding the Gospels by Robert L. Lindsey © 1990 HaKesher, Inc., Tulsa, OK; pp. 51-52.