Monday, September 23, 2013

Yeshua’s Habit of Going to the Synagogue on Shabbat (Part 1)


Yeshua came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on Shabbat, as was his habit. (Luke 4:16)

It was Yeshua’s habit (custom) to go to a synagogue on Shabbat. Shabbat began at sundown on Friday and ended at sundown on Saturday. It was the seventh day of the Jewish week. Shabbat is a special period of time in the Jewish culture.

On the seventh day ELOHIYM (the Creator) completed His work which he had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all his work which He had done. ELOHIYM blessed the seventh day and set it apart, because in it He rested from all his work which ELOHIYM had created and made. (Genesis 2:1b-3)

Remember the Shabbat by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Shabbat to YAHWEH your ELOHIYM. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days YAHWEH made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore YAHWEH blessed the Shabbat day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11)

In Hebrew, to make something “holy” means to “set apart for a particular purpose or use.” One purpose of the Shabbat is to rest from work and the other is for the teaching of the Creator’s wisdom and laws. The two places His wisdom and laws were taught were at the Temple and in the synagogues during the life of Yeshua.

Theodotus, a Greek historian,[i] noted that there was an important difference between synagogues in Israel and those outside the land. The central focus of all synagogues was to teach the Torah – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers & Deuteronomy. Synagogues in Israel, however, were not houses of prayer.” [ii] In the land of Israel there was only one House of Prayer -- the Temple.
Synagogues in Judea, Samaria and Galilee werehouses of study,” as well as community meeting centers. Yeshua would have attended the synagogue in Nazareth many times during his life and would have been well known by those attending it.

Synagogues shared a number of things in common. The physical alignment of a synagogue pointed in the direction of the Temple in Jerusalem. When we walked through the entrance with Yeshua we would see that the seating was on benches, not in pews. There was a raised platform called a BEMA in the middle, a MENORAH (a seven-branched candlestick), and an ARK.[iii] The congregation faced the Temple as they participated in the services, recited Scriptures, and were taught the Torah.

Synagogues were also the centers of community life on the other six days. Meetings were held and children received their basic education there. Jews traveling through a town would stop at the local synagogue, especially on the Shabbat.  Strangers would be welcomed by the congregation, invited to eat meals with them, and some synagogues even had places where they could spend the night. We will learn more about the synagogue in the blog.

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

“Jerusalem” in IMAX 3-D

The new movie titled "Jerusalem," opening this week, takes advantage of IMAX 3-D technology to produce an ultra-big-screen vision of the city, its history and its people. The amazing 7 minute trailer will give you a fantastic overview of the land of Yeshua and the places he knew. Watch it at -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkKytHCHCYI be sure to view in in “Full Screen.”

Thursday, September 19, 2013

An Angry Man Who Almost Destroyed Mankind

By the time Yeshua finished his message on anger, every Jew listening that day would have recognized its connection to one of the most important accounts in the Torah. It is an account that was, and still is, considered so important because when past generations failed to observe the principles it taught, the result was the Great Flood and the conquering of Israel and Judea by foreign kings. Its message is clear -- the greatest threat to the existence the Jewish people -- and to mankind – is the failure of man to be his brother’s keeper.

Yeshua’s teaching on anger was a commentary on the account of Cain and Abel – Cain’s anger led to Abel’s murder.

At the end of days Cain brought an offering to YAHWEH of the fruit of the ground. And Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions.[i]

Cain and Abel brought QORBAN to YAHWEH. Now pay close attention to what happened next:

And YAHWEH gazed toward Abel and toward for his offering; but toward Cain and toward his offering He did not gaze.[ii]

Remember what Yeshua said about leaving the QORBAN at the altar? Why did YAHWEH ignore Cain and his QORBAN?  In light of Yeshua’s commentary, YAHWEH ignored Cain because he had committed an unreconciled sin against his brother. Cain had not done TESHUVAH -- genuine remorse for the wrong he had committed, ceased from doing it and doing acts of TOV.

And Cain burned exceedingly and his face fell. And YAHWEH said to Cain, "Why are you burning? And why has your face fallen?[iii]

Cain was so angry that it could be seen in his face. Now, based on what we learned from Yeshua Cain (see You Shall Not Ignore Your Brother’s Anger), YAHWEH demonstrates His love for Cain. Remember the parallelism that defined “love” in Leviticus 19:

You shall express sharp, stern disapproval, reprove and reprimand your neighbor // You shall love your neighbor

Ignoring Cain and his anger would have been to hate him! YAHWEH confronted Cain, directly addressed his anger, and instructed him about how to overcome it:

Surely, if you do TOV, you shall be upstanding; but if you do not do TOV, sin will be crouching at your door; its desire shall be for you, but you will be able to master it.[iv]

Cain’s father had also faced an adversary, the serpent in the Garden in Eden. He failed to take dominion of it by following YAHWEH’s commandment. Cain’s serpent is “anger.” YAHWEH also gave him the instructions he needed to take dominion over it -- YAHWEH told Cain “to do TOV”:

TOV is an act that is visible and concrete, good to the sight, beautiful and pleasant to the eyes, that makes something more functionally complete; protects and preserves life; and, enhances the quality of life.

Only Cain could what would protect and preserve life, and overcome the adversary crouching, ready to spring upon him. However, instead of choosing to be the “image of the Creator” by doing “acts of TOV,” Cain chose to become and act “like a wild animal”:

And Cain appointed a place to meet Abel his brother. And it was when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.[v]

Cain rose up like a wild predatory animal and committed the first murder in the Bible – brother against brother. Cain introduced violence and murder into the world. When YAHWEH came and asked him where his brother was, Cain spoke what has to be one of the most famous quotes in the Bible:  

And he said, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?"[vi]

Uncontrolled anger led to murder. Yeshua’s goal was to teach his disciples how to recognize the signs that anger was becoming hotter and hotter until a person became furious and committed an act of murder. However, the Jewish audience knew that the consequences of Cain’s decision to murder Abel did end there – it affected lives of many others who had not even been born yet. Lamech, Cain’s great-great-great-grandson, not only remembered Cain’s sin – he glorified it. Listen to the words of what many scholars believe is the first song recorded in the Bible. Lamech sang it to his two wives:

Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;
you wives of Lamech, give ear to my speech.
For a man I slew, as soon as I wounded him,
Yes, a young man, as soon as I bruised him.[vii]

Lamech was not angry with his victim – he didn’t even know him. Notice how Lamech brags about the violent act of murder he committed against a complete stranger. His song emphasizes his superiority over his victim by stressing that the victim was a young man, indicating that he was a man in his prime, not a weak old man. He chose his victim so he could exceed the deed and legend of Cain. He revealed his motivation in his song:

If sevenfold Cain shall be avenged,
then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.[viii]

Lamech’s song sounded very much like the songs sung by victors when they returned from war. Success in Lamech’s mind was to surpass the violent act of murder committed by Cain – and he achieved it.  And, just like with Cain, Lamech’s appetite for murder and violence was passed down from one generation to another until:

YAHWEH saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. YAHWEH regretted that He had made human beings on the earth, and His heart was deeply troubled. So YAHWEH said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created — and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground — for I regret that I have made them.”[ix]

Now the earth was corrupt in ELOHIYM’s sight and was full of violence. ELOHIYM saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So ELOHIYM said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. . . [x]

 How important was it for everyone to recognize how deadly the consequences of uncontrolled anger could be? What could begin with a spark could flare up and destroy a nation. Yeshua’s message wasn’t directed only at the angry person – it was also to remind everyone hearing his words that “we are our brother’s keeper!”

Is Yeshua’s message still relevant today? We are all aware of the impact of anger, violence, and murder in our world. Gang members and disturbed individuals are choosing their victims for sport – just like Lamech. Angry violent murderers the heroes of the games people play, as well as the television shows and movies that we – and our children -- continually watch. What do you think Yeshua would say about it?

This brings us to the end of the teaching of Yeshua about anger. We have many more lessons to learn from him. If you believe understanding the messages of the Real Yeshua is important and relevant today – we ask you to help us do the following so together we can make others aware of what he said:

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[i] Genesis 4:3-4a
[ii] Genesis 4:4b-5a
[iii] Genesis 4:5b
[iv] Genesis 4:6-7
[v] Genesis 4:8b
[vi] Genesis 4:9b
[vii] Genesis 4:23-24
[viii] Genesis 4:23-24
[ix] Genesis 6:5-8
[x] Genesis 6:11-13

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

You Shall Not Ignore Your Brother’s Anger (Yeshua’s teaching on anger - Part 7)

In the first blog in this series -- An Angry Person Should be Tried in Court like a Murderer -- we saw that Yeshua’s message about anger was linked to Leviticus 19:17-18:

You shall not hate your brother in your heart.
You shall YAKACh with your neighbor lest you bear sin because of him.
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your people.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
I am YAHWEH.

In the Torah, anger is linked to the Hebrew word translated “grudge” in the above verse. In the previous blog in this series -- Settle Matters With Your Brother While There is Still Time – we learned that unresolved anger could block one’s forgiveness from YAHWEH and negate the value of one’s sacrifice. The man who had committed one of the three degrees of offenses related to anger, according to Yeshua, was to leave his QORBAN (sacrifice) at the altar, go find the one who he had committed the offense against, be reconciled with him, and then return to the Temple and present his QORBAN.

But, YESHUA’s disciples would have realized that someone else might also need to leave his QORBAN at the altar, beside the angry man. In order to understand the words from Leviticus, we must become familiar with a common literary feature of Hebrew poetry and prose called parallelisms.” In a parallelism, the words of two or more lines of text are directly related in some way. Being able to recognize parallelisms greatly increase the chances to accurately understand the passage. Below are the parallelisms in the verses from Leviticus above:

Line 1 -- You shall not hate your brother . . .

Line 2 -- You shall YAKACh with your neighbor . . .

Line 3 -- You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge . . .

Line 4 -- You shall love your neighbor . . .

The symbol used for parallelism is //.

Line 1 // Line 3
hate // vengeance & grudge

Line 2 // Line 4
YAHACh // love

In this context, a person that takes vengeance or bears a grudge against his brother -- hates him.
Keep in mind that -- “You shall not hate” -- is a commandment, just like those found in the Ten Commandments, and so is -- “You shall love.”

What does “love” mean here? The answer is provided in the parallelism in the context – it is to YAHACh. See if this is what comes to your mind when you think about love. The Hebrew & Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Vol. 2 page 410) defines YAHACh as:

(1) rebuke[i]
(a) to express sharp, stern disapproval of
(b) to reprove
(c) to reprimand

(2) prove[ii]
(a) to establish the truth or genuineness of
(b) to establish the truth by evidence or argument

Love in this context of the teachings of Yeshua meant “to express sharp, stern disapproval, reprove and reprimand your angry brother.” Ignoring his anger would be to hate him!

The Pentateuch: Translation of the text and excerpts from the commentary of Samuel Raphael Hirsch (p. 455) provides information about the meaning of YAHACh in this context:

Rebuke . . . again and again. In the vast majority of cases where it occurs in Scripture . . . (it) denotes making someone aware of an unpleasant fact about himself, to explain to him that he has been guilty of an intellectual error, or that he has strayed from the path of morality. . . . In this verse we are told: Do not hate your brother in your heart, but take him to task, make him realize what he has done. This commandment imposes upon us the noble duty, if we feel we have been wronged or insulted by another, to forget the matter completely and not permit it to affect our attitude toward him in any manner, or, if we feel we cannot do this, not to allow sinister hatred to smolder in our hearts but to speak out to him candidly in order to give him an opportunity to justify his conduct or to make amends for it. . . .

“At the same time, however, the commandment to “rebuke . . . again and again” implies that every member of the Jewish community has the duty not to remain silent when he sees a fellow Jew commit a sin, be it great or small, but must do his part by remonstrating (showing or pointing out) with him again and again . . . so that the sinner may, if possible, gain insight into his conduct and mend his ways.”

The Mitzvot: The Commandments and Their Rationale (p. 230) by Abraham Chill adds the following insights into the meaning of the commandment, “You shall rebuke your neighbor”:

(1) No one lives on an island by himself. Everyone’s life is interwoven with the lives of those around him. As Judaism sees it, every Jew is responsible for the welfare of one’s fellow Jews.

(2) Concern for the welfare of one’s neighbor includes concern for his moral and spiritual growth. The Torah therefore asks us to “rebuke” our fellow Jew if we see that he is doing wrong, and to keep on rebuking him until he mends his ways or until it becomes obvious that our concern succeeds only in arousing his resentment. If we remonstrate with him, we must do so in a kind and gentle manner, pointing out to him that we have no other interest except to help him.

(3) It is a sin to shame a sinner in public without first having remonstrated with him in private. The Rabbis say that he who unnecessarily humiliates another man in public forfeits his own share in the world to come.

Yeshua’s message about anger made it clear that what an angry man says can elevate anger to much higher offenses. It also leads to something more serious than anger -- fury. Pay close attention to the parallelisms below:

Make no friendship with an angry man //
do not walk with a furious man. (Proverbs 22:24)

An angry man stirs up strife //
a furious man abounds in sin. (Proverbs 29:22)

Just as words spoken by the angry man – RAQA & NAVAL – elevated the seriousness of the offense, the lack of words of rebuke by the Jews who heard them, played an important role too. If they had acted when they saw him become angry or when he said RAQA or when he said NAVAL – the man could have done TESHUVAH (repentance) and been forgiven. Therefore, when those men went to the Temple to present their QORBAN, if they had remembered that they had committed an offense against the angry man by not rebuking him – they would have to leave their QORBAN there and gone to find him.

This brings us to the last part of Yeshua’s lesson on anger. Yeshua included several clues in his message that every Jew in his audience, and probably most Jews today, would immediately recognize as references to angry man that almost destroyed the whole world.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Settle Matters With Your Brother While There is Still Time

Let’s continue with Yeshua’s teaching on anger (Part 6):

Agree with your adversary quickly while you are still on the road with him; lest at any time your adversary deliver you to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Amen! I tell you, you will not come out of there until you have paid the last kodranthn (KODRANTEN). (Matthew 5:25-26)

The three key terms in the closing of Yeshua’s lesson on anger are adversary, amen and kodranthn. Let’s begin by discovering the meaning of the Greek word kodranthn. A number of English translators chose to use the word “farthing” -- “until you have paid the last farthing.”  Their decision to use “farthing” reveals something important about the influence of their culture on their translation of the Bible. They chose a familiar English word from their culture that readers would have clearly understood – but the word they chose no longer is used or familiar to American English readers.

What is a farthing? Farthing is derived from the Anglo-Saxon feorthing, a fourthling or fourth part, or “quarter.” Farthing is also the name of a British coin, which was first minted in 1714.[i] “Farthing” is the translation they chose for the Greek word found in the ancient manuscripts -- kodranthn -- which is a transliteration of the Latin word quadrantarius, which means “quarter-, of, relating to a quarter.” A quadran was a Roman copper coin (click here to see pictures & more info). A good translation for American readers today would be penny -- “until you have paid the last penny!”   

The Greek words translated “adversary” are tw antidikw. They may also be translated – enemy or opponent at law (when a law suit is involved). Here, Yeshua was saying, “Agree with the one who is an opponent in a law suit.”

The third word is “Amen!” In a previous blog, we learned that when Yeshua used the word “Amen!” he was making an important point (the earlier blog is What does “Verily” mean & why did Yeshua use it so much?). Dr. Robert Lindsey explained that the use of “Amen!” was part of a three-fold pattern Yeshua often used in his teachings to make important points. The three-fold pattern Yeshua skillfully used consisted of the following:

1. Significant statement
2. Amen
3. Added statement strengthening the Amen.

Now let’s use this information to reconstruct the three-fold patter Yeshua used here.

1. Agree with the one who is your opponent in a law suit while you are still on the road to the court with him; lest at any time your opponent delivers you over to the judge, who will hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. (significant statement)

2. Amen!

3. You will not come out of the prison until you have paid the last penny you owe your opponent and the court! (added statement strengthening the Amen!).

The point Yeshua made:

Settle things with your brother while you are walking on the road of life, while you still have the option to do so. If you don’t, then a judge will resolve the issue in a human court or on the Great Day of Judgment!

As we saw in the previous blog (Would God Not Accept His Sacrifice?), God cannot forgive a person until the brother he or she has offended forgives the person first. The importance of restoring one’s relationship with his or her brother is absolutely essential for receiving God’s forgiveness. Yeshua’s primary focus in this lesson, as well as many other lessons, was the importance of one’s relationship with his or her brother (neighbor). This is the cornerstone principle of Yeshua’s religion and the original salvation message he taught.

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Would YAHWEH Not Accept His Sacrifice? (Yeshua’s teaching on anger, Part 5)

Why did Yeshua tell his disciples to leave the QORBAN (sacrifice, gift) at the altar in the Temple and walk away from the presence of YAHWEH?

Therefore if you bring your QORBAN to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your QORBAN there, before the altar, and first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your QORBAN. (Matthew 5:23-24)

Notice that Yeshua gave a specific reason – your brother has something against. What does “has something against you” mean? Keep the context in mind -- Yeshua was teaching about a person being angry with his brother. The person at the altar has committed at least one of the three offenses indicated above by Yeshua: 

(1) unresolved anger against his brother
(2) called his brother useless, of no value and empty out of anger
(3) accusing his brother of denying that there is a Creator and that no one does TOV out of anger

In Yeshua’s example, there is no question about the guilt of the person standing at the altar. He had done at least one of the above to his brother.  It should be noted that nothing is said about whether his brother knew what he had done.

Now pay very close attention to what Yeshua said – “and there remember.” Why would the guilty person suddenly remember that he was guilty of the offense at that specific moment and place? Yeshua’s Jewish culture provides an important clue:

A QORBAN has no expiating effect unless the person making the offering sincerely repents his or her actions before making the offering, and makes restitution to any person who was harmed by the violation.[i]

Everyone listening to Yeshua knew exactly why. It was at that point in presenting the QORBAN that the person presenting it considered his state of ritual purity. The question of whether YAHWEH would accept it was linked to his ritual purity. It was at that moment that he remembered that he was guilty of an offense against his brother and he had not taken the required action to reconcile it.

In order to understand what Yeshua and his Jewish followers knew because they were Jews, we have to learn some new vocabulary words. We must understand the Jewish culture’s meanings for sin, forgiveness and repent. Dealing with words that we already have deeply entrenched definitions for always creates difficult challenges. Not only did many of us learn definitions for these words in school, we also were taught what they mean in church.  So, what I always do in this type of situation is write the new definition. Below are the definitions for the Hebrew words translated sin, forgiveness and repent. This is what they meant to Yeshua and his Jewish disciples.

(1) SIN: There are about 20 different Hebrew words which denote sin in the Jewish Scriptures. The three words that are used the most often are HET’, PESHA, and AVON.[ii]

● The root HT’ occurs 459 times and means “to miss something; to fail.” It signifies a failure of mutual relations and corresponds to the modern idea of “offense” rather than the theological concept of “sin.”

● The root PESH’ occurs 136 times and its basic meaning is to “breach a covenant.”  Acts of this type are said to dissolve the community or break the peaceful relations between two parties, as in cases involving international treaties.

● The root AVON is found in the Bible 17 times and basically expresses the idea of “crookedness” and thus means “to wrong.”

● One who fulfills the claims of a relationship or an agreement is righteous; one who does not, offends (sins). The one who fulfills the agreement is innocent, while the one who does not is guilty.

(2) FORGIVENESS: When God “forgives” one’s sin, He “covers” or “hides” it. He “does not remember” it. He “bears” it Himself. The sin is forgotten, covered, not imputed to the sinner -- God’s forgiveness of sins is identical with the curing of the man and with the regeneration of his strength.

● The basic idea is that sin is an evil force that adheres to the sinner and that forgiveness is the divine means for removing it. This can be seen by the vocabulary of forgiveness, which is rooted in the cultic terminology of cleansing. The most prominent epithet of God in His role of forgiver is “He who lifts off sin.”

TESHUVAH is a prerequisite for divine forgiveness.

God’s forgiveness, however extensive, only encompasses those sins which man commits directly against Him. Sins against one’s fellow man are not forgiven until the injured party forgives the perpetrator. The sinner must not only ask for forgiveness; he must also make the required restitution to repair the damage he caused.

(3) TESHUVAH: It literally means to “turn” or “turn around.” God will not pardon a person unconditionally, but waits for him or her to do TESHUVAH.[iii] 

● A person must experience genuine remorse for the wrong he or she has committed and then convert his or her penitential energy into concrete acts
● The first concrete act is to cease from doing the sin.
● The second is to do TOV (good).

● The motion of turning implies that sin is not an ineradicable stain but a straying from the right path, and that by the effort of turning, a power God has given to all men, the sinner can redirect his destiny.

The man at the altar had not been forgiven by the person he sinned against and he knew that YAHWEH could not forgive him or accept his QORBAN. Yeshua wasn’t revealing something new to his audience. He was simply reminding them of something they all already knew, but may not have been doing.

This sounds pretty strange to many of us because our religion puts a man’s relationship with God first; but as we will hear multiple times in the teachings of Yeshua -- God not only puts a man’s relationship with his fellowman first, He bases His relationship with man on it!

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[ii] Encyclopedia Judaica © Keter Publishing House Jerusalem Ltd, Israel;  Vol. 14 Col. 1587-1593
[iii] Encyclopedia Judaica; Vol. 14 Col. 73

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Leave Your QORBAN at the Altar (Yeshua’s teachings on Anger, Part 4)

Let’s review Yeshua has made the following points about the different types of offenses related to anger, from the least to the most serious:

Offense #1: Anger is equivalent to murder.

Offense #2:An angry person that says the person he is angry with is useless, empty and of no value commits a more serious offense than Offense #1.

Offense #3: An angry person that says the person he is angry with denies that there is a Creator and that YAHWEH does not do acts of TOV commits a more serious offense than Offense #2.

Now Yeshua continues his lesson:

Therefore if you bring your QORBAN to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your QORBAN there, before the altar, and first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your QORBAN. (Matthew 5:23-24)

Yeshua was clearly addressing people who understood what he was talking about because it was something they did. The Temple’s sacrificial rituals were part of all of their lives. In an earlier blog I provided an overview of the layout of the Temple (click on Experiencing the Temple Yeshua Knew & print the first diagram). Find the location of the altar where the QORBAN was taken. There are many different types of QORBAN, and the laws related to them are detailed and complicated.

Olah (Burnt Offering)
Zebach Sh'lamim (Peace Offering)
Chatat (Sin Offering)
Asham (Guilt Offering)
Food and Drink Offerings

In ancient times, a major component of Jewish ritual was the offering of QORBANOT (plural of QORBAN). An entire order of the Talmud (Kodashim, that is, Holy Things) is devoted to the subject. It is very important to understand what QORBAN meant in Yeshua’s Jewish culture.  QORBAN is usually translated as "sacrifice" or "offering.” Both translations suggest a loss of something or a giving up of something. In a world in which the food we eat has been completely separated from killing and butchering animals, what took place at the altar is often viewed as horrible and gruesome. It is an unknown experience in the lives of most Bible readers today. But in the world in which Yeshua lived and his Jewish culture, the procedure for slaughtering livestock for sacrificial purposes was the same procedure they used in their villages for slaughtering animals to produce the food they ate. It was a procedure designed to be as quick and painless as possible for the animals. The slaughtering of animals was not the focus of those presenting QORBAN at the Temple.

In order to understand what their focus was, we must turn to the meaning of QORBAN, which comes from this root:

"
9
8
B
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Q
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The meaning of the root QRB is "to draw near." The person brought the QORBAN to the Temple so he could “draw near to YAHWEH.” The closest ritual that we have today that is similar to that experience is probably prayer. We pray to thank God, to ask for forgiveness, to seek his help, to praise him – to draw near God. But there is one very important difference -- all we have to do is bow our heads and start praying where ever we are.

In our culture and realities, we view the presence of God being everywhere, but in Yeshua’s world YAHWEH’s presence was located in a specific place – the Temple. The layout of the Temple reveals not only who has a place in YAHWEH’s sacred space, but also defines how close they can draw near him. Look at the Temple diagram again and find the following areas.

Court of the Gentiles – Area for anyone of either gender from any nation.
Court of the Women – Only Jewish women and men.
Court of Israel – Only Jewish men.
Holy Place – Only priests (Jewish males).
Holy of Holies – YAHWEH’s place (only high priest once per year).

Everyone had a place in the Temple, but not everyone could draw as near to YAHWEH as Jewish males bringing QORBAN. However, they couldn’t just walk in and drop it off. Follow the steps of a Jewish man doing what was required to drawing near YAHWEH.

● He would first take his QORBAN to a priest at the Double Gates on the south to be examined.
● He would have seen and smelled the Valley of Hinnom as he stood there.
● Next he would have to go to the ritual immersion bath complex, also on the south side and ritually immerse himself under the supervision of priests.
● After leaving the bath complex, he would enter the Temple complex probably on the southwest corner.
● He would then walk across the Court of the Gentiles and walk through the Beautiful Gate.
● He would then walk across the Court of the Women and enter the Nicanor Gate.
● He would stand in the Court of Israel and wait until he was called by a priest.
● He would then take his QORBAN to the altar and prepare to do his part of the ritual.

Now grasp the impact of Yeshua’s message:

“. . . and there (at the altar in the Court of Israel) you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your QORBAN there, before the altar, and first be reconciled to your brother. . .”

Put yourself in the shoes of that person. After doing all of the things above, you have finally been called by a priest and are standing next to the altar preparing to do your part of the ritual, standing physically as close to the presence of YAHWEH as you possibly could – and then you remember that you are angry with your brother (and may have called him RAQA or NAVAL). Imagine what those listening to Yeshua thought when he told them to -- “STOP! Leave your QORBAN right there at the altar! Go find your brother and be reconciled with him! Then comeback and finish presenting your QORBAN to YAHWEH!”

Let’s put it in a setting that we can better understand, even though the magnitude of the event cannot come close to what Yeshua described. You are attending a church service and the minister asks you to come up to the pulpit and lead the congregation in the “Lord’s Prayer,” which contains -- and forgive us our debts (sins), as we have forgiven our debtors (those who have sinned against us). As you open the Bible to read the prayer – right there -- you remember that you have sinned again your brother and have not received his forgiveness – you stop and immediately leave the pulpit, leave the church, go find your brother and be reconciled to him. Then you come back and finish reading the prayer.

Why would Yeshua tell someone to leave the presence of YAHWEH at that specific moment and go find a person he had committed an offense against? Wasn’t being in the presence of YAHWEH more important? Or did YAHWEH consider something to be more important than the QORBAN and the ritual? We will continue this amazing lesson of Yeshua on anger in the next blog.

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*Source for information on QORBAN: http://www.jewfaq.org/qorbanot.htm#Purposes