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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