The Shot Heard ‘Round The World – 28 June 2014

Today, 100 years ago, on June 28, 1914, in Sarajevo, Gavrilo Princip fired the shot that started World War I when he killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand.  No one could have known then that that gunshot would trigger the first world war in history, with staggering loss of life, but that that war, rather than being the ‘war to end all war’ would actually become the war which has not yet ended.

Jesus Christ said nearly 2000 years ago, when asked by His disciples what would be the sign of His coming and of the end of the age:  “. . .For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.  All these are the beginning of sorrows. . . .Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. . . .when you see all these things, know that it is near — at the doors!  Assuredly I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.” (Mt 24; Lk 21)

When the Allied victors of WW1 carved out their spoils and staked out their territories, they started a process which has continued down till this day, still affecting the entire world:  Jerusalem has come to the fore; Gentile nations are still trampling it even while the Jewish people are re-claiming their capital; the ancient Gentile kingdoms of Babylon, Medes-Persia, Greece and Rome, and the Islamic nations of the Middle East today have all been reconstituted from the aftermath of that war from 1918 as Iraq, Iran, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, not to mention the only non-Gentile nation in the midst of them — Israel!

We who live today are only now beginning to see the beginning of the end which WW1 triggered.  Some of us are children of parents who were born during or just after that war.  The modern nation-states of the ancient Gentile kingdoms are reminiscent of the statue image of Nebuchadnezzer’s dream which Daniel interpreted, recorded for us in the Bible.  Are we the generation which will see the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Stone from Heaven which will knock down all those kingdoms from under their feet, and God will establish His King on Mt Zion in Jerusalem? (Dan 2:34-35, 44-45; Ps 2)

The Negev is Now

Construction work and roadworks are going on all around us here in Beer Sheva, and southward towards Yerucham.  The major investment and development is due to Beer Sheva being chosen as the ‘cyber hub’ of Israel, or as Ben-Gurion University of the Negev President, Rivka Carmi, quips, “silicon wadi“.  (A wadi is a dry river bed, waiting for the waters to stream into it.)   Beer Sheva and the Negev are also developing in preparation for major re-location of military bases and operations to the area.  Real estate and housing prices have skyrocketed, yet still much more affordable than in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.   Investment in the blooming desert, anyone?

You  can read more on this story in a Jerusalem Post article here:  http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-Ed-Contributors/The-Negev-is-now-352560

Kidnapping as Act of Terror – 16 June 2014

Israel is still riveted to prayers and the news reports about the three teen boys, ages 16, 16, and 19, who were kidnapped on Thursday night, and whose whereabouts and circumstances since then are still unknown as of this post.  While it is not certain exactly who carried out the kidnappings, it is clear that it was carried out by jihadi elements within the Palestinian Authority/Hamas-governed population, probably around Hebron.

Both the PA and Hamas have similar short-term policies towards their long-term objectives:  the release of all terrorist prisoners — by which kidnapping civilians, or taking military hostages has proven effective in the past — towards the elimination of the State of Israel.  Their tactics may differ — the PA has seen that violence is less well-received by those they are trying to influence; Hamas still avows armed resistance as an Islamic jihad (Holy War) imperative — yet the goal remains the same.  How else to account for the “reconciled unity” government between the two faction?

The apostle Paul closes out his letter to the believers in Rome with these words: “For your obedience has become known to all.  Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.  And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.” (Rom 16:19-20)

We see that those who practice evil and who repay evil with evil (or even good with evil) are wise concerning evil and do not love that which is good.  Their definition of peace is not the same as the definition given by the God who made peace with His enemies through the blood of the cross, when the only-begotten Son of God willingly paid with His own life for the sin of the world and the sins of sinners.  Vengeance belongs to YHVH!  In the wisdom and righteousness of God, He is giving people to see, to discern, to choose good or evil.  The day of judgment will come, and as the redeemed of the Lord, we want to let Him crush Satan under our feet.

Holidays LIKE They Have in Judah – 5 June 2014

(11 June 2014 – For some comments and responses to this article, see http://www.kehila.com/articles/589-holidays-like-they-have-in-judah)

1Kg 12:32-33   And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar.  So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.

 “So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.”

When the Kingdom of “all Israel” was divided into the northern Kingdom of Israel (Joseph/Ephraim), and the southern Kingdom of Judah (Judah/Judea), God left His place of worship in Jerusalem in the oversight of the Tribe of Levi and House of Aaron, under the sovereign control of the House of David, of the Tribe of Judah, the messianic family line for the Messiah, Son of David and Son of God.  YHVH gave the northern kingdom of Israel to be governed by Jeroboam, while the southern kingdom of Judah was left in the hands of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam.

In order to prevent and discourage those under his rule from continuing to worship the LORD in the only place that He had established to place His name there, i.e., Jerusalem, King Jeroboam of Israel, as written in the Scripture quoted above, established feasts according to his own heart like those in Jerusalem, but not in Jerusalem, the center of worship for all the Children of Jacob/Israel.  This severed the unity of the nation even further, and instilled idolatry and unfaithfulness towards God and His instructions about His feasts/appointed times.

The Bible is written for us living at the end of the age, and for our instruction and admonition in learning from the examples given from Israel’s Holy Spirit-inspired written history. (1Cor 10:11)

I believe that we in the Messianic movement of God to restore all things to His people have allowed ourselves to do what Jeroboam did:  we have adopted some of the holidays of YHVH which He set times for, but for which those set times have been altered; we have also over emphasized some of the feasts of the LORD which He gave to Israel, while minimizing or ignoring others which He also gave; we have given too much weight to “Jewish thinking” as to what is important – even if in unbelief towards God the Father and His Son – rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to give us the mind of Christ/Messiah about these matters in the present dispensation.  (Yes, I do believe that there are dispensations, but am not a classic dispensationalist.)

We are not learning from the example of Jeroboam, but seem to be following his lead:  we are diverting attention from the centrality of the New Jerusalem above for our true and spiritual worship in these days prior to the return of the Lord (Jn 4:19-24), and from celebrating the open revelation of Yeshua/Jesus having already come in the flesh in fulfillment of those holidays which point to Him and to God’s redemption of His people, and which He has given to the whole Body of Messiah/Christ under His welfare in the Commonwealth of Israel.

I will give some examples:

Sabbath (Shabbat) (Gen 2:1-3; Ex 20:8-11; Dt 5:12-15)

The Sabbath is given to observe and to remember that YHVH God created the Heavens and the Earth in six days, and rested on the seventh (the Sabbath); and, to remember that YHVH redeemed and delivered His people Israel out of hard labor and bondage in Egypt to give them rest in the promised Land.  This first of the appointed ‘Feasts of YHVH’ given to Israel (Lev 23) is a holy day to remember (and to act accordingly) our Creator and Redeemer, and the beginning of all that He created and made, and His mighty acts of redemption.  So, in remembering the beginnings, we are also brought to remember the first day of the creation week, when God called light to shine out of the darkness.

In the plan of God, the day after the Sabbath is the first day of the week, or Sunday/Sonday – the day of light.  As born-again new creation children of light and of the resurrection (1Thes 5:4-6; Lk 20:35-36), we have been redeemed, and reconciled to God by the blood of the cross, being brought back into the uncreated Light that is God:  Messiah Yeshua/Jesus is the uncreated Light of the world even before there was a sun.  The seventh-day Sabbath is not the end of God’s plan; the day after the Sabbath, the eternal day of no darkness is the new beginning of eternal life in the new creation that the Father is preparing for those who love Him and His Son.  The Sabbath day is a day to look back, in anticipation of the future judgment and the world to come.  Yeshua/Jesus is our Sabbath rest, in whom we cease from our own works to do the works of God. (Heb 4)

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/sabbath-the-7th-day-and-the-1st-day-of-the-week-25-aug-1995/

First-fruits (Lev 23:9-11)

This holiday has to do with resurrection, the day after the Sabbath (Mt 28:1; Lk 24:1; 1Cor 16:2); it has nothing special to do with the 1st day after Passover, nor with a particular date after the Passover.  The counting of the omer (sheaves of wheat) was to begin from this day:  the firstfruit of the harvest is showing itself, and is waved before God:  Yeshua is alive, first-fruits from the dead! (1Cor 15:20-23)  It is the Son‘s day!  This is the day that the LORD (YHVH) has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in the Lord and in His day! (Ps 118:15-29; Rev 1:10)

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/the-lords-day/

Weeks (Shavuot)/Pentecost (50 Days) (Lev 23:15-17; Acts 2:1)

The Word of the LORD to Moses for Israel tells them to begin counting the appearance of the living wheat harvest from the day after the Sabbath which comes during the Passover week, regardless of what day Passover may  actually begin.  Seven complete Sabbaths, and 50 days from the day of first-fruits/resurrection, is to be celebrated as a presentation of a new grain offering unto YHVHtwo leavened loaves of bread. Shavuot/Pentecost should, therefore, always be celebrated on a Sonday, just as God commanded Israel.  This celebration is expressive of our unity in Messiah/Christ, all knowing that we are sinners for whom the Lord died.  The holiday displays the power of the life of God in the redeemed and forgiven believer in the gospel.  Yeshua is glorified, risen from the dead and seated in glory!  It is a time to rejoice together in Him by the Holy Spirit who has come to dwell in us who are born-again from above!

Yet Israel has changed the day of beginning the count of the 50 days and the 7 weeks, by beginning the count from the day after Passover; that is, on the 16th of the first month, Nisan, on the Hebrew calendar.  Doing so brings them to celebrate Shavuot always on the 6th day of the third month, Sivan.  This is not what God instructed them through His Torah, and, by doing so, the Jewish people have been blinded to the clear connection with Jesus/Yeshua and with His resurrection.  This is not a disconnect caused by the “Gentile Church”, but by the Jewish Synagogue. (Some believers, who are caught up in turning away from all things ‘church’ and taking on all things ‘Jew-ish’, have begun the count on the 17th of Nisan, reckoning the three days and nights of Yeshua being in the grave from the 14th, as the starting point of counting.  But that date is neither the day after the Sabbath of the Passover day, the 15th, nor is it what God said and Moses wrote.  As the apostle Paul admonished, there are those who would be teachers of the Law, but do not know what they are talking about.) (1Tim 1:5-8)

The Holy Spirit is fulfilling the Word of God.  A serious problem has come because Christians have not been able to explain the fulfillment of these appointed holiday feasts from the Bible, often out of ignorance, but sometimes due to reliance on faulty Jewish custom and tradition; again, sometimes in ignorance, other times in rebellion, like Jeroboam.  Jewish people don’t know either.  But Messianic Jews, and Gentile believers in Jesus who connect with Israel and the Jewish people, should know, and act in humble and thankful obedience to God, who magnifies the truth that Yeshua is the Messiah, and He has come!  We are His witnesses, and if we are going to celebrate holidays, then we should at least be able to say what and when they are, even if we are free, for the gospel’s sake, to celebrate, or not to celebrate – unto God — as situations present themselves. (Col 2:16-17)  There is a powerful testimony when believers across streams and cultures celebrate corporately as one body and family the mighty acts of the one true God!

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/holy-daysappointed-times/the-feasts-of-yhvh-and-the-final-harvest/

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/holy-daysappointed-times/shavuotpentecost/evidence-of-holy-spirit-baptism/

New Moon

Many are following those who teach that the New Moon is a sighted crescent, rather than the two to three days of a darkened moon, which typifies the Biblical life which is by faith, and not by sight.  As all of YHVH’s appointed times, the New Moon also relates to Yeshua and also to Israel.

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/the-new-moon-covered-or-revealed/

Memorial of Blowing of Trumpets (Lev 23:23-25)

The Jewish religious authorities added a day to Rosh HaShana, and call it the New Year rather than the 1st of the 7th month.  In adding a day, it puts hardship on poor people who are dependent on daily wages for work.  In emphasizing the Memorial of Trumpet Blasts as the beginning of the Jewish calendar year, it brings in confusion in the people’s mind regarding the redemptive plan of the God of Israel, and His time-table.

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/holy-daysappointed-times/blowing-of-trumpetsrosh-hashana/memorial-of-shouts/

Day of Atonements (Lev 16; 23:26-32; Is 53; Zec 12:10-14)

On Yom Kippur, the Jewish religion places its emphasis on this holiest day in God’s calendar for the people’s civil and religious life on bodily fasting from food for 25 hours, in the hope that their names will be inscribed favorably by God for the coming year, rather than on one’s genuine sorrow and regret for unbelief and disobedience against YHVH and His commandments. For those who are justified through faith in God and in His provision of the sacrificial atoning sacrifice by His Son for our sin, transgression, and iniquity, it is a new beginning, transformed by an affliction of soul to be converted, healed, and fully restored even beyond what we could have thought possible; and, as usual with God, it is all connected with Jesus! Jubilee! (Lev 25:8-12)

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/holy-daysappointed-times/day-of-atonementsyom-kippur/the-scapegoat-day-of-atonements/

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/holy-daysappointed-times/sabbathshabbat/jubilee-blessings-10-jan-2011/

Hanukkah/Birth of the Messiah the Lord (Jn 10; Is 9:6-7; Hag 2; Lk 2:4-20)

The true Light has come; all who came before must give honor and glory to the Lord of all.  Yeshua/Jesus must increase; they all must decrease. (Jn 3:30-31)

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/conception-and-birth-of-john-the-baptiser-and-jesus-the-messiah/

Lord’s Supper

There is the over-emphasis on the connection with the Jewish Passover (recipients of grace apart from sin) and not upon Yeshua’s death being also a sin and guilt offering, the atonement (all people, all sinners in need of a Savior), opening the way into God’s presence for both Jew and Gentile believers (Mt 27:51; Heb 10:15-25) There is no sound basis that the ‘Last Supper’ was a meal patterned after the modern Passover seder.  Yeshua was closing out one dispensation, while ushering in a new and better covenant for His disciples and spiritual family, and giving us a better inheritance than the Law can give hope for.

Both the Old and the New are at present in force, as God  works to fulfill every jot and tittle that is written in the Law and the Prophets, to be brought to completion during the Millennial Kingdom. (Mt 5:17-18)

http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/leavened-or-unleavened-bread-april-2012/

Other holidays have been added to the Jewish calendar, such as Tisha B’Av (Zec 7:1-13; 8:19) and Lag BaOmer, which have become more sacrosanct to the Israeli Jewish people than God’s own memorials; yet there are those within the Messianic movement who give even these credibility, despite their being instituted in direct opposition to the judgments of God against His own people for their unbelief, rebellion, and consequent gross idolatries. (Is 1:10-20; Amos 5:21-24; Rev 3:14-22)

We need to beware of the mote in our own eyes with respect to holidays before we think we can help others with specks in theirs.  Those who say that they see will be judged more severely than those who are blind. (Jn 9:39-41; Ja 3:1)  The devil is a liar, deceiver, murderer, and destroyer.  It is for us to honor the Lord, and bear witness of Jesus/Yeshua to His people – whether unsaved Jews, or whether misguided or unsaved Christians – as we celebrate our great God and Savior.

Jewish believers generally do not recognize or celebrate/observe Sonday/Sunday; First-fruits/Resurrection Day; Pentecost/Shavuot according to the Lord’s timing; the birth of the Messiah.  Shavuot as dated in Judaism is instead of Pentecost; Hanukkah is in competition with Christmas, and given meaning that seeks to decrease the greatness of the Lord’s coming in the flesh into the world; Saturday is considered as the Lord’s Day, and given prominence over the significance of the ‘day after the Sabbath’ prophetically of new birth and eternal life after death for the believer in Messiah.

The Hebraic and Jewish roots of the Messianic/Christian faith are found in the Word of God given to Israel and the Jewish people.  But the roots have produced a whole plant that looks much different than the seed that was planted to sprout those roots. (1Cor 15:35-49)  The flower and fruit are more interesting and glorious than the tangled roots, for all their fascination that God has created and made! God is calling out a people for Himself from every nation; the gospel is neither Jewish nor Greek, but a new thing in the Earth which YHVH is creating in Christ/Messiah.  His appointed times which testify to Messiah having already come – and coming again — bring all believers from any and every nation outside of our camps to Yeshua, uniting us in His love as we suffer with Him and bear His reproach, hoping in His return and the resurrection. (Heb 13:12-16; Rom 8:18-24)  Neither Jewish believers nor Gentile believers are called to bring anyone into our purpose; but God is calling out one new man into His purpose, which He has planned before He created anything.

http://streamsinthenegev.com/new-testament-faith/the-gospel-the-new-covenant-and-the-messianic-faith-are-neither-jewish-nor-greek/

http://streamsinthenegev.com/messianic-judaism/the-faith-in-messiah-yeshua-different-from-all-others/

Pentecost – 8 June 2014

Today, Sonday, is Pentecost, the holiday marking 50 days from the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 7 complete Sabbaths from that day after the Sabbath when He rose and showed Himself alive with many infallible proofs.  On that unique fulfillment of Shavuot/Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was given from the Father in Yeshua’s name to His disciples.  Although the Lord Messiah is ascended in glory at the right hand of God, His presence is still with those who believe by the Spirit of God indwelling those born-again by the Spirit from above.

Oddly, Pentecost is not celebrated by most believers in Israel, certainly not by those associated with the Messianic Jewish sector.  There are reasons for that, but not biblically valid.  That more of the evangelical churches also do not make special notice of the ‘birthday of the Church’, or of the Holy Spirit coming into the world to Help the believers, and to convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment is more of a mystery.  God couldn’t have made it any simpler to celebrate, at least in Western churches:  He made it on the normal day that believers gather together to worship!  In Israel, Sunday is a work day, which is one reason why most Messianic congregations come together on Saturdays.

Whatever the reasons, let us in rejoice together in the living God of the living who has granted us eternal life through repentance and faith in His Son, and has sealed us with the Holy Spirit as a pledge of the glory to come!

HEBREW — The Primary Language of Jesus in Israel in His Day – 2 June 2014

Why Jesus was a Hebrew-speaker

Hebrew, and not only Aramaic, was a spoken language at the time of Jesus, but PM Netanyahu’s exchange with the pope wasn’t only academic: It’s a debate with a clear religious and cultural subtext.

By | Jun. 2, 2014 | 10:28 AM  (HAARETZ)

Around the turn of the millennium, I received an email from a party looking to create a film script about a first century Jewish sage teaching in Aramaic. Since my PhD was in Aramaic, and Semitic languages are an area of expertise, would I be interested? It aroused my curiosity, so I wrote back with a question: Since Jewish teachers in the first century tended to use Hebrew, why would the filmmakers want an Aramaic script? I received a short response that this film script was about Jesus, as if that was enough said. I declined their offer.

Last week’s news controversy over Jesus’ language, sparked by the exchange between Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu and the pope, brings to light how an Aramaic-only speaking Jesus has been enshrined within the academy and society at large. Elon Gilad’s Haaretz article “What language did Jesus speak?” is a prime example.

Gilad starts his case by quoting John 20:16 where Mary Magdalene addresses Jesus as Rabbouni, “my master, my teacher.” Since the Hebrew word rabbi is widely known by specialists and the common reader alike, the assumption is made that rabbouni cannot be Hebrew and must be Aramaic. But the gospel writer called the word Hebrew, not Aramaic, and he was correct. Rabbouni is, in fact, excellent Mishnaic Hebrew. It is attested in Codex Kaufmann of Mishna Ta`anit 3.8. Mistaken conclusions like Gilad’s are perpetuated by wrong assumptions which lead to wrong expectations. A century of Israeli Mishnaic Hebrew scholarship has laid the foundation for a different perspective.

Three backdrops to the language situation of Judea and the Galilee in the first century should actually reverse the expectations regarding Jesus and his languages: The colloquial nature of Mishnaic Hebrew, the anachronistic and foreign character of the Aramaic Targum translations, and the exclusivity of Hebrew in story parables.

A common fallacy presents Hebrew usage in first century Judea and the Galilee as a strictly sacred, literary language, comparable to Latin in Medieval Europe. The notion that both Hebrew and Latin were monolithic is erroneous. During the Second Temple period, Hebrew had developed into two social dialects. The high register was a literary dialect used for prestigious communication, known today as “Late Biblical Hebrew,” the language of books like Ezra and Nehemia and much of the Qumran writings. The low register can be seen in works like the Copper Scroll from Qumran Cave 3, and in various papyri, graffiti, and inscriptions from the Second Temple period, as well as the tannaitic and amoraic writings of rabbinic literature. Already in 1908, M.H. Segal had pointed out to the scholarly world that Mishnaic Hebrew showed the marks of the internal development of a colloquial language – it was definitely not an artificial usage by a scholarly elite.

Secondly, it is argued that first century Judean and Galilean Jews needed a translation of the Hebrew Bible, the Aramaic Targums. The argument runs that the existence of the Aramaic Targums must mean that the people did not know Hebrew. However, the Targums served an interpretive interest beyond simple translation, a commentary that elucidated and expanded the plain text. Also, although many Aramaic writings are found among the Qumran community’s scrolls, except for the foreign (imported) Job and a potential text for a pilgrimage holiday, there is no Aramaic Bible. The Targum traditions that we have stem from the 2nd and 3rd century C.E. At this point in time, a widespread, first-century Aramaic Targum practice in Israel remains speculation and the evidence available, meager though it is, actually points away from such an assumption.

Parables are the third piece of the linguistic puzzle. Certain Jewish literary genres were always in Hebrew, one of which was the rabbinic story parable. In rabbinic literature, even within Aramaic contexts, the story parable was always given in Hebrew. The potential connection with Jesus is obvious, since Jesus, too, is frequently characterized as someone who taught the populace in parables. The parable genre was used for making a point that could be readily grasped by all levels of society. They were a popular literary genre, not “highbrow” or “elitist.”

Archaeology has also been heralded as decisive evidence in the Aramaic-only Jesus. According to Gilad: “In the Galilee, where Jesus lived, Aramaic had taken over by the time Jesus was born. In the south, in Judea, archaeological evidence shows that some pockets of Hebrew still remained during the first century C.E.” This is ironic. The real problem is that we have virtually no archaeological evidence for first century Semitic (Aramaic or Hebrew) languages in the Galilee. We do have Galilean names found in the south, and they are Hebrew!

All of the above is to point out that there are strong evidences that support the prime minister’s comments on Jesus. Yes, in all probability Jesus did teach in Hebrew. Contra Gilad, Bibi’s father, a historian, could be proud of his son. However, the pope countered that Jesus spoke Aramaic. He, too, is partially correct. The Gospel of Mark records at least two utterances in Aramaic, both in private healing accounts, Mark 5:41 and 7:34.

The problem arises when people try to push the issue into exclusivity, either one language or the other. This reaches the most problematic point on the words of the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46, Mark 15:34). It is probable that Matthew’s transliteration reflects the original form of the story, and that Mark is the one who has edited the sounds. Matthew appears to have Jesus referring to Psalm 22 either in Mishnaic Hebrew, or a mixed language, while Mark has Jesus speaking fully in Aramaic, similarly to the two healing accounts mentioned above. In any case, a few statements in Aramaic do not prove its exclusivity.

It is no longer questioned nor considered a viable option that only Aramaic was a colloquial language in the land in the first century. Hebrew was also a colloquial language and a candidate for any teaching with Jewish audiences throughout the land, and may be the primary candidate for such teaching. As for a mother tongue, we simply do not know enough to speak about any particular family situation anywhere in the country.

Why is there such an emphasis on an Aramaic-only Jesus? What is the sub-text that unifies many of those who suggest that Jesus taught in Aramaic? If Jewish teachers tended to use Hebrew in the first century, then a Jesus that teaches in Aramaic can be portrayed as “non-Jewish” or “less-Jewish.” Some will be comfortable with that. Historically, many Christians have wanted to emphasize a universal (and non-Jewish) orientation for the Church and an Aramaic-teaching Jesus fit that role model. Ironically, the same motive might have been comforting within a Jewish context: Jesus is not one of “our Jewish teachers” and incidentally, he did not even teach in our language. Both sides could miss the real Jesus.

A Hebrew and Aramaic-speaking Jesus challenges long-held misconceptions. And even if we disagree, Netanyahu and the pope demonstrated that we can begin discussing these issues amicably.

Randall Buth, PhD, is Director of the Biblical Language Center and a member of the Jerusalem School for Synoptic Research, a consortium of Christian and Jewish scholars who collaborate in studying Jesus and the Gospels. He is a co-editor of the recent book, The Language Environment in First Century Judaea, (edited by Randall Buth and R. Steven Notley), Jerusalem Studies in the Synoptic Gospels, Volume Two (Brill, 2014).

_ _ _ _ _ _

Thanks to Randall Buth for responding to the opportunity afforded by the exchange between the Pope and the Israeli PM, Bibi Netanyahu, to give scholarly support for what the Scriptures have long indicated.

I (Howard) have always thought that Jesus spoke Hebrew as the primary spoken language of the Jewish people in His day.  If Nehemiah pulled out the hair because the returning Jews from Babylonian exile were speaking the language of Babylon (which I assume was Aramaic), and not the language of the Jewish people, then surely the Messiah Himself would be speaking the language of the Hebrew man.  (At the same time, I also believe that the language of the original texts of the New Testament was Greek, with many Hebraisms, given that nearly all of the writers were Israeli Hebrew speakers who could also communicate in Greek, the universal language of the day.  There are lots of Americanisms in my own Hebrew!)

Erasing Hebrew as the language of Jesus and of the Israelis in His day is similar to referring to Him living in Palestine, rather than in the Land of Israel, as mentioned in Matthew when His mother and foster father returned with Him from Egypt.  This is, on the one hand a form of anti-semitism; and on the other hand the righteousness of God:  Israel wants to blot out the name and memory of Yeshua; the nations want to blot out Israel from being a nation anymore.  Thanks and praise to God for our Redeemer and Savior to deliver us from the wrath to come!