Babylonian Captivity is often misunderstood. When is is referred to in Revelation 13:10 it has sometimes been translated inappropriately as slavery or enslavement instead of as captivity. The correct, literal translation is: “if someone is to go into captivity,he is taken into captivity..” This is taken from Jeremiah 15:2,
“And it will be, if they say to you, Where will we go? Then you will tell them, Thus says the LORD*, Such as are for death, to death and such as are for the sword, to the sword and such as are for famine, to the famine, and such as are for captivity, to the captivity.” The words for captivity in both Hebrew and Greek refer to prisoners of war.
Prisoners of war could be treated harshly or in this case very gently. Here the whole population was subject to deportation to Babylon, but at least some of the laborers were left in Israel. What the others were taken to is described in Jeremiah 29:4.
“Thus says the LORD* of Hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon, 5. Build houses and live in them and plant gardens and eat the fruit from them. 6. Take wives and beget sons and daught¬ers and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands so they can bear sons and daughters so you can be increased there, and not be di¬minished. 7. And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive and pray to the LORD* for it, for you will have peace in its peace.”
We know the people from Israel were comfortable in Babylon because so many of the hundreds of thousands who were taken to Babylon chose to remain there and did not return to Israel when Cyrus issued a decree allowing the people to return, after seventy years of captivity. Nehemiah 7 lists those who returned, with this summary:
“Nehemiah 7:66. The whole congregation to¬gether was forty-two thousand three hundred sixty, 67. besides their male servants and their maid servants, of whom there were seven thou¬sand three hundred thirty-seven: and they had two hundred forty-five singing men and singing women. 68. Their camels, four hundred thirty-five: donkeys, six thousand seven hundred twenty.”
Although there were hundreds of thousands in Babylon, only 42,360 returned, bringing 7,337 servants with them, indicating a very comfortable life-style in their adopted land, as prophesied by Jeremiah. Since only those men were counted, another perhaps 200,000 or more women, children, and old men came with them, still leaving a substantial number in Babylon.
Ben-Yehuda, Eliezer, is the man given credit for making Hebrew the language of modern-day Israel. At great personal sacrifice and with many battles with religious leaders who wanted to keep Hebrew the language of the synagogue, he overcame all the obstacles and succeeded in his dream. In 1881 he established the first Hebrew language newspaper in Jerusalem while battling with the religious leaders. His young son Ben-Zion was severely beaten to shake his resolve, but even that did not deter him. In addition to the newspaper work, he also compiled a sixteen volume Hebrew dictionary, still the standard by which others are judged. This dictionary gives very detailed Hebrew meanings with sample quotes from Scripture (where possible), plus meanings in French, German, English and Arabic. He is undoubtedly the greatest Hebrew scholar of modern times.
His grandson, Rabbi Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, PhD, has been a great help in the work of this Bible, a Conservative Jewish rabbi helping a Christian produce a Christian Bible. His desire is strong for Christians to have a more accurate translation, and this Bible is more accurate than others because of his help. This Bible has many small details gleaned from Rabbi Ben-Yehuda’s teachings, such as in Ezekiel 37:4 pointing out that in the phrase, “say to them” the pronoun “them” refers to people, not bones. He also pointed out that the word “Ts’dakah” should not be translated “righteousness” but “acts of loving kindness.” See Ts’dakah under Hesed elsewhere in this Glossary. He has written a biography of his grandfather, titled Fulfillment of Prophecy, available from Amazon.
Blood of Bulls and Goats did take away sin. The following statement is made ten times just in the book of Leviticus ..and the priest will make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering, and it will be forgiven him. (Lev. 5:16b) In Y’shua’s day books were very expensive, so people memorized worthwhile writings. For Jewish children that meant memorizing Scripture. When a child was five years old the father would start teaching, giving a section to memorize every day. The book they started with was Leviticus, the book of purity, holiness, so every New Testament author and those receiving the letters Hebrews, Jacob, and Peter had as children memorized the verses referred to above. We can deduce from that the author’s emphasis in the tenth chapter of Hebrews is on the permanence of Y’shua’s sacrifice, that He had only to offer His blood one time for all mankind. For the Torah (Teaching) is a shadow of the coming good things, not the form of things themselves, never able to perfect those who come year by year with these offerings which they offer continually: 2. otherwise would they not have ceased being offered, after they had once been cleansed, because those who worship would not still have consciousness of sins? 3. But with these yearly reminders of sins: 4. it is impossible for blood of bulls and goats to permanently take away sin, by a single offering. (Heb. 10:1-4)
From ancient times the Jewish people used wine to express covenant, with red wine representing blood. See Passover under Seasons elsewhere in Glossary.
Book Order in NT. The traditional New Testament book order is used in the One New Man Bible, but try reading through in a different order. The Gospels have a natural progression based on principles established by Jewish scholars by the end of the first century. These principles provide a progression from the simplest, most easily understood, to the most mystical of the books. They give us insight to the writers as well as to the writings by taking us inside the authors and by giving us a natural progression in the proper book order. Each author came from a different background and it is helpful to know something about the author’s perspective. The four styles are listed here and we suggest reading through the Gospels in this order.
Mark Rabbi Hillel wrote seven laws, called P’shat (Literal), for the average layman.
Luke Rabbi Ishmael wrote the thirteen laws called Remez (Hint), for the aristocracy, the professional class.
Matthew Rabbi Gallil wrote the thirty-two laws called D’rush (Thresh) or Homily for the ethical teaching. It is also called LeMelekh (To the King) because it is aimed at the royalty and the Levitical leaders.
John Rabbi Ben Yohai wrote the forty-two laws called Sohd (The Secret Level), for only the most learned Jewish scholars.
The underlined names of these four levels form an acronym PaR’DeS, meaning orchard, and in Modern Hebrew PaR’DeS is the name by which these four methods of Bible study are known. Orchard is significant because the Word of God is an orchard from which we can harvest fruit in every season. It is also significant because there is more than one way to interpret many verses, with each way being correct. One example we can look at is Hebrews 11:5 referring to Enoch’s being translated, which is a possible reading of Genesis 5:24. In this case the simple primary meaning is that Enoch died, but “threshing” the word brings out another meaning, that of his being translated. Both interpretations are correct, the first being from the Peshat, the second from the Derush style. There are many examples in each Gospel tying each one to the style listed above, so try reading the Gospels in this order, which really does add to our understanding of Scripture.
The order of the Epistles can also be changed. Try reading the Epistles based on more probable chronological order. The major change is to follow Acts with 1st Thessalonians, 2nd Thessalonians, 1st Corinthians, 2nd Corinthians, Romans, then Galatians through Philemon. This puts Paul’s teachings in a different perspective. Reading Jacob before Hebrews also provides insight.
Books in New Testament times were generally on scrolls, although a book form was also common. This book form, called Codex, consisted of large pages of either leather or papyrus being stitched together. The letters were large because of the reed pen used, and the rough surface of either leather or papyrus required a heavy hand. The letters were about an inch high, so you can imagine how bulky even a small book would have been. For example, the book of Matthew would have been about thirty feet long. Since copies had to be made by hand by skilled scribes and since both papyrus and leather were expensive, few people had many books. Many in Israel were literate and had some books of the Bible, but for the most part they relied on memorization. Even though books are no longer prohibitively expensive the Jewish people still memorize Scripture. In 1995 a school in Israel was shown on TV, with the Rabbi saying that every ten year old in that school had memorized the entire Tanach and could discuss any passage, relating it to other passages. Our Jewish brothers still use memorization far, far more than we do.
Broken Spirit. David and Solomon are the only authors of Scripture to speak of a broken spirit.
The expression “Broken Spirit” is used once in Psalms and three times in Proverbs, but with very different meanings. David and Solomon were a world apart with their use of the expression, but in Hebrew there is no confusion. The Hebrew language clearly speaks of two different conditions, with the confusion coming from the translation into English.
Ps. 51:19 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and humble heart, O God, You will not despise.
The word translated broken is nishbarah.
The root of nishbarah is sh-b-r, meaning to break, but when applied to a person, the meaning becomes deep sorrow. The N prefix shows that it is past tense and reflexive; that the deep sorrow has already been done by the one with the broken spirit. That is important because in this Psalm, David is stating his sorrow as complete, that he has repented and changed his ways so he can now ask God to forgive him. His repentance is referred to in Psalm 51:13-15. 13. Cast me not away from Your presence and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. 14. Restore Your salvation to me and with a willing, free spirit.
- I shall teach transgressors Your Ways and sinners will be converted to You.
David again speaks of repentance in Psalm 119:59 I thought about my ways and turned my feet to Your testimonies. Each of us is to continually consider the things we have been doing, not continuing to repent for the same sins, but thinking about what we have said and done recently.
Return is used throughout the Hebrew Scriptures to speak of repentance.
Solomon too spoke of a broken spirit, but in a very different way. Solomon uses the word, n-khe-a, which refers to depression, not to repentance. N-khe-a is used only in these three verses, appearing nowhere else in Scripture.
Proverb 15:13. A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but a broken spirit (brings) sorrow of the heart.
Proverb 17:22. A merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.
Proverb 18:14. The spirit of a man will sustain his Infirmity, but who can bear a broken spirit?
Some translations say wounded spirit instead of broken spirit.
The meaning of n-khe-a is: depressed, dejected, melancholy, defeated.
Apparently Solomon was more familiar with despair than with repentance.
Solomon, who was born in a palace, speaks of depression and defeat, and not of repentance. How can the man born to a king and raised to be a king speak of depression and defeat while his father, who was born a shepherd, understood his relationship to God and the need for repentance? The teenager who ascended the throne at seventeen, and was so blessed by the Lord when he asked Him for wisdom at Gibeon (1 Ki. 3:3) drifted away from the Lord over time. During the years of his reign he acquired wives and many possessions that drew his attention from the Lord so that he became cynical, writing some very sad things in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Ecc. 4:1. So I returned and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun and behold the tears of such as were oppressed and they had no comforter and on the side of their oppressors there was power, but they had no comforter. 2. Therefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living that are yet alive. 3. Yes, better is he than both they, who has not yet been, who has not seen the evil work that is done under the sun. 4. Then I saw all labor and all skill for work, that it is rivalry of one with another. This is also vanity and a striving after wind.
Ecc. 7:15. I have seen all things in the days of my vanity: there is a just person who perishes in his righteousness and there is a wicked person who prolongs his life in his wickedness. Clearly, Solomon knew depression.
Depression is caused by a number of things, one of which is drawing away from the Lord. Solomon’s quest for possessions drew him away so that he entered the realm of selfishness which cost him his walk with the Lord. In Proverbs and Ecclesiastes he does not once mention repentance, atonement, or a return to the Lord.
This attitude is evident in 1 Samuel 16:14 when an evil spirit torments Saul. The Spirit of the Lord left Saul, making Saul vulnerable to an evil spirit. One translation calls it a spirit of melancholy, but the literal translation is evil. We know evil spirits torment people in many ways, with depression one of the most insidious. What a blessing that some in the church have now awakened to the spiritual authority given to us so that depression can be conquered, rather than medicated or coped with.
Burning: as in Gen. 38:24 and Lev. 20:14, is not literal. Rabbi BenYehuda wrote: “The issue of “burning” as punishment is NOT a “Jewish” or Hebraic matter, and is not an Israelite form of execution, either.
“The best I was able to understand from many sources that deal with “burning” in our tradition is that the burning is a purging by fire to completely eliminate all existing signs and vestiges of something that is a source of contamination.
“The text deals with matters that are totally outside the allowed norms for people who wish to relate to the Father – and therefore the very existence of perpetrators of such acts must be totally and completely purged.”
“Thus these references to burning are to be viewed in a manner similar to “an eye for an eye” which is not literal.”
- C. The letter C was not in either the Greek or the Hebrew alphabet. It was introduced in the Latin language, so when you see a letter C in a name, you know that that word was taken from a Latin text. Actually, Wycliffe made the first English translation of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate manuscripts that were the standard texts of the Roman Church. Thessalonika, Makedonia, and Kefa are examples of the Greek spelling. Most names were taken from Latin, but some were from Greek. A number of Latin words were not translated, just spelled in English, with the effects still in many modern translations. The Feast of Sukkot or Booths is called Tabernacles from the Latin word for booth, Tabernaculum, the Latin word for tent or booth. See Latin Words elsewhere in Glossary.