Do you ever find the Bible difficult to read and understand? I think most of us could answer this with a Yes.
The Bible was written over a span of 1500 years by Jewish men who lived in Jewish culture and spoke Hebrew, Aramaic, and sometimes Greek. No wonder we can have trouble. The Bible is filled with Hebrew idioms which are hard for us to understand without their proper context.
If I told my Iranian friend, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch,” she would have no idea what I meant. That’s how it can be for us when reading the Bible.
For instance, Matthew 6:22-23 says,
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”
The Hebrew idiom states if you are a generous person then your eye is healthy, but a selfish man’s eye is bad. That is why Matthew 6:24 says,
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
About ten years ago, I got excited when a local rabbi taught me a few things about the Hebrew language. He told me interesting things about the Hebrew letters and their meanings. You see, not only does Hebrew have an alphabet, it has a pictograph and a numerical part to their language.
The first letter of the Hebrew language is Aleph and looks like this:
It has three parts to it, but its numerical value is one (can you say, Trinity?). Its pictograph is of an ox and means strength and leader. It is the letter that represents the Father. It is used in El as in Elohim.
Every letter in the Hebrew alphabet has a name. English has the letters a, b, c, d… but that is it, no words, or names to represent them. Hebrew has a letter much like our W, but has the sound of an “s” or “sh.” It looks like this:
Its name is shin (pronounced sheen) and it means sacrifice. We find this letter in Jesus’ Hebrew name Yeshua. It is also in God’s name El Shaddai. It is believed that God wrote His name in Jerusalem. If you look at maps of the valleys in Jerusalem it looks like the letter shin.
The blue lines represent the three valleys in Jerusalem and the Shin–or Shaddai.
Every name and word in Hebrew has more meaning when you know the meaning of the letters and what they represent.Every name and word in Hebrew has more meaning when you know the meaning of the letters and what they represent. #VineWords @DPavlantos #TheAlephandBet Click To Tweet
But enough of the alphabet… By the way, Hebrew is where we get that word, too. The first letter of their alphabet is aleph and the second letter is a bet. You can find more on this at http://www.hebrew4christians.com.
We have been taught for a long time that Luke was Greek. But from what I have learned he was a Jewish man and probably one of Yeshua’s seventy-two disciples mentioned in Scripture.
If you really pay attention to not only who Luke writes to, but what he writes about in his Gospel and Acts, you can see clues to who this man was. He dedicates his book to Theophilus (Theophilus ben Ananus). It has been found that this man was a high priest during the time of the second temple period from 37 to 41 CE. (https://www.geni.com/people/Theophilus-ben-Ananus-High-Priest-of-Iudaea/6000000021729306527)
Why would a Jewish High priest read a letter from a Gentile? He would not. Luke gave an account of Yeshua’s life to this high priest who was concerned about who the priests under him were following. (Many priests from the temple followed Yeshua).
Second, Luke wrote a lot about Yeshua’s life where the temple is concerned. He starts off his book introducing Zechariah, a temple priest, and the father of John the Baptizer. He moves on to the birth of Yeshua, his presentation by his parents at the temple, and later, his bar mitzvah and being found by his parents talking with the rabbis in the temple in Luke 2.
There is much we can learn from our Jewish friends about the Bible.
You may or may not agree with me. That is okay. We do not worship the Bible or its human authors, but we worship the Author and perfecter of our faith–Jesus Christ/Yeshua Ha Mashiach
I have much more to share. Stay tuned.
Please let me know what you think. If you have questions, I will do my best to answer them. Thanks for reading!
Meet Our Contributor
STEPHANIE D PAVLANTOS
Stephanie Pavlantos is an award-winning writer who is passionate about getting people into God’s Word. She has taught Bible studies for over fifteen years, speaking at ladies’ retreats, at her church, and over the internet.
Stephanie is the president of the Hudson, Ohio chapter of Word Weavers. She is the Social Media Director, Senior Editor, Bible Study Writer, and devotion writer for VineWords: Devotions and More She is a Co-compiler, and contributing author to Love Knots: Stories of Faith, Family, and Friendships (VineWords Publishing).
Her book, Jewels of Hebrews, won third place at Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, and an Honorable Mention at the Florida Christian Writers Conference.
She is an ordained minister, holding credentials with Messenger Fellowship in Nashville, TN.
Stephanie works for the Besorah Institute for Judeo-Christian Studies in the Student Services department, as well as teaching their online classes.
Stephanie holds weekly Zoom Bible studies, covering topics such as the Jewish roots of Christianity; the Four Covenants; and other themes.
She is published in Refresh Bible Study Magazine, Charisma Magazine, Christian Broadcasting Network, and Faith Beyond Fear. Stephanie is a contributing author to Feed Your Soul with the Word of God (Lighthouse Bible Studies).
Married for twenty-seven years, she and Mike have three children: Matthew, Alexandria, and Michael. Stephanie loves animals of all kinds and has adopted into her family an assortment of dogs, ducks, goats, and chickens.
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