Korban: A Sacrificial Present

Korban: A Sacrificial Present

What does the Hebrew word korban mean?

Our Hebrew word for today is קֹרְבָּן (korban), which occurs in the Bible with the following translations: offering (68x), oblation (12x), offered (1x), sacrifice (1x).

The korban was presented as a remedy for the guilt of sin. But sin itself has many different translations. It occurs 448 times in 389 verses in the KJV. Translated as trespass, it occurs 82 times in 73 verses. Transgression occurs 51 times in 50 verses, iniquity occurs 278 times in 262 verses.

Then there are offerings, קָרְבָּן. Although translated as a sacrificial present, there was an elaborate system of offerings to deal with sin in the Hebrew scriptures, but just one in the New Testament. That one, of course, was the ultimate sacrificial offering made by God Himself, in the person of Yeshua ben haElohim (Jesus the Son of God).

Let’s look first at the differences among the translations for sin.

The result of continuous, unrepentant sin is a reprobate mind. Here is how reprobate is defined:

noun

a depraved, unprincipled, or wicked person: a drunken reprobate.
a person rejected by God and beyond hope of salvation.

adjective

morally depraved; unprincipled; bad.
rejected by God and beyond hope of salvation.

verb (used with object), rep·ro·bat·ed, rep·ro·bat·ing.

to disapprove, condemn, or censure.
(of God) to reject (a person), as for sin; exclude from the number of the elect or from salvation.

Romans 1:21

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

Now let’s look at the different kinds of offerings.

Colossians 1:19– 20

In Him, all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross.

Christ’s Sacrifice Once for All (Hebrews 10:1-10)

The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason, it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
    but a body you prepared for me;
with burnt offerings and sin offerings
    you were not pleased.
Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
    I have come to do your will, my God.’”a]

First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

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Shining the Light on Slavery in the Hebrew Scriptures

Shining the Light on Slavery in the Hebrew Scriptures

“And if the slave shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.”

Exodus 21:5-6

Exodus 21:5-6

What does it mean to be a slave? According to the Vocabulary.com dictionary, slavery is defined thus: Slavery is the brutal practice of forcing someone to work hard without paying them a fair wage, sometimes without paying them at all. That is a perfectly adequate definition for modern America, but it is far from the reality of slavery in ancient Israel. In fact, the rules and commandments about slaves goes all the way back to Moses, before the people ever crossed into the Promised Land.

As you can see from the definition of avad (above), it actually means doing work that another desires you to do. Moses had just delivered the people from slavery in Egypt; wouldn’t you think they wouldn’t want to subject others to what they just came from? Well, that’s why Moses told them about how they should treat slaves.

The system of slavery in ancient Israel is nothing like the definition from Vocabulary.com. In fact, the word avad was used for both servants and slaves. The difference between the two involved why they were working for their masters. People generally became household slaves because they owed money they could not pay. A thief might become a slave if he could not make restitution. A family who was very poor might sell their young daughter as a slave, but that was the purview of the father alone. The mother had no say in the matter.

In order for a Hebrew to become a slave for debt, a court would have to make an order. The only other way for this to happen was for the slave to voluntarily become a slave. And even then, the period of his slavery could not exceed 6 years.

Reading Hebrew
Photo courtesy of Lavi Perchik on Unsplash

Slaves were members of the master’s household. They were fed, clothed, often given education, and had all their needs met. The Sabbath applied to them, too, so one day a week they were not required to work. The males were circumcised and they all took part in God’s appointed festivals. If there was no heir (and sometimes if there were), a slave could inherit his master’s estate.

While they were living in the master’s household, the master only had limited rights over them. If the master mistreated them, they could be set free by the courts. And all slaves, no matter the reason for their slavery, were set free in the year of Jubilee. Anything that originally had belonged to the slave was returned to him at that point, including landholdings of his family.

If the master ignored the law and mistreated his slave and the slave ran away, others were to give him refuge, not return him to the wicked master.

After a slave was set free, he was not sent away empty-handed but was given gifts like a son leaving home.

“And when thou lettest him go free from thee, thou shalt not let him go empty; thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy threshing floor, and out of thy winepress; of that wherewith the Lord thy God hath blessed thee.”

Deut. 15:13–14

When a female was sold into slavery, the son of the master had to marry her. If he refused, she was set free. However, female slaves were only sold into slavery up to the age of 12, and only in the case of abject poverty. As soon as her father could afford to, she must be redeemed.

What about slaves who were not Hebrew? Alien slaves were rarely personal property. They became slaves through war and as such belonged to the king and not an individual. They were in servitude in perpetuity. “Ye may make them an inheritance for your children after you, to hold for a possession, of them ye may take your bondmen forever” (Lev. 25:46).

Today, slaves are sold, whether male or female, and with indifference to age, all over the world—except in Israel. They are forced to work for others and are often sold to other owners. The things considered “work” that they must do are often horrific. They are starved, beaten, raped, and made to work for long hours without pay and certainly never allowed a “Sabbath.” But one thing is true: human trafficking and slavery today is nothing like slavery in ancient Israel.

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Hebrew WOW!   ישועה

Hebrew WOW! ישועה

Word of the Week

yeshua

Hebrew

To Christians, salvation comes through Jesus. In Hebrew, the name of Jesus is Yeshua. So is the word salvation.  It looks like this:

ישועה

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Yeshua, [which means `ADONAI saves,’] because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21 (Complete Jewish Bible)

Jews do not view salvation the way a Christian does.

To be a Jew is not necessarily to embrace Judaism so much as it is to identify with Jewish culture. Many current-day Jews don’t even believe that God exists. Those who do often do not believe in an afterlife.

In speaking of Japanese resistance to the gospel message, Peter Lundell introduces the concept of “Nihonkyo.” The concept actually speaks to one’s ultimate loyalty. That loyalty is not to a particular belief or even to a nation, “but rather to one’s identity and obligations as a Japanese person.” Similarly, there is an expectation of loyalty on the part of individual Jews despite their religious convictions. Part of that loyalty is defined as not believing in Jesus. — David Brickner | Nov 20, 1997 referring to Lundell, Peter. “Behind Japan’s Resistant Web: Understanding the Problem of Nihonkyo” Missiology: An International Review 23:4 (October 1995), p. 409. 

Salvation for a Christian rests on the knowledge of original sin, acceptance that we are born with the sin nature, and that salvation is an individual experience that converts our souls. There is no individual salvation necessary to a Jewish way of thinking because they do not believe in original sin.

“O my God, the soul Thou gavest me is pure; Thou didst create it, Thou didst form it, Thou didst breathe it into me. Thou preservest it within me, and Thou wilt take it from me, but wilt restore unto me hereafter.” — Jewish Siddur (prayer book)

In cartoons when you see the devil sitting on one shoulder and an angel on the other, you may think that it is a Christian doctrine, but you would be wrong. However, it’s a pretty good representation of how Jewish people think of sin. Believing that each person is born neutral with an inclination toward good and an inclination toward bad, Jews believe that there is nothing to stop us from choosing good.  Their rabbis teach that we have both a yetzer ha tov (good inclination) and a yetzer ha ra (bad inclination). Most will admit to making mistakes and poor choices, but they do not see themselves as sinners.

Therefore, why would they need a Savior?

Salvation, they believe, is not an individual thing but a corporate one. Salvation nearly equals survival in the eyes of the Jew. They see themselves as tikkun olam (correcting the world), in partnership with God to bring about a better earth.

Since the destruction of the second Temple, Judaism has changed out of necessity. With no place to offer sacrifices for sin, the modern Jew uses good deeds and repentance as a substitute. They do not believe they are separated from God and don’t need a Savior to reconcile them to Him.

A common misunderstanding among Jews today is that they think Christians believe that a man became God and not vice versa.

You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” John 4:22

Sharing the Gospel with our Jewish friends may help them see that salvation comes from a very Jewish God Who desires closeness and fellowship with His children: hayeshua bemashiah Yeshua. Salvation in the Messiah, Yeshua.

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Hebrew WOW!  זכור!

Hebrew WOW! זכור!

Word of the Week

Zachor!

Hebrew

This verb occurs 252 times in the Bible.

זָכַר

1 Corinthians 11:24-25: “and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’” (NV)

So if we’re learning a Hebrew word, why are we starting in the New Testament?

Zachar is the Hebrew verb “remember.” It is used as a command (zachor!)ˆ 148 times in the Old Testament, but it was something so important that Jesus used it as one of the last things He would tell His disciples before He died.

“Do this in remembrance of Me” has a couple of alternative renderings that may help us understand more clearly. It can be rendered more literally, “Do this for the remembering of Me,” or “Do this in case you forget.” — John W. Ritenbaugh

Genesis 9:15 gives us an account of God using the verb “remember” for the first time in the Bible.

“and I will [compassionately] remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again will the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. (Genesis 9:15 AMP).”

In Genesis, God tells us that He will remember. In 1 Corinthians, Yeshua is telling us to remember.

Why is this verb so important? Because it is a promise from God that He will remember the covenant He made, and because He wants us to always keep in mind the sacrifice Yeshua made on our behalf, paying with His life for we who were so utterly defiled.

We generally have no problem remembering Yeshua’s personality. We know all the Bible stories. But there is so much more than just the charismatic, itinerant rabbi who did miracles and died on a cross. Yesua was indestructibly connected to the Old Testament through Passover. We are admonished to remember His life that exemplified the way, the horrendous death on the cross for the remission of sins, and that it was He  Who said in Genesis: I will remember.

Remembering the sacrifice of the One Who made covenant with Abraham and went on to die for His children is the foundation for every loving relationship with our Creator and His family. Because He did all of this for us, our lives are not spent in vain. We have this hope, that He Who promised is able to bring to completion all the terms of His covenant in His blood, not to mention all the Old Testament covenants that remain in effect today.

Zachor! Remembering motivates us to recognize that the first sin was one of not remembering Who God is. The “Lord’s Supper” in the New Testament reminds us of one thing: His unfathomable love.

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Ezrah—An “Help Meet” for Adam

Ezrah—An “Help Meet” for Adam

Let’s take a look at an often mistranslated word. Ezrah looks like this:

עֶזתָה

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” Genesis 2:18

Understanding the meaning of Hebrew words is essential to our complete understanding of the Scriptures.

The trouble with reading the Scriptures without knowing how the original writers thought is that the interpretation can leave out much that is essential to understanding the Word of God. Such is the case when we read Genesis 2:18, where “an help meet” makes it sound as though Eve were an assistant, someone sent to “help” Adam, but in a second-in-command role. Nothing could be further from the truth.

וְיֹאמַר ה אֱלֹהִים, לֹא טוֹב שֶׁהָאָדָםצָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת לְבַדּוֹ אֲנִי אֶעֱשֶׂה לוֹ עֶזְרָה שֶׁתִּפְגֹּשׁ אוֹתוֹ.

v’yomar Adonai elohiym, lo tov sheha’adam tzariykh’ lih’yot l’vado aniy e’eshoeh lo ezrah shetif’gosh oto.

“With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles.” 2nd Chronicles 32:8

עִמֹּו זְרֹועַ בָּשָׂר וְעִמָּנוּ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ לְעָזְרֵנוּ וּלְהִלָּחֵם מִלְחֲמֹתֵנוּ

Imo zro’a bashar v’imanu Adonai eloheinu l’azerenu uv’lehillachem milchamotenu.

“Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.” Psalm 33:20

נַפְשֵׁנוּ חִכְּתָה לַֽיהוָה עֶזְרֵנוּ וּמָגִנֵּנוּ הֽוּא׃

Naf’shenu, chib’tah laihvah ezrenu uv’maginnenu hu.

I’m sure you would agree that the God who fights our battles is not in a second-in-command role nor an assistant to our own strength and might. Indeed, we know that if victory in the battles we face were up to us alone, we would surely lose (the idiom “crash and burn” comes to mind).

So what was God talking about when He said that He would make “an help meet” for Adam? The Hebrew word ezer is actually a combination of two roots words: one means “to rescue, to save.” The other meaning is “to be strong.” The first root is י – שׁ – ע, which is where we get the name Yeshua. The other root is ח – ז – ק, meaning “to be strong, to make strong, to strengthen.” Together, they embody the essence of the word “savior.” In fact, in eight out of the 22 times ezer appears in the Bible, it is translated “savior.” The rest of the time, it refers to how God strengthens man.

1 Samuel 7:12 says: “Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Eben-ezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.”

The Hebrew word eben means rock. When ezer is attached, it means “rock of salvation.” So Eve was not just to “help” Adam, she was “to save” him. That paints an entirely different picture of how Eve was to help Adam. 

The word translated “meet” is kind of tricky. Most people think that God was saying that among the beasts, there was none “worthy” of Adam, so He made Eve “worthy” of being a companion to him.  In Hebrew, the word kenegdo only appears one time. It is related to the word neged,  which means “against.” But it can also mean “in front of” or “opposite of.” The best translation, though, means “exactly corresponding to.”  Eve was Adam’s mirror opposite, half of a whole, completing him. What Adam lacked in qualities, responsibilities, and attributes, Eve supplied.

Not only did it require both of their sexual organs created in opposition to fit perfectly together to bring life, but it also meant that they were to “co-steward” the earth and all that was in it. She was his complete spiritual equal and had an essential saving power opposite his but equally as important.

So how does woman save man?

Most obviously, she gives him life and guides him toward the light of the world. Women are a gateway into the mortal world for children and without this saving power, there would be no opportunity for progress toward God. When a baby is born, he or she is ushered into a place of unconditional love. The first thing a baby receives is an explanation of how God loves His creation. The woman is a perfect picture of willingness to give one’s own life for the sake of one you love.

Many people will look at Eve in the garden and say that she brought death to the world. God sees it differently. It was through a woman that the Savior would be born, and without her ability to bear the infant Jesus, mankind would be hopelessly lost forever. Thus, Adam’s “helper” literally saved him from eternal spiritual death.

Perhaps a better understanding of Genesis 2:18 would be:

“It is not good that man should be alone (incomplete): I will make him a strong companion who will have the power to save him and will be his spiritual equal, completing him.”

Now that’s a powerful idea!

 

Hebrew Word of the Week: Shema

Hebrew Word of the Week: Shema

Word of the Week

Shema

Hebrew

Today’s Hebrew contains one of the most sacred words in the language:

שָׁמַע

“Hear, O Israel, the Lord is thy God, the Lord alone.” Deuteronomy 6:4

In the ancient book of Deuteronomy, Moses tells the people to understand this concept. He commands them to listen, but not listen alone.

Shama means listen, take heed, and obey. It is the imperative form of the verb listen, and could be rendered in English thus: HEAR! LISTEN AND OBEY! See all the exclamation marks? It is an emphatic verb that goes much deeper than simply listening or hearing.

“In other words, in Hebrew, “hearing” and “doing” are basically the same thing, but what is Israel to do in response to hearing that the Lord alone is their God?” – The Bible Project

Moses goes on to tell the Israelites exactly how they are to obey the commandment to hear. The very next verse explains what they should do.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and with all your soul and with all your strength [your entire being].” – Deuteronomy 6:5

Translating Deuteronomy 6:4 is a bit difficult, because Hebrew has no word for “is” in the present tense. Due to the grammatical usage of putting nouns next to each other to express the present tense of “to be,” It could be translated one of 4 different ways.

  1. The Lord our God is one Lord.
  2. The Lord is our God, the Lord is one.
  3. The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
  4. The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.

So in whatever translation we use, the verse proclaims that God is God alone, and there is no other. (We’ll talk about the Trinity in the prayer in another post.)

Though Deuteronomy 6:4 may be a bit ambiguous, Deuteronomy 6:5 is as clear as day. God is to receive our love in all our capacity to love. We are to love Him with all of our being, holding nothing aside, and preferring Him above all else. Our total devotion and obedience is to God and God alone. (I’ve highlighted the word is in the previous sentences so that you can see how common it is in English.)

Jesus answered, “The first of all the commandments is, ‘Listen, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:29-31

The threat of polytheism

As Moses prepared to die and turn leadership over to Joshua, he was probably very concerned that once the people crossed the Jordan, they would be surrounded by many “gods.” In fact, they were already surrounded by pagan deities. He also knew that he had had a difficult time keeping the people on the right path and was worried that they would quickly abandon God’s commandments after he was gone. So he taught them a prayer that would remind them that they were the chosen people and as such had loyalty to and devotion for one God, the true and only God.

“These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be [written] on your heart and mind. You shall teach them diligently to your children [impressing God’s precepts on their minds and penetrating their hearts with His truths] and shall speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up. And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand (forearm), and they shall be used as bands (frontals, frontlets) on your forehead.” – Deuteronomy 6:6-8

Followers of God were to be marked by obedience and love. All paganism was to be strictly avoided because it would cause His people to be separated from Him. In the New Covenant, followers would see God face to face and will know as they are known. This is only possible when one’s whole being is focused on our God, and on Him alone.

“There will no longer exist anything that is cursed [because sin and illness and death are gone]; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve and worship Him [with great awe and joy and loving devotion]; they will [be privileged to] see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.” – Revelation 22:3-4 (AMP)

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