Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Words of wisdom and a short history lesson in Hebrews, chapter 2

Words of wisdom and a short history lesson in Hebrews, chapter 2:

Hebrews 2: 1. Therefore we should be exceedingly cautious in regard to what we have heard, or else we fall away.  2. For if the Word spoken by the medium of Messengers was confirmed, and everyone who heard it and transgressed it received a just retribution;  3. how will we escape if we hate the things which are our life,[1] things which began to be spoken by our Master (Y’shua), and were confirmed to us by them who heard from him,[2]  4. while Elohim gave testimony concerning them, by signs and wonders and by various miracles and distributions of the Ruach haKodesh which were given according to his will?  5. For to the Messengers he has not subjected the world to come,[3] of which we speak. 

6. But as the Scripture testifies, and says: What is man that you are mindful of him? and the Son of man, that you attend to him?  7. You have made him somewhat lower than the Messengers: glory and honor have you put on his head; and you have invested him with authority over the work of your hand.  8. And all things have you subjected under his feet.[4] And in this submitting of all things to him, he left out nothing which he did not submit him to. But now, we do not yet see all things subjected to him. 

9. We see that he is Y’shua, who humbled himself to become a little lower than the Messengers through his suffering and death, but now he is crowned with honor and glory because he tasted death for the sake of everyone apart from Elohim.[5]  10. For it became him by whom are all things and on account of whom are all things and (who) brings many sons to his glory, to perfect the prince of their life by suffering.  (AENT)

FOOTNOTE:

[1]  By quoting D’varim/Deuteronomy 32:47 Paul’s teaching is towards the Renewed Covenant of Torah being written upon the heart.

[2]   “Confirmed to us by those who heard from him” – this writer was not an eyewitness to Y’shua’s glory during his earthly ministry.  This is perhaps one of the greatest clues given by the writer of Hebrews regarding his identity.

While it is true that other writers, like Luke for example, collected accounts of Y’shua’s life from eyewitnesses (Luke 1:1-5), Luke himself is counted as as a Gentile (Colossians 4:11-14), making it unlikely that he would have enough apostolic weight to have his words encouraged in a Hebrew believing community as Rav Shaul himself makes a division between missions to both groups, while they contained the same message (Galatians 2:7).

When we look at prominent Jewish leaders who were specifically enjoined to preach the Gospel to the Israelites who are scattered among the nations, that brings us to a very short list of possible authors.  When we add to this criteria the fact that this same Jewish leader was important but not a direct eyewitness to Y’shua and that he has sent the letter according to direct reference (13:24) and very reliable Eastern and Western manuscript tradition from Italy (possibly Rome), that list, I believe, comes down to one name:  Rav Shaul.  The emphasis also on the writer’s encouragement to “remember those in prison as if you were bound with them: and recollect those in affliction as being yourselves clothed in flesh” (13:3, and also see 13:23) also fits very well with the other times that we know Rav Shaul was writing from his places of confinement.

[3]  Olam Haba - the world to come refers to an age where time and space ceases to exist; all lifeforms will enter into new dimensions. 

[4]  Psalm 8:4-6 

[5]  The most important phrase here is satar min Alaha: “apart from Elohim”; but the Greek translators removed it.  This omission was likely due to a theological debate; the Monophysites were a powerful sect that sprung up in the middle of the Second Century in Alexandria, Egypt. Their core belief was that Mashiyach only had the appearance of a human but was in reality, completely divine.  Such theology ignored statements like “Not my will, but Your Will,” along with many others; nevertheless, it gained popularity when the Imperial Byzantine “New Testament” text was emerging. Earlier versions were so violently suppressed in the West that only Aramaic believers in the Middle East had retained the original. 

In context, two facts become critical. First, we know this heresy arrived early; Origen (ca. 185-232) quotes the Peshitta-exclusive reading of this verse and further substantiates this view.  Second, this reading also plays into extensive themes about Mashiyach laying down his humanity, as well as showing that Elohim’s divine nature neither bled nor died on the stake (Acts 20:28).

This is one of the clearest examples where original Jewish understanding was almost completely obliterated by Roman and Byzantine cultures who preferred polytheistic theologies. Peshitta, in the rival Persian Empire, escaped all these revisions and kept its original Eastern (and Jewish) values intact.

On this matter, Stephen Silver noted: It is understood by the use of the phrase, khaya b’qnomeh in John 5:26, that Y’shua “had the price of redemption,” “Life in Himself” to redeem all that “call upon his Name.”  Clearly, this was and is the “will of the Father.”  In Hebrews 2:9, setar min Alaha “Life in Himself” represents both Elohim in him, as well as Y’shua’s “humanity”; so it is obvious that his humanity was laid down that he might take it again (John 10:17). This was the “will of the Father made manifest in the Son” by his life, death and resurrection.”

There is a “remez” (hint) here that refers to Genesis 44:30, “v’naf’sho k’shurah v’naf’sho,” “and his soul is knot-tied in his soul.”  Substituting b’tibohteh for min seta reflects Pagan thinking that Torah was to be replaced by “grace.” However, “Life in Himself” manifests this grace and truth of Torah, eternally (John 1:17, Exodus 34:6). Torah, without Y’shua Mashiyach, is “dead letter.”  Y’shua Mashiyach without Torah, is “sloppy agape.”

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