Thursday, January 26, 2017
Reader asks: What is the difference between His charge, His commandments, His statues, and His Laws?
Hello team - Thanks for all the work that you do!!! Quick question. Genesis 26:5 states:
King James Bible: Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.
Since coming into the understanding that Torah is the critical foundation of our faith in the completed work of Yeshua, we have been doing daily bible study as a family which has been fantastic!! We have started in Genesis. Of course! LOL! Our question is simply this, what is the difference between His charge, His commandments, His statues, and His Laws? We thought that was an interesting distinction and we were curious to hear your thoughts. Thanks and Yah bless!!
That is a GREAT question! Genesis 26:5 contains 10 words, 9 really, since two of them go together as a pronoun-verb. They are:
1. E’kev, “as as result”, ”because”
2/3. A’sher-she’ma, “he heard & obeyed”
4. Av’raham, "Abraham" (of course)
5. be’ko’li, “[my] voice/proclamation”
6. vay’yish’mar, [and] “took in regard”, “kept”, “observed”, “obeyed”
7. mish’mar’ti, [and] “watched”, “watched over”
8. mitz’votai, [my] “appointed” [times]
9. chuk’ko’tai, [and my] “commands”, “ordinances”
10. v’Torah’tai, [of my] “Torah”.
Therefore a literal translation is:
“Because Abraham heard and obeyed my voice and kept watch over [the] appointed (times), [and the] ordinances [of my] Torah…”
Compared to the KJV you quoted:
“Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws…”
(We had to insert articles and punctuation as the Hebrew had no punctuation and few articles!)
We see that in the better translation from the Hebrew: Abraham “obeyed and kept watch” over only one thing: the “appointed times and commandments/ordinances of Torah”, and not four things as the KJV reads: [he kept] “my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws”.
“Appointed times” are the designated times during which certain commandments/ordinances would be carried out. These are the weekly Sabbath, Passover, First Fruits, Feast of Unleavened Bread, Shavuot, Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur, and Succoth.
“Commandments/Ordinances” are those commandments/regulations/rules that are “absolute”, that is they are to “simply be” – no discussion, but they may apply to all, or could only apply to men, or only to women, or only to the Levite priest. For example, “You shall have no other gods before me”, (Exodus 20:3, Deuteronomy 5:7). This is something you could not deviate from and it applied to all. It does not require anything on your part! Simply have no other gods! Period.
Another example: “Order the people of Isra'el to bring you pure oil from crushed olives for the light, to keep lamps burning always. Outside the curtain of the testimony in the tent of meeting, Aharon is to arrange for the light to be kept burning always from evening until morning before Adonai ; this is to be a permanent regulation through all your generations.”, (Leviticus 24:2-3). This applies to all the people who were to bring oil to the Tabernacle/Temple, but also only to the Priest, who was to keep the light burning, the people were not responsible for that part.
And “Torah”, of course, is the whole thing, all the commands and ordinances – it includes the Appointed times, and the commandments for behavior and righteous living.
Our Yeshua, of course, changed nothing! All of Torah which still applies to us, remains to this day! Otherwise there was no point in Him saying "If you love me, you will keep my commands", (John 14:15). Torah remains the "righteous way of life so we can always be 'clean and presentable' before Him"!
So the "distinction" you sought to understand in the words "His charge, His commandments, His statues, and His Laws" is not really the question because that phrase is not in the original Hebrew! In Hebrew, Abraham was considered righteous because he heard and obeyed YHWH's Torah! That's all. Even though Torah had not yet been written down, Abraham understood the meaning of the Hebrew word "sh'ma", which in English is most often simply translated as "hear" when in actuality it means "hear and do"!