What Does The Bible Say About Rape?

All verses are in the NRSV unless otherwise noted. When I first started writing this I thought I had to admit that the Bible did not explicitly prohibit rape of an unmarried unbetrothed woman. However, I have now realized that the Bible does explicitly prohibit rape in Ex 21:16 and Deut 24:7 because it prohibits that capture/seizure of people which is part of rape. I argue that Deuteronomy 22:28-29 is connected with Exodus 22:16-17 and is about seduction not rape. I do think rape is explicitly against other laws–for instance it would at least be covered under the laws concerning damages to people and certainly against the law to love your neighbor. However, I will argue that just because it is not explicitly named that the Bible’s attitude should not be taken as lax towards it. In fact, I will argue that under the biblical law that rape requires the death penalty.

So why isn’t rape itself explicitly mentioned in the law? For a few reasons I suspect

1 The first one is pretty obvious: it was covered directly by other laws against capturing and indirectly by laws against slavery which came almost immediately in the giving of the law.

There was no reason to add specific cases to a good comprehensive general one. This comes by observing that the Tanakh is very much against capturing and slavery:

Whoever kidnaps h1589 a person, whether that person has been sold or is still held in possession, shall be put to death. (Exodus 21:16)

If someone is caught kidnaping h1589 another Israelite, enslaving or selling the Israelite, then that kidnaper shall die. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 24:7)

You shall not steal. h1589 (Ex 20:15)

Notice it uses the same Hebrew word for “steal” in the 10 commandments. There are some translations that have “and” in-between each case here rather than “or” making it possible to argue that it only prohibited the combination of them: kidnapping, selling, and found in their possession. However, Keil and Delitzsch correct this misconception and note the severity with which this was treated:

Maltreatment of a father and mother through striking (Exodus 21:15), man-stealing (Exodus 21:16), and cursing parents (Exodus 21:17, cf. Leviticus 20:9), were all to be placed on a par with murder, and punished in the same way. By the “smiting” (הכּה) of parents we are not to understand smiting to death, for in that case ומת would be added as in Exodus 21:12, but any kind of maltreatment. . . . Man-stealing was also no less a crime, being a sin against the dignity of man, and a violation of the image of God. For אישׁ “a man,” we find in Deuteronomy 24:7, נפשׁ “a soul,” by which both man and woman are intended, and the still more definite limitation, “of his brethren of the children of Israel.” The crime remained the same whether he had sold him (the stolen man), or whether he was still found in his hand. (For ו – ו as a sign of an alternative in the linking together of short sentences, see Proverbs 29:9, and Ewald, 361.) This is the rendering adopted by most of the earlier translators, and we get no intelligent sense if we divide the clauses thus: “and sell him so that he is found in his hand.”

https://biblehub.com/commentaries/kad/exodus/21.htm

This attitude is consistent with the Bible’s libertarian treatment of individual freedom and the prohibition against forced servitude:

15 Slaves who have escaped to you from their owners shall not be given back to them. 16 They shall reside with you, in your midst, in any place they choose in any one of your towns, wherever they please; you shall not oppress them. (Deuteronomy 23:15-16 )

It even says the type of slavery that happened in Egypt was wrong since it says that you shall not crush (H3905) the sojourners like has been done to you in Egypt:

You shall not wrong or oppress H3905 a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 22:21)

This is because the same word H3905 is used to describe the oppression of the Egyptians upon the Israelite:

The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress H3905 them. (Exodus 3:9)

You shall not oppress H3905 a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 23:9)

we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. H3906 (Deu 26:7)

It in fact says that you should treat sojourners as natives:

The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:34)

It says that you should never rule over anyone like the Egyptians did to the Israelites (the context in Ezekiel is criticizing their behavior):

The Egyptians became ruthless H6531 in imposing tasks on the Israelites, (Exo 1:13)

You have not strengthened the weak, you have not healed the sick, you have not bound up the injured, you have not brought back the strayed, you have not sought the lost, but with force and harshness you have ruled H6531 them. (Ez 34:4)

So if they couldn’t behave like the Egyptians and they couldn’t capture or force people to stay with them then what motivation could servants have for staying? I think this was a way for people who had gotten into debt (by committing a crime or otherwise) to get back on their feet by making an extended contract with someone. The servant could break that contract but if they broke it for no good reason then other people would be less likely to want to have them as a servant. It also says to provide them with resources when they went out, this may have been partially motivation for staying. In addition this may imply that they came in with nothing, hence were working to get back on their feet:

And when you send a male slave out from you a free person, you shall not send him out empty-handed. 14 Provide liberally out of your flock, your threshing floor, and your wine press, thus giving to him some of the bounty with which the Lord your God has blessed you. (Deuteronomy 15:13)

There are intricacies to these contracts that often escape our notice; servants could be given authority to manage the household and manage the marriage of a son (Genesis 24:2) and also may have been heirs automatically when no children were present (Genesis 15:3). They could own property (2 Samuel 19:17), and they, or a relation, could buy their freedom regardless of the master’s will to keep them (Lev 25:47–50).

And it seems to have had a positive connotation:

Then she said, “May I continue to find favor in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, even though I am not one of your servants.” (Ruth 2:13)

You could replace “servant” with “daughter” and it would still make sense. Interestingly a son is said to serve the father and it uses the same word that means “servant” elsewhere:

They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, my special possession on the day when I act, and I will spare them as parents spare their children who serve H5647 them. (Mal 3:17)

Since you have to capture someone to rape them and you can’t capture people this would outlaw rape. Also raping a person is like taking them temporarily as a sex slave so the prohibition against forced servitude or slavery would indirectly outlaw rape as well.

2 The second reason it does not explicitly mention rape is because of the nature of ancient law which is not meant to be comprehensive:

Excursus: The Paradigmatic Nature of Biblical Law

Modern societies generally have opted for exhaustive law codes. That is, every action modern society wishes to regulate or prohibit must be specifically mentioned in a separate law.  Under the expectations of this exhaustive law system, state and/or federal law codes run to thousands of pages and address thousands of individual actions by way of requirement or restriction or control or outright banning of those actions.  By this approach, all actions are permitted that are not expressly forbidden or regulated.  Thus it is not uncommon that criminals in modern Western societies evade prosecution because of a “technicality” or a “loophole” in the law—their undesirable actions are not exactly prohibited or regulated by a written law, so they cannot be convicted even though an objective observer may be convinced that what they did surely deserved punishment.

Ancient laws did not work this way. They were paradigmatic, giving models of behaviors and models of prohibitions/punishments relative to those behaviors, but they made no attempt to be exhaustive.  Ancient laws gave guiding principles, or samples, rather than complete descriptions of all things regulated.  Ancient people were expected to be able to extrapolate from what the sampling of laws did say to the general behavior the laws in their totality pointed toward.  Ancient judges were expected to extrapolate from the wording provided in the laws that did exist to all other circumstances and not to be foiled in their jurisprudence by any such concepts as “technicalities” or “loopholes.”  When common sense told judges that a crime had been committed, they reasoned their way from whatever the most nearly applicable law specified to a decision as to how to administer proper justice in the case before them.  Citizens of ancient Israel, and especially its judges, had to learn to extrapolate from whatever laws they had received from Yahweh to whatever justice-challenging situation they were dealing with.  The number of laws dealing with any given application of justice might be few, but that would not prevent justice from being applied.  It would simply have been the case that all parties were expected to appeal for guidance to those laws that did exist, whether or not expressed specifically in terms that dealt with the case under consideration.  In other words, the Israelites had to learn to see the underlying principles in any law and not let the specifics of the individual casuistic citation mislead them into applying the law too narrowly.

God’s revealed covenant law to Israel was paradigmatic.  No Israelite could say: “The law says I must make restitution for stolen oxen or sheep (Exod. 22:1), but I stole your goat. I don’t have to pay you back,” or “The law says that anyone who attacks his father or mother must be put to death (Exod. 21:15), but I attacked my grandmother, so I shouldn’t be punished,” or “The law says that certain penalties apply for hitting someone with a fist or a stone (Exod. 21:18), but I kicked my neighbor with my foot and hit him with a piece of wood, so I shouldn’t be punished.”  Such arguments would have insulted the intelligence of all concerned and made no impact on those rendering judgments.  It is in connection with the paradigmatic nature of Israel’s covenant law that Jesus, following the established tradition in Judaism, could make so sweeping an assertion as that two laws sum up all the rest [Matt. 22:34-40].  Properly understood, two laws do indeed sum up everything in the entire legal corpus of the Old Testament.  So do ten laws (the Ten Words/Commandments); so do all six hundred and thirteen.  The numbers go no higher, nor would they need to.  If a reasonable number of comprehensive and comprehensible laws (as few as two, as many as six hundred and thirteen) are provided to a people as paradigms for proper living, there is no excuse for that people to claim ignorance of how to behave or to claim innocence when their sins are found out.

. . .

A final implication of paradigmatic law: not all laws will be equally comprehensive in scope.  That is, some will be very broad in their applicability (love Yahweh your God) and some much more narrow (do not bear false witness).  One might ask, “Why not say ‘don’t be dishonest in any way,’ which would be broader and more comprehensive than ‘don’t bear false witness’?”  But that would be missing the way paradigmatic law works: through a somewhat randomly presented admixture of rather specific examples of more general behaviors and very general regulations of broad categories of behavior, the reader/listener comes to understand that all sorts of situations not exactly specified (either because a law is so broad or so narrow) are also implicitly covered.  In other words, when all the laws are considered together, one’s impression is that both the very narrow, precise issues and the very broad, general issues fall under the purview of God’s covenant.  The wide variability of comprehensiveness is intended to help the person desiring to keep the covenant to say, “I now see that in the tiniest detail as well as in the widest, most general way, I am expected to try to keep this law—in all its implications, not just in terms of its exact wording.”  Some commandments are thus less broad in scope in the way they are expressed than is necessary to cover all the intended actions; others are so broad in scope in the way they are expressed that one could never think up all the ways they might be applied.  This is just as it should be.  The narrow and the broad taken together suggest the overall comprehensiveness of God’s covenant will for his people.  (p. 442-45)
https://www.rodneychrisman.com/2010/08/11/the-paradigmatic-nature-of-biblical-law/ see original source: https://books.google.com/books?id=8H9E00e5PSwC&pg=PA442#v=onepage&q&f=false

3 There was already a law mandating that servants not be held against their will. This can be combined with the rule of “light and heavy” to also outlaw holding anyone against their will which is a prerequisite for rape.

15 Slaves who have escaped to you from their owners shall not be given back to them. 16 They shall reside with you, in your midst, in any place they choose in any one of your towns, wherever they please; you shall not oppress them. (Deuteronomy 23:15-16 )

Essentially servants would have had the least rights in the society, so if people with the least rights couldn’t be held against their will then how much more the non-servants? Light and heavy is described below:

Kal Vahomer (Light and heavy)

The Kal vahomer rule says that what applies in a less important case will certainly apply in a more important case. A kal vahomer argument is often, but not always, signaled by a phrase like “how much more…”

The Rabbinical writers recognize two forms ok kal vahomer:

kal vahomer meforash – In this form the kal vahomer argument appears explicitly.
kal vahomer satum – In which the kal vahomer argument is only implied.
There are several examples of kal vahomer in the Tenach.

For example: Behold the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner. (Proverbs 11:31)

And: If you have run with footmen and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses? (Jerermiah 12:5a)

Other Tenach examples to look at: Deuteronomy 31:27; 1 Samuel 23:3; Jerermiah 12:5b; Ezekiel 15:5; Esther 9:12

There are several examples of kal vahomer in the New Testament. Y’shua often uses this form of argument.

For example: If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the Law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? (Jn. 7:23)

And: What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath. (Mt. 12:11-12)

Other examples of Y’shua’s usage of kal vahomer are: Matthew 6:26, 30 = Luke 12:24, 28; Mathhew 7:11 = Luke 11:13; Matthew 10:25 & John 15:18-20; Matthew 12:12 & John 7:23

Paul especially used kal vahomer. Examples include: Romans 5:8-9, 10, 15, 17; 11:12, 24; 1 Corinthians 9:11-12; 12:22; 2 Corinthians 3:7-9, 11; Philippians 2:12; Philemon 1:16; Hebrews 2:2-3; 9:13-14; 10:28-29; 12:9, 25.

http://www.yashanet.com/studies/revstudy/hillel.htm

4 The fourth reason rape may not have been mentioned is because of cultural differences that made it not as important to address directly.

Unlike the Greeks and Romans, the ANE was not very ‘into’ using slaves/captives for sexual purposes, even though scholars earlier taught this:

“During the pinnacle of Sumerian culture, female slaves outnumbered male. Their owners used them primarily for spinning and weaving. Saggs maintains that their owners also used them for sex, but there is little actual evidence to support such a claim” [OT:EML:69]

http://christianthinktank.com/midian.html

There’s no case in that Bible where rape was taken lightly. The rape of the concubine in Judges was avenged by a national civil war. (Judges 19-21) The rape of Tamar by Amnon was avenged by Amnon’s death and possibly was the cause of another national civil war because David didn’t punish Amnon. (2 Sam. 13) What’s commonly called the rape of Dinah (Gen 34:2) (which may have even been consensual) was avenged by genocide. (Gen 34:25-31) Do we even take rape that seriously today? I think not. Another interesting difference is that women were protected from having their conjugal duty diminished “If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish the food, clothing, or marital rights of the first wife.” (Ex 21:10) and Rachel and Leah were able to trade a night with Jacob for mandrakes Gen 30:14-18. Also note that it’s the less attractive Leah that tells Jacob: “‘You must come in to me; for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.’ So he lay with her that night.” God killed Onan for not having sex in a way that would cause pregnancy when he was supposed to perform the duty of the Levarite in Genesis 38:8-10. Hannah’s prayer was answered by God when she cried because she was not able to become pregnant and was ridiculed by her rival 1 Samuel 1:1-28. Part of one of the Jewish interpretations of Leviticus 19:29 in the Talmud is to not deny your daughter her right of marriage for too long:

Ein Yaakov (Glick Edition), Sanhedrin 9:1
(Fol. 76) You shall not profane your daugher (Lev. 19, 29). R. Eliezer says: “This refers to one who marries off his [young] daughter to an old man.” R. Akiba says: “This refers to one who leaves his daughter unmarried until she enters the age of womanhood.” R. Cahana in the name of R. Akiba said (Ib. b) Who is to be considered poor and shrewd-wicked? He who has left his daughter unmarried until she enters the age of womanhood.”

Rather than sex being an obligation of women, it seems that it was an obligation of men especially for the purpose of giving women children. This probably breaks a lot of the preconceptions most people have about the Biblical culture.

Here’s an interesting statement on how culture really determines what people are likely to do:

At the same time, many of the men who have violated a woman sexually do not meet clinical diagnostic criteria as either sociopaths, sexual deviants, or for that matter neurologically (or intellectually) impaired. While “stranger danger” stirs deep, easy dread (and is hence a useful trope for screenwriters and politicians), most sexual violence takes place among otherwise normative people who are familiar with each other and are involved in some type of relationship. This raises the possibility that to these perpetrators, the violence appears, in context, normative. By this argument, a sizable proportion of the men who attack women are following, rather than flaunting, social dictates.

The role of social dictates in shaping individual behavior is often overlooked because we are inclined to favor internal causes when explaining other people’s behavior. This tendency is so fundamental that it has a name: The Fundamental Attribution Error. (When evaluating our own, particularly negative behavior, however, we often rely on less damning external explanations. To wit: you’re late for work because you’re lazy. I’m late because of traffic. This is called the “actor-observer effect”).

It turns out, however, that social and situational variables often override individual characteristics in predicting one’s behavior and overall future. If I need to predict whether you’ll be dancing next Friday night, it’s better for me to inquire about where you’ll be that night than about your extraversion score on a personality test. If I want to know whether you’ll become wealthy, I’m better off basing my prediction on whether your parents are wealthy than on the conscientiousness score on your personality test. We are more beholden to our circumstances than we tend to believe. This is true in general; and it’s true for sexual violence in particular. For example, contextual and group factors (such as orders from the leadership, pre-conflict rates of sexual violence, intra-group dynamics, gender inequality) predict the prevalence of war rapes better than the personalities or characteristics of individual soldiers.

Circumstances matter in part because they set (or remove) certain hard parameters. Regardless of your personal characteristics, if you’re at your wedding, you’re going to dance. The fact also remains that if you are born in Afghanistan to poor parents, you have no access to capital. If you’re born in Manhattan to wealthy parents, you do. Circumstances, particularly social ones, also matter greatly because as herd animals, we are utterly dependent on the approval, acceptance, cooperation, and support of others. Thus, we are wired to notice, take into account, and align with the behavior of those around us.

If you’re still telling yourself that you are your own person, doing your thing, not giving a damn about what others think—then you need to grow up and face the (social) facts. Society gives you life. It is your main source of strength and identity. Without it you’re hopeless—an ant that has lost its colony. Society provides you with the tools and rules for living. It has fearsome powers of reward and retribution. In other words society, as the sociologist Randall Collins has argued brilliantly, is God.
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/insight-therapy/201902/when-men-attack-why-and-which-men-sexually-assault-women

We expect people back then to be like they are today. However, this isn’t always the case. The first difference we do know is that they were a polygynist society which is sometimes caused by a need to deal with the issue of lack of men (sometimes caused by war):

“Deal with the “problem” of surplus women.”
http://www.religioustolerance.org/polyprac.htm

However this is speculation. I haven’t had any luck on finding what the actual gender ratio was in biblical times and when I have found articles there seem to be different opinions.

However, some things I can observe from the law and culture is that: 1 there is no premarital sex, a man who sleeps with a woman is supposed to marry her “he shall surely marry her” and “unless the father absolutely refuses” in Exodus 22:16 and Deuteronomy 22:29 (I argue that this is indeed a seduction but don’t have time to go into this now) Here’s something I wrote that touches on premarital sex: https://kingdomofgodcommunes.org/2019/02/03/gesenius-and-leviticus-1929/ This makes early sexual competition over mates virtually non-existent if followed correctly. 2 Marriage is arranged by the family at a young age which also prevents any rejection based on sexual prowess that seems to increase the risk of men becoming rapists. It is possible however that someone’s wife would reject them and that might increase risk of rape. However, based on my arguments on the Torah the consent of both the person being married and the guardian was required because the Torah gives the freedom to run away for any reason based on not holding servants against their will and the rule of light and heavy. Also the modern rise in narcissistic personality disorder may be a result of modern living and individualism all of which would be absent in the tribal society of the Bible: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/freedom-learn/201401/why-is-narcissism-increasing-among-young-americans

Heavy drinking, perceived pressure to have sex, a belief in “rape myths” — such as the idea that no means yes — are all risk factors among men who have committed sexual assault. A peer group that uses hostile language to describe women is another one.
Yet there also seem to be personal attributes that have a mediating effect on these factors. Men who are highly aroused by rape porn — another risk factor — are less likely to attempt sexual assault if they score highly on measures of empathy, Dr. Malamuth has found. What about the idea that rape is about power over women? Some experts feel that research into hostile attitudes toward women supports this idea. In general, however, researchers say motives are varied and difficult to quantify. Dr. Malamuth has noticed that repeat offenders often tell similar stories of rejection in high school and of looking on as “jocks and the football players got all the attractive women.”As these once-unpopular, often narcissistic men become more successful, he suspects that “getting back at these women, having power over them, seems to have become a source of arousal.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/30/health/men-rape-sexual-assault.html

I should be clear when arguing this that I am not blaming women rejecting men for causing men to rape. I am saying based on science allowing men to freely compete and be rejected by women on an individual basis seems to increase the likelyhood that narcissistic men will rape. A family based method of choosing mates would redirect anger towards a rival family which could be bad as well, it’s just not likely to result in rejected narcissistic men blaming women. There’s a similar behavior in orangutans for those who find animal studies helpful in explaining human behavior:

One possible reason for the rapes, she said, is because it takes so long for males to mature in the rain forest. In zoos, captive male orangutans usually become mature at age 13 or 14. In the rain forest of Borneo, however, they do not become mature until age 20, only then developing the cheek pads and large throat sac of a male adult. Although they are capable of sexual activity before that, females in heat are not attracted to them, so their only sexual option becomes force.

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1992-01-13-me-231-story.html

There’s a Biblical ethics paper I am working on that will address more misconceptions like this and fill in some details on how ancient Israelite law was supposed to work. I think there is a huge amount of bias in the way people interpret the Bible from chronological bigotry. Us moderns looking backwards/downwards like to feel good about ourselves and like we are making moral progress. We also just like to be able to feel outraged about something, whether it’s Harambe’s killing or ancient people mistreating their women. This seems to be the case irrespective of our level of knowledge on these topics. However, the bias that comes with interpreting the law through a lens that assumes things like “slave” (used by some translations of the Bible) meant the same thing back then as it does today is even worse. If we poison the well with misunderstandings as bad as that, it’s no wonder that we see other parts of the law as barbaric.

Why I Don’t Believe in Hell (the modern concept)

Introduction: The Modern Concept of Hell in the Old Testament doesn’t exist

Verses are in the KJV unless otherwise stated. Hell is never mentioned in the Hebrew Old Testament, but only “the grave” (“sheol” in Hebrew). Some translations will translate sheol as “hell,” but it is without basis. For example in the KJV here Sheol is the inevitable destiny of all mankind and in Job 14:13 and Amos 9:2 a place where one would hide from God’s wrath” (if that were possible)
Gen 37:35
And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave H7585 unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.

Psa 89:48
What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave? H7585 Selah.

Job 14:13
O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, H7585 that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!

Amo 9:2
Though they dig into hell, H7585 thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down:

The Old Testament and the New Testament do not contradict, so it’s hard to believe that the foreign concept of eternal torment would be introduced into the NT without any precedent in the OT. However, the OT goes further and contradicts this concept. Take these verses for example that say God’s wrath is only temporary:

Psalm 30:5 NKJV
For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.

Isaiah 54:8 NKJV
8 With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment;
But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,”
Says the Lord, your Redeemer.

Lamentation 3 NKJV
31 For the Lord will not cast off forever.
32 Though He causes grief,
Yet He will show compassion
According to the multitude of His mercies.
33 For He does not afflict willingly,
Nor grieve the children of men.

And these verses show that the wicked will be destroyed or consumed, not tormented:

Psalms 37 NKJV
10 For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more;
Indeed, you will look carefully for his place,
But it shall be no more.

20 But the wicked shall perish;
And the enemies of the Lord,
Like the splendor of the meadows, shall vanish.
Into smoke they shall vanish away.

Psalm 68:2 NKJV
As smoke is driven away,
So drive them away;
As wax melts before the fire,
So let the wicked perish at the presence of God.

Psalm 104:35 NKJV
May sinners be consumed from the earth,
And the wicked be no more.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
Praise the Lord!

Malachi 4 NKJV
4 “For behold, the day is coming,
Burning like an oven,
And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble.
And the day which is coming shall burn them up,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“That will leave them neither root nor branch.
2 But to you who fear My name
The Sun of Righteousness shall arise
With healing in His wings;
And you shall go out
And grow fat like stall-fed calves.
3 You shall trample the wicked,
For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet
On the day that I do this,”
Says the Lord of hosts.

Isaiah 1:16 NKJV
“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,

Ezekiel 28 NKJV
18 “You defiled your sanctuaries
By the multitude of your iniquities,
By the iniquity of your trading;
Therefore I brought fire from your midst;
It devoured you,
And I turned you to ashes upon the earth
In the sight of all who saw you.
19 All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you;
You have become a horror,
And shall be no more forever.”

The New Testament Does Not Change from the Old Testament

We must keep this in mind when we investigate the NT. As Yeshua (Jesus) states KJV:

Luke 24
44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled,G4137 which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

Mat 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.G4137
18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
19 Whosoever therefore shall break G3089 one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

The same greek word G3089 for “break” is used here when talking about making rules in the church and makes the undeniable connection that the rules it says not to “break” or “loose” are the rules in the old testament.

Mat 16:19
And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose G3089 on earth shall be loosed G3089 in heaven.

Mat 18:18
Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose G3089 on earth shall be loosed G3089 in heaven.

Hence we see the word “fulfilled” as meaning the accomplishment of something, but not the passing away of something. The Law of Moses, and The Prophets, and The Psalms, remain after they have been fulfilled in Christ, for example:

Mat 8:17 KJV
That it might be fulfilled G4137 which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.

This is just to point out that everything remains unchanged by their fulfillment. (they are indeed not destroyed as Yeshua says) My point is that if the OT speaks against the concept of eternal torment, then that cannot change in the NT. However, let us examine some of the verses commonly used to argue for the modern concept of hell in the NT anyway. It is not my intent here to provide a full proof argument for an alternate interpretation but just give evidence for and provide a possibility for an alternate interpretation. This will be sufficient to resolve the contradiction and provide people with options for interpreting the Bible that are not contradictory.

New Testament Words Translated As “Hell”

The words that are translated into english in the NT as “hell” are “Hadēs,” “Tartarus,” and “Gehenna.” Hadēs is the mythological Greek underworld and is also the greek word which is used for “sheol” in the new testament e.g.

ESV
Act 2:27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.
Psa 16:10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.

Probably the closest word in the Greek language to what we think of as hell is Tartarus (the reason I say closests, is because it is the bad part of Hadēs where people were punished) Hadēs is a more neutral concept but Tartarrus is only used once in the new testament here:

2 Pe 2:4 KJV
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, G5020 and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

And notice it isn’t even used as a place of judgement but a place to be stored until judgement.

Gehenna is a real place: gehinom

And the lake of fire is also probably a real place on earth. (see: http://www.askelm.com/secrets/sec106.htm and see: https://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/questions/lake-of-fire/ ) Rico Cortes argues that the lake of fire symbolically corresponds to ancient legal devices to determine innocence or guilt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2V-Uf3v0aE )

With these three concepts, none on their own charactize eternal torment.

“Hell” Didn’t Mean Hell Originally

In fact even the english translation of hell may have meant something different in older meaning of the word:

Another interesting thing to note is that webster’s 1806 dictionary:
[Webster1806]
Hell, n. the place of the damned, the grave, prison

Here hell has the meaning of Sheol included. In addition from the Watchtower online library, they quote another version of webster’s dictionary:

“It is, in fact, because of the way that the word “hell” is understood today that it is such an unsatisfactory translation of these original Bible words. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, unabridged, under “Hell” says: “fr[om] . . . helan to conceal.” The word “hell” thus originally conveyed no thought of heat or torment but simply of a ‘covered over or concealed place.’ In the old English dialect the expression “helling potatoes” meant, not to roast them, but simply to place the potatoes in the ground or in a cellar.”

“Hell.” Watchtower ONLINE LIBRARY. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 2015. Web. 20 Jan. 2015. http://m.wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200001978.

Interestingly enough both the Online Etymology Dictionary, and Google Entymology backs up part of their assertions:

“Old English hel, hell, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch hel and German Hölle, from an Indo-European root meaning ‘to cover or hide.’”
https://www.google.com/search?q=hell+entymology&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8#q=hell+etymology&spell=1

“hell (n.)
Old English hel, helle, “nether world, abode of the dead, infernal regions,” from Proto-Germanic *haljo “the underworld” (cognates: f. Old Frisian helle, Dutch hel, Old Norse hel, German Hölle, Gothic halja “hell”) “the underworld,” literally “concealed place” (compare Old Norse hellir “cave, cavern”), from PIE *kel- (2) “to cover, conceal” (see cell).

The English word may be in part from Old Norse Hel (from Proto-Germanic *halija “one who covers up or hides something”), in Norse mythology the name of Loki’s daughter, who rules over the evil dead in Niflheim, the lowest of all worlds (nifl “mist”). Transfer of a pagan concept and word to a Christian idiom. In Middle English, also of the Limbus Patrum, place where the Patriarchs, Prophets, etc. awaited the Atonement. Used in the KJV for Old Testament Hebrew Sheol and New Testament Greek Hades, Gehenna. Used figuratively for “state of misery, any bad experience” since at least late 14c. As an expression of disgust, etc., first recorded 1670s.”
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=hell

“cell (n.) Look up cell at Dictionary.com
early 12c., “small monastery, subordinate monastery” (from Medieval Latin in this sense), later “small room for a monk or a nun in a monastic establishment; a hermit’s dwelling” (c.1300), from Latin cella “small room, store room, hut,” related to Latin celare “to hide, conceal.”
The Latin word represents PIE root *kel- (2) “to cover, conceal” (cognates: Sanskrit cala “hut, house, hall;” Greek kalia “hut, nest,” kalyptein “to cover,” koleon “sheath,” kelyphos “shell, husk;” Latin clam “secret;” Old Irish cuile “cellar,” celim “hide,” Middle Irish cul “defense, shelter;” Gothic hulistr “covering,” Old English heolstor “lurking-hole, cave, covering,” Gothic huljan “cover over,” hulundi “hole,” hilms “helmet,” halja “hell,” Old English hol “cave,” holu “husk, pod”)…”
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=cell

So we see that hell, is related to cell, which is in turn related to cellar: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=cellar which is an interesting connection to the fact that helling potatoes could mean just putting them in a place like a cellar.

Verses Used to Argue for Hell

If we don’t get any of this stuff about hell from the words themselves, where do we get it? Well we probably get it from the Greeks and their teaching that the human soul is nessesarilly immortal. (Judaism was quite Hellenized at the time of Jesus, no pun intended) The Bible specifies no such thing universally (you can get the idea that if some people have eternal life, then their souls must be immortal, however this is not true by nessesarilly for everyone)

Now let’s look at some common verses used to argue for the modern Christian concept of “hell.”

Matthew 25:41 (NKJV)
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:
… 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Notice we have an immediate problem with the modern christian reading. Eternal life is contrasted with everlasting punishment, but that would mean the wicked would also attain eternal life. If you search for the word used for “punishment” “κόλασιν” in the septuagint you come up with these results:

Search result: κόλασιν

Jeremiah 18:20

Ezekiel 14:3

Ezekiel 14:4

Ezekiel 14:7

Ezekiel 18:30

Ezekiel 43:11

Ezekiel 44:12

Matthew 25:46

I John 4:18

The corrosponding hebrew words used in Jeremiah 18:20 is H2534 which means “wrath”.
http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?page=3&strongs=H2534&t=KJV#lexResults

for all but one of the passeages in Ezekiel it is H4383 which means “stumbling stone”
http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H4383&t=KJV

for Ezekiel 43:11 it is H3637 which means “ashamed”
http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H3637&t=KJV

So we see the majority usage in the septuagint is the Hebrew for “stumbling stone.” This might even remind us of the word used in Romans 9:32 where christ is refered to as a stumbling stone. The words are however different.

In addition Liddle and Scott bring out a different possiblity for the meaning in the greek, which is:

“kol-a^sis, eôs, hê, checking the growth of trees, esp. almond-trees, Thphr.CP3.18.2 (pl.).”
http://perseus.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/cgi-bin///lexindex?lang=greek&display=&lookup=ko/lasis

So thus far, we have an implication of not nessesarilly torment or punishment but prunning, shame, stumbling, but what about the eternal part? Even if we take the fire literally here (which I don’t) that just means the fire here is said to be eternal but not the time people are in the fire. Also This passage from Daniel needs also to be considered:

Daniel 12 NKJV
2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,
Some to everlasting life,
Some to shame and everlasting contempt.
3 Those who are wise shall shine
Like the brightness of the firmament,
And those who turn many to righteousness
Like the stars forever and ever.

So yet another punishment is mentioned, that of contempt. The only other time this word is used is in this passage.

Isa 66:24
And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring H1860 unto all flesh.

Now here we have two types of consuming forces mentioned. “Fire” and “worm.” One should notice that both of these things together are not possible: worms cannot survive in fire. When we have incompatible statements we can resolve the statements by taking them metaphorically and see what is common between them. The thing in common seems to be consumption, both worm and fire consume and destroy. The shame can be read as eternally shamed or that their memory is looked on with contempt, so this can coincide with their consumption. Although I find it quite interesting that the Bible would even bother mentioning shame and not mention eternal torment, since the latter is of so much more import than the former. I see a tension there that can be resolved by a metaphorical reading.

Anouther example of these coinciding metaphors appears in the passages where Isaiah is quoted:

Mk. 9:43-48 NKJV
43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 44 where

‘Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’

45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 46 where

‘Their worm does not die,
And the fire is not quenched.’

47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— 48 where

‘Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’

I mention these passages so we can kill two birds with one stone: If Isaiah is not talking about the afterlife, then neither are the passages that quote it. Keil and Deilitzch comment on Isiah 66:24 passage thusly:

“The prophet had predicted in Isaiah 66:18, that in the last times the whole multitude of the enemies of Jerusalem would be crowded together against it, in the hope of getting possession of it. This accounts for the fact that the neighbourhood of Jerusalem becomes such a scene of divine judgment. בּ ראה always denotes a fixed, lingering look directed to any object; here it is connected with the grateful feeling of satisfaction at the righteous acts of God and their own gracious deliverance. דראון, which only occurs again in Daniel 12:2, is the strongest word for “abomination.” It is very difficult to imagine the picture which floated before the prophet’s mind. How is it possible that all flesh, i.e., all men of all nations, should find room in Jerusalem and the temple? Even if the city and temple should be enlarged, as Ezekiel and Zechariah predict, the thing itself still remains inconceivable. And again, how can corpses be eaten by worms at the same time as they are being burned, or how can they be the endless prey of worms and fire without disappearing altogether from the sight of man? It is perfectly obvious, that the thing itself, as here described, must appear monstrous and inconceivable, however we may suppose it to be realized.”

Keil and Delitzsch don’t suppose instead that the passage could be metaphorical but say that it must be realized. And they imply (correctly in my view) that the passage has to do with the battle for Jerusalem also known as armegeddon in revelation.

John Gill also observers:
“… these are not the carcasses of the camp of Gog and Magog, the Jews so call, as Kimchi interprets it; though it may have reference to the carcasses of Gog’s army, the Turks, that will be slain in their attempt to recover Judea, Ezekiel 38:1 or else the carcasses of those that will be slain at the battle at Armageddon, Revelation 16:16 or the army of Gog and Magog, at the end of the thousand years, Revelation 20:8.”

So whichever way you take it (casualties of Armegeddon or the army of Gog and Magog) it is a reference to something happening on earth in the future, which makes the worm and fire almost certainly incompatible.

Rashi comments here:
“their worm: The worm that consumes their flesh.
and their fire: in Gehinnom.
and abhorring: Heb. דֵרָאוֹן, an expression of contempt. Jonathan, however, renders it as two words: enough (דֵּי) seeing (רְאִיָה), until the righteous say about them, We have seen enough.”

A Look at Revelation:

Revelation 14 NKJV
9 Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”

While their torment is continual here, it does not specify how long a duration it is. The smoke rises forever, but that is metaphorical language also used elsewhere. See for example the parallel description in Revelation 18:18 and Revelation 19:3, the smoke of Babylon is described in both places to be rising forever even though Babylon is ultimately destroyed, and doesn’t burn forever. The smoke be a hyperbole that the destruction was very great or that it symbolizes an eternal remembrance of the destruction by the smoke being an eternal memorial. The lake of fire (which this may refer to) is probably a real place. (as we’ve seen before) In addition the fire here is used metaphorically. Look at:

Revelation 21 (YLT)
4 and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and the death shall not be any more, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor shall there be any more pain, because the first things did go away.’ 5 And He who is sitting upon the throne said, Lo, new I make all things; and He saith to me,Write, because these words are true and stedfast;’

Since the fire is on earth and he is making all things new it makes no sense for it to last forever.

In fact Revelation 14 is a quote from Isaiah 34:9-10 about the judgement of Edom, in NKJV:

Isaiah 34 NKJV
9Its streams shall be turned into pitch,
And its dust into brimstone;
Its land shall become burning pitch.
10 It shall not be quenched night or day;
Its smoke shall ascend forever.
From generation to generation it shall lie waste;
No one shall pass through it forever and ever.

And this verse relates this future Judgement of Edom to the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorah in NKJV:

Jeremiah 49 NKJV
17 “Edom also shall be an astonishment;
Everyone who goes by it will be astonished
And will hiss at all its plagues.
18 As in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah
And their neighbors,” says the Lord,
“No one shall remain there,
Nor shall a son of man dwell in it.

Deuteronomy 29 NKJV
23 ‘The whole land is brimstone, salt, and burning; it is not sown, nor does it bear, nor does any grass grow there, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, which the Lord overthrew in His anger and His wrath.’

Genesis 19 NKJV
24 Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.

The reason I point this out, is that Sodom and Gomorah is said to be destroyed by eternal fire:

Jude 1 NKJV
7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

One way to resolve this problem of “why aren’t the fires of Sodom still burning?” is to say that the fire is not actually eternal, but infact a metaphor for eternal consumption. Sodom and Gomorah were destroyed, and that destruction was eternal (the people never came back or were revived), it was consumed, and that consumption wasn’t reversed (eternal consumption). That is why I think it is said to be destroyed by eternal metaphorical fire or… eternal consumption.

There are other examples of hyperbolic or metaphorical language in scripture such as this. When the word “hated” is used in the old testament it often means “loved less.”

Genesis 29 KJV
30 And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years.
31 And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.

This is to show that hyperbolic language is often used. Eternal fire could be the same way. Now for Revelation 20:

Revelation 20 NKJV
9 They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. 10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

At first glance, you may see a problem for my argument especially when paired with the previously mentioned Matthew 25

Matthew 25:41 NKJV
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:
… 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

However, observe that the devil and his angles aren’t nessesarilly made of the same stuff as others. Hence, they may indeed be tormented forever but others may be consumed instantly. In addition this is an expounding upon revelation 14:9-11 and not describing something new so we can’t read something contradictory to Revelation 14 here. (read Revelation 19:17-20:10 to see the parallel) This is similar to how Revelation 18:1-19:3 expounds upon Revelation 14:8. Also it says the beast, the false prophet, and the devil are tormented, and the beast is probably an abstract concept such as an empire, or a world system. (using the metaphors of beasts in the book of Daniel) So the implication here is that the torment may be abstract as well. The devil and his angels also seem to be treated differently by the lake of fire than humanity is, consider these verses:

Rev 20 NKJV
“12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”

When it says this is the “second death” we have to include this verse in our analysis:
Mat 10:28 KJV
And fear not them which kill G615 the body, but are not able to kill G615 the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

This indeed sounds like a second death: destruction of the soul, not eternal life with torment. Again we have the concepts of Death and the Hades (read “grave”) thrown into some physical place like Gehenna or The Dead Sea, this has to be metaphorical (probably for destruction) especially since the word second death is used. Hebrew words used for death here in the septuagint are: H01698, H04194, H06913, H01565, H04191

They all mean death or destruction. The first one H1698 which may be a little different is often translated as pestilence or plagues, but it is used to mean destruction as well. For example:

Hos 13:14 NKJV
I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; H1698 O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.

1Pe 1:7 NKJV
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, G4442 might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

One also needs to recall the material we have already reviewed regarding Isaiah 34 noticing that the terms “day” and “night” are again used and notice that with regards to Matthew 25. In addition to all this, the word for torment here may imply to test for quality or to destroy as well.

Taking the greek definition:
G928 βασανίζω – Strong’s Greek Lexicon Number
LSJ Gloss:

βασανίζω
to rub

Strong’s:

βασανίζω
to torture
Derivation: from G931;

KJV Usage: pain, toil, torment, toss, vex.
G931 

Thayer:
1) to test (metals) by the touchstone, which is a black siliceous stone used to test the purity of gold or silver by the colour of the streak produced on it by rubbing it with either metal
2) to question by applying torture
3) to torture
4) to vex with grievous pains (of body or mind), to torment
5) to be harassed, distressed
5a) of those who at sea are struggling with a head wind

Encyclopedia Britannica: Alternate titles: Lydian stone; Lydite
“Touchstone
Alternate titles: Lydian stone; Lydite
Touchstone, black siliceous stone used to ascertain the purity of gold and silver. Assaying by “touch” was one of the earliest methods employed to assess the quality of precious metals. The metal to be assayed is rubbed on the touchstone, adjacent to the rubbing on the touchstone of a sample of a metal of known purity. The streaks of metal left behind on the touchstone are then treated with nitric acid, which dissolves impurities, and thus, when the streaks are compared, the contrast between pure and impure metal is heightened. Because other metals, such as copper, can be alloyed to silver without significantly changing its colour, the touchstone method is not usually employed now to assay silver. It is still used, however, to assay gold and provides a reasonably accurate guide to quality.”
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/600649/touchstone

Or taking the corrosponding Hebrew definition that is often translated to mean “make desolate” or “destroy.”
G928 appears in the old testament:
1Sa 5:6
But the hand of the LORD was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed H8074 them, and smote them with emerods, even Ashdod and the coasts thereof.
http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H8074&t=KJV

So whichever definition we take, either from the Greek or the hebrew, both have alternate definitions to torment. However, I must admit the way the word is used in this verse adds some difficulty to this possibility:

Revelation 9 NKJV
5 And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment G928 them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. 6 In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.

However, revelation is a highly metaphorical book in general. The rider of the horse that has the sword his mouth may be a symbol of the word of God going out to convert people. Hence revelation may use a militaristic metaphor to talk about spiritual warfare. See the previous series on Herb Montgomery Knowing this, it is interesting that a good number of the verses used to argue for the modern concept of hell (with eternal torment) come from revelation.

Check out the usage of fire in revelation 19 in NKJV:

Rev 19 NKJV
19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire G4442 burning with brimstone 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.

http://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/G4442 Here are a couple corrosponding hebrew words to this greek one:
http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H784&t=KJV
http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H8316&t=KJV

With the first you will notice the usage in KJV:
Exo 3:2
And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire H784 out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, H784 and the bush was not consumed.
Exo 12:10
And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. H784

What fire does is consume things, if it doesn’t, it is a miracle like the burning bush.

Also the word Brimstone Rev 19:20 is most often used to describe destruction, here in NKJV:

Job 18 NKJV
15 They dwell in his tent who are none of his;
Brimstone is scattered on his dwelling.
16 His roots are dried out below,
And his branch withers above.
17 The memory of him perishes from the earth,
And he has no name among the renowned.

Isaiah 30 NKJV
27 Behold, the name of the Lord comes from afar,
Burning with His anger,
And His burden is heavy;
His lips are full of indignation,
And His tongue like a devouring fire.
28 His breath is like an overflowing stream,
Which reaches up to the neck,
To sift the nations with the sieve of futility;
And there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people,
Causing them to err.
29 You shall have a song
As in the night when a holy festival is kept,
And gladness of heart as when one goes with a flute,
To come into the mountain of the Lord,
To the Mighty One of Israel.
30 The Lord will cause His glorious voice to be heard,
And show the descent of His arm,
With the indignation of His anger
And the flame of a devouring fire,
With scattering, tempest, and hailstones.
31 For through the voice of the Lord
Assyria will be beaten down,
As He strikes with the rod.
32 And in every place where the staff of punishment passes,
Which the Lord lays on him,
It will be with tambourines and harps;
And in battles of brandishing He will fight with it.
33 For Tophet was established of old,
Yes, for the king it is prepared.
He has made it deep and large;
Its pyre is fire with much wood;
The breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone,
Kindles it.

Ezekiel 38:22 And I will bring him to judgment with pestilence and bloodshed; I will rain down on him, on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.

To summarize some of what is said here and in http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/eq/2001-1_021.pdf Revelation describes destructions:
Revelation 6:12-17, 11:15-18, 14:6-20, 16:17-21, 17:1-19:5, 19:6-20:21

There are many mappings from short to long descriptions of things:
Revelation 14 is the Judgement of Babylon (14:8) and expanded in 18:1-19:3

14:9-11 is expanded in 19:17-20:10.

14:12-13, is expanded in 20:11-21:8.

18 and 19 is of destruction and the expanded form in 14:6-11 cannot contradict this.

You will notice that the order in the Isaiah 34 is:
1 burning and brimstone
2 not quenched (no rest) day and night
3 ascending forever

Some argue that since 2 and 3 are reversed in revelation John is switching the emphasis to them having no rest day and night. However, there is another reason why John would modify the order and that is to preserve a certain structure. To quote Ralph G. Bowles:

“To see how John has structured this description of judgement
against the worshippers of the Beast, it is necessary to examine the
whole unit, Revelation 14:9-11. It can be set out in its inversion as follows:

(A) If anyone worships the beast and its image, and receives a
mark on his forehead or on his hand, (9)

     (B) he also shall drink the wine of God's wrath, poured
     unmixed into the cup of his anger, (lOa)

         (C) he shall be tormented with fire and sulphur in the
         presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the
         Lamb. (lOb)
         (Ci) And the smoke of their torment goes up for ever and
         ever, (l1a)
     (Bi) and they have no rest, day or night, (l1b)
(Ai) these worshippers of the beast and its image, and whoever
receives the mark of its name. (l1c).

This pattern conforms to the recognised structure of introverted
parallelisms in the Bible. This structure has been described thus:
‘There are stanzas so constructed that, whatever be the number of
lines, the first line shall be parallel with the last; the second with the
penultimate; and so throughout, in an order that looks inward, or to
borrow a military phrase, from flanks to centre.’21 Using the marks of
this figure listed by K. Bailey, it is possible to trace the structure of
Revelation 14:9-11. The climax ofthe unit is found in the centre (the
tormenting destructive judgement by God’s fire)…”
http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/eq/2001-1_021.pdf

Now lets look at Matthew 18

Matthew 18 NKJV
34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

This one is in fact a parable, which cannot at all be read literally, hence the argument for hell here is especially weak, and one should note that hell is not portrayed as a torment that motivates you to pay back any sort of debt. However, even more prominent is the observation that this torment may not be in the afterlife at all but a consquence of the human conscience.

There are in fact just 4 texts that are used mainly for these types of arguments: Matthew 18:34-35; Mark 9:43-48; Revelation 14:10-11 and Revelation 20:10

The last thing we should deal with is the parable of lazarus. It is indeed a parable but some still use it to argue for a literal interpretation.

Luke 16:19-31 New King James Version (NKJV)

19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’

27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’”

I contend that this parable is directed at the hellenized Jews using their worldview to get a message across. Other problems that this parable brings up if taken literally is that there you will literally be able to see your relatives tormented while you are relaxing in heaven or “Abraham’s bosom.” Also why wasn’t this place called “Abraham’s bosom” mentioned before in the Bible?

Citation taken from Herb montgomory “Do I have to Believe in Hell?” https://renewedheartministries.com/sermons/2015jesusdialogue/outlines/12doihavetobeleiveinhell.pdf
Concentric Circles -­ Free to Think and ask
Questions
“In order to understand the parable in detail
and as a whole, it is essential to recognize the
first part derives from a well-­known folk-­
material . . . This is the Egyptian folk-­tale
of the journey of Osiris, the son of Setme
Chamois to the under-­world . . . Alexandrian
Jews brought this story to Palestine, where it
became very popular as the story of the poor
scholar and the rich publican Bar Ma’Jan.” -­
J.Jeremias, Parables p. 183

From what I know this was common in early hellenized Jewish literature:

Other early Jewish works adapt the Greek mythical picture of Hades to identify the righteous dead as being separated from unrighteous in the fires by a river or chasm. In the pseudo- epigraphical Apocalypse of Zephaniah the river has a ferryman equivalent to Charon in Greek myth, but replaced by an angel. On the other side in the Bosom of Abraham: “You have escaped from the Abyss and Hades, now you will cross over the crossing place… to all the righteous ones, namely Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Enoch, Elijah and David”

http://www.talentshare.org/~mm9n/articles/wait/3.htm

Herb Montgomery makes the connection that since God is an all consuming fire, and in the Song of Songs it says love is a fire

Song of Songs 8 (NKJV)
6 Set me as a seal upon your heart,
As a seal upon your arm;
For love is as strong as death,
Jealousy as [am]cruel as [an]the grave;
Its flames are flames of fire, A most vehement flame.

Since it says that God is love that being in the presence of God is the real fire that is spoken of. For instance Isaiah 33 talks about the everlasting burnings being the destination of all, but that only the righteous survive: (NKJV)

14 The sinners in Zion are afraid;
Fearfulness has seized the hypocrites:
“Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire?
Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?”
15 He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly,
He who despises the gain of oppressions,
Who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes,
Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed,
And shuts his eyes from seeing evil:

Isaiah 43 says something similar about the fire being for all and in this life:


1 But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.

Here is the link to Herb Montgomery’s series. The ones I have drawn from are “Do I Have To Believe In Hell? Part 1″ and Do I Have To Believe In Hell? Part 2”

Abraham, River of Faith: Chapter 4, Finale

     For all the damage the kalak has suffered, it is still making its’ way down the Tigris, for that meeting with the Barge.  In the West, few are seen on the river; most have been abandoned on the shores, tipped over, half sunk in the mud.  But in China, Somalia, and other places, people are risking death to get in one.  There are still places where the little boat still travels, on its’ mission to make disciples of all men.

     Even in the West, there are still some churches that preach the right, accurate Gospel of Jesus Christ.  They have not bent their knee to Babylon or Mammon- for El always keeps a remnant.  These are mostly in America, but in the Phillipines, Ethiopia, and Armenia (the latter two of which established the world’s first state churches), they still continue on.  France and Ireland still boast healthy Catholic congregations as well.  So it cannot be said that the kalak failed; rather, it did not fill the pews as it should have.  It was meant to do that, but humans, with their pesky choice mechanism, often throw a shoe in the gears.

     Ultimately, our ability to choose can be a blessing as well.  It can be directed at finding and receiving the salvation of Jesus Christ.  And there is the hope, that will not pass away: that despite the cruelty and iniquity of our rotten, rancid, broken world, there is still a kalak for us.  The rulers of this present darkness, with all the terrible power at their command, cannot stop you from getting into the boat.

     They may harm you, or kill you, but they cannot stop you.  You can take to the Tigris, and make your way downstream, if you want to take the journey.  Whatever consequence awaits your adventure, you will arrive in the Kingdom of God, if that is your desire.  Despite all that has occurred before, the kalak will take you to the sea; for as Paul writes:

” I am not ashamed of the Gospel {of Jesus Christ}, because it is the power of salvation to those who believe, first to the Jew, and then, to the Greek.”

    This verse well fits my closing entry, since it encapsulates my main theory nicely.  The Gospel was preached first to the Jew-who was instructed in righteousness at Sinai-and then, those apostles went to the Greek, the Gentiles, and carried the Word to them.  So, from the Great Barge came emissaries, who then launched the kalak for mankind, to fill the hall of the Master, for the great day of His wedding.  For it is His desire that all should come, to be clothed in white for His day of joy and triumph.

     Imagine then, the sea where the two rivers meet, when the sons and daughters of Abraham come cascading down the streams. Wave after wave of the kalaks appear, their crews singing loudly, rapt in fulfillment, as they greet one another on the sea.  There, they surge and build to a swarm, shouting ‘Hosannah!’, pouring like a waterfall to the ocean.  As they laugh and hug and play, a roar goes up from the throng, and the ships part down the middle, as the Great Barge makes its way among them, the flagship of the faith, joining the armada at last.

    Whose joy will then be greater, when at last the navy conjoins?  Will it be the kalaks, at the sight of great ship, of whom they had heard so much, but never seen?  Or the mighty Barge, when it sees all the children the kalak in it diligence had brought home?  Who can tell.  When that day comes, it will no longer matter.  For there, the Messiah awaits us, ready to takes us home.

     What a sight it will be for Him, to see that grand fleet arrive.  With Great Barge amidst the many kalaks, it will be beautiful to His eyes, I am sure. For our sails will be full and robust, filled by our faith and hope, and our paddles driven by the Love Eternal that finally, finally has come to restore our weary souls.  On that day, no arm will tire, nor any voice grow faint, as we present our eager flotilla to our God and Father at last.

     Here ends, then, the story of the Two Rivers, born in the Bosom of gentile Abraham.  From his faithfulness, his righteousness, and his love came the covenant of Yahweh, first to the Jew, and then to the Greek.  For His firstborn, Yahweh made a might ship, that would endure till the end of the Euphrates; and from this, officers were dispatched to the Tigris, where a smaller craft was made to gather in the Gentile to Abraham’s house, that all men might be saved.  Be you of the barge or kalak, peace be unto you, until that glorious day shall come.  Selah, and Amen.

Paul Parallels: Originally apostle to Gentiles or to Israel?

The first parallel is for the purpose of showing that sometimes the word “nations” (gentiles) was used to refer to the lost tribes of Israel from the northern kingdom also called “Ephraim:”

Romans 11:25 Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)
25 For I do not wish you to be ignorant, brethren, of this secret — that ye may not be wise in your own conceits — that hardness in part to Israel hath happened till the fulness of the nations may come in;

Genesis 48:19 Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)
19 And his father refuseth, and saith, `I have known, my son, I have known; he also becometh a people, and he also is great, and yet, his young brother is greater than he, and his seed is the fulness of the nations;’

Paul Parallels, apostle to the Gentiles or to the lost tribes of Israel? Read these verses and the context around them:

Rev 21 YLT
12 having also a wall great and high, having twelve gates, and at the gates twelve messengers, and names written thereon, which are [those] of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel,
. . . 
24 and the nations of the saved in its light shall walk, and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it,

Acts 9 (referring to Paul) (YLT)
15 And the Lord said unto him, `Be going on, because a choice vessel to Me is this one, to bear My name before nations and kings — the sons also of Israel;
16 for I will shew him how many things it behoveth him for My name to suffer.’

Isaiah 60 (YLT)
3 And come have nations to thy light, And kings to the brightness of thy rising.
4 Lift up round about thine eyes and see, All of them have been gathered, they have come to thee, Thy sons [referring to Israel] from afar do come, And thy daughters on the side are supported.

Gen 35:10 (YLT)
10 and God saith to him, Thy name [is] Jacob: thy name is no more called Jacob, but Israel is thy name;’ and He calleth his name Israel. 11 And God saith to him,I [am] God Almighty; be fruitful and multiply, a nation and an assembly of nations is from thee, and kings from thy loins go out; 

Abraham, River of Faith: Chapter 4, part 7

     So, as bad as things sounded last time, they are about to become manifestly worse.  Now, we will enter the 20th century, and here, we shall look upon the Leviathan.  This is not the indomitable dragon spoken of by El; rather, it is an organism crafted by the dark soul of Calvin.  This is a kraken, an ancient octopoid, whose tentacles could wrap around a ship, and sink it whole.  This creature does not trifle with mere ships and men, however;  this one grips in its’ dread power the earth on which we live, through the unstoppable force at its’ command, which is known to men as commodification.

     Imagine a model of our globe, as normal, but with tentacles crawling out from beneath the United States, drifting across the globe, writhing, stretching, engorged, rampaging across all the nations of Earth. Watch it, as it absorbs all in its’ path, deconstructing matter to raw materials, and dragging it back to its’ titan maw. Whatever resists it it decimated, should that resistance not be backed by extreme power-or submission to the Leviathan.  Imagine your shock to see this; then multiply that sevenfold when you realize that those who live on top of the tentacles have no idea that those appendages exist!

     You don’t have to imagine this.  Ask an average American, and they have little to no idea what is being done by the power cabal that runs the tentacles.  I say this as an American, who was taught to bleed red, white and blue for my beloved land.  I was always taught patriotism, fealty, and love for America, when men were free, and right prevailed.  I still hold those values, because my America is all those things.  My America is an ideal, that supercedes the real.  But the terrible truth is that the Leviathan is just a nanometer below the world we see in the magic rectangle, just a hair out of focus from the control grid media, like John Carpenter’s immortal  They Live.

     As with the film, there are those who dwell among us, who, underneath, are reptilian. No, I don’t mean the inane theories about the hollow earth and such.  They are not actually reptilian: they are spiritually reptilian.  They have the mindset of the reptile: cold, calculating, and ceaselessly drawn to more and more wealth and power.  They acquire these things, because they have no moral boundaries to limit their lusts, and no compassion to complicate their affairs.  And they run the show-often, with the help of religion.

     With the dawn of the 20th century, America went from a rural, farming nation, to an industrialized powerhouse.  Its’ power exploded with victories in world war, and as a hub for ideas and free people.  This remapped the landscape culturally, as expressed in the old song ‘How you gonna keep em down on the farm. once they’ve seen gay Paris?’  The answer is, you aren’t.  European existentialism is going to creep in, especially after the terror of the Reich, where a religion was built by the SS to worship their Messiah (Heil Hitler, in the Nuremburg assemblies, meant ‘Praise God’).  One of the great Christian heroes, Deitrich Bonhoffer, died battling this religion.

     The principle enemy of Germany-the Soviets-also had a religion, which is no surprise, as the man who made it what it was, Stalin, was a Jesuit first.  The state is a religion, no matter how often you quote Marx, if you worship it as such.  If it contorts truth, and makes heretical the power of reasoning, then it is a religion, whether to God or man it is dedicated.  In Hegel’s case, he didn’t bother to deny it.  These ideas, communism, fascism, existentialism, nihilism- these were undiscovered lands for the simple, pietistic Americans, who came to the forefront of the powers of the world.

     By 1950, Europe had almost atrophied as the home of Christendom; the horrors of war, of Holocaust, and the mounting scientific case against the Bible had emptied churches and set a continent adrift into malaise and angst. No one in Europe took the idea seriously anymore.  Here in America, it was recovering, but as a religion, one very useful, as Seneca wrote, for the rulers.  here, it was being celebrated as Christianity, but was, in fact, Mammonity. Thus came the Gospel of Wealth.

     America was entering an age of unbridled power, and with this came a leap forward in lifestyle that was undreamt of heretofore.  Working class people could live as kings did elsewhere on Earth.  My grandparents opened a store near their home, with gas pumps and merchandise, on blue collar skills and salary.  The interstate system supercharged commerce, and opportunities, and every one was getting in on the game.  Life was good, for a while, until the jobs went overseas, and with those, the opportunities to make the American Dream come true.

         In the midst of the great heyday of money, very few stopped to ask: ‘where did all this come from?’ How did this prosperity arise?  Most just assumed that it was just ‘natural’, a dividend of American greatness.  Those factors did help; American labor did make America what it was.  But underneath the skin, the Leviathan was at work, and it was this creature, Mammon’s pet, that was juicing up the pot.  It was built from the Brettonwood conference, from which came the SWIFT money system that still dominates the world.  That provided the financing;  for raw materials, abstract solutions were required, by the burgeoning intelligence apparatus roughly known as CIA.

     This was where the dirty work got done, when people didn’t ‘play ball’.  In the Americas alone, the shadow men knocked down  elected governments with regularity.  Guatemala, Chile, and recently Venezuela, Honduras, were collapsed into Junta dictatorships, or puppet clients.  When the strongmen already ruled, they found ample support from us, as in Nicaragua.  This effect was not local; Iraq was toppled to install a puppet, as they tried to do in Syria-and as they did in Iran, where they overturned an elected President to install the murderous barbarian the Shah.

      So, for decades, America ruled the roost, getting cheap goods, and keeping the dollar strong.  Dollar stores starting cropping up in the new milleneum, since China began to manufacture cheap goods for us, and buy our debt up.  NAFTA destroyed Mexican farmers, who then had to come North to look for work, which the wealthy in California and Arizona enjoyed as nannies and gardeners.  To shorten the litany of events pursuant to the power of the Dollar, I will sum it up thus:  The directive of the New World Order is to create, sustain, and make invincible Mammonity, or, simply, the Cult of the Dollar.

     Robbers in the old movies used to say ‘your money or your life’; but the truth is, in America, they are one and the same.  Who you are, what you experience, and what your life is, is all derivative of your money.  You want opportunities?  That costs money.  You want access to success? That costs money.  You want justice? Well, you know.  This is not mere hyperbole.  No where can we better see the power of commodification at work.

     The American prison system, empowered by the 1994 omnibus crime bill, is continually stocked with ‘product’, like a supermarket.  The owners of the supermax prisons receive 50,000$ a head for storing the product, most of which is pure profit. The product, of course, are people. Some of them are degenerates, of the worst stripe: others simply did not have the money for adequate legal defense-whose time averages at about 7 minutes for public defenders-and some were charged with crimes they did not commit, but were forced to ‘cop a plea’ to, to avoid the full power of the state.  Once they are remanded to custody, they become human livestock, kept in some cases in conditions to which people would not subjects their pets.  There is no public outcry against these measures, since the targets are prisoners.

     Then, while they are utterly immiserated, they are offered work, at 4 cents and hour, to make circuit boards for high tech missiles.  These missiles are then sold by the parent companies for over 100,000 $ to the Dept of Defense, creating windfall profits.  Furthermore, the MIC uses proxies in the deep state to agitate conflicts, like the missile strike in Syria in 2017, so that their inventory will be purchased.  The prisoner who made the boards earned a whopping 32  cents, while being transferred from and to his cell; and the Supreme Court decided that this was not slave labor.  That is fairly benign, compared to California using inmates to fight fires, without gear or training, at a whole one dollar an hour for pay. 

     Out in the real world, we aren’t doing much better.  Most working people can’t get by on minimum wage jobs, who regularly employ ‘power staffing’, splitting up shifts to use the worker only during high activity hours, and dismissing them during the lull.  The pension system was obliterated by the banking attack of 2007, sending millions of Americans spiraling into poverty and despair, as the banksters who robbed them were bailed out.  Soon, the new Guilded Age will commence, in which the very few can own everyone else, with no recourse against its’ masters. 

     Under all of this lies the heart of Mammon, which is usury.  There is no wealth that can exist with loans and interest.  You can have money without loans, but wealth occurs when your money makes money.  When the money starts paying itself, then you are off to the races.  And everyone wants in this race, because losing it makes you subject to whatever evil those who possess it can imagine.  Every level of slavery- chattel, wage, or debt slavery-is the result of the human desire for more. 

     The true evil genius of the system of Mammon is that people will trade their time, their labor, the precious years of their life, for money whose value is determined by someone else.  Those with the money inevitably control its’ value, which invariably  leads to pricing down the value of the labor of the powerless.  That is why labor in America created the collective bargaining mechanism.  If the masters control the value of the money, they can effectively revalue you.  And thus, they can buy sexual chattel, or human lives for gladiatorial games, because you need to earn money to live-and they determine how much you are worth.  Thus, they can drive people to do the unthinkable, often for their amusement, because of what we heard in 30 minutes: I did it for the money.

     By now, someone is asking ‘what the hell does this have to do with Calvin?’ Calvin poisoned the well. Calvin corrupted disciples, who went out to England and America, and put his teaching to work.  They tasted great success, which affirmed their election, and they proudly displayed their crosses to all men, as they committed genocide and brigandage-much as the Spaniards did in the New world, or the dungeons of the Inquisition.  They proclaimed to mankind that the were the chosen of the one and true God, even though they displayed none of the character of Yeshua.

     This perpetuated over time, generalizing in the populace in America, until the wealth of America made average people so enriched that they lived like kings of many nations.  Want and suffering were banished, as was the struggle with death that mankind has always faced.  Here, in our wonderland, we entered into a never-ending cascade of merchandise and convenience, awash in success and splendor-and became the status quo.  The Gospel of suffering and death was eroded by the gospel of wealth and comfort.

     Thus, it became unthinkable that ‘Jesus would want me to be poor’-because, that estate, according to good brother Jean, was a sign of disfavor and wretchedness, even though the Messiah himself owned not a penny to HIs name.  Poor is a stigmatized state, to be avoided at all costs.  Poor means you can be dismissed, poor means you can be subjugated, and poor means, most of all, you can be commodified.  Suffering meant you are cursed, since Jesus wants to give to all the things that make you happy.  Never a cross and three nails.

     Thus, Peter the Apostle is a man accursed, since of silver and gold, he had none.  How things have changed, since the first days of the Way.  I have attended churches that had tuesday night classes-on managing your portfolio, and the godly steardship of wealth.  The worst thing about it was not the class itself-it was the banal acceptance of the idea as normal.  Nothing sustains the faith of Jesus Christ like getting in on a juicy, high yield bond.  Most terrifying of all, is that the previous sentence, taken out of context, might well be used in a sermon on Sunday as a draw for the crowd.

     If that sound silly, check out the many ‘mega-pastors’, and their sordid opulence. Listen to their words, and see if there is a call to suffering in them.  See if you hear the truth being told: that God doesn’t have a pillow for you land on, that your life may well be taken or ruined, that you may end up with nails in your flesh, if you follow the Way of Christ.  How many dollars would into the plate if people knew there was no ‘ninja rapture’ to take them, like Calgon, away.  “Calgon” the old commercial went, “take me away!”. 

     Thus absurdity piles on absurdity.  This is how you end with people selling holy water, holy soap, holy bath sponges from the Dead Sea-even specially anointed crosses, to make your prayers better heard.  Because, as we know, Jesus isn’t interested in your problems if you can’t demonstrate some wealth.  Until you pay the premium, your prayer is going on the back of the bus.  Thus, Jesus becomes Bill the Butcher from Gangs of New York, who tells his lackey “don’t ever appear before me without something in your hand.”

     To wrap this up, I will put it bluntly: religion is a racket.  Faith is the power of dead to live again: religion is a revenue engine, where a brand is grown to generate income, and thus, is indistinguishable from any other commercial enterprise.  And that is why the kalak failed.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ, from the age of Constantine onward, became replaced by that of Mammon, and the damage done by this has not been measured.  The primary result was to convince people that the Gospel was a lie, since no one would actually live according to its’ words. 

     That is why I appreciate atheists-they are generally honest people.  They also share my loathing of blatant, conniving prevarication.  I listen to some of them, on you tube and such, and I hear the voice of the betrayed, who wanted to believe, but found no one who had the faith to convince them that was they were saying was real.  Anyone can mumble out some words; but deeds require faith, because faith is not a state of mind, but a state of doing.  What you do will define you; and if your words are perpendicular to your faith, your doing, it is the deed they will watch.

     And so it is, with the Leviathan.  As it collapses governments that oppose it, it drags in the resources of those nations, to feed it.  Whether by armed assault, IMF loans or NGO’s, the Leviathan will feed.  It will not be denied.  Zbigniew Brzezinski, in his book The Grand Chessboard, layed out the commodification of Asia as the final triumph of the Leviathan, a dream still pursued the the NeoCon/Neo Liberal sphinx that runs the power cabal in DC.  If only-if only-we could balkanize Asia, and own all its’ people and resources.  What a wonderful world it would be, to borrow from Sam Cooke.

     Through all of this, the crowd cheers on, unaware of the machinations of the masters.  The pastors on tv tell us, time and again, that America is a Christian nation.  By this they do not mean that we follow Christ: by this they mean that our populace identifies with the counterfeit version, Mammonity.  What they mean is that we are quite comfortable painting a cross on something, and then killing someone with it.  Or, if less violence is needed, just placing them in debt peonage, or ‘loaning’ all their natural resources out, as the IMF attempted to do to the Ukraine.

     If you have any doubts about the terror Calvin unleashed on the world, I will ask one basic question:  what would the world look like, if Calvin had replaced all his works with the words of Peter: “of silver and gold, I have none”.  What might have been, if he had insisted that the value of a human being cannot be expressed in terms of money, that God loves everyone equally, that striving for wealth was not the basis of justification, and that everyone was invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb, even if you don’t like or understand them.  Calvin had the power to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ: but his lust for power and fame instead turned him to the dark path that we now know all too well.

     I will now dispel with the sad tale of the kalak, and return to the light before it.  Despite what wicked men have done to defame and destroy it, it still can be found on the Tigris, still picking up those who want to be pulled out.  The Gospel is still the power of salvation, to those who believe.  In the final part of its’ story, I will end on a positive note, to show what victories in achieved, despite all that was done to sink it.

    

Jesus and Taxes

I’m not arguing that what Jesus said then is applicable to our situation today since the Herodians were different (and worse) than our government. Herod was actually divinely executed for starting to accept that he was God (an anti-Christ) in Acts 12:22-23. Here’s some other evidence I think shows people have misread “give unto Ceasar”:

The Herodians were the political party of Herod the king and favored submitting to Herod and to Rome, hence it is interesting that they brought that group in order to trap him:

15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. 16 And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians. . .(Matthew 22) 

Luke’s version is even more clear:

20 So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so that they could deliver Him to the rule and the authority of the governor. 21 They questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You speak and teach correctly, and You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. 22 “Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”(Luke 20)

An unorthodox reading of Christ’s responses can be made in light of Deuteronomy 10:14 which says

“Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the Lord your God, also the earth with all that is in it.”

and Genesis 1:27 which states

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

Compare this with:

“And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” . . . “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.'” (Matthew 22:20-21)

Here’s how I think the inscription connects: “But what did the inscription say? On the front, the coin said “Tiberius Caesar, son of the divine Augustus.” The reverse side of the coin read “Greatest Priest.” But that is how it was inscribed in Latin. In Greek, Tiberius coins and inscriptions read theou huios (“son of the god”). Note with special emphasis that Tiberius put the word “god” before the word “son” in his inscriptions and coins.”
http://christianmonthlystandard.com/index.php/son-of-god-in-roman-world/

“son of” can mean “in the nature of”, or “in the image of” e.g. Colossians 1:15
Add on to this that Jesus had charges of opposing the payment of taxes: Luke 23:2 and that he says to not let tax collectors in the Church: Matthew 18:17 and you can see why you might read Jesus as saying cryptically not to pay taxes. (cryptically because the Herodians were there and he didn’t want to get killed just yet) However, this must not be used to negate: 1 Peter 2:13-25 for those rulers who “punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good” I think this holds for most governments in general even though there are a lot of problems in the world.

Matthew 12

From my experience the standard messianic or Hebrew roots way of reading Matthew 12 is to say that Yeshua is dealing with matters of weight in the law, like what is more important, to keep the Sabbath or to feed oneself when desperately hungry?

However, in 1 Samuel 21 (which Yeshua references here) it seems that the priest thought that it was perfectly legal for David to eat the show-bread. This got me thinking and talking to some people. The priest just asked if his men (and David as well in some translations) had not had sex, which is kind of a weird question. Then David said: “5….“Truly women have been kept from us as always when I go on an expedition. The vessels of the young men are holy even when it is an ordinary journey. How much more today will their vessels be holy?” (ESV)
Depending on the translation verse 5 will be different, but just humor me and read it in the ESV or one of many others that are similar for now.

Some translations have the priest asking if “at least” the young men had not had sex, this does not appear in the ESV and the word translated “at least” can also be translated certainly or surely in other places: http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H389&t=KJV

Anyways, the reason the question is weird is that if you read the stipulations for the Aaronic priests to eat the holy things, not having sex is absent from them and the closest thing to that is the prohibition of eating if they have recently had an emission of seed. (this could be close enough that they used one as an equivalent for the other) Some verses about the show-bread follow:

4 `Any man of the seed of Aaron, and is leprous or hath an issue — of the holy things he doth not eat till that he is clean; and he who is coming against any uncleanness of a person, or a man whose seed of copulation goeth out from him, 5 or a man who cometh against any teeming thing which is unclean to him, or against a man who is unclean to him, even any of his uncleanness — 6 the person who cometh against it — hath even been unclean till the evening, and doth not eat of the holy things, but hath bathed his flesh with water, 7 and the sun hath gone in, and he hath been clean, and afterwards he doth eat of the holy things, for it [is] his food; 8 a carcase or torn thing he doth not eat, for uncleanness thereby; I [am] Jehovah. 9 `And they have kept My charge, and bear no sin for it, that they have died for it when they pollute it; I [am] Jehovah sanctifying them. 10 `And no stranger doth eat of the holy thing; a settler of a priest and an hireling doth not eat of the holy thing; 11 and when a priest buyeth a person, the purchase of his money, he doth eat of it, also one born in his house; they do eat of his bread. 12 `And a priest’s daughter, when she is a strange man’s, — she, of the heave-offering of the holy things doth not eat; 13 and a priest’s daughter, when she is a widow, or cast out, and hath no seed, and hath turned back unto the house of her father, as [in] her youth, of her father’s bread she doth eat; but no stranger doth eat of it. (Lev 22:4-13)


5 `And thou hast taken flour, and hast baked twelve cakes with it, two tenth deals are in the one cake, 6 and thou hast set them two ranks (six in the rank) on the pure table before Jehovah, 7 and thou hast put on the rank pure frankincense, and it hath been to the bread for a memorial, a fire-offering to Jehovah. 8 `On each sabbath-day he arrangeth it before Jehovah continually, from the sons of Israel — a covenant age-during; 9 and it hath been to Aaron, and to his sons, and they have eaten it in the holy place, for it [is] most holy to him, from the fire-offerings of Jehovah — a statute age-during.’ (Leviticus 24:5-9 )

So why didn’t the priest just ask David to make sure his men were free from that before they ate? And there are other restrictions besides that, so why didn’t the priest ask something like “are they ceremonially clean?” Why that specifically?

Someone pointed out to me that there is a theory that David was actually a high priest, but of a different order, probably the same one that his descendent Yeshua was after: the order of Melchizedek. This is because David’s sons are called priests in 2 Samuel 8:18 The word is Kohen and is almost always translated as “priests” elsewhere except in that one spot: http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H3548&t=KJV
However, the ESV translates it as priests:

2 Samuel 8:18 “and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites, and David’s sons were priests.”

How could David’s sons be priests if they were not descended from Aaron? Maybe because they were descended from David who was priest after a different order. And since David was a priest after another order that order had different requirements for how to eat the holy things. (requirements that are not listed in the Bible, but may only be hinted at here) David’s servants (or young men) may have been able to eat either because the bread was given to them by David, maybe in some ceremony such as listed here that reminds me of the last supper: Gen 14:18 “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.)” or because there was a similar allowance as with the Aaronic priesthood where servants (or slaves) of the priests could eat of the things for the priests: “11 but if a priest buys a slave[a] as his property for money, the slave[b] may eat of it, and anyone born in his house may eat of his food.”
(The word translated “young men” in 1 Samuel 28:5 can mean “servant” Jdg 19:11 “And when they were by Jebus, the day was far spent; and the servant H5288 said unto his master…..” http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?page=2&strongs=H5288&t=KJV#lexResults )

Of course David is being dishonest in his dealings with the priest here and he regrets it later because the priests get killed by Saul. David is not on a mission from the King and we don’t know if actual servants are going to meet him. However, this explains the priest’s questions and reactions in another way than the standard reading.

Hence, we can interpret Matthew 12 as Jesus first being confronted with an oral law from the Pharisees that interprets the plucking of grain–even without using a farm tool–as work. The Lightfoot commentary states: ‘Fathers of the Traditions write thus; “He that reaps on the sabbath, though never so little, is guilty. And to pluck the ears of corn is a kind of reaping; and whosoever plucks any thing from the springing of his own fruit is guilty, under the name of a reaper.”‘

Matt 12:1 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.”

Jesus starts out by pointing out problems with their oral law; that their law can’t explain these things:
3 But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he became hungry, he and his companions, 4 how he entered the house of God, and they ate the [b]consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those with him, but for the priests alone?

However, there are two different words he uses in Matthew 12. In verse 4 it is “exesti” https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1832&t=KJV and and in verse 5 in “have you not read the law” it is “nomos” https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3551&t=KJV Nomos is mostly used to refer to the Torah.

5 Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent?

Verse 5 may be referring again to the show-bread in Leviticus 24: 8Every Sabbath day Aaron shall arrange it before the Lord regularly; it is from the people of Israel as a covenant forever. 9And it shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place, since it is for him a most holy portion out of the Lord’s food offerings, a perpetual due.”

He is not only criticizing the oral law for not being able to explain the priestly activities of David and of the Aaronic order, but he is also pointing out that even in the law there are exceptions made. He is saying “if making, picking up, and eating bread is ok here, then why not picking up and eating grain?”

One objection to the idea that a priest of the order of Melchizedek could jump in and eat the bread is the following passage which seems to suggest that the priests were supposed to burn everything they didn’t eat:

26 and out of the basket of unleavened things, which [is] before Jehovah, he hath taken one unleavened cake, and one cake of oiled bread, and one thin cake, and putteth [them] on the fat, and on the right leg; 27 and putteth the whole on the hands of Aaron, and on the hands of his sons, and waveth them — a wave-offering before Jehovah. 28 And Moses taketh them from off their hands, and maketh perfume on the altar, on the burnt-offering, they [are] consecrations for sweet fragrance; it [is] a fire-offering to Jehovah; 29 and Moses taketh the breast, and waveth it — a wave-offering before Jehovah; of the ram of the consecrations it hath been to Moses for a portion, as Jehovah hath commanded Moses. 30 And Moses taketh of the anointing oil, and of the blood which [is] on the altar, and sprinkleth on Aaron, on his garments, and on his sons, and on the garments of his sons with him, and he sanctifieth Aaron, his garments, and his sons, and the garments of his sons with him. 31 And Moses saith unto Aaron, and unto his sons, `Boil ye the flesh at the opening of the tent of meeting, and there ye do eat it and the bread which [is] in the basket of the consecrations, as I have commanded, saying, Aaron and his sons do eat it. 32 `And the remnant of the flesh and of the bread with fire ye burn; (Lev 8:26-32)

This may be instructions for a specific sacrifice however even if it was talking about the show-bread universally it still wouldn’t make me reconsider this theory. I see these rules as situationally applying to Aaron and his sons. If there is a different order of priest we may have different rules. We’ve already seen that it said the show-bread was for “Aaron and his sons” but this doesn’t say that it wasn’t for anyone else. Another passage that might be read in a similar way follows, but this seems to be specifically related to a consecration ritual:

31 `And the ram of the consecration thou dost take, and hast boiled its flesh in the holy place; 32 and Aaron hath eaten — his sons also — the flesh of the ram, and the bread which [is] in the basket, at the opening of the tent of meeting; 33 and they have eaten those things by which there is atonement to consecrate their hand, to sanctify them; and a stranger doth not eat — for they [are] holy; 34 and if there be left of the flesh of the consecration or of the bread till the morning, then thou hast burned that which is left with fire; it is not eaten, for it [is] holy. (Ex 29)

Back to the Matthew 12 passage. He then anticipates a possible objection: “but this isn’t the temple” and at the same time possibly references his own status as one of higher order of priest such as David:
6 I tell you, something greater than the temple is here.

And finally again points out that they and their oral law are missing the point, by being so focused an a letter of the law approach, and on the mechanics of the sacrifices and priestly practices that they have forgotten that love fulfills the law (rather love properly interprets the law in rabbinical argumentation) not how much you sacrifice:
7 But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’[a] you would not have condemned the guiltless.

This is a quote from Hosea 6:6 and the word used there for mercy is also translated as kindness: http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H2617&t=ESV

And finally:
8 For the Son of Man is Lord even[b] of the Sabbath.”

The parallel in Mark 2 actually includes before this “And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

This is essentially saying the sabbath is for the benefit of man, not a test for man, or a trial to see if man could do everything exactly right. The way to properly interpret the law of the sabbath (as with all other laws) is through love and not through putting heavy burdens of rules on people (this can lead people to think they are righteous carrying those burdens). Love properly interprets the law and hence requires a proper heart: Jeremiah says “I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” as well as Ezekiel 11:19 “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,”
The letter of the law may be represented by the heart of stone (the bare rock on which the commands were chiseled) while the spirit (that gets to the purpose of the law) may be represented by the heart of flesh that is kind and merciful.

Then in Mark 2 as well as here we see: “So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
“The Son of Man” may be in reference to the curse, and the promise in Genesis, where someone born of Adam, (a son of man) of the seed of a woman would reverse the curse the first Adam had brought by obeying the serpent. This curse would be reversed by crushing the serpent’s head. (“THE son of man” may be the specific one who would do this) Christ is referred to as the second Adam elsewhere. (also see the Lightfoot commentary) As Brad H Young states “Jesus identifies with the designation “Son of man.” He uses the name “Son of man” to communicate His purpose to the people. While the term “Son of man” is widely understood to refer to the humanity of Jesus, in Jewish apocalyptic thought it became the recognized title for the most exalted view of the coming Redeemer.” This is about what laws like the sabbath were pointing to, a rest from the curse, and also saying that if the sabbath was made for man, then certainly it was made for the son of man. However, this may also be a reference to the millennial kingdom where the son of man (Christ) shall reign (reread Hebrews 3 and 4)

Why doesn’t he just say “your oral law is wrong?” why is the response so deep and probing into the matters of the priests and of David? I think Yeshua is using a distraction tactic similar to what Paul used in Acts 23:6

6Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. It is because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” 7As soon as he had said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly was divided.… (NIV)

The Pharisees are less sure about these esoteric (and probably controversial) matters and it may have taken some of their enthusiasm for punishing Yeshua’s disciples and turned it into confusion. However, we aren’t told what their state of mind is but interestingly we aren’t told that they had any sort of response to this.

So to summarize: Jesus was doing more than just dealing with matters of weight, he was criticizing the Pharisee’s oral law for implicitly blaming people like David for breaking the Sabbath that was innocent of doing so. He was also pointing out that there were even exceptions even for the law and was criticizing them for focusing too much on the letter of the law and not trying to see what the law was pointing to or what God actually desired in how they should interpret the law and what their heart condition should be.

Abraham, River of Faith: Chapter 4, part 6

Having laid the groundwork for the outright brigandage of Calvin, let us turn to his more pervasive corruption of the Cross. In the wake of the revolt against the Papacy, Europeans were frightened, endangered, and even worse, unsure. The lethal weapon at Luther’s command-the printing press-had spread a dangerous outbreak of ideas, against which tyrants have always cursed and abjured. As a result, people were left with a void of security, which is the most primal of all human needs. Thus, a time of uncertainty created a prefect soil for a dark harvester to sow. And sow he did.

Calvin was a prolific writer, so it would be manifestly unfair to cherry pick him lop-sidedly. Some of his commentary was valid, even sagacious at times. But we must review the effects of his work, to see what he left behind for us, and little that was mundane survived him. After all, Luther and other Reformers were better exegetes than himself. What did survive his works was his deadly, deranged doctrine of double predestination.

Free will vs pre-destination: preachers and clerics hate this adversity, for it truly has no resolution before the discovery of particle physics. Arminius, the Dutch Reformer, made effective argument against Calvin’s position, but the truth of the matter is that free will is not mentioned in the Bible, and predestination is. That conflict still drives theology today, what little remains. To boil it down, Arminius claimed that Calvin was making God the author of sin, if He predestined a soul to sin against Him and fall. Without a choice, there is no justice in condemning a sinner, since it was God who wrote his life. A normal person would consider that a problem.

Calvin, on the other hand, had no problem with that at all. That was subsidiary to the Depravity of Man-that men were born into sin, and were damned until saved from it, which Augustine declared from times past. This terrible estate drove the ancient church to practice infant baptisms, to shield a baby from going to hell. This practice was rejected, however, by Protestants, including some Calvinists who made it their flagship issue, who became the Baptists. Baptism had to be chosen, as a sign of accepting the Gospel: and the hard core still maintain that in must be a dunk, not a sprinkle.

Yet, Calvin’s double predestination made it clear that you were not in control of salvation. That was decided by Christ, and Christ alone. This made people even more nervous, since the comfort of salvation was now utterly beyond their reach. Why do anything, then, if you are damned or saved before you were even born? Calvin at least knew that this had to be countered ahead of time, lest he be painted into a corner. So he added another impossible dimension to the axiom.

You cannot control you fate, but, you can show that you are amongst the elect, by working very hard, and adhering to all the rules. A life unstained by indolence, sluggardly repose, and waste was the one way you could know that you were likely a saint in the making. This of course meant that if you were not doing this- keeping perfect piety, working hard, with industry, never wasting time on frivolities (Weber concentrates heavily on the ‘time is money’ that made America and its’ ethic)-then you were not a saint. You still might go to hell, even if you did everything right: but, you could find comfort in being able to believe that you at least had a chance, if you adhered to absolute ardor.

This ethic, of never wasting a moment or a coin, was the security that replaces the old Catholic model. Thus, Weber identifies it as the ‘Protestant Work Ethic’: it is not to imply that Catholics are lazy. It was a specifically Protestant, Calvinist response to not having the assurance of the Roman Catholic paradigm. This idea was horrific; I doubt Calvin even knew what he was unleashing. But it was here that the malice associated with Christianity began in full. The Inquisitions, the barbarity in New Spain-these were atrocious. But they died out, having been rejected over time as evil. Calvin’s idea was only beginning.

The terror of hell, of never being certain-without diligence-created a growing coterie of followers who took to the idea fervently. They developed fanatical strength of will, and extraordinary intellect through discipline. This was, in a sense, a ‘super soldier’ program: it refined the genetic limits of the practicioner. This became its’ own curse, however, and a source of great malice to boot. First, it created the idea that if you were doing well in life, God is blessing you. That it to say, if you are successful-as industrious, focused, pennurious people mostly tend to be-it is a sign of God’s favor. This begins the trend to see unsuccessful people as not favored, and therefore, damned.

Here, we see the beginning of the division of the world into the chosen few, and the great unwashed. There is no pity for the weak or wretched; if they failed, then God did not want them. If their piety was impure, they failed. Such sinful lapses revealed a weak will, and that was only made right through the rectification of the flesh, usually through flagellation. And should the weak be unable to rectify himself-well, the whip hand was always at the ready to drive some righteousness in to their hide.

Since the program of double predestination elicited the very best efforts from people, they tended to be extremely genetically fit, and this eventually became, over time, the basis for not only the superiority of white men over all others, but of the physically adroit of the weak and puny, as a sign of divine affirmation. The Greeks called this idea Charisma: that the beautiful were anointed by the Gods, and the deformed rejected by them. There was no physical defect but spiritual light. You had both or neither. Thus, by the mid 19th century, Calvinism had become the basis for Muscular Christianity, the promotion of fitness as a sign of racial and spiritual signs of the blessing of God. This idea transformed into Eugenics, the elimination of the weak and fallow, to preserve the race-which itself was borrowed by a failed artist in Germany.

The survivors of the terror program of Calvinism lost all compassion, all sympathy, and all pity for those who were defective. As a group, they were traumatized into psychotic behavior, and this, in turn, transferred to any who were deemed unworthy. These are the people who gave us witch hunts, hangings for breach of Biblical code, and the genocide of a people in the Americas, who were assigned to hell as ‘red devils’, and wiped out wholesale where possible. The Puritans were miserable, angry, and repressed, which finally led to the collapse of their societies. By the dawn of the 18th century, The disciples of Calvin were largely divested into new traditions, that excised the madness of Calvin in different measures, creating new denominations like Baptists and Presbyterians.

Unfortunately, the dismissal of Puritan power did not erase the impact of Calvinism. The seeds had already been sown. The dawning New World was febrile with hope and energy, with the possibilities of a vast horizon, ripe for a ‘manifest destiny’. Colonial trade with Europe was thriving, and an age of invention was afoot. A man could own his labor, his freedom, for just a few years indentured servitude to pay for passage across the Atlantic. Then, there were some who could not ever do either, who paid with their very humanity to make across the waves.

Slavery in America is a grotesquely complicated, intricate affair, that cannot be cut like the Gordian Knot. You could fill the credit requirements for a History Major with the classes needed to comprehend the elaborate nuances involved in a mastery of all the data involved. I will address the matter spiritually, which is am inversion of the terrestrial examination of the affair. The making of slave-the commodification of a person-is perpendicular to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This rests on on one commandment:

“Do unto others, as you would have done unto you”

No one wants to be vulgarized beneath humanity, robbed of their freedom and dignity, and converted into property for chattel. You cannot out-argue this position. It has a primacy that cannot be eroded, obviated, or ablated. Accordingly, I can say that the Bible does not condone chattel slavery, or the making of free men into slaves. The estates permitted in the Torah were applicable only to Canaan, and only under extreme strictures.

But we know how history went. Slaves were profitable short term-indentured people as well-as the growing economy was hungry for the production of goods. Profits were there to be made-and if that required indentured serfs, African slaves, or Indian genocide, well-they were obviously not elect. Profit was king, because in advancing in wealth, you were one step closer to God. And God loved you, because you were successful.

I will conclude this unhappy affair in the next post, as it becomes a morbid thing to dwell upon too greatly. When I have shown why the Cross is so despised today, I will put the negative behind us, and return to the voyage of the Kalak, which does have, at least, a happy ending. It should have been a spotless vessel, the tiny boat made to reach all men, all places, all times. It should have been a joy to see, as it brang the tidings of the Good News. What would the world look like today, if it had run the Tigris as it was meant? We will see a window on this ahead, as we examine what it looks like now.

Abraham, River of Faith: Chapter 4, Part Five

“A tree is known by its’ fruits” Jesus says. A good tree does not make bad fruit, or vice versa. This metric, while not true in a biological sense, is meant rather to impel a deeper meaning. After all, apples are not good or evil. This refers, rather, to the parentage of righteousness and depravity. We hear of the ‘bad apple’ in the bunch, but whence did it come? In the West, it almost certainly came from Jean Calvin.

Examine the recorded history etched into history. He was in most ways an ordinary human. He was blessed, however, to have lived in the most explosive times since the Fall of the old order. After a thousand years of mayhem, the Papacy was being challenged, by a monk-and some shrewd politicians. In the vortex that followed, Calvin had the opportunity to transform from mundane into the cosmic; like so many other cult leaders-Joseph Smith, Mohammad-he took the reigns of destiny, to become more than a man.

In the Swiss cantons, the ideas unleashed by Luther were being discussed openly. and act of bravery in light of France’s brutal murder of those possessing a Protestant bible. Zwingli was being debated with Luther, and Calvin wanted the spotlight those men had acquired. Armed with some legal training, a keen mind, and relentless will to prevail, he worked his way to the top, achieving patriarchy over Geneva, where he wrote his famous Institutes. How great the irony-the hater of Popes, now was one.

I wonder if he saw, for a moment, his face in the mirror, adorned in the miter-or how much like his enemy he was. His governorship of Geneva is well documented: he established the Law of Moses as the civil code (even though he was not in the priesthood of Aaron)-which ended in him being forcibly removed from office, after demanding someone’s daughter be stoned for impertinence. Many will contest this: Calvin has ardent followers still, centuries later. I do not have reason to believe he would attempt this, considering the Michael Servetus affair.

Servetus was an atheist, a critic of religion and the Papacy, and a recklessly brave man. A physician, he held religion to be tales of the powerful to control the uneducated. He had read, certainly, the works recovered during the Rebirth, amongst which would be the works of Seneca, whose tenets on religion are still adhered to today (it is regarded by the common as true, by the wise as false, and by the ruler as useful). He was, unsurprisingly, condemned to death-psychotic, intimidating death, at the stake-for his crimes of speaking against power. He had evaded capture, making for safe haven in Itaky, until he was caught in Geneva, where he would die the death.

Servetus had made the wrong man very angry. He had received Calvin’s institutes, and returned it, with pointed criticisms in the margins. Calvin opened correspondence with Servetus, which grew explosive, and Calvin grew to despise the man as much as the Papacy did. When Servetus came into his power, Calvin put him to the stake, atop of pile of Servetus’ books, and burned him alive. To saturate his thirst for revenge, he added a wreath of gunpowder, to extend the torment. The last words Servetus uttered were these:

“Jesus, Son of the Eternal God, have mercy on me”

The record shows that Servetus was killed for heresy-the act of executing heretics being repugnant to Reformers-but Calvin’s letter to Farel shows the real reason. Calvin’s ego had been bruised, and he would see vengeance for the slight, no matter the cost. Here, Calvin showed from which tree he fell.

If you want to experience true madness, watch a Calvinist defend Calvin. Cognitive dissonance doesn’t begin to cover it. The evidence is replete; but they will use arguments like ‘it was common then’ or ‘everyone has bad days’. Even more insane are the true cultists-the ones who never admit that Great Leader has a fault. Great Leader is perfect. Great Leader was blessed by God. These Calvinists remind me of the North Koreans who cannot admit that Un defecates, as feces would make him defiled, a mere man.

I have to be careful-reason and wit got Servetus killed. The savage irony of Calvin is that he had an opportunity to read most of the Bible-and yet, still found a way to justify what can not-can not- be found as permissible in the Scripture. There is no power granted by the Gospel of Jesus Christ to commit mayhem or murder. The ills associated with Bible-Crusades, slavery, etc-are not sustainable in cohesion with commandments of the Messiah. Period. Yet, people find a way.

Even today, Calvin is defended, upheld, cherished. If you are in a church in America. you have likely felt his spectre brush past you. His works still haunt us, and, indeed, the world itself. From his tiny city in the Alps, Calvin warped a planet with darkness. It was he who mastered what he Popes, greedy for wealth and power, could only dream of attaining. It was the son of the Papacy, the Protestant Pope, who forged, as Sauron, the Ring of Avarice. It was he who would unleashed the Gospel of Mammon.

Calvin instituted several edicts that would bring this about. The greatest of these was the dispelling of the prohibition against usury, he lending at interest, which Yahweh forbade. If El forbids something, He probably has a reason why. There is a reason that the one demon Jesus abjures by name is Mammon, which is, Avarice. The demonic host of the power of wealth, Mammon bends all to his will. Some murder; some rape; some steal: but all want. All desire; and that desire is directed towards the great lie of the Garden: you can be your own God. This is the promise that Mammon holds out, rapt in the splendid light of gold, and all of humanity has been its’ victims-either as the commodified, or the commodifiers. Mammon makes it all happen; Mammon has the key to the door of your dreams. All Mammon needs is interest.

It would take books of sobering, boring data to bear this out. I will give you a bullet point summary, and let you decide if you believe me. Interest pays the investor on the principle. I put in a thousand, and I get a few bucks on top of it back. Cool, right? Well, no. The interest you received came from somewhere-and that is from someone else going into debt peonage. Debt peonage is the assumption of a human as property. It is never stated this way: that would frighten people. But that is the end goal of debt. You loan, you require an interest payment, which upon default of the loan, remands the money or property back to the lender. And if there is a shortfall in the restitution-well, somehow, the balance must be paid.

Not long ago, America had Debtors prisons for those unable to pay debts. There, you would work off the shortage-in the custody of the state. These are starting to make reappearances today. Along with this is the prison slave labor system, that MIC companies employ to cheaply manufacture circuit boards that are featured in the missiles that blow up children in Warzistan. And, if you want some flush quarters, you can hide toxic assets in a CDO, while still merrily handing out the toxic loans-which, of course, were never going to be repaid.

What is the root of all evil, that makes the bad tree? It is not money, but the love of it. Money is fine. Basic capitalism-working hard for your wages, in the rote of John Locke-is not evil. The Bible commends honest work and honest gain. But there is no wealth in Law of El. You cannot squeeze your brother for the vig. No, to make wealth, your money must make money. That is the difference between rich and wealthy. Rich people make tons of money-but still have to work to pile it up. The goal of the rich is to get wealthy enough to retire-so their money finally becomes self-sustaining.

The goal, ultimately, is to defeat the curse of Adam: “By the seat of your brow, shall you make your bread”. To defeat this, mankind made civilizations, and later, empires. Civilization were made, generally, by commodifying people. Slavery began as a way to feed the needs of the citizens, to liberate to urbanites from the drudgery of work-by enforcing it on some one else. These liberated folk accumulated wealth, and became the priest and philosopher classes. One such man of that class was Cliesthenes, who looked out over his family’s helots-slaves- and wondered if every person had inherent worth, which was the foundation for what we now call Democracy.

Interesting, how it took a civilization to make the wealth to allow Cliesthenes to ponder the wretchedness of the Helots. Here, he punctures the mundane, to understand an idea-that people should not be commodified, that they were something more, affirming the very Law of El that he had never seen. What is striking is that this thought-this simple idea-became a major force in shaping Western civilization. Why, why is it so amazing, that a person should grasp this concept? Does it not speak volumes that we remember this man. mostly, because he stopped for one moment to consider the truth?

That is the power of Mammon. How many countless millions died agonized in horror, as they were converted into profit for the sake of the acquisition of wealth? How many are buried in the Great Wall of China. or the Pyramids? How many baskets of severed hands did Leopold require of the Congo? How many plains tribes watched their families die of smallpox, from blankets donated by the people the Indians once saved from famine?

I am reminded of a moment from the movie 30 minutes or less where two insanely inept criminals hatch a titanic failure of a heist. They order a pizza, then strap a bomb to the delivery guy, and order him to rob a bank to get them some cash. Finally, the delivery guy asks Danny McBride’s character, why are you doing this? McBride answers, deadpan, almost dolefully :”for the sh*tiest of all reasons: for the money”. What makes this memorable to me is the performance by McBride. The character, who is a lowlife-not Hitler or Stalin, just a low end kind of human-attains a Platonic degree of perspicacity. In that moment, McBride portrays a man who knows-knows-that what he is doing is wrong, and hates himself for it. But he is doing it anyway.

You can almost see a demonic shadow, lurking above his soul. It is almost as if he is not in control of himself. He almost looks like a man crying for help, who is in the grip of something from which he cannot escape. McBride conveys a deep human empathy for the delivery man. His eyes all but say ‘forgive me’. But the money is calling. The money is calling, and he must go. The lending at interest, which seems innocuous at first, is the gateway to wealth, which is the basis of all real power. This is one of the gifts of Calvin-the normalization of the worship of money.

In the next installment, I will go further into detail on this. I will discuss Calvin’s effect on the young nation America, drawing heavily on Max Weber’s Spirit of Capitalism. Note, here and now, that the problem is not Capitalism, which is the best idea fallen man has produced. The problem, as penned by the late, sovereign wit of Douglas Adams, is people. I will also look as some other odious doctrines of Calvin’s, that have led people today to see the weak and failed as subhuman-and divorced from the grace of God, which led to spiritual malice and moreover, the disrepute of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Kingdom of Heaven and the Lost Tribes

Verses are in YLT unless otherwise noted.

I see references to communal living in the Bible, the church of Acts for example, and where John (who came to prepare the way forYeshua and the kingdom of heaven) said that if you have two cloaks to give one to the person who has none:

and he answering saith to them, `He having two coats — let him impart to him having none, and he having victuals — in like manner let him do.’” (Luke 3:11)

John also came to strengthen the family unit:

“And he hath turned back the heart of fathers to sons, And the heart of sons to their fathers, Before I come and have utterly smitten the land!” (Malachi 4:6)

“and he shall go before Him, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn hearts of fathers unto children, and disobedient ones to the wisdom of righteous ones, to make ready for the Lord, a people prepared.’” (Luke 1:17)

Part of John’s purpose was to strengthen the family unit while Jesus seems to have expanded the family unit:


46While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” 48He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12)

I also see the kingdom or reign of God (or kingdom of heaven, which is the same, but was maybe used to avoid offending people who didn’t want to overuse God’s holy name) as something here on earth that we can be part of; basically, it is the movement that Yeshua started.

“and Jesus having seen, was much displeased, and he said to them, ‘Suffer the children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the reign of God;” (Mark 10:14 NKJV) (NKJV and KJV agree with the “of such” in YLT)

The reign of God does not “belong” to anyone (as it says in some other translations) but is a movement that we can be part of.


“nor shall they say, Lo, here; or lo, there; for lo, the reign of God is within you.’ 22And he said unto his disciples, ‘Days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and ye shall not behold [it];” (Luke 17:21)

And there are references to sharing and equity in context of this kingdom:

1‘For the reign of the heavens is like to a man, a householder, who went forth with the morning to hire workmen for his vineyard,… 12that These, the last, wrought one hour, and thou didst make them equal to us, who were bearing the burden of the day — and the heat. … 16So the last shall be first, and the first last, for many are called, and few chosen.’ (Matthew 20)

When it says “seek first the kingdom of heaven” and you won’t want for what you will wear or what you will eat (basic needs) I think it is talking about first seeking a community that will take care of you in your time of need:

24‘None is able to serve two lords, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to the one, and despise the other; ye are not able to serve God and Mammon. . . . 31therefore ye may not be anxious, saying, What may we eat? or, What may we drink? or, What may we put round? 32for all these do the nations seek for, for your heavenly Father doth know that ye have need of all these; 33but seek ye first the reign of God and His righteousness, and all these shall be added to you. (Matt 6)

32 `Fear not, little flock, because your Father did delight to give you the reign; 33 sell your goods, and give alms, make to yourselves bags that become not old, a treasure unfailing in the heavens, where thief doth not come near, nor moth destroy; 34 for where your treasure is, there also your heart will be. (Luke 12:32-34)

I think these verses in Luke 18 as well talk of the sharing, where you are guaranteed to acquire many times more houses after leaving one “in this present time” by joining the kingdom of heaven movement because you are joining a community that shares their houses: (this is right after he talked about the rich man going through the eye of the needle and his disciples exclaimed “who then can be saved?” and Peter says that they had left all to follow him)

29and he said to them, ‘Verily I say to you, that there is not one who left house, or parents, or brothers, or wife, or children, for the sake of the reign of God, 30who may not receive back manifold more in this time, and in the coming age, life age-during.’ (Luke 18)

The parallel in Mark 10 makes this even more clear:

29And Jesus answering said, ‘Verily I say to you, there is no one who left house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or fields, for my sake, and for the good news’, 30who may not receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brothers, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and fields, with persecutions, and in the age that is coming, life age-during; 31and many first shall be last, and the last first.’ (Mark 10)

This is also why I think Yeshua says of the rich:

‘But wo to you — the rich, because ye have got your comfort. (Luke 6: 24)
and again I say to you, it is easier for a camel through the eye of a needle to go, than for a rich man to enter into the reign of God. (Matt 19:24)

Not because the rich are worse than regular people or that it will be more difficult for them to have eternal life–I don’t think it is talking about eternal life at all. It is just saying that it will be psychologically much more difficult for them to join a community where you share your wealth.

I think the Kingdom of heaven is a precursor to the return of the lost tribes. It’s interesting that right after Matt 19:24 the disciples say “then who can be saved?” when the word saved can mean “made whole” (like “all israel shall be saved”) The Greek word used in the Septuagint can mean “returned” instead of “saved.” Compare Romans 9:27 with Isaiah 10:22 (in the YLT) “And Isaiah doth cry concerning Israel, `If the number of the sons of Israel may be as the sand of the sea, the remnant shall be saved; G4982”
(Romans 9:27) “For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, A remnant doth return H7725 (LXX G4982) of it, A consumption determined, Overflowing [with] righteousness.” (Isaiah 10:22)

In addition, the quote “whoever calls on the name of the lord shall be saved” used in Romans 10:13 and Acts 2:21 is from Joel 2:32


32And it hath come to pass, Every one who calleth in the name of Jehovah is delivered, For in mount Zion and in Jerusalem there is an escape, As Jehovah hath said, And among the remnants whom Jehovah is calling! (Joel 2:23)

The next verse in Joel is Joel 3:1 which has a parallel in Hosea 6:11

Also, O Judah, appointed is a harvest to thee, In My turning back [to] the captivity of My people (Hosea 6:11)
For lo, in those days, and in that time, When I turn back [to] the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, (Joel 3:1)

Keil and Delitzsch connect this to the return of the lost tribes:


“The train of thought is the following: When the day of the Lord comes, there will be deliverance upon Zion only for those who call upon the name of the Lord; for then will all the heathen nations that have displayed hostility to Jehovah’s inheritance be judged in the valley of Jehoshaphat. By hinnēh, the fact to be announced is held up as something new and important. The notice as to the time points back to the “afterward” in Joel 2:28 : “in those days,” viz., the days of the outpouring of the Spirit of God. This time is still further described by the apposition, “at that time, when I shall turn the captivity of Judah,” as the time of the redemption of the people of God out of their prostrate condition, and out of every kind of distress. שׁוּב את שׁבוּת is not used here in the sense of “to bring back the prisoners,” but, as in Hosea 6:11, in the more comprehensive sense of restitutio in integrum, which does indeed include the gathering together of those who were dispersed, and the return of the captives, as one element, though it is not exhausted by this one element, but also embraces their elevation into a new and higher state of glory, transcending their earlier state of grace.”

http://biblehub.com/commentaries/kad/joel/3.htm

The prophesies in Isaiah about John and what he was preparing the way for seem to tell of this as well in my opinion (especially in Isaiah 40 where it talks of John then talks of the regathering of Israel), also the same imagery of sheep is used when talking about the kingdom of heaven and the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Here in Acts the ones who are “afar off” are the lost tribes, and right after they talk of the promise given to Abraham and ask “what shall we do?” they are given instructions and told to be “saved” (same word) then they end up sharing everything in common, while signs and wonders are done.


36assuredly, therefore, let all the house of Israel know, that both Lord and Christ did God make him — this Jesus whom ye did crucify.’ 37And having heard, they were pricked to the heart; they say also to Peter, and to the rest of the apostles, ‘What shall we do, men, brethren?’ 38and Peter said unto them, ‘Reform, and be baptized each of you on the name of Jesus Christ, to remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, 39for to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all those afar off, as many as the Lord our God shall call.’ 40Also with many more other words he was testifying and exhorting, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation;’
. . .
42and they were continuing stedfastly in the teaching of the apostles, and the fellowship, and the breaking of the bread, and the prayers. 43And fear came on every soul, many wonders also and signs were being done through the apostles, 44and all those believing were at the same place, and had all things common, 45and the possessions and the goods they were selling, and were parting them to all, according as any one had need. (Acts 2)


We also have the fact that the coming of kingdom may be connected with the Pentecost since it associates it with the coming of “power:”

“And he said to them, ‘Verily I say to you, That there are certain of those standing here, who may not taste of death till they see the reign of God having come in power.’” (Mark 9:1)

but ye shall receive power at the coming of the Holy Spirit upon you, and ye shall be witnesses to me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and unto the end of the earth.’ (Acts 1:8)

The holy spirit did come in the same way that Jesus left (from heaven)

11 who also said, `Men, Galileans, why do ye stand gazing into the heaven? this Jesus who was received up from you into the heaven, shall so come in what manner ye saw him going on to the heaven.’ (Acts 1)

2 and there came suddenly out of the heaven a sound as of a bearing violent breath, and it filled all the house where they were sitting,3 and there appeared to them divided tongues, as it were of fire; it sat also upon each one of them, (Acts 2)

Observe these parallels:

25 For whosoever will save his life, shall loose it. And whosoever shall loose his life for my sake, shall find it. 26 What shall it profit a man, if he should win all the whole world: so he loose his own soul? Or else what shall a man give to redeem his soul again withall? 27 For the son of man shall come in the glory of his father, with his angels, and then shall he reward every man according to his deeds. 28 Verily I say unto you, some there be among them that here stand, which shall not taste of death, till they shall have seen the son of man come in his kingdom. (Acts 2)

38 for whoever may be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man also shall be ashamed of him, when he may come in the glory of his Father, with the holy messengers.’
9 And he said to them, `Verily I say to you, That there are certain of those standing here, who may not taste of death till they see the reign of God having come in power.’ (Mark 8:38-9:1)

26 `For whoever may be ashamed of me, and of my words, of this one shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he may come in his glory, and the Father’s, and the holy messengers’;
27 and I say to you, truly, there are certain of those here standing, who shall not taste of death till they may see the reign of God.’ (Luke 9:26-27)

“Joseph of Arimathea, an honourable counsellor, who also himself was waiting G4327 for the reign of God, came, boldly entered in unto Pilate, and asked the body of Jesus.” (Mark 15:43) (Parallel in Luke 23:51)

“And lo, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name [is] Simeon, and this man is righteous and devout, looking for the comforting G3874 of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him,” (Luke 2:25)

Acts 9:31 uses the same word G3874 to describe the work of the holy spirit.

“Then, indeed, the assemblies throughout all Judea, and Galilee, and Samaria, had peace, being built up, and, going on in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort G3874 of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.” (Acts 9:31)

Ruach in Hebrew means “breath,” “wind,” and “spirit.” When God gave Adam breath he brought him to life giving him movement where before Adam was just lifeless (motionless) body. When the wind blows it moves things but it is hard to get a hold of, it has motion but not much form. Spirit describes the actions or character of someone, just as God’s word describes his character. We can see here that Yeshua needs to leave to send the comforter (the holy spirit) according to John 16:7 and the waiting on the Messiah is associated with waiting on the comforter and the kingdom of heaven.

In the great commission Yeshua says “teaching them to observe all, whatever I did command you,) and lo, I am with you all the days — till the full end of the age.'” (Matthew 28:10) This seems to connect with the following: “in this know ye the Spirit of God; every spirit that doth confess Jesus Christ in the flesh having come, of God it is,” (1 John 4:2) “having come” is in the perfect active voice which emphasizes the ongoing result of a completed action implying that Christ is still here after having come. Now, since we know that in Hebrew the spirit and the body make a living soul then it becomes apparent the holy spirit is the same spirit that Christ has. So when the Holy Spirit comes it is Yeshua as well.

“and the helmet of the salvation receive, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the saying of God,” (Ephesians 6:17)

We want to clear up some possible confusion and refer readers to an article that distinguishes the son of man “coming in his reign” from the “coming of the son of man” https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/668-what-is-the-meaning-of-matthew-10-23

In addition “waiting” G4327 (from Mark 15:43 above) is referenced in another messianic passage:


For with gladness you shall go forth, and in joy you shall be led. For the mountains and the hills shall leap out favorably receiving G4327 you in joy, and all the trees of the field shall clap with their tender branches.(Isaiah 55:12 Apostolic Polyglot Bible)

http://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/4327

There are other uses of this word in the old testament and may refer to the holy spirit indirectly but are certainly referencing messiah:
http://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/G3874

G3874 is derived from G3870
http://studybible.info/strongs/G3874

‘That you should nurse and be filled up from the breast of her comfort; G3874 that sucking out you should indulge at the introduction of her glory. For thus says the LORD, Behold, I turn aside to them as a river of peace, and as a rushing stream inundating the glory of the nations. Their children [2upon 3shoulders 1shall be carried], and [2upon 3knees 1shall be comforted G3870]. As if any mother shall comfort, G3870 so also I shall comfort G3870 you; and in Jerusalem you shall be comforted. G3870 As if any mother shall comfort, so also I shall comfort you; and in Jerusalem you shall be comforted. G3870′ (Isaiah 66:11-13 Apostolic Polyglot Bible)

Now lets look at this verse:

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. (Matthew 11:12 NKJV)

Some scholars have argued for other translations to this verse. Brad
H. Young for instance says:

“….To sum up the results of our linguistic and historical study of this difficult saying of Jesus, “From the days of john the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force,” a better translation of the text view within its original Jewish context make the message of Jesus concerting John the Baptist and the kingdom of heaven so much clearer. According to Lindsey, linguistically the a much better translation would be, “From the days of John the baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven breaks forth and everyone breaks forth with it” (Matt 11:12a and Luke 16:16b).

In keeping more closely with Matthew’s version, the verse is best translated, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven breaks forth and those breaking forth are pursuing [seeking] it. (Matt 11:12)”

“The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it. (Luke 16:16 NKJV)

To quote from the book “Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus”

“This saying is certainly difficult to understand. It is not just ordinary Christians who have been stumped by it. There seems to be no satisfactory explanation of this verse even in scholarly literature. Apparently, a great deal of violence is connected with the Kingdom of Heaven. However, that does not agree very well with the rest of the teachings of Jesus. Many and varied have been the attempts on the part of ministers and scholars alike to explain this passage.

“The key to its understanding turns out to be an old rabbinic interpretation (midrash) of Micah 2:13 discovered by Professor David Flusser. Micah 2:12-13. reads

12 I will gather all of you, Jacob;

I will collect the remnant of israel.

I will put them all together like sheep in a fold like a flock inside its pen.

It will be noisy and crowded with people.

13 The breach-maker (poretz) goes through before them.

Then they break out.

Passing through the gate,

they leave by it.

Their king passes through before them,

their Lord at their head.

“These verses are full of rich imagery. It is the picture of a shepherd penning up his sheep for the night. He quickly builds a fold by throwing up a makeshift rock fence against the side of a hill. The next morning, to let the sheep out, he makes a hole or a breach in the fence by tossing some of the stones aside. He steps through his “gate” with the sheep following close behind. They have been penned up all night and can hardly wait to get out of their cramped quarters. …in the rabbinic interpretation discovered by Professor Flusser, they are two different persons: the “breach-maker” is interpreted as being Elijah, and “their king” as the Messiah, the Branch of the Son of David.

“Now we can begin to understand what Jesus is saying. He is not only hinting at Micah 2:13, but also a well-known rabbinc interpretation of it. “The Kingdom of Heaven,” he says, “is breaking forth [not “suffering violence”], and every person in it is breaking forth [literally, “those who are breaking out break out in it, or by means of it,” not “the violent take it by force”]” (Compare Luke 16:16, the parallel to Matthew 11:12.) Two tremendous things are now happening simultaneously: the Kingdom is bursting forth into the world (like water from a broken dam), and individuals within the Kingdom are finding liberty and freedom.

“In Matthew 11:12, as in the midrash, Elijah, or John the Baptist, is the breach-maker, the Poretz. He makes the breach in the rock fence and goes through first. He has opened the way. He is the Elijah of Malachi 3:1 and 4:5-6, who goes before the Lord to prepare His way. As in the midrash, Jesus, the King, follows John. Jesus is the Lord himself, who leads the sheep through the gate. It is a powerful image.

“Jesus is again teaching his disciples about the Kingdom of Heaven, his movement. It started when Jesus began calling disciples, during John’s active ministry, “the days of John the Baptist.” Since then, the Kingdom of Heaven has been “breaking out.” Notice that this is further proof that the Kingdom is not futuristic. The Kingdom is something that has been in existence since the time of John the Baptist.

“The Kingdom is breaking out, and members of the Kingdom are breaking out. In Micah and also in the midrash, it is the Lord and his sheep who are breaking out. Jesus alters that figure slightly so that it is the Kingdom and its sheep who are breaking out. Though Jesus does not refer directly to his own role as the shepherd leading the sheep out, no listener could possibly misunderstand Jesus’ stunning assertion–I am the Lord.

“Elijah had come and opened the way, and the Lord himself was leading a noisy multitude out to freedom. “

This may connect with the verse in Ephesians that also talks about an enclosure being broken out of. See also Tim Hegg’s article: http://messianicpublications.com/tim-hegg/the-dividing-wall-in-ephesians-214/


11Wherefore, remember, that ye [were] once the nations in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that called Circumcision in the flesh made by hands, 12that ye were at that time apart from Christ, having been alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of the promise, having no hope, and without God, in the world; 13and now, in Christ Jesus, ye being once afar off became nigh in the blood of the Christ, 14for he is our peace, who did make both one, and the middle wall of the enclosure did break down, 15the enmity in his flesh, the law of the commands in ordinances having done away, that the two he might create in himself into one new man, making peace, (Ephesians 2)

There also seems to be a thematic connection between the Micah passage and what happened in the church in Acts 4. The same word for “gathered” is used as well. (although that word is relatively common for being gathered together)

​12 In being gathered G4863 Jacob shall be brought together G4863 with all. In looking out I shall look out for the remnant of Israel. Together I will establish their return, as sheep in affliction; as a flock in the midst of their fold, they leap out because of men. (Micah 2:12)

And in their beseeching [7was shaken 1the 2place 3in 4which 5they were 6being gathered together G4863], and they were [2filled 1all 4spirit 3of holy], and they spoke the word of God with confidence. (Acts 4:31)

This possibly is related also with Micah 5:

Now gather thyself together, O daughter of troops, A siege he hath laid against us, With a rod they smite on the cheek the judge of Israel. 2 And thou, Beth-Lehem Ephratah, Little to be among the chiefs of Judah! From thee to Me he cometh forth — to be ruler in Israel, And his comings forth [are] of old, From the days of antiquity. 3 Therefore he doth give them out till the time She who bringeth forth hath brought forth, And the remnant of his brethren return to the sons of Israel. (Micah 5)

As Keil and Delitzsch note:

“. . . Bath-gegūd, daughter of the troop, might mean: thou nation accustomed or trained to form troops, thou warlike Zion. But this does not apply to what follows, in which a siege alone is mentioned. This turn is given to the expression, rather “for the purpose of suggesting the thought of a crowd of people pressing anxiously together, as distinguished from gedūd, an invading troop.” The verb hithgōdēd does not mean here to scratch one’s self or make incisions (Deuteronomy 14:1, etc.), but, as in Jeremiah 5:7, to press or crowd together; and the thought is this: Now crowd together with fear in a troop, for he (sc., the enemy) sets, or prepares, a siege against us. . .”

http://biblehub.com/commentaries/kad/micah/5.htm

In addition the quote “whoever calls on the name of the lord shall be saved” used in Romans 10:13 and Acts 2:21 is from :

32 And it hath come to pass, Everyone who calleth in the name of Jehovah is delivered, For in mount Zion and in Jerusalem there is an escape, As Jehovah hath said, And among the remnants whom Jehovah is calling! (Joel 2)

The next verse in Joel is Joel 3:1 which has a parallel in Hosea 6:11

Also, O Judah, appointed is a harvest to thee, In My turning back [to] the captivity of My people (Hosea 6:11)

For lo, in those days, and in that time, When I turn back [to] the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, (Joel 3:1)

Keil and Delitzsch connect this to the return of the lost tribes but with more meaning than that as well:

“The train of thought is the following: When the day of the Lord comes, there will be deliverance upon Zion only for those who call upon the name of the Lord; for then will all the heathen nations that have displayed hostility to Jehovah’s inheritance be judged in the valley of Jehoshaphat. By hinnēh, the fact to be announced is held up as something new and important. The notice as to the time points back to the “afterward” in Joel 2:28 : “in those days,” viz., the days of the outpouring of the Spirit of God. This time is still further described by the apposition, “at that time, when I shall turn the captivity of Judah,” as the time of the redemption of the people of God out of their prostrate condition, and out of every kind of distress. שׁוּב את שׁבוּת is not used here in the sense of “to bring back the prisoners,” but, as in Hosea 6:11, in the more comprehensive sense of restitutio in integrum, which does indeed include the gathering together of those who were dispersed, and the return of the captives, as one element, though it is not exhausted by this one element, but also embraces their elevation into a new and higher state of glory, transcending their earlier state of grace.”

https://biblehub.com/commentaries/kad/joel/3.htm

Abraham, River of Faith: Chapter 4, part 4

Here, we must discuss the profound, and terrible impact of the life of Jean Calvin on our planet. I won’t clog the process with well-established history: you can easily find many sources that detail his life. What I want to show here is his part in the dialectic of darkness, and how significant he is to it. This requires a brief preamble.

Since the rise of Constantine, the Church began a path of power and pride that resulted in the marrying of itself to the State. It was slow, at first. The Bishop of Rome claimed to rule the Church through the Petrine Doctrine, which asserted that Christ built His church on Peter, whose successors occupied Peter’s chair. When Constantine became a Christian, and ordered orthodoxy in the Church, a swell of power began to rise, where humility was once commanded. Within a century and a half, Pope Hormismas became the first of the office to order the death of a heretic-a power found no where in the Bible.

This would blossom into full madness with the fall of Old Rome. When the Goths took the city in 476, they found a ruined glory, empty of it’s teeming thousands, with no one to even defend it. The sack by the Vandals in 410 had left it threadbare and dingy, as all the choice treasures had been plundered by them. Ostensibly, the government of Rome had been moved to swamps near Ravenna; calling itself the Exarchate, it held out hope that succor would arrive to restore Old Rome-which almost occurred under Justinian in the 6th century, in a reconquista spearheaded by the superb general Belisarius.

Gothic Rome held, however, and like all barbarians, they were much better at taking an empire than ruling it. They were in desperate need of assistance in running the Empire-and of all the institutions that had crumbled and atrophied, there was one that remained energized and vigorous: the Church. The bishop of Rome had a great following, and was a natural source of structure, which gave them a enhanced voice with the Gothic kings. This would find its’ fullness in the son of Merovese, Clovis the Frank.

Clovis married a Catholic girl, Clotilda, who gave him a crucifix to wear,which, according to him, saved his life in battle after he prayed to the Roman war god Christ. She never really explained what it meant-he was a Frank, the hardest fighters in the West, and that was the way he saw ‘gods’. He became a Catholic to honor the war god of his wife’s people, and the Bishop of Rome as all to happy to indulge his misconceptions-since those would now be his to direct. This began the Terror of Rome, and countless were its’ victims for the next millennium.

It was small at first. The Frankish war machine took the North, where the gnostic Gospels had fled after Nicaea, and where paganism was still rife. Here, people were tortured and murdered for resisting the Cross of Christ, which became a standard of violence and terror. In one case, St Dawid earned his stripes by butchering 200,000 pagans. Teutonic pagans were likewise subjected, until Charlemagne wiped them out, and tore down their great tree.

Then, the Papacy, not content to rule Heaven, cast its’ eyes on the seat of the Holy Roman Empire, and with that, it became a purely political office. It began to scheme and plot as any earthly ruler did-and it played the game the same way. It created the False Decretals, and the Donations of Constantine, to prove that the Papacy was the inheritor of the Empire, not the Emperor. This split Europe in two, as men like Dante-at the threat of death and damnation-wrote courageously of the right of the state to rule without subjection to the Church.

The sheer greed of power and opulence began to mushroom forward from the Vatican, and to the desire of the evil Popes, there was no limit. Some men wore the miter with dignity, even honestly. But the structure of the Papacy was increasingly corrupt by nature, as power attracts men willing to sacrifice ethics to obtain it. After time passed, the Papacy began to claim powers so absurd that reason could not bear them-which became a deadly virus to catch anywhere the Cross was displayed. At times, even where it was displayed.

Not only was it criminal to question the Pope, it was equally anathema to seek Christ your own way. Jon Hus was murdered-after a promise of safe conduct-for ‘heresy’, as were the pitiful Vaudois, who were abluted by methods of evil unparalleled until the 20th century, by the very pious Charles Emmanuel II of Savoy. The claims of power and avarice were unchecked, even by kings, as the Bishop of Peter claimed the power of Interdiction-the cutting off of an entire nation from Communion from Christ, if the ruler did not bow before the power of Old Rome.

The Papal Bulls-decrees- are visible to see, as a record of the madness of power. They made the teaching of the poverty of Christ a heresy, while launching wars of acquisition of land in the Levant. And after a while, they assisted empire in the converting people into property, with demarcation of the New World, and the Bull Dum Diversas. By the time of Age of Discovery, the Papacy had the power to conquer the world, and act as its’ primary functionary of human trafficking. Eventually, the became spiritual traffickers as well, being able to spring a loved one from Hell-for a modest donation.

The power of the Papacy to do harm became reckless, unchecked, unfettered, to the extent that they could burn men alive-for having the wrong Bible, or contradicting their version of the truth, like the geocentric doctrine. And when I say could, I mean did. Bruno would not recant the heliocentric model under torture, as poor Galileo did, and was roasted, hurling defiance at the Pope as he burned. At the turn if the 16th century, the Terror of Rome has no rival, no equal, no limit. The Hapsburg alliance controlled most of Europe, and underwrote the Papacy with the full support of the might of Austria, Germany and Spain. Heady with power, it seemed that the dream would never end for the men in the Lateran Palace (incidentally, known as the best whorehouse in Rome, for he array of prostitutes who gathered there, to service knights and priests, or, occasionally, a Pope, like Alexander or Julian). Then, the bravest man in Europe put an end to it all.

The Papacy had survived the game of power, and risen to the top of it. No one could stand against it. Then, a grumpy monk in northern Germany nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, and rewrote the planet dramatically. Martin Luther was the torch on the powder keg that had brewed for a thousand years. Armed with courage, conviction, and a surprise weapon-the printing press-he struck a blow at the Papacy that ignited the resistance to it, and with the help of Frederick the Elector of Saxony, found an ally in a growing movement of nations that would stand up to Rome, including Sweden, under Gustav Adolphus, and the Hanseatic League of the north. Francis of France also agitated greatly against the Hapsburgs, which helped Luther remain safe for a while, but it was the work of Frederick that kept him safe from the Pope’s promise of safe conduct that had led Hus to immolation not long before.

Eventually, the Empire struck back, and the Papacy formed the Councils of Trent, which formulated the response to the Reformation movement-and it was a violent one. Not at first, but an animal near death becomes thrice as savage for it, and the papacy was no different. The counter-Reformation was so bloody a war that Europe had to quit fighting, after a third of it had died, just as in the days of the Black Death. Finally, at Westphalia, all parties agreed on the sacred words: “Cuius Regio, est Religio”-to the ruler, his religion. What is insane-or human- in this whole affair, is that Protestants were seen as another religion.

So, as a new day dawned on Europe in 1648, let us look at the tally at the end of game for the Papacy. Execution by whim, torture at will by Inquisition, rapine and brigandage in the New world, the commodification of non-Christendom, land grabs by war of conquest in the Levant, the hostility to the poverty of Christ, and the assertion of the power to damn the very souls of men. I have not even touched what the Hebrew endured during this time-and what they saw, when the Cross came their way, which is even worse than I have enumerated thus far.

The true villainy of this is that the Bible permits none of this. In an age when the controllers of the Bible dictated what it said, it was used to validate virtually anything the controllers desired. It was, to borrow from Nietzsche, ‘human, all too human’. But, in defiance of the ‘True Scotsman’ nonsense, I must assert that Christ gave us one commandment which makes these affairs impossible to support Biblically. Thus He spoke, as Law from His mouth: “do to others what you would have done to you’. If adhered to, this obviates all the maladies hitherto abjured. He never said ‘If that guy disagrees with your political agenda, cut off his head’. So, it is not Christianity that is to blame, but rather, Christendom, the political edifice built on the Church, all those centuries ago, in the age of Constantine.

Thus, when the Vaudois were savagely extirpated, the last of their tortured moments saw the Cross emblazoned on the armor and shields of their assailants, as did the Cathars. The pagans of Wales and Germany share this with them, as well as the Huguenots of France, who were themselves Christians. The Hebrews, beaten, robbed, massacred, converted by force, burned as witches, and continually dehumanized came to see the Cross as a symbol of absolute terror-as did the Mezo-Americans who were obliterated by the men from the ships bearing it on their sails. Thus was the Cross impugned. It was the standard of men who bore no resemblance to the man who died upon it. It was a politicized emblem of an empire gone berserk. Nothing-nothing– that stood before the Terror of Rome could long survive. And this would be the blueprint for what was to come.

All of this has been a primer-a mere primer- for what is to come. For now, now you are ready to face the iniquity of the Arch villain of history, whose blackness, like a singularity, swallows all that it covers. Here, no light can escape’ here, only darkness prevails. What I showed you in the Papacy was the foreshadowing of the Pope of the Protestants, their true son, who made his father-for Papacy comes from the Latin for Father-proud of the stamp it left on its’ offspring. You saw what the Papacy did to the Cross. Now, prepare to see the epic shadow of the man who drowned the world in madness ineffable. Behold, the shade of Calvin.

Gesenius Leviticus 19:29 And Premarital Sex

I had a discussion with some people that thought Leviticus 19:29 could have just prohibited forcing your daughter to become a prostitute. One person argued that prostitution wasn’t wrong on its own while the other stated that prostitution was wrong not because it was premarital sex but because sex was supposed to be free! This view about premarital sex being permitted is becoming more common among Christians today so I thought I’d share what I’d found. All verses are in YLT unless otherwise noted.

`Thou dost not pollute thy daughter to cause her to go a-whoring, that the land go not a-whoring, and the land hath been full of wickedness. (Lev 19:29)

1 How can we take the meaning of “cause to” given the definition? http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cause “Cause” is different than “force” even though force certainly can be a cause. Can we cause our brother to stumble only if we do it forcefully? Romans 14:13-23

2 Yeshua says:

But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

(Matthew 5:32)

This is not about “causing” by force but about “causing” by neglect hence why must Leviticus 19:29 be about “causing” by force?

3 Gesenius defines the word translated “pollute” as “to lay open, to give access to [“to profane from the idea of opening”]

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=H2490&t=NASB

The “laying open” is easier to understand if you look at the father as having responsibility for the daughter (other examples are his right to annul her oaths and refuse a marriage) There are many ways to “lay open” your daughter to prostitution, and I think forcing them to become one is certainly laying open access. I think their issue with it being an intensive Piel of “profaning” (hence they think it implies force) is resolved with Gesenius by the fact that laying open access to your daughter is an intense way of profaning your daughter (or is REALLY profane to put in another way)

I also should point out that that word for pollute/profane is only used in that exact form in Leviticus 19:29 and Lev 18:21
http://biblehub.com/text/leviticus/18-21.htm Lev 18:21 doesn’t really give us much insight but it would seem a bit odd if it allowed you to let God’s name be profaned and only prevented you from forcibly profaning it.

The expanded Brown Driver Briggs says: that it is to “sexually defile” a woman. So you can say that this is related to the prostitution and not to the act of causing:

1 defile, pollute:

a. sexually, Genesis 49:4 (poem) = 1 Chronicles 5:1 (the father’s bed); a woman = זנהLeviticus 19:29; …

https://www.studylight.org/lexicons/hebrew/hwview.cgi?n=2490

However the “opening” in that lexicon is only in the Hiphil:

Hiph`il also begin (literally untie, loosen, open, ….

4 The word translated “harlotry” refers both to prostitution and premarital sex.

For instance: ‘They shall not take a woman who is profaned by harlotry, H2181 nor shall they take a woman divorced from her husband; for he is holy to his God. ( Lev 21:7 KJV)

then they shall bring out the girl to the doorway of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her unto death because she has committed an act of folly in Israel by playing H2181 the harlot H2181 in her father’s house; thus you shall purge the evil from among you. (Deu 22:21 KJV)

Would you say that this only applies if she did it for money? Of course there is the more monetary definition used as well:

“Thus you are different from those women in your harlotries, in that no one plays H2181 the harlot H2181 as you do, because you give money and no money is given you; thus you are different.” (Eze 16:34 KJV)

But my point is that it means both things (gaining monetarily from promiscuity and just plain promiscuity) and is narrowed by context. This is why I think the respected Stone’s edition to the Tanakh translates this word is many places as “promiscuity” because that is the broadest definition.

I would also point out as a matter of context that promiscuity in any form is looked at as negative and used as a metaphore for very negative things: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?page=2&strongs=H2181&t=NASB#lexResults

It also condemns promiscuity in the next part of the verse:
“so that the land will not fall H2181 to harlotry H2181 and the land become full of lewdness.” It doesn’t say anything about force it says “lewdness” which is related to sexual sin: http://biblehub.com/hebrew/zimmah_2154.htm

The word H2490 implies sexual defilement. The word is never used for sexual uncleanliness, even in it’s expanded search in the strong’s. The other occurrence of the exact form is without a doubt negative. The usage seems to be only for prohibited sexual relations (when it is sexual):
https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?page=1&strongs=H2490&t=NASB#lexResults
http://biblehub.com/hebrew/techallel_2490.htm

If it was about “uncleanness” it would say uncleanness, not defilement, which is a much stronger negative word.

They also seem to think that the Piel form implies force, but it’s really just an intensive
https://books.google.com/books?id=SCEWAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA117&lpg=PA117&dq=piel+verb+force&source=bl&ots=_YHNH7pdzT&sig=bmtZ6vVdocAaF393Ony2ODHVOR4&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwju7tW70ozMAhXlsYMKHUSZB64Q6AEIKzAD#v=onepage&q=piel%20verb%20force&f=false

http://www.dabar.org/Tools/Heb-Piel-Pual.html

And the only place I can find “force” used to describe the Piel verb in general is a force in terms of intensity, not in terms of overpowering
https://books.google.com/books?id=h-AtAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA200&lpg=PA200&dq=piel+implies+force&source=bl&ots=cHzfIBiPD2&sig=p3etlU-gv5SSpUWTNBVTtResI9Y&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi8mpPj04zMAhVFnIMKHck2AVwQ6AEILjAD#v=onepage&q=piel%20implies%20force&f=false

There seems to be a lot of nuance in the Piel forms of words
“The biblical Hebrew D stem (piel) seems to be inconsistent from verb to verb, both in its meaning and in its relationship to the G stem (qal).”
https://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/17463966/BECKMAN-DISSERTATION-2015.pdf?sequence=1

And while they can mean “violence” in some cases, that is only for certain words and even then there is debate occasionally:
https://books.google.com/books?id=hxn3PfjwNaYC&pg=PA35&lpg=PA35&dq=piel+verb+forceful&source=bl&ots=hCgehtlR6J&sig=Hiu2QJWYcL0DbKs2i0DXiqF0AJY&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiO9a651IzMAhWHgYMKHa8fBmUQ6AEIIjAB#v=onepage&q=piel%20verb%20forceful&f=false

One of them was arguing that in places like Deut 23:7 it only prohibited cult prostitutes and not regular prostitutes. However, I argued that qedesh and zonah (cult-prostitute and prostitute) were used as synonyms. I cited the following:

“Contrary to the claims of some 20th-century scholarship, the Hebrew Bible never refers directly to cult prostitutes. Many modern Bible translations are simply misleading in this respect. Much of the confusion results from a misunderstanding of a few Biblical texts that mention qedeshot, the plural of qedeshah, which is related to qodesh, “holy place.” Originally qedeshah referred to a “consecrated maiden,” but Biblical authors used it in the sense of “harlot.””
https://members.bib-arch.org/biblical-archaeology-review/40/1/10

“As Lipiński argues, however, there is nothing in the story of Judah and Tamar to suggest sacred prostitution was involved; rather, it seems that zonah and qedeshah were synonyms and that the latter has simply been misinterpreted by translators.
Qedeshah likely originally referred to “consecrated maidens” who were employed in Canaanite and later Phoenician temples devoted to Ashtoreth worship. As such, the Biblical writers came to associate the fertility rites of Ashtoreth worship with sacred prostitution, and the word qedeshah, therefore, came to be used as a pejorative term for “prostitute.””
https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/ancient-cultures/ancient-israel/sacred-prostitution-in-the-story-of-judah-and-tamar/

When they responded that the articles I quoted narrowly defined “cult prostitution” as Ashteroth worship. I responded: The main article does not use this as an argument from what I have seen. Here are examples of arguments it uses about Israel related to Astoreth:

The Hebrew meaning of qedeshah as harlot possibly derives from the perception that some “consecrated” maidens employed in Canaanite temples were also prostitutes in the context of fertility cults, especially of the goddess Ashtoreth. Indeed, the simple fact that such women served a heathen deity may have led to the understanding of the word qedeshah by outsiders in the sense of “harlot” and to its use in Biblical Hebrew as a synonym of zonah, “prostitute.” In short, in the Hebrew Bible, qedeshah (and its plural) simply refers to a prostitute, not to a cult prostitute in particular.
. . .
A widespread modern misunderstanding of the term asherah as a pagan goddess has led some to conclude that cult prostitution was involved in this passage, i.e., 2 Kings 23:7. It thus becomes important to unpack this reference to asherah and explain how it became confused with a Canaanite goddess, either Ashtoreth or Ashratu. The conclusion, however, as we shall see, is that asherah in the Bible refers to a shrine or sacred grove, not to a goddess.
The confusion can be easily recognized because in several West Semitic languages (Assyro-Babylonian, Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew), the common word for shrine (aširtu/ešertu in Assyro-Babylonian, ’šrt in Phoenician, ’trt in Aramaic and ’šrh/’šyrh in Hebrew) is similar to Ashtoreth (’štrt) and to the name ’Atrt of the Ugaritic goddess Rabbatu Atratu Yamma, “The Lady Who Treads upon the Sea.” The similarity of Biblical asherah to these terms in other related languages led modern mythographers to invent a goddess Asherah in the Bible. Modern translators followed suit.

It is clear, however, that asherah in the Bible cannot refer to a goddess. In the Bible, asherah has a plural, ’šrym,3 sometimes ’šrwt.4 This would hardly be the case if asherah were a goddess. Moreover, in the Bible asherah sometimes occurs with the article ha- (“the shrine”)5 and with the pronominal suffix (“his shrine”), as in the well-known Hebrew inscriptions from Khirbet el-Qom, near Jerusalem (yhwh w’šrth, “Yahweh and his shrine”), and from Kuntillet ‘Ajrud in the Sinai (yhwh šmrn w’šrth, “Yahweh of Samaria and his shrine”; yhwh tmn w’šrth, “Yahweh of the South and his shrine”).a This proves that asherah cannot be a proper name. In addition, asherah could be “built” (1 Kings 14:23), “made” (2 Kings 21:7), “set up” (2 Kings 17:10) or “installed” (2 Chronicles 33:19), again showing that asherah cannot be a goddess. Asherah was no deity but simply a grove or a shrine that eventually became a small construction.6

Provincial shrines, like those referred to at Khirbet el-Qom and Kuntillet ‘Ajrud, were prohibited after the centralization of religious observance in Jerusalem by King Josiah in the seventh century B.C.E. (2 Kings 23), but the prophet Jeremiah in the seventh–sixth centuries B.C.E. still refers to the asherim (in the plural), the sacred groves or shrines in the shade of spreading trees. In other texts, such as Jeremiah 2:20 and 3:6–10, the metaphors of prostitution and adultery are used as poetic descriptions of Judah’s infidelity to the Lord.

These passages do not allude to cult prostitution performed by young Judahite women, although the existence of fertility cults in Canaan was certainly known. They were even exported by Phoenicians to the western Mediterranean and appear in Phoenician and Carthaginian colonies.

There’s two other mentions of Ashtoreth in that paper that relate to the Canaanite practice (exported by the Phoenicians to Phonecian and Carthaginian colonies) and one related to an Etruscan version of the Goddess:
“At Pyrgi, north of Rome in what was Etruria, archaeologists uncovered a temple (Temple B) from about 500 B.C.E. A bilingual inscription found in the excavation records the dedication of a “holy place” to the Etruscan goddess Uni (Latin Juno), called Ashtoreth in her Phoenician version.”
None of these are making the argument that there is no evidence of cult prostitution in Israel because there is not evidence of Astoreth worship. They clearly recognize that other types of cult prostitution took place since Lipinski states “maidens employed in Canaanite temples were also prostitutes in the context of fertility cults, especially of the goddess Ashtoreth.” In fact Lipinski also states:

A further explanation is needed concerning the qadesh. In the well-known cuneiform texts from Ugarit (on the Mediterranean coast of modern Syria), which date to about 1200 B.C.E., qdšm (= Hebrew qedeshim) are often mentioned with the khnm (= kohanim, “priests”) and seem to be cultic servants assisting the priests. There is no indication that they were male prostitutes. They were simply priestly assistants. The qdšym of older Biblical psalms may have exercised a similar function, but the word was later understood in the sense of “holy men” and vocalized accordingly. In fact, the priestly assistants got a bad reputation in the seventh century B.C.E., as shown by 2 Kings 23:7, possibly indicating that prostitution did occur in the Temple, even a kind of cult prostitution. In the time of Josiah, the Biblical text tells us, the king “pulled down the houses of the qedeshim in the House of the Lord, where women were renting2 cubicles as a shrine (asherah)” (2 Kings 23:7, my translation). There is no evidence, however, that the qedeshim were male cult prostitutes. As at Ugarit, the qedeshim were priestly assistants. In 2 Kings 23:7, Josiah is said to have torn down the cubicles (literally, houses) of the qedeshim (male) in the Temple precinct. The qedeshim are thus said to have been renting houses in the Temple precinct to some women, possibly for prostitution. Perhaps the men were also acting as pimps.

Note that the women who rented their houses (or cubicles) are not called qedeshot. Whatever the women were doing in the cubicles (the JPS translation suggests they were weaving coverings for the shrine), it had something to do with a shrine, as indicated by the term asherah, which designates a shrine, a sacred grove or a tree under which an illicit cultic ritual is performed.

. . .
Cult prostitution existed in some parts of the Near East as well as in the Phoenician colonies of the western Mediterranean. It reflected the ritual practices of the Canaanites surrounding ancient Israel and Judah. Its faint reflection recorded in the Hebrew Bible serves as a metaphoric allusion to Israel’s infidelity to God or as a synonym of harlotry. Modern translations of the Hebrew Bible often unfortunately give another impression. There is a single passage (2 Kings 23:7, discussed above) that may contain an obscure reference to cult prostitution; it mentions a shrine rented to women in the precinct of the Temple and destroyed by King Josiah. But that is all.

There is a mistaken notion that “asherah” meant a shrine to Ashtoreth in the Bible which Lipinski argues against. However, this does not describe his full argument for why he believes qedesha and zonah to by synonyms. Their argument is as follows:

The earliest Biblical attestation of qedeshah is found in the story of Judah and Tamar in Genesis 38. Judah’s son Er, married to Tamar, died. Judah then gave his second son Onan to Tamar. Onan also died. Judah was reluctant to give his third son Shelah to Tamar, as was required when a brother died without children. Later, Judah himself was widowed. He saw a woman on the road, assumed her to be a harlot (zonah), and slept with her. He gave her his seal as assurance that he would pay her with a sheep from his flock (Genesis 38:15–18). The zonah turned out to be none other than his daughter-in-law Tamar, who had dressed herself in a veil and sat by the road because Judah had refused to give her his third son as a husband. When Judah’s friend went to redeem the pledge, he inquired of the people of the town where he could find the assumed prostitute. They replied that there was no qedeshah in the area (Genesis 38:20–21). Obviously the two words (qedeshah and zonah) are used as synonyms. And there is no indication whatever that cult prostitution is involved. There is no cultic context here.

Lipinski says something similar with Deuteronomy

No Israelite shall be a prostitute (a prohibition expressed in the third person): “There shall be no prostitute (qedeshah) among the daughters of Israel; there shall be no qadesh among the sons of Israel” [my translation]. The word qedeshah here is a synonym of zonah, which is used in the prohibition in verse 19 [i.e. verse 18 in English]. This is the same situation we have seen in the story of Judah and Tamar.

I can also observe that the Hebrew uses these words as synonyms: zonah (h2181) and qedesh(ah) (h6945/h6948)

There shall be no whore H6948 of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite h6945 of the sons of Israel. (Deu 23:17 KJV)

Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, h2181 or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the LORD thy God. (Deu 23:18 KJV)

This is how the septuagint treats it as well translating both as porneia (G4203/G4204)

17 There shall not be a harlot G4204 from the daughters of Israel, and there shall not be one whoring G4203 from the sons of Israel. 18 You shall not bring the hire of a harlot, G4204 nor the price of a dog, G2965 into the house of the lord your God for any vow. For [4an abomination 5to the lord 6your God 3are 1even 2both].

Deuteronomy 23:17-18 https://studybible.info/interlinear/Deuteronomy%2023:17-18

κύων, κυνός+ N3M/F 3-19-4-10-6=42
Ex 11,7; 22,30; Dt 23,19; Jgs 7,5
dog Ex 11,7; id. (as derogatory term for non-Jews) Ps 21(22),17; male prostitute Dt 23,19
→ LSJ Suppl(Dt 23,19); LSJ RSuppl

http://www.glasovipisma.pbf.rs/phocadownload/knjige/greek%20lexicon%20for%20the%20septuagint.pdf

The same is true of the judah and tamar:

Gen 38:15
When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; H2181 because she had covered her face.
Gen 38:21
Then he asked the men of that place, saying, Where is the harlot, H6948 that was openly by the way side? And they said, There was no harlot H6948 in this place.
Gen 38:22
And he returned to Judah, and said, I cannot find her; and also the men of the place said, that there was no harlot H6948 in this place.
Gen 38:24
And it came to pass about three months after, that it was told Judah, saying, Tamar thy daughter in law hath played the harlot; H2181 and also, behold, she is with child by whoredom. H2183 And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt. (KJV)

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H2183&t=KJV

Or take the LXX ABP of Genesis 38:15-24:

15 And [2seeing 3her 1Judah], assumed her to be a harlot. G4204 For she covered up her face, and [3not 1he recognized 2her]. 16 And he turned aside to her in the way. And he said to her, Allow me to enter to you. For he did not know that [2his daughter-in-law 1she is]. And she said, What will you give to me, if you should enter to me? 17 And he said, I will send to you a kid of the goats from out of my flocks. And she said, You should give a deposit until you send it. 18 And he said, What deposit shall I give to you? And she said, Your ring, and the pendant, and the rod in your hand. And he gave them to her, and he entered to her. And [2in 3the womb 1she conceived] from him. 19 And rising up she went forth. And she removed her lightweight garment from herself, and put on the garments of her widowhood. 20 [3sent 1And 2Judah] the kid of the goats by the hand of his shepherd the Adullamite, to deliver by him to the woman the deposit. And he did not find her. 21 And he asked the men of the place, Where is the harlot, G4204 the one being in Enaim upon the way? And they said, There was no [2here 1harlot G4204]. 22 And he returned to Judah, and said, I did not find her, and the men, the ones from the place, say, There was no [2here 1harlot G4204]. 23 [3said 1And 2Judah], Let her have them, but lest at any time we should be ridiculed, I indeed sent this kid, but you have not found her. 24 And it came to pass after three months, it was announced to Judah, saying, [3fornicated G1608 1Tamar 2your daughter-in-law]. And behold, [2in 3the womb 1she has one] out of harlotry. G4202 [3said 1And 2Judah], Lead her out, and let her be incinerated!

https://www.stepbible.org/?q=version=ABP|reference=Gen.38&options=HNVUG
https://studybible.info/interlinear/gen%2038:15-24

ἐκπορνεύω+
V 14-9-23-0-1=47
Gn 38,24; Ex 34,15.16(bis); Lv 17,7
to commit fornication, to play the harlot [abs.] Gn 38,24; to commit fornication with, to play the harlot
with [ἐπί τινα] Ez 16,26; id. [ἔν τινι] Ez 16,17; to resort to sb for fornication [εἴς τινα] Nm 25,1; to
prostitute, to cause to commit forni-cation [τινα] Lv 19,29
to go whoring after [ὀπίσω τινός] Ez 20,30; to seduce into immoral practices [τινα] 2 Chr 21,11
neol.
Cf. HARL 1986a, 266; HELBING 1928, 78; →LSJ RSuppl; TWNT

http://www.glasovipisma.pbf.rs/phocadownload/knjige/greek%20lexicon%20for%20the%20septuagint.pdf

A different version of the Septuagint even feels the need to add the idolatrous context to Deuteronomy 23 to make the case clear, showing that the original words did not necessarily mean just cult prostitution but included prostitution in general:


17 There shall not be a harlot of the daughters of Israel, and there shall not be a fornicator of the sons of Israel; there shall not be an idolatress of the daughters of Israel, and there shall not be an initiated person of the sons of Israel. 18 Thou shalt not bring the hire of a harlot, nor the price of a dog into the house of the Lord thy God, for any vow; because even both are an abomination to the Lord thy God.

https://www.biblestudytools.com/lxx/deuteronomy/passage/?q=deuteronomy+23:17-18

Septuagint Greek definitions from here: http://www.glasovipisma.pbf.rs/phocadownload/knjige/greek%20lexicon%20for%20the%20septuagint.pdf

One other thing I think is interesting in the paper is that this adds some context to Lev 19:29:

In the ancient Near East, women could in fact be dedicated by their fathers or their masters to a deity. Women could also devote themselves to the service of a god or a goddess in order to secure their living. This was done mainly by young widows without grown children, by repudiated wives, by female slaves sent away (like Hagar, Abraham’s concubine in Genesis 21), by lonely women, etc.

So the reason for becoming a prostitute could be from lack of support as well as compelling by the father. (both of which could be termed a cause by the father since the father was supposed to provide for them) Lipinski goes on to describe another nuance in their argument:

These “consecrated” persons performed tasks in the sanctuary, provided domestic help in temple annexes, perhaps provided musical entertainment and possibly sexual services, remitting their fees to the temple. However, qedeshot in the Bible never appear as performing religious sexual rituals, which is the key attribute of a cult prostitute. Women on duty at the entrance to Israelite sanctuaries are mentioned in Exodus 38:8 and 1 Samuel 2:22, but their tasks are not described, and they are not called qedeshot.

At the end of their paper Lipinski has this as well:

Genesis 38:15, 20–21
When Judah saw her, he took her for a harlot (zonah); for she had covered her face.

Judah sent the kid by his friend the Adullamite, to redeem the pledge from the woman; but he could not find her. He inquired of the people of that town, “Where is the cult prostitute (qedeshah), the one at Enaim, by the road?” But they said, “There has been no prostitute (qedeshah) here.”

Deuteronomy 23:18–19 [17–18 English]
No Israelite woman shall be a cult prostitute (qedeshah), nor shall any Israelite man be a cult prostitute (qadesh). You shall not bring the fee of a whore (zonah) or the pay of a dog [i.e., male prostitute] into the House of the Lord your God in fulfillment of any vow, for both are abhorrent to the Lord your God.

It looks to me like their main argument is from the biblical text and from Hebrew grammar concerning “Asherah.” Their argument that cult prostition (as it was practiced in Cananan) was at least extremely rare or even unheard of in Israel is just an additional fact that strengthens their argument. I do think it’s possible that we may just be missing the archaeological evidence that the Israelites were indulging in cult prostitution but the fact is that evidence is hardly in the bible (if at all) and the fact that Archaeologists are better than me at figuring out when we have enough archaeological evidence to conclude that an absence of archaeological evidence is indeed evidence of absence.

They (the people who believe in premarital sex) also stated that in the story of Judah and Tamar the context is cultic prostitution. I responded:

There is no cultic context here, she is sitting in the open not in a temple (as is the practice of cult prostitutes) and he recognizes her as a prostitute simply because she has covered her face. An interesting parallel is Rebecca wearing a veil for Isaac. Surely we are not to conclude that Rebecca is acting as a cult prostitute for Isaac:

The veil is also used as a means of enticement/attractiveness/sexuality when Rebecca is being led by Abraham’s servant to meet for the first time her new fiance, Isaac. (Gen 24) Upon being told that the man in the distance is in fact Isaac, she puts her veil on. (v. 65) Mind you, she had no veil on for the entire journey with Abraham’s servant – APPARENTLY, there was no “modesty requirement” compelling her to wear a veil when with the servant. Rather, when she meets her fiance – someone who she wants to and should look sexually attractive for! (see v. 67) – she then decides to put on a veil.
(Much of this answer is developed at length by Olivia Wizniter, at

http://curiousjew.blogspot.com/2008/02/symbolic-veil.html )
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/26864/biblical-significance-of-face-veil

In addition, it seems like Lipinski is saying that there wasn’t archaeological evidence in the area that Judah and Tamar were in for that. In addition we have plenty of testimony from the Hebrew and the Septuagint that Lipinski’s understanding of zonah being synonymous with qedesha is how the earliest translators would have understood those passages. You again have to insert assumptions into the passages that are not there (and even contradict with Rebecca’s behavior) to make the Bible allow for premarital sex. Just like you have to assume that when Judah promises Tamar to Shelah he is betrothing her and hence her later being declared “zonah” might refer to “adultery.” However, it states in Gen 38:14

“And she put her widow’s garments off from her, and covered her with a vail, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, which is by the way to Timnath; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto him to wife.”

If Shelah was betrothed it would have been a big deal to break off the engagement so he could marry someone else. (engagements were treated like marriages) Remember Judah is planning on Shelah NOT marrying Tamar. Tamar obviously doesn’t think that she is going to marry Shelah, this is the whole reason she seduces Judah.

Another reason to connect H3611 and H2181 (hence prostition and “cultic” prostitution) is the following:

Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, h2181 or the price of a dog, H3611 into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the LORD thy God. (Deu 23:18 KJV)

Gesenius notes that qedeshim (“cult” prostitutes) and the word for “dog” H3611 are used synonymously at the end of his lexical entry: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H3611&t=KJV However, in the verse it is “a whore (zonah) or the price of a dog”

On the biblical and translational evidence alone I think it’s pretty overwhelming that qedashah and zonah are synonymous.

Discussion on The Requirements of Elders in Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3

I got really interested in this and wrote up a pretty long summary of our Bible study on the topic and some of my own reading. What follows is my summary:

Two bible studies ago we agreed that the requirements in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 were indeed requirements, not just ideals, due to the context and the present indicative active form of “δεῖ” (translated “must”) : https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Timothy+3%3A2&version=NKJV http://biblehub.com/interlinear/titus/1-7.htm http://biblehub.com/interlinear/1_timothy/3-2.htm However, my perspective is that we need to reconcile the issue of Deborah being more important than an elder and of Paul not being married. Both presumably were held to a higher standard so I would say that these requirements must have been for those churches at that time. Essentially, Paul was chosen by God, so we already know that he was qualified to be a leader–but assuming some elders were not going to be miraculously chosen–Paul gives requirements for the selection of Elders that would ensure that they were decent leaders. I couldn’t reconcile the language in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 with the position that elders weren’t required to be married and have children especially in 1 Timothy where it states “4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?);” Maybe there were some cultural considerations taken into account with these requirements. We agreed on this conclusion but for various different reasons.

We decided to revisit the issue this bible study and invited another group with different perspectives, one of whom joined us and in addition we had another with a similar perspective contrary to the conclusion we came to previously.

We discussed the requirements for Elders in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. The main points of disagreement were:

1 Were these requirements conditional upon the person being married and having children? Essentially could the actual meaning be: “if they are married then they must be the husband of one wife” and “if he has children he must rule his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence”?

2 What Paul meant by “husband of one wife”

3 Did Paul mean this in a universal sense or in a local sense i.e. for the churches under his control at that time

1: The first part of the discussion was whether Paul could mean something in a conditional sense without the use of “if”. We weren’t able to find other places where Paul does this like he would have to in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 but some maintained that this was conditional since it would be absurd to think that Paul would have excluded many capable people from leadership possibly just because their wife died or they were sterile and didn’t adopt children etc . . .

The idea I brought up was that it wouldn’t have been absurd for Paul to require elders to be married and have children since it was required of the Sanhedrin (whom Paul previously worked closely with) citing Maimonides: “3 We should not appoint to a Sanhedrin a man of very old age or one who does not possess male physical attributes, for they possess the trait of cruelty, nor a man who is childless, so that the judges should be merciful.” http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1172725/jewish/Sanhedri

Also Paul was a Pharisee and Pharisees although not required to be married were greatly encouraged because of the commandment to be fruitful and multiply (getting this from David Bivin “New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus: Insights from His Jewish Context”)

“The Jews teach, a priest should be neither unmarried nor childless, lest he be unmerciful [Bengel]. So in the synagogue, “no one shall offer up prayer in public, unless he be married” [in Colbo, ch. 65; Vitringa, Synagogue and Temple].” http://biblehub.com/commentaries/1_timothy/3-2.htm

However, it was also pointed out that the requirements in the oral law were something that Jesus often condemned even though we do have some decrees written in the early church like in Acts 15 (and sent out to the churches Acts 16) that are comparable to the oral law in that they weren’t directly from scripture (even though they were based on scripture) Also if we take it like this 1 Timothy 3:12 would also mean deacons had to be married.

The idea was also brought up that if we are going to take these elder requirements of marriage and children as conditional without the presence of “if” we might as well start taking other parts of the verses as having additional considerations, maybe “husband of one wife” meant that he was only the husband of one in the past even if he is now a widower, or that the he had to have children at some point. This might be a more conservative way to read it and yet still resolve the exclusion of these people without explanation that comes with these requirements.

2: Paul’s requirement of “husband of one wife” was discussed. Since the marriage covenant is annulled upon death (Romans 7) you have the possible issue of someone not being able to continue to be an elder after their wife dies (which seems a bit unfair) unless they remarry and then are they the husband of “one wife?” (I think yes because they are no longer married to their previous wife) Some commentators take this as an idiom for “faithful to his wife” http://biblehub.com/commentaries/1_timothy/3-2.htm (see Barnes Notes on The Bible) I think this in context would prohibit people from serial marrying and divorcing as was common practice (maybe because polygyny had been outlawed already) I think the following verses imply serial marriage was a problem:

Matthew 5:32, Matthew 19:9, Mark 10:11, Luke 16:18

This would also be the case if it meant “husband of first wife” (Greek might be able to be taken as ordinal or numeral) also compare: http://studybible.info/interlinear/Exodus%2012:18 to http://studybible.info/interlinear/1%20Timothy%203:2 and Thayer’s: “5. like the Hebrew אֶחָד, εἰς is put for the ordinal πρῶτος, first (Winers Grammar, § 37, 1; Buttmann, 29 (26)): μία σαββάτων the first day of the week, Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2 (L T Tr WH μία σαββάτου);”https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1520

3: We had differing opinions on whether this was referring to a universal requirement for elders. Some evidence from the word usage may be used to connect this to elders in the old testament. Although, if you look at the usage it seems to also be a generic term for people who were in charge of things.

Numbers 31:14 in LXX seems to connect elders in Ex 18 to Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1 since it uses the same word as in the NT and says they were commanders “ of thousands and commanders of hundreds”

from: http://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/G1985

Also see the same word just a different form:
http://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/G1984

I think this also connected to the “civil” authorities in the old testament (indeed their civil law was theocratic) Joel 2:16 seems to be talking about choosing elders http://studybible.info/interlinear/Joel%202:16

Ezra 3:12 talks about the elders being rulers, Ezra 5:9 talks about elders rendering a decree http://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/4245/start/90

From: http://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/4245 this word is used a lot in Acts to refer to elders.

Paul says this is a “word” (logos) and he starts out these requirements by saying “true is the word” or “This is a faithful saying” in 1 Timothy 3:1 and it seems to be used for both universal and localized teachings:

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3056&t=KJV

If Paul’s words are to be taken as universal for all πρεσβύτερος or ἐπίσκοπος we have to reconcile the fact that these words are also used in a generic sense for people in authority or in the case of πρεσβύτερος someone who is old. If it is universal for the type of eldership in Ex 18 then we still have to deal with the fact that he adds to those requirements. If we take Paul’s word as being for the type of eldership in Ex 18 and those in higher positions (like apostles) we have to reconcile the fact that Paul wasn’t married and Deborah was a woman.

There are several ways to do this. If these statements about elders were an ideal (and not as the indicative present active mood would suggest) since this must be interpreted in context of the Bible as a whole; Deborah would have been an exception in extenuating circumstances. Paul could have been an exception as well.

If these statements about elders are requirements then maybe they are local to the churches he speaks of or to the cultural context.

The issue of Junia was brought up. Junia might be a female apostle mentioned in Romans 16:7 This was the view taken by the Greek fathers including Chrysostom. However there is some debate about this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junia#Grammatical_issue:_.22prominent_among.22_or_.22well_known_to.22.3F

for instance this paper argues from the grammar for the negative position: http://www.michaelsheiser.com/TheNakedBible/Was%20Junia%20Really%20an%20Apostle%20A%20Re%20examination%20of%20Rom%2016%207.pdf

Wallace and Burer freely admit they are in minority on this position: “The vast bulk of translations and commentators today regard this line as indicating that Andronicus and Junia were apostles, though not in the most technical sense of that word.”

Here’s some references to scholars arguing in the affirmative:

In addition to Junia one wonders if Joab’s and the people’s behavior at Abel Beth Maacah in 2 Samuel 20:16-26 indicated that the wise woman had a position of authority. In a similar way the wise woman of Tekoa is listened to by the king himself in 2 Samuel 14:4-16, was “wise woman” an official title?

Some evidence for Deborah being an exception was brought up. In some translations of the Seputagint she states that she arose after the leadership of the men failed: “The mighty men in Israel failed, they failed until Debbora arose, until she arose a mother in Israel” https://www.biblestudytools.com/judges/5-7-compare.html

However this is not the only translation of the LXX. Others simply say “the ones dwelling in Israel” http://studybible.info/interlinear/judges%205:7 and although the word for “one’s dwelling” (κατοικούντες) is in the masculine plural, to take this as just “males dwelling” does not work. Similar to how in english the masculine can also be generic e.g. “mankind” and “you guys,” this is how this form in Greek can be used. For instance when it says “But the ones dwelling in Beth-shemesh and Beth-anath became to them for tribute” it includes the female inhabitants: http://studybible.info/interlinear/Judges%201:33

Likewise: “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.” includes women: http://biblehub.com/text/revelation/13-8.htm

For a full list see here:

http://biblehub.com/greek/katoikountes_2730.htm

For the Septuagint check: http://en.katabiblon.com/us/search.php?mode=list&text=LXX&find=KATOIKOUNTES

To complicate things, there are other versions of the Septuagint besides the one in the Apostolic Polyglot namely Codex A and B (Alexandrinus and Vaticanus respectively) which are very different:

http://www.katapi.org.uk/katapiNSBunix/Lxx/LxxByKFmTo.php?KFm=7005001.00&KTo=7005031.00

http://studybible.info/compare/Judges%205:7

For codex B I’ve come to the same conclusion: http://biblehub.com/greek/dunatoi_1415.htm however for A I can’t figure out what φραζων means. However,it seems to just designate a spokesperson without gender since it is an “indeclinable proper noun” (doesn’t have gender) and doesn’t have a masculine context: http://studybible.info/compare/Judges%205:7
In keeping with the idea of the masculine generic it seems it is translated “spokesman” or “spokesperson”, “A spokesman was lacking in Israel; he was lacking . . .” for more information see:

http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/nets/edition/07-judges-nets.pdf

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015063632452;view=1up;seq=10

The significant differences between the Codices may be because the poetic and unusual Hebrew the song of Deborah uses. For instance in Codex B ἀναστῇ is in the subjunctive mood, which might be translated as “in order for her to arise” but it isn’t in the same mood in Codex A. This is just my best ideas as to what these things mean.

See the full original codices here:

http://en.katabiblon.com/us/index.php?text=LXX&book=JgsA&ch=5
http://en.katabiblon.com/us/index.php?text=LXX&book=JgsB&ch=5

It was suggested that Judges 4:9 meant that deborah did not think it proper for her to be in a leadership role. However, this may just have been for leading an army, and it may be connected to the prohibition in Deuteronomy 22:5 which has been interpreted as banning female warriors: http://biblehub.com/commentaries/kad/deuteronomy/22.htm http://biblehub.com/commentaries/deuteronomy/22-5.htm

In addition the context is that Barak would not obey what God told him to do, so it is possible Deborah is just insulting him because of this.

Isaiah 3:12 was also brought up and it was either interpreted as implying women shouldn’t rule to being figurative or simply idiomatic in that cultural context since it also says “[Israel’s] oppressors are children” hence it may be saying Israel would be ruled over by weak or effeminate men: http://biblehub.com/commentaries/isaiah/3-12.htm

Deborah seems to have similar authority to Moses, if you compare Judges 4:5 and Exodus 18:13 the people came before her for judgement. Also both are called prophets Judges 4:4, Numbers 12:6-8. We didn’t deal with the broader context of female leadership some of which is talked about in articles such as these with very different conclusions:
https://www.opc.org/qa.html?question_id=155
http://christianthinktank.com/femalex.html

In the OPC statement they are using the Hebrew word in Ruth 1:1 (also appearing in Judges 4:4) to say Deborah was only a civil authority, they state: “It was not a position of religious authority; the priests and Levites were the preachers and worship leaders during that time.”

You can look at the word usage and it’s definition here. God is called “judge of the earth” in Gen 18:25 so I think this goes beyond a “civil” sense:
https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H8199&t=KJV
Also note it is used to refer to the elders Moses set up in Exodus 18 via Deu 1:16 where the word is used. You aren’t going to find it used for elders in the new testament simply because it’s a Hebrew word.

Also Deborah gave judgements from God’s law (remember it was a theocracy) and elders and apostles do the same with regards to church governance: Matthew 18:18 Matthew 5:18-19 (the same word is used for “loose” a commandment in both, see start of list of verses here: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3089&t=KJV ) Also the same word for what deborah did in Judges 4:4 is used for the decision made by the Apostles in Acts 21:25 http://studybible.info/search-interlinear/strongs/2919/start/360 (it’s a very generic word just meaning to “judge” or “decide” so I’m not making much of this, just that we aren’t told what she did was different)

In additions to these connections between old testament and new testament authority the 12 Apostles may have been appointed to be like the 12 princes of Israel that you see in the old testament, compare: Matthew 19:28 and Luke 22:30, to quote:

“God had promised David that his “house” (i.e., dynasty) would be everlasting, yet it appeared to have vanished along with the twelve tribes over which he ruled. The prophets reassured the people that this situation would not last forever. David’s family tree might appear to be cut down, but God would raise up “… a shoot from the stump of Jesse” (Isaiah 11:1). Micah prophesied that he was to be born in Bethlehem and “when she who is to give birth has borne … the rest of his brethren shall return to the children of Israel.” There would be a Davidic kingdom that would gather in the twelve tribes of Israel scattered throughout the world.

Jesus is the Messiah king, the true son of David, who after his birth in Bethlehem of the Blessed Virgin, “rebuilds the fallen tent of David” (Acts 15:16) and like a Good Shepherd gathers those who are lost back to himself. Just as King David ruled with twelve princes, Jesus chose twelve Apostles. But Christ’s kingdom is more than David’s earthly kingdom. It’s not based on heredity or tied to one geographic location; it’s based on grace. The Apostles are to teach, sanctify and govern all the people of God, regardless of their race. Like the twelve princes, the Apostles held offices which after their death were occupied by successors (bishops) who continued their ministry.

As such, the fact that there were twelve Apostles is very significant and certainly not arbitrary. They are the ones who, in the age to come, will sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28, Luke 22:30). Twelve, in the Bible, means more than a dozen.”

http://www.themichigancatholic.org/2015/11/the-holy-dozen-why-twelve-apostles-and-not-thirteen/

If Paul’s requirements were influenced by cultural considerations the fact that Ephesus and Crete were under roman rule indicates the heavily patriarchal Roman society https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pater_familias and the amount of sexual temptation https://www.press.umich.edu/2798142/economy_of_prostitution_in_the_roman_worldmight have played a role in his instructions to choose people who were male and married. Saying they had to have children may have been in keeping with some traditions of Jews at the time to make sure the elders were respected by the Jewish believers. The definition of the word in 1 Timothy 3:2 translated “blameless” is listed by Thayer’s as “properly, not apprehended, that cannot be laid hold of; hence, that cannot be reprehended, not open to censure, irreproachable” which may bring in the idea of “respected by everyone” hence some requirements may be to make them acceptable to the Jews: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G423&t=KJV also see Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary http://biblehub.com/commentaries/1_timothy/3-2.htm

Ultimately the discussion didn’t change anybody’s minds but it was quite fascinating.

Abraham, River of Faith: Chapter 4, Part 3

Now, we have seen how the Great Barge made its’ way through history, as the vessel of one people, in one place, at one time. From their river, the Euphrates, came the Tigris, and the vessels for it, the kalak. Let us then examine the navigation of those tiny boats, for history will turn on them. Indeed, all the world will soon be covered by the swarm of them out on their run.

Following the reports of the resurrection of the Messiah, a frenetic wave of activity covered the Roman empire; first in Judea, then in Greek cities like Corinth, Thessaloniki, and the Gallic city Galatia. Within a generation, men trained to go out into the waters of the nations-to be fishers of men, as the kalak is used often-to spread the word of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The most famous of these is of course Paul, the apostle to the gentiles; but, while chief amongst them, he was one of many who went forth, proclaiming the Good News.

There were fish to catch, for the Kingdom of God, and the early followers of The Way-known now as Christianity-left no stone unturned for those willing to repent and believe. They sailed the Tigris, casting their nets on all sides, looking for people to fish out and be saved. In the beginning, this was a tidal swell of activity, which was threatening to wash over the whole world. Indeed, until the age of Constantine, it looked for all the world like the Way might prevail against all odds. There seemed to be no way to stop the conversion of the Earth to the Gospel.

This is not empty rhetoric; Gibbons felt strongly that Christianity brought the Roman Empire down, as did Nietzsche. As a side note, I personally think the disease brought back from the Parthian wars of the third century did them in more than anything. Inflation was killing them, and political discord after the death of Marcus Aurelieus led to the splitting of the Empire into four factions. But it is perfectly reasonable to assert what Gibbons and Nietzsche did. An army with no weapons had beaten Rome-no weapons except having gained mastery over the fear of death.

You will recall our discussion of the impact of death on humans. Oddly, this is a dull sting to aboriginals and hunter-gatherers. They have an easier time accepting the way of things. Only as people became civilized did they become afraid: it would seem that having a luxurious life leads one to fear it ending. After all, if death eats you, what was the point of anything? If the only fate that awaits is nothingness, is it not the ultimate cruelty, to live long enough to realize that you are going to blank out, then go dark, extinguished, and erased?

The idea-the fact, in a Roman mind-that you will end was a torment they could not endure. They sought for every way possible to gain immortality-through writings, sculptures, histories. When you see these things, you seeing the Roman soul, flailing in fear, that they will not even be remembered. It was the keen awareness of this fear that the Romans used to dominate and control people; without this, Rome could not stand. A person who did not fear death was a weapon that could not be disarmed. This did challenge the Roman way of thinking, and undermined their cultural values greatly.

So, Christianity could be seen as an assault on Roman values themselves, as Nietzsche points out in Genealogy of Morals. Even today, I still cannot find a way to conclusively dismiss his argument empirically. While I do not agree with Frederick’s conclusion, his synopsis is quire valid. Romans did not like The Way. It was emasculating, prudish, and, well, Jewish. Romans liked conquest, personal glory, domination, and the glorious festival of the winter solstice, the Saturnalia. They were lovers of life, the Romans-for death was always after them.

Christianity is the death they fear, plus a new kind of death-a death to self, which took away the thin veneer of joy they had, in keeping Grendel upon the moors. In any other circumstance, they would have obliterated the offending cult-as they were famous for doing. But in Christianity, they finally met their match. They met an opponent who grew stronger as you killed them. Roman plebians-the commoners-who had long suffered under the patrician class, found that The Way offered them a power they could not have elsewise: the power to defy Rome. Slaves, as Frederick noted, were especially attracted to the Gospel, as it offered what they had never known, which was hope for a better tomorrow.

So the swell built, washing away the Roman power, and was being followed-even against psychotics like Diocletian-in the breadth of the Empire, surging as the Pagan ways were dwindling out. After Adrianople, Rome was an empty shell, a paper tiger that barbarians would to scoff-and later, take. Those people, the Goths, would elevate Christianity to new level-but at the price of creating a juggernaut of terror unmatched even in the days of Rome. This terror was Rome plus the Church, which became known formally as the Papacy. Please note, with acumen, the following:  This is not anti-Catholic. This is anti-Papal. I love my Catholic brethren fully and unconditionally. The Papacy is not Catholic: it is a tumor than grew up on the church. After the Peaces of Westphalia. the terror was finally leashed, and today is actually a spiritual center of some sorts, although the sybarite, hedonistic elements still remain strong within the Vatican.

The fall of the Terror of Rome was coterminus with the discovery of the New World (or, not Europe), and with this came a literal sailing of missionaries across the whole Earth, in the wake of Magellan’s epic quest to triumph over the insults heaped upon him by the King of Portugal. Unfortunately, this would not be the tale of epic splendor one would hope-for vessels meant to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ instead brought horror and darkness, and the commodification of people in the service of avarice. This is largely due to the impact of the arch-criminal of history, who harmed more than can be counted. This isn’t the standard bad guy-Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or even Karl Marx. This person cast a shadow over most of our planet that threw billions into ruin and nightmare, all through uniting the Gospel of Christ with that of Mammon. He is the son of the Papacy, who in fighting Popes became one, and the father of most protestant denominations in the West. This was Jean Calvin, and our next interlude will have to examine why he and his Papal counterparts made the Cross of Jesus Christ a sign of disrepute and disgust to most of humanity.

Popular Thought on Collectivism

There’s quite a lot of arguments made about how collectivism doesn’t and can’t work. Why does this interest us? One popular argument is that humans are–at their core–selfish and that there’s nothing we can do to change ourselves. A popularizer of this argument was Ayn Rand whose books are required reading for Paul Ryan staffers. She is still a household name in the U.S., especially among Libertarians.  For example, Eric Michael Johnson summarizes her ideas and popularity:
Ever since Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand has been gaining prominence among American conservatives as the leading voice for the political philosophy of laissez-faire capitalism, or the idea that private business should be unconstrained and that government’s only concern should be protecting individual property rights. As I wrote this week in Slate with my piece “Ayn Rand vs. the Pygmies,” the Russian-born author believed that rational selfishness was the ultimate expression of human nature.

“Collectivism,” Rand wrote in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal “is the tribal premise of primordial savages who, unable to conceive of individual rights, believed that the tribe is a supreme, omnipotent ruler, that it owns the lives of its members and may sacrifice them whenever it pleases.” An objective understanding of “man’s nature and man’s relationship to existence” should inoculate society from the disease of altruistic morality and economic redistribution. Therefore, “one must begin by identifying man’s nature, i.e., those essential characteristics which distinguish him from all other living species.”

As Rand further detailed in her book The Virtue of Selfishness, moral values are “genetically dependent” on the way “living entities exist and function.” Because each individual organism is primarily concerned with its own life, she therefore concludes that selfishness is the correct moral value of life. “Its life is the standard of value directing its actions,” Rand wrote, “it acts automatically to further its life and cannot act for its own destruction.” Because of this Rand insists altruism is a pernicious lie that is directly contrary to biological reality. Therefore, the only way to build a good society was to allow human nature, like capitalism, to remain unfettered by the meddling of a false ideology.
https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/primate-diaries/ayn-rand-on-human-nature/

Having not read Rand’s work I’m curious how this is different than the is-ought leap known as the naturalistic fallacy: https://www.britannica.com/topic/naturalistic-fallacy The Ayn Rand Lexicon tries to address this:

It is only an ultimate goal, and end in itself, that makes the existence of values possible. Metaphysically, life is the only phenomenon that is an end in itself: a value gained and kept by a constant process of action. Epistemologically, the concept of “value” is genetically dependent upon and derived from the antecedent concept of “life.” To speak of “value” as apart from “life” is worse than a contradiction in terms. “It is only the concept of ‘Life’ that makes the concept of ‘Value’ possible.”

In answer to those philosophers who claim that no relation can be established between ultimate ends or values and the facts of reality, let me stress that the fact that living entities exist and function necessitates the existence of values and of an ultimate value which for any given living entity is its own life. Thus the validation of value judgments is to be achieved by reference to the facts of reality. The fact that a living entity is, determines what it ought to do. So much for the issue of the relation between “is” and “ought.”
http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/is-ought_dichotomy.html

This leaves me rather mystified. I agree that values depend on what the goal is. (the values of a thief are different than the values of a police officer) One wants to gain more money for themselves and the other (while also probably wanting to gain money for themselves) also wants to enforce a standard of voluntary behavior when attaining money. However, why is life an “end in itself.” Since Ayn Rand was an atheist I fail to see how undirected evolution has value. It is nature. The animals that evolve are selected for because of their ability to survive. Just because one species of animal survived better than another doesn’t make it more valuable. What if an animal evolved that was out-competing us for resources and was causing our extinction? I don’t think Ayn Rand would argue that it, therefore, should wipe us out, especially if it was a species of communist insects like ants. More issues (in addition to the is-ought problem I mentioned) with Ayn Rand’s philosophy are discussed here:
Rand in addition to selfishness advocates for capitalism:
in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute. (Rand 1957 [1992]: Afterword)
Capitalism, “the unknown ideal”, is for her the only political-economic system compatible with this philosophy because it is the only system based on respect for human beings as ends in themselves. The free-market libertarian political movement, though largely disowned by Rand, drew—and draws—great inspiration from her moral defense of the minimal state, that is, the state whose only raison d’être is protection of individual rights.
This is one fact you don’t hear often. To say Ayn Rand “largely” disowned the libertarian movement may be a bit of an understatement:
Q
What do you think of the libertarian movement?
AR
All kinds of people today call themselves “libertarians,” especially something calling itself the New Right, which consists of hippies who are anarchists instead of leftist collectivists; but anarchists are collectivists. Capitalism is the one system that requires absolute objective law, yet libertarians combine capitalism and anarchism. That’s worse than anything the New Left has proposed. It’s a mockery of philosophy and ideology. They sling slogans and try to ride on two bandwagons. They want to be hippies, but don’t want to preach collectivism because those jobs are already taken. But anarchism is a logical outgrowth of the anti-intellectual side of collectivism. I could deal with a Marxist with a greater chance of reaching some kind of understanding, and with much greater respect. Anarchists are the scum of the intellectual world of the Left, which has given them up. So the Right picks up another leftist discard. That’s the libertarian movement. [FHF 71]
Q
What do you think of the Libertarian Party?
AR
I’d rather vote for Bob Hope, the Marx Brothers, or Jerry Lewis—they’re not as funny as John Hospers and the Libertarian Party. If Hospers takes ten votes away from Nixon (which I doubt he’ll do), it would be a moral crime. I don’t care about Nixon, and I care even less about Hospers; but this is no time to engage in publicity seeking, which all these crank political parties are doing. (George Wallace is no great thinker—he’s a demagogue, though with some courage—but even he had the sense to stay home this time.) If you want to spread your ideas, do it through education. But don’t run for president—or even dogcatcher—if you’re going to help McGovern. [FHF 72]
Her reason for disowning the libertarians was made quite clear and it may surprise you:
Q
Libertarians advocate the politics you do, so why are you opposed to the Libertarian Party?
AR
They’re not defenders of capitalism. They’re a group of publicity seekers who rush into politics prematurely, because they allegedly want to educate people through a political campaign, which can’t be done. Further, their leadership consists of men of every persuasion, from religious conservatives to anarchists. Most of them are my enemies: they spend their time denouncing me, while plagiarizing my ideas. Now it’s a bad sign for an allegedly pro-capitalist party to start by stealing ideas. [FHF 74]
I don’t often hear that libertarianism is compatible with anarchism or voluntary collectivism as the “Libertarian Socialist Caucus of the Libertarian Party” shows:
Another prominent libertarian philosopher Robert Nozick describes such:
The official purpose of Part III of ASU, “Utopia”, is to show that the minimal state is not merely legitimate and just; it is also inspiring. This purpose is advanced by sketching a framework for utopia that is inspiring and noting that this framework is highly akin to—Nozick actually says “equivalent to” (333)—the minimal state. Yet Nozick also says that the framework might not have any “central authority” (329). Still, the framework is akin to the minimal state because it is an institutional structure that enforces peaceful co-existence among voluntarily formed communities. It protects the independence of such communities and their freedom to recruit members and also protects the liberty of individuals to enter and exit communities as they respectively choose. Although Nozick is not explicit about this, we have to presume that the framework enforces the same norms of personal freedom, property, and contractual compliance that the minimal state enforces except insofar as individuals voluntarily relinquish such rights within the communities they enter.
In fact, I would like to see a libertarian thinker who would say that voluntary collectivism is wrong. This is because Libertarians start from the position of individual rights:

As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty: a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and are not forced to sacrifice their values for the benefit of others.

We believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized.

Consequently, we defend each person’s right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world we seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power.
https://www.lp.org/platform/ (accessed 2019-01-02)

This is where the left and the right could potentially agree and work together. More on that may come in another post. The second problem with Ayn Rand’s argument for selfishness and capitalism is not metaphysical but factual.  Eric Michael Johnson writes affirmingly of Peter Kropotkin’s discoveries:

What he found was that competition was virtually nonexistent. Instead, in every nook and cranny of the animal world, he encountered mutual aid. Individuals huddled for warmth, fed one another, and guarded their groups from danger, all seeming to be cogs in a larger cooperative society. “In all the scenes of animal lives which passed before my eyes,” Kropotkin wrote, “I saw mutual aid and mutual support carried on to an extent which made me suspect in it a feature of the greatest importance for the maintenance of life, the preservation of each species and its further evolution.”

Kropotkin didn’t limit his studies to animals alone. He cherished his time in peasant villages, with their sense of community and cooperation: in these small Siberian villages, Kropotkin began to understand “the inner springs of the life of human society.” There, by observing “the constructive work of the unknown masses,” the young scientist witnessed human cooperation and altruism in its purest form.
. . .
He advocated that natural selection was the driving force that shaped life, but that Darwin’s ideas had been perverted and misrepresented by British scientists. Natural selection, Kropotkin argued, led to mutual aid, not competition, among individuals.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-prince-of-evolution-peter-kropotkin/

We rarely hear this.  We usually take for granted that nature is a heartless matriarch who feeds one of her children to another after the slightest mistake on the former’s part. Although humans are part of the natural world, making arguments about animal societies won’t convince everyone since humans are unique creatures. More formidable still (in my opinion) is the common idea of the doctrine of original sin in Christianity. The mechanics of original sin are not often clearly delineated, yet strangely, the conclusion is that selfless expectations are bound to create disaster for humans.  Fortunately, we can resolve what is possible with humans:
As, of 2010 at least 15 Kibbutzim in Israel “still follow the full traditional communal model” (there are 270 total according to this article)
Today there are some 260 kibbutzim and as this experiment evolved over the last century and longer, they seem to be experiencing some sort of a revival. But as most kibbutzim prove by their very existence, staying alive requires working together. . .

KIBBUTZ DEGANYA, which eventually split into Kibbutz Deganya Alef and Deganya Bet, developed into one of Israel’s most iconic institutions, and led the way for the hundreds of kibbutzim thereafter. It was established in October 1910 by a dozen men hailing from Russia. They were inspired to pursue the Zionist socialist vision in Palestine by working the land during what is known as the Second Aliya.
https://www.jpost.com/Magazine/A-uniquely-Israeli-institution-543296

The waiting lists are the most recent in a series of changes that the kibbutz movement has undergone since the financial crisis it faced in the 1980s. And in recent years, most kibbutzim are accepting new residents only as fully fledged members, with full rights and obligations, rather than as people simply living there. Many of the arrivals are children of the kibbutz who are returning home.
Many kibbutzim simply cannot meet the demand, and it’s not just the wealthy kibbutzim near the center of the country that are a draw, but also smaller collective communities in outlying areas. Kibbutz movement secretary general Nir Meir says every year, on the eve of Shavuot, the number of babies on the kibbutzim is tallied. This year the number exceeded 3,000.
Speaking to Haaretz, Meir attributed the growth to a number of factors. One is that the era in which kibbutzim were allowing non-members to move in, living in new neighborhoods that were being built, but not really fully part of the kibbutz community, is over. At the same time, the kibbutz movement extracted itself from its earlier financial crisis and changes on kibbutzim “made the way of life a lot more attractive,” Meir asserted.
Ein Dor and Yizre’el in northern Israel were both established in 1948. One was privatized in 2003, while the other still serves three communal meals a day and adheres to the old kibbutz socialist ethos – can you guess which one is thriving today?
. . .
Ein Dor is certainly not a failing kibbutz today, but Almog says it isn’t the most financially successful, either.
. . .

A 30-minute drive away in the Jezreel Valley, Yizre’el is among a handful of kibbutzim that still embraces the old-fashioned principles of communal life.

Here, monthly allocations are based not on job description and title, but on seniority at the kibbutz, family size and need. At Yizre’el, the mess hall is still the place where all members take their three daily meals (free of charge) and gather for events, activities and important votes.

. . .
Today, Yizre’el is one of the richest kibbutzim in Israel thanks to its controlling stake in a company that is the world’s single largest supplier of robotic pool cleaners. Maytronics, which is traded on the Tel Aviv stock exchange, has a market capitalization of 1.9 billion shekels (about $540 million). Last year, it boasted almost $200 million in sales (almost exclusively exports) and net earnings of $24 million. Maytronics, which is 60 percent owned by the members of Yizre’el, now has subsidiaries in the United States, France and Australia, and recently opened a second plant in northern Israel.
Of course, this only shows what is possible not what is likely. There are many more cities than kibbutzim. Yet, this type of system may be more common than rich westerners would know.  Some societies in third-world countries operate on a similar level of sharing. For example, a sojourners commune was normal for refugees from Nicaragua:
A couple of us from Sojourners were showing the group around. We introduced them to our tenant organizers, who were helping neighbors in massive tenement buildings join together to hold landlords accountable for fair rents and repairs. We stopped in and picked up a snack at our food co-op. We took our guests into our daycare facility for preschoolers and our neighborhood center, where older children were receiving after-school tutoring and adults computer training. There we talked with the group about the structure of our life: the shared assets, communal living, prayer.
All this was met with complete silence. We got none of the tough questions and challenging arguments we were used to from detractors—or the accolades of admiration and expressions of just-how-impressive-it-all-was that spilled readily out of the mouths of supportive observers. Just polite smiles. Translation was not the problem, as the Spanish interpreter had done a marvelous job of describing it all. The spokesperson for the group thanked us for our time, and they left.
The translator came back around a few days later to explain. “They didn’t understand that this is unusual in North America,” he said. “This is how they live—looking out for one another and each other’s children, sharing their food and everything they have, praying for God’s protection.” Of course.
Ultimately it is your decision what to value. We can talk about what we would naturally do all day but if something is possible for one human to value I believe it is possible for others. (what a libertarian idea) On Robert Nozick, the Standford encyclopedia comments that we don’t actually know what types of communities would suit human beings:
It is inspiring to anyone who appreciates how little each of us knows about what sorts of communities best suit human beings in all their depth and diversity and how much the operation of the framework assists individuals in their discovery of and engagement in communities that enhance their respective well-being.
Joyce Hollyday states that she believes collectivism is even natural for humans:
Now I’m closing in on 60. As I ponder my life, I give thanks for a rich and roundabout journey that has brought me back to community by intention. I share life on a small farm in the mountains of western North Carolina with friends. I co-pastor a faith community that includes additional friends and families that are committed to living justly and in peace. I try to remind myself often that those of us who inhabit industrialized, digitalized, privatized early-21st-century North America are an aberration on our planet and in human history. That we even have to engage in conversations and write articles and organize conferences about how to “do community” speaks of our poverty and our alienation from the way of being human. We have lost sight of the fact that we are designed to live interdependently, caring for one another and sharing all that we have for the sake of the common good.
As it turned out, the visit by the Central Americans was not our last at Sojourners. They soon returned when they discovered the traumas and frights of our competitive and unwelcoming US culture. And as the terror in Central America escalated, Spanish began to be spoken in more and more of the homes in our neighborhood.
I have presented a rough outline of where the left and right may agree and of how human nature is compatible with the communal system. We hope it provokes some thought.