Plugging My Books

I hope you don’t mind, but today I am going to take a total break from spiritual messages, even from a socially relevant message, and instead talk about something that is no more than pure, unadulterated self-interest.

If you prefer to watch me pitch my books in a video, click on this link:
Watch the spiel.

Well, maybe not all self-interest, since the books I have written over the past years are designed to spread not just God’s word, but who God is and what he wants from us, without the impurity of religion polluting the waters of life with their own man-made rites, holidays, rituals, and anti-Torah propaganda.

The first book I wrote is called “Back to Basics: God’s Word vs. Religion”.

This book discusses the differences between what God said we should do in the Torah and how religion (both Judaism and Christianity) has changed what God said to do, to what the religion wants to do. The book covers topics such as Kosher, celibacy, Holy Days or holidays, Tanakh or Talmud, and other topics where religion has added to or taken away from what God said in the Torah. It is an easy read, and the people who have given me feedback have found it interesting, to say the least; except for one rabbi who told me, “Well, you’re no Hemingway.”

The next book I wrote is called, “Prayer…What it Is and How It Works”.

The title is pretty much self-explanatory. I discuss the different ways people pray, the value of prayer, and what we can expect from it. Again, it is an easy read.

My third book is called “Parashot Drashim” and is subtitled “Commentary on the Weekly Torah Readings for Both Jews and Gentiles”.

For those of you who may not know this, the Torah is separated into 54 sections, called parashot, and these sections are read every Shabbat, sometimes with two parashot being read at the same time. It is all designed so that when we come to the eighth day after Shavuot, which is called Simchat Torah (Joy of Torah), every synagogue in the world is on the last lines of Deuteronomy and we all turn the Torah back to Genesis in order to start reading it all over again.

This book is my thickest book to date and is a compilation of the different parashot teachings I have been doing for over 7 years. I have combined, condensed, and edited the Shabbat teachings I have written and designed each one to show Jews and Christians who Yeshua really is and what he really taught. This book is not just a commentary, but also can be used for Bible studies.

My most recent book, just published a month ago, is called “The Good News About the Messiah for Jews“, and is subtitled “Debunking the Traditional Lies About the Jewish Messiah“.

Even though this is directed to my Jewish brothers and sisters, it is also valuable to Gentiles because many of the Christians I have known don’t know who Yeshua really is any better than Jews do.

I feel that this book is the culmination of all I have learned in the past 25 or so years of being a Messianic Jew and a student of the Bible- that is, the entire Bible, Genesis through Revelation. I attack many of the lies that have been spread throughout both Judaism and Christianity, lies such as Jesus doing away with the Torah, believing in Jesus means you have to be a Christian, all sins are forgiven automatically (the “Once Saved, Always Saved” lie), that Paul converted to Christianity and other lies that have been promulgated by both Jews and Christians which have totally turned Jews away from their Messiah and Christians away from God. This book will change someone’s life, somewhere- maybe even yours?

All of my books are available on Amazon, in both paperback and Kindle format. I kept the pricing low so that they are affordable for everyone, even though I would like to get something for all the work I put into each one of them (after all, a worker is entitled to his wages, right?), but I don’t expect to see any of them on the Bestseller List anytime soon.

Who knows? Maybe Oprah will find one and then I’ll be set for life!

Nah! Not likely, but if even one of these books can help someone come closer to God, then it is all worthwhile.

So, nu? Why not try one or all of these books? I don’t have a bibliography in any of them because I only use the Bible as my source document, and reference where I get each and every verse I use to teach about God and his Messiah. After all, if the Bible isn’t a good enough source document, what else could be?

Thank you for letting me blow my own horn, as the expression goes, and even if you feel this isn’t an appropriate thing to do, please don’t let that stand in the way of you reading these books. I really do believe I was led by the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) in writing these and guarantee that even if you disagree with what I write, you will find these books interesting and educational. Maybe even a little entertaining.

God bless you and thank you for subscribing.

That’s it for today, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

How To Properly Interpret The Bible: Conclusion

Thank you for having allowed me to share with you what I have learned about properly interpreting the Bible, and I hope now, as we have come to the end of this teaching series, that it has been of value to you.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

We have covered the importance of using Circles of Context and Hermeneutics when trying to figure out just what the writer of a passage is trying to say, and to be able to glean the deeper, more spiritual messages through the use of the Jewish exegesis tool called PaRDeS.

We also now know that it is important to be selective when using extra-biblical resources, such as commentaries, and that right from the start you should have a Chumash, a Concordance, and the Interlinear Bible set at your disposal to be able to understand the real meaning of what is written in the Bible.

And, of course, knowing the language and the historical usage of phrases and words will allow you to know better what the writer intended to say, without having the true meaning skewed by the current connotation of certain words.

There is one last tidbit of knowledge I would like to share with you now, at the end of this teaching, which is:

You can’t make an argument from nothing.

Too often people tell you what the Bible says without having any reason other than it is what they want to believe. They take passages out of context, they assume something must have happened, and they extrapolate events to create something that can’t be found anywhere in the scriptures.

We may be able to make certain assumptions, such as after the circumcision of Abraham, he was not feeling quite himself for a few days. There’s nothing in the Bible that says that, but it is a safe assumption. However, the Talmud states that the three angels visited Abraham on the third day after his circumcision, and that is an example of making an argument from nothing.

The Rabbis obviously wanted to show the humility and compassion which Abraham had for others, and we know that from the Tanakh because he argued to save any righteous men that might be in Sodom. But, to say that the angels came on the third day after the circumcision, is just plain unfounded.

True, the visit was the very next thing in the Tanakh after the circumcisions:

Genesis 17:27:
And every male in Abraham’s household was circumcised along with him. That included those born into his family or bought from a stranger.

which was followed immediately by

Genesis 18:1:
The Lord appeared to Abraham near the large trees of Mamre.

but who knows how much time elapsed between those two events? Because there is nothing in the Tanakh that tells us how much time elapsed between these events, to make a statement that one event happened at a certain time after the other is making an argument from nothing, and as such, is not a verifiable interpretation.

When you believe you have an understanding of something that you read in the Bible, use the tools we have discussed to verify your belief. You may be given a divine understanding of a passage, but if you can’t verify it using these tools, then it must be questioned. And if someone tells you what something in the Bible means, you need to verify it, for yourself, before you accept it or (God forbid!) teach it to anyone else as truth.

Remember: when the blind lead the blind, they both fall into a hole. When it comes to being able to properly interpret the Bible, use the tools you have learned here to make sure that you aren’t being led into a hole.

Thank you again, and please share these lessons with everyone you know, subscribe to this ministry on both YouTube and here on my website, and please take the time to check out my books and the rest of my website.

This has been a real pleasure for me, and if there is any particular topic you would like to see a teaching on, please do not hesitate to suggest it to me.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

How To Properly Interpret The Bible: Lesson 6- Language and Cultural Usage

In Lesson 2 we talked about Circles of Context and how that included the cultural usage, as well. Today we will look a little deeper into that, along with the need to be familiar with the language.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

Let me start by saying you do not have to be fluent in either Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek to properly interpret the Bible, but only that you should be able to have a means of examining the original language used in a passage.

And there is more to it than that: you need to be able to know the historically correct cultural usage of the language in the Bible as it was used at that time, in everyday speech.

For instance, throughout the Bible we read about “the fear of Adonai”, but what is that? Does it mean to be afraid of God? Do we live our lives being scared of what God might do to us if we sin? That doesn’t seem to make sense when we consider how many times we are told that God loves us, he is merciful and compassionate, and that he understands our weaknesses and helps us to overcome them.

The proper cultural usage of the term “fear of the Lord” means to worship God. To “fear” God was not used, in those days, to be an expectation of physical harm or spiritual damnation, but to worship God as he commands us to do.

Of course, if you reject God then you do have something to be afraid of, which (who knows) maybe the reason they use the word” fear” to mean proper worship since improper worship would lead to damnation, and who, believing in God, wouldn’t be afraid of that?

In the book of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), the writer’s conclusion is that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Now, how can being afraid be the beginning of wisdom, especially when we (using hermeneutics) consider that Shaul (Paul) tells his protégé Timothy (in 2 Timothy 1:7) that God gives us a spirit who produces not timidity, but power, love, and self-discipline?

What Shaul is saying is that when we worship the Lord we are not to be afraid, but rather to be strong and confident. This will sound like an oxymoron, but the proper fear of the Lord will make us fearless.

There are times, though, when we are supposed to be afraid. For instance, in Matthew 10:28 we are told not to be afraid of those who can harm the body, but the one who can destroy both body and soul. Clearly, that is something to be afraid of.

I have been studying Hebrew for a couple of years now; I used Rosetta Stone and now use Duolingo. I work at it about 15 or 20 minutes a day, and it is slow going. I used to be good at language learning, but (as studies confirm) now that I am an old fart it is harder for me to remember the words. It is especially hard since there is no one else here who is fluent in Hebrew to help me practice and correct me. Yet, this constant study of Hebrew has helped me, even with the little I know, to better understand what is written in the Tanakh.

Many years ago I earned a Certificate in Messianic Studies which included classes on First Century Jewish culture. Without understanding the historical meaning and usage of the words at that time, we can’t always know what people really meant when they wrote things down, which we now read in the Bible.

Here’s another example: in Matthew 5:17, which is, in my opinion, one of the most misinterpreted passages in the entire Bible, Yeshua says he did not come to change the law but to fulfill it. Many “experts” interpret this as meaning Yeshua completed the law and use that as a polemic against following the Torah, even though Yeshua said, plainly, that he did not come to change anything!

When we consider the cultural usage of the language, in First Century Rabbi-speak, to “fulfill” meant to interpret correctly. It has nothing to do with completing or doing away with anything. And when we use that understanding of the meaning of the word with what Yeshua taught in his sermon on the mount, we can see that he was interpreting the law more accurately than the Pharisees or Scribes had been doing, because he gave the spiritual understanding as well as the plain language meaning (remember P’shat and Remes?).

The same holds true when we read in some Bible versions the use of the word “trespass” in the Lord’s Prayer. Of course, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t walk on each other’s lawn; to “trespass” meant to misinterpret the Torah. Therefore, to fulfill the law would lead people to salvation whereas to trespass would lead people into sin.

The previous lesson covered using an Interlinear Bible and a concordance, which will give you the translations of the Hebrew and Greek used in the Bible, but if you really want to allow the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to lead you to what God wants you to see, I recommend studying Hebrew on your own. Now, for myself, I am not so worried about knowing Greek to understand the New Covenant better because I believe that when I know the Tanakh, I will be able to determine what in the New Covenant makes sense, hermeneutically, and what doesn’t.

And, yes- although it is outside the scope of this training series, I do believe there is much in the New Covenant that doesn’t need to be in the Bible. But, as I say, that is for a different time.

That’s it for this lesson, and next time we get together I will conclude this teaching series.

Until then, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

How To Properly Interpret The Bible; Lesson 5- Concordance and Interlinear Bible

In the last lesson we talked about extra-biblical tools to use when interpreting the Bible, and today we will continue on this line with two more of what I consider to be essential exegesis tools: a concordance and the Interlinear Bible set.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

The most well-known concordance is “Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible”, which is a tremendously exacting study of every single word in the Bible and where to find every single occurrence of it. You also are given the Hebrew and Greek translation of the word.

And if nothing else, the tome is so heavy that using it will not only improve your understanding of the Bible, but it will tone your muscles, as well.

There are some who do not agree that Strong’s Concordance is the best one out there, and I am not going to argue one way or the other, because the focus of this course is to learn how to properly interpret the Bible, and as far as I am concerned, I don’t really care which concordance you want to use, just so long as you are using one.

For me, the concordance is most valuable when I am trying to find other places in the Bible where a certain word or phrase is used, to help make sure that what I believe it means is hermeneutically (remember that word?) validated by where it appears elsewhere in the Bible.

The other valuable extra-biblical exegesis tool I want to tell you about is the Interlinear Bible. Here is a picture of the one I use:

These volumes give you the English, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek translation of every single word, in the order they appear. That means that syntax and placement of the words are not going to be like any other translation you read because the word order is literally as it is printed.

For example, right from the start, we read in Genesis 1:1 that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, but when we look at the interlinear word-by-word translation it says in the beginning, created God the heavens and the earth. This is a small change, but it helps to better understand the issues that happen when translating from one language to another, especially when the placement of adjectives, adverbs, and syntax have different rules.

The Interlinear Bible series has the English translation with the Hebrew and Aramaic for the Old Covenant writings and the English translation of the Greek for the New Covenant. Of course, there are no Hebrew New Covenant writings available, although you can find articles stating that the Gospel of Matthew was probably originally written in Hebrew. Perhaps one day we may find a viable copy of a Hebrew New Covenant letter or book, but as it is now, the interlinear can only give us the Greek to English translation for the B’rit Chadashah (New Covenant.)

As we finish our discussion about extra-biblical resources, let me mention that the two I have discussed above are not the only extra-biblical resources available. You can read the Apocrypha (found mostly only in Catholic Bibles) to enhance the narratives about biblical people and events, and the Talmud to get rabbinical commentary on the events in the Tanakh, as well as learning HaLacha, the Way to Walk, which is the Jewish lifestyle. You can even learn Jewish mythology. I use the Talmud because it has been composed by the great Rabbis of the past and I respect their learning and wisdom. That doesn’t mean I accept what they say or believe it all to be “gospel”, but it does help to know what they think when forming my own conclusions.

There are other resources, some of which people consider to be scripture, such as the Book of Enoch, the Gospel of Judas, the Zohar (Kabbalist) and, let’s not forget, the New Covenant source document called the Codex Alexandrinus.

Let’s get real, people- anything out there which can help you better understand the language, usage, and culture of those who actually wrote the Bible is valuable in helping to properly interpret what you read, but I would also add this caveat: what God says to us is “scripture” and what people say is not. There is a difference between God directing Moses to write something down or giving a Prophet the words to say, and Shaul (Paul) writing a letter to one of his Gentile congregations with his instructions regarding how they should follow what God said.

Extra-biblical resources are written by people, not by God, so remember that as you use them.

To end this topic, remember also that the best guide to understanding the Bible is to ask God to show you, through the Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) what he wants you to see in his word. There can be multiple messages within the same sentence or passage, and each could be correct for the person reading it. For example, there are prophecies that are considered dual, meaning they have an immediate future impact and a far-reaching future impact, as well. Two different meanings from the same passage and both are correct within the context of their separate timelines. So always be aware, always be open to being led by divine understanding, and never stop reading the Bible.

The more times you read it, the better your understanding will become.

In our next lesson, we will be discussing a totally different aspect of properly interpreting the Bible, so until then…

L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

How To Properly Interpret The Bible: Lesson 4- Chumash and Commentaries

So far in this series, we have reviewed those tools that can be used by the reader when trying to interpret, for themselves, what is in the Bible. These tools are valuable, and we should always look for what God has for us, alone, when we read his word.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.
(PS: I have a new microphone so the sound levels will be good.)

But that doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t have a proper interpretation, or a message that he or she was given which can edify us. That is why there are some extra-biblical tools we should use, as well, when seeking out the meaning of God’s word.

One of my favorite books for studying the Torah is the Chumash. Here is the one I use, which is the Soncino edition:

“Chumash” is a form of the word חמשת ,which is Hebrew for the number 5, representing the first five books of the Bible, i.e. the Torah. This book has the Torah, the English translation, and a commentary on the passage, as well. There are also detailed commentaries at the end of each book of the Torah.

Besides the Torah readings (called the Parashah), it also has the Haftorah readings, which are sections from other parts of the Tanakh that are read after the Torah portion and used to enhance the Torah reading by showing how what we read was performed (or failed to be performed) in later history.

What I love most about the Chumash is that it is just so very Jewish. It is, if you ask me, essential for Gentiles who want to know what the Torah means to Jews to read this book, and use it constantly when they come to something in the New Covenant that refers back to the Torah so they can see what Yeshua or an Apostle was thinking about when they said what they did. I say this because the Messiah and his Apostles thought much closer to the way the commentator of the Chumash thought than any Gentile commentator ever could.

Other examples of commentaries are below:

These are commentaries I use when I want to verify or see what someone else thinks about a passage I might be wondering about; however, these are not the only ones out there. In fact, there are many, many different commentaries written by all types of people, so when you look for one, try to find one that as you peruse it (before buying, of course) you can see if it seems to be in line with your understanding.

By the way, I really recommend the commentary called “Parashot Drashim.” I happen to know the author really well and think he has a pretty good idea of what he is saying.

Commentaries are very useful tools for properly interpreting the Bible, but just as with any tool, you need to use the right tool for the job. What I mean is, if you want to become familiar with the “Jewish mindset”, make sure the commentary you get is a totally Jewish one, meaning not Messianic and certainly not written by a Gentile. You might be surprised, and maybe even a little dismayed, at the negative tone it might have when referencing Christian interpretations of the messianic passages.

On the other hand, when you want to know what the New Covenant is saying, then you need to get a commentary written by a Gentile because you won’t find any Jews who want to have anything to do with the New Covenant, unless it happens to be a Messianic Jew.

This covers today’s lesson, and next time we will discuss other types of extra-biblical resources you can use when you are trying to properly interpret the Bible.

Oh, yeah, one more thing…even though this is a teaching series, I welcome any comments or additions you feel you would like to submit regarding any of these lessons.

So, until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!