Jesus is Not a Horse.

With a title like this, I can only imagine what you must be thinking.  Is this picture going through your mind right now?




And the next thing you must be thinking is: “Why would Steven even think such a thing?”


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


Well, the answer is because I have seen, more than once, someone posting that when we pray to “Jesus” we are really praying to a horse because in Hebrew “Jesus” means “horse.”

Today, I am going to put to rest this ridiculous and absurd statement, which shows nothing more than a total lack of knowledge of the Hebrew language.

First of all, let’s review the type of words known as Homophones. A homophone is a word that sounds like another word but doesn’t have the same meaning. Some examples are:

blue and blew; you and ewe; brake and break; flour and flower,

and there are many, many more examples. As you can see, just because two words sound the same doesn’t mean that they mean the same thing.

The name “Jesus” is not a real name; in fact, it has a very strange etymology.

I know there will be different opinions on the etymology of the name “Jesus”, so I would ask that you who disagree with the one I am about to propose please do not comment and argue the validity of my usage here because it is not relevant to the topic. 

The Hebrew name given to the Messiah born of Joseph and Mary is Yeshua, which in Hebrew means (essentially) “the salvation of God.” When the Apostles wrote down their eye-witness accounts of the ministry and life of the Messiah, as well as the Epistles, written to the Messianic congregations throughout the Middle East and Asia, the language used was Greek. However, the Greek language had no male name that meant “the salvation of God”; in fact, not only was there no name that “Yeshua” could be translated into, but the Greek religion and culture had nothing in it that even came close to meaning “salvation of God.” Their gods didn’t do things like that. So, what they did was to create a transliteration, which is a word spelled so that it sounds like the word being translated; in effect, they created a homophone to sound like Yeshua.

That Greek homophone for “Yeshua” was”Jesu”, which is pronounced “hey-soo”. When the Greek was translated into Latin, Jesu became Jesus (Hey-soo to hey-soos.)

With me so far?

Next, we need to look at the Hebrew word for horse, which is סןס, pronounced “suse” In Hebrew, “the” is the letter Het (ה) placed in front of the word it identifies and is pronounced “hah”; therefore, in Hebrew “the horse” is pronounced “Hah-suse.”

Sounds like hey-soos, but isn’t hey-soos.



So there you have it! Those people who say praying to Jesus is really praying to a horse believe a homophone is a synonym, demonstrating such a total lack of knowledge of Hebrew that they, themselves, are a horse.

Or, more correctly, one specific part of a horse, and in case you don’t know which part, I will give you a hint: it’s the part that goes through the stable door last.

Normally I post things more spiritual in nature, and I suppose the spiritual aspect to today’s lesson in homophones and their misuse, is that we are all easily led astray to believe what seems easy to accept. In truth, sometimes that which sounds very “deep” and mystical is also something people desire to know. To “understand” a hidden message is to feel superior, which is how most humans like to feel. To think that we can say the name “Jesus “really means “a horse” might seem appealing, especially those who (I admit, like me) have always been uncomfortable with the name “Jesus”, but in truth, it is an insult to the Messiah and to God.

So be careful what you accept as truth from people: always check out what you hear, whether it sounds absolutely true or absolutely ridiculous because you never know what something really means until you find it out for yourself.

And what you believe, whether you have been fooled into believing it or not, is what God will hold you accountable for.

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I welcome comments and even arguments, so long as you are nice.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Salvation Without Substance

I have joined (and left) a couple of Face Book discussion groups over the past month or two. The groups are titled as Messianic: either Messianic Jews and Christians, or Messianic Christians and Jews, or some combination, thereof. I joined them mainly because I want to get my name out there, get people interested in this website, this ministry and (most important of all) get the word of God out there to people who have only heard the word of religious leaders (which, if you haven’t guessed by now, I believe is sometimes the word of God and mostly the traditions of their particular religion.)

I believe from reading the multitude of postings that these people, except for a few nutcases who infiltrate the group, are “saved” in that they have accepted Yeshua as their Messiah and are becoming more Torah observant.

My problem with much of what I read is that there is constant talk about salvation, but without any real substance. Posting after posting of biblical quotes, dressed in pretty pictures and bold fonts, but without anything else. There is always something to learn and see in the bible, God always shows us each new meanings and increases our depth of understanding as we continue to delve into His word, but to just repeat what everyone else already has read, without explanation as to the message God has given regarding that scripture, or to just post pretty, rose-colored statements over, and over, and over again, is not really helping anyone.

Oh, yes- there are the customary “Beautiful- thank you” and “Just what I needed to see this morning” replies from people, encouraging more postings. But overall, we need to educate and edify each other, not just rote-repeat bible verses.

For the record, how to pronounce God’s name, the etymology of the word “Jesus” and using Paleo-Hebrew doesn’t edify or help anyone. I believe it only tends to confuse new Believers and is more in line with Gnosticism than with salvation through faith. I also disagree with the argument (I have read) for using Paleo-Hebrew, which is that knowing the “true” name of God and Messiah will prevent the enemy from fooling us into following a false Messiah. That is really hard for me to accept, mainly because if we concentrate on the word of God instead of how to pronounce His name, we would recognize the false (or the true) Messiah, as we can recognize a false or true Believer, by the fruits he bears. And by relying on the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit)  to make sure that we aren’t fooled. Spiritual insight doesn’t come from studying Paleo-Hebrew- it comes from faith, from reading the bible to know what to expect, and from wearing the armor of God (Ephesians.)

I have found people in these groups that do have substance, but they are the remnant, so to speak, within the groups.

Another problem, which has caused me to quit at least one group, is that too often these discussions are very nasty. People have been accusatory, belittling others and highly judgmental- not what you would expect to find from a group of “Born Again” people.

You may be wondering why I stay in these groups- I do it because (and forgive me for sounding egocentric) I believe I can act as a mediator, and also bring substance into these discussions. If I do, I credit God with working through me to do so, because I don’t think, on my own, I could get through to most of these people. It seems (to me) that they wear their salvation like some coat of many colors, reveling in  flowery rhetoric and spitting out bible verses in pretty pictures with artistic backgrounds but accomplishing nothing of value.

DREK!! I say: be happy in your salvation, be joyous in knowing what God has done for you- all that is fine! More than that, if  you are going to be part of a discussion group, then discuss something, for the love of Pete! Stop worrying about useless dribble that doesn’t help save anyone, stop serving up empty calories that taste good but don’t nourish anyone, and put some meat on the table.


OK… sorry…I got a little carried away there. Whew!! Take deep breaths, Steven…deeeeep….breaths…..

I don’t want anyone who is a member of one of these groups and reading this to feel insulted- that is not my purpose. Far be it for me to insult someone while saying how bad it is that people insult others, right? I am trying to ask, in my usual tactless way, for those in discussion groups to discuss things that are relevant to salvation, that help new Believers know what God expects of them (which is found in the Torah) and to help others who have been influenced (what I really mean is brainwashed) by “religion” to get back to the basics, which are the commandments and regulations God gave us in the Torah.

Also, I am not saying we should “Judiaze” the world: maybe we can just suggest that it wouldn’t hurt for people to do what God said He wants us to do. I assume members of these groups to be Jews learning about their Messiah and Gentiles learning about their Jewish roots, and as such, we should concentrate on helping each other do just that. Quoting bible is fine, discussing modern day problems as we associate them to biblical events is fine, and even an occasional discussion about archaeological findings and historical events is OK, so long as we don’t get too zealous about it. I totally disagree with the spelling of the names of Messiah and God that I see in these groups, but I am not going to argue about it. What value will that have? If I am saying it wrong, or if they are, so long as we pray to the one that the name represents we should be OK. I think God and Messiah are big enough to handle a mispronunciation of their name.

If you are in a FB group, or thinking of joining one, please try to have discussions and give messages that have substance, that will edify and help encourage others, and don’t just throw out so much “fluff.” There is plenty of that already in religion.

Parashah Shemot (the Names) Exodus 1 -1 6:1

Wow. That’s about all there is to say when reading this parasha; in fact, when reading the next couple of parashot. Wow!

The seeds of the Nation of Israel have been planted in Goshen, seventy souls, and they begin to multiply. Joseph dies, and so, too, the generation of Joseph’s brothers. Later a new ruler, one of ancient Egyptian heritage (the Pharaoh who showed such kindness to Joseph was of the Hyksos and they were replaced by previously ousted Egyptians) is fearful of the multitude of Israelites, so he makes them slaves. As a way to maintain their numbers, he orders the death of the male children but the midwives refuse to do so and make excuses why they can’t get there in time to kill the children. The Israelites continue to prosper, despite the hard labor they are under.

One day a child is born who is kept aside, hidden for three months, then released to God’s care in a basket floating down the river Nile. His sister, Miryam, follows in the reeds (extremely dangerous when you consider that the Nile Crocodile, which can grow to 20 feet or more, likes to sunbathe in the reeds) and when a daughter of the Pharaoh finds the child and shows compassion, Miryam offers to get a Hebrew woman to nurse him. So, Moshe (Moses) is nursed by his own mother for years, and when he is returned to the daughter of Pharaoh he is old enough to have learned of his true heritage, which he remembers during his years under Egyptian study and while living in the Palace.

Moshe as an adult sees an Egyptian TaskMaster beating a Hebrew and in a fit of anger, kills the Egyptian, thinking no one will ever know. But he is discovered, and flees for his life. Living in Midian he takes a wife and becomes a shepherd. He has a son and when he is 80 years old, he sees the burning bush and receives his calling from God.

He didn’t take to it right away, but Moshe does go to Egypt and God has his older brother, Aaron, also go with him. Moshe asks Pharaoh to release the children of Israel. Pharaoh refuses, and to show even more disregard for the people and their God, he orders that they maintain their daily quota of bricks but refuses to give them the straw needed, forcing them to take what little time they have to themselves and use it to gather the straw they need.  The people, understandably, were not too happy with Moshe and Aaron, and this parashah ends with Moshe asking God why He has made things even worse than before when He said He would free the people.

There is a small part of this I want to talk about today- it is in Chapter 3, verses 21 and 22. Here is what the Chumash has:

“And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians. And it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty: (22) but every woman shall ask of her neighbor, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment; and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians. (Italics added)”

In Deuteronomy 15:12 we are told that when a faithful servant leaves the master that the servant is to be equipped liberally by the master. Therefore, God is saying that the parting from the Egyptian peoples, not the royalty, but the people, should be friendly and compassionate.

Most interpretations are that the despoiling of the Egyptians is thought to be the overdue compensation for centuries of unpaid labor, and there is certainly some validity to that interpretation. However, we are told in Deuteronomy 23:8 that we “shall not abhor an Egyptian.” The hebrew word often translated as “spoil”, נצל , is found 212 times in the Tanakh, and in 210 of those times it is translated as to snatch from danger, to save. The Chumash, therefore, says the proper translation of the end of verse 22 in this chapter is to save the Egyptians, not despoil them. The fact that the children are to be the ones wearing these ornaments and jewels demonstrates that this is an act to be remembered throughout the generations.

I was amazed when I read this, and I believe this is a hermeneutically proper usage of the word “נצל” because God is a God of forgiveness and compassion, and even though there is a very strong argument that the Israelites were due compensation for their labors, it is more important to forgive and reconcile than to revenge and repay. The Israelites were going to save the Egyptians by asking them to provide their former slaves with gifts as they leave their service. How does this “save” the Egyptians? By letting them send away the Israelites with good feelings, with a clean slate, so to speak, and by letting the Israelites have the reminders of the generosity of the Egyptian people so that they will know it was the Pharaoh, not the people, who persecuted the Hebrews.

Saying that the Hebrews despoiled Egypt is to me an anti-Egyptian (if you will) interpretation, no different than the underlying anti-Semitic interpretation of the New Covenant writings, in which it sounds like the entire Jewish nation rejected and hated Yeshua, when in truth the people loved, listened to and followed Him. There were probably tens of thousands of followers of Yeshua at the time of His death and after His resurrection, yet the interpretations of the New Covenant books and letters make it sound like the entire nation wanted Him dead. It was only the political powers that were against Yeshua, not the people, not “the Jews”. It was the leaders, not the led.

This was true of the persecution of the Jewish people under Pharaoh during the time of Moses, and it was true of the persecution of the new Believers, the Messianic Jews, in Jerusalem during the first and second centuries.

Throughout the bible we see how the people suffered as a result of the sins of their leaders, we see this in the (subliminal) anti-Semitic teachings in the Christian world where so many Christians have been taught that Torah is invalid and doesn’t apply to them. Today, thank God, many Christians are becoming more aware of the fact that their Jewish roots are still valid, that Torah is still valid, and that it is not true that Yeshua died a Jew and then was resurrected as a Christian. The Epistles of Shaul are not polemics against the Torah, but apologetics for it. Yes, things will change, but the word of God does not change. Yeshua said that the world will pass away but His words will never pass away (Mark 13:31), and all of His words were in keeping with the Torah. More recently, we have had world wars, terrorism, James Jones, Charles Manson, etc.  People suffering for the sins of their leaders.

What this passage reminds us is this: leaders don’t always speak for the people. That sounds bad, doesn’t it? I mean, if that’s true then we elect people based on what they say they stand for and what they will do, but that doesn’t mean when they are in power they will keep their word. Oh, really? Duh!!

We have to be the leaders, not them. For a government, or for that matter, a company, an organization, even a sports team, to be true to it’s standards, the leadership must be subject to the people, not the other way around.

Gee, doesn’t that sound familiar? Didn’t Yeshua say as much when He told His Talmudim:

“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,…”   Mattitayu 20:26

The government in Moses’ day was hereditary; the government in Yeshua’s day was comprised of appointed leaders by a despotic ruler, and the legal leadership (Sanhedria) were mostly political “hacks” appointed by Herod and not true Levites. Today, we have elected officials.

But, when it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter if the ones in charge are there by heredity, by appointment, by election or by military coup: the leaders must be subject to the led. The organization, whether political or social or laic, must be an inverted triangle.

That is what God wants, that is how the bible shows us we should be organized. If you are in a position of leadership, you should lead by being an example, not an exception. You must lead by taking care of your people, with compassionate guidance, and by taking the responsibility for what happens. Rulership sucks- you have to do what the people want, and when that happens and something goes wrong, you have to take the responsibility for it. It’s essentially a “lose-lose”or a “win-win”: there is no middle ground.

We are beginning a new year today- although I think it is silly to teach that this is the time for making resolutions to change for the better. We shouldn’t make that an annual thing, it should be a daily thing. In any event, today’s lesson from the Word of God should encourage us to be both more understanding of those in leadership positions, and more attentive to what they do. We need to make sure that our leaders do what they said they would do, and that they be held accountable. The truth is that we, the people, are the leaders and the “leaders” we place in charge of us are just there to help facilitate things. But it’s our responsibility to make sure they do as we expect, and if they don’t, it’s our responsibility to place someone there who will.

I also confess I am as much to blame for this as anyone- I don’t follow politics much at all. I need to change, too.

I guaranty that if we start to successfully impeach and/or vote out of office those government officials who don’t do as we want, the ones that are there will realize their greatest shield against losing their job, which is our apathy, is no longer effective. And the ones we vote in will know they got there because their predecessor didn’t do what he or she was supposed to do and if they don’t, they will be out on their tuchas, too!

I am not preaching anarchy, I am preaching responsibility. As I said, we see throughout history how the people suffer for their government’s actions. If that is to be the case, then we should (at least) make sure those actions are what we want them to be.

God wanted the Egyptians to have the opportunity to be absolved of the horrible things their leaders did. The people certainly suffered much before the Jewish nation was set free, and to ask for gifts upon leaving the service, and to have the Egyptian people give those gifts willingly and generously, did save the people from the wrongdoing of their leaders.

Don’t accept what your government, corporate or (especially) religious leaders tell you without carefully reviewing and justifying the validity of what they say. Too often, for too long, people have been misled by the leaders they trust, so always make sure that you are aware of what you are being told.

Ultimately, it’s your butt on the line so you better make sure the ones you expect to keep it safe are doing their job.

Parashah Mikketz (and it came to pass) Genesis 41 – 44:17

Joseph is brought before Pharaoh, who has had the dreams of the 7 good cows and the 7 bad cows, and the 7 good ears of corn and the 7 bad ears of corn. Joseph interprets the dreams and even tells Pharaoh the best way to prepare for the famine to come.

Pharaoh recognizes Joseph’s ability to plan and organize, and immediately promotes him from Buck Private to Executive Officer over the entire land of Egypt. Joseph efficiently does what he said should be done and there is so much grain in the storehouses it can’t be measured. Then the famine comes, just as God had foretold through Joseph’s interpretation, and the land of Egypt is the only place in the world there is food.

Jacob hears of the food available in Egypt and sends his sons, all but Benjamin, to get food to keep them all alive. As they come to buy, Joseph is over-seeing the sales and making sure that everyone coming into the country is there peacefully. He sees his brothers, but they can’t recognize him; he is dressed as an Egyptian, speaks Egyptian and is the Grand Vizier- even if they thought he looked familiar, how they possibly even think that it could be their Hebrew brother running the entire land of Egypt?  They don’t know it’s Joseph, but Joseph knows it’s them. He treats them badly, accusing them of spying, and ends up keeping Simeon as a hostage until they verify their story about having another brother by bringing Benjamin to him.

Jacob is adamant that Benjamin not go anywhere, but when there is no food he has to relent. Reuben offers up his own two sons as collateral, but it is Judah’s promise to watch over Benjamin that Jacob accepts as trustworthy. They go back with Benjamin and Joseph treats them well, feeds them in his own house, then sets them up so that it appears Benjamin has stolen from him. The parashah ends with Benjamin found out a thief and to be held forever as the slave of Joseph.

Some people always try to demean and debunk the bible as nothing more than a storybook, but the details and historical accuracy of how Egyptians lived, the gold necklace, the re-naming of Joseph, all the details in this parashah indicate this is an historically and culturally accurate accounting.

Joseph is demonstrating here what Yeshua said to His Disciples in Mattitayu 10:16:

Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

He is testing the brothers to see if they have learned their lesson regarding the way they treated Joseph. He already has remembered his dreams of the brothers bowing down to him, as they were right then and there doing exactly that same thing. He has overcome in many ways the pain and suffering he felt, which we can see in how he named his children. His shrewdness is demonstrated in that he did not reveal himself, giving the brothers the chance to act sorry and ask forgiveness simply because of Josephs’ powerful position. He didn’t speak Hebrew, he acted totally Egyptian, and in an instant he planned out how to test their loyalty to Jacob and their love for Benjamin. He remembered their jealousy of him, and I think he reconciled it not to his own actions but to the favoritism he received from Jacob as the son of Rachel. Maybe Joseph was testing the brother’s loyalty and protection of Benjamin, the only other child Rachel had, because he might have thought they would have the same hatred and jealousy of Benjamin they had for him.

Joseph was very shrewd, and yet we see he was also very gentle. Even though he accused them of being spies and talked roughly with them (essentially he gave them the “third degree”) he supplied them with the food they needed as they returned to bring Benjamin to him. Returning their money, I believe, was out of kindness- although it made it even harder for them to return because they were afraid that Joseph would not only think them spies but thieves, as well, having taken the food without paying for it. I don’t get that part- they had to have given the money when they received the food, and if it was in their packs later I would think they would wonder how anyone could possibly know they didn’t pay for the food. If someone who was responsible for giving out the food allowed them to get food without paying, that person was in trouble, not them. I guess this shows how people can be fearful even when there is nothing to be afraid of. Or, perhaps, they were concerned because they really thought this was God’s doing, as is evident in the way they talked to each other when Joseph was accusing them. They said it was the recompense and justice they deserved for what they did to Joseph, and God was bringing this down on their heads. Perhaps, even though there was no way the Egyptians could have known they didn’t pay, they figured they would know, anyway, since God is bringing this about.

We don’t see the fullness of Joseph’s acting gentle with them until the next parasha, but the lesson here is that we should be forgiving of those that harm us, even if they don’t care whether we forgive them or not. In fact, forgiveness has nothing to do with what the sinner feels. Joseph named his children Manasseh (God has made me forget all the trouble I have gone through) and Ephraim (God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction), demonstrating his acceptance of his life in Egypt and having forgotten the painful way he got there. He had already forgiven his brothers, he was gentle with them in his “mistreatment” because he wasn’t being vengeful, he was only testing them.

God tests us, too, and just as Joseph’s apparent cruelty was only an act, when we suffer through testing, God is not angry or vengeful, He is lovingly watching what we do so He can be ready to reward us when we pass the testing. He wants us to pass, He wants us to do what He has told us we should do, and when we fail, I am sure He is disappointed, but already thinking of a testing that is less harsh. We must pass through the fire to become purified, and if there is so much dross in us that we can’t be purified in a single testing, then we will go through the fire over and over and over until we are pure.  God is doing this to us out of love: we need to remember that when it feels more like punishment.

Joseph is showing us that we can forgive but still be wary; we can allow others back into our lives when they are repentant but we don’t have to trust them again until they prove their worth. Joseph had forgiven his brothers, but he needed to give them the opportunity to prove their repentance and trustworthiness so he could not just forgive, but accept them back into his life.

If there is someone who has done you wrong, do not wait for them to ask forgiveness- forgive them now. Remember what David said, even after he committed adultery with Bat Sheba and then planned Uriah’s death to cover it up: he said (in Psalm 51) that his sin was against God, and against God alone. The sin we commit may seem to be against someone, but it is really against God, and every single sin we commit has to be reconciled with God. When God forgives us, we are spiritually “saved” from the consequences. We will always, and I mean always, suffer the consequences of the sins we commit in the physical world, and we still need to ask those we sin against to forgive us.

Here’s the way forgiveness works: the only forgiveness that counts is the forgiveness we receive from God. That’s because we are not commanded to ask forgiveness, we are commanded to forgive. What that means is that if you sin against someone, you need to get yourself right with God first, then you can ask that person for forgiveness. However, it doesn’t really matter (from a spiritual viewpoint) if they forgive you or not. If they do, they are then making themselves right with God; if they don’t, they are sinning against God! To forgive is a commandment. If you feel someone doesn’t deserve to be forgiven, you are placing yourself above God! If God is willing to forgive, then you better be willing to forgive, too. Your willingness to forgive someone is between you and God- they are out of the equation. Once they sinned against you, they’re no longer important- now it is between you and God, and He wants you to forgive them. As for God forgiving them, well, that’s between them and God, and you have no part of that.

You know, we can learn a lot from from Joseph about forgiveness, and also about accepting where God has placed you.

Parashah Va-ethchanan (I Pleaded) Deuteronomy 3:23 – 7:11

This parashah continues the First Discourse of Moshe, which is the chronology of the travels of the Israelites and starts to go into the Second Discourse, the foundations of the covenant.

Moshe gives us in 6:4 – 9 the Shema and V’Ahavta, the watchword of Judaism: “Hear, oh Israel; the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.” The next statements tell us how to act everyday, to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and might, to talk of His laws when we rise, sleep, go out, come in, and to keep His commandments on our hearts and minds and doorposts of our houses.

These statements are repeated together at every Jewish Shabbat service. The most used interpretation of the word echad (one) at the end of the Shema is not what I think it should be, and that is because I agree with the interpretation of R. Rashbam, which is that ‘echad’ should be interpreted as “alone.”

To say that the Lord is one is not so different from the other paganistic religions of the day. I say that because we read in the bible that many pantheistic rulers agreed that the God of the Israelites was a powerful god and He was their god, indicating they believed that, geographically, Adonai was the god worshipped in Israel. If the Israelites say He is their god, and He is one, that simply means that Adonai is a singular god. He is one, not many.

But, if we interpret ‘echad’ as ‘alone’, then we have more than a statement of singular worship- we have a statement of monotheistic truth. The Lord is our God,  the Lord, alone. That meaning is, to me, much more clearly a statement that there isn’t any other God for us. It doesn’t insult or deny the religious beliefs of those nations surrounding Israel, but it does make the point that the jewish peoples do not recognize and will not worship any other gods. That is in keeping with the 2nd commandment about not worshipping any other gods.

The 2nd Commandment doesn’t really state that there aren’t other gods, for in fact, there were. Not that they existed in reality, but they existed in the culture and beliefs of the people surrounding the Jews. God didn’t tell us that He is the only god, He told us not to have any other gods before us. This may sound a little weird, almost as if I am acknowledging the existence of other gods, which I am NOT doing- I am saying that, as a form of tolerance for others, God did not deny their beliefs but simply told His people that they should worship Him, alone. Him, and only Him.

The history of Adonai’s blessing and power and miracles, when compared to the other, false gods of the nations, demonstrates that God, our God, is the only god.

So, I would prefer to use ‘alone’ at the end of the Shema. And, if I ever lead a congregation, I will.

Here’s something really interesting: first we need to know that in the Torah, the Ayin at the end of the word shema is written extra large, as is the Dalet at the end of echad. The Chumash I use (the Soncino Pentateuch and Haftorahs) notes this and says that this was to make sure the words were used correctly, i.e. ‘one’ for echad and ‘hear’ for shema (the difference between ‘hear’ and ‘perhaps’ is that the last letter for perhaps is an Aleph.)

The interesting thing is that when you put these two letters together, Ayin followed by Dalet, you get the word “ed”, which means ‘witness’. So, the last letter of the first word in the Shema and the last letter of the last word of the Shema, together form the word “witness”, which is exactly what the Shema is- a witness to the singularity and uniqueness of the Lord God, Almighty. And every time we repeat it we are all witnesses to the fact that Adonai is our God, and He is the only God.

One last thought for the day: God tells us to worship Him alone, and the Shema reminds us that He is the one, true God, Him alone. It doesn’t tell us we are to tell everyone else that their gods are false or that they are wrong. That won’t win anyone over. Today there aren’t that many pantheistic religions left, but there are monotheistic religions that are not teaching the truth about God. When trying to win people over to the truth about the salvation we have through Messiah Yeshua, we need to demonstrate it by being living examples of His love, mercy, compassion, power, and unique ability to change lives. We need to show what being Born Again did for us and not to tell others what they believe is wrong. Let them see in your life and how you live the truth of God’s salvation.