Biblical Studies, Christian Community, Conceptions, Ebenezer, Exegesis, story, Theology, Uncategorized, Worship

Soul, Speak!

“Soul, Speak!”
by Eric B. Dixon

Father, close my lips that I might show forth Your praise!
Deafening silence amplifies a fortissimos life,
As one conversant with the stain of an untimely utterance.

Father, close my lips that I might show forth Your praise!
Solicitous humility echoes resounding muteness,
As one who knows the miraculous in Annunciation.

Father, close my lips that I might show forth Your praise!
Universal ken refashions a turgid tongue,
As She whose soul sings and heart harbors Treasure.

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“Mary” by Margaret Adams Parker

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Antiquity, Biblical Studies, Hillel, Image of God, Pharisee

Made in the Image of God: Hillel’s Teaching on Caring for the Body and Loving Others

Hillel

Introduction

As a near contemporary with Jesus, Hillel was considered the most important figure in pre-70 c.e. Pharisaism. Hillel was born in Babylonia around the first century b.c.e., during the time of Roman occupation and control in Israel. During this time four major religious sects or parties were present in Israel: the Essenes, Herodians, and the two prominent parties, the Pharisees and Sadducees. Pharisees were the major of the two prominent parties focusing on the primacy of the Torah and their leaders offering expertise in interpreting the Torah. As a Pharisee, Hillel contributed to the transformation of the Pharisees from a political party to what Jacob Neusner describes as a “table-fellowship sect.” As a pioneer for the Pharisaic tradition, Hillel is attributed with particular interpretations of the Law pertaining to the image of God and the human body.

In this post I explore Hillel’s teachings on caring for the body and loving others as they are directed from his view of humans being made in the image of God. Furthermore, I hope to accentuate that Hillel derived his instructions from the book of Genesis that sees the human body as reflecting the goodness of God in creation. This study is presented in three parts: 1) Hillel’s predecessors and background, 2) Hillel’s teachings on caring for the body and loving others based on the image of God, and 3) Hillel’s influence and differences in interpretation.

 

I. Hillel’s Predecessors and Background 

Desiring to continue his study of the Torah, Hillel moved from Babylonia to Jerusalem around 60 b.c.e. and studied under two Pharisee sages, Shemaya and Avtalyon. Shemaya the Nasi (“the Prince”) and Avtalyon the Av Beit-din (the Head of the Supreme Religious Court) were considered the two great interpreters of the Torah during this time, dual leaders of the Sanhedrin and the Pharisees, and over the popular religious community.

According to legend, Hillel studied under Shemaya and Avtalyon for a period of forty years then returned to Babylonia for a period of time. Upon Hillel’s return to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, there was controversy over interpreting the Torah because the festival of Passover fell on the Sabbath that year. Through the prestige of studying under the two sages, Shemaya and Avtalyon, Hillel was elevated to Nasi because he interpreted the Torah to solve the dilemma asserting that precedence of the festival of Passover was to be practiced over the Sabbath.

 

II. Hillel’s Teachings on Caring for the Body and Loving Others Based on the Image of God

Having considered Hillel’s predecessors and background, I now turn to Hillel’s teachings on caring for the body and loving others based on the image of God.

Hillel viewed the human body as a sacred gift from God. Jonathan Schofer notes in his work Confronting Vulnerability: The Body and the Divine in Rabbinic Ethics that, “Hillel’s teachings center on humans being in the image of God, a highly influential motif that builds on Genesis 1:26-28 and 9:5-7.” Israel Knohl, in his book The Messiah before Jesus: The Suffering Servant of the Dead Sea Scrolls, notes Hillel’s appreciation for human dignity and equality based on humans being in the image of God. Knohls says,  “the source of Hillel’s spiritual audacity was his awareness of the religious implications of the creation of human beings in the image of God.”

For Hillel, humanity being created in the image of God necessitates his love for others. Yitzhak Buxbaum, in his book The Life and Teachings of Hillel, details Hillel’s view in saying, “love of neighbor is itself derived from an even greater principle: that man is made in the image of God; and a religiously inspired love of man flows from the more fundamental love of God.” Buxbaum says, “That Hillel considered the commandment to love people as based on their being made in God’s image can be seen in two ways: first, by his use, in his theme-saying, of ‘loving the creatures(briyot), rather than other possibilities, to refer to people in general. This Hebrew word briyot directly suggests that man is created in the image of God.” The second reason Buxbaum identifies is Hillel’s teaching that a person should lovingly treat and care for their own body since they are made in the image of God. With these two reasons Buxbaum concludes, “If he [Hillel] taught about the image of God in connection with this somewhat unusual duty of love, it seems certain that he based the more straightforward obligation to love one’s neighbor on his being made in God’s image.” Buxbaum’s rational is seen and developed through two different accounts in Hillel’s teachings on humans being made in the image of God.

“The Story of the Bathroom and the Bathhouse” 

In his story of going to the bathroom to wash his hair and the bathhouse to bathe in preparation for the coming Sabbath, Hillel expresses his concern for the body as representing the image of God. Paul Patterson notes in his book Visions of Christ: The Anthropomorphite Controversy of 399 Ce that, “when asked why he regarded bathing a religious duty, Hillel refers to the imago Dei: ‘If the statues of kings are scoured and washed by the man appointed to look after them …[and who as a result] is exalted in the company of the great – how much more shall I, who have been created in the image and likeness; as it is written, “For the image of God made he man.’” Buxbaum notes, “Hillel considered attention to body cleanliness as being a part of one’s service of God and as showing honor to the image of God. As an old Rabbinic teaching states: ‘A person should wash his face hands and feet everyday for the honor due to his Creator, as it says: ‘For his own sake did the Lord create every thing.’ (Proverbs 6:14).’” Buxbaum notes that cleanliness has spiritual aspects and that Hillel’s motives were probably complex; nevertheless, Hillel’s motive was his understanding that he was to care for his own body because it did not belong to him, but to God.

“The Parable of the Statues”

In his “parable of the statues,” Hillel reflects on the reimbursement of those who maintain statues and relates their care for the statues to caring for the human body that is the “seat” of the human soul.  Buxbaum explains this idea of the body being the “seat” of the human soul in saying, “Hillel’s point was not that the body itself is in the image of God (who is incorporeal), but that a person’s soul is in God’s image, and the body must be honored because it is the ‘seat’ of the soul. Essentially, the concepts of the image of God and the human soul are referring to the same thing.” Hillel referred to his soul as a “house guest.” Buxbaum acknowledges that, “when Hillel said each time that he was ‘going to do a kindness (hesed) for the house guest,’ his soul, what that was in any particular instance is not stated, but his intention was exactly the same as when he said at other times: ‘I am going to do a mitzvah.’ Every deed should be a mitzvah, and every mitvah is a kindness to the soul and benefits the soul (and sometimes also the body).” Hillel’s view of the body differed from the Essenes who viewed the body as a prison for the soul. Buxbaum says, “The more moderate and life-affirming Pharisee Hillel saw it [the body] as a ‘temporary home’ where the soul is somewhat an uncomfortable ‘guest.’ When Hillel spoke of the ‘poor’ soul, he probably meant that, although the body provided poor ‘lodging,’ the heavenly soul is still able to receive ‘good hospitality’ if a person is righteous and cares for it properly.”

For Hillel, “the story of the bathroom and the bathhouse” and “the parable of the statues” exemplifies his understanding and teaching that humans were created in the image of God and because of this, care for the body is essential. Buxbaum notes that, “Hillel’s parable about the statues and his lesson show his appreciation for the teaching that humans are made in the image of God. The Torah says, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself’ –a person must love himself, since he too is made in the image of God.” Hillel’s understanding of his own body being made in the image of God influenced how he treated Gentiles. Hillel viewed all of humanity as sharing the status of equality and commonality in being made in the image of God. Joseph Telushkin notes in his book Hillel: If Not Now, When? that, “[Hillel’s] justification—that we are made in the image of God—is also of course a key to understanding the basis of his treatment of outsiders. He reasoned from his own body outward—the opposite of narcissist—and recognized that caring for others is also caring for God.”

 

III. Hillel’s Influence and Differences in Interpretation

Having explored Hillel’s teachings on caring for the body and loving others that derives from his view of humans being made in the image of God, I now turn to Hillel’s influence and differences in interpretation concerning care for the human body and others.

An individual that represented a different interpretation of the Torah than Hillel was Shammai. According to Stephen Wylen, “Shammai was the strict constructionist of the Pharisees while Hillel was the loose constructionist.” Hillel and Shammai had different views concerning the human body. In the story of the bathhouse, Hillel was concerned with caring for his body, while Shammai was concerned with fulfilling his duty. Buxbaum details this difference in saying that, “Hillel was pious from love of God and was kind even to his own body. Shammai was pious from fear of God and his excessive fear of sin made him wary of the body’s attraction to sense-pleasures.” Wylan explains that, “The Mishnah contains many disagreements between beit Hillel and beit Shammai. In almost every instance, the Hillelites give a lenient interpretation to the Torah law, and the Shammaites give a stringent interpretation.”

Other differences of interpretation extended beyond the Pharisees and involved other religious parties. In regards to slave ownership and liability of the owner if one’s slave were to damage someone else’s property, the Pharisees and Sadducees had varied interpretations of rights and responsibilities. Louis Finkelstein details that the Pharisees “respect for the dignity of man as homo sapiens made it impossible for them to countenance a law which made one man answerable to another’s deeds. To compare the slave to an ox or an ass was in itself a judicial insult: the one was human, the other a chattel.” In contrast to the Pharisees, the Sadducees were in favor of holding a slave’s owner responsible for damages and were unsympathetic to the principle of human equality. Another concern connected to human reverence was allocating work during the Sabbath to Gentiles. The Shammaites would not appropriate work to a Gentile on behalf of themselves during Sabbath. Their view was that if a Gentile worked on behalf of a Jew on the Sabbath, it was like the Jew was breaking the law to rest on that holy day.

 

IV. Conclusions

In this post I have explored Hillel’s teachings on caring for the body and loving others as they are directed from his view of humans being made in the image of God. Hillel taught that by loving humanity one was expressing love towards God. This teaching reflects Hillel’s view of humans being created in the image of God. By caring for his own body in the examples given above, Hillel taught his disciples that they should love their bodies so that they may also love others.

Hillel is known for the saying, “What is hateful for you, don’t do to your fellow man – that’s the whole Torah and the rest … is just a commentary on it. Go then and learn it!” Although Hillel is known for particular sayings such as this, there has been scholarly research done tracking the tradition of Hillel and Pharisaic presence prior to 70 c.e. In Neusner’s work The Rabbinic Traditions about the Pharisees Before 70 Part I: The Masters, he offers a detailed description of texts attributed to Hillel and evaluates Hillel’s teachings. Neusner says, “Despite the rich and impressive Hillel-tradition, however, we can hardly conclude that with Hillel the pre-70 Pharisees enter the pages of history. The traditions on Hillel do not lay considerable claim to historical accuracy about the life and sayings of Hillel himself. They provide an accurate account of what later generations thought it important to say about, or in the name of, Hillel.” Neusner continues, “If Hillel is the first Pharisee to emerge in the model of the later first-century Pharisees and later rabbis, that is because the rabbis adopted him and made him their own, not because in his day he managed effectively to transmit his sayings in the way in which later masters did.”

Although we do not know specifically the sayings of Hillel, we do recognize truth in the sayings that have been passed down through teachers who have been influenced by the Pharisaic tradition. Hillel’s teachings instruct us that to love and care for our bodies is to love and cherish the gift that God has given to all of us. To desecrate or defame another human being through violence or slander is to desecrate or defame someone who shares the image of God. If we truly care for our bodies like they are gifts from God that reflect his image, then it will not only affect how we treat our own bodies, it will also affect how we care for others.

 

Works Cited

Belford, Annie. A Teachers Guide To A Taste of the Text: An Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash. New York, NY:UAHC Press, 2003.

Buxbaum, Yitzhak. The Life and Teachings of Hillel. Lamhym, MD: Rowan & Littlefield Publisher, Inc., 2008.

Finkelstein, Louis. The Pharisees: The Sociological Background of Their Faith. Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1962.

Knohls, Israel. The Messiah before Jesus: The Suffering Servant of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Berkley, CA: University of California Press, 2000.

Neusner, Jacob. From Politics to Piety: The Emergence of Pharisaic Judaism. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1973.

——. The Rabbinic Traditions about the Pharisees Before 70 Part I: The Masters. Leiden, Netherlands: E.J. Brill, 1971.

Patterson, Paul. Visions of Christ: The Anthropomorphite Controversy of 399 Ce. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Seibeck, 2012.

Schofer, Jonathan. Confronting Vulnerability: The Body and the Divine in Rabbinic Ethics. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2010.

Telushkin, Joseph. Hillel: If Not Now, When?. New York, NY: Schocken Books, 2010.

Wylen, Stephen. The Seventy Faces of Torah: The Jewish Way of Reading the Scriptures. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2005.

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Biblical Studies

An Exegesis on Romans 4

Paul associates Abraham as their ancestor “according to the flesh.” He asks his readers “what is to be obtained by Abraham?” Even if Abraham was justified by works he would have something to boast about, but not before God (Rom 4:2). Paul begins his discourse by asking the reader a question, “For what does the scripture say?” Paul refers to Gen 15:6 where Abraham believes God and because he believes God, it was credited to him as righteousness.

For Paul, if one is considered righteous because of their works, then righteousness would not be a gift but something that is owed to one because of their deeds. He says that “to the one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness.” It is interesting that Paul uses the same word for “justifies” here, referring to the ungodly, that he uses in Rom 4:2 to refer to Abraham. Is Paul considering Abraham ungodly? This idea seems to be countered in Rom 4:20 when Abraham is depicted as giving “glory to God.”

What works did Abraham have prior to believing God’s promise to him that he would have many descendants? God gave the promise to Abraham while Abraham had nothing to offer God in return. Abraham was, so to speak, bankrupt. God calls the promise with Abraham into existence and is able to keep it (referring to God as the one who “calls into existence the things that do not exist.” – Rom 4:17).

Paul quotes Psalm 32:1-2 LXX to use David as an example of one who speaks of the “blessedness” of those “to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works.” Righteousness is not mentioned in this Psalm, nevertheless, Paul associates “blessedness” with the forgiveness of sins. Paul presents a second question, “Is this blessedness, then, pronounced only on the circumcised, or also on the uncircumcised?” Paul seems to use Socratic Method to present his argument to his readers in Rome. He acknowledges that those in Rome attest to the same interpretation of Gen 15:6 as he does. Paul affirms his readers that this is what “we” say in our interpretation of Gen 15:6.

In Rom 4:9b, Paul shifts his argument briefly to demonstrate that Abraham received “Faith” before he was circumcised. The main question is how and when did Abraham receive Faith? Did Abraham receive faith when it was reckoned to him as righteousness, before he was circumcised? Paul refers to circumcision as a “sign” of a seal that Abraham was considered righteous because of faith. For Paul, the purpose for Abraham receiving faith before he was circumcised was “to make him the ancestor of all who believe without being circumcised and who thus have righteousness reckoned to them” (Rom 4:11b). Paul adds that Abraham is also “the ancestor of the circumcised” whose circumcision is a sign of their following the example of faith that Abraham had before he was circumcised.

Since Paul has shown through scripture that Abraham received faith and therefore righteousness before circumcision, his argument now moves to “the promise” (Rom 4:13). For Paul, God’s promise (What does it mean to “inherit” the world? – following the argument from Gal 3, “the promise” is the Holy Spirit) did not come through the law (Mosaic or circumcision) but through “the righteousness of Faith.”

Paul argues that if those who keep the law are the ones who will inherit the world (the promise), then faith is nothing and the promise is “void” since the promise came before the law (Mosaic and circumcision) (Rom 4:14). It seems that Paul is arguing that the law brings “wrath” because no one is able to keep it fully, and that without a law there is no violation. Therefore, since there is a law and a violation of that law, then the promise depends on faith so that the promise rests on grace (Rom 4:16). Paul acknowledges that the promise is guaranteed to all “his” descendants, “not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham.” Interestingly, Paul equates those who would receive the promise by adhering to the law being the same as those who share the faith of Abraham. Is Paul referring to being united to Jesus Christ, the offspring of Abraham, that he mentions in Gal 3 as taking place in baptism? Paul speaks of those who “share the Faith of Abraham” in the presence of God. If Paul is referring to being united to Jesus Christ, then it is only because Jesus Christ has been given life from death that mortals would be able to exist in the presence of God in heaven.

“Hoping against hope” seems to stress the point that Abraham believed without seeing. Paul appeals to Abraham’s faith in God’s promise to him that he would become “the father of many nations” by highlighting Abraham’s inability to do anything on his own. Paul does this by directing attention to Abraham’s age (“as good as dead”) and Sarah’s barrenness. Paul portrays Abraham as completely trusting God’s ability “to do” what he had promised. God is doing, and Abraham is having faith that God is able to do what he promised. Therefore, Abraham received  righteousness through faith.

Paul is saying that Jesus was put to death for our violation (trespasses) of the law and was “raised to life for our justification.” Jesus’ resurrection along with his death together are necessary for our justification. Our justification comes through Faith, who is Jesus Christ. Paul is associating the faith of Abraham, by which he was justified, with Jesus Christ who was raised from death fulfilling the promise of God’s eternal covenant with Abraham and his descendants. Jesus Christ is reckoned to us as righteousness.

Paul’s words in Rom 4:

1. Flesh (4:1)

2. Justify/Justification (4:2, 5, 25)

3. Works (4:2, 4, 5, 6)

4. Do (4:21) [God is the one “doing” work]

5. Reckoned (4:3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 22, 23, 24)

6. Scripture (4:3)

7. Faith (4:5, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 19, 20, 22)

8. Ungodly/Glory to God (4:5, 20)

9. Believe (4:3, 11, 17, 18, 24)  [“being fully convinced” – 4:21]

10. Righteousness (4:3, 5, 6, 9, 11, 13, 22)

11. Gift (4:4)

12. Trust/Distrust (4:5, 20)

13. Blessedness (4:6, 7, 8, 9)

14. Circumcision (4:9, 10, 11, 12)

15. Sign-Seal (4:11)

16. Uncircumcision (4:9, 11)

17. Inherit/ heirs (4:13, 14)

18. Promise (4:13, 14, 16, 20, 21)

19. Law (4:13, 14, 15, 16)

20. Violation/Trespass (4:15, 25)

21. Wrath (4:15)

22. Grace (4:16)

23. Hope (4:18)

24. “Barrenness of Sarah’s womb” (4:19)

25. Dead/Death (4:17, 19, 24, 25)

26. Life, raised from death (4:17, 24, 25)

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Biblical Studies

An Exegesis On Galatians 3

ImageFollowing his rebuke of the Galatians in Gal 3:1, Paul begins constructing an argument against the Judaizers in Galatia who would have the Gentiles follow the law and become circumcised. The question posed by Paul in Gal 3:2 seems rhetorical and provides the thesis for Paul’s argument that the Gentile Galatians received the Spirit by believing what they heard and not by doing the works of the law. The question is posed and left up to the Galatians to answer based on Paul’s argument. If this is a rhetorical question then it can be presumed that the Galatians already understand that they received the Spirit “by believing” what they heard before there were any demands on them to become circumcised in order to keep the law.

Paul constructs his argument on the foundation that Abraham believed God, and God credited to him as righteousness. Following his quotation of Gen 15:6 LXX in Gal 3:6, Paul reveals that the descendants of Abraham are “those who believe” (οἱ ἐκ πίστεως). Furthermore, Paul argues that God planned to justify the Gentiles by faith before the law was written. Paul claims this in God’s declaration to Abraham that “all the Gentiles (τὰ ἔθνη) will be blessed in you (ἐν σοὶ).” Paul quotes part of Gen 22:18 LXX, but he does not mention right away that it is in Abraham’s seed (ἐν τῷ σπέρματι) that all the nations will be blessed. Paul later reveals that it is through Jesus Christ, the only “offspring” of Abraham, that the promise of God’s covenant, the Spirit, would come to all nations through faith (Gal 3:14-18). Paul closes his opening argument for belief over doing the works of the law by associating those who believe as being “blessed with Abraham who believed” (σὺν τῷ πιστῷ Ἀβραάμ).

The next progression in Paul’s argument is to reveal the role of Jesus Christ in redeeming all from the curse of the law. Paul asserts that through Jesus Christ the blessing of Abraham has come to the Gentiles so that God’s promise to Abraham, the Spirit, might be received by all through faith.

Paul states that “all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse.” Interpreting Deut 27:36, Paul argues that no one is able to “observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law.” He points out what is “evident” for everyone, that is, “no one is justified before God by the law,” because if they were they would live. In saying that “the righteous will live by faith,” Paul negates the possibility that there will be some who will be made righteous and alive through the law.

Furthermore, Paul insists that the law is separate from faith. He says, “the law does not rest on faith.” As evidence for this Paul quotes Lev 18:5 LXX asserting that if anyone was able to “do the works of the law,” then they would live by them. As Paul’s argument progresses, he will make this distinction between the law and faith once again (Gal 3:13-16). This is important for Paul’s argument that Jesus became a curse to alleviate the curse of the law for everyone. It seems evident that, for Paul, Jesus Christ’s resurrection is proof that life comes through faith and not through the law. He quotes and interprets Deut 21:23 LXX as evidence that according to the law Jesus is cursed because of the manner in which he was put to death. Paul interprets Jesus’ death on the cross to meet the criteria of Deut 21:23 LXX of one who is cursed. The curse of the law is broken for all because Jesus Christ was crucified to death and nevertheless lives.

Paul recalls two words (δικαιοσύνη and πιστεύουσιν) in Gal 3:21-22 that he used previously in Gal 3:6 when he quoted from Gen 15:6 LXX. Interestingly, Gal 3:6 and Gal 3:21-22 are the only two places in Galatians 3 that Paul specifically employs these words in reference to Gen 15:6 LXX. Paul’s use of δικαιοσύνη in Gal 3:21 calls the readers attention back to Gal 3:6 in order to conclude his argument that “if a law had been given that could make alive, then righteousness (δικαιοσύνη) would indeed come through the law.” Paul maintains that righteousness is not possible through the law, since no one could do all the works of the law because of sin (“scripture has imprisoned all things under the power of sin”). Therefore, Paul insists that righteousness and life only come through the Spirit, which is what was promised to Abraham through the faith of Jesus Christ so that it might be given to those who believe (πιστεύουσιν).

Throughout his argument, Paul associates Jesus Christ with faith itself. Furthermore, Paul denotes the revelation and coming of faith in Jesus Christ’ faith (Gal 3:14, 22-26). In Gal 3:22, I prefer the translation of πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ as “faith of Jesus Christ” rather than as “faith in Jesus Christ.” I think that “faith of Jesus Christ” conveys the importance of the faith of Abraham’s “offspring,” Jesus. Given the context of Paul’s argument in Gal 3:15-18 that Jesus Christ is the “offspring” of Abraham, it is probable that Paul wants the Galatians to understand that the faith of Abraham’s “offspring” has enabled faith for all people. Through Jesus Christ’s faith all may receive God’s promise to Abraham and thereby fulfill God’s blessing of “all the nations” in Abraham.  Therefore, what was promised (the Spirit) through the faith of Abraham’s “offspring” (Jesus Christ) might be given to all who believe (πιστεύουσιν), just as righteousness was credited to Abraham because he believed God. Jesus’ faith has enabled anyone to become a part of “the offspring” (Jesus Christ) of Abraham by believing the Word about Jesus’ death and resurrection and receiving God’s promise (the Spirit) through faith. We are “heirs to the promise” by becoming a part of the “offspring” of Abraham by faith, just like it was Abraham’s “offspring” who brought about the promise through faith. (see Acts 2 = the promise (Holy Spirit) was given to Jesus and Jesus pours out the promise to everyone!)

Paul cites several scriptural texts throughout Galatians 3 including: Gen 12:3, 7; 15:5-6; 17:8; 18:18; 22:17-18; Ex 12:40; Lev 18:5; 26:46; Num 36:13; Deut 21:23; 27:36; 33:2; Hab 2:4.  Paul signals these citations of scripture either through example (e.g., Abraham in Gal 3:6), God speaking (e.g., Gal 3:8), by referring to the law as “it is written” (e.g., Gal 3:10, 13), historical interpretation of Gen 15:6 (e.g., Gal 3:11), or by correcting a false claim (Gal 3:12, 16).

Paul’s use of the future, passive, indicative, ἐνευλογηθήσονται, in his citation of Gen 12:3, 18:18, and 22:18 LXX, may signify his understanding that the extension of the blessing of Abraham to the Gentiles has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  In his citation of Deut 27:26 LXX, Paul changes “all the words of this law” (πᾶσιν τοῖς λόγοις τοῦ νόμου τούτου) to “all the things written in the book of the law” (πᾶσιν τοῖς γεγραμμένοις ἐν τῷ βιβλίῳ τοῦ νόμου). This change may reflect Paul’s argument against the Mosaic law as whole. Everyone who does not obey and observe the whole Torah is cursed.

In Gal 3:11-12, Paul quotes Hab 2:4 and Lev 18:5. These two verses share a common word, ζήσεται (“live”). This is significant for the structure of Paul’s argument. Paul asserts throughout his argument that faith brings life through the Spirit. The law cannot bring life because no one can do all the works of law.

Paul interprets Deut 21:23 LXX in light of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. Although ὅτι κεκατηραμένος ὑπὸ θεοῦ πᾶς κρεμάμενος ἐπὶ ξύλου (“for anyone who is hanged on a tree is cursed by God”) in the context of Deuteronomy probably refers to one who is hanged from the neck or in the sun, Paul interprets Jesus Christ’s crucifixion to meet the requirements of a curse according to the law. In his citation of Deut 21:23 LXX, Paul leaves out “by God.” Paul may have omitted the words, “by God,” so that the Galatians would know that Jesus Christ was obedient to God in his death on the cross. Furthermore, that Jesus Christ’s faith freed them from the curse of the law to live through the Spirit by faith. Interestingly, Paul’s citations of Deut 21:23 and Deut 27:26 share a common term, ἐπικατάρατος (“cursed”).

According to BDAG, the range of meanings of διαθήκη include: “last will and testament,” “a will that has been ratified” (when used with κεκυρωμένην like in Gal 3:15),  “covenant” (used as a translation only when the thought communicates that it is God alone who sets the conditions – “a declaration of his purpose”), and “compact, contract.” The operative meaning in Gal 3:15 seems to be “a will that has been ratified,” since Paul is referring to God’s covenant with Abraham and his offspring. Paul does, however, seem to use διαθήκη to mean “covenant” in Gal 3:17. Translating διαθήκη as “covenant” in Gal 3:17 seems appropriate since Paul asserts that it is God who has set the conditions of the promise and ratified the covenant. Paul is recalling the condition in which God initiated a relationship with humans and more specifically, God’s covenant with Abraham. The covenant was not established with the law which came much later, but the covenant was established through God’s promise to Abraham.

In Gal 3:17, Paul makes the point that “the law, which came four hundred thirty years later, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.” This passage and the timeframe in which Paul places the giving of the law is further evidence that Paul is using the Septuagint and not the Hebrew text. By calculating the four hundred thirty years, Paul is including the Israelite sojourn in Egypt and the earlier period in Canaan within this time period. This makes Paul’s argument that the inheritance comes through God’s promise to Abraham and not through the law even more justifiable, since the law was given so much later than the promise. He asserts that the law was a “disciplinarian” (Gal 3:25 – παιδαγωγόν can also mean “tutor” or “guide”) “until the offspring would come to whom the promise had been made (Gal 3:19b).”

Based on Paul’s argument, it would be interesting to know whether or not Paul and Philo reflect a rational and appreciation for Abraham’s life that was common during the first century.  Did Paul understand the life of Abraham to be a model on which the law was written? Philo asserts that the written laws are “nothing more than a memorial of the life of the ancients (On Abraham).”  Furthermore, it seems that both Philo and Paul revere God’s response to Abraham’s belief to be a significant model on how to know and love God.

1]Michael Coogan, The New Oxford Annotated Bible, 3rd Ed. with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2001), 315 New Testament.

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Biblical Studies, Theology, Worship

Creation, the Establishment of Worship through God’s Good Work.

religiopoliticaltalk.comIntroduction:

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said to his disciples, “You are the light of the world.  A city built on a hill cannot be hid.  No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” [1]  Jesus declared to his disciples their identity and work in the world. The disciples were called “the light of the world,” and their work was to involve doing good works before others so as to bring glory to God. The Church was ordained by Christ to be God’s light, and shine God’s light by practicing good works for all of creation to see. As the author of light and good works, God created the natural processes in which good results stem from good works. Christ revealed to his disciples their identity in the world by appealing to their understanding of light’s role in Creation. In Creation, God spoke light into existence and separated it from darkness.  Just as all creation has seen the good work of God in creating light and separating it from darkness, so Christ called his disciples to be light separated from the dark state of creation. The disciples were to model God’s good work in Creation so that others would see their good works and give glory to God.  The disciples worshiped God in responding obediently to God’s greatest revelation of light, Jesus Christ. Creation responds to God’s revelation of good works that are done by Christ’s followers.

God established worship by revealing the good work of Creation to all created things. In response to God’s good work, all created things experience God’s goodness. God’s good work in Creation established Israel’s worship regimen.  In Exodus 34:21, the people of Israel were called to follow the paradigm of God’s good work in Creation by working for six days out of the week and resting on the seventh day. God’s good work in Creation also established worship for all humanity in the revelation of Jesus Christ. God’s revelation of Creation’s goodness to humanity culminated in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. God’s Spirit acknowledged the goodness of Creation to all people through Christ’s humanity.  “The word became flesh and dwelt among us.”[2]  In Jesus Christ’s humanity, God’s good work was revealed to all of creation as the means of restoration to God’s glory and goodness.

God’s order of Creation has been instrumental throughout history in dictating the worship of God. The Israelites were commanded to rest on the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, the day in which God rested after the good work of Creation was finished. Sunday has been the Church‘s designated day of worship since the 4th century and coincides with the first day of Creation on which God’s good work established light. God’s creation of light was also significant to the early Church because of God’s revelation of “the true light,”[3] Jesus Christ and his resurrection.  Justin Martyr, a second-century apologist, appealed to God’s Creation as a reason that the Church gathered on Sunday to worship when he told his pagan listeners, “we all hold this common gathering on Sunday since it is the first day, on which God transforming darkness and matter made the universe, and Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead on the same day.”[4]

God sees Creation as good, temporally, through the Holy Spirit’s revelation of Creation’s goodness to humanity.  Through the Holy Spirit’s revelation of Creation’s goodness to humanity, God initiates worship.  Humanity responds to God’s good work in Creation by extolling God, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works that I know very well.”[5]

In his Confessions, Saint Augustine reflects on the Genesis 1 account of God’s recognizing Creation as good.  Augustine reflects on the seven times that God declared the individual acts of Creation as good, and an eighth time, after Creation was complete, when God declared all of Creation as exceedingly good.  In Augustine’s questioning the nature of God’s work in time, Augustine discovers that God experiences the goodness of Creation through the Holy Spirit’s presence in humanity.  In Augustine’s reflection on the goodness of Creation, he says to God, “It is different for people who see creation through your Spirit, for you are seeing it through their eyes.  Thus when such people see that these things are good, you are seeing that they are good; whatever created things please them for your sake, it is you who are arousing this delight in these things; and anything that gives us joy through your Spirit gives you joy in us.”[6]

First Move: God’s Good Work in Creation established Worship for Israel.

Creation is God’s work of grace.  Karl Barth claims, “the very existence and nature of the creature are the work of the grace of God.”[7]  God’s selflessness models the nature and spirit of worship for humanity.  God acts, and creation responds by doing what it is created to do.  God’s acting is essentially God’s work in revealing creation’s purpose.  Barth says, “creation is the road to the covenant,… The covenant is the internal basis of creation…. This consists in the fact that the wisdom and omnipotence of God the Creator was not just any wisdom and omnipotence but that of His free love…. The fact that the covenant is the goal of creation is not something which is added later to the reality of the creature…. It already characterizes creation itself and as such, and therefore the being and existence of the creature.”[8]

A commandment that God gave to the Israelites that stemmed directly from God’s good work in Creation, is found in Exodus 34:21, which says: “Six days you are to work, and on the seventh day you are to rest. Even in ploughing time and in crop harvest, you are to rest.”[9]  This passage identifies God’s work in Creation as the establishment of worship.  God’s good work establishing worship in Creation is evident in the study of the Hebrew word, avad, in the context of Exodus 34:21.

In Exodus 34:21, the word ta’avod is taken from the verb root avad that means “work, serve,” and in many English translations of this passage the word ta’avad is translated as “work.”

The word avad comes from an Aramaic word which means “worship, obey (God).”[10]  The word ta’avod in Exodus 34:21, is related to the root avad in that it is absolute and means “labour, work, do work.”  The word ta’avod is the Qal, prefix, 2nd person, masculine, singular and seems to take the imperfect form.  Other possible translations similar to the word ta’avod that are absolute are “work for another, serve him by labour,” “serve as subjects,” “serve God or serve other gods,” or “serve with Levitical service.”  In the Niphal stem, the root avad can be translated “be tilled,” “cultivated,” or “make oneself a servant.”  In the Pual stem, the root avad can be translated “has been worked” or “was worked.”  In the Hiphil stem, the root avad can be translated “compel to labour,” “make to serve,” or “cause to serve.” In the Hophal stem the root avad can be translated “be led to serve” or “enticed to serve.”[11]

The idea of “work” for God in the Old Testament constituted allegiance to God by doing what God desired.  The command to live righteously and justly is a command to worship God through actions.  The Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament describes serving God as inseparable from being human.  To be human is to serve God.  “Being human without serving God is as impossible as being human without being active.  In the OT, “serving God” comprehensively describes relationship to God.”[12]

The correlation between “worshiping” and “serving” God is so closely connected to humanity’s living life that it is inseparable from being a part of everyday living.  What people do six days a week in “working,” “laboring,” and “serving” is for and because of humanity’s relationship with their Creator.  “Since ‘serving God’ indicates one’s relationship to God as a whole, it cannot mean ‘to do God a service.’  Instead, it signifies acknowledgment of God as Lord, an acknowledgment that requires one’s entire existence.”[13]

The Exodus 34:21 passage describes a renewal of God’s covenantal relationship with Israel.  In the verses before 21, there are pronouncements to do away with the worship of other gods to worship only Yahweh.  The culmination of these pronouncements seems to be verse 21, when the passage depicts a week long/total existence of “service/worship” to Yahweh.  “The rhythm of worship and rest following six days of work (21), in a close parallel to 23:12, with the addition of a statement not found elsewhere in the OT, that the rhythm of seventh-day rest is not to be interrupted even by the busiest work-seasons, plowing time and harvest time-this requirement, which would certainly have set Israel apart.”[14]

This type of work ethic would be contrary to the rest of the world’s laboring work requirements.  The command seems to indicate a day of rest for reflection on the previous six days just as God did after creating all things.  The command also seems to call for a reestablishment of purpose, “to serve/worship the one true God, Yahweh,” for the next six days and remain in the covenant.

The Torah contains several clues for translating ta’avod as “worship” in Exodus 34:21. In Deuteronomy 6:13, the word ta’avod is translated as “worship.”  This passage is a part of the shema, which Israel would use in worship everyday, not just one day a week.  In Deuteronomy 7:16, the word ta’avod is translated as “worship” to command the people of Israel not to worship other gods.  This passage echoes the call of Exodus 34:21, in that, it pertains to the fulfilling of the covenantal relationship setup in Exodus 34.  In Deuteronomy 10:20, the word ta’avod is translated as “worship” to command the people of Israel to worship only God and to remain faithful to the covenantal relationship with Him.[15]

The Israelites were to worship according to the model of God’s work in Creation.  God’s good work in Creation was prompted by covenant.  In Israel’s disobedience and worshiping of false gods, God calls them to remember who created all things and to remain in the covenant instituted by Creation in God’s love for them.

Second Move: God’s Good Work in Creation established Worship for all People.

The purpose of humanity’s creation and the establishment of worship are seen through the covenantal relationship that God established in Creation and fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  Barth says, “Divine creation is divine benefit. What takes shape in it is the goodness of God.”[16]  In Creation, God’s purpose is to reveal the ultimate goodness of Jesus Christ as a benefit for all created beings in order to secure the covenant between God and humanity.

In reflecting on Christ and the goodness of God’s work in Creation Augustine says, “in your Word, Your only Son, we saw them severally as good and collectively as exceedingly good; for what we saw was heaven and earth, the Head and the body of the Church which you predestined before time began, when there was neither morning nor evening.”[17]  If covenant is the purpose of Creation, and worship is God’s revelation to humanity and humanity’s response, then Jesus Christ is the purpose of Creation and initiates all worship.  Paul details Jesus’ work in Creation to the church in Colossae in writing, “For in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers-all things have been created through him and for him.”[18]  Jesus Christ is the ultimate revelation of God’s love for creation because in Jesus Christ, God became human.  The purpose and means of creation is Jesus Christ, and in him, all of creation sees God’s work of goodness within creation.

Christ became human to glorify God within creation.  In the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the plan of God’s redemptive work in the world is seen.  The German word for worship, Gottesdienst (“God’s service and our service to God”), “reflects a God who ‘emptied himself, taking the form of a slave’ (Phil. 2:7) and our service to such a God.”[19]  In the Incarnation, the Creator embodies the created and proclaims, “See, I am making all things new!”[20]

Jeremy Begbie details creation’s restoration through Christ’s resurrection in saying that, “On the third day, the destruction and distortion are transfigured and redirected.  In Christ, all that is ugly and subversive in the cosmos has been purified, beautified and fulfilled.  Therein lies the promise for the transformation of all things.  Like our bodies, which will be changed in resurrection from physical to spiritual bodies while still remaining bodies, creation will be remade by the God who promises never to let it go.”[21]  Paul communicated this restoration of the world in Christ to the Corinthian Church in saying, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see everything has become new!”[22]  Paul continues in saying that in receiving the Holy Spirit of Christ, the Church is given “the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself.”[23]

In Christ, there is new creation, because in Christ, creation is restored to God’s glory and goodness.  Begbie explains the significance of Christ’s work for the restoration of creation in saying, “the goal of transformation is clearly best thought of as re-creation, rather than ‘a return to Eden’, to what ‘once was’, a status quo ante.  The entire universe is summoned by the Spirit to a new future, a destiny not given ‘in the beginning’, a destiny centred – as the book of Revelation reminds us so clearly – on the one who says ‘Behold, I make all things new’.”[24]

The Church embodies Christ’s restoration through the sacramental worship practice of Baptism.  In Baptism, the disciple responds to God’s revelation in Christ’s resurrection.  James White says, “After Easter, lessons from the book of Acts are read as the story of the new creation begins with the resurrection.”[25] In Baptism, the follower of Christ accepts death with the promise of a new life, Christ’s life. Bonhoeffer describes this death as “not the act of an angry Creator finally rejecting his creation in his wrath, but the gracious death which has been won for us by the death of Christ; the gracious assumption of the creature by his creator.”[26]

The visible act of Baptism puts to death the individual’s life in exchange for the resurrected life of Christ. The individual, through the work of the Holy Spirit, is then a part of Christ’s Body in the world, the Church. The Baptized Church is alive and united in the Body of Jesus Christ. Through the death of baptism, the Church’s goodness and newness is being restored by God’s good work in Jesus Christ’s incarnation, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension.

Conclusion:

Jesus Christ is the purpose of God’s Creation.  God’s good work in Creation is directed to humanity by the covenant and benefit of Jesus Christ. Christ is the greatest possible revelation of God to humanity; therefore, Christ is humanity’s greatest response to God in worship. Worship is established in Creation by God’s good work through and for Jesus Christ.

If worship is God’s good work in restoring all creation to God’s image and glory through Jesus Christ, then the followers of Christ are called to worship God through extending God’s work of restoration to all Creation. This is evident in the book of James, “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.”[27] In the example of Abraham, James says, “You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works.”[28] Faith is only possible through God’s good work in creation. James continues, “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.”[29]

Works is the spirit that brings the body of faith to life.  If faith is defined in Jesus Christ, then Christ’s followers proclaim their faith through their good works. We act out the goodness of God through works, because we have faith that God is restoring all of creation to a newness that has been actualized in the resurrected body of Jesus Christ. The world sees our good works and glorifies God by taking part in the restoration of God’s glory to all creation through the Holy Spirit. If Christ’s followers do not practice good works for the world to see and give glory to God in heaven, then their faith is dead, and left lifeless before the power of God that is established in Jesus Christ’s resurrection.

The Resurrection is the power of God to restore goodness! God is revealing, through the Church, the revelation of Christ to the world so that the world may respond. In worship, Christ’s followers actuate God’s restoration of goodness and newness to all creation, by responding to God’s revelation of Jesus Christ’s resurrection in this world, with good works. The act of Creation is worship to God because of God’s good work in and through the created work.

 

The heavens are telling the glory of God;

and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.” – Psalm 19:1

 


[1] Matt. 5:14-16 (NRSV)

[2] Jn. 1:14 (NRSV)

[3] See Jn. 1:9 (NRSV)

[4] Cyril Richardson, ed., Early Church Fathers  (Philidelphia: Westminster Press, 1953), 96.

[5] Psalm 139:14 (NRSV)

[6] Saint Augustine, Confessions (New York: Vintage Spiritual Classics, 1998), 337.

[7] Karl Barth. Church Dogmatics (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994), 150.

[8] Barth. Church Dogmatics, 151.

[9] John I. Durham, Exodus. Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 3. (Waco: Word, 1987), 456.

[10] Francis Brown, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Glasgow: Oxford University Press, Amen House, London E.C.4, 1957), 712.

[11] Brown, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, 712-713.

[12] Ernst Jenni, Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1997), 829.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Durham, Exodus. Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 3, 461.

[15] Abraham Even-Shoshan, A New Concordance of the Bible: Thesaurus of the Language of the Bible Hebrew and Aramaic Roots, Words, Proper Names, Phrases, and Synonoyms (Jerusalem: “Kiryat Sefer” Publishing House LTD., 1985), 818.

[16] Barth. Church Dogmatics, 152.

[17] Augustine, Confessions, 340.

[18] Col. 1:16 (NRSV)

[19] James F. White, Introduction to Christian Worship (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2000), 26.

[20] Rev. 21:5 (NRSV)

[21] Jeremy Begbie, Voicing Creation’s Praise: Towads A Theology of the Arts (London: T & T Clark, 2003), 175.

[22] 2 Cor. 5:17 (NRSV)

[23] 2 Cor. 5:18-19 (NRSV)

[24] Begbie, Voicing Creation’s Praise: Towads A Theology of the Arts, 175.

[25] White, Introduction to Christian Worship, 76.

[26] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (New York: SCM Press Ltd., 1959), 232.

[27] Jas. 2:18 (NRSV)

[28] Jas. 2:22 (NRSV)

[29] Jas. 2:26 (NRSV)

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Biblical Studies

Is Work Worship?

Manuscript leaf of Genesis in Hebrew (communities.washingtontimes.com)

What is the best translation of the root word avad in Exodus 34:21?

 In many English translations of this passage the root avad is translated as “work.” Are there other possibilities for translating the root avad within Exodus 34:21, which says: “Six days you are to work, and on the seventh day you are to rest. Even in plowing time and in crop harvest, you are to rest.”[1]

In Exodus 34:21, the word ta’avod is taken from the verb root avad that means “work, serve.” The word avad comes from an Aramaic word which means “worship, obey (God).”[2] The word ta’avod in Exodus 34:21, is related to the root avad in that it is absolute and means “labour, work, do work.” Other possible translations similar to the word ta’avod that are absolute are “work for another, serve him by labour,” “serve as subjects,” “serve God or serve other gods,” or “serve with Levitical service.” In the Niphal stem, the root avad can be translated “be tilled,” “cultivated,” or “make oneself a servant.” In the Pual stem, the root avad can be translated “has been worked” or “was worked.” In the Hiphil stem, the root avad can be translated “compel to labour,” “make to serve,” or “cause to serve.” In the Hophal stem the root avad can be translated “be led to serve” or “enticed to serve.”[3]

Related parts of speech that use the root avad are eved as a noun and eved as a proper name. The noun eved can be translated in certain Old Testament texts as “slave, servant,” “subjects,” “servants, worshippers,” “servant of ‘y’, in a special sense like Levitical singers using benedictions in the temple,” “servant of ‘y’, as having a mission to the nations and chosen witness of ‘y’,” “Thy servant: in polite address of equals or superiors,” and “become servant to.”[4] The proper name eved is translated in certain Old Testament texts as “servant of God,” “worshipper,” “servant of (god) Edom,” and “servant of man.”[5]

There are other possible clues from different sources to interpreting the root word avad in Exodus 34:21 as “worship.” The idea of “work” for God in the Old Testament constituted allegiance to God by doing what God desired. The call to live righteously and justly is a call to worship God by our actions. The Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament describes serving God as intrinsically inseparable from being human. To be human is to serve God. “Being human without serving God is as impossible as being human without being active. In the OT, “serving God” comprehensively describes relationship to God.”[6] The correlation between “worshiping” and “serving” God is so closely connected to humanity’s living life that it is inseparable from being a part of our everyday living. What we do six days a week in our “working,” our “laboring,” our “serving” is for and because of our relationship, as a part of humanity, to the one and only God our Lord. “Since ‘serving God’ indicates one’s relationship to God as a whole, it cannot mean ‘to do God a service.’ Instead, it signifies acknowledgment of God as Lord, an acknowledgment that requires one’s entire existence.”[7] There is evidence of the covenantal language in Exodus 34:21 because this passage describes God’s renewal of His covenantal relationship with Israel. In the verses before 21, there are pronouncements to do away with the worship of other gods to worship only Yahweh. The culmination of these pronouncements seems to be verse 21, when the passage depicts a week long/total existence of “service/worship” to Yahweh. “The rhythm of worship and rest following six days of work (21), in a close parallel to 23:12, with the addition of a statement not found elsewhere in the OT, that the rhythm of seventh-day rest is not to be interrupted even by the busiest work-seasons, plowing time and harvest time-this requirement, which would certainly have set Israel apart.”[8] This type of work ethic would be contrary to the rest of the world’s social work requirements. The command seems to indicate a day of rest for reflection on the previous six days just as God did after creating all things. The command also seems to call for a reestablishment of purpose, “to serve/worship the one true God, Yahweh,” for the next six days and remain in the covenant.

Other possible clues for translating ta’avod as “worship” in Exodus 34:21, come from other passages of scripture within the Torah that translate the root word avad as “worship.” In Deuteronomy 6:13, the word ta’avod is translated as “worship.” This passage is a part of the shema, which Israel would use in worship everyday, not just one day a week. In Deuteronomy 7:16, the word ta’avod is translated as “worship” to command the people of Israel not to worship other gods.  This passage echoes the call of Exodus 34:21, in that, it pertains to the fulfilling of the covenantal relationship setup in Exodus 34. In Deuteronomy 10:20, the word ta’avod is translated as “worship” to command the people of Israel to worship only God and to remain faithful to the covenantal relationship with Him.[9]

We must remain in a posture of humility before scripture, entrusting it as the authority of God’s word in our lives. Word study enriches our appreciation for understanding the depth of scripture. As followers of Christ we must engage people by applying God’s word to our own lives within the community. In studying the word avad, we can understand our worship to God as a continual action that envelops our whole being. Understanding worship in this way helps us enact passages in the NT, like 1 John 3:18, as acts of true worship to our God. I am curious about Paul’s thought process in Romans 12, and whether or not he was thinking back to the original covenantal call to worship God in Exodus 34, by the offering of ourselves as “living sacrifices” everyday. If we truly understand the “worship” of God, identified in the Hebrew text as “service/work,” it will change how we, who are the church, engage one another for God, through Christ, everyday of the week.

Blessings and Peace,

eric


[1] Durham, John I. Exodus. Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 3. Waco, Texas: Word, 1987. (pg. 456) [2] Brown, Francis. A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament. Glasgow, Great Britain: Oxford University Press, Amen House, London E.C.4, 1957. (pg. 712.) [3] Brown, 712-713. [4] Brown, 714. [5] Brown, 714. [6] Jenni, Ernst. Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1997. (pg. 829) [7] Jenni, 829. [8] Durham, 461. [9] Even-Shoshan, Abraham. A New Concordance of the Bible: Thesaurus of the Language of the Bible Hebrew and Aramaic Roots, Words, Proper Names, Phrases, and Synonoyms. Jerusalem, Israel: “Kiryat Sefer” Publishing House LTD., 1985. (pg. 818.)

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