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DEATH BEFORE THE FALL? LOOKING AT THE HEBREW

One of the questions I receive when speaking to someone about sin and death is, “When did death enter into creation? Was death always around or did it come at the fall?” These questions are important because many pastors teach that sin and death came into creation at the fall and was not present from the beginning. I will be answering these questions from the Hebrew text and explain the only possible interpretation for these answers from the Hebrew. Let us look at the verses in question and see what the Hebrew has to say.

וּמֵעֵץ, הַדַּעַת טוֹב וָרָע–לֹא תֹאכַל, מִמֶּנּוּ:  כִּי, בְּיוֹם אֲכָלְךָ
מִמֶּנּוּ–מוֹת תָּמוּת

This passage in the Hebrew scripture is Bereshit (Genesis) 2:17. It says in the English translations,

“but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.'”

So Elohim tells the man that if he eats from the tree of knowledge of good and evil then he will surely die, “mot tamut” in Hebrew. This phrase, “you will surely die” in Hebrew expresses in time and not an immediate death or a sudden death. In other words, adam would eventually die if he ate from that tree. But how? Before we answer that question lets see what the serpent told the woman at that same tree.

וַתֹּאמֶר הָאִשָּׁה, אֶל-הַנָּחָשׁ:  מִפְּרִי עֵץ-הַגָּן, נֹאכֵל וּמִפְּרִי הָעֵץ, אֲשֶׁר בְּתוֹךְ-הַגָּן–אָמַר אֱלֹהִים לֹא תֹאכְלוּ מִמֶּנּוּ,
וְלֹא תִגְּעוּ בּוֹ:  פֶּן-תְּמֻתוּן

“And the woman said unto the serpent: ‘Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said: Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” (Bereshit 3:2-3)

First we must see that the woman got it wrong according to the Hebrew text. The woman said, “you will die”, temutun in Hebrew. This means immediate and sudden death. Elohim told adam that he would, “mot tamut”, in time die and not a sudden or immediate death. The woman did not fully understand what Elohim had told adam. Now the serpent responds with,

וַיֹּאמֶר הַנָּחָשׁ, אֶל-הָאִשָּׁה:  לֹא-מוֹת, תְּמֻתוּן כִּי, יֹדֵעַ אֱלֹהִים, כִּי בְּיוֹם אֲכָלְכֶם מִמֶּנּוּ, וְנִפְקְחוּ עֵינֵיכֶם;
וִהְיִיתֶם, כֵּאלֹהִים, יֹדְעֵי, טוֹב וָרָע

“And the serpent said unto the woman: ‘Ye shall not surely die; for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.’ “ (Bereshit 3:4-5)

The serpent corrected the woman and told her that she will not suddenly or immediately die, “Lo mot temutun”, as she was thinking. The serpent did tell her the truth that if she ate from the tree of knowledge then her eyes will be open and she would be like Elohim, knowing good and evil. The serpent deceived the woman with the truth of Elohim. But what happened next is very interesting and always overlooked in the text. When the man took the from the woman and ate Elohim kicked them out of the garden and did something very interesting to keep them from going back in.

“And the LORD God said: ‘Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.’ Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.So He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden the
cherubim, and the flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way to the tree of life.”
(Bereshit 3:22-24)

Elohim placed the cherubim at the east of the garden to keep them from eating from the tree of life. The tree of life was the source of life from the beginning to keep them from dying. Without the taking from the tree of life they would have died long ago and now because they sinned against Elohim they were removed from the garden and forbidden to eat from the tree of life again. In doing so they would now die in time. Death was always present with man but the tree of life kept death away from man. If this was not so then why did Elohim block the east entrance where the tree of life was? Why did he kick them out and put the cherubim there? It was to keep them from eating from the tree of life and living even though they sinned against Him. The Hebrew and the context as a whole could not be more clear. The Hebrew understanding and grammar cannot be challenged.

Yeshua speaks of the tree of life in the book of Revelation and says plainly,

“Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14)

How? “With the blood of the lamb” (Rev. 7:14), that is, through the atoning work of Yeshua the Messiah, so that their robes are “white”

Published by The Jewish Institute.com, written by Al Garza PhD

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Answering Psalm 110:1

Psalm 110 and the DSS

Explaining Psalm 110:1 from the view of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

There has been a great debate among scholars on what Psalm 110:1 says. Does it say, “to my Lord” (Adoni in Hebrew) or does it say, “to LORD” (Adonai in Hebrew)? Anyone who has studied Hebrew long enough knows that the vowel points in Hebrew that make Adoni came from the Masoretic text between the 7th and 10th century CE. The Hebrew word Mesorah refers to the transmission of a tradition. The vowel points that were added in the MT are based on a traditional belief and denial of the deity of the Jewish Messiah Yeshua. I believe by looking back to the Dead Sea Scrolls and seeing how the Hebrew word was used we can finally see what the intent of the author had in mind.

The Hebrew word in the MT of Psalm 110:1 with the vowel points is Adoni, A-D-N-Y. The Hebrew letters used without the vowel points is A-D-N-Y, the very same letters used for both. Adoni is believed to only mean master and not used of YHWH directly though the Hebrew root “adon” can be used for both man and God. The claim is that this word is only referred to men and angels only. We do not have a complete reading of the DSS on Psalm 110:1 but we can look at other texts in the DSS and see if we can find the usage of A-D-N-Y, without the vowel points, to YHWH God himself. Remember, there were no vowel points in the DSS, so if we can find the usage of A-D-N-Y like the one in Psalm 110:1 and that usage is directed to YHWH God then we can know for sure that the writers of the DSS saw no distinction of the word.

If we look at Isaiah 21:16 in the DSS we find the following below directed and speaking about YHWH, see verse 17. Also below the Isaiah passage, you will see the Psalm 110:1 passage with vowel points added much later.

“For thus has the Lord (ADNY) said to me, Within a year, according to the years of a hireling, and all the glory of Kedar shall fail;”

כי-כה אמר אדני אלי בעוד שנה כשני שכיר וכלה כל-כבוד קדר DSS

“A Psalm of David. The Lord says to my Lord (ADNY), Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool”  

לְדָוִדִמְזמֹורְנֻאםיְהוָה לַ אֹדִניׁ שֵבלִיִמינִיעַד-ָאׁשִיתֹאְיבֶיךֲָהדֹםְלַרגְֶליךָ MT

DSS and the MT

We need to remember that the Psalm passage has the prefix Lamed in Hebrew and it means “to”. There is no difference in the Hebrew spelling for each word. Both use A-D-N-Y in the passage. Isaiah is using the same Hebrew word and is speaking about YHWH God of Israel in verse 17. The MT added the vowel points to Psalm 110 in order to change the true meaning of the word. Now let us compare Psalms 110:1 with and without the vowel points.

 “A Psalm of David. The Lord (YHWH) says to my Lord (ADNY), Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”

א.לְדָוִדִמְזמֹורְנֻאםיְהוָה לַ אֹדִניׁ שֵבלִיִמינִיעַד-ָאׁשִיתֹאְיבֶיךֲָהדֹםְלַרגְֶליךָ:

לדוד מזמור נאם יהוה ל אדני שב לימיני עד-אשית איביך הדם לרגליך:

THE CONTEXT

When reading the very next passage in Psalm 110:1 we can see, “Sit at my right hand…” This is agreed by all to be the Messiah who will sit at the right hand of God. But if this is the Messiah who will sit at the right hand and if it’s not Adonai as suggested then how can verse 5 say, “ADONAI  [qamets] (YHWH) at your right hand” The one at the right hand according to verse 1 is the Messiah who is, according to the MT, “adoni” “master”. Is it possible that the MT is incorrect in having the vowel points to say, “adoni” or “master” when verse 5 tells you its ADONAI or YHWH? The evidence is clear from above and the context of verse 5 that the original meaning should have been ADONAI [qamets] and not Adoni.

NOTE: The Aramaic Targum of Psalm 110:1 reads in the following way,

“YHWH said to his Word (Memra)…”

Conclusion

When we look at how the rest of the scripture and the uses of A-D-N-Y without the vowel points one will notice that there are no distinctions between Psalm 110:1 and the rest of the TaNaKh. Isaiah uses the very same word in Hebrew for YHWH God throughout his book. The DSS was the language of their time not the MT with vowel points. I challenge anyone to go through the book of Isaiah and see the many places where A-D-N-Y is used without the vowel points in connection with YHWH God. A-D-N-Y without the vowel points does refer to YHWH God. The vowel points are man-made and have no place in the historical ancient language of the Hebrew.

Yeshua made the claim that he could not just be a man from the line of David if David calls the Messiah in Psalm 110:1 Lord, (Mark 12:35-37). The Messiah in Psalm 110 is shown to have existed prior to the incarnation and David addresses him directly. Yeshua claims to be the Messiah in Psalm 110:1 that David is speaking about. The issue of Adoni and Adonai is irrelevant if the Messiah pre-existed as Yeshua claims. For more on the preexistence of the Messiah see the blog and Genesis 1:1-4 and John 1:1-5 connection.

By The Hebrew Institute.net, written by Dr.Al Garza

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The Genesis 1:1-4 and John 1:1-5 Connection

The question that seems to always get raised within the Christian faith is, “How does John 1:1-5 connect or have any relation to Genesis 1:1-4?” I will answer this question not from a Christian point of view but from a Jewish one. We must first understand what Genesis 1:1-4, Bereshit in Hebrew, has to say regarding the Messiah. If there is relation between Genesis 1:1-4 and the Messiah then John 1:1-5 would make more sense from a Hebrew perspective and not a Greek one. Let us begin by reading Genesis 1:1-4 and see what it has to say and what the ancient sages understood about it.

בראשׁית ברא אלהים את השׁמים ואת הארץ׃ (Gen 1:1)
והארץ היתה תהו ובהו וחשׁך על־פני תהום ורוח אלהים מרחפת על־פני המים׃ (Gen 1:2)
  ויאמר אלהים יהי אור ויהי־אור׃ (Gen 1:3)
  וירא אלהים את־האור כי־טוב ויבדל אלהים בין האור ובין החשׁך׃ (Gen 1:4)  

Gen 1:1 In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth;
Gen 1:2 and the earth being without form and empty, and darkness on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of Elohim moving gently on the face of the waters,
Gen 1:3 then Elohim said, be light! And be light.
Gen 1:4 And Elohim saw the light, that it was good, and Elohim separated between the light and darkness.

The first thing we must notice is that when we read the Hebrew in a literal way we see something interesting starting in verse 1. It reads, “In beginning he created (singular) Elohim (plural, they God)”

The Jewish sages made this comment regarding this verse.

“Jehovah, Elohaynu, Jehovah. There are three steps to accept the mystery from above. In the beginning God created. In the beginning is the first mystery from where all else spreads…The name takes three forms and from there the name is interpreted in several ways… Rabbi Bechai explained: Elohim is El Haym. These are gods. Remember your creators (Ecclesiastes 12:1). The wise will understand.” (The Jerusalem Edition of the Zohar)

“When God created the world He created it through the three sephiroth [countings]—sepher, sapher and sipper—by which three beings are meant. The rabbi, my lord and my teacher of blessed memory, explained that sepher, sapher and sipper are synonymous with Jah, Jehovah and Elohim, meaning to say that the world was created by these three names.” (Rabbi Eliezer Hakkalir)

“Elohim is composed of two words, El and Haym. These are God. That Elohim is plural, though there is only one God, is truth. Eliezer sat before his father. We have learned that to him is justice. How is it that wherever we meet Adonai Elohim [yod, hay, vav, hay, the letters of Jehovah’s name], it means mercy? (the Zohar)

“He answered, It is written, know therefore this day and consider in thine heart that Jehovah is Elohim. Sometimes justice can coexist with mercy and mercy with justice. Come and see the mystery of the word Jehovah. There are three steps, each existing by itself, nevertheless, they are one and so united that one cannot be separated from the other.” (the Zohar)

“He is the highest and hidden light, which cannot be known. The ancient Holy One is revealed in three heads that are united in one, and that head is three times exalted. The ancient Holy One is described as being three” (Amsterdam Edition of the Zohar)

The Jewish sages and Rabbi’s believed that Genesis 1:1 explains creation by and through three Sephiroth or countings which are three names in Hebrew. These three names are synonymous with Yah, YHWH and Elohim. When understanding this interpretation we can now see John 1:1 with more clarity.

בראשית היה הדבר והדבר היה את האלהים ואלהים היה הדבר׃ (John 1:1)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Elohim, and the Word was Elohim.

Not only is the Word with Elohim but the Word is also Elohim (plural, they God) The very Word in Hebrew is devar and is used here as the very Word spoken by Elohim and who is with Elohim and part of Elohim in the plural. The third manifestation is of course the Spirit of Elohim but we will save that for a future blog. The second part of Genesis 1 is verse 2 which states the following:

“and the earth being without form and empty, and darkness on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of Elohim moving gently on the face of the waters,(Genesis 1:2)

The ancient Rabbi’s and sages declared that the Spirit of Elohim is the Messiah who is literally hovering over the face of the waters.” (Genesis Rabbah 2:4) The Messiah not only existed with and as Elohim (plural, they God) but took part in creation itself. Going back to John 1 we see this in verse 2 and 3.

“He was in the beginning with Elohim. Everything existed through His hands, and without Him, not even one thing existed of the things, which have existed.” (John 1:2-3)

The very things in creation were created by the very hands of the Messiah. John is recounting the very acts of creation from Genesis to show the preexistence and eternal nature of the Messiah. John is looking back to Genesis 1:1-4 and explaining what the Jews already knew and believed concerning the Messiah. In Genesis 1:3-4 we read the following passages of Messiah in creation.

“then Elohim said, be light! And be light. And Elohim saw the light, that it was good, and Elohim separated between the light and darkness.” (Genesis 1:3-4)

The sages were drawn, in one midrash, by this passage to Psalm 36:9 were we read, “In Your light (or) we see light” The sages said that the light within the light is the light created on the first day while the light itself before the sun and the moon is King Messiah. The light is called good (tov) by Elohim which the sages said is the light of Messiah who was concealed before the creation of the world under the throne until his generation, (Pesikta Rabbati 36) This brings us right back to John 1:4-5 which reads:

“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men; and the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overtake it.” (John 1:4-5)

The Messiah was the light of men and the light of the world which shined in the darkness from the beginning. John is speaking from the Hebrew and Jewish understanding that the Word who was with Elohim and who was Elohim is the very light in creation who is now the light of men that shines in the darkness. This very Word became human and was seen by his followers. The Messiah Yeshua said,

” I am the light of the world ; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12)

Published by The Jewish Institute.com, written by Dr.Al Garza

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