The Other Cassius Clay: An Original Stageplay tells the true story of the life of a man from central Kentucky who was the son of one of the wealthiest slaveholders of the renowned Clay family which produced Sen. Henry Clay. Cassius Marcellus Clay inherited a large number of slaves along with the Whitehall Estate, property of his father Green Clay, all of whom being granted their freedom. Cassius didn’t stop there. He risked life and limb to work tirelessly (and mostly peaceably) to secure freedom to all American slaves. His story is action-packed as it recounts his life, steeped in controversy, both in the United States and abroad while he served as the US Ambassador to Russia under Presidents Lincoln, Johnson, and Grant. Available from amazon.com
Shalom, readers! Just letting you know that I have put together a book on the ketogenic lifestyle, the health benefits, and hacks for doing it while keeping kashrut. The title is Kosher Ketosis: A Treif-Less Approach to Keto Living, and as of today, it is available on Amazon. It is filled with 88 keto-adapted versions of traditional Jewish dishes from Diaspora communities around the globe, as well as Israeli dishes. If you are on the keto diet, you’ll want to get a copy! https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1795231416/
Purim Katan Special: The newly-released Kindle eBook edition is available one day only for FREE! My mishloach manot to you is an absolutely free download of the eBook version from midnight to 11:59pm PST on February 19th so you have access to the low-carb, gluten-free hamantaschen recipe in time for Purim Katan! Don’t miss out! Here’s the kindle link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NN8C66H/
The Talmud (b. Bava Kamma 82b) explains that the reason for the Jewish tradition of reading and studying Torah specifically on Mondays and Thursdays (in addition to Shabbat) is based on Exodus 15:22 – “They traveled three days without finding water….” The aftermath of the three days without “water” (mayim) was an eruption of kvetching (complaining).
Water (mayim) has a remez (hint) meaning beyond the p’shat (plain). It often stands as a metaphor for Torah, as in Isaiah 55:1 – “May all who thirst go to the water.”
The implication, then, is that we need to engage Torah often enough that we never go three consecutive days without hearing it. Thus, we read or hear Torah on Shabbat and reflect on what we’ve read for two days, then read or hear more on Monday. We reflect on that content Monday through Wednesday, and then read another portion on Thursday to carry us until Shabbat.
A further significance to the choice of these two specific days is their Creation account pairing. Each day of the six days of creation is paired with another. Days 2 (Monday) and 5 (Thursday) are the forming and filling of the skies and waters.
In the time of Ezra, it came to be that Monday and Thursday were market days for the Jews. Ezra decreed that on those days, there should be a public reading of Torah. These readings happened in the marketplace where there was an audience already assembled (Nehemiah 8:1-8; y. Megillah 4:1).
So… the tradition goes back as far to Ezra (2500 years), with a foundation in Torah -a thousand years before that.
וּשְׁאַבְתֶּם־מַ֖יִם בְּשָׂשֹׂ֑ון מִמַּעַיְנֵ֖י הַיְשׁוּעָֽה
“Then you will joyfully draw water from the springs of salvation” (Isaiah 12:2).
There is a phenomenon that occurs in almost every language, but especially frequently in Hebrew. It is a form of split polysemy whereby a single word or root can be used to connote two concepts which are opposite one another in meaning. An English example is “cleave,” which can mean to split apart (e.g. “a cloven hoof”) or to cling together (e.g. “leave the parents and cleave to the spouse”). Another is “refrain,” which can be used to indicate both “abstain from an activity” or “repeat multiple times” (e.g. in music). Other English examples are listed at https://www.grammarly.com/blog/10-verbs-contronyms/. Several names have been assigned to this linguistic peculiarity, including enantiosemy, enantiodromy (enantiodrome being the referent for an exemplar thereof), antagonymy (antagonym), contronymy (contronym), and auto-antonymy (auto-antonym)… or in Hebrew, סתירה עצמית.
The following list of examples in Hebrew is certainly not exhaustive, but does demonstrate that the phenomenon is anything but rare in the holy tongue. In each of the pairings below, the commoner meaning is listed first with the rarer afterward.
- אלהים (Elohim): (the one true) G-d; (false) deities. Psalm 82 provides an example where this word conveys both meanings in the same verse:
- Ps 82:1(a) אלהים נצב בעדת־אל G-d stands in the congregation of the mighty…
- Ps 82:1(b) בקרב אלהים ישפט in the midst of the deities1 He judges.
- ברך (barakh): to bless; to curse (euphemistically). The more usual meaning is “to bless,” and “to kneel” is also frequently in view. The antithetical meaning “to curse,” however, is attested only in 1 Kings 21:10, 13; Job 1:5, 11; 2:5, 9; and Psalm 10:3 for the latter.
- גרד (garad): to scratch; to itch. More common in Modern Hebrew than in Classical, this enantiodrome connotes both the act of scratching an itch and the state of feeling itchy which compels one to scratch.
- זנב (zanav): tail (as a noun); to cut off the tail (as a verb), to cut off the rear flank (in military jargon). In this example, one might call to mind the English verbal exemplar “seed,” which means both “to plant” (put seeds into the ground) and “to remove seeds from a plant (e.g. seeded grapes).
- חטא (chata’): to sin (miss the mark, go astray); to cleanse (from sin). The second meaning seems to only be tenable in the piel and hithpael binyanim (stems). In Modern Hebrew, the word for disinfectant comes from this same root, i.e. חיטוי (chitui).
- קלס (qalas): to defame, mock, scoff, ridicule; to praise. The former is the only meaning attested in the Tanakh, but in other Hebrew literature, it can be found with the opposite meaning “to praise.”
- סקל (saqal): to throw stones at (all stems); to remove stones from (qal and piel stems only).
- שכח (shakhach): to forget; renowned, widepread. The Aramaic cognate שכך is likewise enantiodromic.
- שרש (sharash): to take root; to uproot, to sever from the roots. Both meanings are attested in the Tanakh. The former can be seen in Isaiah 27:6; 40:24; Jeremiah 12:2; Psalm 80:9; and Job 5:3; and the passages where the latter meaning is conveyed are Psalm 52:5 and Job 31:8, 12. The Hebrew grammatical term שֹׁ֫רֶשׁ (shoresh) is used to indicate the root of a derived form.
This phenomenon is an excellent example of why context is so important, and why translation methods wherein every instance of a Hebrew root is translated exactly the same are problematic. Words in isolation have semantic domains, i.e. ranges of meaning; but in actual usage, the context (surrounding words, sentences, paragraphs, themes, etc.) dictate which possible meanings are viable and which are not applicable in a particular instance.
In addition, there is also the Semitic phenomenon at play whereby Hebrew words convey both a “positive charge” and a “negative charge” simultaneously. Boman observes that in Hebrew, there is no stasis. In every word conveying a person or thing at rest, the motion from which it is resting is implied (p. 31). For example:
- עלל (alal): to enter; to exit. In Hebraic thought, entering one space (the positive charge) involves exiting another (the negative charge), thus both meanings are conveyed simultaneously via the same word.
- בּוֹא (bo): to come; to go. As in the previous entry, in order to be coming to one location, one must be at the same time in the process of leaving another location. It is a matter of perspective whether the word בּוֹא is to be translated as “come” or “go.” “Come” is the positive charge, and “go” is the negative in this example.
Likewise, filling one vessel implies drawing from (or emptying, to some extent) another. I welcome readers to supply any more exemplars which you have observed, of either type, in the comments.
- Though this is the usual translation, אלהים could, admittedly, also be translated “mighty ones” in this passage; there are, however, many instances where אלהים is clearly intended to be understood as “false deities” rather than being given a positive rendering (“G-d” or “mighty ones”).
Reflecting on the Rabbis: Sage Insight into First-Century Jewish Thought is an introduction to rabbinic hashqafah. It introduces six prominent Sages (proto-rabbis) from the First Century CE – what they believed and how they lived it out. This is the first book to present the First-Century perspective on the concept of qnuma and khayana, though this is done in part with reference to the Divine Agency discussion first published by Dr. Larry Hurtado in 1988. The work includes a glossary of about 40 pages as well as appendices and extensive footnotes. Available on amazon and barnes & noble. 388 pages.
“Reflecting on the Rabbis draws on the Sages of old and top modern schilars to bring 1st Century Judaism new life! Professor Tice is well-studied, thorough in his presentation, and generously provides a glossary of Jewish Jargon, a comprehensive index, and other helpful appendices. For these reasons and more, we select this treasured book to receive the 5777 Yiddishkeit 101 College-Level Literature Award and our sincerest recommendation!” Literary Award Panel, Yiddishkeit 101
“Brian has created a ‘must have’ as it pertains to studying First-Century Jewish thought! He will leave you with several ‘aha’ moments, a strengthened faith, and a strong desire to find out ‘what else didn’t I know?!'” Rav Joshua Liggins, Educator and former Student Ministries Director, Coral Springs, Fla.
“As an Orthodox Jew, I see Brian Tice’s work necessary for the Christians and the Messianics to evaluate and make a true connection to their Jewish roots.” Ariel Manning of Neveh Ohr, Morenci, Mich.
“For nearly 1700 years, there has been a calculated and quite successful attempt to divorce Yeshua from His Jewish context. However, great strides have been made in recent years toward rectifying that travesty. This volume presents the Sages who made the greatest impact on First-Century Jewish thought – Shammai haZaqen, Hillel haZaqen, Rabban Gamli’el I, Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai, and Rabbi Aqiva – laying out what they taught and how they lived. Against this backdrop, it can be seen where Yeshua fits into the scene of First-Century Rabbinic context.” Carmen Welker, author of The Refiner’s Fire website and host of Reality Check videos
There are numerous passages throughout the Torah, Prophets, and Writings which address Shabbat and its requirements. The most expansive is generally regarded to be found in Parashat Vayakhel (Exodus 35:1-38:20; esp. 35:11-19), which is also repeated in Parashat Pequdei (Exodus 38:21 – 40:38; esp. 39:33-41). In the former, the text begins:
“… These are the things that HaShem has commanded you to do…. and every person wise of heart shall come and do that which God commanded” (Exodus 35:1b, 4)
Between these two phrases, the text emphasizes the priority of the Sabbath, decreeing that the Tabernacle work may only be done six days of seven, with every seventh day (Shabbat) being marked by the 39 works which follow ceasing. No work associated with any aspect of Tabernacle construction is permitted, in any form, on HaShem’s Shabbat. HaShem takes this very seriously, as evidenced in Exodus 35:2 —
“… anyone who does a melacha (work) on [Shabbat] shall be executed.”
There are some false teachers in the Hebrew Roots Movement who call these 39 Sabbath prohibitions a “tradition of man” teaching that they are not to be found in Torah. These teachers err on two fronts: (1) in that they neglect these very passages, and (2) in that they deny that Torah has to it two parts – the Written and the Oral. The Written Torah even commands us to keep the Oral Torah:
“You shall do according to the word they tell you, from the place the L‑rd will choose, and you shall observe to do according to all they instruct you. According to the law they instruct you and according to the judgment they say to you, you shall do; you shall not diverge from the word they tell you, either right or left.” (Deuteronomy 17:10-11).
Not surprisingly, Yeshua haNotzri reiterates this same command, very specifically in fact, in Matthew 23.
“Yeshua then spoke with the crowds and with his disciples. And he said to them, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on the throne of Moshe. Therefore, everything that they say to you that you, should keep and do. But, not according to their deed, for they talk, and do not.” (Matthew 23:1-3 AENT)
Messianic Jewish scholar par excellence John Fischer reflects on the passage thus:
“Yeshua condemns not the oral law, not the Pharisees, but only the hypocrites among some Pharisees…Furthermore, in the beginning of Matthew 23 (verses 2-3), Yeshua pointedly instructs his followers to practice all that the Pharisees teach!” 
Thus, any teacher who instructs his or her audience to disregard the Talmud is him or herself violating the Written Torah, i.e. Deuteronomy 17:10-11 and Matthew 23:1-3. The Oral expands on the Written, and Exodus 35 does not escape the inspired explanation provided in the Oral portion; and b. Shabbat 70a addresses them thus:
“These are the things… For six days you may labor…”’ ‘things’ ‘the things’ ‘these are the things’ – these are the 39 forms of melacha which were taught to Moses at Sinai.”
The same thought is echoed in b. Shabbat 97b:
“‘things’ ‘the things’ ‘these are the things’ – these are the 39 forms of melacha.”
The phrase “these things” is explained in Midrash haGadol:
“These 39 commands [to create these items for the Tabernacle in Exod. 35:11-19] correlate with the 39 categories of labor forbidden on Shabbat. From where do we know that the Israelites were commanded to create these 39 items? The commands were stated earlier (in the parashiyot of T’rumah and Tetzaweh):
1. The Tabernacle – as it says (26:10): “As for the Tabernacle, make it of ten strips of cloth.”
2. its tents – as it says (26:7): “You shall them make cloths of goats’ hair for a tent over the Tabernacle.”
3. and its coverings – as it says (26:14): “And make for the Tent a covering.”
4. its clasps – as it says (26:6, 11): “And make fifty gold clasps,” and “Make fifty copper clasps.”
5. and its planks – as it says (26:15): “You shall make the planks for the Tabernacle of acacia wood.”
6. its bars – as it says (26:26): “You shall make bars of acacia wood.”
7. its posts – as it says (26:32, 37): “Hang it upon four posts of acacia wood,” and “Make five posts of acacia wood for the screen.”
8. and its sockets – as it says (26:19): “Make forty silver sockets.”
9. the ark – as it says (25:10): “They shall make an ark of acacia wood.”
10. and its poles – as it says (25:13): “Make poles of acacia wood.”
11. the cover – as it says (25:17): “You shall make a cover of pure gold.”
12. and the curtain for the screen – as it says (26:31): “You shall make a curtain.”
13. the table – as it says (25:23): “You shall make a table.”
14. and its poles – as it says (25:28): “Make the poles of acacia wood.”
15. and all its utensils – as it says (25:29, 37:16): “Make its bowls…” and “He made the utensils…”
16. and the bread of display – as it says (25:30): “And on the table you shall set the bread of display.”
17. the lampstand for lighting – as it says (25:31): “You shall make a lampstand of pure gold.”
18. its furnishings – as it says (25:39): “It shall be made with all these furnishings.”
19. and its lamps – as it says (25:37-38): “Make its seven lampstands… and its tongs and fire pans of pure gold.”
20. and the oil for lighting – as it says (27:20): “You shall further instruct the Israelites to bring you clear oil of
beaten olives for lighting.”
21. the altar of incense – as it says (30:1): “You shall make an altar for burning incense.”
22. and its poles – as it says (30:5): “Make the poles of acacia wood.”
23. the anointing oil – as it says (30:25): “Make of this a sacred anointing oil.”
24. and the aromatic incense – as it says (30:35): “Make them into incense.”
25. and the entrance screen for the entrance of the Tabernacle – as it says (26:36): “You shall make a screen for the
entrance of the tent.
26. the altar of burnt offering – as it says (27:1): “You shall make the altar of acacia wood.”
27. and its copper grating – as it says (27:4): “Make for it a grating of meshwork in copper.”
28. its poles – as it says (27:6): “And make poles for the altar.”
29. and all its furnishings – as it says (27:3): “make all its utensils of copper.”
30. the laver – as it says (30:18): “Make a laver of copper.”
31. and its stand – as it says (30:18): “Make [a laver of copper and] a stand of copper.”
32. the hangings of the enclosure – as it says (27:9): “You shall make the enclosure of the Tabernacle.”
33. its posts – as it says (27:10, 16): “with its twenty posts,” and “for the gate of the enclosure, a screen… with their four posts.”
34. and its sockets – as it says (27:10, ): “and their twenty sockets,” [and “with their four sockets.”]
35. and the screen for the gate of the enclosure – as it says (27:16): “for the gate of the enclosure, a screen.”
36. the pegs for the Tabernacle – as it says (27:19): “as well as all its pegs”
37. the pegs for the enclosure – as it says (27:19): “and all the pegs of the court.”
38. and their cords – as it says (27: 19): “and all the utensils of the Tabernacle for all its service.”
39. the service vestments for officiating in the sanctuary – as it says (28:2): “Make sacral vestments.”
Moses heard these 39 commandments from the mouth of the Holy One, and Moses then relayed these commandments to the Israelites. He did not add nor did he subtract. When God describes Moses, God says (Num. 12:7): “In all my house he is the most loyal,” for he did not add or subtract anything when overseeing the building of the Tabernacle.”
These 39 mandates recorded in the Written Torah, given the wording in Exodus 35, dictate that any activities involved in carrying them out would produce a list of 39 things prohibited on Shabbat. The specific verbs comprise the remez level of interpretation, correlating to them were transmitted orally (and eventually transcribed in the pages of the Oral Torah).
- John Fischer, “Response: Yes, We Do Need Messianic Congregations!”, in Louis Goldberg, ed., How Jewish is Christianity? 2 Views on the Messianic Movement (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 64.
Are the Semitic religious concept of the Word (מֵימְרָא/דָּבַר) and the Greek philosophical concept of the Logos (λόγος) – all three literally translatable as “Word” – interchangeable? We seem to get the impression from John chapter 1 that they are… but is the Greek “Logos” what was meant in that Gospel’s use of the word λόγος? It has been argued more often in the affirmative, but also in the negative.
In Hebraic thought, Thorleif Boman notes:
‘True being’ for the Hebrews is the ‘word,’ דָּבַר, which comprises all Hebraic entities: word, deed, and concrete object…. Since the Word is connected with its accomplishment, דָּבַר could be translated ‘Effective Word’ (Tatwort in German); our term ‘Word’ is thus a poor translation for the Hebrew דָּבַר, because for us ‘word’ (wort) never includes the deed within it.
He lauds Goethe for being “on solid linguistic ground” with his translation of John 1:1 in Faust for rendering the word λόγος (assuming he worked from the Greek text) as “Tat,” thus:
Im Anfang war die Tat.
(tr. “In the beginning was the Deed”).
It is worth noting that the Aramaic of John uses a different word – ܡܶܠܬ݂ܳܐ (Miltha), which means “Word, Manifestation, Instance, or Substance.” The range of meaning is virtually identical between the two.
The Targumim offer an insight into the meaning of מֵימְרָא. The word has a special usage as a substitute for the ineffable Covenant Name of G-d. Genesis 3:8, in Hebrew, reads, in part:
…. וַֽיִּשְׁמְע֞וּ אֶת־קֹ֨ול יְהוָ֧ה אֱלֹהִ֛ים
And they heard the voice of HaShem G-d….
There is an Aramaic rendering, in Targum Onqelos, Targum Yonatan, and Targum Neofiti, which reads a bit differently:
…. וֻשמַעוּ יָת קָל מֵימְרָא
And they heard voice of the Memra….
We see here that מֵימְרָא is used as a representation for Hashem in Aramaic, just as λόγος does in the Greek of John 1:1ff.
But… does this align with the concept of λόγος in Greek philosophy? An examination of that concept will aid in making that determination.
In Greek, nouns derive from verbal roots, and the root of λόγος (word) is the verb λέγω (I speak). Passow notes that the basic meaning of λεγ- is “to put together in order, arrange,” thus “the word not according to its external form, but with respect to the ideas attaching to the form.” This Greek concept seems to lack the Semitic concept found in the idea of מֵימְרָא/דָּבַר of an adjoined concrete deed.
The classical definition of the term λόγος, dating back to Heraclitis (6th century BCE) is “the rationality in the human mind which seeks to attain universal understanding and harmony.” This is certainly not what John 1:1 is referencing.
Boman and Bultmann, independently of one another, both assert that the Hebraic conception of “the Word” is the opposite of the Greek conception, and the present author stands in agreement with them. The religious מֵימְרָא/דָּבַר and secular λόγος most certainly constitute a clash between the set apart and the ordinary, the holy and the worldly – opposites indeed.
- E.g., Stephen L. Harris, Understanding the Bible (Palo Alto: Mayfield, 1985), 302-310.
- Thorleif Boman, Das hebräische Denken im Vergleich mit dem griechischen (2nd ed.; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1960; orig. 1954), 56, 66.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust: Eine Tragödie (1808), Part I, Scene 1.
- Andrew Gabriel Roth, Aramaic English New Testament (Jerusalem: Netzari Press, 2012), 232fn2.
- s.v. λόγος, in Franz Passow, Handwörterbuch der griechischen Sprache (Leipzig: F. C. W. Vogel, 1931), vol. II: 57-59; cp. s.v. λόγος, Émile Boisacq, Dictionnaire Étymologique de la Langue Grecque (4th ed.; Heidelberg: B & W. O. Bloch & W. von Wartburg, 1950; orig. Paris: Klincksieck, 1938).
- “Logos,” PBS Faith & Reason (online: http://pbs.org)
- Boman, op. cit., 58f.; Rudolph Bultmann, “Der Begriff des Wortes Gottes im Neuen Testament,” in Ernst Lohmeyer, ed. Deutsche Theologie III (Göttingen, 1931), 14-23.
The two leading theories for the dating of Moshe’s life are based on differing understandings as to the date of the Exodus. The “early date” of 1446/7 BCE is based on 1 Kings 6:1 and the math it presents, while the “late date” of 1270 BCE is built on the mention of a city called Ramses (a 13th Century BCE Pharaoh). As I personally lean more to the early date, I will flesh out for my readers the dynamics of the pharaonic relationships surrounding Moshe in an 18th Dynasty context.
If the early date is correct, the Pharaoh at the time of Moshe’s birth is 18th Dynasty Pharaoh Thutmose I, pictured at right, who reigned 1526 (the year of Moshe’s birth) to 1513 BCE. This is going to sound like the script from a soap opera, but the royal Egyptian histories, combined with the archaeological finds of the last 110 years, validate this pharaonic genealogy. Thutmose I was a general of no blood relation to the previous pharaoh who had served under his predecessor Amenhotep I, who had no male children (heirs to the throne). Thutmose I had two known children: a daughter with his primary wife Ahmose (the daughter of the previous pharaoh Amenhotep I) and a son, Thutmose II, born of a harem-wife Mutnofret.
The daughter’s name — Hatshepsut — was unknown until very recently, when her tomb was discovered by archaeologist Howard Carter in 1906. By early dating, she would be the daughter mentioned in Shemot (Exodus) 2:5, who found Moshe’s “ark” when she went to the Nile to bathe, and who appointed Moshe’s birth-mother as his nurse-maid. Hatshepsut, depicted at left, is a fascinating figure in Egyptian history. As the child of Thutmose I with his primary wife, she was groomed to be his successor to the throne, even though she was a female in a male-dominant culture. She likely would have been the next “pharaoh” (the feminine form would actually be “terra” in Middle Egyptian) were it not for the jealousy of her half-brother Thutmose II. His only path to the throne was to take Hatshepsut as his primary wife, which would reduce her from heir-apparent (queen-regnant) to a queen-consort. This is, in fact, what occurred, and she bore Thutmose II a daughter named Neferure. Thutmose II was very ill most of his life, however, and so his reign was short-lived. He died in 1504 BCE, leaving his 29-year-old widow Hatshepsut to co-rule the Egyptian kingdom alongside her step-son Thutmose III, the son born to Thutmose II by his harem-wife Iset. They would serve a co-pharaohs the next 22 years, until her death in 1483 BCE. It was recently discovered by Egyptian minister of antiquities Zahi Hawas that Hatshepsut’s death was most likely not natural, given the evidence of blunt trauma to her skull at the moment of her death, and it is surmised that at the other end of the instrument was the hand of her step-son Thutmose III, a ruthless tyrant whose desire to reign alone was well-known.
Hatshepsut’s name was, at some point, perhaps even during the solitary-reign of Thumose III (shown at right) obliterated from all Egyptian records and erased from the kingdom’s history, never to be recovered until nearly 3400 years later. Thutmose III would have been the step-brother of Moshe, Hatshepsut’s adopted son. The fact that he most likely murdered Moshe’s Egyptian surrogate-mother might have been a cause of tension between the two. Thutmose III ruled the Egyptian kingdom another 33 years after Hatshepsut’s death, finally passing the throne on to his son Amenhotep II in 1450 BCE… just 3 or 4 years before the Exodus (by early date reckoning).
If Amenhotep II, shown at left, is the Pharaoh of the Exodus, which by this reckoning he would be… is it any wonder that Moshe would be reluctant to address the son of the man who had more motive than anyone, not to mention the means and ample opportunity, to have acted as the assassin of his adoptive mother Hatshepsut? Even at 80 years of age, Moshe (proclaimed in Hebrews to be a skilled speaker) did not wish to associate with the pharaoh. When Israel was under persecution in Egypt, Moshe disavowed his identity as “the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,” preferring to receive the same treatment as his Hebrew brethren (Hebrews 11:24-26).
Amenhotep II was known as a charioteer. An ancient relief (right) exists depicting him in a royal horse-drawn chariot of the style likely to have been in view in the events of Shemot 14 and 15. The sticky wicket with this timeline is that Amenhotep II, according to Egyptian chronology, seems to reign from 1450 BCE to 1424 BCE… which would have him surviving the Reed Sea Crossing. Dr. William Shea, Ph.D., argues convincingly that there is a strong likelihood that two successive pharaohs are actually conflated into one figure in the Egyptian historiography. He suggested in a 2008 article that Amenhotep IIA perished in the Reed Sea, and that his successor, dubbed Amenhotep IIB, harbored a strong animosity against the Hebrews due to the demise of his predecessor. This is recorded in an inscription attributable to Amenhotep IIB, based on dating, in which a searing hatred of the Hebrews is evident even in their absence from the kingdom. A reference warning against “magicians” could target Moshe, whose performance of miracles put the magicians of Egypt to shame (Shemot 7). See also Bryant G. Wood’s 2009 article.
The clincher is that the mummy of Amenhotep II is not the correct age to be Amenhotep II if A & B are the same pharaoh. He has to be a son of Amenhotep IIA. Also, the Dream Stele (left) written by Amenhotep II’s son Thutmose IV expresses that he dreamed he would be pharaoh, a position he never expected to have. Why would he, son of a pharaoh, not expect to succeed him? This would be expected if he was not the first son. If Amenhotep IIA had another son before Thutmose IV, or perhaps even more than one son ahead of him in line for the throne, something would have to happen to every son before him that would remove them from the heir-apparent position before they could take the throne… such as the death of all the firstborn sons of Egypt including Pharaoh’s (Shemot 12:29). This would have claimed not only the firstborn son of Amenhotep IIA, but also of his second son Amenhotep IIB, leaving no heir for the second Amenhotep II except his younger brother, unlikely candidate Thutmose IV.
- Carroll, Scott T. Course lectures. HIS-113: World Civilization. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Cornerstone University, Fall 2007.
- Discovery Channel. (July 2007). “Secrets of Egypt’s Lost Queen.” (online).
- Redford, Donald B. Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1992.
- Shea, William. (2008). “Amenhotep II as Pharaoh of the Exodus.” Bible and Spade 16: 41– 51. (online).
- Thutmose IV. Dream Stele. Giza, Egypt.
- Woods, Bryant G. (2009). “Recent Research on the Date and Setting of the Exodus.” Bible and Spade 21:4 (online).
Sign up by December 31 to lock in a rate of $15/hour lesson (usually $20) through all of 2015 with a one-year commitment.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up or obtain more information. Lessons in Grand Rapids available on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule. All ages welcome.
Did HaShem really mean for Kefa (Peter) to eat monkeys, vultures, and venomous cobras when He showed him the vision of Acts 10? There is a phenomenon in Scripture that evades many who understand that passage as an abrogation of Torah (esp. of Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14) and the Prophets (e.g. Isaiah 66:17). It is a literary device which has precedent apart from that passage (as well as within it). That phenomenon is the Hebraic convention of describing persons as animals (food animals or non-food animals) or even as edible plant products to illustrate a point, i.e. a special class of metaphor. Scripture bears examples of both.
It should not really strike us as unthinkable that people could be compared with food or animals, as we do the same thing in English.  We can also find Messiah Yeshua Himself calling certain of the Pharisees “vipers” (Matthew 23:33) and referring to those who are hostile to His Truth as “dogs” and “swine” (Matthew 7:6). He also uses two clean animals, i.e. goats and sheep, in order to categorize persons in the eschatological framework of the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 25:31-46). In this judgment oracle, the goats are consigned to everlasting punishment and the sheep to everlasting life (v. 46).
This is not solely a convention of the B’rit Chadashah (apostolic Testament), however. We find this same phenomenon in the poetic constructions of Yirmeyahu’s report at 24:1-10 of his canonical work (see summary statement in graphic at right). Figs are generally a food item, but the statement in Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 24 attests to the success of the Babylonian strategy to exile only the social, religious, military, and economic “elites” from Judah, in order to deprive them of certain essential skill sets (2 Kings 24:15-16). All totaled, about 10,000 were removed to exile of a population of approximately ten times that number. 
This same type of metaphor appears in Acts 10:9-35. Those who take this passage as a “blanket permission” (pun intended) to eat pigs, lizards, and rats have to divorce verses 9-15 from the fuller context in order to arrive at that conclusion. Reading to the end of the pericope, however, brings the reader to Shim’on Kefa (Peter)’s realization of the actual meaning of the vision of the treif (unclean) animals on the sheet. Verses 17 and 18 tells us that it has yet to be explained:
“Kefa was still puzzling over the meaning of the vision he had seen when the men Cornelius had sent, having inquired for Shim’on’s house. stood at the gate and called out to ask if Shim’on was staying there.” (CJB)
Reading on, we find that the meaning is covered quite clearly in vv. 28, 34-35:
“He [Kefa] said to them, ‘You are well aware that for a man who is a Jew to have close association with someone who belongs to another people, or to come and visit him, is something that just isn’t done. But God has shown me not to call any person common or unclean’…. Then Kefa addressed them: ‘I now understand that God does not play favorites, but that whoever fears him and does what is right [Torah] is acceptable to him, no matter what people he belongs to.” (CJB)
Kefa realized and articulated plainly that the vision was not about eating poisonous or otherwise unclean animals at all; it was about Gentile-inclusivity. “Stop treating as unclean what God has made clean” (v. 15) refers to Gentile converts to the faith, not to creamed possum in coon fat gravy… or any other animal which was not intended for human consumption. Dr. Friedman notes,
“He did not, according to the text, draw the conclusion that he should stop eating kosher food…. We can be thankful that the book of Acts interprets his vision for us in the continuation of the text. Acts 10:28 describes Shim’on’s conclusion of the message of the vision….” 
Visions, like any other prophetic oracle, must be interpreted according to their genre. In the exegetical methodology prescribed by Willem VanGemeren, the first and foremost point is this: “Be sensitive to the prophetic imagery.”  To interpret a passage divorced from its genre is just as ghastly an error as to sever it from its context.
When proper hermeneutical principles and exegetical processes are applied, it cannot be interpreted any other way than that Kefa’s vision was a message advocating equal treatment for Jew and Gentile alike in the Body of Messiah, a message with Torah roots just as deep as they can get, both with regard to one Torah Standard for Jew and Gentile alike (cp. Exodus 12:49; Leviticus 24:22; Numbers 15:16, 29; see also Matthew 5:17-19; 7:21-23; 1 John chapters 2-3) and regarding equality of treatment for both alike (Leviticus 19:33-34; Deuteronomy 10:19; see also Ezekiel 47:22; Galatians 3:28).
References & Notes
- Michiel Korthals, “Food as a Source and Target of Metaphors: Inclusion and Exclusion of Foodstuffs and Persons through Metaphors,” Confgurations 16 (2008): 77–92. [read online]
- Oded Lipschits, “Course Lecture 3.5: Babylonian Arrangements in Judah after Jehoiachim’s Deportation,” The Fall and Rise of Jerusalem (Tel Aviv, Israel: Tel Aviv University, Fall 2014).
- David Friedman, They Loved the Torah: What Yeshua’s First Followers ReallyThought about the Law (Baltimore: Lederer, 2001), 62-64.
- Willem A. VanGemeren, “Oracles of Salvation,” in D. Brent Sandy & Ronald L. Giese, Jr (eds), Cracking Old Testament Codes: A Guide to Interpreting the Literary Genres of the Old Testament (Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman & Holman, 1995), 146.