Blog Scripture Reading for 1-17 Through 1-23-21


Parashat Va’eira — Exodus 10:1 – 13:16
Haftarah — Jeremiah 46:13-28
Prophets — 1 Kings 1:1 – 7:51
Writings — Psalms 106:1 – 110:7
Testimony — Luke 11:14 – 13:35

Our new annual Scripture Reading Schedule for 2020-2021 with daily readings that began on 10/11/20 is now available to download and print. The link to the previous 2019-2020’s Scripture Reading Schedule will still be available on the right sidebar under “Helpful Links” into next year. If you are using a mobile device or tablet, the link may be below, meaning you’ll need to scroll down instead.

Most of this week’s blog discussion points will be on these passages. If you have general comments or questions on the weekly Scripture readings not addressed in a blog post, here’s a place for you to post those. Just use the “leave a reply” link or the “share your thoughts” box below.

The full “Read Through The Scriptures In A Year” schedule, broken down by each day, can be found on the right sidebar under “Helpful Links.” There are 4 sections of scripture to read each day: one each from the Torah, the Prophets, the Writings, and from the Testimony of Yeshua. Each week, the Torah and haftarah readings will follow the traditional one-year reading cycle.

Weekly Blog Scripture Readings for 1/17 through 1/23/2021.


Let My People Think—Rightly Dividing Scripture According to the Hebraic Rules of Biblical Interpretation (part 3)

(Author’s note: This is the updated and rewritten version of an article that I wrote in the early 2000s. The information contained therein is based largely on the booklet entitled, Hermeneutics: How to Understand the Scriptures by James Scott Trimm [ or], although I have added many of my own fresh insights and some new information to the original material.)

In this article, we will cover the concept of peshat, remez, drash and sod or the plain or literal, the hint or suggested, the allegorical, and the hidden or mystical meaning of Scripture.

Five Basic Principles For Understanding the Scriptures 

The Literal Principle 

This is very similar to a rule of Jewish hermeneutics which states that “no passage loses its simple, plain or literal (in Heb. pashat) meaning.” This principle involves understanding a passage first in its plain, literal sense, according to the normal meaning of the words and phrases used unless there is evidence (within the text itself) to interpret it in an allegorical, symbolic or non-literal (in Heb. drash) sense.

The Cultural or Historical Principle 

It is important to understand a biblical passage in its cultural-historical context or in the light of the culture and history of the person who wrote it. The Bible was written by Hebraic people living in the Middle East with an agricultural background and who thought differently and spoke a language with idioms and phrases completely different than ours. To view the Bible through a Greco-Roman, western cultural and linguistic lens, for example, as opposed to understanding it through the Hebraic and eastern culture in which it was written is to miss much of its richness and truth. 

The Grammatical Principle 

This principle involves understanding the text in accordance with its proper grammar. Just what do the nouns and prepositions refer to? What are the idioms of the original language? What are other peculiarities of the original language in which the text was written? 

Anyone who has studied foreign languages, especially non-European ones that are different from English, will immediately understand the significance of this point. Each language is unique to itself, and to properly understand that language, one must have a basic understand of it. 

The Bible, for example, was written in three ancient languages. It is, quite frankly, the epitome of ignorance and arrogance to the think that a simple knowledge of English will yield the full richness of these ancient languages to the cursory reader. Sometimes there are no English words or phrases even to convey the intended meaning of some biblical words and phrases. There are, however, a plethora of excellent resources written in English that will aid the serious Bible student in understanding the richness of biblical idioms, Hebraic linguistic and literary genres and devices. A literal treasure trove of revelation awaits the spiritually hungry Bible student!

The Synthesis Principle

This principle tells us that if we understand two biblical passages in a way that they contradict each other, then we are misunderstanding one or both of them. Usually as we dig deeper into Scripture and gain more understanding on a subject, then the confusion will clear up and the ostensible contradictions between scriptures will resolve themselves.

The Rule of First Principle 

This rule of biblical interpretation states that the first time a word, phrase or concept appears in Scripture establishes a precedence as to the meaning of that word, phrase or concept in all future usages in Scripture. Moreover, this rule in biblical hermeneutics states that the first place the Scriptures mention a word, subject or idea, then this is to be viewed as a foundational truth upon which all subsequent Bible passages are based. A future principle or truth cannot nullify or abrogate a previous one. If it does, then the fault is with the interpreter and not with Scripture.

 Ironically while claiming to adhere to the law of first mention, many Bible teacher in the mainstream church have blatantly and perpetually violated this law by asserting that the truths revealed in the New Testament take precedence over and abrogate those of the Old Testament, especially when it comes to the YHVH’s Torah-law or the law of Moses. Over the millennia, the church has devised many circuitous and circumambulatory philosophical theologies to get around many simple truths. We see this in Christian theologians attempts to explain away the Torah-law, the Sabbath, the biblical feasts and dietary laws, a Hebraic-centric understanding of Scripture and the accompanying lifestyle that goes with it. 

Because the church has replaced so many biblical truths with the unbiblical traditions of men, more and more people are realizing that the church has, in many cases, lied to them and as such are returning to the biblical or Hebraic roots of the Christian faith. They are returning to their spiritual foundations, the bedrock or the first principles of their faith.

Of interesting note is the fact that when the apostolic writers penned what became known as “the New Testament,” there was no “New Testament” yet. All Christians of the first century had was “the Old Testament.” When in their writings the apostles referred to Scripture, they were speaking of the Tanakh or Old Testament (e.g. 2 Tim 3:16–17; Acts 17:11). So everything we read in the Testimony of Yeshua (or New Testament) must be understood in the light of the Tanakh (or Old Testament) and can never contradict it. This is how the early first century church would have approached biblical truth, and we would serve ourselves well to follow the example of those who sat at Yeshua’s feet.

The Practical Principle 

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Blog Scripture Reading for 1/10 Through 1/16/21


Parashat Va’eira — Exodus 6:2 – 9:35
Haftarah — Ezekiel 28:25 – 29:21
Prophets — 2 Samuel 18:1 – 24:25
Writings — Psalms 98:1 – 105:45
Testimony — Luke 8:26 – 11:13

Our new annual Scripture Reading Schedule for 2020-2021 with daily readings that began on 10/11/20 is now available to download and print. The link to the previous 2019-2020’s Scripture Reading Schedule will still be available on the right sidebar under “Helpful Links” into next year. If you are using a mobile device or tablet, the link may be below, meaning you’ll need to scroll down instead.

Most of this week’s blog discussion points will be on these passages. If you have general comments or questions on the weekly Scripture readings not addressed in a blog post, here’s a place for you to post those. Just use the “leave a reply” link or the “share your thoughts” box below.

The full “Read Through The Scriptures In A Year” schedule, broken down by each day, can be found on the right sidebar under “Helpful Links.” There are 4 sections of scripture to read each day: one each from the Torah, the Prophets, the Writings, and from the Testimony of Yeshua. Each week, the Torah and haftarah readings will follow the traditional one-year reading cycle.

Weekly Blog Scripture Readings for 1/10 through 1/16/2021.


Shabbat Shalom from Northern North Dakota

Presently, Sandi and I are in northern North Dakota visiting our children after a 1,300 mile road trip to get here from Oregon. Neither of us had ever been to this part of our country before, so all the sights and experiences are new.

North Dakota contains lot of flat ground with few trees. The “mountains” are really small hills. Grain silos and derelict windmills are everywhere and often dominate the skyline punctuated by an occasional church steeple and cell phone tower. The vast prairie is littered with many old abandoned buildings indicating that life is hard in this country and not everyone made it.

Usually there is many feet of snow on the ground at this time of the year and the temperatures are in the subzero Fahrenheit range. However, this year has been extremely mild with temps in the teens and 20s at night and 30s to low 40s (Fahrenheit) during the day.

Please enjoy.

Welcome to North Dakota
A view from the hills of Northern North Dakota (next to the border with Canada) looking south toward the vast prairies of the US Midwest.
Lake Metigoshe in northern North Dakota.
Ice fishing huts on Lake Metigoshe near the Canadian border.
Nathan and Sandi on a hike at Lake Metigoshe.
Nathan and daughter Kaeli hiking through an oak, birch and aspen forest in norther North Dakota.
Nathan meets one of his long lost Swedish ancestors at the Scandinavian Cultural Center in Minot. Nathan finally finds out where his big nose came from…
An abandoned church
Another abandoned church that has a congregation of goats. Does this somehow fit in with Yeshua’s sheep and goats teaching in Matthew 25?
An abandoned house that is being squeezed out by trees.

What is the meaning of 666?

Recently in the comments section of this blog, someone wrote the following about the 666 reference Revelation 13:18,

The 666 is incorrect. It can’t be these numbers by Hebrew standards. The Aramaic proves this too. There are many teachings available to this regard. One being by [I deleted the name of a prominent Hebrew roots teacher].

This was my response:

With all due respect, simply making a statement why you disagree is not helpful to our discussion of the subject. Kindly give us Scripture and verse along with the meaning of the biblical words and contexts in which a biblical word or concept is found. Simply throwing out a name of someone who teaches differently on a subject is not helpful either. There are many well known personalities the world over who are wrong on many subjects. Name dropping means nothing to the discerning truth seeker. We want to know what the Bible has to say on the subject.

Figuring that many people out there would like to have a fuller understanding of the meaning of 666, these last few days I have been researching this subject. Here is what I have learned. Please enjoy. — Natan

Revelation 13:18, Six hundred threescore and six [KJV]/666 [NKJV].  Here is the full text of this verse:

Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666. (Rev 18:13, NKJV)

For six hundred threescore and six (KJV) or666 (NKJV), New Testament Greek-English interlinear translations show two variants as to the Greek behind these words. Some show the Greek words hexakosioi hexekonta hex meaning “six hundred and sixty six” (e.g. William Mounce’s Greek and English Interlinear New Testament and The Greek New Testament [fourth edition by Aland, Metzger et al]. Most Greek lexicons define these same words (e.g. Thayer and Arndt-Gringrich) as meaning “six hundred and sixty six”…

  • hexakosioi means “six hundred”
  • hexekonta means “sixty”
  • hex means “six”

For six hundred threescore and six (KJV) or 666 (NKJV), J.P. Green and  J. J. Griesbach (in his Diaglott) in their New Testament translations have the Greek letters “χζς” behind the words 666 as does Vincent in his lexicon (Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament, vol. 2, p. 531).  

As to why some New Testament Greek interlinears and lexicons simply have the Greek letters χζς, while others have the Greek words hexakosioi hexekonta hex, Vincent explains that in the earlier Greek New Testament manuscripts, it is written in full (i.e. hexakosioi hexekonta hex) as opposed to just the letters χζς, which correspond to the Greek numbers (ibid.):

  • hexakosioi/χ = six hundred
  • hexekonta/ζ= sixty
  • hex/ς= six

Curiously Strong’s Concordance lists the Greek words behind the English words six hundred threescore and six (KJV) as χζς or chi xi stigma (Strong’s G5516). chi/χ is the twenty-second letter, xi/ζ is the fourteenth letter and sigma/ς is the eighteenth letter of the Greek alphabet. 

In those translations that list χζς as the Greek behind the words 666, the question is this: What is the last letter in this three letter word? It appears to be the letter sigma, which is eighteenth letter in the Greek alphabet and looks like this: ς. However, Strong’s lists it as a stigma  and defines this as “a non-existent letter in the Greek alphabet, and of this symbol says, “the primary meaning of stigma presumable derives from the primary word stizō (to ‘stick’, that is, prick); a mark incised or punched (for recognition of ownership), that is, (figuratively) scar of service.” Why Strong’s chose to call this letter a stigma instead of a sigma, is not explained. No other lexical reference that I could find calls the last letter of this word a stigma, but refers to it as a sigma.

So what is a Greek stigma? According to Wikipedia, 

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Will there be a second chance for some people?

In a recent comment on this blog, Sonja writes:

Romans 2:14-16 Paul is indicating here that Gentiles who do not have Torah, and Yeshua is the Living Torah, may be judged according to their conduct in regard to what they knew (their conscience).
Revelation 20:11-15 seems to confirm this, when people are being judged at the second resurrection, according to what they have done.
I find it difficult to fathom that people would be condemned because they never had the opportunity to know about Yeshua.

Sonja, I agree with you on this. Below are my thoughts after decades of study and reflection on this subject.

A depiction of the pearly gates of heaven open with the bright side of heaven contrasting with the duller foreground

For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. (1 Peter 4:6)

1 Peter 4:6, Who are dead. (See also Rom 2:12–16; 1 Cor 5:5; Heb 12:23.) This verse seems to indicate that certain categories of dead and unsaved humans will stand before YHVH’s judgment seat (the white throne judgment of Rev 20:11–15), and will be accepted into his eternal kingdom at some basic level. Perhaps if their hearts showed a willing disposition toward YHVH while they lived, but they hadn’t gone all the way in choosing him for one reason or another, or had never heard the gospel message during the physical life, they will be rewarded for the good that they did in their lifetime and will be given an opportunity to accept Yeshua on judgment day. 

It is possible that these are the ones that Yeshua declared who would be least in his kingdom (Matt 5:19)? Moreover, was Paul making a reference to these people in Romans 2:12–16 when he talks about those Gentiles who sinned without theTorah- law, and who will be judged based on whether they lived up to the basic law of Elohim written in their consciences? Will these people, who lived according to the basic tenets of the Torah (e.g. not stealing, lying, committing adultery, murdering, coveting, honoring parents, living according to the golden rule and, in their own way, and adhered to a concept of a Supreme Being before whom they walked in fear without worshiping idols) be given an opportunity on judgment day to make their faith complete by accepting Yeshua’s sacrifice for their sins? Possibly so. Perhaps this explanation would help us to understand Hebrews 12:23, which speaks of the spirits of just men made perfect, as well as the salvation of the thief on the cross (Luke 23:43).

With regard to the thief on the cross who professed faith in Yeshua (Luke 23:43), let’s go one step further. Next to this thief was another thief whose heart remained obdurate and unrepentant toward Yeshua. It appears that on Golgatha (or Calvary), we have three categories of people, even as Peter describes three categories of people in 1 Peter 4:18: the righteous, the ungodly and sinners. The first category is self-evident. The second category seems to imply those who lived a decent life, but who never professed faith in Yeshua the Messiah during their physical lives, while the last category were unrepentant and hard-hearted individuals who made no effort to live up to even the most basic standards of right and wrong (often referred to as “the moral law”) that was written in their conscience. This verse seems to describe these three categories of people on earth, which are the same three categories of people who were crucified on Golgatha: Yeshua the righteous, the repentant and ungodly thief, and the unrepentant second sinful thief.

With regard to those who never came to faith in the God of the Bible, different biblical-based religions treat these “morally good” but unsaved folks differently by pronouncing different fates on them. For example…

  • The Roman Catholic Church deals with these folks by consigning them to a non-biblical purgatory where, apparently, they can work out their salvation.
  • Rabbinic Judaism consigns these folks to the so-called Book of the Undecided as opposed to the Book of Life and the Book of the Dead. What happens to those in the middle book, is not clear in my mind, but I assume that they get a second chance.
  • The Protestants consign everyone to everlasting torture in hellfire who never accepted Yeshua while alive physically. There is no second chance for them.
  • Armstrongism (a small side branch of Protestantism) had these folks resurrected at the end of the Millennium where they were given “a hundred year period” to come to faith. 
  • My theory, on the other hand, proposes a middle of the road approach where the wholly wicked will be destroyed in the lake of fire, while those who lived faithfully according to whatever light of spiritual truth they had will eventually be given an opportunity to accept Yeshua. This seems to square with Paul’s statements in Romans 2:12–16 and the view of YHVH’s Elohim as being a more merciful and just Being.

A Message to Senseless Fools Who Are Unsaved—Meditation on Psalm 49

Psalm 49:1–14, This psalm is an evangelistic message to the unsaved. This entire psalm is a good basis for a sermon to the unsaved or spiritually lost.

Psalm 49:4, Dark sayings [or riddles] on the harp. Harp is the Hebrew word kinor from an unused root word meaning “to twang.” Poetic music is a though provoking way to “preach” the gospel; it touches the heart of man in a special way. This is because music is capable of bypassing the innate defensiveness of the mind and can go straight to the heart.

Psalm 49:7, None…can…redeem his brother. In that all men are of equal value before Elohim, a man can’t redeem his brother from the penalty of sin, which is death. One can only atone for his own sins by dying, and once dead, there is no more possibility of living, since the wages of sin is death. So there is no possibility of a man atoning for his own sins, much less those of another; this verse makes this truth clear. 

Even if a man could live a sinless life, he could at best save only one other individual—that is, give his life in exchange for only one other sinner. Only Yeshua who was the Creator of all humans life (Col 1:16; Heb 11:3) could exchange his sinless life for all humanity, since common logic tells us the one who creates something is of more value than the sum total of all that he creates. This is why verse eight states that the redemption of men’s souls is costly, since it cost the life of the Son of Elohim, the Creator of all things. Only this costly sin sacrifice could redeem men from the pit of the grave and give men the gift of eternal life (verse nine).

Another point to consider in this discussion is that since Yeshua was born of a virgin and not of the seed of man, his nature wasn’t polluted or defiled by Adam’s sin nature. If he had not been born of a virgin, this would have disqualified him from being the perfect and blemish-free Passover lamb sin offering for the remission of men’s sins before the judgment seat of Elohim. Since the life of man is in his blood (Lev 17:11), and man’s blood was defiled by Adam’s sin nature, and since Yeshua’s blood didn’t derive from man, but from his Father in heaven, Yeshua’s blood was acceptable to a holy Elohim as the required atonement for the redemption men’s souls (Lev 17:11 cp. Isa 53:10). No man except Yeshua has ever met these criteria, thus no man other than Yeshua is qualified to atone for another man’s sin. 

Because Yeshua was the blameless and sin-free Passover lamb, those who spiritually identify and unite with his atoning death through faith and the ritual of baptism for the remission of sins can now be presented as blameless as well before Elohim in heaven (Col 1:21–23).

Psalm 49:8, The redemption of the soul is costly. Indeed it is, for it cost Yeshua his life.

Psalm 49:9, Continue to live. In other words, the soul is not immortal.

Psalm 49:10–20, The senseless person. That which the world esteems is an inversion of the truth and reality and is, therefore, anathema to and enmity with Elohim (Jas 4:4). The redeemed are those who have come out of the confused mixture of light and darkness or good and evil (called Babylonianism) of what worldly people esteem (1 Cor 6:17; Rev 18:4), and who no longer esteem that which the unsaved foolish or senseless people esteem (i.e. wealth, the houses and monuments they create to last forever to honor their memory, as well as the lands they name after themselves, v. 11). This is the way of the senseless and foolish person (v. 12). The wise person knows that all humans death comes to all humans, and all die like common animals (vv. 11, 20). Only Elohim has the power to redeem our non-immortal soul from the grave (v. 15), so that a person will see the light of life again (v. 19) at the resurrection of the righteous dead.

Psalm 49:15, Redeem my soul. This verse tells us that the soul (i.e. the mind, will and emotion) is not immortal, but dies along with the body. Ezekiel confirms this truth when he declares that the soul that sins will die (Ezek 18:4, 20). Moreover Yeshua’s soul died as well, making atonement for man’s sin when it went into the grave (Isa 53:10–11) in fulfillment of Leviticus 17:11 which says, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.”

Shall receive me. To be received of YHVH Elohim as his a resurrected, glorified and immortalized child is a far greater reward than all the wealth, possession, fame, honor and glory this world has to offer a person.

“But Elohim will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.” This is a generic reference to the resurrection of the righteous dead. Using a kal v’khomer or light and heavy (a fortiori) rule of logic (or Hillel’s first law of Biblical hermeneutics or interpretation), we can reason that if the righteous dead are resurrected how much more so YHVH’s righteous Messiah?

Psalm 49:19, Light or light of life (see NKJV marginal reference). This is a Hebraic idiom for the resurrection of one’s dead body (cp. Ps 56:13; Isa 53:11).