ray-sheeth – Your very best First Fruits offering

Joseph F. Dumond

Isa 6:9-12 And He said, Go, and tell this people, You hear indeed, but do not understand; and seeing you see, but do not know. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn back, and be healed. Then I said, Lord, how long? And He answered, Until the cities are wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land laid waste, a desolation, and until Jehovah has moved men far away, and the desolation in the midst of the land is great.
Published: May 29, 2015

News Letter 5851-013
12th day of the 3rd month 5851 years after the creation of Adam
The 3rd Month in the Sixth year of the Third Sabbatical Cycle
The Third Sabbatical Cycle of the 119th Jubilee Cycle
The Sabbatical Cycle of Earthquakes, Famines and Pestilence
The Year of the Tithe for the Widows, Orphans & Levites

May 30, 2015


Shabbat Shalom to the Councilors of Israel,

Welcome to the 57th Day of Counting of the Omer for those who will be keeping Pentecost this coming Sunday.

I said Shabbat Shalom to the Councilors of Israel for a specific reason. Last week we took a break from our Erictology lessons for Shavuot. This week Eric explains why I have called you councilors as he teaches a selah – Noon-Sameach.

Last Sabbath and Chag Sameach I spent in the company of Congregation Melech Yisrael in Toronto. This is a messianic congregation led by a young Jewish Rabbi. I have been blessed each time I have visited them. If any of you would like a more structured Sabbath with the Jewish flavour you can google them and tune in each Sabbath with them. The Rabbi brought out some very interesting points which I would like to share below.

One of the things they did which I found awesome was what the whole assembly did near the end of his presentation.

For the past month I have been visiting other groups and sharing the Sabbatical year message with them. Things are happening and it has been hectic trying to keep caught up. We have also been doing our two live radio shows each week and I have just started a new job a few weeks ago and it too is very demanding. This week I have had truck repairs all week long and trying to get the grass cut between the rain and taking the truck to the mechanic.
So I am so looking forward to Shabbat this week. I am exhausted and this News Letter has not been done in advance as normal due to all that we are trying to do. So I apologize for the delay. I am no longer 27 years old even if I keep telling myself I am in my head. My body is saying other things. And I am just plain tired.


“The Fear of Yehovah”


This year I have been doing two radio shows live each week with Mitch and Krista Houston and Greg Cronkite. I have been blessed by these three young people who are just as fired up as I am about warning the brethren and the world about the coming terror of war.

This week someone has fired up my co-host whom I have asked to share his thoughts with us from time to time. He wrote the following short note about those leaders who are saying we are doing nothing except fear mongering. You decide if we are doing that or warning you. It was the subject of both our Radio shows on Lamb radio and on Hebrew Nation Radio. You can help us reach more people with this message of the Sabbatical years by sharing our shows on your social media pages. You can help by sharing our books and News letters also on your social media pages and letting people know why they should read or listen to them. We thank you for you help as we continue to warn our brethren of what is coming to those who will not repent.

From Mitch Houston:

Beware of teachers who tell you that the Sabbatical year (Shemita) is only for in the land. This is not true.

Can we eat pork, and offer our daughters as prostitutes because we “are not in the land?” NO!! This is absurd. Sadly MANY people are following these modern day Balaams.

These Balaams are telling you that those who are shouting from the rooftops are bringing in fear. They say things like, “YHWH doesn’t give a spirit of fear.”

Remember, the enemy used scripture to tempt Yeshua in the wilderness, much like he is using scripture now, to tempt US IN THE WILDERNESS to not obey! WAKE UP!

The fear of Yehovah is the beginning of wisdom. We should be afraid if we are not willing to observe all that is commanded in the Torah. The enemy made a similar post in the garden. “Did Elohim really say you would die? That just sounds like fear. You don’t have to fear. Eat the fruit. It will be okay.” If Adam would have continued in his fear for Yehovah, he would have been wise, but instead, he listened to the enemy’s version of “do not fear” and was unwise.

We are NOT to fear the world, but if we think we can leave out even the littlest instruction of Yehovah because we are “not in the land”, we’d better fear what’s coming.

Torah is not all about life. It is about death, too. If you don’t obey you die. This is Torah. Don’t listen to ANYONE who claims that we don’t have to observe something because “we are not in the land.” Torah gives us instruction on what to do and not to do. Man justifies his life according to his own desires…

1“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for Yehovah your Elohim is testing you to find out if you love Yehovah you Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul. 4“YOU SHALL FOLLOW YEHOVAH YOUR ELOHIM AND FEAR HIM, AND YOU SHALL KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. 5 “But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against Yehovah your Elohim who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which Yehovah your Elohim commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you. (Deuteronomy 13:1-5)


“ray-sheeth – Your very best First Fruits offering”

This is taken from my notes on the sermon from Melech Israel during Shavuot last weekend. I have added some of my own thoughts and insights to it as well.

We read in Exodus the following about the Feasts:

Exo 23:14  You shall keep a feast to Me three times in the year.15  You shall keep the  Feast of Unleavened Bread. You shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, in the time appointed of the month Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. And no one shall appear before Me empty. 16  Also the Feast of Harvest, the first-fruits of your labors, which you have sown in the field. Also the Feast of Ingathering, in the end of the year, when you have gathered in your labors out of the field. 17  Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord God. 18  You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leaven, neither shall the fat of My sacrifice remain until the morning. 19  The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of Jehovah your God. You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.

Clarke’s Commentary has this to say on not boiling a kid it mother’s milk.

This passage has greatly perplexed commentators; but Dr. Cudworth is supposed to have given it its true meaning by quoting a MS. comment of a Karaite Jew, which he met with, on this passage. “It was a custom of the ancient heathens, when they had gathered in all their fruits, to take a kid and boil it in the milk of its dam; and then, in a magical way, to go about and besprinkle with it all their trees and fields, gardens and orchards; thinking by these means to make them fruitful, that they might bring forth more abundantly in the following year.” – Cudworth on the Lord’s Supper, 4th.

Today because of this verse Jews do not eat meat with dairy products. They can eat one or the other at a meal but not both together.

Kosher foods are divided into three categories: meat, dairy and pareve. One of the basic principles of kashrut is the total separation of meat and dairy products. Meat and dairy may not be cooked or eaten together. To ensure this, the kosher kitchen contains separate sets of dishes, utensils, cookware, and separate preparation areas for meat and dairy. A third category, pareve, is comprised of foods which are neither meat nor dairy and may therefore be eaten with either.

And yet we read in Genesis how Abraham ate and served the angels both meat and dairy at the same time.

Gen 18:6  And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal; knead it, and make cakes. 7  And Abraham ran out to the herd and brought a calf, tender and good. And he gave it to a young man. And he hurried to dress it. 8  And he took butter and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them. And he stood by them under the tree, and they ate.

But I have digressed, or have I? In Numbers we are told that we are to give the best of our First Fruits. The best of our first fruits- ray-sheeth’

Num 18:12  All the best of the oil, and all the best of the wine, and of the wheat, the first-fruits of them which they shall offer to Jehovah, I have given them to you.

But most people today do not live off the land and do not grow crops. So are we to give the best of our money? Some say yes, but is this right?

Read again what we we told in Exodus 23:

Exo 23:18  You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leaven, neither shall the fat of My sacrifice remain until the morning.

Does no one find this strange to be reading this command about the blood and the fat at the same time when we are to be bringing our best first fruits to the offering?

Why does Yehovah say this?

We read about the fat in Lev 3 and the last two verse state;

Lev 3:16  And the priest shall burn them on the altar, bread of the fire offering for a sweet savor. All the fat is Jehovah’s. 17  It shall be a statute forever for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that you eat neither fat nor blood.

In all the animal offerings the fat is never allowed to be eaten by the one making the offering nor the priest. Nor is any of the blood to be eaten. The blood is always poured out at the base of the altar. Some is placed on the horns or sprinkled, but after that it is poured out on the ground at the base of the altar.

Lev 7:23  Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, You shall not eat any fat of ox, or of sheep, or of goat.

Lev 7:25  For whoever eats the fat of the beast of which men offer an offering made by fire to Jehovah, even the soul that eats it shall be cut off from his people.

Lev 7:26  And you shall not eat any blood, of fowl or of beast, in any of your dwellings.

Lev 7:27  Any soul who eats any blood, even that soul shall be cut off from his people.

Why does Yehovah state these things this way? What does this represent?

Take a step back and think.

The animal is a representative of you. It is sacrificed in place of you for your sins and it also represents the Messiah who gave His life on your behalf.

Clarks commentary on Genesis 4:4 state;

Gen 4:4  And Abel also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat of it. And Jehovah had respect to Abel and to his offering, 5  but He did not have respect to Cain and to his offering. And Cain glowed with anger, and his face fell.

Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock – Dr. Kennicott contends that the words he also brought, ???? ?? ???  hebi gam hu, should be translated, Abel brought it also, i.e. a minchah or gratitude offering; and beside this he brought of the first-born (??????  mibbechoroth) of his flock, and it was by this alone that he acknowledged himself a sinner, and professed faith in the promised Messiah. To this circumstance the apostle seems evidently to allude, Heb_11:4 : By Faith Abel offered ??????? ??????, a More or Greater sacrifice; not a more excellent, (for this is no meaning of the word ??????), which leads us to infer, according to Dr. Kennicott, that Abel, besides his minchah or gratitude offering, brought also ?????, a victim, to be slain for his sins; and this he chose out of the first-born of his flock, which, in the order of God, was a representation of the Lamb of God that was to take away the sin of the world; and what confirms this exposition more is the observation of the apostle: God testifying ???? ??????, of his Gifts, which certainly shows he brought more than one. According to this interpretation, Cain, the father of Deism, not acknowledging the necessity of a vicarious sacrifice, nor feeling his need of an atonement, according to the dictates of his natural religion, brought a minchah or eucharistic offering to the God of the universe. Abel, not less grateful for the produce of his fields and the increase of his flocks, brought a similar offering, and by adding a sacrifice to it paid a proper regard to the will of God as far as it had then been revealed, acknowledged himself a sinner, and thus, deprecating the Divine displeasure, showed forth the death of Christ till he came. Thus his offerings were accepted, while those of Cain were rejected; for this, as the apostle says, was done by Faith, and therefore he obtained witness that he was righteous, or a justified person, God testifying with his gifts, the thank-offering and the sin-offering, by accepting them, that faith in the promised seed was the only way in which he could accept the services and offerings of mankind.

So what does the blood represent and what does the fat represent?

The Malbim (Rabbi Meïr Leibush ben Yehiel Michel Weiser, 1809-1879, Ukraine) shares a fascinating insight regarding two Hebrew words ratzon and chefetz, which appear to have the same translation, “want” or “desire”. The difference, he teaches, is that ratzon refers to “will,” a rational choice made through our intellect to pursue a course of action. Chefetz is more like “want,” a desire rooted in our emotions. The Malbim points out that if you look through the entire Torah we never find the word ratzon used for something bad. When we use our intellect properly, we want what is good. The alternative, chefetz, desire, which is linked to our emotions, will often lead us off course.

The blood is representative of power and the fat is representative of desire.

Psa 73:1  A Psalm of Asaph. Truly God is good to Israel, to the pure of heart. 2  And I, my foot had almost stumbled; my steps had nearly slipped. 3  For I was jealous of the proud, when I saw the peace of the wicked. 4  For there are no bands in their death; but their strength is fat. 5  They are not in trouble like other men; neither are they plagued like other men. 6  Therefore pride enchains them; violence covers them like a robe. 7  Their eyes stand out with fatness; they have more than the heart could imagine.

I want you to now look at this word fat more closely.

H2459   blh blh  cheleb  che?leb


From an unused root meaning to befat; fat, whether literally or figuratively; hence the richest or choicepart: –  X best, fat (-ness), X finest, grease, marrow.

H2458  chel’a?h


The same as H2457; Chelah, an Israelitess: – Helah.

H2460 che?leb


The same as H2459; fatness; Cheleb, an Israelite: – Heleb.

H2461  cha?la?b


From the same as H2459; milk (as the richness of kine): –  + cheese, milk, sucking,

H2462  chelba?h


Feminine of H2459; fertility: Chelbah, a place in Palestine: – Helbah.

Do you now see where we get the fatness of the milk and the first fruits connections which we asked about in the beginning? And note that this is also an Israelite.

One more connection to make. The fat is always burnt on the altar. Our desires are contrary to Yehovah’s.

Rom 8:1  There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 2  But the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3  For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; 4  so that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5  For they who are according to the flesh mind the things of flesh, but they who are according to the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6  For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace 7  because the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can it be.

In verse 7 the word for mind is From G5426; (mental) inclination or purpose: – (be, + be carnally, + be spiritually) mind (-ed). In other words our desires. Our desires are against Yehovah.

Psa 62:6  He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my strong tower; I shall not be shaken. 7  In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength; my hiding-place is in God. 8  Trust in Him at all times; you people, pour out your heart before Him; God is a hiding-place for us. Selah.

Pour our our heart before His altar, pour out our hearts blood before the altar.
Let the desire of our mind be burnt up on the altar and let His will, His desire be in us.

For 50 days as we counted out the Omer, we have been putting sin out of our lives. We have been examining ourselves and seeking to get back in line with Yehovah’s desire for us to keep the ketuba we agreed to at Mount Sinai. To put our own selfish desires away, our willpower and self indulgence, and growing ease and growing fat.

Isa 43:22  But you have not called on Me, O Jacob; but you have been weary of Me, O Israel. 23  You have not brought Me the lamb of your burnt offerings; nor have you honored Me with your sacrifices. I have not caused you to serve with an offering, nor wearied you with incense. 24  You have bought Me no sweet cane with silver, nor have you filled Me with the fat of your sacrifices; but you have burdened Me with your sins; you have wearied Me with your iniquities. 25  I, I am He who blots out your sins for My own sake, and will not remember your sins.

He will not remember our sins. Stop bringing them up before Him. What did Peter say on Shavuot when they had the flames of fire on them?

Act 2:37  And hearing this, they were stabbed in the heart, and said to Peter and to the other apostles, Men, brothers, what shall we do? 38  Then Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Yeshua Messiah to remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Set Aprt Spirit.

Come back under the Chuppah, that Shekinah at Mount Sinai. Come under the Chuppah now and repent of your sins and remember them no more. Recommit yourself to the Torah, to the Ketubah that we agreed to keep, and dedicate yourself now to keep it from this day forward.

After saying these words the group at Melech Yisrael set up the Chuppah and every single person in the assembly went under it in front of the Torah Scroll and quietly repented of their sins, their willpower and selfish desire and rededicated themselves to keeping the Torah, to renewing our marriage vows with Yehovah once again.

The cycles of righteousness from Psalm 23 which we have already spoken of we do each year and each Shabbat and each Shmita, over and over we repeat the learning process. Stop hurting yourself by hanging on to your sins no matter how bad.

Repent of them once and for all and then stop recalling them to Yehovah who has already forgotten them. Now, in newness of heart and desire, seek to obey the ketubah of our marriage contract. Put Yehovah’s will and His desire forefront in our hearts and minds, and be blessed for doing so.



We return this week to Eric’s teachings on the Hebrew Aleph Tav. ta

This week Eric is taking a Selah to explain the noon sameach ns to the councilors of Israel, you!

You can watch video one and two at these links.

We also have an special announcement to make. Eric will be speaking in Ohio this June 21 in Columbus. He will then be speaking on June 27 in Sarnia, Ontario. He and I will be talking about The 2300 Days of Hell at some point in Sarnia. If you can come out and listen to him and support him then please do so. You will be amazed at what you will learn.


“Triennial Torah Reading”

We continue this weekend with our regular Triennial Torah Reading

Lev 5   Jeremiah 26-28  Prov 17   Acts 14


Trespass Offerings and Accompanying Regulations (Leviticus 5:1-6:7)

Though the trespass offering is sometimes called a sin offering (compare 5:6-9), there is a general distinction to be made between sin and trespass. Some have argued that sin is against God while trespass is against fellow man. But the Bible makes it clear that it is possible to commit trespass against God (compare verses 15-19). What then, is the difference between sin and trespass? Jukes explains, “With our shortsightedness, our inability to see beyond the surface, we naturally look at what man does rather than at what he is; and while we are willing to allow that he does evil, we perhaps scarcely think that he is evil. But God judges what we are as well as what we do; our sin, the sin in us, as much as our trespasses. In His sight sin in us, our evil nature [compare Romans 7], is as clearly seen as our trespasses, which are but the fruit of that nature. He needs not wait to see the fruit put forth. He knows the root is evil, and so will be the buddings…. Thus in the Sin-offering no particular act of sin is mentioned, but a certain person is seen standing confessedly as a sinner: in the Trespass-offering certain acts are enumerated, and the person never appears. In the Sin-offering I see a person who needs atonement, offering an oblation for himself as a sinner: in the Trespass-offering I see certain acts which need atonement, and the offering offered for these particular offenses….

“Of course, in the Sin-offering, though the man is seen rather than his acts, proof must needs be brought that he is a sinner. But let it be noticed that this is done, not by the enumeration of certain trespasses, but simply by a reference to the law; which, though no particular transgression is mentioned, is said to have been neglected or broken” (pp. 148-149). Of course, there will be particular acts to show that the person is guilty of sin. Yet the sin offering does not atone for these specifically—it atones for sinful nature in general, which stands in rebellion against God (compare Romans 8:7). “In the Trespass-offering, on the other hand, it is exactly the reverse. We have nothing but one detail after another of particular wrongs and offenses; the first class being of wrongs done against God, the other of wrongs against our neighbor” (pp. 149-150). The trespass offerings, then, are to atone for specific sinful acts. It is these specific acts of trespass that require restitution, as detailed in this section.


Jeremiah on Trial for His Life (Jeremiah 26)

The incidents described in this chapter take place at the beginning of Jehoiakim’s reign—thus around 608 B.C. Some commentators believe this chapter is parallel with chapter 7 because in both places God has Jeremiah proclaim at the temple the object lesson of Shiloh. If they are the same incident, then chapters 7 through 10 should fall here in time order. And that may be. However, the wording of chapter 7 could imply that Josiah had not yet destroyed Tophet, the place of child sacrifice, which would lend support to the chronological arrangement followed in the Bible Reading Program. Jeremiah, therefore, may be essentially repeating a proclamation he gave more than 13 years earlier (as he likewise later repeats some of the statements concerning Tophet in chapter 19).

The reference to “all the cities of Judah” coming to worship (26:2) indicates that this was most likely one of the nation’s annual festivals. The essence of Jeremiah’s address to the people was that Judah needed to repent or Jerusalem would suffer the same fate as Shiloh. As explained in the highlights for Jeremiah 7, even though Shiloh had been the resting place of the tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant, God had allowed it to be destroyed. The people were at this time still placing too much trust in the temple and Jerusalem and their forms of worship. God, they reasoned, would never allow His holy temple and city to be destroyed. But they were wrong.

Verse 3 of chapter 26 highlights an important principle found throughout Scripture. Even though God threatens dire consequences, He is prepared to relent if the people respond and turn from their evil ways (see 18:7-8; 1 Kings 21:29; Joel 2:13; Jonah 3:10). If they don’t, the punishment would fall. Jerusalem would be made a “curse to all nations”—that is, destroyed to provide an example to all nations (Jeremiah 26:6).

The religious leaders then stirred up the assembled worshipers against Jeremiah. They basically arrested him, telling him he would receive the death penalty for what they saw as his blasphemy in saying God’s temple would be destroyed. Yeshua would later suffer similar reaction from religious leaders over the many proclamations He made that they perceived as a threat to their continuing power, including His declaration that the temple would be destroyed (see Luke 21:5-6; 22:2).

In Jeremiah’s case, a hearing was convened before “all the princes and all the people” (Jeremiah 26:11-12), which may have denoted a bicameral national council or high court. The “princes” here didn’t necessarily belong to the royal family, even though they came from the king’s house. The Hebrew word from which the word “princes” is translated “may denote leaders, chieftains…. [The word] also appears frequently as a word representing royal rulers and officials, no doubt of sundry ranks and titles…. Thus Jeremiah 26:11 speaks of the princes of Judah, and the context (vv. 10-16) depicts them as occupying the ‘king’s house,’ to possessing judicial power, ordering Jeremiah to die or to be spared” (Harris, Archer and Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 1980, Vol. 2, p. 884). Verse 17 says that certain “elders of the land” addressed the “assembly of the people.” Perhaps these elders were members of this assembly, serving as clan or town representatives.

“Jeremiah gave a threefold defense on his own behalf. First, he announced that the Lord had sent him to deliver the message they had heard. He was not a false prophet. Second, he announced that his message was conditional. If the people would reform their ways (cf. 3:12; 7:3) God promised not to bring about the disaster. Thus Jeremiah’s message did offer some hope for the city. Third, Jeremiah warned that if they put him to death they would bring the guilt of innocent blood on themselves. They would be guilty in God’s sight of murdering an innocent man” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, note on Jeremiah 26:12-17).

While this may have caused some of them a measure of concern, the reaction of the officials in verse 16 is based more on legal technicality than on any belief in what Jeremiah was saying. A prophet could not be put to death unless he spoke in the name of another god or his prophecy turned out to be false. The latter could not as yet be determined. And the former had not been committed, as Jeremiah had spoken in the name of the true God of Israel. So Jeremiah seemed to be off the hook. But what really tipped the scales in his favor was the citing of a precedent by certain elders in verse 17—that of Micah’s proclamation of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple given more than 90 years earlier, in which King Hezekiah, the supreme judge of the time, did not have Micah executed. “This is really a fine defense, and the argument was perfectly conclusive. Some think that it was Ahikam [mentioned in verse 24] who undertook the prophet’s defense” (Adam Clarke’s Commentary, note on verse 17).

The chapter ends with a brief story of another prophet of God named Urijah (or Uriah), mentioned only here in Scripture. Jehoiakim had sought to put him to death, so he fled to Egypt. But being a vassal of Egypt at this time, Judah had extradition rights and Urijah was brought home to his execution. This episode may have been inserted here to show that even though Jeremiah’s case seemed pretty ironclad, the state still posed a danger—as a corrupt king such as Jehoiakim could quite easily see to it that a prophet was executed. In any event, Jeremiah was saved with the help of Ahikam, which may refer to the preceding court defense or perhaps the prophet actually taking refuge with him.

Interestingly, Ahikam was the son of Shaphan, who had served under faithful King Josiah. “The family of Shaphan played an important part in the final years of Judah…. Shaphan was King Josiah’s secretary who reported the finding of the Law to Josiah (2 Kings 22:3-13). Shaphan had at least four sons—three of whom were mentioned in a positive way by Jeremiah (Ahikam, Gemariah, and Elasah). The fourth son, Jaazaniah, was the ‘black sheep’ of the family; his presence among the idol-worshipers in the temple caught Ezekiel by surprise (Ezek. 8:11). Ahikam’s son, Gedaliah, was appointed governor of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 b.c.” (Bible Knowledge Commentary, note on verse 24).

The Yoke of Babylon (Jeremiah 27-28)

Jeremiah 27:1 says, “In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah…” Most commentators take “Jehoiakim” to be an ancient copyist error in the Hebrew Masoretic Text, believing it should actually say “Zedekiah,” as in some other early manuscripts. It is true that chapter 27 is clearly set in the early part of Zedekiah’s reign, his fourth year to be exact, and not Jehoiakim’s (compare verses 3, 12; 28:1).

However, another explanation could be that the chapter break between Jeremiah 26 and 27 occurs in the wrong place. Jeremiah 26 is set “in the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah” (26:1). Perhaps the last verse of chapter 26 should read, “Nevertheless the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah, so that they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death in the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah.” The first verse of chapter 27 would then read, “This word came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying…” While this may seem unlikely to some, we cannot rule it out as a possibility.

Moving into the substance of the chapter, we encounter a hotbed of political plotting during this fourth year of Zedekiah (594-593 B.C.). “Emissaries from Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon met in Jerusalem to plan revolution [against Babylon]. In the Jewish court, pro-Egyptian conspirators probably looked to Egypt for help, especially with the accession of the new king, Psammetichus II (594-589 b.c.e.). Jeremiah [according to God’s direction] opposed rebellion, arguing that Judah’s only hope was to remain a vassal to the Babylonians” (HarperCollins Study Bible, note on 27:1-28:17).

God here again gives Jeremiah a seemingly strange, but dramatic, task to perform. The prophet is to make and then don “bonds and yokes”—and to give these to the gathered envoys for delivery to their national leaders as part of God’s message to them that they were all to submit to Babylon. “The yoke is that used by two oxen to pull a heavy load. Normally, yokes consisted of a crossbar with leather or rope nooses or rods of wood that would be placed around the animals’ necks. Attached to the crossbar was a wooden shaft for pulling the load (see Deut 21.3; 1 Sam 6.7; 11.5; 1 Kings 19.19). For the yoke as a symbol of servitude [Jeremiah 27:8, 12], see also 1 Kings 12.1-11” (note on Jeremiah 27:2).

“The task assigned to Jeremiah required great faith, as it was sure to provoke alike his own countrymen and the foreign ambassadors and their kings, by a seeming insult, at the very time that all were full of confident hopes grounded on the confederacy” (Jamieson, Fausset & Brown’s Commentary, note on verse 3).

God’s message through His prophet is intended to make it plain to the leaders of the surrounding nations that they wield power only so long as He allows it. He would promote Nebuchadnezzar and subjugate these leaders and their peoples under him. Yet in this exaltation of the Babylonian emperor, it is clear that God remains ultimately supreme. He even calls Nebuchadnezzar “My Servant” (verse 6). “With all of his military might and conquests, the king of Babylon was still a servant of the God of Israel, carrying out the Lord’s purposes—namely the judgment of Judah [and these other nations]” (Nelson Study Bible, note on verses 6-7).

In verse 8, the yoke symbol is explained to the emissaries: submit to Babylon or else, the alternative being punishment through the dreadful three-fold cycle of sword, famine and pestilence. Jeremiah then delivers to them a serious warning not to listen to prophets or various occult practitioners who were saying the opposite (verses 9-11). He then proclaims the same message to King Zedekiah, the priests and all the people he encounters as he wanders about wearing the yoke (verses 12-16).

Jeremiah then issues a challenge to the false prophets. Nebuchadnezzar had taken much of the temple furnishings in his prior invasions of Jerusalem (see Daniel 1:1-2; 2 Kings 24:11-13). The false prophets were claiming these would soon be brought back. But Jeremiah says “the vessels which are left” in the temple would also be taken to Babylon in the coming destruction of the city (Jeremiah 27:16-22). Jeremiah challenges the false prophets to intercede with God to try to stop his words from coming to pass and to bring to pass the things they have announced. This would prove who spoke for God.

It may not be quickly noticed but Jeremiah does offer words of hope and encouragement in the midst of this challenge and pronouncement of calamity. In verse 22, he says that Babylon would ultimately be punished and that the temple furnishings would then be brought back as part of Judah’s restoration. Surprisingly, these items were apparently well accounted for in Babylon, being returned in specific numbers when the Persians later took over (see Ezra 1:7-11). It is likely that Daniel played a part in the care and cataloging of them.

Hananiah’s Lies (Jeremiah 27-28)

Jeremiah 28 introduces the prophet Hananiah, who contradicts Jeremiah, falsely claiming that he speaks for God. “Hananiah had the temerity to use the same introductory formula as Jeremiah, implying a claim for inspiration similar to his. The form of the Hebrew verb sabarti (‘I will break’) in v[erse] 2 is the prophetic perfect, which emphasizes the certainty of a future event or promise. The yoke refers to the one Jeremiah had just made. Flatly contradicting Jeremiah’s God-given counsel of submission, Hananiah predicted a return of the captives and the temple vessels within two years, emphasizing the time element by putting it first (v. 3)” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, note on Jeremiah 28:3) This was unbelievably bold—and utterly foolish.

Jeremiah responds to Hananiah’s message of Judah’s imminent national restoration by essentially saying, “Would that it were true!” (compare verses 5-6). But, he continues, this theme of immediate peace and prosperity runs contrary to the long tradition of the messages of God’s prophets (compare verses 7-8). If a purported prophet of God comes along saying everything’s just fine and predicting “smooth sailing,” the reaction should be as Jeremiah’s: “We’ll have to see it to believe it” (compare verse 9; Deuteronomy 18:21-22).

(We experience a similar situation today, with false ministers speaking a different message from that of God’s true servants. Only those close to God can determine who His ministers are. Thankfully, most people today have access to His Word and can check what religious teachers say against the Bible—see Acts 17:11.)

Hananiah, angry at the rebuke, breaks Jeremiah’s yoke and blasphemously makes his own “sign” out of it, issuing another false prophecy in God’s name. His announcement “reversed every statement by Jeremiah and advanced the cause of rebellion against Babylon by Judah and the surrounding nations, something King Zedekiah had desired all along” (Nelson Study Bible, note on verses 10-11). But Hananiah and those who trust in him soon learn an important lesson about pretending to represent the great Creator God. Hananiah might have broken the wooden yoke on Jeremiah’s neck, but those who embraced his message would soon suffer under a figurative yoke of “iron,” which is unbreakable (verses 13-15). Hananiah, in fact, learns that he won’t even be around long enough to have a yoke on his own neck—except the yoke of death (verse 16).

Remarkably, though Jeremiah said Hananiah would die “this year” (same verse), God doesn’t wait the whole year to fulfill the decree. Instead, the false prophet dies just two months later (compare verses 1, 17). “There was no way the people and priests of Judah, who witnessed the confrontation that took place (28:1), could avoid linking Jeremiah’s prediction with Hananiah’s demise. God shouts out His warnings” (Bible Reader’s Companion, note on verse 17). Yet the stubborn leaders and wayward populace refused to face reality—that all of Jeremiah’s other prophecies were true—and humbly repent.

The false prophets of Jeremiah’s day were powerful and influential, as we can see. Again, even today we need to be wary of false prophets—false preachers—who appear to be true servants of God (Matthew 7:15; 2 Corinthians 11:13; 1 John 4:1). The apostle Peter warns the Assembly of God: “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies…and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways…. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction will not slumber” (2 Peter 2:1-3). The Bible even foretells the rise of a great false prophet who will deceive the world at the end of the present age (see Revelation 19:20; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12).


Proverb 17

Second Part of Major Solomonic Collection Cont’d

34. Remarks on Behavior (17:2-8)
“TYPE: RANDOM PROVERBS….Although these verses contain the hint of an inclusio [as ‘wise’ in verse 2 and ‘prospers’ in verse 8 are both translated from the Hebrew word skal, referring to wise perception and dealing leading to success] and repeat certain themes and terms [family matters (verses 2, 6), divine judgment (verses 3, 5), the lips (verses 4, 7)], no specific pattern is apparent” (NAC).

Verse 2 shows that “ability and character can overcome the disadvantages of birth. At the same time, those born to advantage can forfeit their birthright through immorality and incompetence” (note on verse 2). We don’t have to stay where we are in life. Through wisdom we can rise above our circumstances. Conversely, through foolish disgrace, we can lose what we have.

Verse 8 apparently says that a gift given to others is very valuable to the one giving it as it leads him to success. This is not the same as Christ’s general maxim that “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). The point in Proverbs 17:8 is not altruistic giving generally but a strategy of using gifts for gain. This could be a mere observation about the power of bribes (compare NIV), but it need not be so. While bribery to pervert justice is condemned (verse 23), other proverbs note that there is a proper social context for giving gifts to promote good relations and open doors (see 18:16; 19:6; Luke 16:9). It was proper in ancient times to come before kings with gifts and perhaps more mundane occasions called for this as well. Also recall Jacob’s giving of gifts to Esau to placate him and reconcile with him (Genesis 32:13-21).

35. Four Conjoined Collections (17:9-26)
“The proverbs of vv. 9-16 have many interconnections, but it is difficult to tell if any specific pattern is intended. It appears, however, that these verses divide into four inclusio or chiasmus collections (vv. 9-13, vv. 14-19, vv. 20-22, and vv. 23-26) on the basis of thematic parallels or catchwords. The connections among the proverbs are as follows:

? “THE SOCIAL AND ANTISOCIAL. Type: Chiasmus (17:9-13). This section describes those who are or are not sociable and easy to live with. The implied warning is that one should beware of antisocial, incorrigible, or vindictive behavior in oneself or others” (NAC).

Verse 9 on covering a transgression recalls 10:12.
Verse 11, as The Expositor’s Bible Commentary notes, shows that “those bent on rebellion will surely meet with severe retribution…. That retribution will be sent in the form of a [‘cruel messenger’]…(mal’ak ‘akzari). This expression could refer to a pitiless messenger that the king would send; but it also could refer to storms, pestilence, or any misfortune that was God’s messenger of retribution.”

? “QUICK TO QUARREL. Type: Inclusio (17:14-19). The boundaries of this text are set by the inclusio on quarreling in vv. 14,19? (NAC).
Regarding verse 16, The NIV Application Commentary states: “The point of this satiric proverb is two-sided: It is folly to think one can buy wisdom since it is a gift of God and must be acquired through study (2:1-6), and even if wisdom could be bought, the fools lacks the sense (literally, ‘heart’) to know what to do with it. The sharp juxtaposition of having money and lacking sense makes it clear that heart, both as ‘desire’ and ‘mind’ (NRSV), is the prerequisite for learning wisdom. Some see a dunce showing up at the door of a teacher with fee in hand, but evidence for this in Israel is lacking. Rather, we see a fool who does not know what to do with good things like money, responsibility, or even a proverb (26:6-9)!” (note on 17:16).

Speaking of both quarrelling and money, we may note that money can lie at the root of tension between friends, as verse 18 warns about. The caution about becoming surety for a friend, such as in cosigning a loan, recalls 6:1-5 (and 11:15 warned against becoming surety as well, there in the case of a stranger as well as generally). The proverb does not mean you should never help out a friend in this way if you are well off and the friend defaulting would not hurt you or the friendship. But you had better know what you’re getting into. And odds are that this is generally an unwise course.

Verse 19 speaks of one who “exalts his gate” seeking or inviting destruction. The Soncino Commentary notes on verse 19 that “his gate” is literally “‘his opening’ which the Jewish commentators apply to the mouth (cf. Ps [119:]130), understanding the phrase as ‘talking big, in loud and arrogant language.’ Another explanation is: living in an ostentatious manner which attracts envious attention and can easily be the cause of ruin” (note on Proverbs 17:19).

? “HEART AND FAMILY. Type: Inclusio (17:20-22)” (NAC). The foolish and scoffing son of verse 21 is probably one with a deceitful heart and perverse tongue as in verse 20?a source of great sorrow to parents, in line with verse 25 and the opening proverb of Solomon’s core collection (10:1).

Proverbs 17:22 shows, in contrast, that a happy heart is the key to a full and healthy life. We may observe, too, that this proverb indirectly speaks well of the use of medicine. For consider that it does not say that a merry heart does good like a medicine poisons you. Rather, it implies that a merry heart does good like a medicine does good. This is not to say that everything labeled medicine is good for you, but clearly the use of some medicines promotes the wellness of the body as does staying happy.

? “JUSTICE AND FAMILY. Type: Chiasmus (17:23-26)…. Verse 25 would appear to have nothing to do with bribery and the miscarriage of justice [making it an exception to the other proverbs in this short section], but with v. 21 it provides a link to the previous text [see again the chart on the four conjoined collections here]. The ‘foolish son grieves his father’ verses in the contexts of vv. 20-22 and vv. 23-26 thus serve a didactic [teaching] purpose; they urge the reader (the implied ‘son’) not to become the evil man described in these verses [of all four conjoined collections] and thus not to grieve either his real father or the implied father behind the Book of Proverbs” (NAC).
36. Appropriate Use of Words (17:27?18:4)
“TYPE: INCLUSIO AND PARALLEL….Sometimes the Book of Proverbs seems to value nothing so much as appropriate words. This is because it views words as the index to the soul. By paying attention to what a person says (and indeed to how much he or she says), one can determine whether a person is wise or a fool. Words are the fruit that show the quality of the heart. A parallel structure (17:28?18:3) is imbedded in an inclusio (17:27; 18:4).

The value of being reserved in speech (17:27) is bolstered by the fact that “even an imbecile can appear intelligent if he can avoid putting his foot in his mouth, but this is all but impossible for a fool (17:28:18:2 [compare 15:2])” (note on 17:27?18:4).

Acts 14

Sha’ul and Barnabah are now in Ikonion and there the preaching was so great that many of both Yehudim and Gentile believed. But even so, there was a small group of Yehudim that began to stir up trouble and tried to convince their brethren to not believe. The preaching remained strong there but the assemblies were greatly divided into two strong sides. They heard rumor that a move was being made to stone them and so the left there and went to Lustra and Derbe, cities of Lukaonia and the country round about there.

There, Sha’ul was able to heal a crippled man because of his great belief. Because of this, the people there began to proclaim Sha’ul and Barnabah as gods that come down from heaven in the form of men. They even called them zues and hermes. When Sha’ul and Barnabah figured this out, they decried the accusation and spoke the truth about who they were and who Yeshua is. Eventually though, the Yehudim from the nearby places came there too and actually did stone Sha’ul this time and left him for dead.

After he was gathered up and ok, they left there also but continued their travels and teaching, proclaiming the Good News of Messiah Yeshua to all who would listen. They went back through some of the cities they had previously been to encourage the believers and they set up elders over them to help. They then returned to Antioch and they shared all their great successes to get the Word out to the people and that the door to the Gentiles was opened