The Eighth Commandment

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: Jan 11, 2013
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

News Letter 5848-046
29th day of the 10th month?5848 years after the creation of Adam
The 10th Month in the Third year of the third Sabbatical Cycle
The Third Sabbatical Cycle of the 119th Jubilee Cycle
The Sabbatical Cycle of Earthquakes Famines, and Pestilences
This is also the end of the Forty Second week of this the Third Tithe Year for the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow?Deuteronomy 26:12


January 12, 2013


Shabbat Shalom Brethren,


If anyone has ever told you that a snowflake has a better chance in hell than you do of etc, etc, etc. Well now you can once again show them that the odds of a snowflake surviving in hell are really very great.

This week it snowed in Jerusalem. And as everyone should know hell is the English word of Gehenna fire. Gehenna is the valley the runs along the West and South side of the City of David which was the city of Jerusalem. This is where they used to burn the garbage and it never went out as long as the garbage was being fed to it. Even the dead who had no one to bury them or criminals were thrown over the walls of Jerusalem into the Gehenna valley to burn up. They would burn forever in hell as long as there was more garbage to be added after.

Well this week in the Gehenna valley you could actually ski into hell. Slalom all the way down. I have taken many people to hell when we are in Jerusalem. They all think it is so neat and fun. But then the stark reality is when we go to get out of hell that they realize just how hard it is to climb back out of this place. And I pat myself on the back, saying lesson learned. It is easy to get into sin but hard to get out of it. One lady actually had to get a Taxi out of hell after hurting her knee. A taxi from Hell. O hope she read this. She is the only one I know who got a taxi from Hell.

Gehenna (Greek ??????), Gehinnom (Rabbinical Hebrew: ???????/??????) and Yiddish Gehinnam, are terms derived from a place outside ancient Jerusalem known in the Hebrew Bible as the Valley of the Son of Hinnom (Hebrew: ????? ??????????? or ???? ??-??????); one of the two principal valleys surrounding the Old City.

Originally, it was believed that this was a location where children were sacrificed to Moloch, hence from the perspective of the authors of the Hebrew Bible, it was deemed to be cursed.[1]

In Jewish, Christian and Islamic scripture, Gehenna is a destination of the wicked.[2] This is different from the more neutral Sheol/Hades, the abode of the dead, though the King James version of the Bible translates both with the Anglo-Saxon word Hell.

This same weather system also dumped torrential rains in the desert and over top of the Vineyard we have planted in Be’er Milkah Israel right next to the Egyptian Sinai border.

When we planted the vineyard we prayed for Yehovah to bless and protect the vines and to show us His truths in which year was the Sabbatical year. As you recall, we have gone into this with Boaz and Rinah who own the land. They will be keeping the Jewish Sabbatical year from Rosh Hashanah in the fall of 2014 to 2015. On our section of land we will be keeping it from Aviv of 2016 until Aviv of 2017 and we will let Yehovah show us in the actual fruits and flavors of the grapes or the amount of fruit or however He decides to bless us. And many people around the world are watching this to see what happens.

Well last month we had some high winds and those winds blew away the little jackets that were placed over the vines to protect them from any potential sand storms this winter. We then had to replace those jackets with others that had sticks, which we could anchor into the ground. This cost us $1000 to do the whole vineyard all 2980 plants. It also necessitated the hiring a laborer in order to get the job done in time.

Last week there was a severe sand storm and from the last report we have, the jackets have all stayed in place and the vines have been protected. We were blessed to have been able to replace what we had originally had with superior protection.

We also learned in this report of who the hired labor is. He happens to be a friend of mine who is extremely Torah knowledgeable and midrashed with me extensively about the Prophecies of Abraham and the whole Sabbatical years debate when I was first coming out with it. This man who has stumped the Rabbi teachers and every Christian teacher with his knowledge of the Hebrew language and connecting it to the Torah teachings was not able to find fault in my teachings of the Sabbatical years. He remained skeptical but impressed at what we are doing and teaching.

And without knowing it he was working on the farm right next door to the one where we were planting the vineyard. He did not know we were going to be there this past fall and I did not know he was there. So again he was impressed to see was actually doing this and not just talking about it. But he watched us as we turned the desert dunes into rolling hills of grape vines and electric fences and trellises. He said you guys are more then just the average Christians. You actually do what you preach.

Again I see Yehovah guiding things all into place here. Here is a dedicated Torah follower and believer and skeptic of the things I am saying about the Sabbatical years and Yehovah has placed him here to witness to the things we are about to be shown. I am once again so excited.

Now Boaz has hired him to help tend the vineyard. We needed to get the vines protected quickly and Boaz could not get it done him self so he hired this fella. And this fella sleeps out there in the desert and in the vineyard all the time.

This week we had the torrential rains and you can see the pictures of how the wadis have now flooded and in fact Boaz and Rinah in Be’er Milkah have been cut off from everywhere due to the flooding cutting through the roads. This also means that the laborer and the Vineyard have also been cut off and we do not know how things are back at the vineyard. Were the vines washed away with so much rain in sandy ground.

The day we prayed for Yehovah to bless this vineyard it rained the same day. It also rained the next day as we left and this was before Sukkot 2012. This was awesome. And now we are having lots of rain again. The desert will bloom this coming month with all sorts of colorful flowers.

If you go to and look to the right you can see a link to the pictures of the flooding rains. And if you go to you can see the pictures of the vineyard and Boaz and Rinah planting the first vine.

The vineyard is going to cost us for hydro and water and now for the laborer as he ties up the vines as they grow an prunes them as needed. If you feel this is a worthy cause and the goals of this project noble then please send us finances to help pay the bills that we are going to have to cover over the next few years. Once the vines are producing then we expect to have no more need of help for this.

You can send the funds to me
Joseph Dumond

We also continue to look for other landowners in Israel who would be willing to keep the Sabbatical years and work with us. We want to invest in the land of our ancestry. The question is do you?

Many talk about going back to the land but few if any and I do mean few ever invest in that land they want to go back to. Here is an opportunity to actually do just that. Each dollar invested goes to this cause. It does not get lost in administration cost. 100% of that sent for this project goes to this project. When I go to Israel I pay my own way with my own funds. This does not pay for me at all.

I see Yehovah’s hand at every stage of this project, from how it all came about with an impossible dream by two people on the opposite sides of the world who held two different belief’s, to how we met and how quickly we both agreed to work with each other to now the rains and the hired help. It has Yehovah spelt at each turn. I could not have made this come about. But I am so pleased to be a part of it and to be able to witness it as it actually happens. I am stunned and amazed and exited.

And if you are going to go to Israel you can work on this farm and help in some way and tour from here to some areas of Israel. Just down the road 30 minutes is the wilderness of Paran. And when Boaz took us there he showed us the rock carving that the Israelites made 3000 years ago. Ibexes and a man holding up to tablets and the people coming through the red sea. It was stunning to see this. Just 30 minutes the other way is the Well of Isaac that you read about in Genesis. And in Bersheba is the well of Abraham an hour away. Also around us are the wells of Jacob and Moses and of Aaron. The very same well they dug thousands of years ago still with water in them.

We need your help in this, we also need your help to pay the bills for this web site and the new one we are building and the IT developers doing the work. I have been paying this from my own pocket all these years and you have enjoyed and been blessed these past 8 years with the messages we have brought to you. I know things are tough. I do know. If you are able to send a little or a lot then know what it is that we are doing. We do not have a million dollar home in Israel like some do. We work for a living digging ditches, and are working to pay bills the same as you and worry about having no work like you do. So if you are working and can help once in while it would be appreciated.

We are also working with the groups in this area to develop a radio show and to go from town to town to present the truth of the Torah to those who would come out. This will require the advertising in local papers before hand to announce the meeting. And the radio shows can cost as much a $5000 per station and per show if my memory serves me right. We are also working on turning into a site where you can continue to learn. I have asked for those in the groups I attend to help and to hold me accountable and to be a part of this effort. In the event that anything should happen to me or I go insane (a distinct possibility dealing with some of you) then others could take over and continue.

It is my hope that this site will be a place of education on the Torah about the Sabbatical years and what they mean whether I am here or not; and this is not to become the Joe Dumond show selling coffee or Jewish trinkets. Just a place to learn the truth being taught by people who care to do so. So we are developing a team of writers to contribute to this cause and to consider other subjects. These are people who have proven to me I can trust their judgments.

We are still working with the Publishers of the second book we have now finished and hope to have out to you soon. And we are also half way through our third book about Daniels 70 weeks, which is the most scariest prophecy in the bible once it is understood. And we hope to have it out to you soon. But I have to work to pay for this. Each time a book is published and in order to get the most publicity as possible it cost me between $6500 and $10,000 per book depending on the bells and whistles. I am going to go all out on the Daniels 70 weeks book. And I have no financial help here so I keep working. I do have a small team of people helping me research and write sections of theses books and and edit them. I do appreciate them so much.

I am not asking for tithes. I believe tithes are for the Levites and the Temple, which we do not have right now. I am asking for help if you can. Once the vineyard is producing then we do not need your help their unless you volunteer to come and glean the grapes. What I am saying is that I am not here to get rich at your expenses. This is not the Benny Hinn extravaganza.

One of the people helping me has been doing so for over a year now by working these News Letters for me while I write these books explaining the meanings of the Sabbatical years. Each week she with the aid of the Ruach has produced some excellent understanding of the Ten Commandments and many of you have written to tell us how much you appreciate the lesson being brought out.

This week we are covering the Eighth Commandment. Thou shalt not steal. I drew a blank when were discussing this one. How much deeper is there than just not stealing? So I am also blown away at this weeks lesson and do appreciate the help that has been given. I have mentioned her in the past and been asked not to again.

Before we do get to that lesson I want to share a couple of comments from the last couple of teachings on Where the Apostles went and Joseph of Arimathea. Many of you have said how much you appreciated them and how much you all learned from them. And what a breath of fresh air they were to read. I am so pleased to know this. We often wonder if the things we teach are worth the effort sometimes. So hearing from you tells us it is worth continuing to do so. So thank you.

Each week I often get rushed trying to get the News Letter out and it often goes out with a number of mistakes. We are not perfect and I do work a 10 hour day with 4 hours of driving time. But I do appreciate being corrected when done in a loving and caring way.

One comment from Australia last week is this one;
Joe, Shalom,

The recent Muslim disturbances in Sydney, Australia (September 2012) resulted from protests against the movie which caused Muslim riots in many other world capitals. The beach riot you mention was in December 2005 at Cronulla in southern Sydney, but which grew to many other beach-side suburbs over the following few nights. Two different events separated by many years.

Details of the September 2012 riots are here: and here:

Details of the December 2005 Cronulla riots are here:

Thank you for the article regarding where the Apostles went. It didn’t mention Thomas’s martyrdom however in southern India where Thomas went after delivering the Gospel amongst the Saka Scythians (Saxons) and the Hebrew Parthians. Thomas is known to have delivered the Gospel in southern India and also in neighbouring Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) so obviously there would have been an Israelite presence in those locations. Who were these of the “lost sheep of Israel” who were located in those areas? I have not been able to trace them, but suspect they may have been from the Jews from Babylon who didn’t return to Jerusalem at the time of Nehemia, there is a long history of trading between ancient Babylon and India.

Remember that there were still more Jews living in ancient Babylon than in Jerusalem at the time of Yahoshua, just as there are still more Jews living nowadays in “mystery” Mega-Babylon (Daughter of Babylon) than there are in the land of Israel. If these Jews had forgotten the Torah, they would be considered amongst the “lost sheep of Israel” (neither Jew nor Gentile) and therefore within Thomas’s commission to the lost sheep of Israel. The same rule applies to the 200,000+ Jews taken captive by the Assyrians in their last campaign in the land of Israel, and the Jews taken captive by Aram (Syria) (number unknown) from various settlements on the East Bank of the Jordan, and in Eliat. When Aram was defeated by Assyria, these captive Jews, together with the 200,000+ Jews captured prior to the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem would have been mixed amongst the northern tribes taken captive by Assyria. So nowadays the House of Israel has within it a representative number from the House of Judah, just as the House of Judah (today’s Jews) has a representative number (~10%) of the House of Israel.

Getting back to Thomas, the congregation he assembled in southern India (I don’t like using the word “church” as it derives from “kerk”, an assembly of Ba’al worshippers) were believers in Jesus (Yahoshua ben Yosef ben David ben Elohim), and they kept the Torah, observed the Sabbaths, etc. They were perhaps the longest surviving Nazarene (Followers of the Way) community. They survived as a Nazarene community until the Portuguese arrived in the 1600s with their Jesuit priests who forced them to adopt Roman Catholicism at the point of a sword.

Northern India was populated by Israelites who had spread out from the Saka Scythian and the Parthian Empires, they received the Gospel from Philip who was martyred in northern India. The main Israelite presence in northern India came from the Ephraimite clan of Errin (spl.) who we know as the Aryans. The native population regarded them as demi-gods; they were tall, fair men, just and wise rulers, who brought their horses (never before seen in India) and their Sanskrit (Paleo-Hebrew in Persian script) language with them. Segments of Gad were also with them (the Gauths, Hebrew for Gad, also known as the Goths). I find it amusing that Hitler, a notorious Hebrew hater, was an admirer of the Aryans, and the Persians chose to name their country (Iran) after the Aryans, yet they also hate the Hebrews. Siddhartha Gautama, a northern Indian price whose name suggests a link to the Gauths, who was from a family of the Saka, was most likely a Hebrew (see Cam Rea’s article:

If it is of interest, the first “Buddha” may have been Buzi, the father of Ezekiel (see:

I don’t think that James was referring to Britain in 60 AD when speaking of wars between the Israelites. The Britons were fighting against the Romans at that time, and the Romans were of Edomite not Hebrew lineage. Although various clans of various Hebrew Tribes were present in Celtic Britain at that time, the main anti-Roman forces came from the Silures in southern Wales and Cornwall, and the Iceni from eastern Britain. Interestingly, both the Silures and the Iceni were from the Tribe of Simeon, the Silures being the Clan of Shaul of Simeon, and the Iceni were the Clan of Yacin from Simeon. The Simeonites are the most warlike of the Tribes of Israel, as the Romans discovered in Britain (see Simeon by Davidiy –

The King of the Silures who fought against the Romans was Caratacus, who was a Christian. His father Bran was also a Christian – how could that be unless he knew the young Yahoshua who spent some time in the land of the Silures as a youth, most likely with his great-uncle Joseph of Arimathea? Caratacus was taken prisoner by the Romans and sent to Rome. He lived there after being pardoned by the Roman Senate, and his house in Rome, now the Santa Pudenzinia, was the site of the first Christian congregation in Rome.

The last major war between the Tribes of Israel was the American Civil War when the (mainly Ephraimite) southern states fought against the (mainly Mannesah) dominated north-eastern states. The Israelites have fought some bloody wars amongst themselves, and also against their brother Judah, we should remember this as our shame.

Dafydd in Sinim

From South Africa, to India and Pakistan to China and Europe and North America they al had this to say;
Thank you once again for an excellent article!

Last week I said the girl raped was from Pakistan when in fact it was from India and thank those of you who wrote to correct me.
Again Brethren I thank you for writing and letting us know what you think. We do not have time to answer them all any more. I am sorry. But we do hope to soon have a team working together who can do so. We will see.

So lets get to this weeks lesson. May Yehovah help you understand the deep meaning it shows you and may each of us prayerfully consider it when we think of ourselves. You can all point to others, but these are written so that you look at yourself.


The Eighth Commandment

“You do not steal” Exodus 20:15

This commandment looks like this in the Hebrew:

Using modern English lettering it looks like this:
Lo tegannab
Ganab means…
“to take that which belongs to another without his consent or knowledge.”
Strictly speaking, it is the taking of someone else’s things in secret.

According to Strong’s Concordance
ganab {gaw-nab’} a primitive root; TWOT – 364; v AV – steal 30, steal away 7, carry away 1, brought 1; 39 1) to steal, steal away, carry away 1a) (Qal) to steal 1b) (Niphal) to be stolen 1c) (Piel) to steal away 1d) (Pual) to be stolen away, be brought by stealth 1e) (Hithpael) to go by stealth, steal away

This commandment not to steal is pretty straightforward. Therefore in this article, a good scriptural review will be accomplished as a reminder and to get a good view of stealing and theft in our instruction manual and history book – God’s Word – The Bible. We will also cover the spirit of the commandment as well to some extent to provoke some self evaluation and repentance where necessary.

In this study through His Word, the concept of stealing came forth in many forms. Before the written Torah was given to Moses to actually ‘write down’ we see stealing, mostly in the concrete form in reference to the plain meaning: stealing property of another. This is one level. As we walk through the prophets, we see stealing of Yehovah’s Word from the land and from His people and this is another level. In the teachings and life of Messiah, we see stealing again mostly related to what the adversary does, the way of Satan in the world. Each of these we will look at through this article. We pray you are blessed and Yehovah is edified.

It was interesting to note, the first occurrences of our word – ganab, turns up in the life events of Jacob and Laban. One might have thought that stealing would turn up before then, or perhaps this was the best occasion to call it by its specified name – ganab, steal.

In Genesis chapter 30, we encounter Jacob desiring to break free from Laban, his mother’s brother, and take all his family and belongings, which he has acquired through hard word, back to Canaan and away from Padam Aram. Jacob comes up with an idea on how to fairly separate the livestock that belongs to Laban and that which belong to him. The livestock and flocks will be separated by coloring and spots. That way, any livestock Laban finds among Jacob’s flock that is colored or not spotted appropriately, Laban will know that Jacob stole (ganab) that livestock. Jacob proclaims:
“And my righteousness shall answer for me in time to come, when you come concerning my wages; every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats, and black among the lambs, it is stolen if it is with me.” Genesis 30:33

Here we can read, see, and understand the plain language of what it is to steal: taking the property of another person.

Our next encounter with stealing is found in Genesis chapter 31 having to do with people and idols. Laban accuses Jacob of stealing his daughters, grandchildren, and idols.

Genesis chapter 31
And he heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, “Ya’aqob has taken away (stolen) all that was our father’s, and from what belonged to our father he has made all this wealth.” 2 And Ya’aqob would look at the face of Laban and see that it was not toward him as before. 3And Yehovah said to Ya’aqob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your relatives. And I am with you.” 4 And Ya’aqob sent and called Rahel and Le’ah to the field, to his flock, 5and said to them, “I see your father’s face, that it is not toward me as before, but the Elohim of my father has been with me. 6“And you know that I have served your father with all my strength. 7“Yet your father has deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but Elohim did not allow him to do evil to me. 8“When he said this, ‘The speckled are your wages,’ then all the flocks bore speckled. And when he said this, ‘The streaked are your wages,’ then all the flocks bore streaked. 9“So Elohim has taken away (natsal: as in delivered, not stole) the livestock of your father and given them to me. 10“And it came to be, at the time when the flocks conceived, that I lifted my eyes and looked in a dream and saw the rams which leaped upon the flocks were streaked, speckled, and mottled. 11“And the Messenger of Elohim spoke to me in a dream, saying, ‘Ya’aqob.’ And I said, ‘Here I am.’
12“And He said, ‘Lift your eyes now and see, all the rams which leap on the flocks are streaked, speckled, and mottled, for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. 13‘I am the El of Beyth El, where you anointed the standing column and where you made a vow to Me. Now rise up, get out of this land, and return to the land of your relatives.’” 14And Rahel and Le’ah answered and said to him, “Do we still have any portion or inheritance in our father’s house? 15“Are we not reckoned by him as strangers? For he has sold us, and also entirely consumed our silver. 16“For all the wealth which Elohim has taken (natsal) from our father are ours and our children’s. Now then, do whatever Elohim has told you.” 17So Ya’aqob rose and put his sons and his wives on camels, 18and he drove off all his livestock and all his possessions which he had acquired, his property of the livestock which he had acquired in Paddan Aram, to go to his father Yitshaq in the land of Kena’an.

Let us read and understand here, that in the eyes of Laban and his sons, Jacob stole. But in the eyes of Yehovah, he did not. Yehovah has delivered more flocks into Jacob’s hand by the divine order of the increased spotted and speckled sheep. Additionally, the daughters and grandchildren are not Laban’s property… they are Jacob’s property. One cannot steal their own property. Stealing is when one takes the property that belongs to another. Now, the idols are a different story. The idols belonged to Laban, and Rachel stole them, in secret, from him. The perfect definition of theft.

19And when Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rahel stole (ganab: steal) the house idols that were her father’s.
20And Ya’aqob deceived Laban the Aramean, because he did not inform him that he was about to flee. 21And he fled with all that he had. And he rose up and passed over the river, and headed toward the mountains of Gil’ad.
22And on the third day Laban was told that Ya’aqob had fled.
23Then he took his brothers with him and pursued him for seven days’ journey, and he overtook him in the mountains of Gil’ad. 24But in a dream by night Elohim came to Laban the Aramean, and said to him, “Guard yourself, that you do not speak to Ya’aqob either good or evil.” 25Then Laban overtook Ya’aqob. Now Ya’aqob had pitched his tent in the mountains, and Laban with his brothers pitched in the mountains of Gil’ad. 26And Laban said to Ya’aqob, “What have you done, that you have deceived me, and driven my daughters off like captives taken with the sword?

Laban is accusing Jacob of kidnapping here, but these people belong to Jacob.

27“Why did you flee secretly and deceive me, and not inform me, and I would have sent you away with joy and songs, with tambourine and lyre? 28“And you did not allow me to kiss my sons and my daughters. Now you have been foolish to do this. 29“It is in the power of my hand to do evil to you, but the Elohim of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Guard yourself, that you do not speak to Ya’aqob either good or evil.’

Remember Abraham and Isaac also deceiving in order to deliver their lives? We now see this with Jacob and Laban. All of these times, it is Yehovah who personally shows up and instructs these gentile men on how to treat His people. This is a testimony of the workings of Yehovah. We will discuss this more when we cover the ninth commandment about bearing false witness.

30“And now you have gone because you greatly long for your father’s house, but why did you steal (ganab) my mighty ones?”
31And Ya’aqob answered and said to Laban, “Because I was afraid, for I said, ‘Lest you tear your daughters away from me.’ 2“With whomever you find your mighty ones, do not let him live. In the presence of our brothers, see for yourself what is with me and take it with you.” For Ya’aqob did not know that Rahel had stolen them.
33And Laban went into Ya’aqob’s tent, and into Le’ah’s tent, and into the tents of the two female servants, but he did not find them. And he came out of Le’ah’s tent and entered Rahel’s tent.
34Now Rahel had taken the house idols and put them in the camel’s saddle, and sat on them. And Laban searched all about the tent but did not find them. 35And she said to her father, “Let it not displease my master that I am unable to rise before you, for the way of women is with me.” And he searched but did not find the house idols. 36And Ya’aqob was wroth and contended with Laban, and Ya’aqob answered and said to Laban, “What is my transgression? What is my sin, that you have hotly pursued me? 37“Now that you have searched all my goods what have you found of all your household goods? Set it here before my brothers and your brothers, and let them decide between the two of us!
38“These twenty years I have been with you. Your ewes and your female goats have not miscarried their young, and I have not eaten the rams of your sheep. 39“That which was torn by beasts I did not bring to you, I myself bore the loss of it. You required it from my hand, whether stolen by day or stolen by night.
40“Thus I was! By day the heat consumed me, and the frost by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes. 41“These twenty years I have been in your house. I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times.

Here we see how the stealing on the part of Rachel sets into motion the events that may have brought about her early death. Her secretly taking the idols was not known to her husband Jacob, and he pronounced a deadly curse upon the person who has taken them if in fact, it is true. We are left to speculate whether this curse did in fact bring about her death, but it is interesting to contemplate. For the wages of sin is death we are told and it is obvious to us, that even at this time prior to the ‘written Torah’ that theft was socially unacceptable. Stealing brings evil to us.

Next we look into the life of Joseph. In Judaism, this commandment in some sects has been changed to specifically read “no kidnapping”. Sometimes kidnapping is used in some translations for the Hebrew words: ganab (steal) nephesh (being). So in our understanding these words have been assigned the word: kidnapping. It is not in error but just denotes a specific type of stealing. It is still stealing.

Once again we see the evil that befalls those who engage in stealing in the event of Joseph being taken captive by his brothers and sold into slavery. This event also involved deception, cover up and so many other trespasses which is so very common in the sin of theft. This event also occurred prior to the written Torah, but we witness the damage this trespass does to a family, a society, and to individuals who do this.

We find the events Genesis chapter 37 were the brothers of Joseph because of envy and jealousy propose to murder him. Through discussion amongst themselves, they decide to fake his death through a deception so as not to murder, but instead sell him into captivity as a slave.

We read in the written Torah:

Leviticus 19:11
“Do not steal, do not lie, do not deceive one another.”

Deuteronomy 24:7
“When a man is found kidnapping any of his brothers of the children of Israel and treats him harshly or sells him, then that kidnapper shall die. Thus you shall purge the evil from your midst.”

And just because this is only ‘written’ later does not mean the brothers did not know better. The evidence is in their lying to their father Jacob and the cover up.
We notice that around this transgression of stealing is sadness, grief, anger, division, scattering, and death and a whole host of other sins.

Stealing in the written Torah by Moses:

Exodus “You do not steal” Exodus 20:15
“Do not steal, do not lie, do not deceive one another.” Leviticus 19:11

Deuteronomy 5:19
“You do not steal”

Very plain indeed. In Exodus chapter 22 we are given some boundaries as to how to deal with theft when a member of our people engages in theft and how to bring about Yehovah’s right ruling.

Exodus 22
1.When a man steals an ox or a sheep, and shall slaughter it or sell it, he repays five cattle for an ox and four sheep for a sheep.
2. If the thief is found breaking in, and he is smitten so that he dies, there is no guilt for his bloodshed.
3 If the sun has risen on him, there is guilt for his bloodshed, he shall certainly repay.
If he has not the means, then he shall be sold for his theft.
4 If the theft is indeed found alive in his hand, whether it is an ox or donkey or sheep, he repays double.
5 When a man lets a field or vineyard be grazed, and lets loose his livestock, and it feeds in another man’s field, he repays from the best of his own field and the best of his own vineyard
6 When fire breaks out and spreads to thorn bushes, so that stacked grain, or standing grain, or the field is consumed, he who kindled the fire shall certainly repay.
7 when a man gives silver or goods to his neighbor to guard, and it is stolen out of the man’s house, if the thief is found, he repays double.
8 If the thief is not found, then the master of the house shall be brought before Elohim to see whether he has put his hand into his neighbor’s goods.
9 For every matter of transgression, for ox, for donkey, for sheep, for garment, or for whatever is lost which another claims to be his, let the matter of them both come before Elohim. And whomever Elohim declares wrong repays double to his neighbor.
10 When a man gives to his neighbor a donkey, or ox, or sheep, or any beast to watch over, and it dies, or is injured, or is driven away while no one is looking,
11 let an oath of YHWH be between them both, that he has not put his hand into his neighbor’s goods. And the owner of it shall accept that, and he does not repay.
12 But if it is indeed stolen from him, he repays to its owner.
13 If it is torn to pieces, then let him bring it for evidence, he does not repay what was torn.
14 And when a man borrows from his neighbor, and it is injured or dies while the owner of it is not present, he shall certainly repay.
15 But if its owner was with it, he does not repay. If it was hired, he is entitled to the hire.

Did we notice here, that there is no chopping off of body parts, no imprisonment, and no putting to death? No. This is not the way of Yehovah, Elohim of Israel. There is repayment only. This is the right-ruling of God. This ruling has gone forth, is proper, and has not changed. How many thousands are in our prisons today because of theft? We call ourselves Christians and profess our nations to be Christians nations? Yet our laws in the regard to stealing do not line up with God’s Laws. Perhaps we are also stealing God’s words, for He has not told us to do this. His Right ruling is “payback” of that which has been stolen plus a portion.

Punishment for theft in Israel was not as severe as that of some neighboring nations, where the death penalty was inflicted. The Law required the thief to return to his victim twice the amount he had stolen (Ex 22:7).
Thus the thief lost the exact amount he had hoped to gain. The penalties were doubled and more if the thief slaughtered or sold a stolen animal. Only in the case of kidnapping (Ex 21:16) or theft of “devoted things” (Joshua 7:11, 25) was a thief executed.

However, when the theft involves the taking of a person, the punishment is the death penalty.

Exodus 21:16
“And he who kidnap’s a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, shall certainly be put to death.

Let us move now from the books of the Torah and into the book of Joshua were we find another event of theft, disobedience, and yes… most grievous death as a result.

Joshua 7:11
“Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. And they have even taken some of that which is under the ban, and have both stolen and deceived, and also put it among their own goods.”

What happened here, to cause Yehovah to say these things? Theft (among other sins)

Joshua chapter 7:1
But the children of Israel committed a trespass regarding that which is under the ban, for Akan son of Karmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of that which is under the ban. And the displeasure of Yehovah burned against the children of Israel.

Notice here also, that the entire nation was under judgment because of this one person who stole, deceived, and disobeyed God. This act set them up for defeat against the Amorites, where many died. This is serious brethren, very serious. What we do in the open or in secret effects the Whole Body of Messiah, not just ourselves. Please remember this! Toward the end of this article, some things will be shared on how we are stealing as the assembly of Yehovah’s people and House.

Let’s take a look at Abshalom and King David, where again we find theft of a different type and what happens as a result.

2 Samuel 15:6
And Abshalom did this to all Israel who came to the sovereign for right-ruling. And Abshalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.

2 Samuel Chapter 15
And it came to be after this that Abshalom prepared a chariot and horses for himself, and fifty men to run before him. 2And Abshalom used to rise early and stand beside the way to the gate. And it came to be, whenever anyone who had a complaint came to the sovereign for a right-ruling, that Abshalom would call to him and say, “What city are you from?”
And when he said, “Your servant is from such and such a tribe of Yisra’el,”
3Abshalom would say to him, “Look, your matters are good and right, but you have nobody from the sovereign to hear you.”
4And Abshalom would say, “Oh, that I were made judge in the land, and everyone who has any complaint or case would come to me, and I shall let right be done to him.”
5And it came to be, whenever anyone came near him to bow down to him, that he would put out his hand and take him and kiss him. 6And Abshalom did this to all Yisra’el who came to the sovereign for right-ruling. And Abshalom stole the hearts of the men of Yisra’el.
7And it came to be at the end of four years that Abshalom said to the sovereign, “Please, let me go to Hebron and pay the vow which I vowed to YHWH. 8“For your servant vowed a vow while I dwelt at Geshur in Aram, saying, ‘If indeed YHWH brings me back to Yerushalayim, then I shall serve YHWH.’ ”
9And the sovereign said to him, “Go in peace.” And he rose up and went to Hebron. 10But Abshalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Yisra’el, saying, “As soon as you hear the sound of the ram’s horn, then you shall say, ‘Abshalom is sovereign in Hebron!’ ” 11And with Abshalom went two hundred men from Yerushalayim who were invited, and they went along unsuspectingly, and did not know the matter at all. 12Abshalom also sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, counselor of Dawid, from his city, from Giloh, while he was bringing offerings. And it came to be that the conspiracy became strong, for the people with Abshalom kept increasing.
13Then a messenger came to Dawid, saying, “The hearts of the men of Yisra’el are with Abshalom.” 14And Dawid said to all his servants who were with him at Yerushalayim, “Rise up, and let us flee, for none of us shall escape from Abshalom. Go in haste, lest he overtake us quickly and bring evil upon us, and smite the city with the edge of the sword.”
15And the sovereign’s servants said to the sovereign, “Look, your servants shall do according to all my master the sovereign chooses.”16And the sovereign went out, and all his household at his feet.

As we look at this case of Abshalom, King David’s son, we can see he is acting as an adversary. The adversary comes to steal, kill, and destroy. What was he doing specifically? How did he do it? Do we do the same things?
First, Abshalom gained for himself material goods – chariots, horses, and men. He puffed himself up in the sight of other people. He was not awarded these from the King (Yehovah), but obtained them for himself although Yehovah allowed him to obtain them, which is different. This is like a “self appointment” of sorts. Just because he desired the position of King of Israel, he thought it all right to simply go out and take it. Chariots are as to cars and homes. Horses are to businesses, and the men are as to employees, staff members, and servants.
Secondly, Abshalom began a secret plan to “steal” the hearts of the people from the King. He rose early in the morning and day after day publicly and purposefully made known to the people how he would be a better and more available judge.
“Oh that I were made judge in the land, and everyone who has any complaint or case would come to me, and I shall let right be done to him.”
Do you know how many we have among ourselves doing this very thing in the Assembly of Yehovah?

Many today talk of how evil Yehovah was in the Old Testament in how He dealt with the nations of Canaan through Israel. They accuse Him of being “unfair” “partial” “wicked” “mean”
They tell others how He was wrong in what He did and is an unjust and wicked God. They are proclaiming themselves to be the proper and better judge than the King, just as Abshalom did. They are stealing the hearts of men and women secretly from Yehovah. They are acting as adversary.
Sometimes we can fall into doing this unknowingly. What do we tell people when they ask us questions about the character of Yehovah? What do we tell them when they accuse Him of not answering prayers? Do we have a proper answer for them, or do we behave as the adversary to Yehovah when we express our own opinion concerning what He has done? It is better to admit we don’t yet know why some things are the ways they are if we don’t yet know or understand them. We can always proclaim His goodness, mercy, and grace though and then urge one another to continue to study, ask, and pray about these things.

Abshalom also allows himself to be worshipped. We read, “whenever anyone came near him to bow down to him, that he would put out his hand and take him and kiss him.” v. 5
Do we do this too? Do we advise people to consult with Yehovah and plead to hear from His Spirit, or are we always there with our own answers, relishing the fact people come to us for answers and advice so that we can feel important? Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate our motives and heart continuously is what we need to do. If a brother or sister is more dependant upon us than the Holy Spirit, we are stealing from Yehovah just as Abshalom was stealing from King David. This is also what Anti-Christ will do to Yeshua. This group is not a group to share company with! It is so very easy to slip into as well. Ask Yehovah to show you your heart every so often on matters. He will.

Something interesting about the word Hebron, where Abshalom desired to go to proclaim himself king.
The word Hebron comes from the word chebar.
chabar {khaw-bar’} a primitive root; TWOT – 598; v AV – couple 8, join 8, couple together 4, join together 3, compact 1, charmer + 02267 1, charming + 02267 1, have fellowship 1, league 1, heap up 1; 29 1) to unite, join, bind together, be joined, be coupled, be in league, heap up, have fellowship with, be compact, be a charmer 1a) (Qal) 1a1) to unite, be joined 1a2) to tie magic charms, charm 1b) (Piel) 1b1) to unite with, make an ally of 1b2) to unite, join, ally 1c) (Pual) 1c1) to be allied with, be united 1c2) to be joined together 1d) (Hiphil) to join together, pile up (words) 1e) (Hithpael) to join oneself to, make an alliance, league together

Secrets, planning, plotting, and conspiracy are always related to oaths, loyalty, coupling by vows, etc. Wonder why Abshalom proclaimed he had to go there to serve Yehovah when he was only serving himself?

Are some of us guilty of this from time to time? Most of us would not openly admit to doing this, but what about just between ourselves and God? Most of us do not have the courage to look at ourselves and ask the question, “Am I behaving as ‘The Adversary’ (that is haSatan) in my thoughts and actions, and are they even secret from myself?”
Do you have the courage to ask this question, and ask Yehovah to show you if, in fact, you are?

The instruction to us is, “you shall not steal.” Many of us believe we are good and obedient children because we do not steal material goods from another. We believe we are good and obedient children because we do not go out and rob other people. Yet we rob and steal from Yehovah Himself. Did He not say, “The greatest commandment is this,
‘Hear O Israel, YHWH our Elohim, YHWH is One. And you shall love YHWH your Elohim with all your heart, with all your being, with all your mind and all your strength.’ Deut 6:4, Mark 12:29-30.

Let us take heed not to steal the Kingship and Judgeship from Yehovah! Let us not go to Hebron, the place of association where the enchanter lives and secretly plan to steal from Him.

In the books of the Prophets, less is written about specific situations of stealing and what it causes. This makes sense, for what we have already read in the Torah of Yehovah and through the lives of the Patriarchs it should be very clear! As stated before and will be stated over and over again… is the Right ruling and Word of Elohim has gone forth. So what we find in the prophets is… a stealing of God’s Word itself. Yehovah Himself lets this very thing to be known too, that His Word has gone forth and He truly does expect us to love Him and obey. Coming up with something “new” is not necessary or desired by our Father and in fact can be a very very dangerous path for us to be on.

Jeremiah 23:30
“Therefore see, I am against the prophets,” declares Yehovah, “who steal My Words every one from his neighbor.”

How does someone steal Yehovah’s Words? How would we consider that someone stole our words? Perhaps if we had said or written something, and then someone else takes our words and twists them, misquotes them, or maybe they were stating something and proclaimed we said that when we did not.

Let us read the entire chapter from Jeremiah to get an idea. Consider Jeremiah expressed these words, had them written down, and that is why we have them today. He was instructed to speak out by Yehovah Himself and to write these things down. During this time, Judah was about to fall to Babylon because of their sin, but there was still time to turn things around if they would start obeying Yehovah and His Ways. But all the King’s prophets and priests were what we might call, “yes men” to the King and not helpful to him because they were not truthful and faithful to Elohim.

The King’s prophets and priests were prophesying peace and prosperity, amid great sin and chaos and disobedience! They had a message of confidence, a “feel good” message. They would not speak of the great sin and trespass of themselves and the people. They preached prosperity, peace, good times. Can’t you just hear them now? There are many on TV and radio today doing the same thing and preaching the same words, all the while there are murders, starvation, theft, adultery, abortion, and addiction. Yet many of the King’s men are talking prosperity, name it and claim it, you are all right, you are a child of God and you can do no wrong, you are blessed and protected they cry, etc etc etc. Let us see what Yehovah gave Jeremiah to say to these people and this situation to see if we can learn something about “stealing Yehovah’s Words.”

“Woe to the shepherds destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!”u declares Yehovah.
2 Therefore thus said YHWH Elohim of Yisra’el against the shepherds who feed My people, “You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and have not tended them.

Shepherds care for sheep by: keeping them together, keeping them in the proper path and in a pasture area of good food, leading them by water, and keeping away the wolves. When sheep do not have these things… they begin to wander away, looking for food, water, good pasture, and they disperse to get away from danger. But as long as there is a good shepherd providing food, water, and safety for them, they will not wander, scatter, and go astray, but will stay in the flock.

See, I am punishing you for the evil of your deeds,” declares YHWH.

3“Therefore I shall gather the remnant of My flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and shall bring them back to their fold. And they shall bear and increase.

These next words Yehovah gave to Jeremiah are indeed words of promise, but take note that they are for a future time when He Himself will do these things for His people.

4“And I shall raise up shepherds over them, and they shall feed them.v And they shall fear no more, nor be discouraged, nor shall they be lacking,” declares YHWH.
5“See, the days are coming,” declares YHWH, “when I shall raise for Dawid a Branchw of righteousness, and a Sovereign shall reign and act wisely, and shall do right-ruling and righteousness in the earth. 6“In His days Yehudah shall be saved, and Yisra’el dwell safely. And this is His Name whereby He shall be called: ‘our Righteousness.’
7“Therefore, see, the days are coming,” declares, “when they shall say no more, ‘As YHWH lives who brought up the children of Yisra’el out of the land of Mitsrayim,’ 8but, ‘As YHWH lives who brought up and led the seed of the house of Yisra’el out of the land of the north and from all the lands where I had driven them.’ And they shall dwell on their own soil.”

Now we are brought back to Jeremiah’s present day and words against these ‘false prophets’ who are stealing God’s Words.

9My heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake. I am like a drunken man, and like a man overcome by wine, because of YHWH, and because of His set-apart words. 10For the land is filled with adulterers; for the land mourns because of a curse. The pastures of the wilderness are dried up.
And their course is evil, and their might is not right. “For both prophet and priest have become defiled. Even in My house I have found their evil,” declares YHWH.

12“Therefore their way is to them like slippery ways in the dark. They are driven on and they shall fall in them. For I bring evil on them, the year of their punishment,” declares YHWH.
13“And I have seen folly in the prophets of Shomeron: they prophesied by Ba’al and led My people Yisra’el astray. 14“And among the prophets of Yerushalayim I have seen a horrible matter: committing adultery and walking in falsehood. And they strengthen the hands of evil ones, so that no one turns back from his evil. All of them are like Sedom to Me, and her inhabitants like Amorah. 15“Therefore thus said of hosts concerning the prophets, ‘See, I am making them eat wormwood, and shall make them drink poisoned water. For defilement has gone out into all the land from the prophets of Yerushalayim.’”

16Thus said YHWH of hosts, “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, they lead you astray. They speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of YHWH.

17“They keep on saying to those who despise Me, ‘ YHWH has said you shall have peace.’ And to all who walk according to the stubbornness of their own heart they say, ‘No evil comes upon you.’”

18For who has stood in the counsel of YHWH, and has seen and heard His word?

Do we know what this question means? Do we know what our Father is asking here? He is asking: Who has been in My Word? Is this Word He is referencing a dream? No. Is this counsel a group of men? No. Is this word or counsel the internet or fellowship, or church, or commentary? No.

This counsel of YHWH, this Word that we are to see and hear… are His. His Words He gave to us by Moses- His Instructions and right rulings and judgments and statutes. These are His counsel. To stand in His counsel is to know His right rulings and judgments and then teach them and do them. Anything else is lying, stealing, and deceit.

Who has listened to His word and obeyed it? 19See, a storm of shall go forth in a rage, a whirling storm! It whirls on the head of the wrong. 20The displeasure of YHWH shall not turn back until He has done and established the purposes of His heart. In the latter days you shall understand it perfectly.x

21“I did not send these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.y 22“But if they had stood in My counsel, then they would have let My people hear My Words, and they would have turned them from their evil way and from the evil of their deeds.

Do we see and hear these words spoken by Yehovah through Jeremiah His prophet? God Himself says, “But if they had stood in My counsel, then they would have let My people hear My Words, they would have turned them from their evil way and from the evil of their deeds.”
We ask the question, “if the prophet, preacher, minister is not preaching God’s right rulings and teaching His Ways and showing what is ‘sin’, then whose words are he or she speaking? If not Yehovah’s, then who’s?

23“Am I an Elohim close by,” declares YHWH, “and not an Elohim afar off?
24“If anyone is hidden in secret places, would I not see him?” declares YHWH. “Do I not fill the heavens and earth?” declares YHWH.
25“I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy falsehood in My Name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’ 26“Till when shall it be in the heart of the prophets? – the prophets of falsehood and prophets of the deceit of their own heart, 27who try to make My people forget My Name by their dreams which everyone relates to his neighbour, as their fathers forgot My Name for Ba’al.

When will we ever learn? Do you have a Bible in your home, in your hands? Then you have the full counsel of YHWH. You have it. He is near you and within you. When someone decries, “I have had a dream, a vision, a prophetic word” you can tell them – if it is from Yehovah, I already have it in my hand… for I have His Word in my hand. I already have His Vision in front of me. I already hear His Voice in my ear. This has not changed and will not change.

28“The prophet who has a dream, let him relate the dream, and he who has My Word, let him speak My Word in truth. What is the chaff to the wheat?” declares YHWH. 29“Is not My Word like a fire?” declares YHWH, “and like a hammer that shatters a rock?

30“Therefore see, I am against the prophets,” declares YHWH, “who steal My Words every one from his neighbour. 31“See, I am against the prophets,” declares YHWH, “who use their tongues and say, ‘He declares.’
32“See, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,” declares YHWH, “and relate them, and lead My people astray by their falsehoods and by their reckless boasting. But I Myself did not send them nor have I commanded them. And they do not profit this people at all,” declares YHWH.

33“And when these people or the prophet or the priest ask you, saying, ‘What is the message of YHWH?’ then you shall say to them, ‘What message?’ I shall forsake you,” declares YHWH.
34“As for the prophet and the priest and the people who say, ‘The message of YHWH,’ I shall punish that man and his house. 35“This is what each one says to his neighbour, and each one to his brother, ‘What has YHWH answered?’ and, ‘What has YHWH spoken?’ 36“But the message of YHWH you no longer remember! For every man’s message is his own word, for you have changedz the Words of the living Elohim, of hosts, our Elohim!
37“This is what you say to the prophet, ‘What has YHWH answered you?’ and, ‘What has YHWH spoken?’ 38“But since you say, ‘The message of YHWH!’ therefore thus said YHWH, ‘Because you say this word, “The message of YHWH!” and I have sent to you, saying, “Do not say, ‘The message of YHWH!’”

39therefore see, I, I shall utterly forget you and cast you away from My presence, along with the city that I gave you and your fathers. 40‘And I shall put an everlasting reproach on you, and an everlasting shame that is not forgotten.’ ”

Isaiah helps us to understand by what is meant in Jeremiah where Yehovah proclaims: “for you have changed the Words of the living Elohim of hosts.” [Stealing the Word of Elohim]

Isaiah Chapter 24
See, YHWH is making the earth empty and making it waste, and shall overturn its surface, and shall scatter abroad its inhabitants. 2And it shall be – as with the people so with the priest, as with the servant so with his master, as with the female servant so with her mistress, as with the buyer so with the seller, as with the lender so with the borrower, as with the creditor so with the debtor; 3the earth is completely emptied and utterly plundered, for YHWH has spoken this word. 4The earth shall mourn and wither, the world shall languish and wither, the haughty people of the earth shall languish.

5For the earth has been defiled under its inhabitants, because they have transgressed the Torot, 1changedv the law, broken the everlasting covenant.w

6Therefore a curse shall consume the earth, and those who dwell in it be punished. Therefore the inhabitants of the earth shall be burned, and few men shall be left. 7The new wine shall fail, the vine shall languish, all those glad at heart shall sigh. 8The joy of the tambourine shall cease, the noise of those who rejoice shall end, the joy of the lyre shall cease. 9No more do they drink wine with a song, strong drink is bitter to those who drink it.

10The deserted city shall be broken down, every house shall be shut, no one enters. 11There is a crying for wine in the streets; all joy shall be darkened, the gladness of the earth shall be gone. 12The city is left in ruins, and the gate is stricken with destruction. 13For thus it is to be in the midst of the earth among the peoples, like the shaking of an olive tree, like the gleaning of grapes when the grape harvest is done. 14They lift up their voice, they sing of the excellency of YHWH, they shall cry aloud from the sea.

15Therefore praise YHWH in the east, the Name of YHWH Elohim of Yisra’el in the coastlands of the sea. 16From the ends of the earth we shall hear songs, “Splendour to the Righteous One!” But I say, “I waste away, I waste away! Woe to me! The treacherous betray, with treachery the treacherous betray.” 7Fear and the pit and the snare are upon you, O inhabitant of the earth. 18And it shall be that he who flees from the noise of the fear falls into the pit, and he who comes up from the midst of the pit is caught in the snare. For the windows from on high shall be opened, and the foundations of the earth be shaken 19The earth shall be utterly broken, the earth shall be completely shattered, the earth shall be fiercely shaken. 20The earth shall stagger like a drunkard. And it shall totter like a hut, and its transgression shall be heavy upon it, and it shall fall, and not rise again. 21And in that day it shall be that punishes on high the host of exalted ones, and on the earth the sovereigns of the earth.
22And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and be punished after many days. 23And the moon shall blush, and the sun shall be ashamed, for YHWH of hosts shall reign on Mount Tsiyon, and in Yerushalayim,x and before His elders, in esteem!

It is interesting to notice that during these times of the Words of Yehovah to His prophets, the people did not have each man, woman, family the Torah of God in their own hands and homes. They were very dependent upon the prophets and priests. They were no longer preacher and advising the leaders and people concerning their sin and trespass and teaching repentance. Today – we all have the ability to read His Word for ourselves. We do well to remember, that to whom much is given, much is required.

A passage in Hosea also supports the case of the sign of stealing from Elohim. Once again, the complaint is the same that Yehovah has against us that He had when we read His Words in Jeremiah. He says, ““For there is no truth or kindness or knowledge of Elohim in the land.”

Hosea 4:1-4
Hear the word of YHWH, you children of Israel, for YHWH has a case against the inhabitants of the land: “For there is no truth or kindness or knowledge of Elohim in the land.
Swearing, and lying, and murdering, and stealing, and committing adultery have increased. And bloodshed follows bloodshed.
Therefore the land mourns, and every one living there languishes, with the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens. And the fish of the sea are taken away.
However, let no one strive or reprove another, for your people are like those striving with a priest.

Stealing is one of those trespasses that appears among the land when there is no knowledge of Elohim.

Continuing through the Bible and looking at specific references to stealing, we find a significant prophecy by Zechariah.
Zecharyah chapter 5

And I lifted up my eyes again, and looked and saw a flying scroll.
2And he said to me, “What do you see?”
And I answered, “I see a flying scroll, twenty cubits long and ten cubits wide.”
3And he said to me, “This is the curse that goes forth over the face of all the earth: ‘everyone who is stealing shall go unpunished,’ on the one side, according to it, and, ‘everyone who has sworn falsely shall go unpunished,’ on the other side, according to it.”

Did we see? What is the curse? The curse is that there is ‘no punishment’ for stealing His Words and swearing falsely by His Name. This is a curse. So many people falsely teach and believe that the punishment is the curse. No. The curse is ‘no punishment’. Do we understand this? When there is no more punishment, there is no more turning. When there is no more turning, there is no more waking up to the awareness of sin and trespass and sin will increase and continue. This is misery! It also should speak to us to start today becoming the priests of our own homes! His Truth, His Deliverance, His Word, and His Name – is in ‘your hand’ in ‘your mouth’ in ‘your tongue’ and in ‘your heart’

4“I shall send it out,” declares YHWH of hosts, “and it shall come into the house of the thief and the house of the one who shall swear falsely by My Name. And it shall remain in the midst of his house and shall consume it, both its timber and stones.”

In the books of the Writings, we find wisdom and people of God sharing what they have come to know through experience concerning stealing.

In Proverbs
Thievery is compared to not having a heart and is associated with the foolish woman, the foolish virgin, and harlotry. Stealing is associated with “secret knowledge” that comes from others who profess to have a special wisdom they have gained and they tempt others… the unsuspecting… to partake in their ways (the way of the Adversary)

Proverbs 9:17
A foolish woman is loud, simple, and without knowledge.
For she has seated herself at the door of her house, on a seat by the highest places of the city, to call to those who pass by, who go straight on their way:
“Who is simple? Let him turn in here.”
And as for him who lacks heart, she says to him,
“Stolen waters are sweet, and bread in secret is pleasant.”
But he does not know that the dead are there, her guests are in the depths of the grave.

Lacking heart is as lacking spirit. To some, stolen waters are sweet because the conscience is seared and they cannot “hear” the conviction of Yehovah through His Word and Holy Spirit. Again – the idea of “no punishment”. The same is for the pleasantness of “secret” bread. Let us not fall prey to this. If we are in sin, and are not being convicted of it internally, we are in deep deep trouble for our eternal souls. We should pray to receive conviction by whatever it takes so that our souls may be delivered.

Proverbs 30 verses 5-9. This is by Agar, son of Yaqeh.
Every Word of Eloah is tried; He is a shield to those taking refuge in Him.
Do not add to His Words, Lest He reprove you, and you be found a liar.
Two I have asked of You – deny them not to me before I die:
Removed falsehood and a lying word far from me
Give me neither poverty nor riches;

Feed me my portion of bread;
Lest I become satisfied and deny, and say, “Who is YHWH?” and

Lest I be poor, and steal, and seize the Name of my Elohim.

So few words and yet so full of simple wisdom! The words of Agur… how many of us pray this to Yehovah? Two simple things: Remove from me falsehood and lying, give me just enough… not too much and not too little, for either extreme will lead me into sin and trespass. Notice how Agur compares stealing to bringing the Name of Yehovah to naught! Tying the eighth commandment directly to the third commandment of not taking the Name of Yehovah in vain.
Stealing is one of those actions that is so blatantly not of Yehovah and in fact is blatantly reflective of haSatan instead.
The words of Yeshua: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to slaughter, and to destroy. I have come that they might possess life, and that they might possess it beyond measure.” John 10:10

We now move into the life and teachings of our Messiah into the Apostolic writings so that we learn even more about stealing. Stealing is associated with the Adversary, Satan. It opposes Yehovah, and in relationship to our Messiah’s Words above in John 10:10, let’s continue reading and remember the words we read earlier about what Yehovah gave to Jeremiah about the shepherds who scatter His flock.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. But the hireling, and not being a shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, see the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees. And the wolf snatches the sheep and scatters them.

Now the hireling flees because he is a hireling and is not concerned about the sheep.
I am the good shepherd. And I know Mine, and Mine know Me, even as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. And I lay down My life for the sheep.” John 10:11-15

Here are some questions to ponder for us all:
Did Messiah have a church building?
Did Messiah receive a salary from people as an income for a house, a car, clothes?

He is the good shepherd. He is not a hireling. What is the price for a monetary payment for His Peace, His Teaching, His Comfort, His Healing, His Guidance. There is nothing He needs from us except ears, eyes, hearts, hands, and feet to hear Him and to serve one another. If starting tomorrow, we could never attend church or fellowship again… would we be able to learn, hear, and obey? Do we have enough love for the Master to hold our homes as the Sanctuary in which we live, meet, and sit at His Feet?

Matt. 6:19-21
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart shall be also.”

There are many today both without and within the assembly who steal. When we steal from one another, we are in league with the adversary who steals. Perhaps we do not realize we are in league with the adversary, but we are.

For example: a believer hears and receives the truth and then many come along and press upon them their own beliefs and persecute them with strong words and insist upon a certain speech, or spelling of a name, or sow seeds of doubt concerning scripture and writings. These are thieves coming to steal. Many of the “things” we press upon people are not even part of His Instructions for life.

A measure with which to measure our actions could be: are we taking or are we giving? Yehovah gives to His child what He desires to give them, and He knows each of His own intimately just as a potter intimately knows the vessel He has created with His own two hands. He knows the weaknesses, strengths, cracks, areas of thickness or thinness. When we, as also His created vessels, step in and put our hands upon the vessel, we become a thief, stealing that which Yehovah is creating, shaping, trimming down, or building up.

If a brother or sister receives from Yehovah a seed of Faith… add to it. Do we understand this? Let us “add” to it. A person says, “Jesus wrote the Torah, and it is not done away with as we have been taught!” Then what do some of us do? We have no joy over this, but berate the brother about the Name they are using! Instead of adding joy to joy, we steal the little bit of joy they have received from the Father! This is one example of many that could be listed and it is representative of Yehovah’s adversary, not His Sons.

We read in the Apostolic writings of Yeshua being called many, many names. He was called Master, Lord, Son of David, Teacher, Rabbi and maybe some others that are not listed here. Yet, He never admonished the people over these things! He did correct one young man when the young man called Him good. In which case, Yeshua pointed to the Father, because only the Father is good. What do we do to one another? We accept the compliments of goodness and righteousness, but beat each other about the Names. We are not behaving as the Son of Elohim in these matters – but the exact opposite. How are we stealing in this instance?

So let us review the parable of the seed sower. These are the words of Yeshua:

Luk 8:5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some indeed fell by the wayside. And it was trodden down, and the birds of the heaven devoured it.
[Are we stepping upon one another and the seed of faith that has been given them, or are we protecting one another, building up?]
Luk 8:6 “And other fell on rock, and when it grew up, it withered because it had no moisture.
[Are we watering what little seed is given one another, or are we taking what little moisture they had?]
Luk 8:7 “And other fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it.
[Are we choking one another out or growing each other up?]
Luk 8:8 “And other fell on the good soil, and grew up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.”

Having said this He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

Luk 8:9 And His taught ones were asking Him, saying, “What does this parable mean?”
Luk 8:10 And He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the reign of Elohim, but to the rest in parables, that ‘Seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not understand.’
Luk 8:11 “And this is the parable: The seed is the word of Elohim.
[Do we hear? The seed is the Word of Elohim. It is not our word… but His. No matter how small, how limited — it is His that He gives.]

Now let us look at the character of the Adversary, haSatan as some call this character, and let us “see” what it is “he” does to this seed of Elohim that falls.

Luk 8:12 “And those by the wayside are the ones who hear, then the “devil” comes and takes away the word from their hearts, lest having believed, they should be saved.
Luk 8:13 “And those on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy. And these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of trial fall away.

[here is where if we help and aid one another during times of trial may prevent another from falling away. But when we steal their joy…we are that adversary]

Luk 8:14 “And that which fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with worries, and riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
Luk 8:15 “And that on the good soil are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, retain it, and bear fruit with endurance.
Luk 8:16 “And no one having lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but he puts it on a lampstand, so that those coming in see the light.
Luk 8:17 “For whatever is hidden shall be revealed, and whatever is secret shall be known and come to light.

There will always be someone playing the adversary until Yeshua binds the spirit for a thousands years. The point is, do not let it be “you”

There is a great deal more to ‘search out’ on the commandment not to steal. We have covered here in this article about the plain language on material goods, persons, and punishments of His right-rulings and judgments. We covered stealing of His Words by prophets and priests, and also how we sometimes steal the seed of faith from others when we fail to lift up and add to their faith by tearing them down and continuous correction. Let us repent if we have done these things and broken the commandment of our Loving Elohim and move out of the realm of the thief and into the realm of the Giver of Life and Love.


Triennial Torah Cycle

We continue this weekend with our regular Triennial Torah reading

Num 36        Neh 1-4      2 Cor 4-5


Inheritances to Remain Within Each Tribe (Numbers 35-36)

The daughters of Zelophehad, himself a grandson of Gilead of the tribe of Manasseh, had made an unusual appeal back in chapter 27—to inherit their father’s land since he had left no surviving sons. And God gave Moses the judgment that the daughters were to receive the inheritance. But there was a complicating factor in this matter, which the Gileadite leaders among Manasseh brought before Moses. It had been good that the brotherless daughters of their tribe had been granted an inheritance. But what happens when they marry men from other tribes? Couldn’t this gradually drain away the inheritance of Manasseh? And couldn’t the same thing happen in other tribes? So God gives Moses another judgment. Women heirs among the ancient Israelites are permitted to marry only within their own tribe. “Thus no inheritance shall change hands from one tribe to another” (Numbers 36:9).


Nehemiah Learns of Jerusalem’s Plight (Nehemiah 1)

As explained in the Bible Reading Program’s introductory comments on Ezra and Nehemiah, the book of Nehemiah is evidently a continuation of the book of Ezra. While Ezra is traditionally reckoned as the compiler of both sections, several parts of the section now referred to as Nehemiah were evidently written by Nehemiah himself. This is the case with Nehemiah 1:1-7:5.

As chapter 1 opens we are immediately introduced to Nehemiah (verse 1), whose name means “Comfort of Yhwh [the Eternal],” “Yhwh Comforts” or “Yhwh Is Consolation.” The time is the month Kislev (corresponding to November-December) in “the twentieth year,” referring to the 20th year of Persian Emperor Artaxerxes (see 2:1)—apparently Artaxerxes I Longinus, the same king who had earlier sent Ezra (see Ezra 7:1) but later ordered the reconstruction of Jerusalem’s walls halted (see 4:21-23). This would date Nehemiah 1:1 to the end of 445 B.C.—more than 12 years after the return of Ezra to Judea in 457.

The place, according to Nehemiah 1:1, is Shushan, also known as Susa, one of the capitals of the Persian Empire—the one in which the book of Esther was set. This city was around 150 miles north of the Persian Gulf in what is today Iran.

Nehemiah is an important person. Like Joseph, Daniel and Esther before him, Nehemiah appears to have been placed by God in a strategic position in a foreign imperial government to accomplish God’s will on the world scene. He refers to himself at the end of chapter 1 as “the king’s cupbearer” (verse 11). This was an honored position of trust. Consider that a cupbearer was to ensure against the poisoning of a ruler. But there was much more to the job than that. The apocryphal book of Tobit, also from the Persian period, refers to a certain Ahikar as “chief cupbearer, keeper of the signet, and in charge of administration of the accounts under King Sennacherib of Assyria” (1:22, NRSV). As The Expositor’s Bible Commentary notes on verse 11, “Varied sources suggest something about Nehemiah as a royal cupbearer:

“1. He would have been well-trained in court etiquette (cf. Dan 1:4-5).
“2. He was probably a handsome individual (cf. Dan 1:4, 13, 15; Jos[ephus] Antiq[uities of the Jews] XVI, 230 {viii.1}).
“3. He would certainly know how to select the wines to set before the king. A proverb in the Babylonian Talmud (Baba Qamma 92b) states: ‘The wine belongs to the master but credit for it is due to his cupbearer.’
“4. He would have to be a convivial companion, willing to lend an ear at all times.
“5. He would have great influence as one with the closest access to the king, able to determine who was able to see his master.
“6. Above all Nehemiah had to be one who enjoyed the unreserved confidence of the king. The great need for trustworthy court attendants is underscored by the intrigues endemic to the Achaemenid court. Xerxes, father of Artaxerxes I, was killed in his own bedchamber by Artabanus, a courtier.”

In verse 2 of chapter 1 we see that Nehemiah’s brother has just returned from a visit to Jerusalem. (We will see him mentioned again in Nehemiah 7:2 as receiving charge from Nehemiah over Jerusalem.) The report of Hanani and his traveling companions is not good. The Jews of Judea are suffering disgrace and persecution. The city wall is broken down and the gates of the city have been burned. While this could conceivably have referred to the Babylonian destruction of 142 years prior, it seems more likely to refer to recent devastation. Most scholars understand it to refer to the Samaritan military action to stop the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s city wall as ordered by Artaxerxes (compare Ezra 4:21-23). As explained in the comments on our previous reading, this probably occurred in conjunction with the rebellion of the satrap Megabyzus in 449 B.C.

About two years later, Megabyzus reasserted his loyalty to Artaxerxes (Eugene Merrill, Kingdom of Priests, p. 508). But the damage in Jerusalem was done. It was now five years after the revolt and just three years after the reaffirmation of Persian rule. Evidently, things had not improved for the Jews of Judea in this short period.

Nehemiah is sorely grieved and immediately commences on a period of fasting and prayer, confessing the people’s sin. In doing so, he is evidently speaking generally of the Israelites’ national proclivity to sin rather than some specific sin of the Judean Jews, as he includes his own sins in the confession. He well understands that the people’s long history of immorality is the reason they have been reduced to being such a weakened people. Yet Nehemiah reminds God of His promises to regather His people and asks particularly that God will grant him favor with the king (Nehemiah 1:4-11)—evidently to make a case for the rebuilding of Jerusalem, as we will see in chapter 2.


Nehemiah Sent to Rebuild Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2)

It is some time before Nehemiah says something about the Judean situation to Artaxerxes. “There was a delay of about four months from Kislev (Nov.-Dec.) [445 B.C.], when Nehemiah first heard the news (1:1), to Nisan (Mar.-Apr.) [444 B.C.], when he felt prepared to broach the subject to the king. There are various explanations for this. The king may have been absent in his other winter palace at Babylon. Perhaps the king was not in the right mood. Even though Nehemiah was a favorite of the king, he would not have rashly blurted out his request. We know it was politic to make one’s requests during auspicious occasions such as birthday parties or when rulers were in a generous mood (Gen 40:20; Esth 5:6; Mark 6:21-25; Jos[ephus] Antiq[uities of the Jews] XVIII, 289-93 {viii.7}). It is certain that Nehemiah did not ask in haste but carefully bided his time, constantly praying to God to grant the proper opening” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, note on Nehemiah 2:1).

At last an opportunity presents itself when the king asks him about his downcast demeanor. Nehemiah had hidden his feelings up to this point (verses 1-2). Perhaps it was too hard to contain them any longer, though it could well be that he purposely let his feelings show on this occasion to provide a segue into making his request. In any case, the moment is now prime to speak, but Nehemiah is filled with trepidation. As The Nelson Study Bible points out, “Persian monarchs believed that just being in their presence would make any person happy. Yet, Nehemiah was about to request the emperor’s permission to go to Jerusalem, suggesting that he would rather be somewhere other than in the emperor’s presence. On top of that, it was Artaxerxes himself who had ordered the work on the wall to be stopped (see Ezra 4:21-23). Nehemiah had reason to be afraid” (note on Nehemiah 2:2).

Yet, of course, Nehemiah in reality had more reason to not fear. And despite his concerns, he sets a wonderful example for all of us in dealing with this difficult moment in a manner that gives him the confidence to proceed. He silently prays to the ultimate ruler of heaven and earth, Almighty God, probably asking for the right words to say and that his request is well received (verse 5).

The response of verse 6 is extremely encouraging. Whereas Artaxerxes could have had Nehemiah executed then and there, the king instead asks him how long he would be gone. And then remarkably this king who had ordered the cessation of the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls happily gives permission to Nehemiah to return and resume the construction. Moreover, we are told in Nehemiah 5:14 that Artaxerxes appointed Nehemiah as governor of the land of Judah when he sent him.

There may have been broader political considerations for the king’s decision. Recall that the satrap Megabyzus, who had led the region under his authority containing Judea in revolt against Persian rule, had renewed his fealty to the emperor only three years earlier. Thus, “the Syro-Palestinian satrapy was [still] in a very precarious position as far as Artaxerxes was concerned. He knew full well that what had happened once could happen again and that he might be unable to recover his rebellious territories the next time. Clearly he was willing to do anything that might consolidate his position and ensure continued loyalty from his volatile subjects. When Nehemiah volunteered to go to Jerusalem to stabilize the situation there, Artaxerxes saw in the request not only a way to accede to the heartfelt burden of his beloved cupbearer for his Jewish kinfolk, but a way to place someone over Judah whom he could trust to remain loyal to Persia and to achieve a climate of tranquility and order” (Eugene Merrill, Kingdom of Priests, p. 508). Moreover, it was probably in the confusion of Megabyzus’ rebellion that Artaxerxes gave the earlier order to halt the refortification of Jerusalem’s defenses. Further reports from the region may have revealed the Jews under Ezra as not having sided with the revolt—which would have been more reason to allow them to resume the work of restoring their holy city.

Nehemiah received from the king safe-conduct letters and a military escort. Ezra did not have such an escort on his journey because he would not ask for it lest it appear a lack of faith. Perhaps Nehemiah did not need to ask. Furthermore, this escort would have provided convincing proof of Nehemiah’s investiture of authority in his visits to the provincial governors. The king also provided him with requisition orders for obtaining lumber for work in Jerusalem on the gates of the citadel just northwest of the temple (which overlooked the temple complex), on the city wall and on the governor’s residence in which he would live.

In verses 9-10 we see that not everyone is pleased with the arrival of Nehemiah and his company. Verse 10 mentions the Samaritan leader Sanballat the Horonite. He “is attested to in the Aramaic papyri of Elephantine [i.e., of the Jewish community on the Nile island of Elephantine in southern Egypt] as having been governor of Samaria in the seventeenth year of Darius II, that is, in 407 [B.C.]. Since by then he had adult sons, it is certainly reasonable that he had been governor forty years earlier [when Nehemiah first arrived]” (Merrill, p. 509). Sanballat being called a Horonite seems to refer to his coming from the city of Beth-Horon, 12 miles northwest of Jerusalem. As this town was within the territory of Judea, it may be that Sanballat’s authority had reached into Judea before Nehemiah’s arrival—which would give greater impetus to his opposition.

Tobiah is referred to as “the servant, the Ammonite” (KJV). “Servant” probably denotes being a servant of the king—which is why the NKJV gives the word here as “official.” The reference to Ammon probably refers not to his ethnicity but to his area of administrative oversight. For Tobiah is actually an Israelite name meaning “Yhwh Is Good.” This would seem to make him at least part Jewish. And there is more reason to think so. We elsewhere learn that he was married to a Jewish woman—the daughter of a certain Shechaniah (compare 3:29; 6:18; not the Shechaniah of Ezra 10:2). Tobiah gave an Israelite name to his own son—Jehohanan (meaning “Yhwh Is Merciful”). He too married a Jewish woman—the daughter of Meshullam, son of Berechiah, leader of one of the groups repairing the wall (compare Nehemiah 3:4, 30; 6:18). As Expositor’s notes on 2:10: “Some scholars speculate that Tobiah descended from an aristocratic [Israelite] family [known as the Tobiads] that owned estates in Gilead and was influential in Transjordan and in Jerusalem even as early as the eighth century B.C.” The same commentary goes on to conclude: “Tobiah was no doubt the governor of Ammon or Transjordan under the Persians. His grandson Tobiah is called ‘the governor of Ammon.’ The site of Araq el-Emir (‘caverns of the prince’), about eleven miles west of Amman, was the center of the Tobiads. The visible remains of a large building on top of the hill (Qasr el-‘Abd, ‘castle of the slave [or servant],’ 60 by 120 feet) have been interpreted as a Jewish temple built by a later Tobiad. On two halls are inscriptions with the name Tobiah in Aramaic characters. The date of the inscriptions is much disputed”—but they nonetheless illustrate the persistence of this name among the Ammonite governors during the Persian and Greek periods. Nehemiah 6:18 tells us that many in Judah were pledged to his service, so he too seems to have exercised a significant measure of control within the province.

These men were greatly concerned despite the fact that Nehemiah had not actually told them or even the Judeans why he had really come. To further conceal his intentions, he decides to secretly inspect the city wall by night. “Since Nehemiah had arrived in Jerusalem from the north, he would have seen that side of the wall as he approached the city. If he lived in the southwestern part of the city, he could have had ample time for viewing the western wall. Nehemiah seems to have been concerned with inspecting the southern and eastern walls of Jerusalem. With a few servants, he passed through the Valley Gate into the Valley of Hinnom. He then traveled along the south wall. When the piles of stone and heaps of rubble obstructed his passage, he dismounted his animal and continued on foot up the Kidron valley in order to view the eastern wall” (Nelson, note on verses 12-15). “Apparently the eastern slope of the City of David was in an impassable condition due to collapsed retaining walls and ruined structures” (The Holman Bible Atlas, 1998, p. 172).

We next see that Nehemiah was an inspirational and motivational leader—able to stir the Jews into resuming work on the city wall (verses 17-18). It is wonderful to read the enthusiasm of their response: “Let us rise up and build.”

As a side note, it is interesting to consider that no specific mention is made of Ezra at this point, although he could have been among the priests or officials mentioned in verse 16. We do see him later in the book but not until chapter 8. This has led some to question the traditional chronology of Ezra’s return preceding that of Nehemiah. Yet the Bible makes it clear that Ezra came to Judea in the seventh year of Artaxerxes (Ezra 7:8) while Nehemiah came in the 20th (2:1). It could well be that Ezra was not playing as prominent a role at this later time, 13 years after the prior mention of him in Ezra 10—especially considering the earlier Samaritan action that Artaxerxes ordered against the Jewish rebuilding. Ezra could have been sidelined as governor. Perhaps Sanballat or Tobiah had been given administrative authority over Judea—or possibly just assumed control. Furthermore, as a priest and scribe, Ezra may have decided to devote himself more to his religious duties—and perhaps now deferred to the leadership of the high priest Eliashib (see 3:1). Age and health could also have been factors. Nevertheless, we will see Ezra mentioned again in a spiritual leadership role in Nehemiah 8. And tradition reckons him as the one who established the Hebrew Bible in its present form—a paramount responsibility.

Returning to the story, the renewed work on the city wall provokes ridicule and derision from Sanballat, Tobiah and another foreign leader, Geshem the Arab (spelled Gashmu in the Hebrew of 6:2). This man is “documented outside the Bible…. The primary source of information is a silver bowl discovered in 1947 at Tell el-Mashkutah in Lower [i.e., northern] Egypt. Like three other such bowls it has a dedicatory inscription to the goddess Han’-Ilat; in addition, it has the line, ‘that which Qaynu, son of Ga?mu, king of Qedar, brought in offering to Han’-Ilat.’ Ga?mu is the biblical Geshem. On the basis of the particular Aramaic writing, the nature of the bowl, and Athenian coins discovered at the same site, this inscription has been dated [to the right time frame of] around 400 [B.C.]” (Merrill, p. 509). As the king of Qedar or Kedar—a nation of nomads in northern Arabia—Geshem and his people would have “served the Persians by controlling the caravan routes between Palestine and Egypt” (“Lingering Resentment Boils Over,” Word in Life Bible, sidebar on 4:7).

These leaders’ accusations of defying the emperor (2:19) were not sincere, as Nehemiah had already given them the royal decree expressing the king’s will in this matter (see verse 9). These antagonists were quite resistant “to the reestablishment of Judah as a viable and powerful rival to their own principalities. They had no doubt sided with Megabyzus in his rebellion and now correctly saw Nehemiah as a strong pro-Persian sent among them to police the region as the henchman of Artaxerxes himself. That they dared to interfere with Nehemiah’s project shows a certain residue of independence from Persia, especially since the content of Artaxerxes’ letter of authorization was well known to them” (Merrill, pp. 509-510).

Nehemiah rebuffed them, confident in God’s providential care for His people and His desire to reestablish them in Jerusalem (verse 20).

Organization of the Rebuilding Work (Nehemiah 3)

The Jews immediately commence rebuilding the city wall according to Nehemiah’s organization of the work. He assigns various sections to different groups—families, neighborhoods and even professional guilds. The people had to work together not only within their particular teams but also in cooperation with other teams. Note how many times the phrase “next to them” occurs in the chapter. Major building work always takes work teams cooperating together. This is true even in the spiritual work of the people of God’s Church today.

There was much work to be done. The Holman Bible Atlas states: “Nehemiah 3 contains numerous references to gates and structures along Jerusalem’s fortifications. Unfortunately, identifying archaeological remains with any of these structures has been difficult, yet archaeologists have provided a clearer picture of Nehemiah’s Jerusalem. After the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., settlers confined themselves to the eastern ridge, the old City of David and the Temple Mount. There is no evidence of any occupation of the western ridge during the Persian era, although parts of Hezekiah’s walls must have remained in fragmentary condition. Settlement upon the City of David apparently was more constricted than ever before. Much of the eastern slope perhaps was left unprotected, as a new line of defense was established farther up the slope, perhaps built along the line of a much earlier wall. Fragments of a wall built of roughly dressed limestone near the crest have been identified by some archaeologists as ‘Nehemiah’s Wall,’ but others believe the ‘wall’ is actually a quarry line. A few of the domestic structures on the eastern slope were reused, but most buildings were located on the crest of the ridge.

“The fact that Nehemiah completed his initial repairs in fifty-two days [as we will see in 6:15] argues strongly that segments of the earlier defenses must have been still standing; presumably the western line of defense and the walls enclosing the Temple Mount were on the same lines as those prior to 586 B.C. The Valley Gate (Neh. 3:13), along the Tyropoeon Valley [on the west side], has tentatively been identified by some scholars with remains dating from the Iron Age. The location of other gates in Nehemiah 3 are more speculative. It seems reasonable to locate the Water Gate (Neh. 3:26) near the Gihon Spring [on the east side] and the Fountain Gate at the base of the southeastern hill (Neh. 2:14; 3:15). Several towers mentioned in Nehemiah 3 (the Tower of Hananel, the Tower of the Hundred) undoubtedly lay along the northern defenses where Jerusalem was most vulnerable. Jerusalem of Nehemiah’s day was slightly smaller than the city of David and Solomon, perhaps covering thirty-seven to thirty-eight acres” (p. 172).

Finally, we should observe that the work in Jerusalem was done by people from all walks of life—just as it is in the Church of God today. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary notes on verse 32: “We know from chapter 5 that there were deep economic differences in Judean society. With the exception of the nobles of Tekoa (v. 5), everyone pitched in, from the high priest (v. 1) to goldsmiths and perfume makers (vv. 8, 31) and even women (v. 12), to accomplish a common task. Some, like the commoners of Tekoa, even did more than their share (v. 27). What an inspiring example of what can be done when God’s people work together under dynamic leadership! Viggo Olsen, who helped rebuild ten thousand houses in war-ravaged Bangladesh in 1972, derived unexpected inspiration from reading a chapter ordinarily considered one of the least interesting in the Bible: ‘I was struck…that no expert builders were listed in the “Holy Land brigade.” There were priests, priests’ helpers, goldsmiths, perfume makers, and women, but no expert builders or carpenters were named.'”


The Wall Under Threat (Nehemiah 4)

Even as Sanballat and Tobiah contemptuously mocked the Jewish rebuilding effort (verses 1-2), we can perhaps sense the panic behind their words. They were really worried. Jewish success could mean their demise. While their taunting and ridicule is intended to shake the confidence of the Jews, it is also a self-deceptive way of steadying their own shaken confidence.

Nehemiah does not answer them. Instead, he prays to God to turn the reproach back on their heads and that their sin not be blotted out—recognizing that they were actually belittling God Himself (verses 4-5). This is not a prayer for eliminating any possibility that they would ever find forgiveness through repentance. It is simply asking that God, as a matter of justice and defending His reputation, not let what they have done go undealt with.

In verse 6 we see that the confidence of the people is not shaken. Their minds are instead set on the task assigned to them and they succeed in joining the wall’s sections together—though not yet to full height.

News of this development infuriates the Jews’ enemies, as Jerusalem would soon be a strong fortress. In addition to Sanballat and Tobiah, we also see reference here to the Arabs (among whom Geshem was a leader—see 2:19), the Ammonites (of whom Tobiah was apparently governor) and the Ashdodites (4:7). Ashdod was one of the five principal cities of the Philistines. Yet those who lived there at this time may not have been full-blooded Philistines. The Assyrians destroyed the city in 711 B.C. It was later controlled by the Babylonians and then the Persians, who repopulated it. “With the Persian conquest alternate patches of the Palestinian coast were parceled out to the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon, which provided ships for the Persian navy. During this period Ashdod was the most important city on the Philistine coast” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, note on verse 7).

The Jews’ enemies lashing out in anger is not a matter of genuine indignation but of alarm. They are rather afraid of what is happening. As they see it, things have gotten out of control—that is, out of their control. They decide that they had better put a stop to this business right away—before it is too late. So they begin plotting against the Jews.

The Jews resort to their only sure defense—prayer to Almighty God. This time it is a collective prayer of the people, not merely a private prayer of Nehemiah (verse 9). Yet even as they pray, they do what they humanly can to protect themselves by posting watchmen at all times.

In verse 10 we see that the great task of rebuilding is taking its toll on the Jewish workers. Fatigue and the sheer volume of debris lead to discouragement. In the next verse we see that despite the posted watch, the adversaries seem to think that they can still catch the builders by surprise. But the plot is discovered before it can be executed.

The Jews are then arrayed for battle and exhorted to bravery on the basis of two factors: 1) The people are to remember all that God has done for His people; and 2) the people are to reflect on the fact that they, unlike their enemies, are defending their homeland and families. But the attack doesn’t come. Foiled in their hopes for a surprise attack, the adversaries are so far unwilling to challenge the Jews’ newly instituted security measures.

There are spiritual parallels to the dual responsibilities in verse 17. We must not neglect our own spiritual survival and security, nor must we neglect doing the Work of God.

The last three words of the chapter in the original Hebrew—is silho hammayim—as Expositor’s notes on verse 23, “are notoriously difficult to interpret; they are literally ‘each man his weapon the water’…. The NIV rendering is similar to that of the RV: ‘every one (went with) his weapon (to) the water,’ and the JPS: ‘every one that went to the water had his weapon.’ This would parallel the way Gideon’s selected men drank their water with weapons in hand as an indication of their vigilance…. The Vulgate took the word silho, not in the sense of ‘his weapon,’ but as a verb meaning ‘stripped himself’… (‘every one stripped himself when he was to be washed’). This sense was followed by the KJV [and NKJV]: ‘every one put them [i.e., their clothes] off for washing'”—that is, only for washing.
Despite the still-constant threat of enemy attack, the rebuilding work went on.

2 Corinthians 4

The apostles laboured with much diligence, sincerity, and faithfulness. (1-7) Their sufferings for the gospel were great, yet with rich supports. (8-12) Prospects of eternal glory keep believers from fainting under troubles. (13-18)

Verses 1-7 The best of men would faint, if they did not receive mercy from God. And that mercy which has helped us out, and helped us on, hitherto, we may rely upon to help us even to the end. The apostles had no base and wicked designs, covered with fair and specious pretences. They did not try to make their ministry serve a turn. Sincerity or uprightness will keep the favourable opinion of wise and good men. Christ by his gospel makes a glorious discovery to the minds of men. But the design of the devil is, to keep men in ignorance; and when he cannot keep the light of the gospel of Christ out of the world, he spares no pains to keep men from the gospel, or to set them against it. The rejection of the gospel is here traced to the willful blindness and wickedness of the human heart. Self was not the matter or the end of the apostles’ preaching; they preached Messiah as Yeshua, the Saviour and Deliverer, who saves to the uttermost all that come to God through him. Ministers are servants to the souls of men; they must avoid becoming servants to the humours or the lusts of men. It is pleasant to behold the sun in the firmament; but it is more pleasant and profitable for the gospel to shine in the heart. As light was the beginning of the first creation; so, in the new creation, the light of the Spirit is his first work upon the soul. The treasure of gospel light and grace is put into earthen vessels. The ministers of the gospel are subject to the same passions and weaknesses as other men. God could have sent angels to make known the glorious doctrine of the gospel, or could have sent the most admired sons of men to teach the nations, but he chose humbler, weaker vessels, that his power might be more glorified in upholding them, and in the blessed change wrought by their ministry.

Verses 8-12 The apostles were great sufferers, yet they met with wonderful support. Believers may be forsaken of their friends, as well as persecuted by enemies; but their God will never leave them nor forsake them. There may be fears within, as well as fightings without; yet we are not destroyed. The apostle speaks of their sufferings as a counterpart of the sufferings of Christ, that people might see the power of Christ’s resurrection, and of grace in and from the living Jesus. In comparison with them, other Christians were, even at that time, in prosperous circumstances.

Verses 13-18 The grace of faith is an effectual remedy against fainting in times of trouble. They knew that Christ was raised, and that his resurrection was an earnest and assurance of theirs. The hope of this resurrection will encourage in a suffering day, and set us above the fear of death. Also, their sufferings were for the advantage of the church, and to God’s glory. The sufferings of Christ’s ministers, as well as their preaching and conversation, are for the good of the church and the glory of God. The prospect of eternal life and happiness was their support and comfort. What sense was ready to pronounce heavy and long, grievous and tedious, faith perceived to be light and short, and but for a moment. The weight of all temporal afflictions was lightness itself, while the glory to come was a substance, weighty, and lasting beyond description. If the apostle could call his heavy and long-continued trials light, and but for a moment, what must our trifling difficulties be! Faith enables to make this right judgment of things. There are unseen things, as well as things that are seen. And there is this vast difference between them; unseen things are eternal, seen things but temporal, or temporary only. Let us then look off from the things which are seen; let us cease to seek for worldly advantages, or to fear present distresses. Let us give diligence to make our future happiness sure.

2 Corinthians 5

The apostle’s hope and desire of heavenly glory. (1-8) This excited to diligence. The reasons of his being affected with zeal for the Corinthians. (9-15) The necessity of regeneration, and of reconciliation with God through Christ. (16-21)

Verses 1-8 The believer not only is well assured by faith that there is another and a happy life after this is ended, but he has good hope, through grace, of heaven as a dwelling-place, a resting-place, a hiding-place. In our Father’s house there are many mansions, whose Builder and Maker is God. The happiness of the future state is what God has prepared for those that love him: everlasting habitations, not like the earthly tabernacles, the poor cottages of clay, in which our souls now dwell; that are mouldering and decaying, whose foundations are in the dust. The body of flesh is a heavy burden, the calamities of life are a heavy load. But believers groan, being burdened with a body of sin, and because of the many corruptions remaining and raging within them. Death will strip us of the clothing of flesh, and all the comforts of life, as well as end all our troubles here below. But believing souls shall be clothed with garments of praise, with robes of righteousness and glory. The present graces and comforts of the Spirit are earnests of everlasting grace and comfort. And though God is with us here, by his Spirit, and in his ordinances, yet we are not with him as we hope to be. Faith is for this world, and sight is for the other world. It is our duty, and it will be our interest, to walk by faith, till we live by sight. This shows clearly the happiness to be enjoyed by the souls of believers when absent from the body, and where Jesus makes known his glorious presence. We are related to the body and to the Lord; each claims a part in us. But how much more powerfully the Lord pleads for having the soul of the believer closely united with himself! Thou art one of the souls I have loved and chosen; one of those given to me. What is death, as an object of fear, compared with being absent from the Lord!

Verses 9-15 The apostle quickens himself and others to acts of duty. Well-grounded hopes of heaven will not encourage sloth and sinful security. Let all consider the judgment to come, which is called, The terror of the Lord. Knowing what terrible vengeance the Lord would execute upon the workers of iniquity, the apostle and his brethren used every argument and persuasion, to lead men to believe in the Lord Jesus, and to act as his disciples. Their zeal and diligence were for the glory of God and the good of the church. Christ’s love to us will have a like effect upon us, if duly considered and rightly judged. All were lost and undone, dead and ruined, slaves to sin, having no power to deliver themselves, and must have remained thus miserable for ever, if Christ had not died. We should not make ourselves, but Christ, the end of our living and actions. A believer’s life should be devoted to Christ. Alas, how many show the worthlessness of their professed faith and love, by living to themselves and to the world!

Verses 16-21 The renewed man acts upon new principles, by new rules, with new ends, and in new company. The believer is created anew; his heart is not merely set right, but a new heart is given him. He is the workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. Though the same as a man, he is changed in his character and conduct. These words must and do mean more than an outward reformation. The man who formerly saw no beauty in the Saviour that he should desire him, now loves him above all things. The heart of the unregenerate is filled with enmity against God, and God is justly offended with him. Yet there may be reconciliation. Our offended God has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ. By the inspiration of God, the Scriptures were written, which are the word of reconciliation; showing that peace has been made by the cross, and how we may be interested therein. Though God cannot lose by the quarrel, nor gain by the peace, yet he beseeches sinners to lay aside their enmity, and accept the salvation he offers. Christ knew no sin. He was made Sin; not a sinner, but Sin, a Sin-offering, a Sacrifice for sin. The end and design of all this was, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him, might be justified freely by the grace of God through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. Can any lose, labour, or suffer too much for Him, who gave his beloved Son to be the Sacrifice for their sins, that they might be made the righteousness of God in him?


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.