Tree of Knowledge – East

The first cardinal direction mentioned in the Bible is East. Genesis 2:8 has God in the east planting a garden, so He must have come from the west.  I know this is a simple thought but directions come in pairs – west and east, and north and south.  This simple thought is also important – where is the east?  You can face the east, something can come from the east, go to the east, or be of the east.  

Many important things in the Bible face east – the Temple (especially the one in Ezekiel), the Tabernacle, and I believe the throne of God.  The etymology of the word east deals with where the light comes from and how we orient our position on earth.  Like many other things in the Bible “modern man” picks and chooses why something is important by current standards.  My example here is the direction north – we choose that to be the top of the map or the best/positive direction to go, and it gets the biggest letter on the compass.  A study of “east” in the Bible will include many things, with each bring a different significance to the table for discussion. Several examples are:

  • In Exodus, the children of Israel went east from Egypt to the Promised Land, and the east wind blew in locust, and the east wind parted the Red Sea. The locust became a plague while at the Red Sea the wind provided deliverance. 
  •  In Israel, east winds are a problem, they come in from the desert and dry the land out.
  • The camp around the Tabernacle was laid out with an east/west axis as its prominent feature.  The position of a tribe around the Ark showed birthrights and importance.  I started a study of that in the post – Marching Order.
  • The Christmas star and the Magi also bring east into the discussion.  The star “was in” or “it rose in” the east which joins it to Jesus in many ways.  The Magi came from the east to worship the newborn King.
  • Scripture shows several west to east movements – God to the Garden, Israel leaving Egypt going to the Promised Land, and Jesus, as a young boy, returning to Nazareth. 

An important feature of the east/west axis is the light.  Starting with Genesis 2 we see the metaphor of west (darkness) and going to the east (light).  (No, there is not a problem with the west and it is not a negative “area”.  The little cloud that Elijah’s servant saw would have come from the west – it ended the drought.  In Israel most rain showers come from west or northwest.)  God started in the west heading to the light to plant the Garden.  The two trees in the center of that Garden can carry a dark/light context.  Knowledge of good and evil led to darkness while the tree of life would have led to the light.  Like the study of numbers, the study of directions can add much to your Bible reading, but be sure you are looking EAST.  

Joseph the Tzaddik Christmas 2020

Joseph, the step-father of Jesus, is introduced in Matthew as tzaddik(righteous) for his part in the Christmas story.  That statement in Matthew 1:19 caught my attention because he was making a choice that was not religious (the Law).  John 8 (the woman caught in adultery) would have been the religious solution and would have had Mary stoned as an example. (Was Jesus thinking about His mother while this was taking place?) Stoning was the religious answer, not the righteous one! Joseph’s life and that decision made him tzaddik.

Why, am I using the Hebrew term? I used the two websites below and found the thoughts and the connections very interesting.  This is also a study blog, which means that getting out of your comfort zone is okay. (Note- the Chabad.org site is not Christian, but has great views into Jewish thoughts and practices that I do not find in Christian sites.)  Chabad portrays a tzaddik as a person who is calibrated to the Creator’s original concept of being human.  That dwarfs many modern definitions of the word righteous and challenges me to do some internal checking.

Joseph is not the only tzaddik in the Christmas story.  Luke also places Elizabeth and Zechariah as righteous Christmas characters.  Luke, being a Gentile, would have used the term dikaios for the idea of righteousness.  

I did use the Orthodox Jewish Bible, that is in Bible Gateway, to start this study; use the parallel function.  Grammar is a work in progress for me.  So Jewish grammar is a step-up and I may not have used tzaddik correctly in all of my sentences.

http://www.hebrew-streams.org/works/ntstudies/tzaddikim.html

https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/2367724/jewish/Tzaddik.htm

In a previous Christmas post about Joseph, I had suggested comparing the Joseph of the Old Testament with the one of the New.  I will do a few of those now.

  • Both went to Egypt and escaped certain death.  I have no problem believing that the first Joseph would have been killed by his brothers and the second Joseph would have put up a fight.
  • I do believe that they came back because of/about Passover.  The death angel had cleared the way for Jesus’ return and Joseph’s body came back with Moses.
  • The Magi supplied for the needs of the Holy Family (the gifts) as Joseph met the needs of his family in Egypt.
  • Righteous – both by the way they lived their lives are righteous (tzaddik).  One was before the Law and the second one was before fulfillment of the Law.
  • Dreams – Joseph of Genesis had and interrupted dreams.  Jesus’s Joseph had dreams and then acted because of them.  Okay, they were different types of dreams.

Logos – Salvation

Logos is a new category of study that is starting with the word salvation.  Since this is a Bible study blog you will need to be ready with your Word, a concordance, or at least a Bible study site like biblegateway.com.    

This post started by doing a search on the term “salvation”, where I went to the New Testament.  First, I noticed that the word salvation is not used in Matthew or Mark. (You may notice that number counts don’t match! Gateway does a verse count while a concordance does a word count. Throw in titles and modern word replacements, counts will vary between websites and concordances.)

You can focus on one verse, book, or writer and have a meaningful study.  I noticed in looking at the uses of salvation in the New Testament an interesting pattern.  In Luke 1: 69, 71, and 77, these verses are part of the prophecy of Zechariah about Jesus and John.  Luke 2:30 and 3:6 are “seeing” salvation.  Luke 19:9 and John 4:22 (only use) is Jesus talking to people about salvation – Zacchaeus, the hated tax collector, and the Samaritan woman at the well. 

Luke starts again in Acts 4:12 with salvation for mankind and his next three mentions (concordance please) have the Gentiles included in receiving salvation.  The Holy Spirit continues the inclusion of Gentiles in Romans 1:16 and 11:11. 

Romans 13:11 starts another facet of material that presents things and ideas associated with salvation.  Paul includes two different verses about salvation being our “helmets” – Ephesians 6:17 and 1 Thessalonians 5:8. Hebrews and Peter (1+2) include many verses about salvation.  The last verse about salvation is Revelations 19:1 where “salvation, glory, and power belong to God”.

Hebrews 2:10 I found interesting because it is about Jesus.  He is the pioneer of our salvation that was made perfect by what He suffered (most of that thought is from the NIV).  “Perfect” in the thinking of the Old Testament would be one who is complete.  That may cause a bump in our modern thoughts about the term perfect.

FYI – biblegateway.com has forty verses with salvation in the New Testament NIV.  I found the ordering of the word salvation in the Logos interesting because it makes a logical presentation on the topic starting in Luke and going to Revelations.

Jeremiah – His Kings

Jeremiah served under several kings of Judah and saw Neco and Nebuchadnezzar flex their muscles in Judah.  In Jeremiah’s book Manasseh and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, are mentioned. Jeremiah, in its present form, is not linear in construction but is grouped loosely by several different themes.  One grouping could be that in the first part of the book is that people, priests, and prophets (false) are dealt with, and the second part focuses on kings and nations.  So, in this post, I will try listing Jeremiah’s kings as they appear while doing something important. (Let me explain using Josiah.  He is frequently listed with his son’s names as an identifier but not directly involved in that story.  (In another context that is also a reminder that they could have been doing better because of his good example. Those listings I will not put in.)  Some commentary will appear and some noteworthy events, but please go to the post on Josiah for a different look at his children and grandchild.

Josiah

  1. 1:1 Jeremiah started in his thirteen-year of reign. (Jeremiah had been ministering for five years when Josiah celebrated Passover. 2 Chronicles 35:19)
  2. 3:6 A word about unfaithful Israel (northern kingdom) and unfaithful Judah.  The leader was trying to do right, the people were not.
  3. 25:3 The length of time Jeremiah had been prophesying – twenty-three years.
  4. 36:2 Jeremiah’s commission to write down his words from the Lord. (Josiah is a time marker; the event was in the 4th year of Jehoiakim.)

Jehoahaz/Shallum

22:11 The word that he would never return to Judah and Jerusalem. (He ruled three months.)

Jehoiakim/Eliakim – Possible Chronology Order

  1. 1:3 Time of his reign. (Eleven years)
  2. 22:18 No one would mourn for him.
  3. 24:1 Identified Jehoiachin as his son.  (See Josiah’s Children)
  4. 25:1 His fourth year and the first of Nebuchadnezzar reign.  Captives were taken.  Verse 11 is the first mention, by Jeremiah, about seventy years of captivity.
  5. 36:1 Jehoiakim’s fourth year and when God told Jeremiah to write down all of the words he had been given.
  6. 36: 9 – 32 He burns the scroll Baruch wrote for Jeremiah.
  7. 45:1 Refers to the writing of the scroll in 36:1.
  8. 46:2 Refers to his fourth year, but this word is against Pharaoh Neco and his defeat at Carchemish.
  9. 26:1-20 Jeremiah prophesies and is threatened with death.
  10. 26:21,22,23 He had the prophet Uriah retrieved from Egypt and killed.
  11. 35:1 When Jeremiah learned a lesson from the Recabites.
  12. 52:2 Compares Jehoiakim to Zedekiah and the evil they did.

Other references: 2 Kings 23: 34 – 36; 24: 1- 19; 1 Chronicles 3:15+16; 2 Chronicles 36: 4-8; Daniel 1: 1+2

Jehoiachin

  1. 22:24 + 28 Words that he will be cast out with his children.
  2. 24:1 The word about two baskets of figs when he, his officials, and the craftsmen and artisans were taken to Babylon. (He ruled three months and ten days or 100 days.)
  3. 27:20 The pillars, the Sea, the movable stands, and other furnishings would be taken to Babylon.
  4. 28:4 A word from a false prophet about Jehoiachin’s return to Jerusalem.
  5. 29:2 Jeremiah had sent a letter after the time marker of Jehoiachin leaving Judah. 
  6. 52:31, 33, 34 Jehoiachin was released and taken care of in Babylon.

Zedekiah – Possible Chronology Order

  1. 1:3 History of Jeremiah and Zedekiah’s eleven years. 
  2. 24:8 Word about a basket of figs and how God will deal with Zedekiah and the survivors. 
  3. 29:3 When Jeremiah sent the letter to the exiles about the seventy years of serving Babylon.  (This is hard to place but I would put it before Zedekiah’s trip to Babylon. Jehoiachin was only in power 100 days.)
  4. 49:34 A word about Elam early in the rule of Zedekiah.  Elam was an area north and east of the Persian Gulf. This is an interesting word about an ancient, long-surviving culture (see the link below).  This is an example of the non-linear editing order.  Elam/Susa is the setting for the Book of Esther. Verse 39 was fulfilled. Chapter 50:1 is a word against Babylon which subjugated Elam. 
  5. 51:59 An event in his fourth year when he went to Babylon. Jeremiah sent a letter with Seraiah about Babylon. 29:3 and this verse/event is possibly the same story.
  6. 27:1,3,12 The word that Zedekiah and other kings were to bow their neck to Nebuchadnezzar.  It was early in his reign. (28:1 has this in the same year.)
  7. 28:1 The fourth year and fifth month of Zedekiah’s rule (see 27:1-12) and a false prophet breaks the yoke.
  8. 21:1,3,7 He sent people to have Jeremiah inquire of God because of Nebuchadnezzar attacking Jerusalem.
  9. 34:2,4,6 A word about how Zedekiah would not die by the sword.
  10. 34:8 After Zedekiah gives slaves their freedom, only to enslave them again.
  11. 34:21 God retracts His offer and Zedekiah will die by the sword. (1. Pharaoh Neco had marched out of Egypt to battle Nebuchadnezzar. 2.There are several words about this topic. It seems that God was willing to give him a chance.)
  12. 37:1 – 21 The time must be after the ninth year of Zedekiah.  They are not listening to Jeremiah but the king sends a private envoy to ask him a question. (The Babylonian army withdraws because of Neco.  Jeremiah is thrown into prison because he tries to leave the city.  Zedekiah calls for him again, he is afraid of the people. He also assigns Jeremiah to a different prison with food.)
  13.  32:1,3,4,5 Jeremiah bought his cousin’s field and Zedekiah is warned again about fighting Nebuchadnezzar. This is the tenth year and Jeremiah was held prisoner in the courtyard.
  14. 38:5 Jeremiah is put in a muddy cistern because Zedekiah won’t stop his officials.
  15. 38:14 – 24 Zedekiah again sends for Jeremiah to ask him questions.  Zedekiah is afraid to follow the advice because of Jews who switched sides.  Jeremiah cannot talk about the conservation because of the haters.
  16. 39:1-7 The story of the fall of the city and Zedekiah’s attempt to escape, his capture, and his punishment.  Jeremiah was freed in this telling of the story.
  17. 52:1-11 A retelling of the fall of the city and the capturing of Zedekiah. This version goes into the destruction of the city and when more captives were removed.
  18. 44:30 This is a warning to the fleeing Jews to not go to Egypt. The association of Pharaoh and Zedekiah to the Jews was an example of what would happen to them.  (A change in Pharaohs.) 

Other references: 2 Kings 24:17 – 20, 25:1-7

https://www.ancient.eu/elam/

Jeremiah and Baruch

I am telling on myself in the writing of Jeremiah and Baruch.  I wanted to paint the picture that Baruch son of Mahseiah was “family” to Jeremiah but not through parents or DNA. Baruch worked with Jeremiah for over eighteen of Jeremiah’s forty years of ministry. They went through some hard times together.  My problem is simple, they did share DNA through Abraham and possibly Levi.  The majority of the people in Jerusalem at that time belonged to the tribe of Judah, Benjamin, or Levi/Aaron.  

The Wiki article listed below has some interesting legends and facts about Baruch.  I do find it creditable that Baruch and Ezra were responsible for Kings and Chronicles.  I will try and point out information that is in the Book of Jeremiah.

Baruch and Jeremiah worked together for at least eighteen years.  Jeremiah 36: 4 – 32, 45: 1+2 are the first “time” they are mentioned together.  This is part of Jeremiah’s story where he has been told by God to write down the words he has been given.  The timestamp for these verses is the fourth year of Jehoiakim.  45: 1+2 is really out of sequence because it is the promise from God that Baruch will be kept safe.  It is put with the time when he and Jeremiah are being taken to Egypt against their will.  Baruch also has the Lord “read his mail” about wanting “great things for himself”.  The hard part of this story is Baruch faithfully reads the scroll of Jeremiah to the people, Temple officials, and then to a hostile Jehoiakim. And watch it burn at the hands of Jehoiakim.

Jeremiah 51:59 does not mention Baruch but his brother (or cousin) Seraiah son of Mahseiah.  Seraiah was given a scroll to take to the exiles in Babylon. This took place in the fourth year of Zedekiah.  Seraiah is a name used at least eighteen times for various people in several books of the Bible.  It is the name of priests, learned men, and court officials.  Reusing a name in a family was not uncommon at this time, and this is why I tried to make Baruch a close relative of Jeremiah.  Mahseiah is used only in the Book of Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 32:12 tells of Jeremiah buying a field and Baruch being given the deeds to the property and instruction on how to treat them.

Jeremiah 43: 3+6 are the last two times (chronology) Baruch is mentioned.  He is accused of swaying Jeremiah about going to Egypt.  According to legend he left Egypt alive and did other works for God. 

Notes – the fast in Jeremiah 36 must have been called because of Nebuchadnezzar.  The usual fasting times are in Zechariah 8:16, there is no mention of a ninth month fast.  Zechariah 7 may reference this time period as the fourth day and the ninth month is an unusual time to be asking about fasting.  

Homework – 1. Find Jeremiah’s other friends and allies (yes, he had some in his later years).  

2. Find all of the other priest and what they did in the Book of Jeremiah.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baruch_ben_Neriah