On Prayer in Hebrew, It is the same in Bodewadmimwen

In the English language, prayer is largely defined by the idea of asking. In old English one could say, either to God or to anyone else: “I pray thee to do such and such.” The basic concept here is a heart-felt request. The Jewish concept of prayer, however, is best defined by its Hebrew word “tfilah (תפילה).

The primary meaning of the verb “lehitpalel” (להתפלל), the verb behind the noun, is self-judgement or introspection. Especially in Jewish Hassidic traditions, tfiliah is understood to be an introspection that results in bonding between the creature and the Creator, as a child would bond with his/her father.

It is not a surprise that when the Jewish Christ was asked by his disciples how they should pray, he taught them what to request, making sure to address their Heavenly King as “Our Father” (Matthew 6:9). Shortly before that Jesus warned them to avoid using vain repetitions that characterized pagan approaches to prayer (Matt 6:7).

In Isaiah, we find a curious text: “These I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in the house of my prayer” (וְשִׂמַּחְתִּים בְּבֵית תְּפִלָּתִי). Note the wording: not “my house of prayer,” but “the house of my prayer.” (Isaiah 56:7; cf. b. Barachot 7a). But how is it possible for God to engage in prayer? And with whom?

The answer lies in understanding that Hebrew prayer is not only a “request-making session.” It is a communal bonding between God and his child. The house of “his prayer” is, therefore, where God himself engages in introspection and, in so doing, bonds deeply with his people. They in turn reciprocate this action in their own prayers and bond with God.

Being born again….

What did Jesus mean?

First of all, this conversation wasn’t in Greek, but rather in Hebrew. Looking at the Hebrew gospels, we find a slightly different meaning. Jesus’ words, “yivvaled ish milma’ǝlah” are often translated as “born again”, however the word ma’alah in Hebrew means “above”. Apparently, Jesus used a well-known Hebrew expression, ‘born from above’. What did that mean?
 

The 1st century meaning

We often find the expression “reborn” in Rabbinic literature – for instance, describing Israel after receiving the Torah. However, in the first century it was mostly used to describe the process of becoming a proselyte. A Gentile would turn away from pagan gods to the God of Israel, be circumcised (if male) and finally, go through waters of a mikveh. When he emerged out of the water, he was considered as being ‘reborn’, or ‘born from above’.

Discover the Jewish background

Many Gentiles made this crucial choice in Jesus’ times: they were ready to abandon their former lives for the people and the God of Israel. Jesus seems to refer to the experience of those proselytes – for Him, being ‘born from above’ means turning to God and His Word, following His ways and His commandments.

Appropriate for today…..

The Seven Grandfather Teachings

Bwakawen

Wisdom

Zagidwen

Ndebanawen

 Love

Mnadendemowen

Wdetanmowen

Respect

Akwadewen

Wedasewen

Bravery

Gwekwadzewen

Honesty

Dbesendamowen

Edbesendamowen

Humility

Debwewin

Truth

Background

According to the aadizookaan Atsokan (traditional story), the teachings were given to the Anishinaabeg early in their history. Seven Grandfathers asked their messenger to take a survey of the human condition. At that time the human condition was not very good. Eventually in his quest, the messenger came across a child. After receiving approval from the Seven Grandfathers, tutored the child in the “Good way of Life”. Before departing from the Seven Grandfathers, each of the Grandfathers instructed the child with a principle.  

  • Bwakawen—Wisdom: To cherish knowledge is to know Wisdom. Wisdom is given by the Creator to be used for the good of the people. In the Anishinaabe language, this word expresses not only “wisdom,” but also means “prudence,” or “intelligence.” In some communities, Gkendasewen is used; in addition to “wisdom,” this word can also mean “intelligence” or “knowledge.”
  • Zagidwen—Love: To know Love is to know peace. Love must be unconditional. When people are weak they need love the most. In the Anishinaabe language, this word with the reciprocal theme /idi/ indicates that this form of love is mutual. In some communities, Gzhawenidiwen is used, which in most context means “jealousy” but in this context is translated as either “love” or “zeal”. Again, the reciprocal theme /idi/ indicates that this form of love is mutual.
  • Mnadendemowen—Respect: To honor all creation is to have Respect. All of creation should be treated with respect. You must give respect if you wish to be respected. Some communities instead use Ewetodendemidiwen or Kejitwaweninidiwen.
  • Akwadewen—Bravery: Bravery is to face the foe with integrity. In the Anishinaabe language, this word literally means “state of having a fearless heart.” To do what is right even when the consequences are unpleasant. Some communities instead use either Zongadikiwen (“state of having a strong casing”) or Zongide’ewen (“state of having a strong heart”).
  • Gwekwadzewen—Honesty: Honesty in facing a situation is to be brave. Always be honest in word and action. Be honest first with yourself, and you will more easily be able to be honest with others. In the Anishinaabe language, this word can also mean “righteousness.”
  • Dbesendamowen—Humility: Humility is to know yourself as a sacred part of Creation. In the Anishinaabe language, this word can also mean “compassion.” You are equal to others, but you are not better. Some communities instead express this with Bekadiziwen, which in addition to “humility” can also be translated as “calmness,” “meekness,” “gentility” or “patience.”
  • Debwewin—Truth: Truth is to know all of these things. Speak the truth. Do not deceive yourself or others.

Aujesokanek, adesokanek, audesokanek

The Muses: The Powers regarded as inspiring a thinker, artist, poet, and in this case, many of the old time Seers, Prophets, Holy Men, and other such people that officiated the various ceremonies of the Neshnabek.

I love this story and it’s deeper levels of meaning.

The Hidden Message

By Julia BlumMay 27, 2021No comments

The Opening of the Eyes
We are still in Genesis 38, in this strange and unexpected interruption to the narrative, in the story of Judah and Tamar. We are entering the most interesting part of the story, the “action” of the story, which according to the text happens “a long time afterward”—a long time after the events we discussed last time.
We read that a long time afterward, “the daughter of Shua, Judah’s wife, died” – and when the period of mourning was over, “Judah went up to his sheepshearers at Timnah, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite”. Here Tamar enters the picture again: we read that it was told Tamar, saying, “Look, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.” What did Tamar do upon hearing this news?

Let us remember that Tamar has been agunah for a long time already, for she was considered engaged to Shelah, and although “Shelah was grown she was not given to him as a wife”. After the tragedy she had experienced (twice), it appeared that she would remain childless. However, Tamar decided that her father-in-law’s unfaithfulness would not stop her from having children and being part of God’s family, so she pretended to be a prostitute in order to trap her father-in-law. She “took off her widow’s garments, covered herself with a veil and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place which was on the way to Timnah”.
Most translations read that she sat in an open place. Sometimes, the name of the place where she was sitting is transliterated: “she sat down at the entrance to Enaim.” However, if we read the story of Judah and Tamar in Hebrew – we are struck by the name of the place: בְּפֶתַח עֵינַיִם BePetach Eyanim – literally: “in the opening of the eyes”. These words are incredibly meaningful and really designate what this story is all about—it is about the “opening of the eyes” of the heart.  At this point, Judah’s eyes are still closed, but they will not remain so. That is why Tamar, God’s unexpected and unlikely tool, is sitting at this place – because God wants to open the eyes of Judah’s heart.

Discern, Please
When Judah saw Tamar, he did not recognize her and took her for a prostitute. As payment for her service, he promised to send her a kid goat, which brings us back to the story of Joseph’s sale in the previous chapter. Do you remember that the brothers slaughtered a kid, dipped Joseph’s tunic in the blood, and then sent the tunic to their father? Moreover, when we saw Jacob deceived by this tunic, we could not help but remember that the same set —special clothes and a slaughtered animal —was also used by Rebecca, and Jacob himself, in order to deceive his father Isaac! It seems that, beginning from Genesis 3, every time we have a slaughtered animal and special garments, it serves as a cover-up for some serious sin or deceit. In this story, however, we will soon see the opening of the eyes. Tamar asked for a pledge: “Will you give me a pledge till you send it?” She asked for his “signet and cord, and staff,” and surprisingly, he gave her all these items.
We learn that through this trickery, Tamar becomes pregnant by Judah: “she conceived by him.” When, about three months later, Judah was told that “Tamar your daughter-in-law … is with child by harlotry,” Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned!” Tamar was still considered engaged to Shelah, and Judah, as the head of the family, had judicial powers. His decision was both harsh and quick.
But then something very significant happens. When Tamar brings out Judah’s personal items, she says: Discern, I pray thee – הַכֶּר־נָ֔א. In English, nothing strikes us as unusual in this sentence – however, when read in Hebrew, the connection between these two stories—the story of Joseph’s sale and the story of Judah and Tamar—becomes absolutely evident. This expression, הַכֶּר־נָ֔א – “discern, please” or “recognize, please” – appears only twice in the entire Torah, and can you guess where it is first used? Right in the previous chapter, when the brothers bring Joseph’s coat to Jacob and say: “discern please whether it be thy son’s coat” הַכֶּר־נָ֗א – discern, recognize, examine. Can you imagine? In the entire Torah, this expression appears only in these two chapters: Genesis 37 and 38. In the first case, Judah was a deceiver, very likely, he was the one who said these words, because, as we saw, he was a leader among the brothers; now, however, he is the one who is deceived!  Judah’s deception revisits him in his very own words – and it is at this very moment, when Judah hears these words, that his heart is pierced by the recognition—not only by the recognition of his own things, but much more deeply, by recognition of his own guilt. Now his eyes are indeed opened, and he has a true change of heart. He confessed and repented.

Judah’s Confession
We come to the climax of this story – Judah’s confession: “And Judah acknowledged them, and said, She hath been more righteous than I; because that I gave her not to Shelah my son.”
We read a beautiful description of this transformation in Midrash: “Then Judah rose up and said: … I make it known that with what measure a man metes it shall measured unto him, be it for good or for evil, but happy the man that acknowledgeth his sins. Because I took the coat of Joseph, and colored it with the blood of a kid, and then laid it at the feet of my father, saying: Know now whether it be thy son’s coat or not, therefore must I now confess, before the court, unto whom belongeth this signet, this mantle, and this staff.”
Of course, Midrash just fills in the gaps that Scripture leaves out. Yet, there is a point not to be missed: Judah did acknowledge and confess his sin. Moreover, he didn’t do it under external pressure: it was his word against hers, and since her social status was incomparable lower than his – a woman, a widow, probably Canaanite – nobody would even pay attention to her word. However, God wanted to open the eyes of his heart, and therefore we witness this profound inner transformation in Judah’s heart.

Why is this story here in the middle of Joseph’s saga? The Torah wants to make sure we know that the Judah who comes to Egypt and approaches Joseph, is not the same Judah we saw in chapter 37, in the story of the sale. This Judah has a completely different character: God had been working in his heart and the eyes of his heart have been opened! Moreover, if you have ever wondered why King David, and also Jesus, came from the tribe of Judah, this story gives you the answer: in a sense,  Judah starts “tikkun olam[1], repairing the world, bringing it back to God’s hesign! How so? We know that in Genesis 3, answering God’s question, Adam points his finger at his wife: she is the one to blame. When God questions Eve, He gets a similar response from her: the Serpent was to blame. After that, the LORD pronounces His punishment – but I daresay Adam and Eve were punished not only for eating the fruit: this blame-shifting was something that distorted creation and moved it off the path God had originally planned. In Genesis 38, Judah becomes the first biblical character to repair it—he takes responsibility for his own deeds and repents. Unlike Adam, who said, “she is the one to blame,” Judah said: “I am the one to blame!” Thus, Judah is the first person in the book of Genesis – and therefore the entire Bible – to confess his sin, take responsibility for it, and change his behavior. He is indeed the confessing one.

[1] These Hebrew words are typically translated as “repair the world”

Some thoughts from Neaseno

In all the things we experience these days I am reminded of what it was like growing up as simple a lifestyle as we lived. For example, we grew most of our own vegetables, picked and canned a lot of fruits and veggies, hunted and fished a lot, and even canned a lot of wild game we took in. We lived simply, sunup to sundown, one day to the next, prayed a lot as well. Most of our daily living centered around prayer, in fact, one might say our lives were a whole series of ceremonies, from the time the sun arose, to the time it went down again, and the next day it would start all over again. No electricity, no indoor plumbing, no clocks to rule the day, and plenty of fresh air and sunshine.

The one thing I am cognizant of is that we did not seem to place a great importance on the days of the week. This Stay at Home business has brought that back to my memory in a big way. The other day my wife asked me what day it was, and I could not remember. We both had a good laugh over it, and then I told her a little of what it was like growing up the way I did.

There was no concept of days of the week. It was not until we started school that everyone really became conscious of the days of the week. Those that worked in town were aware of those time factors, but we often were not, those of us remaining at home. Time was meaningless, inasmuch as labeling it, micro-managing it. It was good to just be.

We had no concept of time, as we have come to know it today. Most people are governed by their day, from the moment they arise, till they lie down again. This time period we are all experiencing has returned us to the simple ways of the lives of our forefathers.

A word on freedom……..

“What is freedom?” an enlightened teacher asked her class.

“It’s when you can leave home and go wherever you want, and do whatever you

want, and your parents can’t tell you what to do,” a child replied.

“But what if you get hungry?

Are you now free to starve?”

“I would go home,” the child says.

We are not free. Nor have we ever been. Perfect freedom demands a perfect vision of reality, one too painful for the healthy to endure. It requires that we be alive, alert and exquisitely aware of our raw being. Faced with the pain of freedom, man begs for his shackles. Afraid of death, he seeks the stultifying boundaries of religion. Afraid of loneliness, he imprisons himself in relationships. Afraid of want, he accepts the bondage of employment. Afraid of rejection, he conforms to the commands of society. If our knowledge of freedom were perfect, we would not choose it. Pure freedom is pure terror.

Perhaps these folks who are protesting about being quarantined too long are afraid of this freedom. Is that why they need guns when they protest?

These moments of time have brought me much freedom. Freedom from being shackled to a schedule, and other things that ate up the days for me. I am enjoying the liberty of being free in Christ also, free to worship him the way my mom and dad did, in the beginning days of their conversion to Christianity. I am free to literally bathe in the Holy Ghost, not being mindful of religious labels, and just be free as Christ wants me to be.

It is liberating, this freedom and the way it exhilarates the senses. Folks, we are free, in spite of the corona virus. We are free to live and be alive. That is a wonderful thing, to be free in Him…..Christ and the Holy Ghost are not religion.

Iw enajmoyan

Nin se Neaseno.

Worthy of a read

A Hebrew New Testament?

Article by Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

It is my opinion that the entire original text of the document we have come to know as the New Testament was written by Christ-following Jews (in the ancient sense of the word) in a language that can be best described not simply as Koine or Common Greek, but as “Koine Judeo-Greek”. Some authors who could afford a very good, professional scribe (like was the case with Paul and, possibly with Luke as well) had an excellent command of the language, while others like the authors of Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation naturally wrote on a much simpler level. Just like in English someone can write in an elegant style or express their thoughts in the same language, but in a much simpler fashion (much like myself).

But first of all what is Koine Greek?

Koine Greek (which is different from Classical Greek) was the common multi-regional form of Greek spoken and written during Hellenistic and Roman antiquity. New Testament collection was authored during this historic period.

Now… I do not think that the kind of Greek we see in the New Testament can be best described ONLY as Koine Greek. There is another component to this Koine Greek – a significant Jewish and Hebrew connection. For this reason I prefer to call it – Koine Judeo-Greek.

What in the world is Judeo-Greek?

Well… Judeo Greek, like the well-known Judeo-German (Yiddish), Judeo-Spanish (Ladino) and the less familiar Judeo-Farsi, Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Italian, and Judean-Georgian languages, is simply a form of Greek used by Jews to communicate. This language retained many words, phrases, grammatical structures, and patterns of thought characteristic of the Hebrew language.

So is Judeo-Greek really Greek? Yes, it is, but it is Greek that inherited the patterns of Semitic thought and expression. In this way, it is different from the types of Greek used by other people groups.

So, I disagree that the New Testament was first written in Hebrew and then translated into Greek. Instead, I think it was written in Greek by people that thought Jewishly and what is, perhaps, more important multi-lingually. You see… the speakers of variety of languages manage to also think in variety of languages. When they do speak, however, they always import into one language something that comes from another. It is never a question of “if”, but only of “how much”.

The main point made by Christians who believe that parts of the New Testament was originally written in Hebrew is that the New Testament is full of Hebraisms. (Hebraism is a characteristic feature of Hebrew occurring in another language.)

Actually, this is a very important point. It shows that serious students of the New Testament must not limit themselves to the study of Greek. They must also study Hebrew. With knowledge of Biblical Hebrew they would be able to read the Koine Judeo-Greek text of the New Testament much more accurately.

So, I suggest, that one does not need to imagine a Hebrew textual base of the New Testament to explain the presence of the Hebraisms in the text. Though possible, this theory simply lacks additional and desperately-needed support.

Think with me on this a little further. Other than a multilingual competency of the New Testament authors their most trusted (and rightly so) source for the Hebrew Bible quotations was the Septuagint (LXX).

Now… we must remember that the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek by leading Jewish scholars of the day. Legend has it that the 70 individual Jewish sages made separate translations of the Hebrew Bible and when they were done, all of it matched perfectly. As I said “it is a legend”. The number 70 is likely symbolic of the 70 nations of the world in ancient Judaism. This translation was not only meant for Greek-speaking Jews, but also for non-Jews so that they too could have access to the Hebrew Bible. You can imagine how many Hebraic words, phrases, and patterns of thoughts are present on every page of the Septuagint. (Click here to see the oldest version of the LXX).

So, other than the authors of the New Testament thinking Jewishly and Hebraicly, we also have the main source of their Old Testament quotations coming from another Jewish-authored document – the Septuagint. So is it surprising that New Testament is full of Hebraic forms expressed in Greek?!

As a side note, the use of the Septuagint by New Testament writers is actually a very exciting concept.

The Jewish text of the Hebrew Bible used today is the Masoretic Text (MT for short). When the Dead Sea Scrolls were finally examined, it turned out that there was not one, but three different families of Biblical traditions in the time of Jesus. One of them closely matched the Masoretic Text, one closely matched the Septuagint and one seems to have connections with the Samaritan Torah.


Among other things, this of course shows that the Septuagint quoted by the New Testament has great value since it was based upon a Hebrew text that was at least as old as the base Hebrew text of what will one day become – the Masoretic Text.

As I already stated, I believe that the entire New Testament was written in Koine Judeo-Greek. Please allow me to address one very important point.  In several places in the writings of the early church fathers, there is mention of a gospel in Hebrew.

The most important and earliest reference is that of the early Christian writer, Papias of Hierapolis (125 CE-150 CE). He wrote: “Matthew collected the oracles in the Hebrew dialect and interpreted each one of them as best he could.” So… we do have a very early Christian testimony about Matthew’s document in Hebrew.

Was this a reference to the Gospel of Matthew in its Hebrew original? Perhaps. Was it a reference to a document that Matthew composed, but that is different from the Gospel of Mathew? Possibly.

This whole discussion is complicated by the fact that all the Gospels are anonymous and do not contain unequivocal references to a particular author (though some are attested very early). The Gospel of Mathew is no exception. We do not know if Mathew (the disciple of Jesus mentioned in the Gospels) was in fact the author of the gospel that we call the “The Gospel according to Matthew.”

Moreover, the phraseology, “he interpreted each one of them as best he could,” used by Papias of Hierapolis is far less than inspiring. One does not leave with a feeling that the majestic Gospel of Matthew that features such key texts as the Sermon on the Mount and the Great Commission is in fact in view. It is possible that Papias was referring to something less grandiose. Namely, that he had heard that Mathew had collected Jesus’ sayings in Hebrew, piecing them together as best he could. There is no reason to deny that such a document once existed, but neither is there particularly strong reason to identify it with the Gospel of Matthew.

Later Church Fathers also mention that Matthew wrote the Gospel in Hebrew dialect, but their information is

most-likely based on Papias’ statement and
guided by Christian theology to show that Jews were witnessed to sufficiently.
Archeological discoveries have shown that Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and even Latin were all used by the people of the Holy Land during the first century of the Common Era. But the New Testament itself, as best we can tell, was in fact written by Christ-following Jews in Koine Judeo-Greek. This is the simplest and most factually accurate possibility. This view readily explains the amount of underlying Hebraic patterns of thought, reasoning, grammar, and vocabulary that make the New Testament a thoroughly Jewish collection.

Reconstructing history is a little bit like putting a puzzle with many missing pieces together. The more pieces of the puzzle you have, the better you can see the contours of the image! The more you know about the historical background of the New Testament and the more familiar you are with the languages intricately connected with it (especially Hebrew and Greek); the better you are able to interpret it accurately for yourself and others.

Neaseno’s afterthoughts….

Having lived in the Holy Lands for a while, I witnessed a bit of this which is still evident, to a small degree. It is the manner I go about studying the New Testament and certainly the Old Testament.