Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Biblical Hebrew had No Word for "to Obey" Says Former UK Chief Rabbi:

So often HWA and his imitators told us to "obey the commandments." But, according to the Chief Rabbi in the United Kingdom, Biblical Hebrew did not even have a word for "to obey."
Judaism is not a religion of blind obedience. Indeed, astonishingly in a religion of 613 commandments, there is no Hebrew word that means “to obey”. When Hebrew was revived as a living language in the nineteenth century, and there was need for a verb meaning “to obey,” it had to be borrowed from the Aramaic: le-tsayet. Instead of a word meaning “to obey,” the Torah uses the verb shema, untranslatable into English because it means [1] to listen, [2] to hear, [3] to understand, [4] to internalise, and [5] to respond. Written into the very structure of Hebraic consciousness is the idea that our highest duty is to seek to understand the will of God, not just to obey blindly. Tennyson’s verse, “Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do or die,” is as far from a Jewish mindset as it is possible to be. (Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, "The necessity of asking questions (Bo 5777)," The Times of IsraelFebruary 3, 2017.)
And all this time the leaders of the COGs told us to obey the commandments and yet Biblical Hebrew did not even have a word to meaning "to obey." Clearly those of us who chose to adopt certain Jewish practices thinking that this the correct way to be a Christian had little idea of what we were dealing with.

What were we doing thinking we understood these things? HWA and his imitators took various Jewish practices without understanding the religion. We should just leave the Jewish religion alone and respect it by letting the Jews observe it without us clumsily and ignorantly imitating a few aspects and practices of their religion while rejecting whatever the COG leaders decide does not need to be observed. Clearly the COGs are dealing in things without proper or respectful understanding.

We should abandon the cultural appropriation of aspects of Judaism that Armstrongism so often promotes.


  1. Food for thought!

    I am of the opinion that Muhammed was in close contact with the early Christians and (disillusioned rabinnical) Jews that had fled from Jerusalem to Medina and Mecca.

    Perhaps he was one of the first to get the "submit" part wrong. Or he got its interpretation from the Syriacs.

    In any case Muhammed was culturally influenced by "a submit to one God culture", or one must be of the opinion that he was inspired.


  2. Actually, nck, the same mythicist extremists who question the historicity of Jesus are pushing a theory that Muhammed never existed either. Let's see who amongst us buys into that hot mess!


    1. Muhammad is the only one of the so called "prophets" (inc. Yeshu) whose existence can be verified historically. We can argue about facts of his life and which tidbits are true and which are fabricated. When it comes to other prophets, however, we cannot argue about any facts of their lives at all because there is no evidence that they actually ever existed.

  3. Interesting. I never really contemplated that.
    I'm looking at it from the viewpoint beyond the (Korean-American) thermonuclear war, when mankind will be in dire need to merge most of their religions.

    (just kidding except for the necessary merger)

    At one point "we" (who did not leave after 1975) saw fit to pour 1 million 1978 dollars in a project to honor "Yahweh, Allah, God" in one building in the Sinai. At the delivery of the first installment of 10 HWA called God Allah, which I found disturbing at the time.

    Now I am looking at the possibilities of M&A of the Abrahamic faiths (in the light of our most succesfull member who was an M&A strategist).

    Since the topic in discussion centers around the word obey, I found it fitting to introduce the religion of "submit". Perhaps a Christian can introduce their take on that word in light of a merger.


  4. Well Sacks did say that an Aramaic word was used when Modern Hebrew began to be used and since Aramaic was used by the Jews in ancient including the time of Jesus perhaps we could say this is when the word with that meaning was introduced.

    As for the idea that Muhammad was mythical I will state that I do not believe that.

    I will also state that when I first heard about that idea I thought, The Muslims would never listen such a claim. They would see the secularization of the Western world and view that idea as an attempt to do the same thing to them. It would not be viewed as just an idea but as an attack on their worldview and society by Western outsiders.

    Since they would never accept such an idea I fail to see the point of promoting such a marginal idea. I do not believe that idea anyway.

  5. without understanding

    Yes, A magazine of understanding as the PT claimed to be was real misnomer. As someone once put it, HWA read the Bible as if it was written in a 20th century, supercessionist, dispensational mindset.

  6. Redfox,

    I hardly use the words "never" or "always." Some centuries ago the idea that Jesus would be mythical would have been preposterous too.

    But like you I feel we should focus on the idea/message instead of the man. It is real now. Just like the discussion on the exodus on banned was rather irrelevant. The most powerful nations on earth were all founded on the idea that they "like" the people of Israel escaped Habsburg rule, European (Pharonic) persecution, or inherited Australia or South Africa.

    So like Muhammed, Jesus, Moses, or any other story discussions on wether it really happened are irrelevant. For historians it is more interesting to look at the founding myths of current power base and structure.

    Therefore I am still interested whether the three Abrahamic religions could merge into something wholesome based on common ground or that religion should disappear altogether, proving the chinese right in their destruction of the feodalistic tibetan culture.

    I'd rather see the merging of ideas and philosophies than the rationalisation of culture.

    Unfortunately. Some "obedience" to a higher power would be part of the deal.


  7. Speaking about Aramaic.

    Just a few years ago a lovely lady in the mountains of Syria close to Damascus read the Lords prayer in her Aramaic mother tongue to me.

    Unfortunately nowadays the entire church and village is destroyed as I saw in a documentary just recently. I hope the young lady is safe somewhere.

    I don't consider the people who destroyed that culture religious people. It is all political with people using religious pretext to execute their evil and shallow plans.


  8. We're all familiar with the merits of teaching individuals one time to fish versus constantly providing them with food. Holding to that same standard, Herbert W. Armstrong did not teach his followers to think. He taught them that he had all the answers, and he constantly fed them. It's what they expected, accepted, and came to need as part of their dependent state of existence.

    This presents his stalwarts with a dilemma. HWA is dead, and has been for decades at this point. How do you revise in the face of new information, developments, or evidence? It is an example of static versus dynamic. Holding on to the alleged truths once delivered, versus expanding in understanding with each new discovery. Armstrongites are easily trapped, based on their acquired mind set. They regard HWA as a virtual Jesus!

    This new, more accurate information of the Hebrew language, and scriptures helps all of our understanding, but a long term member of Armstrongism sitting in his kitchen in Omaha, Nebraska will most likely read it as he drinks his coffee, and simply dismiss it, allowing what HWA taught to be the criteria or filter through which to process it.

    An Armstrongite is not schooled in phenomena well known to those who study language. One of these is that due to the nuances of individual languages, it is impossible to translate from one language to another without to some degree paraphrasing. Also, living languages evolve and change with time, although those who think like HWA wish that this were not so. We were conditioned to believe that these gradual changes were a corrupting influence, a process of degeneracy, which HWA said was part of the human condition at the end of mankind's period of self rule. Therefore, to his followers, updated education becomes not so much new and more accurate information, but a corruption, and a part of degeneracy. It's why he preferred his 1911 Encyclopedia Brittanica, and other dated references.

    From what I know of observant Jews, there is a broad spectrum of thought and understanding amongst the observant ones who go to Temple. This is something that the learned Rabbis would never attempt to proscribe or to regulate. It is considered to be healthy. The Torah and the Talmud do teach adherents how to use their brains and to think!


    1. Yes, nuances, like counting from which gave a Monday Pentecost, due to a lack of understanding of Hebrew. And the "born again" doctrine was based on an incorrect, modern definition of the 17th century KJV English word "begat".
      And Bob Thiel's tirade against "Crowdsourcing" seems to have been due to his not understanding how British use the word "wicked". And he probably didn't realize that when he writes "a reader tipped me off about..." or quotes Wikipedia, he's using Crowdsourcing...

    2. Well, I know that Bob Thiel believes in krautsourcing (God using the Germans to punish America!) That would be pretty wicked if it ever happened.