Tag Archives: flesh

What we do in our bodies – does it affect our souls?

Most Christians are familiar with Messiah’s words to the Pharisees in regards to the question raised on washing of hands.

Mar 7:15 There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.

While we have addressed the issue in concern and misunderstandings stemming from it, in another study; today I plan to showcase a different perspective on the misunderstandings created by the teachings that say “Christ declared all foods clean” and that “nothing that we eat can make us unclean”.

When Yeshua addressed the issue of obeying the “traditions of the elders – the washing of hands”, he was not speaking of the uncleanness brought about through what we eat – but of the uncleanness that is brought about (as per the Pharisees) by eating with unwashed hands. Yeshua’s words on this issue has led Christianity to believe that what we eat does not affect us at all. But is this what the Scriptures say?

What is the Soul?
The soul could be called the life force of a human being, as we see mentioned in the creation account.

Gen 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul(Nefesh)

This life force is directly connected to the blood in a human or an animal.

Gen 9:4,5 But flesh with the life(Nefesh) thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. And surely your blood of your lives(Nefesh) will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life(Nefesh) of man.
Lev 17:14 For it is the life(Nefesh) of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life(Nefesh) thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life(Nefesh) of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.
Deu 12:23 Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life(Nefesh) with the flesh.

The Greek word Psyche for Soul
Wherever Nefesh is mentioned in the Scriptures, the Septuagint (The Greek Translation of the Hebrew Bible dating to 3rd Century BC) translates it as “Psyche”.  We see the same word used in the New Testament writings as well, showing that the soul is truly the life force that makes us who we are.

Mat 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul(Psyche) : but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul(Psyche) and body in hell.
Mat 16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul(Psyche)? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Act 20:10 And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life(Psyche) is in him.

Does what we do to our bodies affect our souls?
What we do to our bodies, especially in regards to food, can affect the soul as it is closely connected with the blood. What we consume directly affects our blood, which means the food or drink we intake can have a lasting influence on our souls. This is further showcased in the Scriptures by God’s commands regarding the food laws.

Lev 11:43 Ye shall not make yourselves(Nefesh) abominable with any creeping thing that creepeth, neither shall ye make yourselves unclean with them, that ye should be defiled thereby.
Lev 20:25 Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean: and ye shall not make your souls(Nefesh) abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean.

So we see that the food laws that God provided for His people were not merely a matter of ritual purity as most of us think, but something that can affect our life force which is something that supersedes the short life we live today. Let us all try to keep our souls Holy and not become abominable by what God has shown to corrupt this precious gift we received from Him. Shalom

Shaving the beard – A law that is illogical or misunderstood?

shave“Are you saying we can’t shave our beards?”, is the usual response one gets from a Christian who hears that “God’s Law is applicable to our lives today”. For some reason, Christians have been taught to counter any arguments made towards adherence to God’s Law, with this simple question, as if these words spoken by God, are illogical, irrelevant and even somewhat nonsensical in our eyes. Furthermore, it’s taken to simply prove that God’s Law as a whole is in fact inapplicable. I do not need to point fingers at anyone, as I would have asked the same question a few years ago! Lets admit it, it’s a fair question which needs to be answered. Is God’s Law illogical, or misunderstood?

The 2 key verses in question
Verse A. Lev 19:27
 Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.
Verse B. Lev 21:5  They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh.

A closer look at Verse A
It is important to note that Lev 19:27 should be read along with verse 28. Please refer the highlighted key words below:

Lev 19:27,28 Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard. Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.

A closer look at Verse B
Similarly, it is important to note that Lev 21:5 be read with the 4 preceding verses. Please refer the highlighted key words below:

Lev 21:1-5 And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto the priests the sons of Aaron, and say unto them, There shall none be defiled for the dead among his people: But for his kin, that is near unto him, that is, for his mother, and for his father, and for his son, and for his daughter, and for his brother, And for his sister a virgin, that is nigh unto him, which hath had no husband; for her may he be defiled. But he shall not defile himself, being a chief man among his people, to profane himself. They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh.

Comparison of the two key verses
Both of the passages we are studying today, contain 4 key points that are repeated in each other. These are:
1. Making Baldness/rounding the corners of one’s head
2. Marring/Shaving off the corner of one’s beard
3. Making any sort of cutting in one’s flesh
4. Defilement or doing such acts for the dead

Some of you may be hesitant to believe all of these acts, including “shaving the corners of one’s beard” were done for the dead. We need more proof to be certain. Let’s continue!

Ancient acts of mourning
Reading the verses provided below, should give you a basic idea of the mourning rites done by nations neighboring Israel and sometimes adopted by some of the Israelites.

Deu 14:1  Ye are the children of the LORD your God: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead.
Isa 15:2 He is gone up to Bajith, and to Dibon, the high places, to weep: Moab shall howl over Nebo, and over Medeba: on all their heads shall be baldness, and every beard cut off.
Jer 16:6  Both the great and the small shall die in this land: they shall not be buried, neither shall men lament for them, nor cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them:
Jer 41:5  That there came certain from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from Samaria, even fourscore men, having their beards shaven, and their clothes rent, and having cut themselves, with offerings and incense in their hand, to bring them to the house of the LORD.
Jer 48:37,38  For every head shall be bald, and every beard clipped: upon all the hands shall be cuttings, and upon the loins sackcloth. There shall be lamentation generally upon all the housetops of Moab, and in the streets thereof: for I have broken Moab like a vessel wherein is no pleasure, saith the LORD.

The above verses make it abundantly clear that making oneself bald, cutting the corners of the beard & cutting the flesh were all done in mourning for the dead – especially by pagan nations. This is why the creator specifically said that “His people” were not to do such rituals. Deut 14:1 makes this differentiation very clear – the children of God were not to do such things.

Lamentation/weeping is directly connected to these acts in Isa 15:2, Jer 16:6 & 48:37,38.

Jer 41:5 needs to be highlighted here, as we see men who are participating in these rituals going to the temple in Jerusalem to offer incense, while disobeying God’s command against these rituals. No wonder prophets such as Hosea were led to proclaim “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (Hos 6:6).

Reading Lev 19:27 & 21:5 does sound like it contains a prohibition against shaving. But closer examination using context and comparison between the two verses does make it abundantly clear that these commandments were connected to mourning rituals. The Scriptures themselves shed light upon these rituals, connecting them to each other, as well as, lamentation and weeping specifically done for the dead by pagan nations. God’s commandment was not that His children could not shave or cut their beards, but that they should not take part in rituals done for the dead – with cutting flesh, making self bald and cutting the corners of the beard. God & His Word is never illogical, irrelevant or nonsensical. With proper context and understanding we can clearly see that there is a reason for every Word He spoke, and that it is misunderstandings such as this, which has led Christianity away from His instructions, to question the validity of His Words, using such questions as “Are you saying we can’t shave our beards?”