Tag Archives: Hebrew

53 individuals from the Scriptures that have been authenticated by Archaeology

One of the main objections put forward by those who question the validity of the Scriptures is that the individuals mentioned therein are made up and that there is no evidence to back any claim for the validity of the information. The following list and information has been taken from the “Biblical Archaeology Review 40:2, March/April 2014” which has been compiled by the BAS (Biblical Archaeological Society) and gives Archaeological evidence for 53 such characters which are mentioned in the Bible.


Who was he?

When he reigned or flourished B.C.E.

Where in the Bible?



Shishak (= Sheshonq I)



1 Kings 11:40, etc.


So (= Osorkon IV)



2 Kings 17:4


Tirhakah (= Taharqa)



2 Kings 19:9, etc.


Necho II (= Neco II)



2 Chronicles 35:20, etc.


Hophra (= Apries)



Jeremiah 44:30





early to mid-ninth century

2 Kings 3:4–27





early ninth century to 844/842

1 Kings 11:23, etc.


Ben-hadad, son of Hadadezer



2 Kings 6:24, etc.




844/842–c. 800

1 Kings 19:15, etc.


Ben-hadad, son of Hazael


early eighth century

2 Kings 13:3, etc.




mid-eighth century to 732

2 Kings 15:37, etc.

Northern Kingdom of Israel





1 Kings 16:16, etc.





1 Kings 16:28, etc.





1 Kings 19:16, etc.


Joash (= Jehoash)



2 Kings 13:9, etc.


Jeroboam II



2 Kings 13:13, etc.





2 Kings 15:14, etc.





2 Kings 15:25, etc.





2 Kings 15:30, etc.


Sanballat “I”

governor of Samaria under Persian rule

c. mid-fifth century

Nehemiah 2:10, etc.

Southern Kingdom of Judah




c. 1010–970

1 Samuel 16:13, etc.


Uzziah (= Azariah)



2 Kings 14:21, etc.


Ahaz (= Jehoahaz)



2 Kings 15:38, etc.





2 Kings 16:20, etc.





2 Kings 20:21, etc.



high priest during Josiah’s reign

within 640/639–609

2 Kings 22:4, etc.



scribe during Josiah’s reign

within 640/639–609

2 Kings 22:3, etc.



high priest during Josiah’s reign

within 640/639–609

1 Chronicles 5:39, etc.



official during Jehoiakim’s reign

within 609–598

Jeremiah 36:10, etc.


Jehoiachin (= Jeconiah = Coniah)



2 Kings 24:6, etc.



father of Jehucal the royal official

late seventh century

Jeremiah 37:3, etc.


Jehucal (= Jucal)

official during Zedekiah’s reign

within 597–586

Jeremiah 37:3, etc.



father of Gedaliah the royal official

late seventh century

Jeremiah 38:1



official during Zedekiah’s reign

within 597–586

Jeremiah 38:1



Tiglath-pileser III (= Pul)



2 Kings 15:19, etc.


Shalmaneser V



2 Kings 17:3, etc.


Sargon II



Isaiah 20:1





2 Kings 18:13, etc.


Adrammelech (= Ardamullissu = Arad-mullissu)

son and assassin of Sennacherib

early seventh century

2 Kings 19:37, etc.





2 Kings 19:37, etc.



Merodach-baladan II


721–710 and 703

2 Kings 20:12, etc.


Nebuchadnezzar II



2 Kings 24:1, etc.



official of Nebuchadnezzar II

early sixth century

Jeremiah 39:3



officer of Nebuchadnezzar II

early sixth century

Jeremiah 39:3



a chief officer of Nebuchadnezzar II

early sixth century

2 Kings 25:8, etc. & Jeremiah 39:9, etc.


Evil-merodach (= Awel Marduk = Amel Marduk)



2 Kings 25:27, etc.



son and co-regent of Nabonidus

c. 543?–540

Daniel 5:1, etc.



Cyrus II (= Cyrus the Great)



2 Chronicles 36:22, etc.


Darius I (= Darius the Great)



Ezra 4:5, etc.



provincial governor of Trans-Euphrates

late sixth to early fifth century

Ezra 5:3, etc.


Xerxes I (= Ahasuerus)



Esther 1:1, etc.


Artaxerxes I Longimanus



Ezra 4:7, etc.


Darius II Nothus



Nehemiah 12:22



1. Shishak (= Sheshonq I), pharaoh, r. 945–924, 1 Kings 11:40 and 14:25, in his inscriptions, including the record of his military campaign in Palestine in his 924 B.C.E. inscription on the exterior south wall of the Temple of Amun at Karnak in Thebes. See OROT, pp. 10, 31–32, 502 note 1; many references to him in Third, indexed on p. 520; Kenneth A. Kitchen, review of IBPSEE-J Hiphil 2 (2005), www.see-j.net/index.php/hiphil/article/viewFile/19/17, bottom of p. 3, which is briefly mentioned in “Sixteen,” p. 43 n. 22. (Note: The name of this pharaoh can be spelled Sheshonq or Shoshenq.)

Sheshonq is also referred to in a fragment of his victory stele discovered at Megiddo containing his cartouche. See Robert S. Lamon and Geoffrey M. Shipton, Megiddo I: Seasons of 1925–34, Strata I–V. (Oriental Institute Publications no. 42; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1939), pp. 60–61, fig. 70; Graham I. Davies, Megiddo (Cities of the Biblical World; Cambridge: Lutterworth Press, 1986), pp. 89 fig. 18, 90; OROT, p. 508 n. 68; IBP, p. 137 n. 119. (Note: The name of this pharaoh can be spelled Sheshonq or Shoshenq.)

Egyptian pharaohs had several names, including a throne name. It is known that the throne name of Sheshonq I, when translated into English, means, “Bright is the manifestation of Re, chosen of Amun/Re.” Sheshonq I’s inscription on the wall of the Temple of Amun at Karnak in Thebes (mentioned above) celebrates the victories of his military campaign in the Levant, thus presenting the possibility of his presence in that region. A small Egyptian scarab containing his exact throne name, discovered as a surface find at Khirbat Hamra Ifdan, now documents his presence at or near that location. This site is located along the Wadi Fidan, in the region of Faynan in southern Jordan.

As for the time period, disruption of copper production at Khirbet en-Nahas, also in the southern Levant, can be attributed to Sheshonq’s army, as determined by stratigraphy, high-precision radiocarbon dating, and an assemblage of Egyptian amulets dating to Sheshonq’s time. His army seems to have intentionally disrupted copper production, as is evident both at Khirbet en-Nahas and also at Khirbat Hamra Ifdan, where the scarab was discovered.

As for the singularity of this name in this remote locale, it would have been notable to find any Egyptian scarab there, much less one containing the throne name of this conquering Pharaoh; this unique discovery admits no confusion with another person. See Thomas E. Levy, Stefan Münger, and Mohammad Najjar, “A Newly Discovered Scarab of Sheshonq I: Recent Iron Age Explorations in Southern Jordan. Antiquity Project Gallery,” Antiquity (2014); online: http://journal.antiquity.ac.uk/projgall/levy341.

2. So (= Osorkon IV), pharaoh, r. 730–715, 2 Kings 17:4 only, which calls him “So, king of Egypt” (OROT, pp. 15–16). K. A. Kitchen makes a detailed case for So being Osorkon IV in Third, pp. 372–375. See Raging Torrent, p. 106 under “Shilkanni.”

3. Tirhakah (= Taharqa), pharaoh, r. 690–664, 2 Kings 19:9, etc. in many Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions; Third, pp. 387–395. For mention of Tirhakah in Assyrian inscriptions, see those of Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal in Raging Torrent, pp. 138–143, 145, 150–153, 155, 156; ABC, p. 247 under “Terhaqah.” The Babylonian chronicle also refers to him (Raging Torrent, p. 187). On Tirhakah as prince, see OROT, p. 24.

4. Necho II (= Neco II), pharaoh, r. 610–595, 2 Chronicles 35:20, etc., in inscriptions of the Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal (ANET, pp. 294–297) and the Esarhaddon Chronicle (ANET, p. 303). See also Raging Torrent, pp. 189–199, esp. 198; OROT, p. 504 n. 26; Third, p. 407; ABC, p. 232.

5. Hophra (= Apries = Wahibre), pharaoh, r. 589–570, Jeremiah 44:30, in Egyptian inscriptions, such as the one describing his being buried by his successor, Aḥmose II (= Amasis II) (Third, p. 333 n. 498), with reflections in Babylonian inscriptions regarding Nebuchadnezzar’s defeat of Hophra in 572 and replacing him on the throne of Egypt with a general, Aḥmes (= Amasis), who later rebelled against Babylonia and was suppressed (Raging Torrent, p. 222). See OROT, pp. 9, 16, 24; Third, p. 373 n. 747, 407 and 407 n. 969; ANET, p. 308; D. J. Wiseman, Chronicles of Chaldaean Kings (626–556 B.C.) in the British Museum (London: The Trustees of the British Museum, 1956), pp. 94-95. Cf. ANEHST, p. 402. (The index of Third, p. 525, distinguishes between an earlier “Wahibre i” [Third, p. 98] and the 26th Dynasty’s “Wahibre ii” [= Apries], r. 589–570.)



6. Mesha, king, r. early to mid-9th century, 2 Kings 3:4–27, in the Mesha Inscription, which he caused to be written, lines 1–2; Dearman, Studies, pp. 97, 100–101; IBP, pp. 95–108, 238; “Sixteen,” p. 43.



7. Hadadezer, king, r. early 9th century to 844/842, 1 Kings 22:3, etc., in Assyrian inscriptions of Shalmaneser III and also, I am convinced, in the Melqart stele. The Hebrew Bible does not name him, referring to him only as “the King of Aram” in 1 Kings 22:3, 31; 2 Kings chapter 5, 6:8–23. We find out this king’s full name in some contemporaneous inscriptions of Shalmaneser III, king of Assyria (r. 858–824), such as the Black Obelisk (Raging Torrent, pp. 22–24). At Kurkh, a monolith by Shalmaneser III states that at the battle of Qarqar (853 B.C.E.), he defeated “Adad-idri [the Assyrian way of saying Hadadezer] the Damascene,” along with “Ahab the Israelite” and other kings (Raging Torrent, p. 14; RIMA 3, p. 23, A.0.102.2, col. ii, lines 89b–92). “Hadadezer the Damascene” is also mentioned in an engraving on a statue of Shalmaneser III at Aššur (RIMA 3, p. 118, A.0.102.40, col. i, line 14). The same statue engraving later mentions both Hadadezer and Hazael together (RIMA 3, p. 118, col. i, lines 25–26) in a topical arrangement of worst enemies defeated that is not necessarily chronological.

On the long-disputed readings of the Melqart stele, which was discovered in Syria in 1939, see “Corrections,” pp. 69–85, which follows the closely allied readings of Frank Moore Cross and Gotthard G. G. Reinhold. Those readings, later included in “Sixteen,” pp. 47–48, correct the earlier absence of this Hadadezer in IBP (notably on p. 237, where he is not to be confused with the tenth-century Hadadezer, son of Rehob and king of Zobah).

8. Ben-hadad, son of Hadadezer, r. or served as co-regent 844/842, 2 Kings 6:24, etc., in the Melqart stele, following the readings of Frank Moore Cross and Gotthard G. G. Reinhold and Cross’s 2003 criticisms of a different reading that now appears in COS, vol. 2, pp. 152–153 (“Corrections,” pp. 69–85). Several kings of Damascus bore the name Bar-hadad (in their native Aramaic, which is translated as Ben-hadad in the Hebrew Bible), which suggests adoption as “son” by the patron deity Hadad. This designation might indicate that he was the crown prince and/or co-regent with his father Hadadezer. It seems likely that Bar-hadad/Ben-hadad was his father’s immediate successor as king, as seems to be implied by the military policy reversal between 2 Kings 6:3–23 and 6:24. It was this Ben-Hadad, the son of Hadadezer, whom Hazael assassinated in 2 Kings 8:7–15 (quoted in Raging Torrent, p. 25). The mistaken disqualification of this biblical identification in the Melqart stele in IBP, p. 237, is revised to a strong identification in that stele in “Corrections,” pp. 69–85; “Sixteen,” p. 47.

9. Hazael, king, r. 844/842–ca. 800, 1 Kings 19:15, 2 Kings 8:8, etc., is documented in four kinds of inscriptions: 1) The inscriptions of Shalmaneser III call him “Hazael of Damascus” (Raging Torrent, pp. 23–26, 28), for example the inscription on the Kurbail Statue (RIMA 3, p. 60, line 21). He is also referred to in 2) the Zakkur stele from near Aleppo, in what is now Syria, and in 3) bridle inscriptions, i.e., two inscribed horse blinders and a horse frontlet discovered on Greek islands, and in 4) inscribed ivories seized as Assyrian war booty (Raging Torrent, p. 35). All are treated in IBP, pp. 238–239, and listed in “Sixteen,” p. 44. Cf. “Corrections,” pp. 101–103.

10. Ben-hadad, son of Hazael, king, r. early 8th century, 2 Kings 13:3, etc., in the Zakkur stele from near Aleppo. In lines 4–5, it calls him “Bar-hadad, son of Hazael, the king of Aram” (IBP, p. 240; “Sixteen,” p. 44; Raging Torrent, p. 38; ANET, p. 655: COS, vol. 2, p. 155). On the possibility of Ben-hadad, son of Hazael, being the “Mari” in Assyrian inscriptions, see Raging Torrent, pp. 35–36.

11. Rezin (= Raḥianu), king, r. mid-8th century to 732, 2 Kings 15:37, etc., in the inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser III, king of Assyria (in these inscriptions, Raging Torrent records frequent mention of Rezin in  pp. 51–78); OROT, p. 14. Inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser III refer to “Rezin” several times, “Rezin of Damascus” in Annal 13, line 10 (ITP, pp. 68–69), and “the dynasty of Rezin of Damascus” in Annal 23, line 13 (ITP, pp. 80–81). Tiglath-pileser III’s stele from Iran contains an explicit reference to Rezin as king of Damascus in column III, the right side, A: “[line 1] The kings of the land of Hatti (and of) the Aramaeans of the western seashore . . .  [line 4] Rezin of Damascus”  (ITP, pp. 106–107).



12. Omri, king, r. 884–873, 1 Kings 16:16, etc., in Assyrian inscriptions and in the Mesha Inscription. Because he founded a famous dynasty which ruled the northern kingdom of Israel, the Assyrians refer not only to him as a king of Israel (ANET, pp. 280, 281), but also to the later rulers of that territory as kings of “the house of Omri” and that territory itself literally as “the house of Omri” (Raging Torrent, pp. 34, 35; ANET, pp. 284, 285). Many a later king of Israel who was not his descendant, beginning with Jehu, was called “the son of Omri” (Raging Torrent, p. 18). The Mesha Inscription also refers to Omri as “the king of Israel” in lines 4–5, 7 (Dearman, Studies, pp. 97, 100–101; COS, vol. 2, p. 137; IBP, pp. 108–110, 216; “Sixteen,” p. 43.

13. Ahab, king, r. 873–852, 1 Kings 16:28, etc., in the Kurkh Monolith by his enemy, Shalmaneser III of Assyria. There, referring to the battle of Qarqar (853 B.C.E.), Shalmaneser calls him “Ahab the Israelite” (Raging Torrent, pp. 14, 18–19; RIMA 3, p. 23, A.0.102.2, col. 2, lines 91–92; ANET, p. 279; COS, vol. 2, p. 263).

14. Jehu, king, r. 842/841–815/814, 1 Kings 19:16, etc., in inscriptions of Shalmaneser III. In these, “son” means nothing more than that he is the successor, in this instance, of Omri (Raging Torrent, p. 20 under “Ba’asha . . . ” and p. 26). A long version of Shalmaneser III’s annals on a stone tablet in the outer wall of the city of Aššur refers to Jehu in col. 4, line 11, as “Jehu, son of Omri” (Raging Torrent, p. 28; RIMA 3, p. 54, A.0.102.10, col. 4, line 11; cf. ANET, p. 280, the parallel “fragment of an annalistic text”). Also, on the Kurba’il Statue, lines 29–30 refer to “Jehu, son of Omri” (RIMA 3, p. 60, A.0.102.12, lines 29–30).

In Shalmaneser III’s Black Obelisk, current scholarship regards the notation over relief B, depicting payment of tribute from Israel, as referring to “Jehu, son of Omri” (Raging Torrent, p. 23; RIMA 3, p. 149, A.0. 102.88), but cf. P. Kyle McCarter, Jr., “‘Yaw, Son of ‘Omri’: A Philological Note on Israelite Chronology,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 216 (1974): pp. 5–7.

15. Joash (= Jehoash), king, r. 805–790, 2 Kings 13:9, etc., in the Tell al-Rimaḥ inscription of Adad-Nirari III, king of Assyria (r. 810–783), which mentions “the tribute of Joash [= Iu’asu] the Samarian” (Stephanie Page, “A Stela of Adad-Nirari III and Nergal-Ereš from Tell Al Rimaḥ,” Iraq 30 [1968]: pp. 142–145, line 8, Pl. 38–41; RIMA 3, p. 211, line 8 of A.0.104.7; Raging Torrent, pp. 39–41).

16. Jeroboam II, king, r. 790–750/749, 2 Kings 13:13, etc., in the seal of his royal servant Shema, discovered at Megiddo (WSS, p. 49 no. 2;  IBP, pp. 133–139, 217; “Sixteen,” p. 46).

17. Menahem, king, r. 749–738, 2 Kings 15:14, etc., in the Calah Annals of Tiglath-pileser III. Annal 13, line 10 refers to “Menahem of Samaria” in a list of kings who paid tribute (ITP, pp. 68–69, Pl. IX). Tiglath-pileser III’s stele from Iran, his only known stele, refers explicitly to Menahem as king of Samaria in column III, the right side, A: “[line 1] The kings of the land of Hatti (and of) the Aramaeans of the western seashore . . .  [line 5] Menahem of Samaria.”  (ITP, pp. 106–107). See also Raging Torrent, pp. 51, 52, 54, 55, 59; ANET, p. 283.

18. Pekah, king, r. 750(?)–732/731, 2 Kings 15:25, etc., in the inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser III. Among various references to “Pekah,” the most explicit concerns the replacement of Pekah in Summary Inscription 4, lines 15–17: “[line 15] . . . The land of Bit-Humria . . . . [line 17] Peqah, their king [I/they killed] and I installed Hoshea [line 18] [as king] over them” (ITP, pp. 140–141; Raging Torrent, pp. 66–67).

19. Hoshea, king, r. 732/731–722, 2 Kings 15:30, etc., in Tiglath-pileser’s Summary Inscription 4, described in preceding note 18, where Hoshea is mentioned as Pekah’s immediate successor.

20. Sanballat “I”, governor of Samaria under Persian rule, ca. mid-fifth century, Nehemiah 2:10, etc., in a letter among the papyri from the Jewish community at Elephantine in Egypt (A. E. Cowley, ed., Aramaic Papyri of the Fifth Century B.C. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1923; reprinted Osnabrück, Germany: Zeller, 1967), p. 114 English translation of line 29, and p. 118 note regarding line 29; ANET, p. 492.

Also, the reference to “[  ]ballat,” most likely Sanballat, in Wadi Daliyeh bulla WD 22 appears to refer to the biblical Sanballat as the father of a governor of Samaria who succeeded him in the first half of the fourth century. As Jan Dušek shows, it cannot be demonstrated that any Sanballat II and III existed, which is the reason for the present article’s quotation marks around the “I” in Sanballat “I”; see Jan Dušek, “Archaeology and Texts in the Persian Period: Focus on Sanballat,” in Martti Nissinen, ed., Congress Volume: Helsinki 2010 (Boston: Brill. 2012), pp. 117–132.



21. David, king, r. ca. 1010–970, 1 Samuel 16:13, etc. in three inscriptions. Most notable is the victory stele in Aramaic known as the “house of David” inscription, discovered at Tel Dan; Avraham Biran and Joseph Naveh, “An Aramaic Stele from Tel Dan,” IEJ 43 (1993), pp. 81–98, and idem, “The Tel Dan Inscription: A New Fragment,” IEJ 45 (1995), pp. 1–18. An ancient Aramaic word pattern in line 9 designates David as the founder of the dynasty of Judah in the phrase “house of David” (2 Sam 2:11 and 5:5; Gary A. Rendsburg, “On the Writing ביתדיד [BYTDWD] in the Aramaic Inscription from Tel Dan,” IEJ 45 [1995], pp. 22–25; Raging Torrent, p. 20, under “Ba’asha . . .”; IBP, pp. 110–132, 265–77; “Sixteen,” pp. 41–43).

In the second inscription, the Mesha Inscription, the phrase “house of David” appears in Moabite in line 31 with the same meaning: that he is the founder of the dynasty. There David’s name appears with only its first letter destroyed, and no other letter in that spot makes sense without creating a very strained, awkward reading (André Lemaire, “‘House of David’ Restored in Moabite Inscription,” BAR 20, no. 3 [May/June 1994]: pp. 30–37. David’s name also appears in line 12 of the Mesha Inscription (Anson F. Rainey, “Mesha‘ and Syntax,” in J. Andrew Dearman and M. Patrick Graham, eds., The Land That I Will Show You: Essays on the History and Archaeology of the Ancient Near East in Honor of J. Maxwell Miller. (JSOT Supplement series, no. 343; Sheffield, England:Sheffield Academic, 2001), pp. 287–307; IBP, pp. 265–277; “Sixteen,” pp. 41–43).

The third inscription, in Egyptian, mentions a region in the Negev called “the heights of David” after King David (Kenneth A. Kitchen, “A Possible Mention of David in the Late Tenth Century B.C.E., and Deity *Dod as Dead as the Dodo?” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 76 [1997], pp. 39–41; IBP, p. 214 note 3, which is revised in “Corrections,” pp. 119–121; “Sixteen,” p. 43).

In the table on p. 46 of BAR, David is listed as king of Judah. According to 2 Samuel 5:5, for his first seven years and six months as a monarch, he ruled only the southern kingdom of Judah. We have no inscription that refers to David as king over all Israel (that is, the united kingdom) as also stated in 2 Sam 5:5.

22. Uzziah (= Azariah), king, r. 788/787–736/735, 2 Kings 14:21, etc., in the inscribed stone seals of two of his royal servants: Abiyaw and Shubnayaw (more commonly called Shebanyaw); WSS, p. 51 no. 4 and p. 50 no. 3, respectively; IBP, pp. 153–159 and 159–163, respectively, and p. 219 no. 20 (a correction to IBP is that on p. 219, references to WSS nos. 3 and 4 are reversed); “Sixteen,” pp. 46–47. Cf. also his secondary burial inscription from the Second Temple era (IBP, p. 219 n. 22).

23. Ahaz (= Jehoahaz), king, r. 742/741–726, 2 Kings 15:38, etc., in Tiglath-pileser III’s Summary Inscription 7, reverse, line 11, refers to “Jehoahaz of Judah” in a list of kings who paid tribute (ITP, pp. 170–171; Raging Torrent, pp. 58–59). The Bible refers to him by the shortened form of his full name, Ahaz, rather than by the full form of his name, Jehoahaz, which the Assyrian inscription uses.

Cf. the unprovenanced seal of ’Ushna’, more commonly called ’Ashna’, the name Ahaz appears (IBP, pp. 163–169, with corrections from Kitchen’s review of IBP as noted in “Corrections,” p. 117; “Sixteen,” pp. 38–39 n. 11). Because this king already stands clearly documented in an Assyrian inscription, documentation in another inscription is not necessary to confirm the existence of the biblical Ahaz, king of Judah.

24. Hezekiah, king, r. 726–697/696, 2 Kings 16:20, etc., initially in the Rassam Cylinder of Sennacherib (in this inscription, Raging Torrent records frequent mention of Hezekiah in pp. 111–123; COS, pp. 302–303). It mentions “Hezekiah the Judahite” (col. 2 line 76 and col. 3 line 1 in Luckenbill, Annals of Sennacherib, pp. 31, 32) and “Jerusalem, his royal city” (ibid., col. 3 lines 28, 40; ibid., p. 33) Other, later copies of the annals of Sennacherib, such as the Oriental Institute prism and the Taylor prism, mostly repeat the content of the Rassam cylinder, duplicating its way of referring to Hezekiah and Jerusalem (ANET, pp. 287, 288). The Bull Inscription from the palace at Nineveh (ANET, p. 288; Raging Torrent, pp. 126–127) also mentions “Hezekiah the Judahite” (lines 23, 27 in Luckenbill, Annals of Sennacherib, pp. 69, 70) and “Jerusalem, his royal city” (line 29; ibid., p. 33).

During 2009, a royal bulla of Hezekiah, king of Judah, was discovered in the renewed Ophel excavations of Eilat Mazar. Imperfections along the left edge of the impression in the clay contributed to a delay in correct reading of the bulla until late in 2015. An English translation of the bulla is: “Belonging to Heze[k]iah, [son of] ’A[h]az, king of Jud[ah]” (letters within square brackets [ ] are supplied where missing or only partly legible). This is the first impression of a Hebrew king’s seal ever discovered in a scientific excavation.

See the online article by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, “Impression of King Hezekiah’s Royal Seal Discovered in Ophel Excavations South of Temple Mount in Jerusalem,” December 2, 2015; a video under copyright of Eilat Mazar and Herbert W. Armstrong College, 2015; Robin Ngo, “King Hezekiah in the Bible: Royal Seal of Hezekiah Comes to Light,” Bible History Daily (blog), originally published on December 3, 2015; Meir Lubetski, “King Hezekiah’s Seal Revisited,” BAR, July/August 2001. Apparently unavailable as of August 2017 (except for a rare library copy or two) is Eilat Mazar, ed., The Ophel Excavations to the South of the Temple Mount 2009-2013: Final Reports, vol. 1 (Jerusalem: Shoham Academic Research and Publication, c2015).

25. Manasseh, king, r. 697/696–642/641, 2 Kings 20:21, etc., in the inscriptions of Assyrian kings Esarhaddon (Raging Torrent, pp. 131, 133, 136) and Ashurbanipal (ibid., p. 154). “Manasseh, king of Judah,” according to Esarhaddon (r. 680–669), was among those who paid tribute to him (Esarhaddon’s Prism B, column 5, line 55; R. Campbell Thompson, The Prisms of Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal [London: Trustees of the British Museum, 1931], p. 25; ANET, p. 291). Also, Ashurbanipal (r. 668–627) records that “Manasseh, king of Judah” paid tribute to him (Ashurbanipal’s Cylinder C, col. 1, line 25; Maximilian Streck, Assurbanipal und die letzten assyrischen Könige bis zum Untergang Niniveh’s, [Vorderasiatische Bibliothek 7; Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1916], vol. 2, pp. 138–139; ANET, p. 294.

26. Hilkiah, high priest during Josiah’s reign, within 640/639–609, 2 Kings 22:4, etc., in the City of David bulla of Azariah, son of Hilkiah (WSS, p. 224 no. 596; IBP, pp. 148–151; 229 only in [50] City of David bulla; “Sixteen,” p. 49).

The oldest part of Jerusalem, called the City of David, is the location where the Bible places all four men named in the bullae covered in the present endnotes 26 through 29.

Analysis of the clay of these bullae shows that they were produced in the locale of Jerusalem (Eran Arie, Yuval Goren, and Inbal Samet, “Indelible Impression: Petrographic Analysis of Judahite Bullae,” in The Fire Signals of Lachish: Studies in the Archaeology and History of Israel in the Late Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Persian Period in Honor of David Ussishkin [ed. Israel Finkelstein and Nadav Na’aman; Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2011], p. 10, quoted in “Sixteen,” pp. 48–49 n. 34).

27. Shaphan, scribe during Josiah’s reign, within 640/639–609, 2 Kings 22:3, etc., in the City of David bulla of Gemariah, son of Shaphan (WSS, p. 190 no. 470; IBP, pp. 139–146, 228). See endnote 26 above regarding “Sixteen,” pp. 48–49 n. 34.

28. Azariah, high priest during Josiah’s reign, within 640/639–609, 1 Chronicles 5:39, etc., in the City of David bulla of Azariah, son of Hilkiah (WSS, p. 224 no. 596; IBP, pp. 151–152; 229). See endnote 26 above regarding “Sixteen,” pp. 48–49 n. 34.

29. Gemariah, official during Jehoiakim’s reign, within 609–598, Jeremiah 36:10, etc., in the City of David bulla of Gemariah, son of Shaphan (WSS, p. 190 no. 470; IBP, pp. 147, 232). See endnote 26 above regarding “Sixteen,” pp. 48–49 n. 34.

30. Jehoiachin (= Jeconiah = Coniah), king, r. 598–597, 2 Kings 24:5, etc., in four Babylonian administrative tablets regarding oil rations or deliveries, during his exile in Babylonia (Raging Torrent, p. 209; ANEHST, pp. 386–387). Discovered at Babylon, they are dated from the tenth to the thirty-fifth year of Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylonia and conqueror of Jerusalem. One tablet calls Jehoiachin “king” (Text Babylon 28122, obverse, line 29; ANET, p. 308). A second, fragmentary text mentions him as king in an immediate context that refers to “[. . . so]ns of the king of Judah” and “Judahites” (Text Babylon 28178, obverse, col. 2, lines 38–40; ANET, p. 308). The third tablet calls him “the son of the king of Judah” and refers to “the five sons of the king of Judah” (Text Babylon 28186, reverse, col. 2, lines 17–18; ANET, p. 308). The fourth text, the most fragmentary of all, confirms “Judah” and part of Jehoiachin’s name, but contributes no data that is not found in the other texts.

31. Shelemiah, father of Jehucal the official, late 7th century, Jeremiah 37:3; 38:1 and
32. Jehucal (= Jucal), official during Zedekiah’s reign, fl. within 597–586, Jeremiah 37:3; 38:1 only, both referred to in a bulla discovered in the City of David in 2005 (Eilat Mazar, “Did I Find King David’s Palace?” BAR 32, no. 1 [January/February 2006], pp. 16–27, 70; idem, Preliminary Report on the City of David Excavations 2005 at the Visitors Center Area [Jerusalem and New York: Shalem, 2007], pp. 67–69; idem, “The Wall that Nehemiah Built,” BAR 35, no. 2 [March/April 2009], pp. 24–33,66; idem, The Palace of King David: Excavations at the Summit of the City of David: Preliminary Report of Seasons 2005-2007 [Jerusalem/New York: Shoham AcademicResearch and Publication, 2009], pp. 66–71). Only the possibility of firm identifications is left open in “Corrections,” pp. 85–92; “Sixteen,” pp. 50–51; this article is my first affirmation of four identifications, both here in notes 31 and 32 and below in notes 33 and 34.

After cautiously observing publications and withholding judgment for several years, I am now affirming the four identifications in notes 31 through 34, because I am now convinced that this bulla is a remnant from an administrative center in the City of David, a possibility suggested in “Corrections,” p. 100 second-to-last paragraph, and “Sixteen,” p. 51. For me, the tipping point came by comparing the description and pictures of the nearby and immediate archaeological context in Eilat Mazar, “Palace of King David,” pp. 66–70,  with the administrative contexts described in Eran Arie, Yuval Goren, and Inbal Samet, “Indelible Impression: Petrographic Analysis of Judahite Bullae,” in Israel Finkelstein and Nadav Na’aman, eds., The Fire Signals of Lachish: Studies in the Archaeology and History of Israel in the Late Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Persian Period in Honor of David Ussishkin (Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2011), pp. 12–13 (the section titled “The Database: Judahite Bullae from Controlled Excavations”) and pp. 23–24. See also Nadav Na’aman, “The Interchange between Bible and Archaeology: The Case of David’s Palace and the Millo,” BAR 40, no. 1 (January/February 2014), pp. 57–61, 68–69, which is drawn from idem, “Biblical and Historical Jerusalem in the Tenth and Fifth-Fourth Centuries B.C.E.,” Biblica 93 (2012): pp. 21–42. See also idem, “Five Notes on Jerusalem in the First and Second Temple Periods,” Tel Aviv 39 (2012): p. 93.

33. Pashhur, father of Gedaliah the official, late 7th century, Jeremiah 38:1 and
34. Gedaliah, official during Zedekiah’s reign, fl. within 597–586, Jeremiah 38:1 only, both referred to in a bulla discovered in the City of David in 2008. See “Corrections,” pp. 92–96; “Sixteen,” pp. 50–51; and the preceding endnote 31 and 32 for bibliographic details on E. Mazar, “Wall,” pp. 24–33, 66; idem, Palace of King David, pp. 68–71) and for the comments in the paragraph that begins, “After cautiously … ”



35. Tiglath-pileser III (= Pul), king, r. 744–727, 2 Kings 15:19, etc., in his many inscriptions. See Raging Torrent, pp. 46–79; COS, vol. 2, pp. 284–292; ITP; Mikko Lukko, The Correspondence of Tiglath-pileser III and Sargon II from Calah/Nimrud (State Archives of Assyria, no. 19; Assyrian Text Corpus Project; Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2013); ABC, pp. 248–249. On Pul as referring to Tiglath-pileser III, which is implicit in ABC, p. 333 under “Pulu,” see ITP, p. 280 n. 5 for discussion and bibliography.

On the identification of Tiglath-pileser III in the Aramaic monumental inscription honoring Panamu II, in Aramaic monumental inscriptions 1 and 8 of Bar-Rekub (now in Istanbul and Berlin, respectively), and in the Ashur Ostracon, see IBP, p. 240; COS, pp. 158–161.

36. Shalmaneser V (= Ululaya), king, r. 726–722, 2 Kings 17:2, etc., in chronicles, in king-lists, and in rare remaining inscriptions of his own (ABC, p. 242; COS, vol. 2, p. 325). Most notable is the Neo-Babylonian Chronicle series, Chronicle 1, i, lines 24–32.  In those lines, year 2 of the Chronicle mentions his plundering the city of Samaria (Raging Torrent, pp. 178, 182; ANEHST, p. 408). (“Shalman” in Hosea 10:14 is likely a historical allusion, but modern lack of information makes it difficult to assign it to a particular historical situation or ruler, Assyrian or otherwise. See below for the endnotes to the box at the top of p. 50.)

37. Sargon II, king, r. 721–705, Isaiah 20:1, in many inscriptions, including his own. See Raging Torrent, pp. 80–109, 176–179, 182; COS, vol. 2, pp. 293–300; Mikko Lukko, The Correspondence of Tiglath-pileser III and Sargon II from Calah/Nimrud (State Archives of Assyria, no. 19; Assyrian Text Corpus Project; Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2013); ABC, pp. 236–238; IBP, pp. 240–241 no. (74).

38. Sennacherib, king, r. 704–681, 2 Kings 18:13, etc., in many inscriptions, including his own. See Raging Torrent, pp. 110–129; COS, vol. 2, pp. 300–305; ABC, pp. 238–240; ANEHST, pp. 407–411, esp. 410; IBP, pp. 241–242.

39. Adrammelech (= Ardamullissu = Arad-mullissu), son and assassin of Sennacherib, fl. early 7th century, 2 Kings 19:37, etc., in a letter sent to Esarhaddon, who succeeded Sennacherib on the throne of Assyria. See Raging Torrent, pp. 111, 184, and COS, vol. 3, p. 244, both of which describe and cite with approval Simo Parpola, “The Murderer of Sennacherib,” in Death in Mesopotamia: Papers Read at the XXVie Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, ed. Bendt Alster (Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag, 1980), pp. 171–182. See also ABC, p. 240.

An upcoming scholarly challenge is the identification of Sennacherib’s successor, Esarhaddon, as a more likely assassin in Andrew Knapp’s paper, “The Murderer of Sennacherib, Yet Again,” to be read in a February 2014 Midwest regional conference in Bourbonnais, Ill. (SBL/AOS/ASOR).

On various renderings of the neo-Assyrian name of the assassin, see RlA s.v. “Ninlil,” vol. 9, pp. 452–453 (in German). On the mode of execution of those thought to have been  conspirators in the assassination, see the selection from Ashurbanipal’s Rassam cylinder in ANET, p. 288.

40. Esarhaddon, king, r. 680–669, 2 Kings 19:37, etc., in his many inscriptions. See Raging Torrent, pp. 130–147; COS, vol. 2, p. 306; ABC, pp. 217–219. Esarhaddon’s name appears in many cuneiform inscriptions (ANET, pp. 272–274, 288–290, 292–294, 296, 297, 301–303, 426–428, 449, 450, 531, 533–541, 605, 606), including his Succession Treaty (ANEHST, p. 355).



41. Merodach-baladan II (=Marduk-apla-idinna II), king, r. 721–710 and 703, 2 Kings 20:12, etc., in the inscriptions of Sennacherib and the Neo-Babylonian Chronicles (Raging Torrent, pp. 111, 174, 178–179, 182–183. For Sennacherib’s account of his first campaign, which was against Merodach-baladan II, see COS, vol. 2, pp. 300-302. For the Neo-Babylonian Chronicle series, Chronicle 1, i, 33–42, see ANEHST, pp. 408–409. This king is also included in the Babylonian King List A (ANET, p. 271), and the latter part of his name remains in the reference to him in the Synchronistic King List (ANET, pp. 271–272), on which see ABC, pp. 226, 237.

42. Nebuchadnezzar II, king, r. 604–562, 2 Kings 24:1, etc., in many cuneiform tablets, including his own inscriptions. See Raging Torrent, pp. 220–223; COS, vol. 2, pp. 308–310; ANET, pp. 221, 307–311; ABC, p. 232. The Neo-Babylonian Chronicle series refers to him in Chronicles 4 and 5 (ANEHST, pp. 415, 416–417, respectively). Chronicle 5, reverse, lines 11–13, briefly refers to his conquest of Jerusalem (“the city of Judah”) in 597 by defeating “its king” (Jehoiachin), as well as his appointment of “a king of his own choosing” (Zedekiah) as king of Judah.

43. Nebo-sarsekim, chief official of Nebuchadnezzar II, fl. early 6th century, Jeremiah 39:3, in a cuneiform inscription on Babylonian clay tablet BM 114789 (1920-12-13, 81), dated to 595 B.C.E. The time reference in Jeremiah 39:3 is very close, to the year 586. Since it is extremely unlikely that two individuals having precisely the same personal name would have been, in turn, the sole holders of precisely this unique position within a decade of each other, it is safe to assume that the inscription and the book of Jeremiah refer to the same person in different years of his time in office. In July 2007 in the British Museum, Austrian researcher Michael Jursa discovered this Babylonian reference to the biblical “Nebo-sarsekim, the Rab-saris” (rab ša-rēši, meaning “chief official”) of Nebuchadnezzar II (r. 604–562). Jursa identified this official in his article, “Nabu-šarrūssu-ukīn, rab ša-rēši, und ‘Nebusarsekim’ (Jer. 39:3),” Nouvelles Assyriologiques Breves et Utilitaires2008/1 (March): pp. 9–10 (in German). See also Bob Becking, “Identity of Nabusharrussu-ukin, the Chamberlain: An Epigraphic Note on Jeremiah 39,3. With an Appendix on the Nebu(!)sarsekim Tablet by Henry Stadhouders,” Biblische Notizen NF 140 (2009): pp. 35–46; “Corrections,” pp. 121–124; “Sixteen,” p. 47 n. 31. On the correct translation of ráb ša-rēši (and three older, published instances of it having been incorrect translated as rab šaqê), see ITP, p. 171 n. 16.

44. Nergal-sharezer (= Nergal-sharuṣur the Sin-magir = Nergal-šarru-uṣur the simmagir), officer of Nebuchadnezzar II, early sixth century, Jeremiah 39:3, in a Babylonian cuneiform inscription known as Nebuchadnezzar II’s Prism (column 3 of prism EŞ 7834, in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum). See ANET, pp. 307‒308; Rocio Da Riva, “Nebuchadnezzar II’s Prism (EŞ 7834): A New Edition,” Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archäologie, vol. 103, no. 2 (2013): 204, Group 3.

45. Nebuzaradan (= Nabuzeriddinam = Nabû-zēr-iddin), a chief officer of Nebuchadnezzar II, early sixth century, 2 Kings 25:8, etc. & Jeremiah 39:9, etc., in a Babylonian cuneiform inscription known as Nebuchadnezzar II’s Prism (column 3, line 36 of prism EŞ 7834, in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum). See ANET, p. 307; Rocio Da Riva, “Nebuchadnezzar II’s Prism (EŞ 7834): A New Edition,” Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archäologie, vol. 103, no. 2 (2013): 202, Group 1.

46. Evil-merodach (= Awel Marduk, = Amel Marduk), king, r. 561–560, 2 Kings 25:27, etc., in various inscriptions (ANET, p. 309; OROT, pp. 15, 504 n. 23). See especially Ronald H. Sack, Amel-Marduk: 562-560 B.C.; A Study Based on Cuneiform, Old Testament, Greek, Latin and Rabbinical Sources (Alter Orient und Altes Testament, no. 4; Kevelaer, Butzon & Bercker, and Neukirchen-Vluyn, Neukirchener, 1972).

47. Belshazzar, son and co-regent of Nabonidus, fl. ca. 543?–540, Daniel 5:1, etc., in Babylonian administrative documents and the “Verse Account” (Muhammed A. Dandamayev, “Nabonid, A,” RlA, vol. 9, p. 10; Raging Torrent, pp. 215–216; OROT, pp. 73–74). A neo-Babylonian text refers to him as “Belshazzar the crown prince” (ANET, pp. 309–310 n. 5).



48. Cyrus II (=Cyrus the great), king, r. 559–530, 2 Chronicles 36:22, etc., in various inscriptions (including his own), for which and on which see ANEHST, pp. 418–426, ABC, p. 214. For Cyrus’ cylinder inscription, see Raging Torrent, pp. 224–230; ANET, pp. 315–316; COS, vol. 2, pp. 314–316; ANEHST, pp. 426–430; P&B, pp. 87–92. For larger context and implications in the biblical text, see OROT, pp. 70-76.

49. Darius I (=Darius the Great), king, r. 520–486, Ezra 4:5, etc., in various inscriptions, including his own trilingual cliff inscription at Behistun, on which see P&B, pp. 131–134. See also COS, vol. 2, p. 407, vol. 3, p. 130; ANET, pp. 221, 316, 492; ABC, p. 214; ANEHST, pp. 407, 411. On the setting, see OROT, pp. 70–75.

50. Tattenai (=Tatnai), provincial governor of Trans-Euphrates, late sixth to early fifth century, Ezra 5:3, etc., in a tablet of Darius I the Great, king of Persia, which can be dated to exactly June 5, 502 B.C.E. See David E. Suiter, “Tattenai,” in David Noel Freedman, ed., Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992), vol. 6, p. 336; A. T. Olmstead, “Tattenai, Governor of ‘Beyond the River,’” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 3 (1944): p. 46. A drawing of the cuneiform text appears in Arthur Ungnad, Vorderasiatische Schriftdenkmäler Der Königlichen Museen Zu Berlin (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1907), vol. IV, p. 48, no. 152 (VAT 43560). VAT is the abbreviation for the series Vorderasiatische Abteilung Tontafel, published by the Berlin Museum. The author of the BAR article wishes to acknowledge the query regarding Tattenai from Mr. Nathan Yadon of Houston, Texas, private correspondence, 8 September 2015.

51. Xerxes I (=Ahasuerus), king, r. 486–465, Esther 1:1, etc., in various inscriptions, including his own (P&B, p. 301; ANET, pp. 316–317), and in the dates of documents from the time of his reign (COS, vol. 2, p. 188, vol. 3, pp. 142, 145. On the setting, see OROT, pp. 70–75.

52. Artaxerxes I Longimanus, king, r. 465-425/424, Ezra 4:6, 7, etc., in various inscriptions, including his own (P&B, pp. 242–243), and in the dates of documents from the time of his reign (COS, vol. 2, p. 163, vol. 3, p. 145; ANET, p. 548).

53. Darius II Nothus, king, r. 425/424-405/404, Nehemiah 12:22, in various inscriptions, including his own (for example, P&B, pp. 158–159) and in the dates of documents from the time of his reign (ANET, p. 548; COS, vol. 3, pp. 116–117).


Following are some individuals who are thought to be the same as seen in the Hebrew Scriptures, but are uncertain. Nevertheless, similarities of geography and names lead us to believe these are also accurate.


Balaam son of Beor, fl. late 13th century (some scholars prefer late 15th century), Numbers 22:5, etc., in a wall inscription on plaster dated to 700 B.C.E. (COS, vol. 2, pp. 140–145). It was discovered at Tell Deir ʿAllā, in the same Transjordanian geographical area in which the Bible places Balaam’s activity. Many scholars assume or conclude that the Balaam and Beor of the inscription are the same as the biblical pair and belong to the same folk tradition, which is not necessarily historical. See P. Kyle McCarter, Jr., “The Balaam Texts from Deir ‘Allā: The First Combination,” BASOR 239 (1980): pp. 49–60; Jo Ann Hackett, The Balaam Text from Deir ʿAllā (Chico, Calif.: Scholars Press, 1984), pp. 27, 33–34; idem, “Some Observations on the Balaam Tradition at Deir ʿAllā,” Biblical Archaeologist 49 (1986), p. 216. Mykytiuk at first listed these two identifications under a strong classification in IBP, p. 236, but because the inscription does not reveal a time period for Balaam and Beor, he later corrected that to a “not-quite-firmly identified” classification in “Corrections,” pp. 111–113, no. 29 and 30, and in “Sixteen,” p. 53.

Although it contains three identifying marks (traits) of both father and son, this inscription is dated to ca. 700 B.C.E., several centuries after the period in which the Bible places Balaam. Speaking with no particular reference to this inscription, some scholars, such as Frendo and Kofoed, argue that lengthy gaps between a particular writing and the things to which it refers are not automatically to be considered refutations of historical claims (Anthony J. Frendo, Pre-Exilic Israel, the Hebrew Bible, and Archaeology: Integrating Text and Artefact [New York: T&T Clark, 2011], p. 98; Jens B. Kofoed, Text and History: Historiography and the Study of the Biblical Text [Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2005], pp. 83–104, esp. p, 42). There might easily have been intervening sources which transmitted the information from generation to generation but as centuries passed, were lost.

Baalis, king of the Ammonites, r. early 6th century, Jeremiah 40:14, in an Ammonite seal impression on the larger, fairly flat end of a ceramic cone (perhaps a bottle-stopper?) from Tell el-Umeiri, in what was the land of the ancient Ammonites. The seal impression reveals only two marks (traits) of an individual, so it is not quite firm. See Larry G. Herr, “The Servant of Baalis,” Biblical Archaeologist 48 (1985): pp. 169–172; WSS, p. 322 no. 860; COS, p. 201; IBP, p. 242 no. (77); “Sixteen Strong,” p. 52. The differences between the king’s name in this seal impression and the biblical version can be understood as slightly different renderings of the same name in different dialects; see bibliography in Michael O’Connor, “The Ammonite Onomasticon: Semantic Problems,” Andrews University Seminary Studies 25 (1987): p. 62 paragraph (3), supplemented by Lawrence T. Geraty, “Back to Egypt: An Illustration of How an Archaeological Find May Illumine a Biblical Passage,” Reformed Review 47 (1994): p. 222; Emile Puech, “L’inscription de la statue d’Amman et la paleographie ammonite,” Revue biblique 92 (1985): pp. 5–24.



Geshem (= Gashmu) the Arabian, r. mid-5th century, Nehemiah 2:10, etc., in an Aramaic inscription on a silver bowl discovered at Tell el-Maskhuta, Egypt, in the eastern delta of the Nile, that mentions “Qainu, son of Geshem [or Gashmu], king of Qedar,” an ancient kingdom in northwest Arabia. This bowl is now in the Brooklyn Museum. See Isaac Rabinowitz, “Aramaic Inscriptions of the Fifth Century B.C.E. from a North-Arab Shrine in Egypt,” Journal of the Near Eastern Studies 15 (1956): pp. 1–9, Pl. 6–7; William J. Dumbrell, “The Tell el-Maskhuta Bowls and the ‘Kingdom’ of Qedar in the Persian Period,” BASOR 203 (October 1971): pp. 35–44; OROT, pp. 74–75, 518 n. 26; Raging Torrent, p. 55.

Despite thorough analyses of the Qainu bowl and its correspondences pointing to the biblical Geshem, there is at least one other viable candidate for identification with the biblical Geshem: Gashm or Jasm, son of Shahr, of Dedan. On him, see Frederick V. Winnett and William L. Reed, Ancient Records from North Arabia (University of Toronto Press, 1970), pp. 115–117; OROT, pp. 75. 518 n. 26. Thus the existence of two viable candidates would seem to render the case for each not quite firm (COS, vol. 2, p. 176).



Hezir (=Ḥezîr), founding father of a priestly division in the First Temple in Jerusalem, early tenth century, 1 Chronicles 24:15, in an epitaph over a large tomb complex on the western slope of the Mount of Olives, facing the site of the Temple in Jerusalem. First the epitaph names some of Ḥezîr’s prominent descendants, and then it presents Ḥezîr by name in the final phrase, which refers to his descendants, who are named before that, as “priests, of (min, literally “from”) the sons of Ḥezîr.” This particular way of saying it recognizes him as the head of that priestly family. See CIIP, vol. 1: Jerusalem, Part 1, pp. 178‒181, no. 137.

Also, among the burial places inside that same tomb complex, lying broken into fragments was an inscribed, square stone plate that had been used to seal a burial. This plate originally told whose bones they were and the name of that person’s father: “‘Ovadiyah, the son of G . . . ,” but a break prevents us from knowing the rest of the father’s name and what might have been written after that. Immediately after the break, the inscription ends with the name “Ḥezîr.” Placement at the end, as in the epitaph over the entire tomb complex, is consistent with proper location of the name of the founding ancestor of the family. See CIIP, vol. 1, Part 1, p. 182, no. 138.

As for the date of Ḥezîr in the inscriptions, to be sure, Ḥezîr lived at least four generations earlier than the inscribing of the epitaph over the complex, and possibly many more generations (CIIP, vol. 1, Part 1:179–180, no. 137). Still, it is not possible to assign any date (or even a century) to the Ḥezîr named in the epitaph above the tomb complex, nor to the Ḥezîr named on the square stone plate, therefore this identification has no “airtight” proof or strong case. The date of the engraving itself does not help answer the question of this identification, because the stone was quarried no earlier than the second century B.C.E. (CIIP, Part 1, p.179, no. 137–138). Nevertheless, it is still a reasonable identification, as supported by the following facts:

1) Clearly in the epitaph over the tomb complex, and possibly in the square stone plate inscription, the Ḥezîr named in the epitaph is placed last in recognition of his being the head, that is, the progenitor or “founding father” of the priestly family whose members are buried there.

2) This manner of presenting Ḥezîr in the epitaph suggests that he dates back to the founding of this branch of the priestly family. (This suggestion may be pursued independently of whether the family was founded in Davidic times as 1 Chronicles 24 states.)

3) Because there is no mention of earlier ancestors, one may observe that the author(s) of the inscriptions anchored these genealogies in the names of the progenitors. It seems that the authors fully expected that the names of the founders of these 24 priestly families would be recognized as such, presumably by Jewish readers. In at least some inscriptions of ancient Israel, it appears that patronymic phrases that use a preposition such as min, followed by the plural of the word son, as in the epitaph over the tomb complex, “from the sons of Ḥezîr,” functioned in much the same way as virtual surnames. The assumption would have been that they were common knowledge. If one accepts that Israel relied on these particular priestly families to perform priestly duties for centuries, then such an expectation makes sense. To accept the reasonableness of this identification is a way of acknowledging the continuity of Hebrew tradition, which certainly seems unquenchable.

See the published dissertation, L. J. Mykytiuk, Identifying Biblical Persons in Northwest Semitic Inscriptions of 1200–539 B.C.E. (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2004), p. 214, note 2, for 19th- and 20th-century bibliography on the Ḥezîr family epitaph.

Jakim (=Yakîm), founding father of a priestly division in the First Temple in Jerusalem, early tenth century, 1 Chronicles 24:12, on an inscribed ossuary (“bone box”) of the first or second century C.E. discovered in a burial chamber just outside Jerusalem on the western slope of the Mount of Olives, facing the site of the Temple. The three-line inscription reads: “Menahem, from (min) the sons of Yakîm, (a) priest.” See CIIP, vol. 1, Part 1, pp. 217–218, no. 183, burial chamber 299, ossuary 83.

As with the epitaph over the tomb complex of Ḥezîr, this inscription presents Yakîm as the founder of this priestly family. And as with Ḥezîr in the preceding case, no strong case can be made for this identification, because the inscriptional Yakîm lacks a clear date (and indeed, has no clear century). Nevertheless, it is reasonable to identify Yakîm with the Jakim in 1 Chronicles 24 for essentially the same three reasons as Ḥezîr immediately above.

Maaziah (= Ma‘aziah = Maazyahu = Ma‘azyahu), founding father of a priestly division in the First Temple in Jerusalem, early 10th century, 1 Chronicles 24:18, on an inscribed ossuary (“bone box”) of the late first century B.C.E. or the first century C.E. Its one-line inscription reads, “Miriam daughter of Yeshua‘ son of Caiaphas, priest from Ma‘aziah, from Beth ‘Imri.”

The inscription is in Aramaic, which was the language spoken by Jews in first-century Palestine for day-to-day living. The Hebrew personal name Miriam and the Yahwistic ending –iah on Ma‘aziah, which refers to the name of Israel’s God, also attest to a Jewish context.

This inscription’s most significant difficulty is that its origin is unknown (it is unprovenanced). Therefore, the Israel Antiquities Authority at first considered it a potential forgery. Zissu and Goren’s subsequent scientific examination, particularly of the patina (a coating left by age), however, has upheld its authenticity. Thus the inscribed ossuary is demonstrably authentic, and it suits the Jewish setting of the priestly descendants of Ma‘aziah in the Second Temple period.

Now that we have the authenticity and the Jewish setting of the inscription, we can count the identifying marks of an individual to see how strong a case there is for the Ma‘azyahu of the Bible and the Ma‘aziah being the same person: 1) Ma‘azyahu and Ma‘aziah are simply spelling variants of the very same name. 2) Ma‘aziah’s occupation was priest, because he was the ancestor of a priest. 3) Ma‘aziah’s place in the family is mentioned in a way that anchors the genealogy in him as the founder of the family. (The inscription adds mention of ‘Imri as the father of a subset, a “father’s house” within Ma‘aziah’s larger family.)

Normally, if the person in the Bible and the person in the inscription have the same three identifying marks of an individual, and if all other factors are right, one can say the identification (confirmation) of the Biblical person in the inscription is virtually certain.

But not all other factors are right. A setting (even in literature) consists of time and place. To be sure, the social “place” is a Jewish family of priests, both for the Biblical Ma‘azyahu and for the inscriptional Ma‘aziah. But the time setting of the Biblical Ma‘azyahu during the reign of David is not matched by any time setting at all for the inscriptional Ma‘aziah. We do not even know which century the inscriptional Ma‘aziah lived in. He could have been a later descendant of the Biblical Ma‘azyahu.

Therefore, as with Ḥezîr and as with Yakîm above, we cannot claim a clear, strong identification that would be an archaeological confirmation of the biblical Ma‘azyahu. We only have a reasonable hypothesis, a tentative identification that is certainly not proven, but reasonable—for essentially the same three reasons as with Ḥezîr above.

See Boaz Zissu and Yuval Goren, “The Ossuary of ‘Miriam Daughter of Yeshua Son of Caiaphas, Priests [of] Ma‘aziah from Beth ‘Imri’,” Israel Exploration Journal 61 (2011), pp. 74–95; Christopher A. Rollston, “‘Priests’ or ‘Priest’ in the Mariam (Miriam) Ossuary, and the Language of the Inscription,” Rollston Epigraphy (blog), July 14, 2011, www.rollstonepigraphy.com/?p=275, accessed October 10, 2016; Richard Bauckham, “The Caiaphas Family,” Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 10 (2012), pp. 3–31.

Isaiah the prophet, fl. ca. 740–680, 2 Kings 19:2; Isaiah 1:1, etc., in a bulla (lump of clay impressed with an image and/or inscription and used as a seal) unearthed by Eilat Mazar’s Ophel Excavation in Jerusalem. It was discovered in a narrow patch of land between the south side of the Temple mount and the north end of the City of David. The bulla, whose upper left portion is broken off, reveals only two marks (traits) of an individual in the Bible, not three, which would have made a virtually certain identification of a Biblical person. The first mark is Isaiah’s name in Hebrew, Y’sha‘yahu, except for the last vowel, -u, which was broken off. No other letter makes any sense in that spot. This name and other forms of the same name were common in ancient Israel during the prophet Isaiah’s lifetime. The second mark of an individual is where he worked, as indicated by the place where the bulla was discovered. In this case, that seems to have been in or near Hezekiah’s palace, which, given the location of the royal precinct in the Jerusalem of Hezekiah’s day, was likely not far from where the bulla was discovered. Less than ten feet away from where this bulla was discovered, at the exact same level, the Ophel Excavation also discovered the royal bulla inscribed, “belonging Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, king of Judah.”

Although these facts may seem enough to make an identification of the prophet Isaiah, the case is not settled. On the last line of the bulla are the letters nby. These are the first three letters of the Hebrew word that means prophet, but they lack the final letter aleph to form that word. It was either originally present but broke off, or else it was never present. These same three letters, nby, are also a complete Hebrew personal name. We know that, because this name was found on two authentic bullae made by one stone seal and discovered in a juglet at the city of Lachish. Back to the bulla found by the Ophel Excavation: these three letters, nby, follow the name Y’sha‘yahu, exactly where most Hebrew bullae would have the name of the person’s father. As a result, to identify Isaiah the son of nby, (perhaps pronounced Novi), who apparently worked as an official in the palace, or possibly the Temple, is a perfectly good alternative to identifying Isaiah the prophet, son of Amoz. Therefore, a firm identification of Isaiah the prophet is not possible. He remains a candidate. See Eilat Mazar, “Is This the Prophet Isaiah’s Signature?” Biblical Archaeology Review, 44, no. 2 (March/April/May/June 2018), pp. 64–73, 92; Christopher A. Rollston, “The Putative Bulla of Isaiah the Prophet: Not so Fast,” Rollston Epigraphy, February 22, 2018; Megan Sauter, “Isaiah’s Signature Uncovered in Jerusalem: Evidence of the Prophet Isaiah?” Bible History Daily, February 22, 2018.

Shebna, the overseer of the palace, fl. ca. 726–697/696, Isaiah 22:15–19 (probably also the scribe of 2 Kings 18:18, etc., before being promoted to palace overseer), in an inscription at the entrance to a rock-cut tomb in Silwan, near Jerusalem. There are only two marks (traits) of an individual, and these do not include his complete name, so this identification, though tempting, is not quite firm. See Nahman Avigad, “Epitaph of a Royal Steward from Siloam Village,” IEJ 3 (1953): pp. 137–152; David Ussishkin, The Village of Silwan (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1993), pp. 247–250; IBP, pp. 223, 225; “Sixteen Strong,” pp. 51–52.

Hananiah and his father, Azzur, from Gibeon, fl. early 6th and late 7th centuries, respectively, Jeremiah 28:1, etc., in a personal seal carved from blue stone, 20 mm. long and 17 mm. wide, inscribed “belonging to Hananyahu, son of ‘Azaryahu” and surrounded by a pomegranate-garland border, and (WSS, p. 100, no. 165). This seal reveals only two marks (traits) of an individual, the names of father and son, therefore the identification it provides can be no more than a reasonable hypothesis (IBP, pp. 73–77, as amended by “Corrections,” pp. 56‒57). One must keep in mind that there were probably many people in Judah during that time named Hananiah/Hananyahu, and quite a few of them could have had a father named ‘Azariah/‘Azaryahu, or ‘Azzur for short. (Therefore, it would take a third identifying mark of an individual to establish a strong, virtually certain identification of the Biblical father and/or son, such as mention of the town of Gibeon or Hananyahu being a prophet.)

Because the shapes of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet gradually changed over the centuries, using examples discovered at different stratigraphic levels of earth, we can now date ancient Hebrew inscriptions on the basis of paleography (letter shapes and the direction and order of the strokes). This seal was published during the 19th century (in 1883 by Charles Clermont-Ganneau), when no one, neither scholars nor forgers, knew the correct shapes of Hebrew letters for the late seventh to early sixth centuries (the time of Jeremiah). We now know that all the letter shapes in this seal are chronologically consistent with each other and are the appropriate letter shapes for late seventh–century to early sixth–century Hebrew script—the time of Jeremiah. This date is indicated especially by the Hebrew letter nun (n) and—though the photographs are not completely clear, possibly by the Hebrew letter he’ (h), as well.

Because the letter shapes could not have been correctly forged, yet they turned out to be correct, it is safe to presume that this stone seal is genuine, even though its origin (provenance) is unknown. Normally, materials from the antiquities market are not to be trusted, because they have been bought, rather than excavated, and could be forged. But the exception is inscriptions purchased during the 19th century that turn out to have what we now know are the correct letter shapes, all of which appropriate for the same century or part of a century (IBP, p. 41, paragraph 2) up to the word “Also,” pp. 154 and 160 both under the subheading “Authenticity,” p. 219, notes 23 and 24).

Also, the letters are written in Hebrew script, which is discernibly different from the scripts of neighboring kingdoms. The only Hebrew kingdom still standing when this inscription was written was Judah. Because this seal is authentic and is from the kingdom of Judah during the time of Jeremiah, it matches the setting of the Hananiah, the son of Azzur in Jeremiah 28.

Comparing the identifying marks of individuals in the inscription and in the Bible, the seal owner’s name and his father’s name inscribed in the seal match the name of the false prophet and his father in Jeremiah 28, giving us two matching marks of an individual. That is not enough for a firm identification, but it is enough for a reasonable hypothesis.

Gedaliah the governor, son of Ahikam, fl. ca. 585, 2 Kings 25:22, etc., in the bulla from Tell ed-Duweir (ancient Lachish) that reads, “Belonging to Gedalyahu, the overseer of the palace.” The Babylonian practice was to appoint indigenous governors over conquered populations. It is safe to assume that as conquerors of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.E., they would have chosen the highest-ranking Judahite perceived as “pro-Babylonian” to be their governor over Judah. The palace overseer had great authority and knowledge of the inner workings of government at the highest level, sometimes serving as vice-regent for the king; see S. H. Hooke, “A Scarab and Sealing From Tell Duweir,” Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement 67 (1935): pp. 195–197; J. L. Starkey, “Lachish as Illustrating Bible History,” Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement 69 (1937): pp. 171–174; some publications listed in WSS, p. 172 no. 405. The palace overseer at the time of the Babylonian conquest, whose bulla we have, would be the most likely choice for governor, if they saw him as pro-Babylonian. Of the two prime candidates named Gedaliah (= Gedalyahu)—assuming both survived the conquest—Gedaliah the son of Pashhur clearly did not have the title “overseer of the palace” (Jeremiah 38:1), and he was clearly an enemy of the Babylonians (Jeremiah 38:4–6). But, though we lack irrefutable evidence, Gedaliah the son of Ahikam is quite likely to have been palace overseer. His prestigious family, the descendants of Shaphan, had been “key players” in crucial situations at the highest levels of the government of Judah for three generations. As for his being perceived as pro-Babylonian, his father Ahikam had protected the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 26:24; cf. 39:11–14), who urged surrender to the Babylonian army (Jeremiah 38:1–3).

The preceding argument is a strengthening step beyond “Corrections,” pp. 103–104, which upgrades the strength of the identification from its original level in IBP, p. 235, responding to the difficulty expressed in Oded Lipschits, The Fall and Rise of Jerusalem: Judah under Babylonian Rule (Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2005), p. 86 n. 186.

Jaazaniah (= Jezaniah), fl. early 6th century, 2 Kings 25:23, etc., in the Tell en-Naṣbeh (ancient Mizpah) stone seal inscribed: “Belonging to Ya’azanyahu, the king’s minister.” It is unclear whether the title “king’s minister” in the seal might have some relationship with the biblical phrase “the officers (Hebrew: sarîm) of the troops,” which included the biblical Jaazaniah (2 Kings 25: 23). There are, then, only two identifying marks of an individual that clearly connect the seal’s Jaazaniah with the biblical one: the seal owner’s name and the fact that it was discovered at the city where the biblical “Jaazaniah, the son of the Maacathite,” died. See William F. Badè, “The Seal of Jaazaniah,” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentlishe Wissenschaft 51 (1933): pp. 150–156; WSS, p. 52 no. 8; IBP, p. 235; “Sixteen Strong,” p. 52.


The Historical and Archaeological evidence keeps on piling up each year in favor of the Scriptures, supporting our faith in the Scriptures to be a real Historical document rather than a Religious ideology.

Is Yeshua the Promised Messiah?

By the mere fact that this question is being raised, some Christians may feel uncomfortable or become enraged even. But this is a legitimate question when it comes to a person who is yet to accept Yeshua (Jesus’ true Hebrew name) as the Messiah. In my personal journey, I like many other Christians believed in the Old Testament because I believed in Jesus. But now I can confidently say that I believe in Yeshua because of the Tanakh (Old Testament).

The Scriptures were the basis for the New Testament writers to prove that Yeshua was truly the promised Messiah. Over and over, throughout the Gospels, we see the writers bring references from the Torah, Writings & Psalms to show how Yeshua fulfilled specific Prophecies, thereby proving to the reader that He is the promised One.

To the most part, Christians have grown up with the belief that Yeshua is this promised Messiah, and have had no need to question its authenticity.

Those who claimed to be or was pronounced to be Messiah

  1. Todah (Theudas) mentioned in Acts 5:36
  2. Judah HaG’lili (Judas of Galilee) mentioned in Acts 5:37
  3. Bar-Kosiba pronounced as Messiah by Rabbi Akiva in 132AD and given the name Bar-Kochva
  4. Sabbatai Zevi pronounced as Messiah in 1666
  5. Jacob Frank who proclaimed to be a Messiah in 1759
  6. Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994) who is believed to be the Messiah among the “Chabad” movement, and is said to be coming again.
  7. and many others…

Why believe Yeshua is the promised Messiah?
There are many prophecies about the Messiah in the Scripture, of which some prophecies are significant and clear while others are not. The clearest way to convincingly answer whether Jesus/Yeshua could be the promised Messiah would be to compare these Scriptures against His story. This story is laid out in detail throughout the 4 Gospels and some of the other Books and Letters of the New Testament. The main purpose of the Gospels were to prove to the reader that Yeshua is this promised Messiah. So let us compare the Prophecies and the fulfillments of the prophecies mentioned in the New Testament writings according to the witness of these writers who laid their lives for what they believed.

PROPHECY (Messiah must…) Scripture Reference Fulfillment
Be the Seed made of a woman
bruise the head of the serpent
Gen 3:15 Gal 4:4, 1Jn 3:8
Be the Seed of Abraham Gen 12:3 Mat 1:1, Gal 3:16
Be the Seed of Isaac Gen 17:19, 21:12 Mat 1:2, Luk 3:34,
Heb 11:17-19
Be the Seed of Jacab
Be the Star of Jacob
Gen 28:14,
Num 24:17-19
Mat 1:2, Luk 3:34,
Rev 22:16
Descended from Judah Gen 49:10 Mat 1:2-3, Luk 3:33,
Heb 7:14
Descended from David
Heir to the Throne
2Sam 7:12-13, Jer 23:5,
Isa 9:6,7, 11:1-5
Mat 1:6, Rom 1:3,
Luk 1:32
Exist Forever Micah 5:2 Joh 8:58, Col 1:15-19
Be the Son of God Psalm 2:7, Pro 30:4 Mat 3:17, Luk 1:32
Bear the Name of God (YHVH) Jer 23:5,6 Philip 2:9-11
To appear 69×7 Yrs after
rebuilding the Wall of Jerusalem
Dan 9:25,26 Mat 2:1,16,19.
Luk 3:1,23
Born in Bethlehem Micah 5:2 Mat 2:1, Luk 2:4-7
Be born of a Virgin Isa 7:14 Mat 1:18-25,
Luk 1:26-35
Be Revered by Kings Psa 72:10,11 Mat 2:1-11
Follows a messenger who
prepares the way
Isa 40:3-5, Mal 3:1 Mat 3:1-3,
Luk 1:17, 3:2-6
Be anointed by the
Spirit of God
Isa 11:2, 61:1, Psa 45:7 Mat 3:16, Joh 3:34
Act 10:38
Be a Prophet like Moses Deut 18:15,18 Act 3:20-22
Liberate the afflicted, proclaim
freedom to the prisoners and
proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
Isa 61:1,2 Luk 4:18,19
Engage in a Healing Ministry Isa 35:5,6, 42:18 Mat 11:3-5
Lead a Ministry in Galilee Isa 9:1-2 Mat 4:12-16
Be Caring, Compassionate,
Meek & Humble
Isa 40:11, 42:1-3 Mat 12:15-21, Heb 4:15
To be Sinless Isa 53:9 1 Pet 2:22
Bear the Transgressions of others Psa 69:9, Isa 53:12 Rom 15:3
Be a High Priest after the order
of Melchizedek
Psa 110:4, Heb 5:5,6, 6:20, 7:15-17
Enter Jerusalem riding on a Donkey Zec 9:9 Mat 21:1-11, Mar 11:1-11
Enter the Temple with authority Mal 3:1 Mat 21:12 – 24:1,
Joh 2:13-22
Be hated without a cause Psa 69:4, Joh 15:24-15
Undesirable and rejected by
His own people
Isa 53:2, 63:3, Psa 69:8 Mar 6:3, Joh 1:11, 7:3-5
Rejected by the rulers Psa 118:22 Mat 21:42, Joh 7:48
Rejected by Jews & Gentiles alike Psa 2:1,2 Act 4:25-27
Betrayed by a friend Psa 55:12-14 Act 1:16-18
Mat 26:21-25, 47-50;
Be sold for 30 Pieces of Silver Zec 11:12 Mat 26:15
Pay the price for the Potter’s field Zec 11:13 Mat 27:3-10, Act 1:18,19
Must be abandoned by His disciples Zec 13:7 Mat 26:31,56
Be beaten with a Rod Mic 5:1 Mat 27:30
Be Beaten and Spat upon Isa 50:6 Mat 26:67, 27:30,31
Have His Feet and Hands Pierced Zec 12:10, Psa 22:16,17 Mat 27:35, Luk 24:39
Joh 20:25,27
Be craving of Thirst Psa 22:15 Joh 19:28
Be given Vinegar to Drink Psa 69:21 Mar 15:36, Joh 19:29
Have none of His bones broken Psa 34:20, Joh 19:33-36
Be Considered a Sinner Isa 53:12 Mar 15:28, Luk 22:37
Be put to death after 69×7 Yrs after
rebuilding the Wall of Jerusalem
Dan 9:24-26 Mat 2:1, Luk 3:1,23
1Pet 3:18
Be a whose Death will be
atonement to all mankind
Isa 53:5-7,12 Mar 10:45, Joh 1:29, 3:16,
Acts 8:30-35
Be Buried among the Rich Isa 53:9 Mat 27:57-60
Rise again from the dead Isa 53:9-10, Psa 16:10,
Psa 2:7
Mat 28:1-20, Act 2:23-36,
Act 13:33-37
Be lifted up to the right hand of God Psa 16:11, 68:18, 110: 1 Luk 24:51, Act 1:9-11,
Act 7:55, Heb 1:3
Perform priestly duties in Heaven Zec 6:13 Rom 8:34, Heb 7:25, 8:2
Be the Cornerstone of
God’s Congregation
Isa 28:16, Psa 118:22,23 Mat 21:42, Eph 2:20,
1Pet 2:5-7
Be the Person to whom even
the Gentiles will turn to
Isa 11:10, 42:1 Mat 12:21, Rom 15:12,
Act 10:45
Be accepted by the Gentile Nations
as Ruler
Isa 49:1-12, Psa 18:49,
Deut 32:43, Psa 117:1
Rom 15:9-11
Fulfill God’s Appointed Days Lev 23 View the graph

While there are many claimants to the Messiah-ship of God, there is only one person in history who fulfilled a large array of Scriptures to prove that He is indeed the Messiah. Any person who is unsure whether He truly matches this position must read and compare the Scriptures with the writings of the New Testament to see whether these match up. To those of us who firmly believe that Yeshua is indeed the promised Messiah, we should also know the reason for that belief is all of the evidence laid out in the New Testament pointing at the Scriptures. The Scriptures and the many pieces of evidence it puts forth is why we believe that Yeshua, unlike other claimants, is the real “Messiah Ben Joseph” who will return someday as “Messiah Ben David”.

The meaning of the word “Hebrew” and Crossing Over

Estimated Reading time – 10 to 20 Minutes

God’s chosen people identified themselves as Hebrews both in the Old Testament(Jon 1:9) and in the New(Philip 3:5). Abram was the first person to be called a Hebrew, even though he was from Ur of the Chaldaeans(Gen 11:31). So what does “Hebrew” really mean?

The word Hebrew in its simplest sense means “one from beyond”.

H5680 – עברי – ‛ibrı̂y – Hebrew
Brown-Driver-Briggs Dictionary Definition:
Hebrew = “one from beyond”

Abraham's route from Ur to Canaan

Abraham’s route from Ur to Canaan

This makes sense, as the first time we see the word “Hebrew” used is when Abram is called a “Abram the Hebrew”. This may have referred to the fact that Abram came from the other side of the Euphrates River and settled in the plains of Mamre. A closely connected word to “Ivri”/”Hebrew” in the Hebrew language is “Eber” which means beyond/across. So one who comes across or comes from beyond is a Hebrew.

H5676 – עבר – ‛êber – Eber
Brown-Driver-Briggs Dictionary Definition:
region beyond or across, side, opposite side

Another word connected with “Ivri” (Hebrew) is “Avar” which means “pass over”. All of these words are connected as the root (Ayin-Bet-Resh עבר) in Hebrew stays the same.

H5674 – עבר – ‛âbar
Brown-Driver-Briggs Dictionary Definition:
to pass over or by or through, alienate, bring, carry, do away, take, take away, transgress
to pass over, cross, cross over, pass over, march over, overflow, go over, to pass beyond, to pass through, traverse, passers-through, to pass through, to pass along, pass by, overtake and pass, sweep by, passer-by, to be past, be over, to pass on, go on, pass on before, go in advance of, pass along, travel, advance, to pass away, to emigrate, leave (one’s territory), to vanish, to perish, cease to exist, to become invalid, become obsolete (of law, decree), to be alienated, pass into other hands, to be crossed, to impregnate, cause to cross, to cause to pass over, cause to bring over, cause to cross over, make over to, dedicate, devote, to cause to pass through, to cause to pass by or beyond or under, let pass by, to cause to pass away, cause to take away, to pass over

It should be noted that the story of Abraham is connected to the word “Abar” Pass-over, as we see it is one of the first things mentioned about him.

Gen 12:4-6 So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. And Abram passed through(H5674 – עבר – ‛âbar) the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.

Israel crosses the Jordan on dry land

Israel crosses the Jordan on dry land

So it is now abundantly clear why Abram was called a Hebrew. This characteristic of “passing over” becomes part of the Hebrew experience, and is seen as part and parcel of the journey of God’s people as seen below.

Jos 24:2,3 And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac.
Jos 24:6 And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea.
Jos 24:8 And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side Jordan; and they fought with you: and I gave them into your hand, that ye might possess their land; and I destroyed them from before you.
Jos 24:14,15 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Israel crosses the Red Sea

Israel crosses the Red Sea

In the above passage Joshua makes a distinction between Abram before he passes over, to the life he is called to live after he crossed over. Abram served other gods beyond the river, but when he passed over, he was committed to God. This repeats again with Israel as they cross the Red Sea towards freedom and Israel as they cross the Jordan towards the promised land. Passing over was a distinct feature of God’s people. Passing over the waters as much as it is a physical act, it also signifies a symbolic act of leaving the past behind and starting afresh. This is enacted in the Baptism/Mikveh that each of us go through as young believers as well.

When God speaks to Moses about the passover sacrifice, He Himself says that He will Pass Over the land using the same word (H5674 – עבר – ‛âbar) which is connected to “Ivri” Hebrew, as seen below.

Exo 12:12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.
Exo 12:23 For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.

We see the same word (H5674 – עבר – ‛âbar) which is connected to “Ivri” Hebrew, used again in the Song of Moses, after the Hebrews cross the Red Sea.

Exo 15:16 Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased.

Essentially, the Hebrew is a person who has passed from death to life; from a life of sin to a life of righteousness through God’s Commands; from obeying false gods to obeying the one true Creator of the universe.

Yeshua speaks of this fact, saying that whoever hears Him and puts his/her trust in YHVH, would pass from death to life:

Joh 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

What is the evidence that one has passed from death unto life and become a true Hebrew? John explains it in the following way.

1Jn 3:14-24 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

John explains that the evidence that we have moved from death to life, shines through the love of God which is in our lives. A love that is ready to give even our own life for others. A love that is not in word but in deed, but according to the commandment that Yeshua raised to the next level – “Love one another(Lev 19:18), as I have loved you”(John 15:12). Through God’s love, we show whether we are truly a Hebrew or not. Whether we have truly crossed over from Death to Life. Let us strive to be like the great Hebrews of old such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua and many more ; not forgetting Yeshua – A Hebrew of Hebrews, who gave His life so that we may cross over. Like the patriarchs, we may all have our shortcomings. But we should never forget the most important characteristic of a Hebrew – a willingness to cross over from our lives in slavery and death to a life in Covenant and Loving Obedience to God and Love towards everyone who has crossed over and is in the process of crossing over to God’s camp.

Passover and the Abomination of the Egyptians

Passover is intricately connected with the Blood of the “Lamb”, whether it be the remembrance of salvation through the Passover in Egypt or the fulfillment of Passover in Messiah who shed His blood on Passover day(John 19:14) as our Lamb(1Pet 1:19).

But most of us do not see the significance of God’s command to sacrifice a Lamb, especially when the Israelites were under the rule of the Egyptians.

Let’s look at the first hint given in Genesis when Joseph met his brothers for the first time:

Gen 43:32 And they set on for him by himself, and for them by themselves, and for the Egyptians, which did eat with him, by themselves: because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians.

But why was it an abomination to the Egyptians to eat with Hebrews? No reason is given here. Many of us conclude that it would have been a cultural practice where the Egyptians saw themselves superior to the Hebrews. But this was not the reason it was seen as an abomination. Let’s look at the next hint:

Gen 46:33,34 And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation? That ye shall say, Thy servants’ trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.

Now the reason starts to become clearer, as it is mentioned herding sheep was seen as an abominable act to the Egyptians. This is why the Hebrews were settled in Goshen, away from the Egyptians. But why did the Egyptians see shepherds as an abomination? Let us look at the next hint:

Exo 8:26 And Moses said, It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the LORD our God: lo, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us?

When Moses speaks to Pharoah and asks him to let the Hebrews go, so that they can sacrifice to YHVH, the Pharoah tells Moses to do their sacrifices inside Egypt. To which Moses replies in the above manner seen in Exo 8:26. The phrase “Abomination of the Egyptians” does not mean that they saw sheep as an unclean/abominable animal. On the contrary, they worshiped it. The phrasing is written in the perspective of the Israelites and not the Egyptians. Meaning the sheep was a sacred animal which was an abomination that the Egyptians were involved in, in the eyes of God and His people. We see evidence for this in the following verse.

2Ki 23:13 And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile.

In the above verse we see that the “Abomination of the Zidonians” was “Ashtoreth”. The “Abomination of the Moabites” was “Chemosh”. The “Abomination of the Ammonites” was “Milcom”. These were all pagan gods that were abominations in the perspective of God and His people. In the same way, the “Abomination of the Egyptians” was the “sheep”. There is historical evidence that the sheep was venerated by the Egyptians, and this makes perfect sense of the first hint we saw in Gen 43:32 as they saw Hebrews as a people who raised, kept and killed sheep as livestock. This is why shepherds were an abomination to the Egyptians as seen in Gen 46:33,34.

Pagan gods with the likeness of Sheep in Egyptian History
Khnum and Anum were the two main deities of the Egyptians that had a connection to the Sheep.

Khnum was one of the earliest-known Egyptian deities, originally the god of the source of the Nile. The worship of Khnum centered on two principal riverside sites, Elephantine and Esna, which were regarded as sacred sites. At Elephantine, he was worshipped alongside Anuket and Satis as the guardian of the source of the Nile River.

Amun is a major ancient Egyptian deity which was later fused with the Sun god, Ra, as Amun-Ra or Amun-Re. Amun-Ra held the position of transcendental, self-created creator deity and was positioned as King of Gods developed to the point of virtual monotheism where other gods became manifestations of him. With Osiris, Amun-Ra is the most widely recorded of the Egyptian gods and was depicted at one point as a ram-headed deity.

Prior to entering the Temple of Amun in Karnak, there is a long row of Sphinxese depicting the ram of the god amun with the king standing under its paws beneath its chin.

The first plague that came upon Egypt may have also targeted Khnum, as he was regarded as the guardian of the Nile.

One can only wonder whether the Hebrews were making bricks for such temples that depicted the sheep as a god figure. In such a background, now we can understand the true circumstances of having to sacrifice sheep to YHVH. Now we can understand why Moses goes to say “would they not stone us” if they sacrificed inside Egypt (Exo 8:26). The stakes were very high, as God was commanding the Hebrews to take a stand against the gods of Egypt. When they sacrificed the lambs at Passover, they would have had to have complete faith in God. If they were wrong, the Egyptians very well could have stoned them the next day for desecrating their land.

By asking to make a public display of the blood of the lamb, God was saying there is no other who can protect the Hebrews other than YHVH. And on the other end God was asking His people to put their faith in Him. To rise up against the abominations of Egypt and show that they are ready to follow God instead.

And there lies the parallel for us, as we enter the season of Passover. As we remember the death of Yeshua on Passover day according to the Gospels, let’s remember that we are also called to rise against the abominations of our past and put complete faith in him. Let us put our slavery to death behind us, and walk towards the Land God has promised His people. Amen.

Lost in Translation – Are our English Bibles accurate?

While the Old Testament Scriptures and the New Testament Writings are most definitely inspired by God, the Translations we carry are not. Translation is an extremely hard task with so many variables, since it is done by human beings with their own thoughts, ideas, doctrines & biases. The mere fact that there are so many different English Translations should show us that there are issues with our translations that lead to erroneous doctrines and twisting of God’s Word. These additions, subtractions and changes whether done in purpose or not, effect how we read and perceive the Bible. It is of utter importance to look into these changes and be informed so that we get to know the unadulterated truth.


We must all be thankful for the people who have spent their precious time, resources and sometimes done it under duress – so that we have a translation which we can read. In this sense, the following inspection is in no way an attempt to undermine the work of Translators but an undertaking, so that we are all informed of the less than perfect translations we are left with to learn from.

While this post will not provide an exhaustive list of all additions, subtractions and changes seen in our English Translations, I hope to provide some key flaws I have noted in my own personal study. You are most welcome to provide your findings – so that I can add them into this post!

Deu 4:2  Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
Deu 12:32  What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
Pro 30:6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.
Mat 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Rev 22:18,19 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

With dire warnings against Adding to and Subtracting from God’s Word, we should shudder about the fact that such additions, subtractions and changes still exist in our translations. These could be categorized under the below list:
1) God’s Name & Christ’s Name
2) Parenthesis
3) Additions & Changes
3) Mistranslation & Bias

1) God’s Name & Christ’s Name
The word “LORD” in capital letters can be seen in our English Translations over 6500 times, and each of those times the root Hebrew word is “יהוה” (Yod-Hay-Vav-Hay) or YHVH commonly known as the Tetragrammaton. While there is a Hebrew Word for the title “Lord” which is “אדני” Adonai, wherever our Bible Translations have “LORD” in CAPITALS, it is signifying God’s Divine name. In a few rare instances in the King James Version, God’s Divine Name is seen in it’s original form as “JEHOVAH” – a very close transliteration to the original Yehovah (Exo 6:3,Psa 83:18,Isa 12:2,Isa 26:4). Can God’s name, known as His Memorial Name(Hos 12:5), My Holy Name(Eze 39:7) & My Name(Isa 42:8, Jer 16:21) be substituted with a mere title such as Lord? One of the biggest changes seen in our translations is that all of them mask God’s one true name. (Read this article for further study)

But it does not stop there. It comes as a shock to many people to know that “Jesus” was not the name that Christ was addressed by, by any of His disciples or any contemporaries of His day. Even though the name Jesus is seen close to 1000 times in the New Testament translation, The Hebrew Name He was known by was “ישׁוּע” “Yeshua” the same name given to Moses’ aid commonly known as Joshua.  In two instances in the King James Version, Joshua is even referred to as Jesus (Acts 7:45, Heb 4:8) proving that the two names Jesus and Joshua are derived from the same name. But how did the name “Yeshua” end up being turned to “Jesus”? This is the cause of transliterations done from Hebrew to Greek to Latin to German to English. (Read this article for further study)

Almost all of the names we read in our English Translations are anglicized versions of the originals. Even though there are too many to point out, a few key names are mentioned below. Mary’s true name is “Miriam”(the same name as Moses’ Sister), John is “Yochanan”, Jude, Judas and Judah is “Yehudah”, James and Jacob is “Yaakov”, Matthew is “Mathityahu”, Simon is “Shi-mon”, Thomas is “Taome”, Saul is “Sha-ul”, Eve is “Chavah”, Isaac is “Yitzach”, Isaiah is “Yeshiyahu”, Solomon is “Sh-lomo” and so on. This begs the question – can we change or Anglicize names? If we can’t do it to our own names… how come we change Biblical names?

2) Parenthesis
Translators use words or phrases in certain instances to help readers understand verses. But many of these additions marked by bracket marks or italicized letters are thought by readers to be part of the original text. Thus the translators make certain decisions in the interpretation of Scripture which has a profound impact on readers perception and understanding which may not be accurate at certain times.
A) Mark 7:19 –  (Thus he declared all foods clean.)
One of the biggest cases against God’s Food Laws, is based on Mark 7:19 in which Christ is making a statement about the question in context – “Does one become unclean by eating with unwashed hands?”. The translators add “(Thus he declared all foods clean.)”, thereby making Christ an advocate of breaking God’s Food Laws. This insertion seen in translations such as ESV, NIV, NLT, NASB, NET, etc., gives a wrong understanding to the lay reader. (Read this article for further study)
B) Heb 8:7, Heb 8:13, Heb 9:1 – Covenant
The Word “Covenant” appears in the Letter to the Hebrews a number of times. But the translators have inserted this all important word in 3 places thereby changing the whole context of the Letter. The main question addressed in this Letter is the “Priesthood”(8:1), and not the Covenant. By inserting the word to where it does not exist, the translators thereby change the context of the priesthood towards the covenant, which has led to “Hebrews” being used as a proof text to say that “Old Covenant” is done away. There is no argument that when a certain line speaks about the first (as in priesthood), inserting the word “covenant”, changes the context to a completely different path. (Read this article for further study)

3) Additions & Changes
In some instances two sets of Manuscripts may have vast differences, which are carried to different English translations, making different versions of translations carry completely different verses. While some of these are rectified in newer editions, some ideas which were not communicated by the writers may end up and remain in our translations to this day.
A) Rev 22:14 – “Blessed are those doing His Commands” or “Blessed are those who wash their robes”

H.B. Swete's The Apocalypse of St. John... (3rd edn; Macmillan, 1911), p. 307.

Difference between Rev 22:14 – “Blessed are those doing His Commands” or “Blessed are those who wash their robes “H.B. Swete’s The Apocalypse of St. John… (3rd edn; Macmillan, 1911), p. 307.

In the conclusion of Revelation written by John, some of our translations (NIV, NLT, ESV, NASB, ISV, NET, ASV) say “Blessed are those who wash their robes”  while other translations (KJV, YLT) carry “Blessed are those doing His Commands”. The change comes from two different sets of Manuscripts. While the Greek text of the two versions (as seen above) have minor differences, the messages that the two different versions give out are vastly contrasting. Long before the books were compiled to form “The New Testament,” Rev. 22:14 was quoted, as “Blessed are those doing His Commands”, by Tertullian (CE 208) and by Cyprian (CE 251).

B) 1John 5:7 – “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” or “For there are three that testify”
In some of our translations (NIV, NLT, ESV, NASB, ISV, NET, ASV) this verse says “For there are three that testify” while other translations (KJV, YLT) carry “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” The longer form that is central to Trinitarian Doctrine, is thought to have been added by Desiderius Erasmus in 1522, while they were absent from the first modern Greek critical text published by him in 1516.

C) Mark 16:9-20 – Missing from the oldest Greek Manuscripts
Even though the vast majority of later Greek Manuscripts carry verses 9-20 in the Gospel of Mark, two of the oldest and most respected manuscripts, the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, end at verse 8. While there is scholarly consensus on this addition, the question remains why it is still part of our translations. At the least there should be a note accompanied in our translations on this fact.

D) Mattew 28:19 – Missing from the Hebrew Manuscripts of Matthew
It is a known fact that Matthew wrote the Gospel in Hebrew as mentioned by Irenaeus of Lyons in “Against Heresies 3:1:1” written in 180AD. These Hebrew Manuscripts have survived to this day, which was translated by George Howard – Professor of Religion, University of Georgia in 1995. These manuscripts do not contain the words “teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” which is found in verse 19 of our Bible Translations. Instead the Hebrew Manuscripts merely go on from verse 18 to 20 saying “Go, Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” The command to baptize using a trinitarian creed seems to be missing in the Hebrew Manuscripts. This agrees with the Book of Acts where everyone is baptized in the name of Christ, whilst the trinitarian baptism creed is not mentioned anywhere(Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48, 19:5, 22:16). (Read this article for further study)

4) Mistranslation & Bias
There are many occurrences where a translator or set of translators have translated the same word in the Original Greek/Hebrew to different English Words. While this maybe helpful at times, it can also cause quite a lot of confusion, especially when the translation is changing the text to fit a certain idea/doctrine. While there certainly are hundreds if not thousands of such instances, I will point out the main ones I have noticed which makes a vast difference in understanding what we read. I invite you to add any other instances which you have found, so that this article gets improved.

A. H4150 – mô‛êd – Appointed time/place
Gen 1:14  And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
Lev 23:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.
The Words highlighted in Red above are the same in the Original Hebrew Manuscripts. The fact is that Gen 1:14 should have been translated as “appointed time/Feast” and not “seasons”, which gives the idea of Spring, Summer, Autumn & Winter. God’s Appointed Times or Feasts depend on the Sun & Moon, and it is fitting for this reason that God created the lights for the calculating of His appointments. (Read this article for further study)

B. H8577 – tannı̂ym – Sea Creatures, Whales, Dragons or Serpants
Gen 1:21  And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
Exo 7:9  When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent.
Deu 32:33  Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps.
The Words highlighted in Red above are the same in the Original Hebrew Manuscripts. Gen 1:21 should not be translated as Whales in any case, as the same word is translated Serpent and as Dragon. Vastly different to the idea which is given in our English translations pertaining the Creation account.

C. Lucifer or Heylel
We are all familiar with the name Lucifer, by which Satan is known in popular culture. But oddly enough the name “Lucifer” does not originate from the Hebrew Text, but from Latin. The Hebrew Haylel (meaning “Shining One”) seen in the Hebrew Manuscripts can only be seen in Isa 14:12. The using of Lucifer here in our translations makes a false claim that this is the name of the Adversary, when there is no mention of such in the Original Manuscripts.  (Read this article for further study)

D. H7585 – she’ôl – Hell or Grave
In some instances “she’ôl” is translated as Hell instead of Grave, when it is very clear that the correct translation should be Grave as in the Ground in burial, rather than a fiery place as communicated in popular media. (Read this article for further study)

E. Luke 23:43 and the placing of the Comma
We are all familiar with the famous words Christ spoke to the thief who believed on the cross. These words are also a central part of the theology that people go to heaven immediately when they die. Most Christians would not know that there are no punctuation marks in the Greek Manuscripts. So the placing of the Comma (marked in red) makes a vast difference to the meaning of the verse. If you place it in between “I say to you” and “today you will be with me”, it could lead us to believe that the thief will be in paradise the same day. Alternatively, if you place the comma in between “I say to you today” and “you will be with me”, it could lead us to believe that Christ is merely proclaiming that the thief will be in paradise. The placement of the comma in our English translations make a vast difference to the message derived from it. See both version below. Whichever version is right, it certainly shows the power of a simple punctuation mark.
• Luk 23:43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
• Luk 23:43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise.”

F. Acts 12:4 – Passover or Easter
In the King James Version the word “pascha-G3957” is translated as “Easter” in Acts 12:4 – a word which is translated “Passover” everywhere else. The word “Easter” is a clear insertion which is foreign to the Greek text, and is not present in any other translation or passage of the Bible.

G. G4864 – sunagōgē – Synagogue
Jas 2:2 (KJV, NET, ESV, ISV) For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
Jas 2:2 (NIV) Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in.
Jas 2:2 (YLT, ASV) For if there come into your synagogue a man with a gold ring, in fine clothing, and there come in also a poor man in vile clothing;
The Words highlighted in Red above are the same in the Original Greek Manuscripts. The fact that the believers that James is writing to are attending Synagogue is skewed by some of the translations by replacing the word with “assembly”/”meeting”. While this particular verse is changed, the 50 odd other times “sunagōgē” is seen in the Greek text it has been left translated as “Synagogue”. It begs the question why the translators left the same word in Rev 2:9 & 3:9 as “Synagoge” when it was speaking of a “Synagogue of Satan”. Should it not have been translated as Assembly of Satan or Meeting of Satan to keep it consistent?

H. G5515 – chlōros – Pale Horse or Green Horse
The Famous verse in Revelations where Death comes riding a Pale Horse(6:8) might be not a Pale Horse, but a Green Horse – as the word used there is “chloros” seen translated as Green in Mar 6:39, Rev 8:7, 9:4. You may think what does it matter whether it is “Pale” or “Green”… but could it mean that Death comes through the Green Trees, Fruit, etc food that are eaten? This is why accurate translation is of such importance.

Don’t agree with any of the above? Found out something that you would like to share? Please do let us know, so that we may also learn. There are many things wrong with our translations, but let us also be happy that we are fortunate enough to have a copy of the Bible in our own languages, so that we can read it for ourselves. Let us be thankful to God and ask Him to show us His Truth that we may seek Him alone!

What did Christ, His Disciples & Paul consider as “Scripture”?

Sounds like a silly question, doesn’t it? What was considered as Scripture in the 1st century AD? One would say “Obviously the Bible”. But hang on! Did anyone inclusive of Paul, carry our Bible? Did they carry a Bible at all? Did Paul consider his own writings as Scripture? Did he read or ever hold his letters which were written to specific assemblies in different cities, as Scripture? Let’s check what our Bibles say about the matter.

The Bible – A Brief History
Our current Bibles are composed of 2 sections divided as The Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament in our English Translation consist of 39 books, while the new contains 27.

The New Testament containing 27 books/letters which were first put together in 367, by Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, and is said to have been accepted by the Synod of Hippo Regius in North Africa in 393AD and again accepted by the Councils of Carthage in 397 and 419. The oldest Manuscripts of the New Testament are preserved in Greek – the main language of the 1st Century, while the original works such as Matthew’s Gospel is said to have been written in Hebrew according to Papias.

While there is no scholarly consensus as to when the Old Testament Canon was fixed, some scholars argue that it was done in the time of the Hasmonean dynasty (140BC – 116BC). The Old Testament” as we call it, was completely written in Hebrew and consisted of three divisions – The Torah (5 Books of Moses i.e. Genesis to Deuteronomy), The Nevi’im (Prophets) & The Ketuvim (Writings/Psalms).

The Old Testament divisions can be seen mentioned in the verses below

Luk 24:27  And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
Luk 24:44  And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
Joh 1:45  Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.
Act 26:22,23  Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.
Act 28:23  And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.

yeshua_scrollThe phrases “Moses”, “Law” or “Law of Moses” in the New Testament, denotes the first 5 Books of the Old Testament which were written by Moses. “Prophets” denotes all the books written by the Prophets such as Jeremiah, Isaiah, Obadiah, Daniel, etc. The Psalms and the rest of the writings together with “Moses” and “Prophets” put together, made up the Old Testament in the 1st Century AD.

1) Law (also known as Moses, Law of Moses or Law) wherever you see these terms referred in the New Testament writing, it means the first 5 Books of the Bible which were written by Moses – Mat 5:17, 7:12, 22:40, Mar 12:26, Luk 2:22, Luk 16:29,31, 24:27,44, Joh 1:45, 5:45, 7:23, Act 6:11, 13:15,39, 15:5, 21:21, 24:14, 26:22, 28:23, 1Cor 9:9, 2Cor 3:15, Heb 10:28, Rom 3:21
2) Prophets which contains all the Major and Minor Prophets – Mat 5:17, 7:12, 22:40, Luk 16:29,31, 24:27,44, Joh 1:45, Act 7:42, 13:15,40, 24:14, 26:22, 28:23, Rom 3:21
3) Psalms (also known as the Writings) which contains the Book of Psalms and the rest of the writings – Luk 20:42, 24:44, Act 1:20

The Format of the Scriptures that were read by Christ, the Disciples & Paul
In our minds whenever we read the New Testament writings, we see everyone opening books and reading from bound books that we are familiar with. But the truth is that there were no bound books at the time. Printing would be introduced 1500 years later. So what was the format of the Scriptures they had? All of the writings were copied on Scrolls made of parchment/Animal skin and rolled and kept. We can see an instance of this in Luke 4:17.

Luk 4:17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened(g380) the book(g975), he found the place where it was written,

scribe1In the above verse “opened” should be translated as “unrolled” according to the Greek word used there (G380 – ἀναπτύσσω – anaptussō – Thayer’s Greek Definition: to unroll). Furthermore, the word used for “book” can mean a scroll as the same word (G975 – βιβλίον – biblion)  is seen again in Rev 6:14 translated as Scroll. These scrolls were copied by hand, with the utmost care and it is said that it would take a scribe a whole year and the skins of a whole herd of sheep to create one copy of the 5 books of Moses.

The Availability of the Scriptures that were read by Christ, the Disciples & Paul
Just as most of us imagine Christ, the disciples and even Paul reading a bound Bible, when in fact they were reading rolled up Scrolls – some imagine that the early Christians carried their own copy of the Scriptures. It is very unlikely that the early believers even owned a copy of the Scriptures, as it was quite costly. Only the Synagogues in each of the cities would have a copy that could be read on the Sabbath day when the people assembled together.  

Christ considered what we call the Old Testament as Scripture
Yeshua(Jesus’ true name) speaks of no other writing other than the books of Moses, Prophets & Writings/Psalms as “Scripture” (Mat 21:42, Mat 22:29, Mat 26:54,56,  Mar 12:10,24, Mar 14:49, Luk 4:21, Joh 5:39, Joh 7:38, Joh 10:35, Joh 13:18, Joh 17:12)

The Gospel writers and the disciples considered what we call the Old Testament as Scripture
Gospel writers Mark, Luke, John, other disciples, James and even Peter refers to the Old Testament as “Scripture” (Mar 15:28, Luk 24:27, Luk 24:32, Luk 24:45, Joh 2:22, Joh 19:24, Joh 19:28, Joh 19:36,37, Joh 20:9, Act 1:16, Act 8:32,35, Act 17:2,11, Act 18:24,28, Jas 2:8, Jas 2:23, Jas 4:5, 1Pet 2:6, 2Pet 1:20, 2Pet 3:16)

Paul considered what we call the Old Testament as Scripture
In so many instances Paul refers to the Old Testament calling it “The Scriptures”. (Rom 1:2, Rom 4:3, Rom 9:17, Rom 10:11, Rom 11:2, Rom 16:26, 1Cor 15:3,4, Gal 3:8,22, Gal 4:30, 1Tim 5:18, 2Tim 3:16). Out of this list, of special concern is a beloved verse which almost every Christian knows by heart.

2Ti 3:15-17 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Paul tells his beloved son Timothy that he has known the Holy Scriptures from the time he was a child. The Holy Scripture mentioned here could only be what we refer as the Old Testament. Paul adds to his words explaining that all of the Scriptures are given by the inspiration of God for teaching, as proof, to correct and to train in righteousness. While most of us read 2Tim 3:16 believing it is speaking of our Bibles when it says “Scripture”, it is clear that Paul is referring to the Scriptures that they had. The Scripture which Timothy was familiar with from the time he was a child. What we refer to as the Old Testament.

Today’s view of the Old Testament and the New Testament
OT NTMany Christians see the Old Testament to have been given only for the Jews/Israel while the New Testament to be given to the Gentile/Christian. While there was no New Testament in the hands of Christ, His disciples or Paul – they would have never imagined of a congregation that believes in Messiah while giving the least bit of attention to the Old Testament – the “Holy Scriptures” in their eyes. The man-made division of “Old Testament” & “New Testament”, has brought only division to the Christian body as a whole. Many denominations have made the True Scripture, an enemy of the Christian. They have turned its oulook into a curse. Something which is “Old” and done away. Only if more Christians would pay attention to what the writers of the New Testament say, in their original context. Today’s Christian is not being built on the foundation of the True Scripture – as most new believers are told to even skip the Old Testament and start with the New. We forget that the Bereans who were called noble, turned to Scripture when it came to checking Paul’s words. If only all of us Christians today, turned to the Scriptures to check whether all of the doctrines taught to us by our pastors, teachers and denominations agreed with Scripture!

While all the proof in the New Testament writings point towards the “Old Testament” being referred to exclusively as Scripture, many Christians today give the “Scriptures” of our Messiah, His Disciples and even Paul, step-motherly treatment. Some are engrossed so much in the New Testament, that they see no reason to read the “Holy Scriptures” as Paul mentioned them. The New Testament is looked upon to provide teaching, proof, correction and training, while the Old Testament is seen as an abolished book today. Paul could not have been referring to His own writings as “Scripture”, as these letters were written to specific individuals and congregations, tackling specific issues distinct to those individuals/congregations. For example, Paul’s letter to the Roman Congregation, was sent to Rome and not Corinth, Colosse, Ephesus, Thessalonica, etc. His letter to Timothy was written specifically to Timothy and no one else.

Furthermore, these individual letters that constitute the New Testament were put together and agreed upon as canonical only in the late 4th Century. The New Testament writings are a necessary part of a Christians life, as it reveals to us about Christ, His disciples and their teachings. But we should not forget that what they considered as “Scripture” was nothing else other than what we call the Old Testament books of Moses, the Prophets & the Psalms. It is time that Christians wake up and give the proper place that “God’s Word” the “Holy Scriptures” deserve!

Law is Hitting the Mark while Sin is Missing the Mark – Insights from Hebrew

LAW! Such a harsh word. A word disliked and abhorred by many Christians. But was this always the case? Why did David delight in the “Law“? (Psa 1:2, 119:70,77,174) Why did Paul – the misunderstood apostle say the same thing?(Rom 7:22). A simple word study into the original Manuscripts of the Scriptures can help us understand God’s Law in new light.

The word commonly translated as “LAW” in our English versions of the Scriptures is “Torah” in the Original Hebrew, and derives from the root word “Yarah”.

Strong’s Hebrew Concordance H8451 –  תּורה – tôrâh 
From H3384; a precept or statute, especially the Decalogue or Pentateuch: – law.
(Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Lexicon –  law, direction, instruction)

Strong’s Hebrew Concordance H3384 –  ירה – yârâh  
A primitive root; properly to flow as water (that is, to rain); transitively to lay or throw (especially an arrow, that is, to shoot); figuratively to point out (as if by aiming the finger), to teach: –  (+) archer, cast, direct, inform, instruct, lay, shew, shoot, teach (-er, -ing), through.
(Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Lexicon – to throw, shoot, cast, pour)

Looking at the definitions given on the Strong’s Concordance and BDB Lexicon, it is clear that Torah and it’s root word Yarah are connected to “direction & instruction”. And not only is it connected to these ideas, it also denotes “shooting an arrow” or “taking aim”. A few examples of usage of the word “Yarah” is given below.

Gen 46:28  And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct(H3384) his face unto Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen.
1Sa 20:20  And I will shoot(H3384) three arrows on the side thereof, as though I shot at a mark.
Psa 64:7  But God shall shoot(H3384) at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be wounded.
Exo 4:12  Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach(H3384) thee what thou shalt say.
Lev 10:11  And that ye may teach(H3384) the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.
Psa 119:102  I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught(H3384) me.

Since we have looked at the meaning of Torah, let us look at another word which is closely connected with it in Scripture – the word “SIN”. The word commonly translated as “SIN” in our English versions of the Scriptures is “Chatta’ah” in the Original Hebrew, and derives from the root word “Chatta”.

Strong’s Hebrew Concordance H2403 – חטּאת – chaṭṭâ’âh
From H2398; an offence (sometimes habitual sinfulness), and its penalty, occasion, sacrifice, or expiation; also (concretely) an offender: – punishment (of sin), purifying (-fication for sin), sin (-ner, offering).
(Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Lexicon – sin, sinful, sin offering)

Strong’s Hebrew Concordance H2398 – חטא -châṭâ’
A primitive root; properly to miss; hence (figuratively and generally) to sin; by inference to forfeit, lack, expiate, repent, (causatively) lead astray, condemn: – bear the blame, cleanse, commit [sin], by fault, harm he hath done, loss, miss, (make) offend (-er), offer for sin, purge, purify (self), make reconciliation, (cause, make) sin (-ful, -ness), trespassive
(Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Lexicon –  to sin, miss, miss the way, go wrong, incur guilt, forfeit, purify from uncleanness)

Looking at the definitions given on the Strong’s Concordance and BDB Lexicon, it is clear that Chatta’ah and it’s root word Chatta are connected to “missing & going astray”. It denotes “missing the mark”. An example is given below.

Jdg 20:16  Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded; every one could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss(H2398)

arrow_on_targetThe relationship between Sin and Law
As per John’s explanation in his 1st Epistle, Sin = Breaking the Law(1John 3:4).
While “Law” means to “shoot”, “take aim”, “direct” and “instruct”, “Sin” means to “miss”or “go astray”. If we put this thought in a picture form, “Torah” is an archer who aims/shoots at a target, while “Sin” is the same archer “missing the mark”. If we stop taking aim at the perfect instructions of God, we stand to miss the mark, thereby falling into “Sin”.

Children are like arrows
We see that the teaching of YHVH’s Law to ones child was of utmost importance, being mentioned throughout the Scriptures multiple times (Gen 18:19, Deu 4:9, 6:7, Psa 78:3-6, Eph 6:4, 2Ti 3:15). God wanted His people to guide their children in His ways, and this would have been the reason for the Psalmist to have compared children to arrows held in the hand of a mighty man (Psa 127:4  As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.)

While referring to God’s instructions/directions as “Law” has caused His words to be seen in a negative light, looking at the Original Hebrew Manuscripts open up the words in full color, providing a picture of shooting an arrow at a target. It also helps us understand the reality, that we may miss once in a while, falling into “sin”, but we must keep aiming at the target given to us by our Heavenly Father. We must ask the Holy Spirit to help us and teach us to take aim, and even if we miss, Yeshua(Jesus’ true name) is there to help us at every turn.

The Five Fold Ministry. Before or After Christ?

Most Christians believe that the Five Functions or duties noted by Paul in Eph 4:11, commonly known as the “Five-Fold Ministry” came about after Yeshua(Hebrew name of Jesus). Namely, The Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors & Teachers. Even though we do not see many Apostles, the other categories are seen in almost all “Free Churches” as well as ones from traditional backgrounds.

Are these functions new ones? Were these functions there before Messiah’s appearance, even in Old Testament times? Are these Positions of Power or Duties to be carried out as Servants? These are some of the questions we will try to answer today.

Eph 4:11  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

In the following explanations of each of these functions, we will also take a closer look at the origins of these titles by looking at the Greek and Hebrew words which the English words derive from. The Strong’s Greek/Hebrew concordance has been used for this purpose, alongside the KJV Translation of the English Bible. 

1. The Apostle
G652 – ἀπόστολος – apostolos – ap-os’-tol-os –
a  messenger, he that is sent

The word “Apostle” in the English language originates from the Greek equivalent “Apostolos” which meant “a messenger” or “one that is sent”. This was not a title specifically made for Christianity, for any messenger would have been called “Apostolos” in Greek. In Joh 13:16, the Greek Word “Apostolos” is translated as “he that is sent” while in 2Cor 8:23 & Philip 2:25 it is translated as “messenger” revealing the true meaning behind the word apostle.

Most people have misunderstood Luke 6:13 to mean that Christ created this new position called “Apostle”. Luk 6:13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles. The true meaning should be that He chose 12 amongst His pupils as the ones who would take His message out into the world.

As the word “Apostle” derives from its Greek cognate “Apostolos”, this word cannot be found in the Old Testament. But this does not mean “messengers” who spread God’s Word were not found in the time before Messiah. Haggai was known as the “messenger” of the LORD (YHVH) centuries before the Apostles in the New Testament(Hag 1:13). The priests who worked in the Temple were also known as “messengers” of God(Mal 2:7). The Scripture say that many “messengers” of God were sent before the Babylonian exile(2Chr 36:16).

2. The Prophet
H5030 – נביא – nâbı̂y’ – naw-bee’ –
a prophet or (generally) inspired man: – prophecy, that prophesy, prophet.
G4396 – προφήτης – prophētēs – prof-ay’-tace
a foreteller (“prophet”); by analogy an inspired speaker; prophet.

Much like the “Apostle” which derived from the Greek word “Apostolos”, the English word “Prophet” also derives from the Greek Word “Prophetes”. The Old Testament had many Prophets. Naming them, I think, is unnecessary. Although, I must mention a few to help you understand what it means to be a Prophet. A Prophet is not only the ones who are called, “Prophet – so and so”. Whoever speaks for God, in the name of God, and represents Him, is a Prophet. It is not a designation. It is merely a duty and a description of what the person does. Abraham (Gen 20:7), David (Acts 2:30), Enoch (Jude 1:14) are but a few characters written in the Scriptures who were never known specifically as “Prophets”, even though they were clearly considered Prophets.

Yeshua was also called a Prophet (John 4:44, Luke 4:24, 13:33, Mat 13:57, Acts 3:22,23, 7:37), and prophesying through the Holy Spirit was done before the Day of Pentecost. Zechariah, Father of John, prophesied being filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:67). A person can also prophesy(Say something that comes from God) without knowing it, like Caiphas, the High Priest who prophesied about Yeshua dying for the whole Nation(John 11:51)

The duty of a Prophet could fall onto a Male or a Female. Miriam, Moses’ sister (Exo 15:20). Deborah, the Judge of Israel (Judg 4:4), Huldah (2Kin 22:14), Philip’s four daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9) & the widow Anna (Luke 2:36) were all female prophets.

It is also important to note that just like some can Prophesy in Truth and in God, some can prophesy falsely saying it is in God’s name(Jer 23:21, 28:15-17, 29:31, Eze 13:7, 1John 4:1). Not all who Prophesy in Christ’s name, is known by Him (Mat 7:22,23).

3. The Evangelist
– εὐαγγελιστής – euaggelistēs – yoo-ang-ghel-is-tace’
a preacher of the gospel: – evangelist.
G2098 – εὐαγγέλιον – euaggelion – yoo-ang-ghel’-ee-on –
a good message, gospel.
G2097 – εὐαγγελίζω – euaggelizō – yoo-ang-ghel-id’-zo
to announce good news (“evangelize”) especially the gospel: – declare, bring (declare, show) glad (good) tidings, preach (the gospel).

The above 3 Greek words (“yoo-anghelistace”, “yoo-anghel-eeon”, “yoo-ang-elidzo”) are closely connected to the meaning of “Good news”. The word translated as “Gospel” in our English Translations is G2098 – “yoo-anghel-eeon”. So effectively, the word “Evangelist” means a “Preacher/bringer of Good News”. Matt 11:5 is a good example of this fact. “The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. The pharse “the gospel preached to them” is translated into English off a single Greek Word, which is G2097 – “yoo-ang-ghel-id’-zo”. This same word is used as “Preach” in the case of John (Luk 3:18), of the 12 Disciples (Luk 9:6, Acts 5:42), of Christ (Luk 4:43, 7:22, 16:16, 20:1), & of all believers (Act 8:4), making them all Evangelists.

The Greek word “yoo-anghel-idzo” cannot be seen in the Old Testament Scriptures which were written in Hebrew. Much like in the case of the word “Apostolos”, this does not mean the function of an Evangelist (who brings/preaches Good News) was not there in Old Testament times. The word “Evangelist” itself can be seen only 3 times in the New Testament (Eph 4:11, Acts 21:8, 2Tim 4:5) even though the function of an Evangelist (Bringing/preaching Good News) “G2097 – “yoo-ang-ghel-id’-zo” can be seen over 50 times.

In the Old Testament Scriptures, we see that Isaiah is known as one who “preaches good news”(Isa 61:1) which was also quoted by Christ in Luk 4:18. The word used by Yeshua in Luke 4:18 for “preach the gospel” is none other than G2097 – “yoo-ang-ghel-id’-zo”.

The author of Hebrews in Heb 4:2 says “For unto us was the “gospel preached”, as well as unto them“. The word which is translated as “gospel preached” here is G2097 – “yoo-ang-ghel-id’-zo”. Who does the author refer to as “them” in this verse? The context reveals that it is the people of Israel in the Old Testament, which means “Evangelizing” happened in the Old Testament times as well. (Please read Heb 4:6 for a similar verse and Chapter 3 for context)

4. The Pastor
– ποιμήν – poimēn – poy-mane’
a shepherd (literally or figuratively): – shepherd, pastor.
H7462 – רעה – râ‛âh – raw-aw’
to tend a flock, that is, pasture it; pastor, shepherd.

The word “pastor” is connected to shepherd both in the New Testament as well as in the Old. Not only is it connected, it is more often than not, translated as “Shepherd” throughout the Bible. In fact, the English word “pastor” is seen only in Eph 4:11 while the Greek word that it is translated from (G4166 – poy-mane), is seen 18 times in the New Testament, translated as “shepherd” into English 17 out of 18 times(Mat 9:36, 25:32, 26:31, Mar 6:34, 14:27, Luk 2:8,15,18,20, Joh 10:2,11,12,14,16, Heb 13:20, 1Pe 2:25)

The English translation of the Old Testament contains the word “pastor” many more times (Jer 2:8, 3:15, 10:21, 12:10, 17:16, 22:22, 23:1,2) than the New Testament which contains it only once(Eph 4:11). But similar to the New Testament Translation of the word “Pastor”, the actual meaning of the Hebrew word(H7462 – raw-aw) which is translated in these instances is “shepherd”. The word “shepherd” itself is used in the capacity of “leader” in the Old Testament (Isa 56:11, 63:11). Even though “G4166 – poy-mane” & “H7462 – raw-aw” are translated as “pastor” in some places and “shepherd” in others, the true meaning is “shepherd” (a leader of a flock).

5. The Teacher
G1320 – διδάσκαλος – didaskalos – did-as’-kal-os –
an instructor (generally or specifically): – master, teacher.

The Greek word which is translated as “teacher” in Eph 4:11, is in most places translated as “Master” (mosty pertaining to Yeshua). The true meaning of the word is instructor/teacher, as the Greek word “G1320 – didaskalos” derives from the word “G1321 – didasko” which means “to teach”.

The Old Testament Scriptures also prove that there were many teachers appointed by God before the time of Christ. Moses was a teacher appointed by God (Exo 24:12, Deut 4:5). There were appointed people who went around the land of Israel teaching God’s Word (2Chr 17:8-10). The tribe of Levi were instructors of God’s Word and His ways (Deut 17:9-11, 24:8, 33:8-10, 2Chr 30:22, 35:3). The priests (Aaron’s sons) were mainly appointed to teach God’s people (Lev 10:8-11, 2Chr 15:3, 2Kin 12:2). Samuel who was a judge of Israel was also a teacher (1Sam 12:23). Nehemiah and Ezra were also teachers (Neh 8:9) along with a host of others (Neh 8:7). It was a Commandment of God to teach everyone in Israel, man, woman & child (Deut 31:11-13).

Positions or Duties? Leaders or Servants?
In some Christian congregations today, being an Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor or Teacher carries a sense of power and hierarchy. These have become titles and designations rather than functions in the body of believers. It is important to respect everyone, from a fellow believer to one who is appointed to lead/serve. But sad to say, this respect has been misused, and at times, changed into positions of power.

Christ is the embodiment of all the 5 functions mentioned in Eph 4:11.
He was an Apostle (“one that is sent”) sent by Our Heavenly Father. (Joh 5:30, 6:39, 8:42, 17:8)
He was a Prophet (“one who represents & speaks for God”). (Mat 13:57,Luk 13:33, Joh 6:14, 7:40
He was an Evangelist (“one who preaches Good News”). (Matt 11:4,5, Luk 4:18, 8:1, 20:1)
He was a Pastor (“Shepherd”). (Matt 25:32, 26:31, Joh 10:11,14, Heb 13:20, 1Pet 2:25)
He was a Teacher (“one who teaches God’s Word”). (Mat 10:24,25, 22:16, Joh 1:38, 3:2, 13:13)

wash feetEven though He was the epitome of Righteousness and God’s image, what did He say to His Disciples under Him? What was the example He left with His followers who were to become leaders in the body of believers?

Joh 13:14,15  If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
Mat 20:26  But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Luk 22:25-27  And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.

Whoever is appointed to serve, whether he/she be an Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor or Teacher, they are all servants. And according to the example left to us by Yeshua, whoever is a leader, is in fact a servant who is humble enough to wash the feet of whoever is put under his/her authority.

The “Five fold Ministry” is thought by many to have been instituted after Yeshua, even though there are clear indications that all of these functions existed well before New Testament times. Most of these misunderstandings have come about because of the English translations we read. As seen in the evidence above, even though most of these cognate words (English words that have derived straight from the Greek counterparts – eg. Apostle & Apostolos, Evangelist & Yooanghelistace) cannot be seen in the Hebrew Old Testament Scriptures (because they derive from Greek), it does not necessarily mean that the function did not exist in Old Testament times.

Not only were all of these functions or services there in the Old Testament era, they were part and parcel of God’s Word. Accordingly Christ Himself embodied all of these functions, acting as a servant rather than one who is served, leaving His Church an example to follow. “whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant”.

What is the Biblical definition of the phrase “Word of God”.

Some Words AbolishedAll of us, as Christians believe that we must obey the Word of God. But what exactly is the Biblical Definition for the “Word of God”? Is it the whole Bible? Or is it part of the Bible? Can parts of God’s Word, even be done away? What did Christ refer to as the “Word of God”? As followers of Christ, we must have a clear understanding of this definition, and this is exactly what we hope to research in this short study.

In an earlier post (What does it mean to be like a “Berean”?) we learned that Christ, His disciples and all of the writers of the New Testament agreed that “Scripture” in their eyes was what we call, the “Old Testament”. A basic knowledge of History would allow anyone to know that the New Testament writings were compiled almost 3 Centuries after the time of Christ. If this is so, what did Christ and all His disciples refer to as the “Word of God”. Let’s look at the evidence.

1. Christ said that Man lives not by food alone, but by the “Word of God” quoting Deut 8:3

Mat 4:4  But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Luk 4:4  And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
Deu 8:3  And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.

We can conclude that every Word that proceeds from the Mouth of God is known as the “Word of God” by comparing Mat 4:4 with Luk 4:4. We can also understand that the “Word of God” referred by Christ in these verses, is the same as what was referred to by Moses in Deut 8:3, as this is the exact verse quoted by Messiah.

2. Christ confirms that God’s Commandments given through Moses is the “Word of God”

Mar 7:9-13  And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

In the above passage, Yeshua(Jesus’ true name) rebukes the Pharisees telling them that they are breaking God’s Commandments by keeping their own traditions (Please read about the Pharisees for a clearer explanation on what they believed). One of the most important things that many glance across in this reading, is that Christ calls the Commandments of God, given through Moses as the “Word of God”.

3. Christ preached the “Word of God”

Luk 5:1  And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret,

Christ preached the Word of God as clearly stated in the above passage. If the “Word of God” was (by His own definition), the writings of Moses, then this means that what He preached came from what we now call the Old Testament. (Much of the misunderstandings, such as Christ abolished the Law, comes from a weak knowledge of what He preached. Read an example here)

4. Christ called whoever hears the “Word of God” and does it, “Blessed” and also part of “His own Family”

Luk 11:28  But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.
Luk 8:21  And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.

5. The “Word of God” stands forever according to Isaiah and Peter

Isa 40:8  The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
1Pe 1:24,25  For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

We see Peter quoting the words written by Isaiah agreeing with him, that “God’s Word” stands forever, which means it cannot fade away or be abolished.

6. Christ says that “Scripture” (which is the Old Testament) cannot be broken, and refers to it as the “Word of God”

Joh 10:34,35  Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
Psa 82:6  I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.

In the above verse we see Christ quoting Psalms 82:6, and goes on to say that Scripture cannot be broken (done away/abolished). Furthermore, He calls the people who received this Word (which is in Psalms, which is part of the Old Testament) as the ones to whom the “Word of God” came. Thereby making “The Word of God” equal to “The Scriptures” or “Old Testament” as it is known today.

Yeshua saw every word that proceeded from God’s Mouth as “The Word of God”, and clearly equaled it to the writings of Moses in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament we see clear phrases such as “The LORD (Yehovah) spoke”(Exo 25:1) or “The Word of the Lord came”(Gen 15:1) that refers to “God’s Word” or the “Word of God”.

Even though much of today’s believers are taught that some parts of the Bible are no longer valid for them, and that the “Word of God” is the New Testament Writings, looking at the evidence, we can conclude that “The Old Testament” was regarded as the “Word of God” by our Messiah. If anyone teaches or believes that the Old Testament is done away, they are inadvertently saying that God’s Words are abolished.

It is time that we ask ourselves important questions such as, can parts of God’s Word be abolished, done away or removed?… When Peter and Isaiah both say that “The Word of God” endures forever. Through Yeshua’s own Words and testimony it is clear that this cannot be, and that He regarded “The Scriptures” which is “the Old Testament” as the authoritative “Word of God”. As a follower of Christ, what do you believe?

Was the New Testament written in Greek or in Hebrew?

A common fact that is taught to all Christians is that the Old Testament was written in Hebrew while the New Testament was written in Greek. There is consensus among all Biblical Scholars that the Old Testament was indeed written in Hebrew. But not all scholars agree on the point that the New Testament was written in Greek. Even though most of the remaining Manuscripts of the New Testament are all in Greek, there is evidence that parts of the New Testament would have indeed been written in Hebrew and subsequently translated to Aramaic, Greek and any other languages of the day.

Matthew wrote his account of the Gospel, in Hebrew

British Library Ms Add No. 26964 Manuscript of Hebrew Matthew

One of the best pieces of evidence that exists to prove that the New Testament may have originally been written in Hebrew, is “The Gospel of Matthew”. This Gospel account which is regarded as the earliest out of the 4 Gospels contained in our Bibles, come from Matthew who was surnamed Levi and who was a Tax Collector previously. He was a Hebrew speaking man just like all of the other Disciples of Christ. There are quite a few historical witnesses who have spoken how Matthew wrote his account of the Gospel in Hebrew.

“Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching in Rome and laying the foundation of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him. Afterwards John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon his breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia.”
(Irenaeus of Lyons – Against Heresies 3:1:1 – 180AD)

“Among the four Gospels, which are the only indisputable ones in the Church of God under heaven, I have learned by tradition that the first was written by Matthew, who was once a publican, but afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ, and it was prepared for the converts from Judaism and published in the Hebrew language
(Origen – Commentaries on Matthew [cited by Eusebius in History of the Church 6:25] – 244AD).

“Matthew had begun by preaching to the Hebrews, and when he made up his mind to go to others too, he committed his own Gospel to writing in his native tongue, so that for those with whom he was no longer present the gap left by his departure was filled by what he wrote” (Eusebius – History of the Church 3:24 – 300-325AD).

Matthew compiled the sayings [of the Lord] in the Hebrew Dialect, and everyone translated them as well as he could”
(Papias – quoted by Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 3:39 – 150-170AD)

Hebrew Word Puns
The second reason to take this claim seriously is the amount of “Word Puns” that the Hebrew Manuscripts of Matthew contain. While the Greek Manuscripts make little or no sense in these particular places, the Hebrew gives a rich poetic feel to the Words of Yeshua (Jesus’ true name). While the Old Testament is dotted with these Word Puns, the Greek to English Translation of the New Testament does not contain such attributes. The Hebrew version of Matthew was administered to a serious study by Professor George Howard in the 1980’s, and can be further studied through his book “Gospel of Matthew According to a Primitive Hebrew Text by George Howard”. (You can read the 1st edition of his book here) Professor Howard reviews these Word Puns contained in the Hebrew Manuscripts, in his book from page 194 – 201 which can be viewed through the above link.

Furthermore, Martin Luther, the Protestant Reformer from the 16th Century had this to say about Hebrew and the New Testament

“The Hebrew language is the best language of all … If I were younger I would want to learn this language, because no one can really understand the Scriptures without it. For although the New Testament is written in Greek, it is full of Hebraisms and Hebrew expressions. It has therefore been aptly said that the Hebrews drink from the spring, the Greeks from the stream that flows from it, and the Latins from a downstream pool.”
(Martin Luther, Table Talk, quoted in Pinchas E. Lapide, Hebrew in the Church, trans. Erroll F. Rhodes – Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1984).

What difference does it make?
One of the questions that could be running through your mind right about now, could be “What difference does any of this make to my walk with God?”. What we believe today hinges completely on the Translations we read in our own native languages. Most of these translations are, translations of translations. Meaning the Greek Manuscripts get translated to Latin, then English, then into other languages from thereon. Much of the original essence could be lost in translation. A great example for this is the misunderstood sect called the Pharisees. Many Christians believe that the Pharisees were the ones keeping the Old Testament Laws. This is not Biblically accurate. (Please read this study to know more about the Pharisees). If we were familiar with the Hebrew version of Matthew, this would have been obvious. Let me explain:

Our Bibles (which are translated from the Greek Manuscripts) read in Mat 23:3 regarding the Pharisees as follows:
All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
The Hebrew Manuscripts of Matthew read the same verse as follows:
Therefore all that he says to you, diligently do, but according to their reforms(Takanot) and their precedents(Ma’asim) do not do, because they talk, but do not do.

If you are familiar with what the Pharisees taught and believed you would know what “Takanot” and “Ma’asim” refer to. These are traditions and customs that they added into God’s Word (The Holy Scriptures). “Takanot” and “Ma’asim” were sometimes even regarded more important or higher than God’s Word. Examples for Takanot and Ma’asim are, the “Washing of Hands” mentioned in Mat 15:2 and “The Breaking of the Sabbath by plucking corn” mentioned in Mat 12:2. The Hebrew Matthew gives us a better understanding of what went on in such instances, while our own Bible translations are silent on these issues.

There are many more instances where the Hebrew Manuscripts shed light on the Gospel stories as well as towards the collective understanding of the New Testament. While I believe that much of the New Testament would have been indeed written in Hebrew, (the native language of most of the New Testament writers) we must acknowledge that much of the Manuscripts that have survived are Greek in nature. My effort is not to say that we should get rid of the Greek Translations that we have, but to say that we must make an effort to look at all sources when studying Scripture. If these Hebrew Manuscripts were studied a little closer, maybe we wouldn’t have  grave misunderstandings regarding the characters such as the Pharisees, which has in turn led people to believe that the Old Testament has been done away with, or whoever believes or does what is said in the Old Testament are Pharisaic in nature.

Though much of the New Testament Manuscripts that we have are in Greek, most of these would have been translations of the Originals which were Hebrew. And along the way, through translation and time, we have lost most of the essence, context and connections that the originals had to the people, places and atmosphere that these books and letters were written in. It is my firm belief that we need to go back to the Roots of our Faith, in search of “True Christianity”, not one which is divided, but one which is in agreement with the entirety of Scripture being one body with Christ.

Following is an important piece of information which was missing from this post, but was added because of Brother Hubert Krause who posted an important question.

His question being
What about Matthew 16:18, where there is a word-play between petros and petra. This is possible only in the Greek, isn’t it?

What an amazing question. Yes, this word Pun between Petros and Petrai is definitely there in our Greek Manuscripts of Matthew.

Greek Matthew 16:18
“You are Peter (Petros Πέτρος), and upon this rock (petrai πέτρα) I will build my church”

As far as I know, this is the only word-pun which exists in this Gospel in the Greek. But compare that with the word puns found in the Hebrew Manuscripts of Matthew. There are 4 puns mentioned below. But there maybe more which I am not certain of.

Hebrew Matthew 9:8
“And the crowds saw (vayir’u ויראו) and they feared (vayir’u ויראו) very much.”

Hebrew Matthew 12:13,15
“(13) And he said to the man, stretch out your hand, and he stretched out (vayet ויט) his hand… (15) And it was after this that Yeshua knew and he turned (vayet ויט) from there and many sick people went after him…”

Hebrew Matthew 18:23-35
shalem שׁלם “to pay” five times, followed by

“So shall my father in heaven do if you do not forgive each man his brother with a complete (shalem שׁלם) heart.”

shalem שׁלם – “pay” vs. “complete”

Hebrew Matthew 16:18
“You are a stone (even אבן) and I will build (evneh אבנה) my house of prayer upon you”

The Interesting point is that there is a word pun in the Hebrew Matthew in the same verse as the Greek version. So what does this all mean? Looking at the fact that we know for certain according to the early Church Fathers that Matthew did in fact write His version in Hebrew and that it was copied by others accordingly, Mat 16:18 maybe an instance where the translator applied a word play in Greek using the interesting opportunity. Remember that word-play is used by writers to flourish the text. Also something to remember is that Matthew mentions that he was “called” Peter in 4:18, just as Saul was “called” Paul. Shimon and Shaul both have the “sh” sound not used in the Greek, and this may have been the reason for them to have a Greek name which was used instead in their journeys. Peter or Petros would have been an apt Greek name for Simon because he was called “Rock” by the Messiah.