Tag Archives: Love thy Neighbour

Who is my Neighbour? Defining the term “Neighbor”

Love your “Neighbour” as yourself, is one of the main tenets that we live by. But who is My Neighbour? Is it everyone on earth? Is it the person living next door? is it those who we can call our own? Let’s look for answers in the Scriptures and the Writings.

There are 4 Hebrew words which are commonly translated as Neighbour in our English Translations. These 4 Hebrew Words have different meanings, and understanding these meanings will help us understand the real meaning of the Golden Rule.
1. H7934 – Shaken
2. H7453 – Reya
3. H5997 – Amiyth
4. H7138 – Qarob

1.H7934 – שׁכן – shâkên
This is the Neighbour living next door to you. The person who becomes a Neighbour because of the physical closenes you have by living close to each other.

Exo 3:22 But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour(H7934), and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.
Exo 12:4 And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour(H7934) next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.
Rth 4:17 And the women her neighbours(H7934) gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.
2Ki 4:3 Then he said, Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours(H7934), even empty vessels; borrow not a few.

2.H5997 – עמית – ‛âmı̂yth
This is the Neighbour who is a fellow citizen. The person who is a Neighbour because of being in the same race or nationality.

Lev 6:2 If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the LORD, and lie unto his neighbour(H5997) in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship, or in a thing taken away by violence, or hath deceived his neighbour(H5997);
Lev 18:20 Moreover thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbour’s(H5997) wife, to defile thyself with her.
Lev 19:15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour(H5997).
Lev 19:17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour(H5997), and not suffer sin upon him.

3.H7138 – קרב / קרוב – qârôb
This is the Neighbour who is related to you by blood. The person who is a Neighbour because of being in the same family.

Lev 21:2,3 But for his kin(H7138), that is near unto him, that is, for his mother, and for his father, and for his son, and for his daughter, and for his brother, And for his sister a virgin, that is nigh(H7138) unto him, which hath had no husband; for her may he be defiled.
Lev 25:25 If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin(H7138) come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold.
Exo 32:27 And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour(H7138).
Psa 15:3 He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour(H7138), nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour(H7138).

4.H7453 – ריע / רע – rêa‛ / rêya‛
This is the Neighbour who is a friend. The person who you are affectionate towards and consider an intimate companion.

Gen 11:3 And they said one to another(H7453), Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.
Exo 20:16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour(H7453).
Exo 20:17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s(H7453) house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s(H7453) wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s(H7453).
Gen 38:20 And Judah sent the kid by the hand of his friend(H7453) the Adullamite, to receive his pledge from the woman’s hand: but he found her not.
Exo 2:13 And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow(H7453)?
Exo 33:11 And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend(H7453). And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.
Lev 19:18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour(H7453) as thyself: I am the LORD.
Deu 13:6 If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend(H7453), which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;
2Sa 13:3 But Amnon had a friend(H7453), whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David’s brother: and Jonadab was a very subtil man.
2Sa 16:17 And Absalom said to Hushai, Is this thy kindness to thy friend(H7453)? why wentest thou not with thy friend(H7453)?
Psa 88:18 Lover and friend(H7453) hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness.
Pro 17:17 A friend(H7453) loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Pro 18:24 A man that hath friends(H7453) must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend(H7453) that sticketh closer than a brother.
Pro 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend(H7453).

So it is clear that the Neighbour mentioned in the Commandment does not mean the next door neighbour or a general countryman or a person of your family. The Neighbour mentioned in the Commandment speaks of a person who you are affectionate towards, whether the person is the next door neighbour, a general countryman, a person of your family or any other human being.

But does this mean that we love only those who we count as friends or fellow companions? The Scriptures are clear about how we should treat even our enemies.

Exo 23:4,5  If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.
Pro 25:21  If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:
Pro 24:17  Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:
Pro 29:10  The bloodthirsty hate the upright: but the just seek his soul.

The Sermon on the Mount
Our Messiah Yeshua speaks of the above tenets when He says “Love your enemies”. If you curse a person who curses you or hates a person who hates you or persecute a person who persecutes you, you are no better than that person. Yeshua expects us to take the high road and keep the judgement unto our Father in Heaven.

Mat 5:43-48 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

While there is no commandment or instruction to “Hate one’s enemies” in the Scriptures, Yeshua’s instruction shows us that we must strive to be better than our enemies.

Who is my Neighbour? The Parable of the Good Samaritan
When the expert in the Law asked this particular question in Luke 10:29, Yeshua shows that a person who is merely one of your people does not guarantee to be your Neighbour. The person who shows compassion towards another is deemed the Neighbour whether he/she be close to you or not.

The Neighbour as we saw through the above Scriptures was the one deemed as the true friend – a person who shows compassion without hesitation just like the Samaritan. The Samaritan truly lives upto the Commandment “Love your Neighbour as yourself”, as he shows his love for the injured man even when he does not know him.

Is not God just like this? Has He not loved us when we did not even know Him?

1Jn 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Rom 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

By extending His Salvation when we were left for dead in Sin, God has shown us that He is the true friend and Neighbour towards us. And that is how we must live towards others as well. It is a tall order, but as Yeshua said in Mat 5:48, we must also strive to be perfect just as our Heavenly Father is perfect.

Is Love, all that matters? – Was the Ten old Commandments overuled by Two new Commandments?

Every Christian has heard the phrase “Love is all that matters”. Some even go to the extent of saying, “We don’t need to keep the Commandments. We need to only Love God and one another”. Was the Ten Commandments given by God himself, through Moses, replaced by 2 New Commandments given by Yeshua(Jesus’ True Hebrew name)? Today, we will look into God’s 10 Commandments as well as the 2 great Commandments uttered by Yeshua, and the connections between these two sets of Commandments and Love.

In Joh 14:15, Yeshua said an interesting thing. He said “If you love me, keep my commandments”. The question is which is His Commandments? Is it the 10 Old Commandments? Or is it the 2 New Commandments that some claim have overruled the 10? We will check this claim that some make, of Yeshua giving 2 new Commandments, before we move onto see the connection between the 10 Commandments and the 2 Great Commandments.

Let us turn to Luke 10:25-28. (Yeshua’s words marked in red)
According to Luke, a Lawyer(an expert in Law) asks a question from Yeshua, trying to tempt Him. Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? To which Yeshua asks the Lawyer What is written in the law? how readest thou? The Lawyer answers saying Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. To which Yeshua answers saying Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

According to this verse, Yeshua did not even tell the “expert in Law” about the 2 New Commandments. How did this man know these Commandments when Yeshua did not even mention them? The reason is, that these were not 2 New Commandments, but a summarized version of the 10 Commandments. These 2 Summaries were specifically quoted from Deut 6:5, 10:12(Love God) & Lev 19:18, 34(Love neighbor). We can then safely say that Yeshua did not come teaching a new doctrine, but was trying to give a proper understanding of God’s Word. And that according to Joh 14:15 If we are to love Him, we must keep His Commandments, which are not His own(Joh 14:24), but what Father God told Israel long ago.

So how are these 2 Great Commandments connected to the 10 Commandments? And what does it all got to do with Love? To answer these questions we must go back to where God spoke these Commandments. Let’s read Exodus 20.

And God spake all these words, saying,

  1. I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
  2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
  3. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
  4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
  5. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
  6. Thou shalt not kill.
  7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  8. Thou shalt not steal.
  9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
  10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

In Exodus 20, God speaks out His Laws for all to hear, in front of all Israel(Exo 20:18,19) and gave it to Moses in the format of two tablets of Stone written by God Himself(Exo 31:18, Deut 4:13, 9:10). Have you ever thought why God gave 2 tablets of Stone? Couldn’t He have written it in 1 Tablet? For that fact, He could have written it on a grain of sand. Examining the 10 Commandments further shows us an interesting fact. We can divide the 10 Commandments into 2 parts. Namely, “Commandments pertaining to God” & “Commandments pertaining to man”. Some say that the first 4 Commandments are about God & the other 6 about man. I, on the other hand, believe that the 10 are divided equally, as follows.

  1. Do not worship other gods
  2. Do not make idols, and worship them
  3. Do not take God’s name in vain
  4. Keep the sabbath day holy
  5. Honour your father & mother
  1. Do not commit murder.
  2. Do not commit adultery.
  3. Do not steal.
  4. Do not bear false witness against your neighbour.
  5. Do not covet your neighbour’s belongings.

Some could say, “Honouring your father & mother” does not belong as part of Commandments about Loving God. The reason for placing this Commandment as part of Loving God, is that, the only thing you cannot decide for yourself, in life, is your parents and who you descend from. You have the freewill to choose everything but your parents, which is chosen for you, by God Almighty. I also believe, that when God says “Father” & “Mother”, it means our parents, our grand parents and the family we descend from. Remember that all of us descend from Noah, who descends from Adam, who descends from God. Making God our ultimate Father. Whether it is broken down 5 & 5 or 4 & 6, there is a clear distinction and division in the 10 Commandments. One part is about Loving God. And the other part, about Loving your neighbour.

The expert in Law, who spoke to Yeshua in Luke 10:25-28, obviously knew that the Old Testament had summarized the Ten Commandments in this way, long before Yeshua ever spoke it out.

Further Proof
If you are still skeptical about the connection between the 10 Commandments and the 2 Great Commandments, please turn with me to Mar 12:28-33. Here Yeshua is questioned by a Scribe, for which Yeshua answers by quoting directly from Deut 6:4,5 & Lev 19:18.

Paul agrees with this connection in Rom 13:9 saying, “For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

James writes in James 2:8, If you fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well”. (At the time when James was alive there was no New Testament. The New Testament as we have it today, was compiled only around 400AD. So the Scripture James could be talking of, can be only one thing. “The Old Testament”. And the Royal Law was from the Old Testament.)

1 John 3:11 says, “For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another”. 2 John 1:5,6 says, “And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it”. (In this verse John proclaims that this Commandment of loving your neighbour is not a new Commandment, but one that was there from the beginning.)

Isn’t Love what matters most? Absolutely! But what is Love. If you take 100 people, they will have their own definitions of Love. As Christians, we cannot stick to our definitions of Love. Instead, we need to understand what is Love that God speaks of, in His Word. The Old Testament as well as the New Testament testifies that Keeping God’s Commandments is Love. Here are a few examples:-

Exo 20:6  And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Deu 5:10  And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
Deu 7:9  Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;
Deu 11:1  Therefore thou shalt love the LORD thy God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, alway.
Deu 11:13-15  And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil. And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full.
Deu 30:16  See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
Deu 30:20  That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.
Jos 22:5  But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Neh 1:5  And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:
Dan 9:4  And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;
Isa 56:6,7  Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant;Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.

2Jn 1:5,6 And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.
1Jn 5:2,3  By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
Joh 14:15  If ye love me, keep my commandments.
Joh 14:21  He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
Joh 15:10  If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
Joh 15:14  Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
Joh 14:23,24  Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.

Love is all that matters!
But not our own definitions and ideas of Love. God’s definition of Love is His Commandments. Whoever keeps His Commandments will automatically abide in His love. His Commandments can be broken into 2 parts. That we Love Him and our neighbor. Love is the common factor. God Almighty could have put His Commandments in 1 Tablet of Stone, but He chose to put it into 2 tablets, signifying the 2 main parts of His Commandments. Yeshua spoke this message out, delivering The Father’s teaching. Do not be misled by people who say that the Commandments of God are no more. The “Love” that the Scriptures portray contain all of God’s Commandments. The full extent of Love, is fulfilling His Commandments. Whether it be Ten separate Laws or Two summarized Laws, none of His Commandments have been abolished. As Yeshua said, Not one Jot or Tittle(Jots & Tittles are small parts and edges of Hebrew letters) will pass from the Law till all is Fulfilled(All is not fulfilled, as there are hundreds of prophecies in the Old Testament yet to be fulfilled).

The question of Law vs. Grace and living through Spirit
Even though this is a study in itself, I would like to touch upon this, as it is a highly misunderstood subject. (We will do this study in the near future, God willing). Some presume quoting verses such as Gal 5:4, that the Law is against Grace & the Spirit. They would stick to the theory, that whoever is obedient to God’s Commandments have fallen from Grace. Is this what Paul is saying?

What Paul is saying is that righteousness is not attained by Law(Gal 2:21). That whoever wants to be justified by the Law has fallen from Grace. Nowhere in the Scriptures is it said that you can be justified and attain righteousness on your own, by keeping God’s Commandments. Not even in the Old Testament. I do not believe or state that anyone can be justified or attain righteousness by keeping God’s Commandments/Laws. We are Justified and made righteous only by the death & resurrection of Yeshua(Rom 3:22-24).

Then why keep God’s Commandments? To answer this question, we must answer what is Sin. Sin, in simple terms, is breaking God’s Commandments (1John 3:4). Just because we have forgiveness from Sin through Yeshua, being seen righteous before God, because of Him, can we continue in Sin? God Forbid! We must strive to obey Him. How do you obey God? By doing His Commandments(Deut 27:10). As Christians, we are called to obey our Father, and walk in His ways. Not to be justified and attain righteousness through it, but because we Love Him.

In conclusion, I hope you have clearly seen that God’s Commandments stand to this day. They were not abolished by Yeshua, as He did not teach new Laws, but what was already written in the Scriptures. This Great Commandment or Royal Law as James put it(2:8), originates from the “Old Testament” and is based in Love. If you Love, the way God has said to Love, you would be automatically keeping all of His Commandments. Do not think for one moment, that keeping His Commandments will in anyway cause you to fall out of His Grace. Keeping the Commandments to attain Righteousness, by your own power, on the other hand, is a completely wrong doctrine. No man, even if they try, can attain righteousness on their own. Righteousness is a free gift given only by Yeshua. After we receive of that Righteousness, do not take the blood that He spilled lightly(Heb 10:28-31). We must make an effort not to Sin. We must make an effort to keep His Commandments. As He said, If we truly Love Him, we will keep His Commandments. May you grow in His Love!