Category Archives: Religion

Hebrew of the Torah and the Christian Bible

Torah
The Torah (Hebrew: instruction, teaching) is a central concept in the Jewish tradition – click to enlarge.

The decision to learn Hebrew began with a yearning to become acquainted with the origins of the Christian Bible.

It is immediately apparent that the contemporary Bible is a product of many translations and modifications.

The Christian Bible is founded on the Torah, the body of scripture known to non-Jews as the Old Testament, the Pentateuch or the Five Books of Moses.

Over a period of thousands of years, the original ancient Hebrew texts have been meticulously preserved to the present day.

These texts were first translated from the original Hebrew to Aramaic, then from Aramaic to Greek, Greek to Latin and finally Latin to English. The full Bible has been translated into over 450 languages, parts of it into more than 2,000 languages. Continue reading

Ethiopia: King Solomon The Queen Of Sheba And The Black Jews — Part 2

Ethiopian black Jews making aliyah or ascent or going up to the Land of Israel
Ethiopian black Jews making aliyah or 'ascent' or 'going up' to the Land of Israel

In Part 1 we tell the little known story, with roots that reach back to the time of Abraham, of the union of the great King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.

In Part 2 a promise is fulfilled. They are welcomed by the Jewish state, like prodigal sons returning to the land of Israel.

The first modern contact with the Ethiopian Jews was by Scottish explorer James Bruce, who was searching for the source of the Nile River.

Early one morning in the late 1940s, an elderly Ethiopian Jew stood with his young grandson at the top of a small mountain, waiting for sunrise. As the sun broke over the horizon, the old man, pointing toward the sun, said, “Remember, this is the way to Jerusalem.”
Shmarya Scott Rosenberg

When Bruce came upon the ancient Jewish community of Ethiopia at Gonder In 1769, many had the sign of the crucifix tattooed on their foreheads to signify their link, as messianic Jews, to Christianity. The Beta Israel population at that time was estimated to be about 100,000 souls.
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Ethiopia: King Solomon The Queen Of Sheba And The Black Jews — Part 1

King Solomon receives the Queen of Sheba
King Solomon receives the Queen of Sheba. This beautiful example of medieval stained glass dates from 1180AD and is the Second Typological Window in the north quire aisle of Canterbury Cathedral – Image: Sacred Destinations

The modern history of the Jews in Ethiopia begins with the reunification of Ethiopia in the mid-19th century during the reign of Theodore II. At that time the Jewish community, known as Beta Israel, numbered between 200,000 to 350,000 people.

This little known story, with roots that reach back to the time of Abraham, starts with the union of the great King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. In Part 2 a promise is fulfilled. They are welcomed by the Jewish state, like prodigal sons returning to the land of Israel.

The name Beta Israel originated in the 4th century AD when the community refused to convert to Christianity during the rule of Abraha and Atsbeha

Perhaps the earliest Hebraic people came to the land of Ethiopia during the time of the prolonged drought and famine in Canaan at the time of Abraham (1812-1637BC).
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Jewish Passover and Christian Easter: What Do They Have In Common?

Detail of Da Vinci Last Supper by Giacomo Raffaelli
Detail of Da Vinci Last Supper by Giacomo Raffaelli -- click to enlarge

It is a little known fact that, in the early Eastern Christian churches, the timing of the celebration of Easter was based on the date of the Jewish Passover.

According to ancient records Jesus was crucified just before Passover. The famous last supper was the day before that. While the sacrificial lambs were being slaughtered for Passover, Jesus was undergoing crucifixion and so became the ultimate sacrificial lamb.

In the Jewish tradition Passover is the 8 day observance commemorating the freedom and exodus of the Israelites (Jewish slaves) from Egypt in 1446 BCE during the reign of the Pharaoh Ramses II (1279 BCE — 1213 BCE) or, according to some scholars Amenhotep II (1436 BCE — 1410 BCE).
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Psalm 117 the Shortest Psalm in the Bible

Psalm 117
Psalm 117 is the shortest Psalm in the Bible
Some noteworthy and remarkable facts are floating around in my head regarding Psalm 117.

In my research for this post I discovered a fair number of divergent opinions on the exact number of verses and chapters in the Bible. There are many good reasons for this — including the many variations of modern translations of the Bible.

Compare the text shown in the photo at right with the text below. It is different. The original King James Version (KJV) which was completed in 1611 is considered the most authoritative of the English translations in use today. It is the basis of the figures quoted here.

There are 1189 chapters in the Bible. The very center chapter of the Bible is the 595th chapter. This is Psalm 117 which also happens to be the shortest of Psalms or chapters in the Bible. Continue reading

Was 3 BC Venus “Star of Wonder” the Real Christmas Star?

The "Star of Wonder" - the Christmas Star
The "Star of Wonder" - the Christmas Star

A week ago, one morning after a restless night, I was up before dawn. There in the predawn blue-black sky was a burning “star”. So startling in it’s intensity and so bright it was that it seemed unreal. I stared at it for a long time thinking that I had never seen anything quite so astonishingly brilliant  in the sky. Well, apart from the Sun and the Moon, that is.

Days later my friend Bill, who is an amateur astronomer, solved the mystery for me. “Venus is exceptionally bright in the sky right now”, he said. That got me to thinking about the Christmas Star, it being Christmas and all. Could there really have been a “Star of Wonder”.

In ancient Roman times Astronomy was indistinguishable from Astrology. The ancient records throw some light on this question but not without controversy. Nonetheless, based on the evidence, it is generally accepted that the birth of Jesus must have occurred Continue reading