Posts Tagged ‘sin’

Once again I offer a new, narrative presentation of the 3rd chapter of the book of Jeremiah, incorporating classic commentaries into the text. The color coding is as follows: 





My own words (for clarity)

Please enjoy, comment and share. And without further ado:

Jeremiah continued speaking in the name of HaShem. (1) “I could say you are no longer worthy of me, for if a man sends away his wife, and she goes from him and becomes the wife of another man, will the first husband return to her again? Behold, the land would surely be corrupted by such an act! And you have been unfaithful with many lovers! Nevertheless, return to Me! (2) Lift up your eyes upon the high places and see! Where have you not lied down? Upon the ways you have sat, ready for your lovers, like an Arab in the wilderness, and you have corrupted the land with your unfaithfulness and your evil. (3) The early rains have been held back, and the latter rains did not occur, yet you have had the brazenness of an unfaithful woman, you have refused to be ashamed. (4) If only from this moment you would repent of your wickedness and call to Me, ‘My Father, You are the Teacher of my youth!’ (5) Would your Lord bear against you forever that which you sinned toward Him? Would He hold onto it for eternity? He would not hold onto it! Behold, you have declared, ‘We will not come to You again,’ and that evil you will perform, paying no mind to repentance, and you will succeed in rebelling absolutely.

(6) In the days of King Josiah, HaShem commanded Jeremiah to bring back the Ten Tribes of Israel. A portion of them returned in the 18th year of Josiah (Rashi, v. 12). HaShem said to Jeremiah, “Did you see what the wayward Ten Tribes of Israel did? They would go up on every high mountain, and under every fresh tree and act unfaithfully to Me there, serving idols. (7) And I said through My prophets Amos and Hoshea son of Be’eri and others, after she (Israel) had done all this, ‘Return to Me!’ but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw that Israel was exiled, but Judah did not learn their lesson. (8) And I saw that Judah saw everything that happened because wayward Israel was unfaithful, that I sent Israel away, and I gave to Israel her document of divorce, but treacherous Judah, Israel’s sister, did not fear that I would send her away also, and did not consider repentance, rather, Judah went and acted unfaithfully also. (9) Because her unfaithfulness was light in her eyes, the land became corrupt; in her unfaithfulness she served stone and wood. (10) And even with all this, having seen the downfall and punishment of Israel, her treacherous sister Judah did not return to Me with all her heart, rather falsely.” The generation of Josiah showed themselves to be righteous while they were actually wicked. They made images of idols on the insides of their doorways, half on one side and half on the other, so that when those seeking to eliminate idolatry would inspect the homes, the door would be open and the images were not recognizable.

(11) HaShem said to Jeremiah, “Wayward Israel has exonerated herself of judgment, for she did not have from whom to learn, as opposed to treacherous Judah. (12) Go and call out these words to the north, to the places where Israel was exiled, to Assyria, and say, ‘Return O Wayward Israel! I will not send my wrath against you, because I am abundant in kindness. I will not hold your sins against you forever. (See v. 6 above.) (13) But know your sin, for you rebelled against HaShem your God, and you were unfaithful to HaShem, spreading your legs for strangers under every fresh tree, and you did not listen to My voice. (14) Return, O rebellious sons! For I have been your master, and you have therefore been called by My name, and for you to remain among the nations takes away from My honor. Therefore, I will take you out of exile, even though you remain one in a city of gentiles, or two among an entire gentile nation, and I will bring you to Zion. (15) I will give you leaders who perform My will, and they will lead you with knowledge and wisdom. (16) And it will be, when you multiply and increase in the land in those days, they will no longer say, ‘The Ark of the Covenant of HaShem,’ nor will it even be a thought, nor will they remember it, nor will they consider it, nor will that be done with it which was done in Shiloh, when the Ark was brought out to war against the Philistines in the days of Eili the High Priest, for whole congregation will be holy, and I will dwell in the congregation as though it is the Ark. (17) At that time they will call Jerusalem the Throne of HaShem, and all the nations will gather to it for the sake of HaShem’s name, to Jerusalem, and they will not go anymore after the thoughts of their wicked heart. (18) In those days, the House of Judah will walk with the House of Israel, and they will come together from the land of the north to the land that I have given as an inheritance to their forefathers, becoming one kingdom.

(19) “I had thought, ‘How can I place you, My daughter, My congregation and My nation, among sons, among other nations, among idol worshippers?’ Therefore I set aside a better portion for you, giving you a desirable land, a portion that is the envy of the host of nations, and I said, ‘Call me Father, and do not turn away from Me.’ (20) However, you did not do as I wished, rather like a woman who betrays her beloved because he is unable to provide her needs, so you betrayed Me, O House of Israel, though I provide you with every good thing. (21) Over the rise, in the near future, the sound of the begging cries of the Children of Israel can be heard, for they have perverted their ways, they have forgotten HaShem their God. (22) Return O rebellious sons! I will forgive your rebellion!’”

Yirmiyahu then instructed the people to confess to HaShem and say, “Behold, we have come to You, for you are HaShem our God! (23) Indeed, for naught we hoped for salvation from false gods that we worshipped upon hills and in multitudes upon mountains! Indeed, by HaShem our God is the salvation of Israel! (24) Because of our shame, that we worshipped false gods, the toil of our fathers has been consumed from our youth, their sheep and their cattle, their sons and their daughters. (25) We will lie down in shame because of our sins, and our degradation will cover us, for we and our fathers have sinned to HaShem our God from our youth until this day, and we did not listen to the voice of HaShem our God.”

Someone posted this in a Facebook group called “Study of Judaism”:

i am wanting to share my research on Satan ! it is common for me to be told that Satan has not fallen, that angels are like robots and cant sin !

if you have been taught that angels cant sin from your rabbi then ask your rabbi to explain Ezekiel 28

Ezekiel 28:14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.

15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

16 By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.

17 Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee

My response:

The passage you quote is not talking about Satan. It is a mistake to use a King James Bible to try to understand the word of God, because the translation does not convey the depth and nuance of the original Hebrew Scriptures. Your translation is altogether arguable, but to keep the discussion simple, I will do my best to explain the passage even according to your translation. In context, this message is directed at the King of Tyre. Verse 12: “Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him.” Tyre was a nation of master craftsmen who aided King Solomon in the construction of the Holy Temple (see I Kings). Verse 13: “Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering…” This metaphorical language conveys that Tyre was equipped with every precious stone, as though in Eden, and they used these stones in their extravagant construction and craftsmanship. “…the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.” In music as well, the nation of Tyre excelled. Since it was part of their national fabric, this aptitude is described in terms of Tyre having been “created,” or destined, to have this character. Verse 15: “Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth…” The King of Tyre, because of his lofty rank, is likened to a cherub (or angel) that spreads its wings to cover (like the cherubs over the Ark of the Covenant), because the king rules over and protects his kingdom. “…thou wast upon the holy mountain of God…” As mentioned above, the King of Tyre aided Solomon in the construction of the Holy Temple on the mountain of God. “…thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.” This could refer simply to sparkling gems as above, or metaphorically to the spiritual nation of Israel. Verses 15-16: “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned…” The King of Tyre was originally meritorious, but later sinned. “Violence” is a mistranslation of the Hebrew word “hamas” which means “robbery” (though for our purposes this does not make a great difference). There was robbery in his nation because of the greed generated by great wealth, and the king did not properly protect his subjects, as was his duty as the “covering cherub.” “…therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God…” The original merit mentioned above, that is, the construction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem upon the mountain of G-d, will no longer be remembered for him. Because… Verse 17: “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness…” He became haughty in his own grandeur, and did not remember the true responsibility for which God set him as king, that is, to do justice for and to protect those under his rule, as a “covering cherub.” “…I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee…” Therefore, rather than behold the beauty for which the King of Tyre held himself high, his enemies will behold him in his downfall. The Scripture is CLEAR that this is a message for the King of Tyre, a mortal man, and has nothing to do with Satan. The language of Eden and cherubs in this context is therefore METAPHORICAL. Suggestions: (1) Read passages IN CONTEXT, using exegesis to understand Scripture, rather than eisegesis. (2) Dump the King James translation (or any Christian translation for that matter) and learn to read and understand the original language of the text. At the very least, find a teacher who can, or use a scholarly Jewish translation (such as Artscroll or The Living Torah / The Living Nach). All the best, brother!

inn (2)

In Chapter 5 of II Kings, we read of Naaman, the general of Aram, who comes to the prophet Elisha to be healed of his leprosy. Long story short, Elisha heals Naaman, and Naaman wishes to repay Elisha. The prophet, however, will not accept payment.

[As an aside, I feel it important to note that we learn from Elisha that any so-called “miracle workers” today who offer their services in exchange for money are undoubtedly charlatans preying on vulnerable people for personal gain. This is not the way of great men. STAY FAR AWAY! For more on this, follow the work of James Randi, who spent his life exposing so-called “psychics” and other fakers of supernatural abilities. Our rabbis teach us, however, that the reddest herring is the one who demands to be paid. Elisha was the real deal.]

So Elisha won’t accept payment, but Elisha’s less scrupulous steward, Gechazi, pursues Naaman and accepts his gifts. Elisha, not unaware of what Gechazi has done (he is a prophet after all), curses Gechazi with Naaman’s leprosy, effectively banishing Gechazi from his presence.

The Talmud in Sotah 47A criticizes Elisha for his harshness with Gechazi, and indeed compares him to one of the Sages during Second Temple times who likewise shunned a student too harshly, leading to unimaginably dark consequences for the Jewish people:


Our Sages taught: One should always push away with the left and bring close with the right, not like Elisha who pushed away Gechazi with both his hands, and not like Rabbi Yehoshua ben Perachyah who pushed away one of his students with both his hands…

The Talmud recounts both incidents in great detail. The Talmudic account of the interaction between Elisha and Gechazi is more detailed than that in Scripture. I hope to return to this in a later post. For now, let us focus on the story of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Perachyah and “one of his students,” whose identity we know from uncensored editions of the Talmud to be “Yeshu haNotzri,” widely believed to be the same personage as Jesus of Nazareth. Christian censors in the Middle Ages had these passages stricken from standard editions of the Talmud.

According to this Talmudic passage, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Perachyah, while traveling from Alexandria to Jerusalem with a group of his disciples, one of whom was this Yeshu, stopped in a certain inn for lodging. The innkeepers showed Rabbi Yehoshua very great respect, and Rabbi Yehoshua spoke praisingly of his hosts. This Yeshu took Rabbi Yehoshua’s praise to refer specifically to the beauty of their hostess, and Yeshu made a remark to his teacher about the woman’s eyes. Rabbi Yehoshua was so offended by Yeshu’s predilection for the physical beauty of a married woman that he excommunicated him. Day after day, Yeshu tried to return to his teacher but was rebuffed. One day, when Rabbi Yehoshua had finally resolved to accept Yeshu’s penance and retract his excommunication, Yeshu arrived just as Rabbi Yehoshua was reciting the Shema and hence unable to respond to him. Rabbi Yehoshua held up a hand as if to say, “wait,” but Yeshu interpreted the hand signal as another rejection. Yeshu gave up trying to return to gain Rabbi Yehoshua’s forgiveness and turned instead to establishing a renegade religion. Rabbi Yehoshua tried pursuing Yeshu to convince him to repent, but Yeshu responded, “I learned from you that anyone who sins and causes the masses to sin has no opportunity for repentance!” The passage concludes that Yeshu practiced sorcery, led others toward idolatry, and caused Israel to sin.

This story, along with that of Elisha and Gechazi became the archetype for the Rabbis’ teaching that one should be careful not to push others away too strongly, only with the left (weaker) hand, while bringing close with the right (stronger) hand.

The story of Elisha and Gechazi likewise led to exceedingly tragic consequences for the nation of Israel, arguably worse than those of the above episode. But this is a story to be explored in another post. Stay tuned.

Pirkey d'Rabi Eliezer

The 1st installment in a series examining whether Pinechas (aka Pinchas or Phineas) of the Torah is same personage as Eliyahu ha-Navi (Elijah the Prophet) of the book of Kings and later Jewish traditions.

Pirkey d’Rabi Eliezer, ch. 47:

Rabbi Yehudah says: …Through the counsel of Bilam (Balaam) that he advised Midyan (Midian), 24,000 Israelites fell. Bilam said to them: ‘You cannot overcome this people unless they have sinned before their Creator.’ They immediately made shops outside the camp of Israel, and [the Israelites] could see the daughters of Midyan adorning their eyes (with makeup), and [the Israelites] strayed after them… Shimon (Simon) and Levi had been zealous regarding sexual impropriety, as it says (regarding the incident with Dinah in Genesis 34): ‘Shall he make our sister like a harlot?’ (v. 31). But the nasi (prince) of the tribe of Shimon did not remember what his ancestor had done, and he did not rebuke the men of Israel. Rather, he himself publicly had relations with the Midianite woman. All the nesiim (princes) and Mosheh (Moses) and Elazar and Pinechas saw the angel of death, and they were sitting and crying, and they did not know what to do. Pinechas saw that Zimri was having relations publicly with the Midianite woman, and he was filled with a great zeal. He grabbed the spear from the hand of Mosheh, and ran after [Zimri], and stabbed him. Therefore the Holy One Blessed is He gave him priestly gifts… [Pinechas] stood up as a great judge for Israel… and he struck the men of Israel, and dragged them to every corner of the camp of Israel so the people would see and fear. The Holy One Blessed is He saw what Pinechas had done, and He stopped the plague from upon Israel… Rabbi Eliezer says: The Holy One Blessed is He considered the name of Pinechas like the name of Eliyahu of the inhabitants of Gilad, who cause Israel to repent in the land of Gilad… and He gave him life in this world and life in the World to Come, and He gave him and his children good reward for the sake of eternal priesthood.

While Eliyahu and Pinechas are here equated with one another, it appears clear that they are distinct individuals, compared for similar deeds.

Click here for the next installment.