Understanding Enemies through Hebraism
Now when יהושע came into the parts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His taught ones, saying, “Who do men say the Son of Aḏam is?” And they said, “Some say Yoḥanan the Immerser, and others Ěliyahu, and others Yirmeyahu or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “And you, who do you say I am?” And Shim‛on Kĕpha answering, said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living Elohim.” And יהושע answering, said to him, “Blessed are you, Shim‛on Bar-Yonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father in the heavens. And I also say to you that you are Kĕpha, and on this rock I shall build My assembly, and the gates of She’ol shall not overcome it.” Mattithyahu (Matthew) 16:13-18
Words mean things. While it is imperative to understand the meaning of the words of scripture, how history and geography affected those who penned the words is just as important to understand. Wars, both physical as well as theological, have long been waged over this passage from Mattithyahu/Matthew 16 as a result of not considering the influence original history and geography had on the shaping of those words. Even though the phrase ‘the Church’ is found not to be a scriptural entity, it still has become the foundation of a ‘new’ covenant replacing the Promise of the Hebrew Elohim to Yisra’El and the subsequent deliberate process of separating Hellenistic Christianity from Hebraism. Thus, a re-interpretation of the Hebrew Messianic Writings became necessary to justify replacing the Only True Set-Apart One of Yisra’El spoken of entirely in scripture with another universal ‘god of mankind’ – but, yet, still seem to be compatible with Hebrew scripture. This new Roman religion, (for that is what Christianity became), soon did not tolerate members professing to be Christian while retaining Hebrew practices – eventually causing them to disappear as a movement. Consequently, in order to be considered Christian even today, one becomes obligated to reject Hebraism. However, in so doing, the perspective of these Hebrew writers whose words were influenced by their Hebrew history and geography is lost in 1700 years of changing cultural context overwriting the meaning of those words.
Which brings us to the history and geography behind the words of Yahusha above that were given in the region surrounding the city then knows as Caesarea Philippi (known as Baal Hermon and Baal Gad in the Original Writings) which was located at the foot of Mount Herman in the Golan Heights just to the north of the Kinneret (sea of Galilee). Outside the city was a sacred precinct from which flowed one of the largest springs feeding the Jordan river. The abundant water supply made the area very fertile and attractive for religious worship. Today the area is a nature reserve while also preserving the remains of the pagan culture which once included a temple, courtyards, and a cave. Without an appreciation of this geography within the context of His words, it is nearly impossible to understand the exchange Yahusha makes with His disciples in one of the most recognized pagan sites in Yisra’El. A massive rock, hundreds of feet long and high, stand before them. At its base is a giant grotto considered by pagan worshippers to be a passage into the underworld. This is the place of the gods – and there it becomes appropriate for Yahusha to ask, “Who do you think that I am?” Now, with this geography in mind – let’s look again at Mattithyahu/Matthew 16 from this history surrounding the words of Yahusha.
When our modern translations quote Peter as replying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”, there are two glaring discrepancies with the history of the Hebrew people in that translation. Before those discrepancies are expounded upon, however, it is important to remember that these were Hebrews speaking in their native tongue of Hebrew to each other. While Greek certainly was the universal language spoken between citizens of different cultures mixing regularly (probably between Yahusha, who spoke Hebrew, and Pilate, who spoke Latin – the language of Rome), those of the same ethnic origin spoke the language they were raised in and had in common. Among each other, Hebrews spoke Hebrew. This fact is validated in the inscription placed above Yahusha’s head at the impalement that was written in the three commonly spoken languages of the day – Hebrew, Greek and Latin.
“Many of the Yahuḏim therefore read this title, for the place where יהושע was impaled was near the city, and it was written in Hebrew, in Greek, in Roman.” Yoḥanan (John) 19:20
We also can see that phenomena present in the world still today – even though English has become the universal language, those raised in their native France will speak French to their neighbors and in Japan they speak Japanese among themselves, etc. We must also be constantly reminded that there were no ´Christians’ around when these words were spoken. That religion did not begin appearing in history for another 150 to 200 years. Consequently, the first discrepancy in this verse is found in the term ‘Christ”, coined from the Greek word christos meaning ‘anointed’ to support the agenda of this new religion (which was added only at a later date to the Greek manuscripts by Latin translators from which the English is derived). The Hebrew word for ‘anointed’ used throughout the Original Writings in Mashiach, which is more correctly translated as ‘Messiah’. This subtle change underscores the deliberate separation from the Hebrew origin and purpose describing the Person. Secondly, the English word ‘God’ in this verse is translated from the Greek word theos whose definition is ‘a god or goddess, a general name given to deities’. But, since the Greeks worshipped multiple deities, we see this cultural influence overwriting the translation of the Hebrew name, Elohim (also translated as ‘God’ in Genesis 1:1). But, Elohim is specific and unique to Hebraic thinking – occurring only in Hebrew and in no other ancient Semitic language. So, Peter’s exclamation should more accurately be translated as, “You are the Mashiach, the Son of the living Elohim´. Peter was speaking out of his Hebraic historical knowledge and relationship with the Unique and Only True Elohim of Yisra’El – not some generalized god.
The Grotto of the Greek god Pan
Yahusha responds with, “Blessed are you, Shim‛on Bar-Yonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father in the heavens.” The Greek to English translation continues with Yahusha seemingly bestowing upon the person Shim’on Bar-Yonah a new name accompanied with the charge of building Yahusha’s invincible ‘church’; “…and I also say that you are Peter (Greek Petros) and upon this rock (Greek petra) I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” There are some more glaring discrepancies with the conventional interpretation of this passage. The first is that Yahusha did not issue Simon a new name that day. The first report of Yahusha giving him a ‘nickname’ is actually found in John 1:42 where, in Hebrew, he is called ‘Shim’on, known as Kepha (Greek Petros, English Peter)’. While the Greek Petros does mean ‘rock’, Kepha is Hebrew also means ‘a stone’, He already was known as a ‘rock’ prior to Yahusha using it that day.
“And he brought him to יהושע. And looking at him, יהושע said, “You are Shim‛on the son of Yonah, you shall be called Kĕpha” (which means a Stone).” Yoḥanan (John) 1:42
Aramaic words and expressions appear intermittently throughout the Messianic Writings (the Aramaic word, Cephas, appears in John 1:42 in most English translations). As a ‘sister language’ to Hebrew it becomes most useful in giving insight to the actual words used in Hebrew by these Hebrews. Secondly, the conjunctive Greek word, kai (translated ‘and’) grammatically can just as easily be translated ‘but’ – which places an entirely different emphasis on the context.
Finally, since the Greek word used for rock, petra, sounds similar to the Greek name, Petros, much has been made by biblical scholars over the word play between these two Greek words – which makes it seem logical this verse is about Peter. But, we must remember that Yahusha did not speak from a Greek platform of logic – He said He did not speak anything unless He was first taught it from His Hebrew Father.
Thus, Yahusha was using Shim’on’s nickname for comparative purposes only.
“For I proclaim the Name of יהוה, Ascribe greatness to our Elohim. “The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are right-ruling, An Ěl of truth and without unrighteousness, Righteous and straight is He.” Deḇarim (Deuteronomy) 32:3-4
Whereas Kepha is called ‘A rock’, YaHuWaH is called ‘THE Rock’ in Deuteronomy 32:3-4 and described as the One Whose ‘work is perfect (from the Hebrew, tamiym, meaning complete). If there is any word play invoked, it would be Yahusha’s use of the literal meaning of Kepha to bring together the understanding of the Tsur (Rock) used here in Deuteronomy, Psalm 18:46, Psalm 61, Psalm 62 and Isaiah 51:1 (here translated as ‘One’).
“יהוה lives! And blessed is my Rock! And exalted is the Elohim of my deliverance,” Tehillim (Psalms) 18:46
“Hear my cry, O Elohim, Listen to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call unto You, When my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been my refuge, A strong tower in the face of the enemy. Let me dwell in Your Tent forever, Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. Selah. For You, O Elohim, have heard my vows; You have given me the inheritance Of those who fear Your Name. You add days to the days of the sovereign, His years as many generations. Let him dwell forever before Elohim. Prepare loving-commitment and truth to preserve him! So I sing praise to Your Name forever, When I pay my vows day by day.” Tehillim (Psalms) 61:1-8
“My being finds rest in Elohim alone; From Him is my deliverance. He alone is my rock and my deliverance, my strong tower; I am not greatly shaken. How long would you shout at a man? – Murder! – Like a leaning wall, a tottering fence. They plotted to topple him from his high position; They delight in lies; They bless with their mouth, But in their heart they curse. Selah. My being, find rest in Elohim alone, Because my expectation is from Him. He alone is my rock and my deliverance, my strong tower; I am not shaken. My deliverance and my esteem depend on Elohim; The rock of my strength, my refuge is in Elohim. Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; Elohim is a refuge for us. Selah. Sons of Aḏam are but a breath, Sons of men are a lie; If weighed in the scales, They are altogether lighter than breath. Do not trust in oppression. And do not become vain in robbery; If riches increase, Do not set your heart on them. Elohim has spoken once, Twice I have heard this: That strength belongs to Elohim. And loving-commitment is Yours, O יהוה; For You reward each one according to his work.” Tehillim (Psalms) 62:1-12
“Listen to Me, you who pursue righteousness, seeking יהוה: Look to the rock you were hewn from, and to the hole of the pit you were dug from.” Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 51:1
The more correct translation of this portion of the verse without placing any preconception upon it should be rendered, “…and I also say you are Kepha (a rock), but upon THIS ROCK (YaHuWaH) I will build…” Yahusha is drawing from the historical Hebrew relationship with the Hebrew Elohim to make a statement concerning the faithfulness of YaHuWaH to complete His Promise – something these non-gods under the boulder they are standing before are unable to do and revealing the significance of Kepha’s earlier conclusion of Yahusha being that Promised Messiah.
There is more – the Greek word translated ‘build’ is oikodomeo and it actually means ‘to RE-store by building, to RE-build, to RE-pair, to RE-establish upon a foundation.
“And He answering, said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Yisra’ĕl.” Mattithyahu (Matthew) 15:24
“And He said to them, “To the other cities I also have to bring the Good News: the reign of Elohim, because for this I have been sent.” Luqas (Luke) 4:43
“So when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Master, would You at this time restore the reign to Yisra’ĕl?” Ma`asei (Acts) 1:6
“After this I shall return and rebuild the Booth of Dawiḏ which has fallen down. And I shall rebuild its ruins, and I shall set it up,” Ma`asei (Acts) 15:16
“In that day I shall raise up the Booth of Dawiḏ which has fallen down. And I shall repair its breaches and raise up its ruins. And I shall build it as in the days of old,” Amos 9:11
All of these Hebrews who believed in the Hebrew Elohim were familiar with the purpose of the Messiah – to RE-store the Kingdom of YaHuWaH to His family of Yisra’El (Matthew 15:24, Luke 4:43, Acts 1:6 and Acts 15:16 here called ‘David’s fallen tent’ quoting Amos 9:11). The question posed in Yahusha’s day was not whether Hebrews believed in YaHuWaH as their Elohim or not. They all believed, particularly concerning the disciples He was speaking to in this passage – that they were ‘of belief’ was what made them Hebrew. The question was whether Yahusha was that Promised Messiah sent by Elohim – or not. The Greek word ekklesia, translated ‘church’ is not a scriptural entity – not something new and unique to the Messianic Writings. Rather, it has become a traditional entity that, instead, should be read in the Hebrew context of qehelah, or assembly spoken of in Leviticus 8:4.
“And Mosheh did as יהוה commanded him, and the congregation was assembled at the door of the Tent of Appointment.” Wayyiqra (Leviticus) 8:4
Lastly, we come to the most glaring discrepancy of them all, “…and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Hades is just another Greek god – the god of the underworld. Yahusha does not believe in other gods, only in the Hebrew Elohim – why, then, would He seemingly be ascribing power to a god He knows is non-existent?
“Of Myself I am unable to do any matter. As I hear, I judge, and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own desire, but the desire of the Father who sent Me.” Yoḥanan (John) 5:30
“So יהושע said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Aḏam, then you shall know that I am He, and that I do none at all of Myself, but as My Father taught Me, these words I speak.” Yoḥanan (John) 8:28
“that I shall certainly bless you, and I shall certainly increase your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore, and let your seed possess the gate of their enemies. And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” Berĕshith (Genesis) 22:17-18
“But the promises were spoken to Aḇraham, and to his Seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Messiah.” Galatiyim (Galatians) 3:16
Again, when we remember that Yahusha said He did not speak anything unless He was first taught it from His Hebrew Father (John 5:30, John 8:28), the Hebrew phrase the Hebrew Yahusha would be quoting is, “…and your seed shall possess the gate of His (YaHuWaH’s) enemies”, found in the promise YaHuWaH made to Abraham concerning the Messiah (Genesis 22:17-18, Galatians 3:16). The Hebrew word yarash (translated ‘possess’) actually means ‘to inherit, to occupy’ – which brings to the forefront the role of the status of the firstborn, the Kinsman Redeemer, as the inheritor of the Promise of YaHuWaH. Now, understanding Yahusha’s Hebrew perspective, we can see the enemies that the Seed, the Messiah, shall inherit are YaHuWaH’s enemies. Thus, the correct rendering of this passage from its original Hebrew perspective should be:
“You are the Messiah, the Son of the living Elohim.” And יהושע answering, said to him, “Blessed are you, Shim‛on Bar-Yonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father in the heavens. And I also say to you that you are Kĕpha (a rock), and on THIS ROCK (YaHuWaH) I shall restore His Kingdom to the qehelah by occupying the gate of His (YaHuWaH’s) enemies.” Mattithyahu (Matthew) 16:16-18
By reading this verse from its scriptural Hebrew perspective the true meaning is placed back into the words and this dynamic exchange taking place in this historical setting is restored. Yahusha was not creating a ‘new religion’ with ‘Peter’ as its chief administrator – He was solidifying the Promise of the Father to restore what had been lost to His Family, Yisra’El, in the face of YaHuWaH’s enemies (Psalm 23:5).
“You spread before me a table in the face of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup runs over.” Tehillim (Psalms) 23:5
So, then, just who are YaHuWaH’s enemies? That Yahusha picked this spot, standing before this looming boulder which is the centerpiece around the worship of so many pagan gods considered deities apart from the One True Set-Apart Elohim of Yisra’El should make it clear that YaHuWaH’s enemies are non-gods that focus attention and belief away from the Elohim of Yisra’El. They do this through the illusion of power which is the gateway of fear – the fear of death (Hebrews 2:11-15).
“For both He who sets apart and those who are being set apart are all of One, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, “I shall announce Your Name to My brothers, in the midst of the congregation I shall sing praise to You.” And again, “I shall put My trust in Him.” And again, “See, I and the children whom Elohim gave Me.” Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself similarly shared in the same, so that by means of His death He might destroy him having the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver those who throughout life were held in slavery by fear of death.” Iḇ`rim (Hebrews) 2:11-15
What is death?
“for all have sinned and fall short of the esteem of Elohim,” Romiyim (Romans) 3:23
Romans 3:23 tells us that death is separation from the Source of Life. The condemnation spoken by Yahusha in John 3:17-21 is translated from the Greek word krisis and means ‘separation’. To love darkness more than Light is what separates men from YaHuWaH, the Source of Life – Who IS Light (1 John 1:5). This is where divorcement from YaHuWaH’s Words (mistakenly translated ‘commandments’ – see Exodus 20:1) prevents a truthful understanding of scripture.
“For Elohim did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not judged, but he who does not believe is judged already, because he has not believed in the Name of the only brought-forth Son of Elohim. “And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light, for their works were wicked. For everyone who is practicing evil matters hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But the one doing the truth comes to the light, so that his works are clearly seen, that they have been wrought in Elohim.” Yoḥanan (John) 3:17-21
“And this is the message which we have heard from Him and announce to you, that Elohim is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” Yoḥanan Aleph (1 John) 1:5
“And Elohim spoke all these Words, saying,” Shemoth (Exodus) 20:1
The first of YaHuWaH’s Words are, “You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself any graven image to bow down or to serve them.” Why? Because verse 5 says those who do so hate YaHuWaH – the Source of Life. To worship other gods by serving them separates those who do so from the Source of Life and is YaHuWaH’s definition of hatred. They make themselves enemies, thereby separating themselves from the Truth of there being only One True Elohim of Yisra’El. While standing in front of this edifice devoted to the worship of many pagan gods, Yahusha extols the significance of Peter’s exclamation of Him as the Promised Seed, the Messiah of the Rock Who is the Only Living Elohim. This is the One Who inherits, possesses, occupies the gate of His Father’s enemies. Many reading this will say to themselves, “I don’t hate God – I don’t worship idols of graven images”. Here, again, is seen the consequence of setting aside YaHuWaH’s Words. Yahusha upheld the Words of His Hebrew Father when He said that what we worship is what we serve (Matthew 4:10, Deuteronomy 11:16).
“Then יהושע said to him, “Go, Satan! For it has been written, ‘You shall worship יהוה your Elohim, and Him alone you shall serve.’ ” Mattithyahu (Matthew) 4:10
“Guard yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other mighty ones and bow down to them.” Deḇarim (Deuteronomy) 11:16
What we serve is what we give ourselves to – people SAY what they believe, but they DO what they value. A graven image is the definition of an idol. How many ‘Christians’ worship an image of the cross without an understanding that it has become the nehushtan spoken of in scripture and that Yahusha said He would become in John 3:14-15?
“And as Mosheh lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so the Son of Aḏam has to be lifted up,” so that whoever is believing in Him should not perish but possess everlasting life.” Yoḥanan (John) 3:14-15
Thus, those clinging to their idol become separated from, placed in conflict with and enemies of the Only True Elohim of Yisra’El, the Source of Life – without even being aware of it. Following the tradition of men handed down to them that says the Original Words of the Elohim of Yisra’El are of no consequence anymore places them in a tragic position of ignorance in regards to the Truth of ALL scripture (Mark 7:13), including the Messianic Writings, which were written by Hebrews from a unique historical Hebrew perspective.
“nullifying the Word of Elohim through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such traditions you do.” Marqos (Mark) 7:13