The photos used on this page have been graciously donated by two superb photographers. I recommend you take the time to view their galleries. Click on their names or any photo to get there. Jim - jhiker & Lew - lejun.
This started out simply as a short and simple commentary about the importance of learning Hebrew and Greek to understanding the Holy Bible more fully. However, ideas kept popping into my head as I typed, so I discuss more than just that. Concerning root languages though - I have, in the past, been told it wasn't necessary to learn these languages because if you read a particular version of the Holy Bible and you are a Christian the Holy Spirit will fill you with all the knowledge you need to understand God's Word. First of all, that's absolute nonsense. Being filled with the Holy Spirit does not mean we check our brains at the altar. Johannes Kepler said "Science is thinking God's thoughts after Him." We were given brains to search out God's mysteries both in nature and in His Word - It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, to search out a matter is the glory of kings. Proverbs 25:2. Secondly, the same person who said this to me said at the same bible study "the original Greek of this means." That's truly a double standard. If I need to be told by him what the original Greek means, then obviously his first statement was wrong - which of course it was. Here's a great example of what you would never know if you didn't know the original Hebrew:
The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. Isaiah 12:2 In this verse it says "salvation" which is the Hebrew word "Yeshua" which is also Jesus' name in Hebrew. Literally then it is saying. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song, he has become my Jesus! This same pattern follows throughout the bible. Read this beautiful example from Isaiah 52:10: The LORD will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God. I once read a rabbi's analysis that much of the bible is metaphorical. Here is his exact quote on such a passage: "But the Bible also speaks of the "outstretched arm" of G-d, and few of us are willing to concede that G-d has arms." This may be the perception in rabbinic circles, but this passage in Isaiah not only says God would bear his holy arm, but that his name is salvation - Yeshua (translated Jesus.) This same God bared his Holy arm on the cross of Calvary.
Another nifty example is this verse describing the coming Messiah: A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. Isaiah 11:1 The word "Branch" is the Hebrew "netser" and is from the same root as the word Nazarene. This is what was being talked about in Matthew 2:23: So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazerene." There are countless such nuggets tucked into God's Word waiting for you to search them out!
Since I met Christ, I've spent a lot of time reading His holy Word. Until recently I owned a store and for two years I had 10 hours a day to do nothing but read it! What a blessing that was. Now I have a real job again, and I only get to read it 1 to 3 hours a day. I've thought of ways to make it new and fun each time. One time I listed all the . Once I counted every time Jerusalem was mentioned by chapter and I wrote down every descriptive name for this city. You can read that list by scrolling down on . Several times, I read it with a calculator next to me and checked everything mathematically - read to see one of the benefits of this approach. Once I did a study on Matthew which turned out to be stunning in its depth. You can read it at the bottom of . As I read the bible at home, I always start the day with one of the 22 verses of Psalm 119. I read them in order and on the 23rd day, I start the list again. The reason I do this is because each of these 22 verses again and again asks for God's guidance and leading as His Word is studied:
Open my eyes that I may see
wonderful things in your law. Psalm 119:18 (The letter Gimel)
After this daily prayer I rotate reading one OT book and then a NT book back and forth. Because of this, I've read the NT twice for each time I've read the OT. Doing it this way will help you focus on the entire book and not get stuck in some type of rut. This also keeps it fun. One thing I recommend you do is to ALWAYS carry a Holy Bible with you. When you set it down next to you at the bank, restaurant, etc., it provides an immediate opening to witness to some people. Also, you can have an answer to any question right at your fingertips.
Concerning the usefulness of reading the bible everyday and reading all of it - not just certain parts - I'd like to give a few thoughts based on Proverbs 2:1-6:
My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Notice the "if" in the first line and the "then" in line five. This is a conditional passage....If you do this - then this will come about.
First, we need to determine where knowledge and understanding come from. Two passages immediately come to mind:
The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:130
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Psalm 111:10
So here we learn the importance of reading, learning, and knowing the bible. When it says it gives "understanding to the simple" it was written about me. You will never meet a more simple-minded person, but God is ever faithful and has helped me each step of the way. Anyway! Some people give their lives to Christ and immediately want to move from milk to meat without proper grounding. This may be fine if your message is consistent and focuses solely on the Gospel - which is something even children can understand. It can be readily communicated to others by those with even a basic knowledge of the Holy Bible. However, you can quickly run into problems, particularly with cults and misdirected doctrine, when you believe everything you hear just because someone claims they are a pastor, preacher, bible-teacher, etc. This is how all these goofy conspiracy theories get passed around by Christians.....did you know Bill Clinton is the coming antichrist because he's a Rothschild descended from the tribe of Dan and is planning to take over the world by becoming Chairman of the UN after informing the Illuminati about the radio-active bombs that actually brought down the Twin Towers and the Murrah Federal Building which George Bush was fully aware of after he was briefed by Billy Graham! Forget it! Don't read it, don't listen to it - ignore it. If Christ is your focus, this type of nonsense is a waste of time.
Think of learning mathematics. You first learn your numbers, next to add, then to subtract, multiply, divide, algebra, etc. After these basic steps you diversify your skills into specialties geometry, calculus, logarithms, and so forth. As a Christian, we need to follow certain steps in growth as well. First, comes faith. Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17 You hear the word, and by faith you receive it. Now you start your baby-steps. Learn the books of the Holy Bible and how to find your way. You should immediately start attending a good bible-believing church. Learn what all the little numbers and letters in the margin are for. Get into the church's bible study and take notes, but please! Go home and check everything you're told against Scripture. Read your bible each day until you've read it several times and can find your way easily to passages. Only after these steps should you look at controversial web-sites or read books on Bible commentary. You see, whatever you read or are taught is pretty much where your doctrine will stand, right or wrong, unless you've already read the bible and prayed about it first. The more you know before you start reading all this extraneous material, the better prepared you will be to reject that which is incorrect or misleading. There is NO DOUBT that some of what I have on this site is inaccurate. I'm a fallible human and if I had all the answers, I wouldn't need a Savior, eh? This is exactly why I put on many pages a request for correction of my doctrine when found to be wrong. I'm not too proud to change or correct anything that can be shown inaccurate.
In order to know Him and his Word better, I've started learning both Hebrew and Greek. I want to share some insights into this process in case it's something you're interested in. Don't tell yourself "I have no talent for languages..." When you see the process I followed, you may see things differently, because I used to say "I have no talent for languages..." I did live in Japan for six years and picked up a lot of Japanese. Plus I'm married to the cutest little Japanese girl. Hontoni wastashi no okusan wa totemo utsukushi! This didn't hurt my learning Japanese at all! Then I lived in Malaysia and learned some Bahasa Malaysia but that's because I've been told its the easiest language in the world to learn, and yes, I can believe that. Cakap Malayu? Additionally, I took three years of German in high school and at least learned how to conjugate my verbs if nothing else... Aber ich spreche Deutsch nicht so gut! Ok, enough of that! In order to start learning Hebrew, I had to do nothing more difficult than watch Jewish Jewels on TV and subscribe to their monthly newsletter. This and other such programs provide a word here and a word there which are always connected to something biblically interesting which makes it fun. There are a million sources on-line to pick up Hebrew as well. Then, I took one of the best steps I could imagine and ordered the Pimsleur Hebrew One course. Unfortunately, that's all they offer for Hebrew at this time, but it's enough to get a good foundation. This is a process developed by a guy named Pimsleur which makes learning a language about as easy as anything you've ever done. They guarantee that you'll be able to speak in whatever language you order in 30 days (up to the level you take) or they'll give you your money back. Believe me, you won't want your money back! After taking the Hebrew, I took the Greek (again Greek 1 is all they offer at this time.) Now realize, both of these courses are offered in the modern tongue, and biblical Hebrew and Greek have some differences, but you will find that the differences are slight and you can easily adapt. In addition to the oral part, they provide brief reading instructions as well. These help you identify each character and then progressively teach you to read up to short sentences. In 30 days you'll be reading and understanding Hebrew and Greek at a basic level what fun!
Again - to order the Hebrew (or any other language course) click on the link in the paragraph above.
At this point, I am going to insert an answer to a Question of the Week that was too lengthy to leave on the Home Page.
As an answer to a Question of the Week - Why is the New Testament written in Greek rather than Hebrew? - I'm inserting these comments. The Holy Bible clearly shows the Jewish people were under punishment for having rejected Jesus as their Messiah. As explained on my page , Ezekiel was a sign to the Jewish people about their time of punishment. This passage, combined with a statement in Leviticus about punishment for a second disobedience, resulted in being punished "seven times over." This totaled a 907,200 day (2520 Hebrew year) punishment for disobedience. This ended in May 1948 for the nation and 1967 for Jerusalem as previously prophesied. During this time, I believe the very words of God were denied them in their own tongue. It's clear that Jewish men wrote all or the large part of the New Testament (with the possible exception of Luke and Acts where there is dispute) and yet their writings were solely in Greek. For the Jews during this period to accept the Messiah - Jesus - would take stepping out of their traditions and language to embrace a faith written in Greek. Paul makes it clear that salvation is by faith alone: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8, 9. This faith, I think would be more pronounced for Jews when accepting Sacred Scripture based on an entirely different language. Secondly, by dividing Scripture into two source languages (actually 3 when you include Aramaic in parts of the Old Testament) it shows that translation of Scripture from one language to another is acceptable. We can contrast this with the book of islam - the koran - which their scholars say must be read in Arabic in order to be properly illuminated. This easily leads to a cult (which is what islam is) mindset - people without a proper knowledge of Arabic need to be told what is and isn't meant. This is what the teaching of Gnosticism held also - that only certain people had the spiritual knowledge and the followers were to trust in them. Again, this is the same mindset of the Jehovah's witnesses and most other cults. The few posses what is perceived as divine knowledge and the followers are to put their faith in them. Contrast this with the Holy Bible. Jesus promises the Holy Spirit to all who come to him, and to God alone we owe our allegiance. The Holy Spirit gives different gifts to each of us, but one thing is certain: The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:130. God promises that when you read his Word and diligently search for him, he will reveal its meaning through the Holy Spirit. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13. There are teachers who claim the New Testament (or parts of it) was originally written in Hebrew and then later translated into Greek. I believe this is inaccurate when you look at the evidence of Scripture itself. Take this example from the book of John: Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, "What do you want?" They said, "Rabbi" (which means Teacher), "where are you staying?" John 1:38. Think about it....John clearly translated the Hebrew word for his audience as led by the Holy Spirit. This pattern is repeated many times throughout the New Testament, including Paul's epistles. If these words needed to be translated in the body of the writing, then they had to be done at the time they were written. Rather, all New Testament writings were originally in Greek. Having said this, they still follow a pattern based on the Hebrew alphabet. It's clear that God's order in Scripture is based on these 22 characters. To accurately describe this would take countless pages and diagrams, so instead I will send you this link to search out these mysteries yourself.
In comparison to each other, I found Hebrew much easier to learn to speak but the alphabet (Hebrew aleph-bet) is completely foreign to us and requires a lot of attention. On the other hand, I found Greek a most difficult language to speak, but reading was much easier. Once you study the characters closely, you'll see how much it resembles ours, making reading easier. At first it looks totally foreign too, but that's really not the case when you look carefully. The few characters that are different pale in comparison to the Hebrew. Reading Greek is probably the easiest aspect of both languages. Once you do learn the sounds and the characters, you're really on your way because so many of our words come from the Greek. The next step for me was to order the Greek/Hebrew Interlinear Bible. This is a four-volume set which puts the English translation word for word below the original Hebrew and Greek. This makes it really easy to learn once you've got your foundation. Combine this with Strong's exhaustive concordance, and you really have a powerful set of tools to learn beyond the basic level. Below, I'm going to list some words in the Greek and English so you can see how our words have slowly progressed from Greek to English. Also, as there are only a few such words in Hebrew, other than names and places which translate directly, I will only list a couple. You will see that most of these are transliterations. Contrast this with the Greek word progressions plus a few transliterations. Most of the Greek words I'm giving can be found in Revelation as it is the book I read in Greek and English to make this list for you. The Hebrew is just off my head for comparison. Before you read the list though, please take time to vote for this site. Click on the button which will only take a second. You can only vote once a day, but please click on it each time you stop by the site. Thank you, Charlie....
Just so you know, even though I discuss the value of knowing Hebrew and Greek, I am still a novice myself. I don't want to give the impression that I am even partially versed in these languages, but a little study everyday and I'm getting there.
Hebrew - Hallelu-yah, Amen, Leviathan, Behemoth, Yayin (wine), Satan, Messiach (Messiah)
Abussos - Abyss
Apostolos - apostles
Arithmos - number (think of arithmetic)
Biblos - Scroll (think of your Holy Bible!)
Diabolos - devil
Drakon - dragon
Duo - two (think of duet)
Ethnos - Nation (think of ethnic)
Ge - Earth (think of geo)
Glossa - tongue (think of glossary)
Gluekos - sweet (think of glucose)
Grapho - write (think of graphics)
Harma - chariot (think of army)
Hora - hour
Hudor - water
Iris - Rainbow
Kardia - heart (think of cardiac arrest)
Kinamomon - cinnamon
Kleptes - thief (think of cleptomaniac)
Lampas - lamp
Leon - lion
Linon - linen
Luo - loose
Megas - great
Murias - myriads
Nautes - sailor (think of nautical)
Nekros - dead (think of Necro-- as a prefix)
Odontes - tooth (think of orthodontis)
Opthalamoi - eyes (think of opthamologist)
Paradeisos - paradise
Pater - father
Pente - five (think of pentagon)
Phos - light (think of phosphorus)
Plege - plague
Polis - city (think of metropolis)
Presbuteros - elders (think of Presbyterian)
Prophetes - prophet
Proto - first
Pura - fire (think of pyro)
Seismos - earthquake (think of seismic)
Skorpios - scorpion
Theoreo - behold (think of theater)
Topos - place (think of topography)
Theos - God (think of theology the study of God)
Thronos - throne
Zoon - Beast (think of your local zoo)
As you can see from this short list, many words are very similar to our language. This is only a portion of the list that I complied from Revelation, but gives you a good sense of the Greek/English similarities. I'm hoping from seeing this list you will also decide to make a commitment to learning these ancient and beautiful languages - particularly Hebrew as we'll all be speaking it in a few years anyway! As always, if you've read something in this commentary which you feel conflicts with sound doctrine, please let me know. Also, if you've benefited from this page, please send me a note and let me know. Greektome@Wonderful1.com.
Again, I'd like to thank the photographers, jhiker and lejun, for their photos. As I updated them, the song "Majesty" was playing on the radio. These two have brought forth God's majesty through their gift of photography. Please visit their sites by clicking on their names above, or on any photo.
Light is sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.
'width' is a duplicate attribute name. Line 1, position 36.