In the last days, instruction will go forth from Zion...
Questions and Answers VI
Here are answers to some of the questions we’ve received. Click on a title to go to a particular question and answer. Or scroll down the page to the text below. You can also check out our Subject Index and Search pages to find topics of interest. If you’d like to ask a question about the Bible, Christianity, or the Jewish Roots of the Christian faith, e-mail us at Jeff@totheends.com
Are the Ten Commandments Separate from the Law of Moses?
Q:[From a participant in our Seminar II: The Jewish Roots of Christianity:] I felt that some might have gotten, from your seminar, the idea that we Gentiles are no longer to be in obedience to the ten commandments. In fact, I was rather uncertain, myself as to just where you stood on this matter. You mentioned the law of Moses, but didn’t seem to distinguish between those temporal ordinances and the ten commandments that were written in stone by the finger of God, and were kept INSIDE the ark, while the laws of Moses were kept on the outside of the ark. I suggest that in your future seminars you make it clear that you are saying that the ten commandments are still valid for all believers today, whether Jew or Gentile. Jesus did not do away with the moral law expressed in the ten commandments, but He rather enhanced them.
[With regard to the decision of the leaders in Acts 15 to instruct Gentile believers against idols, sexual immorality, things strangled, and blood:] ...If we Gentiles are now limited to obey only those things listed in Acts 15:20, we could still murder, steal, lie, etc. We know from other Scriptures that [the ten] commandments are still to be obeyed by us. So there has to be some other explanation for only these things being mentioned here in Acts.
Let’s consider the immediate context. Some Jewish believers felt that Gentile converts should be circumcised and required to keep the ordinances and customs they had been under. So, the subject was not the validity of the ten commandments, but of circumcision. Under those rules, diet was restricted to what was kosher. So, as to diet, Gentile converts were instructed to not eat what had been offered to idols (and fornication, which was associated with idol worship and eating what was offered to idols), and from things strangled and blood.... So it was diet that was under consideration, not basic law of God that has been given to all mankind, even before Israel was a nation.... —Allen B.
A: The relationship of the Law of Moses (and the Ten Commandments) to the faith of Gentile Christians is a question that has been wrestled with through the ages. Most Gentile Christian groups have decided that, yes, we are responsible in some way to the Law of Moses, although exactly which sections of the Law and in what way has been very controversial.
One of the more popular solutions, developed in the Reformation period, was that Christians are under the moral commandments of the Law, including the Ten Commandments, although not under the ritual or ceremonial portions of the Law. This seems to be the view that you yourself have accepted. While this position does try to uphold an important truth—that Christians are responsible to the moral truths expressed in the Old Testament—its greatest weakness, and the reason it has been rejected by many, is that no one has ever been able to point out where the Bible itself divides the Law into different sections, some of which are to be obeyed, and others that may be overlooked. On the contrary, Gal. 3:10, quoting the Law, says, Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the Law, to perform them. As a result, those holding this view of partial obedience are rarely able to agree on exactly where the boundary lies between commandments we must obey and those from which we are exempt.
This view also risks appearing to put Gentile Christians under the law of Moses, something Paul and the other writers of the New Testament are very careful not to do (Acts 15:10). Gal. 3:2-3 says, Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
The presence of the Ten Commandments inside the Ark may give the impression that they were more authoritative than the rest of the Law, but this view is never stated in the Bible. On the contrary, Judaism considers these to be ten of the total number of 613 commands that make up the entirety of the Law. Rather, the Old Testament calls the two tablets the tablets of witness, written testimony to the reality of God’s entire covenant with the Jewish people. Nor does the New Testament ever isolate these ten commands from the others. The Law is always spoken of as a whole. The purpose of the Council of Acts 15 was therefore not just to decide whether Gentile Christians should obey food laws, but whether they were to be circumcised, which at the time meant conversion to Judaism and acceptance of the whole Law of Moses (including the Ten Commandments).
What was not under discussion or debate was the requirement that all who believe in Jesus—whether Jew or Gentile—follow his commandments, the Law of the Messiah (soon written down as the New Testament). This was automatically assumed to be a must for all. That’s why, when the leaders in Acts 15 decided against requiring Gentiles to obey the Law of Moses, they felt no need to include many additional moral laws in their decision. Most of the moral laws of the Old Testament are already included in—they are actually restated in—the Law of Messiah (the New Testament). Often this is with a spiritual interpretation that (as you mentioned) broadens their application. Rather than the Old and New Testaments being opposites, as many teach (Law versus Grace), the two are actually harmonious and in direct continuity with one another. Because of this harmony and unity of thought, Gentile Christians are in fact responsible to the moral precepts of the Law of Moses, even though we are not under the letter of the Law of Moses.
The decision of the leaders in Acts 15 reflects the belief of the Jewish people, and of the New Testament itself, that the Law of Moses is an exclusive covenant between God and the Jewish people. We Gentile Christians are brought to God through a different covenant—a New Covenant—with better provisions and better promises (Heb. 8:6), yet the same basic standard of holiness. Because of this common standard, by our obedience to Messiah as Gentiles we fulfill the Law of Moses. As it says in Rom. 8:4: In order that the requirement of the Law [of Moses] might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. In Messiah, we are able to fulfill—and exceed—the requirement of holiness in the Law of Moses (Matt. 5:20).
Because the Council of Acts 15 did not place Gentile Christians under the Law of Moses, some have seen it to be contradictory that certain provisions of the Law were squeezed in at the last moment (the three exceptions; Acts 15:20). But as I suggested in the seminar, the council participants did not feel they were contradicting themselves because these provisions are part of the Laws of Noah (Gen. 9), which are required of Gentiles (see our teaching on The Laws of Noah).
There is one exception to the inclusion of the Old in the New when it comes to the Ten Commandments. This is the observance of the Sabbath. Sabbath observance is not commanded in the Law of the Messiah (the New Testament). Jesus and the other Jewish Christians, as with the rabbis until today, felt this was a ritual commandment not required of the Gentiles.
I hope this clarifies our teaching and gives you a more defendable Biblical basis for your own belief, which I share, that Gentile believers are responsible to the basic moral requirements of God’s Law—but not because we are under the Law of Moses. Rather it is because we are under the Law of the Messiah, which includes in itself all the great moral precepts of the Old Covenant. Put another way, we as Gentile believers do not obey the Ten Commandments because they are written in Exodus and Deuteronomy. We obey them because they are included in our covenant with God, the New Testament.
Q: Out of curiosity, have you read anything by Batya or Angus Wooten? Have you heard of the Messianic Israel movement? —Laura B.
A: The Messianic Israel movement has several interesting and important insights into the Bible which form a part of its teaching. It correctly recognizes the importance of the Ten Tribes in Biblical theology, and that the promise of many descendants was transferred from Jacob to Ephraim in Genesis 48:19 (cmp. melo hagoyim in Gen. 48:19 with Rom. 11:25, which also mentions the fullness of the nations). There is also a sense in which the apostles understood the salvation of the Gentiles to be related to the prophecies concerning the Ten Tribes (Romans above as well as James 1:1, 1 Pet. 1:1, etc.).
In fact, I would go even further than Messianic Israel, as a result of my genealogical studies, to claim that not only Europeans and Americans (as they claim), but in fact nearly all, if not actually all the people on earth are descended at least in some small way from the Ten Tribes. This is quite easy to demonstrate on the basis of population statistics and history.
However, at this point the Messianic Israel group runs into problems. This is because the Gentiles to whom the apostles preached in the Eastern Mediterranean were just as much descendants of the Ten Tribes as anyone alive today, if not more so because of their proximity to the area where the Ten Tribes intermingled with the local population. Yet the apostles’ solution to the inclusion of these peoples in the Body of Messiah did not require them to be bound by the Law of Moses. In fact, the apostles strongly rejected the claims of the Judaizers who tried to force the Jewish law on Gentile believers. Messianic Israel revives this ancient heresy when it tells those who are Gentiles that they are under obligation to the Jewish Law. Being of partial Jewish descent does not in itself make anyone a Jew or Israelite with regard to the Law, as the Jewish rabbis themselves acknowledge.
In their conclusions about the Law of Moses, the Messianic Israel group completely disregards and negates the clear teaching of Scripture in Acts 15 and other places, as in the writings of Paul in Galatians, that non-Jewish believers are not bound by the Law of Moses (Gal. 4:9-11, 5:1-7)
The absolute distinction this group makes between Israel and Judah also does not agree with a fair reading of Scripture (see Rom. 9 and 11, for example).
Q: I understand that the pre-millennial, end of the age gathering of the saints doctrine is scriptural. The problem I have with your teaching [Neglected Issues in the Debate about the Millennium] is Zech. 14:16-19. What are your thoughts on these verses? —Joel
A: I am assuming that your question concerns the punishment of no rain, mentioned in Zech. 14, for those who do not go up to Israel for the Feast of Tabernacles during the Millennium. If there are no sinners left among the people at this time, as I claim, why would there be any need to mention this punishment? Presumably all the people would willingly want to go up to the Feast. So doesn’t this prove that there will be sinners in the Millennium?
The first thing to notice is in the preceding section, Zech. 14:12, where it says: Now this will be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the peoples who have gone to war against Jerusalem... Notice that this plague, a plague of total destruction (their flesh will rot while they stand on their feet, and their eyes will rot in their sockets...) will strike all the peoples plural (amim in Hebrew), a word that can also be translated nations. God will not simply strike the army that goes up against Jerusalem, but all the people groups that participate in the war, which as Zechariah tells us earlier will be all the nations on earth (Zech. 14:2; the believers in Jesus from both the Jews and Gentiles will have already been taken up in the resurrection at this time). In other words, Zechariah teaches that all the unbelievers on earth will be destroyed.
This is also indicated by the verse that says everyone who is left...will go up to celebrate the Feast (Zec. 14:16). In other words, all who are left will be believers. Those who claim there will be non-believers in the Millennium say they will be forced to participate in the Feast. But the Feast of Tabernacles is described in Scripture as a time of joyful worship to be celebrated by the children of God (Lev. 23, Deut. 16). Since God has never taken pleasure in insincere worship (Isa. 58, etc.), the idea that unwilling sinners will be forced to participate in the joyful worship of God goes against the nature and character of God (and of man—how could you possibly get unwilling hearts to participate in the joy of the Feast?). This opinion sounds too reminiscent of the old practice of forcing Jews into churches to hear conversionary sermons.
So why then, if all are believers, is a punishment mentioned for those that do not go up for the Feast? The verse quoted above says that everyone who is left...will go up (Zec. 14:16). In other words, the punishment will rarely, if ever, apply, because all will go up. So why then is a punishment mentioned if it will not be necessary?
The existence of a punishment for disobedience does not mean that disobedience is necessary. Rather it emphasizes that God will be exercising his sovereignty over the entire earth. The particular punishment chosen, the withholding of rain, emphasizes the connection between rain and the Feast of Tabernacles, which is essential to the Jewish understanding of the Feast. Tabernacles marks the beginning of the rainy season, the time when the Jewish prayers begin to ask for rain on a daily basis. The message here is that those who do not go up will be deprived of the blessing with which this feast was particularly associated, and which already in the time of Jesus was associated with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
The existence of a punishment for disobedience is also an important reminder that the coming Messianic kingdom will be a time of divine law and order, in which mankind will continue to have the ability to make decisions (free will), and will bear the consequences for wrong choices. It will be a time of continued learning of the things of God and growing closer to him, in preparation for the New Heavens and New Earth to come. But Zechariah also indicates that mankind will be quick to learn its lesson, since everyone...will go up.
Q: On my way home [from a To The Ends Of The Earth seminar], I came up with another of those life long questions. I realize that only God can truly judge a person’s sincerity and conviction, but if someone like Charles Manson decides on his death bed to accept God and ask for forgiveness, will he be in heaven with Mother Teresa? I have always thought the answer to this is yes, but would appreciate your professional opinion. —Lee
A: The teaching of the Bible is that all who have not come into a relationship with God through Jesus are equally dead in sin, whether their actions in this state of death strike us as harmless, helpful, or horrific (Rom. 3). The only way out is by accepting Jesus, and asking for forgiveness—a forgiveness that God has freely offered equally to all.
But also remember, God will not be mocked (Gal. 6:7). No insincere conversions will be accepted. He sees to the heart. So nobody is going to slip through that has not come to God through a genuine repentance for the deeds of the past.
Q: Recently in our Sunday School class we were taught that although we have believed that there were 120 in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost after Jesus ascension there were really only the 12 disciples (including Judas’ replacement) and Jesus’ brothers and Mary and also the other women who had been His faithful followers. Is this true? —Vernon and Dale G.
A: Acts 2 does not tell us directly who was present when the Spirit descended at the Feast of Pentecost. Acts 2:1 says only that they were all together in one place. However, this place where the Spirit descended is not referred to as the Upper Room, but rather as the house where they had gathered for the festival (Acts 2:2). This implies a larger location than the Upper Room where the apostles alone were staying (Acts 1:13). There is a tradition in Jerusalem that this house was the house of John-Mark’s mother, mentioned in Acts 12:12—a separate location from the Upper Room. Whether or not this is true, the wording clearly implies that this was a different location than the Upper Room itself, though it could potentially refer to the larger house in which the Upper Room was located, and for which it was the second floor. Though not mentioned in the text, this may be the same unspecified location where they, together with the women and Jesus’ brothers, were gathering for prayer on a regular basis (Acts 1:14). But it could just as easily have been another location nearby.
The event reported immediately before Acts 2 was a gathering of about 120 people during which a replacement for Judas was decided on (Acts 1:15-26). Here again, no location is specified. But we are given the impression that this was done intentionally before the entire believing community (the brothers in Acts. 1:15). Since no different group is mentioned at the beginning of chapter 2, the ordinary rules of grammar lead us to assume that it was this same group of about 120 who were all together in one place on the Day of Pentecost.
In support of this conclusion is the fact that this was a feast day (the Feast of Pentecost), which is considered a day of rest among the Jewish people. Since no one is working, it’s quite natural for like-minded people to get together on this day, even as Jewish believers in Jesus (Yeshua) do today in Israel. In fact, it would be difficult to imagine, so close to Jesus’ ascension ten days earlier, that the entire community of believers would not be together on this important festival day.
So to sum up: the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost was probably not in the Upper Room, though it may have taken place in the same house where the Upper Room was located. However, the Bible does imply that the whole believing community of about 120 people were there for the event.
Q: I am a student at the Baptist Seminary in... My wife, however, was raised in a Presbyterian church and insists the pastor told her that Jewish baptism was performed by taking a horn of water and pouring it on the person being baptized. Do you have any information on this?... What little Greek I have studied shows that the actual meaning of the word is to dip or immerse. This is a touchy subject with my wife. She does not see the need to be baptized since she has been sprinkled twice, once as an infant and once after her conversion. —Eric B.
A: Jewish baptism (ritual immersion in a mikveh bath) was and is until this day an immersion of the entire body in water. This is the meaning of the Greek work baptidzo (baptize) used in the New Testament: to immerse in water. Among the Jews, this immersion was used to ritually purify the body from certain kinds of uncleanness (Lev. 15). Many mikveh baths from the time of Jesus have been discovered by archeologists in Israel.
But immersion in a mikveh was also used as part of the process of conversion from paganism to Judaism. This was the source from which Christian baptism was derived—as a sign of conversion from an unregenerate state to a living relationship with God through the ministry of Messiah Jesus.
In the earliest Church, pouring water over the head was also permitted for baptism if there was not enough water available for immersion (Didache 7.3). Pouring was also allowed for those who were sick, though there was some controversy as to whether this was a valid baptism or not. Nevertheless, the description given in the Bible is of immersion of the entire body in water.
There is no truth to the story about the horn of water. Someone is confusing this with the horn of oil used in the anointing of kings (1 Sam. 16:13, 1 Kings 1:39).
The decision about whether or not to be immersed must be up to your wife. The primary purpose of Christian baptism is to make a public declaration of faith in Christ and to die to our old lives (Rom. 6). If she feels that she has done this as a believer, and is under no conviction to be immersed, I can see no reason she should be made to do so. Certainly the amount of water used is of less importance than the conviction of her heart. But should she, in studying the word, come under the conviction that she should be fully immersed, I would recommend it as an act of obedience to the Lord.
(For more on this topic, see the index category Baptism.)
Q: You mention in your...critique... on P.A. Michas [our review of The Rod of an Almond Tree in God’s Master Plan] the following: since Jesus was not killed by the Jews, but by the Romans. Please advise me the scripture in which it says it was Romans and not Temple guards [that killed Jesus]. —Tim G.
A: There are several methods of execution prescribed by Jewish Law: stoning, burning, beheading, and strangling (Sanh. 7:1). Crucifixion is not one of them. Rather, this was a method of execution used exclusively by the Romans.
That Jesus’ execution was Roman and not Jewish is specifically stated in Scripture when it tells us that he was turned over to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, for sentencing (Matt. 27:2). After this sentencing, he was led away by the soldiers of the governor, in other words, Roman soldiers (Matt. 27:27). They took him into the Praetorium (the Roman governor’s residence) and here the whole cohort, a Roman military term that refers to a battalion of 300-600 Roman soldiers, mocked him (Matt. 27:27-31). It was these same Roman soldiers who led him out to crucifixion (and after they had mocked him...they led him away to crucify him (Matt. 27:31). This included the centurion (another specifically Roman military term) who was presiding over the crucifixion, and was so awed at the events that took place, that he recognized divinity in Jesus (Matt. 27:54).
Although it’s true that the Jewish leadership turned Jesus over to the Romans for execution (Matt. 27:1-2), it was the Romans who actually killed him.
(For more information on this topic, see the index categories Crucifixion and Jesus.)
Q: I was asked this question by a co-worker that I didn’t know the answer to: Is Jesus from the bloodline of David, or God by immaculate conception? He stated that if God is the father of Jesus, then Joseph is not. And that it would not make sense for the Bible to say that the Messiah would come out of the root of Jesse or from the House of David if he had an immaculate conception. Also why does the New Testament have two different charts of lineage? —Michael K.
A: According to the Bible, Jesus was born of the supernatural union of the divine person (or personality) known as the Son of God (or Word of God) with the human seed of Mary (Luke 1:31,35; John 1:14). Joseph was not involved in this process, but later served as what we would call the step-father of Jesus.
How then is Jesus of the lineage of David? By his mother, Mary, who was also a descendant of David. The genealogy in Luke 3 is her genealogy, through her father, Eli. This is the meaning of the somewhat odd wording: Jesus being supposedly the son of Joseph (Luke 3:23). This indicates that Joseph was not Jesus’ actual father, but that Jesus’ line of male physical descent came from another source: through Eli, the next name listed in the genealogy. That Eli really was Mary’s father is confirmed by rabbinical sources (Jer. Talmud, Hagigah 77.4).*
* This is according to John Lightfoot, who includes the reference in his Horae Hebraicae et Talmudicae, first published in 1674, and more recently available as A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (1859; reprinted from the edition originally published by Oxford U. Press; Hendrickson Publishers, 1995), vol. 3, p. 55. R. Travers Herford refers to the same passage as j. Hag. 77d in his Christianity in Talmud and Midrash (London: Williams & Norgate, 1903), p. 43, but discounts the connection. The passage no longer appears in modern versions of the Talmud.
The genealogy in Matthew 1 is that of Joseph, which Jesus shared from a legal point of view as a result of what we would today call his adoption by Joseph. This is the meaning of the wording and to Jacob was born Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom [this whom is singular feminine in the original Greek, referring to Mary] was born Jesus (Matt. 1:16). The meaning is clearly that Jesus was born to Mary, and not to Joseph. Joseph’s connection was that he was the husband of Mary.
This interpretation is confirmed by comparing the wording elsewhere in this same genealogy where the mother is mentioned: And to Boaz was born Obed by Ruth (Matt. 1:5; see also Matt. 1:3,6). This formula is altered in the case of Jesus, who was not born to Joseph (as Obed was to Boaz), but rather to Mary, independent of Joseph.
The miraculous birth of Jesus (miraculous because he had no human father) is usually referred to as the Virgin Birth. This is a Biblical teaching. The Immaculate Conception, however, refers to the Roman Catholic doctrine (made official church teaching in 1854) that Mary was born without original sin. This doctrine is rejected by most Protestants, and is without Biblical support.
It sounds like your co-worker, though, may have incorrectly understood the Immaculate Conception to mean that Jesus’ embryo was miraculously placed in Mary’s womb without receiving any part of her humanity (or as we might understand it today, without using one of her ova). This false understanding completely denies the Biblical teaching that Jesus is Jewish and a descendant of David and Abraham, and undermines the reality of Jesus’ human nature and experience. The historical Christian teaching is that Jesus is both 100% human—as a real, biological son of Mary—and 100% God.
Q: I have heard you say on occasion that the pronunciation of Yhwh as Yahweh is speculative... While I am not adamant that Yahweh is THE correct pronunciation, it always bugged me when you seemed to give the scholarship behind it no credence. I have pasted below a post I read on a forum and would appreciate your comments. —Brian B.
[Here are some excerpts from the attached post:] “I would first like to deposit how ancient historical testimonies of how the Tetragrammaton was pronounced (via transcriptions into other alphabets) disagrees wholeheartedly with the suggestion that the pronunciation of the name Yhwh as ‘Yahweh’ is based on speculation.
“Historically, the Greek Iaôouêe, Iaoue/Iaouai, Iaße/Iaßai, and the French transliteration of the Coptic Yahoué lean heavily toward, ‘Yahweh’ as a historical witness... Similarly the Latin Iaue, Iabe lean heavily toward, ‘Yahweh’ also. Even more, the Samaritans were accused of knowing/using the name Yhwh in the medieval ages by the Jews (and they themselves claimed to have maintained the original pronunciation from antiquity); the medieval form the Sam. High Priest used in written discourse in Arabic as ‘Yahwe’...
“As I have become more familiar with Hebrew and had more and more time to read, study, and evaluate the wealth of material generated by scholars on this issue I have also discovered that there is as much, if not more support, for the pronunciation of the name Yhwh as ‘Yahweh’ from the Hebrew language itself...
“1. THE NORMAL VIEW: Yhwh is a verb from the Qal (ordinary) imperfect 3rd person masculine singular of the root HYH/HWH and the second view is that 2. THE CAUSATIVE VIEW: Yhwh is a verb from the Hifil (causative stem) imperfect 3rd person masculine singular of the root HWY (which is a root form related to HYH)... This view also explains the form YHW found in names (from the suffix form -yâhû, arch. YHW-/-YHW, YW-/-YW)...
“While both the Normal and Causative views arrive at the same Hebrew consonantal spelling of Yôd-Hê'-Vâv-Hê', the former has a few pronunciation options (the most supported and probable is Yahweh) while the later is said to unconditionally support the pronunciation of Yhwh as ‘Yahweh’ as being original and authentic. When this evidence is put into unison with the historical witnesses it is very clear that ‘Yahweh’ represents a historically and PROOF dependant conclusion...
“The Encyclopedia Judaica [states that]... ‘The true pronunciation of the name Yhwh was never lost. Several early Greek writers of the Christian Church testify that the Name was pronounced “YAHWEH.”’...”
A: Thanks for the interesting post. Unfortunately, the writer doesn’t give any details as to where these ancient versions of the Name in other languages exist. I have been able to track down two of them: the Christian writers Epiphanius and Theodoret cite the form Ya-be, which supports a pronunciation Yahveh rather than Yahweh (the Greek b transliterates the Hebrew v). But Epiphanius and Theodoret wrote in the 4th-5th centuries AD. The use of the Name in Israel had long fallen out of use: It was discontinued completely after the fall of the Temple in 70 AD. Their testimony must therefore be viewed as purely speculative.
For the same reason, the Samaritan reading must be rejected, reflecting as it does the influence of several hundred years of Arabic as a primary language on the Samaritans, as indicated above by the mention of the Name being written in Arabic.
Most of the other ancient readings presented (in Greek, Latin, and Coptic) support rather the pronunciation Ye-hu-ah (i.e. with three syllables, not two) and support my assertion [see previous Q&A: Is Yahweh the Name of God?] that the vav (the third letter in Yhwh) functioned neither as a w (the modern scholarly reconstruction) or v (as often in modern Hebrew) but rather as a vowel. (In Hebrew, vav can be either a consonant or a vowel, depending on the context.)
This is also the testimony of the theophoric (divine) elements found in Biblical names, such as -yahu in Eliyahu (Elijah), where the final vav functions as a u sound. It also matches the testimony of Josephus, a Jewish priest who lived in Israel for thirty-three years before the Temple was destroyed (1st cent. AD). He calls the sacred Name the four vowels (perhaps EE-EH-HU-AH, an accurate description of the pronunciation Ye-hu-ah; Wars 5.5.7 § 235). Similarly, Clement of Alexandria (1st-2nd cent. AD, in a fragment from his Catena on the Pentateuch), writes the name Iaoai, which also understands the central vav as a vowel. The same applies to the Greek papyrological discoveries, where Iaoouee is found. (For more arguments along this line, including evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls, Aramaic papyri, and Hebrew poetic structure, see George Wesley Buchanan, How God’s Name Was Pronounced, in Queries & Comments, Biblical Archaeology Review 21:2 (Mar/Apr 1995), p. 30 ff. He advocates the pronunciation Yahowah or Yahoowah.)
If in fact Yhwh is derived from some form of the verb to be (HYH or hayah; the normal view presented above), as indicated by Exo. 3:14, this creates a problem for the pronunciation Yahweh, since there is no consonantal sound equivalent to w or v in any attested form of this verb. The imperfect 3rd person masculine singular is yih-yeh. Here again, there is no indication of a consonantal w or v. The rare alternate root, HWH (havah) is pronounced yeh-hu in the imperfect 3rd person masculine singular.
Derivation from the hifil form (the causative view mentioned above), is based on a speculative verbal form that does not appear in the Bible. (The verb hayah appears only in the qal and niphal forms, havah only in the qal.) It also contradicts Exo. 3:14, which supports the normal view mentioned above.
These pronunciations, of course, follow the Masoretic vowel points added to the Hebrew Bible in the 6th cent. AD, which do not necessarily indicate how these words were pronounced much earlier. But the evidence of historical usage supports them, while the etymological reconstructions of the linguists are purely speculative and not without serious problems—as can be seen in the many conflicting proposed etymologies that can be found in any lexicon.
The claim of the Encyclopedia Judaica that the true pronunciation of the name Yhwh was never lost is unsupported in that same article (Names of God). The only evidence given is that the first syllable must be Yah, because of the short form of the Name, Yah, that appears in several places in the Bible. The several early Greek writers of the Christian church who are said to support the pronunciation Yahweh are not cited. Two of them, Epiphanius and Theodoret, as mentioned above, wrote in the 4th-5th centuries AD, and must be discounted. Clement of Alexandria, a church father writing in the 1st/2nd century, does not support a two-syllable pronunciation.
The result is that the pronunciation Yahweh remains very much speculative, and is in fact historically unsupported, unlike the reconstruction Yahveh (based on late Gentile testimony), or better yet, Ye-hu-ah or Ya-hu-ah (perhaps with an o sound in the central syllable) based on much earlier historical evidence. Or we could throw in the pronunciation preserved in the Soleb Inscription in Sudan from the 15th cent. BC, the very time of the Exodus according to the Bible: Ye-hu-ah. This has the advantage of shortening the first vowel, as would be expected in a Hebrew word of three syllables.* Any of these is at least as likely, if not much more likely than Yahweh.
* This fascinating inscription is found in a temple of Amenhotep III in Nubia (today’s Sudan) that lists one of the pharaoh’s enemies to the north as the nomads of Yehuah, a perfect description of the children of Israel in the desert in the time of Moses.
(For more on this topic, see the index category Yahweh.)
Q: ...In the issue as to whether or not one is required to do/perform works, don’t the verses in Revelation 20:12-13,15 pretty well confirm that one is in fact judged by works? Or are your works used to determine your rewards, which I’ve seen offered [as an explanation]—although that may conflict with equality in heaven? —Jack
A: The verses you mention in Rev. 20:12-15 are a description of the dead being judged, though this is a strange choice of words, for these are people who have been resurrected from the dead (Rev. 20:13), and are now alive. As a result, many commentators understand this to have a spiritual meaning: that those being judged at this time are the spiritually dead, those who have not accepted Jesus during their lives on earth. They clearly will, according to this section (Rev. 20:12), be judged on the basis of their works, since they have rejected Messiah’s offer to serve as a sacrifice for their sins.
Believers, on the other hand, will be judged at the judgment seat of the Messiah (Matt. 25:31-). Some believe this will be at the start of the Millennium, and solely to determine rewards (the typical dispensational teaching). But others, including myself, believe Matthew 25 refers to the judgment that Messiah will render when he comes on the clouds (Matt. 24:30). This judgment will concern not only rewards, but even more fundamentally, who will be raised in the first resurrection (the resurrection of the righteous; Luke 14:14) and who will not. Support for this view can be see in Luke 14:14, which says that the righteous will be rewarded at the resurrection of the righteous.
These rewards will be on the basis of works, as is clearly stated in 1 Cor. 3:8,14, Rev. 11:18, Rev. 22:12, and is implied in verses such Matt. 10:41-42 and Mark 9:41. This is also the message of Luke’s version of the parable of the talents, where one faithful servant will be set over over ten cities, and another over five cities (Luke 19:11-19).
So though there will be equality of citizenship in the Millennium, there will be different rewards according to what each one has done for the kingdom. Whether these rewards will extend into the New Heavens and the New Earth, I can’t say. But I would tend to think not, since Isaiah specifically says that the former things will be forgotten (Isa. 65:17).
But a discussion of works must also include this important, though neglected, issue: Although works cannot get you into the kingdom of heaven—only acceptance of the shed blood of Messiah Jesus can do that—works can certainly become a denial of the Lordship of Jesus, and as a result remove a person from the kingdom (They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny him, Titus 1:16; If we deny him, he also will deny us, 2 Tim. 2:12). This is the point of Paul’s use of the disobedience of the children of Israel in the desert as an example in 1 Cor. 10:1-12, and his concluding warning: Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall (see also Jude 1:5, where Paul makes the same point again). This is also Peter’s point in 2 Peter 2:20-22, It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness.
I cannot say where that dividing line is where disobedience becomes a denial of Messiah and of God. But certainly it involves in some way what the Old Testament calls the sin of the high hand (Num. 15:30). In other words, this is sin deliberately and consciously done in opposition to God’s Word, the type of sin for which no sacrifice was available in the ancient Temple. John calls it the sin that leads to death (1 John 5:16). I cannot say that every such sin can never be forgiven, for David was forgiven his adultery, and Moses his murder. But I do know that, as one early Christian put it, the unforgivable sin is (or at least certainly includes) the sin that has not been repented of.
(For more on this topic see the Q&A below. See also the index categories Judgment and Prophecy.)
Q1:[This is a follow-up to the preceding question and answer: Will We be Judged by our Works?] Did you emphasize the dead or is it my imagination?? Of course they were dead! The dead (physically dead) shall be raised, both saved/Christian and unsaved, those that are written in the book of Life (Rev. 20:15) (also I believe that John 6:40 ties this together) shall be judged by their works (Rev. 20:12) and receive their heavenly reward!! Those that are not in the book shall be judged (Rev. 20:12) and shall be cast into the pit (Rev. 20:15)...
A1: If you read Rev. 20 carefully, you will see that those being judged there are called the deadafter their resurrection. However, there is also a sense in which you are correct, that all who have ever lived will be standing before God at this time to witness the final judgment, and that only those who are righteous will stand (or be vindicated) in this judgment (Psa. 1:5, Matt. 12:41, Rom. 14:10).
But that the righteous will have already been judged before that time (if there is no preliminary judgment, how can this be called a final judgment?) can be proven from Luke 14:14, which says that the righteous will be given their reward at the resurrection of the righteous, which takes place long before the judgment of Rev. 20. Will God give out rewards to the righteous before they are judged?
That there are two resurrections is taught in 1 Thess. 4:17, which describes the resurrection of the righteous (as it is called by Jesus in Luke 14:14, see also John 5:29), a resurrection in which only the righteous (the believers), both living and dead, will be caught up to meet Jesus in the air. This is the first resurrection of Rev. 20:5. The second resurrection is that of the wicked, which will take place after the Millennium (Rev. 20:5).
Q2: ...Here is a question that is fascinating!! When one dies where does one go? Heaven, hell, Abraham’s bosom, Sheol, Purgatory, or do they just wait in the grave?? Since there are too many references to a final judgment to discount that, we are forced to eliminate heaven and/or hell (places of finality)!! As for the other three—Abraham’s bosom, Sheol, and Purgatory, are basically the same place, we just have to put a real name on it i.e. God’s Holding Bin... Lazarus obviously was not in heaven, nor was Enoch, nor any other except God/Jesus (per John 3:13)...
A2: You are right that there is a serious problem with the popular idea that heaven and hell are final or eternal resting places that one enters immediately after death. This idea of a purely spiritual eternity neglects the Biblical teaching of a physical resurrection and replaces it with pagan ideas about the afterlife. Rather, the Bible teaches that the souls of the dead are kept in temporary holding areas—either Abraham’s bosom/Paradise for the righteous or Sheol/Hades for the unrighteous—until the resurrections that will take place. That there are two of these holding areas, one for the righteous and one for the unrighteous, is clearly presented in Jesus’ parable about Lazarus and the rich man (Matt. 16:23,26).
Where exactly these two holding areas are located is difficult to say. The original Hebrew belief in Sheol placed it vaguely underground somewhere. By the time of Jesus, Sheol was understood to have two compartments (as mentioned above), one for the righteous, and one for the unrighteous. But another strain of thought was also developing in Judaism, that one or both of these compartments were up in one of the many levels of heaven. Eventually, in Christianity, one (Paradise) was located above and the other (Hades) below. How this relocation happened is not specified in the Bible, though Christian tradition asserts that it was due to Jesus himself, who preached the gospel in Sheol (according to an interpretation of 1 Peter 3:19) and took all who believed to a heavenly Paradise with him.*
* This action of Jesus is traditionally known as the Harrowing of Hell (or more accurately as the Harrowing of Hades). But this heavenly Paradise cannot be the same as the Paradise mentioned by Jesus on the cross, since he said to the thief, Today you will be with me in Paradise (Luke 23:43). Yet when he spoke with Mary Magdelene three days later, he said he had not yet ascended to the Father in heaven (John 20:17).
Personally, I don’t think it’s important where we locate these holding areas. Since they are wholly spiritual, I’m not sure what location means for such a place. The most important issue is that in Paradise/the Bosom of Abraham, believers will be in the presence of the Lord (Luke 23:43, 2 Cor. 5:8), while those in Sheol/Hades will be in a place of punishment (2 Peter 2:9), waiting for the final punishment of the lake of fire (Gehenna in Hebrew).* For believers, the blessing of the Millennium will be followed by their eternal reward in the New Heavens and New Earth.**
* Unfortunately, these two very different destinations are both translated hell in the King James Version, which has created a lot of confusion. Sheol or Hades is a purely spiritual place of waiting for the final judgment. Gehenna, however, as Jesus called it (in the original Greek of Matt. 5:22,29-30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15,33; Mark 9:43,45,47; Luke 12:5), or the lake of fire as it is called in the book of Revelation, is a physical place of eternal punishment after the resurrection.
** The New Heavens and New Earth are often inaccurately thought of simply as heaven, which neglects the clear Biblical teaching that the New Jerusalem, where we will live with God forever, will be on the New Earth; Isa. 65:17-, 2 Pet. 3:13, Rev. 21. This will be a real, physical, resurrected life, and not merely a spiritual existence somewhere in heaven.
Q:[In response to our review of The Rod of an Almond Tree in God’s Master Plan:] I would just beg to differ with you on this one point. Passover occurs on the 14th of Nisan, and the day following is the feast of Unleavened Bread which is a Sabbath because no work is done on that day. It seems clear Jesus was crucified on Thursday, the Sabbath of Unleavened Bread was Friday, the weekly Sabbath Saturday, and the resurrection on the feast of First Fruits, always a Sunday (if you agree with the Sadducees’ calculation). This gives you a clear three days [for Jesus in the tomb] with no acrobatics about how you count the days. —Char K.
A: Although the Passover lamb is killed on the 14th of Nisan (Exo. 12:6), it is eaten that night, which is already the 15th of Nisan, the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread (Exo. 12:8,11,16-18; the Jewish day ends just after sunset). This is the understanding of the Jewish people, both today and in Jesus’ day. This can be seen, for example, in the Encyclopedia Judaica article on Passover, which says that the Passover Meal is held on the 15th of Nisan. If Jesus was crucified on the 14th, as you propose, he could not have eaten the Passover with his disciples as is clearly stated in Matt. 26:17,19-20, etc. (The first day of unleavened bread of Matt. 26:17 refers to the day before the Feast of Unleavened Bread proper when, according to rabbinic ordinance, all leaven was removed from homes, and from the afternoon of which day leaven could no longer be eaten, Pes. 1:1)
The New Testament clearly states that Jesus was crucified on a Friday (the day prior to the Sabbath), when it mentions that they had to put and leave him hurriedly in the tomb because the Sabbath was about to start (Luke 23:54). While it is theoretically possible that Sabbath here refers to some other rest day, such as the first day of the feast, this is made impossible by John’s notice that this was a great (or high) Sabbath (John 19:31). This is a term that was used for a weekly Sabbath day that falls during a festival week. As a result, the day Jesus was crucified is confirmed to have been a Friday (yom shishi).
Although for Jesus to have been less than three full twenty-four hour days in the tomb may seem like acrobatics to modern Westerners, this is not a problem from the point of view of Jewish ritual law, nor for the Jewish people before whom this incredible drama was unfurled. Proof of this can be seen in the fact that no Jewish apologist ever objected to this part of the Christian testimony.
Q:[In response to our article David and Bathsheba:] Regarding the eternal fate of babies and small children, ungodly, aborted, or otherwise: I am confident that they all have a home with our Father in Heaven. I am not being presumptuous, nor do I base this on the mushy feelings of the world, but firmly on scripture. Of David and Bathsheba’s deceased firstborn, David said: I shall go to him... (2 Sam 12:23). Was David speaking of death in general, or of a future father/son reunion in Heaven? I believe it was the latter. Of what sin or broken commandment could the newborn possibly have been guilty of, since the Lord would not hold it accountable for the sins of its father?
In Neh. 8:2, Ezra read the Law to men, women, and all who could understand. Obviously older children. Why would those truly incapable of understanding (i.e. infants, small children and mentally handicapped adults) be exempt from Ezra’s reading from the Book of the Law if they were indeed accountable? In any civilized judicial system, only a sane person of an appropriate age is allowed to stand trial or testify, much less be convicted regardless of their background... ideally speaking (John 9:21).
Indeed, All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God—all who understand the difference between good and evil. Without the capability to comprehend this basic spiritual fact—regardless of evil circumstance—there can be no sin... at least no judgement or condemnation concerning it... Moreover your little ones, who you said would become a prey, and your children, who this day havenoknowledgeofgoodorevil... they shall possess [the Promised Land] (Deuteronomy 1:39).
Finally, in the New Testament, physically taking a real child into His arms as an example, Jesus told his disciples to become like little children (humility, innocence, faith, love, dependence on parents, etc.) in order to enter Heaven. I can’t possibly imagine the epitome of Christ’s respected lesson being anywhere but in Heaven with the Lord.
A: With regard to the issue of ungodly or unbelieving children: it is true that sin is not imputed (or charged against anyone, to use the apostle Paul’s language) where there is no law—or in the case of young children, no understanding of the law (Rom. 5:13). But this does not mean that they escape either sin itself or the consequence of sin, which is death. Paul specifically states that death reigned because of sin even before the giving of the Law: for until the Law was given, sin was in the world.... Nevertheless, death reigned... (Rom. 5:13-14). So therefore the reality of sin is not dependent on understanding the Law. Paul’s words mean just what they say: that all have sinned, including children, even infants in the womb (Rom. 5:12, 3:23, 3:10-12). This is the Christian doctrine of original sin: all have sinned, and therefore all need a Savior.
If this idea is rejected, as you advocate, then you must also accept that all of the adults of all time who did not hear the gospel will also be saved. In this case, it would be better not to send missionaries, since only after hearing the gospel would they incur guilt and the possibility of going to eternal judgment. Therefore Christ was wrong to send the disciples to preach in all the world, as was God the Father wrong in sending Jesus at all. As you can see, your opinion runs into considerable difficulties if we take it to its logical conclusion. Only if in fact every human being is spiritually dead in sin does the gospel message make any sense at all.
Your interpretation of David’s saying I will go to him in 2 Sam. 12:23 does not take account of the fact that in David’s day, all people were understood to go to Sheol (the underworld of the dead) at death. The idea that the souls of some of the dead go to heaven is an intertestamental development accepted into Christianity long after the time of David. In his time, David’s comment could only refer to his going to his son in death.
In the case of Ezra’s reading the Law to adults: the giving of the Law to Israel did not change the basic reality of man’s sinfulness and state of spiritual death before God. The Law was given in preparation for the gospel, to begin the process of leading men back to God, in part by convicting them of the reality of their already existing spiritual death (Gal. 3:19-22). Israel was not made right with God by the mere fact of hearing and obeying the Law (Gal. 2:16). Rather, righteousness was only ever available by faith: from the time of Abraham right down to today (Gal. 3:5-7)—not on the basis of an inherent innocence, as your argument supposes.
Deut. 1:39 makes no claim or statement that the children would be given the Promised Land because of any inherent righteousness or innocence. Rather the phrase who have no knowledge of good and evil is a descriptive phrase referring to young children (see Isa. 7:15). In the same way, Jesus’ teaching about little children was a teaching about humility, not of inherent righteousness (Matt. 18:3-4). On the contrary, Jesus taught that there is no other way to God than through himself, without which we are lost (John 14:6).
As I think you can see, this is an extremely important issue that lies at the heart of the Christian revelation. Jesus did not come simply to help us obey God’s Law better, in order to maintain an inherent or natural state of righteousness, but rather to reveal our sinful condition of spiritual death, and to raise us out of spiritual death into life.
Q: I read your Crossing of the Red Sea article. It sounds good. However, you dismiss Ron Wyatt’s proposal with scripture that you apparently did not read. Numbers 33:5-8 does not indicate that Israel only traveled three days before crossing the sea. It does indicate that after crossing, they traveled for three more days. Exodus scriptures do indeed indicate they traveled over six days and crossed the sea in the early morning of the seventh day. Their unleavened bread ran out on the seventh day. They stopped and celebrated greatly after crossing through the sea. Mr. Wyatt’s proposal fits the Biblical information better than any other I have yet read. Have you thoroughly investigated his discoveries? —J. Vereen
A: I’m sorry I cannot agree with your positive assessment of Mr. Wyatt and his discoveries, none of which have ever been confirmed by any competent archeological authority. If his discoveries are true, or even plausible, they should stand the test of independent confirmation. Not only has this never taken place, but he has not submitted crucial finds for independent examination. This cannot help but lead to serious doubts about the credibility of his claims.
Nor can I agree with your assessment of Numbers 33:5-8. The miraculous sea crossing is clearly mentioned in Num. 33:8 after three encampments: at Succoth (Num. 33:5; see Exo. 12:37), Etham (Num. 33:6; see Exo. 13:20), and before Migdol (Num. 33:7; see Exo. 14:2,9). Since the Israelites were escaping in haste, it’s hard to imagine that they remained more than one night at each of these campsites. But even if they did, this limits the distance covered before the sea crossing to three days of travel.
The same passage also indicates that though they traveled at the edge of the desert (at the edge of the wilderness, Num. 33:6), they did not penetrate into the desert itself until after the miraculous sea crossing (and passed through the midst of the sea into the wilderness, Num. 33:8). These combined facts make it impossible that Israel crossed all the deserts of the Sinai peninsula before the sea crossing took place, as Mr. Wyatt and others propose.
This same chapter of Numbers indicates that after the sea crossing they traveled not three more days as you assert, but at least ten more days before reaching Mt. Sinai (Num. 33:8-15), after which the campsites are listed for the rest of their wanderings.
I don’t see any evidence for your claim that Exodus indicates they traveled six days before the sea crossing. Rather, Exodus presents the same sequence of three campsites before the crossing found in Numbers (see references above).
Nor do I see any mention in Scripture that their bread ran out in seven days. The first mention of the lack of bread is in Exodus 16:3, which took place six weeks after their departure from Egypt (Exo. 16:1).
The mention of eating unleavened bread for seven days in Exodus refers to an annual celebration after the fact, as is indicated by the wording, in all your dwellings you will eat unleavened bread (Exo. 12:20) and unleavened bread will be eaten throughout seven days...in all your borders (Exo. 13:7). These instructions could not apply at the time of the original Exodus as they had left their dwellings behind and had no land with borders.
(For more on this subject, see the follow-up Q&A immediately below. See also the index categories Exodus and Red Sea.)
Was the Feast of Unleavened Bread Celebrated at the time of the Exodus?
Q1:[A follow-up to the previous question and answer, Ron Wyatt and the Exodus:] Exodus 12 explains the Passover ordinances, which included the eating of unleavened bread from the 14th of the month to the 21st. The eve of the 14th is the Passover, thus the 21st would be the seventh day of unleavened bread. Israel left Egypt after the Passover and carried unleavened bread with them. Exodus 12:34-35 And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders. And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses....; Exodus 12:39 And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual.
I believe that the word of Moses [mentioned in Exo. 12:35] was all the commands given in chapter 12. The feast was instituted immediately, and this unleavened bread in future feasts was specifically for remembering and experiencing some of the details of the flight from Egypt. Exodus 13:6 Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and in the seventh day shall be a feast to the Lord. Exodus 13:8 And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the Lord did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt. It is difficult to say this much more plainly!
A1: You are correct that they ate unleavened bread at the time of the Exodus, and that the Feast of Unleavened Bread was instituted as a memorial of this event. However, the reason given in the Bible for eating unleavened bread at the time of the Exodus was not to celebrate the feast, but because of the physical necessity of their circumstances: And they baked the dough...into...unleavened bread. For it had not become leavened, since they were driven out of Egypt and could not delay, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves(Exo. 12:39). If your reasoning were correct, we would expect Scripture to say, ‘And they baked the dough into unleavened bread in obedience to the word of Moses.’ But this is not the reason given for eating unleavened bread at that time.
If your view were correct, we would also expect to hear of a solemn day of rest on the seventh day of the Feast, in which no work was done (Exo. 12:16). But in fact, the day that you claim was this seventh day (in your previous e-mail) was a day of travel: first through the Sea, and then in the wilderness of Shur (Exo. 14:22, 15:22). This can hardly be called a day of solemn rest. Nor is any other day mentioned that would fit these criteria.
Your claim (as in your last e-mail) that the Feast was celebrated for seven days because their bread ran out on the seventh day is an interesting hypothesis. But unfortunately, it is not supported by any statement of Scripture. I have difficulty accepting it because of the fact that they were heading into the desert, under pursuit, and knew that they had to conserve their food as much as possible—especially for the many children among them. If I were a mother or father among them, I would be sure to stretch out that bread as long as possible. They must have been quite successful in this. Otherwise, it’s hard to imagine why they waited six weeks before complaining to Moses about their lack of bread (Exo. 16:2-4).
Q2: Israel did not camp overnight. Apparently they only stopped for brief rests and to prepare food. Exodus 13:21: And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire; to give them light; to go by day and night. Thus listed encampments do not signify numbers of days on the move.
A2: Your claim that they did not camp overnight runs counter to the reality of moving a large group of people of differing ages and physical abilities through a desert, and the actual distances involved. Nor does it match the meaning of the word chanah, which does not indicate a mere rest, but rather a settling down for the night at the close of the day. As a result, you would need to produce direct evidence from Scripture that these were merely rest stops. But such evidence is lacking.
Q3: I have for a long time had a problem with the popular proposed location of the crossing. So have most of the others that have dealt with this issue. It requires that Israel was still in Egypt when they cross and the scriptures seem to indicate that they were out of Egypt when they crossed.
A3: Your identification of the boundaries of Egypt is inaccurate for the time of Moses. The eastern boundary of Egypt, as witnessed in Egyptian documents from that time, was the line of lakes that today is the line of the Suez Canal, on the western boundary of the Sinai peninsula. Slaves who escaped past this line (as is actually documented in Egyptian records) were considered to have escaped from Egypt.
Q4: Moreover, God promised Moses that Israel would worship on the same mountain that he (Moses) saw the burning bush (Exodus 3:12). This was in Midian, in Asia. Paul says this mountain was in Asia. Galatians 4:25: For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. The Sinai Peninsula is normally included with Egypt.
A4: Neither the Old Testament nor Paul states that Mt. Sinai was in Asia, as you claim. Rather, in Gal. 4:25, Paul states that Mount Sinai was in Arabia. The boundaries of Arabia at the time were those of Nabatean Arabia, which included the Sinai peninsula. Once again, modern boundaries cannot be used to establish claims about ancient times.
The same is true of Midian, which has now been proven to extend into Sinai in the time of Moses through archeological discoveries at Timnah and elsewhere.
Q5: I am not a Ron Wyatt fan, however, his theory makes sense. The folks I have read that refute his evidence always offer nothing but negative criticisms. They do not offer any evidence of the traditional route. This traditional route has never explained why Israel crossed over the Jordan to get into Canaan, nor why they had to cross into the territory of Moab....
A5: The reason Israel had to go through Moab and then cross into Israel near Jericho is because of the very dry and barren desert around the Dead Sea, which lacks adequate fresh water springs. There is no way a large group of people with animals could survive in this desert then or now. This includes the highlands to the west of the Dead Sea, known in part as the Desert of Judea. The Dead Sea itself, of course, is undrinkable because of the high levels of salt and other minerals in it (nine times that of the ocean). The highlands of Moab on the east provide the only well-watered route through the area.
Entry into Canaan near Jericho was also a wise move from a military point of view, since this was the least defended border of Canaan. Once Jericho was defeated, there was nothing to stop the Israelites from entering the land.
Q6: I also have to ask the question, What did Mr. Wyatt wish to gain? Did he gain fame? No! Did he get rich? No! Did he attack those who criticized him? In all his accounts that I have read, he never attacks those who criticize him. Some of his opponents do attack his character, as you have also: ...none of which have ever been confirmed by any competent archeological authority.... This cannot help but lead to serious doubts about the credibility of his claims.
Moses was not competent nor creditable according to history of Egypt. The Pharaoh seriously doubted his word, and never lifted a finger to check it out. Even when evidence was demonstrated by God, Pharaoh did not believe. In fact, most people today seriously doubt the entire Bible. Competent archeological authority continues to refute Biblical references. Most competent archeological authorities believe in macroevolution.... —J. Vereen
A6: You state that I attack Ron Wyatt’s character through my statement that none of [his finds] have ever been confirmed by any competent archeological authority.... This cannot help but lead to serious doubts about the credibility of his claims. These words do not address Mr. Wyatt’s character, but rather the way in which he has presented—or rather failed to present—his discoveries (such as a wagon wheel from what he claims is one of the chariots of the Egyptians) for independent verification, and the response to his discoveries by those who are experts in the field.
There have been many, many people over the years who have come to the Holy Land and made spectacular claims of discovery. How do we evaluate whether they are true or not? The laws of evidence used in law as well as science establish methods and procedures to evaluate such claims. Mr. Wyatt’s claims have fallen short both in his presentation of the evidence and their ability to convince people with training in the field that he has a case.
You are correct that many archeological experts reject the Bible and accept evolution. But there are also Bible-believing people in the field, who have spent their lives studying the evidence from ancient times. Mr. Wyatt’s discoveries have also been rejected by them, not for personal reasons, but because his evidence does not stand the test. Truth is truth; and when someone discovers something genuine from ancient times, it is eventually proven to be true, as has happened over and over again, forcing the experts to accept more and more of the Bible as true history. But unlike these other discoveries, those made by Ron Wyatt have not passed the necessary in-depth examination.
(For more on this topic, see the index categories Exodus and Red Sea.)