Wednesday, May 30, 2018

There's something about Onesimus

In his letter to the Colossians, the apostle Paul mentions Tychicus and Onesimus, whom he sent to the Colossians specifically to convey information (and presumably also to deliver the letter). In his letter to Philemon, Paul discusses Onesimus and his abscondence as slave from his master and subsequently contrition, conversion and return. But as casual and friendly as all this may seem, there is something quit suspicious about the whole affair.

Most forms of early Christianity were illegal in the Roman empire (on account of them being "atheistic", that is without idols, and their objections to the obligatory worship of the state and emperor) and Paul would have been very careful with using his friends' real names. When a fugitive slave got caught he was severely punished, and by harboring a runaway, Paul himself was violating Roman law (whilst in prison). Paul would also have been very careful to not openly discuss politics, or refer to certain military events, lest he be taken for a revolutionary rather than a theologian (Acts 21:38).

Escaped slaves were punished severely and Paul would not have sent one half way through the empire carrying a self-incriminating letter.

Paul wrote Colossians and Philemon mere years before the Great Jewish Revolt would culminate into general Titus' destruction of the temple of YHWH, which in turn meant the end of Judaism as it had existed for a millennium. The magnitude of this disaster can not possibly be overstated, but what might help is to imagine that on 9/11 not just the World Trade Center was destroyed but also the heart of Washington DC, and that millions of Americans had been hanged in the streets and the rest deported to Afghanistan.

Paul saw the holocaust of 70 AD coming, and his writings largely dealt with trying to prevent it, namely by hammering on the importance of unarmed resistance and respectful dialogue. The temple was finally destroyed simply because certain Jewish factions (known as Zealots) foolishly decided to raise up arms against the Roman army. The evangelists, who wrote after the destruction, largely dealt with the question of what was to become of the Jewish mission to be a blessing to all people (Genesis 12:3).

It seems unlikely that Paul would invest his precious resources into a note that was both violently incriminating and theologically rather flimsy, and more so that this flimsy letter went viral in the early Christian world. In those days, correspondence was colossal, and it's an enigma why Paul's letter to Philemon became one of the most popular texts in human history.

The obvious answer is that we moderns have this work pegged entirely different from how the original audience viewed it.

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Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil

Was the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil bad from the start? Nah... That tree, including its fruits, was as perfect as the rest of Paradise, even 'a delight to the eyes and desiring to make wise'.

But Adam and Eve misapplied the fruits by eating them. Try eating a MacDonald's billboard and you'll get it. Also see Proverbs 3:5.

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

All Scripture is God-breathed?

The story of Jannes and Jambres is not Biblical, but fortunately ALL WRITING is God-breathed and useful for teaching.

All proof is welcome, but not if it's no proof.

To declare that the Bible is the one and only Word of God, folks most often cite 2 Timothy 3:16. There Paul seems to inform Timothy that the Bible is God-breathed, in stark contrast to other writings, which are the mere fumblings of man. What very few of these folks seem to notice is that just eight verses prior, Paul refers to the legend of Jannes and Jambres, which is wildly extra-Biblical (2 Timothy 3:16).

Let's, therefore, have a calm and composed look at the wisdoms dispensed in 2 Timothy 3:15-16:

Read on:

Monday, May 21, 2018

Fired up! The noun πυρ (pur) means fire

The noun πυρ (pur) means fire and both these words, as well as English' many "pyro-" words, stem from the widely attested Proto-Indo-European root paewr- meaning fire (and our word "pure" doesn't, in case you were wondering). Up to the age of electricity, all artificial light came from fire, and since light has since deep antiquity represented wisdom, fire represented a means to get it.

In early human cultures, fire sat literally at the center of the tribal community. It literally kept people together and at night guided wayward members back home. A tribe's central fire rendered light and warmth, but also kept wild animals at bay. People prepared their food on fire and burned their wastes in it. Later people even learned to disinfect non-combustible items (combustible and living items were disinfected with water and soap; Numbers 31:23), which aligned fire-purification with water-washing and explains the "baptism with fire" mentioned in Matthew 3:11. Later still, people learned how to extract metals from stone and how to build hotter fires to make ever stronger metals.

The hotter a people could make their fire, the stronger these people could make their tools and weapons. That correlated the quality of a people's wisdom (that is: their practical skills and understanding of science and technology) both with their chances with the forces of nature and their international clout (Daniel 3:19).

The hotness of a fire in turn correlates to energy density, that is: how much energy you can pack into a unit of space, and thus how much work you can generate. This in turn translates to a general principle that also explains human fervor, enthusiasm and powers of persuasion. In our modern age we don't build actual fires anymore, but the nation that can pack the most energy in one device (such as an A-bomb) is still king of the hill. Fortunately for all of us, the Internet has enveloped the world in a lattice of blazing fire and it's becoming increasingly difficult for evil men to vest large amounts of energy in evil things. Mankind's central fire has never been this big and this hot, and never has so much waste and accumulated garbage been so festively consumed.

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Friday, May 18, 2018

The Gospel of John in the original Greek

Always wanted to read the Gospel of John in the original Greek but you don't read Greek? Then check out our groovy free online Interlinear New Testament. The Greek words have their English translations beneath them and come with links to their respective Dictionary articles and explanations of their grammatical forms and functions:

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The curious case of the name Golgotha

Golgotha is the name of the place where Jesus was crucified. The gospels of Matthew, Mark and John mention the name Golgotha, but add that this name means κρανιον τοπος (kranion topos; meaning: place of a skull, Matthew 27:33, Mark 15:22, John 19:17). Luke merely mentions that the place was called Skull, using the same wording (Luke 23:33; by some translations interpreted as Calvary). It's obviously very important that the reader realizes that the death of Jesus occurred on The Skull, but what's with that? Every detail of the gospels was carefully chosen and nostalgia was certainly not a concern. It must mean something.

Jesus dies "at the Skull" -- what's with that?

Driven by nostalgia and super-hero worship, early Christian relic-hunters scoured Jerusalem's immediate environs in search for a place that looked like a skull, and Jerusalem's lands being quite cavernous, it didn't take them long to find one. Quite conveniently, the place they identified as the Skull happened to already be enclosed by a Venusian temple from the time of emperor Hadrian. True to form they re-declared it holy, put a fence around it and began to charge admission.

Others believed that the place called Skull was in fact a place of execution or burial, assuming that there would be skulls all over the place. But a place like that would first of all violate Jewish law and would not exist (Numbers 19:16, Deuteronomy 21:23, also see Ezekiel 39:15 and Josephus, Apion.ii-29-30, "not to let anyone lie unburied"), secondly be known by a plural epithet (skulls), and thirdly more likely be known as a place of bones rather than just of skulls. Still, the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, in which Jesus was buried, was close to where He was crucified (John 19:41), and tombs usually existed in clusters or necropoleis (Matthew 8:28, 27:52). The second century document called Epistula Apostolorum explicitly states that not the place of Jesus' crucifixion but rather the place where he was buried was called Kranion, or Skull (verse 9). But still, there seems to be very little reason to refer to an entire graveyard as Place of the Skull, then or now.

Slightly more critical Bible critics realized that the ratio between the importance of Golgotha in the gospels and the importance of Golgotha in the rest of ancient writings was thoroughly askew. Why would the evangelists emphasize a place that no one else ever mentions? They surely were not tour guides pitching an important landmark for us to visit, because if they had been, they would certainly have also told us where that place precisely was. They don't.

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Saturday, May 12, 2018

Why is there love?

Where does a phenomenon like love come from? How does the universe bring forth such a thing? Why is it such a universal thing that seems to work for all people, despite culture or position? The answer may be that the principle of self-similarity that spawned life upon matter and mind upon life, also generated the biological and mental equivalents of the four forces.

Sadly, our crude language fails to make a distinction between certain forms of love. But some older languages do. Probably the most famous poem regarding general love - called agape; which covers general appreciation and respect and is not directed at a certain individual (phileo) and is not celebrated in physical arousal (eros) - is a paragraph once entrusted to a small group of Corinthians, almost two millennia ago, and without having to subscribe to any possible religious validity of the text, we may recognize the amazing parallels between the agape described in 1 Corinthians 13 and the universal force we call gravity.

Gravity is a rather mild force on the individual-particle level. But considered on a larger scale, gravity is the force that literally runs and directs the universe. Every particle is subjected to gravity; the universe looks the way it does because of it. Gravity was the first force to break free from the Grand Unified force. As skillfully described by Kip Thorne in his book Black Holes and Time Warps, gravity was the creative force that brought forth the universe as we know it. Gravity is also the only force capable of getting so strong that all other forces fade away (in black holes). Gravity curves space and forms the very realm in which we live. It causes particles, planets, stars, even entire galaxies to seek common centers. And gravitational fields allow objects to believe that they are accelerating, while in fact they are stationary.

Now look at agape. Agape is the mild and general form of love, probably more accurately translated with 'respect' or 'kindness' and should certainly not be mistaken for the passionate feelings people may feel for a lover. Agape is the gentle baseline that carries the symphony; a foundation upon which all purposeful action is undertaken. What gravity is to the universe, agape is for the human mind; the total play of all minds combined, and that which they make. Culture, in one word. That from which all other things flow. Think about it. Culture the way we know it could not exist if we did not absolutely count on other people to behave in some way like ourselves. People obey the same traffic laws. They speak the same language and count the same currency (the Dollar, the Euro, the Yen; all faces of the same thing).

Agape makes people seek common centers, just like gravity does to the universe. Gravity also allows the universe to keep 'bank accounts of motion.' What is 'motion' in the mental realm? And what is it that moves? A material particle moves relatively to another particle when it absorbs at least one photon of energy. And energy is also the source from which all particles come. The mental equivalent of energy is knowledge in the broadest sense of the word; whatever the mind is acquainted with, no matter how deeply hidden in layers of subconsciousness. Knowledge, or awareness, is also the source - or rather cause - of the mental realm. When two particles exist side by side and only one absorbs a photon, the particles will diverge. When two minds exist 'side by side,' or in some kind of parallel state, and only one absorbs a bit of knowledge, the minds will diverge in their sense of reality. Motion in the mental realm is caused by awareness; 'motion' itself is perhaps the mental activity generally known as contemplation.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2018


The name Ζευς (Zeus) belongs to the chief deity of the Greeks, who was known to the Romans as Jupiter. The genitive of Zeus is Dios (Διος), which corresponds to an ancient Proto-Indo-European root that expressed brightness of sky and secondarily clarity of vision. From that root come the familiar words dio and deus, meaning god, divine, meaning godly, and diva, meaning deified (feminine), as well as the name of the Vedic deity Dyaus Pitra (Bright-Sky Father).

Several New Testament names derive either from the name Zeus, or from its parent root and one peculiar adjective: διοπετης (diopetes), which combines διος (dios) and either the verb πετομαι (petomai), meaning to fly, or the verb πιπτω (pipto), meaning to fall. It denotes something both divine and falling or having fallen, and appears to have been used for sacred objects that apparently had come falling out of the sky.

This word is used only once in the New Testament, namely in Acts 19:35, which reads: "the city of the Ephesians is guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of the [or: that being the] διοπετης (diopetes)." Also note the obvious similarities with the qualities of both Jesus (Colossians 1:15, John 3:13 and 6:38), satan (Luke 10:18, Revelation 12:9) and Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12).

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Sunday, May 6, 2018


The name Blastus occurs only once in the Bible. Acts 12:20 tells us how Herod Agrippa I had grown vexed about the people of Tyre and Sidon. What he was so upset about isn't told but the people of Tyre and Sidon were fearing his intervention and managed to entice Herod's chamberlain Blastus to plead for peace. During this meeting Herod met his untimely demise but what became of Blastus, the story doesn't tell.

The name Blastus is the same as the noun βλαστος (blastos), meaning shoot, bud, embryo, germ or even blossom. The phrase ο του βλαστος καιρος literally means "the season of (its) blastos" and denotes Spring.

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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Why the word Agape does NOT describe a mushy feeling but rather a measurable force

The familiar noun αγαπη (agape) is commonly translated with "love" but it's not that simple, or perhaps simpler than that. Agape does not describe a feeling, and certainly not a mushy feeling. In stead it describes a natural force that is felt in some way or form by every entity in the universe from atoms up to entire societies. Einstein once quipped that gravity is not responsible for people falling in love, but it appears that it might indeed.

In the material universe there are four natural forces. Two of these are small scale and operate only within the atomic nucleus, but the other two are large scale and those are the two forces from which all goings on in the universe derive. These two large scale forces are electromagnetism and gravity.

Electromagnetism is carried by photons and when photons are absorbed by a material particle, this particle obtains private motion, or motion relative to (usually away from) neighboring particles. This is where heat comes from. Heat is the same thing as particles going their own way, and the more energy particles privately absorb, the harder they bounce against their neighboring particles. Heating up a liquid like water causes individual water molecules to go wild, until they eventually get so excited that they jump out of the pool and become steam.

Since the universe is a giant fractal and everything complicated derives from something less complicated which is still essentially the same (this is called self-similarity), the mental equivalent of photonic absorption is getting mentally excited. The mind is constituted by what it knows, which in turn determines what it observes, which in turn determines its level of excitement. Excitement doesn't lead to more knowledge, but knowledge leads to observation, which in turn leads to the excitement of what one already knows. Excitement of what one knows sets one on a path that differs from someone who has not the identical knowledge plus excitement.

The signature autonomy of all living things comes from the private motion obtained by the absorption and conversion of photonic energy. The amount of photonic energy a particle can absorb is effectively limitless, and so is the degree of private excitement and thus the separation from other individuals. Fortunately for all particles and minds alike: absorbing energy increases one's mass and that in turn increases one's gravity.

Gravity is a force that is inherent to the mass of individual particles, and this force drives particles toward each other. On the individual scale, gravity is truly minute, and when a particle is even the least bit excited, its energy of motion totally overwhelms its gravity. But the magic of gravity is that it works collectively, and is in that regard the polar opposite of electromagnetism, which works individually.

In any widely dissipated cloud of particles, all particles go their own way due to their levels of electromagnetic excitement. But all their tiny bits of gravity work together and form a common center. The particles fly all over the place but the final sum of all their movements is a very small resultant movement toward that center. It's like playing roulette, in which nearly half of the throws end on red numbers (particle moves one way; the player wins) and nearly half of the throws end on black numbers (particle moves the other way and is back to where it started; the player loses and is back to where he or she started). But a very small amount of throws ends on the green zero. The little green zero is why the house always wins, and it's also the reason why a huge cloud of excited particles slowly contracts.

When particles interact, and this is what they do in clouds, they emit photonic energy. This energy gets picked up by particles they bounce with, which is why particles in a cloud end up having the same temperature. At the edge of the cloud this energy of motion gets beamed into space. That means that the cloud as a whole cools off. The more the particles move toward their common center, the more they cool off and the more they cool off the more they move toward their common center. If the cloud is big enough, the gravity at the core can become so incredibly strong that atomic nuclei merge. This creates heavier elements and it also turns the previously glowing cloud into a blazing star. If the star is big enough, it can ultimately become a black hole, and that's a special thing all together.

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Monday, April 30, 2018

Why we are called Abarim Publications

Abarim is the name of a mountain or mountain range in the vicinity of the Plain of Moab, just east of Israel. This mountain is so very special because Moses was given a birds-eye view of the promised land of Israel (Numbers 27:12, Deuteronomy 32:48-52). After he had seen it he was 'gathered to his people,' and he was never to enter what he had seen and towards which he had led the people for forty years of suffering and wars. The reason that Moses could not enter was that he had struck the water-giving rock at Meribah with his rod (as he was told to do before — Exodus 17:6), while he was this time told to speak to it, while holding on to his rod.

The water-giving rock is an open allusion to the Messiah (and the name of Moses' successor Joshua is the Hebrew form of the Greek name Jesus) and striking it comes very close to the way Jesus was treated before his crucifixion. The task of Moses was to verbally surrender the Law of God to humanity, and any show of physical force in this regard is both severely tempting and highly corruptive. Still, Moses, the friend of God and the embodiment of the Torah, was kept in God's ultimate esteem. When he died God Himself buried him in the valley in the land of Moab (Deuteronomy 34:6), close to Mount Abarim. Moses' body was even such a prize that none less than Michael the arch-angel and the Devil entered into a dispute over it (Jude 1:9).

We have chosen the name Abarim Publications (after Jeremiah 22:20) because we understand that neither our work, nor what we have seen, nor that we have seen, is salvific. What we do belongs to the wilderness years; no one has ever been reasoned into either the Promised Land, heaven or the New Creation.

But the Law of God is of extreme importance, and the study of it essential, even if it brings us no further than Abarim.

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Friday, April 27, 2018

How memories relate to tombs

The verb μναομαι (mnaomai) means to remember, to recollect or to be mindful (hence our English adjective "mnemonic"). It's used in the New Testament with pretty much the same nuances and applications as our English verb, from abruptly recalling something out of one's own memory (Matthew 5:23, 26:75, John 2:22), to reviewing one's memory in a controlled way (Acts 11:16, 2 Timothy 1:4, 2 Peter 3:2), to keeping continuously in one's conscious mind (1 Corinthians 11:2, Luke 24:6).

A first century tomb: not exactly a memorial but still known as one -- why?

The derived noun μνημα (mnema) denotes a memorial or monument. In the New Testament this word is used 8 times, see full concordance, and solely to describe a tomb. Since Jewish tradition didn't really sport tomb stones, this word seems to demonstrate that a slowly decaying body in a tomb was seen as something closely similar to a fixed memory in one's mind (how the English language acquired its phrase "skeleton in the closet" is not clear but it's doubtlessly a Jewish contribution; also see Ezekiel 37:1-14).

Note that the demoniac called Legion lived among these "items of remembrance" according to the Lucan evangelist (Luke 8:27), and this may indicate that this man was not only suffering from a demonic infestation, he was also living among the memories of a painful past and doubtlessly burdened by severe psychological trauma. Also note that a similar double meaning exists in the verb κατατιθημι (katatithemi), which means both to inter and to be remembered (favorably).

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Everybody knows that Jesus is the "monogenes" Son of God but what few people realize is that there are many "sons of God" mentioned in the Bible, and that the word "monogenes" is applied to three other men in the Bile and even one girl!

Read our article on this mysterious and much misunderstood word:

Saturday, April 21, 2018

How left and right became good and bad

The adjective δεξιος (dexios) means right (the opposite of left) and is used 54 times in the New Testament; see full concordance. Particularly compared to the "left," the "right" has a decidedly positive connotation. In English we use the word "right" for things that are proper and just, whereas our word "left" hails from an ancient word that means "foolish." "Left" is also the homograph of the past tense and participle of the verb to leave, which is why it's not right to be left.

The Latins called the left sinister (hence our negative English word "sinister") and the right they called dexter (hence our positive word "dexterity," and of course the name Dexter). The Hebrews associated the right both with the south and with strength and alliance (hence the name Benjamin, or Son of the Right Hand), and thus the left with the north and weakness and hostility. The word for "right" in French is the same as our English word "adroit," meaning resourceful, whereas the French word for left also means clumsy or awkward. In English a clumsy person has two left hands.

But while the curious distinction between right and left can not be denied, it's hardly a simple matter of good versus bad. In fact, the modern folkloristic distinction between right and left is rather clearly rooted in a very sensible ancient one. And it's that venerable ancient usage that is reflected in the Bible.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The gospel code

Contrary to popular inflection, the gospel of Jesus Christ is not simply just another theology, and Paul's many admonitions to obey the rules of the state (Romans 13:1-7, Titus 3:1) had nothing to do with the state's desired perpetuation but rather with a most efficiently placing of agents of the state's ultimate demise. As Socrates had explained many centuries earlier: since every governmental system has facilities to deal with foreign threats, a system can only be overthrown from within its own apparatus, and by its own members. Or in other words: a ship's rudder has to be a part of the ship (James 3:4).

The most fundamental operating principles of the gospel and those of the Roman Empire were mutually exclusive, and when Constantine "converted" the Roman state to Christianity, he merely grafted Christian terminology upon the Roman machine. After Constantine, the emperor had new clothes but he had no new heart and certainly no new way of doing things.

  • The Roman Empire was based on the idea that one man could be divine, and was to impose his rule upon the rest of humanity in order to save humanity from its own darkness and violence. The penalties were severe and everybody was scared witless. A Roman citizen was to fully obey and even worship the state and its emperor — and note that a mere 25% of Roman people were citizens; the rest were slaves. The state became a web of rules and hierarchies, committees and counsels, and it was virtually impossible for any citizen to find and dispute the source of the rules that ran this person's life (Ephesians 6:12).
  • The gospel of Jesus Christ declares every person — that's 100% of humanity — an anointed king and high priest, with no earthly superiors (Exodus 19:6, 1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 1:6). That means that every human being has a direct link to the Creator of heaven and earth, who in turn places the laws of nature (and thus of a perfect, natural human society) in every person's own heart (Romans 2:15, Hebrews 10:16). The most common command in the Bible is to have no fear (1 John 4:18). Every human being is both as free and as integrated into the biosphere as any of God's creatures (Romans 8:19-22), and wholly responsible for the purposes and effects of his or her own life.
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After Constantine, the emperor had new clothes but he had no new heart and certainly no new way of doing things.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The noun φοβος (phobos) means fear

The noun φοβος (phobos) means fear (hence our English word phobia). It comes from the verb φεβομαι (phebomai), meaning to flee in terror or be put to flight. This verb isn't used in the New Testament, and in turn stems from the Proto-Indo-European root bhegw-, meaning to run.

The issue of fear in the Bible is curious. The prohibition (fear not) is the most repeated command in the Bible, yet fear also describes man's proper and prescribed attitude toward the deity (Deuteronomy 6:13). In our article on the Hebrew equivalent of our Greek noun, namely ירא (yara'), we propose that fear is a natural reaction to the unknown and uncontrollable. Man was commanded to rule the beasts (Genesis 1:26) and God instilled the fear of man in them (Genesis 9:2), which means that if man feared beast, the natural order was reversed.

Mankind was endowed with the gift of convention (and not intelligence, as the myth dictates), which allowed him to agree with others to the point in which he could devise speech and script and other technology that would help him understand creation and be safe in it. Knowledge allowed very little to be beyond man's control and man's natural reaction to the unknown and unexpected became humor and laughter (on a physical level, laughing and screaming with fear are pretty much the same thing). This is possibly why the "son of the promise" was called Isaac, which means He Will Laugh.

Here at Abarim Publications we suspect that the term "the fear of the Lord" is a trick-phrase like "the love of money"; it consists of two mutually exclusive elements, and that's how the issue is explained. The love of money — which in addition to all confusion, is often misinterpreted as the love for money, but no, it's the love of money — is a force that works between people just like love, which causes them to exchange goods and services, just like love. But money-love is entropy based and will always seek balance without creating anything new. Real love gives without wanting anything in return and thus propels the very realm it exist in onto a whole new existence.

To a human who is fully aware and in control of the whole of creation, the only thing that remains unknown is God. By that time, man's reaction to the unknown will have evolved from a basic fight or flight reaction to a super-collective sense of adoration and great joy (Jude 1:24).

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Feet and erotica in the Bible

It's been overly reported that in Hebrew "feet" may be a euphemism for the male genitals, but that's jumping the gun a bit. Men would wear long tunics and any kind of laborious activity would require hoisting up the tunic to free one's feet (that's where the "girding of the loins" comes from; 1 Kings 18:46). The colloquial expression "covering one's feet" is the opposite of that, and describes a pose of rest. All this is on a par with keeping one's ears and eyes open during periods of activity and alertness, and covering ears and eyes during periods of slumber.

The expression "covering one's feet" is in English almost perfectly reflected in the expression "taking a load off," which also describes a pose of rest after performing labor. When judge Ehud had murdered fat king Eglon of Moab, Eglon's servants didn't dare to go into the room he lay bleeding and spilling his refuse because they figured he was "covering his feet," which in this case strongly implies that they thought he was taking a load off by taking a dump (Judges 3:24). Likewise, during one of Saul's campaigns to apprehend David, Saul went into a cave to "cover his feet," which only means that he went in there to take a load off (1 Samuel 24:3). In this case it is implied that Saul was taking a nap.

When at the end of a working day or long journey, a man came into a home — his own or someone else's — the "covering of his feet" would be preceded by the washing of them (Genesis 18:4, 1 Samuel 25:41). One would obviously not recline to dine and certainly not slide into bed with one's wife with unwashed feet, and that ties the washing of feet with taking a rest after a period of work, having diner and sleeping with one's wife. When David sent Uriah home to "wash his feet" (2 Samuel 11:8) he didn't express his concerns for Uriah's smelly feet but literally told him to go home and take a load off, implying that he would subsequently sleep with his wife Bathsheba. When Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, He also implied that He had brought them into a period of domestic rest (John 13:5), but when Mary anointed Jesus' feet with fragrant oil, she unmistakably prepared Jesus for His wedding night (John 12:3, see for more on this our article on the name Nicodemus).

Commentators usually miss the sexual connotation of Mary anointing Jesus' feet, but erroneously ascribe a sexual connotation to Ruth's dealings with Boaz (Ruth 3:1-18). Naomi told Ruth to go into Boaz' quarters after he had dined and gone to sleep (for which he had washed and covered his feet), and uncover his feet and lay herself at his feet. When Boaz woke up in the middle of the night he noticed that his feet were uncovered and a lady was sleeping at his feet.

Boaz was obviously a man of honor who not only wanted to honor the levirate law but also wanted to allow a closer relative to marry Ruth (Ruth 3:12-13). What women back in those days still knew was that no woman can catch an honorable man by putting out on the first date. If Ruth had uncovered Boaz' privates that night, he would doubtlessly have kicked her out of his tent. Now that she had uncovered his feet and lay herself at his feet, she indicated that she placed herself at Boaz' service and also respectfully asked Boaz to go to work for her. Boaz got the message, did the honorable thing and even protected her from the walk of shame (3:14). Boaz contacted Ruth's close relative and offered him his rights to Ruth (4:1), but the relative declined and demonstrated as much by removing his sandal, which is also a symbol of the foot-genre (4:7). Someone who puts a sandal on his foot indicates he's fixing for action (Exodus 12:11, Isaiah 5:27); someone who removes a sandal indicates his standing down (Exodus 3:5). When John the Baptist said he was unworthy to untie Jesus' sandal, he also indicated that he could not possibly take over Jesus' work and give Him a break (Luke 3:16).

Another much quoted reference to feet possibly euphemizing genitals is Isaiah 7:20, where Isaiah states that YHWH will use the king of Assyria as a razor with which He will shave Judah's head and "hair of the feet," which is then explained to denote pubic hair. Here at Abarim Publications we have no objection to pubic hair but see no reason to let hair of the feet denote pubic hair. It simply reads that the Lord will shave Judah head to toe, from top to bottom.

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Monday, April 9, 2018

Lucifer, pleased to meet you

Doubtlessly much to the chagrin of fans, Lucifer is not a personal name and it certainly is not the personal name of the devil.

Pleased to meet you -- hope you know my name!

The word lucifer is a common Latin word and occurs in the Old Testament in Job 11:17 (= the dawn) and Job 38:32 (= some constellation), Psalm 110:3 (= the dawn), Isaiah 14:12 (see below), and once in the New Testament, in 2 Peter 1:19 (= φωσφορος, phosphoros, the Morning Star or Venus, see below).

Of all English, German and Dutch translations of the Bible, only the King James Version and the Darby Translation mention Lucifer and that only in Isaiah 14:12. All other occurrences of the word lucifer are translated as "morning star," "shining one" or "day star" or something to that extent in all European translations over the last four centuries.

Revelation 2:28 and 22:16 also speak of the morning star, but the Latin Vulgate uses stella matutina; literally star of the morning.

The only time that Lucifer could possibly be perceived as a personal name is in Isaiah 14:12, where the Lord makes the observation: "How you have fallen from heaven, lucifer, son of the dawn!". This observation is part of a larger statement addressed to the king of Babylon (14:4), in which Babylon's fall from grace is discussed. Babylon's prior rise to grace isn't mentioned in this chapter, but is part of the general rule that everything belongs to God and whatever grows, grows because the Lord makes it grow (see for instance Isaiah 45:1-7). Hence Babylon could not have risen to prominence without the blessing of YHWH, and its fall is due to Babylon's desire for wealth and power.

A similar sentiment is recorded in the Book of Ezekiel, where the prophet speaks of the king of Tyre, "You had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty; you were in Eden, the garden of God" (Ezekiel 28:12-13). The Tyrians and the Phoenicians in general had built a highly successful empire on the basis of respect and free trade, and had achieved such great levels of skills and wisdom that Solomon had asked them to build the Temple of YHWH in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 2). Sadly, even the Phoenicians became corrupt and were wiped out by the Romans (read our article on the name Hannibal for more details).

Because the archangel Michael kicked satan out of heaven (Revelation 12:9), and satan was present in Eden (Genesis 3), there is some similarity between satan and the kings of Babylon and Tyre in the words of Isaiah and Ezekiel, but similarity is not the same as equality, and they are really three different entities.

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Friday, April 6, 2018

Is the Bible infallible?

The answer to the age old question whether the Bible is infallible depends entirely on the standard you use or the stage upon which you unfold your arguments.

Take the number pi for instance. Ask any mathematician if pi is always 3.1415... and most will say yes! But a mathematician with a slightly broader scope will calmly inform you that the value of pi will be lower than 3.1415 on a spherical surface and even continuously change on a hyperbolic surface. The value or even the constancy of pi can not be addressed if the geometry is not declared. Same with the Bible.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Cosmos, the Antichrist and the Second Law of Thermodynamics

The noun κοσμος (kosmos) means order. It probably stems from the verb κομεω (komeo), meaning to take care of or to tend, but apparently mostly in the sense of guiding young or untrained things to a properly behaving adult state. On rare occasions, the form κομεω (komeo) shows up as variant of the verb κοσμαω (kosmao), which means "to let hair grow long." In the classics this verb occurs much more frequently than one would expect in texts that don't necessarily tell of a tribe of hairstylists, which is because this verb also carries many a metaphor — to stick a feather in one's hair, to let one's hair down, to flaunt one's wicked do — or tells of plants and trees that wave in the breeze or grow into fruit-bearing maturity.

When we westerners hear the word "cosmos" we think of space, but that's because Pythagoras and later philosophers used our word to describe the universe as an orderly affair rather than a messy joint ran by whimsical deities. This was of course highly advanced, but what is not often recognized is that Pythagoras' choice of word implies that he imaged an evolving universe rather than a stead state one.

The Greek word kosmos means order and speaks of the Logos versus polytheism

In the universe entropy must always increase, which is why straight lines never stay straight for long and every neat pile of whatever will inevitably turn into a floating cloud of chaotic dust. The Creator created hyper-complex rainforests, vast systems of unpredictable stormy weather and the Second Law of Thermodynamics and deemed that good (Genesis 1:4, 1:10, 1:12, 1:18, 1:21, 1:25) and some of it even very good (1:31). Mankind came along and for some bizarre reason began to favor static straight lines and flat surfaces over the dynamic world of eternal change that God had taken such a shine to.

Rich people discovered that they could get richer by enslaving people who didn't think so. And that's how modern governments were invented. They set themselves in palaces and surrounded themselves with police and military, and proceeded to extract all natural energy from society and transmute that into things like infinity pools and Maseratis. That went a whole lot better if they knew where everybody was, which led to censuses (απογραφη, apograph), last names, addresses, postal codes — in short, societies that were organized like legions: people forced to stand still in rows and tiers whilst taking their instructions from a single boss, who is boss not because he is better at anything but because he was made boss by a bigger boss.

This idea of order is wonderful for the happy few who sit atop the heap, but not so for he heap. In the past it was often thought that natural evolution requires nothing but fortunate typo's and lots of time to progress, but today we know that diversity is the key. The more diverse a set is, the wider the span between the elements, and thus the more varied the combined result, which leads to a more diverse set of next generation sets. In order for humanity to go anywhere, all human individuals need to be free to do whatever they want — and 'all' means 'all'; your freedom can't limit someone else's freedom.

The order that's ordained by God (Isaiah 28:10) is one in which every human being is a christos or anointed king; sovereign, autonomous, wholly free and thus wholly responsible for their own actions. Any sort of tyranny that limits the freedom of people is precisely the opposite: antichristos, which is doomed to be ended by the very laws upon which the entire universe operates (Revelation 20:10).

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Saturday, March 31, 2018

Deep cries out to deep

As the deer pants for the waters so my soul longs after thee

Everybody knows about the panting deer of the opening line of Psalm 42, and many experience the sentiment that gave rise to this image. But few realize the exquisite and valiant choice of words the sons of Korah display, especially in the seventh verse.

Psalm 42 is a dance of fluidic words. Meticulously, the author breaks a continuum, evokes contrasts and has elements congrue into new onenesses.

The word for "deer" comes from a root that generally denotes a protruding or something that stands proudly and quietly ('wl; other derivations are words meaning: belly, leader, porch, ram, door post, terebinth).

Its longing or panting is penciled with the verb arag, a very unusual word that, judging from equivalents in cognate languages, rather means a bending, declining or even ascending.

Contrary to common interpretation, the image is gentle and still and charged with great tension. The deer emerges from the forest — early morning perhaps; mist in elongated blurs rests nimbly on the grass — and as it stands attention the observer feels its thirst. Slowly the animal stoops towards the flow of water below.

The author yearns to emerge from the throngs of those who challenge his trust in the One he desires. But in stead of drinking Him, he drinks his own tears, and all that pours is his own soul within him, descended, like the very water that the deer yields towards. The author's soul is depressed, like the Jordan (means Descender or Descended, follow the link below to visit our Biblical Name Vault). That is why he remembers God from the Jordanian low land, but also from the high peaks of the Hermon, and thus he creates the maximum vertical stretch possible from his local perspective. The author fills the entire leap from highest point of the earth to the lowest; the deepest depth, and cries out to the deepest depth after which he was created.

Creation began when the Spirit of God hovered over the waters, and darkness lay on the face of the deep (tehom; same word; and note that the word for 'to' is 'el, which is also the word for God). In Romans 8 we read about creation groaning and suffering anxiously from longing for the revelation of the sons of God, and we must recognize that in the private ardor of Psalm 42, the voice of the entire universe resounds, perhaps even as primary intend. But that's far from all.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Of course ancient Hebrew had vowels!

It's often said that vowels were added to ancient Hebrew by the Masoretes. This is wholly incorrect.

The oft repeated rumor has it that Biblical Hebrew has no vowels, and any now existing vowels were added later. This is incorrect. The great success of the Hebrew language lies precisely in the Hebrew invention of vowel notation. This invention was made around the time of king David (roughly 1000 BC, at the dawn of the Iron Age), and it gave ordinary people access to vast amounts of information. Prior to vowel notation, reading and writing was a magical affair for which one had to train in special priestly schools. Vowel notation allowed ordinary people to access vast vaults of information after a relatively simple education. Upon vowel notation, simply everybody could learn, share and add to what mankind knew, and this in turn led to the surge of human modernity that is still in full swing today.

Even in the Stone Age there was a highly sophisticated wisdom tradition — to give a hint: all domesticated crops such as potatoes, rice and corn, and animals such as sheep, dogs and pigs, were bred from feral ancestors in the Stone Age; folks from the Stone Age also invented metallurgy, music, painting, architecture, international trade, and pretty much everything (shy of the electric grid) that makes modern man modern — but a major problem was how to preserve data. When wisdom was shared orally, it only took an accident, battle or bout of some disease to knock out the village wizard (= wise-ard) and hence delete the village's data. The consonantal alphabet and later vowel notation not only turned every Tom, Dick and Harry into a sagely priest (hence a kingdom of priests — Exodus 19:6) it would also allow data to be preserved in a medium other than a fleshly brain.

The Hebrews understood that a happy life went hand in hand with knowledge of creation, and made science their form of worship (Psalm 19:1, Zechariah 8:23, John 4:23, Romans 1:20). They defined the deity as the Creator, who, per definition, had to exist separate from creation. But in a brilliant feat of deductive reasoning, they also surmised that between the creation that so closely followed the Creator's character and nature, and the Creator Himself, there had to be a kind of transition that was both: where Creator and creation met and were one; that "attractor" upon which the whole chaotic universe was designed to converge and would settle in (not merely the First Mover but more so the Ultimate Destiny of everything that exists).

This bottom-line from which everything that exists derives its existence, this attractor to which everything that evolves must evolve, this intermediate between the Creator and creation, this they called "the Son" (Psalm 2:12), and "the Word" (Genesis 15:1). In later Scriptures this semi-natural phenomenon famously became personified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1, 1 Timothy 2:5).

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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Eat Me, Drink Me, Taste Me, Spend Me

We humans call ourselves with some pride Homo sapiens, after the verb sapio, meaning to taste or have taste and thus to have the ability to discern between that which is tasty (i.e. nutritious) and that which isn't (Genesis 2:16-17). But although the acquisition of knowledge may come natural to us moderns, the pursuit of knowledge as a conscious collective objective is a relatively late invention (Genesis 4:26).

To be wise is to taste

People, like animals, initially counted on their physical power (Psalm 73:22, Ecclesiastes 3:18, 2 Peter 2:12, Jude 1:10) and strength in numbers (Psalm 20:7, 33:17, 2 Samuel 24), and when some proto-nerds began to see the potential benefit of connecting certain sounds to certain objects or actions, they first had to convince their tribe members of the advantages of convention itself. Even something as universally accepted as language was once a novelty, and while anatomically complete ancient humans were living their happy and fulfilled lives, few of them would have imagined that their intuitive yawps and grunts could be refined into implements of data retention. When formal language tried to emerge on the efforts of a few visionaries, it was doubtlessly met with opposition from conservatives and traditionalists, who insisted that the old ways were better and all that new stuff would surely cause cerebral flatulence.

Without a shared language, it's nearly impossible to tell whether another creature is smart — hence the recent consternation among scientists who at long last discovered that creatures such as dolphins and elephants have theory of mind, just like humans, and are therefore quite "sapient." Better yet: without a conscious sense of self and thus others, creatures can not distinguish between themselves and the rest of the group, and even though an intelligent observer may see separate bacteria, ants or penguins, the bacteria, ants and penguins only see the collective. Prior to speech, mankind could have had no clue how different from other creatures man could be, or whether an encountered Denisovan or Neanderthal was a sure foe or potential friend (see for more on this our article on the adjective αγιος (hagios), meaning holy).

The earliest appreciators of knowledge faced the same problem as the earliest linguists: how to convince the populace at large of the vast peace-making benefits of liberally collecting and thus freely sharing information about the natural world (1 Kings 4:33-34, 1 Thessalonians 5:21). If the general population then was anything like ours today, it saw the world as a hotchpotch of uncontrollable forces and no amount of effort other than wielding clubs at anything big and hairy to make any sense.

Only when proto-nerds were able to produce faster spears and hotter fires and so to demonstrate that knowledge equaled power and thus prosperity — which first required convincing people of a correlation between intent and effect, which is still difficult today — began knowledge to be appreciated. People who had knowledge were probably initially domineered by people who had physical power, but when knowledge began to be recognized as something more potent than strength or even wealth, people who had knowledge rose in social status. Knowledge became a commodity, like gold or jewelry, which in turn meant that it could both be hoarded and counterfeited. Both the secret and the lie were invented, and along came a whole new form of tyranny.

Like any currency, knowledge can be converted into a kind of fiat currency. Fiat currency is a unit of agreed upon value (a piece of paper that reads words like "I owe you 10 apples" or "angels will protect you") without an intrinsic value (actual apples or actual protection). As long as currency is redeemable for the value it represents and forgeries can be curtailed, the economy is pretty safe. But when currency is disconnected from actual value, as is the case with modern money and its forgone gold standard, it's no longer clear what actual value the currency represents simply because not all an economy's value is represented in its money.

Such dissociated fiat currency has to be "believed" in all religious meaning of the word, and subsequently controlled by a central institution (a bank or church) which can issue more of it at will. Since in such an economy such institutions are not limited by some actually limited amount of true wealth (gold in the vault, food on the table) fiat currency tends to drift increasingly further away from the tangible value it originally was designed to represent. Fiat wisdom, subsequently allows for speculative bubbles (crazy sects), rampant inflation (hence the thriving Christian Industrial Complex), and economies peopled by revered experts in fields that don't relate to the substantial world (hence the many esotericisms).

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Thursday, March 22, 2018

The important noun ημερα (emera) means day

The important noun ημερα (emera) means day, and survives in modern English in such useful words as hemeralopia (day blindness), hemerobaptist, (someone from a Jewish sect which practiced daily ritual bathing) and hemerocallis (a lily that flowers for one mere day).

Where our word comes from isn't immediately clear but the word ημι (hemi), meaning half (hence our word hemisphere) certainly jumps to mind, specifically when we remember Jesus saying that there are twelve hours in a day (John 11:9), which is obviously half of the twenty-four we moderns are used to. That's because, unlike our English word "day", the Greek word ημερα (emera) is solely reserved for the lit half of earth's solar day, and particularly the goings on of a day (Matthew 6:34, Luke 1:23, Romans 14:5). Our word ημερα (emera) is often used juxtaposed to νυξ (nux), meaning night, or the period without legitimate activity (hence our word nocturnal; Matthew 4:2), and the two are creatively combined into the word νυχθημερον (nuchthemeron), or "night 'n-day", which covers the whole twenty-four hour cycle (see below).

Rather than exclusively denoting a stretch of clock-time of fixed length, our word ημερα (emera) may in a poetic sense denote any continual period during which legitimate activity is performed without interruption. As such our word ημερα (emera) means "uninterrupted procedure" or "routine" and may be used synonymously with "trial/hearing/test" (Acts 17:31, 1 Corinthians 4:3, 3:13). Hence Jesus submitted that he had been in the temple daily, or the whole time, while the evil of darkness continued nightly, also the whole time (Luke 22:53).

On the "the day of John's public appearance to Israel" (Luke 1:80), John may have showed up first but his initial showing up was the beginning of continued public activity. The "day of slaughter" (James 5:5), likewise, may not be associated with one particular calendar day and will probably also not last precisely twelve hours, but denotes an indefinite period of uninterrupted carnage. The same goes for the "day of judgment" (Matthew 10:5), the "day of redemption" (Ephesians 4:30), the "day of wrath and revelation" (Romans 2:5), and the "day of the Lord" (Matthew 7:22, Luke 17:24, Acts 2:20, 2 Peter 3:12). Likewise the "last day", upon which all mankind resurrects, is probably not a calendar day after which the earth stops spinning, but the final procedure before the new creation can commence (John 6:39-40).

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Monday, March 19, 2018

Samson: arch-hooligan par excellence

Reubens' interpretation of Samson killing the lion

There is only one Samson in the Bible. He was the only son of the Danite Manoah of Zorah, whose miraculous conception was foretold by an angel who appeared to her (Judges 13:3). The angel told her that her son would be a Nazirite who would begin to deliver Israel from the Philistines (Judges 13:5).

Samson grew up in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol, but we know nothing of that time or when he began to display his proverbial powers. We also don't know what drove him to travel down to Philistine country (although the author states that YHWH enticed him to look for trouble — Judges 14:4), but there, in Timnah, he saw a woman he asked his parents to get for him (Judges 14:1). He and his parents travelled back to Timnah, and while on the road, he famously killed an attacking lion (Judges 14:6), and its carcass would later home a swarm of honey-producing bees (see for a surprising connection between Samson's bees and the Christmas story our Introduction to Scripture Theory).

The woman slipped through Samson's fingers due to trickery of her people, and Samson embarked on a series of wildly violent campaigns against the Philistines (which also resulted in the lynching of the woman and her father — Judges 15:6). As he took up residence in the cleft of the Rock of Etam, the Philistines retaliated by invading Judah. The men of Judah decided to hand Samson over to their enemies at Lehi, and Samson responded to that endeavor by picking up a donkey's jawbone and pummeling a thousand Philistines to death with it (Judges 15:15). To commemorate this event, he named the place Ramath-lehi and an adjacent spring he named En-hakkore.

At the end of his twenty year career as judge of Israel and Philistine-slayer, Samson took interest in a woman he saw in the Philistine stronghold of Gaza. The towns-folk of Gaza fixed to kill Samson, but in stead saw their town's gates getting hoisted up a mountain opposite Hebron (Judges 16:3). Still craving a woman, Samson went to the valley of Sorek and met Delilah.

Delilah was exceptionally gifted in the art of whining, and she drove Samson to the point of death (Judges 16:16). He finally told her that his Nazirite blessing might be compromised if his hair would be cut, which she promptly did (Judges 16:17). Powerless, Samson was delivered over to the Philistines, who blinded him and transported him to the prison in Gaza (Judges 16:21). When the Philistines brought Samson to the temple of their deity Dagon, the fallen judge prayed to the Lord, regained his strength and destroyed the temple, killing 3,000 Philistines and himself in the process (Judges 16:30).

The apostle Paul demonstrates that faith in the Lord does not always go hand in hand with elegance and subtlety when he lists Samson among the heroes of the faith (Samson in Greek is spelled Σαμψων, Sampson; Hebrews 11:32).

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Friday, March 16, 2018

Red is both the color of dawn and the name of the first human

Red is the color of dawn and the beginning of civilization

Perhaps by coincidence and perhaps not, the דום root-cluster contains roots that all seem to have to do with stillness or productivity, with a clear nod to the color red.

Red is the color of dawn and is also the first color a human baby learns to see. It seems plausible that to the Hebrews the color red signified the rudiments or principal beginnings of civilization, which of course is a mere manifestation of the beginning of a wisdom tradition, or as we would call it today, the preservation of information (in a cultural expression). That would link the beginning of wisdom to typical red items such as wine (Noah's vineyard: Genesis 9:20) and blood (hence the covenant of blood: Exodus 24:8), and since the art of understanding is metaphorized in a standing on dry land (Noah again), a partial understanding would be similar to mud and mire (in which Noah's dove couldn't find a foothold; Genesis 8:9).

A strikingly similar relationship between tranquility, muddy substances and the color red is demonstrated by the root-group חמר (hamar; see the name Homer), and perhaps even by the root group יון (ywn; see the name Javan, which is the Biblical word for Greece).

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The name Zaccheus

Only the gospel of Luke tells the familiar story of Zaccheus (Luke 19:2, 19:5 and 19:8). Zaccheus was a tax-collector of Jericho, who wanted to see Jesus but was forced to resort to climbing up a sycamore tree due to his small stature. When Jesus passed beneath the tree and saw Zaccheus, He told him to come down and invited Himself to Zaccheus' house.

The people who saw all this were disgruntled about Jesus associating with a man who collected the hated Roman taxes, but that was possibly because they benefitted from Zaccheus' operation. These Roman taxes proved later to be one of the major catalysts in provoking the Great Jewish Revolt, which culminated in the destruction of the temple of YHWH in Jerusalem (see our article on the name Annas for a discussion on these taxes and their Jewish collectors).

Zaccheus, however, exclaimed that he would give half of his possessions to the poor, and any excess he might have extorted, he would pay back fourfold. Upon hearing this, Jesus declared the man and his house saved and him a son of Abraham (Luke 19:9).

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Saturday, March 10, 2018

The noun καρπος (karpos) means fruit

What has a banana in common with a carpet?
The noun καρπος (karpos) means fruit, but has a slightly broader compass than the word fruit does in English. It derives from a very old root that also gave rise to our English words "carpet", "excerpt" and the verbal element "carp" in words such as "carpology" (the biology of fruits and seeds) and "mericarp" (a particular portion of a fruit). Our noun also resulted in the name of the abundantly fruitful fish, the carp, and corresponds to the Latin verb carpo, from whence we have the familiar aphorism carpe diem, or pluck the day.

The ultimate meaning of the word καρπος (karpos) does not appear to emphasize the mere production of fruits ex nihilo, but rather the return on an investment (namely seeds and labor). In Greek the word for wrist is also καρπος (karpos), and although it is probably a whole different word, it was probably derived from a root that means to turn around (Liddell and Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon).

In the Bible our noun καρπος (karpos) describes the fruit of trees and plants (Matthew 3:10, Luke 12:17, John 12:24) but also the harvest of a field (2 Timothy 2:6). Our word may describe the whole produce of a project such as a vineyard (Matthew 21:41) and even one's children (Luke 1:42, Acts 2:30).

Dictionaries will state that the latter usage and the following are metaphors, but that's an auto-centric mistake. Our word is an economic term that denotes the return of an endeavor: anything that comes about after an initial investment and subsequent effort (Romans 1:13, 7:4), and that includes apples, corn, children and: deeds or works (Matthew 3:8, Luke 3:8), results or effects (hence the "fruit of the Spirit": Galatians 5:22, Ephesians 5:9, but also see Romans 15:28, Hebrews 12:11 and James 3:17), and verbal praise and thanks (Hebrews 13:15). As such, in many contexts a more proper translation of our word would be "yield" (hence the "yield" of the Spirit).

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