Nazarene Space

By James Trimm

Recently the Letter to the Hebrews has come under attack in some quarters of the Hebraic Roots movement. Among those better known Messianic leaders to question the validity of the Letter to the Hebrews is Monte Judah. The following is a response to some of the things Monte Judah has said about this very important book of the Scriptures.


Monte Judah starts with a completely false premise saying:

The book [Hebrews] is really an epistle (a letter) entitled to the
Hebrews, but... the writing and logic is Greek. It was written in
Greek, quoting from Greek copies of the Scriptures, and using Greek definitions to explain and teach Hebraic things.

First of all the Book of Hebrews was originally written in Hebrew not in Greek.

Although the Greek version of the Epistle to the Hebrews has become the standard text used in Christendom, the "Church Fathers" of Christendom openly admitted that the Letter to the Hebrews had been originally written in Hebrew and was later translated into Greek.

Eusebius in the fourth century referred to a now lost writing by Clement of Alexandria written around the year 200 C.E. which Eusebius cites as follows:

In the work called Hypotyposes, to sum up
the matter briefly he [Clement of Alexandria]
has given us the abridged accounts of all
the canonical Scriptures, the Epistle to the Hebrews he
asserts was written by Paul, to the Hebrews,
in the Hebrew tongue; but that it was carefully
translated by Luke, and published among the Greeks.
(Clement of Alexandria; Hypotyposes (c. 200 CE)
referred to by Eusebius in Eccl. Hist. 6:14:2)

And Eusebius himself testified:

For as Paul had addressed the Hebrews
in the language of his country; some say
that the evangelist Luke, others that Clement,
translated the epistle.
(Eusebius (4th Cent.); Eccl. Hist. 3:38:2-3)

Finally Jerome wrote of Hebrews:

He (Paul) being a Hebrew wrote in Hebrew,
that is, his own tongue and most fluently
while things which were eloquently written
in Hebrew were more eloquently turned into Greek.
(Jerome (4th Cent.); Lives of Illustrious Men, Book V)

In 1537 Munster published Hebrew Matthew which he had obtained from the Jews (this Hebrew text was very similar to the Hebrew Matthew published in 1553 by Jean DuTillet). Twenty years later, in 1557, a second edition of Munster's Hebrew Matthew was printed, this time also containing the complete Hebrew text of the Letter to the Hebrews in an appendix. This second edition went largely unnoticed and was soon forgotten. It has since been printed in parallel columns with an English translation and is available at

It is important to note that the criticism that the Book of Hebrews has recently received has been aimed at the Greek text of Hebrews and not at the original Hebrew text of the book.


Monte Judah writes:

Let's conduct our own examination of the book of Hebrews to see if the author was "pro-Torah" using just a few clips of the writer's presentation.... He wrote that there must be changes to the Law of Moses (Heb 7:12) because the priesthood has changed from Levite to Melchizedek....let's ask some fundamental questions at this point.
These are the questions that should cause you to pause and question whether this book is consistent with the rest of the Scriptures. ... Do we believe that some of the commandments given in the Torah should be changed?

He basis this on the Greek version of Hebrews 7:12 which reads:

For the priesthood being changed,
there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
- Heb. 7:12 KJV (from the Greek)

However the word for "change/changed" here in the Hebrew is SHENISHTANA from the verb root SH-N-H (Strong's 8131) meaning "to repeat, to do a second time" thus the Hebraic Roots Version reads:

It is saying that according to which there is a repetition of the
office of the priesthood, of necessity it is saying there is a repetition of the Torah.
- Heb. 7:12 HRV

In the original Hebrew there is no indication that the Torah or any of its commandments are changed, only that they are repeated. This repetition is all part of the renewal of Torah which is a primary paradigm of the Book of Hebrews in the original Hebrew.

Monte Judah also keys in on Hebrews 7:18:

For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.
Heb. 7:18 KJV from the Greek

However the Hebrew actually reads:

To me in this there was a carrying away of the first by a weak work and by drunkeness and that which is not worthy for use.
-Heb. 7:18 HRV from the Hebrew

The Hebrew word for "carrying away" is GISTAL'KAH. Jeremiah uses a form of this same word to describe the Babylonian captivity (Jer. 29:1, 4, 16, 20, 31; 46:19; 48:7, 11; 49:3). The "carrying away" here is that of the Babylonian captivity and the curse which has come upon Israel for having failed collectively to observe Toarh as a people (see Deut. 28-29 and Lev. 26). The Torah promises that if after this curse comes upon us, we repent and turn back to Elohim as a people, he will regather us and renew the covenant with us (Deut. 30 and Jer. 31:31f). Hebrews is saying that a "carrying away" resulted from our failure to observe the Torah thus creating the need for a repetition of the Torah through a repetition of the priesthood.

Monte Judah however sees these passages of Hebrews as leading up to
a renouncing of Torah in Hebrews 8:13 where the Greek has:

In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
- Heb. 8:13 KJV from the Greek

Judah writes:

All of these statements were put forth by the writer to support hism conclusion that the Old Covenant was "obsolete," "becoming obsolete," "growing old," and "ready to disappear" (Heb 8:13).

However this is not at all what the Hebrew text of Hebrews says here. It reads:

And according to that which he said 'renewed covenant' he has
antiquated the first to that which has put on antiquity and in
coming days behold he offers that which is longed for.
- Heb. 8:13 HRV from the Hebrew

In the Hebrew text the idea here is that Israel has (by violating Torah) antiquated the Torah but that the days are coming when the the renewal of Torah that had been longed for would come.

The Hebrew word for "longed for" here is SHEY'KAMAH (Strong's 3642) meaning "to long for"; "to become pale" or "to vanish away". The Greek translator misunderstood this word as meaning "to vanish away" but in the Hebrew it clearly means that the renewal of the Torah was "longed for".


Monte Judah maintains that there are mistakes in the Book of Hebrews. One passage which he maintains is a mistake is Hebrews 9:3- 4 of which he writes:

There is a problem with this passage. ... 'And behind the second
veil, there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies,
having a golden altar of incense...' [(Heb. 9:3-4)] This part is not correct as written. The altar of incense is in the first sanctuary with the lampstand and table, not in the Holy of Holies with the Ark of the Covenant.

While it is true that the "golden alter of incense" is outside the veil, the context here is that of the Day of Atonement (as we see in Heb. 8 where the High Priest is in the Holy of Holies). On the day of atonement the High Priest would take incense from the golden alter of incense and place it in the Holy of Holies (Lev. 16:12-13) so that Hebrews, in telling us that the Holy of Holies "had" the golden alter of incense because it was being filled with incense from that alter.


Monte Judah also finds fault with Hebrews 9:19-21 saying:

His [the author of Hebrews] description sounds authoritative and precisely detailed. But it is not accurate when compared to the Scriptures he seems to be referring to. And more confusion is created in the minds of those who would take the time to review the facts. Actually, there are two events being spoken of here, not one as the writer is suggesting. The first event was when Moses came down from the mountain, recounting the Torah. The second was approximately a year later, after the tabernacle was set up at its inauguration. ... these were two different events, even though they are improperly combined by the writer, ... The writer says that Moses used the blood of calves and goats. He used water, scarlet wool, and hyssop. He sprinkled the book and the people. He goes on to say that Moses also sprinkled the tabernacle and its vessels with
blood. ... The writer of Hebrews has made a much bigger mistake here than the placement of the altar of incense in the Holy of Holies we described earlier. Moses did not use the blood of goats; he used only the blood of bulls (calves). Moses did not use water, scarlet wool, or hyssop. Moses did not sprinkle the book; he read the book to the people and he sprinkled the altar and then he sprinkled the people. ... The writer also wrote that Moses also sprinkled with blood the tabernacle when it was established. So he makes another

Now let us examine each of these "mistakes":

First Judah complains that the author of Hebrews has "improperly combined" two events. Now the passage in question begins with the phrase "For IN THE DAY which Moses wrote to the people the words of YHWH in the Torah..." (Heb. 9:1 HRV). This passage is very similar to Jer. 31:32 "...the covenant which I made with their fathers IN THE DAY that I took them by the hand to bring them out of Egypt...". By Monte Judah's logic one could also argue that Jeremiah "improperly combined" the exodus from Egypt with the giving of Torah some fifty days later. These were two separate events. The Hebrew word YOM which is normally translated "day" can also have a much broader meaning referring to periods of time other than just 24 hours. This is the case in Jer. 31:32 and it is also the case in Heb. 9:1.

Secondly Judah complains that Hebrews mentions goats being offered while Exodus only mentions bulls being offered. While it is true that the KJV and some other versions mention goats in this passage, the original text of Hebrews made no such mention of goats. The Hebrew text of Hebrews and the Aramaic Peshitta and CPA texts of
Hebrews all lack the phrase "and goats" in Heb. 9:19. The phrase is also lacking in the oldest copy of Hebrews (P46) as well as many other Greek copies ()c; K; L 181; 1241; 1739).

Monte Judah's third objection is that Exodus 24 only mentions blood,
not water, scarlet wool or hyssop. Judah seems to believe that any detail included in Hebrews that is not recorded in the Torah must be a mistake. However there are many places where the books of the "New Testament" mention details of Torah events which are lacking in the written Torah itself. For example 1Cor. 10:4 states that the rock in the wilderness followed Israel. This detail is lacking in the written Torah but is found in the Midrash (B'midbar Parshat Chukkat (Num. 20:16-2a)). 2Tim. 3:8 includes the detail of the names of Pharaoh's magicians. These names are not found in Exodus but are found in the Targum, the Talmud and the Book of Jasher. Jude 1:9 records a conflict between the angel Michael and HaSatan over the body of Moshe, while the Torah records no such conflict. Even the other books of the Tanak record details of Torah events which are not found in the written Torah. The Psalms record that Joseph was kept in fetters while imprisoned in Egypt (Ps. 105:17-18) a detail lacking in the Torah. Therefore why should it be a problem for Hebrews to include details in Torah events that are lacking in the written Torah?

In fact the Talmud records a tradition that the sprinkling with blood at Sinai was accompanied by a sprinkling of the waters of purification:

R. Johanan said to Resh Lakish: It is right according to me who
infer from the Consecration; for this agrees with what we are
taught: `On both of them [the Priests] we sprinkle throughout the seven days [water] from all the sin-offerings that were there'; but according to you who infer from Sinai, was there any sprinkling done on Sinai? — But according to your own reasoning, it would not be right either, for in the consecration [ceremony the sprinkling was done with] blood, whereas here with water? — That is no difficulty.
For R. Hiyya taught: `The water takes the place of blood', but
according to you, was there any sprinkling on Sinai? — He answered: It was a mere additional provision.
(b.Yoma 4a)

This tradition is recorded in a section of Talmud which discusses the use of these waters to purify the High Priest before the Day of Atonement
ceremony. This water was a special water which had added to it the ashes of the red heifer (see Num. 19). These were the ashes of a red heifer burned with hyssop and scarlet wool (Num. 19:6).

Moreover Josephus records a tradition that Moses sprinkled the people with the waters of purification at the funeral of Miriam:

Moses purified the people after this manner:
He brought a heifer that had never been used to the plough
or to husbandry, that was complete in all its parts, and
entirely of a red color, at a little distance from the camp, into
a place perfectly clean. This heifer was slain by the high priest,
and her blood sprinkled with his finger seven times before the
tabernacle of God; after this, the entire heifer was burnt in that
state, together with its skin and entrails; and they threw cedar-wood, and hyssop, and scarlet wool, into the midst of the fire; then a clean man gathered all her ashes together, and laid them in a place perfectly clean. When therefore any persons were defiled by a dead body, they put a little of these ashes into spring water, with hyssop, and, dipping part of these ashes in it, they sprinkled them with it, both on the third day, and on the seventh, and after that they were clean. This he enjoined them to do also when the tribes should come into their own land.
(Josephus, Antiquities, 4:4:6)

Monte Judah's fourth objection is that Exodus 24 does not mention
any sprinkling of the book.

Again we should repeat, it is not a problem for Hebrews to include
details of Torah events which are not to be found in the written Torah.

There is in fact a basis in the Hebrew to conclude that both the
people and the book were sprinkled.

The Torah says:

And Moshe took half of the blood, and put it in basins;
and half of the blood he dashed upon the alter.
And he took the book of the covenant,
and read in the hearing of the people;
and they said: 'All that YHWH has spoken will we do, and obey.'
And Moshe took the blood, and sprinkled it upon the people,
and said: 'Behold the blood of the covenant,
which YHWH has made with you in agreement with
all these words.
(Ex. 24:6-8)

The phrase translated "in agreement with all these words" may also be translated "upon all these words". Moreover the first rule of Eliezer tells us that the Hebrew particles AF, GAM and ET indicate an inclusion or amplification. The Hebrew word ET has no parallel in English (it points to the next word as a direct object) but if we were to include it in the English it would read as follows:

And Moshe took half of the blood, and put it in basins;
and half of the blood he dashed upon the alter.
And he took the book of the covenant,
and read in the hearing of the people;
and they said: 'All that YHWH has spoken will we do, and obey.'
And Moshe took ET the blood, and sprinkled it upon the people, and said: 'Behold the blood of the covenant,
which YHWH has made with you upon
all these words.
(Ex. 24:6-8)

Since the word ET indicates an inclusion, the parallel phrases "upon the alter"; "upon the people" and "upon all these words" would imply that the blood was upon all three of these.


Monte Judah writes:

...the writing and logic [of Hebrews] is Greek. It was written in
Greek, quoting from Greek copies of the Scriptures, and using Greek definitions to explain and teach Hebraic things.

Now we have already demonstrated that the Book of Hebrews was written in Hebrew and that the Greek version is only a translation from the original Hebrew.

In addition the logic of Hebrews is very Hebraic and not at all Greek. This book, more than any other, uses Jewish Hermeneutics and forms of Midrashic Exegesis to formulate its arguments.

In fact the entire Book of Hebrews is an extended Homiletic Midrash on Psalm 110. This extended midrash is made up of five sub-midrashim. Each of these midrashim are in a special form of midrash known as a proem homiletic midrash. This is a form of Midrashic exegesis which utilizes Hillel's second rule (g'zara sheva -equivalence of expressions) to tie together two passages, present a drash (exposition) and then close by quoting a third verse which also ties through a phrase and which helps summarize the results of the exegesis.

These five proem homiletic midrashim which make up the Book of
Hebrews are as follows:

(YHWH said to my Adonai, sit at my right hand. Ps. 110:1a)

A. Initial texts: (Heb. 1:5-13)(Ps. 2:7; 2Sam. 7:14; Deut. 32:46/Ps.
97:7; Ps. 104:4; Ps. 45:6, 7; Ps. 102:25-27; Ps. 110:1)

B. Exposition (1:14-2:5)

C. Second Text: (2:6-8a) (Ps. 8:4-6)

D. Exposition: (2:8b-3:6)

(until your enimies are made your footstool Ps. 110:1b)

A. Initial text:(3:7-3:11) (Ps. 95:7-11)

B. Exposition (3:12-4:3)

C. Second text (4:4) (Gen. 2:2)

D. Exposition (4:5-14)

(A priest forever after the order of Melchizadek Ps. 110:4)

A. Introductory exposition (4:14-5:5)

B. Initial text: (5:6) (Ps. 110:4)

C. Exposition (5:7-11)

D. Parenthetical (5:12-6:12)

E. Second text (6:13-14) (Gen. 22:17)

F. Exposition (6:15-7:28)

(Ps. 110:1 and Ps. 110:4 brought together)

A. Introductory exposition (8:1-7)

B. Initial text (8:8-12) (Jer. 31:31-34)

C. Exposition (8:13-9:19)

D. Second text (9:20) (Ex. 24:8)

E. Exposition (9:21-9:28)


A. Introductory exposition (10:1-4)

B. Initial text (10:5-7) (Ps. 40:6-8)

C. Exposition (10:8-14)

D. Second text (10:15-17) (Jer. 31:33-34)

E. Exposition (10:18-35)

F. Third text (10:36-38) (Hab. 2:3-4)

G. Exposition (10:39-11:40)

In this first section Paul begins his commentary on Ps. 110:1 by showing that the Messiah was exalted and therefore was first in a humbled state. Paul begins with a very complex Proem Homiletic exegesis. He begins by citing six passages (2Sam. 7:14; Deut. 32:43/Ps. 97:7/Neh. 9:6; Ps. 104:4; Ps. 45:6-7; Ps. 102:25-27 and Ps. 110:1) which he uses the fourth rule of Hillel: Binyan av mish'bey k'tuvim "Building of the father [that is a rule] from two (or more) texts" to build a rule that The Messiah is of a higher order than angels (Heb. 1:4-14). Paul then gives an exposition using the first rule of Hillel (shown below in the commentary). Next Paul links these texts to Psalms 8:4-6 with Hillel's second rule (g'zara sheva "equivelence of expresions") using the key phrases: "angels" and "the works of your hands" as well as the concepts "crowned" and "you have put all things in subjection under his feet." Paul then gives a concluding exposition.

In his second midrash Paul gives a Proem Homiletic Midrash on Psalm 95:7-11 and Gen. 2:2 in Hebrews 3:7-4:10 (using the keywords "day"; "works"; and "rest") which is launched by the phrase if we hold fast the boldness and the boasting of his hope until the end correlating it with Psalm 95:8. Using g'zara sheva (Hillel's second rule) in this Proem Homiletic Midrashic Exegesis, Paul ties God's "works" in Ps. 95:9 with his "works" in Gen. 2:2 and his "rest" in Ps. 95:11 with his rest in Gen. 2:2. Paul also ties "today" (Lit. Heb. "the day") in Ps. 95:7 with "day" Gen. 2:2. The sabbath "rest" that is yet to come is the time which Ps. 110:1 says "till I make Your enemies your footstool." In other words, Paul has made a case that the Messiah's current position is at the right hand of the throne, and that he will remain there until the time of the Millennial Kingdom. This is important because Paul wants to address the issue of what the Messiah is actually doing at the throne until the Kingdom comes.

In his third midrash Paul introduces Ps. 110:4 to his discussion. He creates another Homiletic Midrash on Ps. 110:4 (Heb. 5:6; 7:17, 21) ; Gen. 22:16-17 (Heb. 6:13-14) and Gen. 14:17-20 (Heb. 7:1-2) using the keywords "swear", "Melchizadek", "priest", and "bless."

Paul argues Melchizadek is greater than Levitical Priests because he blessed Abraham and the better always blesses the lesser (7:1, 7). Also, he argues, Abraham, who was Levi's great-grandfather (and therefore his elder) paid tithes to Melchizadek (7:1, 5, 9). Paul also indicates that both the Levites (through the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants) and Melchizadek, are priests because of Elohim's making an oath. Thus he argues that Yeshua can be a priest after the order of Melchizadek without being a Levite (7:13-15).

In his fourth midrash Paul ties the ideas of Ps. 110:1 and 110:4 together. The Priest in the Holy of Holies implies the Day of Atonement (the only time the High Priest ever enters the Holy of Holies). With the Day of Atonement ceremony as the setting (Lev. 16), Paul presents a Homiletic Midrash on Jer. 31:31-34 (Heb. 8:8-11); Ex. 24:8 (Heb. 9:20) and Is. 53:12 (Heb. 9:28) using the keywords: "sins" and "covenant." The keyword "swore" in the previous Midrash referred in Heb. 6:13-14 = Gen. 22:16-17 to the Abrahamic covenant. Paul had noted that the oath of Elohim in Ps. 110:4 also therefore implied a covenant as well (7:20-22). Since Ps. 110:1, 4 implies the Day of Atonement ceremony (since they place the priest in the throne room) and since it speaks of a time when the Messiah's enemies are made his footstool (the Kingdom), Paul keys this oath with the New Covenant of Jer. 31:31-34 in which sins are forgiven and the Kingdom is established. He cites Ex. 24:8 = Heb. 9:20 using the keyword covenant to argue that such a covenant must be sealed with blood. Citing Is. 52:12 (in Heb. 9:28) with the key word “sins", he argues that since the Messiah bears these sins it is his blood which seals the New Covenant.

In his fifth midrash Paul, having just made use of the Day of Atonement Temple ceremony, speaks out in favor of the Temple ceremonies. He does this by giving a Proem Homiletic Midrash on Ps. 40:6-8 (Heb. 10:5-9); Jer. 31:33-34(Heb. 10:16-17) and Hab. 2:3-4 (Heb. 10:37-38) using the keywords "pleasure/will"; "come"; "Law in the heart" "sin" and "[no] offering." Paul begins this midrash by quoting Ps. 40:6-8 (Heb. 10:5-10). Paul ties this passage to Jer. 31:34 (Heb. 10:16-18) based on the key words SIN and IN THEIR HEARTS (which appears in Ps. 40 but is truncated off in Paul's quote) and [no] OFFERING. Finally, Paul concludes by quoting Hab. 2:3-4 (Heb. 10:37-38) through the key words HE WHO IS COMING and HAS NO PLEASURE. I believe Paul's source here is the Aramaic of the Peshitta Tenach, for it is only here that the word "pleasure/will" is the same in Ps. 40 and Hab. 2:4 and the LXX does not agree with the wording of Hab. 2:3-4 = Heb. 10:37-38.

The context of Heb. 10 is that Paul has just discussed Yeshua in relation to the Yom Kippur ceremony in Heb. 8 thru 9. Then in Heb. 10:1-3, Paul argues that the sacrifices continue as a remembrance. Paul then opposes those who oppose the Temple and encourages Temple attendance (Heb. 10:25). The keywords tell us what Paul's subject is: The offerings, and what is and is not pleasing to Elohim. Paul argues that the end of offerings for sin in Ps. 40:6-8 and the placing of the law in the heart (Ps. 40:8) tie Psalm 40:6-8 to the New Covenant in Jer. 31:34 which has yet to occur. To Paul, Ps. 40 describes a time when sin offerings will not be offered because sin will not be remembered, all of this because Elohim does not have pleasure in sin offerings because they result from sin which he will, when the New Covenant is fully realized, forget. Thus the offerings will end with the coming of the New Covenant (Heb. 11:18 see also Heb. 8:13). Paul closes by citing Hab. 2:3-4 (giving what seems a polemic against the interpretation given in the Hab. commentary at Qumran) All of this Paul ties to the [second] coming of the Messiah and the establishing of the New Covenant.

The Blood Covenant Paradigm in Hebrews

Monte Judah writes:

By introducing the death of the one who made it into this
paragraph, the writer of Hebrews has just defined the New Covenant as being a last will and testament rather than being an agreement between God and man. But the New Covenant
described by Jeremiah (31:31-33) using the word brit is not a testament or will left by a dead person. It is an agreement,
a covenant between God and His chosen one people.
The writer has switched the meanings to make a Hebrew covenant into a Greek will and testament.

Like many others, Monte Judah has completely misunderstood Hebrews 9:16-17 and the overall paradigm of the Book of Hebrews.

Judah wrongly believes that the topic of Hebrews 9:16-17 is that of a "last will and testament". However the concept of basing inheritance on such a document is a hellenistic idea. In Jewish law inheritance is divided evenly among the sons, except for the firstborn who gets a double portion. It has nothing to do with what someone writes on a piece of paper.

Hebrews does not refer to a last will and testament, but to the inheritance rules related to the ancient Jewish custom of making a blood covenant.

When two people entered into a blood covenant they became members of each others house including heirship rights. There are two good examples of the making of such a covenant in the Tanak. The first is to be found in Gen. 31:43-54 (between Ya'akov and Lavan) and 1Sam. 18:1-4 (Between David and Jonathan). It was through his blood covenant with Jonathan that David inherited the throne of Saul. David had a covenant with Jonathan making him Jonathan's joint heir, when Saul and Jonathan died in the same battle, David inherited the throne. In the same way we have a covenant with the Son of the King, when the son of the king died, we were his joint heirs.

This inheritance is the theme of the Book of Hebrews. Paul's topic is the Blood Covenant and Inheritance. He shows that the Messiah was "made heir of all things" (1:2, 4) and the "firstborn" (1:6;12:23) (an inheritance term, see note to 12:23). He shows that the oath which made Abraham's seed the chosen people was a covenant (6:13-14), and that the oath which makes the Messiah a priest after the order of Melchizadek (7:20-22) is the renewal of the Covenant (Heb. 7:22; 8:6-13). He also shows that this is a blood covenant sealed with the Messiah's blood (Heb. 8 & 9). Paul argues that
because of this covenant relationship, we have an inheritance (9:11-22). Since we are blood covenantors with the Messiah who is heir of all things (i.e. the Kingdom (1:13; 2:5-9) we inherit with him (1:14; 2:10-18; 9:11-22; 12:23). To Paul this inheritance is the "rest" of Ps. 95:7-11 (Heb. 4:9). A rest which has not yet been entered (4:9-10), an inheritance covenant promise like that of the Abrahmic Covenant (6:13-20) but with its promise yet to be received (11:39-40).


The Book of Hebrews was written in Hebrew according to the Hebraic Paradign. In this book Paul makes use of Jewish rules of Hermeneutics in order to interpret the Hebrew Tanak as it had come down to him. This book is a most valuable writing among those of the books of the Ketuvin Netzarim (known commonly today as the “New Testament”.

-James Trimm

[All quotes from Monte Judah taken from YAVOH Vol. 11 No. 11; Nov. 2005 "The Paradigm of the Book of Hebrews"]

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Views: 57

Comment by joseph naziyr on September 3, 2010 at 9:50am
Why is this letter called "Hebrews?" That word is not even found in the letter.
Comment by James Trimm on September 3, 2010 at 11:59am
To Whom was Hebrews Addressed

This author also takes the position that the original audience of Hebrews was a group of semi-Essene, Proto-Ebionites. They may have been followers of John the Baptist. To understand the audience of the Epistle, it is important to understand the dynamics of the coalition of Essenes and Pharisees which became the Nazarenes. As George Howard has pointed out, "...there was a John the Baptist sect that existed from early times and continued perhaps for centuries." (The Gospel of Matthew according to a Primitive Hebrew Text by George Howard; 1987; p. 205; see Acts 18:5-19:7; Justin, Trypho 80; Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions 1:54:60) Such a sect still exists in Iraq today. Howard also notes, "In Shem-Tob's Hebrew Matthew John the Baptist emerges as a much more important figure than in Greek Matthew. The Greek Matthew may well represent a later corrective to the more primitive statements made about John the Baptist in Hebrew Matthew before the followers of John the Baptist were seen as a threat to trunkline Christianity." (ibid). A careful reading of the Gospels will show that John the Baptist had his own "disciples" (Jn. 1:35) who continued on as such, apart from the Yeshua movement even after John and Yeshua had died (Acts 19:1-3). The flavor of John chapter one also indicates that John did not live alone in the wilderness, but lived with a community of followers near Bethabara (Jn. 1:28) a town just eight miles from Qumran. Now one of the most important similarities between John the Baptist and his disciples, and the Qumran community is quite obviously that of geography. As mentioned, John and his disciples resided "in the wilderness" near a town just eight miles from Qumran. In fact, the caves in which the scrolls were found are just five miles from the location along the Jordan at which John was baptizing. Both the Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament use the phrase "in the wilderness" (drawn from Is. 40:3) almost as a proper noun, to describe this area. One NT passage in particular seemed a mystery until the discovery of the Scrolls. Luke 1:80 states "...the child [John the Baptist] grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the wilderness till the day of his manifestation to Israel." What would a child be doing "in the wilderness?" Could John have been raised at the Qumran community? An apocryphal tradition once circulated in the Church of the East may offer some insight. The Protevangelion of James, once read in some eastern churches, records a tradition that at the time of the slaughter of the innocents, Elizabeth took her son "and went up unto the mountains, and looked around for a place to hide him; and there was no secret place to be found. Then she groaned within herself, and said, O mountain of the L-rd, receive the mother with the child. For Elizabeth could not climb up. And instantly the mountain was divided and received them. And there appeared to them an angel (or messenger) of the L-rd, to preserve them." -Protevangelion 16:3-8

Could this tradition be preserving an ancient tradition that John and his mother were taken in through an opening in the mountains (a cave) and a "messenger of the L-rd" at Qumran took them in. This possibility is strengthened by the fact that Hugh Schonfield has shown that there are a number of parallelisms between DuTillet Hebrew Matthew and the Protevangelion, "which cannot be accidental." (An Old Hebrew Text of Matthew's Gospel by Hugh Schonfield; 1927; p. 25-30, 40). Moreover, Josephus tells us that the Essenes commonly raised other peoples' children (Josephus; 2:8:3). Thus, it would seem that John the Baptist was raised up in the Qumran community. As a Levite, and descendant of Zadok, John would have held a prominent place in the Qumran community, which favored the priesthood heirs. However, John's normal life at Qumran was interrupted when "the word of Elohim came to John... in the wilderness" (Lk. 3:2). In a rigid community where everyone had a rank and no one spoke out of turn, John's message may have gradually become unwelcome. This would explain why John and his disciples relocated near nearby Bethabara. Both Matthew and Mark tell us that John ate locusts (Mt. 3:4; Mk. 1:6). (Of course Leviticus lists these insects as kosher (Lev. 11:20-23)). Now The Dead Sea Scrolls tell us that the Qumran community also made locusts as part of their diet. In fact the Dead Sea Scrolls even tell us how they were to be cooked (Dam. Doc. xii, 11-15). Both the Qumran community, and John quoted Is. 40:3 as being a prophecy foretelling of their work (Mt. 3:3; Mk. 1:3; Lk. 3:4; Jn 1:23; Dam. Doc. viii, 12-14; ix, 20). This verse appears in most New Testaments as: The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of YHWH; make straight in the desert a highway for our Elohim." However, the contour markings in the Masoretic Text give us the understanding: The voice of one crying "In the wilderness prepare the way of YHWH; make straight in the desert a highway for our Elohim." As a result of their use of this verse, both John and the Qumran community referred to themselves as being "in the wilderness" and both the Qumran community and the early believers in Yeshua called their movement "the way".

Another strong parallel between John and the Qumran' is that of the importance given to the practice of water immersion/baptism (Heb: T'vilah). The Torah requires "washing" for "uncleanness" (Lev. 16-18) and "uncleanness" can result from sin (Lev. 18:1ff for example.) King David spoke of this practice in the Psalms (Ps. 51:2, 7). In the Qumran community this practice was given great importance (Man. Disc. iii, 4f; v, 13; Dam. Doc. x, 10-13) and it was certainly regarded as of high priority to John (Mt. 3:6, 11; Mk. 1:4-5; Lk. 3:2-3, 7; Acts 19:3-4). Both believed that water baptism was only symbolic of a greater cleansing of wickedness performed by the Holy Spirit (Man. Disc. iv, 12-13).

One final similarity between John and the Qumran community was that both stressed that the day of fiery judgement was eminently approaching. Now, having discussed the similarities between John the Baptist and the Qumran community, let us note the differences. Essenes always wore white (Josephus; 2:8:3) yet John wore camel's hair (Mt. 3:4). Secondly, the Qumram community only ate food provided by their community yet John foraged for himself (Mt. 3:4). Finally and most importantly, the Qumran community was not even a little bit evangelical. The Manual of Discipline specifically commands its adherents to "bear unremitting hatred towards all men of ill repute... to leave it to them to pursue wealth and mercenary gain... truckling to a depot." (Man. Disc. ix 21-26). But John called on these men of ill repute to "Repent, for the Kingdom of Elohim is offered." (Mt. 3:2). This new teaching must have been the "word of Elohim" which John "received in the wilderness" (Lk. 3:2) since it is later echoed by Yeshua (Mt. 4:17) and Yeshua's disciples (Mt. 10:7).

As a result of the new light shined on the NT by the Dead Sea Scrolls, we may now conclude that John the Baptist was raised in the very community which wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls. That the word of Elohim came to John, and he began teaching an evangelical message of repentance. A message which was unacceptable to the Qumran community. That message probably caused a schism which resulted in John the Baptist and his disciples relocating to Bethabara, just eight miles from Qumran. This new group became a John the Baptist sect which has continued to this very day, and which held a close relationship to the Messianic movement surrounding Yeshua. Further evidence for the Qumran/Essene element within the Nazarene movement is the surprising number of parallel phrases found only in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament (and most particularly the writings of John).

Some of these phrases include:

* "he that does truth" (Jn. 3:21 & Manual of Discipline III, 21)
* "works of Elohim" (Jn. 6:28 & Man. of Disc. IV, 4)
* "angel of Satan" (2Cor. 12:7 & Damascus Document XVI, 4)
* "B'lial" (2Cor. 6:14 & Man. of Disc. I, 16f; Dam. Doc. IV, 13; etc.)

There are also several phrases involving extended metaphors relating to light and darkness. In general this metaphor can be found in Rom. 13:12; 2Cor. 6:14; Eph. 4:17; 5:14 & Dam. Doc. IV,3.

Several specific parallel phrases appear using this extended metaphor, such as:

* "light of life" (Jn. 8:12 & Man. Disc. III, 7)
* "he that walks in darkness" (Jn. 8:12; 12:35 & Man. Disc. iii, 21)
* "sons of light" (Lk. 16:8; Jn. 12:36; 1Thes. 5:5 & Man. Disc. I, 9; II, 24)

One of the more significant parallel phrases is the phrase "living water" (Jn. 4:10 & Dam. Doc. VI, 4-5; VII, 9-VIII, 21). This metaphor later appears in Rabbinic Judaism, to describe "running water" used in T'villah (Baptism) ceremonies. In John chapter four "living water" is symbolically drawn from Jacob's well, and brings salvation and eternal life. In the Manual of Discipline "living water" is the teachings of the community and is symbolically drawn from the well of Num. 21:18 which is identified by the Scroll to be symbolic of the Law. Thus, we may conclude that in Jn. 4 Yeshua draws upon a Midrash (allegorical interpretation) which existed in his time. Another very significant term used in the Scrolls is the phrase "Holy Spirit." which is used twice in the Tanak, but is very commonly used in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament. In the Dead Sea Scrolls the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, which, like "waters of purification" cleanses man from wickedness (Manual of Discipline iv, 12-13). A function not unlike one of the functions of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament.

One very significant phrase found both in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament is "and will be called Son of the Most High," "he will be great..." and perhaps "Son of... Elohim" (Lk. 1:32, 35 & 4Q246). In fact the wording of 4Q246 is so similar to that of Lk. 1:32, 35 that prior to the release of the Scrolls many scholars hinted that 4Q246 might actually be a fragment of Luke (see Biblical Archaeological Review; April 1990 p. 24). Perhaps the most unusual parallel phrase used both in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in the New Testament is "a book sealed with seven seals" (Rev. 5:1 & 4Q550; Col. 4 line 5). This amazing fragment was first brought to my attention by Dr. James Tabor. The existence of so many common phrases both in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in the New Testament is of the utmost importance. These terms show a clear Essene/Qumran influence on the New Testament.

Despite the clear evidence for Essene influence in the Nazarene movement, it must be noted that the actual teachings of Yeshua were much more in line with the Pharisees and particularly with the School of Hillel. In Mt. 23:1-3 Yeshua gives a limited endorsement of the Pharisees and in Matthew 12:11-12 Yeshua uses a Kal V'chomer argument (see below under Hermeneutics) to side with the Pharisaic position against a halacha found at Qumran (Dam. Doc. col. 11 lines 9-14). Moreover Paul, a ring leader of the Nazarenes (Acts 24:5), was of a Pharisaic background (Acts 26:5; Phil. 3:5), had been a student of Gamilel (grandson of Hillel)(Acts 22:3), and considered himself as a Pharisee (Acts 23:6).

In the Nazarene movement then, there was a coalition of Essenic and Pharisaic elements. Yeshua was able to hold such a coalition together because he had been endorsed by John, but also taught much in line with the pharisaic School of Hillel. Upon Yeshua's death it seems that Ya'akov HaTzadik (James the Just) also was able to hold the coalition together. According to the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius, Ya'akov HaTzadik was very popular with all of the Jewish people and was drawing more and more people into the movement because of his popularity. He was, according to Eusebius, who is quoting from the Nazarene historian Hegesippus, called Zaddik and Ozleem. Fearing that everyone might soon join his movement, certain Priests (Sadducees?) and Pharisees conspired to kill him at the Temple (Ecc. Hist. 2:23). After the death of Ya'akov in 63 C.E. the Nazarene movement lost steam. That same year Paul made one last attempt at presenting the Kingdom to Israel (Acts. 28:17, 23) upon the rejection of his message (Acts 28:24-27) he began concentrating on his "olive tree" work (Acts 28:28 = Rom. 11:11). Then in 70 C.E. with the destruction of the Temple, the Ebionites first appeared as a destinct sect (Epiphanius Panarion 30).

It has long been recognized that there are many ties between the Ebionites and Essenes. Both groups considered themselves the "poor ones" and both repudiated the Temple sacrifices.

Now, those to whom Paul wrote Hebrews were seen by Paul as "partakers of a heavenly calling" but who need to "consider the... high priest of our confession, Messiah Yeshua." (3:1). They were in danger of casting away their confidence (10:35) and needed endurance (10:36). They had been persecuted (10:32-34; 12:4) and were in need of "exhortation" (13:22).

Several of the points in Hebrews point to the fact that when Paul wrote this Epistle to the Hebrews he had these semi-Essene/proto-Ebionite elements in mind. To begin with, Paul opens the Epistle by showing that the Messiah is greater than angels. This is significant because the Essenes and Ebionites both had a high angelology. Moreover, the Ebionites held to a low Christology, while Paul argues in Heb. 1 for a very high Christology.

Paul goes on to present Yeshua as a priestly Messiah after the order of Melchizadek and gives an argument as to how one from the tribe of Judah could be in every way a priest. This is very significant because the Qumran community were anticipating two Messiahs, a priestly Messiah from the Aaronic line, and a Kingly Messiah from the Davidic line. It is also likely that some from the John the Baptist sect may have seen John as the Priestly Messiah from the Aaronic line, and Yeshua as the Kingly Messiah of the Davidic line. Paul centers his argument strategicaly around Melchizadek, who was both a priest and a king. The Qumran community believed in a coming Melchizadek figure who would help Israel receive their inheritance and whose work is tied to the Day of Atonement. Moreover, the Qumran community identified this Melchizadek figure as EL, ELOHIM and as YHWH. Paul makes all of the same identifications with Yeshua.

Both the Essenes and the Ebionites repudiated the Temple ceremonies. The Essenes argued that the priesthood of the Temple were corrupt and refused to participate in the sacrificial offerings as a result. Ebionites maintained that Yeshua had come to abolish the sacrifices. Paul argues in favor of the Temple sacrifices apparently giving an alternate explanation of Ps. 40:6-8 which was likely an Essene and Ebionite proof text. Paul's Midrash on Psalm 40:6-8 ties in with two other passages of importance to the Qumran community: Jer. 31:31-34 and Hab. 2:3-4. The Qumran community believed that their community had become partakers of the New Covenant of Jer. 31:31-34. In Hebrews, Paul cites this passage as part of his midrash on Ps. 40:6-8 and argues that the New Covenant will not occur until the Messiah comes [again].

The Qumran community also used Hab. 2:3-4 as a proof text. They saw the "faith" (or as I translate: "trust") in this passage as being faith in the Teacher of Righteousness who had founded their sect. In Hebrews, Paul applies the same text to trust in Elohim and in the Messiah.

In Hebrews, Paul twice cites Ps. 2:7 in reference to the Messiah. Paul seems to tie this verse to the idea of Messiah as priest. This passage is also applied to Yeshua in the Ebionite version of the Goodnews according to the Hebrews in the account of Yeshua's immersion by John the Baptist. This is significant for two reasons. This immersion took place when Yeshua was approximately thirty years old, the same age at which priests were immersed as part of their initiation into the priesthood. It is also significant that the Ebionites used this story to argue for a low Christology. They argued that Yeshua was a man who was entered into by the Spirit of Messiah at that time. In Hebrews chapter one Paul uses this verse in a chain of references to argue for a high Christology. Paul in Hebrews also cites 2Sam. 7:14 as a Messianic prophecy. While Rabbinic Jewish documents never cite this text as a messianic prophecy, the Dead Sea Scrolls do use this verse as a messianic prophecy. Paul did not sign the Epistle to the Hebrews because his signature would add only negative weight to the proto-Ebionite audience he hoped to reach. Paul was a Pharisee but his target audience were of the rival Essene background. Moreover, in later years the Ebionites would repudiate Paul's writings altogether.

Date and Occasion

This author contends that the occasion for the writing of Hebrews was the martyrdom of Ya'akov HaTzadik (James the Just) in 63 C.E. This view is supported by the fact that in 63 C.E. Paul was in bonds (10:34) in Italy (13:24) (Acts 28). Moreover Paul's audience in 63 C.E. at the martyrdom of their leader Ya'akov HaTzadik, could have viewed themselves as oppressed (10:32-34; 12:4) and been in need of Exhortation (13:22), endurance and confidence (10:35-36). Beginning in the days of John the Baptist a message about the Kingdom was being proclaimed. As we read in Luke:

The Torah and the prophets were until John. Since that time the Kingdom of Elohim is proclaimed, and everyone to it is violent.

Luke 16:16 a literal translation from the Aramaic of the Old Syriac Version.

and in Matthew:

Only from the days of John the Baptist until now, The Kingdom of Heaven is constricted, and the forceful plunder

Mt. 11:12 a literal transliteration from the Hebrew of the DuTillet version

But this Kingdom proclamation was being rejected (Mt. 11:16-19) and treated with violence. The Kingdom of Heaven is of course the same as the Kingdom of Elohim. In the first Century the word for "Heaven" was often substituted for the word for "Elohim" so as not to make over abundant use of the word for Elohim (YHWH). The phrase "Kingdom of Elohim" or "Kingdom of YHWH" was a Tanak euphemism for "Kingdom of Israel" (1Chron. 28:5; 2Chron. 13:8). Now John the baptist had been proclaiming "repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is offered."(Mt. 3:2) While the Greek text reads "near" the Semitic word wich appears in the Hebrew and Aramaic texts is "karava" which can mean "a near thing" or "an offered thing." After his immersion Yeshua began making the same proclamation (Mt. 4:17), and later sent his emissaries out with it also (Mt. 10). After the Messiah's death the Kingdom offer continued to be presented (Acts 3:19-21). Under the leadership of Ya'akov HaTzadik (James the Just) this Kingdom offer was gathering steam, Ya'akov was very popular with all of the people. Then in 63 C.E. certain Priests (Saducees?) and Phaisees conspired and killed him at the Temple hopeing to end this rapid progress of Ya'akov's movement (Eusebius; Eccl. Hist. 2:23). As a result the Kingdom offer lost steam in 63 C.E. That same year Paul made apparant the end of the Kingdom offer in favor of the "olive tree" era (Acts 28:17, 23-28; Rom. 11:11).

Now there was great anticipation of the Kingdom at this time. The "weeks of years" prophecy of Dan. 9:24-27 had been completed and it was expected that before the next seven year sabbath cycle began, in 63 C.E., the Kingdom would be established. However when the movement lost steam that same year and the Kingdom offer ended the Jewish believers were greatly discouraged and the coalition began to deteriorate. This is the occasion of Paul's epistle to the Hebrews.


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