Tag Archives: moses

Our Amazing Book of Psalms

psalm1-smThe Book of Psalms is one of the most beautiful in our bibles. In its 150 chapters, we find wisdom, comfort, hope, and a poetic appreciation of God that is nearly unique in the Hebrew Bible. It is no wonder that Jews and Christians have read and studied it for hundreds of years. After reading stories of law and prophets and of the Jewish ancestor’s struggles to accept and obey God, turning to psalms is frequently a relief and a comfort.

Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
Psalms 1:1-2

A full study of the psalms would take a lifetime, but there is much that we can say about this amazing book. Who wrote the psalms? What are they for? Scholars still debate these questions, but there is so much that we can learn about the psalms from the psalms themselves. Read on for more.

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Snow in the Bible – Part One – Leprosy and Purity

snow-in-jerusalemI made one huge mistake in my last trip to Jerusalem, in January: I didn’t bring a heavy enough coat. As an American, I tend to think of Israel as a hot place– and indeed it is much of the time.  Tel Aviv rarely gets below freezing and even in the winter the overnight lows tend to be in the forties. Jerusalem is in the mountains and tends to be a bit colder than Tel Aviv– as I found out– and it snows there with accumulations every few years. This January, Jerusalem was blanketed by nearly eight inches of powder! In the far north of Israel, on Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights, it even snows enough for a ski resort.

With my eyes opened to snow in the land of Israel, my second though turned to snow in the bible. I couldn’t remember even a single bible story that involved snow. Seeing this as a challenge, I set about to research everywhere that snow appears in the bible. And it does appear: twenty-seven times in the Hebrew Bible– most often in the Book of Job– and three more in the New Testament. While it factors directly in only one bible side-story, the way that it is used as an image or metaphor in different parts of the bible display a beautiful complexity.

This first part covers the very first mentions of snow in the Torah and how the metaphor of snow started as one of impurity ultimately transitioned to one of purity. Additional posts will follow. It’s exciting! Read on for more.

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Dead Sea Scrolls – Book of Jubilees

Did you know that there is a “lost” book of the Old Testament which reveals what God really told to Moses during his forty day sojourn on Mount Sinai? That  Jacob and Esau never really reconciled and instead went to war against each others’ tribes? That God revealed to Moses the destruction of the First Temple and the scattering of the Jews among the nations? That Adam and Eve lived in Eden for EXACTLY seven years?

No? Well, you would know this if you happened to be one of the 45 million Christians today who belong to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, one of the oldest branches of Christianity in the world. Just as Roman Catholics and Protestants believe different books of the bible to be “true”, other Christian denominations that we know less of in the United States have their own separate lists of canonical books. But more interestingly, you probably would also have known this if you happened to a member of the sect at Qumran (some say the Essenes) where this book, the Book of Jubilees (also known as the Book of Divisions) was considered part of the scripture, more than 2000 years ago.

Oh, and did I mention that God is very clear that a year is exactly 364 days and we’ve been screwing up the calendar ever since? No? Well, read on for more about this fascinating book.

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