Thursday, January 17, 2013

New or Renewed Part 3

The Greek word chosen in the LLX in Jeremiah 31:31 for "new" is a very special word. There are different words in Greek for "new." There is a different Greek word for newness, renew, to make new, renewal, to renew, new in time, and new in nature. The word in verse 31 is kainos which means new in nature. The Hebrew language describes things how they appear. The Greek language is very precise. It tries to describe things how they actually are. The use of kainos in this verse I believe to be correct. What Jeremiah is describing is new in nature. Sinai involved tablets of stone. The covenant in Jeremiah is new in nature because now it involves the heart! What do we conclude? If we are talking Hebrew, I think "renew" is more appropriate. If we are talking in Greek, kainos, i.e. new is more accurate. Interestingly enough, there is an implication of better with kainos. Remember the book of Hebrews is Greek and that might explain some of its language.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New or Renewed Covenant Part 2

The word in Jeremiah 31:31 translated as "new" or "renewed" is hadash. In the text, it is an adjective. However, in Hebrew an adjective can also serve as a predicate in a verbless clause. So while the word is an adjective, action can also be involved. The root word is composed of three consonants (remember Biblical Hebrew did not originally have vowels): Chet, Dalet, and Shin. Hebrew letters are also pictures and numbers. The word picture for Chet is fence, inner room. The word picture for Dalet is door. The word picture for Shin is teeth, i.e. to consume or destroy. When read together, the word picture for hadash can be seen as destroying the door to the inner room. According to Hebrew Honey, (a wonderful little book written by a Christian pastor Dr. Al Novak that explains more than 500 Hebrew words and it requires no training in Hebrew) hadash means, "Primarily the notion of cutting, scraping, polishing. No wonder becoming a new creature in the Lord is a moving work of the Holy Spirit." There is a work of YHVH on every follower of the Way to be scraped and cut. Our old fences or inner rooms need to be destoyed so they can be replaced with His fences and His ways. Our old inner ways must be cut out. To say that the covenant is renewed is to state that whereas the covenant at Sinai was on stone, the renewed covenant is the work of the Ruach HaKodesh on the hearts of mankind.

As stated, the root word is composed of Chet, Dalet, and Shin. It means to renew or repair. The word used in Jeremiah 31:31 is a derivative of the root word. The derivative word does not replace the root word in Hebrew. Instead, in Hebrew you look at the root word to help understand the true meaning of the derivative. From the site Judaism 101 ( the following material is offered to assist in understanding how Hebrew words are created:

1. The vast majority of words in the Hebrew language can be boiled down to a three-consonant root word that contains the essence of the word's meaning. Even if you cannot read Hebrew, you will find that you can get some insight into the meaning of the Bible by identifying the roots of words. If you see the same English word in two different places, but different Hebrew roots are used, this may indicate that there is a different shade of meaning. If the same Hebrew root is used in two different places, the words and their meanings are probably related.

2. Hebrew words are formed from roots by changing vowels and by adding a wealth of prefixes and suffixes to that root. Prefixes can be prepositions (in, on, of, to, etc.), articles (the), or other things. Suffixes can be pronouns (he, you, our, etc.), possessives ('s), or can indicate gender and number (female singular; male plural, etc.). Because of the way these prefixes and suffixes are added to the root, a single word in Hebrew might be translated into English as several words.

The essence of the derivative word translated as "new" is seen in the root word that means renew or repair. So, even if we use the word "new," we do so understanding that the "new" does not mean brand new. Instead, it means new in the sense of restoration, and in this case how something is learned, i.e. as opposed to reading the tablets of stone the Torah is placed on the heart by YHVH. For example, every 3o days we have a "New Moon." Is it really new, or the beginning of a new lunar cycle? It is important that we practice exegesis. The Liberty University web site defines exegesis as: "Proper exegesis includes using the context around the passage, comparing it with other parts of the Bible, and applying an understanding of the language and customs of the time of the writing, in an attempt to understand clearly what the original writer intended to convey." The opposite is eisegesis. Eisegesis is the interpretation of a text (as of the Bible) by reading into it one's own ideas as opposed to the original author. Exegesis draws out truth while eisgesis reads into a text. In Jeremiah 31, the author is referring to the restoration of Israel after the Babylonian exile and the reconstruction of the Temple (Jewish Study Bible Study Notes). I don't think Jeremiah has in mind something totally new. I think a fair reading would be that he believed that the new covenant would be a renewal of the Sinai covenant on the inside of the Jewish people. If that is the original author's intent, we should not stray far from it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New or Renewed Covenant

The issue presented is whether the new covenant described in the Scriptures is really "new" or "renewed." The following are several translations of Jeremiah 31:31:

1. "The time is coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. NIV

2. "The day is coming," says the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. NLT

3. "Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah...." ESV

4. Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah.... KJV

5. "See, the days are coming," declares YHVH, "when I shall make a renewed covenant with the house of Yisra'el and with the house of Yehudah...." The Scriptures

Only the Messianic Bible, The Scriptures, uses the word "renewed" in describing the covenant. Most versions translate the Hebrew word hadash as "new." The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament states as follows: "Hadash is used in the sense of 'repair' or 'rebuild' referring to cities (Isa 61:4), the temple (II Chron 24:4, 12), and the altar (II Chron 15:8). " A derivative of hadash is used in Jeremiah 31:31. That derivative is defined by the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament as: "new, new thing, fresh." While a case can may be made to translate hadash as either "new" or "renewed," I believe that renewed best captures the intent of the verse. I base my opinion on the following:

1. The covenant at Sinai was with the nation of Israel. The covenant described in Jeremiah 31 is with the house of Yisra'el and with the house of Yehudah. The same parties are involved. There are no new parties to the covenant established at Sinai. As much as Gentiles would like to think that the new covenant was established for them, the Scriptures make clear that the covenant was for the Jews alone. Remember, Yeshua said in Matthew 15:24: "He answered, 'I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.'" NIV (Emphasis Supplied) This is why it is so important that Gentile believers understand that they are grafted into the root of Israel and not the opposite (Romans 11:17-19). Messianic Gentiles do not become Jews, but they do become citizens of the commonwealth of Israel. (Eph 2:11-12: "Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called 'uncircumcised' by those who call themselves 'the circumcision' (which is done in the body by human hands) remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world." The underlined portion suggests that now that Gentile believers are a part of the covenant, that they are included as citizens in Israel as well.)

2. The covenant terms remain the same, only their location changes. At Sinai, the Torah was written on tablets of stone. Ezekiel 36 describes what will occur with the renewed covenant: "A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God." NRSV In the renewed covenant, the Torah will be placed on the hearts of mankind. However, the terms, i.e. The Torah, remain the same.

3. defines "new" as: (a) of recent origin, production, purchase, etc.; (b) having but lately come or been brought into being: a new book. of a kind now existing or appearing for the first time; novel: (c) a new concept of the universe. having but lately or but now come into knowledge: a new chemical element. (d) unfamiliar or strange (often followed by to ): ideas new to us; to visit new lands. (e) having but lately come to a place, position, status, etc.: a reception for our new minister. When one considers both covenants, "new" just doesn't seem to accurately describe what is occurring.

4. I want to be clear that I am not calling someone anti-Semitic who disagrees with me. However, it seems to me that the idea of creating a "New Covenant" serves to replace the relationship that YHVH has with His chosen people the Jews. By calling it "new" we are encouraging a disconnect with what has occurred in the past. Using the translation "renewed" connects the ministry and sacrifice of Yeshua with Sinai. I think that should be preferred.