Thursday, January 13, 2011

18 New Testament Misconceptions No. 2

#2 Destroying the Torah

While keeping or vindicating Torah is the true meaning of “fulfill”, let’s also look at the word “destroy.” “Destroying the Torah” is an equivalent to the English phrase to “break the law,” meaning that the broken law is not then made null and void by the criminal who went against it. For example if you are caught speeding it does not mean there are no longer any speed limits on that roadway. Technically, however, the Aramaic word Y’shua uses does not mean “destroy” at all, but rather “to loosen”, “release” or “unravel”. Here are a few verses that use this exact root:

“When therefore they were gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to let loose (d’ashrea)? Barabbas or Y’hoshua, who is called the Mashiyach?” (Matthew 27:17)

“Pilate therefore said to him (Y’hoshua), “You do not speak to me? Do you not know that I have the authority to let you loose (d’ashrikh) and I have the authority to crucify you?” (John 19:10)

“And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man might have been let loose (d’neshtarea) if he had not appealed to Caesar” (Acts 26:32).

Obviously none of these verses contains the idea of destruction! However, in Aramaic thought, destruction is a kind of unmaking, literally creation in reverse. Another way to think of this idea, then, would be to consider that we sometimes talk of divorce as “dissolving the bonds of marriage.” In the same way, YHWH’s covenant can also be undone when his people disobey Him. Once this unravelling is complete, though, it is fair to look at what has been unravelled as having been effectively destroyed, even as we realize the other, better meaning for our Western minds would be “release”. Furthermore, on the Tanakh side, there are several words that have this same meaning:

“The fountains of the great deep were released and the floodgates of the sky were opened (pathach). Shake yourself from the dust, rise up, O captive Jerusalem; Loose (pathach) yourself from the chains around your neck, O captive daughter of Zion” (Isaiah 52:2).

What makes pathach a particularly important word is its usage in Hebrew grammar. Ptaha (same word) is the term used to give an open “A” sound via a special vowel making. The Hebrew speaker is expected to open his mouth very wide as he releases the sound. Y’shua also used the Aramaic version of this word (ephatha) in Mark 7:34, as he commands that a man be released from his blindness. Either way, whether we are dealing with a sound or an infirmity. This word clearly designates the strong sensation of deep release. Therefore, to restore the original meaning of this verse in Matthew it best read:

“Do not think I have come to unravel the Torah or the Prophets. I tell you I have not come to unravel but to give proper interpretation of them” (Matthew 5:17)

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