Friday, June 10, 2011


Ya’akov (James) stated he was writing to Jews who were scattered “among the people,” a key divergence from “nations.” He addresses Jews who were and are living among, and as Gentiles. In every culture including Jewish, there is distinction made between the people (Israel) and the peoples (everyone else). In this case the phrase b’ammeh literally means “in/among peoples” with the “b” proclitic having these prepositional meanings attached to ammeh. When we say “nation” in English, we envision a fixed place with borders and limits set by treaty and legal convention. While there are surely “peoples” living in these locations for long periods of time, we do not consider the nation dissolved if many were to pack up and leave. By contrast, James is writing to Jews of the dispersion, and his intent is clearly to pull them out from their national ties and have them return to their tribal/ethnic ones.

The reason we can be certain of this has to do with the second term: “For if there come into your assembly a man with rings of gold or splendid garments, and there come in a poor man in sordid garments” (James 2:2). Most of the time when Paul, Peter or other Renewed Covenant writers address a group of believers, they use the term eidta, the Greek equivalent is ekklisia which refers to a body of people. This term is closest to the Hebrew term adat, usually “congregation” in English (Exodus 12:3), which is indicative of a general gathering of believers.

However, in spite of its Hebrew counterpart having strong usage in Tanakh, the fact of the matter is that adat/eidta or ekklesia is a later concept that immerges in the letters of Paul and others in the Renewed Covenant. A more primitive and direct word is knooshta which James uses, usually translated as “assembly”; it is also the word from which the Israeli Cabinet, or Knesset (assembly) is derived. Knooshta is the original word from which the Greek word synagogue was derived. Ya’akov then is not only writing from his Beit Knesset (synagogue), but is sending his letter to Jewish believers among the nations about their Beit Knessets which must, by virtue of their taking instruction from James, be Netzarim: Torah observant Believers in Y’hoshua Mashiyach.

What we have then is nothing less than an international network of “Synagogues” comprised of believers in Y’hoshua Mashiyach. These “houses of meeting” as evidenced by the letter sent out from Jerusalem in Acts 15, are clearly comprised of both Jews and those who Fear Elohim (Gentile proselytes) who worship together, just as their conventional Israeli counterparts (Acts 10). The letters also serve as powerful proof that Ya’akov was the Rosh Beit Din (Head of the Beit Din) in Jerusalem, the overseer of all legal matters affecting the worship of Jews and Gentiles alike, regardless of their location.

The “assemblies” are meeting places where the Ruach haKodesh is invited and welcomed; a place of studying the Word of YHWH, prayer and all form of worship, which facilitates education and emulation of Torah values for the common good of the community. Karaites use the term Kenesa, which is derived from Aramaic to denote “Beit Knesset,” but the modern Yiddish term shul that is commonly used for a synagogue, comes from the German word for school.

Netzarim Assemblies existed as a recognized people group up until 400 CE; however, heavy opposition from both Christian and Rabbinical sources forced them underground. There are rapidly increasing numbers of people today who are interested in returning to the Netzari Faith and, in most cases, they come from either Christian or traditional Jewish backgrounds. However, whether they remain in or leave traditional religious instructions, their calling is to observe Torah and preach Mashiyach. Whether Jewish or not, Israel and her seed are they “who keep the commandments of Elohim, and have the testimony of Y’hoshua” (Revelation 12:17). This unified covenant exemplifies the Faith that is upheld by all Netzari Assemblies.

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