Judaism pt 1

In my last post I shared that early on in my journey, I misinterpreted the Father’s instruction to “learn everything Hebraic” to mean “learn everything Jewish.” And so that’s exactly what I did. With (what I believed to be) my directive in mind and the resources available to me, I dug into the subject of Judaism. In today’s post, I’ll share some of the intersting discoveries I made. Though it may have been an initial sidetrack, the information proved absolutely neccessary to understanding the relationship between Judaism and Scripture itself. 

Today, Judaism is made up of three main branches or denominations: 

1. Conservative – This group, for the most part, adheres to the principles and practices of traditional Judaism. They allow, however, for certain ‘permissible’ modifications and rejections of some of the ‘old’ views. They consider the apostle Peter an example of a ‘devout’ Jew making exceptions.

2. Orthodox – This branch strictly adheres to all practices and principles of traditional Judaism. They are devout to the study of the Torah, the Sabbath, the festivals, Holy days, and the dietary laws. They strive for daily attendance of their local Synagogue.

3. Reform – Those in this group apply themselves to a religious system that is based on the Orthodox Judaism, however they frequently simplify and even outright reject many of the traditional religious laws and customs that do not fit within their modern, even secular worldview. 

In the United States, all three of these denominations are commonplace. In Israel, however, Judaism is primarily subdivided into either Orthodox or “non-religious”. The main differences between each group is based on several elements: 

1. Liturgy (whether or not they emphasize the Hebrew language).

2. Observances (Sabbath, feast days, etc.)

3. Authorship of biblical writings, textual criticisms.

4. The role of the Messiah or Messianic age.

In direct contrast to the Orthodox, the non-Orthodox have a tendency to be much more ‘liberal’ in their thinking. I learned that the term Judaism includes a religious, a cultural, and ethnic mindset. For example, it is possible for one to reject the religious aspect entirely, and still be included within the system of Judaism. 

This first dose of information was the easy part of my research. I was able to acquire it from both interviewing my Jewish friends and utilizing dictionaries to define specific terms. Still, the definitions I gathered did not satisfy the deeper questions of “how and why.”

I still needed to know: 

 1. Where and how did Judaism get started and what was its origin? 

2. What customs and traditions did they modify from and reject from Scripture and how should that effect me?

Let’s start with the origins. I went back to my Jewish friends and asked them some basic questions. Where, when and how did Judaism begin? They all gave me pretty much the same answer: Abraham.

Was Abraham a Jew? I had never really given it much thought before, but now I was giving it almost all my thoughts. After this idea was introduced, my research focused on finding out everything I could about Abraham. The first place I turned was to the scriptures. It is in Genesis 10:26 that we are first introduced to Abram. “Now Terah lived seventy years, and begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran.” They lived in Ur of the Chaldeans, which is implied in verse 28 when it speaks of Haran’s death. Then again, definitively, in verse 31 when Terah took his family out of Ur of the Chaldeans with the intention of going to Canaan, but only went as far as Haran (verse 31).

There is also an account of Abram in the book of Yasher (Jasher, as it is pronounced in the English) that tells us that his father was a well loved captain of King Nimrod and an idol worshipper. It also tells us that Abram spent most of his life in hiding with his very great (as in several generations great) grandfather, Noah. It was Noah and his son Shem who taught Abram about God. Whether this is true or not, I cannot say, as there are some scholars who give little or no credence to the historicity of the book of Yasher. However, it is an interesting read and does (in my opinion) give us valuable insight into who Abram was and what God was calling him to leave behind.

In the seventeenth chapter of Genesis God changed Abram’s name, which meant “high or exalted father” to Abraham, which means “father of many or of a multitude.” Abraham is famous for being the father of both the Hebrews (through Isaac) and Arabs (through Ishmael).

Abraham was called a Hebrew in chapter fourteen, verse thirteen. This is when Lot, his nephew was taken hostage and a person escaped and ran to Abram to tell him what had happened. “Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew…” So now let’s look closely at the word Hebrew.

The word Hebrew means “to cross over”, or “to pass through”. In that time period it was used primarily to refer to the “crossing over” of a body of water specifically. As Abram crossed over the Euphrates River when going to Haran and then crossing back when leaving, he was now considered a Hebrew. In fact, it would appear, according to Yasher, that he crossed over more than a couple of times.

Now as the word Jew itself was not coined until the destruction of the second temple and not even used in written form until the time of King James in the early sixteen hundreds (I’ll get more into this at a later time) I determined that Abraham was not a Jew. Furthermore, based on the historical accounting of the word “Jew” we can safely assume that none of the Patriarchs were Jews either.

That would, of course, mean that Isaac, Abraham’s son was not a Jew and neither was Isaac’s son, Jacob. Jacob’s name, as we read in Genesis 32:28 was changed to Israel by the messenger of God he had wrestled with all night before meeting up with Esau, his brother. It was reiterated in Genesis 35:10 “And God said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name.’ So he called his name Israel.”

So in summary, we have learned:

Regardless of whether a person is born a Jew or whether they have converted to Judaism at some point in their lives, Jews are broken down into two main categories; religious and non-religious. However, the non-religious still “keep” some of the same customs as the religious, just not…religiously.

Abraham, while being considered the founder of Judaism, was in fact not a Jew and neither were his son nor his grandson. At the end of this initial phase of research I came to the following conclusion: All Jews, regardless of whether they are Jew by birth or by conversion are Hebrews, but not all Hebrews are Jews.


Is There More?


First, dear brothers and sisters, I need you to understand that my purpose in bringing you this information is not to convince you to see things my way. Instead, my goal and earnest prayer is that you will acknowledge the possibility that there could be MORE to this walk of faith than you’ve been taught by pastors, churches, and theologians. I invite you to step out courageously and dare to consider the reality that maybe, just maybe we all need to dig a lot deeper into the Word of God to uncover that Truth. I strongly discourage you from sitting on the sidelines and allowing someone else to tell you what to think. Please, learn from my mistakes! We must avoid coming into Scriptural study and research with the sole purpose of proving that our entrenched beliefs and favorite teachers are correct. This attitude will only stagnate our walk and stunt our spiritual growth, preventing us from ever reaching true maturity in the faith. We all need to approach the Word with a humble heart, eager to be shaped and changed by the Truth it contains, instead of merely searching for justification to continue on just as we always have.

If you are willing to do what I have described, ask The Most High to cleanse your mind of all man-made doctrines, teachings, belief-systems and then ask HIM to be your teacher. After all, who is better qualified to teach us about His Word than the King Himself?
It’s not anyone’s job (myself especially) to convince you of anything. That task belongs to the Holy Spirit. My job, my “commission” if you will, is simply to share. That’s all I am doing here, humbly sharing what I have learned. As I travel this Path myself and try to allow the Word of God alone to shape my worldview, I continually discover just how much His Word disagrees with what I was taught for years by human teachers and doctrines of man.

If the Holy Spirit compels you to keep reading, I have one simple request. Please, take everything that I say and check out it out for yourself using HIS TRUTH alone and not man’s doctrines, as the standard. It is wise to remember that however educated or authoritative human opinions might appear, they are still vulnerable to error and deception, sometimes with dismal and tragic consequences! However, we should all be encouraged by the fact that HIS WORD can be trusted! Afterall, HIS WORD is TRUTH (John 17:17; Psalm 119: 160).

Finally, while I both accept and appreciate correction and discussion, please understand that I will not be able to engage questions or comments that endanger the environment of love, sincerity and respect that I seek to promote on this page. Hostility and hateful attitudes don’t help us learn, they only entrench us further in our own dogmatic position. I want to get you researching, thinking about and discussing the Scriptures, not arguing and bickering with me or anyone else who disagrees with you about a particular point.


Lastly, I’m going to be maintaining a high level of anonymity as I maintain this page. I’m sure this decision seems a bit unusual, but if you allow me to explain, I think my motivation will become clear. I feel like my name, gender, age, personal history, education, financial status, etc. are all irrelevant to the ultimate goal of this page. None of that matters because I want this space to be about HIM, not me. I do not study, research, write and work for my own glorification or self-worth. It is all for HIS glory and honor alone that I have created this page! I know that HE directed my decision on this particular subject and if this is how HE wants it, I am good with it.
So, from here on out, you’ll only know me by the initials KC. (I’ve always liked those letters together, so why not?) I do feel like I can tell you this much about myself, however. I have been a believer and follower of The One True God almost my whole life. HE revealed Himself to me at a very young age and has been my teacher ever since. (Though I must admit, at times I’ve been an unruly, stubborn and distracted pupil…) There were indeed times when man became my teacher and HE allowed it for a time, that is, until HE did something that changed everything, something for which I am eternally grateful. You may choose to believe or disregard what I’m about to share, but it doesn’t alter the fact that my life was permanently changed. One night, as I lay in unsuspecting slumber, HE came to me in a dream and instructed that HE wanted me to learn everything “Hebraic.” His Words were so clear and yet, that’s not how I interpreted them upon waking and contemplating my mission. I remember telling myself with emphatic resolve, “I’ve got to learn everything there is to know about being Jewish!” and set to work doing just that. It took awhile before I fully understood what HE had actually asked of me. HE wanted me to learn everything Hebraic not Jewish, but in my limited understanding at the time, I thought these two words were interchangeable. Sadly, this misunderstanding is shared commonly among most people in society today. I was to learn, however, that “Jewish” and “Hebraic” are not the same thing at all.

That was the experience which ultimately began my journey and I extend the invitation for you to start down this path for yourself. I will humbly share with you all that HE has shown me and continues to reveal as I get further down the path and deeper into His Truth, His Word.

Are you ready? If so, here is an exercise I would like you to do. Come on, let’s be doer’s of the Word and not hearers only!
Get a note book and a writing implement.

Got them? Good. Now, either look in a concordance (a lot of bibles have a small one in the back, a Strong’s is good, or you can look on the internet) for the word TRUTH as it is defined in the Scriptures. If you ask, HE will direct you to a specific scriptural citation or otherwise, you can just start at the first one listed. Write it down in the notebook and date it. Now, I want you to read it out loud. Speaking the Scriptures aloud makes them personal and more “real” in a sense. You can even add your name where it might fit or else, just mentally project your own identity into the text when you read the word “me” or “I.”

Do this at least once, every day, for the next week. Then I want you to add another “truth” verse, the new date and read it out loud every day. If you develop a sincere desire to know HIS absolute Truth and see it fully manifested in your life, you will soon recognize HIM revealing TRUTH to you…in your personal life, in the world around you, in the very words that you are reading. What ever “truth” you see I want you to write it down in your notebook and date it. I call this a Truth Journal. Just a friendly disclaimer, not all the “truths” HE shows you will be pleasant, but don’t give up! I know that you will soon be amazed by what you come to see and understand.

By the way, “soon” is a relative term. It will be a different timing for each individual, according to HIS specific timing and purpose for your life. Remain steadfast and I promise, HE will show you things that will blow your socks off!