The Book of Jasher ─ Part One: Adam to Nimrod the Mighty Hunter.

There are several references in the Bible to other texts that were not included in the Canon of Scripture. These texts are often referred to as the Non-Canonical Books or the Lost Books of the Bible. Whatever we choose to call them, we cannot deny that they continue to be of great interest to the curious bible scholar. One such text is the Book of Jasher. In the Bible, the Book of Jasher is cited in Joshua 10:12-13; 2 Samuel 1:18-27 and 2 Timothy 3:8 (as in Jannes and Jambres). In Hebrew, Jasher is referred to as the Sefer ha Yashar (Book of the Correct Record). In the LXX, Jasher is called the “Book of the Upright One.” And, in The Latin Vulgate, Jasher is called the “Book of the Just Ones.”

Anyone seeking information on Jasher will soon discover there are many opinions about the text. The consensus is that there is a genuine copy out there, but the forgeries are more prevalent. Others believe that the original copy of Jasher did exist at some point in time, but it was destroyed and whatever information was contained in it has been lost forever. Despite our fascination with the non-canonical books, we continue to harbour niggling doubts about their authenticity. We are acutely aware they have a flare for exaggeration, mysticism, and drama which most of us find difficult to understand. Perhaps, that is why they were excluded from the Holy Bible.

After much searching and reading reviews and the like about Jasher, I settled on a copy by R.H Charles from a reputable publisher and the Midrash Sefer ha Yashar or the ‘Book of the Correct Record.” I mean seriously, how could I click past such a claim? Besides that, it was accompanied with a nice story of how the text was supernaturally preserved. Call me gullible but I am a sucker when it comes to a good story. I would have liked to have also read a Kabbalistic interpretation for this study but reading two Jasher’s was all the violence I could handle. If I can spare someone else the goriness of Jasher, then I will. Winners are grinners and the Hebrews of Jasher’s world plundered their way through some of the most significant people groups in the Ancient Near East one scalp at a time.

To make this article a little easier to read I will summarize chapters and individuals under the various headings. And where necessary I will compare the R.H. Charles version with “The Correct Record” and The Bible.

Adam and The Creation Story: Chs. 1-5.

The creation story in Jasher is the same as Genesis Ch. 2. Immediately, for me that meant the text was written by a Yahwist. Confused? Then check out my Exegesis on Genesis Chs. 1-2, I explain it all in there. 

In Jasher Adam and Eve have two sons and three daughters; daughters that are not mentioned in the biblical text. The daughters of Adam and Eve are further mentioned in other texts, such as Jubilees. And according to the other texts Adam’s sons’ wives were their sisters. Cain married Awan his sister and Seth married Azura. Christians are often challenged with this question: “Where did Cain get his wife from?” Equally, where did Seth get his wife from?

If we go down the path of accepting what Jasher and Jubilees says, then Christians must admit that the first family were incestuous. Something God considers wrong in other parts of the Bible (Leviticus 18:8-10). But was incest wrong for our benefit or for God’s benefit? In my opinion every Commandment of God for humans is for our benefit and incest is just one of them. Theoretically, the first family had to reproduce somehow and until God revealed his precise plan for humans, they were not in any violation of His Laws. God was right, and most cultures now avoid incest because the offspring can be susceptible to genetic disorders. I am by no means qualified to comment on the genetic makeup of Adam and Eve, but according to Genesis Ch.2 they were two separate creations.

Moving on from the first family. Jasher quite early on used two names we are all familiar with, Enoch and Enosh. Enoch, it says was a descendant of Cain and Enosh was the son of Seth. As we know Seth was a replacement child for Abel the first Shepherd who was slain by his brother, Cain. As with the biblical version, sin consumed humans and they were full of debauchery, like avoiding having children. As always when humans reached that point, it was time for a righteous person to appear on the scene and turn things around.

Another Enoch makes an appearance in the line of Cainan and Jared. And, according to Jasher, he was the Enoch that walked with God! He was a pious, holy man who shunned human company in favour of God’s presence. He was full of wisdom and lived to 366 years of age before God took him up in horses, a whirlwind, and chariots of fire. Just like Elijah the Prophet. Ironically, the “The Correct Record” states that Enoch had a son called Elisha. Both men did not experience physical death, one had a son called Elisha and the other passed his mantle to Elisha (2 Kings 2:2,4,6). It is clear in Jasher that as God prepared for Judgement, the righteous were removed (they all died). In the end only righteous Noah and his family were left, their preservation reliant on Noah’s obedience to build an Ark. If that is a pattern, then God will do the same again. If Judgment is upon us, the righteous will be removed first and still others will ride the storm in the Ark of God’s divine protection.

Noah to Nimrod: Chs.5-7.

Noah the righteous man deliberately did not marry or have any children because he was aware that the world as he knew it was about to end. Despite his hesitation, God told him he must marry and have children. Bear in mind we already have a date for Noah entering the Ark and it is recorded in the biblical text as being in the six-hundredth year of his life (Genesis 7:6). According to Jasher, Noah married Namaah the daughter of Enoch when he was 498 years old, and she was 580 years old. She bore him three sons, Ham, Shem, and Japheth. The rest of the Noah story pretty much aligns with the biblical text. Except for Ham’s sin against his father, Noah.

Namaah was the daughter of Enoch, she was eighty-two years older than Noah at the time of their marriage. She shared the same name as another interesting character in Jewish folklore. Namaah means pleasant and lovely, but she is also the fourth sea-demon who has a ravenous sexual appetite. She is blamed for men remaining unsatisfied even after sex and for teaming up with Lilith and seducing Adam to breed demon spawn. Okay, enough of that…Hopefully Noah’s Namaah was Namaah in name only and nothing like the folklore demon.

However, Namaah did give birth to Ham, and it appears he was no good. Gossip abounds as to the reasons why Noah cursed Ham’s offspring. I have heard that Ham violated his father sexually and that is what is meant by, “Uncovering Noah’s nakedness.” (Genesis Ch.9). Others are shocked that something as innocent as seeing your father naked would warrant such a harsh curse upon Ham. But I think, the story goes a lot deeper when we read from the non-canonical books. According to Jasher, a family heirloom of Adam and Eve’s which held supernatural powers was in Noah’s possession and Ham unlawfully stole it and passed it to Nimrod his descendant.

The stolen ‘garments’ of Adam and Eve is throughout Jewish literature. And so is Nimrod who benefited greatly from the stolen garment. Jasher states that Nimrod was even at the birth of Abram celebrating with Terah. There was also concern about Nimrod being a threat to Abram’s life, simply because Abram was born under a Star. I will cover that in the next section. Jasher states that Nimrod lived in Babel, and people called him, Amraphel. However, most scholars now agree that Amraphel was in fact, the Hammurabi and not Nimrod. Also, since Jasher states that Nimrod died prematurely at 215 years of age because Esau chopped off his head. And why did Esau set his mind on chopping off Nimrod’s head? To take possession of the garments. I used a text called Tree of Souls to find out what these garments were. It did not suffice to just call them ‘garments’, and I could not determine what their significance was in the first reading.

Tree of Souls states that Adam and Eve were originally clothed in garments of light. Like Clouds of Glory and that makes perfect sense to me. Rather than being naked, they must have looked magnificent in their spiritual covering. When they sinned, the Lord had to substitute the covering with covering of skin (Genesis 3:21). The Lord made these garments, hence the supernatural relevance ascribed to them. I discovered in Tree of Souls that even the second earthly garments had a description. It states, they were made of a “Hornlike substance, smooth as a fingernail and beautiful as a jewel.” (Tree of Souls, p.437). Since Jasher states that Esau eventually cut off Nimrod’s head, it was Esau who inherited the garments. On the day Isaac granted Jacob the Blessing, Esau left his garment at home. Rebecca stole it and placed it on Jacob and Jacob became the recipient of the garment’s supernatural powers (Genesis 27:15). 

As we have seen in Jasher there is a transition of power passed down through the Righteous Ones from Adam and Eve. An outward expression of this power consisted of a mantle (garment of animal skin) worn by Adam and Eve. I believe in Jasher, Noah still got drunk and while he was in that state Ham stole his mantle (his covering). This in fact is what made Noah so angry, and it all makes perfect sense to me now. Ham was the father of Cush and as we see later Cush and Moses contended for power. But the real benefactor of the stolen mantle of power was Nimrod. The power behind Nimrod, the first settler of Shinar (Babylon) was never intended for him and because of that Babylon will always remain an enigma for God’s Chosen People. As night follows day in the annuals of the Abrahamic religions, it was time for the Almighty to raise up another righteous soul to combat the evil brought about by Nimrod.  

To be continued…

Author: Cheryl Mason

Image © Getty Images


2020. Midrash Sefer Ha Yasher the Book of The Correct Record. 1st ed. YBS, p.30.

Charles, R.H., 1887. The Book of Jasher. Salt Lake City: J.H. Parry & Company, pp.10, 26, 78,

Dennis, G., n.d. The Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic & Mysticism. 2nd ed. Woodbury, Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications.

n.d. The Holy Bible Authorized King James Version. Nashville: Collins World.

Sacred Texts. 2021. The Book of Jubilees. [online] Available at: <; [Accessed 16 July 2021].

Schwartz, H., 2004. Tree of Souls the Mythology of Judaism. New York, New York: Oxford University Press, p.437.

The Gospel of John: What did Jesus and others declare about his Messiahship & Is the Gospel of John anti-Semitic?

According to John’s Gospel, Jesus Christ openly professed his Messiahship and Sonship. His self-declarations were boldly made in the face of serious charges of blasphemy and threats of imminent death. Declaring oneself to be the prophesied Messiah, the Son of God or the I AM aroused great suspicion, concern, and hostility from the religious authorities.

Although his profound statements were accompanied by miracles, the demands of, “Show us the Signs?”, never diminished. That is, the Signs of Messiah, the Signs of a Prophet, which are so important in Judaism. Although there was no shortage of followers who acknowledged the ‘Signs’ and spoke of them openly. John’s Gospel is full of such affirmations by normal, everyday people of ancient Judea. People like John the Baptist, who proclaimed, “Behold, The Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).

In this article I will list others like John the Baptist, who bore ‘Witness’ to who Jesus Christ of Nazareth was. I will include the ‘Witness’ of Jesus himself and the Father. I will answer questions that have plagued John’s Gospel, questions such as who really wrote the text? I will also discuss the perceived anti-Semitic undertones of John’s Gospel. And why I believe the author chose to use the term ‘The Jews’. I will also include the opinion of Geza Vermes a foremost Jewish Scholar and his take on the New Testament being anti-Semitic.

Hopefully, by the end of this article we can all gain a better understanding of this extraordinarily rich text; full of detail and from a time when the world was changed forever.

What did Jesus and others say about who He was?

Bear in mind these were all Jewish witnesses, except for the woman of Samaria.

Chapter 1:29 — John the Baptist said, “Behold! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!”
Chapter 1:41 — Andrew the brother of Simon Peter said, “We have found the Messiah.”
Chapter 1:45 — Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses and the Law wrote about.”
Chapter 1:49 — Nathanael said, “You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
Chapter 3:2 — Nicodemus said, “You are a teacher come down from God, no one can do these signs except God is with him.”
Chapter 3:35 — John the Baptist said, “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand.”
Chapter 4: 25 — The woman of Samaria said to Jesus, “I know the Messiah is coming.”, Jesus said to her, “I am He who is speaking with you.” Many of the Samaritans believed because of her testimony (verse 39).
Chapter 4:42 — The Samaritans who believed said, “They believed, not only because of her but because of the teachings of Jesus.”, “Indeed, He is the Messiah, the saviour of the world.”
Chapter 5:20 — Father/Son witness, “The Father loves the Son.”
Chapter 5:23 — Father/Son witness, “He who does not honour the Son, does not honour the Father who sent him.”
Chapter 5:36 — Father/Son witness, “The works that I do, bear witness of me that the Father has sent me.”
Chapter 10:25 — Father/Son witness, Jesus said, “The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness of me.”
Chapter 12:28 — Father/Son witness, the voice from Heaven said, “I have glorified your name and will glorify it again.”
Chapter 14:10 — Father/Son witness, Philip asked Jesus, “Show us the Father?” Jesus replied, He who has seen the Father has seen me (verse 9) and “I am in the Father and the Father in me.”
Chapter 14:23 — Father/Son witness, only those who love Jesus and keep His word is loved by the Father.
Chapter 15:23 — Father/Son witness, Jesus said, “He who hates me hates the Father.” And that, “He was hated without a cause.” (Verse 25).
Chapter 5: 39 — The Scriptures as witness, “You search the Scriptures, because you think in them you have life ─ The Scriptures testify of me.”
Chapter 5:46 — Moses as Witness, “If you believe Moses, then you would believe me, because Moses wrote about me.”
Chapter 6:69 — Simon Peter’s witness, “We have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”
Chapter 7:41 — The Crowds as witness, “This is the Messiah, will the Messiah come out of Galilee?”
Chapter 8: 11 — Woman caught in adultery witness, she said, “No one, Lord.” Acknowledging Jesus as Lord!
Chapter 8: 58 — Jesus as witness, Jesus was in a discussion with authorities and said, “Before Abraham was, I AM.”
Chapter 6:35 ─ Jesus said, “I AM the Bread of Life, which came down from Heaven.”
Chapter 9:5 Jesus said, “I AM the Light of the World.”
Chapter 10:7 Jesus said, “I AM the Door of the Sheepfold.”
Chapter 10:11 Jesus said, “I AM the Good Shepherd.”
Chapter 11:25 Jesus said, “I AM the Resurrection and the Life, no man comes to the Father but by me.
Chapter 14:6 Jesus said, “I AM the Way, the Truth and The Life.”
Chapter 18:37 Jesus said, “I AM a King.”
Chapter 9:38 — Blind man as witness, the blind man who was healed at the pool of Siloam (Sent) confessed that Jesus was the Messiah, “Lord, I believe, and he worshipped Him.”
Chapter 10:25 — The authorities surrounded Jesus and asked Him, “Tell us if you are the Messiah?”
Jesus replied, “I told you and you do not believe me.”
Chapter 10:36 — Jesus chastised the religious leaders for calling someone whom the Father sanctified and ‘Sent’ a blasphemer. He said, “You call me this because I said, I am, the Son of God?”
Chapter 11:27 — Martha as witness, “Yes, Lord, I believe you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
Chapter 12:13 — The witness of the Passover crowd, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna! The King of Israel.”
Chapter 13:13 — Jesus confirms He is Teacher and Lord, “You call me Teacher and Lord. for so I am.”
Chapter 18:37 — Jesus confesses to Pilate He is a King (but only after telling Pilate His Kingdom is not of this world, but another world).
Chapter 19:19 ─ The Romans confession above the Cross, “Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews.”
So, there you have it. Jesus confessed he was The Messiah, The Son of God, The I AM, several times over. That he was ONE with God and he confessed he was a King. Although, that his Kingdom was not of this world.

Is the Gospel of John anti-Semitic?

To answer this question, we must first establish if John’s Gospel was written by a Jewish author and if it was acknowledged by other Jews as being truthful.

Is the Gospel of John, written by a Jewish author? And when was it written?

Most of the books of the Bible have experienced challenges relating to their dates and authorship. And the Gospel of John is no different. With John’s Gospel, because it was the last Gospel written, John’s age comes into question. How old was he when he wrote it? A reasonable question, I think. The other significant issue raised by Minimalists is the verse in John 21:24, “This is the disciple who testifies of these things and we know his testimony is true.” Who are the ‘we’, referred to in the passage? The ‘we’ in John 21:24 has led many to believe, that the Gospel of John is a collective work. But as I will show you, there is an exceptionally good explanation for this comment from another ancient source.  

In this article, I will be quoting from The New Testament Documents by F.F. Bruce (1910-1990) for the most part. Bruce was Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at the University of Manchester, England, and author of over forty immensely popular books.  Bruce references several authors who clearly identify the Jewishness of John’s Gospel and that its author had to be a Jew. They remain convinced the author was familiar with the Palestinian landscape, Jewish purification rites for death and burial (John Chs. 2:6; 19:40). That he was familiar with The Feasts and Old Testament Law (John Ch. 8:17). It was John’s depth of knowledge that led prominent Jewish Scholar, Israel Abrahams to note: “My own general impression, without asserting an early date for the Fourth Gospel is that the Gospel enshrines a genuine aspect of Jesus’s teaching which has not found a place in the Synoptics.”

Dates of New Testament writings according to Professor Bruce:

The New Testament was completed AD100.

Matthew AD 85-90

Mark AD 65

Luke AD 80-85

John AD 90-100

Acts AD 60 approx.

Paul’s Writings AD 48-60 (Letters) and AD 63-65 (Pastoral Epistles)

Revelation AD 90

Mark and Luke wrote before the event of the destruction of the Temple in AD 70.”

It is quite conceivable for me to believe John wrote the Fourth Gospel and Revelation around the same time despite his advancing years. In both instances the much-loved disciple of our Saviour had the last word and concluded our New Testament with his Memoirs. According to Irenaeus, the Apostle John returned to Ephesus after his exile to Patmos. This was during the reign of Emperor Trajan (AD 98-117). Therefore, we know from this source that John lived to an incredibly old age.

What we refer to as Gospels were originally referred to as Memoirs of The Apostles. It was only in the second century that their Memoirs became Gospel.

The early mention of the Memoirs/Gospels being read in Christian gatherings are numerous. The most significant of these would be The Didache. I am also including references to other works of the New Testament by Papias, to acknowledge that the Early Church Fathers, left us a lot of information as to who wrote what.

Professor Bruce also mentions the following:

“Ignatius mentions the Gospels in AD 115

Maricon mentions the Gospels and Paul’s writings in AD 140 (Favouring the NT over the OT)

Papias wrote in AD 130-140 about living and abiding in the Word.

Justin Martyr mentions the Memoirs of the Apostles in AD 150 (read alongside the writings of the Prophets in the OT in Christian gatherings) Apol.i.67.

Bruce states, it was about this time that the Jews left the Septuagint to the Christians because of various divisions between them and made themselves a fresh Greek version of the Old Testament especially for Greek speaking Jews.

Irenaeus mentions the Gospels in AD 180

Origen mentions the Gospels in AD 185-254

Athanasius established the New Testament Canon in AD 367 in the East, followed by Jerome and Augustine in the West. As late as AD 508 there were disputes over 2 Peter, 2&3 John, and Revelation.

But officially the Canonisation of the New Testament happened in Hippo Regius in AD 393 and Carthage in AD 397 (both in North Africa).

Eusebius (Ecclesiastical story (iii.39) gives us an account of the Gospel of Mark by Papias. Papias calls Peter the Elder and says that Mark wrote Peter’s Gospel. And, says that Mark made no mistake, and Mark paid attention not to omit anything or make any false claims.

It is quite possible that Mark like Matthew were first written in Aramaic and then translated in koine Greek. “Aramaic was the common language of Jesus’s day, especially in Galilee and Jesus and His disciples would have spoken this dialect. Even though it is referred to Hebrew in the New Testament it was not! When Papias writes “Matthew compiled the Logia in the ‘Hebrew’ speech [it was Aramaic]. And he went on to say everyone translated them as best he could.”.

Now that we know that The Memoirs/Gospels were in circulation from an incredibly early date, we can appreciate Papias when he tells us who wrote the Fourth Gospel. Papias says The Apostle John wrote the Gospel of John. As far as the ‘we’ mentioned in John 21:24 is concerned, Polycarp, tells us that the disciples prayed and fasted for three days and it was revealed to Andrew that the Apostle John should write down everything in his own name and the others should revise it. Polycarp was a disciple of Apostle John and inherited his mantle when he died. In other words, Polycarp was a second-generation Apostle of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

Is the Gospel of John anti-Semitic?

a) Origins of the word Jew:

The word Jews appears seventy-one times in John’s Gospel. The Greek (laudais) and Latin (Iudaeus) were translated into English first as (Iewes) in the 1611 Authorized King James Bible. There is a free translation of the 1611 AKJ online, read it sometime. According to the Greek-English concordance the Greek word (laudais) is translated as Jews, Jew, Jewish, Jewess, Jewish community, and Jews. Greek (loudas) is translated as Judas, Judah, Jude, and Judea. In subsequent Revised King James Versions (1881-1885 and beyond) Iewes is translated as Jews, as in Second Kings 16:6 and Second Chronicles 32:18. This is the first time the word Jew appears in the English language.  

God often changed people’s names in the Bible, Abram to Abraham (Genesis 17:5), Sarai to Sarah (Genesis 17:15), Jacob to Israel (Genesis 32:28). But He never changed Israel’s name to Jews! Israel should always remain Israel, the Twelve Tribes (Sons) of Jacob (Israel). Flavius Josephus says collectively the Hebrews (Israelites) called themselves Judeans (Judah) the day that they returned from Babylon, Judah were the first ones to arrive back from exile, “And thence both they and their country gained that appellation.” (Antiquities Book 11:5:7 (173). Only the Tribes of Judah, Benjamin and some of the Levites returned at first, which might indicate why they did not call themselves, Israel.

b) Jews were the inhabitants of Judah:

In the Gospel of John, I believe ‘Jews’ is used as an identifier and no malice is intended. The term differentiated one community from another, like Jewish people do today ─ Jews and Gentiles (Jews and non-Jews) or like Muslims do (Believers and Infidels/unbelievers). This same method is used in John’s Gospel, because John’s Gospel was the last Gospel written, therefore a clear distinction had arisen between the followers of Jesus, who were Jew and Gentile converts and the others who were not. Like the non-converts, who followed Judaism and lived in the Province of Judea. I like the term, “Speech Situation”, used in the book Anti-Judaism and the Fourth Gospel, it was just how things were labelled back then. You might find this strange, but The Talmud (English translation) also uses the term, “The Jews.”

Since Apostle John lived to a ripe old age as testified by Irenaeus, he would have seen the Temple fully demolished by Titus and both Jews and Christians scattered. And since John wrote Revelation, he would have also been familiar with the persecution taking place in the Churches. John Ch.16:2 comes to mind, “They will put you out of their Synagogues.” Despite many lies being peddled that Gentile Christians caused a rift between Jews and Converts, it was in fact Jewry that decided on a clean break. But that article is for another time. If nothing else, the close of the first century drew a line in the sand between the two religious’ groups.

When we look closely, John’s Gospel itself identifies who these ‘Jews’ are, they are the inhabitants of Judea. Therefore, Jesus left the Jews (the Judeans) where he felt persecuted and went to Galilee (He was a Galilean) where He was not persecuted. How is that anti-Semitic? Jews (Judeans) derived their name from Judea, (Yehud ─ a Roman Province), a place, a tribe, not a race or a religion. As a people, a community they would always be Israel. So, to apply anti-Semitic undertones to a Gospel written by a Jew and approved by other Jews is wrong.

c) What does Eusebius tell us about who was a Jew?

Eusebius (AD 260-340) wrote classical Christian Chronicles recording the first three centuries of Christian history. He was an eyewitness of the destruction of Christian literature by the Romans and decided to record events and hide them for future generations. 

Eusebius carefully documented the most important Christian documents. When I read what he achieved, I sat quietly and cried. How insightful of him to have considered us, risking his own life to preserve a historical testament that has lasted 2000 years. God Bless you Eusebius!

In his writings Eusebius makes a distinction between Hebrews (converts to Christianity) and Jews. For example, he lists all the Bishops of Jerusalem as being Hebrews and differentiated them from The Jews living in Jerusalem who were not part of the Christian Church. Which I thought was interesting, I must dig a little deeper to unravel the mind of this Early Church Saint. 

d) The meaning of the word Jew has changed over time:

In the passing of time the meaning of the word “Jew’ has changed.  This is a quote from the MFA about their understanding of who is Israel and who is a Jew. “So, if modern day so-called Jews are not the Jews of the Bible, who are they? When asked, “Who is Israel? – Who is a Jew?” the Israeli Government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) unhesitatingly answered:

“The term Israelite is purely Biblical. An Israeli is a citizen of Israel, regardless of religion. A Jew is a person anywhere in the world born to a Jewish mother, or converted to Judaism, who is thus identified as a member of the Jewish people and religion” (Information Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem; February 1998)”.

Funk and Wagnall’s New Encyclopaedia (1970) says the same thing: “In 1970 the Israeli Knesset adopted legislation defining a Jew as one born of a Jewish mother or a convert” (vol. 14, p. 214). Despite these more recent definitions about Jews, we must remind ourselves that John’s understanding of the term was a lot different.

I was pleasantly surprised to find support for my concept of John’s Gospel not being anti-Semitic from one of my favourite Jewish Scholars, Geza Vermes. Vermes always provides interesting elements to Jewish/ Christian relations. That is because before reverting to his Jewish roots he was a Catholic Priest, fascinating stuff! In the words of Vermes, the New Testament contains squabbles between various Jewish groups. And there you have it in the words of this great scholar, they were just squabbling and not anti-Semitic.  

Since John was a Jew, his writings cannot be deemed anti-Semitic. Vermes, does however see potential for anti-Semitic attitudes from the minds of some readers of the New Testament, but in general, he says, “Anti-Semitism is not in the New Testament text.” In my opinion this is only because the definition of the term ‘Jew’ has changed over time.  


In concluding I have shown that the use of the word ‘Jew’ in John’s Gospel cannot be considered anti-Semitic. John’s Gospel was written over 2000 years ago and the meaning of the word has changed over time. There is evidence from Eusebius that Christian converts in John’s day referred to themselves as Hebrews rather than Jews (adherents of Judaism). Much like today non-religious Jews refer to themselves as Israelites. The inhabitants of Judea (Yehud – Roman Province) who also referred to themselves as Judeans, later became translated into English as Jews. In ancient Jewish literature such as The Talmud, Jews also refer to themselves as ‘The Jews’.

I provided extra-biblical support from ancient sources who confirmed that the Apostle John wrote the Gospel of John. And the ‘we’ referred to in John 21:24 refers to those who verified that his testimony was true. It is estimated that John’s Gospel was completed in AD 90-100. Originally, John’s Gospel like the Synoptics were called Memoirs of The Apostles. In the second century, they were referred to as Gospels. Professor Bruce referenced the Jewishness of John’s Gospel. And that many scholars believe it was written by a bona fide authority on Jewish practices and processes. Lastly, I listed the Jewish sources (that is the people of Jewish descent) who testified that the person we know as Jesus Christ of Nazareth was non other than the Promised Jewish Messiah.   

I will leave you with John Calvin’s take on John’s Gospel. “I am in the habit of saying that this Gospel is the key which opens the door to the understanding of the others.” Amen and Amen to that!

Cheryl Mason.


Bieringer, R., Pollefeyt, D. and Vandecasteele-Vanneuville, F., 2001. Anti-Judaism and the Fourth Gospel. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, p.181-184.
Bruce, F., 2003. The New Testament documents. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, pp.21,32,35,44-50.
Comfort, P., 2005. Encountering the Manuscripts. Nashville: B & H Pub. Group.
Eusebius and Crusé, C. (2009). Eusebius’ ecclesiastical history. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, p.93.
Greenlee, J., 2008. The text of the New Testament. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson.
Lancelot, S. and Brenton, C., 1851. The Septuagint with Apocrypha Greek and English. 12th ed. London: Samuel Bagster & Sons, Ltd.
The Holy Bible, King James version.
Patzia, A., 2011. The making of the New Testament. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic.
Tomson, P., 2005. Presumed guilty. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.
Vermes, G. and Vermes, G., 2010. The Real Jesus. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, p.90.
Youngblood, R., Bruce, F. and Harrison, R., 1995. Nelson’s new illustrated Bible dictionary. Nashville: T. Nelson, p.897.

The End:

The Good Shepherd – Part Three

In this study I have been examining the meaning of the word, Shepherd, and its Function from a Hebraic perspective.

I have been looking at what does a Shepherd do as opposed to what a Shepherd is.

We looked at the meaning of the Hebrew word Ro’eh (Shepherd) and discovered that there were both male and female Ro’eh in the Hebrew Scriptures. Rachel was indeed a Shepherd and carried out the Function of a Shepherd by watering and feeding her father’s sheep. It was while she was tending her father’s sheep that Jacob found her. Jacob was already a shepherd and together these two shepherds produced the most beautiful Shepherd, Joseph.

Joseph held a special title, Ro’eh et, The Shepherd. I also mentioned Jesus’s own classification of Himself as The Good Shepherd. There is one other title given to Jesus Christ in Hebrews 13:20, The Great Shepherd. So, we have varying degrees of Shepherds in the Scriptures.

I would like to point out here that Shepherding is a calling and is not related to salvation. Salvation is a gift from God and Shepherding is what we do with that gift. There is no doubt that watering and feeding God’s sheep is our highest calling. The Apostle Peter denied Jesus three times and three times Jesus called him to “Feed His Sheep.” “If you love me, FEED my Sheep.” The act of loving God is FEEDING His Sheep. Love for God is not verbal, it is a demonstration and an act of self-sacrifice for the good of others (John 10:11; John 21:15-17).

The Hebrew word Ro’eh is what we refer to as Pastor in English. I was ordained as a Pastor when I was in my early twenties by the late Pastor Les Garrett. And I remember having a conversation with a guy I was witnessing to and I told him I was a Pastor. He looked puzzled and then asked me what type of spaghetti I was making. He thought I was making pasta for a living 😊.

The word Pastor has nothing to do with making spaghetti, it stems directly from the Hebrew word Ro’eh (Shepherd). In the Christian New Testament, Ro’eh is translated as the Greek word, Poimen. Poimen is translated seventeen times as Shepherd and one time as Pastor in Ephesians 4:11. And, the word Pastor has stuck, like pasta sticks! And I am sorry to say in the process the Function of the Ancient Shepherd has been lost in translation. I believe that is in part due to the way our religious texts have been translated and transliterated.

It is my opinion that some attempts have been made to downplay the role of woman as Shepherds both in the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian New Testament. However, I do believe we can see the significance of female shepherds in the early churches in Paul’s salutations. Just one example would be Phobe. Phobe (female) is a servant according to Romans 16:1. Yet, Tychicus (male) is a faithful minister (Colossians 4:7) as is Paul and other males. But it is the same Greek word, Diakonos that is used in all these instances. It means to minister as a Shepherd, Teacher or Deacon.

I remain baffled as to why the translators decided to downplay some ministries or interpret Poimen seventeen times as Shepherd and once as Pastor. Whatever the reasons, the word is here to stay, and it is used extensively to describe the workings of a Shepherd, although as I have mentioned it has lost some of its meaning.

If we use people as a metaphor for sheep or vice versa as the Bible does. Then many churches today are in grave danger when they have an open-door policy, “That’s the door if you don’t like it you can leave, if you want to come back, the door is open”. My friend be careful of this open-door policy, if a sheep goes out and gets taken by a wolf, the sheep’s life will be required at your hand

In the beginning of this series I used Jacob and Rachel as an examples of Shepherds. Jacob knew what was at stake ─ Jacob knew his wife had to love sheep, so when he saw Rachel looking after sheep, he must have thought, wow! She will do simply fine. The fact that she was beautiful as the scripture’s states, was just a bonus.

Eventually Jacob and Rachel came together and produced a wonderful Shepherd by the name of Joseph, and what a shepherd, he was! Joseph not only watered and fed his father’s sheep, but he also watered and fed (human) sheep. He fed a whole nation! Joseph was the quintessential Shepherd. He was a type of The Messiah, Joseph, was the turning point for the Israelites, without him they would have perished. Both Jews and Christians appreciate the Messianic qualities of Joseph but differ in their Messianic expectations.

The next Shepherd after Joseph was Moses, God called Moses while he was watching his fathers-in-law’s sheep. He was hired in a sense, they were not his sheep. Although the real sheep that Moses would lead (also as a hired shepherd) was the sheep of Israel, human sheep.

Here is a question for you:

Did God visit every one of these shepherds while they were sleeping?

The answer is emphatically “No”. It was while they were working, busy, looking after sheep, that is when they had an encounter with God. They were the most lowly, humble people imaginable when God visited them. He knew if they could take care of real sheep then they could take care of people.

Remember those Egyptians (those proud Egyptians, they thought they were gods) they were producers of wheat, they were not shepherds. They would not even eat with shepherds. Like the Egyptians we also have a distorted idea of Shepherding. I hope that by the time I am finished this series you will see Shepherding (what we now know as Pastoring) in a hugely different light.

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about Pastors, and in the past I had some strange ideas about the whole concept of Pastoring. When I was ordained as a Pastor this is what I believed about being a Pastor.

Firstly: Pastors got to speak, if you were not a Pastor, the likelihood of speaking in Church was extremely limited. So, Prophets had to become Pastors, Evangelists had to become Pastors, even Apostles had to become Pastors! You may note that I never mentioned Teachers, that is because when you study The Shepherd you will find that Teaching is very much part of Shepherding. They are the one and the same thing.

A Shepherd holds in his hand a powerful tool by which he leads, that tool is The Staff. The Staff speaks of authority, guidance for the sheep, but it also means to Teach. In Hebrew, the word teach means to point, those who teach point the way. The Shepherd also points the way, always leading the sheep to greener pastures and away from danger. The Shepherd and the staff go hand in hand. You cannot separate the shepherd from the staff. He is not a Shepherd if he does not have his Staff.

In the Biblical Hebrew to Shepherd (Pastor) and to Teach is the same thing:

Look at these pictograph symbols below. Pictograph symbols preceded the Hebrew script. You will discover that God is also a Shepherd! The pictograph symbol (Lamed) has the Shepherds Staff. Together with the Ox Head which speaks of Chief, Leader, Strength and makes up God’s name. This is Psalm 23 in pictograph. Elohim also has the (Lamed) which was later written differently.

If you take Shepherding out of the Hebrew context then they mean two different things Shepherding meaning like being a Pastor and teaching means like being a Teacher. Now I know every scripture you are going to throw at me, the fivefold ministry and did not Paul say Pastors and Teachers? I am not going to argue with you, you can believe that they are two different ministries, but I believe they are one and the same. That is based on a comprehensive study of both the Hebrew and the Greek.

In 1 Corinthians 12:28-30, Paul neglects to mention Pastors, only Teachers as Church Ministries. The Didache, which is an ancient document, the closest document we have other than the New Testament, fails to mention Shepherds (Pastors) only Teachers. I remain convinced they are one and the same thing, because of my understanding of The Staff.

If we accept that they are two different ministries, then please explain to me what a Pastor does? And please do not tell me that Pastors are administrators and run churches.

Pastors are Shepherding-Teachers who lead the sheep by teaching and by example. If Jesus said to Peter “Feed my sheep” did He not intend that Peter teach them, when he said that? Jesus’s sheep were His followers, He wanted Peter to feed them by teaching them (giving them spiritual food). There are only two kinds of food, two kinds of shepherds and two kinds of staff’s, physical and spiritual, there are no others.

Secondly: Pastors got a wage, while you are going off doing whatever you felt God has called you to do, the church payed your wages. Nothing wrong with receiving wages, a labourer is worthy of his hire (hired people get a wage) but it is wrong to have a church and get a wage while the pastor is off doing other things, other ministries. You will understand exactly what I mean by this, if you have ever had a Pastor who is never there, because he/she is an Evangelist.

Thirdly: I believed that if you were a Pastor you were in opposition to the people, the people were rebellious, they were your enemies in a sense, it was an “Us against them mentality”. That is what I had seen, that is what I had learnt and that is what I believed. Warped? YES! I was warped in my thinking when I was ordained as a Pastor.

In reality, it is the complete opposite, the Shepherd is the only real friend the Sheep has. It is one of the closest bonds in the Scriptures. The staff of the shepherd not only means to teach, but it also yokes and binds (creates bonds) between the Shepherd and the Sheep. When the shepherd wraps his big hook around the sheep and draws it close to him, he is bonding with it. He is yoking himself to it.

A good shepherd will lay down his life for his sheep. A good shepherd will place himself/herself between the sheep and the predator. This is not people, people are not your enemy, although the enemy can use people, the real enemies of the sheep are the wolves, lions, bears, the Goliath’s, who have the potential to consume the sheep. The enemy is a whole distinct species. Dealing with people is a whole other issue and does not fit into this teaching that I am doing right now.

Based on what I believed about Pastoring it is not surprising then, that I found Pasturing difficult and could not continue in that role. I believe I was a good Pastor, despite my early age but found the entire process a bit daunting, because I did not understand what exactly it was, I was supposed to be doing. Nobody bothered to explain it to me.

Shepherd in traditional garb leads his sheep through the pastures of Israel

Unlike the simplicity of ancient concepts, we have become preoccupied with titles. the Hebrew language is not concerned with titles, hierarchy, roles, positions, these are all Greek and Roman concepts. Ancient Hebrew does not care if you are an Executive Pastor, a Senior Pastor, a Junior Pastor, a Part-time Pastor, whatever that is. How about, a New Peoples Pastor, a Life Group Pastor, an Entertainment Pastor, or a Pastor in charge of Ablutions and Kitchens. You may very well laugh, but they exist!

If you ever get to do a course in Human Resources Management. You will discover some really weird job titles, and yet, they sound so impressive! Giving people fancy job titles, often means they have to work harder, longer hours, for the same or less money 😊. It is a con.

Once you receive your new title, you will work sixty hours a week instead of forty for little gain and you will be on call 24/7. And you will not be able to turn your phone off. The Christian Church has fallen into the similar patterns.

The Lord says, “I change not”! The job description for God’s people is still the same, as they were at the beginning. The job description for a Shepherd has not changed since Abel. We do not change with the world, we do not conform to the world. We are different! Jeremiah 10:2 Do not learn to go the WAY of the Nations.

God is up-front, He is not some HR Manager trying to give you an inflated title. He is not going to make up some ridiculous position to impress you, a Shepherd is a Shepherd, an Executive Shepherd is I do not know what? Is it a Shepherd in charge of other Shepherds who are Shepherding sheep? Are we talking about a hierarchy of Sheep, or a hierarchy of Shepherds? It is a contradictory term.

The Hebrew language is only concerned with FUNCTION: What is the FUNCTION of the Shepherd? That is explained in the meaning of the Hebrew word, Ro’eh.

I want to finish off this series with two images I created to describe how I see God’s concept of Shepherding and our concept of Shepherding. As they say a picture speaks a thousand words. The Church has become hierarchical, instead of a functioning body, one member has risen to the top of the pile. 

God’s Way
Man’s Way

In today’s churches the sheep are in their thousands, thousands of churches with thousands of people. The Staff is no longer an appropriate tool, not for thousands of sheep. For that you must go to the sheep farmers and see what they do. They let the dogs out. Sometimes when you are in church you feel like the dogs are after you. You are not being watched you are being herded. The Staff had been replaced with the cattle prod!

Lost sheep on autumn pasture. Concept photo for Bible text about Jesus as sheepherder who cares for lost sheep

At the start of this series, I mentioned the enemy hates Shepherds and has a habit of killing them. That is exactly what happened to the first Shepherd, Abel. Cain slew Abel, and the first Shepherd was dead. God said to Cain, “Where is Abel?”. Cain replied, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Well, Cain you were your brother’s keeper. What in fact Cain was saying to God? I do not keep sheep (watching) I am busy, working tilling the ground.

Are we also our brother’s keeper and does that make us all Shepherds?

I do not care if you have the title of Pastor, or you have a Church, being a Shepherd is so much more than that. Being a Shepherd is watching out for God’s Sheep. Remember God has the Shepherd’s Staff in His name. And, Jesus said, “If you love me, feed my sheep.” Nourish the flock, do not consume the best sheep like Joseph’s brothers did. Be like the good shepherds, Abel, Jacob, Rachel, Joseph, Moses, Jesus Christ and the ultimate Shepherd, Father God. Remember it is not archaic or condescending to consider yourself a Shepherd according to its Function from an Ancient Near East perspective, because God still does.

God Bless You!

Cheryl Mason.

The Good Shepherd – Part Two

In Part Two of this series on The Good Shepherd, I discuss more about Joseph and the term given to him in the Hebrew Scriptures as the Ro’eh et (The Shepherd). This is because Joseph inherently had the heart of a Shepherd, something that set him apart from his brothers. For that, his brothers threw him in the Pit and tried to kill him. Genesis Rabba expounds on Joseph’s ordeal a bit more than the Hebrew Scriptures does.

To better understand the ancient concept of Shepherding, I also make references to ancient shepherding contracts. Such as ones discovered in The Mari Documents, unearthed in the Tel Hariri desert. I also divided Shepherds into categories such as Owner/Operator, Family Business and Hired-Shepherd to better appreciate responsibility and accountability at every level.

Jesus referred to himself as The Good Shepherd, and stated he did not lose any sheep, except one, so the scripture could be fulfilled. Jesus in turn left the responsibility for caring for his followers to his disciples and those that came after them. I likened those that labour in the Kingdom, God’s business as being like Hired-Shepherds. Which should conclude in Part Three with a better understanding of the function of Shepherds (Pastors) in the New Testament.

Please see The Good Shepherd Part One for the first part of this series.

I taught this series on The Good Shepherd in a Church in 2014. I decided to re-visit the series because I think the message is still a good one and still relevant to us today. I hope you enjoy and learn something new from these notes on The Good Shepherd.

For this study, I have divided Shepherds into three categories:

I apologise beforehand for using business terminology. My experience lies in business, so it is only natural that I resort to understanding the function of a Shepherd from a business perspective.

I have called these categories:

The Owner Operator (Shepherd)

The Family Business (Shepherd)

The Hired-Servant (Shepherd)

The Owner/Operator Shepherd:

The Owner-Operator Shepherd looks after their own sheep. This type of Shepherd is accountable for the sheep. Every sheep is an asset to the Shepherd. The Shepherd sells the dairy, the wool, the meat. If the Shepherd losers one sheep, he loses money. It is no different to being an owner operator in any other business. No business owner wants to lose money!

Father God falls into this category. He owns all things, and He can do whatever He pleases with everything that He owns. He is The Chief Shepherd.

The Family Business:

Sounds a bit like the Mafia, I know. But there is no Cousin Vinnie, in this business. The son (scripturally speaking, usually the youngest) like David, I also mentioned Rachel in Part One, is left to manage the father’s assets. I will include Joseph in this, and you say … “Ahh, but Joseph was not the youngest, Benjamin was”. The Jewish people consider Joseph to be the youngest son of Jacob and not Benjamin. There was a lot of problems with the Tribe of Benjamin. His mother called him Ben-Oni (son of my pain). His father changed it and called him (son of my strength). If your name is your identity, then Benjamin had a bit of an identity crises. What is Benjamin, pain, or strength? Benjamin was also one of the smaller, more mixed-up tribes, in the history of Israel.

The JPS Torah Series is the most highly acclaimed Jewish commentary since the turn of the century. Eighty- and ninety-year-old Jewish Scholars will be using the JPS in their studies. In JPS, Joseph is the youngest because he was the last one born in Paddam-aram. Paddam-aram was like Jacob’s Egypt, it was where he completed his time of servitude to Laban. He finally got his promotion and received his wages. It is where he became a man in his own right and got to step out of everybody else’s shadow. Benjamin was born whilst journeying, hence Benjamin’s story is a little different.

In the family business, the son is shepherding for his father, the son is now accountable. Remember Jesus said, “He will leave the ninety-nine sheep and go find the one that is missing” (Luke 15:4). Jesus knew the rules! He said in John 17:12 (This was His prayer) While I was with them in the world; I kept them in your NAME; those that YOU gave me I kept; none of them is lost, except the son of perdition; that the Scripture might be fulfilled. Jesus took His role of Shepherding very seriously. Unlike Jesus, I will have to stand before God one day and confess that I have lost a lot of God’s Sheep over the years.

Now that we understand the role the youngest son plays in the family business, let us look at Joseph again. All the sons of Jacob were Shepherds, they were all working together, Joseph was hanging out with Dan and Naphtali, who were the sons of Bilhah (Rachel’s maid). Something went wrong and Joseph brought his father a bad report. Could it be that his brothers were mistreating the sheep? Could it be that they were not being particularly good shepherds?

Christians and Jews differ in their understanding of the book of Genesis. Christians believe every word is written as God gave it. Jews on the other hand are fully aware that Genesis is a compilation of many other texts, such as Genesis Rabba, Jubilees (Little Genesis), Talmud, Enoch, and others. To glean a bit more about Joseph, I was curious to find out what Genesis Rabba had to say about him. It says that Joseph became proud and haughty, and confirming my suspicion it mentioned that Joseph had caught his brothers slaughtering and eating some of the best sheep. This in fact was the accusation (bad report) Joseph brought to his father.

The Hebrew word for Shepherd is Ro’eh but when it refers to Joseph in this Genesis story it uses the word Ro’eh ET. A Variation of Ro’eh. It is more like in this instance, Joseph was lording it over (JPS Torah Series) his brothers, telling them how to do their job. Acting a bit like ‘The Shepherd’. This made his brothers angry and they arose and conspired to kill him. The word (ET) in this instance means The Shepherd. By referring to Joseph as The Shepherd, he is differentiated from being just another Ro’eh.

Was the drama that was unfolding because Joseph had inherent qualities of a Shepherd or was, he just being a bit of a pain? I do not think that Joseph was a pain, he just understood his purpose at an early age. Let us take a quick look at Joseph.

  • In Jewish literature Joseph is the youngest son of Jacob and Rachel.
  • He was born to older parents, (Jacob was about ninety years old, when Joseph was born).
  • His mother died when he was a teenager.
  • He was taken into slavery when he was seventeen and he became separated from his family.  
  • Joseph was a Dreamer in the sense that God was communicating to him in dreams.
  • Joseph had to grow up fast. Remember when the brothers were sitting around, during the famine, they did not know what to do. By then, Joseph was running a country. Joseph’s brothers were terribly cruel to him, and they made him suffer. For what? For being a better shepherd than they were? For having dreams, for predicting the future.

I have been told by an Orthodox Jew who visited a pit like the one Joseph was put into. He said there is an enormously powerful echo in the area and that noise carried through in waves and you could hear it miles away. Joseph’s screams would have been terrible to hear. He would have cried out to his brothers to save him from the pit and they did not. They showed no mercy! Again, Genesis Rabba states that the pit was infested with snakes and scorpions. That Joseph was stripped of his garments and left in the pit for three days before he was sold to the Ishmaelites.

In the end Joseph was grateful for his ordeal because he was able to save many people through the things he suffered.

For me, this recalls the suffering of Jesus. Because of the things He suffered, He also was able to save many people.

Many things impress me about the life of Joseph. None more so than Joseph’s ability to make decisions. He made decisions about Potiphar’s wife, he decided to interpret dreams, and he made decisions as to how to get himself out of prison. Then he made decisions as to how to manage the worst famine the land had ever seen. We learn to make decisions by making decisions. We learn to make good decisions, by making lots and lots of decisions. Decision making is not a ‘stab in the dark’, it is a calculated process.

In the end, I believe Joseph, was Ro’eh ET because he inherently had the heart of a Shepherd and he was trying to impress upon his brothers to be better Shepherds. For that he paid the ultimate price.

The Hired-Servant (Shepherd):

The third category I have put shepherds into concerns us more than the other two. The last category is called the Hired Shepherd (the employee).

If the Owner/Operator cannot operate his business for any reason, and he has no son, or his Rachel has left, then he needs to hire someone.

That person is called a “Hired-Shepherd”. A Hired-Shepherd is on a wage (that is us, we are hired). The Hired-Shepherd must answer to his Lord and Master and explain to Him why a sheep has gone missing. He will have to pay compensation to his Lord and Master. (“You broke it you bought it”).  

In ancient documents called the Mari documents (found in Tel Hariri, on the banks of the Euphrates), we get a particularly good understanding of the sorts of expectations that existed between owner and hired shepherd.

The Mari documents were excavated in 1933 -1938. Over twenty-thousand cuneiform documents were found. Most of them are from about 1800 BC. About 3800 years ago, that is close to the time of The Patriarchs. The Mari documents also contain names like, Sarah, Terah, Abram, Laban. They worshiped a moon-god (nanna). The symbol for this god was the crescent moon. In ancient times the sun was (male) moon (female) stars (children). The Mari documents speak of male and female prophets who prophesied and there is evidence that the Kings sought out these prophets to receive guidance.

I am not suggesting they were a group of Hebrews. But a lot of what they lived out in their daily lives correspond to the lives of the Hebrews and is confirmed in the Bible.

Please see an example of a contract that was discovered amongst these Mari documents. It was translated by Israel Finkelstein and published in the Journal of the American Oriental Society 88(1968):30-36.

If you are thinking that Workplace Agreements are a modern-day concept then, think again.

The hired shepherd received a portion of the newborn animals. 92 ewes, 20 rams, 22 breeding lambs, 24 spring lambs, 33 she goats, 4 male goats, 27 kids, total 158 sheep, 64 goats, which Sinshamuh entrusted to Dada the Shepherd. Dada assumes liability therefore and will replace any lost animals. Should Nidnatum Dada’s Shepherd-boy absent himself, he will bear responsibility for any subsequent losses. Dada will also have to pay five kor of barley. It was signed by three witnesses in Samuiluna year one, fourth month, sixteenth day.

If there was a breach of contract compensation had to be paid, by Dada (hired shepherd) and by Nidnatum Dada’s shepherd boy.

In the book of Job 7:1-3. It says “Is there not a time of hard service for man on the earth? Are not his days like the days of a hired man? Like a servant who earnestly desires the shade, and like a hired servant who eagerly looks for his wages. So, I have allotted months of futility and wearisome nights have been appointed to me.”

Hired-Shepherds, they are not our sheep! Watch how you treat God’s sheep – it is not our business, but we must treat it like it is. We are responsible and accountable. If something goes wrong, we will be asked to “Please explain?”.

There is a saying: ” If it happened on your watch, you fix it”. You broke it you brought it!

This brings me to the close of Part Two of my teaching on The Good Shepherd.

We need to take shepherding very seriously. By the time I am finished this teaching you will be left with no doubt as to what shepherding is.


  • The number one occupation of God’s people was that of a Shepherd.
  • There were both male and female shepherds.
  • Joseph was more than a shepherd, he was The Shepherd (Ro’eh ET)!
  • I divided shepherds into three categories (Owner/Operator), Family Business and Hired-Shepherd.
  • Jesus, fell into the category of Family Business (The Son) and he was careful not to lose any sheep. He knew the rules. He has the title as The Good Shepherd (special title for the Son).
  • We fall into the category of Hired-Shepherd, the penalties for losing sheep are severe for us.

Hands up all those who want to be Shepherds.

In Hebrews 13:17 the Apostle Paul says, obey those that watch over you; the Greek means, obey those that are sleepless over you. Shepherding means being sleepless. Jacob said to Laban, Gen 31:40 the drought consumed me by day and the frost by night. My sleep departed from my eyes. Jacob was sleepless over Laban’s sheep, that is why he was so successful. Good shepherds watch the sheep, care for the sheep, and protect the sheep. The word watch also means to give account, not just an account about yourself (yes, that too), but also an account for others.

I want to finish off now with a bit more about Joseph. Joseph had a dream, in the dream he was binding sheaves. A shepherd binding sheaves! You cannot understand this until you read some more from the Mari documents.

One of the Mari tablets says:  that Shepherds were also required to bring in the harvest. Most of the time they were watching sheep, while watching sheep they also had to bring in the harvest. The best shepherds got to do this. When Joseph said to his brothers, “I will bind sheaves”, he became a problem for them. Because what he was saying is “I’m going to rise to fame”. Harvesters were greater than Shepherds.

Rather than encourage and allow him to rise to the top, instead they conspired to kill him.

In the next session I will speak more about the function of a Shepherd and how it relates to the Christian New Testament. 

Thank you for reading and God Bless You.

Cheryl Mason

The YouTube video for …

The Good Shepherd Part Two

The Good Shepherd – Part One

I taught this series on The Good Shepherd in a Church in 2014. I decided to re-visit the series because I think the message is still a good one and still relevant to us today. I hope you enjoy and learn something new from these notes on The Good Shepherd.

In the book of Genesis, Chs. 46:33-34 and Genesis Ch. 47:3 we read that Joseph was warning his family about the types of questions Pharaoh was going to ask them. Joseph told them, Pharaoh is going to ask you, “What is your occupation”? The children of Israel at this point had just arrived in Egypt, and for the Egyptians an individual’s occupation was extremely important. A person’s occupation determined their status in society; like where they lived for example.  The answer the Children of Israel gave to Pharaoh was, “Both we and our fathers before us were Shepherds.”  Shepherds! Shepherds were not highly esteemed and only a little better than slaves.

Today, if we asked people, “What is your occupation? Different ones would say … “I am an accountant, a chef, an engineer, a nurse, a teacher, a student.” I think you would all agree with me that almost none of them would say that they are a Shepherd. And yet, the number one occupation of God’s people in the Bible was that of a Shepherd. Abel was a Shepherd, Abraham was a Shepherd, Jacob was a Shepherd, Joseph and all his brothers were Shepherds. Moses, David, they were all Shepherds. It was while they were Shepherding that God found them and called them into their respective ministries. All these great Shepherds can be found in the Hebrew Scriptures. Then there is the New Testament, in which Jesus was and still is the greatest Shepherd of them all. The Good Shepherd, in the Hebrew he is called the ha Ro’eh ha tov!

But what about the ladies? Any lady Shepherds in the Bible? It stands to reason in a physical sense at least that if your husband is a Shepherd, then the wife would also need to like sheep. Otherwise, she would be in for a rough time. In the Bible some ladies like Rachel were Shepherds even before they got married. It was unusual for that day and age, but it was not beyond the realms of possibility for women to do the work of a Shepherd. And as I will point out later in the series, that it is the same word that has been translated into the Greek and then into the English as the word, Pastor.

Now to fill in the blanks. When Jacob was on the run from his brother Esau, He sought refuge amongst his brethren in Haran. Whilst looking for his uncle Laban he saw Rachel coming towards him, bringing her father’s sheep to be watered and fed, Genesis Ch. 29:9. Rachel was doing the work of a Shepherd and the Bible calls her a Shepherdess (Ra’ah he). But we will be politically correct and call Rachel a Shepherd. The moment Jacob saw her he was not only taken by her beauty, but he was taken by the fact that she was doing a job so familiar to him. Rachel was a Shepherd like he was.

Isaac and Rebecca had trained him well and he knew what credentials to look for in a wife. Jacob kissed Rachel and it was all very Hollywood like 😊 He then lifted his voice and cried. Must have been some kiss, huh? I am not sure whether it was just a peck on the cheek or some big pash, but that encounter changed Jacob forever. There he was thinking he was alone in the world, and that day he not only met the woman of his dreams but also someone who was happy to tend to sheep.

I think it is an important model to work from, I believe Jacob chose Rachel first for her occupation. So often, when we choose a partner, we choose someone quite different to ourselves. Then we think we can change that person and that person thinks they can change us, and so the games begin. Not so for Jacob and Rachel, they shared a common bond from the very beginning. There were many obstacles in the way of these two Shepherds. The enemy (our enemy, call him what you will) hates Shepherds. He has a habit of killing Shepherds. If those two Shepherds had offspring, it would be another Shepherd. And as we know that is exactly what happened with the beautiful Shepherd named Joseph. 

We are all familiar with the Jacob story. He finds himself having to work seven years to marry Rachel, only to discover he was tricked by Laban and he was married to Rachel’s sister Leah, instead. The moral of this story must be not to get drunk on your wedding night and for goodness sake keep the light on, so you know who you are marrying. Now, there was nothing wrong with Leah per-se, but the Bible says she had delicate eyes. Delicate eyes as in, she could not see very well? I am certain Leah was a wonderful woman and she is the mother of most of the tribes of Israel, but unfortunately, and I do not mean this in a derogatory sense, her name means ‘wild cow’ in Strong’s Concordance. That does not mean she was a nasty person, I believe it simply means, she was more suited to cattle than sheep. Rachel’s name means Ewe and she was more suited to sheep.

Personally, I concluded that Leah had weak eyes, as in not being able to watch the sheep very well. It takes good eyes to watch sheep. Cattle are bigger than sheep, so they are easier to watch, they also have less predators than sheep. It is easy for a wolf or a lion to carry away a sheep, but they might find it harder to carry away cattle. Whatever Leah’s problems were we might never fully know, but nonetheless Laban decided as she was the oldest, she had to be married off first.

Rachel was the youngest, and the youngest, usually male child was left to look after the father’s sheep. Since Laban did not have any sons, Rachel was his youngest, so she took the place of a son and did what was traditionally a man’s job. Later, in Genesis we read that Laban had sons, we do not know where these came from, whether they were babies when Rachel was watching sheep, or were they born after she married Jacob? Based on my understanding, I believe Laban had no sons for the following reasons:

  1. The sons of Laban that are mentioned are his grandsons. There was no word for grandson, they were all simply ‘bens’ as in sons.
  2. Laban also ran after the girls, if he had sons, he would have let them go, it was commonplace for girls to leave home anyway.
  3. Then there is the situation with the ‘gods’ or Teraphiym that Rachel stole from her father (Genesis Ch. 31:14). These were in fact family heirlooms and were part of the inheritance of sons. Although some related to fertility, safe travel, it is clear from Genesis Ch. 31:19 it was inheritance.

In Genesis Ch. 31:19, Rachel and Leah answer Laban and say to him, “Is there any portion or inheritance left to us in our father’s house? This is followed by the stealing of the idol gods. As far as Rachel was concerned, Jacob was now the head of Laban’s family and since the family were moving on, she took the idols. As the scripture also reads, that Laban was back tending to sheep, because he had lost his shepherds Jacob and Rachel. It is interesting to note that this patriarchal family, had tendencies towards polytheism and superstition, so common in the Ancient Near East. 

Rachel was the main point of contention between Laban and Jacob. That is because Rachel was an asset so both men wanted her. Leah was a liability, so Laban was happy to get rid of her. And even though this story reads that Rachel was beautiful, and I do not doubt that she was, I am certain her beauty was not the main reason for this story. There were plenty of beautiful woman in the Middle East, then as now, but they were not shepherds. Rachel imbued the characteristics of an Ancient Shepherd, which has carried on into the New Covenant. The concept has not changed, the function has not changed.   

In the end Jacob would serve a total of fourteen years for Rachel, only to find there was yet another obstacle in the way of these two Shepherds. Rachel was unable to conceive. But God prevailed and eventually Rachel gave birth to a beautiful Shepherd boy by the name of Joseph. We also know that Rachel died whilst giving birth to her second son, Benjamin. It was not uncommon for woman to die in childbirth then and it was no different for the Matriarch Rachel. Archaeologists have discovered many female skeletons from ancient times with baby skeletons still trapped in the birth canal. Also discovered are female skeletons lying next to a baby skeleton. Unlike some of these unfortunate finds, Benjamin survived his childbirth ordeal, but grew up never knowing his mother. And let us not forget that little Joseph also lost his mother on that tragic day.

Rachel would always be the most loved wife of Jacob. And her legacy would live on in Joseph. Some things are inherent, like the heart of a Shepherd. You either have the heart of a Shepherd or you do not. And I am convinced that just like Jacob went in search of a Shepherd wife, so also our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has eyes that roam to and fro on the earth, looking for those individuals who inherently have the heart of a Shepherd.

A Shepherd either loves dealing with the daily watering, feeding, cleaning of the sheep or loathes it. There is no middle road in shepherding.

Shepherding was a big part of Israelite culture. And what Ancient Israel did in the physical, we the people of the New Covenant do in the spiritual. So, shepherding then becomes for us a metaphor for caring for God’s people, human sheep. I hope I have not offended you by calling you sheep. I have heard people say, “Don’t call me sheep, sheep are stupid, I am not a sheep.” We read in Ezekiel Ch.34:31 “And you are my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men and I am your God, says the Lord.” Most translations say, “Human Sheep.” That is what the Bible calls us, to us, God is like a Shepherd and we are like Sheep. That is the analogy He uses to describe the relationship. Forget about the animal, focus on the role and the function. The Biblical Hebrew language is about FUNCTION!

If you do not like people, then I am sorry to say you are not a Shepherd. To put it another way, can a shepherd not love his sheep?

Can you imagine how miserable a Shepherd would be if he did not love his job. He is out in the elements, the sun, rain, storms, looking for shelter, looking for water, looking for food, day in and day out. The Shepherd is watching for predators, predators who want to steal away the sheep. Predators are stalking them. He cannot sleep, if he lets his guard down for one minute, one of the sheep could go missing. If he is an accountable Shepherd, then he must go and find that lost sheep and bring it back into the fold. That is exactly what Jesus said, did He not? He would leave the ninety-nine sheep and go find that one sheep that strayed.

Caring for sheep is a difficult job, in comparison to the Bedouin or Arab cultures who raised camels for example. Camels can travel longer distances, requiring less food and water along the way. I recall reading some of William Albright’s material on what he called, ‘Camel Nomads’, and I recall thinking how different it was to shepherding sheep. Sheep are so much more vulnerable and have so many more needs.  

This concludes Part One. Thank you for reading.

If you prefer to listen to the video, here is the link to my YouTube Channel.

Cheryl Mason.

All images used are either free-images or purchased from iSock photography.

Update: Am I okay?

For those inquiring if I am okay because I have not posted for a while — yes, I am okay! I have been working on several articles and they ended up becoming far more time consuming then I originally thought. Because I do a considerable amount of reading for each article, and books are becoming ridiculously expensive, it all takes time.

Although, I can afford to spend a bit more time on my articles now, because this year my readership online has gone gangbusters and taken on a life of its own. For example, more than 90% of my traffic is now from search engines, others posting links and pingbacks. Whereas before most of it came from social media sites. I have always maintained that people searching for you is far better than SMS’s for the simple reason, if a person is searching for you then they are more likely to read what you wrote. Besides social media is dying a slow death anyhow.

With COVID, a world in chaos and restrictions on the internet, I have found myself interacting more and more with real people in the real world and I am enjoying it. Sharing the Gospel on a face to face basis is what it is all about and the internet will never replace that. Although the internet has a place for sharing Christ with others, it is limited in a sense that we cannot truly judge human emotions and responses.

This year I discovered that for the average Christian life is tough. And a little care and some comforting words carry far more weight than some big doctrinal dispute. The early church practiced the simple aspects of the Christian faith and kept doctrines at bay. Having an opinion is okay but enforcing that opinion on others is not. Deliberately causing strife and descent amongst people and especially amongst believers is not okay.

Causing emotional suffering to people is a result of being distanced from that individual on the internet, which goes back to what I was saying earlier. In face to face contact we see the real person, and we can judge to what extent we are harming that person by the things we are saying and doing. And from now on the internet will only consume some of my time and not all of it.

I will be back posting on my blogs again soon, but differently. God has called me to finish my mission here on earth and to forget the rest for now. Stay safe, stay well and may our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ rule in our hearts and our lives always.

Cheryl Mason.

Zechariah Chapter 14 & Revelation Chapters 19─20: A Comparison.

Zechariah Ch.14

Verse 2: All Nations shall go against Jerusalem in battle. And the city shall be taken. Half of the people shall be taken into captivity and a residue shall remain. Residue? Yether ─ 14x as remnant and 8x as residue. In other words, a remnant will be left in the city that have not been taken captive by the enemy nations of Jerusalem. Agree?

Verse 3: The LORD arrives on the scene. “His feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives. Christians believe this to be Jesus Christ but who is this LORD who has feet in Judaism? The Jewish God is not anthropomorphic and yet this LORD has feet and stands.

Verse 5: “And, the LORD my God shall come, and all his SAINTS with thee.” But wait a minute, people are fleeing from this LORD. “And ‘ye’ shall flee to the valley of the mountains.” “Like ye fled before in the days of Uzziah King of Judah.” Are these the remnant left after the captivity of Jerusalem, who are fleeing from the LORD and His Saints?

Verse 8: Living Waters shall go out of Jerusalem, the Heavenly Jerusalem no doubt. “And the LORD shall be King over all the earth.” Revelation Ch.22:1-2 describes this River that flows from the Throne of God in the New Jerusalem.

Verse 12: God’s Judgement is against those who came against Jerusalem.

This is where it gets a bit weird, sorry, but I cannot help calling it that.

Verse 14: Judah fights in Jerusalem. Has Judah been released from captivity and returned or the remnant who fled to the mountains returned? Judah seems to appear out of nowhere. Whenever gold and silver are mentioned in the Bible it is reminiscent of taking booty. It remains unclear to me why after God passes Judgement on the enemies of Jerusalem, Judah must fight.

Verse 16,18,19: The Feast of Tabernacles is mentioned (three times). Those left from every nation who came up against Jerusalem (the heathen) will have to attend Feast of Tabernacles (once a year) or they will get no rain.

The Noachides represented by the Seventy Nations will solemnly make an appearance in Jerusalem every year or else they will get no rain. That’s what verses 16,18,19 mean.

Verse 20: Upon the bells of horses, “Holiness Unto the LORD.”

Verse 21: Mentioned again, “Holiness unto the LORD of hosts.” There will also be a return of sacrifice and NO MORE Canaanites in the house of the LORD of hosts.

I will now compare Zechariah Ch.14 with the same event in the

New Testament:

Matthew 26:64 “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven.”

Acts 1:11─12 “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall also come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”

“And they returned unto Jerusalem from the Mount Olivet.”

Jesus is coming back the same way and at the same place as he left. That part is confirmed in Zechariah Ch 14:3.

Revelation Ch.19 11-16

John sees the heavens open and Jesus on a white horse, ‘Faithful and True.’ His name is the Word of God. And he is accompanied with the armies of heaven (The Saints) as mentioned in Zechariah Ch.14:5. Horses are also mentioned in Zechariah Ch.14:20.

Revelation Ch.20 1-6

Firstly, Satan is bound. There will never be PEACE if Satan can roam. He is bound for 1000 years. He will be released for a short period of time after that. I prayed about why this can happen. I feel firstly, it is because God is a Just and Fair God and secondly, Satan needs to know that he is the instigator of war and terror among humans. Without Satan, humans can potentially live in peace.

Secondly, the Saints will reign with Christ for 1000 years. But only those who have been beheaded for Christ. This is the First Resurrection ─ those who partake of this will not see a second death. But there will be those who will receive the Mark, they will not rule and reign with Christ for 1000 years and will most likely face a second death.

There you have it Two totally different scenarios. One in the Hebrew Scriptures and one in the Christian Scriptures.

I also did a breakdown of Zechariah Ch.14 & Revelation Chs.19-20:

They both confirm that the event will occur in Jerusalem.

Both involve a return of the LORD; Christians believe this to be Jesus Christ. Personally, I think the anthropomorphism of this figure mentioned in Zechariah Ch.14 conflicts with Judaism’s own teachings. Unless of course Judaism teaches it is a metaphor. However, can a metaphor defeat Jerusalem’s enemy?

The LORD who stands on the Mount of Olives is accompanied with ‘Saints’. Saints has been interpreted from the Hebrew word, Kadosh (Holy).

There is a ‘fleeing’ a running away from the presence of God. Zechariah Ch.14:4 “As you fled in the days of Uzziah King of Judah.” Most likely referring to the terrible earthquake that occurred in Jerusalem during the reign of King Uzziah. Note when the Sixth Seal is opened in Revelation 6:12 there is also a great earthquake. But what did the great and rich men do? They fled to the dens and the rocks in the mountains.

Judgement is passed against the enemies of Jerusalem. Revelation Ch.19-11 mentions He that is ‘Faithful and True’ makes Judgement and War. But in Zechariah Ch.14-I4, it mentions Judah makes war. Revelation Ch. 5:5 states that only one prevailed to open the Seals: The Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Could Zechariah Ch.14 mean that Jesus is ‘Judah’ that will Judge and make War? Because remember, the city was captured, half of its inhabitants were taken into captivity, and the others fled. 

Zechariah proceeds with confirming the Messianic expectations of the Jewish people. I already mentioned the booty ─ gold and silver. You get booty from physical wars. I cannot help but wonder if Jews and some Christians see this as a physical war between God and humans. I do not see it that way. Although, armies are mentioned and Jesus has a Sword, His Sword has always been His Word. The enemies will be destroyed by His Word, the Word that proceeds from His mouth (Revelation 19:15). There is also a mention of the enemies being destroyed by Angels in Revelation.

Also confirming Messianic expectations, Zechariah mentions the Feast of Tabernacles, there is no mention of The Feasts of Tabernacles in Revelation or no rain for those who do not attend the annual event. Paramount to Messianic expectations is the Temple and the return to the Sacrifice. In Revelation Ch.21:22 “There is NO Temple within, because the LORD GOD and the Lamb are the Temple within.” Revelation does not mention a return to Sacrifice and lastly there is no rejection of Canaanites in Revelation.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek” Galatians 3:28.

In Zechariah, the Jews are victorious and in Revelation Ch.5:10 Christians are victorious.

What they both agree on is that the LORD is coming and will arrive on the Mount of Olives when humans have reached a point of no return.

All Scripture is quoted from the KJV.

Author: Cheryl Mason 17/7/2020

The End:

The Letter ‘J’ and the name Jesus: Part Two.

As I mentioned in Part One of this series, I embarked on this study because of a Meme that has been making its way around the Internet.  

The Meme says, “Did you know?  That the letter J is only 600 years old, so how could Jesus who lived 2000 years ago be named Jesus?”

In Part One of this series, I noted that even though this Meme was plain silly, I did encounter people who believed it. So, I took it upon myself to find out the history of the letter ‘J’ and how it ended up in the name Jesus.

This is the link to Part One:

In Part One I provided a brief history of the English language. I also provided a brief history of the Bible and the origin of the letter ‘J’ in the English language and the Bible. I mentioned that the ‘J’ sound was in existence for some time prior to it being a letter in our alphabet. The ‘J’ sound was written as ‘I’. Eventually, ‘J’ broke away from the ‘I’ and got its own sound and ‘I’ became a vowel. All this happened in approximately the fourteenth century.

In Part Two I will be briefly discussing the following:

  1. The influence of vowels on the Hebrew language and its subsequent influence on the English Bible translations.
  2. I will also briefly discuss the letter ‘Y’ and the ineffable name of the Hebrew God ─ YHVH. The Hebrew Roots Movement and Messianics insist on calling God ─YHVH and Jesus ─ Yeshua. Due to Part Two being rather lengthy, I will discuss the name Yeshua in Part Three.

Let us begin…

Vowels transformed the Hebrew Scriptures:

Vowels have played an important role in the evolution of language, but they were not always present in the alphabet. Ancient languages, for example, had no vowels.  Ancient Hebrew, also known as Biblical Hebrew, had no vowels, they were added later. It was the Greeks who gave us vowels, they also gave us the written form of the English alphabet. In approximately 800 B.C. the Greeks, changed the Phoenician alphabet in the shapes that we recognise today as the English alphabet.

Vowels in the form of dots and dashes were added to the Hebrew Scriptures sometime between the sixth century and the tenth century. A group of Jewish scholars called the Masoretes (meaning the traditionalists) produced The Masoretic Text. The Masoretes translators added the dots and dashes to assist Jewish readers pronounce Hebrew words correctly and to give vocalization to the text.

Without vowels, boat could be written as BT, it could be boat, but it could also be boot, bout, beet or beat. How would we know the difference? Using the wrong vowel can change the meaning of a word completely. And, in fact, this has been the number one accusation laid against the Masoretic Text. Did the Masoretes get every vowel and every word correct?

I will not bore you with too many details, but I will give you just one example from Washington Gladden’s epic work on the Bible. He quotes Jerome, the Early Church Father who left us numerous examples like the Hebrew word zkr-memory in Isaiah Ch. 26:14. ZKR which consists of three consonants could be zeker (memory) Strong’s H2142 or zakar (male person) Strong’s 2145 as in Genesis Ch. 1:27.

Using zkr as an example, Jerome questioned whether Saul’s judgement in 1 Samuel Chapter 15 was correct. Did Saul wipe the memorial/vestige (zeker) of the Amalekites or did he kill all the males (zakar)? Jerome was not the only early church father to raise these types of questions. The early church father’s writings are overly critical of perceived corruptions within the texts from which our Old Testament was copied. Of course, we can all sigh and go tut-tut but Jeremiah the Prophet accused the Scribes (Sopherim) in his day of having a lying pen which deceived the people (Jeremiah Ch. 8:8).

I am deviating here for a minute, see if you can read this little brain teaser. It has vowels but reading the ancient languages without vowels would have been remarkably like reading this meme.Your mind must work overtime to read between the lines and draw out its true meaning.

I have been told by Jewish scholars that just as you were able to read the meme, they also inherently knew what vowels to add to the Masoretic Text. I have no reason to doubt them except that the making of the Masoretic Text was not all smooth sailing.

The Masoretic Text was constructed in Palestine and Babylon between 500 ─ 1000 A.D. About the same time as the Babylonian Talmud. This period not only experienced a reconstruction of the TaNaKh but also a regeneration of the Hebrew language itself. Hebrew was officially a dead language even during the time of Christ. When Hebrew is mentioned during the time of Christ it means Aramaic. Aramaic and before that Greek were the official languages of the Jews.

There were two main groups adding vocalization and meaning to the Masoretic Text. The two groups, Western and Eastern interpreted the text differently. They represented two families, the Ben Asher family, and the Ben Naphtali family. We know from the Talmud that Rabbis were also involved in the Masora, they were called Sopherim (scribes, counters). Thanks to the Dictionary of Rabbis by Jacob Neusner, we can learn about these Rabbis. Like, who they were, when they lived, what they stood for and their contribution to modern day Judaism.

In the end the Ben Asher version became more authoritative and was later sanctioned by Maimonides. It was Ben Asher’s punctuation that has influenced our Old Testament, or at least that is what I think. Personally, I believe it would have been better if we used the unvocalized and unaccentuated Hebrew and worked out the translation ourselves. The benefits to Christians in my opinion would have been fewer denominations and a cleaner more fluid text. After all God had placed on this earth outstanding people like John Wycliffe, Martin Luther, and William Tyndale to translate for us.

The argument in favour of the Masoretic manuscripts until recently has been that the Dead Sea Scrolls confirm that it was transmitted without any alterations. And that was true until the DSS themselves have come under some scrutiny in recent times. It is my opinion there are major differences between The Masoretic Text and the DSS. I was aware of this even before I discovered that some DSS fragments have proven to be fraudulent. I will leave you with this quote and link from The Biblical Archaeology Society. “Nevertheless, there are differences (some quite significant) between the scrolls and the Masoretic text. Furthermore, these differences have made scholars rethink variant readings found in other ancient manuscripts. How should scholars treat these variants with relationship to the Masoretic text?”

Please do not get me wrong, I am eternally grateful to the Jews for sharing with the world their Hebrew Scriptures. I am a person of deep faith, but I also present facts. And, for too long Christians have been dumbed down due to an absence of facts. By faith I believe the Hebrew Scriptures has everything that leads us to Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Therefore, there are no excuses. But I am also intelligent and educated enough to know that throughout the process man has had a big part in the way the text has been transmitted to us. And to say that the Masoretic manuscripts are flawless is nothing short of ridiculous.

Here are some ‘pointers’ (pardon the pun) about the Masoretic Text:

  1. That it came into existence some 600 years after Christ. Or Christianity was 600 years old when it was being edited. And that the editing continued into the time of The Crusades.
  2. That it came into existence some 600 years after the destruction of the Temple by the Romans. The Jewish dream of returning to the land and rebuilding the Temple would have been relatively strong.
  3. That the Masoretic Text and the Talmud were being compiled about the same time and in some instances by the same Rabbis.
  4. That one of the Masoretic Texts and the Talmud were both compiled in Babylon, the other in Palestine.  
  5. That there were different versions of the Masoretic Text, until one was chosen to be the authoritative text. Which puts paid to the theory that its authors inherently knew which vowel went where. And, depending on who you believe the groups were diametrically opposed to each other or worked amiably together.
  6. That the relationship between the Jews and Christians were at their lowest point.
  7. That the religion of Islam was being birthed across the globe.
  8. That the MT was compiled by the Jews and for Jews. It is their history, they are the heroes, it is their book! And there is nothing wrong with that.
  9. That Christians must fish out and take what is applicable to them as confirmed by Jesus and His Apostles. Jesus never confirmed everything in the Hebrew Scriptures, even aspects of Moses’s Law. Jesus Himself saying … “It has been said of old, but I say to you.” Therefore, for the Christian the words of Jesus are more authoritative.
  10.  That with the Masoretic Text even the simplest vowel placement can significantly alter the meaning of the text.
  11. That the oldest Hebrew manuscripts (Leningradensia Codex) is composed from the Masoretic Text and was only completed in 1008 ─ 1010 A.D. And that the colophon states it has only one author, Samuel ben Jacob who edited it and pointed it.
  12.  That the earliest New Testament manuscripts pre-date the Masoretic Text by 200 years.

The Meme in question, YHVH and the name Yeshua:

The Meme at the beginning of this article drove me to get a much better appreciation of the history of language. Never did I realize that language was so dynamic. Changing letters, making new sounds, and adding vowels is not some rare phenomenon that occurred only with the letter J and I. Instead, it occurred repeatedly in the history of language in general but also the English language. Language is constantly evolving, and its history is fascinating.

Take the letter ‘Y’ for instance, it is a complex letter. The shape ‘Y’ is present in proto-Canaanite script and is said to be Akkadian in origin. The Romans adopted it around 100 A.D. and it found a home in the English alphabet during the Old English period. It remains unclear to me if the Hebrew script adopted it from the Romans or from the Canaanites. Since one of the Hebrew scripts is incredibly old: the one used by the Samaritans, I would say the Hebrew ‘Y’ is Canaanite in origin.  The other Hebrew script is referred to as Modern Hebrew and has its origins in Aramaic. Both scripts ultimately have their roots in Phoenician.

Since the ‘Y’ shape is ancient, it should not come as a surprise that the ancient Israelites adopted it in the name of their God YHVH. There is no shortage of information out there about the meaning of YHVH. I have mainly used Jewish sources to follow this trail of the ineffable name. I must mention here, the NAME comes with its own caveat. In the Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin, we read there is a death penalty for those uttering the name (Sanhedrin 56a). With that in mind, I will proceed.

This is what I discovered about the name YHVH:

  1. That Maimonides states that YHVH is the only name of God that has God doing nothing ─ it is a non-action name.
  2. That in the Zohar, YHVH is the forty-two letters ─ Shem Hamphorah.
  3. That in the Bahir the Book of Illumination, YHVH is number forty-five, which corresponds to the six Sefirot that are reflected in Adam Kadmon.
  4. That the magical pronunciation of YHVH created Adam Kadmon, the archetypal man rather than YHVH creating him.
  5. That the proper pronunciation of YHVH has been used to create a Golemthat can assist the Jewish people in times of crisis.
  6. That YHVH appears on some decks of Tarot Cards and is used in occult practices.
  7. That in the Toledoth Yeshu, Jesus is accused of discovering the magical powers of YHVH and engraving them under the flesh in his thigh. Discovering the secret gave him supernatural powers.
  8. That just like Jehovah was created from YHVH by adding vowels, the pronunciation of YHVH was created by adding vowels ‘a’ and ‘e’. The Masoretes added Adonai and Elohim and created Yahweh.
  9. That because the pronunciation of YHVH is so obscure Jews stopped using possibly during the Babylonian Exile but certainly before 200 A.D.
  10.  That YHVH appeared nearly 7000 times in ancient manuscripts but was replaced by Adonai and Ha Shem (The Name) in most instances.  
  11.  That the name of God has been lost to the Jews during the various exiles. Since the ‘Name’ was pronounced by the High Priest either once a year or once every seven years, it got lost with lack of use. Rather than mispronounce God’s name, Jews out of respect use Ha Shem (The Name).
  12. That in Canaan YHVH was always accompanied by his cohort and wife Asherah. In Canaanite culture YHVH was a Canaanite God.
  13. That the Septuagint translated the ineffable name as Kyrios (LORD).
  14. That the name YHVH does not appear anywhere in the new Testament.
  15. That Jesus never addressed the Father as YHVH, neither did the Apostles. Instead Jesus referred to the Father as Father, thus restoring the Fatherhood of God. You do not normally call your earthly father by his name, do you? Instead, you use endearing terms such as father, daddy, or papa, out of respect.
  16.  That the name YHVH does not appear in the over 60,000 manuscripts and early church writings that Christians have in their possession. Some dating back to the fourth century.
  17. That none of the Early Church Fathers called God, YHVH.
  18. That the Hebrew Roots Movement and Messianics are in violation of Talmudic Law by calling the Jewish God ─Yahweh.  

A word of warning:

I find it strange that for nearly 2000 years Christianity has survived by recognizing God as Father and Jesus as Jesus. If we consider the hundreds of Revivals that have occurred over that period and Yeshua was never heard of in any of them. Also, there are hundreds of You Tube videos about people from every corner of the globe who experienced Jesus supernaturally. There is not one video where He refers to Himself as Yeshua. To Muslims and Hindus alike, He says, “I am Jesus the God of the Christians.”

Sure, Jesus is called different names in different languages, but never in the history of Christianity has there been such a contrived effort to change the name of the Christian God across the globe. Personally, I believe many races have adopted this because of their rejection of Western Civilization. And a genuine belief that God must have Jewish names. Except it is questionable that these names even have any meaning in the Hebrew dialect. Why do we suddenly have to call Jesus new names or names in other languages? Hebrew is not my language neither is it the language of some person living in a village in Papua New Guinea or Africa.

What concerns me even more is that the Jews themselves have abandoned the use of YHVH in favour of Adonai or HaShem. They have lost the original vocalization of the name. If there are doubts concerning YHVH amongst Jews, then gentiles cannot be certain they are addressing God by the correct name. If YHVH remains in doubt how can we be certain of Yeshua? We cannot ─ As I will show you in Part Three, Yeshua is an off shoot of YHVH. As for Ha Shem (The Name), it is what you call God when you do not know His name anymore.

In Part Three I will also explain how problems can arise when trying to understand Ancient Near East names with a modern mindset. Every ANE name had a function, modern names do not necessarily have a function. Finally, I will give you my understanding of Names and Titles from the Biblical perspective.

I will leave you with Exodus 23:13 “And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect; and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.” Christians be careful what names you use when referring to God.

Author: Cheryl Mason.

Please feel free to comment or discuss further, thanks!


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Greenlee, J. and Greenlee, J., 2008. The Text of The New Testament. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers.

Kaplan, A., 1979. The Bahir Translation, Introduction and Commentary. 1st ed. York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, Inc.

Kraemer, J., 2008. Maimonides. New York: Doubleday.

MacMullen, R., 1984. Christianising The Roman Empire. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Marcolino, N., 2014. THE JESUS OF THE JEWS: The Most Amazing Discovery of The Name of Jesus As the Nazarene Messiah in The Old Testament (TANAKH). Nivaldo Marcolino de Carvalho.

Moseley, D., 1996. Yeshua A Guide to The Real Jesus And the Original Church. Maryland: Messianic Jewish Publishers.

Mulder, M. and Sysling, H., 2004. MIKRA Text, Translations, Reading & Interpretation of The Hebrew Bible in Ancient Judaism & Early Christianity. 1st ed. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, pp.39-86; 116-133.

Naveh, J., 1982. Early History of The Alphabet. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, Hebrew University.

Opeoluna Daodu, F., n.d. God’s Name Is Not Yahweh Or Jehovah?

Patai, R., 1979. The Messiah Texts Jewish Legends of Three Thousand Years. 1st ed. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.

Patzia, A., 2011. The Making of The New Testament. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic.

Plant, I., 2012. Myth in The Ancient World. [Place of publication not identified]: Palgrave Macmillan.

Pranaitis, R., n.d. The Talmud Unmasked the Secret Rabbinical Teaching Concerning Christians.

Rambsel, Y., 1996. Yeshua. Nashville: Word Pub.

Robinson, A., 2007. The Story of Writing. London: Thames & Hudson.

Roger, S., 2012. Jehovah, Yahweh, Jesus Or Yeshua. Texas: All Nations Publications.

Rosen, M., n.d. Alphabetical.

Sacks, D., 2004. Letter Perfect. New York: Broadway Books.

Sáenz-Badillos, A., 2006. A History of The Hebrew Language. Cambridge [u.a.]: Cambridge Univ. Press.

Sawyer, J., 2009. A Concise Dictionary of The Bible and Its Reception. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press.

Schäfer, P., 2007. Jesus In the Talmud. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Scholem, G., 1971. The Messianic Idea in Judaism. New York: Schocken Books Inc.

Shay, S., 2008. The History of English. San Francisco: Wardja Press.

Shelly, R., 1999. The Name of Jesus. Louisiana: Howard Publishing Co., Inc.

Spiers, N., 2014. 1000 Names, Titles and Attributes of Him Who Is Lord of All. Word of Power Ministries USA.

Strong, J. and Strong, J., 1990. The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of The Bible. Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

The Holy Bible, New King James Version, 1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson., Inc.

Waugh, G., 2014. The Lion of Judah The Titles of Jesus. CreateSpace, Charleston, SC, USA.

Wikipedia. n.d. Y. [online] Available at: <; [Accessed 21 July 2015].

Wilkinson, R., 2015. Tetragrammaton. Leiden: BRILL.

Wurthwein, E., 1995. The Text of The Old Testament. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, p.17.

The End:

The Letter ‘J’ and the name Jesus: Part One

I conducted this study because of a Meme that was making its way around the Internet.

The Meme says … “Did you know?  That the letter J is only 600 years old, so how could Jesus who lived 2000 years ago be named Jesus?”

Most sensible people would regard this Meme as plain silly, but unfortunately there are people who believe what it says. The reason why they believe it is because it contains an element of truth. In other words, it is a half-truth.

The part that is true is that the letter ‘J’ is approximately 600 years old. However, it is not true that Jesus cannot be called Jesus because of it. After all there are many English words that start with the letter ‘J’, like Jerusalem, Judah and Jews. If it is impossible for Jesus to have the letter ‘J’ in his name, then it is impossible for Jerusalem to be called Jerusalem.

In my opinion there is a more sinister reason behind this Meme and its aim is not that the author has a issue with the letter ‘J’ per se: but that it is constructed in such a way that it attacks the name of Jesus. The purpose of the Meme is to encourage people to use an Aramaic name ‘Yeshua’ instead of Jesus. Which is part and parcel of the Hebrew Roots Movement. Hebrew Roots is a Christian Movement that is pro-Zionist and supports the Zionist agenda of Land, Language (Hebrew), Sabbath and other Jewish markers.

Half-truths are always more difficult to disprove than out-and-out lies, so I had to read a lot of books to get to the bottom of this subject. I also completed a course by Professor Michael Drout who is a leading expert on the English language. I feel I have done this topic justice by reading so widely. What I am presenting here in this Three-Part series on The Letter ‘J’ and the name Jesus are my conclusions.  

Let us begin…

We need to appreciate first and foremost that the English language has an exceptionally long and complex history. And secondly that English has been influenced by many other languages. It is by no means a pure language, and to be completely honest, there is no such thing as a pure language that fell from the sky, and that includes languages like Hebrew and Arabic. 

Despite its lengthy history, the English language developed in four distinct phases. They are: Old English, Middle English, Early Modern English and Modern English. The English language has predominantly been influenced by Latin, German, French, Greek and Romance (a group of Roman languages).

Old English was influenced by German, German was influenced by Latin. Latin was the official language of Christianity and it was also the Legal language in its day.

Understanding the origins of the English language is paramount to this study because it affects the way in which we understand and read the Bible.

Ultimately our goal is to find out how the letter ‘J’ ended up in the name Jesus. Because of this, we need to take a quick look at the history of the English Bible before we proceed.

The first Bible was translated from the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts into Latin, by Jerome, an Early Church Father, in 382 A.DIt was called The Latin Vulgate, Vulgate because Vulgar was the common Latin of the day.  Jerome, was a Greek scholar, learnt Hebrew and was prolific in Vulgar Latin.

The next major translation was done in the German language by Martin Luther. Luther completed the German translation of the Bible, the New Testament in 1522 A.D. And the Old Testament in 1534 A.D.

William Tyndale wrote the Tyndale Bible in English, the New Testament in 1525 A.D. And the Old Testament in 1531 A.D.  He introduced some new words and phrases in the Bible, like Jehovah (for the name of God) and we are going to see why he did that soon. You might also be surprised to learn that he was the first person to use the word Passover and Scapegoat. And phrases like, My brother’s keeper, Salt of the Earth etc. Tyndale was tried for heresy and burned at the stake in 1535 A.D. He had a falling out with King Henry VIII over divorce.  

I have not added any information for the Wycliffe Bible, because it is not relevant to this study. But Wycliffe’s biblical manuscripts predated Tyndale by two-hundred years approximately.

This is what English looked like in Tyndale’s day, as you can see it is a little different to the English we read today.

Even though Tyndale’s Bible was not the first English Bible, it was the first to use the letter ‘J’ in the history of Bible translations. As far as I can tell that is, unless someone can prove otherwise. 

Something to note is that Tyndale was influenced by Martin Luther, who was German.

German words beginning with ‘H’ and ‘J’ sounded like ‘Y’ in German and vice versa.  Coincidently, it was about this time that we begin to see the ‘J’ used for the ‘Y’ sound in the Bible.  ‘Y’ sound is the Hebraic sound, YHWH, Yehoshua, Yehuda etc. They were translated into ‘J’ words in the Tyndale Bible. Although Luther himself never used Jehovah which is a rendering of YHVH, he used LORD instead in his translation.

Just in case you did not know, JeHoVaH is YHVH with vowels in the Tyndale Bible. Suspicious, if you ask me, considering the proper pronunciation of YHVH which was only used by the Hebrew priest in Temple services once a year is lost. However, Tyndale took it upon himself to pronounce YHVH as JeHoVaH.

Although, Tyndale introduced us to the letter ‘J’ but not the ‘J’ sound. The ‘J’ sound was already in the English language.

The letter ‘J’ was incorporated into the English alphabet sometime in the fourteenth century.

Prior to that the letter ‘I’ had the ‘J’ sound. It is not that the English language did not have a ‘J’ sound, it did have a ‘J’ sound, it is just that it was represented by an ‘I’.  So, ‘J’ evolved from ‘I’, kept its own sound and ‘I’ became a vowel and got a new sound.

That part of the Meme is a lie!

By the eleventh century (Middle English period) the Norman’s conquered England, and the French language influenced the English language. By then most people were bilingual.

The French speakers emphasised the ‘J’ sound in the French accent and that sound was then adopted by the English speakers. ‘J’ was a variant of ‘I’ and was used interchangeably with ‘I’.

It is estimated that in the Middle English period 10,000 French words were added to the English language. Now, that is a lot of English words that are of French origin.

Even though the early translations of the English Bible were written during the Middle English period they were still highly influenced by the Old English, which was influenced by German, which was influenced by Latin.  

And, this was still apparent in the next major English translation, which was the Authorised King James Version in 1611 A.D. The AKJV is an Old English Bible, even though it was written in the Middle English period.

By the way, 80% of The Authorised King James Version is the same as the Tyndale Bible.

In the fifteenth and sixteenth century the English language entered its Early Modern phase and the language transformed yet again. Latin continued to influence the language, but Greek and Romance also played a part in this transformation. It is estimated that 30,000 new Latin, Greek and Romance words were added during this period.

The other major change that was taking place was the emphasis on vowels. Vowels became longer and more pronounced. 

I would suggest you listen to a series of lectures by Professor Michael Drout who is a world leading expert on the English language and how it evolved.

Professor Drout says, that in the 1400’s, the Black Death gave rise to a new middle class in Britain. About half of the British population died because of this plague and this new middle class emerged, with new ways of speaking English, this is one of his theories, anyway. It did not happen all at once; he thinks perhaps it might have happened over 50 years or so. Scholars refer to this as “The Great Vowel Shift”.

The fifteenth century also gave rise to the printing press in Guttenberg in Germany, which pretty much revolutionised the English language. There is plenty more to write about in the next session, but for now I hope I have given you some idea as to how the English language evolved.

Before I move on to next session I just want to say this…”Yes, the letter ‘J’ was a late addition to the English language, but prior to it being a letter ‘J’ it existed as a sound and was written as the letter ‘I’.

Then the letters ‘J’ and ‘I’ were used interchangeably. Eventually they would split ‘J’ would become a consonant and ‘I’ would become a vowel.

That is why I call the Meme a half-truth which was made with the intension to deceive people! 

Author: Cheryl Mason.


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Kraemer, J., 2008. Maimonides. New York: Doubleday.

MacMullen, R., 1984. Christianizing The Roman Empire. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Marcolino, N., 2014. THE JESUS OF THE JEWS: The Most Amazing Discovery Of The Name Of Jesus As The Nazarene Messiah In The Old Testament (TANAKH). Nivaldo Marcolino de Carvalho.

Moseley, D., 1996. Yeshua A Guide To The Real Jesus And The Original Church. Maryland: Messanic Jewish Publishers.

Naveh, J., 1982. Early History Of The Alphabet. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, Hebrew University.

Opeoluna Daodu, F., n.d. God’s Name Is Not Yahweh Or Jehovah?

Patai, R., 1979. The Messiah Texts Jewish Legends Of Three Thousand Years. 1st ed. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.

Patzia, A., 2011. The Making Of The New Testament. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic.

Plant, I., 2012. Myth In The Ancient World. [Place of publication not identified]: Palgrave Macmillan.

Pranaitis, R., n.d. The Talmud Unmasked The Secret Rabbinical Teaching Concerning Christians.

Rambsel, Y., 1996. Yeshua. Nashville: Word Pub.

Robinson, A., 2007. The Story Of Writing. London: Thames & Hudson.

Roger, S., 2012. Jehovah, Yahweh, Jesus Or Yeshua. Texas: All Nations Publications.

Rosen, M., n.d. Alphabetical.

Sacks, D., 2004. Letter Perfect. New York: Broadway Books.

Sáenz-Badillos, A., 2006. A History Of The Hebrew Language. Cambridge [u.a.]: Cambridge Univ. Press.

Sawyer, J., 2009. A Concise Dictionary Of The Bible And Its Reception. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press.

Schäfer, P., 2007. Jesus In The Talmud. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Scholem, G., 1971. The Messianic Idea In Judaism. New York: Schocken Books Inc.

Shay, S., 2008. The History Of English. San Francisco: Wardja Press.

Shelly, R., 1999. The Name Of Jesus. Louisiana: Howard Publishing Co., Inc.

Spiers, N., 2014. 1000 Names, Titles And Attributes Of Him Who Is Lord Of All. Word of Power Ministries USA.

Strong, J. and Strong, J., 1990. The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance Of The Bible. Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

The Holy Bible, New King James Version, 1982. Nashville: Thomas Nelson., Inc.

Waugh, G., 2014. The Lion Of Judah The Titles Of Jesus. CreateSpace, Charleston, SC, USA.

Wikipedia. n.d. Y. [online] Available at: <; [Accessed 21 July 2015].

Wilkinson, R., 2015. Tetragrammaton. Leiden: BRILL.

The End.

“Elijah, Elijah, where are you?” ─ A Jewish and Christian perspective of Elijah the Prophet.

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