Parashah 24: Vayikra “He called”
Vayikra “He called” (Leviticus) 1:1-6:7 Psalm 50
Yesha'yahu (Isaish) 43:21-44:23 Hebrews 10:1-14
by Messianic Teacher Dr. Daniel Boley
Before looking at the parashah, I'd like to briefly touch on a “spring-board” verse some use to try and dismiss the first two-thirds of God's Word, or to say that the God of the Old Testament is not the God of the New Testament. Some read verses like John 1:17 and think that the Old Testament must be devoid of all grace, since grace came through Jesus Christ. Let's look a little closer.
We must keep in mind some idea of just how holy, just, pure, righteous, undefiled and incapable of defilement God is. The LORD is an all-consuming fire of pure holiness.
Contrasting that is the utter sinfulness of mankind. A condition inherent in every person with a human father since the Fall. If any person were to try to approach God, he or she would instantly be undone by God's searing justice.
And so, ANY means, ANY system, ANY way – including the Old Testament sacrificial system – that allows mankind to even turn toward the One True God is strictly and totally because of the grace and mercy of the Almighty!
Mercy meaning that we don't get what we justly deserve.
Grace meaning that we receive benefits and favor that are unmerited.
The New Testament, the B'rit Hadasha, was written by Hebrews; by Torah observant Jews. Matthew was originally written in the Hebrew language, (as attested to by the early “church fathers”) being written primarily for a Jewish audience. The other books and letters of the B'rit were written in the common language of the world at large at that time, koine Greek. This was all God's doing through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Ruach HaKodesh. This allowed His Good News about salvation for all of mankind being available through the Jewish Messiah to quickly spread throughout the world.
There is a difference between “thinking Greek” as most western societies do, and “thinking Hebrew.” The following is an article by Raynard Vaander Laan, from www.followtherabbi.com accessed 9 Feb 09.
Rich images and beautiful word pictures fill the pages of the Bible. But they come from a culture, time, and place that was much different from our own. [Most of] the inspired writers of the Bible were Eastern (Hebrew) and they wrote [primarily] to other Easterners.
Most Christians in our culture are Western (Greek) thinkers, who think about the world in a different way than Easterners. As a result, many of the Text’s rich images puzzle or escape us. If we learn to “Think Hebrew,” the pages of God’s Word will come alive in a whole new way.
Way of Thinking
Though Greeks and Hebrews share many of the same concepts, they think about them in distinct ways. Each group uses numerical references in different ways. And as they communicate ideas and beliefs, the Greek and Hebrew approach to language varies as well:
Greek thinkers usually express truth abstractly, using words, ideas, and logical definitions. They prefer the writing style of prose, and like to see outlines, lists, and bullet points.
Hebrew thinkers express truth concretely, using word pictures and stories. They prefer the writing style of poetry and like to use imagery and symbolism.
Greeks see numbers primarily as a quantity.
Hebrews see numbers as a quality or symbol.
Thinking About Life
Greeks and Hebrews have different perspectives on matters concerning religious life. They think about eternal life and sin in unique ways. And their understanding of the individual within community also varies.
The Greek views the kingdom of God as detached from this world. They think of eternal life as something that happens after earthly life is over.
Hebrews view the kingdom of God as something beginning in this life. They see eternal life as a life lived in harmony with God.
Community vs Individual
Greeks focus on the individual.
Hebrews focus on community in relationship with God.
Error / Sin:
Greeks see sin as wrong belief or incorrect thinking. They emphasize what a person knows about faith.
Hebrews see sin as wrong behavior. They emphasize what a person does in response to faith.
Thinking About God
Greeks and Hebrews have unique concepts of God. Whether they are describing him, discussing his existence, or explaining their faith in God, each group approaches the subject with different ideas and assumptions.
Existence of God:
The Greek tries to prove the existence of God.
The Hebrew assumes the existence of God.
Greeks focus on the being of God.
Hebrews focus on the relationship with God.
Greeks see faith as intellectual. They express faith in creeds and doctrine, listing proof texts to support their beliefs.
Hebrews see faith as relational and personal. They express faith in terms of their relationship with God, rather than as a rationalization.
Thinking About Truth
Greeks take a very logical approach to truth, while Hebrews focus on experiences. As a result, each group sees the ultimate truth differently, and they have separate approaches to the concept of truth over time.
Ultimate in Truth:
For Greeks, the ultimate in truth tends to be scientific and rational. When looking at Scripture, they focus on how things are done. They come to believe truth as they think it through.
Hebrews see the ultimate truth as religious and experiential. When looking at Scripture, they focus on what was done and who did it. They come to believe truth as they experience it.
Truth Over Time:
Greeks see truth as static and unchanging.
Hebrews see truth as unfolding.
John 1:17 is translated into English in various ways, e.g.
NIV For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
NASU For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.
NKJV For the law was given through Moses; but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
NLT For the law was given through Moses, but God's unfailing love and faithfulness can through Jesus Christ.
TEV God gave the Law through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
YLT for the law through Moses was given, the grace and the truth through Jesus Christ did come
CJB For the Torah was given through Moshe; grace and truth came through Yeshua the Messiah.
John 1:17 in the original Greek of that book says
ὅτι ὁ νόμος διὰ Μωϋσές ἐδόθη
hoti ho nomos diá Mōüséōs edóthē
ἡ χάρις καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια διὰ Ἰησοû Χριστοû ἐγένετο
hē cháris kaí hē alḗtheia diá Iēsoú Christoú egéneto
ὅτι = for, that, because, since
ὁ = ὁ, ἡ, τὁ: “a reference to an entity, event, or state, clearly identified by the linguistic or non-linguistic contest of the utterance – 'the, he, she, it.'” Louw and Nida Greek English Lexion of the New Testament
νόμος = anything established, anything received by usage, a custom, usage, law, Law
διὰ = a primary preposition denoting the channel of an act; through (in very wide applications, local, causal, or occasional): through, by, by means of, with the help of, by reason of, because of, on account of
Μωϋσές = Moses
ἐδόθη = perfect of δίδωμι (did-o-mi): give, grant, supply, furnish, give over, deliver
ἡ = see ὁ, above
χάρις = Strong's: graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal , figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude)
Thayer's: grace: properly, that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech; good-will, loving-kindness, favor (Luke 2:52); what is due to grace (the spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace; a token or proof of grace, 2 Cor 1:15); thanks 1 Cor 10:30
καὶ = a primary particle, having a copulative and sometimes also a cumulative force; and, also, even, so then, too, etc.; often used in connection (or composition) with other particles or small words
ἡ = see ὁ, above
ἀλήθεια = verity [a true principle or belief, especially one of fundamental importance], truth: objectively what is true in any matter, of a truth, in reality, in fact, certainly; subjectively truth as a personal excellence; that candor of mind which is free from affectation, pretense, simulation, falsehood, deceit John 8:44
διὰ = see διὰ above
Ἰησοû = Jesus (anglicized) from a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew for Yeshua (יְשׁוּעַ) salvation; a shortened form of Joshua (יְהוֹשׁוּעַ) Yah (the LORD) saves, or is our salvation
Χριστοû = Christ (anglicized) from Christos / Christu; anointed, i.e. the Messiah (a title, office, and function – not Jesus' last name)
ἐγένετο = perfect of γίνομαι: a prolongation and middle voice form of a primary verb; to cause to be, (reflexively) to become (come into being); to come into existence, begin to be, receive being; to come to pass, happen; to arise, appear; to be made, done, finished
Remembering that “text without context is pretext,” (or if you will, “text out of context is simply a con,”) let's put John 1:17 into a bit of context beginning with verse 12:
But to as many as did receive Him, to those who put their trust in His person and power, He gave the right to become children of God, 13 not because of bloodline, physical impulse or human intention, but because of God. 14 The Word became a human being and lived with us, and we saw His Sh'khinah, the Sh'khinah of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth. 15 Yochanan witnessed concerning Him when he cried out, “This is the man I was talking about when I said, 'The One coming after me has come to rank ahead of me, because He existed before me.'” 16 We have all received from His fullness, yes, grace upon grace. 17 For the Torah was given through Moshe; grace and truth came through Yeshua the Messiah. 18 No one has ever seen God; but the only and unique Son, Who is identical with God and is at the Father's side – He has made Him known.
An honest reading of the Old Testament shows us the Sh'khinah (the Divine Presence, the manifest glory of God present with men), the LORD's grace (and mercy, and kindness, and patience ….), as well as His truth time and time again. These are, like God, eternal.
So this passage is not a contrast as in “good vs bad,” “light vs darkness,” or even “Law vs grace,” or “just what? vs truth,” (since “grace” and “truth” are both mentioned in this verse,) but rather draws our attention to the focused revelation and manifestation of the heart of God.
Throughout the Tanakh (the “Old Testament”) we see God revealing Himself in various ways, e.g.
as a man talking with Abraham (Gen 18)
through a burning bush to Moses (Ex 3)
in a pillar of cloud and fire (Ex 13:21-22)
in the cloud that filled the tabernacle (Ex 40:34-35)
Throughout the Tahakh we see the heart of God revealed in various ways, e.g.
the cry of the people of Isra'el has come to me, and I have seen how terribly the Egyptians oppress them … and I will send you … so that you can lead my people … out of Egypt … I will surely be with you (Ex 3:9-12)
but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chose to cause My name to dwell (Neh 1:9)
Therefore say to them, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Return to Me,” declares the LORD of hosts, “that I may return to you,” says the LORD of hosts. (Zech 1:3)
BUT NOW in a special, unique, one-of-a-kind fulfillment of prophecy, God Incarnate has come to reveal the character and heart of God in a way that would otherwise be impossible.
It is sometimes thought that the present verse [John 1:17] demeans Moshe, but this is not the case. On the contrary, that a mere man for whom no claim to divinity has ever been made should be compared with the Word of God incarnate shows how highly Yochanan regards Moshe.
Nor does he demean the Torah, God's eternal “teaching” about himself as given to Israel by comparing it with grace and truth. Elsewhere Yeshua himself says that he did not come to abrogate the Torah but to fill it out (Mt 5:17-20), and proceeded to follow this program by interpreting the Torah in ways that make its meaning and commands even clearer (Mt 5:21-48).
Grace and truth are personal attributes of God which Yeshua not only revealed in a unique way during his brief earthly lifetime, but, in his eternal capacity as the Word of God, has been continually bestowing on humanity since the dawn of creation. Grace, truth and the Torah are all from God, supreme expressions of who he is; see Rv 19:11.
Rv 19:11 – Faithful and True – words applied to the Messiah also at 3:14. The two words mean virtually the same thing, since the Hebrew idea of truth was not correspondence to reality (as in Greek thought), but reliability. The “God of truth” (Elohim emet, Jeremiah 10:10) is not primarily the God who reveals eternal verities, but the God who can be trusted to keep his covenant. When Yochanan in his Gospel wrote that “grace and truth came through Yeshua the Messiah” (John 1:17), he meant that in the life, death and resurrection of the Messiah, God's faithfulness was revealed in fulfillment of his covenant. Likewise, the return of Yeshua will be the faithful reappearance of him who has already appeared among men; this time he comes to bring God's covenant promises to their final and full consummation. (Adapted from George E. Ladd, Revelation, ad loc.) (David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary)
So, with all that having been said, we might read John 1:17 as, “For just as the heart and character of the LORD was given and revealed through the Law of Moses, so too now the revelation of the grace and truth of God's heart became manifest through Jesus the Christ.”
The “Old” and “New” Testaments are both part of one Book. It's like two cog wheels meshing together working toward the same goal – people saved from their sins (and the just penalty for them) and renewed in right relationship with our perfect, loving, heavenly Father through the shed blood of Yeshua / Jesus.
1 Adonai called to Moshe and spoke to him from the tent of meeting.
A more literal rendering of the first few words here would be, “And He called to Moses and spoke the LORD to him ….”
The first word of this verse in Hebrew is וַיִּקְרָא [vah-yik-rah] ;
the וַ generally being thought of as the consecutive or conjunctive “and” the prefix in biblical Hebrew can also be used to “reverse” the tense of the perfect and imperfect, context making the determination
יִּקְרָא being the 3rd, m, s, imperfect of קָרַא [kah-rah] “to call,” or “to proclaim”
Although not seen in machine printed copies, there is something interesting here in the kosher hand-written scrolls.
The final letter of this first word is written smaller than the rest, i.e. וַ יִּ קְ רָא
Coupled with the fact that in verse 2 the Holy Spirit uses the word אָדָם [adam, pronounced “ah-dahm”] for “man,” rather than the normal word for “man” אִישׁ [“eesh”].
אָדָם can also mean “person” and “mankind” whereas אִישׁ is more restrictive
According to the sages one of the things this teaches us is that no matter how small a man or a woman may feel, God calls us to Himself and will raise us up.
One example of this is David, notably the greatest king of Israel, who wrote, “I was brought forth in iniquity and in sin my mother conceived me” (Ps 51:5).
Thought by many to be a reference to universal sin, it may also be that he was conceived through an affair. This might also explain why his brothers belittled him, (though an affair on the part of his father would not be his fault).
spoke = in the Piel verb form. The Discovery Bible* brings out
Piel pictures very lively activity with its implied (imagined) results. It stresses the impact of the action on the objects/receivers of the energetic activity. asks readers then to envision the end-condition of activity vibrantly played-out according to the particular context.
Example: "He sought an answer from God" – vigorously sought with its imagined results like learning to completely surrender to the Lord.
Reflection: generates a mental-picture that bridges to the idea/spiritual plane in just one word – a visual-read for imaginative reading (which is not imaginary!).
* The Discovery Bible New Testament has been available in print for many years and more recently for the computer at thediscoverybible.com. The Old Testament / Tanakh currently has a limited availability as a beta / test version.
Rashi points out, “When God wishes to express affection for a person, He calls him first by name.” (The Soncino Chumash, p. 605)
The LORD called to Moses from the tent of meeting because
“... The cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of Adonai filled the tabernacle. 35 Moshe was unable to enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud remained on it, and the glory of Adonai filled the tabernacle” (Ex 40:34-35).
2 Speak to the people of Isra'el; and say to them, “When any of you