Monday, December 31, 2007

Interesting Phrase

In the Holman's Christian Standard Bible, Ruth 2:13 is rendered thusly:
"My lord," she said, "you have been so kind to me, for you have comforted and encouraged your slave, although I am not like one of your female servants."
What I found interesting was the literal rendering in the footnote:
"My lord," she said, "you have been so kind to me, for you have spoken to the heart of your slave, although I am not like one of your female servants."
Although I usually prefer understandability over floweriness, I really like the poetic beauty of the literal in this case. I think the literal should have been in the text with the footnote providing the sense. (I'm actually beginning to find that's the general method I'd prefer.)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Instead of buying that new HD TV ...

pay to restore the electricity for someone who's service has been turned off for inability to pay the bill, or pay the back taxes for someone who's house is being foreclosed on because of property taxes being in arrears.

The reason for having a job, as given in Ephesians 4:28, is "so that [we have] something to share with anyone in need".

And here's one I've never noticed before: Luke 11:39-41
39Then the Lord said to him, "Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.
Notice verse 41.


Restoring the First Century Church: Which One of the Three?

Of course, such a subject line obviously bothers many, if not most, of the people raised in or converted to a church of Christ in America (or at least in the Bible Belt), for we are confident that as per Ephesians 4:4, there is only "one body".

However, it's important to remember that whereas the apostle urged the Christians to be united in the same mind and same judgment, and to have no divisions amongst themselves (1 Cor. 1:10ff), the reality of the situation is that there were divisions among the first century Christians (e.g. v. 12).

The general aim among churches of Christ has been to restore the first century church. But looking through the eyes of history, we find that over the first one hundred years or so of the church's existence, there were three broad stages of life, resulting in three "different" churches.

The First Stage: Just Another Sect of Judaism

During the life of Jesus, there were several sects within Judaism, his "native" religion, if you will. Here's a brief summary of the "big five", plus a sixth late-comer, that were common in and around the area of Judea.

Pharisees - These were the mainstream "people of the Book". They were careful to dot their "I"'s and cross their "T"'s in religious matters. These were what we might call "good, church-going folk". Their biggest problem was that they were concerned with details more than the over-all broader picture of religion, and often wound up being hypocritical in their lifestyles. They revered the written law, the Torah, but because it is vague on the details, they adopted an oral law which had grown up through the centuries alongside the written law. Jesus had no real qualm with the Pharisaic viewpoint, except when it led to hypocritical action or when their Oral Law canceled out the Written Law.

We see both Jesus' approval of Pharisaic doctrine and his condemnation of hypocrisy in Matt. 23:1-3:
Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.
A few verses later, starting in verse 23, Jesus condemns the Pharisees for elevating the Oral Law above the Written Law.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! 
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. 
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
The Oral Law addressed the minutia of daily living, such as how to handle tithing of certain things, or the proper steps in washing the dinner dishes. Note that Jesus did not condemn the regulations of the Oral Law -- "without leaving the others undone". Rather, he condemned placing the unwritten rules above the God-inspired written rules.

The Oral Law specifies that if a situation causes a conflict between two laws in the Written Law, then the written law which saves or helps or loves has precedence over the one that is ritual. We see Jesus' properly applying the Oral Law in Luke 15:1-7.

Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.”So He spoke this parable to them, saying: 
"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance."
We see the same sort of thing in the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25ff. The priest and the Levite who passed by the wounded man did so because of ritual regulations. The people hearing this story expected the priest and the Levite to avoid the wounded man, and they likely expected the next person in the story to be a Pharisee, who upheld the principle found in the Oral Law of helping another even if it means technically violating a Biblical regulation. At this point, Jesus had already taught the lesson he intended to teach, that helping those in need trumps Biblical regulations. But surprisingly, he takes a different route by making the hero of the story not a Pharisee but a Samaritan, hated and despised by the Jews. In doing so, he masterfully taught a second lesson to his hearers, to love those you hate.

Some of the Pharisees often considered Jesus as one of them, and went out of their way to protect him from Herod's intention to kill him on at least one occasion (Luke 13:31), whereas other Pharisees (or perhaps the same Pharisees at a different time) conspired with Herod to kill him (Mark 3:6).

The point of all this is that the Pharisees, while having a tendency toward hypocrisy and legalism which Jesus condemned, were basically the party that Jesus most identified with. When he condemned the Pharisees, it was more or less done as an "insider".

- This was the ruling elite, the political party. For the most part, they weren't too interested in things of the Bible, preferring instead to deal with the practicalities of living. They were more or less in bed with the ruling Romans, from whom they got political favors, such as official appointments. Accordingly, they were more interested in keeping the status quo than in having some upstart from Galilee going around and creating turmoil that would likely cause them financial and comfort loss. In Acts 5:17, we find that it's the Sadducees (and the office-holders, such as the high priest - vs 21) who sought to silence Peter and the early church by killing him (v. 33); it was Gamaliel, a Pharisee, who rescued him (v. 34ff). The Sadducees were more or less the agnostics of the nation, not believing in angels or the resurrection.

Zealots - These were the extremists, the fanatics, the pipe-bombers of the first century. Their main focus was on freeing Israel from the hated Roman rule. If that meant following a messiah who offered a chance to fight their way to freedom, so be it. If it meant handing over to Rome for crucifixion a so-called messiah who had no interest in overthrowing Rome, so be it. Whatever overthrows Roman rule and frees Israel is the goal.

Essenes - These were the "monks" of the period. They withdrew from society, and set up their own society. They had strict regulations, and kept their own writings, many of which were discovered in the caves of Qumran in 1947, now known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. A fringe element in the Jewish religion, they seem to have contributed quite a bit of flavoring to Jewish society at large; there are some remarkable resemblances between the teachings and habits of the Essenes and those of both John the Immerser and Jesus.

Hellenists - These were good, Bible-believing Jews who typically were raised in a non-Jewish setting, such as in the Egyptian city of Alexandria. Accordingly, they tended to accept Greek ways, and didn't worry too much about being "exactly Jewish". These were relatively rare within Judea itself, and tended to be found more among the Diaspora, the Dispersion of Jews outside of their homeland area.

Starting in about A.D. 33, a new sect of Judaism arose: the Nazarenes. It is clear that non-Christian Jews considered Nazarenes just another sect of Judaism, from such passages as Acts 24:5 and 24:14 and 28:22. It also seems clear, once we take off our 20th Century[1] "we've already figured it all out" eyeglasses, that the early Christians still considered themselves as just another branch of Judaism.

The Nazarenes, the church in this First Stage, still went to Temple at the hour of prayer (Acts 3:1), where they prayed (Acts 22:17), and returned to Jerusalem to worship (Acts 24:11) and to present offerings (v. 17) like good Jews did. Paul said that he believes everything that agrees with the Torah and the Prophets (Acts 24:14) and that he has the same hope in God as non-Christian Jews have (v. 15). Paul was concerned about being ceremonially clean (v. 18). About a week earlier Paul had claimed that he "is", not "was", a Pharisee (Acts 23:6). Paul emphatically stated at least twice that he had not broken any Jewish laws (Acts 25:8, 10). Prior to Paul's conversion to Christianity, he sought out Christians whom to persecute, and it was to the synagogue he went in order to find them (Acts 26:11), which agrees with James' indication that the Christian assembly in the early days was the synagogue assembly (James 2:2, in the Greek). Later Paul tells the Roman Jews that he had done nothing against "our people" or the customs of the ancestors (Acts 28:17). When speaking to a group of non-Christian Jews in Synagogue, he includes himself with them as children of their fathers, to whom God has fulfilled his promise (Acts 13:33). He met with both Christians and non-Christians in the synagogue for three months, until the non-Christians maligned the Christians so much that the Christians left the congregation (Acts 19:8-9).

Stephen the Martyr was stoned because he accused the Jewish leaders of not keeping the law (Acts 7:53); the implication was that if they had kept it, they'd be Christians as he was. In other words, Stephen was a keeper of the law.

Peter was resistant to go see the Gentile Cornelius, because it was unlawful for a "Jewish man to keep company" with a non-Jew (Acts 10:28). The church in Jerusalem, including even the Apostles, also was upset because Peter broke this rule (Acts 11:1-3). It was a shock to the early church that non-Jews could become Christians (v. 18). As part of the controversy, Christians who still considered themselves as Pharisees insisted that the new Gentile believers convert to Judaism (Acts 15:5). It makes no sense to believe the earliest Christians expected non-Jews to convert to Judaism if they no longer considered themselves as law-following Jews. Note that the Christian leaders may not have insisted on Gentile believers converting to Judaism (Acts 15:24), but the existence of rank-and-file Christians who believed this doctrine makes it obvious that the earliest church was a Jewish church, and that they believed being a Christian meant being a Jew.

Paul had no problem circumcising a non-Jewish believer in order to appease the Jews (Acts 16:1-3). On another trip to Jerusalem, Paul submitted to certain Jewish rituals to prove that he was a good, Law-keeping Jew (Acts 21:15-24, 26), thereby proving that although Gentiles were not required to keep the law, he was not teaching this message to Jews living among the Gentiles (v. 21, 24-25).

Sosthenes was the ruler of the synagogue while apparently a Christian (as evidenced by the Greeks beating him after being given permission by the proconsul to handle the "Christianity issue" themselves - Acts 18:14-18).

Other passages could be examined, but it seems clear that for the first fifteen years or so of the church's existence, Christianity was strictly Jewish. The church was a branch of Judaism. It was a matured branch, unlike the other branches, as it had found the long sought-for Messiah, but nevertheless, it was still Jewish, and only Jewish, at heart.

Even though the Jewish Christians continued to observe the Law in many cases, they realized that they were not justified by the keeping of that Law, but rather by faith in Christ (Gal. 2:15-16).

The Second Stage: Jews and Gentiles

As has been mentioned, when God sent Peter to Cornelius (about A.D. 49), this began the second stage of the church's life. At first, the strictly Jewish church resisted the inclusion of Greeks into the church. Then, as they began to realize that "God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life" (Acts 11:18), many also insisted that these new Gentile believers should go through the whole process necessary for conversion to Judaism, including circumcision (Acts 15:1, 24). The "Jerusalem Conference" in Acts 15 addressed this issue, and concluded that Jewish believers in the Messiah should continue being Jewish, but that Gentile believers did not need to become Jewish. Instead, the new Gentile believers needed to adopt four rules (abstaining from idols, blood, things strangled, and sexual immorality) that would reduce the friction between the Jewish and the Gentile believer in the synagogue (Acts 15:21).

During the first stage of the church, when it was strictly Jewish, non-believing Jews were by and large willing to leave the Christian Jews pretty much alone. Some that weren't believers still respected the Christian Jews, and in the very earliest days of the church, believers had favor with all the people (Acts 2:47). However, now that Gentiles were coming into the church, and without having to submit to the rules and regulations to which the Jews had to submit, the Jews tended toward envy and anger (Acts 17:4-5). By the time Paul was sent to Rome for his trial, the Jews there were compelled to say that, "concerning this sect, we know that it is spoken against everywhere” (Acts 28:22).

During this period, much of the writing in the New Testament emphasizes that both Jew and Gentile are part of the church. For example, Romans 1:16 says "[the Gospel] is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile". Similar phraseology can be found throughout Romans (2:10, 3:9, 9:24, 10:12, 15:27). Galatians 2:7-9 makes it clear that the Gospel is for both the Gentile and the Jew.

The Third Stage: Jews and Gentiles Separate

The second stage "truce" worked for a while, but relationships between the two camps deteriorated fairly quickly, taking sharp dips after the destruction of Jerusalem in the first Jewish Rebellion against Rome (c. A.D 70) and again after the complete razing of Jerusalem in the second Jewish Rebellion (the Bar Kokhba Rebellion, c. A.D. 135), which cemented a virtually complete division of the two into separate religions. We don't have much Biblical evidence of this, as the separation accelerated after most of the Bible's record was completed, but historical sources outside of the Bible show this progression clearly.

The tragedy of this third stage is that whereas Gentiles and Jews are supposed to be family, after A.D. 135, the normal situation has been enmity between the two branches of the family. Gentiles have blamed Jews for killing Jesus (when really it was mostly the less-religious appointed-by-Rome office-holders kow-towing to Roman influences who killed Jesus, not the people at large); Jews have blamed Christians for hating them unjustly, and for co-opting their religion.

Since the great Holocaust of the Second World War, new dialogs have opened between the two camps, and hope flows that peace may again reign between the two parties, as Jesus would have it. Christians need to reach out to Jews with the news that their long-awaited Messiah has come; it's just that they've been blinded to it because of mistakes and blindnesses on both sides. Jews need to realize they have an awesome Rabbi in their heritage, if they'd just get over the revulsion they have to all things Christian.


So, when considering the task of restoring the first century church, one must ask, "Which church? The Jewish church, the Jewish/Gentile church, or the Gentile church?"

Strictly speaking the purely Gentile church begins just after the first century, rather than being a first-century church, so it can't be the first-century church.

The earliest church was the Jewish church. But the Bible makes it clear that God wants Gentiles in the church, and that Gentiles do not have to convert to Judaism. So the Jewish church, although a first-century church, is not the church God wants.

That leaves us with the Jewish/Gentile church. The only problem with this, is that in the typical church of Christ at the tail-end of the 20th Century and beginning of the 21st, we have such a fear of "sectarianism" (aka "denominationalism"), that we have blinded ourselves to the Biblical record that God's church, though one body and one spirit, can take at least two forms: one that worships in the Temple and in the Synagogue and that keeps ritual regulations concerning vows and purity laws, and one that does things in a decidedly more Gentile, non-Jewish way.

So what are we going to do about it?

1. Yes, I know it's the 21st Century, but many in the church of Christ are still living in the 1950's. Much of the resistance in the church to doing things differently is because we perceive these new things to be different from the ways of the early church, when in reality it's merely different from the ways of the 1950's church. In other words, we've confused the church we knew in the mid-20th Century with the church.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Understanding God? I don't think so.

Mystery and wonder must pervade human perception of God's goodness. Contradictions and inconsistencies are part and parcel of God and his mysteries.
I used to believe that the Bible, the life and teachings of Jesus, the doctrines of the first century church, were understandable. The more time I spend in the Word of God, the more I realize that the above quotation is true. Even Jesus himself said things like, "I'm teaching in parables so that they won't understand" (Luke 8:10, etc).

And although it's frustrating to my Western mindset, I have to admit, once you get past the false idea that such an idea devalues the concept of inspiration or of the "simplicity" of the Gospel, it does add to the grandeur of the things of God. As the above writer continues:
All attempts to systematize God will fall short. Stand in amazement. Wonder in awe.
Brad H. Young, Jesus the Jewish Theologian, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., Peabody, Mass., 1995. Pg. 273.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Who? What?

Bob Phillips writes in a Letter to the Editor at WorldNetDaily, attributing the saying to a former professor of his:
Who was Jesus? He was God. What was Jesus? He was a man.
Just found it interesting; thought I'd pass it on.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Be Jewish, IV

In Genesis 17:5-6, YHWH tells Abraham,
5 No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.
According to Wilson (see reference in previous posts), pg 20, this word "nations" is "goyim", or "Gentiles".

In other words, from the very beginning of the Abrahamic covenant, God promised that Gentiles would be part of the Abrahamic family.

To any Jew who might be reading this, I am your brother, and you are mine, not because all Goyim are brothers to the sons of Abraham, but because those Gentiles who are part of the new covenant (which is unlike the Mosaic covenant - Jer. 31:31ff) are brothers to the sons of Abraham.

Be Jewish, III

A couple of interesting tidbits about olive trees, as related by Marvin R. Wilson in his book, Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith:

1. "Gethsemane", as in the Garden of, means "olive press". So really the Garden of Gethsemane means "the olive press garden".

2. "Very old olive trees often have tender young shoots which spring up around the roots. This sight doubtless prompted the psalmist to speak of children being 'like olive shoots' around the table of the home (Ps. 128:3)". (Wilson, pg 13)

3. Olive trees outlive most other fruit trees, and have "remarkably sturdy" roots, suitable for thriving in hot, dry, rocky soil.

4. Olives were eaten, or for making olive oil, which was "used for cooking, for lamps, for ceremonial anointing, and for healing the sick". (Wilson, pg 14)

5. "Olive wood was used for construction purposes, including part of the Solomonic Temple". (Wilson, pg 14)

Be Jewish, II

Marvin R. Wilson, in his book Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of
the Christian Faith (1989, Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids MI), writes (pg. 12):
...the Bible reflects a view of reality which is essentially Hebraic. Indeed, for the earliest Church, to think "Christianly" was to think Hebraicly. It should not be surprising that the understructure and matrix of much of the New Testament is Hebraic. After all, Jesus was a Jew, not a Christian of gentile origin. His teachings, like those of his followers, reflect a distinct ethnicity and culture. The evidence found in the New Testament is abundantly clear: as a mother gives birth to and nourishes a child, so Hebrew culture and language gave birth to and nourished Christianity.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

How Can You Doubt that Evolution Has Occurred?

In a Letter to the Editor of World Net Daily this past Thursday, the letter writer equates Creationism with Flat Earthianism. I often hear this comparison, and find it to generally be the result of ignorance or dishonesty on the part of the speaker.

The author of the letter finds it absurd that "we are still debating at all whether or not evolution occurred".

Well, that depends on your definition of "evolution". A case can be made that there are at least six different definitions, but for the purposes of this letter we can deal with two: 1) Macro, or "big-scale" evolution, the goo-to-you, molecules-to-man, hydrogen-to-human type of evolution; and 2) Micro, or variation-on-a-theme, or adaptation type of evolution.

Virtually everyone, including hard-core, "Bible-thumping", young-earth Creationists agree with the variation-on-a-theme type of evolution. This type of evolution is seen in everyday life, in the fossil record, in thousands of years of animal breeding, and in decades of lab research, and yes, even in the Bible ("From one man he made every nation of men"-Acts 17:26, and etc). This type of evolution is "scientific fact". This type of evolution is also the result of a loss of, or a mere shuffling of, pre-existing genetic information. Whether you're talking about horses devolving from a three-toed variety into our modern one-toed variety, or bacteria "evolving" resistance to antibiotics, or dark moths "evolving" into light moths, etc, you're talking about a loss of or shuffling of existing genetic information, resulting in variations on a theme, but not in genuinely new types of creatures. (The so-called fossil evidence of "missing links" is hardly compelling; famous evolutionary paleontologist Stephen J. Gould has said "The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology." Other top-name evolutionists have made similar admissions.)

What's required for the macro type of evolution is a vast increase in new never-before-existing genetic information, from the genetic information in pond scum (none) to that in a paramecium (lots) to that in a human (LOTS). Where is the observation of this vast increase in genetic information? Where is the lab experiment that demonstrates that this is even possible? Where is the "science" behind this claim?

Note that the difference between these two types of evolution is not one of quantity, but of quality. One type (macro) requires the appearance of vast amounts of new genetic information that has never existed before; the other type does not.

Evolutionists typically change their definition of evolution mid-sentence. They start out by claiming that evolution is a fact, meaning macro-evolution, but by the end of the sentence they're trotting out examples of variation-on-a-theme.

Next time someone presents some piece of evidence for evolution, ask yourself if it's evidence of loss/shuffling of pre-existing genetic information (variation-on-a-theme), or evidence of new genetic information arising which did not previously exist. (And transfers of previously-existing genetic information from one creature to another via such mechanisms as mosquito bites don't count; we're looking for new never-before-seen genetic information, which is required in vast amounts if macro-evolution is true.)

So, there's no doubt that "evolution", meaning variation-on-a-theme, has occurred. But Atom-to-Adam? Show me the evidence.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Be Jewish

... if we wish to hear Jesus, we must become ancient Jews.
Rabbi David Wolpe
in the Forward to "Jesus the Jewish Theologian", Brad H. Young, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Mass.1997, pg xiv.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A Few Gleanings from Deuteronomy


If I understand Deuteronomy 14:12ff, that tenth of the produce that an Israelite was to give to YHWH actually goes into his own stomach.

22 Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. 23 Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of YHWH your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere YHWH your God always. 24 But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by YHWH your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where YHWH will choose to put his Name is so far away), 25 then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place YHWH your God will choose. 26 Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of YHWH your God and rejoice.



Deuteronomy 14:28-29 indicates that an additional third of a tenth goes to the Levites and the needy:

28 At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year's produce and store it in your towns, 29 so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that YHWH your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.



Although the Israelites, when moving into the promised land, were to totally slaughter all the inhabitants of the land, that rule did not hold for cities outside of the promised land:

10 When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. 11 If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. 12 If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. 13 When YHWH your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder YHWH your God gives you from your enemies. 15 This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.
16 However, in the cities of the nations YHWH your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as YHWH your God has commanded you. 18 Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against YHWH your God.



When attacking a city, the Israelites could cut down non-food-bearing trees to use in their attack, but they could not chop down food-bearing trees:

19 When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down. Are the trees of the field people, that you should besiege them? 20 However, you may cut down trees that you know are not fruit trees and use them to build siege works until the city at war with you falls.

And that, boys and girls, is today's Bible lesson from the Tanahk. (The "Tanahk" is the name used by Jews for what we call the "Old Testament", and is derived from the letters T, N, and K, which were the starting letters of the Hebrew words for "the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings".)

Interesting Facts about Lamentations

In the book of Lamentations, there are five chapters.

Chapters 1, 2, 4, and 5 each have 22 verses (and chapter 3 could be so numbered -- see below).

Chapters 1, 2, 3, and 4 (but not 5) are acrostic, with each verse starting with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, starting with Aleph and ending at Tav, in order.

The verses in chapters 1, 2, and 4 each have three lines.

The three lines per verse pattern has been broken into separate verses in chapter 3, giving this chapter a total of 66 verses. (Remember, verse numbers are relatively recent man-made additions to the text and are not inspired.) If the verse number pattern had been retained, this chapter would be just like chapters 1, 2, and 4, except that each of the three lines in the verse would start with the appropriate Hebrew letter. In chapters 1, 2, and 4, only the first line of the verse starts with a letter.

Here it is in picture format (using the English A, B, and Z), so it's easier to comprehend:

Chapter 1:
1. A blah blah blah for first line of verse.
Second line of verse.
Third line of verse
2. B blah blah blah for first line of verse.
Second line of verse.
Third line of verse
. . .
22. Z blah blah blah for first line of verse.
Second line of verse.
Third line of verse

Chapter 2:
1. A blah blah blah for first line of verse.
Second line of verse.
Third line of verse
2. B blah blah blah for first line of verse.
Second line of verse.
Third line of verse
. . .
22. Z blah blah blah for first line of verse.
Second line of verse.
Third line of verse

Chapter 3:
1. A blah blah blah for first line of verse.
A second line of verse.
A third line of verse
2. B blah blah blah for first line of verse.
B second line of verse.
B third line of verse
. . .
22. Z blah blah blah for first line of verse.
Z second line of verse.
Z third line of verse

Chapter 4:
1. A blah blah blah for first line of verse.
Second line of verse.
Third line of verse
2. B blah blah blah for first line of verse.
Second line of verse.
Third line of verse
. . .
22. Z blah blah blah for first line of verse.
Second line of verse.
Third line of verse

Chapter 5:
1. Blah blah blah
2. Blah blah blah
22. Blah blah blah