Book of Acts Chapter 7 - Christogenea Internet Radio 06-28-2013

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Book of Acts Chapter 7 - Christogenea Internet Radio 06-28-2013

As it is recorded in Acts chapter 7, before his stoning the martyr Stephen offered an apology (which is a defense) of his Christian beliefs, where he attempts to demonstrate to the council and to the people that the hope of Israel rests upon the promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which were perpetuated and transmitted through Moses to Israel, and which had nothing to do with the temple or the works of the hands of men, and everything to do with kinship, brotherhood, and the counsel of God which men have perpetually rejected. Since the authority of the high priests was connected to the institution of the temple, and the allegiance of the people had long been to the institution of the temple, rather than to the Word of God, Stephen was slain for his profession of the Christian message which was unpopular with these traditionalists of the time, and which was hated most of all by the Canaanite-Edomite aliens among the chief people of the city. In the last segment of this series, we began our presentation of Stephen's apology by discussing certain of the events of the Scriptures which he cites from a historical viewpoint. Among other things, we discussed the dating of the Exodus and the reckoning of the years of Israel's captivity in Egypt. Here we will continue our discussion from where we left off last week, at Acts 7:23, and the call of Moses is still Stephen's topic:

23 “And as forty years’ time were completed by him, he put up in his heart to visit his brethren the sons of Israel. 24 And seeing one being done wrong he defended him, and made an avenging for him being subdued, smiting the Egyptian.

Moses was raised in the household of the Pharaoh, and must have had all of the privileges of a member of the royal family. Yet he risked his enjoyment of these worldly luxuries for the benefit of defending a lowly man, because that lowly man was one of his own tribesmen. For this, Moses had been selected by Yahweh as the man who would lead His people out of Egypt. Ostensibly, this is the point that Stephen is making, and which he hoped that his own contemporaries would learn from by example: That Moses, regardless of his high station, acted contrary to his own interests and stood against the institutions of his own time in favor of those of his own race, and Moses was therefore employed by Yahweh God as His instrument of their redemption from Egypt. In that manner, Moses was a type for Christ. Likewise, Christ was rejected by many of His Own kinsmen, men who would not risk their stations to stand for what was right (John 12:42), and He was therefore slain. But it was He who Moses and the prophets foretold would come, and it was He, and no longer Moses, who was now the instrument of Israel's redemption.

Paul, in Hebrews chapter 11, says of Moses in part: “23 By faith Moses, being born was hid three months by his fathers because they saw the handsome child, and did not fear the ordinance of the king. 24 By faith Moses, becoming full-grown, refused to be called a son of the daughter of Pharaoh, 25 rather preferring to be mistreated with the people of Yahweh than to have the temporary rewards of error, 26 having esteemed the reproach of the Anointed greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, since he had regard for the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the temper of the king, since seeing the invisible he persevered.” One aspect of the life of Moses that is not related in the Book of Exodus, is that he must have been a well-educated man, having been raised as the son of a princess, and certainly educated for a role in the administration of the kingdom.

The Egyptian whom Moses killed was almost certainly another Adamic White man. While Egypt had imported some black aliens, which they used as slaves, and while there is evidence that certain of the Pharaohs also had Nubian concubines and there was frequent intercourse with the Nubians at this time, Egypt was still both originally and primarily a White nation up until the Nubian invasions of a much later period had occurred and had changed its nature permanently. Yet even though the Egyptian was White, Moses was not ever labeled as a murderer, except by those who despised him. However if Moses had not defended his brother, then he may have been considered a murderer, for the apostle John says in his first epistle that “whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer” (1 John 3:15). Sadly, many Israelites still do not understand this, and instead they accept the doctrines and laws of men.

25 And he expected the brethren to understand that Yahweh through his hand gives deliverance to them, but they did not understand.

The NA27, following the Codices Alexandrinus (A), Bezae (D) and the Majority Text, has “his brethren”; the text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Vaticanus (B), and Ephraemi Syri (C).

In this day Identity Christians wonder when our own people, who are locked in the paradigms of this world, will awaken to the fact that they are once again in bondage, and that their own attitudes concerning race and righteousness have been taught to them by the very ones who hold them in that bondage: the international jews. The concept of political correctness which holds sway over their minds is an invention of the jewish masters who rule over them, that they may retain that rule without difficulty. Here we see that an Israelite in bondage would despise another Israelite who delivered him, rather than be grateful for any relief he was granted from his oppressor. Our people are little different today.

26 Then the next day he appeared to those who were fighting and he reconciled them in peace saying ‘Men! You are brothers! For what reason do you do wrong to one another?’ 27 But he doing wrong to he near to him rejected him saying ‘Who appointed you ruler and judge over us? 28 Do you not desire to kill me in the manner that you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’

Verses 27 and 28 quote from Exodus 2:14. As it is today, it was then also, that the righteousness of the children of Israel was after the reckoning of man rather than of God, and this man was more concerned even for his dead oppressor than he was for the men of his own race. According to Stephen, Moses was already somehow cognizant of his mission to free his people Israel. However the people rejecting him, Moses would flee Egypt, and it would be another forty years before he fulfilled his mission. Our people have much the same attitude today, where because the churches teach them lies, when they are informed of their sins they respond, “Who appointed you ruler and judge over us?”

It is understandable, that the phrase “but he doing wrong [the Israelite aggressor] to he near to him [the Israelite being fought with by his kinsman] rejected him [meaning the admonishment of Moses]” is a little difficult to read, and would be easier to read if it were rendered “But he doing wrong to his neighbor rejected him”. The most common Greek word translated as neighbor in the King James Version is the adverb πλησίον (4139), the neuter form of πλησίος, which literally means near or close to. The word πλησίος itself is a derivative of another adverb, πέλας, which also means “near, hard by, close...” (Liddell & Scott), and either of these three words used with the definite Article as a Substantive means one who is near, or, as the King James Version has it, a neighbor. But by themselves these words do not readily distinguish between nearness in relationship or in geographical proximity. Because of the way that the English word neighbor is perceived in modern times, understood only in the geographical sense, I have refrained from using that word in my translations. However the corresponding Hebrew word from which these were often translated in the Septuagint certainly does bear a distinction, and so does the context of scripture on occasions where the word πλησίον is found.

First, in secular Greek there are other words used by authors contemporary to the New Testament period, and which also appear in the New Testament, which are often translated as neighbor. These are γείτων (1069), which is explicitly “one of the same land, aneighbour” (Liddell & Scott) and is found at Luke 14:12; 15:6, 9; and John 9:8, and περίοικος (4040) which is “dwelling round...οἱ περίοικοιneighbours...” (ibid.), and which is found only at Luke 1:58. Both of these words have an explicitly geographical meaning.

It can surely be demonstrated from historical sources such as Strabo, that in Palestine and throughout the οἰκουμένη (the Greco-Roman world), one’s neighbor was most often, and was expected to be, of one’s own tribe. That this is the true meaning of τὸν πλησίον in the New Testament is evident in other ways, besides the use of those other words, γείτων or περίοικος, where it was appropriate.

Here in Acts 7:27, an account of the events recorded in Exodus 2:11-14, one Israelite is referred to as τὸν πλησίον, or the neighbor as the King James Version has it, in relation to another Israelite, but certainly not in reference to the dead Egyptian. Yet Moses, as evidenced in the Exodus account, could not have known that these men lived in close proximity to one another, as we currently understand the meaning of the term neighbor. He only could have known that the men had a tribal relationship. Now some may think this conjectural, but it surely is the circumstance and it must therefore be considered.

Again, at Matthew 5:43, Yahshua Christ is credited with the words “Thou shalt love thy neighbor (τὸν πλησίον), and hate thine enemy”, and what meaning would the saying have if one’s enemy, as is often the case, lived in the house next door? So therefore it should be evident that τὸν πλησίον is “one near” to another, but not necessarily in the geographical sense. Rather, one near in relationship is how the word should be understood in the Bible. The Hebrew word in the original text of the command that “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”, which is found at Leviticus 19:18, is Strong’s Hebrew #7453, reya', a word said to be derived from that found at #7462, ra'ah, and which is “an associate (more or less close)” and Strong lists the King James Version translations of the word as “brother, companion, fellow, friend, husband, lover, neighbor ... (an-) other” and so it should certainly be evident that τὸν πλησίον is not simply “one who lives nearby”. The root word of 7453, 7462, is defined by Strong as “a primitive root; to tend a flock, i.e. pasture it; intransitive to graze (literally or figuratively); generally to rule; by extension to associate with (as a friend)...” and so it is apparent that if one is a member of the flock, then one’s πλησίον, or neighbor, can only be a fellow sheep! So we see that if one is of your flock, he is a neighbor. But if one is not of your flock, he cannot ever be a neighbor. A wolf who moves into the sheepfold can never be a sheep, and therefore he can never be a neighbor! Men do not gather grapes from thorns, nor figs from thistles. We cannot imagine the Word of God to be insisting that a wolf can be neighbor to a sheep.

29 And Moses fled upon this word and became a sojourner in the land of Madiam, where he had begotten two sons.

In the King James Version the name is Midian here, and it is always Midian (4080) in the Old Testament English. But as the Greek texts have it here at Acts 7:29, the corresponding Greek of the Septuagint usually has Madiam (i.e. Genesis 25:2; Exodus 2:15), according to the Hatch & Redpath Concordance to the Septuagint, which also explains that Josephus has Madian on several occasions. The reading here, Madiam, is consistent in all of the Greek manuscripts referenced by the NA27, and this spelling is found most often in the Septuagint, although on occasion Madian appears there also (i.e. Numbers 25:15 and 17; 31:2-3 in the Vaticanus manuscript of the Septuagint employed by Brenton), even alongside Madiam (Numbers 25:15 and 18). Where Madian appears in the Septuagint the major manuscripts are divided, and where Madiam appears instead those manuscripts usually have Madiam consistently, and Madiam appears much more often. Yet the point here is not an attempt to somehow prove that Madiam should be the correct O.T. reading, although that is fully evident, but rather that the Septuagint, and no Hebrew text, was the Old Testament text employed by the compiler of the Book of Acts. These differences also indicate that the Hebrew, not having vowels, was interpreted differently by the Septuagint translators and by Josephus, than it is by the Masoretes and the modern jews.

Now to discuss the wife of Moses, and her true identity. The common perception in the mainstream churches is that Moses had married a negress, because in one verse in the Book of Numbers it says that his wife came from “Ethiopia”. This is based upon a childishly ignorant view of Scripture and history, simply because there is a land called Ethiopia today, over 3,500 years later, which is inhabited by negroes. The verse is found at Numbers 12:1: “And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.” The word Ethiopian here is from Strong's #3571, which is Cushite. Yet without getting into the history of Ethiopia, which we shall do in small part at the end of Acts chapter 8, here we will state that it is clear through the lens of the New Testament, esteeming the words of Stephen here in Acts chapter 7, that these early Christians, who were indeed Hebrews, understood that Moses' wife came from the regions east of the land of Canaan, where the “land of Madiam”, or Midian, was located.

Genesis chapter 25 explains the origin of Midian: “1 Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah. 2 And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah. 3 And Jokshan begat Sheba, and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim. 4 And the sons of Midian; Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah. 5 And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac. 6 But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country.” Midian was therefore a son of Abraham.

Exodus chapter 2 tells us precisely where Moses fled to, and where he obtained his wife, less than 400 years after Abraham sent his son Midian off to “the east country” : “15 Now when Pharaoh heard this thing [Moses' killing of the Egyptian], he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well. 16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock. 17 And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock. 18 And when they came to Reuel [also called Jethro in various places] their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day? 19 And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock. 20 And he said unto his daughters, And where is he? why is it that ye have left the man? call him, that he may eat bread. 21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter.”

It is clear from Acts 7 and Numbers 10, that Zipporah was a Midianite, from the land of Midian east of Palestine. We also see in Genesis chapter 37 that it was Midianites who rescued Joseph from the pit and sold him into slavery, whereby he ended up in Egypt. By this account we see that Midianites commonly traversed the land of Canaan.

Numbers 10: “29 And Moses said unto Hobab, the son of Raguel the Midianite, Moses' father in law, We are journeying unto the place of which the LORD said, I will give it you: come thou with us, and we will do thee good: for the LORD hath spoken good concerning Israel.” Here in Numbers 10:29 Raguel, or Reuel as the name appears in Exodus 2:18, is perceived to be a pious man. At Numbers 3:1 Moses' father-in-law is called “the priest of Midian”, and the Midianites were children of Abraham through the concubine, Keturah.

It is very clear, throughout the entire Biblical narrative from Genesis through the books of Judges, Kings and Chronicles, that the land of Midian was to the east of Palestine, and not very far from it, because the children of Israel had recorded their interactions with Midianites in those very regions all throughout those Scriptures. We cannot simply assume, however, that the statement in Numbers 12:1, calling Zipporah an Ethiopian, is wrong. Nor can we assume that it necessarily contradicts all of these other Scriptures. Rather, we must be able to explain from a historical perspective just how she may have been considered an Ethiopian while all of those other Scriptures that explain that she was a Midianite are certainly also valid.

In the earliest Greek records, there are two lands called Ethiopia. One was to the far south of Egypt, and while it was mentioned by them, it was scarcely known to the most ancient Greeks. Another was the “Ethiopia of the east”, as Herodotus called it, and it was east of Syria and the Euphrates river. One famous ancient character who came from there was Memnon, called “the Ethiopian” by the epic poets, who was credited with having fought as an ally of the Trojans, and also with having been the legendary founder of Susa, which was later the capital city of the Persians. Historical inspection would lead one to realize that this “Ethiopia of the east” must have been a part of that entity which modern academics call the first Babylonian empire. The Ethiopia of the south was called Cush by the Hebrews, and an inspection of the early Scriptures tells us that the Hebrew name Cush first appears in Genesis relating to the four rivers which sprang from the original location of the Garden of Eden, where in Genesis 2:13 the Gihon river is said to “compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia”. Now while all four of those rivers may not be identifiable today, two others are identifiable: the Hiddekel which is believed to be the Tigris since it “goeth toward the east of Assyria”, and the Euphrates which the Hebrews called the Perath throughout Scripture. Therefore it is fully evident that the Hebrews had a land which they called Cush in the east, as the Greeks referred to an Ethiopia in the east, and it only makes sense that such a Cush must be that empire of Nimrod in Mesopotamia, since he was the son of Cush (Genesis 10:8). The empire of Nimrod was the first Babylonian empire, and its borders stretched to the land of Canaan. Therefore, the land of Midian at the time of Moses would be a part of that land of Cush, and Moses' wife Zipporah could be called a Cushite, or Ethiopian (of the east), as well as a Midianite, which was the name of her tribe. She was certainly not a negress.

30 And completing forty years a messenger appeared to him in the desert at Mount Sinai in a flame of fire in a bush. 31 Then Moses seeing it wondered at the spectacle, and upon his going forth to observe it there came a voice from Yahweh:

The Codex Alexandrinus wants the words translated as “the spectacle”. It is evident that Stephen accepted the Old Testament chronology, that Moses was near the age of 40 when he slew the Egyptian, and near the age of 80 when he was called by Yahweh at the burning bush. The Codex Bezae (D) and the Majority Text have “a messenger of God appeared to him in the desert”. The phrase “at Mount Sinai”, as it appears in the text here, is literally “at the mountain Sinai” in the Greek throughout this chapter.

32 ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and Isaak and Jakob’ and being in trembling[literally “and becoming trembling”] Moses dared not observe it. 33 Then Yahweh said to him: ‘Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place upon which you stand is holy ground.

The Codex Bezae (D) and the Majority Text have “the God of Abraham and the God of Isaak and the God of Jakob”; the text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B) and Ephraemi Syri (C). Verses 32 and 33 here contain quotes from Exodus 3:5 and 6, but in reverse order from the original.

34 Seeing that I have seen the mistreatment of My people in Egypt and I have heard their moaning, then I have come down to set them free. And now come, I shall send you into Egypt.’

In this text at verse 34 Stephen paraphrases Exodus 3:7, 8, and 10.

35 This is Moses whom they refused saying ‘Who appointed you ruler and judge?’

The Codices Sinaiticus (א), Ephraemi Syri (C) and Bezae (D) insert the words “over us” at the end of the sentence. The text here agrees with the third century papyrus P45 and the Codices Alexandrinus (A) and Vaticanus (B). Stephen is again quoting from Exodus 2:14, and illustrating that just as many Israelites in Judaea had rejected Christ, many had also initially rejected Moses.

Him Yahweh then sent as ruler and redeemer by the hand of a messenger which appeared to him in a bush. 36 He led them out making wonders and signs in the land of Egypt and in the Red Sea and in the desert forty years.

The third century papyrus P45 and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Ephraemi Syri (C) and the Majority Text all want then. The text here agrees with the Codices Vaticanus (B) and Bezae (D).

The Codices Vaticanus (B) and Ephraemi Syri (C) want the words for “the land of” in verse 36; the text agrees with the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A) and the Majority Text, and the Codex Bezae (D) which varies slightly.

The Greek word λυτρωτής (3086), only here in the New Testament, is a “ransomer, redeemer” (Liddell & Scott), from the verb λυτρόω “to release on receipt of ransom, to hold to ransom...Passive to be ransomed”, for which the King James Version has deliverer.

Micah 6: “4 For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants; and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.”

In Micah 6:4, several times in Deuteronomy (7:8, 9:26, 13:5, 15:15 and 24:18) and once again in I Chronicles 17:21 Yahweh God takes credit for being the redeemer of Israel from Egypt. Yet here Stephen, making an analogy of the mission of Moses as a type for Christ, makes no offense in calling Moses the redeemer of Israel in this instance, using this Greek word λυτρωτής, as Moses certainly fulfilled the earthly office in that capacity. Evidently the King James translators seems to have been offended by this analogy, and therefore they did not translate the word according to its literal meaning.

37 This is Moses who said to the sons of Israel: ‘Yahweh shall raise up a prophet for you from among your brethren, even as me.’

The Codices Ephraemi Syri (C) and Bezae (D) insert at the end of this passage the words “Him you shall hear”, for which we may refer to the source text of the quote at Deuteronomy 18:15; the text here agrees with follows the third century papyrus P45 and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B) and the Majority Text. Peter also cited this passage in reference to Christ, at Acts 3:22.

This may actually be interpreted as a dual prophecy, pointing both to Joshua the son of Nun and to Yahshua Christ, however Joshua the son of Nun had already been engaged as a leader subordinate to Moses since as early as Exodus chapter 17, where he is first named. Fittingly, Moses' earthly successor was named Joshua, the Anglicized version of the Hebrew for Yahshua, and Moses' spiritual successor had the same name: Yahshua Christ. As Moses was a type for Christ in some respects which Stephen illustrates here, Joshua was a type for Christ in others.

In Exodus chapter 23 we see a prophecy which immediately concerned Joshua the son of Nun: “20 Behold, I send an Angel [messenger] before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. 21 Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.” So Moses' earthly successor had the name of Yahweh, where Yahweh says “for my Name is in him”. Moses earthly successor did not pardon the iniquities of Israel. However Moses' spiritual successor, Yahweh Himself incarnate as Yahshua Christ, bore the same name as Joshua, and His purpose was to pardon the transgressions of Israel.

38 This is he [referring to Moses] who had been among the assembly in the desert with the messenger [or angel] speaking to him and to our fathers at Mount Sinai, who received the living oracles to give to you.

The NA27, following the Codices Alexandrinus (A), Ephraemi Syri (C), Bezae (D), and the Majority Text, has “to give to us.” The text agrees with the Codices Sinaiticus (א) and Vaticanus (B).

39 To whom our fathers did not wish to be obedient, but rejected and turned in their hearts to Egypt, 40 saying to Aaron ‘Make for us gods which shall go before us, for this Moses who led us out of the land of Egypt, we know not what happened to him.’

In verse 40 Stephen quotes Exodus 32:1, which is also repeated at Exodus 32:23. That the children of Israel “turned in their hearts to Egypt” reflects the origin of the bull-worship cult, which was also found in the Mediterranean at an early time, especially on Crete. The cult of Apis, the bull-god of Memphis, seems to be as old as Egyptian society. Once the ten tribes split from Judah, Jeroboam I once again instituted such a cult in Israel.

41 And they made a calf in those days and conducted a sacrifice to the idol and rejoiced in the works of their hands. 42 Then Yahweh turned, and gave them over to serve the hosts of the heaven just as it is written in a book of the prophets: ‘Have you offered to Me victims and sacrifices, forty years in the desert, house of Israel? 43 And you have taken up the habitation of Moloch and the star of the god Rompha, the images which you have made to worship them, and I shall move you beyond Babylon.’

Here Stephen is quoting from Amos 5:25-27. Rather than Babylon, however, both the King James Version and apparently all of the extant manuscripts of the Septuagint have Damaskos instead. All of the extant ancient New Testament manuscripts have Babylon. This difference is unexplainable.

The Greek word στρατία (4756), which here in the plural is hosts, is “an army a host, company, band ...” (Liddell & Scott). The Greek word σκήνη (4633) is literally a tent, and usually it is rendered as tabernacle in the King James Version. Here and in verse 44 of this chapter it is a habitation. The NA27, following the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Ephraemi Syri (C), and the Majority Text, has “your god” in verse 43 The text here agrees with the Codices Vaticanus (B) and Bezae (D).

Concerning the name Rompha, the NA27, following the Codex Alexandrinus, has Raiphan, which the Septuagint also has at Amos 5:26; The Codex Ephraimi Syri has Rephan; the Codex Bezae (D) has Remphan. The text follows the Codex Vaticanus (B), and the Codex Sinaiticus (א), which has Romphan, nearly agrees. So there are five spellings of the name among the manuscripts. The King James Version has Remphan, following the Codex Bezae, whereas the manuscripts of the Majority Text are divided, some even having other spellings besides those which are mentioned here.

The Hebrew of Amos 5:26 has Kiyuwn, or Chiun in the King James English, rather than any variation of Remphan. While I did not attempt to identify Chiun in my recent presentation of the prophecy of Amos, I did state thatThe Hebrew Chiun, Strong's Hebrew Dictionary # 3594, is simply a statue or pillar. The word comes from a verb which means to stand erect.” There are some who would connect this Chiun to a certain pagan Babylonian deity, Kayawanu, which is also said to have been the Babylonian name for the planet Saturn. Furthermore, there is no reason to identify this star of Rompha, or Remphan, with the jewish so-called “star of David” which in reality has absolutely no connection to David.

Stephen says in reference to those who disobeyed Moses that “Yahweh turned, and gave them over to serve the hosts of the heaven”: While it is clear in many Scriptures that the “hosts of heaven” were indeed represented by the sun, moon and stars, there is more to worshipping and serving the “hosts of heaven” than mere worship of the heavenly bodies. While there are warnings in Scripture commanding the children of Israel not to worship the hosts of heaven, whenever they are actually found having done so there are many other much more evil practices connected to their evil worship.

Deuteronomy 4: “19 And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.” Here we see that the other nations were apparently already worshipping the “hosts of heaven”, where it is evident that this must be connected to the worship of their false gods and other pagan idols. In Deuteronomy chapter 17, false gods are connected directly to the “host of heaven”: “2 If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God, in transgressing his covenant, 3 And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded...”

This seems to be the case as well in 2 Kings 17, in reference to Israel: “16 And they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal.” It seems to be the case again in 2 Kings 21:3-6, in reference to Manasseh king of Judah: “3 For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made a grove, as did Ahab king of Israel; and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them. 4 And he built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD said, In Jerusalem will I put my name. 5 And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. 6 And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.”

While the children of Israel were given up to worshipping the “host of heaven”, we have the following Scriptures which testify that they were worshipping “devils”, or satyrs:

Leviticus 17: “7 And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils (8163, satyrs), after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute for ever unto them throughout their generations.”

2 Chronicles 11, in reference to Rehoboam the son of Solomon: “15 And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils (8163, satyrs), and for the calves which he had made.”

And two additional scriptures which attest that they were worshipping demons:

Deuteronomy 32: “17 They sacrificed unto devils (7700, demons), not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.”

Psalm 106: “35 But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works. 36 And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them. 37 Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils (7700, demons), 38 And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood.”

The satyr was a half man, half goat character which made its way into the mythology of the Greeks. In Hebrew apocryphal literature, namely 1 Enoch, demons are said to have come from the spirits of bastards. Speaking of the dispersed children of Israel to whom he was to deliver the gospel, Paul of Tarsus said to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 10:18-21): “18 Behold Israel down through the flesh: are not those who are eating the sacrifices partners of the altar? 19 What then do I say? That that which is sacrificed to an idol is anything? Or that an idol is anything? 20 Rather, that whatever the Nations sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to Yahweh. Now I do not wish for you to be partners with demons. 21 You can not drink of the cup of the Prince, and the cup of demons; you can not partake of the table of the Prince, and of the table of demons.”

In Colossians chapter 2 Paul mentioned “being willing with humiliation even in worship of the Messengers”, messengers or angels. Here he seems to be warning about idolatry, and equating it with the worship of certain “angels”. In Roman paganism, the planets were named after certain of their gods. The name for the original Roman high god, Jove, with their word pater, for father, was eventually elided into the name Jupiter, a contraction of “Jove, pater”, or “Father Jove”. Jupiter therefore became the name of the largest of the planets. Mars, the god of war, Mercury, the messenger to the underworld, the storm god Saturn, the love goddess Venus, all gave their names to those planets recognized by the Romans (who could only see those five planets, not having telescopes). The apostle Jude called those angels who left their first estate “wandering stars”, so there are Biblical and historical connections between false gods, idolatry, fallen angels, stars, and the “host of heaven”.

[As an aside, the Greek idol Hermes was their equivalent to the Roman Mercury, and was not only the messenger of the gods to Hades, but was also representative of phallic worship: for Hermes was often depicted as a head on a post with a fully erect phallus below. These depictions of Hermes evoke the Hebrew meaning of the word for the god Chiun mentioned in Amos 5:26, a word which means to stand erect.]

In Isaiah chapter 34 there is a clear connection made between the enemies of Yahweh and the “host of heaven”: “1 Come near, ye nations, to hear; and hearken, ye people: let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it. 2 For the indignation of the LORD is upon all nations, and his fury upon all their armies: he hath utterly destroyed them, he hath delivered them to the slaughter. 3 Their slain also shall be cast out, and their stink shall come up out of their carcases, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood. 4 And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree. 5 For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment. 6 The sword of the LORD is filled with blood, it is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the LORD hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea. 7 And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness. 8 For it is the day of the LORD'S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion.”

Verse 4 of Isaiah chapter 34 need not be interpreted literally: for in other places of Scripture, in prophecy fulfilled, it is evident that the heavenly bodies are often used as allegory for things here on earth. If we interpret it literally, it does not fit the context of the passages which both precede and which follow. Here Yahweh promises the destruction of all the nations, ostensibly the non-Israel nations since Israel is promised preservation forever. Then the “host of heaven” are to be dissolved, and finally the people of his curse shall be destroyed.

From R.H. Charles' edition of 1 Enoch, chapter 18: “9. And I saw a flaming fire. And beyond these mountains 10. Is [sic, probably in] a region [sic, add at?] the end of the great earth: there the heavens were completed. 11. And I saw a deep abyss, with columns {{of heavenly fire, and among them I saw columns}} of fire fall, which were beyond measure alike towards the height and towards the depth. 12. And beyond that abyss I saw a place which had no firmament of the heaven above, and no firmly founded earth beneath it: there was no water upon it, and no birds, but it was a waste and horrible place. 13. I saw there seven stars like great burning mountains, and to me, when I inquired regarding them, 14. The angel said: 'This place is the end of heaven and earth: this has become a prison for the stars and the host of heaven. 15. And the stars which roll over the fire are they which have transgressed the commandment of the Lord in the beginning of their rising, because they did not come forth at their appointed times. 16. And He was wroth with them, and bound them till the time when their guilt should be consummated (even) [for ten thousand years].'”

Regardless of what one may think of the canonicity of Enoch, it demonstrates an understanding that the “host of heaven” were those who sinned at the “beginning of their rising”, making an allegory of the actual stars as well. The term “host of heaven” is also used to refer to good angels at Luke 2:13-14, of an event at the birth of Christ. The term “host of heaven” can of course refer to the heavenly bodies, however in the Bible it is evidently a double-entendre, which is a word or phrase with two concurrent meanings, where it very often refers to the fallen angels and to all of their offspring, who are the authors of sin in the world's false religions and all of the wicked practices which they include. James 2: “19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” Those devils are walking amongst us. In ancient Egyptian mythology, there were “earth-gods” which had the form of serpents, and such is not a coincidence. Rather it is very likely representative of those same ancient accounts found in Genesis. (Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, Princeton University Press, J. Pritchard, ed., 1969, p. 12, in an ancient Egyptian story called The Repulsing of the Dragon).

44 “The habitation of witness [or tabernacle of witness] was with our fathers in the desert just as He speaking to Moses prescribed to make it, according to the model which he had seen. 45 Which also our fathers who succeeded brought in with Joshua into the possession of the nations which Yahweh expelled before the face of our fathers until the days of David,

The form of the name in Greek, Ἰησοῦς, here is the same name for which the King James Version has Jesus everywhere it refers to Christ, and the King James Version has Jesus here even though it clearly refers to Joshua the son of Nun, although some recent printings have emended it to Joshua here. In the Christogenea New Testament it is Joshua only to distinguish the son of Nun from Yahshua Christ. The name Joshua is but an Anglicized form of the Hebrew name which we can transliterate as Yahshua.

46 who found favor before Yahweh and asked to find a dwelling-place in the house of Jakob, 47 and Solomon built a house for Him.

The Codices Alexandrinus (A), Ephraemi Syri (C) and the Majority Text have “to find a dwelling-place for the God of Jakob”, for which see also the Septuagint at Psalm 132:5. The text agrees with the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Vaticanus (B) and Bezae (D).

48 But the Highest does not dwell in things made by hand, just as the prophet says: 49 ‘The heaven is for Me a throne, and the earth a footstool for My feet. What sort of house will you build for Me? says Yahweh, or where is the place of My resting? 50 Has not My hand made all of these things?’

Verses 49 and 50 paraphrase Isaiah 66:1-2: “1 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? 2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”

Paul of Tarsus sought to explain this same thing to the Athenians, as it is recorded at Acts 17: “24 Yahweh who made the order [or world] and all the things in it. He being Prince of heaven and earth does not dwell in temples made by hand.” Likewise Paul says of the children of Israel, at 2 Corinthians 5: “1 Therefore we know that if perhaps our earthly house of the tabernacle would be destroyed, we have a building from Yahweh, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

51 Stiff-necked and uncircumcised in hearts and in ears! Always do you resist the Holy Spirit, as your fathers, also you! 52 Which of the prophets have your fathers not persecuted? And they killed those who announced beforehand concerning the coming of the Just One, of whom you have now been betrayers and murderers, 53 who have received the law by arrangement of messengers yet have not kept it!” 54 And hearing these things their hearts were cut through, and they snarled at him.

The final clause is literally “they gnashed their teeth at him.”

When we look into the Old Testament accounts wherever we can find records of the persecution of the priests and prophets of Yahweh our God, we find culprits such as Doeg the Edomite, or Jezebel the whore, who are those who would kill them or have them killed. However Saul the King did hire Doeg the Edomite for the service when all Israel in his company refused. Yet the blame here is placed upon the nation, since they had all at one time despised the messengers of God to follow after the ways of the world. For this same reason all of Israel was held accountable by Peter for the death of Christ, since they had all allowed the high priests to have Him executed, and even if they did not themselves assent directly, enough of them had done so. The devils are never to be blamed for acting in accordance with their nature. But rather, the people of God are to be blamed for their lack of diligence in following the commandments and precepts of Scripture, whereby the devils would not be in a position to do such harm.

Christ Himself reveals to us the mystery of this iniquity, in Luke chapter 11 where he says to the leaders of the people, the Pharisees and the Lawyers: “47 Woe to you! Because you build the monuments of the prophets, and your fathers killed them! 48 Therefore you are witnesses and you consent to the works of your fathers, because they killed them, and you build. 49 For this reason also the wisdom of Yahweh says: ‘I shall send to them prophets and ambassadors, and some of them they shall kill and they shall persecute’, 50 in order that the blood of all the prophets spilled from the foundation of the Society should be required from this race, 51 from the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias who was killed between the altar and the house. Yeah, I say to you, it shall be required from this race!” Only the race of Cain could be held responsible for the blood of Abel, and there were many Edomites – descended from Cain – among the people and leadership of Judaea. Yet when the infiltrators lead the nation astray, it is the fault of the nation, for not obeying the Word of Yahweh their God.

55 Then being filled with the Holy Spirit, gazing at the heaven he saw the effulgence of Yahweh, and Yahshua standing at the right hand of Yahweh, 56 and he said “Behold! I see the heavens have opened and the Son of Man stands at the right hand of Yahweh!”

Stephen's words evoke the words of Christ, here from Luke 22: “69 Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God.”

57 And crying with a great voice, clasping their ears then they hastened upon him with one accord. 58 And casting him outside of the city they stoned him. And the witnesses laid aside their garments by the feet of a young man named Saulos, 59 and being stoned Stephanos calling out then said “Prince Yahshua, receive my spirit!” 60 And kneeling down he cried out with a great voice, “Prince, You should not account this error to them!” And saying this he fell asleep.

The Hebrew method of execution was stoning. The Roman method was crucifixion. Christ had to be crucified in order to fulfill the Scripture, as Paul explains in Galatians 3: “13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree”. Stephen's prayer is quite noble, knowing that his Israelite brethren sinned ignorantly, thinking they were defending the proper traditions of their ancestors, he prayed for their acquittal.

John 16: “2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.”

The first clause in Chapter 8 belongs here: “1 And Saulos was consenting to his death.” So we see that Paul did not take part in the stoning of Stephen, yet he consented to the action. Paul too was a traditionalist, and initially he saw the sect of the Nazarenes as a heresy, and was eager to help punish the heretics. From Acts chapter 24: “14 But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets.” Yet from this point, Paul had a long way to go.

For the next year, or perhaps a year and a half, the greatest part of our efforts in this weekly presentation will focus on a defense and a thorough explanation of the ministry and epistles of Paul of Tarsus, from a purely Scriptural and historical viewpoint.

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