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By Harry Golemon in Biblical Word Studies - Goldtmann“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” Ex 20:7
What is the most important word in the English language? Your name. The name given to you at birth is the name that defines you, the name most familiar to you, the one you may see and hear many times a day. Your name represents your total being and when spoken by others, identifies you with your actions, emotions, appearance, history, basically, everything a person knows about you they identify with your name.
I have been thinking about the name of Jesus and what it means to call upon His name. I really have not considered what this means until in a witnessing session, when the words that came out of my mouth helped allow me to understand a little more the importance of a name.
“I cannot physically show you Jesus on the cross. There is no film footage, no photos, no artistic drawings of the actual event. I cannot show you the empty tomb, and I cannot manifest Jesus in front of you, but what I can tell you is His Name, and with His Name we can identify Him with the acts He accomplished.”
What’s in a name? The Hebrew word for name is Shem שם, and also means fame, renown. In primitive Hebrew the parent root is defined as breath, the wind or breath, of someone or something is its character. It also meant for title, a word given to an individual or place denoting its character.
In looking at Hebrew word plays, I really didn’t find anything that stood out, except sometimes in the Bible the word name has a word (אֶת) that acts like an emphasis but is never translated into English. In our starting verse the name of the Lord is written: אֶת־שֵֽׁם־יְהוָה (Eth Shem Jehovah). Combining the first letters and the last letters of Eth and Shem makes the following word play:
תם Modern Hebrew: Innocent, simple, honest, ingenuous, naïve, artless, simpleminded,
Biblical Hebrew: Plain/Mild (KJV/NKJV Gen 25:27), Lexicons: complete, perfect, sound, morally innocent, having integrity, blameless.
What would this signal to me? God is sometimes identified with fire, yet in regards to his Shem, or character, the Hebrew word תם (Tam) sheds some “light” into His Name or Shem. Taking His name in vain is not just misusing the word (God, Jehovah, Adonai, etc), but is also misusing his Shem, which we will review below. I want to include a study from a Hebrew professor on the idioms for the word Shem, where literally it would be translated as name, but as an idiom would tell you it is more than a name. http://beth-abraham.org/shem.html
When the Bible speaks “In the name [SheM] of”, the word following tells you the source, the authority or originator. If there is salvation, healing, blessing, etc., “in His SHEM”, then He is the Source of all those good things. There is no real relationship here between SHEM and name.
In Exodus 33:12, the NASB translates, “I have known [yada’] you by name”; however, according to Hebrew experts this is silly to translate Shem as name. When the word yada’ appears, knowing God is not a matter of academic studies, the right sequence of Hebrew vowels and consonants, but a matter of a loving friendship. In the primitive Hebrew sense, I have known you by your character, by your breath. This goes back to the opening of the study. Name is more than just a title, but a reflection of everything about YOU or another person, thing or being. When I apply this to the relationship I have with my wife, there are certain hints in her breath, the way she characterizes some words with the alteration of breath, the way she sighs, that I know her and what she is thinking. Knowing your Shem on a personal level means, I know you in ways strangers do not.
Playing with Hebrew words, the emphasizer “eth” with Shem, showed me it is not something complicated when we call on the name of the Lord. When the Hebrew word Shem is paired with qra (to call), it is a prerequisite to a wonderful deep friendship He offers us. This does not simply mean, “call on His Name”, which would imply a knowledge of Hebrew and well-functioning vocal apparatus would be required for us to begin to know Him. Instead, a person praying earnestly may indeed “call out His Name” and that may be where the idiom comes from, but the real meaning of the idiom involves our heart-response to Him.
Did you see what word appeared in this study, a reoccurring theme in my bible studies? The word heart has surfaced again. This study did not go where I thought it was going, to the Hebrew name of Jesus, Yeshua, but is about knowing God’s heart and his connection with your heart.
From another Hebrew professor, Chaim Bentorah. In ancient times a name was given to someone because it would describe who they were, what was expected of them or what they would accomplish in life. Oddly, the name Yeshua (Jesus) was the sixth most common name in the first century.
Shem is more than just an identification, it is an expression of not only what one is, but what one desires. It is an expression of one’s heart. Hence the name of Jesus or Yeshua is an expression of what He longed or desired to be and that is a Savior. Ultimately shem is the expression of one’s heart. When you expressed a name you were expressing a passion of one’s heart.
Absorbing all this in, what is in a name, and the titles given to God and His Son? The Bible tells us, “Whatsoever you shall ask in my name [Shema in Aramaic], that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” In his Shem is a desire for everything he wants to be for his children. (The Lord will provide, The Lord Sees All, The Lord is my Banner, The Lord is Here.) I may not be able to physically show you Jesus, but I can give you His name, where we attach all that is good, righteous, holy to Him. To profane His Holy Name is more than just an ill-use of the word for his name, but more of misusing what He desires to be, your God, your Savior, your Friend, your Father, your All.
By Harry Golemon in Biblical Word Studies - Goldtmann“…Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” Mt 20:22
The Laughter of Rabbi Akiva (50 -135 AD) (abbreviated)
After the destruction of the second temple, a tale emerged about three Rabbis visiting the Temple Mount and saw a fox emerging from the place where the Holy of Hollies used to be. Two rabbis started crying, but Rabbi Akiva laughed.
“Why are you laughing?” They asked. “Why are you weeping?” Rabbi Akiva replied.
“A place so holy is now the homes of foxes, and we shouldn’t weep?”
Rabbi Akiva responds, “Now that Uriah’s prophecy has been fulfilled, it is certain that Zechariah’s prophecy will be fulfilled, ‘Old men and women shall yet sit in the streets of Jerusalem, and boys and girls playing in the streets.”
The last type of baptism I want to study is what I call martyrdom, which Merriam-Webster defines as the suffering of death on account of adherence to a cause and especially to one’s religious faith. Also associated with affliction, and torture. In our subject verse, I believe Jesus is eluding to his crucifixion, which He ends the content with: “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mt 20:28
Martyrs and Martyrdom in Christianity is not something I like to think about, but it happens. I live in a country where I can safely wake up and choose to go to a church on any day of the week without fear for my life, but Christians in other countries do not have this luxury. This luxury, in all honesty, I believe is not biblical.
“As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Romans 8:36
Testimony of the Martyrs
Down through the ages Christians have been killed for their faith. Ten of the eleven remaining apostles died as martyrs. In my personal witnessing experience, an Asian family went through the booth and wanted to know about Jesus. After showing them scripture, the father, son and daughter wanted to commit their lives to Christ, but the mother was unsure, for she was Buddhist.
I closed the Bible being done with scripture. The spirit guided me to speak of the testimony of the martyrs, and how they died to tell us Jesus rose again from the grave! They died for this moment, for this lady to know the truth, that Jesus lives and wants to save you! I asked her to not listen to what I said, but what her heart was telling her. I had called upon the testimony of martyrs as proof of faith, and after careful consideration, the lady surrendered her life to Christ.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
The word Martyr does not appear in the Old Testament, but translation software gave me the following Hebrew word which literally translates to:
(5 50 6 70 40) (300 6 4 100)
An interesting coincidence is the numerical value for tortured is 171, which appears in Isaiah 53:4 in the Hebrew word (ומענה), meaning and afflicted.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
Ironic how this method of study pointed me to the Holy One being tortured and placed on a cross, which depends on your interpretation of Isaiah 53.
Esoterically in the word for torture, the Hebrew letter מ (Mem), is the word for water, and has a shadow meaning of becoming flooded by evil water or destructive passions. The ע (Ayin) is the word for eye. In its shadow form, it is interpreted as beware of what you cannot see, the darkness hidden in the shadows behind you. The ו (Vav) is the word for peg, used to connect, and represents a connection between heaven and earth, and the ones around us. The נ (Nun) for faith and endurance, with a shadow meaning of coldness, and finally the ה (Hei), the word means Lo, behold or here it is. Hei is a sense of being with the power of self-expression.
As we saw in the earlier study, baptism has a sense of being surrounded, and applied to martyrdom in the esoteric sense. I interpret: Being surrounded by destructive passions – the enemy wants to kill, steal, and destroy the Christians. Who is this enemy? The shadow of the Ayin tells us it is a force we cannot see, a darkness hidden in our shadows. When the enemy overtakes a person in this life, the martyr has the power of self-expression, dying for their faith, telling us Behold! Here it is, my faith! Isn’t it odd when these grotesque acts are published, it emboldens more the power of the testimony of the person’s faith?
I have heard it stated, “I kill one Christian, and three more pop up.”
Near the end of the 11th chapter of Hebrews, Paul speaks of the ones martyred for their faith.
“Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mocking and scourging, yes, and of chains and imprisonments. They were stoned, sawn in two, tempted, slain with the sword.” Hebrew 11:35-37
Can you name the martyrs Paul is mentioning here? There is a lesser known book of Isaiah which speaks of his martyrdom, where he was killed by king Manasseh by being sawn in half with a wood saw. This is even discussed in rabbinical literature.
A Special Place and Count in Heaven
As we read in Revelations, it appears martyrs have a special place, under the altar of God.
“When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.” Rev 6:9
Reading a few verses down, we find that God has a count of the martyrs.
“…rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.” Rev 6:11
I believe when this count is complete, the Sixth Seal will be broken.
“For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” Rev 6:17
How does this study personally speak to me? I should not be surprised when I read, see or experience Christians being killed for their faith. It is a part of God’s plan, and those who are martyred have a special place in heaven, right under the altar, right under the throne of God.
Christians have been and will be killed for their faith. Although I abhor these acts of violence, some Christians are baptized with martyrdom from on High, and who is going to go against God? In recent acts, these martyrs have served a purpose as some non-Christians have questioned their own faith and turned to Christianity. I should have faith that God is in control, and he uses His children for His purpose.
At the start of this study I began with a tale of Rabbi Avika laughing upon seeing the destruction of the second temple. He understood it was prophecy unfolding before his eyes, and instead of mourning the loss, he was laughing at what was to come in the future. Biblically, I have to accept that there is a baptism of martyrdom and it is part of God’s plan. As a great evil seems to be overtaking the world, should I be like the two rabbi’s weeping or fearful? Should I hold strong to my faith, and begin laughing, for we are witnessing prophecy unfolding and our redemption drawing nigh? In the Jewish tale, which rabbi are you?
“Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Luke 21:28
By Harry Golemon in Biblical Word Studies - Goldtmann“…He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Luke 3:16
The third type of baptism I want to review is one of fire. In my search through scriptures I had a rather difficult time trying to determine how to apply John the Baptist’s intent when he said Jesus would baptize with fire. Jesus mainly used fire as a negative connotation, such as everlasting destruction, except in my interpretation of one instance.
“I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” Luke 12:49
When Jesus often spoke he was speaking spiritually, and here, I believe Jesus is using a metaphor for fire with passion, which can be seen in the Hebrew word for fire, אש (‘ish). Reading further down in the passage, this fire will bring division into families, and there is an interesting Hebrew word play to show how fire plays a role in the family.
Man Woman Shortened Name of God
In the Midrash rabbis looked at these words and noted, man and woman do not have God in their names, like Eli-jah, but bring man and woman together and God is in their midst. Without God in the midst of man and woman, you have fire and fire, and we know how destructive that can be.
I noticed in verse 51 Jesus did not say he would bring division between man and woman, but father and son, mother and daughter, etc. In Hebrew both man and woman have the letter א aleph, the first letter of the alphabet, which has always been associated with God. In the names of man and woman, God can reside in man without woman and woman without man, but alone they cannot form the name of God. This explains man and woman alone cannot completely understand God, that is to understand what the love of God is all about.
Although this is a rather interesting word play coincidence, it still does not help me understand what baptism of fire signifies. Looking esoterically at the letter shin, it is drawn with three upraised arms with flames of holy fire.
The shin begins the Hebrew words for sun (shemsh), kindle (sh’viv), heat (sharav) and the flame of fire (shalhevet). The shin represents the kindling, flame and heat of a fire. Fire is considered a passion, a fiery passion, and reminds us of the passion of God. Another word that starts with the shin is change (shinui). With the fiery passion of God, He changes a heart. Heart? How did that find its way into this study, for no matter how much I study the Bible, I circle around to one key point, a matter of the heart. Even the physical heart has the Hebrew letter shin inside:
Looking up the primitive meaning of אש (‘ish), I learn it has the action of to press or shine, as pressing of wood to create fire, the object of fire, foundation and pillar, and abstractly, despair or pressure. The pictograph represents strength. The is a picture of teeth and imply pressing as one does with the teeth to chew food. Combined these pictures mean “a strong pressing down”
Using the primitive meaning, being baptized with fire is being surrounded by a strong pressing down of the Holy Spirit? Interesting.
As I showed in the previous study, there is a word play on Tebal (baptism), which is a good heart, so baptism by fire would be a good heart set on fire.
I have touched on fire in word plays, primitively and in esoteric land and nature, but what does it mean to be baptized by fire? As I have mulled over this, I have come to consider personal experiences as a means of defining baptism by fire. The personal way in which we experience God, how the Holy Spirit manifest itself in us, how God gives us a passion for what he has called us to do.
While doing this study, I came across a painting, one I have been familiar with in Mexico, for I saw it quite often. “The Sacred Heart of Jesus” which has its origin from 1673 AD. I had been torn over this painting. In some ways it was a little weird, but there was always a draw of interest. As I looked closer, I realized the artist drew a fire around the heart, and I wondered what he was trying to portray. The fiery passion of Jesus? The experience Margaret Alacoque, who was inspired to devote to the sacred heart of Jesus?
I then began to think of ways in which Christians use the word fire in a positive sense. “That preacher is on fire for the Lord.” “There is a fire in my spirit.” We even sing about this fire in our songs.
‘Tis Better Felt than Told
Blest was the hour that heav’nly fire
Lit up my darkened soul;
Now I Feel the Sacred Fire
Now I feel the sacred fire,
Kindling, flaming, glowing,
Higher still and rising higher,
All my soul o’erflowing;
Life immortal I receive;
O the wondrous story!
I was dead, but now I live
Glory! glory! glory!
For something not really mentioned in scripture, it seems Christians have experienced fire from the Lord down through the ages. I find it a common term used between Christians. In my experience, I have personally felt a fire inside of me during church service, and once when I prayed amongst friends. The Holy Spirit immersed itself upon all of us in different ways. For me, it was a manifestation of fire that was before me. I could physically feel the heat right in front of me, but it did not burn. In leading two people to Christ, they shared with me after the prayer, “When we began to pray I was very hot. It was like standing before a fire.”
What is this baptism by fire all about? Scripturally, I didn’t find much. I could try and tie it to sanctification, where a few verses mention being refined, which uses fire, yet in finishing up this article for posting, I took my mind back to the days before electricity. Fire was not only used for warmth and cooking, but fire was also used for light.
When I reflect back over experiences, the definitions, word and letter study, baptism by fire is a pressing down of the Holy Spirit, where the fire inside of us is kindled. The flood gates in my mind are now open, and I realize I forgot to pray to ask for knowledge and wisdom of this study, but the Lord was not going to let me publish this without opening up what He wanted me to see!
I had initially taken this study for the fiery passion of the Christian, how the Holy Spirit manifest itself as fire to us; however, there are multiple interpretations for this verse and the baptism of fire. How is this fire kindled, or strongly pressed down inside one who does not know Christ? Have you considered the fire of conviction?
When He [The Holy Spirit] comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment. John 16:8 HCM [Emphasis mine]
In my witnessing encounters, I have seen the sinner being pressed down with the weight of the word, being convicted of sin and righteousness by the Holy Spirit, until one relents and surrenders to God. A place where He changes the heart, where He comes inside to live, a place where He ignites the heart on fire!
For the believer the image of baptism by fire is beautiful. This fire is the Light of Jesus that shines from us. The Christian is a light in a dark and dying world. We have an everlasting flame inside of us, a flame that will not die! In my personal experience and the experience of others, there is a special fire for serving the Lord, and Jesus was anticipating the day that He would baptize us with fire. A fiery passion to serve Him, to have a peace in this life, a passion that even amongst the darkest of times, one could boldly say, “Lord, I am coming home.” A fire inside of us where we know we are His and He is ours.
I have a new appreciation for The Sacred Heart painting, for it speaks to me of His Heart, His Fire, His Spirit, living inside of me. A fire inside of us that emits to a lost and dying world, beckoning others to come to the light. A fire where people know there is something different, where we are reminded that we are children of God.
“To give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins. To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet in the way of peace.” Luke 1:77,79
By Harry Golemon in Biblical Word Studies - Goldtmann“…He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” Mark 1:8
A delayed flight to Germany gave me the opportunity to share my faith with a Jewish man. Upon reviewing some scriptures, he responded, “That is a very good interpretation.” His response startled me, and he encouraged me to learn Hebrew, which would aide in my spiritual path. What I thought first was a Divine appointment for me to witness to him; however, this event was for me. This moment in time, opened doors to studying the Bible and seeking God I may have never known.
My study of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is lengthy, so I am going to try and condense it for your time’s sake. As we saw in the first study, the Hebrew word for baptism is Tebal, which has the idea of being surrounded. With a Hebrew word play, we also found a good heart. Let’s see what we find about the Holy Spirit.
“And when He [Jesus] had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:22 [emphasis mine]
Why did Jesus breathed on them? Is there something important about breath? A follow up question to this, how did human life begin?
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Gen 2:7.
We see in the natural birth, God breathed into the nostrils of man, and Jesus giving a spiritual birth in a similar fashion. Breath has much significance as found when God presents himself to Moses. What words did God give Moses who was thick tongued, to tell the captives in Egypt who had sent him? “Ahiyah asher Ahiyah” , I AM WHO I AM. These Hebrew words are spoken with the breath and not the tongue. Even the name of God, “Yahweh” (Jehovah), is a word of breath.
Using the idea of baptism of the Holy Spirit as being surrounded, we find this is what occurred on the Day of Pentecost:
“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.” Acts 2:2
300 4 6 100 8 6 200 = 624
The Hebrew word for Holy Spirit is Ruch Kodesh, and has a numerical value of 624. Searching for words in the Bible with the same numerical value leads me to ובריתו (them his covenant) found in Psalms 25:14
The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him, and he will show them His covenant.”
What is His covenant?
“As for Me,” says the LORD, “this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth…” Is 57:15
In the primitive Hebrew, Ruch, spirit, would have been written and defined as:
( רוח ) Definition: The Hebrew nomads were very familiar with the wind patterns as they would follow a prescribed path indicating the coming season. From this word comes the idea of breath as it is the wind of man which also follows a prescribed path of inhaling and exhaling.
( common, רוח / r.w.hh ) Translation: SMELL (V) Definition: The odor or scent of a thing. As carried on the wind. To be “refreshed”, as when taking in a deep breath. Edenics: reek KJV Translations: smell, touch, understanding, accept, refresh, large Strong’s Hebrew #: h.7304, h.7306
( fem., רוח / ru-ahh ) Translation: WIND Definition: A natural movement of air; breath. The breath of man, animal or God. The character. A space in between. KJV Translations: spirit, wind, breath, side, mind, blast, vain, air, anger, cool, courage, space, enlargement Strong’s Hebrew #: h.7305, h.7307
Esoterically, the letters of Ruch (spelled Resh – Vav – Cheth) gives much insight into the word spirit. As seen above, the Resh was drawn as a head, and the word means head. This has a sense of being first – God’s spirit moved upon the face of the deep – and leadership. The spirit leads, guides and directs us.
The Vav is the word for Peg, which is used to connect two materials. The Holy Spirit provides a connection between heaven and earth. Vav is the sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet and associated with the six directions, (N,S,E,W, Up and Down). The Holy Spirit is the seventh direction, connecting us to the spiritual world.
The Vav also tells us to find our connection to heaven in that special way that God created us to find our connection. Instead of imitating or comparing ourselves to others, look to see what special way the Holy Spirit may choose to manifest itself to you.
The Cheth is for new beginnings and binding with God. The Holy Spirit lets us know that we are His in this new life called Christianity. As we give our lives to Christ, the Holy Spirit is what binds inside of us, and lets us know we are children of God.
“…in whom also having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirt of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance…” Eph 1:14
Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 2 Cor 1:21-22
Personally, having reviewed some of the esoteric meanings from the letters gives me a precious view and an enlightened appreciation for the Holy Spirit. We have learned a little about it, but how is one baptized with the Holy Spirit? Enter my dilemma with religious doctrines, my friends in other religions and the book of Acts. If I follow the Baptist theology, the order is repentance, belief, Holy Spirit, and immersion in water. However, as I study the life of Christ, he despised the “legalism” of the Pharisees. If religious doctrines hold, then the order of conversions found in Acts should be the same?
What does this exercise teach me? Receiving of the Holy Spirit is different for different people. I ask the question, why? This cannot be, this is a contradiction in doctrine, no? Even my personal experience is contradictory to my religion’s doctrine. This is a mystery to me and maybe Jesus sheds some light when he tells Nicodemus:
“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8
My Personal Experience
I recently read a verse in Ezekiel and found my experience with an Holy God to be similar. The moment I surrendered to God, he changed my heart, it was the most humbling experience in my life. I was done being who I thought I was, what I had become, and now I would be different.
After baptism, I was perplexed for I had expected to be supercharged with the Holy Spirit. It wasn’t there. I knew I was changed, and what I had experienced. It was very real to me. For the next few weeks I would come home from work, and sit in front of a blank TV, meditating. Having grown up in church, I felt I had a good handle on the Bible; however, when I started reading it, things changed. I did not know anything like I thought I did.
Still concerned about the Holy Spirit, a Roman Catholic Priest came on TV while I wasn’t paying attention. My ears perked up when he talked about his personal surrender to God, and after baptism he was expecting a fire from the Holy Spirit. His experience was similar to mine! It wasn’t a supercharged singular event, but the Holy Spirit ebbed and flowed from day to day and continued to grow.
The Holy Spirit has enlightened me in the word of God. Has been my guide, has led me to places to witness and to be taught. It has grown me exponentially that I cannot even describe. At times I feel surrounded by the presence of the Holy Spirit, and have experienced a filling that if it was any stronger, I would have exploded.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statues, and you will keep my judgements and do them.” Ez 36:26
At the time of this writing, I have had the privilege of leading 42 people to Christ in the past seven months. After one prays, I will ask how they feel. Some are awestruck, some have told me, “How do I describe what happened? I cannot put this into words.” Some have cried, others rejoiced. In some events, God has allowed me to feel His Spirit flow from me into the other person.
I have not defined or figured out what Baptism of the Holy Spirit fully represents. One part of me says it is the sealing of the spiritual heart, where the Spirit surrounds our heart. Another view could be during a church service or gathering of Christians where the Holy Spirit manifest itself.
As I was driving to work, the Lord impressed on me that everyone’s experience is different, and not to question someone’s experience with God. He also jabbed me about my belief in different interpretations, and accepting others for how they read scripture. After all, I have said, “It is not so much what I read in scripture, but how I have experienced scripture that makes it come alive.”
So what is the application of this study? God is the one who sends His Holy Spirit, and as Acts has shown me, it doesn’t follow a set order. If my Pentecostal friends react lively to the Holy Spirit, that is just as okay as my Catholic friends who react in quietness and solemnness. In the end, it is the heart that God has changed, it is God who saves, God who grants mercy and grace, God who gives a “good heart.” Who am I to question someone’s experience with an infinite being, for I cannot see inside the heart of anyone.
By Harry Golemon in Biblical Word Studies - GoldtmannA man ask a rabbi a question, and at the conclusion, says, “You’re right.” Another rabbi over hearing the conversation gave an entirely different and contradictory answer. The man responds, “You’re right.” A third rabbi looked at the man and said, “He’s right and he’s right, they both cannot be right.” The man looked at the third rabbi and said, “You’re right.”
The point of the tale is that our western culture cannot accept two different answers as right, especially if they are seeming contradiction. This is not the case in the Semitic (Ancient Middle Eastern) mindset. This is really not a problem.
When I began this study on baptism, I was aware of the different interpretations, methods used, theologies and religious doctrines associated with this religious rite of passage. I am aware of the quest of some religions for a single interpretation, however, I do not wish to limit my study to a particular mindset or religious doctrine, but rather be open to how the scriptures speak to me, sharing what I have learned.
The most common form of baptism is with water. Some consider this an act of immersion, others kneeling in a pool of water with water being poured over the head, others feel a form of sprinkling is acceptable. Some feel it is of the utmost importance that the proper words are said during this ritualistic ceremony. Some believe this is part of the salvation process, so I will leave this with a question for you to ponder. Is a person’s salvation dependent upon another person’s action, what he or she says or doesn’t say? Is it more dependent upon what Jesus did and does?
The word baptism comes from the Greek root word bapto, which Strong’s defines as:
a primary verb; to whelm, i.e. cover wholly with a fluid; in the New Testament only in a qualified or special sense, i.e. (literally) to moisten (a part of one’s person), or (by implication) to stain (as with dye):—dip.
Using a computer software, I ran a query on all the places a form of the word bapto is found, and came across scriptures where the translators did not use the English word baptize. This appears to be contradictory to what I have been taught baptism is.
“And as He [Jesus] spoke, a certain Pharisee asked Him to dine with him. So He went in and sat down to eat. When the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that He had not first [baptized] washed before dinner.” Luke 11:37-38 [Emphasis mine]
To understand the intent of this verse, I take a stroll into Judaism and practices around the second temple era. Jesus is having a meal with a Pharisee, the spiritual fathers of modern Judaism, who were members of an ancient Jewish sect, distinguished by strict observance of the traditional and written law. They had imposed a priestly law upon the common people, to ritually wash the hands before a meal where bread is served. http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/hand-washing/
It has to be appreciated that this ritual washing of the hands has nothing to do with physical cleanliness. The procedure is to pour water out from a cup or glass first twice over the right hand and then twice over the left hand–care being taken that the unwashed hands do not touch the water used for the washing. The hands are then dried with a towel before partaking of the meal. A benediction is recited over the washing of the hands: “Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with Thy commandments and has commanded us concerning the washing of the hands.”
As I now understand the act of “baptizing” in this scripture, Jesus did not perform the ritual cleansing of his hands before the meal. Bapto is identified in this verse with a routine ritual cleansing. This highlights an aspect of Jesus, for He did not like Pharisee’s law. Go read his response to them in the verses that follow.
To summarize the use of the word bapto in the Greek language, there are verses where it is used for baptism, for dipping (finger in water, garment in blood, bread in oil), and for ritual washing. To understand the word baptism further, I searched translator engines for the Hebrew word. I found three Hebrew words with their meanings, please note these words are not found in the Old Testament, but are found in the Oral/Traditional Law.
לְהַטבִּיל – Baptize
טְבִילָה – Baptism (baptism, immersion, dipping, ablutions*, duck
הַטבָּלָה – Baptism (baptism, dipping, immersion)
*Ablutions is the act of washing oneself, a ceremonial act of washing parts of the body or sacred containers.
These Hebrew words come from the root word: Tebal טבל. Which means to immerse, to dip, to bathe briefly. From Jewish law, to perform ritual immersion.
What? There is a Jewish law on baptism by immersion? As I researched, I learned Judaism even has a “baptistery” called a Mikveh. Here is a beautiful article on what immersion (baptism) means in the Jewish faith, the symbolisms to Christianity are… Wow. http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/why-immerse-in-the-mikveh/
Here are some excerpts: What physical act could a person perform in order to symbolize a radical change of heart, a total commitment? Jewish tradition prescribes a profound symbol. It instructs the conversion candidate to place himself or herself in a radically different physical environment–in water rather than air. No other religious act is so freighted with meaning as this one which touches every aspect of life and proclaims a total commitment to a new idea and a new way of life as it swallows up the old and gives birth to the new. “As soon as the convert immerses and emerges, he is a Jew in every respect” (Yevamot 47b).
I was stunned to find in Judaism, new converts are “baptized”, and the oral law of water immersion for converts goes back to the time of Moses! I had always wondered why no one questioned John the Baptist on what he was doing, for I now know, it was not something new to them. Let’s conduct a word study for the root word, Tebal.
30 2 9 = 41
This comes from an ancient hieroglyphic parent root, Tov טב . From the research of Jeff Benner on the ancient hieroglyphic, http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/ahlb/tet.html , we find that Tov means:
The Hebrew letter Beth is the word used for house as found in the town Bethlehem – House of Bread, but can also be interpreted as heart, and our body. The parent root for the Hebrew word Baptize has a sense of something surrounding us. What is very interesting, taking the first two letters of Tebal טבל, spells the word טב Tov, which means, Good, and the last two letters backwards forms לב Lev, which means Heart. Combining this play on words, we uncover a symbolism for baptism as a good heart. A heart God has changed or made good!
This gives me insight into Peter’s description of Baptism …”but the answer of a good conscience toward God…” 1 Peter 3:21.
Using Gemantra, the numerical value of Tebal is 41, which shares the same numerical value as Mother Em אם. The numerical value of the first letter of Tebal, the Tet, is 9, representing the nine months of gestation. As a fetus is surrounded by water in the womb of the mother, Tebal is the surrounding of oneself with water. As a baby is born, it comes out from the water into life. Think about the symbolisms for baptism and the birth of a baby.
Esoterically, the Tet tells of goodness and harmony with God, being surrounded. The Beth, our body, heart, home, and a sense of duality (We have this life and new life to come.) The Lamed, for teaching, learning and purpose.
Esoterically, Mikveh (Mem-Qop-Vav-Hei), the bath used for immersion or “baptism” can be interpreted. The Hebrew letter Mem is the word for water, and also represents revealed knowledge of God, His mercy and lovingkindness. The Qop, speaks of holiness, completion and wholeness, the Vav a connection with heaven and earth, redemption, and the Hei, reminds us to pay close attention to the specifics.
Due to the length of this particular study, I wish to stop here with a summary of what I have learned. Baptism has been around since the days of Moses, according to Jewish law. The Old Testament speaks of a ritual cleansing where the High priest immerses himself in water, but also, there are times that sprinkling of water is used.
There are many beautiful symbolisms for Baptism, and as the Hebrew word has shown me, it is a matter of a good heart. With each word study I conduct, I find God is more interested in the change in our spiritual heart, for this is the part that only He can save! The place where He acts to bring someone into salvation. As I feel baptism has its importance, more importantly is a spiritual heart God has changed.
“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” Ez 36:26