Tattoos and the Ancient Near East

Tattoos, within our society they’ve become increasingly popular. You can get a tattoo of just about anything, placed just about anywhere. Back in the WWII era, tattoos weren’t so common. Sure, some soldiers had some tattoos, those soldiers were usually considered the really bad dudes, the tough guys. Moving forward, tattoos were prevalent in biker gangs and prison inmates. Tattoos became a symbol of how tough you were. But tattoos were also used to display the person you loved. It was supposed to symbolize the permanency of that relationship. As time wore on tattoos became ever increasingly popular, till today where you can get a tattoo about anything, for any reason. I’ve heard of some who have used tattoos to let emergency personnel know about their disabilities[1, 2, 3].

One thing that has remained constant is peoples belief that the Bible, that God banned tattoos. Lev 19:28 sure seems to support that notion, but are we reading it right? Or is there something more? Are we projecting our culture, our understanding on to the verse, and maybe misunderstanding it? Is there something more? One thing is for sure, it’s a very predominant belief.

I watched a PBS show called “Iceman Reborn[4]. It’s about a person that was buried in the mountains for the last five thousand years. Because he’s so old he has to be kept in a special way or he’ll disintegrate. In order to study him better, they needed to make a replica of him. One of the things they noticed about this guy is that he has sixty-one tattoos, but these tattoos aren’t like the ones we’re used to seeing. What they find out is that the tattoos were a way to administer medication. The Smithsonian also has an article on the iceman’s tattoo’s[5]. This got me wondering about Lev 19:28, about the apparent ban of tattoos, according to scripture.

One thing I have been learning over the past couple of years, since I came to Torah, is ‘context, context, context’. So this made me look at the verses surrounding Lev 19:28 and I found that the context starts at verse 26, where it connects life and death with divination and soothsaying. There is much more going on here than just banning writing on flesh with in. Lev 19:28 cross references to Lev 21:5; Deut 14:1; 1 Kings 18:28; Jer 16:6. The reference to 1 Kings reminded me of a video I saw a while ago. In this video was a group of Muslim men with machetes and they were frantically cutting themselves in some sort of ritualistic frenzy. Also keep in mind, that the 1 Kings scripture is the face-off with Elijah and the four hundred prophets of Ba’al. If you’re not familiar with it, I encourage you to read it.

This got me curious about the cultural history, the anthropology, that is behind this, so I looked up ‘tattoos ancient near east’ and ‘Canaanite funeral rituals’ and a couple other variations of the search strings[6, 7]. The first things I noticed in my search ‘tattoos ancient near east’ was ‘Slavery in the Ancient Near East’ and ‘Slave and Master in Ancient Near Eastern Law’ page 1667 of the document which says “…slave-marks: in Old Babylonian the abbuttum, which was a mark or tattoo applied to a slave’s shaven head…”[8, 9]. Naturally this lead me to check out ‘abbuttum’, which then lead me to check out ‘Laws of Eshnunna[10]. ‘Abbuttum’ can be defined either as a hairdo peculiar to slaves, or a tattoo or mark on the body of a slave[11 page 163]. I feel like I have reasonably established that it was a custom to tattoo, or mark slaves in the Ancient Near East.

When it came to trying to understand the verses prior (starting at verse twenty-six) and going to verse twenty-nine, and the corresponding references to death, and especially in verse twenty-nine where it talks about prostitution, I was confused. At first I thought the references to death were about mourning, but as I pondered this, and researched it, it became clear it wasn’t about mourning. What could it be then? Are they just disjointed verses? As I continued my research, and even tried different queries, it eventually became clear to me. In a nineteen page article ‘The Biblical Prohibition Against Tattoos’ written in 2013, by John Huehnergard and Harold Liebowitz[11], after the Introduction, their first point is ‘Mourning Practices in the Ancient Near East’ in which they discuss the mourning practices listed in the bible, mourning rituals like sackcloth and ashes, bowed heads to the ground, rending garments, screaming and wailing, were among common mourning practices. The article goes on to discuss about cutting, slashing, and ‘gashing’ as a mourning practice, and cites a Ugaritic source called ‘Lament of Baal’[12, 13, 14], with in the ‘Ugaritic Baal Myth’, also known as ‘Ugaritic Baal Cycle’. So while it discussed mourning rituals, and cutting, it really didn’t address the passage of scripture we are concerned with. I read a commentary by Albert Barnes, pertaining to verse twenty-seven, about beards and hair cutting that said: “Round the corners of your heads – This may allude to such a custom as that of the Arabs described by Herodotus. They used to show honor to their deity Orotal by cutting the hair away from the temples in a circular form. Compare the margin reference.” I spent a lot of time trying to find this deity, Orotal, mentioned in this commentary. Other than this commentary, and another, that I forget off hand, there wasn’t any other reference or mention of this. I asked around too, but no one else heard of, or knew about this ‘Orotal’ deity. If I had been a dog, I’d have been chasing my tail. At least, that’s what it felt like trying to find out about this ‘Orotal’ deity and mourning rituals and tattoos.

I also checked with rabbinical commentary and literature, thank you Sefaria, for more information on tattoos, and the corresponding passages. What was interesting was that they added an element of idolatry to the subject. Mishnah Makkot 3:6 says that if you write without perforating, or perforate without writing, that he is not liable for lashes. Makkot 21a says that if you write HaShem’s name, you are not liable. There are seven references to tattoos, at Sefaria, one even relating to gentiles and cheese. It’s interesting to say the least, but really didn’t help the matter.

After mulling this over for a few days, and discussing the matter with some friends who assisted me in my research, it just dawned on me that it wasn’t about mourning after all. No! Verses twenty-six through twenty-nine all fit together. Once I began to think about the verses as relating to each other, and all that I had learned, above, that it all started to click. While it wasn’t about mourning rituals, it did involve temples and death and prostitution, and all that the verses discuss from verse twenty-six to verse twenty-nine. In fact, verse twenty-six is the key to the whole thing. In fact, one of the cross references is 1 Kings 18:28, which is where Elijah is confronting the prophets of Baal, and in verse twenty-eight, they are cutting themselves, gashing themselves, just as God instructed not to do in Lev 19:26-29. We also have the witch of Endor in 1 Sam 28:3-25. She was committing necromancy, or communicating with the dead, also called divination, which Lev 19:26 tells us not to do. I hope, at this point, it’s beginning to dawn on you what they all have in common, how they all tie into each other. Now, let’s revisit verse twenty-eight. It says that we are not to make cuts on ourselves for the dead or a tattoo. Notice how it references the dead, just as in verse twenty-six. Verse twenty-six is about death and divination, interpreting omens, soothsaying. The Hebrew word for soothsaying is H6049 anan and can mean bring, practice soothsaying, and so on. The Hebrew word nachash H5172 can mean divination, to learn secret things, observe signs and omens. Very similar to anan. So the tattoos, in context, has to do with necromancy, temple cult of the dead worship, divination, sorcery, and so on. Even the prostitution mentioned in verse twenty-nine, is all part of that. Matthew Vander Els, from Founded in Truth ministries has an excellent series on the Afterlife, that goes into the cult of the dead, and other things. I highly recommend it.

So does that mean that tattoos would have been accepted, or maybe if I put it in a better vernacular, it might be easier, would body art have been accepted in the Ancient Near East? No, I don’t think so. First, they might think you’re a slave, aside from that it would carry with it a lot of negative connentations that one would not want. Now, there is the tattoos, that were done for the application of medicine, but those were in specific places, for specific purposes. I don’t see much of an issue in that case. The tattoos, body art, that we do today, is very different from what Lev 19:28 is saying. I don’t think anyone is going to the local tattoo parlor to divine, or communicate with the dead, and commit prostitution. In today’s culture, tattoos are an art form, where the body is the canvas. Now, understand, I am not condoning it. I’m not saying, let’s all rush out and get tattoos. All I’m saying is that in context, that ‘tattoos’ mentioned in Lev 19:26-29 does not fit what we call tattoos today. Beyond that, I’d say it’s between you and God.



2 Tattoos and body piercings in the United States: A national data set

3 An Ironic Fad: The Commodification and Consumption of Tattoos

4 Iceman Reborn PBS Nova

5 Smithsonian Can tattoos be medicinal?

6 Google Scholar search tatto ancient near east

7 Google Scholar search Canaanite funeral rituals,3

8 Slavery in the Ancient Near East

9 Slave and Master in Ancient Near Eastern Law

10 Laws of Eshnunna

11 The Biblical Prohibition Against Tattooing* I. Mourning Practices in the Ancient Near East page 62-69

12 The Baal Cycle of Myths KTU 1.1-1.6

13 KTU 1.6 Column I Lines 32 – 55


15 Sefaria search tattoo



Seeing What We Want To See

Sorry it’s been a while, since my last entry. I recently had my life turned upside down, and it’s taken a while for me to adjust. I’m still adjusting, getting used to it. Initially I was going to title this “Repentance”, but I’ve already written at least one article on repentance. Repentance is such a big topic, that I’ll have to do a series on it, to begin to come close to doing justice to the topic. I’ve spent months meditating on this subject, going back to before my life was turned upside down. While I was intending on focusing on a particular group of people, I realized it applied to everyone in general, and to me personally.

I got the idea to write about this back around May of 2017. I was thinking about sin and it’s definition, and subsequently repentance and what it means. 1 John 2:2-6; 1 John 3:4-10; 1 John 5:2-3; 2 John 1:6; Rom 13:9; Gal 5:14; 1 John 2:24; Rom 7:7-13. I could go on listing scriptures, chaining throughout the entire Bible, but hopefully these few have made their point. Sin is breaking the law, Torah. Christians often say that we are freed from the law, that they are under grace. So first off, let’s put this concept to the test. If the law, Torah, is done away with, then we no longer have a definition for sin and there is no judgement. Think of it like a speeding citation. An officer of the law pulls you over for speeding. You have broken the law, and he has every right to cite you for this violation of the law. If he instead decides to extend you grace, and give you a warning, does that then mean that you are no longer under the law, but grace? Do you see how ridiculous that logic is? Christianity does teach that repentance means to turn from, to do a one eighty. Some might even go so far as to turn from sin and to follow God. The problem is when you remove the law, Torah, from the concept, then “following God” becomes open to interpretation, and subject to what one thinks that means.

On the Torah observant side of things, it’s often said that repentance is t’shuvah. T’shuvah comes from the root shoob, meaning to turn, and can be translated as repentance, but even this is incomplete. The Yale Anchor Bible Dictionary says the following; “Repentance 1. OT Background. In the LXX both metanoia/metanoeō and metamelomai translate the Heb nāḥam a total of 35 times, again emphasizing the elements of a change of thinking and regret. It has been commonly held that the NT concept of ―repentance‖ follows the meaning of the frequent Heb verb šûb (TDNT 8:989; NIDNTT 1: 357). However, such a view cannot be sustained from LXX usage because šûb, which is used over 1,050 times, is always translated by epistrophō (―to turn, be converted‖) and its kindred terminology (TDNT 8:726–29; NIDNTT 1: 354). Thus, any possible shift in meaning took place during the Intertestamental Period, perhaps under Hellenistic influence (TDNT 4:989), though such a conclusion lacks fully persuasive proof (Wilkin 1985).” You can really get a feel for epistropho by looking in the LXX, Septuagint. Metamelomai has three equivalent Hebrew words; asham, naham and nacham. These three Hebrew words give a better concept of the Greek metamelomia, which is often translated as repentance. It’s to, not just be guilty, but to also be “sorry”, to feel regret and remorse, that leads to a turning away, a conversion. In this case, a conversion to enter into covenant with God, which would mean following His rules, law, Torah. 

So while Christianity gets it simply as to turn away from sin, they may even include being remorseful and regret with the turning away, because they have removed Torah as the definition for sin, then the Christian concept of repentance is incomplete. It’s only when we get that it was the violation of His Torah that caused Jesus, Yeshua, to come and die for us, so that we could be restored. Why would restoration be so important? Because we were always meant to live by the Torah. The Torah was just supposed to be the minimum requirements. Jesus, Yeshua, called us to live better, to restore us to before the fall, when we were walking in covenant with God.

One thing that God has been showing me, in recent months, is how prideful and arrogant I am. It has been a very humbling and painful time. While I could justify it, to do so would be to negate the work that God is doing. The time to go into details is not now. For now, just be content with what I’m sharing.

There are eight hundred and seventy eight texts, in Sefaria, that include not just the TaNaKh, but also rabbinical texts and commentaries. There is just so much to this subject. I can only hope that I have wet your appetite for more on this subject. We do need to be guilty, remorseful, sorrowful, and to be converted, so that we come into covenant with God and His Torah. Most of you reading this would already consider yourself to be in covenant with God, to which I say “great”. When we look at it biblically, it’s just like a marriage. So if we aren’t abiding by His rules, Torah, then we are not being faithful. In fact, God considers adultery and idolatry to be the same thing. So clearly, abiding in Him, following His Torah, is a big deal to Him and the minimum requirements for what He considers being faithful to Him.

I called this entry, “Seeing what we want to see” because in the toldot Torah portion, Rabbi Chiam Richmond of the Temple Institute was speaking about Esau and Jacob and Isaac. He showed how that in Gen 27 when it describes Esau as a hunter, it’s really a bad translation, and perhaps it’s better translated as “trapper“. We really get a concept of what it’s talking about when we think about verbally trapping someone. It’s this sense that this portion is talking about. Esau knew what to say and how to present himself, so that he appeared as a good boy. Isaac, as the text says, loved Esau. Isaac, saw what he wanted to see. He saw Esau as a good boy, even though Esau only cared for himself and not his birthright or blessing…Until Jacob got it. Then he cared. He married the local Canaanite women, which is another example of how he didn’t care for what his father and family thought, or the legacy. Yet Isaac, it says, loved Esau. We too, are like this. We see what we want to see. One of the biggest problems with biblical interpretation, today, is that we read our culture, our world view, into the text. Instead of looking at it as, it wasn’t written to us, but for us. Moses, when he was writing this, was addressing the six hundred thousand that came with him out of Egypt. He wasn’t addressing us, but it is certainly for us. As a result, we wont understand what the text is saying until we understand what was being said to those who came out of Egypt. We need to take off our glasses, where we see what we want to see, and see the truth. Once we see the truth, then we can repent.

The Feel-Good Society

Here is something that I’ve noticed for a long time, but because of certain events in my life it has really come to the forefront of my attention. I had some other articles I was going to write, but due to these events I’ve put them on the back burner for a bit. So what am I rambling on about? Let me start off with some questions. Have you noticed how it’s not okay to be sad, to feel “depressed”? Have you noticed that it’s not okay to be angry? Have you noticed that very frequently when people bring these feelings to attention, they often get medicated?

See, this is America. The land of opportunity. America has even been called the “Promised Land”. We pride ourselves at being the best, having the best, making the best. The thing is, with this image, this perception, it doesn’t make provisions for anything other than that of the “American Dream”. But, if anything, what has been repeatedly observed is that often time those who are “successful” are also miserable. We weren’t made to live under that kind of pressure all the time. Yes, there are times when the feelings aren’t appropriate, or when intervention needs to be made. But I have to wonder if we didn’t have this image, if we weren’t so pressured, if our emotions would be healthier.

We have people acting out because our society has made it clear that if you’re not like everyone else, then you need help. As a result we have high suicide rates, as well as high murder, domestic violence, and other violent crime rates. These people are crying out for attention, and our society says “You can’t feel that way” or “You can’t think that way”. It’s taboo. Also as a result, we have a diagnosis for virtually everything. The people who think they’re normal, just haven’t been diagnosed yet. Their issues haven’t gotten so bad that it demands attention. Don’t believe me? Check out the DSM V.

When something is made taboo, then it doesn’t get addressed, which means it has to be stuffed or ignored. Either way, when you do that it often has disastrous consequences. But also, this occurs when we try and make everyone into a cookie cutter mold. What is needed is a society that is free and open. Now, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not talking about accepting what is sin. What I am talking about is, if we stop trying to fit everyone into the same mold, then the stress would go down. That alone would resolve a lot of issues. But also if our society was such where we could talk about how we feel with out fear or shame, then things would be resolved a lot sooner and a lot better.

If a person loses a loved one, it’s natural to feel sad, but sometimes certain people may feel it more intensely than others, it may last longer than others. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s something wrong with them. What it does mean is that family and friends need to allow the person to grieve and to be comforted. That doesn’t mean that someone has to swoop in and fix it either. A lot of the time it just means that the person needs to be heard. Just sitting there, being there, can make all the difference in the world.

Our society lives in fear of these emotions because; “What if they harm themselves?” or “What if they harm others?” Our society lives in fear of the “what if’s” because all too often it happens. Kids bring guns to school and go on a shooting spree. Why? Perhaps the kid is being bullied, or perhaps the kid is being abused. Because our society says that everything has to be perfect all the time, the kid stuffs it till it explodes. The same is true for adults who commit similar acts of violence. Or someone tries to kill themselves. Why? Because they felt trapped. They felt like there was no way out, except for suicide. All they can see is the pain.

When these issues, feelings, are ignored and stuffed, it only amplifies the problem. It’s like a person who gets cut. If addressed right away, then most of the time it’s no big deal. When it’s not addressed right away, it becomes infected. Perhaps with a staff infection. If it continues to be neglected it can become gangrenous. If still neglected it can result in death. These issues, emotions, are going to come out. One way or another. Sooner or later. People don’t deal with their issues, feelings, because they don’t feel safe in exposing themselves. As a result it goes on unaddressed. Much like the example I gave above, with the cut. Eventually, the issue comes to the surface. When and how severe, depends on how safe the person feels with you.


It’s Father’s day, here in America. I’ve never written about this before, so I thought I’d give it a go. Growing up I had many clashes with my father. By the time I was thirteen or so, I had so much anger and hate in me, that when watching TV shows, I’d root for the bad guys. As a kid, I promised myself, that if I ever had a kid I’d never spank them. As a teenager, I spent my time fostering my hate and anger, plotting to kill my family. I had it all planned out, exactly how I’d do it. Then one night, in my late teens, early twenties, after my dad and I had had an argument, I decided that I wanted out. I wanted out of life. So I grabbed a knife and started cutting on my left wrist. My dad begged and pleaded with me to stop, but I didn’t. He had to call 911. It was then that I became a ward of the state, and started receiving care for my issues. They had diagnosed me as bi-polar disorder with schizo-affective features, which turned out to be wrong. Part of the treatment involved seeing a therapist. When I began seeing the therapist I thought my parents were abusive. My folks also went through counseling. Toward the end of my tenure in the mental health system, when I realized that I didn’t need to act like that and they diagnosed me correctly with impulsivity disorder with explosive features (in other words I was an immature brat with a hot temper), my dad offered to take me to a Promise Keeper conference. This conference was in California. It was here were my dad and I began to mend the bridges. In many ways, that was the turning point in my relationship with my dad. By this time, I had realized that my folks were not abusive, and that I equated love with being understood. Since I had grown up being misunderstood, that translated to feeling like I wasn’t loved. I had blamed my folks for so much, things that were just as much out of their control as it was out of mine. But after the Promise Keeper rally things changed and I began to see, understand things differently.

I really began to understand what being a father is all about, and why my dad did some of the things he did, when I had my own child. I had wanted a daughter. I wanted a daughter because girls tend to be more scholastically oriented. I didn’t want a boy because of all the sports and such. I got my wish. I got a beautiful little girl. The first time I held her, at home, I shook. She was so small. She was 17 3/4 inches, and weighed six pounds. Her first day home, she slept and slept and slept. I called the hospital, because she was sleeping so much. They said if she sleeps for longer than six hours, to wake her. I anxiously waited, and when the six hour mark hit I woke her. This little life was so frail and fragile and depended on me for everything. She was utterly helpless. My dad had given me some advice, which was to treasure each moment. Instead I eagerly awaited the next mile stone. I wish I had listened to my dad on that one. The promise that I made to myself, about not spanking, I soon realized that was stupid. On one occasion, when she was two, we were waiting for the bus, after church, to go home. Since she was about two, she was being a typical toddler, playing and such. The problem was, she wasn’t minding her surroundings, and came close to being in the street several times. I warned her about it. I told her to sit, but toddlers? Yeah, right! So I ended up smacking her hand. Someone, in Burger King behind us, had called the cops because I smacked her hand. They thought it was child abuse. When the cops arrived, I explained what had happened and why. I even demonstrated it to him. He informed me that corporal punishment is legal in my state.

God is our heavenly Father. He desperately longs to have a relationship with us. He laments over our poor choices, and disciplines us when we do wrong, but He always showers us with love. Our earthly fathers are supposed to be examples of God being a good father. We certainly strive for that. I know my dad certainly strove for that. But we are human and make mistakes. There are many who grew up with terrible examples of God being a father. Instead, they saw their father being abusive. My wife, is one such example. As a new born, her folks were traveling cross country. Apparently she wasn’t liking the formula. Her clothes were wet from throwing up so much. Finally, in Arizona, her father has had it with her crying and wants to throw her in the dumpster. Instead, they give her to a lady behind a restaurant, who became her mother. A couple years later, the guy Deby had come to know as her father, ends up leaving since he divorced Deby’s mom. This threw Deby into a serious depression. She refused to eat, and had to be given vitamin B12 shots. The next guy who would fill the father role for her, ended up being sadistic, and severely abused her. So she never had a good model of what a father is supposed to be like. As fathers we can either be a good model, like we’re supposed to be, and help our children foster their relationship with God, or we can be poor role models, as in my wife’s case, and impede and hinder that relationship with God. It’s an awesome and fearful thing to be a father, to have such a burden of responsibility, but the reward far out weighs anything. I thank my father for being a good role model, and example of my heavenly Father. Sure, he wasn’t perfect, but neither was I for my daughter. So, for all the dads out there, and to God, our heavenly Father, “Happy Father’s day”!

Why Does God Allow People to Suffer?

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything. Sorry ’bout that. I have joined the Torah Babies team, and I wrote my first article for them, which took up my time, researching the subject.

I want to take a moment and try and talk about something that many have wondered, and a few have attempted to answer. I probably wont quote the bible too much, but I will be making references and allusions to it.

One thing that skeptics and critics like to point out is: “How can there be a God with all this suffering”. The truth is, there is a lot of suffering. Little innocent children and babies who suffer and die when they have not done anything wrong. Because of this, this has caused many to question the righteousness of God. Mainstream Christianity teaches that God is a loving God, and so He is, but when you focus on one thing too much, then your perspective becomes out of balance.

I can’t give an etymology as to when this belief, or thinking began. I have reason to believe though, that it was something that has been going on since at least Jesus’ time. Perhaps as far back as Job, or further.

We do know that back in the Ancient Near East, it was common for the people to have no idea what their gods rules were. The people figured if something bad happened, that it was because a god was angry. If it flooded, it was because someone upset the god and therefore the god was punishing them. If there was a drought, then it was because some god was angry and punishing them. If there was some sort of illness, or an outbreak of some sort, then a god was angry and punishing them. This is why the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is so different. See, God, at Sinai, gave His rules, His expectations to His people. We didn’t have to wonder any more. We knew that if we followed His rules, then He’d bless us, and if we broke His rules, then we’d be cursed.

You might be thinking: “That’s all fine and good, but that still doesn’t explain why God would allow suffering”, and you’d be right. One thing that certainly doesn’t help any is the way mainstream Christianity presents God. I’m not saying that God isn’t loving, as He is, but to focus so heavily on that is out of balance, and perhaps one reason why skeptics point this out.

Asking a question like this, while it may be normal, also shows our heart. What we’re doing, in reality, is sitting in judgement of God. A dangerous place to be. What we are doing is taking our sense of justice, and trying to judge the author of justice, by our feeble understanding of justice and righteousness. First, our thought shows an errant assumption, that there are “good” people. While people may be “good” by our definition, the reality is that we all have missed the mark. None of us are perfect, without sin.

Since I have been ‘suffering’ to some extent all my life, I feel like I am at least a little bit qualified to answer this. I seem to have a tendency to pick up ailments as I age. While I was born with asthma and allergies, when I was twelve I had my first seizure. At eighteen I developed psoiasis, which later became psoriatic arthritis. When I was in my early, to late twenties, my doctor, upon looking at x-rays, said I had a back of a seventy year old and recommended surgery for my neck. She pointed out that I had herniated disks, buldging disks, and degenerating disks. She noted how I had arthritis in my back. I declined the surgery at that time, but ended up being sort of ‘forced’ into it in 2014, when several doctors told me if I don’t have the surgery, the bones will fuse themselves and I could be paralyzed. When I was thirty-five I was diagnosed with type-one diabetes, late onset. In the summer of 2013 I was diagnosed with high blood pressure when I found myself sweating blood at work one day.

I have been prayed over numerous times, all to no effect. On one occasion my folks and I visited a friends church. Within minutes of entering the door, I was greeted by two people who said I had asthma, to which I afirmed, and asked if I’d like to be healed from it. Naturally I said yes. They prayed, and I still have asthma today. When things like this happen, it leaves you wondering. Is it me? Did I do something wrong? Did I not have enough faith?

When it’s a young child or a baby, it’s even worse. You wonder if God is punishing the baby because of what you did. You wonder if there was something you could have done different. Are we seeing similarities yet? If you said it reminds you of the ancient gods where people didn’t know what upset the gods, then you are right.

My wife was the survivor of terrible abuse as a kid. One day, when she was trying to understand why this happened to her, I had a thought about the mom who started MADD. It occurred to me that without her having to go through the incredible heartache of loosing a child, we’d never have MADD, and subsequently, we probably wouldn’t have most of the laws regarding driving under the influence.

There are lots of reasons why suffering happens, one of which is that we live in a fallen world. It’s of little comfort, to those suffering though. Do you tell a grieving mother that she lost her kid because of a fallen world? Yeah, that’d go over well.

A friend of mine, Roseann, recently wrote about pain and suffering.

Chronic Illness overwhelms
if not managed properly
until YHWH removes it
and this is a furnace of refinement
and therefore a responsibility to take seriously
in honor to HIM

What I mean is, life can become quite overwhelming and MS/Fibro/Raynaud’s, can and does magnify that.
What is simple is less simple
and what is difficult is more difficult.

That to say this, …
I have been given many studies to read, listen to, or watch recently,
BOTH Spiritual and Health based
blessed hard works of others in honor to Life and toward Torah/Messiah.
GREAT works of study based on long hours of diligence on the parts of those who put them together.

I am feeling a sense of need to explain why I have not remarked or interjected in them more than just the “like button.
I hit “Like” to acknowledge them, but all too often cannot study them.

This has been a hard few days for me, health issues rose to the degree where I need more rest and less stress, even the good stretching stress type, not only the negative stress.
HOWEVER, even on my very best days I need to strictly monitor my study load that it does not over tax me, …”pacing and calm” being the vital key of my successful health management. Not having a he;ping hand here makes it CRITICAL and IMPERATIVE that I strictly follow this policy re my activity and my study and my thought processes also.
Getting overwhelmed in physical, mental, and emotional, … NOT GOOD and not conducive to me staying able to care for myself, again …with zero help.

That said,   , I am so blessed to receive these studies and teachings and works, because it means you people care and want me to be blessed as they were blessed, yet I am not able to read, watch and listen to much more than what I already on my own plate for my personal study diet which has been very carefully planned out and purposed both in topics and in need presently for my own ministry.
Oh that I could devour all offerings and be full with the info without getting overwhelmed and hitting the brick wall that erases all info, …MS is the cinder blocks, Fibro is the rebar and Raynaud’s is the mortar.

PLEASE do not be offended or hurt that I cannot respond to your offerings, oh please understand my sincere heart here. I simply cannot afford to set my own studies aside for all the sweet offerings, nor can I add to my full study plan as it is.
PLEASE know I am grateful you think of me, and do not discount your work or care, it is just that I can get from 2 to 10 or more of such offerings a day. Even two can overload my systems. Heck, even my very own can overload my systems!

These illness’ are in this way a sort of structure for me, they teach me how to structure life properly and when they are gone and healed I will be grateful for their lessons as I know this will aid me in life from now onward in a very good way, discipline !

***And while on this line of explanation toward understanding and clarity , … Likewise, … I am not one to do long thread interactions nor long private messaging for casual conversation. It taxes me more than I can say. HOWEVER, I will go all day hour after hour for the sake of souls and with those who WANT to understand and know the Truth in Messiah.
I will not do the same with those who want to bicker or wrestle, and I simply don’t as a rule carry on casual conversation for the sake of conversing, though I love everyone and wish I could
I truly am a woman of few words, necessary words, and not much more than that.  By necessity

I care
I love you
I am grateful for your consideration for me
Thank you

Shabbat Shalom and MUCH Love/Ahavah , always
Keep up the Good Fight, and Holy Work ! YHWH bless you in it !

Here are some things I’ve learned about suffering. Illness, disabilities, teach us dependency on God. Illness, disability, can teach us to truly value life, because each day is a struggle and each day is fleeting, and we never know when it comes to an end. Sometimes, we long for it to end, as it brings our struggle to an end. But this is only one aspect of it. There is also the fact that enduring an illness, disability, can inspire others. To see people who handle illness, disability, with grace and dignity, seems to be something that inspires people, and causes them to desire to achieve that in their own lives. Some times, it’s God trying to teach us something. With the apostle Paul, he asked three times and was told: “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor 12:9). An illness or disability isn’t necessarily the result of sin. Some times it’s there to show God’s glory, through healing, or other means. The simple fact is, we can’t always see how God may use our suffering. The suffering of one mother loosing her child to drunk driving lead to the organization MADD, as I mentioned above, and to laws regarding driving under the influence, which has lead to safer roads. Some times, God’s glory shines the brightest in the midst of our suffering. Healing isn’t the only way that God can be glorified. When we can go through and endure suffering in a manner that honors God, then He is magnified and glorified. And when He is glorified, even if it is through our suffering, how can we complain?

Witch Hunt

I suppose the first time I heard witch hunt was when I was in junior high, and it was with trials, as in the Salem witch trials. The Salem witch trials are perhaps the most famous, the most infamous in history. Hollywood and medical doctors and feminists like to perpetuate the notion of a young woman who practiced folk medicine, who was often convicted as the witch. Historians say that typically it was old women who were convicted(1). I always hated the Salem witch trials.  The way it was presented to me, in my junior high school classes were, back then, more in line with the way Hollywood and the medical doctors and feminists. I can still remember the pictures in the history books of young women being burned at the stake.

Then, when we moved from England to Germany, and I started high school, I went to some bible camp. Why they called it a camp, I have no idea. There were no tents, but bunks. There were no camp fires but cafeterias. One of my bunk-mates was into Petra. As I said, I had just come from England, and our pastor in England preached on the evils of rock and roll. Naturally I didn’t take to Petra. Not then anyway. After all, it was the devils music. It wasn’t until we got back to the States, to Tucson, where again I met someone who was into Petra. This time I read the lyrics and listened to the music, to make sure it matched. I was impressed! I also liked the music. Petra has a song called ‘Witch Hunt‘, which is more inline with where I’m going with this.

[Based on 1 Timothy 4:7, Titus 3:9]

Everybody look there’s a new bandwagon in town
Hop on board and let the wind carry you around
Seems like there’s not enough to keep us busy till the Lord comes back
Don Quixote’s gotta have another windmill to attack

Another witch hunt looking for evil wherever we can find it
Off on a tangent, hope the Lord won’t mind it
Another witch hunt, takin’ a break from all our gospel labor
On a crusade but we forgot our saber

There’s a new way to spend all our energies
We’re up in arms instead of down on our knees
Walkin’ over dollars trying to find another dime
Never mind the souls ’cause we really haven’t got the time

So send out the dogs and tally ho
Before we sleep tonight we’ve got miles to go
No one is safe, no stone’s left unturned
And we won’t stop until somebody gets burned
Bro Bro Bro Bro Bro Bro Brothers(2)

In this movement, whether you call it Hebrew Roots, or Messianic, or what not, I feel that Petra’s song ‘Witch Hunt’ describes some within the movement. We gotta be lookin for that evil. That’s why we have divisions over things like the calendars, sabbath, the shape of the earth, and many many more.

If someone should suggest that Easter isn’t connected to Ishtar, then they are deceived, or preaching mans doctrines. Basically, just like in the witch trials, everything is good as long as you go along with the mob. But if you try to point out the error of the mob, then prepare to be lynched and burned in effigy. Often, people don’t read the article, or check the sources, or do their own research using scholarly sources. People often just read the title and then jump to conclusi0ns. Maybe they read some comments, and then make their own comments, but very few actually read the article or watch a video before making a comment.

We talk about being Berean, “testing all things”, but really it’s more of ‘everything is cool as long as we agree’. We talk about being Torah observant, yet commit lashon hara, bear false witness, slander, our fellow brother or sister in Yeshua. So in ‘keeping Torah’ we break Torah, because someone doesn’t agree with us, doesn’t fit within the mould. We are so bent on finding the evil that we don’t even see the evil we commit.

We are quick to point out the evil of Christianity and Judaism, but we fail to see our own evil. Christians are pagan! They celebrate Christmas and Easter! Gasp! Jews are following doctrines and traditions of men! Gasp! The Septugint is pagan and false because it’s not Hebrew. The Hebrew after the Babylonian exile is corrupt because that’s when Hebrew took on the block script, like the Babylonians. Eeks gads! The Masoritic text is corrupt because it was altered by the Masorites. Oh my! We use names and pronunciations that violate Hebraic grammatics and phonetics, but justify it claiming that Hebrew today and since the second exile is corrupt. Disagree with me and you’re decieved! Pagan!

And we wonder why people don’t want t0 come to Torah. We have become our own modern equivalent of the pharisees. Instead of showing unity and love and compassion, we’re more interested in making sure we’re right. We don’t get it that we are profaning God’s great name. Yes, God is please that we want to follow Torah, but when we use it to beat others over the head because they don’t do it like we do, then instead of pleasing God, we break His heart. Instead of increasing His honor, His reputation, we damage it because what people see is a bunch of todlers arguing about who’s right, instead of the love of the Father.

How can we convince Christians to follow Torah, when we insult them and slander them, and certainly don’t show them love? If anything, we prove them right, as why not to follow the Torah. We demonstrate, through our bickering, that it can’t be followed. We’re so concerned in being right, that it’s become a pride issue, an ego trip. Instead of showing Christians that we follow Torah because we love our Father and simply want to please Him, and that it’s a joy to follow His statutes. If we would focus on demonstrating to others how that we just want to please our Father and that His Torah is not burdensome, but a joy, then more people would come to Torah.

The adversary has got us so focused on being right, that we can’t even see that we’re missing it. When we stop making it about us, and start making it about Him, then He will bring all mean unto himself (John 12:32). But as long as we make it about being right, stroking our egos, then people will be repulsed. We can try to convince ourselves that we are being loving by sharing this great information with them, as I’ve seen many claim. Usually because the perception is that the information presented was harsh, blundt and perhaps even rude. We can try to convince ourselves that we’re being loving, but realize that we are only fooling ourselves, that we are only stroking our egos.

I know social media can be used for good. I know because I’ve done it before, back when MSN Groups was the thing. As with anything, it can also be used for destructive purposes. How we use social media is up to us. We can use it to stroke our egos, or we can use it to honor God. The choice is ours. I’ll tell you this though, when we decide that God’s honor is more important than our ego…Watch out! That will be pheonominal!

In Yeshua

Jonathan Rocker


Who Were the Witches? The Social Roles of the Accused in the European Witch Trials by Richard A. Horsley.

Petra Witch Hunt lyrics

Petra Witch Hunt music video: Youtube



Ever wonder ‘why’ on certain things? Of course you have! We all have to some extent. As a kid growing up I became fascinated with science early on. When I once asked ‘why’, the teacher was quick to point out that in science we don’t ask ‘why’. Why is more of a philisophical question than it is a question for science. See, in science you ask what, how, those types of questions. They have hard empirical data or evidence, where as ‘why’, as I pointed out, is more philisophical and subjective.

When my brother was about two, I’m seven years his senior, he hit the phase where his favorite thing was to ask ‘why’. As a good brother, I dilegantly tried answering each question. I found out though, that not matter how I explained it, he always asked ‘why’. It was a never ending barrage of ‘why’. I was very thankful when he out grew it.

I do find it good to occasionally stop and take a survey of myself and ask the dreaded ‘why’. Why is it I do certain things? Looking for what my true motivations there. Why do I believe the things I do? Is it because I’ve been raised that way? Or is it because I have researched it and tested it? Even if I have researched it and tested it, has it changed over time? What new evidence, information has come forth?

See, I use the ‘why’ as a way to examine myself, to test myself. To make sure my motivations are pure, which they rarely are, and to make sure the information I have is current and accurate, and if need be update my beliefs. While God’s word, scripture, does not change, our understanding of it does, our interpretation of scripture changes.

Don’t believe me? If we are believers, then we had to change our beliefs from that of the world, to realizing we were wrong. If we follow Torah, then once again, we had our beliefs challenged. Mainstream Christianity teaches that Christ set us free from the law/Torah. Someone came along and challenged that belief, and we subsequently updated our belief to match.

Why is it that most of us started off as Torah terrorists and then settle down to become more productive members of Torah and YHVH? This is something I have given much thought to ever since I became a follower of Torah. I have observed that most of us come to Torah being lied to by the church, either intentionally or unintentionally. This breeds resentment, mistrust, contempt, and anger, to name a few. While mainstream Christianity certainly has missed it in regards to the validity of the Torah, by in large, it wasn’t an intentional deciet. At least, not today anyway. It’s a whole lot more complex than that. The problem began in the first century.

First there were the false accusations against Yeshua brought by the scribes, the chief priests, and as the OJB put it, the Sanhedrin (Luke 22:66). Mark 14:55-59 really makes it clear. 55Now the chief priests and the whole councilf were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. 56For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. 57And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, 58“We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” 59Yet even about this their testimony did not agree. Then there was Stephen, who was also falsely accused. You can read about that in Acts chapters 6 through 8. But these were deliberate attempts. The apostle Paul was also falsely accused of teaching people to forsake Moses (Acts 21:18-24).

See? It didn’t begin with Catholicism or the early church fathers. Even with the apostle John, he was not welcome in the church that he started (3 John 1:9). Peter had to warn his congregation about misunderstanding Paul (2 Peter 3:16). So even in the apostles day, people were getting what Paul said confused. Marcion was an early church father who thouht he’d “purify” Christianity by removing the Old Testament. It was Marcion who viewed the God of the Old Testament as mean and harsh and judgmental, where as Jesus represented a compassionate, loving and forgiving God.

I could go on and on about early church history, but I wont. My point isn’t so much about church history, but something else entirely. It’s about the way we come to Torah that results in such negativity. Because we realize that mainstream Christianity denying Torah is wrong, we tend to feel, as I mentioned earlier, an air of superiority, along with the bitterness that is often felt towards the church. A lot of it has to do with how it’s presented. Often times it’s presented, not with humility, but to point out how wrong the church is. We can present the validity of Torah without the arrogance, without tearing the church down.

So, why are we doing what we do? Why do we present Torah to others in the fashion that we do? Honestly, most of the time it’s more about: ‘Hey! Look at me! I know more than you, because you’re wrong!’. This has caused factions with in us, as well as groups like Hebrew Roots Heresy, Support Group for Victims of Hebrew Roots Movement and other Cults, to name but a few. I knew a lady where, because of her negative experience with Hebrew Roots, that now she can’t stand to hear any of it. She will literally not listen or tollerate any of it. We have got to change! We have become a stumbling block to our brothers and sisters!

There are some, who because of some misinformation, think that the church is pagan and equate the church to the whore of Babylon. Naturally, they think they are to call people ‘out of Babylon’ or ‘out from among here’. There has been much damage caused by our attitude, by our pride, our sheer arrogance, and it’s time to repent of our wrong doing. The Torah is not just about the letter of the law, but also the spirit, ruach, of the law. How can we uphold Torah while violating it? By spreading misinformation, we commit lashon hara. When are we going to fall on our faces and repent from this evil that we have committed? When are we going to stop exalting ourselves? Or will we be stiff necked and have to have God humble us? So I think I’ll leave you right here to ponder these for yourself.


In Yeshua

Jonathan Rocker



Christian Classics Ethereal Library



Bible Things in Bible Ways