Come, let us reason together . . .
May 14th, 2012

"The LORD said to my lord . . ." - To Whom is the LORD speaking Here?

San Francisco Lesson(s) . . .

When the 8.3 magnitude earthquake struck the sleeping city of San Francisco on April 18th, 1906, its blow found both the residents of the city and its infrastructure completely unprepared for the disaster. Having spared most of the city dwellers, (the death toll of the quake itself was only about 500 people), the Merciful One uncovered the rings of corruption and dishonesty that were now laid bare in the crumbled structures of the area. Nothing exemplified human greed for illicit gain and the decaying nature of unbelieving humanity better than the imposing edifice of San Francisco’s City Hall.
San Francisco Fire 1906
Alongside with many other buildings in San Francisco, its City Hall was erected and dedicated during Mayor Eugene Schmitz’ time in office (he served three terms as San Francisco mayor). Although it was almost brand new on the eve of the calamity, it was among the first structures to collapse during the quake. According to all accounts, the building did not just go down due to the power of the impact; it folded down as a proverbial house of cards. The ensued investigation uncovered a run-away corruption in the high echelons of political power among the San Francisco’s elite. Hungry for kickbacks, bribes and quick gain, Mayor Schmitz and others sat atop a pyramid of fraud and profiteering, supervising the erection of the metropolis unable to cope with any earthquake or other major natural disaster. Instead of being solid concrete on the inside, the pillars of the City Hall were revealed to be hollow!

Built on Sand . . .

Jesus TeachingTo my mind, the same situation is evident within the modern religion of Christianity. It appears to be quite solid and even attractive on the outside, all the while being hollow in its very heart! The Messiah of Israel, Jesus the Christ solemnly declares: “But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:26-27) – It is an inescapable fact that much of what Christendom is built upon proves to be a very flimsy foundation, when examined in the light of God’s Holy Word, the Jewish Scriptures!

According to the New Testament (see John’s Gospel), Jesus is the Word of God in flesh. As such, his mission is to bring the Israel of God and the rest of the world back to the LORD God of Heaven, who gave us the Torah and other inspired writings of the Hebrew Bible. Jesus’ most-often-heard saying was “It is written. . .” As a loyal son of his people Israel and their One God, Jesus taught his hearers from the Torah, Prophets and other writings of the Scriptures (TaNaKh). Understanding this principle, the New Testament writers adduce the textual evidence of the Hebrew Scriptures for every major theological point that they make. This way, whenever the claims made in the Greek-language manuscripts of the New Testament are borne out by the testimony of the Jewish Bible, we find our faith and practical walk with God on the safe ground of His Word!

Whenever, we come across irreconcilable contradictions between the Word of God and the text of the New Testament, we are duty bound to make a thorough search of the Bible and expose the many fanciful interpretations given to the New Testament text by our friends within Christendom. After all, the Greek-speaking Gentile world has been playing with their “scriptures” for almost two thousand years up to date! (Fortunately, they have been unable to do the same with the Hebrew Bible, for its faithful keepers, the Jewish people, have preserved its text intact and unchanged through many millennia)! The Gentile Church has had plenty of time to “fine-tune” its Bibles with an express purpose of keeping the “unwashed masses” within her ranks obedient to the Church Universal, her precepts and commands!

The New Religion . . .

Monks at workIn their attempts to distance their organization from the Jews and their faith in One God, the Gentile Church has created an entirely new religion. Christendom has used a “rich” arsenal of theological methodology to prove the superiority of their “faith” over that of biblical Israel. The millennia-old Christian habit of tampering with the Hebrew Bible in order to prove their own dogmas has included the following approaches:

1) Quoting the Hebrew text only partially, ignoring either the immediate or larger context of the verse. (Ex.: Matt. 1:23 (quotes from Is. 7:14); 2:15 (quotes from Hosea 11:1); 2:18 (quotes from Jer. 31:15); Is. 42).

2) Deliberately misquoting the Hebrew text so as to create a new meaning suitable to the Church’s theology. (Ex.: Heb. 8:9 (quoting from Jer. 31:32)).

3) Changing the clear meaning of the Hebrew text through incorrect translation into the Greek language (Ex.: Matthew 22:41-44 (quotes from Ps. 110:1)).

4) Ignoring the original meaning of the oracles. (Ex.: Is. 53).

5) Misunderstanding the meaning of the Hebrew text through lack of knowledge of the Hebrew tongue. (Ex.: Zech. 13:6).

6) Inventing the non-existing Hebrew texts and putting them in the mouth of Jesus and other NT characters. (Ex.: John 7:38).

7) Ascribing some new fanciful interpretations to the verses from the Hebrew Bible. (Ex.: Heb. 1-2 (quotes from a variety of Hebrew texts).

8) Editing the text of the New Testament, usually by adding new verses. (Ex. Matthew 28:19).

It is very sad, indeed, that the keepers of the New Testament writings have proven to be far less reliable and honest than their Jewish predecessors. Is it any wonder that our modern translations of the Bible are plagued with the same attitude of tampering with the Scriptures?

But fear not, we still posses the same Holy Writ that Jesus the Messiah quoted from during his earthly ministry among us! Even with all the changes that the Gentile Church theologians “introduced” to the text of the New Testament, we can still arrive at the truth of God’s Word by comparing every detail of the Greek text with the sacred text of the Jewish Scriptures. The New Testament is but an inspired human commentary, guiding its readers and listeners to the truth of God’s Torah and His Prophets, - the Hebrew Scriptures of the Jewish people!

“The LORD said to my lord. . .” (Psalm 110:1-2)

Jesus and PhariseesToday we will take a look at a clear example of Church’s long-standing tradition of tampering with the Hebrew text of the Bible. Besides, we have to substantiate the “outrageous” claim we have made earlier about the Church’s willful tinkering with the text of the Jewish Scriptures. Allow me to adduce one such example. The New Testament text, brought up for our today’s discussion, is of great importance to the Trinitarian Christianity. As if to underscore its significance to the Church’s theology, it is quoted directly in all the synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke and appears in Acts of the Apostles as well. In addition to that, there are two clear allusions to it found in I Corinthians and Hebrews! 

The first verse of Psalm 110 is considered to be among the “clearest” texts within the Canon of the Christian Scriptures to showcase the doctrine of the Trinity and support the Church’s belief that Jesus Christ is some Second Person within their “multi-bodied” godhead. Here is the famous text as it appears in the Gospel according to Matthew: “While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, “What do you think about the Christ [Messiah]? Whose son is he?” “The son of David,” they replied. He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.” If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.” (Matthew 22:41-46) – Doesn’t this passage establish every fair-minded individual in the truth of the Church’s teachings about triune god and Cosmic Christ? Not so fast, my friends . . . Let us consider the facts!

Please, make a few mental notes regarding this famous text:
1. Jesus Christ is speaking to the Pharisees, the biblical experts of his time;
2. He quotes from the Hebrew text of TaNaKh, (“the Old Testament”) - the only available Word of God at the time;
3. Jesus seems to imply that the Messiah’s title of “Lord” indicates that he is much more exalted than just a son of David;
4. His citing of the first verse of Psalm 110 puts his opponents to complete silence;
5. We have cited these verses in their proper context to allow for some very interesting discourse as a result! (You may also check other references: Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-43; Acts 2:34-25; I Cor. 15:25; and Heb. 1:13).

Russian, English, Greek or . . .

Hebrew ScriptA dozen years ago, when I was still part of the organized Christianity, (the Pentecostal Church of God), I regarded this text to be among the strongest and most eloquent proofs that Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Divine Trinity and the Cosmic Christ! That certainty, however, stemmed from my ignorance of the Hebrew Scriptures in general and the language in which they were composed in particular. At that time I studied my Bible in Russian, Ukrainian and Polish languages. Just as their English counterpart, all of them convey the same idea. You may exclaim: “Doesn’t that prove you wrong, Rabbi!? How can all these wonderful translations be mistaken if all of them speak with a unified voice in this text?”

The answer is as easy as it is straightforward: All of them speak with a single voice for a simple reason that all of them were translated from the same Greek-language manuscripts of the New Testament, which, in its turn, translates the verse from the original Hebrew. The Greek of the New Testament, just as all the other languages of the world, with the exception of Hebrew, loses a very important aspect of this verse in translation! In other words, Greek simply happened to be the first among the world languages to allow for that to occur! Was it done deliberately or happened inadvertently? You are welcome to make up your own mind after concluding our today’s presentation! So, what is going on in Psalm 110:1?

YHWH vs. “Adonee” . . .

Here is the Hebrew original: “נְאֻ֤ם יְהוָ֙ה׀ לַֽאדֹנִ֗י” – translation: “The LORD said to my lord. . .” (Psalm 110:1) – If you turn in your Bible to the text of Psalm 110, you will discover that even the English language makes a distinction between the two “lords” present in the text! The first one is the covenantal Name of the God of Israel, namely “YHWH,” (rendered in English as an all-capitalized “LORD”); with the second one being “adonee” or “my master,” (should be the all-lower-case “lord”). Therefore, the text literally says: “YHWH said to my master (lord) . . .” This dichotomy is “conveniently” absent in the Greek translation, which renders both of them as “κύριος” (“lord”). In fact the Greek Septuagint was the first perpetrator of this textual “crime.” Since all the New Testament translations in the world were eventually done from the Greek “original,” their message is also conveniently and quite logically unified!

The dynamite that explodes the Church’s misconception with regard to this verse lies in the fact that the Hebrew word for “adonee” (“לַֽאדֹנִ֗י”) is never used in the Jewish Scriptures in reference to God. (Please, do not confuse this word “adonee” with “Adonai”, used by the Jewish people in substitution for the most holy Name of God)! Although the LORD God of Israel reveals Himself under many different names in the Sacred Text, “adonee” is never one of them! It is used multiple times to designate various biblical individuals, all of them being perfectly human too!

Here are a few illustrative examples:

- Relating the adventures of Abraham’s servant during his search for Isaac’s wife, the text of Genesis narrates: “Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night there. When they got up the next morning, he said, “Send me on my way to my master.” (“לַֽאדֹנִ֗י”, “adonee”) . . . Send me on my way so I may go to my master.” (“לַֽאדֹנִ֗י”, “adonee”). (Gen. 24:54, 56) –The same Hebrew word “adonee” features twice in this text from Genesis 24. It points to Abraham as his servant’s master and is correctly rendered as “my master.”

- Instructing his messengers to Esau, Jacob commands: “Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. He instructed them: “This is what you are to say to my master (“לַֽאדֹנִ֗י”, “adonee”) Esau: . . . Now I am sending this message to my lord (master), (“לַֽאדֹנִ֗י”, “adonee”), that I may find favor in your eyes.” (Gen. 32:3-4,5) – For some unexplainable reason, perhaps to show that they know a few different words, the NIV chose to translate the same Hebrew word “adonee” in two different ways: once as “master” and another time as “lord.” In both cases, however, the object identified by these words is the same, i.e. Esau, Jacob’s brother.

- After Joseph’s servant had caught up with his brothers on their return to Canaan, he accused them of stealing his master’s silver cup and demanded that the search of their possessions be made at once: “But they said to him, “Why does my lord (“adonee”), say such things? Far be it from your servants to do anything like that! . . . If any of your servants is found to have it, he will die; and the rest of us will become my lord’s (“לַֽאדֹנִ֗י”, “adonee”) slaves.” (Gen. 44:7,9) - Once again, you can see the proper usage and meaning of this Hebrew phrase.

Who is the LORD (YHWH) Talking to in Psalm 110?

Jesus in SynagogueBeing able to read and understand their Bible in Hebrew, both Jesus Christ and his Pharisaic opponents would never have been able to get confused as to what is described in Psalm 110! Confusion and misleading insinuations were introduced into these verses only with the advent of the Greek language translation!

Knowing the historical context of the writing of the Psalm will enable us better to comprehend its fullest meaning. The Psalm begins with the opening Hebrew words “מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד " (“mizmor l’David”). The word “mizmor” means “a song,” and thus the opening phrase of this Psalm is, “A Song of David.” In fact, the word “Psalms” comes from the Greek word “ψαλμός” (“psalmos”), which means “a song.” One of the greatest desires of King David’s heart was to build a magnificent Temple to his God in the City of Jerusalem. He was grieved that the LORD did not allow him to do it, choosing for that purpose his son Solomon instead.

Surrendering to God’s plan concerning the Temple, King David made some extensive preparations for its successful construction. In addition to amassing all the necessary building materials and financial resources, King David busied himself with composing hymns of praise and worship, which the Temple Levites would sing in the glorious edifice. (II Samuel 7; I Chronicles 14-17, 22-26). This is where the Book of Psalms played its central role.

King David was a faithful servant of God who possessed extraordinary skills as a teacher, musician, and poet. In fact, King David authored most of the Book of Psalms. The sacred songs were composed by Israel’s sweet singer (II Sam. 23:1) with the Temple worship in mind. Israel’s Levites were to sing them as part of the worship service. The Levites would stand on a platform and joyfully chant these spiritually exhilarating Psalms to an inspired audience. Accordingly, the Levites would sing for all to hear:

The LORD (YHWH) said to my master [King David] “Sit at my right hand . . .” (Psalm 110:1) – Everything becomes crystal clear once we understand a little bit of Hebrew!

Two Approaches, One Conclusion . . .

King David and HarpTherefore, when all is said and done, there are two possible approaches to this powerful stanza in Psalm 110:

1) First, we may choose to think that it is King David himself who sings this Psalm. In this case, it is quite plausible to suggest that he calls the Messiah “my master” (my lord), - “adonee”. There is no conflict with the Jewish Messianic faith present in this view. Being the preeminent king, prophet and priest, the Messiah of Israel can be rightfully considered to be David’s superior, even though he is his descendant! However, as we have deduced in the course of this presentation, “the Messiah” in this verse is addressed as a purely human being. The text leaves no room for the Church’s Second Person of the Divine Trio! If King David calls the Messiah “adonee,” they sustain the same relationship as Abraham and his servant, Jacob and Esau, Joseph’s brothers and his servant. In other words, David is addressing the Messiah of Israel using the customary form of polite appeal. There is not the slightest connotation that the person addressed as “adonee” in Psalm 110 is the same as LORD!

2) Second, as we have indicated above, the most logical approach to the text of Psalm 110 and many others, for that matter, is to view it as sung by the Levites in the presence of the worshipping king. Understood this way, the Psalm reiterates God’s (LORD’s) promises to the king of Israel to establish his kingdom and throne forever! Regardless of which of these two approaches you may choose as your “favorite” one, the Hebrew text rules out any possibility for confusion in equating the first “LORD” (YHWH) with the second “lord” “adonee”! In its proper translation, the second “lord” “adonee” should be an all-lower-case word, unlike the misleading Christian translations of today!


- Having impartially examined the evidence of the matter, it is truly hard to believe that the conversation of Matthew 22:41-44, Mark 12:35-37 and Peter's speech in Acts 2:34-25 have the meaning that the Church has attached to them! Both Jesus Christ and his Pharisaic collocutors knew the Hebrew text of their Bible well and could not have taken the two clear Hebrew terms to mean the same thing! It was the Greek-speaking Christianity that brought confusion and ignorance to the equation! Every subsequent translation into the languages of the world only served to solidify the fact of their unfamiliarity with the original Hebrew text!

- As the Word of God in flesh, Jesus Christ would never have denied one of the best-established messianic truths, - the reality that the true Messiah was to be a son of David. In fact, the writer of the Gospel of Matthew spends a lot of time and effort to prove just that! (see Matthew 1). Saint Luke does the same too (Luke 3)! Apparently, the fact that Jesus was a descendant of David was of great importance to the early followers of Jesus!

- Even if Jesus’ remark, based on Psalm 110:1-2, put his opponents to some momentary silence, his words could never have been taken to describe the Messiah of Israel as the Second Person of the Divine Pantheon, - that has always been and remains to be a blasphemy against One God of Israel! As we have shown beyond the shadow of a doubt, the second “lord” in Psalm 110 can refer only to a human being! And that’s where the Trinitarian Christianity falls again!

Yom Shabbat- It is perfectly legitimate to believe that Jesus Christ is the Promised Messiah of Israel. It is also quite alright to suggest that King David calls the Messiah “my master” “adonee.” What is not legitimate according to the Word of God is to create other deities by His side and make up new doctrines and beliefs that do not square with His eternal Word! But that is exactly what the Churchianity has been doing for the past two millennia. It stands guilty of idolatry and polytheism. Beloved, the frightening consequence for idolatry, polytheism and any other system of worship, apart from the one prescribed in the Word, is everlasting separation from the Only Source of Life and Blessedness, - the Holy One of Israel! He is calling, - will you hear?!

Shalom and Happy Sabbath!