Month 12:14, Week 2:6 (Sheshi/Kippur), Year:Day 5935:330 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Tuesday 6 March 2012
III. Nehemiah & the Wicked Masortes
Continued from Part 2
When a brother asked me about this passage of scripture, which seems to confirm that the Sabbath day begins in the evening and not at sunrise as we have been recently teaching, I was again reminded how careful we must be about translations. The problem here is not, however, with our English translations but with the Hebrew translation that forms the basis of virtually all modern Bible renditions. This Hebrew text, which is the authoritative version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) in Judaism, is known as the Masoretic Text.
"In those days I saw people in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them about the day on which they were selling provisions. Men of Tyre dwelt there also, who brought in fish and all kinds of goods, and sold them on the Sabbath to the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem. Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said to them, 'What evil thing is this that you do, by which you profane the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers do thus, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Yet you bring added wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.' So it was, at the gates of Jerusalem, as it began to be dark before the Sabbath, that I commanded the gates to be shut, and charged that they must not be opened till after the Sabbath. Then I posted some of my servants at the gates, so that no burdens would be brought in on the Sabbath day. Now the merchants and sellers of all kinds of wares lodged outside Jerusalem once or twice. So I warned them, and said to them, 'Why do you spend the night around the wall? If you do so again, I will lay hands on you!' From that time on they came no more on the Sabbath. And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should go and guard the gates, to sanctify the Sabbath day" (Neh.13:15-22, NKJV).
This text, compiled and edited by anti-Messianic Jews, is known to be a mutilation of the original. Created between the 7th and 10th centuries AD (CE), this text deliberately obscures key messianic passages that conclusively demonstrate that Yah'shua (Jesus) is the Messiah.
My brother wondered whether the fact that the Judahites were observing a sundown sabbath was because of corruption of the emunah (faith) whilst in Babylon, and whilst many corruptions were indeed brought back to Jerusalem from Mesopotamia (such as observing the first visible crescent moon to establish the beginning of each year and month at Rosh Chodesh) I doubted that such a huge change as moving the beginning of the sabbath from sunrise to sunset would have been so easily incorporated into Judahite spiritual life. My instincts led me to go and check the Septuagint (LXX), which is centuries older than the Masoretic mutilation, and lo and behold, there is no refenece to darkness at all!
You cannot be too careful which is why I recommend that people use multiple versions of the Scriptures as well as to keep a copy of the Septuagint. And although this is a Greek translation from the Hebrew, the first edition was authorised and it was accurate. Indeed, the LXX is priceless in many respects because it gives us deep insights into what the original Hebrew and Aramaic versions of the New Testament looked like as we check to see how certain words were rendered into Greek.
"And it came to pass, when the gates were set up in Jerusalem, before the sabbath, that I spoke, and they shut the gates; and I gave orders that they should not be opened until after the sabbath: and I set some of my servants at the gates, that none should bring in burdens on the sabbath day" (LXX).
Let it be clearly stated here: the Masoretic Text is not authorised by Yahweh and it is certainly not regarded as authoritative by this ministry. The LXX was made in the 3rd to 2nd centuries BC (BCE), about a thousand years older than the mutilated anti-messianic Jewish version of the Tanakh (Old Testament).
Masoretic Nehemiah contradicts all the other scriptures that demonstrate a sunrise-to-sunrise sabbath - it is the 'odd one out'. Now we know why. You may therefore be assured that Nehemiah does not confirm a sunset-to-sunset sabbath day.
Continued in Part 4
Comments from Readers
"Very good! Something with this, even if one was to look at the Masoretic text of these verse that include the extra “as it began to be dark” phrase before the Sabbath (that is otherwise not included in the older more accurate Septuagint), is that within itself is not enough to support the stance of day being from sunset to sunset, with where (if one thinks about it) it would indicate was already beginning to be dark (sunset probably being completed), yet, as the rest of the verse would indicate, that Shabbat had not yet begun. Otherwise, when considering the Masoretic text and a sunrise to sunrise day, it could otherwise still simply mean that the gates were closed some time after sunset on the 6th day (which still would have been “as it began to be dark” and have been “before the Sabbath”). So even if someone was to choose to use the Masoretic text with these verses (understanding that it has been shown to be corrupted in places, and does not line up with the older more accurate Septuagint), they can't be used by themselves to conclusively prove a sunset-to-sunset day, and would need to look further in Scripture for more concrete evidence for when a biblical day starts (DP, South Africa, 8 March 2012)
"I had been thinking along these lines too when I wrote this devotional but concluded there was no way of being sure, one way of the other, so I agree with you. The interesting question, then, is why the Masoretes added "as it began to be dark" - it could either be a piece of commentary that was inserted originally in the margin and then incorporated into the main body of the text later, or it could have been a deliberate insertion to make the passage line up with the new Babylonian-inspired doctrine of sunset-to-sunset sabbaths, but done in such a way as to leave the passage ambiguous and so ideflect immediate detection. Since only demons would ever conspire with men to alter the inerrant Scriptures, you would expect them to be subtle and devious.
Additionally, as far as I know, the ancients usually closed the gates of cities at night anyway (to prevent surprise attacks by enemies) and re-opened them at sunrise for trade and travel. It is unlikely that they would have closed the gates at sunrise at the beginning of the 'sunset sabbath' for this reason, but simply have left them shut the following morning and on to the sunrise of the following day in Judean cities" (Lev, 8 March 2012).
"Thanks so much. I must say I've had some peculiar feelings the last years about beginning the sabbath [in] the evening and/or at a specific time at sundown or at 18:00. To me is has been increasingly stressful and I'm very thankful to get rid of this wrong thinking" (MR, Sweden, 7 March 2012).