Torah Portion: Vayak’hel (He Assembled) Exodus(Sh’mot) 35:1-38:20
Haftorah Reading: I Kings 7:13-26, 7:40-50
Tonight, we cover basically two major subjects in this portion. We start off with G-d giving His directions about the Shabbat, a subject I want to cover in a few minutes and get your thoughts on the question I sent out this week.
However, I want to start with another subject close to my heart. This is wrapped up in the name of this portion, Vayak’hel. This word is the verb form of a Hebrew word that, as a noun, means gathered. I want us to examine this word in some depth. In Hebrew this word always means a gathering or an assembly. Some of the places we see it used in this way are: Jeremiah 26:17, Genesis 28:3, Genesis 49:5-6 and Numbers 19:20.This word is used over 100 times in the Hebrew scriptures and almost always meaning a gathering or an assembly. It is used here in our verses in the same way.
In the 3rdcentury BCE a Greek translation of the Hebrew scripture was begun. Jewish people were scattered around the known world and most had no knowledge or limited knowledge of Hebrew. So, this Greek translation was used instead of the Hebrew. When the word Kahal was translated into Greek the Greek word used was ekklesia. In Greek this word carried basically the same meaning as kahal. Much later in the first English translation of the entire Bible we always see ekklesia translated in the Hebrew Bible as assembly or gathering. This is the same as we see in our verses tonight.
The interesting part happened when translators began translating the Greek New Testament to English. This same word, ekklesia, is now translated to the English word church instead of gathering or assembly. For example, we see that in Yeshua’s words in Matthew 16:16-18 and Matthew 18:17Ekklesia is translated as church instead of gathering or assembly. This incorrect translation is used in the Messianic writings every time the Greek word Ekklesia is used.
In 1525 William Tyndale published his translation of the scriptures for the people of England. In it each time the Greek word ekklesia appeared it was translated as community. The word church did not appear in his translation. The Church of England had him burned at the stake as a heretic. Later the translators of the KJV took over 90% of the translations from Tyndale but when it came to this particular word, ekklesia, they chose the word church. They were ordered by the King of England to insert the word church in each place Tyndale had used assembly or gathering.
What difference does this make? It gives a false picture of a new religion that began with the “church.” Instead of building on our Jewish roots and foundation that G-d provided for us. Instead of being grafted in we are a whole new tree. The word church is found nowhere in the Hebrew Scriptures. This gives the idea that the Old and the New Testaments are not connected. In the Old Testament Jews had the Synagogue ( A Greek word meaning gathering) and in the New Testament Christians had the church and never the twain shall meet. They are the “old” and we are the “new.” There are many other words translated incorrectly that cause a misunderstandings and separation between Christians and the Jewish people.
As we look back over the centuries, we can see cases like this used to oppress and even sanction evil deeds against the Jewish people, who we are related to by faith in the Messiah.
Now to my question of the week concerning the Sabbath. (Exodus/Sh’mot 35:1-3)What does the setting aside of a weekly day of rest have to do with us in our modern life? Do we really need such a day? Let me start with the benefits of having a day like Shabbat. When we sin what is the first step in dealing with that sin? First, we must recognize what we did. Until we are face to face with our actions there is no chance to repent. Having a quiet day each week, a day of study, reflection, affords us the opportunity to think to reflect on our week. What happened, who did I relate to? During that process we can give the Spirit of G-d time to speak to us, to remind us of our actions that needs to be dealt with and draw us closer to Him.
However, if our days are occupied to the point we never have a minute to reflect, to pray to listen, we have little opportunity to take that first step of reflection. Having a quiet day puts the brakes on the rat race of life. It gives us opportunity to refuel and refresh both physically and spiritually. It reminds us life is not just about doing it is also about being. Our physical bodies were created needing this day to rest and rediscover our purpose for being. Telephones, TV, Computers all invade our time every minute. Having a day to be still and quiet before the Father will give us time to regroup. So, when we read verses about having time, like the ones in our section on Shabbat, don’t just relegate it to a forgotten time. We need it in our lives today to stay healthy and spiritually strong.