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Why both the Tanakh (Tanach, Old Testament) and the B’rit Chadashah (New Covenant/New Testament)?
Jeremiah 31:30-33 in the Tanakh (Jeremiah 31:31-34 in the Old Testament). “Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, and I will form a covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, a new covenant. Not like the covenant that I formed with their forefathers on the day I took them by the hand to take them out of the land of Egypt, that they broke My covenant, although I was a lord over them, says the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will form with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will place My law in their midst and I will inscribe it upon their hearts, and I will be their God and they shall be My people. And no longer shall one teach his neighbor or [shall] one [teach] his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for they shall all know Me from their smallest to their greatest, says the Lord, for I will forgive their iniquity and their sin I will no longer remember.”
Further Tanakh scriptures to support this are: Jeremiah 32:37-40, Jeremiah 33:14-16, Ezekiel 16:58-63, Ezekiel 37:21-26, Isaiah 55:3-8. For sake of space, I did not type out these scriptures, but please, click on these links and read them! They are awesome!
Tanakh or Tanach is a Hebrew acronym that stands for “Torah [The Pentateuch] (Five books of Moses), Nevi’im (Prophets), and Khetuvim [K’tuvim] (Writings)”. The books of the Tanakh and Old Testament have the exact same content. However there is a slightly different order/arrangement between the two, and verse numbers in some instances are different. However, if you compare the content side by side, you will see that they are identical.
To clarify the word “Torah”; in it’s most limited sense “Torah” refers to the Five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. But the word “Torah” can also be used to refer to the entire Tanakh.
Rabbis may include the term “oral Torah” in the word Torah. That oral Torah, also known as the Talmud, they believe was given to Moses by God.
However what it is is a collection of Rabbinical interpretations of the written Torah. There is absolutely nothing in the written Torah that alludes to the fact that there was another Torah given to Moses. If you find such a scripture, please feel free to post it in the comments section!
There is an account in 2 Kings 22:8 and 2 Chronicles 34:15 of how the written Torah was both lost and completely forgotten for over 50 years and rediscovered by the Temple priests. It is difficult to believe that the Israelites could remember a non-recorded oral law while at the same time completely forgetting what was in the written law.
The words of the oral Torah have absent from them the familiar Biblical wording of “And the Lord spoke…” and “…thus says the Lord”.
If one reads the text of the Oral Torah, one sees the opinions of Rabbis who disagree with each other repeatedly. The Rabbis explain that whenever there are such disagreements, “both opinions are the words of God.”
However, according to the Tanakh, God does not contradict himself. (Malachi 3:6 “For I, the Lord, have not changed; and you, the sons of Jacob, have not reached the end.”; Numbers 23:19 “God is not a man that He should lie, nor is He a mortal that He should relent. Would He say and not do, speak and not fulfill?” Isaiah 40:8 “The grass shall dry out, the blossom shall wilt, but the word of our God shall last forever.”Habakkuk 3:6 “He stood and meted out to the earth; He saw and caused nations to wander. And the everlasting mountains were shattered; the everlasting hills were humbled. The procedures of the world are His.”)
Regarding other “extra biblical books”; there is a cluster of about 14 books, known as the Apocryphal books, which were written some time between the close of the Old Testament (after 400 B.C.) and the beginning of the New. They were never considered as part of the Hebrew Scriptures, and the Jews themselves clearly ruled them out by the confession that there was, throughout that period, no voice of the prophets in the land.
The Old Testament had been translated into Greek during the third century B.C., and this translation is known as the Septuagint, a word meaning 70, after the supposedly 70 men involved in the translation. It was the Greek Septuagint that the disciples of Jesus frequently used since Greek was the common language of the day. Whether or not the Septuagint also contained the Apocrypha is impossible to say for sure, since although the earliest copies of the Septuagint available today do include the Apocrypha, placed at the end, these are dated in the fifth century so cannot be relied upon to tell us what was common half a millennium earlier. Significantly, neither Jesus nor any of the apostles ever quoted from the Apocrypha, even though they were obviously using the Greek Septuagint. Therefore those 14 books are not in the Biblical Canon although they are used in the Catholic bibles.
Genesis 50:20 Tanach (Tanakh, Hebrew Bible, Judaica Press) “Indeed, you intended evil against me, [but] God designed it for good, in order to bring about what is at present to keep a great populace alive.”
Genesis 50:20 Old Testament (ESV: English Standard Version)“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”
What Joseph said to his brothers in this verse is incredible! Let us first notice what Joseph did not say. Joseph did not say “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God used it for good.” He also did not say “As for you, you meant evil against me, but I overcame it for good.”
Instead, Joseph saw God working through his brothers’ sin and evil, cruel intentions. God worked through the evil, sinful, cruelty of his brothers to bring about Joseph’s triumph in Egypt and the saving of many lives through the famine.
Joseph saw God at work in everything! God’s hand moved and guided every aspect of Joseph’s life, and Joseph trusted this, even when in the natural, to his regular earthly human eyes, ears, and mind, things seemed terrible, horrific, alarming.
You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good describes attributes of God, His providence and His sovereignty. Regardless of the intention of people be it good or bad, God will bring about His own ultimate end. Always. What God means to happen, will ultimately happen. Always. God is always in control.
There is a powerful distinction between God’s perfect will and God’s permissive will. God’s perfect will is unchangeable. It is with His permissive will, or the various things that He allows into our lives which He uses to accomplish His divine purpose for our lives, and the big picture far beyond us.
It is our reaction to things allowed by God’s permissive will that enables us to begin seeing His perfect will, at least in the small picture, for us. It is in these moments as we pray and walk, we are matured, developed, deepened. It is good. It is beautiful. Yes, it is also challenging and can be painful. Then again, if we want to become physically fit, it is challenging and can be painful. We have work out our muscles. No different in the spiritual realm!
As Genesis 50 unfolds we see how Joseph treated his brothers with mercy, loving kindness, undeserved favor (grace.) But wait a second, read back to Genesis 37. How does mercy, loving kindness and grace become cultivated in the heart of one so cruelly treated?
The answer is found in Joseph’s theology (what one believes about God.)
Joseph had a clear understanding that what his brothers did to him was completely and thoroughly evil. However, Joseph also had the clear understanding that although they meant it for evil, God meant it for good. He may or may not have been able to see that good at the time the cruelty was occurring, but he knew God (not just knew of God, but truly knew who God is; character attributes.)
Joseph had a clear understanding that God was at work and God is in control. God can always be trusted for the outcome, again, no matter what we see or experience here on earth. The theology of the sovereign (ultimate, supreme, unrestricted, unlimited) purpose and providence of God (protective care, timely preparation) is what generated the attitude of Joseph’s heart and allowed him to respond to his brothers as he did.
God used Joseph’s suffering and his subsequent circumstances to accomplish His own sovereign purposes in a huge way. God had a plan for the world. To fulfill that, God had a plan for the nation Israel. However, to fulfill that, God had a plan for Joseph. All was tied together. God used Joseph, to preserve a people, so there would be a nation called Israel, the nation from whom the prophets would come. The nation who would be given the Scriptures, the nation from whom the Messiah would come, the nation through whom the world would be blessed. (Links to Tanakh Genesis 3:15; Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 22:1-18; Genesis 46:3; and here is the entire block of these scriptures in the Old Testament.)
The English word “gospel” comes from two old English words, “god spell” meaning “good news“, or, as it is sometimes used, “glad tidings“. This is the translation of the Greek word “enaggelion” or “evangelion“.
In the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh [Tanach], Old Testament), the word “besorah” is used, and in English is translated as, yes, the same as “gospel”… “good news” or “tidings.”
Gospel is a proclamation of good news, either oral or written, typically announcing a positive event of public importance, such as victory in battle, the accession of a king, the death of an enemy.
Interesting to note that the Hebrew Bible includes small portions in Aramaic, written and printed in Aramaic square-script, which was adopted as the Hebrew alphabet after the Babylonian exile. Also, by the time of the New Testament, many Jews didn’t even speak Hebrew anymore. Rome had conquered Greece, and the influence of Greek culture had saturated the empire.
Now, before you assert that the word “gospel” (again, which means “good news”) has connotations from the New Testament that are NOT for Jews, let us take a look in our Hebrew Bible at the usage of the word “besorah”(which again, also means “good news”.)
Originally, the word “besorah” was used to describe the report of victory in battle ( 2 Samuel 4:10.) As the Israelites believed God was actively involved in their lives (including battles and wars) it evolved in it’s connotation. To proclaim the good news of Israel’s success in battle was to proclaim God’s triumph over God’s enemies. Believing credit for the victory belonged to God, the Israelites’ proclamation of the good news of victory was, in fact, proclamation about God.
The transition from the use of “besorah” in a military setting, to its use in a personal context, is pretty basic. If Israel proclaimed good news when God delivered the nation from its enemies, individuals would also want to proclaim good news when God delivered them from personal distress (Psalm 40:10.) The nation’s victories in war and a person’s individual victories both called for the announcement of what God had done.
The Book of Isaiah marks the full development of the term within the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh [Tanach], Old Testament). By this time the word is most often used to describe the anticipated deliverance and salvation which would come from the hand of God when the long awaited Messiah appeared to deliver Israel (Isaiah 52:7.) The military-political and personal connotations of the word were fully united in the hope of a Deliverer who would both triumph over the earthly enemies of God’s people and usher in a new age of salvation. The arrival of this Messiah would be good news.
In the Hebrew Bible, the verb form of “besorah” dominates in usage. A noun derived from the verb does appear on occasion, but the vast majority of references are to the verb itself.
Besorah or good news/tidings is made in the following places (please note, this list is for the usage of the word, not necessarily to imply that the news was actually good for the Israelites): 1 Samuel 4:17, 1 Samuel 31:9, 2 Samuel 4:10, 2 Samuel 18:19-20, 26, 31, 1 Kings 1:42, 1 Chronicles 10:9, 1 Chronicles 16:23, Psalm 40:10 Tanakh; 40:9 OT, Psalm 68:12 Tanakh; 68:11 OT, Psalm 96:2, Isaiah 40:9, Isaiah 41:27, Isaiah 52:7, Isaiah 60:6, Isaiah 61:1, Jeremiah 20:15, Nahum 2:1 Tanakh, 1:15 OT.
Delving even deeper “besorah” is from the root “basar”. The intensive form “bissier” means to bring (good) news. (In grammar, an intensive word form is one which denotes stronger, more forceful, or more concentrated action relative to the root on which the intensive is built).
“Basar” means “to bear tidings” and “basar” also means “flesh.” “Basar” meaning “flesh” occurs before Adam sinned. Adam already was flesh and bone. (Genesis 2:21.)
Then in Genesis 2:23-24 “And man said, ‘This time, it is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This one shall be called ishah (woman) because this one was taken from ish (man). Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.’”
English “Gospel”; Greek “enaggelion” or “evangelion”; Hebrew “besorah.” Word study is so fascinating!
Let us consider for a moment that the English word “Gospel” states that the proclamation of good news is “they shall be one flesh.” God’s Gospel states the very way that we become connected with Him, with nothing separating us, ever. That is Good News!