How to Read the Bible (sequel 2)

When going to read and trying to study the bible it is best to make a plan beforehand, with the knowledge that it is not so useful to just read the book in one go once in a lifetime.
It is a library of 66 books which demands repetitive reading, not confusing or taking additional human notes as being part of God’s Words.

In the previous article in continued to show the dangers when people continue thinking in the tradition of their philosophers and theologians who do not keep to the proper Word of God, given to us by the many chosen people of God.

Too many people coming to read the Scriptures forget that the notes in those printed books are notes presented by human beings and that when reading and studying the Holy Scriptures we should only concentrate on the biblical words and not on the added thoughts by other men than the ones chosen by God and presented in the original manuscripts.

When reading the Bible we always should concentrate on what is said by whom and about who or what. We also should wonder if what is said about specific situations or actions would still apply for today. To get to know that you shall need to read all the 66 books which together form the Holy Scriptures.

A page from the Aleppo Codex, Deuteronomy 32:50-33:29. Parashah breaks visible on this page are as follows: {P} 33:1-6 (right column blank line 8th from top) {S} 33:7 (right column indentation line 23) {P} 33:8-11 (right column blank line 2nd from bottom) {S} 33:12 (middle column 1st indentation) {S} 33:13-17 (middle column 2nd indentation) {S} 33:18-19 (left column indentation at top) {S} 33:20-21 (left column space in middle of 6th line) {S} 33:22 (left column 13th line indentation) {S} 33:24-39 (left column 17th line indentation).

It is impossible to read the Bible in one go on one day. You are best to take it easy, by going from one parshah or passage (literally, section, division) to another. In the near future I also shall offer such bible reading on this site and therefore I shall start with the first parshah of the Holy Writings, the Parshat Bereishit, which covers from the beginning of Genesis to the story of Noah.

When you go to a service you may find that in the synagogue service, the weekly parshah is followed by a passage from the prophets, which is referred to as a haftarah. Contrary to common misconception, “haftarah” (or haftoroh, plural haftarot or haftoros) does not mean “half-Torah.” The word comes from the Hebrew root Fei-Teit-Reish and means “Concluding Portion”. Usually, haftarah portion is no longer than one chapter, and has some relation to the Torah portion of the week.

The Artscroll Chumash

The most important part of the Holy Scriptures which too many Christians do seem to miss, is the “chumash” or Pentateuch, (a vowel alteration of ḥomesh, meaning “one-fifth”, alluding to any one of the five books – or a Torah or Five Books of Moshe in printed form (i.e. codex) as opposed to a Torah scroll), which shows the world how everything started and why we are in a such a mess today. The name for that assembled work of literature comes from the Hebrew word meaning five, and refers to the five books of the Torah written by the former Egyptian prince who later in life became a religious leader and lawgiver.

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The man, Moshe, chosen by the Almighty Elohim to lead the Exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt and across the Red Sea, after which they based themselves at Mount Sinai, where he received the Ten Commandments.

We always should remember that though Moshe (or Moses) wrote all those words for next generations to remember, he only was the authorised scribe in the Name of God. In later years we also might find lots of other Hebrew or Jewish scribes, Soferim (Jewish scholars and teachers) and scriveners from other religious groups, but who were not especially selected by God to write down His words. For such, their writings we always should consider as human thoughts not words from the Holy Scriptures. Often they are just penman for religious groups, from one or the other denomination, writing to have people to come to believe in their views, which are not always the biblical views. though we must know that it is by the meticulous work of many copyists that those works Moshe and other men of God wrote down, came to us.

Sometimes, a chumash is simply refers to a collection of the five books of the Torah. But often, a chumash contains the entire first five books, divided up by the weekly parshiyot, with the haftarah portion for each week inserted immediately after the week’s parshah.

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Yad or ritual object made of silver, used for eliminating the necessity of touching the sacred manuscript with the hand.

When one is afraid to forget where one is with reading, whilst saying the text out loud, one can use a little stick or yad (literally, “a hand”), usually a six to eight inch piece of silver fashioned in the shape of a finger, to point to the words of the sefer Torah as you read them. This is done so the reader does not obstruct the vision of the person honoured with the aliyah and does not mar the dignity of the Torah by touching it. In Sephardi congregations, the Torah is carried inside a large wooden cylinder that stands erect when open, and the Torah parchment is in an upright position when it is read or like in Ashkenazi congregations, and by using a book version the Torah lying flat.

Today you should not be afraid to take up a printed book, a computer or even a tablet or smartphone to read the set apart Scriptures. Better to come to read the Torah than not reading it.

When going to read the set apart books you should put your mind at rest and leave out all the worldly thoughts, including all possible dogmatic teachings brought in by generations of ancestors or by churches or clergy.

Before starting the reading and study work you should always remember the first blessing God having created human beings in His image, but by man having chosen to go an other way, the Elohim chose Israel to receive His Torah and referred to the giving of the Torah at Sinai. Not bad is to do your Bible reading and study with somebody else. Than you should also bring a second blessing referring to the Oral Torah.

When before you start reading the bible you engage in judging yourself or bringing l’hitpalel or ‘praying‘, you offer yourself to the Elohim showing Him your willingness to open your mind. Without opening your mind to God He shall not be able, or better, will not be so prepared to touch your inner heart. In a way you have to petition God to give you what you need according to the Plan and time-set of Him. Also you should show your gratitude for the Words He presents to you. You should thank Him for whatever good was granted, or extol Him for His awesome attributes. All prayer is intended to help make us into better human beings.

When you do not know how to pray:

A Hasidic tale illustrates the spirit of this ruling.

A boy from a small rural village where there were few Jews and no synagogue, one day accompanied his father to the city to do some marketing. While there, they went into a synagogue. The boy had never been in a synagogue before and he was impressed and moved by the sight of the congregation at prayer. He, too, wanted to pray. But he did not know how. His father had taught him only to say the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, but no more than that. So a thought occurred to him. He began to recite the alphabet over and over again. And then he said,

“0 Lord, You know what it is that I want to say. You put the letters together so they make the right words.”

That, too, was a Jewish prayer.

English: Mishne Torah in 1 volume עברית: משנה ...
Mishne Torah in 1 volume עברית: משנה תורה בכרך אחד, מנוקד ומדויק על פי כתבי יד, בהוצאת מפעל משנה תורה (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Always remember that reading from a prayer book does not mean that one is praying. Any person may read a prayer book as one reads any other kind of book — to find out what it says or to relish the beauty of the poetry. Such reading does not qualify as prayer.
To transform reading into prayer, there must be at least a sense of standing in the presence of God and the intent to fulfil one of His commandments. It is opening your heart to the Voice of God, loving it to enter your body and mind – your body and soul – to fill you with inspirational thoughts which are much higher than the thoughts of people of this world.

Having said prayers before reading the Book of books you also may conclude such reading and studying with prayer, expressing your thankfulness for the Hashem wanting to be close by you and giving His Words to study.

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Preceding articles:

How to Read the Bible

How to Read the Bible (sequel 1)

Called Immanuel does not mean to be Jesus being God

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Additional reading

  1. Priest, scribes and others with authority
  2. Looking for True Spirituality 6 Spirituality and Prayer
  3. Being Religious and Spiritual 8 Spiritual, Mystic and not or well religious
  4. Own Private Words to bring into a good relationship
  5. 7000 to 20000 words spoken each day
  6. Being sure of their deliverance
  7. Walking alone?
  8. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #5 Prayer #1 Listening Sovereign Maker
  9. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #5 Prayer #3 Callers upon God
  10. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #6 Prayer #4 Attitude
  11. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #9 Prayer #7 Reason to pray
  12. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #10 Prayer #8 Condition
  13. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #11 Prayer #9 Making the Name Holy
  14. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #12 Prayer #10 Talk to A Friend
  15. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #16 Benefits of praying
  16. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #17 Sorts of prayers
  17. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #18 Fulfilment
  18. Praise Jehovah

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Further reading

  1. The Time I Got In Trouble For Studying In Class
  2. Midrashim & History
  3. Sticking To Our Leaders 
  4. With or Without a Comma: How to Tell Love from Passion
  5. Books every Jew(-to-be) should have
  6. Help: the Prayer Book is Too Heavy for Me!
  7. Scripture as Fuel for change

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How to Read the Bible

Originally posted on { Andrew Mills }:
Today, in a short blog post, we are going to try to dive pretty deep theologically and philosophically. I want to begin with a quote from a pretty well-known Biblical scholar at Wheaton, named John Walton, who apparently Larry went to school with, which makes me quite jealous. Walton writes…

Though even the Bible speaking in an ancient Voice the Most High Creator took care that His Words would spread all over the world and would reach the many different peoples in a language they can understand.

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To be careful and to remember

John Walton writes

God … adopted the language of the culture to communicate in terms they understood.

or “we could say incarnated Himself” writes who regularly preaches at Bethany Community Church.  With that incarnation he probably does mean something different than what we would understand by bringing life into His Word. Naturally we do know the Almighty never incarnated into something or some one. But what God provided, was that God His Word came to the people

“in the language of the culture to communicate in terms they understood.”

or, as John Walton puts it,

“[The Bible’s] message transcends the culture in which it originated, but the form in which the message was imbedded was fully permeated by the ancient culture.”

We should believe the Bible is authoritative, and we should take the words of those 66 different books as containing all the necessary.

We may never forget that

We need to be open to letting the Bible speak in its own voice, not in ours.

This is so often forgotten by lots of people, who prefer to take all those added notes by theologians as more telling than the words in the bible text itself.

When reading the Bible we should know that we have God’s Word in our hands and that we should open our ears to what He is saying.  We should be humble enough not to think human beings who went to a theological college would know it better than Him. Reading the Bible is a way of  hearing God’s word when we are prepared to have our ears and eyes open for what the Most High wants to tell and show us.

We do have to allow Scripture to guide us on what to do and how to serve the Most High. Whatever happens and whenever in our life we can turn to the Bible. In times of sadness, joy, worry or bereavement there is He Who wants to talk to us. It is up to us to be willing to hear what God has to say.

Being humble with our interpretations, because we aren’t perfect, we always should remember that god’s Word is perfect and does not need any adding by human beings.

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Continues with:

How to Read the Bible (sequel 1)

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Find also to read:

  1. Absolute Basics to Reading the Bible
  2. Words of God to stand and to be followed and to believe

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{ Andrew Mills }

itsownvoice.pngToday, in a short blog post, we are going to try to dive pretty deep theologically and philosophically. I want to begin with a quote from a pretty well-known Biblical scholar at Wheaton, named John Walton, who apparently Larry went to school with, which makes me quite jealous.

Walton writes this, “We must notice that when God wanted to talk to the Israelites about their intellect, emotions, and will, he did not revise their ideas of physiology and feel compelled to reveal the function of the brain. Instead, he adopted the language of the culture to communicate in terms they understood.”

For me, that last line is incredibly important… “[God] adopted” – or we could say incarnated Himself – “in the language of the culture to communicate in terms they understood.” What this means is that the message of the Bible is imbedded and formed by the ancient cultures of…

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