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Saturday, January 5, 2013

"Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence" by Nehemia Gordon

This book focuses on the Name of God (YHWH) but goes in several directions.  The author's main motivation for researching the Name YHWH stemmed from the priestly blessing (see Numbers 6).  As a Karaite Jew raised by an Orthodox father, Gordon always used "Adonay" (means Lord in Hebrew) instead of YHWH when reciting the blessing.  When Gordon's curiosity is piqued, he makes it his mission to find out more about the Name YHWH and tell others about it.

One thing I like about Gordon's books is the feeling of adventure in the pages when the author visits historical sites in Israel.  Raw emotion leaks through the book as the author visits sites that hold both Biblical significance and personal significance.  The book also quotes Talmud and other extra-biblical rabbinical writings.  Some of the history Gordon digs up is fascinating.  All of his unusual facts are referenced clearly for one to verify.  I learned so many new facts, which I won't spoil for you.

The book has many parts that discuss the background of the Name YHWH in the Bible.  Arguments are very carefully weaved.  Gordon uses the Hebrew Bible to support how saying YHWH is fine and even encouraged in Scripture.  He even exposes the extreme rabbinical views that resulted in a rabbi being burned alive in a Torah scroll for trying to say YHWH out loud.  Gordon also goes into the idea of YHWH blessing us like a Father.  The beginning of the book has some great information about mixed worship in the Hebrew Bible and how corruption slowly crept into Judaism.  This was fascinating.  From golden calves in the Bible to conflicting rabbinical decrees, Gordon exposes the sad truth of mixed worship.  The book went so far to say that blindly accepting any teaching (rabbinical or otherwise) without first consulting the Hebrew Bible is as bad as idolatry (making a teacher an idol that is seen as infallible and never questioned). 

I think both Jews and Christians could benefit from this book.  The book has a lot of history and Jewish insight that everyone can learn from.  Anecdotes thrown in every now and then are funny (e.g.- author says his friend whines like a little girl at one point).  However, some stories are not so funny.  There are stories in the book how a "Christian" told Nehemia that him and all other Jews are "going to hell" because they "have no grace."  Stories like these break my heart.  As a Messianic, I do trust in Yeshua for my salvation.  However, I do not tell others they are going to hell.  I have no idea where others go when they die.  That is not my job--YHWH alone will judge everyone, not me.  But, there will always be mean, ignorant people in the world.

I should note that this book uses the pronunciation Yehovah.  There is a note about how other pronunciations are used by others and that everyone should just do their best with what information they have.  Essentially, if we mess up the pronunciation of YHWH, God understands that we just tried out best.  A point I totally agreed with is that it's better to try to pronounce YHWH and maybe mess up a bit as opposed to correctly pronounce something that's not YHWH's Name.  

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