Tag: Free







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Thank you for your consideration and all your kind support over the past few years and we do appreciate everyone who shares in our passion for the Word of God and discovering the depths of Jesus’ heart through Biblical Hebrew.


Laura Bertone

Chaim Bentorah Ministries



WORD STUDY – FREE INDEED – שׁרירתא חור


John 8:36: “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”


I picked up Liesl in my bus for her monthly grocery shopping. Liesl is in her nineties yet still retains her beauty, elegance and her touch of aristocracy that she had known in her youth.  She was raised in Czechoslovakia during the time of World War II.  She comes from a family of nobility which was completely lost during the war.  Her husband was a wealthy landowner until the Nazi’s confiscated all his land.  Liesl was a young ballerina and accomplished pianist. The Nazi’s had taken her to Berlin where she performed before the elite of Nazi Germany and even a performance where Hitler himself was in the audience.  On a visit to her home between performances the Nazi’s ordered her husband into the military. To avoid the military and imprisonment for working with the underground she and her husband escaped through the mountains, almost like in the story of the Sound of Music. They came to the United States and settled in Cicero where her husband took a job in one of the factories and it was there he worked for the rest of his life.  Liesl lives in an old apartment house owned by a relative where she cares for her disabled daughter.


I remember the first time I picked her up in my bus. I pulled up in front of this old apartment house which was in much need of repair.  From the side entrance of the building through an old rotted door leading onto a broken cemented walkway ending at a rusty chain linked fenced gate there emerged a woman who was totally out of place in these dilapidated surroundings.  Although she was a near century in age, she still walked with the grace of the nobility from when she descended.  She still had the trim body of the ballerina that performed before the nobility of Europe.  As she approached my bus she allowed me to take her hand to assist her up the step and spoke a gracious thank you in a very seductive Czech accent.  I was totally smitten.


She would freely talk of her life in America which  was strictly lower to middle class.  She tried to start a dancing school but it just did not take.  The war pretty well ended any hope of ever recapturing any of the life she had known as a young woman. She came to American with her husband with nothing, not even their titles were of any value.  The only thing of value she has in the world today is a grand piano which barely fits in her living room and is completely out of place in her simple surroundings.  She offered to even let me play the piano but I just could not disgrace such a noble instrument with my stride, chop sticks playing style. Such a piano was meant only to reproduce the sounds of the masters which Liesl, despite her years, still plays beautifully.


Her husband passed away  three years ago and the only family she has is a sister in California and her disabled daughter that lives with her. She manages on a very meager income and talks of her financial struggles. Yet, given the choice of her life now or the one she experienced under Nazi rule, she would not hesitate to choose her life of living in freedom in the United States.  She and her husband could have cooperated with the Nazis and would have had the best that Europe at that time could offer, yet they were still enslaved, forced to speak the party line, forced to do what the government ordered them to do.  They may have had all the luxuries available to them in that era, but they willingly traded it all for a life of financial struggle and meager living just to be free.


Liesl could tell us a few things about freedom, she could tell me much about freedom. The freedom that we all take for granted, Liesl, even after seventy years of freedom, never tires of. I could not help but think of John 8:36 when I listen to Liesl’s story.


If the Son shall make you free you shall be free indeed. I love that rendering from the KJV.  The Greek says ontos eleutheroi esesthe you will be free indeed.  The word in Greek ontos means indeed.  It emphasizes the idea that we are truly absolutely set free by the Jesus Christ.  The word free in Greek is eleutheroi which means to be free from obligation.  In other words free from the obligations of Mosaic Law. Jesus spoke these words in Aramaic and the Aramaic Bible, the Peshitta, uses the word chor for freedom but it is rooted in the word for  free born nobility.   This word is found throughout the various Semitic languages. The Canaanite and Phoenician have the word har and hur which is also a reference to free born nobility.


Servants in the Near East during the time of Jesus were not always hired permanently.  Some of them changed their positions often.  A servant is always aware of the fact that he is a hired person that his employment could be terminated at any time.  A son of the household is an heir and can stay at his father’s house forever.  A servant did not have the freedoms of the household as the son.  They could not help themselves to the luxuries and food of their masters.  They always lived under the fear that if they broke one rule of the master they would be cast out of the house on their kester.  Yet, the son could break all sorts of household rules but he would still be the master’s son.


This is why I like the Aramaic word har that is used here.  For this is speaking of more than just freedom, it is being born into nobility it is a freedom that is obtained by birth and once you have that you can never lose it.  That is why salvation is more than just a deliverance from sin, it is a born again experience, we are born into the very family of God and have become heirs of His kingdom.


We are no longer just a servant that if we break one of God’s laws we are booted out of the kingdom, we become a very son or child of God such that no matter what, we will always belong to Him.


Looking at Liesl’s surroundings to day you cannot imagine that it is of noble rank. Yet to look at her, her very walk, manner and talk speaks of aristocracy. Maybe our surroundings and life does not reflect that of being a child of God, but when Jesus lives within us, our very manner and life itself will reflect that we are his child.


When Liesl had all the trappings of nobility, all the wealth and influence and honor associated with her noble rank, she did not have freedom.  Freedom was more important than all the wealth that goes with nobility.  Her circumstances many change but her birth cannot be changed.  Nobility is not found in one’s wealth or influence, it is found in one’s birth.  But just being of noble rank does not make you free.


That is why when Jesus said that if the Son will make you free har, you will be of noble rank but you will also be har shariraith, free indeed.  The Aramaic word shariraith comes from Semitic root shr and has the idea of a genuineness.  In other words you will not only be of noble rank but one day you will leave this earthly body you will be genuinely free indeed, you will not only be of noble birth but you will have all the perks and trappings that comes with it.




Psalms 11:1 “In the Lord I put my trust, how say ye to my soul, flee as a bird to your mountain.”


Somewhere over the rainbow

Bluebirds fly,

Bluebirds fly over the rainbow

Why then, Oh why can’t I.

-E.Y. Harburg-  Somewhere Over the Rainbow


In Psalms 55:6 David says: “Oh that I had the wings of a dove, I would fly away and be at rest.”   I suppose David is not the only who would look at the birds and envy their freedom to just fly away from their problems. The National Endowments of the Arts listed the top 25 songs of the century. The number one song on that list was “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”   Who hasn’t at times just looked up to the sky during a difficult time and long to just have wings and fly away?


In Psalms 11:1, however, David puts a different twist on this flying away.  David’s soul is being told to flee as a bird to your mountain. This is a reference to where the tabernacle of God stood and the presence of God rested. Birds could do what David could not. At any time they desired they could fly over the tabernacle, even over the holy of holies where the presence of God rested. During the time David wrote this Psalm he was running away from Saul. He was a fugitive, hiding out in caves and did not have the freedom to go to the tabernacle. David would look at the birds flying overhead and maybe he would pray: “Birds fly over your presence, why then, Oh Lord can’t I.” But David knew better.


The syntax is a little difficult here. Some commentators will say it is really David’s friends telling him to flee to the mountains for protection. I would not question that it might be his friends advising him to flee to the mountains.  However, if the reference was to any mountains, they would have used an article before the word mountain, rather than a pronoun. The reference here is to a specific mountain, which I believe is the mountain on which the tabernacle rested.  Here David could have sought sanctuary.  Yet, David knew his safety was not in the sanctuary of the tabernacle, it was God himself.  The word flee is repeated two times in this verse, nedu nedi.  Scholars believe the nedu is a Khethiv or the way it should be read.  This makes it more specific, you flee to your mountain like a bird.  David is saying that this was spoken to his soul his nephesh. This is a reference not only to his physical safety but his emotional well-being as well.


I believe we have a picture here of David fleeing for his life from King Saul, hiding out in a cave. His friends come to him to talk about his situation. They look out over to the mountain of God where the tabernacle rest. His friends, tell him, to go to the mountain, find sanctuary. David however sees beyond that. He feels they are also talking to his soul that needs rest and peace.  David responds: “No, I don’t need to go the tabernacle to find peace and rest for my soul. I will just trust in God.” The word for trust that is used here is  chasad or refuge. “I will find my refuge in God.”


David just shakes his head and says: “No my sanctuary is not in a tabernacle.  The peace and rest for my soul would not come flying over the holy of holies or being in the Holy Place itself.  My sanctuary and peace can be right here, for God is right here.”


Years ago when I was a camp director for Youth Guidance one of our residents asked if he could build a rocket as his craft project.  I gave my permission only on the basis that he build one that would go high enough to reach God as I wanted to send a message to Him. It wasn’t long before the buzz was about the camp that Bernie was building a rocket to reach heaven. When Bernie was questioned about this he said that he only agreed to build a rock to reach heaven because it was the only way Pic (person in charge) would let him build a rocket. He made no guarantees it would reach heaven.


Well, the day came, the rocket was ready, I wrote my message to God, put it in the nose cone and Bernie launched it.  I expected the rocket to fly a few hundred feet in the air, sputter out and fall back to earth with everyone saying: “Yeah, I knew it wouldn’t reach heaven.”   I was ready with a little speech or sermon about heaven. But God had other plans. We watch the rocket rise about three or four feet off the ground.  It was the craziest thing, almost like some hand guiding it. It was like something you would see in a cartoon. At four feet it just stopped in midair, leveled off, then slowly turned around to face the crowd and with a burst of its engine headed right for the crowd.   It was quite an enjoyable sight watching a crowd of tough, street wise gang bangers, suddenly turn around in terror and start running away, being chased by a rocket.


When my staff and I finally re-established order, I said something I never expected to say: I turned to Bernie and said, “Mission accomplished. The rocket did reach God.”   I then explained that I did not ask Bernie to build a rocket to reach heaven, I asked him to build a rocket to reach God and that is exactly what it did.  For you see, they thought that rocket was going after them, but in reality is was only doing what it was built to do and that was to go to God and so the rocket aimed itself at their heart because for many, that is where God resides, not in heaven, but in one’s heart. For the first time many came to the realization that if they received Jesus as their Savior, God would be with them, in their hearts no matter where they go.


After or little chapel service all the counselors question me as to how we managed to get the rocket to do what it did to give such a good illustration.  Bernie and I only looked at each other and smiled. We didn’t aim that rocket, someone else did but it managed to explain to those residents what David explained to his friends.  He did not have to go to a mountain top to find God, God was right there where he was at. David was saying that God is as close as your heart.

Devotional: John 8:32

Good Morning Yamon Ki Yesepar and Nevim Arith Hayomin:
John 8:32: “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

I used to love to have arguments –uh, discussions with my Jehovah Witness friends.  Invariably we would approach an impasse such as John 1:1 which they render as “The Word was a god.”  They would argue that in the Greek there is no definite article in front of the word God so therefore it must be rendered as “a god.”   I would throw out my usual argument that in the Greek when you have two nominatives (in this case logos and Theos)  that have the same ending in the same sentence the grammatical way of determining the direct object is to add the definite article (ho) to the subject and leave it off the direct object.  Even though logos comes at the end of the sentence we do not assume logos is the subject, like in English, as the order of words do not determine the subject or predicate.  Therefore John was only using good grammar by making it clear that the subject was logos and not Theos so we would properly render the verse as “The Word was God” and not “God was the Word.”

Well at that point they would come back with their ace in the hole and say: “But we teach the truth.”  Then I would throw out my trump card by pulling a Pilate and asking: “What is truth.” Actually, I didn’t know any more than they did what I was talking about when I used the word truth, but if you can’t convince ‘em, confuse ‘em, as my old Theology professor would say. But then again, maybe they understood that word truth better than I did.  When they said they had the truth, they were saying that they only were expressing what they believed God revealed to them personally.  I feel I need to take a better look at this word truth.

So once more with lexicon in hand I return to my quest to understand those words we use so often but do not understand, such as truth.  This time I will examine it in the Aramaic and John 8:32 is a good place to start. According to this verse it is truth that will make you free and I like freedom.

Actually, the expression: “The truth shall make you free” is an old Jewish saying that predates Jesus and was in common use during His time.  Oral tradition, later recorded in the Talmud, that “No man was free but he that exercises himself in the meditation of the law.” Jesus was most likely addressing this study of the law and coming to a proper understanding of the law.
The word for free in the Greek is eleutherosei which means to liberate or release from captivity.  In the Aramaic the word is harar which means to think.  In Hebrew the word harar means much the same but as a noun it means a mountain.  In a feminine form it means a pregnant woman.  Not that the woman is large like a mountain but that a mountain was representative of a place you go to meditate, think, and draw closer to God.  Before they knew about raging hormones a pregnant woman was thought to be closer to the mind of God because she has been granted a miracle (giving of life) by God.   Hence this word that is used for free in the Aramaic has the idea of independent thinking.  In this context it is thinking that is independent of the teachings of the fathers who gave their personal interpretation as to what the law meant and how to apply it.   When you know the truth, you will understand the law of God for yourself and not have to rigidly follow man’s interpretation, regardless of how learned or smart that person may be. Man’s interpretation can be a guide, but ultimately you or the revelation inside you makes the decision.

So what is truth?  There is an interesting play on words here.  The word truth in Greek is aletheia which is used to describe, you guessed it, truth.  It is also used for reality, sincerity and a divine revelation.  In the Aramaic, however, we see a subtle play on words. The Aramaic word used here is identical to the Hebrew word, sharar.  Freedom is spelled “Hei, Resh, Resh” truth is spelled “Shin, Resh, Resh. The words are spelled the same except one starts with a Hei and the other starts with a Shin.  The word sharar means to be firm by twisting and tightening.  It also means to rule or command.  An age old teaching about leadership is to make a decision, stand firmly and tight by that decision and accept responsibility for that decision.

I believe what Jesus is saying here is that He is truth, He is the commander of what is and what is not, He will not change, nor alter his position and he accepts full responsibility for the consequences of his instructions or commands.  Yet, to follow His instructions you will receive orders from no one else, you will have the freedom to think on your own.  In other words you can make the decision as to how to interpret the law.  You will decide if walking a mile on the Sabbath is breaking the Sabbath or not or if eating pork to survive when no other food is available is breaking the dietary laws or saying “That dress looks fantastic on you” when you hate it, is a lie or not. Let the “Truth” the Jesus who lives inside you decided.  As Jiminy Cricket would say: “Let your conscience be your guide.”  In this case your conscience is the Jesus who lives inside of you.
Oh, by the way, that play on words.  The difference between the word truth (sharar) and freedom (harar) is that the one has a Shin which represents the power and passionate love of God and the other has a Hei which represents the presence of God.  When you accept Jesus as the sharar (truth) in your life or your authority and not man’s then you will have the freedom to receive His passionate love, power and presence.  With that you can move a harar (mountain).