Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
What Are the "Oracles of God"?
Just what are the "oracles of God" mentioned by the apostle Paul in Romans 3:2? Why is there so much controversy, today, over the meaning of this expression? What did Paul mean when he said the Jew has an "advantage," in fact, "much every way"? A study into the original Greek helps answer these provocative questions.
At the present time, some persons are causing controversy about Paul's remarks in Romans 3:1-2. Paul wrote: "What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God." The controversy surrounds exactly what Paul meant by the term "oracles" used in this verse 2. Let us examine Paul's words, and determine specifically to what he was referring.
First of all, we need to realize the impact of the Greek words translated in the KJV as "Much every way" in Romans 3:2. "Much every way" is translated from the Greek words, "Pialu kata piento tropion," which literally reads as, "Much, according to every mode" (The Emphatic Diaglatt, p. 517). According to Hebrews 1:1, there were any number of "modes" by which YEHOVAH God produced "oracles": "God, who at sundry (different) times and in divers (various) manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets." The Greek here for "manners" is "Opiolutrapios" meaning literally "in many ways" or "in many modes." It is a plural form of the words used in Romans 3:2. The "oracles" were all the many "modes" by which YEHOVAH God spoke to the "fathers by the prophets." What were some of these many modes which comprised "the oracles of God"?
Rabbi Dan Cohn-Sherbak informs us that originally the term "oracles" applied to the Urim and Thummim worn on the High Priest's Breastplate (The Blackwell Dictionary of Judaica, p. 408). Additionally, Rabbi Alan Unterman writes:
Urim and Thummim: Oracle worn by the High Priest (Num. 27:21). The High Priest's breastplate had twelve stones on which the names of God and of the Twelve Tribes were engraved. Answers were conveyed to the questions of the king or of the head of the Sanhedrin by letters of these names being lit up. The Urim and Thummim ceased to be used when the First Temple was destroyed (Dictionary of Jewish Lore & Legend, p. 203-204).
After the original association of the term "oracle" with the Urim and Thummim, in process of time other definitions were added, and the usage of "oracle" became expanded. The Hebrew word for "oracle" is d'bar which simply means "word," as in the expression, "the word (d'bar) of the Lord," used many times throughout Holy Scripture. Thus, any message received by Moses and the other Prophets came to be defined as "oracle," because every message from YEHOVAH God was viewed as being a form of "the word (oracle -- d'bar) of the LORD."
By the time of the First Century A.D., "oracle" had a very expanded meaning, and included many aspects of the Jewish culture, especially of the legal and theological culture. Around 250 B.C., the Jewish Elders who made the Septuagint Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures used the Greek term "logeion" in Exodus 28:15 to describe the High Priest's breastplate (see: Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, p. 144, vol. 3). "Logeion" (also, "logion") is derived from the Greek word "logos" -- the same term used for the Shekinah Glory of YEHOVAH God in John 1:1, i.e., Word. So, it was the Shekinah Glory that answered through the Urim and Thummim worn by the High Priests of ancient Israel.
Also, when we translate the Hebrew term d'bar ("word") into New Testament Greek we get "logion," which is the exact Greek term translated "oracle(s)" in Romans 3:2 ("logia" used in Romans 3:2 is the plural form of "logion").
On pages 143-144, volume 3, in his aforementioned dictionary, Greek scholar W. E. Vine states:
ORACLE: LOGION: a diminutive of logos, a word, narrative, statement, denotes a Divine response or utterance, an oracle; it is used of (a) the contents of the Mosaic Law, Acts 7:38; (b) all the written utterances of God through O.T. writers, Rom. 3:2; (c) the substance of Christian doctrine, Heb. 5:22; (d) the utterances of God through Christian teachers, I Pet. 4:11. Note: Divine oracles were given by means of the breastplate of the High Priest, in connection with the service of the Tabernacle, and the Sept. uses the associated word logeion in Ex. 28:15 to denote the breastplate.
It was the "oracle of God" which came through the High Priest's breastplate, i.e., it was the "word of God" or Shekinah Glory that came through the High Priest's breastplate.
The "oracles of God" are simply "the words of YEHOVAH God" as projected by YEHOVAH God's Shekinah Glory to "the fathers by the prophets"!
So, what comprised the "words of YEHOVAH God" in the ANCIENT Israelite culture?
1. The Urim and Thummim on the High Priest's breastplate.
During the 400 years preceding the birth of the Messiah the number of new "laws" and "interpretations" literally exploded! The became more elaborate and complicated as the religious leaders strove, by any means they could, to circumvent YEHOVAH's law in every phase and facet of their lives. They wished to disobey YEHOVAH God while retaining the appearance of great Godliness. As a result, over a period of time, the following items were added to the "oracles of God" BY THE RABBIS AND THE JEWISH RELIGIOUS LEADERS --
1a. All the written laws and instructions (Torah) YEHOVAH God gave to Moses. (No problem here).
2a. All the Oral Laws which YEHOVAH God gave to the priests about exactly how to apply and practice the written laws and written instructions. The priests included both Moses and Aaron of the House of Levi -- not only Aaron.
3a. The "Judgments" of which only a very few are preserved in writing in the Bible. The majority of the "Judgments" are found in the tradition of Oral Law.
4a. The sacred knowledge about exactly how to determine the astronomy for the practice of the weekly Sabbath and High Holydays, including the national Sacred Calendar, the technical information of which is contained in the Oral Law, in order to achieve unity among all the people of Israel.
5a. The mystical Kabbala, i.e., the written and orally transmitted dreams, visions, and divine messages, received (according to the rabbis) by the Prophets.
After the time of the Messiah the term "oracles" took on a different meaning and consisted of a body of information for the erudition of the New Testament Church of YEHOVAH God. This included --
1b. The Old Testament, including the Torah.
2b. Information for determining the calendar.
3b. All the words spoken by Yeshua the Messiah during his life and ministry. Yeshua produced no writings of his own hand -- all the knowledge he gave was in spoken form. It was others who put his words into writing.
4b. All of YEHOVAH God's supernatural communications to the apostles and others after Yeshua's resurrection and ascension into Heaven.
It should be noted that not all of the traditional body of the "oracles" (as added to by the rabbis and religious leaders) was accepted by the New Testament Church, such as the Oral Laws and the mystical teachings of the Kabbalah. By the time of the Messiah any Oral Laws that were supposedly given to Moses on Mt. Sinai had become so perverted and misapplied by the rabbis that Yeshua thundered at them, "woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in" (Matthew 23:13). Later, in verse 27, the Messiah continues his condemnation: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and LAWLESSNESS...Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?" (verse 33).
According to Robert Goldenberg Jewish theologians claim that,
...ancient rabbis taught that the revelation granted to Moses had been delivered in two forms, a smaller revelation in writing and the larger one kept oral. This "Oral Torah" had been transmitted faithfully by the leaders of each generation to their successors, by Moses to Joshua, and then to the elders, then to the prophets, to the men of the Great Assembly, to the leaders of the Pharisees, and finally to the earliest rabbis. The earliest rabbis saw themselves...as heirs to the Pharisees" ("Talmud," Back to the Sources: Reading the Classic Jewish Texts. NY: Simon and Schuster, 1984, p. 130).
This supposed transmission of the "Oral Torah," the tradition of the elders, from Moses to Joshua, to the prophets, was challenged by Yeshua the Messiah who clearly termed it NOT Torah, but the commandments of men which nullify the word and doctrine of YEHOVAH God, making the story of the transmission itself a fraud.
To be blunt, it is a LIE to claim that Moses issued two sets of laws, one written and therefore public, the other an oral tradition that was secret. In all of the Bible there is nothing to support this supposition. Notes Michael A. Hoffman II --
The spurious claim of an oral tradition of the elders bequeathed by God to Moses, is anti-Biblical and it was denounced by Jesus Christ Himself. In the brilliance of Jesus upon which the cunning and cleverness of the Pharisees was turned against them time and again, Jesus very simply and forthrightly illuminated the fact that if the Pharisees' tradition had been from Moses, then the Pharisees would have become Christians:
"For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me, for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?" (John 5:46-47).
Christ has just annihilated, in one paragraph, the basis for the religion of Judaism and its conceit of a tradition given to it by Moses, for had such a tradition existed it would have testified of Jesus.
Instead, He tells them point-blank that they don't believe Moses. Jesus crushed the whole beguiling system of indoctrination predicated on the Pharisaic myth of a divinely-inspired, oral tradition of the elders (Judaism's Strange Gods, The Independent History and Research Co., 2000, p. 19).
Regarding the Kabbalah, Michael Hoffman states, in the Glossary to Judaism's Strange Gods, the following:
Kabbalah. ("Tradition received"). Major treatises on magic and demonology produced by rabbis from the second century A.D. onward, pertaining to the use of "protective" amulets and charms, the determination of lucky and unlucky days and numbers and numerical codes within words; reincarnation, spells and rituals; the doctrine of magical androgyny and the "rectification" of God's "imperfect Creation" through the redemptive capacity found only in the Jewish man. Two of the most prominent books of Kabbalah are the Sefer Yetzirah ("Book of Creation") and the Zohar ("Book of Splendor"), which runs to five volumes in the abridged Soncino translation.
With Judaism's prestige at an all-time high in the West, dozens of volumes of Kabbalah selections have been issued by major publishing houses with the demonology and racism excised, leaving only those portions that appeal to the appetite of New Age mystics for imaginary forays into realms of "bliss and harmony." These publishers are quite successful at profiting from the human capacity for endless self-deception (p. 117).
With that said, no true follower of YEHOVAH God and Yeshua the Messiah should get involved with the obvious Satanic background of the Kabbalah.
Categories 1a through 5a above comprise the meaning of "oracles" from the Jewish point of view, while categories 1b through 4b reflect the New Testament perspective of the early original Jewish Ecclesia Of YEHOVAH God.
The original, true definition of the term "oracles" applied to the Urim and Thummim alone -- all other embellishments or additions up to the Messiah's time were from the vivid imaginations of the rabbis and religious leaders.
-- David C. Whitaker and John D. Keyser.
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