People in the Hebraic Roots movement have a very wide variety of beliefs. There is no one-size fits all. They usually have one goal, and that is to become more like the early believers in Messiah. In some ways, I think they get stuck somewhere between the 1st and 4th centuries, and many are in danger of not reaching their goal.
On this page, I will discuss several pitfalls or dangers that people encounter when they seek their Hebraic Roots. In addition, I’m going to give you hyperlinks to several posts or presentations along the way that were made in response to most of these pitfalls. Please read this entire page first before going back to check out the posts or presentations.
I strongly believe that God is showing people that the Early Church Fathers laid a faulty foundation for the church — the results of this has lasted for centuries – and in these final days, it is time to correct that. God wants to reap His bride in a condition of holiness and cleanness, a bride who lives according to the terms of the covenant but within the boundaries He has set forth. The terms of the New Covenant are the same terms as the original covenant; YHVH has always intended for these terms are to be written on our hearts and lived out in every step we take.
What YHVH is showing people is a work of God; this is rarely something that people are normally convinced into doing by other people. YHVH God has been speaking to many believers in a variety of ways to bring them out of Babylon, if we dare call the traditional church that. For some, He gets their attention regarding the Sabbath; for others, it may be the feasts; and for several, it may be the food laws. For me, these were not my initial wakeup call; these came after the fact. Let me emphasize — seeking Hebraic Roots is not bad, but there are dangers to avoid.
Whatever God uses to cause people to seek their Hebraic roots, it quickly becomes apparent that the church has been lied to regarding certain subjects in order to be “seeker friendly” – to bring in the Gentiles. This same practice is weakening the church today. This can be a dangerous place to be because many things that believers have been taught become suspected of error.
The Christian church has good things such as the Scriptures and Yeshua Messiah, as well as the Holy Spirit, who is active in various churches and individual believers. However, the Christian church has a faulty foundation. The foundation of the Christian church is missing or ignoring:
- YHVH’s correct sign of the covenant – 7th-day Sabbath;
- YHVH’s appointed times – YHVH’s feasts;
- The ability to discern the clean from the unclean – such as YHVH’s food laws;
- An understanding of what it means to be in covenant with God; they have rejected the terms of the covenant.
- The command to not worship YHVH in the same manner the pagans worshiped their gods — this is most apparent during the holiday seasons.
As we try to integrate these things into our daily lives, it quickly becomes apparent why the Jews created their halakhah to know how to live out God’s commandments, and we may not agree with their halakhah – their way of walking out the commandments, statutes, and judgments.
Bibles – As people begin to seek the truth, Bible study becomes very important.
You should be aware that there are different kinds of English Bibles and original manuscripts. Choose a literal translation (NKJV, NASB), which is faithful to the original text, over dynamic equivalents (NIV, REB) or paraphrases (Living Bible, The Message). There are other translations to consider besides these common ones. For those who have no desire to learn original languages, it’s important to compare literal translations.
Original Languages – Instead of reading denominational church-press quarterlies or listening to a pastor trained in seminary, which are a problem in themselves because they can perpetuate the faulty foundation, believers begin to dig into the Scriptures themselves to see what it really says.
You would think this is a good thing. However, they dabble in a bit of Hebrew or Greek, which if they do not learn enough of regarding grammar and how those languages work, they can cause more damage by reaching wrong conclusions. You don’t have to master the languages, but you need to know how they work.
It is okay to compare Greek and Hebrew verbs, nouns, and adjectives in a particular verse, but do not get entangled in syntax when comparing languages. Languages function differently. Syntax can be different between languages, and word order can be used to emphasize something within a single language. There is no need to compare prepositions and the presence or absence of a definite article between languages; there is no hidden message or meaning there. What we should be aware of is that some words have a wide range of meaning, translators may have chosen a wrong word for their translation, and as a result, they may have introduced their own doctrinal biases into the text.
Hebrew verbs are often abused in discussions due to a lack of knowledge of the language. When examining Hebrew verbs, only look at the definitions for the binyanim used in the verse. Lexical forms are typically 3rd person, masculine singular; it is also called the word’s three-letter root. The binyanim are specific variations of the root, which are basically built with certain prefixes, letters, dots and vowels; these modify the meaning of the root in a specific manner. I have explained the various binyamin in the Hebrew language lessons on verbs.
Another Hebrew language issue is that someone has created a teaching based on the Hebrew direct-object marker “et.” To me, this is utter nonsense. Et is spelled aleph-tav. Most of the time, it identifies the following word as a direct object. It occurs in most sentences with a subject and predicate that has a direct object. It does not indicate or point to the Messiah who is the Aleph and Tav, Alpha and Omega, First and Last, Beginning and the End. It is simply how the language functions. It is not a rabbit hole to investigate; it is an idea to shift your focus.
Some groups promote studying the paleo-Hebrew or proto-Hebrew script, which was an ancient form of the Hebrew before the 5th century BCE. They try to take the original meanings of the individual letters to create meanings of various words. It is fascinating to see that this works sometimes, but it does not work all the time. Frankly, it is a waste of time and energy. When you have enough knowledge of the Hebrew language and see how it works, you will quickly see paleo-Hebrew as a non-necessary pursuit – another empty rabbit hole.
Having only a basic understanding of the Greek language has caused people to believe that although Yeshua is the Messiah and the Son of God, He is not God; this is because John 1:1 lacks the definite article before the last theos, which means God. I have discussed this error extensively in the presentation called Understanding John 1:1-2, Is Yeshua God or a god? Please do not allow yourself to get sucked into a false teaching over a language issue. I have used advanced Greek grammar to explain the error of this teaching.
Names – Some people have gotten into issues over the correct pronunciation and/or spelling of the names of:
- YHVH – Yahweh, Yehovah/Jehovah, Yahuah, Yehuwah
- Yeshua (Jesus) – Yeshoshua/Joshua, Yehusha
Some have even made claims regarding the name of Jesus (Iesous) as being related to Zeus (Zeus). They also make an issue of the English letter J not existing until 1524 CE. Again, we are dealing with two different languages and their transliteration issues. The letter J versus the letter I is absolutely irrelevant. I have dealt with this issue of names and spellings in a post and pdf called Yahuah or Not?
You should know that the Jews do not like people to say God’s name. They have verbal and written circumlocutions for God’s name. For some, to mispronounce the name for YHVH is better than correctly saying it.
History, Culture, Worldview – If one wants to understand a people group, such as the Hebrews, they should study the people’s history and culture, as well as how these two things impact how that people group thinks and sees their world, and why they behave as they do.
People often make jokes about various people groups without realizing that their history, culture, and worldview affects certain aspects of their behavior. Any honest missionary will tell you of their frustrations in this area. Occasional study in this area should become part of your personal growth.
Here is one example of understanding a different worldview. One time, we were watching a movie by Mel Brooks called The Twelve Chairs with my husband’s language partner. Frankly, I don’t like Mel Brooks films because I think they are stupid, but that’s just me, but my husband really enjoys Mel Brooks’ films. Anyway, we were watching this film as another means to encounter the culture, and my husband’s language partner was constantly laughing out loud during the movie. We were new to Ukraine and could not relate or see what was so funny at all in this movie. If one understands and appreciates Mel Brooks’ films, as well as knows the culture being presented in the films, understanding and appreciating his parodies naturally falls into place. It would take us several years of living in the former Soviet Union to relate and find this film funny, and we probably still wouldn’t catch everything.
As for the Hebrews, one should consider studying Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) culture and other ancient writings. We should also understand that Rabbinic Judaism, which exists today, is not the Judaism of the first century.
Having said this, there is a danger to studying ANE culture and other ancient writings. The reason is that you can learn something about the culture and then mis-apply it to Scripture when you don’t have someone from that culture and time period to fully explain what you’ve learned. Since this is the case, you must use everything in the Scriptural corpus to accept or reject a possible interpretation of Scripture. You must examine the weight of evidence. I have found that some people reject the weight of evidence in favor of a mis-applied cultural concept. I find this extremely sad and shocking. What’s worse is that they can’t see that this is what they are doing.
Let me give you an example of what I mean about a mis-applied cultural concept from my time in Ukraine. The father of a friend of ours had died. We, together with another colleague and his wife, planned to attend the funeral in order to support our friend. Burial customs are different in various cultures. We had to know what to do. Our colleague found out that it was customary to bring red carnations. I decided to get flowers for my husband and I, so I went to the underground passageway where many flowers were sold. I walked up to a vendor and told her in Ukrainian that I needed flowers for a funeral. She, being Ukrainian knew exactly what I needed. She responded in Russian and was kind enough to sell me two single carnations, and she showed me how we should each hold our single carnation during the service. She told me to watch and do what the other Ukrainians were doing, which proved very helpful. She asked me if I understood, which was a challenge crossing a double language barrier, and sent me on my way after I paid her.
When we arrived at the outdoor funeral, our colleague was holding a bouquet of red carnations – not a single carnation, and his wife was holding nothing. This bouquet was wrapped in colorful paper and was frilly on the upper edges. It probably had some baby’s breath in there too. I was so embarrassed for them. My husband and I, and all the nationals were holding a single red carnation with no beautiful wrapping. When the time came, everyone dropped their flowers onto the casket – all the single carnations and a single bouquet of carnations. I never found out the significance of all of that. If I find out, I’ll let you know.
You see, what happened was that our colleague knew part of the culture – the red carnations – but not all of it. He didn’t tell the vendor what he needed the flowers for. He probably thought they would be given to the family, but they weren’t. Instead, they were buried in the ground. Our colleague lacked an important piece of information. If he had known, he would have not spent more money to buy a bouquet of flowers, and he would have done the right thing culturally instead of misapplying that information.
Another example concerns 2 Corinthians 1:22 where the Spirit is given to us as a guarantee, earnest, or deposit; the Greek word is arrhabon. How we interpret this verse depends on our worldview, which is impacted by many things such as the definition itself, as well as how a culture behaves in regard to it. I once heard a Ukrainian speaker describe a deposit as being something that could be taken away, at will, by the one who gave it; it didn’t matter if someone still wanted what they put the deposit down for. The reason for this is that Ukrainians make deposits knowing that the person they gave it to could change his mind for any minor reason and not even return the deposit. Normally, when Americans give a deposit for something, there is intent to completely pay for a purchase as soon as possible; the item would not be sold to another in the meantime. If we look at the Spirit as a guarantee, it is something that is given to assure us that a purchase contract will be fulfilled, not that there would be a breach of contract by God. We have been purchased with the blood of Messiah; we have been sealed with the Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession (Acts 20:28, Ephesians 1:14). God is not going to break His covenant, and we must make sure we are continually abiding in Messiah according to the terms of the covenant. We must be aware that our own worldview can cause people to mis-apply or misinterpret Scripture.
When we study ANE culture, we may discover something interesting about a particular subject, but if we are not careful, we may build a new doctrine that is completely incorrect because we lack a vital piece of information about that discovery or because we ignore what is already present in Scripture. What’s worse is that we have no one from that time period to further explain it to us. Our first clue that we should be cautious is when we can’t make the new cultural insight fit into the rest of Scripture. This has happened with teachings regarding the Angel of YHVH; it is dangerous and has caused people to believe that although Yeshua is the Messiah and the Son of God, He is not God. Please see the presentation Angel of YHVH for further details. Remember, new knowledge of the culture should enhance our understanding of Scripture, not go against it.
As far as history goes, some have suggested that the doctrine of the trinity is false because many religions worshiped trinities, and they suggest the doctrine of the trinity did not arise until the fourth century. Please see the entire series The Nature of God. What you will see is that we must take many things into consideration to know if Yeshua is God or not.
I have found that when people study a topic, they often fail to thoroughly study it, and/or they lack discernment. They may latch on to one aspect of the topic to the exclusion of all others. This has the potential to lead to wrong conclusions and wrong applications. Another major topic that people disagree on in in Hebrew Roots is YHVH’s calendar. Please see The New Moon Series in order to see the extent of study that may be required for what some think should be a simple topic.
Paul – After one has laid a Torah foundation, Paul must be properly understood. In 2 Peter 3:16, Peter says that untaught and unstable people twist what Paul has said. We need to avoid the trap of twisting Paul’s words and/or incorrectly interpreting Paul. Unfortunately, Paul is not here to explain exactly what he meant or defend himself. Paul was addressing specific issues in his letters, the details of which we can guess to a certain extent. Many have referred to him as being schizophrenic because of his positive and negative statements regarding the law. The key, I think, to Paul is Moses’ teachings regarding the choice he gave to the people who were about to enter the Promised Land:
- Lawfulness, obedience, righteousness – living by the Spirit of YHVH – leads to blessing and life. Those who live this way will be justified.
- Lawlessness, disobedience, unrighteousness – living by the desires of the flesh – leads to cursing and death. Those who live this way will not be justified.
When we see apparent discrepancies, we need a Torah foundation to tease out the discrepancies. It is also helpful to have a knowledge of ANE culture and access to ancient writings too. Finally, when processing the massive amount of materials we read, discernment is key to proper interpretation.
Seeking the Jewish Perspective – When Christians begins seeking their Hebraic roots, they swing on a pendulum between Rabbinic Judaism and traditional Christianity. The best place to be is really somewhere in between the two.
We should consider the present-day Jewish perspective of Scripture with caution. It’s often good to have their perspective, but the interpretation of Scripture today is not necessarily that of the first century or earlier. The formation of Rabbinic Judaism, which exists today, developed over time after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE. If you read multiple ancient sources, you will see that even the rabbis disagreed with each other over what various Scriptures meant. You should consider that having different opinions is not necessarily a bad thing. However, there are some things we should definitely agree on.
The Noahide laws are another lie of Rabbinic Jews. YHVH had only one covenant – one law – for both native-born (Jews) and strangers (Gentiles). Believing Gentiles are grafted into the olive tree of believing Israel. When people live together in families and in communities, their covenantal laws, which define righteousness, should be the same. Unfortunately, not everyone in Hebrew Roots agrees with this. If you were to embrace the Noahide lie, you should know that belief in Yeshua as Adonai will qualify you for decapitation!
Another problem with gaining the Jewish perspective is that you can be led completely away from Yeshua HaMashiach. I usually never provide names. However, in this instance, it has become necessary – a Jew named Tovia Singer has led many believers in Yeshua HaMashiach away from their faith in Messiah. Even former Christians pastors have been led away from the truth by him. Do not listen to or read his materials. His skills and spirit of deception are strong. He does not properly divide the Word, and those who have submitted themselves to his teachings have been deceived and led astray. I know of several people who have become his victims, some who don’t even believe the Scriptures any more!
This goes to show that we must be extremely careful of whose feet we sit at to learn from!! Always verify everything. This is where literary analysis can be helpful when immediate context is not. I suggest looking at YHVH’s Servant A Literary Analysis of Isaiah would be helpful.
Midrash – When people hear the term midrash, they think of Bible discussion. Initially, it was used to reconcile apparent biblical contradictions and establish the basis of new halakhah. Basically, it’s biblical exegesis, textual interpretation, or study. We normally do midrash to understand the Scriptures in their original context.
Midrash is also application. We see this happening in the Apostolic writings. Several of the prophecies of Yeshua were originally written to refer to something historical, but the Apostolic writers applied them to Yeshua. This is the way the Jews looked at their Scriptures; it is and was not considered errant behavior.
This is the exact same way that the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) uses Scripture to lead and speak to people today, such as speaking to prophets concerning current situations or to individuals regarding personal matters.
Many have seen this sort of thing in charismatic churches; we don’t see it too much in Hebraic Roots. I’m not sure if that is because there is so much focus on the original context or if we stifle the Spirit. It could be that some assemblies are different than others.
Another example that probably borders between Hebraic culture and midrash is found in Matthew 18:18-20 where Yeshua said whatever you bind on earth will be bound (deo; forbid) in heaven, and whatever you loose (luo; permit) on earth will be loosed in heaven. When people learn that binding and loosing can refer to the halachic forbidding and permitting of things in Jewish law, they zealously spout off that this verse can’t refer to an issue of spiritual warfare involving demons or any other matter except halachic matters.
However, Luke 13:16 refers to a woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan bound (deo) for eighteen years, that Yeshua loosed (luo) on a Sabbath day. It is possible that if two or three people agree to petition the Father to loose someone who is bound by Satan on earth, it seems that it would be done for them.
Anyway, the context of Matthew 18:18-20 regarding binding and loosing does not appear to be about halachic issues; it is about petitions that two or three people have agreed about on earth, and those petitions could refer to spiritual warfare issues or something else. Any application of this verse would be dependent on the nature of the petition itself.
Please be extremely careful in how you apply cultural information because as I have demonstrated several times, it can lead to serious misinterpretations of Scripture.
Conclusion – As we enter this likely final season of the church before Messiah’s return, we need to hear what the Spirit is trying to say to God’s people. In addition, we must have the faith of Yeshua and keep God’s commandments.
Despite all of the possible pitfalls or dangers of the Hebraic Roots movement or Torah observant groups, YHVH still desires His people to correct their faulty foundation. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find an assembly that is able to avoid all of these pitfalls, and I have no solution to that.