2020 Study Summary 16: A Mighty Change
“A Mighty Change”
King Benjamin continues his address—Salvation comes because of the atonement—Believe in God to be saved—Retain a remission of your sins through faithfulness—Impart of your substance to the poor—Do all things in wisdom and order. [About 124 B.C.]
The saints become the sons and daughters of Christ through faith—They are then called by the name of Christ—King Benjamin exhorts them to be steadfast and immovable in good works. [About 124 B.C.]
King Benjamin records the names of the people and appoints priests to teach them—Mosiah reigns as a righteous king. [About 124—121 B.C.]
What about being children?
The term “Children of Christ” is obviously foreign to a Jew, yet the principle of subservience, humility and searching for more knowledge is similar to “being children.” Note the expressions of “continuing life,” “provide,” “proper education” and “preparation for marriage” have a familiar ring to the Savior’s desire for us. “Children are considered a great blessing; they are the hope and the promise of continuing life.” “As the children grow, they must be educated and trained for their future roles in Jewish life. The father’s duty is to provide for his children, to give them a proper education, to teach them a trade, and to prepare them for marriage. Great emphasis is placed on the importance of education and religious training, which should begin early in the home.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.).
What reason could the word beggar–not be in the Hebrew language?
As children are dependent, King Benjamin’s question is not about “begging” particularly, but about a dependency on God. “Are we not all beggars . . . Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?” (Mosiah 4:19) “Although the Bible is concerned with the poor and the needy, there is hardly a reference to begging or to beggars, and there is, in fact, no biblical Hebrew word for it. The needs of the poor were provided by various laws of charity. Possible references are contained in the assurances that whereas the children of the righteous will not have to ‘seek bread,’ the children of the wicked man will, after his untimely death, be vagabonds ‘and seek their bread out of desolate places’ (Psalms 37:25; 109:10).” “Everybody is obliged to give charity; even one who himself is dependent on charity should give to those less fortunate than himself.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.) “For the poor shall never cease out of the land; therefore I command thee saying, Thou shalt open thy hand wide to thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy in thy land.” (Deuteronomy 15:11)
How is giving, really receiving?
In this sense, it is beautiful to consider that the principle of receiving from the Lord is reflected in what we give others. The giving can be a simple hand of friendship. The term “hand” is used often in the scriptures and the term “right hand” has symbolic meanings. Among the Bedouin, it is improper to eat with the left hand. The right hand is always extended in greeting, the left hand extended as a greeting can be offensive. Among the Arabs and the Jews, a popular amulet or “good luck charm” is a right hand with an all-seeing eye in the palm of the hand. The word for arm and hand in ancient Hebrew is the same. “Of course tefillin and mezuzot are not amulets. Their use is a commandment by God ‘as a sign on your hand and . . . on the doorpost of your house’ (Deuteronomy 6:8-9). They are reminders to the Jew of his duty to bear witness to one God. Phylacteries, the common translation for tefillin, comes from a Greek word meaning protection against danger or disease, and is therefore incorrect.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
How can I point things out to others?
When the Torah scroll is read in the Synagogue, a pointer molded in the shape of a miniature hand (yad) is used to follow the words. It is as if the “finger of God” is pointing the way. Unfortunately, these descriptions of God’s hand or finger are not taken literally among most Jews. “The same is true with regard to descriptions of God which are found in the Bible and in other sources. We talk, for instance, of ‘the hand of God’ although God does not have a hand; we also use descriptions such as ‘God is angry,’ although the word ‘angry’ as it is used with regard to human beings cannot possibly have any meaning with regard to God. The reason for this use of language is that human beings think about God and want to talk and write about Him and can only use words out of the framework of their own experience.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
How is washing my hands, Biblical?
In mortality, the hands are to be clean, both in personal hygiene and in rituals. “The rabbis made it mandatory to perform a ceremonial washing of the hands, on certain occasions. This washing is strictly ritual in nature and should not be confused with washing for the sake of cleanliness. This is evident from the fact that the hands must be clean before the ceremony is performed.” “The hand washing ritual is commonly known as netilat yadayim, a term whose source is not entirely clear. In order to establish the practice, the rabbis warned of dire consequences for those who disregarded it, even going so far as to predict premature death. It is said that Rabbi Akiva, who personally disapproved of the ordinance, nevertheless used the limited water allowed him in the Roman prison for this ritual rather than for drinking.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
Would you be so kind and hand it to me?
It has been the custom in religion as well as in civil covenant making that the right hand is used in a sign or symbol. “The custom, evidently by divine direction, from the very earliest time, has been to associate the right hand with the taking of oaths, and in witnessing or acknowledging obligations. The right hand has been used, in preference to the left hand, in officiating in sacred ordinances where only one hand is used.” (Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.3, p.107) One of the purposes of King Benjamin’s instruction is to bind the repentant believers in a covenant that would record their names. In that way they would be identified both in mortality and eternally. The forgiveness they experienced revived and saved them. Being a covenant, it meant that they took upon themselves the name of God and He would be given their names that He might know them. “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.” (Psalms 138:7) “And now it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall not take upon him the name of Christ must be called by some other name; therefore, he findeth himself on the left hand of God.” (Mosiah 5:10)
What’s your name?
Names have always been important and their meanings in the scriptures often tell something about the person. As there are other histories coming forth, some paralleling biblical history, sometimes another name is used for the same person. That may be because in that language or culture the person was known by another name. A modern example is my name. In Hebrew it is Daniel ben Herbert. That means Daniel, son of Herbert. Yet, in Arabic it is Daniel, Abu Dauod. That is Daniel, father of David (my honorable firstborn son). The name Daniel is explained as; Dan–Judge, El–God, or in context, God is my judge, or in another context, a judge for God. Either way, I have taken His name upon myself! “Names are more than just arbitrary labels for people. Each Jewish name tells a story of its own and very often reflects the nature of the time, place and atmosphere in which it was chosen.”
What’s in a name?
“The most important source for Hebrew proper names is the Bible, and biblical names were usually descriptive and meaningful, often incorporating the name of God in praise or gratitude; thus, Nathaniel (God has given), Eleazar (God has helped), Joshua (God the Savior). Other biblical names describe the circumstances surrounding the birth. Thus Abraham called his son Yizhak [Isaac] from the Hebrew word for laughter, because Sarah had laughed at the idea of bearing a child in her old age. And Yizhak named one of his sons Ya’akov [Jacob], a play on the Hebrew word akev (‘heel’), because he was born grasping the heel of his twin brother Esau.” “The Talmud attaches great importance to the preservation of Hebrew names, viewing foreign names as a sign of assimilation. According to the Talmud, one reason for the deliverance of the Children of Israel from Egyptian bondage was the fact that they did not change their names. Yet, despite this subtle warning, Jews have tended to adapt their Hebrew names to the language of their neighbors or to take on purely non-Jewish names. This tendency, first noticeable during the Middle Ages, accelerated during the late 18th and 19th centuries. Some governments encouraged the process by passing laws which forced Jews to adopt European names. Napoleon issued such a decree, hoping to assimilate the Jews.” “Like most peoples of the world, the Jews have evolved certain traditions regarding the use of names. For example, Ashkenazi Jews consider it wrong to name a child after a living father or grandfather, whereas Sephardim consider it an honor to do so for a grandparent. According to the Hasidei Ashkenaz, it is wrong to marry a woman with the same name as the husband’s mother. The reason for this seems to be because of respect; the man might tell his wife to do something and the mother might think he meant her.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
Where do I get my new name?
“Jewish boys are officially named at the circumcision ceremony eight days after birth, and a girl’s Jewish name is publicly announced when the father is first called to the Torah after her birth. Converts are also given new names — usually ben Abraham or bat Abraham (son or daughter of Abraham) because conversion is equated with rebirth. (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.) The Jewish coming-of-age ritual, (Bar Mitzvah for the boy, and in America, sometimes for the girl at a Bat Mitzvah) is often used to give a “new” name to the candidate. The term rebirth connotes being a child again. It involves learning a new life, preparing to become an honorable son of the Father. Many know, that is possible through the redemption of our “Elder Brother.” Accepting Him, He redeems us, adopts us and, in that sense–becomes a father, and we are privileged to take His name upon us!