Old Testament Summary Lesson 5: “If Thou Doest Well, Thou Shalt Be Accepted”
- References to Enoch: “Enoch” appears in several apocryphal works. The Ethiopian Jews who claim to be descendants of King Solomon (and the Queen of Sheba) have brought their holy books from Ethiopia to Israel. Although they are recent in terms of age (less than two-thousand years old), they do contain two apocryphal books, one of which is the Book of Enoch. “Probably the most important work in pseudepigraphical literature deals with Enoch the son of Jared. It is an account of the visions revealed to him in the heavens. It deals as well with astronomical material and establishes the “correct” calendar at 364 days, making 52 weeks.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
- Jewish View on Free Will: As to the point of free will, Talmudic literature points to two natures in man, an inclination to do good and an inclination to do evil. The sages even went so far to say that God gave both to man so that he could choose for himself.
- What’s on the Forehead and Door Posts? The term “anoint thine eyes” is close to the biblical expression of keeping God’s word in front of you at all times. Jews remind themselves of this by binding leather phylacteries (Tfillin) on the arm and forehead as well as on all Jewish doorposts (Mezuzah). These are the words in the ‘Mezuzah’ and in the ‘Tfillin’: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD”:
And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
- Binding the Name of God Everywhere: It is a strong Jewish custom for men to bind “Tfillin” on the arm (close to the heart) and on the forehead as well as on all gates and doorposts of their buildings. “There should be a mezuzah at the entrance to every home and on the doorpost of every living room within the home– this of course excludes lavatories, bathrooms, storerooms and stables. It is also customary to place mezuzot at the entrances to synagogues and public buildings, including all government offices in Israel. In Israel a mezuzah must be put up immediately when a house is occupied by a Jew — outside Israel after the householder has lived in the house for 30 days. If the house is later sold to Jews, the mezuzot must be left on the doorposts. Today the mezuzah represents one of Judaism’s most widely observed ceremonial commandments.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
- Comparison to Kirtland Dedication: Keeping the word of the Lord before our eyes at all times is repeated in the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, a dedication well fit for our homes as well:
“And that this house may be a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of glory and of God, even thy house;
That all the incomings of thy people, into this house, may be in the name of the Lord;
That all their outgoings from this house may be in the name of the Lord;
And that all their salutations may be in the name of the Lord, with holy hands, uplifted to the Most High;” (Doctrine & Covenants 109:16-19)
- To Return Also Means to Repent: The principle of “return to the Lord” is a great motivating factor in Jewish life. Special ‘Yeshiva’ institutes have been established to help those who have “gone astray.” “Repentance in Hebrew is known as teshuvah, which literally means “return,” and signifies a return to God. A person who repents his sins is known as a ba’al teshuvah. Many rabbis of the Talmud believed that the real ba’al teshuvah is greater even than a person who has never sinned and they further more said that when a person repents out of love of God (and not just out of fear of divine punishment), all the sins he had committed are considered to be mitzvot. This is perhaps the most comforting doctrine that Judaism has given to the world.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
- Belonging to Family: In spite of “going astray,” the connection to “family” is unending and the connection to this identity is unalterable: “Yet according to Jewish law, . . . being born of a Jewish mother, never (loses) his Jewish status . . . Indeed, as the Talmud teaches: “A Jew, even if he has sinned, remains a Jew.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)