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The Torah of RighteousnessBy Jeff A. Benner
The Hebrew word תורה (Torah, Strong's #8451) is usually translated into the English word "Law". Because of this translation there is a great misunderstanding of what Torah truly is. "TORAH IS NOT LAW". When we use the word "law" we assume a certain meaning and concept of the word that is not present in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Let us start by looking at the Etymology of the Hebrew word Torah so that we may better understand its true definition. The word Torah comes from the Hebrew root word ירה (Y.R.H, Strong's #3384), a verb which means "to flow or throw something". This can be a flowing of an arrow from an archers bow, or the flowing of a finger to point out a direction. Nouns are derived from the verb by making one or two changes to the verb root. When the letter י (yud) is replaced with the letter ו (vav) and the letter מ (mem) is added at the front of the word, the noun מורה (moreh, Strong's #4175) is formed. A moreh is "one who does the flowing". This can be an archer, who flows an arrow, or a teacher, who flows his finger to point out way the student is to go in the walk of life. Another noun is formed the same way except that a ת (tav) is placed at the front of the word instead of a mem, and we have the word Torah. Torah is "what is flowed by the Moreh". This can be the arrow from the archer or the teachings and instructions from the teacher.
A Hebraic definition of Torah is "a set of Instructions, from a father to his children, violation of these instructions are disciplined in order to foster obedience and train his children". Notice how the word Torah is translated in the New International Version translation in the following passages.
The purpose of a parents Torah is to teach and bring the children to maturity. If the Torah is violated out of disrespect or defiant disobedience, the child is punished. If the child desires to follow the instructions out of a loving obedience but falls short of the expectations, the child is commended for the effort and counseled on how to perform the instructions better the next time. Unlike Torah, law is a set of rules from a government and binding on a community. Violation of the rules require punishment. With this type of law, there is no room for teaching, either the law was broken with the penalty of punishment or it was not broken.
God, as our heavenly Father, gives his children his Torah in the same manner;
THE TORAH IN THE NEW COVENANT
When God promised the New Covenant to Israel he said. "I will put my Torah in their minds, and write it on their hearts" (Jeremiah 31:33 and quoted in Hebrews 8:16). Here we see that God's plans in the new Covenant included his Torah. In the New Covenant, the word nomos (Greek translation of the Hebrew word Torah) is used about 200 times. Not one of these 200 occurrences ever says that the Torah has been abolished or taken away. Rather the New Covenant re-affirms the existence of the Torah. Here are just a few of these passages.
Many have the mistaken idea that Rabbi Shaul (Paul) taught against the Torah. There is no question that Rabbi Shaul, a devout Pharisee to the end, lived his life according to Torah. Let us examine some of Rabbi Shaul's statements regarding the Torah.
THE TORAH AS A WAY OF LIFE
The Torah is a way of life. From birth to death, God's Torah teaches his people how to live a holy life. The Torah covers such areas as; community, medicine, diet, health, clothing, housing, safety, morality, ceremonies, holy days, worship, relationships between family and neighbors and the list is practically endless. The Torah is not a book to be left on the shelf but a living word to guide, lead and direct the lives of God's people each day.
The Psalmist describes the attitude that the man of God should have towards the Torah when he said "The Torah from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold" (119:72). The Torah is not meant to be a drudgery of requirements, as the word law implies, but a joy and a delight to the people
THE TORAH OF LOVE
Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all Your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 6:5-7)
It was not God's intention to require his people to obey Torah out of fear and obligation, but rather out of love for him and his teachings. God desires that all his children place His Torah within their hearts and obey him as a child obeys his father, out of love and respect. King David explained his attitude toward Torah when he said;
If the Torah is not written on the heart, then the Torah is only an obligation, a set of rules that one must live by and are therefore a burden. But once the Torah is written on the heart, the person then keeps the Torah with love, joy and gladness.
Even Rabbi Shaul had the same affection for the Torah that David did.
Love and Torah are inseparable. If one keeps and obeys the Torah, he is showing his love to God. If one loves God he will keep and obey His Torah. We can see this concept in many passages if we understand Hebrew parallelism. Hebrew parallelism is a form of Hebrew poetry which is saying the same thing in two or more different ways. As an example, let us look at Deuteronomy 11:1;
When we read this as a Westerner of the 20th century, we see two completely different statements. The first is "Love the LORD your God" and the second is "keep his requirements, decrees, laws and commands always." These are not two different ideas, but rather the same thing. In the following passages are more examples of Hebrew Parallels (in bold) so that we can better understand what "Love the Lord" really means.
In our 20th century western culture, we usually view "love" as an emotion. From a Hebraic perspective, love is not an emotion, but rather an action. If I say that I "love" someone but never impart action into that relationship, there is no love. In the passages above we see action words like "keep, obey, walk, hold fast, and serve" being equated to the word "love".
Observance of Torah is not only the means by which we demonstrate our love to God, but it is also the means by which we demonstrate our love to our neighbor. Again, if I love my neighbor, I will act upon it. Many of the commands in the Torah deal with relationships between family, neighbors and foreigners.
This connection between obedience to the Torah and love for God is carried over into the New Covenant as well.
The last line in this passage said we "must walk as Yeshua did". Do we really know how Yeshua walked? Yeshua was a Jew who lived a strict life according to Torah, he walked that straight line perfectly and taught others to do the same. Those who claim to follow the steps of the Messiah, but do not walk according to the Torah are a liar as the last passage states.
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF TORAH
The word "righteous" is a translation of the Hebrew verb צדק (Ts.D.Q, Strong's #6663), which means "to walk a straight line". From this root comes the noun צדיק (tsadiyq, Strong's #6662) which means "a straight line". This can literally mean a straight line, or figuratively "what is right" which is where we get the words "right" and "righteous". As discussed earlier, Torah is "a way of life" or "a way to walking". The Torah is a straight line and teaches God's children how to walk a straight line. Therefore, Torah is the "straight line" by which his children are to walk.
A tsadiyq is also "one who walks a straight line" or "a righteous one". Those who follow the righteous Torah are considered righteous, a tsadiyq.
The New Covenant also teaches that righteousness comes from obedience to the Torah.