Introduction: the Shem Contranym

Just when we think Scripture provides a concrete paradigm, it shifts!  Thankfully, it is not the paradigm that shifts, but our perception of it.  The Torah moves our perspective so that we can see its primary purpose is to nurture abundant life.  What was understood to be true before is still true, but another perspective alters the understanding of the preceding truth adding to a greater perception of the whole.  The Torah is life, and it can accommodate living, growing organisms, including mankind.  

The contranym is a principle in which a word functions as its own opposite.  The easiest English example is cleave, which means both to separate and to join, and both definitions of the word are accurate even though opposite.

An example in Hebrew is shem, which is the singular form of the name of the Torah portion, Shemot (Names).  Shem is a name, which is the power of potential in both a human being and his Creator.  A name describes one's reputation and character, results of individual choices that have either fulfilled the potential in the name or voided it.  An interesting tradition within Judaism is that when an individual faces the Judgment Seat, he will be asked his name.  If he can't remember his own name, then he is assigned the judgment of one who failed to fulfill the plan of the Father in his life, a prophetic plan signified by the person's name.

The Creator Elohim's Name YHVH euphemistically is called HaShem by Orthodox Jews, who recognize the indescribable potential in His Name YHVH, a name of eternal existence and power through eternity*.  On the other hand, shem may denote desolation!  Adonai wraps Himself in light like a garment,[1] yet He dwells in thick darkness; the Psalm says that darkness and light are both alike to Him.[2]

            Shemamah   Feminine noun

            From (H8076):  devastation, waste, desolation

Jeremiah uses the wordplay of the contranyms bor (a well of life-giving water) and shem (name, reputation) to contrast a woman's potential role in life-giving holiness as well as deathly destruction in describing Jerusalem:

As a well ( bor) keeps its waters fresh, so she keeps fresh her wickedness. Violence and destruction are heard in her; sickness and wounds are ever before Me. Be warned, O Jerusalem, or I shall be alienated from you, and make you a desolation ( shemamah), a land not inhabited.[3]

A name is similar to a word in Hebrew, for each Hebrew word ( dvar) describes the essence of the thing ( dvar) with its letters.  Just as there is potential for life or death, truth or falsehood, obedience or disobedience in the Word, there is potential fulfilled or unfulfilled in a name.

Are You Sure This is Helping?

The contranym teaches that the thing which is opposed to a man is actually for him, which is also the principle of the spouse in marriage.  An ezer kenedgo[4] is one who is a "helper against him."  Huh?  Yes, without opposition, there would be no boundary or protection against one's own faulty counsel.  While Torah provides a woman's father or husband to function as the annuller of her vows, the woman was the first one specifically charged with that duty.  Eve was an ezer kenegdo, a helper against him (Adam).  Both man and woman-especially if they are married-are to understand that they are not independent of one another, with all originating from God.[5]  Paul writes in even more detail in his attempt to instruct the Corinthian congregation:

Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a  woman. But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.[6]

Satan thrives in unilateral decisions, hindering prayers and defeating the potential of the name of the couple, which is their potential to proclaim the Name of the Holy One.  Esther illustrated this mutual responsibility when she functioned as the annuller of vows...and vowels! When Mordechai informed her of her husband's decree, he reminded her that the same judgment that would fall upon a husband or father who failed to annul a foolish vow would also be inflicted upon her even though she was a woman (see Creation Gospel Special Edition: Esther's Mysteries Behind the Mask).[7]  The Hebrew word ishah means "woman," but it is also "her husband"!  One becomes two becomes one.

A Torah boundary, such as a male relative's power to annul a vow, is a restriction for the benefit of a naarah (young woman) wife or daughter.  The husband or father saves her from her own unilateral counsel.  Although opposed to her vow, the male relative is actually helping her.  His decision power is for her, for the true maximum potential of power is attained at the level one has the ability to control it.  A wrecked Formula One racecar is not nearly as powerful as an intact scooter. "For whoever is joined with all the living, there is hope; surely a live dog is better than a dead lion."[8]

A close relative such as a father, husband, or a wife can "read our mail."  This person knows the spouse's thinking patterns even better than the spouse in many cases.  Based on what the spouse or father knows about the individual, the outcome of a promise or vow may be predictable.  The Torah provides a messenger who may deliver an affirming message or a nullifying message, but in either affirmation or annullment, the intent and Spirit of the Torah is to provide a hedge of protection in the person of the mailman...or femailman who delivers the message.  If the action or words are affirmed, the mailman in sync with the Ruach mirrors the good actions of the female.  Likewise, if the action is not affirmed and is contrary to the Ruach, the femail will be out of sync; she will deliver a message of conflict with the actions or words spoken by the male.

Although it does so subtly, Scripture gives many examples of role reversal between male and female without changing the essence of the difference between male and female.  While man tends to emphasize the differences between male and female, Scripture emphasizes unity even within the differences.  Although the Brit HaChadasha is most often used as proof that a woman plays an inferior and silent role within the Body of Messiah, as our Messiah would say, "In the beginning, it was not so..."

This week I completed taping the Spirit-filled Family series at Hebraic Roots Network.  The last segment of the series, "The Spirit-filled Wife" addresses Paul's instructions concerning how Corinthian women are to function within a congregational setting, and it includes Peter's similar instructions in marital structures of authority.  While I did not address every reference to a woman's role within a congregation, I addressed three foundational texts from the Brit HaChadashah and then moved back to the Tanakh, and even Jewish tradition, which Paul mentions in opening remarks, to eludicate the common theme that both Peter and Paul teach.  This is a principle I call the "Double Principle," or "Cave of the Couples," which is founded on the Isaiah's admonition to look to Abraham and Sarah who was one when I called him (Isaiah 51).  Isaiah's grammatic anomaly is actually consistent with the context as well as other examples from Genesis to Revelation.

The many examples used in the last two programs of the series should be an encouragement to men and women alike, especially if they've ever struggled with Paul's seeming contradictions concerning the role of women.  By using thematic parallel texts directly from Scripture, a pattern emerges that becomes its own apologetic essay. 

One example "Double" text is 1 Samuel 30 and Psalm 68.  In 1 Samuel, part of David's army is too exhausted to pursue the enemy any farther; they were physically weaker, just as 1 Peter 3:7 identifies the wife as someone due honor BECAUSE OF her physically weaker strength.  There were wicked men among those who did continue pursuing the enemy, and when the spoils were taken, they wanted only to return the wives and children of those who remained to guard the equipment, but none of the spoil. They did not believe those physically weaker soldiers were due equal honor.  David rejects this approach and makes a military rule:

And who will listen to you in this matter?  For as his share is who goes down to the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage; they shall share alike. (1 Samuel 30:24)

In Psalm 68:11 are parallel themes of war and victory.  Even the Egyptian sympathizer to Israel is mentioned.  In Psalm 68, however, the army is definitely female!  The king, however, is not King David, but Adonai:

The Lord gives the command; the women who proclaim the good tidings are a great host: kings of armies flee, they flee, and she who remains at home will divide the spoil!

In the Psalm, there are women who will proclaim Adonai Tzvaot's commandments, putting the enemy armies to flight with His Word, but regardless of the spoils these speaking women (the Hebrew text uses a form of the root AMR - amar - which denotes a speaking action) take from the battle, the woman who remains at home will equally divide the spoil.  Neither is superior to the other in importance, for the woman who remains at home to speak the commandments of Adonai Tzvaot is nurturing another generation of soldiers to speak the Word that defeats the enemy!

I read a news article this morning that said there had been a policy change concerning the WASPs, a WWII female air force that performed support work so that more male pilots could be released to fly combat missions.  These women who flew support missions would no longer be permitted burial in Arlington National Cemetery.  They would no longer be acknowledged as equals in the important support work; she who worked at home would not be entitled to the same honor.  Although the Army may have had some legitimate reasons for the policy change, I wonder what King David would say to that?  Who is actually honored with burial in the Cave of the Couples, Machpelah?  

If this series interests you, unfortunately it will be a while before you can view it on HRN.  The updated and revised CG Workbook Two: The Spirit-filled Family will be completed and available much sooner, hopefully before spring.  We'll keep you posted on the progress of its formatting and printing.  

[1] Psalm 104:2

[2] Psalm 139:12

[3] Jeremiah 6:7-8

[4] Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper (ezer kenegdo) suitable for him." (Genesis 2:18)

[5] 1 Corinthians 11:11-12

[6] 1 Corinthians 7:1-5

[7] Will be included in a future Creation Gospel workbook on the special readings for the feasts, likely Workbook Seven.

[8] Ecclesiastes 9:4

*Please don't send me Sacred Name or anti-rabbinic literature; that's not the point here.


Children's Home in Kenya

It is time to start moving children into their new (Torah-observant) home in Kenya.  THANK YOU to all of you who donated for construction, water tank, and beds.  YOU ARE AWESOME for putting your money where the Torah is!  A special "Thank You" goes to our home congregation, The Olive Branch of London, KY, for giving us the funds to finish purchasing the beds, mattresses, and sheets.  We hope to post some updated pictures of the facility soon.  If you would like to make a recurring donation for monthly support of the staff and food provision, see the information below under "Donations." 

Online Courses

I am considering conducting Creation Gospel teacher training for a limited number of students online.  This would include a weekly live lesson, paper lessons, and a final test.  If that interests you, please respond by email.  I have only a few more spaces, so priority would be given to participants who could share one computer login.  I plan a maximum of nine separate computer logins to the class.  The cost will be around $40 per month plus the participant will need to purchase CG Workbook One: The Creation Foundation if he/she does not already have a copy.  The Teacher Training Manual workbook will be supplied as a pdf document at no additional cost. 


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Shabbat Shalom!

The Creation Gospel  800-784-4828 or 615-784-4828