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What is Hebraic Heritage?

Shared Beliefs

Jews and Christians share a sincere belief in One God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Israel. They also share as foundational, the Hebrew Scriptures being the Tanakh, the Old Testament. This means that we also share the same morals and ethics based on the Ten Words, the Ten Commandments. We also both look for the coming of Messiah and a Messianic Age as prophesied in the Hebrew Bible. This shared heritage is Hebraic and this forms the basis of our ministry.

What is Hebraic Heritage?

Let’s deal with this phrase looking firstly at what each word means.

Heritage - The definition of heritage is the background from which one comes, what has been inherited from the past.

Hebraic – refers to Hebrew but is not just the Hebrew language. The dictionary definition of Hebraic is ‘relating to, or characteristic of, the Hebrews’.

The foundation of the faith of Jews and Christians is to be found in the Hebrew Scriptures. These form the bedrock of faith and there is much to be gained for both faiths from a study of the life and faith of Abraham, the first to be described as a Hebrew.

The Almighty Creator made an everlasting covenant with Abraham as detailed in the book of Genesis or Bereshit and it was his belief, his faith that God would provide him with offspring despite his circumstances, and this was credited to him as righteousness: ‘And he brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be." And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.’ Genesis (Bereshit) 15:5-6

Christians of course also look to the Brit Chadashah, the New Testament or New Covenant but even these refer widely to the Hebrew Scriptures mentioning Abraham 75 times along with many references to Moses, the Prophets and many other characters. The Brit Chadashah can best be understood in that context as we shall address in more detail later. What ties both books together is that they both:

  • detail a plan of salvation for all the world

  • demonstrate a restored relationship with the Creator God, being the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

  • give very real testimonies of God’s people, warts and all

  • have a scarlet thread running throughout.

​Who were the Hebrews?

​The first mention of Hebrews as a people in the Hebrew Scriptures is in Genesis (Bereshit) 14:13 ‘Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and of Aner. These were allies of Abram’. This description of Abram being a Hebrew may refer to descendants of Eber mentioned in Genesis 10:24-25 but we can say for sure that the Hebrews were those from Abraham onwards who were followers of the God of Abraham and his chosen offspring, Isaac and Jacob. Jacob’s descendants are therefore also called Hebrews.

Potiphar’s wife called Joseph a Hebrew in Genesis (Bereshit) 39:13-17.

Women at the time of the birth of Moses were called Hebrew women in Exodus (Shemot) 1:15-16.

Jonah described himself as a Hebrew in Jonah (Yonah) 1:9.

Even the apostle Paul in the New Testament described himself as a Hebrew of Hebrews in Philippians 3:4b-6.

Hebrews are called God’s chosen people in Deuteronomy (Devarim) 7:6

Jewish people today are physical descendants of the Hebrews and have a Hebraic heritage. The Hebraic heritage of Christians comes from Jesus-Yeshua who was born into a Hebraic culture being Jewish (see ‘Jesus – His Jewishness’).

The Separation and Restoration

It is true to say however that this shared heritage of Jews and Christians became separated sometime shortly after the time of the early church. Judaism at that time changed from biblical Judaism to rabbinic Judaism which we have in varying forms today. Christianity as a State religion shook off its heritage when it decided to have nothing to do with anything Jewish. Thankfully there is a growing reversal of this today as many Christians are more open to understanding their Hebraic heritage and this is being restored to many. Also many Jewish people are seeking to understand more about Jesus-Yeshua and the aspects of faith which are shared.

We mentioned earlier that the New Testament refers to the Hebrew Scriptures many times and can only truly be understood within that context. For Christians it is worth pointing out that Jesus-Yeshua referred many times to the Hebrew Scriptures and this was, for him, his Bible. It is still considered by Jewish people today as divided into three sections and referred to as the Tanakh, being T for Torah (the first five books or Pentateuch), N for Nevi’im (the prophets) and Kh for Ketuvim (the writings). Jesus-Yeshua referred to these in his teachings particularly mentioning the Torah or Law, the Prophets and Psalms.

How the New Testament writers viewed the Hebrew Scriptures.

Jesus-Yeshua and the apostles viewed the Hebrew Scriptures as both authoritative and inspired. As the New Testament writings were not circulated widely until some years after the death of Jesus-Yeshua this was the only Bible they had to refer to. Jesus-Yeshua was invited to read the Haftarah (a portion from the Prophets) in the synagogue at Nazareth and then he taught. Here are some of the verses where Jesus-Yeshua refers to the Hebrew Scriptures:

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law [Torah] or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law [Torah] until all is accomplished"’. Matthew 5:17-18

But Jesus answered them [Sadducees], "You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God"’. Matthew 22:29

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me’. John 5:39

Jesus-Yeshua upheld the Shema when asked which is the most important commandment. He said ‘"The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."’ Mark 12:29-31

Jesus-Yeshua and the whole New Testament not only point back to the Hebrew Scriptures, our shared heritage but also show how many prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures were fulfilled as well as those remaining to be fulfilled.

The loss of this Hebraic heritage within Christianity has had dire implications such as antisemitism and a failure to understand the role of Israel and the Jewish people in the ultimate plan of salvation for this world. Jewish people too have lost some Hebraic heritage in their synagogues with the loss of many Messianic passages from the prophets being omitted from the Haftarah readings in synagogue probably as a means to distance themselves from Christianity.

We, as a ministry, exist to help discover and understand the Hebraic Heritage contained in the Hebrew Scriptures. We dig into the Hebrew and also seek to understand it within the cultural context in which it was written. Our aim is to help develop a deep appreciation for our shared Hebraic Heritage. Some Jewish people may also have little understanding of their own Scriptures and also feel that they are not relevant for life today.

These Scriptures contain the very words of our Creator God and Jesus-Yeshua quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3 ‘…. man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.’ See Matthew 4:3-4.

Two Contentious Issues!

The contentious issue for Jewish people is whether Jesus is indeed the promised Messiah. The contentious issue for Christians is whether Israel and the Jewish people still have a role to play in the plan of salvation.

The ultimate goal of both is surely to have a close relationship with the Almighty, the Creator, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Israel. He is described as the God of these Hebrews because of the close relationship each of them had with Him and which is still possible today through the Hebraic path of salvation laid out in the Bible. Come and explore with us the Hebraic Heritage of our faith.

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