Commandment - OR - Instruction

Deuteronomy 6.1

And this is the instruction
for the rules 
and the regulations 
which YAHWEH,
your Elohim, 
has given directions
to teach
you yourselves
  ta 
to do in the land 
to which
you yourselves  ta 
are passing over to occupy it.
                                 (S4S Version)

Which of these would you choose as the primary operating principle for your lifea command, or an instruction? Be careful not to answer this too quickly or too casually. Without factoring in one's religious training, somethings that's difficult for many to avoid, most people will choose instruction over commandment. The reason is quite simple.

Following an "instruction" is your choice. It optional.
Following a "commandment" is obligatory. It's required.

Few people like being required to do something. Most prefer to choose for themselves what they will or won't do. There are always exceptions, of course. The context of one's life accounts for much of this. At "work" you're far more likely to accept a "commandment”. At "home" (not at work) you're more likely to object to a "commandment”. 
Most people in America today have an awareness of "The Ten Commandments”. We're in the midst of great controversy and turmoil over the public display of these words on government buildings and monuments, and even on privately owned properties. I decided to write this article at this moment in our history precisely because it's become apparent that there are very few who actually have a proper understanding of what Scripture really teaches. Many have been very subtly deceived!

I know this first hand because I was deceived myself. I understand extremely well what you've been taught!  I was taught the very same things. I was indoctrinated with the very same traditions that you've been taught. I'm even guilty of having taught some of them to others. Unfortunately a number of our traditions do not agree with what Scripture actually says. You don't have to believe me. In fact, I hope you'll do your own homework on this to prove or disprove it for yourself. It's the only way you'll really understand what's true.

The concept of "The Ten Commandments” has been drilled into the consciousness of churchgoers for centuries. It's so deeply engrained that what I'm about to explain to you will at first seem to sound like "heresy" (false teaching). 
It is not! 
But you need to discover this for yourself. My only aim is to help you do that. I want you to understand The Truth of Scripture. I'd like to help you recognize the lies of many of our traditions. 

I'm not asking you to believe me. I'm inviting you to reconsider - carefully and prayerfully - The Word of YAHWEH (God). 
The following statement is crucially important: 
YAHWEH, The God of Scripture, does not issue "commandments" to His people! He provides "instructions"!

Read this again, and again…and again if necessary. Think about what it says. At first it sounds contrary to what we've been taught. Yet it's relatively easy to recognize this as you examine Scripture more carefully.

I realize that when you first read this you're not likely to believe it. My first exposure to this concept was somewhat shocking. 
But as I reflected on this idea and searched The Scriptures like the Bereans of Paul's day I discovered just how correct this really is. 
What follows is an effort to help you understand this more clearly. If you'll take the time to study this it will become abundantly clear.

Begin by considering this: 
     Belief cannot be commanded! 
     Faith cannot be commanded! 
     Trust cannot be commanded!

Do you doubt these statements? 
Do you know of any way in which these can be commanded? 

Each of us must decide for ourselves what we will believe in, what we will put our faith in, or what we will trust. No one can do that for you. No one can "order" you to do so - and have it mean anything in the end. Being created with the gift of free will is a principle that's found on virtually every page of Scripture. Personal choice is the key focus of every story contained in Scripture. And these three words, each directly related to our choices, are virtually identical in meaning. They're so intertwined that they cannot be separated.

Without belief you cannot have faith. 
Without faith you do not have trust. 
Without trust you do not have belief.

Furthermore, without careful thinking and a serious examination of your “beliefs” they’re really not even your beliefs.

It's very easy to accept something as valid that's been taught to you by family, friends, role models, and peers, especially when its repeated over and over again over a long period of time. It's been said that if you repeat a lie often enough almost everyone will accept it as true. This happens because we don't take the time to think carefully or seriously about what's presented to us in our daily routines. It's "commonplace", "everyone knows that”, “it was good enough for my parents so it's good enough for me", etc. 

But - is it TRUE? Really true? 
How do you know it's true if you've never bothered to examine it carefully?

It's far, far easier to simply accept "hearsay" evidence. It's much more difficult to take the time and effort required to search out the facts and discover The Truth for yourself. Yet the latter is far more important for us.

The phrase, "The Ten Commandments”, is standard fare for Christians, Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, Christian Scientists, etc., etc. But are you aware that this is not standard fare for Jews, Hebrews, Israelites (properly, Yisra'elites)? They do not use this terminology, generally speaking. When they refer to these teachings within their own Scriptures and within their own culture they refer to them according to what the Hebrew text itself calls them, 
            - THE TEN WORDS! - 
That's right, "The Ten Words”! This is the literal meaning of the Hebrew text. 
There was no "commandment" given at Mount Sinai. 
Not one! 
There are none in the Hebrew text.
There were "Ten Words" of instruction

This is the true Hebraic perspective. (See Deut. 6.1 at the top left corner of this page.)

The instruction is profound. 
It's even understood as being emphatic. 
But it does not take the form of a command.

You can verify this for yourself by examining the Hebrew text. But you need to examine the Hebrew text itself, not the Greek or the English versions of the text to see this. That takes some effort, but it is certainly do-able - for anyone. Perhaps you can contact a local rabbi or Hebrew scholar and ask them to help you with this.

Here's what you need to very seriously consider. 
Commandments are all about
control. 
Words, instructions, are all about choice.

YAHWEH does not control you! 
YAHWEH does not want to control you. 
He created you with free will - the ability to choose. 
If He wanted to control you He would have made you without the freedom to choose. It's that simple!

YAHWEH desires to have us choose to trust in Him. 
He wants us to do what He desires willingly
Without this freedom to chose 
- there is no trust! 
- there is no faith! 
- there is no belief!

If these things do not exist every concept of Scripture is meaningless

The Source of the Problem is Tradition.

Tradition does not always teach you the truth. 
The Word of YAHWEH always teaches you The Truth. 
But in order to discover it's Truth you need to study The Word of YAHWEH earnestly, 
with all your heart, 
with all your mind, 
and with all your ability! 
It's the only way you'll come to know what The Truth really is.

The Messiah, YAHUSHUA (His name is not "Jesus”.) had the following comments to make, among many others, 
during His earthly ministry: 

Indeed, abandoning the instruction  (torahof YAHWEH
you are holding fast to the tradition of human beings
the washing of pitchers and cups and many other similar things of this sort you do.”

He said to them, 
“Very effectively you set aside the instruction of
YAHWEH 
in order that you may protect your tradition. 
           
Mark 7:8-9

Tradition was a problem for Him, the promised Messiah of Yisra’el, The Son of The Living God, over 2000 years ago! 
That problem has not disappeared. It's time we re-examined every tradition we've been taught. 
We need to re-discover The Truth - before it's too late.

The Meaning of Torah

It'll be helpful here to consider the Hebrew meaning of "torah”. 
Traditionally it's been referred to as "The Torah", "The Law", or "The Law of Moses”. 
Traditional teaching has taught that torah means "law”. 
But when you research the word you discover it actually means
instruction.

In order to better understand this it's necessary to look at the meanings of the Hebrew terms used. Then it's important to try to comprehend what they meant to the Hebrew people - not to us. It's only within that context that these words have their proper meaning.

Included below are the Hebrew terms from Strong's Concordance, with his definitions, and with the "translation" of the terms as presented in The King James version of the bible. It's very important to realize that everything after the (—) is  a word used to "translate" the Hebrew term. It is not part of the definition, but instead is only a reflection of how it was actually used in the KJV Bible. In other words, this is how the translators "interpreted the meaning" of the Hebrew term or how they chose to use the term even if it did not particularly agree with the original Hebrew meaning.

Many times one's own personal or institutional religious bias affected how one understood a word and therefore how one interpreted the meaning of the term. Please remember to consider also that James Strong was a human being. He was not YAHWEH. Therefore even his definitions are subject to potential error. While his work helps us to understand the Hebrew meanings it does not mean that the definitions are in total agreement with the Hebrew thought that existed at the time these works were originally written. This is a very important consideration.

When considering the meaning of torah it's essential to look at both the word itself and the root word from which it was derived. 
Otherwise the proper meaning will likely be misunderstood. 
Here is the Hebrew word itself, and its root word:

8451. h∂rwø;t towrah, to-raw´; or h∂r;Ot torah, to-raw´; from 3384; a precept or statute, especially the Decalogue or Pentateuch:
—law. 

3384. h∂rÎy yarah, yaw-raw´; or (2 Chr. 26:15) a∂rÎy yara, yaw-raw´; a primitive root; properly, to flow as water (i.e. to rain); transitively, to lay or throw (especially an arrow, i.e. to shoot); figuratively, to point out (as if by aiming the finger), to teach
—(+) archer, cast, direct, inform, instruct, lay, shew, shoot, teach(-er,-ing), through.

You'll notice that torah means a precept or a statute. A precept is a principle or guideline. A statute is something written, 
in ancient times considered to be a decree or law made by a sovereign. 
The Western mind tends to put everything into Western concepts. We're so arrogant that we always want to have things conform to our way of thinking, even if it does not. We force our views onto terms to "satisfy ourselves". Because the word "statute" is found in this definition it has automatically been interpreted as meaning a "law”. That became a source for much traditional teaching. However, this ignores the role of this term as a precept, a principle or guideline, instead of a fixed and immovable "law".

Our Western thinking is a potential problem in trying to teach or learn Hebraic principles. It's had a very significant influence on our understanding of many Hebrew terms in Scripture. As a result we've often been mis-taught. We've been left with an imprecise understanding of what the original Scriptures were intended to convey.

When you look carefully at the meaning of the Hebrew terms you notice that torah actually means to teach. It does not simply mean "law”.
The root word means to flow like water; to point in a direction, as in shooting an arrow. The concept of "to flow as water”, for the Hebrew mind, did not mean simply "to flow”. It meant to follow an established course, a course guided through the channel in which the water flows. To go out of that course was to "miss the mark” (a Scriptural concept of "sin”), which can also be applied to shooting the arrow at a target and missing it.

The root term in Hebrew generally gives the foundational principle for words that are based on it. It helps to inform the reader what the intent is for that term. Sometimes it's difficult for the Western mind to grasp these connections, but that's because we have no real comprehension or appreciation of Hebrew thought and culture.

What is "The Torah"?

The next issue to address is the meaning of the phrase "The Torah".

What you believe this means is probably affected by who you are and how you've been raised. 
If you're Hebrew it traditionally means "The Five Books of Moshe" (Moses). 
These include
GenesisExodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

If you're not a Hebrew you probably believe "The Torah” is "The Law" given at Mount Sinai to the children of Yisra'el (Israel). These are the two most commonly accepted meanings of "The Torah”. They are both partially correct. But they are also both partially incorrect.

Since torah means teaching both concepts are correct. The Five Books of Moshe are among the most profound teachings on planet earth. However, they include far more than "The Law”, or "The Ten Commandments", of Sinai. They include a type of synoptic history from the creation to the point of entry into the land of promise.

Likewise, what was given at Sinai was far more than "The Ten Words”. The Ten Words include only the words that were directly spoken by YAHWEH to the children of Yisra’el. They literally heard these "Ten Words”. Yet there's a lot more that was given to Moshe that was not directly spoken out loud to the children of Yisra’el. This is generally not well understood in traditional teachings.

These words are indeed torah. They are Divine Instruction in one of its most pure forms. 
Also worth noting also is that instruction is found in all five of the books that are commonly called "The Torah".

Likewise, instruction is found in every verse of Scripture, including both The Old Covenant and The New Covenant
Therefore - all of Scripture is, properly, torah
Only with this view of Scripture can we begin to appreciate what YAHWEH has given to us. It is all instruction. There is no portion of it that is not instruction. This further helps us to perceive that Scripture is not about "commands and commandments”. It's about instruction. 

What Does YAHWEH Want From His People?

This is a primary question one needs to answer before you can properly understand His Word. 
The answer is relatively simple: 
            He wants His people to do what He teaches them to do!

If you are not doing what He desires you to do you're in a state of rebellion against His desire!

In the story of Adam and Eve, the fundamental nature of “sin” is rebellion against The Word of YAHWEH.
Adam and Eve were given a
choice
They were granted the freedom to decide for themselves whether they would do what
YAHWEH instructed them to do or not.
They, alone, could decide. 
Would they follow Him? Or would they follow their own desires? It was, and is, the ultimate
test of Scripture.

You are given this same choice. 
There's no
command
There's no
ultimatum. 
There's no demand. 
There is only instruction - followed by your choice!

We need to consider that there are consequences based on our choices. The consequences within Scripture are laid out ahead of time. This is done in order that we can make our choice with a fundamental knowledge of what the results will be for our actions.

Adam and Eve were told ahead of time that if they ate of the tree of knowledge of good and bad they would "die”. This did not mean "instantaneous death”. The word used there literally means "to die, or to be put to death”.  To grasp a little more clearly what this means we need to reconsider what death is.

Death is a "separation”. It separates you from your previous circumstances.

This, too, is different than what we've been taught by traditionThere are many different ideas that have been presented over the ages concerning "death”. This is not typically one of them. Yet when you look carefully at Scripture this becomes the clear distinction concerning "death”. It's separation from….YAHWEH, your family, friends, Heaven, etc. Every aspect involves a separation from someone or something.

Adam and Eve were separated from their former relationship with YAHWEH the moment they "offended” Him by acting against His Word. Their circumstances changed. They were separated from the garden. They were separated from "not having to work”. They were separated from what was only “good” to something that now included "bad" things. Ultimately it meant their physical death as well. But that would come later.

All of this was the consequence of their rebellion against The Word of YAHWEH. 
They failed to follow His
instructions
This is the most important aspect of the story. 
Rebellion, offending
YAHWEH, results in "death”! 
The penalty for "sin" in Scripture is "death”. 
All of Scripture testifies to this reality.

Allow me to rephrase a Scriptural concept for you. The traditional concept is that YAHWEH cannot tolerate "sin”. In light of what's stated here we might more properly say, "YAHWEH cannot (or will not) tolerate rebellion.” He will not permit it in His presence. 
It's the one thing that will always bring about one's "death”! Why? Because it's a violation of His will, His desire. Your choice to refuse to do what He desires means you are rejecting His Word. That means you are rejecting Him as The One who is Sovereign over your life. Especially as your Sovereign, and particularly as understood in Hebrew culture, rejecting the authority of a sovereign resulted in one's death. No one dared to insult their sovereign by refusing to follow his instructions. A king or a tribal leader would likely have you executed on the spot.

Now, back to the issue of "The Ten Commandments”. Many have believed that by doing "The Ten Commandments” they would get into Heaven. They're wrong! You cannot get into Heaven by doing The Ten Commandments”! It will not work because there is no human being who is able to do them perfectly without ever making a mistake. 

A key principle of Scripture is that if you violate even one small part of "The Law” you are guilty of breaking "all of it”. 
Why is this the result? Because each portion of The Ten Words is part of a covenant with YAHWEH
A covenant is a contract, an agreement. 
It cannot be commanded! Otherwise, it's not a contract that's mutually agreed upon by both parties. One side is forced to comply. Any such "contract" is fraudulent.

Every legitimate covenant is entered into voluntarily, willingly. Each party to the covenant agrees to its terms. If one violates even one of the terms the entire contract becomes void. This is the basis of failing to do according to even one of The Ten Words. (Actually, this instruction applies to the entire "Torah" - The Five Books of Moshe. Do you see a problem here with our traditional teachings on these things?)

In daily life legal action becomes a means of recourse. 
In Scripture there's a similar but slightly different result. 
The Covenant at Sinai, is no less a contract than any other contract. 
It was an agreement, mutually entered into by the children of Yisra’el and
YAHWEH Himself. 
From this perspective it carries far more significance than any other contract. 
The children of Yisra'el
promised to do what YAHWEH desired them to do. 
He promised in return to be The Elohim (God) to them, and to bring them to The Land of The Promise.

Within the teachings of Scripture there are many covenants. Most of them were established by a process of sacrificing animals, 
dividing them in two parts, and then walking between them. We're told that this represented to the parties involved that if they violated the terms of the covenant the non-violating party is entitled to do to the violating party what has been done to these animals - divide them in two. In other words, violating the covenant resulted in one's death.

A covenant was a very serious matter. 
A covenant with
YAHWEH is even more serious.

Since you cannot "command" a covenant there must be a different understanding of the terms normally translated as "command" or "commandment”. There are proper uses for these terms. But they do not fit within the context of a covenant relationship! 
And since our relationship with YAHWEH is ONLY based on a covenant relationship they actually have no place in our relationship with Him!

Consider this very carefully. The logical conclusions are self-evident. You're either under "orders" to do something or you are not under "orders" to do them. A command or commandment is an order. There are no options. It is to be acted upon.

To accept YAHWEH's instruction and to do it because you truly want to please Him results in a multitude of blessings 
- including ultimately eternal life. To reject His instructions and to "do your own thing”, as Adam and Eve did results in “death” 
 - separation from
YAHWEHIt also results in "curses”, negative consequences in multiple aspects of your life.

It's your choice! 
The blessing - or the curse. 
It's part of The Covenant. 
It's based on your choice!


The Meaning of "commandment" in Scripture.

There are four primary Hebrew terms and two Greek terms that form the basis for the teaching of the concept of command or commandment. There are some other terms that are also used for these words but they are relatively insignificant.

Listed below are the key terms with their actual definitions and with the ways in which they've been "translated" in the KJV Bible. Please look very carefully at each word, each meaning, each usage in the KJV Bible. Keep in mind that everything after the (—) is a form of usage in the KJV Bible. It is not part of the definition.

I've underlined the places where command (-ment) shows up. You'll notice that all but one of them are in the "translated as" portion of these notes. Only the Hebrew term, mitsvah, has it in the definition itself. And even then there is the need to connect it to its root term, tsavah. Since so much depends on our understanding of these terms here are the English definitions of the two key words used in the definition of tsavah
enjoin - verb; 
- instruct or urge (someone) to do something 
- prescribe (an action or attitude) to be performed or adopted 
constitute - verb 
- be part of a whole 
- be equivalent to something 
- give legal or constitutional form; establish by law. 
Origin - late Middle English: from Latin
constitut- ‘established, appointed’
-from the verb constituere, from con- ‘together’ + statuere ‘set up.’

HEBREW TERMS:

6680. hDwDx tsavah, tsaw-vaw´; a primitive root; (intensively) to constitute, enjoin
—appoint, (for-)bid, (give a) charge, (give a, give in, send with)
command(-er, -ment), send a messenger, put, (set) in order.

4687. hDwVxIm mitsvah, mits-vaw´; from 6680; a command, whether human or divine (collectively, the Law): 
—(which was) commanded(-ment), law, ordinance, precept.

6310. hÚRp peh, peh; from 6284; the mouth (as the means of blowing), whether literal or figurative (particularly speech); specifically edge, portion or side; adverbially (with preposition) according to:

—accord(-ing as, -ing to), after, appointment, assent, collar, command(-ment), x eat, edge, end, entry, + file, hole, x in, mind, mouth, part, portion, x (should) say(-ing), sentence, skirt, sound, speech, x spoken, talk, tenor, x to, + two-edged, wish, word.

            6284. hDaÚDp pa}ah, paw-aw´; a primitive root; to puff, i.e. blow away
            —scatter into corners

1696. rAb;∂d dabar, daw-bar´; a primitive root; perhaps properly, to arrange; but used figuratively (of words), to speak; rarely (in a destructive sense) to subdue:
—answer, appoint, bid, command, commune, declare, destroy, give, name, promise, pronounce, rehearse, say, speak, be spokesman, subdue, talk, teach, tell, think, use (entreaties), utter, x well, x work.

1697. rDb;∂d dabar, daw-baw´; from 1696; a word; by implication, a matter (as spoken of) or thing; adverbially, a cause
—act, advice, affair, answer, x any such (thing), because of, book, business, care, case, cause, certain rate, + chronicles, commandment, x commune(-ication), + concern(-ing), + confer, counsel, + dearth, decree, deed, x disease, due, duty, effect, + eloquent, errand, (evil favoured-)ness, + glory, + harm, hurt, + iniquity, + judgment, language, + lying, manner, matter, message, (no) thing, oracle, x ought, x parts, + pertaining, + please, portion, + power, promise, provision, purpose, question, rate, reason, report, request, x (as hast) said, sake, saying, sentence, + sign, + so, some (uncleanness), somewhat to say, + song, speech, x spoken, talk, task, + that, x there done, thing (concerning), thought, + thus, tidings, what(-soever), + wherewith, which, word, work.

- Plus ten other words which are used only once or perhaps a few times.

GREEK TERMS:

1785. ejntolh/ entole, en-tol-ay´; from 1781; injunction, i.e. an authoritative prescription: 
commandment, precept.

2003. ejpitagh/ epitage, ep-ee-tag-ay´; from 2004; an injunction or decree; by implication, authoritativeness: — authority, commandment.

- plus 6 other words which are used only once or perhaps a few times.

Final Thoughts

Tradition has mis-taught us what Scripture teaches on "The Ten Commandments”, known to the Hebrews as "The Ten Words.” You now have enough information to recognize this.  The question is, "What will you do with it?"

Please go research this for yourself. Test it against what Scripture says. Then decide for yourself what you're going to believe. May YAHWEH grant you the wisdom to see through all the lies of this world!


NOTE These pages are a "work in progress". They're updated fairly often as new information or insights are provided that require a change in what's presented. Please check back regularly to see what may have changed since your last visit. Scripture verses used on the site are from Scripture For Seekers (see the Home Page)They're not always presented on these pages in exactly the same format as they occur in the text due to space considerations but the text is the same. Every book is now available in PDF format. Download or print your own copy today.  Or, go to www.accordancebible.com and obtain your own copy of Accordance. Then follow the instructions on the Home page to download an electronic version of Scripture for Seekers, S4S from The Accordance Exchange.
Personal use is free, but these are not to be used for any commercial purpose. Please contact the site owner if you have an interest in commercial usage.

May YAHWEH speak to your heart and bless you with understanding as you explore His Word.