Mustard Seed and Starter Dough Parables

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Jesus used the Mustard Seed and Starter Dough parables to demonstrate that the Kingdom of Heaven is a living and active presence that is increasing within the realm of human experience.

Friend In Need Simile

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Is God asleep, oblivious to our prayers? Is he a grouch, unwilling to respond to our pleas? In the Friend in Need simile Jesus instructed his disciples that the grounds for confident prayer is the character of their good and trustworthy God.

Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry

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In Yeshua’s Discourse on Worry Jesus confronted one of the most serious concerns of the disciples: how would their basic needs be met now that they had given up their possessions and livelihoods in order to itinerate full-time with Jesus?

Windows into the Bible (4): Stone Vessels

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In this video Marc Turnage discusses the significance of stoneware vessels for understanding the cultural context of the Gospels. Marc Turnage, a member of the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research, is the director of the Center for Holy Lands Studies for The General Council of the Assemblies of God in Springfield, Missouri. Learn more about Turnage and his work at his blog The Shard and the Scroll at www.theshardandthescroll.com.

On “Blood” in the Apostolic Decree (Acts 15:19-20)

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Flusser and Safrai’s premise is that “blood” in this passage does not refer to the consumption of blood but rather to murder. They conclude that the apostolic decision prohibiting eating meat sacrificed to idols, fornication, and blood is equal to the rabbinic decree that under penalty of death a Jew may violate any of the commandments of the Torah with the exception of idolatry, adultery and murder.

Mark 7:19: Did Jesus Make “Unclean” Food “Clean”?

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One should not be too quick to throw out large portions of the Torah because of a four-word parenthetical comment by Mark at the end of a long halachic discussion.

The Teaching of Balaam

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Revelation 2:12-16 is one of those occasions when it is necessary for the Christian reader to be familiar with first-century Jewish interpretation of an Old Testament account.

Seder with Family

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A visitor to Israel last night might have been puzzled by seeing the streets heavy with traffic, especially since it was already one o’clock in the morning. The reason was that last night was the first night of the annual week-long Passover festival celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt thousands of years ago, and people were returning home after taking part in a Passover Seder (the ceremonial meal on the first night of Passover).

Don’t Throw Away That Piece of Bread!

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The importance of sharing one’s bread with the poor has remained in the Jewish consciousness until today. Many people do not want to throw away bread. Instead of dumping their bread along with the rest of their garbage into the garbage carts parked along the streets, they save the bread in plastic sacks and hang it from the metal projections on the sides of the carts (used to hoist the carts into the garbage trucks). That way, the bread is potentially available to the poor.

Reading the Landscape: Neot Kedumim, the Biblical Landscape Reserve in Israel

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A lively group of children are grinding wheat kernels between two stones, in preparation for baking their own pita-bread. In a nearby grainfield, visitors are searching for tares among the wheat. Another group are tasting ripe sycamore figs and learning why it was a sycamore tree that Zacchaeus climbed in Jericho. This is Neot Kedumim, 625 acres of reconstructed biblical landscapes in Israel’s Modi’in region (2,000 years ago home to the Maccabees, today ten minutes from Ben-Gurion Airport).

“Ears of Corn”?

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The King James Version of Luke 6 speaks of the disciples plucking ears of corn, which to an American suggests yellow sweet corn rather than the grain that the King James translators had in mind.

Fish, Storms and a Boat

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Adam gave names only to animals and birds, apparently avoiding fish entirely. The names of about fifty fish are mentioned in rabbinic literature, but the Torah merely makes a general distinction between clean fish, which Jews are permitted to eat (vertebrate), and unclean (without bones). Clean fish are generally recognized by the presence of fins and scales.