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The Bible Project

A Religion and Spirituality podcast featuring Tim Mackie and Jonathan Collins
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The creators of The Bible Project have in-depth conversations about biblical theology. A companion podcast to The Bible Project videos found at


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The Significance of 7 - 7th Day Rest E2
QUOTE“Genesis 1 isn’t just telling you about what type of world you’re living in; it’s showing you, as a Israelite reader, that your life of worship rhythms are woven into the fabric of the universe.”KEY TAKEAWAYSThe idea of resting and the number seven are intimately connected in the Bible.In Genesis 1, the word or number "seven" has two key symbolic meanings: seven represents a full and complete world, and getting to seven is a linear journey from one to seven.The rhythm of practicing sabbath or resting every seventh day is one way that humans can imitate God and act like they are participating in the new creation.SHOW NOTESWelcome to our second episode tracing the theme of seventh-day rest in the Bible!In part 1 (0-18:30), Tim shares some of the numeric symbolism in Genesis 1. The opening line of Genesis 1 has seven words, and the central word, untranslated in English, is two Hebrew letters, the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet: aleph and taw.When one isolates the theme of time in Genesis 1, another design pattern emerges that provides a foundation for all of Israel’s rituals of sacred time.Tim points out that there are many other ways the number seven is symbolic in the Genesis narrative: there are seven words in Genesis 1:1, and fourteen words in Genesis 1:2. There are seven paragraphs in Genesis 1:1-2:3 marked by “evening and morning.” The concluding seventh paragraph in Genesis 2:1-3 begins three lines which have seven words each (Gen 2:2-3a).In part 2 (18:30-28:30), Tim points out similar observations.Each of the key words in Genesis 1:1 are repeated by multiples of seven in Genesis 1:2-2:3.“God” = 35x (7 x 5)“land” = 21x (7 x 3)“skies” = 21x (7 x 3)Key words repeated seven times:“light” and “day” on day 2“light” on day 4“living creature” (חיה) on days 5-6“God saw that it was good”God speaks 10 times in Genesis 1:1-2:3. Seven times are divine creative commands to the creation itself: “let there be….” Three times are divine initiatives toward humanity: “let us make ‘adam…,” “be fruitful and multiply,” and “behold I have given to you….”Tim cites scholar Umberto Cassuto:“To suppose that all these appearances of the number seven are mere coincidence is not possible. This numerical symmetry is, as it were, the golden thread that binds together all the part of the section.” (Umberto Cassuto, From Adam to Noah: A Commentary on the Book of Genesis)Tim says all of this numerical symbolism is completely intentional. The authors want us to learn that seven represents both a whole completed creation and a journey to that completeness.In part 3 (28:30-41:00), Jon asks why the number seven became so symbolic in ancient Hebrew culture. Tim says the origins of the number seven being associated with completeness is likely tied to the lunar calendar of moon cycles. The biblical Hebrew word for “month” is “moon” (חדש). Each month consisted of 29.5 days, and each month consisted of four 7.3-day cycles, making a “complete” cycle of time. However, the sabbath cycle is independent of the moon cycle, and sabbaths do not coincide with the new moon. It is patterned after creation, and stands outside of any natural cycle of time.Tim then makes an important note on Hebrew word play. Seven was symbolic in ancient near eastern and Israelite culture and literature. It communicated a sense of “fullness” or “completeness” (שבע “seven” is spelled with the same consonants as the word שבע “complete/full”). This makes sense of the pervasive appearance of “seven” patterns in the Bible. For more information on this, Tim cites Maurice H. Farbridge’s book, Studies in Biblical and Semitic Symbolism, 134-37.In part 4 (41:00-52:30), Jon asks what it means for God to rest?In response, Tim says there are two separate but related Hebrew concepts and words for rest.The Hebrew word shabat means “to cease from.” God ceases from his work because “it is finished” (Gen 2:1). Compare with Joshua 5:12, “The manna ceased (shabat) on that day….”The Hebrew word nuakh means “to take up residence.” Compare with Exodus 10:14, “The locusts came up over the land of Egypt and rested (nuakh) in all the land.” When God or people nuakh, it always involves settling into a place that is safe, secure, and stable. 2 Samuel 7:1 says, “Now when King David dwelt in his house, for Yahweh had provided rest from his enemies….”The drama of the story, Tim notes, is the question as to whether humans and God will nuakh together? All of this sets a foundation for later biblical stories of Israel entering in the Promised Land, a land of rest.In part 5 (52:30-end), Tim asks what it means that God blessed the seventh day?Tim cites scholar Mathilde Frey:“Set apart from all other days, the blessing of the seventh day establishes the seventh part of created time as a day when God grants his presence in the created world. It is then his presence that provides the blessing and the sanctification. The seventh day is blessed and established as the part of time that assures fruitfulness, future-orientation, continuity, and permanence for every aspect of life within the dimension of time. The seventh day is blessed by God’s presence for the sake of the created world, for all nature, and for all living beings.” (Mathilde Frey, The Sabbath in the Pentateuch, 45)Tim says in Genesis 1, the symbolism of seven is a view that the “seventh day” is the culmination of all history. Tim cites scholar Samuel H. Balentine.“Unlike the previous days, the seventh day is simply announced. There is no mention of evening or morning, no mention of a beginning or ending. The suggestion is that the primordial seventh day exists in perpetuity, a sacred day that cannot be abrogated by the limitations common to the rest of the created order.” (Samuel H. Balentine, The Torah’s Vision of Worship, 93)Tim also cites scholar Robert Lowry: “The seventh-day account does not end with the expected formula, “there was evening and morning,” that concluded days one through six. Breaking the pattern in this way emphasizes the uniqueness of the seventh day and opens the door to an eschatological interpretation. Literarily, the sun has not yet set on God’s Sabbath.” (Richard H. Lowery, Sabbath and Jubilee, 90)Show Music:Defender Instrumental by TentsOptimistic by Lo Fi Type BeatKame House by Lofi Hip Hop InstrumentalIt’s Ok to Not Be Ok by Highkey BeatsHometown by nymano x PandressResources:Maurice H. Farbridge, Studies in Biblical and Semitic SymbolismUmberto Cassuto, From Adam to Noah: A Commentary on the Book of GenesisMathilde Frey, The Sabbath in the PentateuchSamuel H. Balentine, The Torah’s Vision of WorshipRichard H. Lowery, Sabbath and JubileeShow Produced By:Dan GummelPowered and distributed by Simplecast.
The Restless Craving for Rest - 7th Day Rest E1
SHOW DESCRIPTIONThe sabbath. Talking about it can be complicated and confusing, yet the biblical authors wrote about it a lot. So what’s it all about? The sabbath is more than an antiquated law. It’s about the design of time and the human quest for rest. The sabbath and seventh-day rest is one of the key themes that starts on page one of the Bible and weaves beautifully all the way through to the end.FAVORITE QUOTE“The seventh day is like a multifaceted gem. One of the main facets is the fabric of creation as leading toward a great goal where humans imitate God and join him in ceasing from work and labor. But there’s going to be another facet that’s all about being a slave to our labor. And so the seventh day is a time to celebrate our liberation from slavery so that we can rest with God.”KEY TAKEAWAYSThe theme of the sabbath or seventh-day rest is a key theme in the Bible that starts on page one and goes all the way through to the end.The word sabbath comes from the Hebrew word shabot, which means most simply “to stop” or “to cease from.”Keeping/observing/remembering the sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments. It sticks out as being a uniquely Jewish practice at the time in history when the commandments were given.SHOW NOTESWelcome to the first episode in our series on understanding seventh-day rest in the Bible!In part 1 (0-6:35), Tim outlines the theme in general. He says the seventh-day rest is actually a huge theme in the Bible, even more prominent in the Scriptures than other TBP videos. Tim calls it an “organizing main theme in the Bible.”In part 2 (6:35-23:45), Tim recounts a story from when he and Jon visited Jerusalem. They were both able to share a Sabbath meal with practicing Jews in Jerusalem. Tim shares that the Sabbath tradition is one of the longest running traditions in any culture in the world. Even the word shabat’s most basic meaning is “to stop.”In part 3 (23:45-33:00), Tim says this series isn’t really going to be about the practice of sabbath but about the theme and symbolism of sabbath and seventh-day rest in the Bible. This theme is rich and complex, woven from start to finish in the Scriptures. The practice of the Sabbath itself is only one piece of the underlying message the authors are trying to communicate.In part 4 (33:00-45:30), Tim and Jon discuss “keeping, observing, or remembering” the sabbath in the Ten Commandments. This command sticks out as a unique Jewish practice. The Jews are told to keep the sabbath for two different reasons according to two different passages:Exodus 20:8-11Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested (Heb. shabat) on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.Deuteronomy 5:12-15Keep the sabbath day to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any of your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you, so that your male servant and your female servant may rest (Heb. nuakh) as well as you. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day.Tim notes that in the first passage, Jews are told to keep the sabbath because it is an act of participation in God’s presence and rule over creation. But in the second passage, keeping the sabbath is an act of implementing God’s presence and rule by the liberation from slavery. Tim says these two ways of viewing the practice of the sabbath are two of the core ways to think about the seventh-day rest theme in the bible.In part 5 (45:30-end), Tim cites scholar Matitiahu Tsevat about the biblical phrase “it is a sabbath of Yahweh” (שבת ליהוה), literally, “a sabbath that belongs to Yahweh.”“This phrase is so important, it’s easy to miss its centrality... Just as in the 7th year of release man desists from utilizing the land for his own business and benefit, so on the sabbath day he desists from using that day for his own affairs. And just äs the intervals in regard to the release year and the jubilee years are determined by the number seven, so too is the number seven determinative for that recurring day when man refrains from his own pursuits and sets it aside for God. In regular succession he breaks the natural flow of time, proclaiming, and that the break is made for the sake of the Lord. This meaning which we have ascertained from the laws finds support Isaiah 58: “If you restrain your foot on the sabbath so äs not to pursue your own affairs on My holy day…” Man normally is master of his time. He is free to dispose of it as he sees fit or as necessity bids him. The Israelite is duty-bound, however, once every seven days to assert by word and deed that God is the master of time. … one day out of seven the Israelite is to renounce dominion over his own time and recognize God's dominion over it. Simply: Every seventh day the Israelite renounces his autonomy and affirms God's dominion over him in the conclusion that every seventh day the Israelite is to renounce dominion over time, thereby renounce autonomy, and recognize God's dominion over time and thus over himself. Keeping the sabbath is acceptance of the kingdom and sovereignty of God.” (Matitiahu Tsevat, The Basic Meaning of the Biblical Sabbath, 453-455.)Tim says the structure of the sabbath is meant to be inconvenient. God is the master of all time, and he holds all the time that we think actually belongs to us.Show Music:Defender Instrumental by TentsRoyalty Free Middle Eastern MusicShabot Songs:Psalm 121 (Lai Lai Lai) by Joshua AaronL'maancha by Eitan KatzResources: Tsevat, The Basic Meaning of the Biblical SabbathShow Produced by:Dan GummelPowered and distributed by Simplecast
Can I Get a Witness?
The word witness is a key word in the bible, and the theme of “witnessing” is a key theme in the bible that can be used to understand the whole story of the bible.Key TakeawaysThe word witness is a key word in the bible, and the theme of “witnessing” is a key theme in the bible that can be used to understand the whole story of the bible.The greek word μάρτυς (mártus) is used in the New Testament as the word for “witness” it is also the root word for ”martyr:”The word witness is used in a variety of different ways throughout the Bible. For example, God is described as being a witness. Israel is called to be a witness to the nations and Jesus says he is a witness about himself.Favorite Quotes“It’s weird how simple and how big of a responsibility being a witness is. God wants a group of witnesses who experience him and then talk about it.”Show NotesIn part 1, (0-7:45) Tim and Jon introduce the topic and also introduce Carissa Quinn a biblical scholar on staff with the bible project. Carisa is responsible for researching and writing the script for the upcoming video on witness. The group talks about the popular usages of the word witness. Jon toes that in a Christian context, “witness” is often meant to be an activity that someone will do to try and logically convince or debate somebody (a non believer) about Jesus and the truth of the bible.The group also notes that oftentimes ‘witness’ is best understood in a modern legal context.In part 2, (7:45-16:50) Carissa says the word witness occurs over 400 hundred times in the bible in a variety of forms. In hebrew the word ‘witness’ is basically (1) someone who sees something amazing or important--in Hebrew, this person is an עֵד (eid) and in Greek, a μάρτυς (mártus). And (2) if this person begins to share what they’ve seen, we call this ‘bearing witness’: in Hebrew עוּד (uwd) and in Greek μαρτυρέω (marturéo).Carissa shares the story of Ruth in Ruth 4:9, when Boaz buys land from Naomi’s family, he calls together witnesses to see the transaction, so that if there’s a later dispute about the land, they can bear witness about what they saw. Tim notes that this passage is somewhat related to Deut 25:9 a law about sandals and witnessing being used as a form of legal documentation.The group briefly discusses the role of a public notary in modern culture. They act as official witnesses to legal signings.In part 3, (16:50-24:50) Carissa goes to Psalm 27 and the theme of “false witnesses”. Carissa notes that God is referred to as a witness throughout the bible. For example in Genesis 31:49 ... “May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent one from the other. 50 If you mistreat my daughters, or if you take wives besides my daughters, although no man is with us, see, God is witness between you and me.”In the New Testament God the Father is said to bear witness to the identity of Jesus. Jesus also says he bears witness to himself in John 8:17-18 “In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. 18 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.”Carissa then notes that many times Paul uses a phrase like “God is my witness” for example in Romans 1:9 “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.”In part 4 (24:50-42:45)Carissa continues the conversation by bringing up the fact that an object can be a witness in the bible. For example in Joshua 24: 27 And Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord that he spoke to us. Therefore it shall be a witness against you, lest you deal falsely with your God.”Carissa then notes that the word “witness” in the bible can be used to trace the whole story of the bible. Tim says that the word “witness” is an interesting way to think about the image of god. People are created in God’s image to “witness” god and his creation to the rest of the world.Carissa says that israel is called to be a witness to the other nations in Exodus 19:4-6 “ ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”Carissa says that later in the bible the torah is referred to as a “witness” and is often called “the laws of the testimony”. Meaning the laws are testifying or witnessing the relationship between god and israel. Additionally, Moses writes a song in Deuteronomy 32 to bear witness to Israel about God.Carissa points out that in John 5, Jesus says the Torah points to him in John 5:39 “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.”In part 5 (42:45-49:20)Carissa notes the theme of the word witness in the prophets. For example 2 Chronicles 24:19 "Yet he sent prophets among them to bring them back to the Lord. These testified (witnessed) against them, but they would not pay attention.Carissa notes that to testify against or to witness against was one of the primary roles of prophets in the Old Testament. They were warning/ witnessing to Israel about what would happen to them if they didn’t follow god.Carissa also notes that Isiah 43:10-12 is a crucial passage to understand the role that the whole nation of Israel was to have in acting as God's witnesses.Isaiah 42:10 ““You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen,that you may know and believe meand understand that I am he.Before me no god was formed,nor shall there be any after me.11I, I am the Lord,and besides me there is no savior.12I declared and saved and proclaimed,when there was no strange god among you;and you are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and I am God.In the last part, (49:20-end)Carissa talks about Jesus. Jesus claims to be the “chief witness” from Isaiah 61. He was sent to open the eyes of Israel who are the blind witnesses to God and his creation. Tim notes how ironic it is that Jesus is the ultimate witness bearing witness to God's kingdom that gets him killed. Carissa note that the word “μάρτυς (mártus).” is the greek word for witness which is also the root word for martyr. So Jesus was a martus, and a martyr by staking his life on what he believes in.In Acts followers of Jesus are called to be “witnesses”. But often times in the New Testament being a witness is directly connected to verifying or believing in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.Jon notes that witness in modern context is usually more about debating ore rationalizing Jesus and Christianity to a secular world. Carissa notes that to “bear witness” is a sign of someone's character. Jon then notes that thinking about being a witness in life is actually a really important calling or job. A witness has an important role to play and “bearing witness” is what we are called to do as christians. Not to debate or convince people about the truth of Jesus but to share are own powerful moments of God in our lives.Show Resources:Walter Kaiser, Mission in the Old Testament: Israel as a Light to the NationsShow MusicCan I Get a Witness: The Rolling Stones. Non Profit, Educational Fair Use. Creative CommonsFills the Skies: Josh WhiteBlue Skies: Unwritten StoriesAnalogs: MobyThe Truth About Flight Love and BB Guns: Beautiful EulogyShow Produced by:Dan GummelPowered and distributed by Simplecast.


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Oct 19th, 2015
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Oct 21st, 2019
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