IS THE BIBLE AGAINST HOMOSEXUALITY?
A scholarly response on what the Hebrew and Aramaic Bible says concerning LGBTI people.
Deuterocanonical & Pseudocanonical Books (Part 2)
“He has put down (is overthrowing) the mighty from [their] seats (thrones), and he has lifted up the meek.” (Lk. 1:52 Lamsa). Mary may be paraphrasing from the book by Yeshua, the son of Sira.
“The throne of the proud the LORD has overthrown, and He has set the meek in their place.” (The son of Sira 10:17 or Ben Sirach 10:14 NAB).
- DANIEL PROPHECY FULFILLMENT -
The books of Tobit and Judith contain history about the nation of Media. Additionally, the books of 1st and 2nd Maccabees contain history about the Greek nation and its later kingdoms. I would think this information would be in the Bible because these nations are talked about in prophecy:
“…suddenly a male goat came from the west, across the surface of the whole earth, without touching the ground; and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes. Then he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing beside the river, and ran at him with furious power. And I saw him confronting the ram; he was moved with rage against him, attacked the ram, and broke his two horns. There was no power in the ram to withstand him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled him; and there was no one that could deliver the ram from his hand. Therefore the male goat grew very great; but when he became strong, the large horn was broken, and in place of it four notable ones came up toward the four winds of heaven. And out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land” (Daniel 8:5-9 NKJV). The male goat represents Greece and the notable horn represents Alexander the Great, Greece’s first king (Dan. 8:21, 1 Macc. 6:2). Greece defeated the Media-Persia nation which is represented as the ram. Later, Alexander drank himself to death and died of a fever at the age of thirty-two, and hence the large horn of the male goat was broken. The four notable horns that came up afterwards refer to his four generals: Antiochus (1 Macc. 1:10), Ptolemy (1 Macc. 1:18), Lysimachus (2 Macc. 4:39) and Cassander. From the horn that represented Antiochus who ruled Syria came a little horn. This little horn was Antiochus IV Epiphanes (1 Macc. 1:10), who persecuted the Jews in the Glorious Land from about 171-165 B.C. He ruled from 175-164 B.C. His brother Seleucus IV Philopator (187-175 B.C.), however, came to the throne before him (2 Macc. 4:7). (Daniel 8:20-22 NKJV) confirms some of the above interpretations. Here, the goat represents both Greece and its king.: “The ram which you saw, having the two horns – they are the kings of Media and Persia. And the male goat is the kingdom (king) of Greece. The large horn that is between its eyes is the first king. As for the broken horn and the four that stood up in its place, four kingdoms shall arise out of that nation, but not with its power.” (Dan. 8:20-22 NKJV). The four kingdoms were Macedonia, Asia, Syria and Egypt.
"And in the days of King Esar-Ḥaddon, when I returned to my house and Ḥannah my wife was restored to me along with Toḅiyah my son; a good dinner was prepared for me on the day of the Festival of Weeks (Pentecost). And I reclined to eat."(Tobit 2:1 DSS). Toḅiyah (i.e. Toviyah) is the son of Tobit and is mentioned in the book of Ezra. (Ezra 2:60) says: "The descendants of Delayah, the descendants of Toviyah, [and] the descendants of Neqoda, six hundred and fifty-two." This is interesting because Ezra mentions many people who are also mentioned in other Scriptures dealing with the Aramaic environment. People such as Jeremiah the prophet, Neḥemiah, Mordecai (Ezra 1:1; 2:2), Ḥaggai, Zecaryah (Ezra 5:1) and Zerubbaḅel are all mentioned. So the book of Tobit seems to fit nicely within the Bible.
"I am Raphael, one of those seven holy angels, those who are ascending and entering before His Holy Glory" (Tobit 12:15 Syro-Hexaplaric / LXX similar). The other Aramaic reading is: “I am Raphael, one of the angels standing before God.” (Tobit 12:15 Peshitta). Raphael is one of the seven spirits before God’s throne (Rev. 1:4). The Book of Enoch*, which has some probability of being canonical or inspired also lists Raphael among the seven main angels. The Angels are Uriel, Raphael, Raguel, Michael, Saraqael, Gabriel and Remiel (see Enoch 20:1-6).
Note: Most of the original "Aramaic and Hebrew Book of Tobit" has been preserved in the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS). That text is different and older than the Peshitta text of Tobit. DSS Tobit has older grammar such as the use of the yod instead of the nun to express the future tense plus there are different synonym words to relate the same message. Peshitta Tobit, at the end of the book, says that some of its material is a translation from the Septuaginta (LXX) and some of its material is from another version, as remembered. Tobit 12:15 wasn't preserved among the DSS fragments so I quoted from the Peshitta. Peshitta Tobit basically matches the Syro-Hexaplaric text from 1:1 - 7:11. However, the second half of 7:11 to 14:15 from the Syro-Hexaplaric text was replaced with a "so-called" mixed text in the latter half of the Peshitta text of Tobit. The mixed text is presumably some of the now lost Peshitta, some from the Syro-Hexaplaric, and some from later material.
God giving the wicked over to be burned with worms eating their flesh is also spoken of in Judith and in the New Testament: “And He shall give their flesh to the fire and to worms; and they shall burn in [their] wickedness forever” (Judith 16:21 Peshitta / 16:17 NAB) [see also Isaiah 66:24; Mark 9:48].
"... and they became mighty ones in battle and they overturned the camps (or armies) of [their] enemies." (Heb. 11:34 Peshitta). It sounds like Paul had in mind what transpired in the book of (Judith 15:1-4, 6-7) here.
Textual Error Rebuttal: The Aramaic text of (Judith 1:1 & 7) reads: "... Nebuchadnezzar, the king [of the province] of Assyria ..." The Greek text reads: "Nebuchadnezzar, the king of the Assyrians." Often the word "Assyria" is translated as "Assyrians" in the LXX from the original Hebrew or Aramaic text; so the Greek translation can be explained. This isn't a historical inaccuracy as some have claimed. Nebuchadnezzar II, the King of Babylon (Babylonia), allied with the Medes, Persians and Scythians, defeated the Assyrian and Egyptian armies at Carchemish around 605 BC. Assyria then ceased to be an independent nation and was absorbed into the Babylonian Empire.
2 Maccabees 6:1-5 contains part of the fulfillment of (Daniel 12:11 NKJV): “And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days.” (See also 1 Maccabees 1:54). It was Mattathias and his friends who tore down the pagan altars and any idols (1 Macc. 2:25,45).
"And they performed the dedication of the altar eight days. And they offered sacrifices with gladness and they sacrificed sacrifices of deliverance and of praise - And Ihudah (Yudah) and his brethren and all of the congregation of Yisrael ordained that they shall be keeping the days of the renewal (dedication) of the altar in their appointed time, from year to year, eight days from the twenty-fifth day of First Canon [Chislev] ..." (1 Macc. 4:56,59). It was the Feast of Ḥanuccah (Dedication) that Yeshua celebrated at (Jn. 10:22-24). Other Festival days have Scripture backing them; so this New Testament citation alone could be an indication that 1-2 Maccabees are Scripture (see also 2 Macc. 1:9; 10:6).
“Restored to women their sons, raised people from the dead; while others died through tortures, not hoping for deliverance, that they might have a better resurrection.” (Hebrews 11:35 Lamsa). This sounds a lot like what took place in 2 Maccabees chapter 7.
The books of Judith and "1st and 2nd Maccabees" appear to be originally written in Aramaic. That was the language of the time; so it just seems likely that Aramaic is the source language. We also don't have any reason to believe that God would use Greek as the source language for Holy Scripture. The Book of Tobit (Tobi) could have been a dual language composition of Hebrew and Aramaic like the Books of Daniel, Ezra and Jeremiah. Five manuscripts of Tobit were discovered at Qumran - four in Aramaic, one in Hebrew. For the most part, the manuscript fragments don't contain the same content or verses. There are three fragmentary verses (Tobit 13:13  & 14:1-2) which could indicate a meager attempt to translate the Aramaic into Hebrew. Tobit 14:1-2 has additional info not found in the Greek LXX translation and hence seems a bit spurious. The Book by Yeshua the son of Sira appears to have been originally written in Hebrew. Most of the Hebrew text of this book has been preserved or recovered in several manuscripts, which I also have a book containing them. For the book of Wisdom, I conjecture it was originally written in Hebrew, though no such text has been found. I can’t say for certain what the original language was for the books of Baruch and the Letter of Jeremiah. Parts of the canonical book of Jeremiah are in Aramaic, so it is probable that the Letter of Jeremiah and the book by his scribe (i.e. Baruch) were originally written in Aramaic. Also, it could be that the reason Aramaic text is found in the books of Daniel, Ezra and Jeremiah is that God is telling the Jews that the new language that He will use for Scripture will be Aramaic.
The Apocryphal Books:
1st Ezra (1st Esdras) & 2nd Ezra (2nd Esdras) [Chapters 3-12]:
The Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon (CAL) has these books online. The name "1st Ezra" suggests that this writing is the first book written by Ezra. The name "2nd Ezra" suggests that this writing is the second book written by Ezra. And at 2nd Ezra (2nd Esdras) 1:1, the words read: "The second book of Ezra the prophet ..." However, the first two chapters of 2nd Ezra (2nd Esdras) are missing from the Aramaic & Greek texts of that book. Those two chapters are believed to come from the Latin text and have been named "5th Ezra (Esdras)" because they are additions or forgeries to the original text of "2nd Ezra." The Greek texts of 1st & 2nd Esdras are both numberless and hence 1st & 2nd Esdras could be renumbered to 2nd & 3rd Esdras. However, some count the book of Nehemiah as the 2nd book written by Ezra and hence CAL numbers 1st Ezra as "3rd Ezra" and 2nd Ezra as "4th Ezra." Though the books of Ezra and Nehemiah were reckoned as one book in the past (to get the Old Testament Canon to equal 22 books according to the number of letters in the Hebrew Alphabet), I still think the book of Nehemiah was authored by Nehemiah and thus should be considered a separate book not from Ezra the scribe. Nehemiah 1:1 suggests Nehemiah wrote or possibly dictated the following thirteen chapters.
Note: CAL lists 1st Ezra as 1Esdras(3 Ezra) and 2nd Ezra as P 4Ezra on its website. It's also important to know that "Esdras" is the Greek transliteration for the name of "Ezra;" even when this name appears in the book of Ezra. Ezra or Esdras are the same person (see Ezra 7:1-5 and 1st Esdras 8:1-2).
The Aramaic text of 2nd Ezra (the Apocalypse of Ezra) says that it is the first book written by Ezra at the end of the book. (Apoc. of Ezra 14:48 ) ends with: "... the first discourse of Ezra was finished." Those words, however, aren't found in the Greek or Latin text. ANALYSIS
The (so-called) Aramaic 1st Ezra is a translation of the (so-called) Greek 1st Esdras. There are many personal names with the common Greek "-os" ending and many Greek pronunciations of names without the "-os" ending. The Aramaic translator also misread the Greek word thu-ro-ron "door-guards" for the Greek word thu-gat-er-on "daughters" at (1 Ezra 9:25). Moreover, there is no evidence that an original Hebrew and Aramaic text existed. It's not Canonical or inspired. It's mainly copied material from Ezra, Nehemiah and Chronicles with 1 Ezra 3:1-5:6 being additional material not found in the Old Testament. 1st Ezra doesn't have much additional beneficial doctrine. However, it does show us that the eunuchs guarded the king's bed inside the room and were also stationed outside the room's door. Moreover, Aramaic 1st Ezra also has value in that it shows us that the alternate spelling of Orishlem (Jerusalem), with the additional yod for the "i" sound, is a valid spelling. In the Peshitta Bible, that alternate spelling for Orishlem only occurs one time, at one place in the New Testament (Matt. 5:35). A scholar may think that spelling is a typo, but it isn't. That alternate spelling for "Yerushalem" appears many times and throughout 1st Ezra. Also, it's not unusual for Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek to have more than one spelling and/or pronunciation for a city name or person. Hebrew has three different spellings for "Jerusalem" in the Bible while Aramaic and Greek have two or more different spellings for "Yerushalem." There is a third Aramaic spelling for "Yerushalem" in the "Doctrine of Addai" and I think I have seen a fourth variant Aramaic spelling for Yerushalem in 3rd or 4th Maccabees.
Aramaic 2nd Ezra wasn't found among the Dead Sea Scrolls and wasn't accepted as Canonical by the Catholic Church. Both those reasons suggest it is a later forgery. It also states that "that the world was being established (constructed) and on a table" (2 Ezra 9:19 Aramaic text); which isn't scientifically accurate. Additionally, it also suggests that the Old Testament contains only 24 Books; which I don't think is correct. Just adding the Four most meritorious of the Deuterocanonical Books (1st & 2nd Maccabees, Tobit and Judith) makes the Old Testament canon consist of 28 books (& that's by giving allowance to the combining of the Books by the Jews). Aramaic 2nd Ezra, which has some differences from the Greek or Latin texts, has Ezra dictating forty days to five scribes who write down ninety-four books. Twenty-four of those books are to be made public so that the worthy and unworthy could read them. The other seventy books were to be given to the wise ones among the people (2 Ezra 14:41-47). 2nd Ezra has some value in that it shows us that an "angel" can be addressed as "MA-RI-A - the LORD" and "God" and also distinguished from God, and hence not God.
Maccabees 3 & 4:
The Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon (CAL) has the books of 3rd and 4th Maccabees on their website. ANALYSIS
1st and 2nd Maccabees were known to both Josephus and the Jews. Josephus likely used the information in those books as his source for books 12-13 in his Written Work: "The Antiquities of the Jews." Then he added commentary. Additionally, those are the only two books quoted by the Church Fathers as canonical. So it's not likely that 3rd & 4th Maccabees are canonical. Fourth Maccabees has the least value. It just recounts and expounds some of the same content in 2nd Maccabees - regarding the death of Eliezer and the death of a mom and her seven sons. INTERLINEAR ARAMAIC - ENGLISH BOOKS I went ahead and made four of the disputed books (1st Ezra, 2nd Ezra, 3rd Maccabees, & 4th Maccabees) plus the Doctrine of Addai (or Addi [Lamsa]) interlinear. I wanted to read those books myself to determine their validity. If you want to also read them plus learn some Aramaic in the process - go ahead. I also cover some Aramaic grammar in the Introduction of 1 Ezra and in the Appendices of 3rd Maccabees and the Doctrine of Addai. You can click on the links below to download the pdfs. 1st Ezra 2nds Ezra 3rd Maccabees 4th Maccabees The Doctrine of Addai Is the Bible Against Homosexuality? by Preacher Mattai © 2016. All rights reserved.