Mel  Gibson’s movie, The Passion, depicting the life of the Messiah,  sparked irate controversies as to whether it was anti-Semitic in nature. Gibson used “artistic license” to reinterpret many scenes from the Gospels, thus stirring resentment in those who guard the literal interpretation of these events as sacred. The use of artistic license though, does not always  spark high criticisms.  William Shakespeare’s historical  plays, for example, use artistic license and grossly distort the historical facts of the times, but because of their highly esteemed literary value, they have been hailed as great works throughout the centuries.



When it comes to Bible translation, we cannot afford the liberties that such a license promotes. The Word of God is inerrant, divinely inspired and meant to be understood and interpreted according to the specific chosen Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek words found in its texts. We have paid a high price because of those who have used this license to interpret the Scriptures in an allegorical (non-literal) fashion. Consequently, we find ourselves struggling to decide such things as when the Messiah will return, if indeed He will return at all to the earth, or when the Rapture will occur, if indeed it will occur at all. Another area of doctrine adversely affected by allegory is Israel’s position in and outside the Body of Messiah. Is she still chosen or has she been replaced? To whom do God’s covenantal blessings of the Old Testament belong, and is there any future for national Israel?



While the scholarly debates continue, we must not overlook how mistranslation deals yet another blow to Israel, this time by character defamation. And in this particular case, the mistranslation has even extended itself to include marring the gracious reputation of the Lord Himself, as we will see in the following passage.

Tucked away in the chronicles of Israel’s liberation from her bondage in Egypt is Exodus 3:22 which reads: “But every woman shall ask of her neighbor, namely, of her who dwells near her house, articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing; and you shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.”

Why  did  the  translators  use the English  word “plunder”  in  this  verse? According  to Webster’s Dictionary, the word “plunder” means to take goods by force or wrongfully. It is to steal, or to loot (1).

The Hebrew word used in this passage (and in the corresponding passage of Exodus 12:36), is natzal. This word natzal, according to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia is most often rendered as “delivered”, and is used primarily in these senses: “to set free”, “to give up or over” or “to draw out.” It is used of all kinds of deliverances. For example, it is used of God’s deliverance in Psalm 25:20which reads: “Guard my soul and deliver (natzal) me; Do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in You”. Genesis 32:11 recounts Jacob’s pleas as he asks God for deliverance (natzal) from his brother Esau. Of the 213 times that the word natzal is used, the King James Bible has rendered it as “deliver” 179 times. (Holladay et al. argued that since nazalis in the Piel/acc. in Ex.3:22 & 12:36 it should be read as plunder, strip (A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the O.T. on Nazal) ). But this same word is found in Piel/acc. in Ezekiel 14:14 and the sense is clearly deliver;  according to Harris et al.  “the Piel also signals deliver in Ezk.14:14(Theological Wordbook of the O.T. on Nazal)).

In fact,  there  are  other  Hebrew  words  used  specifically  for  plunder;  for  instance, malkoah, which represent “objects taken by a victor after a battle or war”(2). Another Hebrew word is baz, which represents “what is stolen or robbed (items, animals, or persons), especially in a military conflict”(3). A third Hebrew word is salal, which signifies “objects taken by a victor after a battle or war, implying defeat of the enemy (4). It is interesting that the word natzalis not used in the Bible passages where an “after-war” plundering has taken place, except in one instance in 2 Chronicles 20:25.



So, what is wrong with rendering the word natzal as plunder in this context? A lot! By translating natzal as plunder, we have accused God of forcibly demanding these items of gold and silver from the Egyptians, taking spoils of war so to speak, when actually no war occurred. Is God so ungracious that He would force the Israelites to plund er these people outside of a war context? Is God so manipulative that He would force the hearts of the Egyptians to find favor with Israel so that they would seemingly at will give up their wealth? Not only does God become open to the skeptics’ ridicule, but Israel too, can appear as money hungry looters.



This error of mistranslation was recorded in the Talmud, in that some had accused the Jews of taking without giving back. Mas. Sanhedrin 91a reads:

On another occasion the Egyptians came in a lawsuit against the Jews before Alexander of Macedon. They pleaded thus: ‘Is it not written, And the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, and they lent them [gold and precious stones, etc.] Then return us the gold and silver which ye took!’

More recently, in 2003, a certain Egyptian professor decided to sue all the Jews in the world asking back for the goods they plundered (italics mine) at the time of the Exodus, something he evaluated it to be around 40 billion dollars (5).



How awesome would it be if we were to give the word natzal its proper rendering? Awesome indeed! We would then see God as He is, full of grace and justice. To begin with, it says that God commanded the Israelites to “ask” the Egyptians for the goods. He did not demand that Israel go and fight, or plunder. He told them to ask. Bearing that in mind, let’s consider the word natzal. When properly translated, the passage should be read as: “So you shall deliver, preserve or set free the Egyptians”. How could the Egyptians have been delivered, set free or preserved by giving away their wealth to the Israelites?



The Israelites worked 400 years for the Egyptians and the Bible nowhere indicates that they received any payment for this work. God asked that the Israelites be paid with gold and  silver  as  a  way  to  preserve  or  deliver  the  Egyptians  from  the  judgement  of withholding due wages. By usingnatzal in its proper context, the grace of God would be more fully revealed as the Egyptians would be spared from the judgement of withholding wages. Because of God’s merciful grace, we should see His request of the Egyptians as a planned way to lessen the penalty that would otherwise be rendered against them. After all withholding wages was and still is against the Law of God and requires judgment (Leviticus 19:13James 5:4).



God always has a plan that neither you nor I can interfere with. His amazing grace released Egypt from this particular judgement, but God’s love did not stop there. For in the Millennial Kingdom, Egypt will be called God’s people, and will be re-established as a nation living in peace with her neighbour Israel. Isaiah 19:24 reads:

In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the LORD of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed is Egypt  My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.”



What God might give and take away from us here and now should only cause us to marvel about how all the events of our lives are orchestrated according to His ultimate plan for our goodness and our well being, and for the restraining of evil. God planned for Israel’s creation, He planned for her forgiveness and planned for her restoration. Jeremiah 29:11-14 says:

“…For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and future. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I  will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity or will restore your fortunes. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.



And though we might not understand for now all of our gracious Lord’s giving and taking away, we must be carried by this promise found in God’s covenant of grace. As it says in 2 Corinthians 4:15For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God .

No artistic license has the right to reinterpret God’s motives nor His sovereignty. God is a God of grace and we must be ready to defend His glory, His reputation and His plan, a plan that includes us all.



(1)  Merriam-Webster, I. (2003). Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Includes index. (Eleventh ed.). Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc.

(2)  Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of  Biblical Languages with Semantic  Domains:  Hebrew (Old  Testament) (electronic ed.) (DBLH 4917). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

(3) Ibid.

(4) Ibid.

(5) Arutz Sheva newspaper,   www.Israel National




These words sing out to us from Fiddler on the Roof… for a daughter was soon to be married…but what about two blessings on your head? Jacques Gabizon, director of Ariel Canada has had his fill of chuppahs* and ketubahs**, after marrying off two of his own children within four months of each other; first the youngest son, then the third youngest of his children, their only daughter. What can we learn from all the energy put into the preparations and orchestrations of such an event? Listen to what Jacques’ wife, Sharon, has to say:

“These months of planning have shown me what an incredible God we serve. All I had to do for my daughter’s wedding was plan a big party for 130 people. Sure there was strategizing and engineering of details so that all would come together for that picturesque finale, but what can we say about our Master Project Manager, Who orchestrates the world’s events from the global right down to the microcosmic level?  Though kingdoms crumble at the sound of His command, while He alone has laid the foundation of the earth, has bound the cluster of the Pleiades, and directs the path of the thunderbolt, our awesome God oversees all the minor details as well, including the weddings of my son and daughter. His eyes have seen our substance, being yet unformed. He alters the DNA and makes us well again. He hears the cries of the broken heart and humbles the proud. He designs the day of our salvation. The Lord has casted the blueprint of life and blessed are those who obey its directions.

During these wedding preparations, I realized how I could not accomplish everything on my own. How helpful, supportive and ready my sisters in the Body of Messiah were, to assist me and encourage me when making decisions, and when needing to get the job done. My personal Manager did not leave me in limbo but provided arms, feet, mouths and eyes to make this project a success. I am so very blessed to be His servant and employee, and I look forward to our future assignments together, including the weddings of my other two sons! We long however, for the greatest wedding event ever, the Marriage Ceremony and Supper of the Lamb. All are invited to this one … will you be there?”


*Chuppah is a canopy under which a bride and groom stand during a Jewish wedding ceremony. It consists of a cloth or sheet, stretched or supported over four poles, or sometimes manually held up by attendants to the ceremony. The Chuppah is a symbol of the home which the bride and groom will build together. The sides are without walls to show that the couple is committed to opening their home to friends and family. The Chuppah has no furniture because the description of this home is not based on its material wealth but on the worth these two individuals give one another. The history of the Temple, or Beit Hamikdash  is the history of Hashem making a home with us in this world. God’s desire is to dwell among us and make us the Beit Hamikdash of His glory.

**Ketubah  – According to the Jewish view, marriage is a contractual agreement between two people with legal rights and obligations. This marriage contract explains the basic material, conjugal and moral responsibilities of the husband to his wife. It is signed by the groom, as well as two witnesses, and given to the bride during the wedding ceremony. The original purpose of the Ketubah was to protect the woman’s rights during the marriage and in the case of her becoming divorced or widowed. Historically, the Ketubah marked a great leap forward in the thinking about the rights of women. From:




Psalm 119:90 –“Your faithfulness endures to all generations”

I would like to tell you about my father, Abraham Meyer, who was born in 1914 in Blida, Algeria. He is now 96 years old. In May of 2009, my husband and I went to spend some time in France, where my family lives. I had prayed that God would put “a guard over my mouth and keep watch over the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141:3) I didn’t want to talk about the Bible, religion, tradition or my relationship with God. I was afraid that if I spoke, he would just get irritated and pull away even more. For over 40 years, my father had heard us speak about what God had been doing in our lives, yet he seemed to be more and more unwilling to listen, continuing to observe traditional Judaism as best he could even while saying it was hypocritical.



Two days before our departure to Canada, it was my father who brought up the subject of religion and traditions. The Lord had put His words in my mouth and we began to speak about how every year my parents had a lamb killed at our home at Passover time. My mother would put the blood in a bowl, dip her hand into it and put the blood on all the doors of the house. I was able to tell my father that it could not have been pleasing to God, since the Temple was no longer standing and yet we still continued with this same ritual every year.



Eight months later, in January of 2010, we returned to France. When we arrived, we went straight to the hospital where my father had been recuperating for over four months. We had planned to stay in France until the end of March so we could take care of him. By the end of January, my father was doing better and was able to return home. We were all going to be together two days later, because that day was a special day for my father. It was the day that his second daughter was born some 70 years previous. It was equally special for me since I was that daughter turning 70 that day!



On the morning of February 4th, my birthday, my husband Daniel and I were sitting around the kitchen table with our Bibles, spending time with the Lord. My husband was reading the Scriptures from a bilingual French/Hebrew translation. He was reading Isaiah 7 when, “by coincidence”, my father came into the kitchen, using his cane yet walking with much difficulty. He looked at each of us… and suddenly Daniel said, “You see, even in the Tanach we read that God came to be with us, that He would come as a small child and that His Name would be Emmanuel, which means ‘God with us.’” My father just said, “Yes, I know, I believe it in my heart, but I can’t say anything because I’ll be rejected. I hear a lot of things in synagogue which aren’t right, but I don’t say anything.” Daniel continued, “You know, even the best person cannot be righteous in God’s eyes, except for One.” My father answered right back, “Yes, I know, it is Jesus.”

We had just seen a miracle! We then discussed verses from Zechariah, Daniel, and other prophets from the Hebrew Scriptures. Daniel and I kept looking at each other, and I simply couldn’t grasp what was happening. No, I wasn’t dreaming, it was all true – my 96 year-old father had been born again, spiritually.


Isaiah 59:1 – “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear.” God had just taught me another lesson about faith: He is the Almighty God, the Creator of all things, and nothing is impossible for Him…in His time!

For the first 15 years after giving my life to Yeshua, I fervently prayed for my parents. But I was praying the wrong way, as if God needed my help to do His saving work, until I asked Him to relieve me of this burden. Matthew 11:28: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” My mother became a believer about 25 years ago and my dear father is now newly born again. God is not finished surprising us!

Today my mother isn’t with us; she is with her Savior where there is no more sorrow or pain. She is waiting for us there. My father, a 96 year old Jewish 7- time great-great grandfather received his Redeemer on the day of my 70th birthday. The Lord, in His perfect timing, demonstrated once again, His perfect longsuffering and His ultimate and perfect desire to see men saved.


Lamentations 3:22-23

—  “The  LORD’S  lovingkindnesses  indeed  never  cease,  for  His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”