D. Eric Williams Online

Man As Jew
© 4.22.05 By D. Eric Williams


This article is going to be short. My primary purpose is to get into "print" with this before anyone else. For all I know it's too late anyway; I've been mulling this over for a couple years now, and there may be a dozen others who beat me to it.

In the book of Revelation, there are two words that are significant and yet misunderstood. The first is the Greek word ge (gh) which is translated as earth in every version I've ever read. I contend that ge (pronounced long "e" as in geo), should be translated as land meaning the land of Israel.1 This is not the original idea that I want to rush into print. However, I do want to go on record as being in agreement with the others who have already expressed this point of view.2

The point I want to make (a point I've not seen made elsewhere), is that the term "man" or "men" (Greek anthropos [anqrwpos]), as it is used in the Revelation does not refer to men in general but is a term used to designate Jews. I'm not suggesting that the Greek anthropos really means "Jew." I am suggesting that anthropos (man), was a term used by the Jews for themselves – much like certain native American tribes called themselves the "real people" or simply the people.

For instance, in Paul's letter to the Church at Rome, he begins the section directed at the Jewish members of the church with the phrase, "therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge..." (dia anapologhtos ei w anqrwpe pas o krinwn, the word order being "therefore without excuse are you o man everyone {who} judges…"). Paul uses the term a second time in verse 3 as well. As Paul's argument progresses, he begins to use the term in a general sense. This doesn't negate the possibility that he uses anthropos to designate Jews earlier in the letter; Paul often employs a word in a variety of ways. For example, Paul uses the word "law" in an assortment of ways in this same letter.3

Yet, the (re)discovery that pushed me over the edge (so to speak), on this interpretation of anthropos in the Revelation is a reference I noticed in a book by Gary North. In appendix B of North's book, Tools Of Dominion: The Case Laws Of Exodus4 I ran across this citation from the Babylonian Talmud: "One who smiteth man attacketh the Holy One." "Man" here means an Israelite. Now, I've not had the time yet to do any research into the use of "man" in the Talmud, but this single citation leads me to believe that the term "man" was commonly used by Jewish writers to refer to Jews - at least by the fifth century A.D.5 The section under consideration in the Talmud is Sanhedrin 58b and says,

R. Hanina said: If a heathen smites a Jew, he is worthy of death, for it is written, And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian. R. Hanina also said: He who smites an Israelite on the jaw, is as though he had thus assaulted the Divine Presence; for it is written, one who smiteth man [i.e. an Israelite] attacketh the Holy One.

I started a commentary on the Revelation several years ago but abandoned the work after a particularly unpleasant experience at the last church I pastored. Basically I wandered the wilderness for six years after that event and I'm just now getting back to the key board. I hope to begin work on the Revelation commentary again soon. But, just to show the significance of this position concerning the meaning of anthropos in the Revelation, consider Revelation 13:18:

Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.

The number of a man: and the preeminent man/Jew/Israelite was Solomon who received 666 talents of gold into his kingdom each year. The kingdom of Israel reached its greatest geographic extent under the reign of Solomon – fulfilling the covenant promise to Abraham (2 Chron. 9:26, Gen. 15:18-21). His counsel was sought out by kings and wise men from all over the earth; his wisdom and the wealth of his kingdom were unsurpassed (2 Chron. 9:22-23). There was no one like him nor a kingdom approaching his in splendor. Yet, Solomon turned his back on God and did the very things the Law forbade of kings (1 Kings 10:26-11:1, Deut. 17:16-17). He even built altars for his pagan wives to be used in human sacrifice and joined them in the worship of their false gods (1 Kings 11:1-8). God intended for His people to be a nation of priests with world wide influence (Ex. 19:5-6, Deut. 4:6-8). Nevertheless, once that preeminence was achieved it was squandered by a king who considered his kingdom's prestige to be his own. This is exactly what happened in the first century: the Jewish leadership regarded God's people as their own (John 11:48), and appealed to false gods for favor (John 19:15).

The beast with horns like a lamb and a voice like a dragon represents the leadership of the religion that was a rival to Christianity: Judaism and the Jewish religious leaders who rejected Christ (Rev. 13:11-ff). Judaism, the religion of the apostates, tried to look like the real thing (the Lamb), but its "gospel" was the preaching of the devil (the dragon). This beast was like the ultimate "man", Solomon, who had received magnificent blessings from God and still turned his back on Yahweh. This beast required all Jews to worship ("buy or sell," Rev. 13:17, cf. Is. 55:1-2, Ezk. 28:16, 18, Rev. 3:18), indeed to think and to do (mark on the hand and head, an evil parody of Deut. 6:8), according to thier apostate religion (John 5:23, 8:44, 15:23-25, 1 John 2:2-23), or to be persecuted out of the family of "man." The lamb-like beast required that all men/Jews be like the ultimate man/Jew (Solomon), and turn their backs on God and His Messiah and place their faith in the first beast (Roman State, Rev. 13:1, 12) as the ultimate guarantor of their apostasy

More on this later.

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1. The Greek word ge (gh), has a wide range of meaning including the earth, the ground beneath our feet and "land" as in "land of Israel." The exact meaning is understood from the context in which the word is used. See: Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich, eds, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, trans. Geoffery W. Bromiley, 9 vols. (Grand Rapids: Williams B. Eerdman's Publishing Company, 1974), 1:677-ff.

2. I don't have access to my entire library at this writing, but as I recall, David Chilton was one who recognized ge as "land" of Israel rather than simply the earth.

3. "As is shown repeatedly in this present commentary, there is great flexibility in Paul's use of the term 'law.'" John Murray, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Epistle to The Romans, (Grand Rapids Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1968), xix.

4. I read Tools some time ago, but didn't remember that particular excerpt from the Talmud. I had picked up North's book a while back one evening when I was feeling bored and wanted a little light reading when I ran across that particular passage. (I'm joking about the light reading: North's stuff is solid – at least the books he wrote before 2000. I haven't seen anything since then except a book about leftist Hollywood's outrage over Mel Gibson's Passion).

5. The section of the Talmud cited by North is contrasting the treatment of Gentiles with the treatment of Jews. The point North makes is that the Talmud (contrary to the Law), teaches that Gentiles should be treated harshly while Jews should not. The fact that the Talmud uses the term "man" to designate a Jew is incidental to North's point.







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