Monday, December 4, 2023

No Hot Showers

While keeping the Feast of Tabernacles this year - Holidays or Holy Days [1], the water heater at our accommodation failed on the first day. The owner did not manage to get it replaced during the Feast, so we never did get a hot shower for the eight days we were there. 

I commented that Israel never had a hot shower for 40 years when they left Egypt. It turns out that having hot showers indoors is a very recent innovation. 

According to BackThen History [2],

The first shower that we would recognize today didn’t come about until 1767

And indoor plumbing didn't really become commonplace until the early 20th century, nearly universal by 1960. For all but the last 100 years or so, mankind has not had hot showers. The indoor bathroom has gone from a novelty into a universal household fixture in the span of 100 years - VoxBlend [3]. We live in an unusual time in history.

Many of us still remember housing without bathrooms.

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Because of the no hot shower situation, our conversation turned to “what was life like for the Israelites when they came out of Egypt?” After all, the Bible gives us this reason for dwelling in booths during the Feast.

Lev 23:42 You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born* in Israel shall live in booths, 43 so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt.

Besides not having hot showers, what was it like? Well, it was much like camping - camping that never ended for 40 years.

Have you been camping? In a tent? With no plumbing nearby? In the desert? With a million other campers?

The Muslims do it every year. During the annual pilgrimage to Mecca called the Hajj, the pilgrims dwell in tents in Mina. Muslims are expected to make the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime.

The Mina valley is an open space covered with more than 100,000 air-conditioned tents and it can accommodate more than 2.6 million people, extending over 2.5 million square meters (8+ sq mi) - NationalNews [4].


Tent City Near Mina

The Mina Valley is located 8 kilometers to the east of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Inside the valley, as far as the eye can see, the open space is covered with tents. WelcomeSaudi [5]

The number of Pilgrims in one Mina tent varies according to the Pilgrim’s Hajj package and travel facilities. The highest category Mina tents have around 10 Pilgrims, while the lowest category [some] tents can have up to 100 Pilgrims. BlessedNights [6]

Inside a Hajj Tent

Pilgrims share communal areas, toilets and bathrooms. They have access to freezers and fridges at receptions, serving cold water, snacks and ice-cold refreshments free of charge throughout their stay. [4] 

I bet they have hot showers...

I contacted with a friend who has made the Hajj pilgrimage. She told me they only stay in the tents for a couple days during the ten day Hajj.

But that's not really sustainable for 40 years in the desert. A more accurate comparison is to refugee camps. When Israel came out of Egypt, they were international refugees, people displaced from their homes with no country of their own - YET.

During the Hajj, people are separated by gender into tents, up to 100/tent. Israel was organized by families, as are modern refugee camps.

The  United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has guidelines for refugee camps. Israel would have had similar needs. The following information is from Wikipedia(wiki_refugee) [7].

According to UNHCR vocabulary a refugee camp consists of settlements, sectors, blocks, communities, and families. Sixteen families make up a community, sixteen communities make up a block, four blocks make up a sector, and four sectors are called a settlement.

Sleeping accommodations are frequently tents or huts, a minimum of 3.5 sq m (37 sq ft) of covered living area per person (about a sheet of plywood) . Shelters should be at least 6 ft apart.

Aerial View Of Za'atari Refugee Camp Jordan

Refugee Children Carrying Water
Hygiene facilities, such as washing areas, latrines, or toilets:  one shower per 50 persons and one communal latrine per 20 persons. Distance for the latter should be no more than 150 ft from the shelter and not closer than 20 ft. Hygiene facilities should be separated by gender.

Places for water collection: Either tanks off-loaded from trucks, or water tap stands connected to boreholes.  One tap stand per 80 persons that should be no farther than 600 ft away from households.

Each refugee is supposed to receive around 5 gal of water a day, but some may get as little as 2 gal per day.

I bet they have hot showers...

The World Food Programme (WFP) provides food rations twice a month: 2,100 calories/person/day.  Ideally, it should be:

9 oz (260 g) whole grain (maize or sorghum)
7 oz (200 g) milled grain (wheat flour)
1.5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons pulses (beans or lentils)

Note this is less than half an omer, that is half the daily quantity of manna each Israelite was allotted in the wilderness - Wikipedia(Omer) [8].

According to Al Jazeera, the largest refugee camp is about a million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

As of July 2023, at least 931,960 Rohingya refugees lived in 33 camps in Bangladesh’s border district of Cox’s Bazar. The sprawling network of camps, which is prone to landslides, covers a tiny area of about 24 square kilometres [10 sq mi]. Al Jazeera [9]


Lev 23:43 so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt.

So what was it like? Like a refugee camp – an organized refugee camp. Numbers 2 gives instructions on how Israel was to camp around the tabernacle. 

The Tabernacle is in the center of the camp, the Levites camped around the Tabernacle. The twelve tribes camped in a particular order around the Levites. This is a summary of the size of the camps.

Levi center 22,300
Judah+Issachar+Zebulon on the East 186,400
Rueben+Simeon+Gad on the South 151,450
Ephraim+Manasseh+Benjamin on the West 108,100
Dan+Asher+Naphtali on the North 157,600

Some depict the camps as spokes.

Israel Camp As “Spokes”

Some depict the camps as rings.

Israel camp as "Rings"

Some argue the camps formed a cross.  

Israel Camp As A Cross

None of them seem accurate when you consider that 600,000 men left Egypt (Ex 12:37, Num, 2:32). Consider this image.

Israel Camp Pictures NOT To Scale

This picture shows the camp of Kohath which has 8600 males (2750 over 20),  (Num 3:28) is smaller than the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle including courtyard was about 75 ft x 150 ft (Ex 27:9,13)or about 11,000 sq ft. This image gives about ONE sq ft per male. The box for Judah represents 74,000 males. The other images have similar inconsistencies.

Assuming 600,000 is correct. 
Assuming one man = one family = one tent.
Assuming 20 x 20 tent space + setback.
Assuming no roads, level ground.

600,000 males means approximately 800 tents x 800 tents.
800 tents x 20 feet/tent  =~ 3 mi.
600,000 tents is 3 mi x3 mi =~ 10 sq mi.

Add trails and roads like city blocks, add 20 ft in one direction every 2 tents, 20 ft in the other direction every 10 tents means that 600,000 tents is about 15 sq mi.

The cross arrangement is based on population sizes and would take about 60 sq mi. Some people would have to walk up to 5 miles to reach the Tabernacle.

And it's probably worse than that. Consider these items would require even more space.

Add hygiene facilities (water, latrines) 
Add flocks and herds, where were they?
Add the mixed multitude, where did they camp?
Where did they gather manna? In their “front yard”?

Water In The Desert

Providing water was a great miracle. Hiking in the desert requires one quart of water per hour, less if you're sedentary - SurvivalSavior [10]. No matter what you do, a couple million people in the desert will require a LOT of water. Remember,  UNHCR suggests 2-5 gals per person per day. Two million people x 2 gals is  8 Olympic swimming pools worth of water - PoolResearch [11] EVERY DAY, that's 400 tanker trucks - TruckGuider [12]. Flocks and herds also require LOTS of water.

I think it's safe to say that God didn't provide tanker trucks or “water tap stands”, nor that Israel found abundant springs and wells in the desert. Nor rainfall. Some kind of miracle occurred every day. Where Israel got water for 40 years is debated, one theory centers on 1 Co 10:4.

1 Co 10:4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.

The Rock Was Christ

This carefully says the “spiritual drink, spiritual rock”, but Jewish tradition of the time speaks of a rock that accompanied them that gave physical water. So was Paul was citing tradition - Living Faith [13]?  I can't say.

For many reasons, God wants us to know that He made Israel to dwell in tents. We live in age that is very far removed from the trials of camping in the desert. We are shocked that someone would have to go the entire Feast of Tabernacles without a hot shower. But ours is the only generation that could even have that expectation. Our past, our roots as a people, our “tribe” began as campers in the desert. And because we are so far removed from life in the desert, it's all the more important that we not forget what their lives were like.

Final Thought

Here's another reason to understand life in tents on a large scale - It's going to happen again. Prophecy says Judah and Israel (America included) will be taken captive, but God will deliver us. Refugee camps like never before.

Jeremiah 16:14 Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when it shall no longer be said, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt’, but ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ 

Is 11:11 Then it will happen on that day that the Lord
Will set His hand the second time to recover [first time was Exodus]
The remnant of His people who will remain,
From Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath,
And from the islands of the sea.
12 And He will lift up a flag for the nations
And assemble the banished ones of Israel,
And will gather the dispersed of Judah
From the four corners of the earth.

Refugee camps like never before. That day may soon be upon us.



Thursday, November 9, 2023

Poor In Spirit

The beatitudes form the beginning of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in Matt 5. The beatitudes are those statements Jesus made that begin “blessed are”. They are very familiar. And because they are familiar, it is easy to read them, and think we understand them. And of course at some level we do understand. But sometimes they speak more to us if we dig a little. So that's the plan  – dig into the first of the Beatitudes “Blessed are the poor in spirit”.

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Beatitude comes from the Latin word beatus, meaning happy or bliss. Beatitude has nothing to do with “BE-attitude”, and “blessed” may not be the best translation. Blessed is translated from Makarioi, meaning “Happy, blessed, to be envied” - Strong's G3107  [1]

Christ was a Jew, speaking to a Jewish audience, probably in Hebrew, probably not Greek. And the people who came to hear Him would have been familiar with the OT from weekly synagogue services. Christ did not invent a new rhetorical device for the Beatitudes. So when He said “blessed is the man”, they would have recognized the term. In Hebrew, it is “
Ashre ha ish”. Ashre is used 45 times in the OT. Consider Psalm 1, in many Church of God hymnals it reads “Blessed and Happy is the man”. Most translations say either blessed OR happy.

I went through those 45 verses that contained the word ashre (easy with online tools), Strong's H0835 to see how it's used. Ashre is translated as happy (18) or blessed (27) . See Appendix 1 for more details on ashre, and Appendix 2 for details on baruch, another word translated blessed. As far as I can tell, the primary meaning for ashre is happy. In the overwhelming majority of verses, a human is called happy or blessed for obedience or righteousness. Some examples:

Psa 34:8 Blessed is the man that trusts in Him.
Psa 41:1 Blessed is he that considers the poor
Psa 119:2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies

Psa 128:2 Happy is every one that fears the LORD
Pro 14:21 Happy is he that has mercy on the poor.
Pro 29:18 Happy is he that keeps the law

It doesn't matter if ashre means happy vs blessed, because some of the Beatitudes aren't like the Psalms. They go beyond. Consider these.

Happy are the poor in spirit
Happy are they that mourn
Happy are they that hunger
Happy are they that are persecuted

I imagine these statements came as a surprise to that Jewish audience. These beatitudes are in a familiar motif (Happy are ...), but are challenging to hear, even now 2000 years later. The statements in the OT talk about blessings in this life. These beatitudes are speaking of the future – for example, the meek haven't inherited the earth yet.

I've just gotten through the first word... Though I do have more research on the word blessed.

The first of the beatitudes is this.

Mt 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Nearly all English translations read exactly this way. How are we to understand the phrase “poor in spirit”? It seems like one of those things that we understand until we try to explain it to someone else. So let's dig deeper to see what poor in spirit means.

Poor, translated from ptochos  – Strongs G4434 [2], literally means poor, like beggar or pauper. Spirit is translated from pneumaStrongs G4151 [3], which like the Hebrew ruach can mean breath or spirit, depending on context. Someone “poor in Spirit” isn't referring to someone lacking the Holy Spirit. Lacking the Holy Spirit wouldn't make someone happy or blissful or blessed. The phrase “poor in spirit” does not occur as such in the OT, but we find something close in Pr 29:23.

Pr 29:23 JPS A man's pride shall bring him low; But he that is of a lowly spirit shall attain to honor.

Many translations say “humble in spirit” instead of “lowly in spirit”. I like using lowly because it parallels the first part of the verse, that is “low” and “lowly” are translated from the same word shafel.

Pr 29:23 A man’s pride will bring him shafel, but a shafel ruach will obtain honor.

From context, it's safe to say that shafel ruach does not mean “low breath”, but rather “low in spirit”. Likewise, “ptochoi pneuma” does not mean “poor breath”.

Here we have shafel contrasted with pride, so humble does seem like a good fit too. Low in spirit is the opposite of pride. Humble is the opposite of pride.

If you thought “poor in spirit” meant humble, you could be proud of yourself...

First Page Shem Tov
Did Jesus say shafel ruach to the assembled crowd? I think so. Remember He was talking to a Jewish audience, the phrase occurs in the OT a few times, and it occurs in rabbinic writings of Christ's time. Plus, there are manuscripts of the Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew. Scholars have determined that these are NOT direct translations from the Greek. For example, in the Beatitudes, several verses are missing from some manuscripts. Some argue that Matthew first wrote his gospel in Hebrew, then in Greek -  Wiki(Matthew) [4]. Some argue that it was a translation from another language - Wiki(Shem_Tob) [5] . Whatever the case, the “Shem Tov” Hebrew Gospel of Matthew is pre 14th century.


Shem Tov doesn’t have the Hebrew behind the Greek. Shem Tov has a completely different word, the word shafel. And the word shafel means low - Nehemiah Gordon [6].

In other words, the Hebrew Matthew says “low in spirit” not “poor in spirit”, which would match the language in the OT.

But Wait, There's More

“Low in spirit” is an idiom, that is, a phrase that cannot be understood from the individual meanings of its words - wordnik [7]. Here are some English idioms. You can know the meaning of the individual words, but not the meaning of the phrase.

bee's knees
blue in the face
piece of cake
cold turkey
fifth column

Biblical Hebrew has idioms too. In Ex 4:14, God is "hot of nose" toward Moses. Every translator knows that means angry.

We CAN look at how the phrase was used by Jewish writers 2000 years ago. Two examples.

A person should only teach someone who is wise and humble and low spirited. [6]

the way of learned men is to be humble and low-spirited, (as if they’re two different things). [6]

How do these writers differentiate between humble and low-spirited?

How does he lower his spirit? If a man curses him, he says shalom (peace). If a man strives with him, he is silent. [6]

One lesson is knowing that a person CAN lower his own spirit, in this context it means to control ones desires. Another is that “this phrase, low of spirit, has this connotation not only of humility, but humility in the pursuit of peace.” [6] You might say he is more than humble.

This describes someone who swallows their own pride, suppresses their own desires for the sake of peace. Even if he knows he is right - peace is more important. Hence the saying “you can be right, or you can be happy” - Goodreads [8.] It's all too easy to get defensive, our sense of justice wells up when we feel we've been wronged. But someone who can “lower their spirit” even in the face of unfairness is a peacemaker.

Yeah, but! I'm not a doormat! Maybe the offense is too big to overlook, too egregious to ignore. Maybe it rises to the level of commandment breaking. What then?

Consider the ultimate example of what Jesus did. He was right. The Pharisees and the government were wrong. Using this terminology, He lowered His spirit and allowed Himself to be crucified. On the cross, He said “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”. (Luke 23:34)  He subordinated His own wishes for the sake of those who hated Him.

Also consider Jesus overturned the money changers tables and drove them out with a whip. (Mark 11:15, John 2:14-16) And a day is coming where Jesus will execute judgment.

Is 11:4 And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked
Rev 19:11 With righteousness He judges and wages war.

When do we lower our spirit? When do we fight? There is not one answer for every situation.

We spend a lifetime learning the difference. In this life, there are probably more times we should lower our spirits for the sake of peace. If you find yourself arguing over how to load the dishwasher or which way the toilet paper roll goes on the holder, stop and consider lowering your spirit. If it's too late to stop the argument, the path to peace probably involves one or both of you lowering your spirit.

But if you're a baker asked to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, you may have to fight. As Solomon wrote:

Ecc 3:7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
Ecc 3:8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Being low in spirit seems to be the way to achieve humility and peace. Here are some additional verses to reflect on concerning "low in spirit".

Matt 5:10 Happy are those who pursue peace, for they will be sons of God.

Rom 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

Pr 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath

Eph 5:21 submit to one another

Php 2:3Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.

Pr 16:32 Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

James 4:6 God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble

Psalm 34:14 Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Rom 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

1 Co 6:7 Even to have such lawsuits with one another is a defeat for you. Why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that? Why not let yourselves be cheated?



Appendix 1

I went through every verse that contained the Hebrew word ashre, Strong's number H0835, 45 verses in all. Ashre is translated as blessed or happy. As far as I can tell, the primary meaning for ashre is happy, but I would like to hear from an actual Hebrew scholar about this.

I then lifted the phrase containing “blessed/happy is” from those verses to see who is being blessed or happy for what. Sometimes the blessing is in the verse, most times not. For example Psa 41:1 “Blessed is he that considers the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.” Some verses I rearranged so the “blessed/happy is” part came first. For instance, Pro 14:21 “He that despises his neighbor sins: but he that has mercy on the poor, happy is he.” became “Happy is he that has mercy on the poor.”

In nearly all cases, the subject of ashre is human, receiving the blessing in this life for living righteously. An interesting counter example is Job 5:17 “Happy is the man whom God corrects”. Correction does not feel like happiness at the time, and the reward may not come in the flesh.

H0835 Translated as Blessed

Psa 1:1 Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly
Psa 2:12 Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
Psa 32:1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven
Psa 32:2 Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputes not iniquity
Psa 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD
Psa 34:8 Blessed is the man that trusts in Him.
Psa 40:4 Blessed is that man that makes the LORD his trust
Psa 41:1 Blessed is he that considers the poor
Psa 65:4 Blessed is the man whom You chooses
Psa 84:4 Blessed are they that dwell in Your house
Psa 84:5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in You
Psa 84:12 Blessed is the man that trusts in You.
Psa 89:15 Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound
Psa 94:12 Blessed is the man whom You chasten
Psa 106:3 Blessed are they that keep judgment
Psa 112:1 Blessed is the man that fears the LORD
Psa 119:1 Blessed are the undefiled in the way
Psa 119:2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies
Psa 128:1 Blessed is every one that fears the LORD

Pro 8:32 Blessed are they that keep my ways.
Pro 8:34 Blessed is the man that hears Me

Isa 30:18 Blessed are all they that wait for Him.
Isa 32:20 Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters
Isa 56:2 Blessed is the man ... that keeps the sabbath from polluting it

H0835 Translated as Happy

1Ki 10:8 Happy are your men ... that hear your wisdom.

Job 5:17 Happy is the man whom God corrects

Psa 127:5 Happy is the man that has his quiver full of them (children)
Psa 128:2 Happy is every one that fears the LORD
Psa 137:8 Happy shall he be that rewards you as you have served us.
Psa 144:15 Happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.
Psa 146:5 Happy is he that has the God of Jacob for his help

Pro 3:13 Happy is the man that finds wisdom
Pro 14:21 Happy is he that has mercy on the poor.
Pro 16:20 Happy is he that handles a matter wisely
Pro 28:14 Happy is the man that fears always
Pro 29:18 Happy is he that keeps the law

Appendix 2

The Hebrew word barak or barukh, Strong's H1288, also means blessed, and is translated that way over 300 times. It appears the root meaning is kneel. I picked just the references in Psalms to get an idea of its usage, that is to see if there are statements similar to the ashre statements for H0835. Nearly all instances of barukh refer to God. In English, bless means to bestow something on someone – how then do we bless God?

H1288 translated as Blessed in Psalms

Psa 18:46 Blessed be my rock
Psa_28:6 Blessed be the LORD, because he has heard the voice of my supplications.
Psa_31:21 Blessed be the LORD: for he has shewed me his marvelous kindness in a strong city.
Psa_37:22 For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth
Psa_41:13 Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting
Psa_66:20 Blessed be God, which has not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.
Psa_68:19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits
Psa_68:35 Blessed be God.
Psa_72:18 Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only does wondrous things.
Psa_72:19 Blessed be his glorious name for ever
Psa_89:52 Blessed be the LORD for evermore
Psa_106:48 Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting
Psa_113:2 Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore.
Psa_118:26 Blessed be he that comes in the name of the LORD
Psa_124:6 Blessed be the LORD, who has not given us as a prey to their teeth.
Psa_128:4 Blessed be the man that fears the LORD.
Psa_135:21 Blessed be the LORD out of Zion, which dwells at Jerusalem
Psa_144:1 Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teaches my hands to war, and my fingers to fight:

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

That Time the Pope Tried To Change the Bible

Henry VIII 
Henry VIII was king of England from 1509 to 1547, coronated at age 18. To put the time period into perspective, this was 100 years before the King James Bible was published. His older brother Arthur was in line to become king, but died young, leaving a widow named Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536) -  Britannica(Catherine-of-Aragon) [1]. Henry wanted to marry Catherine, but because of Lev 18:16 had to get special dispensation from the church to do so.


Lev 18:16. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife. It is your brother’s nakedness.

The only exception is called Levirate marriage, where if a man dies childless, a brother marries the widow to produce a child to carry on the name of the dead man. This does not appear to have been Henry's motivation. His motive for wanting Catherine of Aragon was political - she was VERY well connected. She was the daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, famous for financing of Christopher Columbus, and expulsion of the Jews from Spain, both in 1492. AND Catherine was the aunt of Emperor Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire.

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Catherine of Aragon
But Henry had a problem, which became known as King Henry's Great Matter. Though Henry and Catherine had six children together, only one daughter named Mary survived. Meaning Henry did not have a male heir to continue his dynasty. When Catherine was getting beyond child bearing age, Henry wanted an annulment of the marriage so he could marry a woman who could give him a male heir. He also thought God's curse was on them.


He convinced himself that his first marriage had been against the divine law; that is, against the biblical injunction (Lev.) forbidding marriage with a brother’s widow. The deaths of the children proved God’s judgment on the union. Britannica(Henry-VIII) [2]

Lev 20:21. And if a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing. He has uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless.

It's not clear to me how Henry interpreted this verse to mean God's curse was on him. After all, he and Catherine weren't childless. Anyway he tried for years to get the church to grant an annulment. But remember Catherine's nephew was Emperor Charles. Pope Clement VII was essentially imprisoned by Charles during the Sack of Rome in 1527  till ransom was paid, so Clement was not willing to cross Charles to help Henry Wiki(Sack_of_Rome) [3]. Charles denied responsibility for the Sack of Rome. Nonetheless, he did have great influence over Clement after that.

Biblical Knowledge in 1520

Let's consider how much Bible knowledge people had in the early 16th century. Most people did not own a copy of the Bible then. Most couldn't read anyway. The King James translation was 100 years in the future. The only English language Bibles were the Wycliffe (1382) and Tyndale (1526, 1535) translations. Wycliffe was before the Gutenberg printing press (1450), so copies were made by hand. The Tyndale Bible was the first English Bible to be printed, interestingly, in the days when Henry was involved in his Great Matter. Tyndale was executed for translating the Bible into English.

Betrayed to church officials in 1536, he was defrocked in an elaborate public ceremony and turned over to the civil authorities to be strangled to death and burned at the stake. His last words are said to have been, "Lord! Open the King of England's eyes." Wiki(Tyndale_Bible) [4]

During the 1500s, the very idea of an English language Bible was shocking and subversive. This is because, for centuries, the English Church had been governed from Rome, and church services were by law conducted in Latin. Most people in Europe were unable to speak Latin, and so could not understand the Bible directly. The Church therefore acted as the mediator between God and the people, with Priests interpreting the bible on behalf of their congregations - British Library [5].

The Bologna Scroll

Back to the story. King Henry's men met with the Pope's men in Bologna, northern Italy. The pope's men told the King he could not get the annulment. Henry's responded by separating the Church of England from the Catholic Church. And since King Henry was the head of the church, he annulled his own marriage, then married Anne Boleyn. Henry also dissolved the monasteries and confiscated their assets.

What happened at that meeting in Bologna? Henry's men argued that the marriage had to be annulled because he had married his brother's widow, which was against Torah. The Pope's men countered by showing that the Torah doesn't say that. They brought out a scroll, which they said belonged to Ezra, yes THAT Ezra, which would make the scroll over 2000 years old. This scroll has no text for Lev 18:16-18, just five blank lines. Actually, it's erased, whether by a sponge or a razor. The text is not there. Which made Henry's marriage legitimate, and gave no room for an annulment. Modern high resolution photographs of that page clearly show the text that was erased, but it was apparently enough to convince Henry's men that the Torah did not say that. Apparently they forgot to erase Lev 20:21 which says the same thing.

It wasn't Ezra's scroll, and it's not clear how they got possession of an authentic Torah scroll. Scholars date the Bologna scroll to about 1200AD, and today it is the oldest complete Torah scroll in the world, just not 2000 years old.

How do we know all this? Because the Bolgona scroll was found in 2013 by the Italian scholar Mauro Perani. It had been lost since 1889 when it was “mistakenly cataloged in the University of Bologna Library as a 17th-century Sefer Torah” - Biblical Archaeology [6]. Here is a screenshot of the page in question - Academic Studies Press [7]. 

An impressive case is visible in Section 32, containing Leviticus chapter 18, where the five verses after verse 15, i.e. vv. 16–20, are cancelled in the following five lines, not substituted by any correction, and the text continues with verse 21 (Figure 10). As Saverio Campanini claimed, this erasure was not made by a scribe, but probably by emissaries of the papal party, as part of the disputations during the sixteenth century related to the divorce of King Henry the Eighth.  [7]  p35

So for the sake of politics, the Pope (or his men) changed the text of the Bible. For the want of a male heir, Henry made England a Protestant nation. This changed the course of history. Having the Bible available in the common language also changed the course of history.

Great Bible

From 1538, every parish in England was required by law to purchase a copy of an English Bible and place it in ‘some convenient place’ for all to see and read. More than 9,000 copies were printed by 1541 -  Wiki(Great_Bible) [8].


So What?

Why are we interested in this? People have attacked the Bible for a long time, maybe not for political ends like this time. Theologians attack the Bible by teaching the law is done away. Scholars attack the Bible, producing translations based on unreliable manuscripts, or inventing theories like the “Documentary Hypothesis” to cast doubt on the God inspired authorship. How about school libraries banning the Bible? - CNN [9]. Do you remember the Jesus Seminar of the 90's? A group of 50 scholars voted on what Jesus really said and did.

In The Five [sic] Gospels, the authors were able to state categorically that “eighty-two percent of the words ascribed to Jesus in the gospels were not actually spoken by him” - The Conversation [10].

It is absolutely ridiculous, even offensive, to think that a group of "scholars" today can more accurately determine what Jesus did and did not say than the authors of the gospels, who wrote in the same century in which Jesus lived, taught, died, and was resurrected -  Got Questions [11].

Most of the original leaders of the Jesus Seminar have died. They have a website, but it appears nothing has been added to it in 6 years - Virtual Religion [12]. The Jesus seminar has faded, but the Bible is still going strong.

The latest attack on the Bible comes from AI (Artificial Intelligence).

Yuval Noah Harari, the senior advisor to the WEF and its chairman Klaus Schwab, argues that using AI to replace scriptures will create unified “religions that are actually correct.” - Technocracy News  [13].

I fear that this may succeed for a season.

Not to be left behind, PETA is jumping on the AI bandwagon.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an animal rights nonprofit organization, has taken altruism one step further and used artificial intelligence to rewrite Genesis as a vegan manifesto, leading Bible scholars to fume over whether vegetarianism is indeed a Biblical concept - Israel365news  [14].

"In the beginning, God created heaven and the Earth. And the Earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep,” the PETA version begins. “He created animals of all shapes and sizes to live harmoniously with humans. Everyone marveled at their beauty and grace, and not a single thought of fur coats crossed their minds.” - [15]

The Bible prophesies a famine of the word. AI may be how it comes to pass. We need to remember what a valuable gift the Bible is. While it gets increasingly difficult to judge if a news story is true, remember that God has given us a book that is true and reliable. Let us internalize what it says so we won't be fooled by an AI “corrected” Bible.

Is 40:8 The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.


7. page 35