Sunday, March 31, 2024

Great American Solar Eclipse

America watched a total solar eclipse in August 2017. And will watch another total solar eclipse April 8, 2024. It is predicted to be the largest mass viewing of an astronomical event in US history. I have seen more articles about the 2024 eclipse than I saw for the 2017 eclipse. So many people are travelling to see it that some locations worry they may run out of food that day. Delta Airlines [1] is even offering path-of-totality flights from Austin to Detroit.

Does the eclipse have any meaning? Is it a sign? Is it just a normal cycle in the heavens? I wrote a blog article in 2017 about that eclipse [2], and asked the same questions then.

Is this just an ordinary astronomical event? Or is it a sign from God Himself? Big deal or no?

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Let's look at some interesting facts about the eclipse, then come back to these questions.

  • The 2017 eclipse crossed over seven cities named Salem in America
  • The 2024 eclipse will occur on the last day of the Hebrew year.
  • The 2024 eclipse will cross over seven cities named Nineveh in America 
  • Some teach that there was an eclipse over Nineveh in the days of Jonah 
  • The first US town to see the 2024 eclipse is Eagle Pass, Texas 
  • The last Canadian town to see the 2024 eclipse is Economy, Nova Scotia 
  • The 2017 and 2024 eclipses cross paths in southern Illinois, in "Little Egypt"
  • A small planetary alignment (four planets) occurs April 4, 2024 
  • The "devil comet" visible during the 2024 eclipse, closest at Passover  
  • A blood moon lunar eclipse occurred Mar 25, 2024 (Purim) 
  • The 2023 eclipse plus 2017 and 2024 eclipses form the Paleo Hebrew Aleph 
  • The 2017 and 2024 eclipses form the Paleo Hebrew letter Tav

From Salem To Nineveh

Look at the names of the towns that the 2017 and 2024 eclipses pass through. In 2017, seven towns named Salem, in 2024 seven towns named Nineveh - Israel365News [3]. There are only seven towns named Nineveh in the US, yet this eclipse hits them all. Salem means peace, but the exact meaning of Nineveh is uncertain, it could mean "Habitation of Offspring" or "Habitation of Ninus", where Ninus is a powerful, historical figure - Abarim [4]. What is more relevant here is that the prophet Jonah warned Nineveh would be destroyed in 40 days unless they repented.

Archeological scholar, Donald Wiseman, former curator at the British Museum and leading expert on Assyrian culture, has speculated that a solar eclipse did occur over Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire [3].

A solar eclipse during Jonah's warning to Nineveh would have encouraged people to believe him and repent. They did repent that time and were spared, but were destroyed a century or so later - GotQuestions [5]. If one accepts that these eclipses are warnings, it could mean 1) a warning that peace (Salem) will be removed - I would argue that the world is much less peaceful now than 2017. And 2) that destruction is imminent unless we repent (like Nineveh).

Immigration and Economy

Get Your Eagle Pass T-Shirt

The first US town to see the eclipse is Eagle Pass, Texas,[6] considered ground zero of the US illegal immigration crisis. The last town in Canada to see the eclipse is Economy, Nova Scotia [7]. Immigration and the economy are two big issues for voters in 2024. Coincidence?

Little Egypt

The two total eclipses overlap in an area of Illinois called Little Egypt [8]. John Badgley, a Baptist missionary called the area Land of Goshen in 1799. At one time, a famine in northern Illinois caused people to go to Little Egypt to buy food, and some settled there - Northern Illinois University
 [9]. Sound familiar? One way to look at this is maybe we are being told to look back at what happened in Egypt long ago. Pharaoh had a dream, interpreted by Joseph of seven fat years followed by seven lean years. The lean years did not begin in 2017, so if that is the point, the lean years could start this year. Maybe the point is to look to Israel's Exodus from Egypt, preceded by a plague of darkness.

2024 will see the rare occurrence of two cicada broods in Illinois, one in southern Illinois - Illinois Extension [10], though they are not expected to overlap to any significant extent - UConn [11] .

This year (2024) is a big year for periodical cicadas in Illinois, where Broods XIII and XIX will be emerging throughout much of the state at the same time. This is the first time this has happened since 1803 [10]

Little Egypt is also close to the New Madrid fault line, the site of the largest US earthquakes, which happened in 1811-1812. One of these quakes was powerful enough to make the Mississippi River flow backwards - Wiki(New Madrid) [12].


More Signs In The Heavens

Devil Comet With Two "Horns"

Interesting astronomical events seem to be piling up in 2024. The "Devil Comet" [13], so called because it appears to have two horns will be visible during the eclipse. Remember, the eclipse is on the last day of the Hebrew year, the new year starts April 8 at sundown. The Devil Comet will pass closest to Earth on April 21, which is Passover. Also, a "Blood Moon" lunar eclipse occurred on March 25, the day after the Jewish holiday of Purim [7]. Don't forget the small planetary alignment on April 4 - some say it will be seven planets aligned - endoftheamericandream [14], but other sources say only four - [15]. Coincidence?

More Hebrew Connections

On Oct 14, 2023, the US witnessed an annular eclipse, also known as a ring of fire eclipse because the sun is still visible around the moon - Planetary [16]. 
Tracing the paths of these three solar eclipses gives a hint to anyone who reads Paleo Hebrew. Doesn't everyone? All three paths form a Paleo Hebrew letter Aleph. The 2017 and 2024 paths form the letter Tav. Aleph is the first letter of the alphabet, Tav is the last. One could interpret this as the first and the last, or the beginning and the end - LightOf Torah [17], Natsab [18] Coincidence?

Signs Or Coincidence?

I have read a number of interpretations of the eclipses, they cover a spectrum of opinions. Throughout history, many believe that eclipses in general are bad omens, they feared eclipses. Mark Biltz for example claims 

Solar eclipse to mark beginning of judgment upon America - WND [19]

But he also said

The 1967-1968 tetrad of blood moons was a seven-year warning of the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Yom Kippur in 1973 was the very first day of the Jubilee cycle. And then the 2014-2015 Protective Edge incursion into Gaza and the Blood Moon that accompanied it were a seven-year warning before the October 7 war [19]


Maybe I'm being pedantic, but 1967-1973 is six years not seven, and 2014-2024 is ten years not seven. 

Lyn Melvin [20] is predicting the rapture on or before the eclipse, but I'm not persuaded that the Bible predicts a rapture.  

While some view them as warnings of judgment, others view them as predictable astronomical events and nothing to fear, which is one reason so many people are going to view the eclipse live.

Opinions vary within the Churches of God as well. Tom Kerry [21] teaches similar to Mark Biltz, while Bob Thiel [22] denounces it saying

Do not be like the pagans and read things into astronomical phenomena that people like Mark Biltz are pushing. [22]

Thiel does however acknowledge the judgment aspect of the times we live in.

the USA and many other lands are doing things to trigger God’s judgment [22]

Final Thoughts 

The Bible does say that the sun and moon were given for signs (Gen 1:14), that sounds like it includes eclipses. It also says "Joel 2:31  The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, BEFORE the great and the terrible day of the LORD come." The heavenly signs of the very end times will be unmistakable, supernatural signs, not natural predictable events. But I can't help thinking the timing and location of these natural events, however predictable they may be, are still signs, not coincidences. One problem I see is that interpreting the signs is unclear, as seen in the spectrum of opinions above. I don't wish to read too much into these signs, nor do I wish to ignore or dismiss them as simply coincidence. As a nation and as individuals, it is time to repent and get right with God.



Wednesday, March 13, 2024

With Healing In His Wings

We live in an unusual time in history. Recently I described how the indoor plumbing we take for granted is only about 100 years old - No Hot Showers [1]. Another thing that sets this age apart is simply how colorful it is. Any color you think of is easily acquired - paints, inks, dyes, etc.  But it was not always so. Until the discovery of analin dyes in 1856, all dyes came from nature. BTW, unlike stains which only affect the surface, dyes penetrate the material and don't wash out. Nature provides most colors in abundance so the human world was not THAT drab, with the exception of purple and blue. But one might say the sky is blue and water is blue – yes but blue pigments in nature are rare. Nowadays blue is common, j
ust think of the two billion pairs of blue jeans sold each year - ZipDo [2].

Our Blue Planet

Seen from space, earth appears as a blue and white planet. But up close, on land, one sees earth tones like browns, greens, reds. Outside of blueberries, can you think of another blue food - BlueFoods [3]? Even birds and butterflies that look blue don't get their color from blue pigment, but from fine scales that refract blue light - ZeFrank [4]. It took Shuji Nakamura [5] over 20 years to develop the blue LED - Veritasium [6], critical for flat screen TVs and smart phones.  He won a Nobel Prize for it Nova [7]. The reasons that blue is rare go into physics, chemistry, and biology, which even if I understood, aren't the reason I bring this up. Consider the Tabernacle.

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The curtains, the veil, the door of the Tabernacle in the wilderness all contained blue. The High Priest of ancient Israel was to wear a robe of blue. The word for blue is tekhelet [8], and tekhelet is used over 50 times in the Hebrew, nearly all of them in connection to the Tabernacle or the Temple.

Exo 28:31 “You shall make the robe of the ephod entirely of blue

Not just the High Priest, everyone was supposed to wear a little tekhelet blue.

Num 15:37 The LORD said to Moses, 38 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them that throughout their generations they are to make tassels for the corners of their garments, and put a blue (tekhelet) cord on the tassel at each corner. 39 These will serve as tassels for you to look at, so that you may remember all the LORD’s commands and obey them and not become unfaithful by following your own heart and your own eyes. 40 This way you will remember and obey all My commands and be holy to your God.

Murex snail
Tassel is translated from the Hebrew tzitzit [9], which is only used here and Ezek 8:3 where it means a lock of hair. Blue and purple dye was more costly than gold, so purple cloth was highly prized by royalty. It was noteworthy enough that a woman named Lydia was identified as a seller of purple in Acts 16:14. What was the source? Nature only provides two sources for purple dye, plants that produce Indigo, and a snail called murex trunculus. The Talmud (not the Bible) says that only murex trunculus dye is acceptable as tekhelet.

Each spot is
one murex gland

This ancient dye costs $2,700 per gram. It takes 120 pounds of snails to make just one gram of pure purple dye powder, in a labour-intensive process. One gram allows you to dye 10-15 grams of fabric (the sleeve of a shirt), and that’s why the dye was, and still is, so expensive. MiddleEastEye [10]

The only other OT verse that mentions fringes is Dt 22:12, but a different word is used.

Dt 22:12 You shall make yourself tassels (gedilim) on the four corners of your garment with which you cover yourself.

Tallit from Jerusalem
I'm not an expert on 21st century fashion, much less fashion of ancient Israel. I couldn't figure out how a garment had four corners. According to [11], this garment was more like a poncho, just a rectangle of cloth maybe with an opening for the head. Jews today often attach tzitzit to a large prayer shawl (tallit) worn externally, or a small undergarment similar to a sleeveless T-shirt, or some even fasten the tzitzit to their belt loops. And they have an unbelievable number of rules about tzitzit.

These are tzitzit I bought at Walmart online [12], made for Jewish consumers. Traditions vary among the various Jewish sects regarding color of threads (usually white), number of threads, knots,  length,  attachment, and so on - Tallit Shop [13]. BTW, this NOT a murex dyed tzitzit

Tzitzit are never mentioned again in the OT, but do make a couple appearances in the NT, somewhat buried in translation.

Lk 8:43 And a woman who had suffered a chronic flow of blood for twelve years, and could not be healed by anyone, 44 came up behind Him and touched the FRINGE of His cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. 45 And Jesus said, “Who is the one who touched Me?” And while they were all denying it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing in on You.” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone did touch Me, for I was aware that power had left Me.” 47 Now when the woman saw that she had not escaped notice, she came trembling and fell down before Him, and admitted in the presence of all the people the reason why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed. 48 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

She touched the kraspedon [14] of His cloak. We can know that Greek kraspedon is Hebrew tzitzit. In the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament Hebrew into Greek, Num 15:38 tzitzit is translated as kraspedon - Septuagint [15]. She touched the tzitzit of His cloak, and was healed. She was not the only one.

Mt 14:34 And having crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret. 35 And the men of that place having recognized Him, sent to all that surrounding region, and brought to Him all those being sick, 36 and were begging Him that only they might touch the FRINGE of His garment, and as many as touched were cured.

As many as touched the tzitzit of His cloak were healed. Remember, tzitzit are attached to the corners of one's garment, the word corner is translated from the Hebrew kanaph [16], the primary meaning is wing.

Num 15:38 they are to make tzitzit for the kanaph of their garment

Doesn't Mal 4:2 sound like a prophecy of these healings?

Mal 4:2 But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in his wings, and you will go out and leap like calves from the stall.

It's S-U-N, not S-O-N, though most commentaries agree that Jesus is the sun of righteousness - Ellicott Commentary [17]. Jesus clearly had healing in His wings, that is, in the tzitzit of His kanaph. Prophecy can have a dual fulfillment, a small former and a large latter fulfillment. At His return, He will have MUCH healing in His wings, and the earth will need it. I marvel at the symbolism in even a small detail like a tzitzit.

Shades of Murex Dye

The tekhelet blue dye industry thrived for over 2000 years, but the dye industry died around 650AD. The knowledge was lost too. Ancient writings were unclear what animal produced the dye, and unclear about the process as well. The murex snail was rediscovered in 1858 when a fisherman demonstrated the color change to a zoologist.

(The details of that story are told in the book “The Rarest Blue” [18] by Baruch Sternman. Much of the information here came from that book. I read it several years ago, and I wanted to write an article about it. Recently, I learned about the connection to the stories of healing in the New Testament, and the link to Malachi 4:2 - Kraspedon Mystery [19], so it was time.)

It took another 100 years and many scientists and scholars to rediscover the process of creating tekhelet blue dye from the murex snail. By this time, artificial dyes had taken over the marketplace from natural dyes, which caused the collapse of the Indigo plantations in India. For over 1300 years, observant Jews could not buy murex dyed tzitzit, so they were obliged to omit the blue thread [20]. But artisan dye makers are again making murex tekhelet blue dyes and genuine tzitzit - [21]. When the third Temple is built, if the priesthood believes they need murex tekhelet blue for the curtains, clothing, there are now sources for it.

The original purpose of the tzitzit was to remind individual Israelites of God and His commandments. The colors white and blue certainly make one think of the sky, that is of the heavens. Tekhelet IS sky blue. That colorful reminder is meant to lift you up, to consider God in all your ways, and not follow your own heart. I have to question whether it worked very well to remind the wearer of the commandments. In Jesus' day, many wore the tzitzit, but they were scolded by Jesus Himself for missing the point.

Mt 23:5 But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels (kraspedon) of their garments.

Now we have the law written on our hearts and minds, but that doesn't always stop us from sin, just like tzitzit didn't stop ancient Israel from sin.

Not everyone who wears the tzitzit is trying to remember the Commandments. One of the Hamas terrorists killed in Gaza was wearing a green tzitzit, Israeli military issue Israel365News [22].


We have seen:
  • God commanded the Tabernacle to use tekhelet blue.
  • The priests wore garments of tekhelet blue.
  • Israelites were instructed to wear tzitzit with a tekhelet blue thread in it.
  • The blue dye industry was very important in ancient times.
  • The process to make dye from the murex snail was lost, but has been restored.
  • The blue thread of the tzitzit was to remind Israel to obey God.
  • The tzitzit symbolizes the healing in His wings


18. Baruch Sternman

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

History, Language, And Context Of Acts 15

Acts 15 records what is called the Jerusalem Council. The discussions and the decisions reached there can be confusing. What I'd like to show is how certain history, language, and context makes Acts 15 easier to understand. 

The specific controversy was whether Gentile converts needed to be circumcised. The broader question was what did foreigners have to do to become converts. Paul and Barnabas were in Antioch when the controversy arose, and the church there sent them to the Apostles and elders in Jerusalem.

Acts 15:1 Now certain men who had come down from Judea were teaching the brethren, saying, “Unless you are circumcised after the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 

Acts 15:5 But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to keep the Law of Moses.”

Verse 5 says basically the same thing as verse 1, adding the fact that the circumcision advocates were Pharisees who now believed. It's not clear if these are the same men who stirred up trouble in Antioch. Lots of technical discussions on the Greek in verse 5 explain that it could be rendered “being circumcised in order to keep the law of Moses” which would make it consistent with verse 1 - UCG(Craig Scott) [1], UCG Covenants [2]. It is also possible that the Pharisees meant that “they keep the law according to Pharisaic traditions” - CBCG [3

Acts 15:19 (James) Therefore, it is my judgment that we do not cause trouble for those from the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols, from acts of sexual immorality, from what has been strangled, and from blood. 21 For from ancient generations Moses has those who preach him in every city, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

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Some History

Instead of jumping into analysis of the text itself, let's begin by looking at how that sounds to us in the 21st century. Everyone is influenced by the culture they live in, and we are no different. We are susceptible to bringing the bias of the surrounding culture when we read the Bible. Many of us came out of Catholic or Protestant churches that teach the law is done away. They even use Acts 15 as a proof text of it. Some may have had no religious background to speak of. Unless you're raised as an observant Jew, you would not be familiar with the Old Testament.  So when we  read these “four abstentions” - 

  • things sacrificed to idols
  • sexual immorality
  • what has been strangled (what we would call roadkill)
  • blood

they sound strange. Of all the laws in the Old Testament, why pick those four?

First Century Culture

Now let's look at the culture of the time, that is the Jewish culture of the first century AD.  The only scripture they had WAS the Old Testament. But Judaism had also taken hold. Many things changed from Moses' time to Jesus' time. 

During the time of the second temple (c. 516 BCE to 70 CE) Gentiles were excluded from entering the Temple past the outer court (which was known as the Court of the Gentiles). bibleq [4]

The money changers operated in the Court of the Gentiles. After overthrowing their tables, Jesus reminded the people that “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations” Mark 11:17, Is 56:7, but

The outer court was also where the animals that would be sacrificed were kept, and the noise, stench, and excrement of the many animals hardly made the court a place conducive to prayer - livingwithfaith [5]

The early church was all Jewish (note  Paul called himself Jewish even though he was Benjamite). The Jews felt they had a special relationship with God, and didn't want to let anyone else in. Jews weren't even allowed to eat with Gentiles (Acts 11:3). It took visions and miracles to show them the Gospel was open to all peoples.

But it was not always so. The Tabernacle in the Wilderness did not have a Court of the Gentiles, nor did Solomon's Temple. Gentiles in Judea had become second class citizens, and could not enter the Jewish court on penalty of death. The religious leaders of that day, Pharisees and Sadducees, added rules beyond what Moses wrote in the Torah.

And consider the culture of the first century Gentiles. The first Gentiles called were already “God fearers”, the term used to describe Gentiles that attended synagogue services.  But they came out of an idolatrous society. In time, Paul preached directly to Gentiles who were not God fearers. The Gentile religions of that day involved idolatry, sexual immorality, and consuming blood - UCG(Bible study aids) [6]. And don't forget that NO ONE had a personal copy of the Scriptures, and that few could read anyway. The only way to hear Scripture was the Sabbath reading in the synagogue.

Foreigners in the Torah

Going back to Solomon's time - when Solomon dedicated the first Temple, he prayed specifically that God would hear and answer the prayers of foreigners who would come from a far country.

1K 8:41 Also regarding the foreigner who is not of Your people Israel, when he comes from a far country on account of Your name 42 (for they will hear of Your great name and Your mighty hand, and of Your outstretched arm); when he comes and prays toward this house, 43 hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and act in accordance with all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, to fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Your name.

Solomon's Temple


Going back to Moses and the Torah.

The Old Testament uses three different words for stranger - Zarim, Nahkrim, and Gerim. All three are translated as stranger, and it takes some research to learn how they differ in meaning. According to Jewish Virtual Library [7]:

Ancient Israel was acquainted with two classes of strangers, resident aliens and foreigners who considered their sojourn in the land more or less temporary. The latter were referred to as zarim or nokhrim.

In contrast with the foreigner, the ger, the resident alien, lived more or less permanently in his adopted community.

In Egypt, the Israelites WERE the strangers. After the Exodus, the mixed multitude that left Egypt with Israel became the strangers. And over time, people came to Israel for various reasons, some temporarily, some chose to stay. The Bible records there was to be "one standard for stranger and citizen alike" (Lev. 24:22). I think this refers to criminal justice because in other ways foreigners had a few special rules. For examples, 

The foreigner (zarim and nahkrim) was not bound by the ritual laws, and it was permissible to sell him animals that had died a natural death.

[Summarized quote] With the passage of time, the gerim were assimilated culturally and religiously.  Hence, the ger, in contrast to the nokhri, was required to conform to the practices of the native Israelite - Like purification, incest laws, food laws, observe the Sabbath & holy days.  In other words, they were expected to be loyal to YHWH.  [7] 

So we see the Gerim, the resident aliens, could become part of Israel. Many countries today are like that – you can come to America, live as a  resident alien, then apply for citizenship. Some countries not so, like North Korea, Saudia Arabia, China, and others make it very difficult to get citizenship.  These days, countries will have a formal process for becoming a citizen. In ancient Israel, not so much. The one exception is that males must be circumcised to keep the Passover, also Num 9:14.


Ex 12:48 HCSB If a foreigner (ger) resides with you and wants to celebrate the LORD’s Passover, every male in his household must be circumcised, and then he may participate; he will become like a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person may eat it.

See why the Pharisees who believed (Acts 15:5) insisted that Gentiles needed to be circumcised? Even if you get past the rules added by Judaism, the Torah plainly says “he will become like a native of the land” after circumcision.

Finally, Acts 15

Curiously, neither circumcision nor the law of Moses or even the word “law” are mentioned again after verse 5 (though they appear in verse 24 in the KJV). Commandment keeping is not mentioned at all. So without history and context, verses 20 and 29 say something puzzling – that abstaining from these four things is all that is required of Gentile converts.

  • things sacrificed to idols
  • sexual immorality
  • what has been strangled (roadkill)
  • blood

That doesn't really make sense, does it? Does that mean Gentiles could murder and steal, but not eat roadkill? The Jerusalem Council was about circumcision according to the custom of Moses, not about the Ten Commandments. These requirements in vss 20 and 29 came directly from the Torah, specifically Leviticus 17 (7-9, 12, 15) & chapter 18.

7. And they shall no more offer their sacrifices to goat demons, after whom they have gone whoring. This shall be a statute forever to them throughout their generations.8. And you shall say to them, ‘Any man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who are staying among you, offers a burnt offering or sacrifice,9. And does not bring it to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation to offer it to the LORD, even that man shall be cut off from among his people.

12. Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘No one among you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that is staying among you eat blood.’ 

15. And anyone who eats that which died of itself, or a torn thing, whether one of your own country or a stranger, he shall both wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until sunset. Then he shall be clean.

Chapter 18 is all about sexual impurity. It concludes this way.

26. You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, neither the native, nor any stranger that lives among you

In all these cases, stranger is translated from ger. 

Torah Scroll

Does Acts 15 show the law of Moses is done away? It actually shows that the Apostles looked to the Torah to resolve the question.

This false interpretation depicts the Jerusalem Council as supposedly rejecting the law of Moses but also calling upon the law of Moses as a form of validation for what they resolve. [1]

So why would the Apostles pick these four items out of the Torah? These are the things that the ger had to do to live among Israel. Likewise, the first century Gentiles still had to live among the Jews in order to attend synagogues. 

The Jews considered Gentiles that followed these laws to be good people, and as such were welcome to study in the synagogues - hermeneutics [].

What about circumcision then? Peter was eye witness to Cornelius and his household receiving the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. The point is this happened while they were uncircumcised. Instead of circumcision, Peter directed that they be baptized.  Baptism is the outward sign of the New Covenant, circumcision is the outward sign of the Old Covenant - [1]

What about the timing of this? According to scholars, Peter's vision and subsequent visit to Cornelius was 35-40 AD, and the Jerusalem council about 50 AD. Racism against Gentiles may have been simmering the whole time, but why did it take 10-15 years to convene  a council? (Gal 2:1) - annomundi [9],  learnreligions [10]. When Peter explained what happened with Cornelius (Acts 11), it should have been the end of the matter.


  • Our culture makes Acts 15:20,29 hard to understand.
  • Foreigners could join the nation of Israel.
  • First century Jews discriminated against Gentiles.
  • Gentile religions violated the 4 abstentions.
  • Some thought that circumcision fulfilled the law of Moses.
  • Cornelius and family received the Holy Spirit while uncircumcised.
  • The 4 abstentions can't mean the 10 Commandments are done away.
  • The Apostles looked to the Torah to resolve the question.
  • Gentiles had to observe these things to be welcome in the synagogues.

It could sound like the only reason for the four abstentions was to placate the Jews in the synagogue. It's more than that. Are these four abstentions binding today? I believe so. I will try to cover why I think so in a future article.