The historical events of the Tanakh (Old Testament) end with the book of Nehemiah around 440 BC. The last book of the Tanakh to be written and edited was Chronicles. In I Chronicles 3 there is a genealogical list that continues some 10 generations after Zerubavel, which would date it to approximately 350 BC. In 333 BC Alexander the Great conquered the Middle East, and imposed Greek culture and language on the people living there.
Between 280 and 130 BC, Greek-speaking rabbinic scholars translated the Tanakh into Greek, known as the Septuagint. This became the most reliable version of the Tanakh, and is the version quoted in the New Covenant. In the Holy Land a dynamic tension developed between the international Greek culture and the local Hebrew-Aramaic culture. This tension at times worked for good and at times for bad.
The Maccabean revolt started in 166 BC and the Hashmonean Empire in Judea lasted until the area was conquered by Rome under Pompeus in 63 BC. By the time Yeshua was born, the Holy Land was ruled by Herod (Idomean-Greek Jewish convert), who was appointed under the auspices of the Roman Empire.
The apostle Paul (Saul) was educated in both Jewish and Greek studies. His name change from Saul to Paul may reflect the divine commission to take the gospel from the Hebrew world to the Greek international community. The authoritative text of the full Bible is written in Hebrew in the Tanakh and Greek in the New Covenant.
The tension between Hebrew and Greek continued into the early community of faith. On Pentecost morning, the 120 Hebrew-speaking disciples preached the gospel to a crowd of 3,000 people of primarily international background (Acts 2:9-11). The number of disciples grew among both Hebrew and Greek speakers.
Acts 6:1 – As the number of disciples grew, the Greek-speaking Jews began to complain against the Hebrew speakers, because their widows were being neglected.
The clash of the two culture groups caused problems in communication, finances, and administration. A committee was appointed from among the Greek speakers to make sure the logistics were being handled properly (Acts 6:5). The identity issues continued with the development of the international church (ecclesia). The order of the gospel is to the Jew first, then the Greek (Romans 1:16, 2:10); and yet Jews and Greeks have the same spiritual standing before God (Galatians 3:28).
We experience similar tensions in the body of Messiah in Israel, as we are a Hebrew-speaking nation, yet the number of non-Hebrew speaking new immigrants and international guests is larger than the Hebrew-speaking core. There is a perfect balance between the universal international aspects of the faith and the Israelite covenantal aspects of the faith.
About the time the Tanakh was translated into Greek, the Jewish people stopped speaking the name of YHVH. Ultimately the pronunciation was forgotten and forbidden. Instead of YHVH, the term “Adonai” began to be used, which is the plural form of the word “lord.” In the Septuagint, the name YHVH was translated to the term “Kurios,” which also means “lord.”
So at approximately the same period in history, the name YHVH stopped being used and was replaced by Adonai in Hebrew and Kurios in Greek. By the time of Yeshua, there is no YHVH in use, but only Adonai and Kurios. All of the citations of YHVH in the Septuagint and New Covenant translate YHVH to Kurios. Kurios means Adonai and YHVH.
Amazingly, in the New Covenant, Yeshua is referred to as Kurios. This is more than to call Him, “Lord.” This is to call Him Adonai. It is a bold and unavoidable declaration of His divinity. Yeshua is Kurios-Adonai. This declaration of faith was shocking both to Hebrew speakers and to Greek. To call Yeshua Lord-Kurios-Adonai is a nuclear explosion in the history of faith, religion, and revelation.
Asher serves as president of Tikkun Global family of ministries and congregations, dedicated to the dual restoration of Israel and the Church. He is founder of the Revive Israel five-fold ministry team, and oversees both Ahavat Yeshua and Tiferet Yeshua congregations in Israel.
He and his wife Betty share a passion for personal prayer and devotion, local evangelism and discipleship in Hebrew, and unity of the Body of believers worldwide.
Asher was raised in a conservative Jewish home and holds degrees from Harvard University, Baltimore Hebrew College and Messiah Biblical Institute. He has authored numerous books, tracts and articles.