Grapes or wine? The marriage principle

I have read about twenty translations of Song of Solomon 8:6. The paraphrases do not seem to get that this verse is from the Ketubah or the Marriage Contract. I have heard at least a hundred sermons on how our relationship with Jesus is as a betrothal between the groom and the bride, but I haven't heard much at all on the contents of the marriage contract, or the Ketubah. It comes from the Mishna.

It’s fascinating, in a word.

I cannot find the artist of this painting.
The original purpose of the ketubah was to protect the wife and children in case something ever happened to the husband and papa. In ancient times, the family of the husband could just absorb the whole estate leaving the wife and children with nothing. In Jewish thought, this is tzedek, or justice. Ketubot, plural of ketubah, took the place of the mohar, the bride price as the young men desirous of marriage rarely had the money or possessions to pay the mohar so the priests made marriage possible by delaying the payment of the bride price.

The delay meant the couple could marry, but the husband promised to pay for his wife’s care in case he decided to divorce her. Genesis 34 illustrates the practice of paying a bride price. A Hivite, Shechem, saw Dinah the daughter of Jacob and desired her so much that he violated her. His father approached Jacob and his sons offering to pay what ever price they said so that Shechem could wed Dinah. Exodus 22:16-17 stipulates that any man who violates a virgin should pay the bride price and if her father refuses to give her to the man as wife, the man shall pay the virgin bride price anyway. 

The bride price was set high enough to pay all the woman’s living expenses for the rest of her life. If a woman was violated, any other man would not take her as a wife because she was tainted goods. (Even a widow were not married very often and became a burden unless she had sons to take care of her.) Her father must continue to take care of her far beyond the expected time so it was the responsibility of the man who violated her to pay for her care. It was also considered the responsibility of the husband to care for his discarded wife since she would have no place to go except back to her father’s tent. 

In the ketubah the bride and groom did not sign the document, but the two witnesses who were highly honored friends attested to the promises made by the groom who would speak the words out loud to the bride and then would drink from the goblet of wine, then offer it to her. The wine represented the groom’s blood and offering it to his betrothed was the symbolic gesture that he would give up his life for her. When she took the goblet and drank it, she was telling him, the witnesses, and all who were present that she accepted his life and his promises. Thus the betrothal was complete.

John the Baptist called Jesus the Bridegroom and that He who has the bride is the Bridegroom. As mentioned above the witnesses were friends of the bridegroom, and John rejoiced at this highest honor God had bestowed upon him to bear witness to the authenticity of Jesus being the Son of God (John 3:28-34). The church is often called the Bride of Christ, and references to this are sprinkled throughout scripture as in Isa. 62:5; Rev. 21:2, Rev. 21:9; Rev. 22:17; Eph. 5:26-27, Eph. 5:32; 2 Co. 11:2. Therefore the significance of the ketubah and the mohar is evident as a physical example of a spiritual truth. The monetary promise of the ketubah was a disincentive to divorce. If a man must pay an exorbitant bride price to the woman’s father because he was to give her a writ of divorcement or a get, it was hoped he would rethink the action as it would deplete his fortunes considerably.  

Jesus did not postpone the mohar but gave His life as the bride price just as the wine was His blood and the bread His body that we would remember what He had done. The wine is used when the betrothal is announced and everyone drinks to L’Chaim—To Life! It is the most common toast. Without blood there is no life. The sacrifices described in the Torah, were life given so that human life could continue. The correlation here is that God delayed pouring out His wrath upon the people.

Consider the day the Israelites persuaded Aaron to make the golden calf. God told Moses to get himself down the mountain because the people had done this evil thing; and God said His wrath would burn hot and He would consume them. Moses pleaded with God to consider Abraham, Isaac and Israel. So God nâcham. He took a deep breath and breathed out, easing His own anger and refrained from consuming the people. However, 3,000 men died that same day by a Levite sword. Blood was shed for the sin of the people.
Exodus 32:31 Then Moses returned to the LORD and said, "Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! 32 Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written." 33 And the LORD said to Moses, "Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book. 34 Now therefore, go, lead the people to the place of which I have spoken to you. Behold, My Angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit for punishment, I will visit punishment upon them for their sin." 35 So the LORD plagued the people because of what they did with the calf which Aaron made.

Wages of sin is death. But our Husband declared His love was so great that He gave His life, chaim, to redeem us. Moses offered himself for the people, but it was not a perfect sacrifice and God’s view is that each shall bear his own guilt unless he accept the atonement, or redemption payment, of Jesus’ blood.

What if young men were to make that kind of commitment for their brides today? What if wives would make that choice as well?

A man and woman can live as a married couple sharing everything, but still remain separate submerged within their own selfish desires, never caring beyond sacrifice for their beloved’s needs and pleasure. That is living as grapes on a vine. But, when grapes are crushed together, the flesh merges as one and the mingled juice becomes something more prized than water, as Jesus portrayed in Cana; that is the ultimate two becoming one flesh. That is how God intended marriage. The two people so blended, and so much a part of each other that it is impossible for anyone to divide them in twain.

That is the marriage principle. That is how it is with Jesus and His bride. We have no need of a ketubah. 

(Inspired by this video: This is a reprint from this week's column at

Kosher Chocolate Chips --the cookie crumbles

On the Wall Street Journal's website, there is an article about Trader Joe's chocolate chips not being kosher for meat and dairy. There is a hullabaloo and chocolate chip run occurring as we speak.

What's all the fuss, you ask.

According to Jewish law, meat and dairy cannot be served together, or cooked together at all. Jews could not eat Oreo cookies before 1997 because the goody was made with lard, not vegetable shortening. (No wonder they were so good!) So... this raises a question that I've been pondering for more than a decade.

Where did today's Jewish dietary laws come from?
When did Jewish dietary laws actually divert from the Torah?

Okay, that's 2 questions. Any one have an answer?

Law suit against Obama: Media censored reporting

I have warned about this several times in the past. Because a certain story (or type of story) isn't convenient or isn't conducive to popular trends in the public sphere, certain news agencies will omit reporting the story or slightly twist the reporting to make the news slant toward a political bent. Remember how a certain agency edited the 911 call of Zimmerman?

Brent Bozell, president of Media Research Center is appalled by: 
the worst bias by omission I have seen in the quarter century history of the Media Research Center, tantamount to the Chinese communists withholding news for 20 years that we landed on the moon, because it reflected poorly on the government. Our US media today are no different. They are now withholding news from the American people if it is harmful to the re-election of Barack Obama.
 ABC's World News and NBC's Nightly News completely failed to report this historic event! CBS Evening News only dedicated a brief 19 seconds to the story and framed it as a birth control debate. By contrast, ABC led their evening broadcast with the sentencing of the Rutgers student who spied on his gay roommate with a web camera. That story received three minutes and 30 seconds of coverage at the top of the newscast.

This is not a mistake or an editorial oversight by the broadcast networks. This is a deliberate and insidious withholding of national news to protect the 'Chosen One' who ABC, CBS and NBC have worked so hard to elect and are now abusing their journalistic influence to reelect. Even when a network like CBS mentions the suit ever-so-briefly, they botch the issue by framing it as a contraception lawsuit instead of what they know it to be: a religious freedom issue. It's bogus, dishonest ‒ a flat out lie.

The fact is that the Catholic Church has unleashed legal Armageddon on the administration, promising 'we will not comply' with a health law that strips Catholics of their religious liberty. If this isn't 'news' then there's no such thing as news. This should be leading newscasts and the subject of special, in-depth reports. Instead, these networks are sending a clear message to all Americans that the networks will go to any lengths ‒ even censoring from the public an event of this historic magnitude ‒ to prevent the release of any information that will hurt Obama's chances of re-election.

 I have to wonder why. What is it that is driving the news media, a once objective reporting industry to so abandon high ethical standards for a moral deteriorating agenda? Why is it so necessary to strip naked the moral majority of religious freedoms and conscious-driven policies? How far will it go?

Don't die in the wilderness

Psalm 78:12  He did wonders before their fathers in the land of Egypt, the field of Zoan. 13  He divided the sea and passed them through; and He caused the waters to stand in a heap. 14  And He led them by a cloud in the day, and all the night with a light of fire. 15  He split the rocks in the wilderness and made them drink, as from great floods. 16  And He brought streams out of the rock, and caused waters to go down like rivers. 17  Yet they sinned still more against Him, to provoke the Most High in the desert. 18  And they tested God in their heart, by asking food for their souls. 19  And they spoke against God, saying, Shall God be able to set a table in the wilderness? 20  Behold! He struck the rock and the waters gushed out, and the torrents were overflowing. Can He also give bread? Will He provide flesh for His people? 21  So Jehovah heard and He passed over, and a fire was kindled against Jacob, and also anger went up against Israel, 22  because they did not believe in God and trusted not in His salvation. 

Every time I hear something else that makes me churn with uneasiness like our economy, or that I don't have a job, or that our country's security is compromised by the loose lips of our president or secretary of state... God reminds me of His mighty works. Not just in the Bible, but I see a glorious day, a breath-catching sunset, a baby's smile and I am immediately soothed with assurance that He is in control. He gives us our needs before we think to ask. He lights our path so that we do not stumble. It is only when we disobey or head out into uncharted territory (read that away from the lighted path) that we acquire bloody noses and scraped knees and elbows. 

It is imperative that we believe Him and trust Him. It is not for our salvation that we do this, but for our own comfort. To believe and trust Him is to eliminate the Worry Factor. Worrying is the harbinger of  hearts full of disbelief and distrust. 

Take a lesson from the Children of Israel and do not die in the wilderness. Rest on the Strong Arm of the Lord. He will save you now.

A grandmother's pride

Year's ago when I was working for the Picayune Item my phone rang...

"I just want to know why you haven't put my granddaughter's picture in the paper," came the gravelly voice over the phone.

"Well, I... uh, what's your granddaughter's name?"

She told me and the name didn't ring one single bell. I'm pretty good at remembering names and putting names with faces. Don't test me, because I'll fail if you ask me to tell you who I met today and what their names are. I've got retroactive memory. Forget short term, that's gone forever, I think.
I took down all the information and all the while that gravelly voice was talking.

"My granddaughter won such and such award and I think that is way more news worthy than graduating basic training. Just about anybody can do that, but not everybody in the military gets such and such award. You need to find that picture and if you can't I'll scrounge around the family and get one, then I'd like to see her story in the paper as soon as possible. I've been waiting months for her picture to get in the paper..."

Whew. I asked around and of course no one remembered getting a military picture. It wasn't in the computer banks anywhere and not in any of the folders in the files. I scoured the internet hoping to find a military picture of this young woman. Surely, someone would be bragging on her if the award was such a big deal.

I turned up one photo of her. She was in New Orleans, handing out candy to Katrina victims with the biggest smile on her face, like she was having the grandest time of her life. The kids were grinning, too. They were having a party. In the background were a couple of helicopters, blades twirling, and soldiers were lifting stretchers out of the helicopters and the tarmac had several stretchers lined up.
She gave those kids a lighter memory than the pure trauma they had endured. That's a real hero. I'll never forget her face, but her name escapes me at the moment. But, her name isn't as important as what she did.

I couldn't find a "proper" picture to go with the award story. It was time to go home any way, it was past 7 o'clock and I was hungry.

Next morning, the picture was on my chair with a note scrawled across a paper clipped piece of paper, 'okay to rerun.' Hmm, I didn't know it ran the first time.

I scanned the photo and wrote the story. It ran in the next edition. And the grandmother was right. It was really a big deal and a great award. The young woman deserved the recognition. But, I'm thinking in the back of my mind, that the real story was the grins on those kids' faces. Mighty Mouse, Tom Terrific, Superman... those are two dimensional heroes. This woman was a real life hero in those kids' eyes. You just can't beat that with a stick.

Ten commandments to lose the first 4?

The ACLU has attacked the Ten Commandments once again, and this time a judge, Michael F. Urbanski, has recommended that the first four commands be removed to make the document more palatable to the ACLU. The case has been ordered into mediation. In June, the school board not only voted to take down the 10 Commandments at the high school, but also in ever other school in Giles County, Virginia. Then, after the "agreement", the school board was ordered to pay the ACLU more than $6,000 in their out-of-pocket expenses, all while the student and parents' identity remain secret.

There are framed documents depicting American law and government of which one is the ten commandments. Whether they can see it or not, whether they like it or not, there is no changing the fact that the ten commandments played a major roll in the development of United States law. 

Our forefathers are rolling in their graves, so to speak, at what America puts first. Our nation was built on Biblical principles by Christian men and women. One has only to do a bit of reading of historical speeches and writings of John Hancock, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams, and many others to know that the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Matthew, Mark, Paul and John was also the God of our forefathers. Nonetheless, today the battle cry is not “A Bible in every house” (Ben Franklin). It is “King size it” and “I’ll have it my way” for “If it feels good, do it” and “Just do it” because “I deserve a break today.” Regardless of lessons from times past, Americans have not learned how to let history be a teacher.

Women: No participation in the economy?

According to a Wall Street Journal article, women have been held back from participation in the economy. Although, a focus group that asked top executives from 60 companies why they were trying to fast track women, the majority response was that women have held the purchasing power for decades. The article by Sue Shellenbarger asks, "So why are we still talking about it?" 

Some interesting things come to the top for examination:

1. Women have to be prodded to nominate themselves for promotion.
2. Women have a lack of sponsors to petition for them.
3. Most leaders assume women do not want the "tough assignments".
4. High-ranking female role models are scarce.
5. Well-intentioned execs seem to ignore women managers' opinions and contributions.

Here in the South, there is a definite glass ceiling. The thought here is that a good woman is barefoot in the winter and pregnant in the summer. However, it is not a deeply embedded thought because there are thousands of women who have cracked that ceiling. 

I learned in my Social Psychology that there truly is a sharp dividing line where gender is concerned, not only generally, but also regionally.  So I was not crazy in my estimation that men in the South were more inclined to keep women in lower positions (glass ceiling). 

In several studies, in a group of equal numbers of gender, the women will defer to the men even though the man does not clearly exhibit leadership qualities.  A woman with clear leadership qualities will defer and not take over.  In a related study, it was found that men lead in a totally different way that women lead.  However, there were (and I think always are) exceptions to the rule.

Let's look at this limiting-gender-thought process.It is not new or merely a few hundred years old, it dates back millennial from ancient Greece where women were never seen in public and rarely seen in the home's dining room and never in the home's living room where guests (always only men) were being entertained. After Romans conquered the world, woman's role enlarged somewhat, but still the restrictions against them owning property were adamantly enforced. But life back then held little real value. Unwanted babies were left outside the gates of Rome like so much trash. Case in point, the Romans, in fact, named their daughters numbers (Secundia...Thertia etc. sp?) because the daughters held no meaning for them. I do not believe Paul thought this way even though I originally perceived him to think that.

After a closer walk with Paul, I came to see that his first thought was not of gender but of Truth teaching. He stressed that elders needed to teach and train (mentor) the younger ones. However, he had no problem leaving a very young Timothy to teach/preach to the congregation at Ephesus. The reason was because  he knew that Timothy was firmly rooted in Truth because he had taught him himself. Women were not formally taught in school, so they had lots of instruction they had to undergo before they could understand deeper truths as in the case at Corinth and Ephesus. 

Today, women have superior educations, hold Master's degrees and Doctorates. There is nothing that should hold a woman back from what she desires to attain, in fact, many women do strive for that corner office or chief officer level in corporate America. Those who do not want to be there, don't compete for it. Why is it assumed that women want those top slots?

I wouldn't be in that top chair for all the money in the world. (I notice so many people complaining about the sky-high salaries of CEOs now days, but I seriously doubt many people could handle those jobs without having serious stress problems, losing their hair or going prematurely gray!) I've been in management, worked 60-hour weeks without a vacation in a 2-year stretch. I did it because my husband had no job and I was the sole bread-winner. That kind of responsibility and stress played havoc with my health. Do not get me wrong. I loved all that wheeling and dealing; and I loved the difference I was making in 17 lives for the better as I mentored and coached them to better sales results. However, I would not do it again with children still at home. There are certain things that women do so much better than men and one of those things is being Mom.

God designed it that way.

I'm thinking that we women absolutely have our position which is under our husbands like under an umbrella of protection, and our children are under us as another umbrella of protection. In an ideal world the hierarchy would be Christ=>Husband=>Wife=>Children. That is a three-tiered protection level. It is so sad that that protection is not in place for all children everywhere, isn't it?

But, we also have abilities that are God given for Him to use.  I do not think it wise to question God on how He uses His tools.  We are all the same and yet we are all different, like snowflakes.  That is one thing that makes God so great.  Ah, well... if I understood it all, I wouldn't need my Bible so much.