17—23 March 2008

Issue No. 11          

The account of Jonah the runaway prophet kicks off on such a funny note.  The humour hits you in the face when you read the Hebrew text. Verses 2 & 3 translate literally as follows:


(The Lord speaking to Jonah) "Arise! Go to Nineveh..."  And Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from before the face of the Lord.

He did quite the opposite of what God told him to!  God's command is inscribed with two consecutive imperatives, "arise" and "go" without any intervening conjunction "and".  Stylistically, this accentuates the urgency of the command.  Hence, one anticipates an equally urgent response to the summons.  Indeed, Jonah arose - the same verb is used - with great urgency... to flee from the Lord!

Joan Teoh: Hebraic Humour — learning Hebrew can make you laugh!

Text Box: Chapel: 12 March 2008

Dr Ng Liang Wei gave a sermon based on Rom 12:15, focusing on that single verse.  His theme was “Relevance” and his verse was  “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”


Liang Wei offered many challenging and difficult thoughts as he examined the implications of this verse. To him the crux of the Gospel has to do with its relevance to people’s life situations. As believers, we have been commanded by Paul to identify and walk alongside those who rejoice and those who weep. He had to put it as a command because to do both is difficult. We often find it hard to be sincerely happy for (rejoicing with) those who have succeeded because we ourselves may have failed and, therefore, tempted to be envious. And it is also hard to sympathise (weep) with or understand those who live according to values different from ours, for instance, gay people, because of our prejudices.


Noting that the word “with” in the verse meant being there for others, Liang Wei wondered, for instance, if someone who is HIV-positive had to go for a medical test might he have a Christian friend alongside? What does it really take to be “with” those who rejoice and those who weep?


Rom 12:15 may be just a single verse, but it encapsulates a truth about how we should  live the Gospel and we are grateful to Liang Wei for helping us to see more clearly.


(Dr Ng Liang Wei, a medical practitioner, is studying towards his M.Div)


Again, verse 4 translates literally as:


And the Lord threw a great wind upon the sea and there was a great storm in the sea and the ship thought it would break.


Rather like a cartoon, yes?  The personification of the ship here is intended to help the reader see just how fierce a storm it was, that it was almost yanking apart the poor ship's frame.  The ship is panicking and desperate; she is about to be destroyed!


What I can't translate for you at all here is the use of a grammatical construct termed an off-line disjunctive clause.  It is used to alert the reader of Hebrew to a sidestep from the main line of the narrative, be it to introduce a new scene, or give some background information, or, as is the case here, to highlight a dramatic turn of events.  In this verse, it is actually used twice, the first time to indicate the dramatic intervention of the Lord, and the second to insert the comic personification of the ship.


One more.  The word "throw" is used here in verse 4.  In the following verse, the same word is used to depict the sailors throwing their cargo into the sea.  "The repetition is ironic--the sailors' action mirrors that of God.  He threw a wind into the sea and now they throw their cargo into the sea.  By verse 15 the irony will reach humorous dimensions as the sailors throw Jonah, whose disobedience precipitated God's action, into the sea!" (Chisholm; the chap who wrote the workbook I'm using in Hebrew class).

Brilliant... Hebrew, anyone?


(Joan is presently doing Hebrew Exegesis at BGST)



Dr Quek Swee Hwa leads a group to Israel on Sat, 22 March, returning 3 April.  The following tours are being planned:


Walking with Jesus: Biblical Sites in Israel & Turkey (Organised for The Bible Church)

Dates: 7 to 18 April.

Petra & Israel

Tentative Dates: 30 May to 12 Jun


Footsteps of Paul – Syria, Turkey, Greece & Rome (optional)

Tentative Dates: 8 to 23 Sep


All Egypt Tour

Tentative Dates: 21 Oct to 1 Nov


If you wish to join any of the above tours, please write to Serene Woon at admin@bgst.edu.sg with the following details: name, postal address and telephone number (contactable during office hours).

Text Box: Meditations for 
Passion Week

Not because of your promised heaven
Do I wish to devote my love to you;
Nor from dread of a much-feared hell
Do I wish to cease from offending you.
You touch me, Lord, when I see you nailed—
Nailed on a cross—when I see you mocked;
I am stirred by the sight of your body bruised,
By your suffering too and by your death.
I am stirred by your love in such a way
That even without hope of heaven I shall love you
And without any fear of hell I shall fear you.
Naught you need give me that I may love you
For even without hoping for the hope that is mine
I shall love you as love you I do.

Sonnet attributed to St Francis Xavier 

Lord, teach us to understand that your Son died to save us not from suffering but from ourselves, not from injustice, far less from justice, but from being unjust. He died that we might live—but live as he lives, by dying as he died who died to himself.

George MacDonald (1824—1905)

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

1 Peter 2: 21—25

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