God of the Ivri
Ivri and Noachide
Words matter. How we talk about and label things shapes how we live our lives.
Ivri – pronounced eev-ree - means “Hebrew.” In Genesis Abraham is “Abraham ha’Ivri” (Genesis 14:13): “Abraham the Hebrew.” The Midrash, Israel’s ancient lore, says that “Hebrew” connotes “the other side,” as in Joshua 23:3, “m’aiver,” “from the other side.” Midrash Genesis Rabbah 42:8: “All the world was on one side, but Abraham was on “the other side”.
So who are the Hebrews? People whose one and only God, Redeemer and Savior is God Himself, HaShem.
Who is God? The Bible identifies Him - blessed be He and blessed be His Name, baruch hu u’v’ruch shemo - as “the God of the Hebrews.” “Thus saith THE LORD [HaShem] God of the Hebrews,” Exodus 10:3. See Exodus 3:18, etc.: “the God of the Hebrews has met with us.”
We talk a lot about the Hebrew Revolution, the world-historical force for God-consciousness, going back to Abraham: what we mean by that, basically, is Ivri: Hebrewness; elevating ideas, teachings, practices, a worldview and consciousness m’aiver, “from the other side.”
Jews are born Ivri – one takes in Hebrew culture through one’s mother’s milk, so to speak; nationality flows from Mom. But this is a very big thing: “Hebrew” is, undeniably, a culture and a cause that’s transnational. Pan-national, in fact: meant for “all the kingdoms of the Earth” (2 Kings 19:19). Everyone of every nation is invited “to come under the wings of the Shechinah,” the immanent Divine Presence – to pursue and take up the Way of the Hebrews. This is a basic principle of Torah.
Suppose a Noahide, a non-Jew, calls herself Ivri and wears a mezuzah and says “shalom” and takes up kosher cooking but, God forbid, calls the god of the Christians her “savior”?
Answer: Mixing Ivri with foreign ideas that directly attack a central pillar of the Torah, the truths and teachings that make up the foundation of Ivri, is anti-Ivri. Whether that person understands it or not, that conduct is counter-revolutionary, in the context of the Hebrew Revolution; that person is anti-Torah.
Does Ivri mean the same thing as “Noachide,” describing the non-Jew who follows Hebrew ways?
It does in some contexts, in the Oral Torah. But generally, Noachide just means non-Jew, a non-Hebrew descendant of Noah.
The Noachide who further qualifies, under Torah law, as a “stranger at the gate,” a geyr v’toshav, a “stranger and sojourner” - as David describes himself in Psalm 39:12 - comes closer to the Ivri concept.
Through moral living, and also, perhaps, after making certain formal legal declarations, dedicating oneself to moral living, a non-Jew can become a ger toshav: a Gentile who acquires the right, according to the Torah, to live in the Messianically redeemed Land of Israel (See Talmud, Avodah Zarah 64b; Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Issurei Biah 14:7. Of course this sounds very hypothetical. Nonetheless, it has practical implications right now.) Yet even a ger toshav, legally and practically, might not be very Ivri.
This point can’t be over-emphasized. The Noahide Law - the 7M, the Seven Commandments or Mitzvot that constitute the Universal Law – does NOT dictate religion. One can keep the Noachide Law simply by not committing clear-cut felonies – things like murder, say, or failing to act justly in the fact of atrocious injustice – even if you’re “unsubscribed” from all religion.
In other words, you don’t have to follow or believe in the Way of Israel to keep, or surpass, the rudiments of the 7M. You can be an atheist, and a good person, or a Buddhist, or a Christian, or whatever. You are, however, missing out on the higher conscious and learning that comes from effortful, self-critical devotion to HaShem.
On the other hand, one who follows the Way of the Ivri, the Hebrew Way, submits totally to HaShem.
One of the great possibilities of “Ivri” is, we’re thinking, negative: to define or characterize what ISN’T Ivri. It’s rather like calling something “non-kosher,” outside the context of food. (“Non-kosher” is a very handy concept.)
“A Saturday morning bowling party isn’t Ivri.” “Letting your children steal from the store isn’t Ivri.” “Ingratitude to Hashem isn’t Ivri.”
We invited a distinguished fellow, a friend of many years who’s devoted himself to uncovering the truth of Scripture as it applies to him and his people, who are not Jewish, to join us.
Please consider putting your name down as a First Covenant person.
You know what we stand for: sincere searching for what's genuinely Ivri, or Hebrew Revolutionary; that we’re opposed to the loopy ethnocentrism and illogic of the mystics [that posit, for instance, the invariable moral superiority of Jews to Noahides, and related unlikely “facts”], not to mention the ridiculously presumptuous icy inhuman theology [extended from “I HaShem change not,” Malachi 3:6], which blasphemes HaShem by radically delimiting Him, encountered by many Noachides while exploring certain strains of Orthodoxy … not to mention the Biblical Historical Revisionists, the “Documentary Hypothesists” [whose doctrine rejects Revelation and even the concept of Divine inspiration] … and [the religious sects called] Conservative Judaism and Reform Judaism.
The First Covenant and our First Covenant Foundation, particularly, links independent thinkers with independent thinkers.
We’re pleased to say that he responded, “I would be honored.”
By Michael Dallen