For the second week of my study of the Sermon on the Mount from Come, Follow Me, the New Testament family based curriculum of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I studied the word “judge.” I studied it in terms of translating the word into ancient Hebrew symbols. You can read my previous post to see what I discovered about “salt” when I translated it into the ancient Hebrew pictograms. I love doing this as part of my personal scripture study every morning. It is a treasure hunt of discovery and wonder every single day!
This study was amazingly Providential for me. More on that at the end of this post.
This week’s study was Part 2 of the Sermon on the Mount. It involved Matthew 6 and 7. In Matthew 7:1-2 Jesus told us to “judge righteously,” according to the Joseph Smith Translation. The KJV says we are “to judge not,” but Joseph Smith corrected that under the influence of the Holy Spirit and translated it as “judge righteously” so that we create a “righteous judgement.” So we are to judge, we just have to be super careful that we do it righteously. How do we do that? Well, the Hebrew word for “judge” gives us the secret. The word for judge in Hebrew is “shaphat.” Here is what it looks like:
So these Hebrew letters are, from right to left:
schin yod peh tav
We say the “sh” sound for schin, “ya” for yod, “f” or “p” or “ph” for the peh, and “t” for the tav. So that gives us “shaphat.”
Translated into the pictograms the symbols for these letters are, again, right to left:
(teeth) (arm) (mouth) (sign)
The literal meanings of these symbols are:
When I first saw these symbols I didn’t know what the composite meaning could be. Then I listened to ta talk from General Conference by Elder Lynn G. Robbins about judging righteously, below. Here is the text of his talk.
Then I understood. It was like the heavens opened, and in my mind’s ear I heard angelic music. As the music played in my mind, light opened up. The meaning of “shophat/judge” came into sharp focus.
I realized that a true judge, a judge who judges righteously, is a disciple, both a follower and learner of Jesus Christ. Here is my interpretation of the Hebrew pictograms for judge:
“One with strength who digests and speaks the signs.”
or more elaborately, “One who is so thoroughly consumed with the truth that one can teach others how to read the signs and be happy and stay out of trouble.”
Someone who is in what we perceive to be trouble could be there because he or she doesn’t know the truth or how to read the signs. So if we “judge” them to be be bad or foolish, we may be judging them without knowing what light they have. We can only judge righteously if we judge with that person’s light, which can only be known through the Spirit.
A righteous judgment involves helping one to learn to read the signs of what’s going on both outside one’s body, with social and environmental cues, and inside, with emotions and biochemical changes.
Someone who is in trouble could be there because he or she doesn’t know the truth of how to read physical, spiritual, and emotional signs. This can apply to so much of life: addiction prevention (see eternalwarriors.org), overeating, anger management, parenting, child discipline, succeeding in a job, owning a business, or as a student, and so much more. A righteous judgment involves helping one to learn to read the signs and change one’s heart and behavior accordingly to stay out of trouble. If you want to read why this revelation about judging fits so well into my life right now, keep reading. Otherwise, you can be done, as my husband tells me my blog posts are too long. 🙂
In the past two weeks, I have had a few different encounters with the idea of judging. First, I got to see Nicholeen Peck of Teaching Self-Government fame, at the AZ Winter Homeschool Conference. I attended Nicholeen’s seminar and bought her CDs over 10 years ago.
So I have done what I could to put her discipline system in my home. I tweaked it some and it has worked, for what I’ve put into it, but I know I have room for improvement, to fully implement it. I was thrilled to see that she now has a Choices Map so I bought it from her vendor table.
I have high hopes it will help my children better see the signposts of their good and bad choices, so they will be better judges of their own emotions and behavior and choose to have more freedom and more choices.
Second, I read Tito Momen’s book, My Name Used to Be Mohammed for my Quest class. It was such an amazing, true story! Tito, who was born a Muslim, was imprisoned for 15 years for becoming a Christian while living in Egypt. He had to appear before a judge and was convicted falsely on charges of dealing with illegal drugs.
Third, I revisited The Law by Bastiat and discussed it with my Quest class. I read this years ago when my older kids were still in the nest and taking a statesmanship class. It really got me thinking about what exactly is justice and what is the role of government. When do judges pervert the law? I’ve been pondering that.
Fourth, I got called to jury duty! This was the third time in three months. The first two times, I called the hotline the night before and found out the case was settled out of court. So I didn’t have to go. But this third time, the case went to court. I nervously entered the courthouse, not knowing what to expect. I definitely felt out of my element! I am not used to being dressed to look businesslike at 8 AM on a Monday morning! Fortunately, I was weeded out during the juror selection process before lunchtime hit. Whew! The judge said she expected the trial to last four days! This was a new experience for me. I have hopes that justice will be served. I hope the judge and jury will be fair and impartial. I hope that the accused will be exonerated if innocent, and if guilty, will learn from some teacher in his life, whether it be the formal judge or a righteous “judge” in the form of a friend, to recognize signs of impending trouble and respond accordingly.
It’s so wonderful how God gives me experiences that weave into what I am learning by studying the Bible. If you want to see my full article of how I study each lesson in Come, Follow Me on my own and with my family, go here. Beware, it’s long! 🙂