Illusion of Freedom
Today we see the proliferation of Democracy and you will hear many proclaim that shows freedom spreading. But is this the case, can Democracy or any other system truly make one free? What does Tanakh talk about freedom? This is the topic of the discussion today.
In the History of men there have been many forms of governments or anti-governments. The first form was head of Family or in the Tanakh we see this as patrilineal rule or father rule. The eldest of the family was the ruler. If the mother rule or matrilineal rule was the eldest was female. Moshe was advised and developed Elder rule. Appointed leaders who also judged its followers. This went all the way to YHVH Elohim who was the ultimate ruler. We would call this Theocracy. Here the local elders where to judge rightly but that depending upon the individual. Freedom depended upon following verses not following the Torah. The ultimate authority was YHVH.
The Monarchy was the ruling family was appointed over other families. The Paro is a King as well as others as seen in the Tanakh. This was and still is a current form of government. Freedom in this form of government was limited to the ruler and his benevolence or tyrannical nature.
Then as we moved to more modern times other forms of governments were formed each proclaiming to provide freedom. There was Socialism, Communism, and lastly democracy.
Democracy is listed as the freedom to choose. The origin of Democracy is in ancient Aegean area of the Mediterranean that is normally thought of as Greece. This was direct democracy where each person had the vote but also a responsibility to serve the community. Like all forms of self rule it devolved into mob rule. It is Majority rule. This is where minority suffers. The founding fathers of the United States decided to modify this into Republic rule or representative rule like the Romans before Caesar’s. Thus, only land owners had the vote. Thus, only those responsible enough could vote and rule. They tended to be rich.
That brings us to our modern situation of the spread of so called freedom or democracy. We see the right to vote and choose for one is spreading. However, are they really free? In all systems there are leaders. Those leaders determine freedom. All this talk of freedom is the ability to choose not the freedom to choose. Yes one may choose from the choices given but who determines the choices?
Thus, all forms of governments do not grant freedom. They are simply illusions of freedom. What exactly is freedom as a person would define today?
Freedom from Webster’s Dictionary says:
1: the quality or state of being free: as a: the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action b: liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another : independence c: the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous <freedom from care> d: ease, facility <spoke the language with freedom> e: the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken <answered with freedom> f: improper familiarity g: boldness of conception or execution h: unrestricted use <gave him the freedom of their home>
Most people think of it as being free to do and say what you want. But are we free? What does the Tanakh say freedom or being free is?
One of Hebrew words for freedom or feed one is Chuph’shah (feminine noun) 2668 (Chet-Fey-Shin-Hey) and Chufashah (verb) 2666 from the root chafash (Chet-Fey-Shin) חָפַשׁ
Lev. 19:20 A man-when he lies with a woman, (with) an emission of seed, and she is a handmaid destined for (another) man, and redeemed, she has not been redeemed, or freedom (chuph’shah חֻפְשָׁה) has not been given her: compensation shall there be; they are not to be put-to-death, for she has not been freed (chuphashah חֻפָּֽשָׁה).
This is the only place where this Hebrew word is used.
The next Hebrew word used in a form of to free/release is Shemittah (Feminine noun) 8059 (Shin-Mem-Tet-Hey) which is from the word Shamat (verb) 8058 (Shin-Mem-Tet).
Devarim/Deuteronomy 15: 1, 2, 9
1 At the end of seven years, you are to make a Release (Shemittah שְׁמִטָּֽה). 2 Now this is the matter of the Release (hashemittah shamot הַשְּׁמִטָּה שָׁמֹוט): he shall release, every possessor of a loan of his hand, what he has lent to his neighbor. He is not to oppress his neighbor or his brother, for the Release (Shemittah שְׁמִטָּה) of YHVH has been proclaimed!
9 Take-you-care, lest there be a word in your heart, a base-one, saying: The seventh year, the Year of Release (Shemittah הַשְּׁמִטָּה), is nearing- and your eye be set-on-ill toward your brother, the needy-one, and you not give to him, so that he calls out because of you to YHVH, and sin be incurred by you.
Shemittah is the release of the debt or to drop it. It frees the person from being responsible for it.
10 And Moshe commanded them, saying: At the end of seven years, at the appointed-time of the Year of Release (Shemittah הַשְּׁמִטָּה), on the pilgrimage-festival of Sukkot,
Here Moshe reminds them of the release. Next we look at the verb form from which Shemittah is derived.
Shemot/Exodus 23:11 (10-11)
10 For six years you are to sow your land and to gather in its produce, 11 but in the seventh, you are to let it go (tish’metenah תִּשְׁמְטֶנָּה) and to let it be, that the needy of your people may eat, and what they (allow to) remain, the wildlife of the field may eat. Do thus with your vineyard, with your olive-grove.
Here we see the people are told to release or let go the debt.
2 Now this is the matter of the Release: he shall release (Shamot שָׁמֹוט), every possessor of a loan of his hand, what he has lent to his neighbor. He is not to oppress his neighbor or his brother, for the Release of YHVH has been proclaimed! 3 The foreigner you may oppress, and he who belongs to you; as for your brother, your hand is to release (him) (tash’met תַּשְׁמֵט).
We are to quite literally free our brother from his debt.
The next Hebrew word that is most reflective of the idea of freeing or releasing is Salach (verb) 7971 (Shin-Lamed-Chet).
22 YHVH, Elohim, said: Here, the human has become like one of us, in knowing good and evil. So now, lest he send forth (yis’lach יִשְׁלַח) his hand and take also from the Tree of Life and eat and live throughout the ages . . . ! 23 So YHVH, Elohim, sent him away (vayeshal’chehu וַֽיְשַׁלְּחֵהוּ) from the garden of Eden, to work the soil from which he had been taken. 24 He drove the human out and caused to dwell, eastward of the garden of Eden, the winged-sphinxes and the flashing, ever-turning sword to watch over the way to the Tree of Life.
Here we see salach used as both man’s ability to send out his hand and Elohim sending them out of the garden.
6 At the end of forty days it was: Noah opened the window of 7 the Ark that he had made, and he sent out (vayeshalach וַיְשַׁלַּח) a raven; it went off, going off and returning, until the waters were dried up from upon the earth. 8 Then he sent out (vayeshalach וַיְשַׁלַּח) a dove from him, to see whether the waters had subsided from the face of the soil.
Noach sends out the bird.
11 But YHVH'S messenger called to him from heaven and said: Avraham! Avraham! He said: Here I am. 12 He said: Do not stretch out (tish’lach תִּשְׁלַח) your hand against the lad, do not do anything to him! For now I know that you are in awe of Elohim- you have not withheld your son, your only-one, from me.
Here Avraham was stopped to take the life of his son.
Shemot/Exodus 3:10, 20
9 So now, here, the cry of the Children of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 So now, go, for I send you (ve’eshelachokha וְאֶֽשְׁלָחֲךָ) to Pharaoh- bring my people, the Children of Israel, out of Egypt!
19 But I, I know that the king of Egypt will not give you leave to go, not (even) under a strong hand. 20 So I will send forth (veshalach’tiy וְשָׁלַחְתִּי) my hand and I will strike Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in its midst- after that he will send you free!
Both Moshe is sent while YHVH send forth his hand to strike at mitzrayim.
15 Go to Pharaoh in the morning, here, he goes out to the Nile, station yourself to meet him by the shore of the Nile, and the staff that changed into a snake, take in your hand, 16 and say to him: YHVH, the Elohim of the Hebrews, has sent me to you (shelachaniy שְׁלָחַנִי), saying: Send free (salach שַׁלַּח) my people, that they may serve me in the wilderness! But here, you have not hearkened thus far.
Here we see Moshe was sent so Benei Yisrael could be sent out. Not just to be free but to serve YHVH.
1 YHVH said to Moshe: I will cause one more blow to come upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt; afterward he will send you free (yeshalach יְשַׁלַּח) from here. When he sends you free (keshal’chu כְּשַׁלְּחֹו), it is finished-he will drive, yes, drive you out from here.
Here the freeing is sending out.
31 He had Moshe and Aharon called in the night and said: Arise, go out from amidst my people, even you, even the Children of Israel! Go, serve YHVH according to your words, 32 even your sheep, even your oxen, take, as you have spoken, and go! And bring-a-blessing even on me! 33 Egypt pressed the people strongly, to send them out (leshal’cham לְשַׁלְּחָם) quickly from the land, for they said: We are all dead-men!
Here the people of Egypt encourage Benei Yisrael to leave.
5 Now the king of Egypt was told that the people fled, and Pharaoh's heart and (that of) his servants changed regarding the people, they said: What is this that we have done, that we have sent free (kiy-shilach’nu כִּֽי־שִׁלַּחְנוּ) Israel from serving us?
Here we see that Paro and his people regret sending out Benei Yisrael.
28 Moshe said: By this you shall know that (it is) YHVH (who) sent me (shelachanu שְׁלָחַנִי) to do all these deeds, that (it was) not from my (own) heart: 29 if like the death of all humans these-men die, and the calling-to-account of all humans is accounted upon them, (it is) not YHVH (who) has sent me (shelachaniy שְׁלָחָֽנִי). 30 But if YHVH creates a new-creation, and the ground opens its mouth, and swallows up them and all that is theirs, and they go down alive into Sheol, then you will know that these men have scorned YHVH.
Here Moshe shows a sign he was sent.
47 because you did not serve YHVH your Elohim in joy and in good-feeling of heart out of the abundance of everything. 48 So you will have to serve your enemies, whom YHVH will send-forth against you (yeshal’chenu יְשַׁלְּחֶנּוּ), in famine and in thirst, in nakedness and in lack of everything; he will put a yoke of iron upon your neck, until he has destroyed you. 49 YHVH will raise up against you a nation from afar, from the edge of the earth, like an eagle swooping-down, a nation whose language you do not understand, 50 a nation fierce of countenance that does not lift up the countenance of the elderly and (to) youths shows-no-mercy.
Here we see in our exile we will have to serve other nations.
Next we will look at Choice or Choose which is what we are told is true freedom today. Bachar (Bet-Chet-Resh) 977 which is a verb and means to Choose.
6 For you are a people holy to YHVH Eloheykha, (it is) you (that) YHVH Eloheykha chose (bachar בָּחַר) for him as a treasured people from among all peoples that are on the face of the soil. 7 Not because of your being many-more than all the peoples has YHVH attached himself to you and chosen you (vayiv’char וַיִּבְחַר), for you are the least-numerous of all peoples!
Part of choosing is the desire for a specific action. I show here that YHVH chose Yisrael not because they were large or good but for the promises he gave to Avraham.
Devaim/Dueteronomy 12:5, 11, 14
5 rather, to the place that YHVH Eloheychem chooses (yiv’char יִבְחַר) from among all your tribes to put his name there, to have it dwell, you are to inquire and are to come there,
YHVH chose in I Kings/Melekhim Aleph chapter 9 Yerusalayim as the place among their tribes but before that Shiloh and potentially other areas where chosen based upon the placing of the Mish’khan.
11 it shall be, in the place that YHVH Eloheychem chooses (yiv’char יִבְחַר) to have his name dwell, there you are to bring all that I command you: your offerings-up and your slaughter-offerings, your tithings and the contribution of your hands, and all your choicest vow-offerings that you vow to YHVH.
This chosen place was meant to be the place we all came to.
14 Rather, in the place that YHVH chooses (yiv’char יִבְחַר) in one of your tribal-districts, there you are to offer-up your offerings-up, there you are to observe all that I command you.
He Chooses. In the end the point of these verses is to show that YHVH chooses. Even when we make the choice he determines the outcome according to his choice.
14 When you enter the land that YHVH Eloheykha is giving you, and you possess it and settle in it, should you say: I will set over me a king like all the nations that are around me- 15 you may set, yes, set over you a king that YHVH Eloheykha chooses (yiv’char יִבְחַר); from among your brothers you may set over you a king, you may not place over you a foreign man who is not a brother-person to you.
YHVH also chooses the King they will later place over themselves.
7 and put fire in them, placing incense on them, before the presence of YHVH, tomorrow. And it shall be: the man whom YHVH chooses (YHVH bachar vechayah ha’iysh asher-yiv’char YHVH יְהוָה מָחָר וְהָיָה הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר־יִבְחַר יְהוָה), he is the holy-one. Too much (is) yours, Sons of Levi!
YHVH chooses the man he wants not what we want. Sometimes our wants coincide with his and sometimes not.
9 Moshe said to Yehoshua: Choose [for] us (bechar-lanu בְּחַר־לָנוּ) men, and go out, make-war upon Amalek! On the morrow I will station myself on top of the hill, with the staff of God in my hand.
Moshe commands Yehoshua to choose men.
24 Moshe hearkened to the voice of his father-in-law, he did it all as he had said: 25 Moshe chose (vayiv’char וַיִּבְחַר) men of caliber from all Israel, he placed them as heads over the people, as chiefs of thousands, chiefs of hundreds, chiefs of fifties, and chiefs of tens.
Moshe he chose men who would serve as judges over Yisrael.
19 I call-as-witness against you today the heavens and the earth: life and death I place before you, blessing and curse; now choose life (ubachar’ta bachayiym וּבָֽחַרְתָּ בַּֽחַיִּים), in order that you may stay-alive, you and your seed,
Here we are told to choose but the choice is Life or Death. Looking at this is a summary of the total of all the commandments (Mitzvot) and Curses (Qalalot). The choice here is obedience or not.
Yehoshua/Joshua 24:15, 22
14 “Now, therefore, revere YHVH and serve Him with undivided loyalty; put away the gods that your forefathers served beyond the Euphrates and in Egypt, and serve YHVH. 15 Or, if you are loath to serve YHVH, choose this day (bacharu lakhem hayom בַּחֲרוּ לָכֶם הַיֹּום) which ones you are going to serve—the gods that your forefathers served beyond the Euphrates, or those of the Amorites in whose land you are settled; but I and my household will serve YHVH.”
Here we see the choice is either serve YHVH or other elohim. The choice does not include no elohim to serve.
21 But the people replied to Joshua, “No, we will serve YHVH!” 22 Thereupon Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have by your own act chosen (bachar’tem בְּחַרְתֶּם) to serve YHVH.” “Yes, we are!” they responded.
In making the choice we are called to be responsible for that choice.
Shemu’el Aleph/I Samuel 8:18
7 and YHVH replied to Samuel, “Heed the demand of the people in everything they say to you. For it is not you that they have rejected; it is Me they have rejected as their king. 8 Like everything else they have done ever since I brought them out of Egypt to this day—forsaking Me and worshiping other gods—so they are doing to you. 9 Heed their demand; but warn them solemnly, and tell them about the practices of any king who will rule over them. 10 Samuel reported all the words of YHVH to the people, who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This will be the practice of the king who will rule over you: He will take your sons and appoint them as his charioteers and horsemen, and they will serve as out runners for his chariots. 12 He will appoint them as his chiefs of thousands and of fifties; or they will have to plow his fields, reap his harvest, and make his weapons and the equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters as perfumers, cooks, and bakers. 14 He will seize your choice fields, vineyards, and olive groves, and give them to his courtiers. 15 He will take a tenth part of your grain and vintage and give it to his eunuchs and courtiers. 16 He will take your male and female slaves, your choice young men, and your asses, and put them to work for him. 17 He will take a tenth part of your flocks, and you shall become his slaves. 18 The day will come when you cry out because of the king whom you yourselves have chosen (bechar’tem בְּחַרְתֶּם); and YHVH will not answer you on that day. 19 But the people would not listen to Samuel’s warning. “No,” they said. “We must have a king over us, 20 that we may be like all the other nations: Let our king rule over us and go out at our head and fight our battles.” 21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he reported it to YHVH. 22 And YHVH said to Samuel, “Heed their demands and appoint a king for them.” Samuel then said to the men of Israel, “All of you go home.
Our choices we have to live with. In this case we made the choice over Kings and the added requirements of having a physical King verses a Divine King.
Shemu’el Aleph/I Samuel 12:13
13 “Well, YHVH has set a king over you! Here is the king that you have chosen (bechar’tem בְּחַרְתֶּם), that you have asked for.
Again this is the chose made.
Shemu’el Bet/II Samuel 24:12
10 But afterward David reproached himself for having numbered the people. And David said to YHVH, “I have sinned grievously in what I have done. Please, YHVH, remit the guilt of Your servant, for I have acted foolishly.” 11 When David rose in the morning, the word of YHVH had come to the prophet Gad, David’s seer: 12 “Go and tell David, ‘thus said YHVH: I hold three things over you; choose one of them (bechar-lekha בְּחַר־לְךָ), and I will bring it upon you.” 13 Gad came to David and told him; he asked, “Shall a seven-year famine come upon you in the land, or shall you be in flight from your adversaries for three months while they pursue you, or shall there be three days of pestilence in your land? Now consider carefully what reply I shall take back to Him who sent me.” 14 David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hands of YHVH, for His compassion is great; and let me not fall into the hands of men.” 15 YHVH sent a pestilence upon Israel from morning until the set time; and 70,000 of the people died, from Dan to Beer-sheba.
Even when we don’t choose a choice is made for us.
28 Then they shall call me but I will not answer; They shall seek me but not find me. 29 Because they hated knowledge, And did not [they] choose (bacharu בָחָֽרוּ) fear of YHVH;
Not choosing something is amounting to making the opposite choice.
31 Do not envy a lawless man, Or choose (ve’al-tiv’char וְאַל־תִּבְחַר) any of his ways;
Choosing is active in nature and we must choose the right way.
14 Assuredly, my Lord will give you a sign of His own accord! Look, the young woman is with child and about to give birth to a son. Let her name him Immanuel. 15 (By the time he learns to reject the bad and choose the good (uvachor batov וּבָחֹור בַּטֹּֽוב), people will be feeding on curds and honey.) 16 For before the lad knows to reject the bad and choose the good, the ground whose two kings you dread shall be abandoned. 17 YHVH will cause to come upon you and your people and your ancestral house such days as never have come since Ephraim turned away from Judah—that selfsame king of Assyria!
King Achaz is asked to choose a sign and one is provided even though he refused.
4 For thus said YHVH: “As for the eunuchs who keep My sabbaths, Who have chosen (ubachoru וּבָֽחֲרוּ) what I desire And hold fast to My covenant—5 I will give them, in My House And within My walls, A monument and a name Better than sons or daughters. I will give them an everlasting name Which shall not perish.
Here the persons have chosen and the benefit is given for the right choice.
11 But as for you who forsake YHVH, Who ignore My holy mountain, Who set a table for Luck And fill a mixing bowl for Destiny: 12 I will destine you for the sword, You will all kneel down, to be slaughtered—Because, when I called, you did not answer, When I spoke, you would not listen. You did what I hold evil, And chose (bechar’tam בְּחַרְתֶּֽם) what I do not want.
Here when we choose, we get what we choose.
The point is that we feel as many do that having a choice means freedom. Yes, we can freely choose. However, we are not free to not choose because that is a choice in itself. We cannot choose to not choose an Elohim because we think that will eliminate the choice. As you have seen freedom to choose is not total freedom since the choices presented are the only choices we can choose from. Just like Melekh David could not avoid the choice. We have to make choices. In the end we must choose whether to be ruled by men or YHVH. Men with lo-elohim (no-gods) are a choice to our Melekh/King with YHVH. Even Anarchy, Atheism, Deism, and other alternatives are choices but do not eliminate YHVH as the true Elohim.