Sweet Like Honey

I had to write a quick note, because I found something that was so cool, and just shows again how the ideas and content of the New Testament, are founded in the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament). That is where the phrase I use “It’s in the Text” comes from. “Text” being a synonym of “scriptures.” When I discovered the picture John (a Hebrew) in the book of Revelation was conveying (out of the scriptures), it got my blood pumping (very exciting). John is just showing more of the same picture that had been there for a long time. The New Testament is not as “new” and different as we think it is. It is just that we as westerners, don’t really know our scripture all that well, and so when we see the Old Testament flow with the NT, it gets us excited (myself included). Its all the same story.

The first thing I need to mention is when we talk about “honey” in the scriptures, the Hebrew word that is usually translated as “honey” is devash. While devash can refer to honey (bee honey), it really refers (in most cases) to other sweetening agents; the most common of which, in Biblical times, was from date sugar or fruit nectar. There really is no evidence that the use of beehives to collect honey was even used in Biblical times. The event in the book of Judges when Sampson found a honeycomb in the bones of a dead lion is more the norm. What I am telling you now is common knowledge among most Biblical scholars and is covered in a unique way in James Michener’s classic fictional, archaeological work, The Source (chapter 2, The Bee Eater). The finding of a hive and the honey it contained was purely coincidental, and a happy occasion. Bees would congregate in splits in trees, rock crevices, and yes, the skeletal remains of large animals; this was more natural. So when we see the word “honey” in the Bible, don’t get hung up on thinking that what was meant was honey from bees. Except in the rarest of instances devash was simply referring to something that added a sweet taste to food. Jelly or jam from fruit would be called what is translated in our English Bibles as “honey.” While the New Testament is in Greek (at least the manuscripts that we have available), it is important to remember that they are using words that have Hebrew ideas and thought attached to them. So even in the New Testament when we see “honey”, the same thing applies.

Being a studier of prophecy for quite a while, (as I inherited that passion from my father, and him from his father), I had always wondered why in Rev 10 John had to eat the little book/scroll, and “in his mouth it was sweet like honey.” It also didn’t make sense to me what the “sweet like honey” and “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages, and kings”, had to do with each other.

Well, if I had known my Bible, I would have known that this was not the first time this had happened. To those which John was writing, who knew their Text, when they saw this incident of “eating the book/scroll” and “honey”, they would have immediately known what the author was trying to convey.

What I found then was, that the prophet Ezekiel had the same thing happen to him in chapter 3 of Ezekiel. And again, “eat what you see in front of you; eat this scroll”,  “then go and speak to the house of Isra'el.” "Go to the house of Isra'el, and speak my words to them.” So then, back to the same problem. We now have an earlier case of this mysterious eating a book/scroll, but what does it mean? What is with this correlation to “eating of the scrolls” and honey in mouth, and speaking God’s Word? Well, what would Ezekiel’s readers/hearers have seen
in this? Again, had I known my Bible, there would have been little doubt. We need to look
at Ezekiel’s scriptures, because of course “it’s in the Text.” I think we might find our answer
in Psalms 19:1-11

God’s creation proclaims His truth, and righteousness. Notice how much attention is placed on words like: declare, speech, language, speak, voice, language, sound (or some translations line), and words. This is saying how God is declaring Himself, by what He has made and set in motion. 

Then He speaks about His instruction, ordinances, Statutes, Torah (what most of our English Bible translate as “law”) and rulings, as being perfect. All these are to be desired more than gold and more than “devash”, and the “devash” that comes from the honeycomb. 

What are these prophets to be testifying? God’s words! They are all the things mentioned above, His instruction, ordinances, Statutes, Torah and rulings. And in Ez 3, it is these very things from which the house of Israel has departed. And so Ezekiel finds himself put (as a prophet) in the same position that God’s creation is in: declaring His Words. And so the sweetness we could say, of all the things listed above, is the sweetness that is in the prophets mouths. We need to know out Text to see what it was that was making those books/scrolls, taste like devash, because it is those things that are listed in the book of Psalms. 

It is even interesting (to make a midrash-a teaching) out of this, we find in Genesis 1 that after God had created, He called it “good”, Heb– Tov. Well, the greatest prophet (next to Messiah) was Moses (though Messiah was a prophet like Moses; Deut 18, Acts 3, Acts 7). When Moses (the prophet that would declare God’s instruction, ordinances, Statutes, Torah and rulings, after whom Messiah would be like) was born, can you guess what the scripture said about him? Moses was tov (Ex 2). Most English Bibles hide this because they translate “good” (as in creation), to “a goodly”, or “beautiful” child. But Moses is called the same thing that creation is called after his creation. (Maybe it’s just because Moses wrote the book and thought he was “cute”).   

God’s Words about Himself, His teachings, commandments, judgments and His warnings given to the prophets Ezekiel and later John, and so by the words given to King David, by his using “honey”, it seems that both of these prophets would have understood the picture that was being shown them. It includes the message the prophets were to take to Israel and all the nations. Just from the one word, “honey”, devash.

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