קָטַל==is made up of two syllables, one being קָ== (qa) and the other טַל== (tal). Both syllables contain a full vowel and begin with a consonant. On the other hand, בְּרִית== (berithʹ) has only one syllable since it contains only one full vowel ( ִ== = i); the raised e ( ְ==) is a half-vowel.
There are two apparent exceptions to the rule of only consonants starting a syllable:
(1) When a word opens with the form of waw conjunctive וּ== (u). Thus וּבֵו== is u·venʹ.
(2) With a “furtive paʹthahh.” This is the vowel paʹthahh ( ַ==) placed under the consonants ץ ,==ח ,==הּ==, when they appear at the end of a word; in this case the paʹthahh is sounded before the consonant. Thus רוּחַ== is not ru·hhaʹ, but ruʹahh.
Sometimes a small horizontal line (־==), similar to an English hyphen, appears between words. This serves to combine two (or more) words, so that they are treated as a single word. Thus בָּאֲשֶּׁר== is kol-ʼasherʹ.
All Hebrew words are accented on the last or next to the last syllable. Most are accented on the last syllable, and, since this is understood, the word is usually not marked in any special way when it is found in a lexicon. Thus קָטַל== (qa·talʹ) is understood to be accented on the last syllable (טַל== = tal). Those words accented on the next to the last syllable are often marked with a symbol, such as (›==) over the consonant, or (‹==) below the syllable that is to be accented. Thus קָ‹טַלְתִּי== (qa·talʹti) is accented on the next to the last syllable.
In this work a single dot separates syllables; the stressed syllable is marked with the same accent symbol used to denote primary stress in English (ʹ).
HEBREWS, LETTER TO THE
An inspired letter of the Christian Greek Scriptures. Evidence indicates that it was written by the apostle Paul to the Hebrew Christians In Judea about 61 C.E. To those Hebrew Christians the letter was most timely. It had then been about twenty-eight years since Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. In the earlier part of that period severe persecution had been brought upon these Jewish Christians in Jerusalem and Judea by the Jewish religious leaders, resulting in the death of some Christians and the scattering of most of the others from Jerusalem. (Acts 8:1) The scattered ones remained active in spreading the good news everywhere they went. (Acts 8:4) The apostles had stayed in Jerusalem and had held the remaining congregation together there, and it had grown, even under stiff opposition. (Acts 8:14) Then, for a time, the congregation entered into a period of peace. (Acts 9:31) Later, Herod Agrippa I caused the death of the apostle James, John’s brother, and mistreated others of the congregation. (Acts 12:1-5) Sometime after this there developed a material need among the Christians in Judea, giving opportunity for those in Achaia and Macedonia (in about 55 C.E.) to demonstrate their love and unity by sending aid. (1 Cor. 16:1-3; 2 Cor. 9:1-5) So the Jerusalem congregation had suffered many hardships.
PURPOSE OF THE LETTER
The congregation in Jerusalem was comprised almost entirely of Jews and those who had been proselytes to the Jews’ religion. Many of these had come to a knowledge of the truth since the time of the most bitter persecution. At the time the letter to the Hebrews was written the congregation was enjoying comparative peace, for Paul told them: “You have never yet resisted as far as blood.” (Heb. 12:4) Nevertheless, the lessening of outright physical persecution to death did not mean that strong opposition from the Jewish religious leaders had ceased. The newer members of the congregation had to face the opposition just as did the rest. And some others were immature, not having made the progress toward maturity that they should have made in view of the time.—Heb. 5:12.
That the letter to the Hebrews was inspired by Jehovah’s spirit is clearly evident. The immature Hebrew Christians in Jerusalem and Judea seriously needed counsel, and all in the congregation needed encouragement. Time was running out for Jerusalem. The situation would call for alertness and faith on the part of the Christians there to obey Jesus’ warning to flee from the city when they should see Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies. (Luke 21:20-22) According to tradition, this took place in 66 C.E. when Cestius Gallus’ troops withdrew after beginning an attack on the city. Then, in 70 C.E., Jerusalem and its temple would be razed to the ground by the Roman general Titus. Every member of the Christian congregation, and especially the immature ones, would have to strengthen themselves for these momentous events. The opposition they faced daily from the Jews put their faith to a test. They needed to build up the quality of endurance.—Heb. 12:1, 2.
The Jewish religious leaders, by lying propaganda, had done everything they could to stir up hatred. Their determination to fight Christianity with every possible weapon is demonstrated by their actions, as recorded in Acts 22:22; 23:12-15, 23, 24; 24:1-4; 25:1-3. They and their supporters constantly harassed the Christians, evidently using arguments in an effort to break their loyalty to Christ. They attacked Christianity with what might seem to be powerful reasoning to a Jew, and hard to answer.
At that time Judaism had much to offer in the way of tangible, material things and outward appearance. These things, the Jews might say, proved Judaism superior and Christianity foolish. Why, said they to Jesus, as their father the nation had Abraham, to whom the promises were given. (John 8:33, 39) Moses, to whom God spoke “mouth to mouth,” was God’s great servant and prophet. (Num. 12:7, 8) The Jews had the Law and the words of the prophets from the beginning. Did not this very antiquity establish Judaism as the true religion? they might ask. At the inaugurating of the Law covenant God had spoken by means of angels; in fact, the Law was transmitted through angels by the hand of the mediator Moses. (Acts 7:53; Gal. 3:19) On this occasion God had given a fear-inspiring demonstration of power in shaking Mount Sinai; the loud sound of a horn, smoke, thunder and lightning accompanied the glorious display.—Ex. 19:16-19; 20:18; Heb. 12:18-21.
Besides all these things of antiquity, there stood the magnificent temple with its priesthood instituted by Jehovah, carrying on their duties daily with many sacrifices. Accompanying these things were the richness of the priestly garments and the splendor of the services conducted at the temple. ‘Had not Jehovah commanded that sacrifices for sin be brought to the sanctuary, and did not the high priest, the descendant of Moses’ own brother Aaron, enter the Most Holy on the Day of Atonement with a sacrifice for the sins of the whole nation? On this occasion, did he not approach representatively into the very presence of God?, the Jews might argue. (Lev. chap. 16) ‘Furthermore, was not the kingdom the possession of the Jews, with one (the Messiah, who would later come, as they said) to sit on the throne at Jerusalem to rule?’
If the letter to the Hebrews was being written to equip the Christians to answer objections that were actually being raised by the Jews, then those enemies of Christianity had contended in this way: What did this new “heresy” have to point to as evidence of its genuineness and of God’s favor? Where was their temple and their priesthood? In fact, where was their leader? Was he of any importance among the leaders of the nation during his lifetime—this Jesus,