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Review of A Prayer to Our Father

by Jonathan W. Lankford
The review below summarizes information from the book and adds my own insight as
well. In order to fully understand the details of the book, and to understand the views
of the authors, I highly recommend purchasing the book. The book is for purchase at:

Gordon, Nehemia & Johnson, Keith. (2010). A prayer to our Father: Hebrew origins
of the Lords prayer. Hilkiah Press: Grand Prairie, TX.
A Prayer to Our Father is a journey through an investigation conducted by a Jewish
Bible scholar (Nehemia Gordon) and an African American pastor (Keith Johnson).
They recount their trail to truth regarding the Lords Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) according
to the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew. This book positively impacts the faith of both Jews
and Christians.
The book is written in an informal and personal style with each author taking turns
writing the chapters. This book is divided into three sections. The first section is
composed to two short autobiographical chapters that detail how they met one another
and began to write this book. The second section is composed of several short
chapters that investigate various locations were Yeshua may have taught the Lords
Prayer. The third and final section consists of several short chapters that expound on
each line of the prayer.
The Hebrew title of the Lords Prayer is the Avinu Prayer (literally Prayer to Our
Father). According to more than 19 copies of Matthew in Hebrew, the Lords Prayer is
as follows: Our Father in heaven, may your name be sanctified. May your kingdom
be blessed. Your will shall be done in heaven and on earth. Give us our bread
continually. Forgive us the debt of our sins as we forgive the debt of those who sin
against us. Do not bring us into the hands of a test and protect us from all evil. Amen.
Our Father in heaven
The book contains numerous supportive references to the contextual use of our
Father by prophets and rabbis before and after Yeshuas time:

Look down from heaven for you are our Father, though Abraham does not
know us and Israel does not acknowledge us; you Yehovah, are our Father, our
Redeemer from of old is your name. (Isaiah 63:15-16 NRSV)
And I said: You shall call Me, My father, and not turn away from Me.
(Jeremiah 3:19 NKJV)

Have we not all one Father? Did not one God create us? (Malachi 2:10 NIV)
Upon whom shall we rely? Upon our Father in heaven! (Mishnah, Sota 9:15)
May it be the will of our Father in heaven. (Midrash Psalms 25:13, Burber
edition, p. 214)
O Lord, Father and Master of my life O Lord, Father and God of my life...
(Ben Sira 23:1, 4)
Our Father (Dead Sea Scroll fragment 4Q511 line 1)
I have no Father but You (Karaite Jewish prayer).
Our Father, our King (Babylonian Talmud, Taanit 25b).

The book contains numerous examples of Biblical Hebrew names that use Avi (my
Father) as a part the names.
Avi-el (Abiel)
Avi-da (Abida)
Avi-dan (Abidan)
Avi-ezer (Abiezer)
Avi-nadav (Abinadab)
Avi-hud (Abihud)
Avi-ram (Abram)
Avi-tuv (Abi-tub)
Avi-shalom (Abishalom)
Avi-gayil (Abigail)
Avi-shua (Abishua)

God is my Father
my Father knows
my Father judges
my Father helps
my Father gives freely
my Father is glorious
my Father is exalted
my Father is good
my Father is peace
my Father is joy
my Father [provides] salvation

1 Samuel 9:1
Genesis 25:4
Numbers 1:11
Joshua 17:2
1 Samuel 7:1
1 Chronicles 8:3
Numbers 16:1
1 Chronicles 8:11
1 Kings 15:2
1 Samuel 25:3
Ezra 7:5

May your name be sanctified.

In Greek and Hebrew, the phrase to make the Fathers name hallowed or sanctified is
a call to action, not merely a statement. The English word hallowed is an old poetic
way of saying holy, set-apart, or sanctified. In Greek, Hallowed be () is an
imperative passive verb form of to make holy, which may be better translated: Your
name must be made holy, or Your name is to be made holy. In Hebrew it is the
similar jussive verb form.
The Third Commandment does not prohibit the use of Gods name, but prohibits the
misuse of it. Compare the following translations:
Targum Onkelos
You shall not swear by the
name of the Lord your God
in vain because the Lord
will not make innocent he
who swears falsely by his

Jewish Publication
Society (Hebrew)
You shall not swear falsely
by the name of the LORD
(YHWH) your God; for the
LORD (YHWH) will not
clear one who swears
falsely by His name.

You shall not swear by the
name of the Lord your God
falsely because the Lord
does not make innocent he
who swears falsely by his

The importance of using Gods name is reflected in Scripture in more places than is
possible to list here. But the book refers to several key passages:

You shall fear only Yehovah your God; and you shall worship Him and swear
by His name. (Deuteronomy 6:13 NASB)
Hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the
foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your
name, to fear You, as do Your people Israel. (1 Kings 8:43 NASB)
Kings of the earth and all peoples; princes and all judges of the earth; both
young men and virgins; old men and children let them praise the name of
Yehovah, for His name alone is exalted; His glory is above earth and heaven.
(Psalm 148:11-13 NASB)
And Yehovah will be king over all the earth; in that day Yehovah will be the only
one, and His name the only one. (Zechariah 14:9 NASB)
Then if they [foreigners] will really learn the ways of My people, to swear by My
name, As Yehovah lives, even as they taught My people to swear by Baal,
they will be built up in the midst of My people. (Jeremiah 12:16 NASB)
Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem and said to the reapers, May
Yehovah be with you. And they said to him, May Yehovah bless you. (Ruth
2:4 NASB)
And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of Yehovah will be
delivered. (Joe 2:32, cf. Acts 2:21 NASB)
even these prophets of the deception of their own heart, who intend to make
My people forget My name just as their fathers forgot My name because of
Baal (Jeremiah 23:26-27 NASB)
I will extol You, my God, O King, and I will bless Your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever. (Psalm
145:1-2 NASB)
My mouth will speak the praise of Yehovah, and all flesh will bless His holy
name forever and ever. (Psalm 145:21 NASB)
So you shall keep My commandments, and do them; I am Yehovah. You shall
not profane My holy name, but I will be sanctified among the sons of Israel; I
am Yehovah who sanctifies you. (Leviticus 22:31-32 NASB)
As for you, O house of Israel, thus says the Lord Yehovah, Go, serve
everyone his idols; but later you will surely listen to Me, and My holy name you
will profane no longer with your gifts and with your idols. (Ezekiel 20:39 NASB)

The book contains numerous examples of Biblical Hebrew names that use Yehovah
as a part the names.
Yehoshafat (Jehosaphat)
Yehoram (Jehoram)
Yehonatan (Jonathan)
Yehoyada (Jehoiada)
Yehoshua (Joshua)
Yehoseph (Joses, Joseph)
Yehohanan (John)

Yehovah judges
Yehovah is exalted
Yehovah gives
Yehovah knows
Yehovah saves
may Yehovah add
Yehovah favors

2 Samuel 8:16
1 Kings 22:50
Judges 18:30
2 Samuel 8:18
Numbers 13:16
Matthew 13:55
Matthew 10:2

May your kingdom be blessed. Your will shall be done in heaven and on earth.
The English translation of the Greek seems to refer to a future kingdom: Your kingdom
come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. But the Greek verbs in this verse
are in the aorist tense, which is a general and undefined time. The verbs are also in
the imperative tense, meaning it must happen. It could be better translated as: Your
kingdom must come and your will must be done just as in heaven also on earth.
The Greek implies that we have a role in bringing the kingdom of God to earth in our
daily actions and this is an imperative, a commandment that mirrors Matthew 28:1819.
While the Greek refers to a heavenly kingdom that must come to earth, Hebrew
Matthew refers to a current kingdom of God on earth. In Scripture, Yehovah is both
king now and in the future.

Yehovah reigns, He is clothed with majesty; Yehovah has clothed and girded
Himself with strength (Psalm 93:1 NASB)
For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from
generation to generation. (Daniel 4:34 NASB)
And Yehovah will be king over all the earth; in that day Yehovah will be the only
one, and His name the only one. (Zechariah 14:9 NASB)

When Israel asked the prophet Samuel for a king over them just like all of the other
nations had a king, they did not reject Samuel but rejected Yehovah. But in the future,
Israel and all other nations will call Yehovah their king.

Yehovah said to Samuel, Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that
they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from
being king over them. (1 Samuel 8:7 NASB)
I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in
righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every
tongue will swear allegiance. (Isaiah 45:23 NASB)

Give us our bread continually.

Here, bread is the Hebrew word lehem, which means basic food substance. This could
be whatever a person ate as their staple food, not necessarily a loaf of bread. At the
time of this teaching, many people in Israel bakers, shepherds, fishermen were
living hand-to-mouth and depending on that days provision.
Bread is also a metaphor for the Word of God. Israel learned this while they were living
in the desert for 40 years and eating the bread that came down from heaven. The
prophets considered to the Words of God given to them to be like food and drink. The
book does not make a connection to Yeshua, but indeed Yeshua continued the
metaphor by calling himself the bread of life that came down from heaven in that he
was the Prophet who re-taught the Scriptures to the people. Also, the disciple John
called him the Word of God who created all things, which an extension of his preexistence written in Daniel and 1 Enoch.

He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did
not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that
man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds
out of the mouth of Yehovah. (Deuteronomy 8:3 NASB)
Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money
come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does
not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in
abundance. Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live. (Isaiah
55:1-3 NASB)
Behold, days are coming, declares the Lord Yehovah, When I will send a
famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for
hearing the words of Yehovah. (Amos 8:11 NASB)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was
God. (Joh 1:1 NASB)
Jesus then said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given
you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread
out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven,
and gives life to the world. Then they said to Him, Lord, always give us this
bread. Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not
hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. I am the bread of life.
Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread
which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am
the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he
will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is
My flesh. (Joh 6:32-51 NASB)
Then He said to me, It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning
and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life
without cost. (Rev 21:6 NAU)
The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let the one who hears say, Come.
And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of
life without cost. (Rev 22:17 NASB)

Forgive us the debt of our sins as we forgive the debt of those who sin against us.

Scriptures teach to emulate Gods forgiving character, to love others, and to forgive
others. Revenge is not permitted but judgment is reserved only for God. We must
follow these instructions because taking revenge or hating another person is not sin
against that person but directly against God himself.

O Yehovah, God of vengeance, God of vengeance, shine forth! Rise up, O

Judge of the earth, render recompense to the proud. (Psalm 94:1-2 NASB)
A jealous and avenging God is Yehovah; Yehovah is avenging and wrathful.
Yehovah takes vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His
enemies. Yehovah is slow to anger and great in power, and Yehovah will by no
means leave the guilty unpunished. (Nahum 1:2-3 NASB)
Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, in due time their foot will slip; for the day
of their calamity is near, and the impending things are hastening upon them.
For Yehovah will vindicate His people, and will have compassion on His
servants (Deuteronomy 32:35-36 NASB, cf. Romans 12:19)
You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove
your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. You shall not take
vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall
love your neighbor as yourself; I am Yehovah. (Lev 19:17-18 NASB, cf.
Matthew 5:43-44)

In the Greek, Matthew and Luke slightly differ at this point. They have a difficult time
choosing whether to write debt or sin. This distinction is due to the fact that the word
from Hebrew Matthew mehol means forgiveness and literally means canceling a debt.
Matthew 6:12
Luke 11:4
And forgive us our debts, as we also And forgive us our sins, For we
have forgiven our debtors.
ourselves also forgive everyone who is
indebted to us.
, ,

In this example prayer, we are not only to ask forgiveness for our own sins but also for
the sins of others. This is due to the fact that the sins of society affect the individual
just as Gods judgment on society affects the individual: But I say to you, love your
enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father
who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends
rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:44-45 NASB)

Do not bring us into the hands of a test, and protect us from all evil.
We know that God does not tempt anyone to do evil: Let no one say when he is
tempted, I am being tempted by God; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He
Himself does not tempt anyone. (James 1:13 NASB) But God does test peoples faith
in certain circumstances as He tested Job, Abraham, and even Yeshua in the
wilderness. The Greek is confusing at this point in the prayer because the Greek word
peirasmos can be equally a test or a temptation. In Hebrew Matthew, it is the Hebrew
word nasah most used regarding a test, but is sometimes translated a temptation. The
Aramaic word nesyuna is similar to the Hebrew in that it primarily means test or trial,
but can also mean temptation. Therefore, since the Hebrew and Aramaic both agree
that test is the primary meaning, and since God cannot tempt anyone, then we must
conclude that the meaning in the prayer is test.
Evil can come in from Satan, ourselves, or various unintended circumstances. The
Greeks use of evil can be equally translated as evil in general or the Evil One (Satan).
Referring to Hebrew Matthew narrows the possibilities to evil in general. It makes
sense that we should pray for protection from all evil, not only the Evil One.
Amen is an English word that has been loaned from Greek. But the Greek word was
loaned from the Hebrew language. In other words, the word has remained the same
in all three languages. It means truth and is used to affirm what has just been stated.