Two of the words used for sin in Hebrew are Chata and Pesha. Why is there more than one word to describe sin? What makes Chata different from Pesha? How would we know if we have committed these offenses? Is there anything in the pictographic letters that would help us understand more and will they point to Messiah? Let’s find out.
In the Ancient Scriptures, there are at least five different Hebrew words used to describe sin. Only two of them are found in the book written by Joshua that we have been following.
In Chapter 24, which is the last chapter of his biblical narrative, Joshua gives his farewell address to the nation of Israel. The Israelites declare their allegiance to Yahweh in verse 18 saying:
Therefore will we also serve the LORD; for he is our God.
By claiming that Yahweh is their Elohim we could conclude they have truly chosen to follow and worship the one true God, but Joshua follows with an ominous reply in verse 19:
And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD; for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.
Both of the words for sin that can be found in the writings of Joshua are here in one verse. The word sin that Joshua uses is the word Chata. The word that is translated transgressions is the other Hebrew word for sin found in Joshua’s writings. That word is Pesha. Let’s investigate the information hidden in both of these words to see what the nation of Israel is guilty of doing.
In the conventional Hebrew, Chata means to sin by missing the goal or by missing the mark. Chata is spelled Chet Tet Aleph.
Chet is the picture of a fence and means private and can mean to separate or to be cut off.
Tet is the picture of the snake and means to surround, to ensnare, or to encircle and can mean in either a good or a bad way.
Aleph is the picture of the Ox and stands for the strong leader or the head of the family and can mean God the Father.
So the first mystery we see in Chata is that Joshua’s people are surrounded and cut off from God the Father even though they missed the goal or missed the mark unintentionally.
Chet is also the number 8, which when it is found in Scripture refers to a new beginning. Tet is the number 9 which is used to point to an evaluation of man resulting in judgment. Aleph is the number 1 which points to God the Father. So the judgment resulting from our missing the goal stands between God the Father and the new beginning He wants to offer us.
But remember that Tet can also mean to surround in a good way. God the Father in His evaluation has always had a plan to encircle the people He loves and provides a way for them to experience that new beginning. That plan would be revealed in Messiah.
As bad as Chata seems, the transgressions that Joshua mentioned is worse. In conventional Hebrew, Pesha is a stronger word for sin and implies a deliberate rebellion against Yahweh and His law. Pesha is spelled Pey Sheen Ayin.
Pey is the picture of the mouth and means to speak or to open.
Sheen is the picture of teeth and means to press, to consume, or to destroy and is the one letter that God uses to identify Himself.
Ayin is the picture of the eye and means to see, to know, or to experience.
So the pictographs of the word Pesha tell us that for those who deliberately rebel against the laws of Yahweh, He declares He will make them know and experience judgment and destruction. But there is good news in the numbers these three letters represent. Pey is the number 80 and points to a new birth. Sheen is the number 300 and is used to represent the final blood sacrifice of the perfect Lamb of God. Ayin is the number 70 and indicates perfect spiritual order carried out with spiritual power and significance.
Yahweh has wanted all along for His people to turn from their rebellion and let Him heal them by the perfect blood sacrifice of Yeshua Ha-Mashiach, Jesus the Christ.
But why did Joshua say that his people could not serve the LORD? Why would Yahweh not forgive their Chata, their unintentional sin, or their Pesha, their deliberate sin?
In verse 23 we get the answer:
Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel.
Unbelievably, they were still worshiping idols instead of Yahweh.
The writer of the Book of Hebrews addressed this same issue in Chapter 10 verse 26:
For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgement and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
The word sin used here is again the word for sin that means to miss the mark. But here we are looking at someone who is missing the mark on purpose! For this person, the blood sacrifice of Yeshua will not apply. He instead is going to suffer judgment.
For those of us who Chata or sin even though unintentional, Yahweh has preserved in the pictographs the picture of us being cut off and fenced in away from our Heavenly Father. In the pictographs in Pesha, Yahweh says we will see our intentional sin result in crushing judgment and destruction.
But it doesn’t have to end this way. As Joshua exclaimed, all we need to do is put away our idols and incline our hearts toward Yahweh. There can then be that blood sacrifice for sin that is once and for all found in Messiah.
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