By Dr. Hector Avalos An appalling ignorance of Hebrew is
being used to perpetrate an absurd theory.


This is one of the most sordid uses of Hebrew linguistics to support
the claim that Barack Obama is the Antichrist. I would not spend much
time on it, except that even some recognized "news" organizations are
giving it coverage. In any case, this ridiculous argument comes from a
YouTube video:
YouTubeVideo


It is also commented upon at World Net Daily:
WorldNetDaily


According to a man calling himself PPSimmons (the presumed narrator of
the YouTube video), Barack Obama is mentioned in Luke 10:18, where
Jesus is recorded as saying: “And he said to them, I beheld Satan as
lightning fall from Heaven.” The narrator tells us to focus on two
words:


A. Lightning


B. Heaven


He then tells us that Strong’s Concordance (words 1299 and 1300)
records the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek word ASTRAPE (“lightning”)
to be BARAQ. This equivalence seems sound enough.


But PPSimmons has more trouble establishing the Hebrew for the second
Greek word, OURANOS (“heaven”), which normally would be SHAMAYIM in
Hebrew. Yet, PPSimmons wants to convince us that the word really
should not be “heaven” (SHAMAYIM) in the sense of where God lives, but
more like the “heights,” which he claims would be closer to the Hebrew
BAMAH.


To achieve such a Hebrew equivalent, the narrator refers us to Luke
8:5, where we find the phrase “birds of the air,” which is a rendition
of the Greek PETEINA TOU OURANOU. The narrator says that this proves
that the Greek OURANOS, normally translated as “heaven” does not refer
to the heaven of God (birds don’t live there) but to the parts of our
own atmosphere where birds fly, and which is also the realm of Satan.


Thus, PPSimmons now has found BARAQ + BAMAH in a hypothetical Hebrew
or Aramaic version of Luke 10:18.


WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?
There are so many things wrong with this argument that one wonders
where to begin. But here are some brief responses:


1. The narrator has the WRONG Hebrew root for the name Barack if we
accept President Obama's explanation for his name. President Obama’s
explanation of his name may be found in, among other places, the 2004
National Democratic Convention speech: “They would give me an African
name, Barack, or ‘blessed,’ believing that in a tolerant America your
name is no barrier to success.” See
Obama’s explanation


What Obama meant by “African” is simply an African language version of
a well-known Semitic root (BRK) for “blessed” that can be found in
Arabic and Hebrew.


Since his name means “blessed,” then this name is related to the
Hebrew word BARAK, spelled with Hebrew Kaph, not a Qoph. These are two
entirely different consonants and phonemes in Hebrew. The Hebrew BARAK
and BARAQ are from two entirely different roots, with ONLY the latter
meaning “lightning.”


2. It is most suspect to use Luke 8:5 to argue that “OURANOS” (heaven)
in Luke 10:18 should be associated with the Hebrew BAMAH (“high
places”). Just because OURANOS in Luke 8:5 can refer to the normal
part of the world where birds fly does not mean that the same applies
to Luke 10:18.


Other texts describe Satan as living or visiting the Heaven where God
lives (e.g., Job 1:6). Revelation 12:9 tells us that Satan is thrown
down from Heaven. The latter text, in particular, would be much more
thematically related to what is happening in Luke 10:18 than what is
described in Luke 8:5 or in Isaiah 14:14, which the narrator admits
has to be given a Christian interpretation to even be speaking of
Satan.


PPSimmons also overlooks the fact that Jesus may have been in Heaven
when he beheld Satan fall from it. Why assume that Jesus is on earth
when he beheld this event (which Jesus places in the past)? Even by
PPSimmons' Christian theology, one would presume that Jesus was in
Heaven at the time of Isaiah 14, which PPSimmons says is speaking of
Satan.


3. To achieve the “heights” (BAMAH) reading of Luke 10:18, PPSimmons
simply uses an undocumented consensus argument that can be summarized
as: “Most scholars think that birds in Luke 8:5 are demonic, and so we
should see the area where birds fly as the domain of the demonic.”
But, the narrator provides no evidence that most biblical scholars
have a demonic interpretation of birds in Luke 8:5, and certainly most
academic biblical scholars do not. In any case, consensus arguments
are not admissible unless the narrator can explain why the consensus
is correct.


4. The phrase “birds of heaven/birds of the air” is a very well-known
phrase in Hebrew that is first encountered in Genesis 1:26, where the
Hebrew has “OPH HA-SHAMAYIM.” One can find the same phrase in Genesis
1:30, 2:19, 6:7, 7:3, and in 1 Kings 14:11. Thus, the fact that some
English translations have “birds of the air” does not mean that the
original Hebrew substituted some other word (e.g., BAMAH) for
SHAMAYIM. We usually DO FIND the word SHAMAYIM when speaking of "birds
of the air."


5. To the best of my knowledge, one NEVER finds OPH HA-BAMAH when
speaking of "birds of the air" in the Hebrew Bible.


6. With few exceptions (e.g., Isaiah 14:14), the Hebrew BAMAH refers
not to something in mid-air (where birds fly) but to high places that
are part of the solid earth. That is to say, hills or altars built on
hills rather than in mid-air. These places can be built (e.g., 1 Kings
14:23) and can be destroyed (2 Kings 23:8).


7. Contrary to the YouTube narrator’s statement that a Hebrew Rabbi
today would translate the words of Luke 10:18 with BAMAH, the modern
Hebrew translation of the New Testament published by the Society for
Distributing the Holy Scriptures to the Jews translates “like
lightning from the heaven” close to what I have noted: KA-BARAQ MIN-HA-
SHAMAYIM. In other words, if you follow a more correct Hebrew
translation THERE IS NO BARACK + BAMAH in Luke 10:18.


8. Of course, the YouTube narrator was unable to find Hussein, the
president’s middle name, in the text, which at least would be
consistent with the president’s full name. PPSimmons cannot easily
transform BAMAH into O-BAMAH without further violence to the Hebrew.


9. The narrator does not explain why we should see the words in Luke
10:18 as of any more significance for a link with Barack Obama than
any other text we can choose. In overwhelming number, the word root
BARAK (“bless”) and its variants, are positive, and so why not say
that those instances prophesy a good God-given outcome for Barack
Obama?


10. We can follow similar rationales to show that "PPSimmons,” in
fact, was prophesied in Acts 8:9. There you will find the a corrupt
magician named “Simon,” which can be related to the name “Simmons.”


But note also that the letter of his initials has an equivalent in the
Greek letter, PI, and that letter is repeated exactly TWICE in the
Greek word (PROUPERCHEN/"he previously [practiced magic]) that follows
SIMON. That is a clue (once magically reversed and "properly
understood") that, one day, PPSimmons, a false magician of YouTube
interpretations, would put forth absurd arguments. Try out your own
combination with any good concordance.


In sum, this is another of those very pathetic attempts at pseudo-
scholarship. By using similar methods we can prove that president
Obama is God’s great “blessing” for the world.


NOTE: My transcriptions of Hebrew and Greek are approximate.


P.S. This week, Keith Olbermann of MSNBC, attempted to refute the
YouTube video. Unfortunately, Olbermann reflects a misunderstanding of
his own. PPSimmons uses definitions 1299 and 1300 of Strong’s
Concordance to establish that BARAQ means “lightning.” Olbermann used
Strong’s Concordance word 1301 to say that BARAQ really means “an
Israelite.” However, Olbermann did not give the rest of Strong’s
definition which, in complete form, is: “The same as 1300; Barak; an
Isr.:Barak.” In other words, Strong is still saying that the name of
the Israelite named Barak (Judges 4:6-22) is related to the word for
“lightning.”