Do you know that America was founded on the Hebraic roots of Christianity and the Laws of Moses?
Dr. Richard Booker
There were three great influences that shaped the Pilgrims and Puritans understanding of how to govern and how to live. All three were based on their connection to their Hebraic-Jewish roots. This is why America should be called a “Judeo-Christian Nation.” If we want to “Make America Great Again” we must rediscover the faith of those who made America the greatest nation in the history of nations.
In this three-part series, you will discover what the Pilgrims and Puritans understood had to be the foundation of the new nation. This information is taken from my book, Christians, Jews and Israel: Standing Together in Troubled Times which you may order from our on-line store.
The Hebrew People
The first great influence was the Hebrew people. Because of the popularity of the Thanksgiving holiday, all Americans have heard of the Pilgrims. Anyone who has studied American history knows something about the Puritans. But few know the connection the Pilgrims and Puritans had to the Hebrew people, the Hebrew Bible (what Christians call the Old Testament), and the Hebrew language. For example, it is likely that the Thanksgiving celebration of the Pilgrims was based on the Feast of Tabernacles in Leviticus 23:39.
Modern Christians would be shocked to know that the Pilgrims did not celebrate Christmas because of its pagan origins. But they did consider Sunday to be a Sabbath day of worship and rest. In their worship services, they followed the tradition of Orthodox Jews in separating men and women.
It’s important that we know how totally and completely the Pilgrims and Puritans were connected to the Hebraic-Jewish roots of Christianity. It is that connection that brought Judeo-Christian morals and ethics to America that made America great.
But first, let’s clarify who were the Pilgrims and Puritans? They were Bible believing Christians who did not like the fact that the secular British government, ruled by a secular king, also ruled over the Christian Church of England. The king dictated church doctrines and practices that benefited him and forbade those that didn’t.
As you would expect, this corrupted the organized Church of England. That is why it is important, that from a control standpoint, political organizations and religious organizations should not be governed by the same entity. This was the reason the founding fathers included the idea of a “Wall of Separation” between Church and State.
The misinterpretation and misapplication of this important principle has led to God being removed from any entity connected to the government. This is why American is collapsing. As a Democratic Republic with self-government, America cannot survive without the moral foundations upon which America was built. The Pilgrims and Puritans understood that human beings are corrupt and that it was not wise for the government to dictate what people should believe and how to practice their faith. They never had the thought of removing God from the government or separating faith and politics.
They experienced this in England and knew it was not good. As a result, the Puritans and Pilgrims didn’t like a secular king telling them what they could believe and how they could practice their Christian faith. They wanted to study the Bible for themselves, establish their own beliefs as they understood the Bible, and decide for themselves how to live out their faith.
In other words, they did not want freedom from religion; but freedom of religion. They acknowledged God as their sovereign; not the King of England. How many of you know that the king wouldn’t like that? They wanted freedom of conscience to believe and live as they understood the Bible; and not what the King of England told them to believe and do. This is why our great Declaration of Independence says that our basic human rights come from God not government. Of course this is a threat to those in our country who want the government to be God.
This desire for freedom of conscience threatened the king who was not going to tolerate this dissent. King James I vowed to “make these deviants conform or he would harass them out of the land or else do worse.” The more they sought religious freedom; the more the king persecuted them. Using biblical terms, we might say that God hardened the King of England’s heart.
The Puritans thought they could purify the corrupted Church of England from within. The Pilgrims believed otherwise. They didn’t see any hope for change as long as the king was the head of the church. So the Pilgrims separated themselves from the Church of England. This is why they were called Separatists.
Incidentally, the English word “Church” is not even in the Bible. King James required those who translated his version of the Bible into English to use the word “Church” instead of congregation or community or covenant people because he needed to be in charge of an establishment called the “Church of England.”
Because they were persecuted, the Pilgrims fled England to Holland and then twelve years later they left Holland, bordered a ship called the Mayflower and sailed to America on September 6, 1620. Sixty-six days later they arrived at Cape Cod and at Plymouth Rock on December 11. Over the next twenty years, 16,000 Puritans crossed the ocean and founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Now speaking the truth in love, there was no Koran on the Mayflower. The Pilgrims and Puritans brought with them the Bible in one hand and a musket in the other. The Bible they had was “The 1599 edition of the Geneva Bible.” It was called The Geneva Bible because the reformers had to flee England and went to Geneva where they made this translation. This Bible has recently been reissued. I have a personal copy.
It was the Geneva Bible used by the Pilgrims and Puritans that built America. It was the first Bible to have chapter and verse numbers and commentary, many of which were negative towards a monarchy. It was the Bible of freedom and liberty. It was the Geneva Bible that inspired the inscription on the Liberty Bell which is a direct quote from Leviticus 25:10, “Proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants.”
The Pilgrims and Puritans so identified with the ancient Hebrews and were so connected to their Biblical Hebraic roots; they called themselves “Christian Israel.” They did not think of themselves as replacing Israel and the Jewish people in God’s covenant but re-enacting the Exodus story. They did not have a replacement theology but what I call a “re-enactment theology.”
Since the word Hebrew means to “cross over,” the Pilgrims and Puritans thought of themselves as re-enacting the Exodus story. They were fleeing England which represented Egypt; the King of England was Pharaoh, they were crossing the Atlantic which was their Red Sea; America was like the land of Israel, the Native Americans were their Canaanites, and they, like the Hebrews, were entering into a national covenant with God in their new Promised Land.
Gabriel Sivan in his book, The Bible and Civilization writes, “No Christian Community in history identified more with the People of the Book than did the early settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony who believed their own lives to be a literal re-enactment of the Hebrew nation. They saw themselves as instruments of Divine Providence, a people chosen to build their new commonwealth on the covenant entered into at Mt. Sinai.”5 Since the Pilgrims and Puritans were a persecuted religious minority, they had what I call a “sympathy of kinship” with the Jews of their time.
We will continue to explore this Hebraic connection and the founding of America in Part 2 by discovering the remarkable role of the Hebrew Bible in the lives of the Pilgrims and Puritans. For more information, please order Christians, Jews and Israel: Standing Together in Troubled Times. How about getting copies for your family, friends, co-workers and Bible teachers.