Debunking Three Common Bible Myths

These myths are so prevalent, they just keep getting repeated.

Myth #1: Abba means “daddy,” and is a term of childhood endearment.

Myth #2: The high priest on Yom Kippur went into the Holy of Holies with a rope tied around his ankle.

Myth #3: There was a dump where garbage was burned in the Valley of Hinnom (Gehenna).

Documentation after the jump.

As both Clayboy (Doug Chaplin) and Steve Caruso of the Aramaic Blog will tell you, Abba does not mean daddy.

The high priest and the rope on Yom Kippur myth is an interesting one that likely has a Jewish origin. Todd Bolen can’t find an earlier source than the Zohar (13th century CE). The Orthodox Union says: it is not in Talmud or midrash anywhere.

Neither is there any credible evidence of a garbage dump in the Valley of Hinnom (Gehenna), as Todd Bolen explains, but the idea comes from medieval commentator David Kimhi (RaDaK).

Oh yeah, and the so-called Needle Gate which supposedly explains Yeshua’s saying, “It is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle,” it doesn’t exist either.

Why do books and speakers keep promoting these myths? Does anyone check their facts?


About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
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14 Responses to Debunking Three Common Bible Myths

  1. cybrsage says:

    What does Abba mean?

    • From the article:

      “There is still a point of confusion: In Modern Hebrew, “abba” has become commonly used as… You guessed it: “Daddy.” So, when a Hebrew speaker happens upon this anecdote, to them it makes “perfect sense.” :-)”


  2. It is simply the Aramaic word for father. So, for example, Yeshua says “Abba, Father” in Mark 14:36. Abba is the Aramaic and Father is pater, the Greek for Father. It is one of several examples where a word or phrase is given in Aramaic and then in Greek. So “father” is the translation of “abba.”

    See here for more:

  3. cybrsage says:

    Ah, ok. I often say “Shalom, hello!” to my friends when I see them, since they know absolutely no Hebrew (not that I know much). So it is like that. Thanks!

    For a moment, I was worried you were going to say it stands for a Swedish Rock Band! ;)

  4. cybrsage says:

    Oh, but IS there a word for daddy? I would guess not, since abba is so easy to say, children would not need a different word…but is there?

    • cybrsage says:

      Answered my own question by reading the link:

      the existence of diminutives of “abba” in Aramaic (“baba,” “babbi,” “abbi”, “pappya” etc. all of which literally mean “daddy”),

  5. James says:

    All of which goes to show that even the Jewish Messiah didn’t call God the Father “Daddy”.

  6. Lisa says:

    When in Israel last month, my husband and son were instructed by a Rabbi who told them that the High Priest had a rope tied to his ankle on Yom Kippur. Both of them kept quiet. Goes to show ya that everyone can fall into the comfortable place of “hearsay” sometimes.

    Our generation really needs to encourage and support one another to take study seriously and to check the facts. In the Information Age, it’s so easy to do and so difficult to discern between real truth and hearsay with a false twist.

    I’ve told students that the needle gate thing is something some Jerusalem cab driver made up to impress his passengers and it spread like wild-fire. They always laugh. :)

    ~ Lisa

  7. How about this other common myth promoted by some Dispensationalists: how it was supposedly a Jewish custom in the first century for a groom to suddenly come announced and “steal” his bride to be and take her away with him (i.e. “Christ rapturing his Church”).

  8. “come announced ” – I meant “come UNannounced”

  9. benicho says:

    so was Gehenna where the Canaanites performed their sacrfices? or was there no ancient historical importance to it?

  10. Pingback: Weekly Meanderings | Jesus Creed

  11. rhb3000 says:

    Christ’s return indeed will be felt, seen, and heard. All the tribes of the earth will mourn. The secret rapture is a myth distributed by a Jesuit during there counter reformation ideology attempts aimed at Luther’s reformation. Also, the papacy system being the biblical described antichrist was pawned off of other figures like Nero or the caesars to hide the truth. Another Jesuit myth is putting antichrist into the future during Daniel’s 70th week lol. Christ fulfilled the those prophecies and caused the sacrifices and oblations to cease. That is why the temple curtain was ripped in two by unseen hands! No more animal sacrifices…the true Lamb came instead.

  12. Mad Rider says:

    Jewish historian Josephus would have mentioned in his description of the place the fact that the Valley of Hinnom was a blazing garbage dump. But he didn’t and he’s a much more reliable source than later Christian authors that identified Gehenna to a waste ground.

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