notes by Tim Hegg
A Root of Bitterness
Bitterness is characterized in the Scriptures as a root—a deep growing reality, difficult to see or dig out, but always bringing forth its destructive fruit. The writer to the Messianic Jews says it this way:
Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the LORD.
15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness spring-
ing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; 16 that there be no immoral or Godless
person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that even
afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place
for repentance, though he sought for it with tears. (Heb 12:14)
In our Torah section for this Shabbat we have very similar words:
Moreover, you have seen their abominations and their idols of wood, stone, silver, and
gold, which they had with them); lest there shall be among you a man or woman, or fam-
ily or tribe, whose heart turns away today from Adonai our God, to go and serve the gods
of those nations; lest there shall be among you a root bearing poisonous fruit and worm-
wood. (Deut 29:17–18)
In both texts the idea of a “root” is found, and the “bitterness” specified by the Apostolic writer is no doubt a reference
to the “poisonous fruit and wormwood” used as a metaphor by Moses. A sure “litmus test” for poisonous fruit is that it is bitter, and worm wood is, apparently, a leaf or seed (pod) that tastes very bitter
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