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Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani
By Frank Dado :: Tuesday, August 11, 2009 :: 43294 Views :: Religion & Spirituality, Opinion and Editorials

Every Christian has spoken Aramaic (aka, Chaldean, Sourath, etc…), most just don’t know it.  Many Chaldeans are often asked what language they speak.  Inevitably the discussion will turn to Jesus speaking Aramaic.  The bible is littered with Chaldean history and culture, but no clues are more available than the Aramaic language.  Language is important to understanding ones culture, community, and faith. 

Aramaic has been known since the beginning of human history and was the lingua franca of the early Semitic empires. Today Aramaic and it varying dialects continue to serve Chaldeans with a deeper understanding of their culture and Catholic faith.   That meaningful fulfillment is driving a large number of Chaldeans to make the time to strengthen and nurture their roots by learning their native language. 

Aramaic was the language used by the conquering Assyrians for administration and communication.  Following them, Aramaic was the official language used by Chaldeans and Persian empires, which ruled from India to Ethiopia.  During that time, Aramaic was the dominant language, similar to English today. It was used and written upon walls, clay tablets, and on numerous papyri of the region during that period.

Aramaic displaced Hebrew for many purposes among the Jews, a fact reflected in the Bible, where portions of Ezra and Daniel are in Aramaic. Some of the best known stories in biblical literature, including that of Belshazzar’s feast with the famous "handwriting on the wall" are in Aramaic.

So much of the Chaldean faith is tied directly to Aramaic.  Especially the biblical passage, “Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani” which is left preserved in its native form.  Why did Jesus cry out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?"

In Matthew 27:45-46, it says, "Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" that is, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"  If Jesus is God, why would He say this?

First of all, Jesus quoted Psalm 22:1 which begins with, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?".  Jesus quoted this Psalm in order to draw attention to it and the fact that He was fulfilling it there on the cross.  

Consider verses 11-18 in Psalm 22:

“Be not far from me, for trouble is near; for there is none to help.  Many bulls have surrounded me; Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me.  They open wide their mouth at me, as a ravening and a roaring lion.  I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint;   My heart is like wax; it is melted within me.  My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; and Thou dost lay me in the dust of death.  For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; they pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots."

The term 'dogs' was used by the Jews to refer to Gentiles (cf. Matt. 15:21-28).  His heart has melted within Him (v. 14).   During the crucifixion process, the blood loss causes the heart to beat harder and harder and become extremely fatigued.  Dehydration occurs (v. 15).  Verses 16 -18, speak of piercing His hands and feet and dividing his clothing by casting lots.   This is exactly what happens as described in Matt. 27:35.

Psalm 22 was written about 600 years before Christ was born.  At that time, crucifixion had not yet been invented.  Actually, the Phoenicians developed it and Rome borrowed the agonizing means of execution from them.   So, when Rome ruled over Israel, it became the Roman means of capital punishment imposed upon the Jews whose biblical means of execution was stoning.  Nevertheless, Jesus is pointing to the scriptures to substantiate His messianic mission.

A further comment:

2 Cor. 5:21 says, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."  It is possible that at some moment on the cross, when Jesus became sin on our behalf, that God the Father, in a sense, turned His back upon the Son. 

It says in Hab. 1:13 that God is too pure to look upon evil.  Therefore, it is possible that when Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24), that the Father, spiritually, turned away.  At that time, the Son may have cried out.

One thing is for sure.  We have no capacity to appreciate the utterly horrific experience of having the sins of the world put upon the Lord Jesus as He hung, in excruciating pain, from that cross.  The physical pain was immense.   The spiritual one must have been even greater.

That shows us clearly how much God loves us. 

Chaldeans who read or are reminded of that passage “Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani” should be humbled by the continued existence of their native language, preserved in the most important collection of documents on the face of this world.  More importantly, we should be humbled by the love and sacrifice of our Lord Jesus, our Christ (King), our God has modeled for us.  

Mar Addai Church, MI USA

Mar Addai Chaldean Catholic Church
24010 Coolidge Hwy.
Oak Park, MI 48237
Tel: (248) 547-4648
Fax: (248) 399-9089

Congregation Organizer:
Rev. Michael J. Bazzi

Church Founding Pastor:
Rev. Stephen Kallabat

Current Pastor:
Rev. Stephan Kallabat

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Fadi Habib Khalaf

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Sulemina Denha
 


 

Rev. Stephen Kallabat


Fr. Stephan Kallabat was born in Telkaif, Iraq.  After completing seven years of scholarly work for the priesthood in Mosul, Iraq Fr. Kallabat was accepted at the prestigious university in Rome.  There he spent six additional years of scholarly work in the areas of philosophy and theology and an additional four years in scriptural studies. 

Ordained a priest in 1966 by Pope Paul VI he returned to Iraq to serve the Holy Family parish until his departure to Michigan, U.S. in 1979 to serve the growing population of Chaldeans.  Fr. Kallabat was appointed assistant pastor, then pastor of Mar Addai Parish in Oak Park, Michigan. 

Hitting the ground running, Fr. Kallabat is credited with raising the necessary funds to provide Chaldeans in the local area a church and community center of their own.  Fr. Kallabat continues to serve the parish and Chaldean community as their pastor.   

Rev. Fadi Habib Khalaf

Fr. Fadi Habib Khalaf was born in Baghdad May 10, 1974.  Fr. Khalaf graduated from Baghdad University in 1997 and soon after joined the Chaldean seminary in Baghdad.  While there Fr. Khalaf earned a scholarship to attend the Urbanian Pontifical University in Rome.  There he earned another bachelor’s degree in theology and was ordained deacon in Rome on May 8, 2004. 

Fr. Khalaf then returned to Baghdad where he was officially ordained as a priest.  Afterward Fr. Khalaf returned to Rome to further his studies.  In 2006 Fr. Khalaf was appointed to serve Chaldeans in the United States.  

In the summer of 2006 he arrived to the Chaldean diocese of St. Thomas the Apostle and was cardinated into the Diocese and elected to serve at Mar Addai parish on March 15, 2007 as the Parochial Vicar.

Rev. Suleiman Denha

Rev. Suleiman Denha was born in Telkaif, Iraq.  He began his priestly studies in 1951 in Mosul, Iraq and was ordained in 1959.  Fr. Denha taught in Telkaif until 1961, when he was appointed pastor in Basra, Iraq in 1966. 

After immigrating to the Unite States in 1979, he was appointed to serve the Chaldean community in Virginia.  A year later, Fr. Denha was recruited to assist the much larger population of Chaldeans in Detroit. 

Upon his arrival Fr. Denha assisted Fr. Yasso at Sacred Heart Church.  In 1982 he was asked to temporally assist St. Joseph Church in Troy, returning a year later Sacred Heart. 

In 1991, he was appointed to Mar Addai Church in Oak Park, Michigan as the Parochial Vicar, where he still serves the community today.