Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Esther-Conclusion

When the events of Esther were going on in Persia, there were other events in the world going on that will relate to eschatology. There was a group of ten men who had a major role in the history of a nation called Rome, and they were called the “Decem Viri” meaning “ten men.” This concept of “ten men” is alluded to in the Scriptures from the murder of Gedaliah by Ishmael in 2 Kings 25.22-30 and Jer 40-41, to the False Messiah and the ten kings with him. We have already seen how the ten sons of Haman are related to eschatology, but there is more. So, let’s look at the Decem Viri of Rome and how they relate to prophecy.

Rome was founded in 753 B.C, but the people grew tired of corrupt rulers, so they founded a republic. But, two classes emerged called the Patricians (the ruling class, wealthy) and the Plebians (the poorer classes). Many disputes followed and the Plebians wanted a law passed that granted equality to everyone. So, the Plebians created the Decem Viri to write a code of laws that would protect the rights of all citizens of Rome. The group was formed around 450 B.C. and just around the the time of the events of Esther, and they remained for two years. They created what was called “The Twelve Tablets” that were written on clay tablets.

Following the fall of the Roman Empire, these laws were lost. In the eleventh century A.D. they were rediscovered and United States law in many cases was influenced by it, including the “veto” (I forbid) where an action can be terminated. The Decem Viri did some good work but these people were forced from their position after a few years due to corruption.

Now, the Decem Viri concept relates directly to the False Messiah who has ten kings who are involved in his empire (Dan 7.7-8, 20, 24; Rev 13.1). The ten sons of Haman allude to the Decem Viri, the ten men with Ishmael and the ten kings of the False Messiah. Rev 17.12 tells us that these ten kings were not royalty, just like Haman’s sons. So, let'[s take this concept to modern times.

There are unusual prophecies found in the list of the ten sons of Haman. They were slain on Adar 13 (Est 9.11-12). Esther requested that the war to protect the Jews continue into Adar 14, and “let Haman’s ten sons be hanged upon the gallows” (Est 9.13). The question is this, why impale them a day after they were killed? For over two thousand years this act puzzled scholars and rabbis, until World War II.

We are all familiar with Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust. He followed the same ideology as Haman, which was to exterminate the Jews. When the war was over, Nazi war criminals were tried in Nuremburg, Germany. eleven men were sentenced to death by hanging on October 16,1946. Two hours before the execution was to be carried out, Hermann Goering committed suicide, leaving ten men to be hanged.

One of the ten men named Julius Streicher shouted “Purim Fest 1946” as he was on the gallows. He published an antisemitic newspaper call “Der Sturmer” which became a central element of the Nazi propaganda mechanism. He wrote an article called “Das Purimfest” (“Festival of Purim”) so we know he was quite familiar with Purim, Haman and his ten sons and what happened, but why did he say “the festival of Purim 1946” before he was hung?

There is a Scriptural answer to this question that is quite amazing. In the list of Haman’s sons there are several Hebrew letters that are written smaller than normal, and you can see them quite clearly when you see the Hebrew. We have already pointed out the enlarged Vav in the last name of the Vaizatha (v 9), but what do these other letters mean?

The name of the first son is Parshandatha, and when you read it in Hebrew you will notice that a small Tav (T sound) is written as the second to the last letter of his name. Now, remember, every jot, tittle and letter in the Scriptures is written by the inspiration of the Ruach Ha Kodesh (the Holy Spirit-2 Tim 3.16) and these letters and their meanings will not pass away until they are all fulfilled, but we need to know their meanings (Matt 5.18). A second diminished letter can be found in the name Parmashta. His name is spelled with a small Shin (sh sound) in the third to the last letter of his name. A third diminished letter can be found in the last son Vaizatha. In addition to the enlarged Vav in his name, there is also a small Zayin (z sound).

We have already seen that the Hebrew alphabet also represents numbers. When we put all three of these diminished letters together they represent the number 1946, the year the ten Nazis were hung. In addition, if this weren’t enough, the execution of these Nazis took place on on October 16, 1946. Now, October 16 that year fell on Tishri 21 on the Hebrew calendar, which is also called Hoshana Rabbah meaning “the Great Salvation.”

In this same passage, following each son’s name, you will find the Hebrew word “V’et” and this is grammatically untranslated, but it carries the meaning of “ten more” or “and again.” There are the ten sons of Haman and then there will be ten more. The ten Nazis hung at Nuremburg were the sons of Haman in spirit, or “cut out of the same cloth.”

Here is another aspect to this story in Esther and it ties into the Nazis, but it also involves the Russian leader Josef Stalin. Stalin was working on a plot to kill the Jews of Russia in what was called “The Doctor’s Plot.” Nine doctors, of which six were Jewish, were going to go to trial for trying to poison Stalin, which was completely false. Then Stalin would use that as a pretext to deport two to four million Jews to Siberian concentration camps to be annihilated.

But on Purim, March 1, 1953, a few days before the Jewish doctors were going to go on trial and as the trains were being requisitioned to carry the Jews into exile and death, Stalin collapsed in a fit of rage during a meeting in which his supporters expressed opposition to his plans. Jews were freed on that Purim and Stalin died on March 5, 1953. This is not a coincidence and God saved the Jewish people again on Purim. All of these events in Persia, Nuremburg and Russia are precursors to the final end of the False Messiah and his ten kings.

Esther 10.1-3 tells us that the deliverance of the Jewish people and the state of affairs in Persia returned to normal. The king began to levy taxes and the empire grew stronger under Mordechai because we know that he was promoted to a position second only to the king, like Joseph was in Egypt. All of his accomplishments, strengths and “the full account of the greatness of Mordechai” was written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Media and Persia. This book, however, is now lost.

Mordechai grew great among the Jews and in favor with the multitude of his kinsmen, one who sought the good of his people and the one who spoke for the welfare of his people. These closing verses give us a very good picture of Yeshua as the Messiah and what he will do in the Messianic Kingdom (1 Cor 15.20-25).

The Book of Esther spans the period of nine years (years 3 through 12 of the reign Ahasuerus). It teaches how God can move behind the scenes to accomplish his will not only in the time of Esther, but even later with the ten Nazis and the death of Stalin. Let’s go over some of the things he did to accomplish what happened in this story in Esther for instance, but keep in mind, this is what the Lord does in the lives of all men.

Yehovah arranged to have Vashti removed and arranged to have a beauty pageant to replace her. He then made it possible to have Hadassah (Esther) enter the competition and gave her special favor over 400 other women. He placed Mordechai in a position to have access to both Esther and the affairs of state. He arranged the lot of Haman to fall in such a way to give the Jews nearly a year’s worth of warning before the evil decree took effect.

Yehovah also made sure that the decree said the Jews were to be killed by the citizens and not the army of Persia. He restrained Haman’s anger and did not allow him to kill Mordechai immediately. He made sure there were two banquets, with the second one on Nisan 17, a significant day in the Scriptures. He made sure the king and Hamn could not sleep on the same night, at the same time, and that the king heard from a certain book of the chronicles that Mordechai saved his life. He also arranged to have Haman come to the court at that exact moment. He then arranges to have Haman think the king is going to honor him and comes up with an elaborate ceremony, only to find out the ceremony is for Mordechai.

He then makes sure Haman has no time to think about all this when he gets home because he is hastily brought to the second banquet of Esther. He arranges to have his evil decree exposed at the banquet, and the king’s anger elevated to the point that he had to leave Esther alone with the man who was going to kill her and her people. Haman pleads for his life and God arranges to have Haman fall on the couch where Esther was sitting just as the king walks in, causing the king to think that Haman is assaulting his wife!

He then arranges to have Haman hung on the very gallows he made for Mordechai. Then the Jews have enough time to defend themselves a year later when the evil decree took force. Then on Adar 13 a year later the ten sons of Haman are killed and God arranges to have them impaled, which is a picture of the ten Nazis that will be hung at Nuremburg in 1946, and the ten kings that will fall with the False Messiah.

The miracle of Purim came through feasts, starting in Est 1, then in Est 5 and Est 7. These feasts involved the drinking of wine, and wine is a picture in the Scriptures of covenant, marriage, Messiah, teaching, blood, joy and life.

This book teaches us about God’s plan for our lives, too. God has a plan and there will be moments in our lives when God will alter circumstances to accomplish that plan, and we must have courage. Fasting and prayer will help us understand and we must obey the Lord. Yehovah will use everything to accomplish his purpose in out lives. But he also does this in every life and every circumstance of all people on earth. The real miracle of Esther is how the Lord can take all these lives and have them doing exactly what he wants, by the specific people he wants to do them.

The overall context of Esther can be seen in relation to the exile and return. The Jews of Shushan remained in Exile while other Jews were returning to the land to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. The accusations against the Jews in Ezra 4.4-13 can also be seen in Haman’s charges in Est 3.8. The returnees were harassed in the land and now in Persia. Haman’s charges were heard by people who were already prejudiced against the Jews.

Another thing to know is Shushan is referred to in Est 2.1 as the capital (palace) or “Ha Birah” in Hebrew meaning “fortress.” This word is only used in the context of the Temple (1 Chr 29.19). Much of the book takes place in the king’s palace. It had techelet blue wool, argamon purple wool, gold and silver (Est 1.6-7). These materials were in the Mishkan and the Temple (Exo 25.3-4). This palace had an inner court (Est 4.11) and an outer court (Est 6.4), and so did the Temple.

Anyone who entered the king’s chamber without being summoned would be put to death (Est 4.11). This is similar to the law about the High Priest could only go into the inner court of the Holy of Holies under certain circumstances. If he violated the Torah (law-Est 4.11) concerning this he would die. So, the question is, why do we have all this Temple imagery in Esther?

The Jewish people were called to serve God, the true king. But when in exile they must come to a palace, a substitute Temple, to a king who is just a man. They must do homage and seek his favor. The name of Yehovah cannot be found in Esther, but the word “king” is found almost 200 times. God is “hidden” to those who were called to serve him, even though he is guiding things “behind the scenes” as we have just gone over. Serving an earthly king took precedence over serving Yehovah it seems.

This book is a story about life in exile at a time when they should have been going back to Jerusalem to build the Temple. By staying behind, they were subject to the king’s taxes, edicts and rule. They were dependent on a man who was a king when they should have been dependent on Yehovah only. The Jews in this story should have been building Jerusalem and the true Temple, serving the true king who lives forever, instead of remaining in exile to serve a false king in a false temple who only rules a few years. But we also learn that even then, Yehovah saved them and delivered them and caused these circumstances to be used to teach his eschatological plan for his glory.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Esther-Part 5

Est 8.1-17 tells us that on the day that Haman was hanged, the king gave the house of Haman to Esther, and Mordechai came before the king. Esther has told the king what he was related to her, and the king took off his signet ring which he had taken away from Haman, and gave it to Mordechai. Now, the term “on that day” in Est 8.1 is an eschatological term relating to the coming of the Messiah and the Messianic Kingdom The king gives all that belonged to Haman to Esther, and she gives it to Mordechai. In the same way, “on that day” when Yeshua returns, all that belonged to the False Messiah will be given to Yeshua. Any decree which was written in the name of the king and sealed with the signet ring may not be revoked.

However, Haman’s evil decree that called for the destruction of the Jewish people was still in force. Esther comes before the king and asks him to revoke the letters of Haman that exposed her people to danger. He tells her to “write to the Jews” (v 8) with his name affixed to it, telling the Jews to defend themselves against anyone who comes against them on the 13th of Adar.

Which side was the king on? There are two conflicting letters now, and the local rulers couldn’t help but wonder what the king was doing. First, we can kill the Jews, now we let them defend themselves. They had to make the right decision. That means Mordechai had a job to do. He had to win over the governors and rulers to enforce the second letter and ignore the first letter, and that was not going to be easy. So, he went out in royal robes of blue and white, with a large crown of gold and a garment of fine linen and purple, and the city of Shushan rejoiced.

This was psychological warfare now. He did this to show everyone that the second decree was where the heart of the king was, even if he was indifferent about it. In each city where the king’s new decree was heard, there was gladness and joy for the Jews, a feast and a holiday. And many among the peoples of the land became Jews, for “the dread of the Jews had fallen on them.” But many were not true converts but were motivated by fear. Est 8.17 says they “feigned Jewishness” when they had no intention of really converting (Vilna Gaon).

Est 9.1-32 is a picture of the Second Redemption. There is a period of time from the death of Haman, the second decree and the thirteenth of Adar, which is nearly a year. In the same manner, there is a period of time between Yeshua’s victory over Satan at the cross and resurrection until the final redemption. As a side note, when the Temple was standing and there was a functioning priesthood in the first century, the month of Adar is a time when people prepare for Passover by cleansing themselves and their house. But this will have a new application in Persia, and the Jews will be cleansing the land of their enemies. Mordechai’s fame spread throughout the provinces in the same way Yeshua’s fame has spread throughout the provinces of the world (v 1-4).

The twelfth month of Adar (on the religious calendar) arrived and on the thirteenth day the Jews were ready to defend themselves. Things were different now. The Jews had the help of the king and on a day the enemies of the Jews thought they were going to overpower them, the opposite occurred. The Jews struck all their enemies with the sword and they did whatever they wanted to those who hated them. In Shushan alone they killed 500 men (v 11-12).

Now Haman had ten sons and these sons were killed, and their names are listed in Est 9.7-9. These sons are a picture of the ten kings that are associated with the False Messiah and fall with him (Dan 7.7, 20, 24; Rev 13.1, 17.12). Although Haman was hung on Nisan 17, these sons were killed much later, on Adar 13 (Est 9.6-10). But, as we are going to see, this event is very eschatological.

We are going to spend some time in this chapter in order to glean many of the prophetic implications found in these verses, but it won’t be all of them we can assure you. We will go over the literal, historical events first, then go over the eschatological meanings.

On Adar 13, all the people who were killed in Shushan the capital was reported to the king, and the ten sons of Haman. In addition, Shushan was divided and in two parts. Esther requested that the ten sons of Haman be hanged on the gallows. In other words, they were killed first and then impaled. They were put on display to show that the people’s justice was done, and that the king was in solidarity with the Jews. It also showed that the king commanded it and it was done (v 12).

On Adar 14, an additional 300 were killed in the other part of Shushan. Some saw what happened and hid so there wasn’t as many. The rest of the Jews who were in the provinces were assembled to defend themselves, and they killed 75,000 of those who hated them. In each case, the Jews did not plunder the belongings of those killed. This was to show they had no financial reason to slay them, it was only in self defense (v 15).

So, their defense took place on Adar 13 in the provinces and they rested on Adar 14, and they made it a holiday of feasting and joy. However, the Jews is Shushan assembled on Adar 13 and 14, and they rested on Adar 15, and that was a day of feasting. As a result, the Jews in the rural areas made Adar 14 a holiday. There is an old saying that sums up many of the biblical festivals, “They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat” (v 17-19).

Then Mordechai wrote down all these events and sent letters to all the Jews in the provinces, obliging them to celebrate Adar 14 and Adar 15 annually (v 21). They would feast, rejoice and send portions of food to the poor, with gifts. Remember, Haman had planned to destroy the Jews, and had cast “lots” (purim) to find the right date to do it. Therefore, they called those days “Purim” meaning “lots.”

These days were to be remembered and celebrated throughout every generation, family, province and city. So letters were sent to all the Jews in all 127 provinces to be celebrated at the appointed time. These customs were established by Esther and written in the book which bears her name. Jewish tradition says that she wanted to include this book among the other sacred writings in the Tanak.

So, now we are going look at how this chapter relates to prophecy and the redemption and see what the Lord was trying to communicate to us through what happened. So, we are going to go back and look at the tens sons of Haman first. As we have said before, Haman is a picture of the False Messiah and his sons are a picture of the ten kings who will rise with him and eventually fall (Dan 7.7, 20, 24; Rev 13.1, 17.12).

Ten is the number of judgment and in Est 9.7-10 we have the names of the ten sons listed. Usually, names are written in block form in Hebrew, showing strength like a wall. But in Esther they are written in a vertical column, showing weakness. You can go to any interlinear Hebrew Bible and see this configuration. We know that this book was written in Hebrew and so many of the things we will be discussing will not be seen in our English bibles, so we suggest you get a copy of the Book of Esther in Hebrew so that you can follow along.

We have already discussed how the book was written in block form (like a wall) until we get to the ten sons of Haman who are killed in Est 9.1-10. Then you will see how they are written in a column form (like a gallows). There will be several letters written differently from the rest of the letters in Hebrew, that you will not see in English. This is what Yeshua was referring to in Matt 5.18. So, let’s go to the last of Haman’s sons listed in v 9 named Vaizatha. In the Hebrew, the first letter of his name is enlarged from the other letters in his name, and it is the letter ‘Vav” which has a “v” sound. The letter “Vav” is the number six in Hebrew and is the number of man and it means, “nail or peg, to secure.” The rabbis teach that the vav was enlarged to show how the ten sons would be impaled, and that is true. This letter in Hebrew looks like a stake or a Persian gallows. We know that the one Haman made for Mordechai was over 80 feet high and there would have been enough room to impale one son on top of another.

Remember, these sons were not hung by a “noose” around the neck. The word “gallows” in English conveys a wrong idea. In Persia, criminals or those sentenced to capital punishment, were impaled on stakes, then they were left there for public view.

As we have said, the vav represents the number six in Hebrew, and this alludes to the number of man, who was created on the sixth day. We see this concept in Rev 13.18 where we see that the number of the False Messiah is the number of a man (six, six, six). Adam was created to be immortal but he sinned and became mortal, and everyone who descended from him was mortal. All the generations of man have now been diminished.

In Gen 2.4 it says, “These are the generations” and the word for generations is “toledot” in Hebrew (tav, vav ,lamed, dalet, vav, tav). After Adam sinned, the word “toledot” (generations) always has a vav (the number of man) missing from the spelling, it is either the first one or the second one. What this is saying is “man’s generations (toledot) is diminished.”

But, when we get to Ruth 4.18 we find something very interesting. The word “toledot” is written out fully once again where it says, “These are the generations of Perez: Perez begot Hezron.” Because of Adam’s sin, man is diminished from the original creation. Messiah will restore man’s generations and the passage of Ruth 4 gives us the genealogy of David, which is the genealogy of Yeshua the Messiah. Through Yeshua, the son of David, man’s generations will be restored. So, the Lord is communicating this fact so “toledot” is written out fully, with both vavs present.

In the Mishkan, when you approached the sanctuary there were five poles. The middle pole was called the “yotaid.” The yotaid was a tent peg, one of the meanings of vav. A vav looked like a nail or peg. The vessels used in the Mishkan services were hung on this pole by these pegs. Scholars have always taught that this pole is a picture of the Messiah.

In Isa 22.15-19 the man named Shebna holds a very important position. He is like the prime minister to the king, but he is thrown out of that position by God violently. In Isa 22.20-23 we learn about Shebna’s replacement named Eliakim. Yeshua can be seen in these passages, and you can see him where Yehovah says in Isa 22.24, “So they hang on him (Messiah-Matt 22.40) all the glory of his father’s house (household of God), offspring and issue, all the least of the vessels, from the bowls to all the jars.” The true Messiah will defeat the False Messiah (the false yotaid) and rule in the Kingdom of God with those who placed their fatih in him. Then in Isa 22.25, it refers back to Shebna, the one removed, and it says that “the peg driven in a firm place will give way, it will even break off and fall, and the load hanging on it (those who depended on him) will be cut off.” He will represent the False Messiah who will fall, taking everyone with him all those who depended or had faith in him.

We will pick up here in our conclusion with more letters in the names of the ten sons of Haman and what they mean in history. We will see that this is an allusion to the ten kings of the False Messiah, but also to the ten Nazis who where hung after the Nuremburg trials.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Esther-Part 4

In Est 6.1-14 we learn that the king could not sleep on the night of Nisan 16 (literally “the sleep of the king was shaken”) and it may be that his jealousy may been working on him, and “not knowing” for sure about his wife and Haman is the worst. Why was she inviting Haman to the banquet? But we know whatever it was, it was the hand of Yehovah who was disturbing his sleep and this caused the king to send out an order to bring the book of records, the chronicles, to have read before him (v 1).

It was found written in these chronicles what Mordechai did in exposing the plot to kill the king. The king also learned that nothing was done to reward Mordechai. This is the only place in the Bible where the phrase “Sefer Zikranot” which means literally “the Book of Remembrance” is used in conjunction with “Divrei Ha Yamim” or annals/chronicles. This alludes to the Scripture in Mal 3.16 where it says, “Then those who feared Yehovah spoke to one another, and Yehovah gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for those who fear Yehovah and who esteem his name.” Rosh Ha Shanah (Yom Teruah) is called “Yom Ha Zikaron” which means “Day of Remembrance.”

Why didn’t the king reward Mordechai at the time? Because it was not in the plan of God to reward Mordechai just yet. This is all part of the trap that Yehovah is laying down for Haman and the deliverance of his people. This concept should also encourage us. The Lord operates in our lives but sometimes we don’t see the fruits and rewards right away. But we must realize that everything works for the good to those who love the Lord and to those who are called (elected) according to his purpose (Rom 8.28).

Then the king said as all this was going on, “Who is in the court?” Well, according to the plan of God, Haman just happens to come to speak to the king about hanging Mordechai on the gallows had just prepared. God had ordered the steps of Haman to appear before the king at a time when the king could not sleep. The Ruach Ha Kodesh had caused both men to remain awake that night, and Haman arrives at the exact moment the king realizes that Mordechai has not been rewarded yet for saving his life.

The king is told, “Behold, Haman is standing in the court.” So the king tells his servants to let him in. So, Haman comes in and the king said to him, “What is to be done for the man whom the king desires to honor?” Haman said to himself because of his pride, “Whom would the king desire to honor more than me?”

The timing here could only be orchestrated by the hand of Yehovah. Both men can’t sleep, and the king wants to honor Mordechai at the same time Haman is coming to ask the king for the death of Mordechai, and Haman thinks the king wants to honor him! So Haman tells the king the things he would like to be done to him, but then he finds out that the honor is going to Mordechai, and Haman must carry it out for Mordechai. So, instead of killing Mordechai, he must honor him! Surely Haman is beginning to see his downfall coming, right? Let’s see!

Haman must put the royal robe on Mordechai and lead him through the city square on one of the king’s horses. This is a picture of the coronation of the Messiah, and Haman’s humiliation is a picture of the degradation of Satan and the False Messiah. Then Mordechai returned to his position at the king’s gate, and Haman hurried home, mourning with his head covered in utter humiliation. All of this had to be done before Esther’s banquet later that day (Nisan 17). And Haman told Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that took place. Haman believed that all of this was just a coincidence and he still intended on going to the king for permission to hang Mordechai.

On the other hand, Zeresh and his friends did not share Haman’s view on these events, and they tell him, “If Mordechai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the seed of the Jews, you will not overcome him, but will surely fall before him.” They saw it coming and must have had some knowledge of Jewish history and what God had done in the past. They knew of God’s promises. While they were speaking, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hastily brought Haman to the banquet which Esther had prepared. It’s too late for Haman because all the pieces are coming together too fast and they will lead to Haman’s demise.

Eschatologically, it will also be the same for the unbelievers who follow the False Messiah when Yeshua comes at the end of the birth-pains (tribulation). Esther’s banquet alludes to the Feast of Leviathan after the judgment between the sheep and the goats (Matt 25.31-46). When Yeshua returns on Yom Kippur to Jerusalem (Matt 24.29-31) there will be a judgment, and the unrighteous will be gathered first (Matt 13.24-30) to Jerusalem as Yeshua sits on the Mount of Olives. These are judged and killed. Their bodies are taken to the Valley of Hinnom, also called the Tophet (Jer 7.32-34, 19.1-5) and the Valley of Decision (Joel 3.9-17). This valley in Hebrew is called “gei Hinnom” or “Gehenna.”

The bodies of these unbelievers will be food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the field (Ezek 29.2-7, 32.1-8; Matt 24.27-28; Luke 17.37; Rev 19.21), and this event is called the Feast of Leviathan in Jewish eschatology, and Leviathan is another word for the False Messiah and these are his followers who are alive on the earth when Yeshua returned (Isa 27.1; Psa 74.13-14; Psa 104.26; Job 26.12-13; Rev 13.1, 19.11-21).

Est 7.1-10 tells us that the king and Haman came to the Banquet. This is now Nosan 17 and the king asks Esther for the third time what her petition is. Esther asks, “Let my life be given me as my petition, and my people as my request” (referring to the 13th of Adar when Haman’s plot is to be carried out against the Jews). She then says, “we” have been sold to be killed, not just sold as slaves. If it was only to be sold as slaves, Esther said she would not have even brought it up because the matter was not worth the attention of the king (v 4). The plan to exterminate the Jews is seen all through history, and is going on right now. It will also be attempted by the False Messiah in the birth-pains.

The king immediately asks, “Who is he, and where is he, who would presume to do this?” The queen of the king was threatened, and her family. Ahasuerus, or Xerxes, is famous for his temper. Haman does not know that Esther is a Jew and a target of his plot, and that she is related to Mordechai. All the king knows is that his wife is threatened, but he does not know she is Jewish at this point.

Then Esther, says, “A foe and an enemy is this wicked Haman.” Haman hears this and is terrified and all his best laid plans against the Jews and Mordechai won’t save him now. Haman was an enemy, not only to the Jews, but to the king. His kingdom could be destabilized due to the loss of so many productive citizens, and the loss of revenue and productivity.

The king arose and went into the palace garden to “cool off” and to think. He knows he has a temper, but in his drunken state he leaves Esther alone with Haman. In one example of his temper, Xerxes is going to invade Greece and he has to cross the Hellespont (Dardanelles today) with his huge army. They needed a bridge to across over, so they built it beforehand. When it was set up a storm came and destroyed the bridge, and Xerxes went out to the sea and whipped it 300 times while his men watched and cursed the sea. They rebuilt the bridge and eventually crossed over to Greece, where they were eventually expelled out of Europe by the Greeks back to Persia. This is the person Haman had to deal with now.

Knowing that harm had been determined against him, Haman begins to beg for his life to Esther. When the king returns, he sees Haman falling on the couch where Esther was. His suspicions of Est 5.4-8 and his jealousy is being confirmed in his mind. He even accuses Haman of assaulting the queen “with me in the house?” As he said this, they covered Haman’s face so the king doesn’t have to see him anymore. The fear of Haman alludes to the fear that will come upon Satan and the False Messiah as they experience the wrath of the King of Kings.

Harbonah (donkey driver) was the one who went to get Haman and bring him to the banquet. He told the king that there was a gallows at Haman’s house that was made for Mordechai. Evidently, while Harbonah was waiting for Haman at his house he saw the gallows and overheard the plot to hang Mordechai on it.

This gallows was a stake on which they would impale a person, and this was 80 feet high. This is not like a gallows you would see in a cowboy movie when they would hang a criminal, this was much worse. So the king said, “Hang him on it” and they took Haman and hanged him (impaled him) on it. After this, Est 7.10 says that the king’s anger “subsided.” The word “subsided” in Hebrew is “shakah” (shin, kof, hay) but in this verse the word is written with an extra kof or “shakakah” (shin, kof, kof, hay). This shows that the king was really, really angry at Haman. Haman’s plot nearly killed his wife and he still thought Haman was assaulting his wife when he fell on her couch, making him think Haman was plotting to kill him and take the throne, along with Esther.

Now, remember, this was Nisan 17 and this date is very significant eschatologically. Here are just a few examples from Jewish history. Noah’s Ark rested on the mountains of Ararat in Gen 8.4 (on the civil calendar); Moses crosses the Red Sea and Pharaoh dies on Nisan 17; Hezekiah cleanses the Temple by Nisan 17 (2 Chr 29.3-28). Most importantly, Yeshua was resurrected from the dead on Nisan 17. Haman’s death on Nisan 17 was no coincidence. His defeat is a picture of God’s judgement and justice.

We will pick in Est 8.1-17 in Part 5.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

Tanak foundations-Concepts in Esther-Part 3

In Est 3.1-15, after Mordechai’s reputation has been established in Est 2.22, the king elevates Haman to power to make his fall even greater. Haman is the son of Hammedatha the Agagite. He would have never been born had Saul been successful in wiping out the Amalekites. But there is a spiritual lesson here to be learned.

Mordechai and Esther are descendants of Saul and this will be important. The fact that a descendant of Agag the Amalekite, who Saul allowed to live (1 Sam 15.9), and a descendant of Saul will have a confrontation in the Book of Esther shows that the Lord is behind these events to give us a picture of what would happen at the coming of the Messiah (Rom 15.4). Saul is a picture of Adam who fell as the first king over the Kingdom of God, and Mordechai is a picture of the Messiah who will be successful in overcoming the evil of the False Messiah, pictured by Haman.

Mordechai would not bow to Haman at the king’s gate, and this homage was idolatrous in the mind of Mordechai. This filled Haman with anger, so he persuaded the king to pass a law requiring everyone to bow to him, but Mordechai still wouldn’t do it (3.2). Besides, he was an Amalekite and he wasn’t going to submit to that. The rabbis have a tradition that says Haman had an image of a false god around his neck. It has always been permissible for a Jew to bow in respect to an official, but not when there was an idol involved. This alludes to the False Messiah who will have an image of himself made and requiring all people to worship it. This is referred to in Scripture as the Abomination of Desolation.

As a result, Haman begins to plot against Mordechai and all the Jews to have them destroyed, just like Pharaoh, Herod, Hitler and the False Messiah will do. Four years after the king’s marriage to Esther, a lot (pur) was cast before Haman day to day and month to month to find his course of action, and it was decided that they should destroy the Jews on the 13th of Adar, nearly a year away. God overruled the lot giving time for the plan of God to be played out for their redemption (Prov 16.33). Now he must get permission.

Haman complains to the king that there is a “certain people” in his kingdom who are different. He says their laws are different (Torah) and they do not keep the king’s laws, so it would be in the king’s interest that they should be exterminated. The background for this attitude and charges can be seen in Ezra 4.4-7,12-13 with the early returnees. This is also like Antiochus Epiphanes, Hitler, Stalin and others who persecuted the Jews because they follow Yehovah and the Torah. Stalin’s death will be associated with Purim as we shall see later in this teaching.

Haman said he would pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who carry out this business, and to put into the king’s treasuries because of the loss of the taxes and tribute that the king would lose once the Jews were killed. He would also repay this loss with the spoil that would be taken from the Jews after they have been destroyed (v 9).

So, the king took his signet ring and gave it to Haman as a token of his power to carry out his plan, saying he could do whatever he wanted to do. The king seems very cold here and he doesn’t even care that he just agreed to exterminate a whole people living under his protection, or he thought it was just a few rebellious individuals. Then the king summoned his scribes on the 13th day of the first month (Nisan) and an order was written out, just as Haman had determined. This law could not be revoked now and now the drama begins. Letters were sent out by messengers to destroy, kill and to annihilate all the Jews in one day, the 13th day of Adar, the twelfth month.

The king and Haman sat down to drink and the city of Shushan was in confusion. They were shocked at such a bloody scheme against a people they knew to be law-abiding citizens. With such a bloody mob unleashed nobody knew where it would end.

Now, as we can see, this event happened during the season of Passover, and in one year the Jews were to be exterminated. So we are getting a hint that this story has eschatological implications. Little did Haman know that his moves against the Jews was a move against Yehovah himself.

Est 4.1-17 begins to tell us that on the same day (Nisan 13) Mordechai hears of the plot he goes to Esther through an intermediary named Hatach. He tells him what is going on and wants him to tell her to use her position to help stop Haman. The messenger goes to Esther and gives her the message. But Esther can only see the king if he calls for her, and if he holds out his golden scepter. She also says she hasn’t seen him for 30 days, implying that he may not be as fond of her as at the first, and the messenger returns to Mordechai with the news.

Then Mordechai tells him to tell Esther that she will not escape these evil plans just because she is in the palace. He says in Est 4.14, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish.”

Now, the word for “silent” in v 14 is used in Num 30.4 when talking about hearing a vow and remaining silent. If done, the vow will stand. Then in Num 30.13 it says a husband can “annul” the vow. The word there is “peram” and it has the same root as “purim” (Est 9.24-26). Mordechai goes on to say in v 14, “And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this.” In other words, God’s providence may have placed her there as his instrument to “annul” the vow of Haman to exterminate the Jews. If she doesn’t, the vow will stand.

Esther tells the messenger to tell Mordechai to have the Jews assemble in Shushan. They are to fast for three days, night and day. She will do the same thing, then go into the king without being summoned. And she says, “If I perish, I perish” and literally it says, ” What I have lost, I have lost.” Esther will be committing a crime by doing this, and the penalty is death unless he extends to her his golden scepter.

Spiritually, the scepter is a picture of Messiah (Gen 49.10; Num 24.27). We have said before that the king is a picture of Yehovah whose laws cannot be broken or rescinded (the Torah cannot be “done away with”). The scepter is a picture of Messiah and unless God extends the Messiah to us, we are under the death penalty for our crimes. She must humble herself and hope that he will offer her “life” as she comes before him as a living sacrifice. We must do the same thing before Yehovah.

Now, remember, this was Nisan 13 and they will fast till Nisan 16. There is no indication that the Jews in captivity kept Passover or any festival because they were not in Jerusalem and there was no Temple or priesthood. We know they did not keep Passover here because they were fasting and praying on Nisan 14, the day of Passover. Esther was placed in the palace for such a time as this, and there will be eschatological pictures emerging as we move forward.

Esther 5.1-14 tells us that on “the third day” (Nisan 16) the praying and fasting has been accomplished and now Esther appears in the inner court of the king’s palace, and the king was sitting on his royal throne. Esther already has seen what happens when a queen disobeys the king’s command, and to approach the king without being summoned was as dangerous as not coming when you are summoned.

Yehovah has already given Esther grace in his eyes, and Esther goes in, and the king extended to Esther the golden scepter. By doing this he is taking her under his protection. He asks her, “What is troubling you, Queen Esther?” Perhaps the three days of fasting was showing on her face. He said he would grant to her “even to the half of the kingdom” which was courtly hyperbole.

She had something very important to ask him, but not yet. She requested that the king and Haman come to a banquet. She knew he would be more relaxed when she gave him her request. She may have been showing an interest in Haman to get his jealousy working in her favor against Haman. She was setting a trap for Haman so he would not have anytime to form a conspiracy. The king was fickle and didn’t want him to change his mind about having Haman there.

The name of God (YHVH or Yehovah) is encoded in the phrase, “yavo ha melek v’ Haman ha yom” and it is one of several places where the name can be found (1.20, 5.13,7.7). This is Nisan 16 and the banquet was for later that day. At the banquet the king asks her what he petition is. So she says, “My petition is: if I have found favor in the sight of the king, and it please the king to grant my petition and do what I request, may the king and Haman come to the banquet which I shall prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the king says.”

She is planting the seeds of jealousy here by placing Haman in the same place as the king when she said, “for them” in v 8. The king knows something is on her mind because she will not have risked her life just to ask him to come to a banquet. So he again asks her about her request (v 6). He knows this is personal to her and says he will grant it “even to the half of the kingdom.”

Well, needless to say, Haman is really pleased with himself about such an honor. His pride is evident in v 9, but as he goes home he sees Mordechai, and he does not stand before Haman, and Haman is again filled with rage. Haman disquised his anger and controlled himself, but he wanted to kill Mordechai even before the date of the evil decree. The False Messiah will also be blinded by his hatred for the Jews in the Birth-pains, and will make war on the Jewish people (Rev 12.1-17).

When Haman got to his house, he sent for his wife Zeresh and his friends, and he recounted to them the “glory of his riches and the number of his sons (ten), and every instance where the king had magnified him, and how he had promoted him above the princes and servants of the king.” His pride is evident as he says, “Even Queen Esther let no one but me come with the king to the banquet which she had prepared; and tomorrow also I am invited by her with the king. Yet all of this does not satisfy me every time I see Mordechai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.”

Then Zeresh his wife and all his friends said to him, “Have a gallows 50 cubits high (80 feet high so all could see) made and in the morning ask the king to have Mordechai hanged on it, then go joyfully with the king to the banquet.” The advice pleased Haman, so he had the gallows made. All of this was without the king’s permission.

In a Bible Code, starting with the resh (r) in “Mordechai” in v 14 and counting in sequential digression (11, 10,9,8,7,6 etc) it spells “ra’ah satan olah” meaning “evil Satan of the Holocaust.” Haman could not wait eleven more months to kill Mordechai, now he only had to wait 24 more hours. But Haman did not realize that all these things coming to a head spelled his own doom. This will also be the case with the False Messiah. Everything he will do will come upon his own head when Yeshua returns.

We will pick up in Est 6.1-14 in Part 4.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Esther-Part 2

In Est 1.1-22 we learn that the king is going to hold a huge banquet. This is about 483.B.C. and about three years before his invasion of Greece and the Battle of Thermopylae. Ezra has returned to Jerusalem and the Temple has been built. Nehemiah would return to Jerusalem about 40 years later under Artaxerxes I, Ahasuerus’ son and successor.

The king is actually going to have three feasts, and the first one was for all the government officials where he shows the glory of his kingdom. The second feast was for the citizens of the capital city, Shushan. The third feast was for the women in the palace conducted by Vashti the queen (v 9).

Ahasuerus has defeated Egypt and was planning a war with Greece, so he calls all the chief men of the kingdom together to discuss it ( Est 1.1, Dan 11.2). He calls his wife Vashti to come forward to display her beauty, and his heart was “merry with wine.” The king was the embodiment of Persia, and so was the queen. She was seen as “mother Persia” but she refused to come, and the king was furious.

In Est 1.16 a man named Memucan (dignified) says that Vashti should be banished, and her position given to another. Now, Memucan is spelled in Hebrew with a mem, mem, vav, kof and nun. But in the verse it is spelled with a mem, vav, mem, kof and nun. It is a combination of two words, “mum” and “can” meaning “a blemish here.” The blemish was because he spoke out of turn. He is mentioned last, but was the first to speak (“The Megillah”, Mesorah Pub., p.48-49). This book is a Jewish Orthodox commentary on Esther and has some very valuable information in it. In some Jewish traditions, Memucan is seen as another name for Haman.

If the word got out that Vashti refused to come, other wives would show disrespect to their husbands as well and there would be some real problems (v 17-18). Once the king made a decree, it could not be repealed. So he sent out a decree that “every man should be the master in his own house.” God had ordained that this new law giving the king absolute powers be written in their laws so that it could be later used against Haman (Est 7.9). In other words, God’s plan for the demise of Haman was already set in motion before Haman had done a thing against the Jews yet. Spiritually, that is an important concept to remember. When our enemies come against us, God has already provided the vehicle for their defeat, too.

The fallen relationship between Ahasuerus and Vashti had to be replaced by a renewed spirit, and this alludes to being born again (John 3.5-8). Through out the first chapter of Esther, Vashti is referred to as “Queen Vashti” until she provokes the king. From Est 1.19 onward she is simply referred to as Vashti. Eschatologically, she represents the unbeliever caught within paganism who will be replaced by the rightful bride of Messiah.

Esther 2.1-23 tells us about the plan to replace Vashti with a new queen. They propose that all the young, beautiful virgins in the kingdom be gathered to Shushan. Then the king can choose a new queen from among them (2.4).

At this time, there was a Jew in Shushan named Mordechai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, from the tribe of Benjamin. In other words, he is a relative of King Saul (1 Sam 9.1, 2 Sam 16.5). That will be an important point to remember at a later time. The term Jew (v 5) meant “Judeans” who were taken to Babylon. So, before we go any further, let’s look at the definition of “Jew” and “Hebrew” and “Israelite.” These definitions are from the Easton’s Bible Dictionary at “Biblestudytools.com.” The reason we are presenting this is because there are people who vehemently argue that the term “Jew” is not a term for any Israelite or Hebrew and they have constructed a whole false theology around this point, but we shall see that these terms became synonymous.

It begins, “Hebrew-a name applied to the Israelites in Scripture only by one who is a foreigner (Gen 19.14, 17; 41.12, etc), or by the Israelites when they speak of themselves to foreigners (Gen 40.15; Exo 1.19), or when spoken of and contrasted with other peoples (Gen 43.32; Exo 1.3, 7, 15; Deut 15.12. In the New Testament there is the same contrast between Hebrews and foreigners (Acts 6.1; Phil 3.5).”

“Israel- the name conferred on Jacob after the great prayer-struggle at Peniel (Gen 32.28), because ‘as a prince he had power with God and prevailed.’ (See Jacob). This is the common name given to Jacob’s descendants. The whole people of the twelve tribes are called “Israelites,” “the children of Israel” (Josh 3.17, 7.25; Judges 8.27; Jer 3.21), and the “house of Israel” (Exo 16.31; 40.38). This name Israel is sometimes used emphatically for the true Israel (Psa 73.1; Isa 45.17, 49.3; John 1.47; Rom 9.6, 11.26).”

“After the death of Saul the ten tribes arrogated to themselves this name, as if they were the whole nation (2 Sam 2.9, 10, 17, 28; 3.10, 17; 19.40-43), and the kings of the ten tribes were called “kings of Israel,” while the kings of the two tribes were called “kings of Judah.” After the exile the name Israel was assumed as designating the entire nation.”

“Jew-the name derived from the patriarch Judah, at first given to one belonging to the tribe of Judah or to a separate kingdom of Judah (2 Kings 16.6; 25.25; Jer 32.12; 33.19; 40.11; 41.3), in contradistinction from those belonging to the kingdom of the ten tribes, who were called Israelites. During the captivity, and after the restoration, the name, however, was extended to all the Hebrew nations without distinction (est 3.6, 10; Dan 3.8, 12; Ezra 4.12; 5.1, 5). Originally this people were called Hebrews (Gen 39.14; 40.15; Exo 2.7; 3.8; 5.3; 1 Sam 4.6, 9), but after the exile this name fell into disuse. But Paul was styled a Hebrew (2 Cor 11.22; Phil 3.5).”

“There are three names used in the New Testament to designate this people, Jews as regards their nationality, to distinguish from the Gentiles. Hebrews with regard to their language and education to distinguish them from Hellenists, Jews who spoke the Greek language. Israelites as respects their sacred privileges as the chosen people of God. According to the above definitions, the people of the 12 tribes (i.e. the descendants of Jacob) are referred to in the New Testament as “Jews,” “Hebrews,” and “Israelites.” The term “Jew” distinguishes them from Gentiles (i.e. everyone who is not a Jew).”

Now, Mordechai was bringing up a young girl named Hadassah (myrtle) and that is the Hebrew name of Esther. She was Mordechai’s cousin (his uncle had a daughter), and he adopted her as his own daughter. When it came about that the command and decree of the king was heard, many young ladies were gathered to Shushan. Now, why would a nice Jewish girl want to marry a pagan king? The answer can be found in Est 2.8.

It says that Esther was “taken” against her will (v 8) and taken to the harem of the king. Josephus says there were 400 young women gathered there. She was put into the custody of Hegai (meditation, word), and Hadassah pleased him. So he gave her cosmetics, food and seven choice maids. He also transferred her to the best place in the harem. Already, as we can see, God’s hand is on her. He is providing the cure (Esther) before the sickness (Haman), and Mordechai has instructed her to not tell anyone that she is Jewish. This will play a role in the fall of Haman.

Mordechai would walk about in front of the court of the harem to learn about how Esther was doing. The word for “walk” in v 11 is not “holech” but “mithhalech” meaning “strolled.” He did not want to be obvious to the guards that he was checking on her. Evidently, Mordechai had a high position in order to do that (2.19).

Ahasuerus wanted to make sure that none of the girls were sick, so he waits twelve months. During that time the women were preapred in ways that enhanced their beauty. Each woman would come before the king for one night. After that, they were taken to a second harem. She would not go again to the king unless he delighted in her and she was called again.

Esther could not have felt good about this whole process. She lost any possibility of marriage and a family among her people now that she was a part of this, but God had a plan to use her to save the whole nation. This book is also a book about the sovereignty of God. Events and the people involved are placed in their roles by the Lord without the participants even knowing what was being played out, but Yehovah did.

So we know she was taken against her will to the king in the tenth month (Tevet) in the seventh month year of his reign and this is eschatological. Messiah will take his bride and marry her in the seventh year also (Messianic Kingdom). He loved Esther more than all the others because she had found favor in the eyes of all who saw her (v 15) and he marries her.

The king gave another banquet and made a holiday for the provinces. This is a picture of the Wedding Supper of the Lamb at Sukkot. Mordechai was sitting at the “king’s gate” and this is an idiom meaning he had a position of trust in the government. He may have been a bodyguard of some sort to the king. Many Jews have served as advisors to the kings they were under. Daniel sat in the king’s gate and had ruled over certain areas, and Nehemiah was a cup-bearer and governor of Judea, and we all know the story of Joseph, although this was in a different type of captivity.

Esther has not told anyone about her heritage as Mordechai commanded her (2.10). Now, as we have said, Mordechai was involved with security of the king. Foreigners were often used in this way because they were not involved in nor interested in all the tribal and family politics of the nation. David had Philistines as bodyguards, for instance.

In those days Mordechai was at the king’s gate and two of the king’s officials who “guarded the door” (v 21) became angry with the king. Their names were Bigthan (gift of God) and Teresh (feared) and they wanted to lay hands on the king. They certainly had the opportunity because they guarded the door, possibly to his bedroom. But their plot became known to Mordechai and he told Queen Esther, and she informed the king in Mordechai’s name.

They were arrested and after an investigation, Bigthan and Teresh were found guilty and hanged on a gallows. This was recorded in the Book of the Chronicles in the king’s presence. Later, the king will be unable to sleep and he will read about what Mordechai did, and will reward him using Mordechai’s enemy Haman. Again, God is weaving into the story the destruction of Haman by establishing the reputation of Mordechai before the king.

In Part 3 we will pick up in Est 3.1-15.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Esther-Part 1

We are going to look at some concepts in the Book of Esther which will help us understand this book in a deeper way. As usual in our “concepts” series, we will not be doing a verse by verse study but we will go over concepts, idioms, phrases and the eschatology that is presented.

Like many books in the Tanak, the author of Esther is not known, but Jewish tradition says it was Esther and Mordechai, and later redacted by the Men of the Great Assembly. It takes place after the Babylonian Exile when Persia was reigning. The story is set in Susa (Shushan) and it was the royal city of the Persians, not the Medes. The modern day city of Shush in Iran is the site of ancient Susa and there are several archaeological sites there today.

The reigning king is Ahasuerus, also known as Xerxes, and he is the king who invaded Greece and fought the Spartan King Leonidas at the Battle of Thermopylae. He reigned between 486 and 465 B.C. Some Jews had returned to Jerusalem already and had control over their own lives, as we have seen in our study of Ezra and Nehemiah. But others, like Mordechai and Esther, remained behind for reasons only known to themselves. However, the majority of the people remained behind so that was not unusual, but the Jews were a minority group and this was a very dangerous position to be in. As we shall see, they will face a life threatening series of events.

The Book of Esther tells us about how a Jewish girl became queen of Persia and how she thwarted a plot to exterminate her people. She will be assisted in this by her guardian named Mordechai. But, besides the historical events presented in this book, we will look at how this story will play out again eschatologicall in the coming of the Messiah.

As part of the introduction to this book, we would like to quote from the book, “Prophecies in the Book of Esther” by Joseph Good of Hatikvah Ministries, p. 2-6, “The Book of Esther is unique in that it is the only book in the Bible that never mentions the Name of God directly in the text. However, the Name is found several times encoded into the text. The name of the book is derived from the Babylonian name Ishtar which means ‘as beautiful as the moon.’ It’s Hebrew derivative, vocalized Ha Ester, means ‘covering or the covering of God’s face,’ “And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they turned unto other gods” (Deut 31.18).”

“This is, perhaps, one reason why the name of God is not spelled out in the text of the book. Rashi, a Talmudic scholar of the eleventh century, stated that there was a concealment of the divine countenance during the days of Esther. Why would God conceal his face from those he loved? The rabbis teach that the Jews assimilated and began to forget and neglect their total dependence upon God. This caused the conditions that clouded the Divine Image and allowed an obstacle to conceal his countenance. However, though concealed, God never departed from his children, but went with them into captivity. The virtue of Mordechai and Esther showed and caused a return to God (repentance) among the Jews during which time God’s presence was again revealed.”

“Although his countenance was covered, it was later revealed. There are at least four times when the ineffable Name of God appears in acrostic form embedded in the text of Esther. This ineffable name, known as the tetragrammaton, was pronounced only by the High Priest of Israel, only on the Day of Atonement. The Hebrew letters Yod, Hay, Vav, Hay are vocalized YHVH. In Hebrew texts, whenever YHVH appears, it is pronounced Adonai (Lord) in order to keep from using the Name in vain. The YHVH appears in Esther 1.20 as the first letters of four consecutive words when read backward: Hi v’chol h’nashim yitnu, ‘It, and all women will give.’ In Esther 5.4 these letters appear again by initial letters of four consecutive words when read forward, Yavo hamelech v’haman hayom, ‘and let the king and Haman come today.’ Again, in Esther 5.13 the YHVH is formed by final letters of four consecutive words when read backward, zah ainenu shoveh li, ‘This gives no satisfaction to me.’ Once more the tetragrammaton is seen in Esther 7.7 by the final letter of four consecutive words read forward, ki chaltah ailav hara’ah, ‘that his fate had been determined.’ “

“Without a doubt, the book of Esther gives a vivid description of the triumph of the true Messiah and glimpses into the Kingdom of God on earth. The book of Esther is unique in being the story of ancient accounts, yet it provides a profound vision of the future. More than any other book of the Scriptures, Esther deals with the nature of the False Messiah and his demonic hatred for the Jews.”

“Many years before the events of this story came to pass, the earthly stage was set and the characters were created. The Babylonian Empire had succumbed to the power of the mighty Persian Empire. Nebuchadnezzar had taken the Jews into Babylon in three stages. Among those taken were Daniel, who later served the Babylonian king and sat at his gate, Ezekiel, and many more who would later return to Jerusalem. Jeremiah prophesied that after seventy years of captivity the Jews would return to rebuild the Temple and Jerusalem. No one knows exactly when the seventy years begins or ends. A prince of Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, provoked God by using the sacred vessels from the Temple for lustful purposes. He died within hours as Cyrus the Mede conquered Babylon, and thus began the Median-Persian empire.”

“Cyrus is regarded in Scripture as a just ruler who beheld the awesome power of God and vowed that the Temple in Jerusalem would be restored. His reign was short’ however, and his empire passed into the hands of his son, Cambyses and Smerdis. Smerdis probably tried to usurp the throne and was later assassinated by the cohorts of Darius I. Cambyses presumably died in battle with Egypt. By this time the foundation for the Temple had been laid, but work stopped and would not commence for another twenty years.”

“Cyrus began restoring the old Elamite city if Susa. Darius continued the restoration and conducted many affairs of state there. Susa is known in the Bible as Shushan. He enlarged the empire and began a large building campaign. Darius is regarded historically as a great ruler, and according to tradition, this is the same Darius is Scripture who allowed many Jews, such as Ezra, Zerubbabel, and Yeshua the son of Yosadak the High Priest, to return to Jerusalem and undertake the task of rebuilding. At any rate, the Persian Empire flourished under Darius’ regime. He was succeeded by his son, Xerxes, who reigned for twenty years and was succeeded by his son, Artaxerxes, who commissioned Nehemiah to return for the rebuilding of the walls of Jeruslaem.”

“Tradition holds that the Jews were allowed to return during the reign of Darius, but were called back to Persia during the reign of Ahasuerus. The rabbis teach that Ahasuerus disliked the Jews and was afraid of their efforts to rebuild the Temple. There is no factual evidence to support this tradition, but timing would allow for such an event to occur. This would also lend itself well to reasons for the story of Esther to transpire, to further allow for the Jews to finish rebuilding the Temple as Cyrus had long ago promised.”

“It is not known for certain exactly which king Ahasuerus represents, but most theologians support that he must have been Xerxes. This concluded by the similarity in descriptions of their reigns. each had a large banquet with many nobles during their third year as monarch. Each is described as being a ruler of numerous provinces. Although nothing exists in Persian history to substantiate the story of Esther, nothing exists to disprove the story. Also, the timing of events in the book of Esther coincides with the timing of recorded history concerning Xerxes. In the third year of his reign, Xerxes began his campaigns with the Greeks which lasted until his seventh year, at which time he returned to Persia in order to develop his kingdom. It is during this same seventh year that Ahasuerus takes Esther as queen. Most of the historical accounts on Xerxes are in Greek literature, therefor, they may be tainted as Xerxes led several campaigns against the Greeks and lost. His Persian name was Khshayarsha which the Greeks translated as Xerxes. There are several similarities between Ahasuerus and Khshayarsha. The Hebrew pronunciation of Ahasuerus is Achashveyrosh.”

“Whatever the plight of the Jews during the reign of Ahasuerus, there were many Jews still captive in Persia. Those taken into captivity from the old Babylonian Empire learned to live new lives a foreigners in yet another country. everything that develops in the story had already been seen by a Higher Authority. The redemptive work had already been provided many years before. The stage had been set, and so the story begins.”

What is interesting about this book is God is never named. Going back to Deut 31.18 again, which we have quoted above, the word “hide” is spelled Esther. God’s name is hidden in Est 1.20, 5.4, 5.13 and 7.7 and that’s why this book was never found at Qumran and part of the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS), or a genizah, which is a depository for old writings with the name of God (YHVH or Yehovah) in them. Because Esther did not have the name of God in it, they did not need to put it into the caves at Qumran, so it was never found there.

The cast of characters in the book will play major roles in the court, but they will also be a picture of several eschatological characters. First, we have Ahasuerus (ruler among kings, or king of kings), also known by his Greek name Xerxes. He will be a picture of God who is the ruler among kings, and whose laws cannot be broken or changed. Then we have a man named Haman (noisy, illustrious), who is a descendant of Agag, an Amalekite. He will be a picture of the False Messiah. He will have ten sons who will be hanged when Haman falls, and they are a picture of the ten kings who fall with the False Messiah. They will also be a picture of the ten Nazis that were hung after the Nuremburg trials. In an encoded message in Hebrew where the sons are listed in Esther, the date for their hanging is given. Mordechai (of Marduk, bitter oppression) is a descendant of Shimei, who is a descendant of King Saul, who cursed David in 2 Sam 16.5-14 and was allowed to live by King David. He will be a picture of the Messiah. We will have more on the relationship between King Saul and Agag, David and Shimei, and Mordechai and Haman later on in this teaching. King Saul is picture of the first Adam who sinned, and Mordechai will be a picture of the Second Adam (Yeshua). Esther (star), who had the Hebrew name Hadassah (myrtle), will be a picture of the believer. Queen Vashti (beautiful one) will be a picture of the unbeliever, who was called before the throne of the king but refused to come. So, as we move along in the book keep these concepts in mind because they will be playing out an eschatological scenario.

The festival of Purim will be inaugurated in this book to celebrate the deliverance God provided, and it occurs on Adar 14 every year. Although it is not one of the festivals listed in Lev 23, it is a biblical festival and it will play a role in biblical prophecy because in the birth-pains, the Abomination of Desolation will be set up around that date by the False Prophet, pointing the way to the False Messiah, who will declare himself to be God about one month later, on Nisan 10 (2 Thes 2).

So, as we can see, this book is full of historical facts, but it is full of eschatological pictures, and we will point these out as we move along in our study. We will pick up in Est 1.1-22 in Part 2.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, The Temple, Understanding the New Testament

Tanak Foundations-Nehemiah and the Temple-Conclusion

Many people have put out videos that say the Temple was not on the Temple Mount. What we want you to do is go to a map of the City of David and the Temple Mount on the Internet. We want you to look at the map you want to use as we continue, and as we name a location, you can find where we are talking about. You will soon see that the Temple could not have been in the City of David. The City of David is the oldest part of Jerusalem and there are fortifications in these areas that are being discovered, and they go back to before Israel arrived.

So, for some reference points, look at the southern end of the city and you will see the Siloam Pool. Going up the eastern side of the city you will see the Kidron Valley and the Gihon Spring. Then David’s Palace is just north and then we come to the Ophel. North of that we have the Temple Mount. On other maps you can see more detail, the southern steps of the Temple and other sites.

Some of Israel’s best archaeologists are working in the area of the old City of David, like Eilat Mazar and Ronny Reich. Dr. Mazar published an article on where David’s Palace would be located without digging. How did she figure that out? She read the Scriptures and surmised that it would be at the northern end of the City of David. She found a large structure dating back to the time of David with many artifacts inside. Most scholars agree that it was David’s Palace. Some try to discount it, but most of the big archaeologists agree with Mazar. There is a stepped stone structure that was built going down into the Kidron Valley because they needed to increase the size of the foundation of this huge building. That is important and you can go to the Internet and look at the pictures there on this discovery.

Solomon would build his palace on the Temple Mount and David’s Palace became an administration center. They found a toilet there and were able to examine some of the stone and found that people using this toilet had tape worms because they were eating raw meat during the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem. All the wood had been used up to make defenses and the cooking of food, and eventually they ran out of wood. They also found a seal that was baked due to the burning of Jerusalem and it was baked also. They found a whole area full of seals and some of them had the names of some of the people we see in the Scriptures.

The Gihon Spring has some massive excavations going on, too. It is south of David’s Palace. There is a parking lot called the Givati parking lot and they are finding ruins from the Hasmonean (Maccabees) to the Roman period. That’s because David’s Palace was at the northern end of the City of David and the Givati parking lot is west of the palace. They have also found the street that went from the Siloam Pool to the Temple Mount. They found the sewer that was below the street and found many artifacts in there. So, we have gone over the Temple Mount, the Ophel, the City of David, David’s Palace, the Gihon Spring, the Siloam Pool (Shiloach) and the Givati parking lot.

Now let’s talk about the Siloam (Shiloach) Pool for a moment. When people came up to the festivals they would congregate there, clean up and prepare their gifts to God before they went up to the Temple. A delegation was sent to the Temple notifying the priests that such and such group from such and such were there. Was the Siloam Pool a mikvah (immersion bath)? Some debate this even now. The rules for a Temple era mikvah by the first century were very strict and so you can make a good argument that it wasn’t a mikvah. It was just an open area with a pool. There are other mikvaot all over the place.

In the City of David they have not found very many mikvaot. There are some but not many. On the other hand, just south of the Temple Mount they have discovered mikvaot, and some on the southwest side. For more information on this subject we refer you to our teaching called, “Tevilah (immersion) and Rachatz (washing)” on this website.

At any rate, having the steps leading up to the Temple Mount as it is today and having mikvaot there is important evidence because you had to immerse before going up to the Temple. There were other mikvaot south of the inner courtyard and in the outer courtyard of the Temple.

There was another mikvah which was discovered under the Lishkat Ha Metzorim (Chamber of the Lepers). This chamber was in the northwest part of the Court of the Women. A cistern was found under what would have been the Leper’s Chamber by Conraad Shick in 1870. The locations of these mikvaot are not only verified by the leading mikvaot archaeologists, like Ronny Reich, but they are also backed up by the Jewish writings like the Mishnah, Josephus and others that tell us a mikvah should be located there.

Dr. Ernest Martin wrote a book called, “The Temples That Jerusalem Forgot” and Bob Cornuke wrote one called, “Temple:Amazing New Discoveries That Changed Everything About the Location of Solomon’s Temple.” These books say that the Temple was just north of David’s Palace, in the Ophel. 2 Chr 3.1 says that Solomon began building the Temple on Mount Moriah, the same mountain that Abraham nearly sacrificed Isaac in Gen 22. It is also the same mountain that Jacob had his dream about the ladder in Gen 28. Yeshua will also be crucified on that mountain. David numbered the people in 1 Chr 21.1-30 and sins, so a plague breaks out and David buys the threshing floor of Ornan, and builds an altar. So, 2 Chr 3.1 says that Solomon began to build the Temple there. The Altar of the Temple will be in the same spot as David’s altar (1 Chr 21.18), and the altar that David built is on the same location that Abraham built his altar with Isaac. We have a continuing of locations.

Dr. Martin has the Temple Mount as the Roman fortress Antonia and the Temple is south of the Ophel, and just north of David’s Palace. His book has a picture of this layout but you can look it up on the Internet now. The size of his Temple is much smaller than it actually was. He says that the Fortress Antonia that most have pictured in the northwest corner of the Temple complex could not hold 600 Roman soldiers and all that went with them, so they had to have the whole Temple Mount. However, the size of his Temple is smaller than his reconfigured Fortress Antonia, but the Temple would hold hundreds of thousands on a festival everyday. His logic does not add up numerically.

His layout of the whole Temple-Antonia area does not match the descriptions. He has porticos running north and south but nobody ever saw those. He has the Gihon Spring right below his Temple complex, but in reality, it would have been further south of the Temple. Martin and Cornuke say the Temple got its water from the Gihon Spring, but according to historical texts it came from the Etam Spring near Bethlehem, reaching the Temple by means of a lower aquaduct (Jerusalem Talmud, Yoma 3.41; “Etam Spring-Temple Mount Water,” TempleMountLocation.com). The Gihon Spring was not a factor in the Temple.

The Sanhedrin met in three places. The “Sanhedrin Gedolah” or Great Sanhedrin had 71 judges and it met in Beit Avtinas, and they had to meet there to render a death sentence according to the Torah. They eventually moved to the eastern end of the Royal Stoa in protest about Pontius Pilate in 30 A.D. This was right before Yeshua was brought before them and why they could not pronounce a death sentence on him.

A second court called the “Sanhedrin Katanah” or Smaller Sanhedrin of 23 judges met in a building to the right side of the gate leading into the Court of the Women called the Eastern Gate. A third court called the “Beit Zekanim” or House of Elders, made up of 3 judges that met at the southern steps leading up to the Temple Mount, and this building has been found because they found a portion of a plaque that had two connecting fragments, and it had the word “Zekanim” (elders) written on it, referring to the elders of the Sanhedrin. They found that nowhere near where Ernest Martin and Bob Cornuke have their temples. These southern steps lead up to the Temple Mount today and people can walk on them.

These areas we have been talking about have been thoroughly documented. Dr. Mazar has documented, drawn and measured every stone in the northern wall. What we want to illustrate here is that everything has been documented and done by trained archaeologists at the top of their professions.

The Soreg was a small wall around the Temple courts about two cubits high with signs on them warning the non-Jews to stay out of the courts or they would be responsible for their own death. Josephus records the wording and they have found two of those signs. One is completely intact and in Istanbul, and it was found at the northeast end of the Temple Mount, a long way from the City of David. The second one is a partial sign in the Israel Museum and it was found on the northwest side of the Temple Mount, also a long way from the City of David.

In 2 Sam 24.10-14 we learn that David has sinned by numbering the people. He is given three things to choose from as punishment. He can choose seven years of famine, fleeing for three months before his enemies while they pursue him, or three days of pestilence. David chooses the third option because the other two would have put the whole nation at risk by other nations. He does not want to fall into the hands of men, so he wants to be in the hands of God because he is a merciful God and he would be just as exposed to the pestilence as everyone else.

2 Sam 24.15-17 talks about the plague and an angel is stopped from destroying the people at the threshing floor of Araunah (Ornan) the Jebusite (the name for anyone dwelling in Jerusalem). David sees the angel who was striking down the people and he tells the Lord that he was the one who sinned, not “these sheep, what have they done?”

So, 2 Sam 24.18 says that the prophet Gad came to David and said, “Go up, erect an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” This is where the Temple altar will be. Gibeon is where the Mishkan was at the time was too far to go to an altar and the angel was standing in between Gibeon and David. David is in his palace (v 18) and we are going to have Araunah’s floor, the Ophel, David’s Palace, the Gihon Spring and the Siloam Pool in that order as you moved south.

Notice David is told to “Go up” to the threshing floor of Araunah, which would be north. He is not going to go “down” to the south to the Gihon Spring to the threshing floor of Araunah. He is told to build an altar there, to the north of his palace (“go up”). In 2 Chr 5.1-7 it says that the Ark was brought “up” from the City of David by the priests (v 5) to its place, into the inner sanctuary of the Temple (v 7).

We are making all these points to show that the Temple was on the temple Mount where the Dome of the Rock is because many people are looking at certain videos and buying books that say the Temple was in the City of David. The Jews did not “forget” where the Temple was like Martin asserts. Believing this theory makes it sound like the Jews don’t know what they are talking about. We can assure you they did not forget where the Temple was, and the best archaeologists in the world have verified it over and over again. There is a “mountain” of evidence out there, and we have only presented a minuscule amount to prove it.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, The Temple, Understanding the New Testament

Tanak Foundations-Nehemiah and the Temple-Part 2

In Neh 3.1 we are going to deal with an important word. The priests built the Sheep Gate and they consecrated it. The word for “consecrated” is “Kadshuhu” and it comes from the word “Kodesh.” They sanctified this gate and there is only one place in Jerusalem that it could be referring to, and only the priests were allowed there, so that’s why they were the ones to concentrate it. It is not the “Temple Mount at large” or the inner courtyards, but it is a specific part of the inner courtyards called the Ezrat Kohanim (Court of the Priests).

The Tower of the Hundred is the northeast corner building of the Temple, and would later be called the Beit Ha Nitzotz. The Tower of Hananel (God has favored) would be later called the Beit Ha Moked in the northwest corner of the Temple. The reference to the Sheep Gate alludes to Yeshua as the Lamb of God. Most maps have the Temple configured wrong.

Neh 3.2-3 mentions the “Fish Gate” (alludes to being “fishers of men”) and the sons of Hassenah laid its beams and hung its doors. So, we can see that the path they will be going in Nehemiah is in the north moving west, then heading south and then around to the east side.

In Neh 3.4-6 it tells us who did the work going into the “Old Gate.” This gate has not been located yet but they are now moving south in Nehemiah. This “Old Gate” alludes to the fact that the “old man” needs a lamb and redemption.

Neh 3.7-8 tells us about who did the work up to the “Broad Wall.” Archaeologists know where this is but it is south of the Old Gate and part of it is in the Jewish Quarter behind a shop called “Shorashim” on the way to the western restrooms. The Broad wall was built over a wall that Solomon built and Hezekiah expanded it by making it wider. You can follow it for several hundred yards.

Then in Neh 3.9-12 it tells us who worked on the wall and it mentions the “Tower of Furnaces.” We are now in the Ophel area and we are entering the City of David (Ir David) going south on the west side of the city. Neh 3.13 talks about the the “Valley Gate” at the Tyropoeon Valley. This gate alludes to how a person must be brought low in humility before he can call on Yehovah.

Neh 3.13-14 mentions the “Refuse Gate” or “Dung Gate” and it alludes to our works. The gate is in the southwest part of the western wall of the City of David, but as far south (low) as you can get. It was right at the bottom of the hill where the Cheesemakers Valley (Tyropoeon) meets Gei Hinnom (Gehenna) or the Valley of Hinnom. Spiritually, we must be as low as we can get and realize our works are as “dung” and it is part of the process we need to go through where “old things are passed away.” When you turn the corner here you are moving north towards the Temple on the eastern side of the city.

Neh 3.15 mentions the “Fountain Gate” and it relates to the Pool of Siloam (“Shiloach” or sent) and we know where that is. This gate is in the south and it relates to the concepts of regeneration and washing. He has “turned the corner” from sin to redemption. The water in the pool of Siloam alludes to the Ruach Ha Kodesh being “sent” (Shiloach-John 16.7). Now, keep in mind that if you walked from the eastern side of the City of David to the western side of the City of David it would take you less than ten minutes. We are not talking about a big area at all.

Neh 3.16-25 tells us who is building the eastern wall moving north. In verse 25 it mentions David’s palace and it was built north of the City of David because they have found it. David does not build the Temple but he did build his palace. The Temple was north of that, and his palace was located by using Scripture by Eilat Mazar. Solomon did not use David’s palace when he became king. He built a new palace to the north of David’s on the Temple Mount.

Neh 3.26-27 says that the temple servants (Netanim) lived in the Ophel and made repairs as far as the “Water gate.” The Water Gate was near the Gihon Spring above the Kidron Valley. This gate alludes to cleansing and several mikvahs have been located. Nehemiah would gather all the people to the Water Gate to hear the Torah. It was a place for gathering, teaching and fellowship and it tells us that a believer should gather, teach and learn, and fellowship around Torah study. The Tekoites repaired another section in front of the great projecting tower (out of the wall) and as far as the wall of Ophel.

Neh 3.28 tells us about the “Horse Gate” and above the Horse Gate (north) the priests carried out repairs, each in front of his house. This was an entrance to Solomon’s Stables, or just stables in general. The horse was symbolic of power in warfare and alludes to our power in spiritual warfare after our conversion. This led to the King’s Palace on the Temple Mount built by Solomon. We are now past the City of David and we haven’t even gotten to the Temple yet. The King’s Palace was south of the Temple.

So, if you say the Temple was south in the City of David you are saying that all of this is wrong. You can read 2 Kings 11.16 and 2 Chr 23.15 to substantiate that the Horse Gate led to the palace. Athaliah was killed there outside the gate after she was led out of the Temple.

The “East Gate” in Neh 3.29 leads to the Temple area, the House of God. This alludes to our worship and prayer, and our entering into the “Household of God.” It is called the Shaar Mizrach. Over the gate they had a depiction of the palace in Shushan of the Persian kings. They had given the Jews permission to come back to the land and to rebuild the Temple, so they honored them.

Neh 3.31 talks about the “Inspection Gate” (Miphkad) and it is the last gate. This is where the people were mustered and inspected for military purposes or war, and sheep would be inspected for Temple use. This gate alludes to the Judgment (inspection) Seat of Messiah where we are mustered in the Natzal (Rapture) and inspected. After that we go to war with Yeshua when he returns to the earth to rule and reign. We know where this gate was, and it is under what is now called the “Golden Gate.” North of that is the old sheep market that was used until 1965 or so. The “BenjaminGate” was up there, which is today called the “Lion’s Gate.”

When you go into the Lions’s Gate about 70 yards you come to the Sheep pools or the Pools of Bethesda. They would bring the sheep down to the sheep market, then they would be purchased for the Temple and washed in the Sheep pols, and then they would be brought through the Inspection Gate.

Neh 3.32 takes us back back to the Sheep Gate and we have made a complete circle going counter-clockwise around the City of David. When one looks at the Golden Gate from outside the wall, all the stones to the left (south) are the ones we have been reading about with Nehemiah, and all the stones to the right (north) are Herodian. There is what is called the “Offset” and that is where the masonry changes. On the Internet, you can go to the website called “Eastern Wall, NE end-Jerusalem 101” at www.generationword.com and they have pictures that have the stones Nehemiah set, the Offset Stone and then Herodian stones. But there are many sites you can do some research on as well.

The cornerstone in the photos marked the northeast corner of the original 500 x 500 cubit Temple Mount from the time of Solomon to Yeshua. North of that is Herodian and part of the Roman fortress called Antonia. This Offset stone can also be seen in the book “Measure the Pattern, A Study of the Structures Surrounding the Inner Courtyard of the Temple” Vol 1, p. 27, by Joseph Good of Hatikva Ministries. Anyone interested in current Temple archaeology should purchase this book.

The scholars, archaeologists and people of this generation have located specific locations mentioned in Neh 3 and we have established that the Temple was not in the City of David, but north of it. The Horse Gate, the East Gate and the Inspection Gate (Miphkad) are all Temple gates,and they are north of the City of David.

Scripturally, we can establish that the Temple was not in the City of David. In Gen 22, Abraham is told to build an altar on a mountain God will show him. The location where he builds that altar is where Solomon builds his altar. Ezra 5.15 says that the Persian king commanded that the Temple be built at the exact same place the previous Temple stood before it was destroyed.

Current books out there by Ernest Martin, Bob Cornuke and others say the Temple was located further south. After reading these books people say, “The Jews changed it to the Temple Mount because they forgot where the Temple really was” but they aren’t taking into account that these authors are changing the archaeology and the Scriptures. Solomon’s palace was not where David’s palace was in the City of David. It was on the Temple Mount, but why?

In pagan societies, a king may see himself as a god, or one of the gods.. This was the case in Egypt. In Israel, the king was seen as an adopted son of God (1 Chr 28.5-7) and God’s representative for the Kingdom of God on earth (1 Chr 28.5; 2 Chr 13.8). The laws of Israel were contained in the Torah and there was no such thing as “separation of church and state” but a “merging” of the two. So we know that we cannot have structures on the Temple Mount if it is not a part of the “tavnit” or pattern/blueprint that God originally gave to David, and then to Solomon (1 Chr 28.11-19). Solomon’s palace (and the succeeding kings) was built at a lower level than the Temple and it was in the outer court area. As a result, it did not have the same kedusha as the inner courts of the Temple.

The belief that the Temple was not on the Temple Mount does not have any foundation in the Scriptures or archaeology, as we have seen so far in this study. We believe that we are the generation that will see the rebuilding of the Temple, and it is not a question of “If” or “Maybe.” It is coming and when it happens it will come sudden and when you least expect it. Yehovah will do something nobody saw coming and everything will change.

Now, there are two things that will be needed in order to have a Temple that is real and that is serviceable. There are many other things, but we will touch on that later. The first thing that will be needed is a Parah Adumah, or Red Heifer. The Temple Mount, the priesthood and all the utensils, garments and furniture must be sprinkled with the ashes before they can be used.

Secondly, there is the Temple Mount itself. It must be totally in the hands of the Jewish people with the Dome of the Rock and other Muslim sites vacated on the Temple Mount. The will of the people is going to play a major role in all this when the time comes. The attitude is changing and more and more people are moving towards wanting a Temple, but its not there yet and it won’t be easy or cheap.

There is a spiritual energy associated with the Temple and the Temple Mount and the governments of the world don’t realize how important Jerusalem is, and they certainly don’t realize how important that 35 acres on the Temple Mount is. Church organizations don’t realize it, and neither do the political parties in the Untied States. But there are two organizations in this world that realize how important it is.

The first is the Vatican and Roman Catholicism. They see the Temple as a repudiation of their replacement theology that says the church has replaced Israel and the Temple was destroyed to show that God is done with the Jews. For the Temple to be rebuilt would be a terrible blow to their church doctrines. God is done with the Jews so that is why there is no Temple, that Sunday has replaced the Sabbath, that the Catholic priests have replaced the Levitical priesthood, the sacrifice of the Mass has replaced all animal sacrifices and Christianity has replaced a Torah-based Judaism. That’s why they want control over the Temple Mount and want to have a say in what happens there. They see value in it. For more information on this, see our teaching called, “The Real Agenda of the Vatican” on this website.

The second organization is Islam and their attempts to keep Israel from rebuilding the Temple. They see value in it. In their eyes, if a Temple went up on the Temple Mount, replacing the Dome of the Rock, it would look like the God of the Jews (Yehovah) is more powerful than the god of Islam (Allah), and that would be a real problem to the Muslims, so they are not going to allow that, but they aren’t going to have much say in it. When Yehovah is ready, the Temple Mount will be ready for a Temple. There is a real spiritual battle going on in the natural, but with the Lord there isn’t much of a struggle going on. When the Lord is ready, the Temple is going to be rebuilt and that will be that.

We will pick up here in our conclusion.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, The Temple, Understanding the New Testament

Tanak Foundations-Nehemiah and the Temple-Part 1

Since we have been studying the Book of Nehemiah, let’s talk about the Temple Mount and the Temple. There is a teaching going around today that says the Temple was located in the City of David and not on the Temple Mount where the Dome of the Rock is located. We are going to show that this is virtually impossible. To believe that the Temple was located in the City of David you would have to deny the Scriptures. You would have to say that the Book of Nehemiah, which we have just gone over, is inaccurate and wrong in what it is saying.

This book plainly puts the Temple on the present day Temple Mount, and Josephus puts the Temple on the present day Temple Mount. But one of the big problems people have is that they are unfamiliar with the geography of Jerusalem. So we are going to try and correct that with some valid information. For those of you who do not like geography, please stick with us because it will be a real blessing for you. You will need a good map of the ancient City of David with the gates to go along with this teaching, and they are easily available on the Internet.

We have two detailed accounts of the geography of Jerusalem and both will be in the Second Temple period. The first will be in Nehemiah 3, with additional information in Neh 12, and the second account will be Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 5. He gives a very detailed account of the Temple at the time it was destroyed, as well as the city of Jerusalem.

Nehemiah is giving his account at the time the Temple was being rebuilt with Ezra, Yehoshua Ben Yehozadak the high priest and Zerubbabel. That will be early Second Temple period but it gives us a real good view of Jerusalem and the Temple of the late First Temple period.

The view that the Temple was located in the City of David does not fit the archaeology. Archaeologists can tell us in detail what has been found and one of the best archaeologists today is Eilat Mazar. She has a book called “The Complete Guide to Temple Mount Excavations.” She is the granddaughter of Benjamin Mazar, who conducted the excavation around the south and southwest of the Temple Mount. The archaeologists can also tell us what is not there.

If one is going to study the Bible, you need to study Jerusalem. It is the Throne of God on earth and the center piece of the Bible, from beginning to end (Jer 17.12). Yehovah “planted a garden toward the east in Eden and there he placed the man he had formed” (Gen 2.8). The question is, “East of what?” You have to have a reference point. That reference point is east of the throne, and the throne of God is the Temple. There is a belief that the Temple was a representation of the Garden of Eden, and that Jerusalem and the Garden of Eden are linked. The motif of the Temple relates back to a garden (trees, pomegranates, gourds, flowers, olive wood, etc-1 Kings 6.18, 29, 31, 7.18, 36; Psa 52.8; 92.12-14; Ezek 31.8-9) and Ezek 28.13-16 speaks of “Eden, the garden of God” and the “mountain of God.” Adam fell in what would be Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, and Yeshua as the second Adam restored mankind from the sin of Adam in Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount, and was buried in a nearby garden. But, that again is another story.

The stone within the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim is called the “Even Shetiyah” or “Foundation Stone.” It is taught that from that point Yehovah created the world. So, from the beginning (Bereshit means “beginning” and is the Hebrew name for the Book of Genesis) of the Bible to the Book of Revelation, we have Jerusalem.

If you want to understand the Tanak, the Gospels, Epistles and prophecy, you need to understand the geography of Jerusalem. If you don’t, you will end up making all types of assumptions based on what you learn in Sunday School, movies, books and teachings by people who didn’t know the geography. It is a key to understanding the Scriptures.

The oldest part of Jerusalem is called “Ir David” or the City of David. You can look on any map and you can locate it, and it is only about 14 acres. By comparison, the White House grounds in Washington, D.C. is 18 acres, so the City of David is a small area.

North of the the city is a place called the Ophel (fortified hill) and it is like a bridge between the City of David (Ir David) and the Temple Mount. This is a biblical word that can be found in 2 Chr 27.2, 33.14; Neh 3.26 and Neh 11.21. So we are talking about a real geological location.

At the southern tip of the City of David you will see the Dung Gate. In the Torah, latrines must be outside of the “camp of Israel.” When they come into the land, the camp of Israel was defined as being within sight of the Mishkan in Shiloh (Mishnah, Zevachim 14.6). In Jerusalem, the camp of Israel was within the walls of the city (Mishnah, Zevachim 14.8). Because of that there was a Dung Gate at the south end of the city.

That doesn’t mean everyone in the north part of the city had to go all the way south to the Dung Gate to use a latrine. But what it does mean is they used chamber pots, and once the refuse was collected it was carried out of the city to the Hinnom Valley where it was thrown in heaps. They also burned trash there and it was later called “Tophet” (Jer 7.30-34) and “Gehenna” (Gei Hinnom or Valley of Hinnom) to the south of the city.

This valley south of the city formed a “wind tunnel” that carried the smoke and odor away from the city to the east. The Dung Gate is also called the “Potter’s Gate” (Jer 19.1-2) for the same reason. The potter’s need clay and water, and there were several pools to the south called Siloam (Sent) and the King’s Pool, and there was a spring in En-Rogel.

To the north we have the Gihon Spring and when Solomon was crowned it was held at the Gihon Spring (1 Kings 1.32-39). Adonijah his brother is going to appoint himself king at En-rogel (1 Kings 5-9). The distance between the two sites is only about a half a mile. That is why Adonijah and all the guests could hear Solomon’s coronation at the Gihon Spring (1 Kings 1.38-43).

The potters fired their pottery at the southern end of the city also and the wind carried the smoke away from the city. Jer 18 tells us about the potter and the clay, and Jer 19.1-2 says, “Thus says Yehovah, ‘Go and buy a potters earthenware jar and take some of the elders of the people and some of the senior priests. Then go out to the Valley of Ben-hinnom which is by the entrance of the potsherd gate and proclaim there the word that I shall tell you.’ “

There is a term called “Gei Hinnom” or “Valley of Hinnom” and this is where we get the word “Gehenna” (Matt 5.22; Mark 9.43). That is the valley we have mentioned before that comes around from the west side to the south of Jerusalem. That is where they burned the trash and the dung. Jer 19.5-7 says that the bamot (high places) to Baal were built to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal. So Yehovah says the days were coming when this place will no longer be called Tophet (spitting) or the Valley of Ben-hinnom (sons of Hinnom) but rather the Valley of Slaughter.

God will deliver the carcasses of the unbelievers over as food for the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth there after he judges them at his return (Isa 66.24; Ezek 29.1-8, 32.1-8; Luke 17.33; Matt 13.30; Matt 24.28; Rev 19.21). Spiritually, we “burn” our children when we don’t tell them about the truth of God, but the doctrines of some religion that runs contrary to the Torah, and they die unconverted. This valley is seen as the most cursed place in Jerusalem, Israel and the earth.

In Jer 19.14-15 it says that Jeremiah came from Tophet where Yehovah had sent him to prophesy, and he stood in the court (azarah) of the Temple and said that Yehovah was going on Jerusalem and all its towns the calamity that he has prophesied about because the people have stiffened their necks and were not listening to God’s words. They would not accpet the “yoke” of the Torah and they wanted to be “free from the Law.”

The Temple Mount is at the top of the hill and the Tophet and Gei Hinnom were at the bottom of the hill of Mount Moriah. The blood from the Temple would flow down to a place called “Akeldama” meaning “Field of Blood.” They have recently discovered the conduit that carried the blood from the Temple through the Ophel, down the Kidron Valley to Akeldama and into the soil. It was called the Amah (mother, conduit) and Judas will hang himself in Akeldama (Acts 1.18-19).

But this area is also called the Potter’s Field because it was near the Potter’s Gate. The richest and most elaborate tomb in Jerusalem in the First Century was the tomb of Annas, and it was found in Tophet where Akeldama was. Now, why would he choose to be buried in Tophet, at Gehenna, the most cursed place in Jerusalem and the world? Because he got a real good real estate deal. He was a Sadducee and they only believed what was written in the Torah, not any other books. So, he didn’t believe in Jeremiah’s prophecies or that there was going to be a judgment from God, the Messiah or the resurrection. Geography is the key.

In Luke 16.19-31 we have the parable (aggadah) of Lazarus and the Rich Man. Both pass away and Lazarus goes to “Abraham’s Bosom” in Sheol, and the rich man goes to “Torments” in Sheol. Before yeshua died and was resurrected, the righteous went to Abraham’s Bosom and the unrighteous went to Torments. After the resurrection, the righteous go to Heaven (Abraham’s Bosom) and the unrighteous go to Sheol to await the Great White Throne judgment of God (Rev 20.11-15). In the story, Abraham’s Bosom is seen as the Temple, and Torments is seen as the Valley of Hinnom (Tophet/Gehenna). The rich man “lifted up his eyes” and saw Lazarus and wanted him to come and give him some water, but there was a great chasm between the two, and this alludes to the decree of God that fixes the eternal state of the righteous and the wicked.

Now, if you stood in the Valley of Hinnom and if you “lifted up” your eyes you would see the Temple Mount, and in between you would have the Pool of Siloam filled with water. The setting for this parable is the Temple, the Pool of Siloam and the Hinnom Valley (Tophet/Gehenna), all according to the geography of the time.

The teaching that the Temple was in the City of David (Ir David) does a lot of harm because the Moslems love the idea. They say, “See, you never had the place where the Dome of the Rock is, it was never Jewish.” Secondly, it overtly says, “You Jews don’t know what you are talking about.” The bottom line is, the belief that the Temple was not on the Temple Mount is antisemitic and this is a real problem. In our opinion, that belief is based on shoddy scholarship and we are going to show that it denies what we have in the Tanak.

So, in Part 2, we are going to go to Neh 3 to show that the Temple Mount is where the Dome of the Rock is. We could use other books as well but that is for another time.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, The Temple, Understanding the New Testament

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Nehemiah-Conclusion

Neh 12.1-26 gives us a list of the chief priests and the Levites who came up from the captivity with Zerubbabel. In Neh 12.4 for instance we learn about Iddo, and he is the grandfather of Zechariah the prophet, who was a priest. In Neh 12.11 we have a man named Jaddua (known) and his grandson Shimon was the High Priest when Alexander the Great came into the land to destroy the city and the Temple. He was engaged at Tyre and demanded men and supplies from the Jews. But the high priest delayed saying that they were still under the rule of Alexander’s enemy King Darius. This infuriated Alexander and he began to move against Jerusalem. When Alexander saw Shimon in the vestments of the high priest he prostrated before him and said, “That is no mere Jew, that is this face of the angel I see every time were are victorious in battle” (Talmud, Yoma 69a). Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews, Book 11, Chapter 8, Sec 5, the Whiston translation, has more on this incident. Shimon also showed Alexander the prophecies of Daniel and the verses that referred to Alexander. This also confirms the fact that Daniel was written before Alexander was born, or at least by the time of the first century. But it is an interesting story.

In Neh 12.16 we have the prophet Zechariah mentioned. Neh 12.27-30 we learn of the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem. This is prophetic because in the birth-pains Jerusalem will be destroyed, but Yeshua will rebuild it. The word “dedication” is where we get the word “Chanukah” from We know from Josephus that this occurred in Kislev and it went eight days. This predates the festival of Chanukah and is a picture of it.

Jerusalem had a special “kedusha” on it. The kodshai kodashim (most holy) korbanot was eaten within the Temple, but the kodshai kelim (holy) korbanot was eaten within the walls of Jerusalem.

We also learn that this dedication was celebrated with hymns and songs with the accompaniment of cymbals, harps and lyres. There were schools for the singers who were taught what songs to sing (Neh 7.66-67). The priests and the Levites purified themselves and they purified the people, the gates and the wall with the ashes of the Red Heifer (Parah Adumah-Num 19).

In Neh 12.31-47 we learn that the wall was wide enough to walk on. Nehemiah divided the leaders of Judah into two great choirs and one went to the right and the other went to the left and turned north. Nehemiah brought up the rear. Once this was completed, they met in the Temple and they offered great offerings. In Neh 12.41 we have the name Hananiah. His name was found on a scroll in Egypt. He ruled a province for Persia and was head of religious affairs in Elephantine.

On this day some were appointed over the Chamber of the Treasuries. The korbanot (offerings), first fruits and tithes were gathered by them and stored. The priests and Levites served according to their divisions (courses called “Mishmarot”), along with the singers and gatekeepers. People had been appointed over the singers to instruct them since the days of David and Asaph. Zerubbabel and Nehemiah governed and did their duty, and gave the singers and the gatekeepers as each day required, and set apart the consecrated portions for the Levites, and the Levites set apart the consecrated portions for the priests.

Neh 13.1-31 tells us about the reformation of certain abuses that had plagued the people. Nehemiah had returned to Persia as agreed (Neh 2.6, 13.6-7), but he will return after some time, which some believe was anywhere between one to twelve years (v 7). The Torah was read to the people and the people had expelled the Moabites and Ammonites from the assembly, which means they were not permitted to marry an Israelite. They also excluded all foreigners from Israel, and when they found out what to do, they did it according to the Torah (v 1-3).

Neh 13.4-9 tells us that prior to this, Eliashib the high priest was put over the chambers of the Temple, and he was related to Tobiah. He prepared a great room for Tobiah in a chamber that was formerly used to house the grain offerings, frankincense, utensils, the tithes of grain, wine and oil prescribed for the Levites, singers and gatekeepers, and the contributions for the priests.

Nehemiah was not in Jerusalem then because he had gone back to Persia. After asking leave from Artaxerxes, he returned and learned about the evil Eliashib had done by giving Tobiah a room in the Temple, which was a desecration. So Nehemiah ordered that the room be cleansed and he returned the items for the Temple that belonged in there.

Neh 13.10-14 talks about restoring the tithe to the singers and Levites. The people were not giving what was commanded and because of that, the Levites could not serve the people because they had to make a living so they went to their own fields. God was their inheritance and they were not to make a living from the fields. They were to server Yehovah and the people.

So Nehemiah reprimanded the officials and said, “Why is the house of God forsaken (by the Levites)?” So he gathered the Levites and singers together and restored them to their posts. He also reorganized the collection of tithes and how they were distributed. He then asked the Lord to remember him (in his Book of Remembrance-Hos 6.10) and to “not blot out my loyal deeds which I have performed for the house of my God and its services.” He was not asking this in the sense of strict justice as if he earned anything, but in a way of grace and mercy. It was done for God’s honor and wanted the Lord to overlook his faults. Next he is going to confront the priorities of the people.

He saw some in Judah doing things that were not necessary on the Sabbath, like treading wine-presses, bringing in sacks of grain, as well as wine, grapes, figs, and every other type of food. They brought them to Jerusalem on the Sabbath (Jer 17.19-127; Exo 20.9; Amos 8.5; 2 Kings 4.23). There was to be no buying and selling on the Sabbath (Mark 16.1; Luke 23.56) and their animals were not to work on the Sabbath either. In addition, non-Jews who lived there sold fish that was imported to the sons of Israel on the Sabbath, even in Jerusalem (v 15-16).

Nehemiah reprimanded the nobles of Judah for allowing this (v 17). This was not only a personal sin, but if this went uncorrected it would bring on the wrath of Yehovah again. He didn’t just stand by and let this happen, he threatened them with force if this continued. They got the message and did not do this again (v 19-21).

Evidently, during the time Nehemiah was away the people had again taken foreign from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab. The children couldn’t even speak Hebrew, but the language of Ashdod (v 24). Romance is irrelevant in these cases. Now, there is no provision in the Torah that said an Israelite could not marry people from other nations, but they had to be a part of the faith in that they had to reject paganism and idolatry. Nehemiah seems to ban this altogether and it became the basis for the modern day rabbinical practice in Judaism to develop formal “rites” which permitted an Israelite to marry foreigners.

But the Torah already said an Israelite can marry a woman who rejects paganism and idolatry. A priest cannot marry a divorced woman or one who has been profaned by idolatry, and the high priest cannot marry a divorced woman or a widow, just a Jewish virgin.

Nehemiah contended with them with arguments and reprovals. He assured them that the curse of God would come upon them unless they repented. He even ordered that some of them be beaten with rods and scourged, and he even had their hair plucked to humiliate them (v 23-25). He made them swear that they would not intermarry with them, renewing what they had sworn before in Neh 10.29.

In Neh 13.26-31 Nehemiah reminded them that King Solomon had sinned in this manner (1 Kings 11.3) and he was drawn into idolatry. He was made king and was beloved of Yehovah (this alludes to his name “Yedidiyah”-2 Sam 12.24). And if so great and wise man like Solomon was enticed by idolatrous women, how much more ordinary people. Even the grandson of Eliashib the high priest had become the son-in-law of Sanballat, the enemy of Israel. Nehemiah put him out of the congregation, the altar and the city (called “karet”).

He then purified them from everything foreign and their pagan wives because they had defiled the priesthood, and he appointed priests and Levites to their duties. He also arranged for the supply of wood at the appointed times (Neh 10.34) and for the first fruits.

All of this is a picture of what Yeshua will do when he returns. He will reestablish true worship according to the Torah, set the priesthood and the Levites in order, and destroy paganism from among the people and cleanse the people (Isa 66.18-24; Ezek 40-48; Zech 14.9-21).

Next we will take a further look into Nehemiah and some concepts relating to the Temple and the Temple Mount.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Nehemiah-Part 6

Neh 8.13-18 tells us that on the “second day” (Tishri 2) the elders of the families and the priests and Levites gathered to Ezra so that they might gain understanding into the Torah. They found written in the Torah that they were to live in booths (sukkot) during the feast of the seventh month, which is called Sukkot. This tells us that they didn’t keep the festivals while in Babylonian captivity because they didn’t even know what to do at Sukkot (Lev 23.39-44). This also tells us that there is no hint of an Oral Torah here because they had to read it to find out about it.

So they circulated a proclamation in all of their cities and in Jerusalem saying “Go out to the hills and bring olive branches and wild olive branches from other leafy trees to make booths, as it is written.” So the people did it and put the sukkahs on their roof, and in their courts, and in the courts (azarah) of the Temple. They also put them up in the square at the Shaar Mayim (Water Gate) on the south side, and in the Shaar Ephraim (Gate of Ephraim) on the north side.

The entire kahal (assembly) lived in them. Israel had not done this since the days of Yeshua the son of Nun. This is an idiom meaning that it had not been celebrated with such zeal for God since then (1 Kings 8.2). Also notice that Joshua’s name is Yeshua here in v 17 in the Hebrew text.

They had read from the book of the Torah of God daily, from the first day (Tishri 15) to the last day (Tishri 21, which is also known as Hoshanna Rabbah (the Great Salvation). On the eighth day day (Shemini Atzeret meaning the concluding eighth day) there was a solemn assembly according to the Torah (Num 29.35-38). If Sukkot is a picture of the Messianic Kingdom, then Shemini Atzeret is a picture of the Olam Haba. But the one thing to notice in Neh 8.13-18 is they were not keeping the festivals in Babylon or up to this point because they had to find out about them after they had read the Torah (v 14).

Neh 9.1-38 tells us that Israel is assembling after the festivals on Tishri 24 to fast in sackcloth with dirt on them. This is two days after Sukkot has ended. They separated themselves from all foreigners and confessed their sins and iniquities (v 1-2) of their fathers. This does not mean that there was a generational curse of some sort on them, like some ministries teach today. Ezek 18 plainly teaches that the individual is responsible for his own sins. However, we know that there are those who are raised in an environment of sin and they may repeat those sins, but not because of some curse but because their environment influenced them to make the choice easier. After all, if Daddy did it it must be the thing to do!

So, while they stood in their place, they read from the book of the Torah (probably Deuteronomy) for three hours and spent another three hours confessing and worshiping Yehovah. The Levites platform is called the “Duchan” where they sang during the Temple services (v 4). Eight people stood leading the people and they cried with a loud voice to Yehovah. Their prayer is believed to be the longest prayer in the Bible and yet it only takes about five minutes to read. This tells us that prayer does not need to be long to be effective (James 5.16).

The prayer begins with a praise to Yehovah, the God of all creation (v 5-6). This is the reason for their praise bécasse he is the great Yehovah who created all things, and they certainly want him to create a new life for them back in the land. Neh 9.7-8 praises God who chose Abraham and made a covenant with him. He was Avram (exalted father) and God changed his name to Avraham (father of a multitude) and made a covenant with him.

Neh 9.9-15 gives praise to Yehovah for delivering Israel from Egypt and provided for them for forty years in the wilderness. But Neh 9.16-21 tells us about their sinful response to his goodness. They became stiff-necked and would not listen to the Torah, and God’s gracious response to them.

Neh 9.22-31 speaks about the cycle of Israel’s relationship to God. The cycle began with Yehovah showing his goodness and blessings. Then when the people were safe and prosperous, they would turn from him. Then God corrected them and they would return. Then when the people were blessed they would turn from him again, and the cycle begins again. Each time this happened, each cycle would get darker and darker, but Yehovah doesn’t change. Here is a key concept. Sometimes we feel that God gets tired of us and we can’t ask him for forgiveness again and again. But he does not get tired of us and does not turn away from a repentant heart.

Neh 9.32-37 tells us about their cry to God for help. They know who Yehovah is and who they are, and they needed God to save them from their enemies. Israel was a province of Persia, not an independent nation. They were under heavy Persian taxes and tribute. They want God to deliver them from this oppression. So, Neh 9.38 says they made a covenant with God, knowing who Yehovah is and who they are (sinners and rebellious). They decide to commit to his ways. God’s work in us will bring us to a point where we must make a decision, too.

Any self-examination is good. If things aren’t going right spiritually, we can ask, “How is my Temple set up? Do I have a fire going on the the Altar (cross, zeal)? Is there water (the Torah/Scriptures) in my Kior? Is the light (understanding) on the Menorah still burning? Is there bread on the table (the Word)? Is there incense (prayer) on the Golden Altar? Are the commandments (Torah) in my Ark (heart)?

Neh 10.1-8 gives us a list of those who signed the covenant document. Now, covenants were “cut” in ancient times because an animal was offered in most cases. Eighty-four leaders put their names on the dotted line in this document. This included Nehemiah the governor, the priests (v 1-8), the Levites (v 9-13) and leaders (v 14-27).

Neh 10.28-29 tells us about this covenant and mentions “the rest of the people” who did not actually sign it but joined in. They agreed to not give their daughters to the peoples of the land or take their daughters for their sons. They also would not buy grain or merchandise from those who bring their goods in on the Sabbath or a holy day, and they would let the land rest every seven years, and not demand payment of a debt on the seventh year (Deut 15.2). They also would give one third of a shekel every year for the Temple and the services, and these obligations or ordinances were laws among themselves that God did not command (v 32-33).

Neh 10.34 says they cast lots to see who would bring wood to the Temple at fixed times annually. The Rabbis say there were nine times in the year when wood was brought. On Nisan 1 the sons of Arach of the tribe of Judah brought wood, on the 20th of Tammuz the descendants of David brought it; on the 5th of Av the descendants of Parosh of Judah; on the 7th of Av the sons of Jonadab, the son of Rechab; on the 10th of Av the descendants of Senaah of Benjamin; on the 15th of Av the children of Zaitu, with them the priests and Levites and all who were of uncertain tribe. On the 20th of Elul the descendants of Adin of Judah and on Tevet 1 the children of Parosh again brought wood. These laws or “mishpatim” were made among themselves, and God did not command this. Notice, that Yeshua, as a descendant of David, was required to bring wood on Tammuz 20 according to the rabbinical ruling. Why so much wood? Because Lev 6.12 says that the fires (there were three) on the Great Altar had to be kept burning at all times, twenty-four hours a day, in every type of weather.

Neh 10.35-39 gives other things they did to fulfill the Torah commands concerning the First Fruits (Bikkurim), the First Born (Bekor), the law of Challah and Terumot, the fruit of every tree, the new wine, oil and the Tithe (Maaser). The Levites and the people would bring these to the Temple. They were not to neglect the Temple and the watch and worship, nor were they to neglect to make provisions for it in the future.

In Neh 11.1-36 we have record of those from the tribe of Judah and Benjamin who settled around Jerusalem. The rulers dwelt there but lots were cast to have one-tenth of the people live there. Many volunteered and were blessed by the people. Judea was a province of the Persian Empire as we have said before, and the people dwelt in the land of their inheritance, along with the priests and Levites in their cities. Neh 11.4-36 gives a list of who lived where.

Neh 11.22 says that Uzzi, the son of Bani, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Mica, from the sons of Asaph (recorder, gatherer) was the overseer of the Levites. He made sure the Temple service (avodah) was what God had commanded, with the right songs at the right time, and that the avodah (service) was in order. The name “Asaph” was probably a title given to those who were in charge of the Temple avodah and music.

We will pick up in Neh 12.1-47 in our conclusion.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Nehemiah-Part 5

Neh 6.1-19 tells us that Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem heard that the walls were finished and wanted to have a meeting with Nehemiah at Chephirim (“one of the towns”) in the plain of Ono (“his trouble”). But Nehemiah didn’t trust them (v 2) and refused to meet with them. He said he was doing a great work and couldn’t come. He did not want to be diverted into spending his time defending himself, but they kept after him.

Then Sanballat sent four letters to Nehemiah and he answered them the same way. Then he sent a fifth letter to Nehemiah that was “open” meaning it was unsealed and unrolled. He was acting like he was more friendly than the others and he says there is a rumor among the nations, and Geshem, that Nehemiah and the Jews are planning to rebel and that is why they are building the wall. He also said the rumors indicate that Nehemiah is the king, and he also said that Nehemiah has appointed prophets to proclaim that Nehemiah was king in Judah. This has been reported to the king of Persia so Sanballat wants to meet with Nehemiah and take counsel together. His real intention was to get his hands on Nehemiah.

Nehemiah sends him a message saying that what Sanballat has been saying is false. He discerned their tactics (v 9) and then went to Yehovah to stop them. Nehemiah meets with Shemaiah (Yah has heard) the son of Delaiah (door of Yah), son of Mehetabel (God benefits) who was confined at home. He says they should meet in the Temple, within the Heichal (Holy Place) and close the doors behind them because they are coming to kill Nehemiah at night. But that area in the Temple was only reserved for the priests, so Nehemiah knew God had not spoken to him or sent him (v 11-12). He was a false prophet. Spiritually, when people give us a word and it does not line up with Scripture, we know the word they give us is not from God and false. God would not tell him to violate a Torah prohibition that only applied to the priests (Deut 13.1-5).

But Nehemiah could not leave and hide, everyone that was working depended on him and it would look like he was a coward. He knew his enemies had hired Shemaiah, and not only him, but a prophetess named Noadiah (Meeting with Yah) and other prophets to frighten him (v 14). Nehemiah turned them over to the Lord to deal with for what they were doing.

The wall was finished in 52 days (v 15) and when all their enemies heard that the wall was finished, they were disheartened. This was in spite of the fact that some of the nobles of Judah sent letters to Tobiah informing him of what was going on and working against the true interests of the nation. They were loyal to Tobiah by oath because of his connections with some noble families who came with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2.5). Nehemiah didn’t want anything to do with him so Tobiah threatened him. Our enemies will also try to use intimidation, humor, accusations and a “word from the Lord” to stop us.

Neh 7.1-73 tells us that Nehemiah appointed two people to be in charge of the city. He set watches and took special care about the gates. Remember, the gates of a city are the weakest points. Spiritually, what are the gates to “our city?” The gates are our senses because it is through the senses that we relate to the world around us on the outside. What we allow from the outside world in goes into our minds, so we should always guard our “gates/senses.”

Once we have a great victory or a job that Yehovah has given us is done, we must realize that it is the most dangerous time. We tend to relax, but we should be in the word (Neh 8.1, 9.3). Nehemiah appointed his brother Hanani and Hananiah to be in charge. It was Hanani who first told Neehemiah about the sad state of Jerusalem in Neh 1.2. Nehemiah told them not to open the gates of the city until the “sun is hot.” If any enemy was lying outside the city gate they would see them and they would have time for a defense. They were to appoint guards from the people of Jerusalem at certain posts and in front of their own homes to stop infiltration from inside the walls.

Jerusalem at the time was 6 miles around according to Josephus, but the people were few and the houses had not been built, at least not all of them. Then the Lord spoke to Nehemiah’s heart (2 Cor 3.5) to assemble the nobles and the people to be enrolled in genealogies. He also found a register of those who came up first with Zerubbabel, and they are listed in Neh 7.7-65.

We learn that there were those who said they were priests but they could not verify it (v 64). As a rsult, they were excused from eating the kodshai kodeshim (most holy things) until a priest arose with the Urim v’ Thummim (v 65). That means that the Urim v’ Thummim was not used in the Second Temple. This scenario will happen again when Yeshua comes. Priests will be needed in Ezekiel’s Temple, but Yeshua will be able to discern who is a priest and who isn’t (Isa 49.20-21, 66.18-23).

The whole assembly at the time was 42,360 people. Neh 7.67 says there were 245 male and female singers. These female singers did not sing with the Levites on the duchan in the Temple, but they taught music in schools for the singers (Neh 12.28), but not in the Temple (1 Chr 25.5-6). Where it says “All these” in v 6 it refers to only the sons, which is proved by the number of choir members listed in 1 Chr 25.7-31 (288). Twelve were assigned to each course (12 x 24 = 288). The work was done by the twenty-fourth day of Elul (Hag 1.14-15). Five days later it was the seventh month of Tishri (Ezra 3.1-13) and the fall festivals of Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot (Neh 7.73).

Neh 8.1-12 will tells us that Ezra wanted to read the book of Devarim (Deuteronomy) to the people at the festival of Sukkot as directed by Deut 31.10-13. The words of the Torah were to be read every seven years before all the people, even the children. It was Tishri 1, a high holy day called Yom Teruah (v 2). This day is also known as Rosh Ha Shanah, meaning “head of the year.” You will notice that the people were gathered as one, and and this is a picture of the Natzal , also known as the gathering in Jewish eschatology (2 Thes 2.1), and the “rapture” in Christian eschatology.

So we know we are in what is called the “High Holy Days” of Yom Teruah (Rosh Ha Shanah), Yom Kippur and Sukkot in these passages, and these festivals will be the backdrop for the events of this chapter. The High Holy Days are a ten day period (time of judgment) also called the “Yamim Noraim” or “Days of Awe.” The people gathered in a square in front of the Shaar Mayim, or the Water Gate (8.1). This is located in the Temple courtyard but Ezra was not in the azarah but outside the gate. So, there will be Yom Teruah (Day of the Awakening Blast) themes here, which will allude to the Natzal when the righteous will be resurrected and gathered in heaven for the wedding and coronation of the Messiah (1 Thes 4.13-18).

So Ezra brought the Torah before the Kahal (assembly) who were gathered, and all who could listen with understanding (in Hebrew) did so. But there was a language barrier (v 8). He read from the early morning until the miday standing on a wooden “pulpit” called a “tower” which could hold 14 people who approved. He could stand high above the people so they could hear him. When he began to read, they stood up (v 5).

Ezra blessed the Lord and the people answered “Amen, Amen” while lifting their hands. Then they bowed low and worshiped Yehovah with their faces to the ground (1 Kings 8.12; 1 Tim 2.8). The Levites and others explained the Torah to the people, translating to give the sense of the reading (Neh 8.8; 1 Cor 14.26).

Nehemiah was the “Hatirshata” (Governor) and Ezra was a priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy (has a kedusha) to Yehovah your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the Torah. They had not obedient to what was being read and they were afraid of judgment. Spiritually, on a future Yom Teruah (at the Natzal/Rapture/gathering), believers will be gathered together and we will be shocked at how much we have missed and how we have been disobedient to the Torah also. But it will not be a time to weep but to rejoice because “this day is holy (has a kedusha).”

They told the people to “eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of Yehovah is your strength.” This is a picture of how to celebrate a festival. The meal they talked about is called a “meal consecrated to God” or a “Lord’s Supper.” What is done in Christianity is not even close to a biblical Lord’s Supper. For more information on this topic, see our teaching called “The Lord’s Supper” on this website. However, we are going to go over some concepts related to a Lord’s Supper now so that we can have a basic understanding of a meal consecrated to God and a background to what is going on in Nehemiah.

This concept plays a role in two eschatological banquets called the ‘Wedding Supper” and the “Feast of Leviathan” which we will cover later. These are two meals “set apart” to God, with two different themes. In Deut 14.23 it says that the people were to gather to eat in the presence of the Lord at Sukkot. God is bringing things to its fullness and this is a type of the Wedding Supper. There is also a concept related to this called “Ushpuzin” (invited guests) where the people ate in their Sukkahs for seven days, and Yeshua alluded to this day in Matt 8.11 when he said we will sit and eat in the kingdom with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Matt 8.11).

There were two requirements when dealing with a sukkah at Sukkot. First, you were to live in it for seven days, and second you were to eat your meals in it This was seen as a rehearsal for the Messianic Kingdom. Now, there will be two types of people in the kingdom. There will be those with glorified bodies and those with physical bodies (unglorified). Zech 14.9 will be fulfilled (realized) because the Yehovah will reign over the earth. The meals during the week point to the Sabbath, the Sabbath points to Sukkot, and Sukkot points to the Messianic Kingdom. Each festival had their own meals consecrated (set apart) to God attached to them, or a Lord’s Supper. These meals included songs, prayers, hymns, themes, teaching, ceremonies, certain foods and Scriptures.

For example, the Sabbath after Yom Teruah (Rosh Ha Shanah) is called “Shabbat Shuvah” or the Sabbath of Return. Jer 31.13-22 is read and this portion is called the Merciful Father. But others know it as “The Prodigal Son.” This section is being alluded to by Yeshua in Luke 15.11-32 and it is about the return of Ephraim (ten northern tribes-Gen 48.19; Rom 11.25-26). We know that the Messiah returns to Jerusalem on Yom Kippur with the bride (Joel 2.15-16; Matt 24.29-31; Luke 12.35-36; Rev 19.7-9). What happens after Yeshua returns on Yom Kippur and the start of Sukkot five days later? The angels will be sent out to gather the unsaved survivors of the Birth-pains first (Matt 13.24-30) and then the elect. Each group will be separated and judged. The believers enter into the kingdom and the unrighteous are killed and their bodies are put into a place called Tophet south of the city (Matt 25.1-46).

The bride has returned to the earth with Yeshua for the Wedding Supper (Isa 25.6; Matt 8.11, 22.1-14; Luke 12.35-36; Rev 19.7-9). Yeshua will gird himself and serve (Luke 12.35-37) and the Song of Songs written by Solomon teach these concepts. Many are called to the wedding supper (hear the message) but few are chosen (elected). Yeshua is the groom, the believers are the bride and the two friends of the bridegroom are Moses (personifying the Torah) and Elijah (personifying the prophets).

But there is another eschatological banquet we will need to know about called the Feast of Leviathan (Luke 17.34-37). Job 41.1-33 tells us about Leviathan, the twisted serpent and he is a picture of the False Messiah (Isa 27.1. Ezek 29.1-7; 32.1-8; Psa 74 13-14; Job 26.13; Psa 104.26). Ezek 21.25-27 tells us what happens to the False Messiah.

Unbelievers are called to a meal consecrated (set apart) to God called the Feast of Leviathan, where they will not eat a banquet meal, but they will be the banquet meal for the birds (vultures) and wild animals (Rev 19.17; Ezek 29.5, 32.4). The theme of the birds and the wild animals feasting on their dead bodies is also an idiom meaning “an impending disaster.”

On the other hand, believers will go to the banquet called the ‘Wedding Supper of the Lamb” which is also a meal consecrated (set apart) to God. Believers are called to a gathering of the people with all the noise, sound, sights and loved ones rejoicing in Yehovah. This judgment will occur between Tishri 10 (Yom Kippur when Yeshua returns) and Tishri 15 (the first day of Sukkot).

We will pick up here in Part 6.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Nehemiah-Part 4

Neh 4.1-23 tells us about the enemies of the Jewish people who try to stop the rebuilding of the walls. This chapter will deal with enemies “outside the camp.” In Chapter 5 we will find out about the problems inside the walls. Sanballat (“eminent moon god” or “Sin has begotten” ) held some authority in Samaria when Nehemiah came., and he begins to mock the Jews building the wall. He uses psychological warfare to discourage the people and stop the work of God. This has been a common tactic since the beginning. Even today, the enemies of the United States don’t like the building of a wall on our southern borders, either, and they will use psychological warfare against anyone supporting it. But, there are many things that will not change in this world, and two of them are the need for a wheel and the need for walls.

So, let’s look at some concepts on psychological warfare because we have either fought a psychological battle, are currently fighting one, or will fight one. The essence of psychological warfare is to confuse the meaning of words and infiltrate the mind with conflicting concepts. Before a battle even begins in our life, the enemy will work on us in this area.

We must learn to “speak loudly when we carry a small stick.” What does that mean? Gideon made his 300 soldiers look more numerous than they really were when they blew the trumpets and smashed the pitchers down in Judges 7.16-22. In the 1973 Yom Kippur War Israel used this same concept in what was called “Operation Gideon.” They sent some people out with many radios and knew that the enemy was going to pick up on their transmissions. Using that knowledge to their advantage, Israel made it sound like there was a larger force out there because of all the chatter.

We must realize when we are under a psychological attack during a physical attack. A psychological attack makes your enemy work all the time, and time is on our side. We must never carry “Arks” into a battle to “assure victory” like good luck charms, crosses, statues, a Star of David or use magic formulas. Israel carried the Ark into battle thinking this would assure them of victory at Aphek, and it didn’t. The Israelite army was routed and the Ark was captured by the Philistines (2 Sam 4.1-22).

We should show our strength even more than it is and make it obvious, and accentuate the positives. We should stay psychologically strong in Yehovah. Hezekiah listened to Isaiah and not to the representatives of the pagan king Sennacherib. A soldier for the Confederate army after the battle of Chickamauga during the Civil War said, “You Yanks got into our innards.” We must be prepared to go out on a limb and get hurt. That’s what the people did during the Maccabean War against the Greeks.

Psychological war always keeps the enemy at war within themselves, and this is done to weaken them. That is how we can recognize it, or use it against our enemies. This is what Sanballat is trying to do, and the Romans did it against the Jews inside Jerusalem in the First Jewish Revolt. We must be able to know when the enemy is disintegrating within, and then keep them in confusion. Spiritual battles don’t have to be centered in logic, and our enemies will be illogical. Biblical battles will be successful because God told them to go, and he told them what to do. That is a major lesson in our spiritual warfare. Make sure God told you to go and fight a battle, and then listen to what he is telling you to do. Anything less than that is presumption and it will be doomed to fail for the most part.

Isa 36 and 37 are two great chapters on psychological warfare. The Assyrians are coming against Hezekiah and Jerusalem. The whole nation has fallen to the Assyrians who are so powerful they can have numerous sieges going on at the same time, thus cutting all reinforcements off from coming to the besieged cities. The Assyrians only have Jerusalem to defeat so they try to get the Jews inside the city to doubt their ability to stand against them. In our warfare, we should never let the enemy discourage us or those around us.

We should take the example of Hezekiah and not talk to the enemy (Isa 36.21). We should not hate our enemies because we don’t need it to defeat them. The representative of Sennacherib said that the Jews in the city would “drink their own urine” because the city did not have enough water. But how would he know? What the Assyrians didn’t know was Hezekiah had built a water tunnel bringing water into the city, and you can still see it today. Hezekiah didn’t say, “Oh yeah! That’s what you think. We have water because I built a water tunnel!” Hezekiah didn’t say anything because he did not want to interrupt his enemy when they were making a mistake. Never talk to the enemy or let them know what you are thinking in a battle.

We should come before the Lord in humility to pray for help (Isa 37.1). God directs the battles, not the believers (Isa 37.4). No “name it claim it” believers here because they knew it was the Lord who directs the battle (Amos 3.6). Our enemies will lift up problems we have (or they think we have) and will try to speak to others who they think don’t know what to do. They will play mind games with you and others, and promise false things, but in the end we will be slaves if we listen, so don’t listen.

Sanballat had help in Tobiah the Ammonite, who also mocked the Jewish effort to rebuild the walls. They did not answer these people, but Nehemiah prayed about it and asked that their reproaches would return upon their own heads, and that their iniquity would not be forgiven, nor let their sin be blotted out, for they have demoralized the builders (v 4-5). So they continued to build the wall because they had a spirit to work because it was based on the knowledge that God was behind them and it was by his direction.

When we are angry and have a real enemy, Nehemiah’s prayer shows that we can go at them in prayer and leave it up to Yehovah to deal with them. This is not in the sense of “praying evil” upon them, but he turned them over to a just God because he knows what is best. The Jewish enemies were very angry when they heard the gates were closing, and the wall was only half as high as it should be, but it was continuously being worked on now. So, they conspired together again to use violence this time, but they never attacked. They just talked about it. Satan uses the same strategy to instill fear in us and paralyze us from the work God has given us, which is to rebuild the torn down walls and gates of the faith, which is a Torah-based faith in Yeshua as Messiah. The people prayed to Yehovah and they set up a guard against them twenty-four hours a day. Notice they put action to their prayers, which is an important concept to remember (v 9).

They were fighting a two-front war. There was discouragement on the inside (v 10) and the enemies on the outside were threatening surprise attacks (v 11). Our adversary (Satan means adversary) knows when we are discouraged and attacks against us can be planned. Attacks are often successful because they come as a surprise to us. That’s why we should never let our shield (guard) down, and we should always be ready for an attack.

The builders were warned “ten times” about attacks and this was driven by fear (v 12). Ten is the number of judgment, and it was coming alright, against God’s enemies, and even though the people panicked, Nehemiah didn’t. He gets a defense ready and did not stand there in panic, or whine about it all. He trusted God and acted wisely.

He told them to arm themselves and get ready for a fight. He reminded them that God was with them, and he wanted the walls built, and they were fighting for each other, their families and households (v 14). But in all this they kept working, holding a weapon and wearing armor (v 17-18). Trumpets were used to communicate and they were blown if there was trouble. They were ready at all times. They worked past dark, even sleeping at their job sites to guard against an attack, and they slept in their clothes ( v 21-23).

We need to have the same attitude in our battles. We need to keep up the work God gave us to do, be ready to fight at a minutes notice (like spiritual “minutemen”), and put on the armor of God and be ready for that trumpet twenty-four hours a day.

In Neh 5.1-19 we learn about the enemy within due to financial issues. This chapter depicts their plight and poverty, and their outcry. They had an enemy on the outside and on the inside. They were not walking in the Torah and Nehemiah will need to confront the ones he loves.

The poor had a complaint against the rich. The poor had larger families to support and they had to borrow money by mortgaging their fields and houses to get grain because there was a famine. This may have been caused by the enemy outside intercepting provisions that might have been brought in (5.3). They had to sell their children into servitude because of poverty to pay their debts (Exo 21.7).

This caused an indignation towards the rich, and Nehemiah was angry also because he considered the tears of the oppressed (Ecc 4.1). He rebukes the nobles and the rulers who were taking advantage of the poor and charging interest on loans (Exo 22.25; Neh 5.7). He tells the rich that they were once slaves and had sold themselves to Babylon. They could not leave when Cyrus said they could go because of that. Many Jews had been bought (redeemed) out of that servitude and were able to leave. Now, Jews are being sold again to other Jews because they could not pay off the high interest (v 8). Nehemiah said this was not right.

Things had to be set right again, and what they had taken as collateral had to be given back (v 11). The rich said that they would restore everything back, and if they didn’t, God would require it from them. They would be “shaken out” of their worldly goods and emptied (v 13). They praised the Lord and did according to what they had promised. Nehemiah set the good example by putting God’s work above his personal needs. He did not tax the people for his support like some others had done (Zerubbabel, Methulam, Hananiah). Paul also did this in 1 Cor 9.1-15).

Evidently, Nehemiah went back to Persia to give an accounting, and then was sent back as governor (v 14-15). This was done after the wall was done in 52 days. Others had taken provisions before him but Nehemiah did not exert that right for himself. He had a healthy fear of God and he knew that others were suffering lack and he would have to answer to the Lord. He did not care what others did before him, and gave away the king’s provisions for him (v 18), and he applied himself to the work on the wall.

Nehemiah was living in the way he told the rich to live. He also prayed to Yehovah that he would remember the good he was doing (v 19). He did not ask his reward from men, but from Yehovah (Heb 6.10). This was right and proper to do. We can ask the Lord to remember us for good. Nehemiah was leading by example and could tell others what to do because he was walking in the Torah and the correct ways of the Lord.

We will pick up in Neh 6.1-19 in Part 5.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Nehemiah-Part 3

Now we are going to see how the building of the walls and gates by Nehemiah applies to us in our spiritual warfare. The goal of our spiritual life is to “Know the Lord” not fight battles. Part of the battle is the decision to do it. We should consider our ways (Hag 1.7). Are we wasting our lives or are we building the House and City of God (Ezek 13.1-5). We “repair our walls” like Nehemiah with each piece of true information we learn. They are like a brick in the wall. Song 8.8 asks if we are a wall (strong) or a door (weak). The Scriptures liken us to a city with walls in Jer 1.18. We deliver our city by wisdom , which is “Chachmah” in Hebrew and means an “inspired intellect and input into the mind” found in the Torah (Matt 13.45-46; Job 28.18).

One of the main things Nehemiah needed to rebuild the city was water. Without water, the city would fall quickly. Spiritually, we need water and no matter what, we should never be cut off from it. Our enemy will attack us through the water that is the Word of God. They will say, “The Word of God says such and such” when it really doesn’t. We must have Da’at (Knowledge of God in the Torah) and Chachmah and drink the mayim chaim” (living water) not the “foul water” of false teaching. The walls of our city allude to the knowledge and wisdom of God. These walls must have a solid foundation and be set deep and broad into the bedrock (Torah). Nehemiah knew it wasn’t enough to have a wall, but he needed a good wall. He also needed to take steps so that those walls could not be undermined. He took steps beforehand, not after something like that happened. Jer 50.15 says, “the walls have been torn down.” if we look closer at any issue there will be great gaps in what is and what should be. How did Babylon’s great walls fall? It was a lack of true knowledge. There is a verse that defines how to fight spiritually. Isa 33.6 says, And he (Messiah( shall be the stability (confidence) of your times, a wealth of salvation (Yeshua means salvation), wisdom (chachmah) and knowledge (da’at). The fear (freverence) of Yehovah is his treasure.” Only then can we “rebuild” (Isa 58.12, 61.4). But first we need to remove the “rubble and trash” from years of false doctrine.

In the war against the Romans in the first century, The Jewish people captured advanced and heavy military artillery from the Romans. The problem was they could load it, they could fire it but they couldn’t hit a thing. They were just throwing rocks. It was not enough to have the artillery, we need to be trained in how to use it. We must also be balanced and hit the target (Isa 8.16-20). The knowledge of God allows us to know good and evil. The wisdom of God should be balanced with knowledge. This should increase, but the sophistication of our battles will increase also.

Nehemiah didn’t build the same type of walls David did because warfare had changed. Our battles will increase proportionately, but only as God allows. God will not allow us to get “hit” at a level you are not prepared for unless you have not put in the work and proceeded to the level you should be at in your walk. If you are a “child” who is in the first grade but should be in the fifth grade, God will allow the adversary (ha Satan) to hit you with fifth grade level weapons. Why? Because you failed to learn the things you needed to know.

Nehemiah had to build walls and gates that could withstand battering rams and rock throwing machines. David, on the other hand, did not have to contend with that. Apply that concept into your own life and ask, “What is my foundation? What is my wall?” We should be building our wall and it must be tempered with chachmah or it is useless. We build our walls with what we understand (binah=comprehension) about God. That is your armor and your defenses Isa 59.17; Eph 6.10-17). We have the shield of faith (emunah) which means “confidence.” Today it is defined as “whatever you want if you believe” but that is a false teaching.

The more you know about Yehovah the more confidence you will have. Confidence in a battle is your “shield” or walls. These will “deflect” the arrows and missiles the enemy will fire at us, which is untruth. If you know that what you believe is the truth, you can stand (Rev 2.13). Antipas refused to burn incense to the emperor (idolatry) and he was roasted alive in an iron bull. What made Antipas stand? Confidence! If we are going to pay a price, do it for the truth and for what you believe.

Our walls cannot be your walls. You must have your own walls, shields, armor, sword and helmet to stand yourself. You must have your own emunah, da’at, chachmah and binah, not ours. Nehemiah knew these concepts well and so did the people. Nehemiah and other leaders can help, but the people had to fight their own battles. In our spiritual warfare, and as we build and repair our walls, your teacher, pastor, rabbi or friends won’t be in there fighting for you. It will be you and your enemy. If you don’t know how to fight or when to “duck” or counter attack, you won’t last long.

In Neh 3 we learn that the walls had towers (v 1, 26 ,27). In spiritual warfare, what are our “towers?” Towers are the individual units we have studied and mastered, like the Hebrew language, Eschatology, Prophecy, Idioms, the Temple, the Torah, the Korbanot, the Festivals, the Clean and Unclean, Kosher and Unkosher animals, the Priesthood and Levites, the Gospels and Epistles, Geography and the list goes on. They will “overlap” each other so that all ground is covered in the case of an attack. There should be no gaps or holes in our defenses that the enemy can use to approach our walls. The more units you master (the tower) the better you can guard your wall at all times. You can keep the enemy from “getting in.” We have knowledge (da’at) with chachmah (wisdom) and Emunah (confidence/stability) as seen in Isa 33.6.

Each subject we learn is like building a tower. It should have overlapping fields of fire with the other units you have studied if it is true. We should never abandon our towers in a battle. The better you master a subject (tower) the stronger your tower is. A square tower was simple, and it is like learning a unit of study “in the rough.” A semi-circular tower was more sophisticated and took more skill and it is like learning a unit of study very well.

The towers were built with balconies which had slots to fire straight down on the enemy. This means taking our knowledge and extending it out so we can use it. This is what we call “application.” Balconies on our towers are how we apply what we have learned to defeat the enemy id he gets close to our walls. There should be no “dead ground” and the enemy will pay a price in order to get close to us.

Now, another way to keep the enemy away from our walls is to build a “glacis.” A glacis is a gently sloping bank that slopes down away from the walls of the city, exposing the attackers to defensive missiles. You don’s want the enemy to just walk right up to your walls. Nehemiah had natural valleys on three sides of the city where the enemy could not approach the walls with siege engines or battering rams. However, the north side was vulnerable, and north is the side of human wisdom and intellect. There were no valleys and natural defenses on that side, so that was where the attack would come from (the battle of the mind).

Spiritually, a glacis can be many things. It is like a spiritual “stiff arm.” How does the enemy reach us? Through jobs, finances, relationships, health, emotions, depression, deception and more. When the enemy comes, he will come against us in more than one way. He will create a diversion, a distraction and use division. He may use finances to destroy his real goal, your family relationships or health. He wants to put pressure on you. Depression can manifest in several ways, making you “daydream” or just sitting around being non-productive and apathetic for the Kingdom of God and spiritual things.

We need to build a glacis and what is it? It is our attitude (Judges 7.5-6; 2 Tim 4.2). If our attitude fails, the enemy will get into our walls (close) and it doesn’t matter how good our wall is. If our attitude is strong, we will be content no matter what we are faced with. The enemy is not going to get to our wall. We have an example of attitude in 2 Kings 13.14-19. The king was faint in heart so he will be faint in heart in battle, too. The better you build your attitude the better your glacis will be. Our attitude should be Isa 55.8-9, but changed to say God’s ways are our ways, and his thoughts are our thoughts.

Our walls of defense must complement one another. Amos 3.3 literally says, “Can two walk together without having met one another?” We must have common ground. If not, the enemy will isolate us. The things in our lives should complement each other, and not work against each other. This includes our relationships, job and what we study.

There is another thing we can do to keep the enemy away from our wall. We can build a “moat.” Nehemiah built a moat (Dan 9.24-27), so what is a moat? A moat is a deep, wide ditch surrounding the walls that are usually filled with water and intended to keep siege engines and battering rams away from the walls. What does a moat symbolize in our spiritual warfare? It is our observance in keeping and guarding the Torah.

A “keep” was also part of the defense of a fort or city. Deut 28.1-14 tells us that our most important weapon is righteous behavior as defined by the Torah. A keep was a type of fortified citadel built within a fort or city where the defenders could fall back to if the walls failed. It was very well constructed, with walls and towers that were very thick. Prov 16.1 tells us that “The plans of the heart belong to man (prepare), but the answer of the tongue is from Yehovah.” In other words, we should prepare but God will speak to us. We must know what we are talking about so that God can use us when the time comes.

What kind of city do we want? We want a city with broad (wide) walls, with crenels (openings to fire from on a wall), embrasures (the solid wall between crenels to hide from enemy fire), a moat, a glacis, catapults and top of the line weapons and towers. But we can’t build our walls overnight. We can’t build what we need by attending a few meetings. We must study and learn for hours everyday, but even that isn’t enough. We must do it with God’s wisdom. We must realize that we are going to be attacked, so we must build our walls strong before all that happens like Nehemiah did.

In Part 4, we will pick up in Neh 4.1-23.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Nehemiah-Part 2

Before we move forward, let’s do a review and pull together what we have gone over so far, with some additional information. Nehemiah is before the King Artaxerxes during the month of Nisan and wine was brought before him. The king notices that Nehemiah is sad, which is not good before the king. The king wants to know if he is sick. Now, Nehemiah was afraid because he did not want the king to think there was some sort of evil design against him (like he was part of a plot to poison his wine). He was also not sure if his request would even be answered because it was a major request.

But Nehemiah took courage and told him what was bothering him, and Artaxerxes asked him if he wanted something. Nehemiah prayed to Yehovah secretly, thanking him for opening up this opportunity to ask, and for turning the king’s heart favorably towards him. So Nehemiah says a quick “help me” prayer and begins to make his request. This tells us we don’t have to have long prayers to be effective.

Notice that Nehemiah asks for a leave of absence and Nehemiah has been praying about this for months (Kislev to Nisan) and it has all come down to this, and he gets a favorable response. Prophetically, this begins the 70 Weeks Prophecy of Daniel 9.24-27. In Luke 19.41-44 Yeshua refers to this prophecy and it was 173,880 days from Nehemiah’s return to the day when Yeshua rode into Jerusalem and wept over the city, and it was Nisan 10. If they would have understood the significance of who Yeshua was in relation to Dan 9.24-27, they would have known that he was the Messiah. All of these dates start in our passage in Neh 2 and the permission to rebuild Jerusalem and the walls. This starts the 70 weeks prophecy referred to in Daniel and in Luke. That is how significant Nehemiah 2.1-10 is.

Nehemiah is given permission to return in what is called the “Third Aliyah” or “going up.” Whenever you went to Jerusalem it is referred to as “going up” in the Scriptures. The king asks him how long the journey will be and when he would return. The king had great respect for Nehemiah and didn’t want him to be gone long. So Nehemiah gave him a definite time, perhaps a year, but he does return (Neh 13.6).

Nehemiah asked for letters to be given to him requesting safe passage to Judah from the governors along the way, and to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest in Lebanon for wood that could be used in construction. So, after all the preliminaries were complete, he departs and shows the letters to the governors saying that he was truly sent by the king.

However, Nehemiah also came into contact with two enemies named Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite. Again, we see the Moabites and the Ammonites trying to stop Israel because of their hatred for the Jewish people. These two wanted a weak Jerusalem. They didn’t care about temple worship being conducted, but they did not want the people strong and safe behind a rebuilt city.

Sanballat had a daughter who married a kohen (priest) named Manasseh who was the brother of the high priest. He is told to give the daughter of Sanballat up, but he refused. Sanballat said he would make him a high priest and governor, and sets up a rival temple on Mount Gerizim, and this temple will be a replica of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Josephus speaks about this in Antiquities of the Jews, Book 11, Chapter 8, Paragraph 2 of the “Works of Flavius Josephus” by William Whiston. Many priests and Levites revolted to Manasseh because they did not want to give up their foreign wives either.

So, Nehemiah departs for Jerusalem and after he reaches the city, and he rests for three days. Three days is a significant time period in Scripture. He rises on the third day at night to inspect the city. This alludes to the resurrection of Yeshua after three days at night and how he secretly visited Jerusalem. Prophetically, Yeshua will come “in the third day” to rebuild (Hos 6.1-3; John 2.19).

Nehemiah went out the west side and then turned south and continued counter-clock-wise around the walls, inspecting the walls “which were broken down” (2.13). Neh 2.13 has one of the many “jots and tittles” (smallest letter or stroke) that Yeshua referred to that will be fulfilled (Matt 5.18). There is an open Hebrew letter “mem” in the word “chem” in Hebrew, not the closed mem as usual. This implies that the city would be rebuilt only temporarily, and the walls would be breached (opened) again (“Wisdom of the Hebrew Alphabet”, Artscroll Publications, p. 417).

Nehemiah then meets with the leaders of Jerusalem and tells them the obvious. He says, “You see the bad situation we are in” not “you” (v 17). He owned the problem right along with everyone else. He did not blame the leaders but asked for their help to fix the problem. He says, “Let us rebuild the wall” and told them how God is leading them to get it done now. The leaders tell Nehemiah they were with him, but opposition rises again with Sanballat, Tobiah and a third adversary named Geshem the Arab (v 19). They begin to mock and despise Nehemiah and those with him, and accuse them of rebelling against the king. This is what we need to do in the faith. We need to rebuild the wall of a Torah-based faith in Yeshua but we will need to clear away all the “rubble” we have learned by false doctrine. But we will have adversaries against us, too. Our adversaries will accuse us falsely and enlist others to join in against us.

Nehemiah answers them by saying God will give them success and they are his servants. On the other hand, he says they have no portion, right or memorial in Jerusalem (v 20). In other words, they have no name, ancestry, jurisdiction or part of the city. They had no right to the Temple Mount, either. Israel would do well to implement this strategy today with their enemies. Remember this concept in our spiritual warfare, too. Those that come against Torah-based believers in Yeshua have no right, ancestry, jurisdiction or part in the things of God either, and 2 Kings 17.24-41 tells us why.

Neh 3.1-32 tells us about the people who built the wall of Jerusalem and its gates. There are going to be ten gates and this number alludes to the number of judgment. We have ten commandments and the courts sat at the gates of a city. The work that was to be done was related to these gates. The gates of a city are the weak points in the wall. So, the work started from there. Nehemiah had to have a foundation for the walls and gates, and it had to be a good foundation built upon rock. But it won’t be enough to have just a wall or fortification, they will need to take steps to keep from being undermined, or “going under the wall” by an enemy. They also had to take steps to keep the enemy away from the walls. These walls and gates were going to be their defense, so they had to be strong and built deep into ground. So, we are going to look at these walls and gates, and then we are going to look at them spiritually to see how we can use certain concepts when we build our walls and gates in a Torah-based faith in Yeshua. We will just deal with the gates that will be built and look at their spiritual implications, but between each of the following gates portions of the wall will be built.

Eliashib (El causes to return) was the high priest at this time and he is the grandson of Yeshua in Ezra 3.2. Along with other priests, they will build the Sheep Gate in the northeast corner of Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s rebuilding. They had this responsibility because the korbanot (offerings) came through this agte to the Temple, and near it was a market where they were sold. There was also a sheep pool where the korbanot were washed and consecrated for use (they had a kedusha). The walls they built protected the north side of the city, which was the most vulnerable side. The west, south and east side had deep valleys, so it would be hard to breach the walls from those sides, but the north side is where any invader would try to get into the city. This alludes to Yeshua’s first coming and being our lamb, and if he was crucified at Gordon’s Calvary, then he may have exited the city through this gate. Spiritually, it is the same with us. The north is the direction of intellect and intelligence. Our enemies will try to enter into our “city” (Jer 1.18, Ecc 9.14-16) through our minds and intellect. They also built the Tower of the Hundred which became the northeast building of the Temple, later called the Beit Ha Nitzotz (Chamber of the Spark) and the Tower of Hananel, which was the northwest corner building in the Temple, later called the Beit Ha Moked.

Next the sons of Hassenaah (thorny) built the Fish Gate. The gate got its name because the fish from the sea coast was brought through it, and it was on the north side. Yeshua said we would be “fishers of men” in Matt 4.19. The next gate was called the Old Gate. It was the gate that led to the old city of Salem, or an old wall. This was on the northwest side. This gate alludes to the “old man” who is plagued by sin and needs the lamb (Rom 6.6; Eph 4.22; Col 3.9).

The next gate was called the Valley Gate and it led to the Tyropean Valley on the west side of the city. This alludes to the fact that the sinner must be brought down in humility before he can call on Yehovah. This brings us to the next gate called the Dung Gate on the southwest of the western wall, about as far south as you can get. It was right at the bottom of the hill (very low) where the Tyropean (cheesemaker) Valley meets Gei Hinnom, the Hinnom Valley, and where we get the word “Gehenna” from. It was where you took your trash and and refuse out to the Hinnom Valley. Spiritually, we must be as low as we can get and realize that our works are like “dung” as far as righteousness goes before the Lord. This is part of the process we all need to go through where the “old things are passed away.” If you turn the corner here (teshuvah) you begin to go towards the Temple.

So, that brings us to the Fountain Gate, and this gate is near the Pool of Siloam (sent). This gate is on the south (direction of faith) and relates to the regeneration and washing of the believer by the Torah. The water of the Pool of Siloam (sent) alludes to the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) being “sent” (John 7.37-39, 16.7) and washing us in God’s word (Eph 5.26), and washing is symbolic of the work of the Ruach Ha Kodesh.

Now we have come to the Water Gate in the eastern wall. This was near the Gihon Spring above the Kidron Valley. This gate alludes to cleansing. several immersion baths have been discovered. Nehemiah would gather all the people to the Water Gate to read the Torah (Eph 5.26). It was a place of gathering, teaching and fellowship. This tells us a new believer should study and learn the Torah. This also tells us that the Temple was not here, as some believe, because it is further north.

The Horse Gate was an entrance to Solomon’s Stables, or horse stables in general. The horse was symbolic of military power. After our conversion, we need to study and prepare for our spiritual warfare. This gate led to the king’s palace and the Temple Mount. The East Gate leads to the Temple area, opposite of the Mount of Olives, and this alludes to worship, prayer and entering into the Beit Ha Mikdash (House of Kedusha) or the Temple.

The Inspection Gate (Miphkad) refers to the last gate. This is where the people were inspected and mustered for military purposes. Tradition says this was where David would inspect his troops. This alludes to the Judgment Seat of Messiah where we will be mustered and inspected (1 Cor 3.10-15; 2 Cor 5.10) after the Natzal (rapture). After that happens, we are ready go to war with Yeshua as he returns to earth to rule and reign (Rev 19.11-21).

Nehemiah noted who did the work and who did not (Neh 3.5). He was also an effective leader in other ways. Each group was held responsible for their work and it was a team effort, and he organized the work. No matter what their profession was, they were still willing to get their hands dirty because they believed in what Nehemiah was doing. The work was also voluntary because nobody got paid. Nehemiah knew where most of the work needed to be done. He also combined the physical aspect of this work with the spiritual aspect by consecrating everything to God. Even the high priest worked alongside of the non-priests.

In Part 3 we will look at how the building of the walls and gates by Nehemiah relate to us in our spiritual warfare.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

Tanak foundations- Concepts in Nehemiah-Part 1

We are going to begin a study on some concepts found in the book of Nehemiah (Yehovah comforts), so we are going to have a brief introduction of what is going on and the purpose for the book. This is going to be a lesson on prayer, sacrifice, improvisation, spiritual warfare and adaptation. Nehemiah is the son of Hacaliah (Wait for Yah) and this will distinguish him from others of the same name. He is a cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, the son of Ahasuerus (Xerxes) and possibly Esther in the year 445 B.C.

He learns that the Jews of Judah were in distress back in the land and that the walls of Jerusalem were still broken down. The king knows his cupbearer and notices that Nehemiah is not himself one day and this is not a good situation to be in. You were not to look unhappy when before the king. Whether this was in court or privately, we do not know, but we suspect it was in private. When the king asks him what was wrong, Nehemiah tells him and asks the king for permission to return and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Artaxerxes sends him as governor of the province to rebuild with letters showing the kings favor and permission, but it is not going to be easy. The enemies of Judah will oppose this effort but to no avail. The wall is complete in about two months.

The book of Nehemiah begins about 20 years after Ezra ends, and about 100 years after the first exiles came back to the land. That means it was about 150 years since Jerusalem was destroyed, and yet, the walls were still in disrepair. This book will have many concepts that we will consider. It is a picture of the last days and the return of the great dispersion in the Day of the Lord. So, let’s look at a brief comparison.

In 598, 586 and 582 B.C the Jews began to be taken to Babylon as a result of their idolatry and their turning from the Torah. Then in 538 B.C. they started to return in a trickle with permission from Cyrus. In 522 B.C. more came back and in 458 B.C Ezra leads a group and the Temple services begin again. In 445 B.C. we have Nehemiah coming with a very larges groups.

By comparison, Israel goes into a second dispersion and exile in 70 A.D. By 1066 A.D. they will settle in Europe (not everyone) till 1096 A.D., but are then pushed to Russia. Up until 1492 A.D. we have the golden age of Jewry in Spain until the Inquisition. Christopher Columbus, who some think was Jewish, looks for the New World and gets help from Rabbi Abraham Zacuto when he departed for his famous trip, the same day the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492.

As a side story, Columbus used a new type of astrolabe developed by Zacuto to determine the latitude of his ships while at sea. Zacuto also developed an almanac of the heavens that was so accurate Columbus used it to save his life and the lives of his crew one time while they were in Jamaica. Columbus was in danger and saw that a blood moon was coming that night and threatened the Jamaicans to leave him and his crew alone. He said he would turn the moon blood red if they didn’t. Well, that night the Jamaicans saw the blood red moon and were very afraid, and they did not molest Columbus and his crew. So, he called on the moon to “come back to normal” and it did. The Jamaicans were thrilled and Columbus was saved.

From the 1830’s to the 1930’s we have pogroms in Russia, the Czars, the rise of Hitler and the Nazis and the Holocaust. The Jews have been fleeing to the New World that Columbus found, in particular, the United States. By 1948 there was has been a trickle back to the land after World War II and by 1967 there is a call to prepare for the Temple. During the 1970’s and to this point in time there are more groups returning to the land. During the Day of the Lord a large group will return with the Messiah (Jer 50.4-8; Psa 126, Psa 137). In prophecy, the United States is seen as “Babylon.”

In another sense, the book of Nehemiah is a good book on spiritual warfare and how to “build our walls and city.” That is what every Bible student who has a Torah-based faith in Yeshua is trying to do today. Our “city” (lives, etc) was in ruins for a long time from the damage of the enemy. We had holes in our walls, or it was torn down altogether, and our “gates” were burned. The enemy has been trying to stop us from rebuilding our walls and city and becoming stronger. We have to clean up the “rubble” first before we can rebuild. This is what we need to do spiritually (Isa 62.10-12). For more information on spiritual warfare, go to our teaching called “The Spiritual Warrior” on this website. With that introduction, let’s begin our look into the book of Nehemiah.

In Neh 1.1-11 we learn that the situation in Jerusalem has come to the attention of Nehemiah, who is a cupberer in the court of Artaxerxes. The nation has been destroyed and Jerusalem is not in very good shape even after some returned. During the captivity in Babylon, the Jews made homes there and settled. Some had businesses and professions, and some were raised to work in the civil government in very high positions. Daniel, Azariah, Mishael, Hananiah, Esther and Mordechai were just a few of those who were in these positions.

Nehemiah was serving in Shushan (Susa), the capital city of Persia, and lived in the capital, which had a fortress and a palace. Nehemiah has not forgotten Jerusalem (Psa 137.5-6) but has not returned himself. He is told by his brother Hanani (Neh 7.2) and some others about Judah and that the the walls of Jerusalem are still broken down and the gates burned. In addition, the remnant of the exiles there are not safe and in distress (v 3). That would include Ezra, Yeshua the high priest, many priests, Levites, singers and Zerubbabel. Assimilation is also a problem, as we have seen in Ezra.

An unwalled city was seen as an easy town to plunder because there was no way to defend themselves. People did not necessarily want to live there. It would be like living in a small community out west in the 1800’s. Families lived in fear from bandits, troublemakers and Indian attacks. It was not a safe environment to live in or try to raise a family in, especially when there was no help. Many times, a territory that was to be settled usually had a fort of soldiers nearby. This parallels the faith in today’s world. The walls are down and the gates of Torah are burned down, and there are enemies that are trying to prevent anyone from trying to rebuild.

Nehemiah reacts to this news by praying and fasting. God was doing a work in Nehemiah before Nehemiah was going to do a work for God. Yehovah was rebuilding Nehemiah before Nehemiah could rebuild for the Lord. Nehemiah has a prayer recorded for us in Neh 1.5-11 that is another model prayer for us. What was needed was a leader. So, what is a leader? A leader is one who influences others to get a job done. They must prepare themselves for the work because it won’t be easy. There is no victory without warfare. A leader must have a vision, and Nehemiah wants to correct a 150 year old problem. He did not look to someone else to fix the problem, but did what he could, prayed and fasted. He also knew who he was praying to, Yehovah, the God of heaven.

When you look at the these model prayers that we have been pointing out, there is a simple pattern. First, they start out with some sort of adoration, then confession. Then there is some thanks and then a final supplication. A simple way to remember this is “ACTS.”

Nehemiah prays to Yehovah in v. 5 and does not excuse himself during the confession, or offer excuses (v 6). He asks the Lord to remember his promises, and the Lord wants us to bring him to remembrance about what he has said. Nehemiah is ready to do something and that is why he is praying. Don’t pray about things unless you are willing to do something about them. Now, “ACTS” is not always the case in Jewish, biblical prayers, but it is a good model to follow when we pray ourselves.

Nehemiah wanted God’s blessings when he spoke to the king. he was going to do something about Jerusalem but knows that without God’s help he will fail. He was a man of action and a critic just sitting in the stands. He wants to be in the arena. Teddy Roosevelt gave a speech called “Citizenship in a Republic” in Paris, France in 1910. Part of that speech is given here: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is aactually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spreads himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while doing greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who never knew victory or defeat.” That was Nehemiah.

In Neh 2.1-20 we read that Nehemiah was in a sad mood before the king (Psa 137.1-5), and the king asked him what was wrong. Nehemiah prays for guidance from Yehovah very quickly, and uses the opportunity to request of the king that he might be sent to Jerusalem to rebuild it. The queen was sitting there also, and many think this was Esther. He tells the king what he would do and wants letters from him that will help him get back to Jerusalem and begin the work. He also wants letters of permission for timber that can be used for the gates for the palace that belonged to Solomon, for the city wall and for the Temple itself. And the king granted these requests v 1-8).

So Nehemiah sets out and he comes to the governors beyond the river and gave them the king’s letters. Nehemiah also had some cavalry with him from the king because of his high rank with the king, but he is now the governor of the province. Sanballat (“may Sin (a moon god) give him life”) the Horonite (probably a Moabite) and Tobiah (Yehovah is good) the Ammonite heard about it and they were upset. They did not like the idea of someone coming who would seek after the welfare of the Jewish people.

So Nehemiah came to Jerusalem and was there three days resting and getting his mind together about what he was going to do. He gets up at night and didn’t tell anyone, and went out to survey the city, taking a few people with him. Nehemiah is led by the Lord to develop overall plans and how he was to socialize during his visit there (v 12). Nehemiah does this at night so that the enemies in the city would not know what he was up to. There is a concept in spiritual warfare that says, “Without secrecy there is no security.”

In Part 2, we will pick up here and develop this book out further, going over what we have just glanced over and bringing out more concepts related to how and when Nehemiah got involved in all this. Remember, Yehovah is grooming him way before he actually gets the job to go back and rebuild the city walls. The timing and what Nehemiah does is all in the plans of the Lord. We will also begin to see how we can apply what Nehemiah does and how the names of the gates can be applied spiritually to our lives and our rebuilding process.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Ezra-Conclusion

Ezra 9.1-15 tells us about a little known concept in the Scriptures. There is a concept called spiritual adultery discussed here and it is grounds for a divorce, as we shall see. We will also see this in Ezra 10.1-2 and Neh 13.23-31. When Ezra arrives back in the land, he was confronted with some bad news. The people, priests and Levites of Israel have not separated themselves from the people of the land and their idolatry. Even after all they have been through, there was still some who would not repent. Now, that is bad enough, but the marriages they had entered into would affect business, government, social and religious life.

The problem was not an “ethnic” one, the problem is they did not separate themselves from the “abominations” and idolatry of the people (9.1). When the people forsook their Jewish identity and engaged in idolatry, it would not be long until the Jewish identity would be lost in the land. Ezra tells them that the Torah spoke against this practice of marrying Canaanites (Exo 34.11-16; Deut 7.1-4). It seems the leaders were the worst offenders of all. They were leading the people in the wrong direction.

Ezra was shocked when he heard of what they were doing. He had just come through a four month journey back to the land (Ezra 7.9) and probably didn’t think there were many problems, but he found things worse than he could have imagined. He was appalled and mortified at what he found (V 3). He knew that they were driven into exile because of idolatry and was shocked that the people didn’t seem to connect what happened in the past with their present behavior.

However, Ezra was not alone. There were others who knew God’s word and they met until the time of the evening offering (the Tamid around 3 p.m.-Num 28.1-8) then Ezra rose and prayed a prayer of confession. This is a model prayer and is designed to lead and teach others how to pray. He prayed on his knees, which is a very common posture in prayer (1 Kings 8.54; Psa 95.6; Dan 6.10; Matt 17.14; Matt 20.20; Mark 1.40; Luke 22.40; Acts 7.60, 9.40, 20.36, 22.5; Eph 3.14). He also spread out his hands, which is the most common posture. Today, people close their eyes, bow their heads and fold their hands, but they did not do that in the Scriptures. They spread out their hands toward heaven in a gesture to show helplessness in the situation.

Ezra was not only ashamed but embarrassed, and did not even lift his face. This showed that he was “weighed down” by the sins of the people. Embarrassment is the pain one feels when ashamed. Ezra also included himself in his prayer by saying “our iniquities” instead of “their iniquities.” Because of the covenant, he was linked together with those who had forsaken the Torah.

He brings up the fact that Yehovah has been kind to his people even though they have sinned. He realizes God’s grace has allowed them to return to the land. He gave them a “peg in his holy place” which means they had a safe and positive place in his Temple again. The “tent peg” is the Hebrew word “yotaid” and these pegs were used to hang and store utensils in the Mishkan. It did not have cupboards or closets to store vessels, so pegs were used. Since Ezra had just seen the new Temple, he had this in mind.

The yotaid, or tent peg, is also a term for the Messiah and it is shaped like the letter “vav” in Hebrew. For example, a tent peg was driven through the head of Sisera, a type of the False Messiah in Judges 4.21. In Isa 22.15-25, Shebna is also a type of the False Messiah and Eliakim is a picture of Yeshua, the true Messiah. In Isa 22.24 it says that Eliakim (Yeshua) is the true yotaid and they will hang on him all the glory of his Father’s house. In Isa 22.25 it says that Shebna (the False Messiah) is a false yotaid (tent peg) driven in a firm place and will give was (be deposed) and break off, and the load hanging on it (those who follow the False Messiah) will be cut off.

Ezra has recognized that God is blessing the people, and how evil it was for the people to respond to that blessing by engaging in sin. They even had the protection of the king of Persia (“given us a wall” in v 9 meaning protection). They had no excuses or explanations. The people thought that marriage to these pagan wives would help establish their settlements, but it will destroy those very settlements in the end. even the length of the exile was shortened by God’s mercy, so Ezra calls upon that mercy now. He knew nobody could stand before God and explain this away.

In Ezra 10.1-44 we have further information of the problem of intermarriage with pagan wives. Ezra’s prayer was powerful. He publicly showed deep, heartfelt concern and he even threw himself down before the temple. The people also experienced a deep repentance and wept bitterly. A man named Shecaniah (dwelling of Yehovah) then exhorts the people and says that they have truly sinned against God by marrying foreign women. He also tells them there is hope. Now, we need to explain what is going on here.

The Torah did not exclude other groups. Israel practiced intermarriage with other nations and there were no formal requirements except they had to reject paganism and a priest could not marry a divorced woman, or a woman profaned by harlotry (Lev 21.7). The high priest had to marry a virgin of Israel. He cannot marry a widow, a divorced woman or someone profaned by harlotry (Lev 21.13-14). Shecaniah then says that their repentance should be followed by action (what faith is), and that they should “put away” (divorce) all the wives and children according to the Torah. Then Ezra rose and made the priests, Levites and all Israel take an oath saying that they would do according to this exhortation.

Ezra did not eat or drink because he was in mourning over this whole situation. Because he had great authority from the king of Persia, he told the people is a proclamation that the people were to come within three days to fulfill the vow they had just taken. If they don’t, then all their possessions would be forfeited and the individual would be “karet” or “cut off” from the Kahal (assembly).

As a result, all the men of Judah and Benjamin came to Jerusalem within the three days. It was Kislev 20 and it was cold because it was winter, and there was a heavy rain. The people sat in the open square in fear of the wrath of God. Ezra stood and said that they had been unfaithful and have married foreign wives. They were to confess their sin and separate themselves from the people of the land and from their foreign wives (a divorce).

The assembly (Kahal) responded by saying he was right and they would do it. However, they said it was the rainy season and they were not able to stand in the open weather (10.13). The task to be done would take more than a few days to find out who had taken foreign wives. They wanted the elders (or the courts) to sit and find out who did what when they came at the appointed times (festivals) until the matter was settled. Only Jonathan, the son of Asahel (created by God), and Jahaziah (Yah sees) the son of Tikvah (hope), opposed this, and were seconded by Meshullam (peace maker) and Shabbetha (of the sabbath) the Levite (10.15).

But the exiles went ahead and divorced their foreign wives. Ezra selected men who were family leaders and they convened on Tevet 1, about three months later. In Ezra 10.18-22 it was found that even priests, who were to understand and teach the Torah to the people (Ezek 44.23) were guilty. Some were the sons of Yeshua, the son of Yozadak (Yehovah is righteous), the high priest, and his brothers (10.18). Maybe that is why he is seen in Zech 3.3 to be wearing filthy garments. He had not restrained his sons from their unlawful marriages. They pledged to divorce their wives. They offered a ram of the flock because they did this with full knowledge that it was forbidden in the Torah. If it was done in ignorance, they would have offered a goat.

Ezra 10.20-22 gives us a further list of priests, and Ezra 10.23-24 gives us a list of the Levites, singers and gatekeepers who were guilty, and in Ezra 10.25-43 it gives us a list of the Israelites. All of these married foreign wives, and some of them had children, yet they divorced their wives anyway. Mention is made of these children being put away also in Ezra 10.3 by Shecaniah, but there is no mention that they followed through with that, only the wives by order of Ezra (10.11). As a result, it is believed that they were not put out because they had Jewish fathers. They were taken care of and educated in the Torah There were some who did not comply and went north and settled around Shechem (shoulder) and their descendants were numbered among the Samaritans.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Ezra-Part 4

In Ezra 7.1-6 we learn about the genealogy of Ezra going back to Aaron. He has a right to the priesthood through Zadok. Ezra 7.6-10 describes his return to Jerusalem, along with many others. This was his second trip because he went with Zerubbabel earlier (Neh 12.1). We also learn something very interesting. He was a “scribe skilled in the law (Torah) of Moses” and that is because he studied it (2 Tim 2.15). The king granted him all that he requested because the hand of God was upon him.

Some of the sons of Israel (ten tribes) and some priests, Levites, singers, gatekeepers and Temple servants went up also. This alludes to the sad fact that only a few will come out of Babylon, and only a few will come out of Babylon spiritually, too. It took four months (the number of testing) for this group to get to Jerusalem and Ezra had set his heart to study the Torah and to practice it as it applied before all this. But now he can teach it to the people, leading them in its statutes and ordinances.

As we have said before, Ezra is seen as a “second Moses” (Exo 18.13-16) who came in the “spirit of Moses” to teach the people. Just as Israel sunk into idolatry in Egypt, in the same way Israel sunk into idolatry and it casued them to be exiled to Babylon. So, the people needed a teacher, a “second Moses”, to teach them the ways of God again. Here is a concept to remember for today. Anyone can tell you what a verse says, but not everyone can tell you what a verse means. But Ezra could because he studied the Torah and was skilled in it.

In Ezra 7.11-26 we have the letter from Artaxerxes to Ezra in support of what he was doing. The king commissions helpers, a copy of the Torah and gifts for the Temple to go with Ezra. He also provides money for the korbanot and the promotion of Temple worship. In Ezra 7.23 we have the motive of the king. Like other kings, he wanted to pacify the gods of other people and the gods of the territory they have conquered. In Ezra 7.24-26 it tells us that Ezra is given legal authority to enforce the Torah. He exempted the priests and the temple workers from taxes and Ezra was to appoint magistrates and judges who know the Torah to judge the people. Ezra will also teach those who don’t. The king gave Ezra much authority and he gave him the authority to punish those who will not be Torah observant.

Ezra 7.27-28 shows how Ezra gave thanks to Yehovah for providing the support he needed. He moved the heart of Darius and Artaxerxes (Prov 21.1) to perform his will. This encouraged Ezra because it was clear that Yehovah was behind it all, not so much the kings. The hand of God was upon him and that is what encouraged him to proceed.

Ezra 8.1-14 gives us an accounting of who came with Ezra to Jerusalem. These will not be the first ones to return, but this is the “second aliyah” or return. This list is a list of families by males, so it does not include the women and the children, and he recounts the events in Ezra 7.1-10. In total, it is estimated that about 8000 people came with Ezra. That also means that the majority of the people stayed in Babylon. This is just like today and it parallels the last 70 plus years. Just like back then, more Jews live in Babylon (USA) than in the land. But before the birth-pains, there will be many Jews who will “come out of Babylon” and escape before her coming destruction, and return to the land (Jer 50.8,16, 51.6-9, 45, 50; Mic 4.10; Rev 18.4).

In Ezra 8.15-20 we learn that Ezra gathered the people at the river that led to Ahava (I will live) and he finds out that there were no Levites. Now, a Levite is different than a priest. They were a larger group of people in the tribe of Levi when compared to the priests, who had to descend from Aaron. A priest is a Levite, but not all Levites are priests because they came only from Aaron. It seems that the Levites were happy right where they were and didn’t want to be pioneers. Maybe they didn’t want to be under the authority of the priests in a Temple.

So, Ezra had a problem that needed to be addressed. He chose nine leaders and two men of understanding to make the appeal as persuasive as possible. He told Iddo what to say, the leading man of the people by permission of the king. God blessed the recruitment effort and a man of insight named Sherebiah (Yah sent heat) brought his sons and brothers, totaling 18 men, and 220 Temple servants (Nethanim). The Lord leads these men to set things in order for the Temple services. Remember, the Nethanim means “given ones” and they are the servants who helped the Levites. They did the menial work such as wood cutting and carrying water. This function probably goes back to the time of Moses. He was to select certain people to be give to the Levites to help with the Mishkan (Num 31.30). In Josh 9.26-27 the Gibeonites were saved from destruction by their deception of Joshua, and when this was discovered, they were made wood cutters and water carriers for the assembly (kahal) and to provide for the needs of the altar and other duties. We see them mentioned after the exile in Ezra 7.24; Neh 3.26, 10.28-29, 11.21).

Ezra 8.21-32 gives us a great lesson on what to do when you don’t know what to do. Ezra and the people are preparing for the journey and Ezra proclaims a fast at the river Ahava. It is very probable they met by a river because it was a good place for prayer (Ezek 1.1; Acts 16.13). They wanted to ask Yehovah for a safe journey for everyone who was going, and that their possessions would be safe. The journey had a lot of danger attached to it because of robbers and warring factions from time to time. This would not have been a good time to be stuck in the middle of a war.

They were also taking gold, silver, wheat, oil, salt and utensils for the service of God, and that made them a ripe target for robbers and looters. So, here is another problem. Ezra was reluctant to request troops and from the king to escort them safely to the land because he had boasted in the power of God and that God’s hand was on them. His anger was on all those who forsake him. So, they fasted and sought God concerning all this, and Yehovah heard their prayer. Fasting is a means of cleansing the mind of the earthly thoughts and desires in order to connect to the Lord at a higher spiritual level. So they separated themselves to hear from the Lord and didn’t stop until they knew what to do.

They had a lot of people and valuables to take to Jerusalem and had to have a plan from Yehovah on how to do it. Once he knew what to do, he set apart twelve of the leading priests and these would help in the administration of these duties, and we see that Yeshua also set twelve talmidim (students) apart to help him with the administration of duties. Ezra was acting as the “Gabbai Tzedekah” or “keeper of the treasury” here. He weighed out to them the silver and gold, the utensils and the offerings for the Temple which the king, his counselors, his princes and all Israel had offered. He then disperses the the valuables among the twelve evenly. He then said to them that they had a kedusha on them to the Lord. They were to watch the goods until they could be weighed again before the Levites and heads of the households of Israel at Jerusalem, in the chambers of the temple.

So all the priests and Levites accepted the gold, silver and utensils to bring to Jerusalem. This speaks well of the character of these men. They journeyed from the river Ahava on Nisan 12 to go to Jerusalem and everything was accounted for, and there is no evidence that they kept the Passover. God’s hand was upon them and he delivered everyone and everything from the hand of the enemy, ambushes and robbers along the way, and they came to Jerusalem four months later, during the month of Av (Ezra 7.9), and they remained there for three days and everything was accounted for (8.32-34).

Spiritually, this relates to us in this way. When we believe, we have kedusha on us also. We are entrusted with certain gifts. We have gold (symbolizes deity), we have silver (the metal of redemption) and other believers (the utensils). We watch over the gift and talents entrusted to us by Yehovah and we will have a full accounting when we reach the New Jerusalem after our resurrection (three is the number of resurrection-Ezra 8.32). The good news is God will also deliver us from the hand of our enemies, ambushes and robbers along the way.

Ezra 8.33-36 tells us that on the fourth day (number of testing) the gold and silver and utensils were weighed out in the Temple, and then it was numbered and recorded. So it will be when we stand before Yeshua at the Judgment Seat in the Temple in heaven (2 Cor 5.10). Sacrificial korbanot are made by the exiles who came back, and they offered twelve bulls as burnt offerings (Korban Olah) for all Israel to show their total dedication to Yehovah. They also gave ninety-six rams, eight for each tribe, which speaks of a new beginning of consecration. In addition, they also gave seventy-seven lambs which speaks of perfect submission and twelve male goats as a sin offering showing Israel’s admission to their sins.

Then they delivered the kings edicts to the king’s satraps (provincial governors)and to the governors beyond the River, and they supported the people and the Temple. Starting in our conclusion, Ezra will begin to administer correction and reform among the Jewish people who came back to the land.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Ezra-Part 3

Ezra 4.1-24 tells us that the Samaritan enemies of Judah and Benjamin make an offer to help the Jews build the Temple. These are the people that King Sennacherib of Assyria brought into the land about 200 years earlier. They were known as “Cuthites” and also known as “Samaritans.” We will look at this in more detail later. These are enemies and they are like Ha Satan who will try to get involved in God’s work in order to stop it.

They approached Zerubbabel (Seed of Babylon) who was the civil ruler at the time. They did not go to the religious leaders. Ha Satan and the enemies of God still try to use government against God’s people, too. They told Zerubbabel that they, too, “Seek your God and we have been sacrificing to him since the days of Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, who brought us here.” This was not true, they worshiped others gods. But, this alludes to another verse in John 4.18 where Yeshua is talking to a Samaritan woman. So we are going to take a look at this verse and what it is saying.

Yeshua goes to Jacob’s well in Sychar (Shechem) and a Samaritan woman comes to the well. Because there was no rope or bucket to draw water with, Yeshua asks the woman to give him a drink. They have a polite discourse about living water and wells. Then Yeshua says that that anyone who drinks out of this well will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water he has to give will never thirst again. So the woman says, “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty, nor come all the way here to draw” (John 4.5-15). Yeshua tells her in v 16 to go get her husband, and she says that she does not have a husband. Then Yeshua tells that she has answered well because she (who represents the Samaritans) has had five husbands, and the one she has now is not her husband (v 17-18).

Now, many interpret this verse to mean she has been married five times, and she is living with someone now. But, a closer look at these verses tell us there is something else going on. After he says this she immediately goes to the subject of worship in v 19-20. She is not changing the subject as some say, she understood exactly what Yeshua meant about the five husbands. He is talking about what happened when Assyria brought in others to Samaria.

The king of Assyria brought pagan people into Samaria (northern kingdom). In 2 Kings 17.24 it says he brought in five alien tribes with all their false gods into the land. The conversation in John is about the true God and true worship. Yeshua is referring to the five false gods named in 2 Kings 17.24 that ruled as a “Baal” (husband) over the Samaritans in John 4.18, not literal husbands. And the one she is living with now (the false religious system) is the worship that she was engaged in at the present time that claimed to be the true worship of God. For example, in the Jerusalem Post, April, 1995, it says a replica of the Second Temple was found on Mount Gerizim, following an account by Josephus that said that a high priest who flaunted Jewish law married a Samaritan woman. Jews said, “Either leave the Temple or your wife.” So he stayed with his wife. The Samaritans promised to build the high priest an exact copy of the Temple in Jerusalem, making him the high priest. The ruins are under a fifth century Byzantine church. It had the gates, walls and altar and it stood until 113 B.C. This concept of replacement theology was referred to in their conversation in John 4.19-24. Yeshua said that salvation was of the Jews (4.22).

So Zerubbabel refused their help knowing what they were going to do, and this made the Samaritans angry. They wrote a letter to Artaxerxes that was full of false accusations (fake news-Ezra 4.7), and the king gave orders for the Jews to stop building the Temple (Ezra 4.17-24). The politics back then is not much different than today. The world is against Israel and they try to provoke civil authorities against her. There is an antisemitic spirit that is trying to stop the Temple from being built.

The work of the Temple was interrupted for several years, and two other kings are mentioned in this chapter. We have Ahasuerus, the king in the book of Esther who married Esther, who was also known as Xerxes. He is the king who defeated the Greeks at the battle of Thermopylae. He reigned from 485 B.C. to 465 B.C. The other king is Artaxerxes, who reigned between 464 B.C. and 424 B.C.

The context in which Ahasuerus (Esther’s husband) is mentioned here gives us some background for the book of Esther. He has heard that these early returnees will rebel and are plotting to overthrow the Persian yoke (Ezra 4.7-131). Now, it isn’t true but Ahasuerus has heard it and believed it. So when Haman says that the Jews are a people dispersed among the nation, and have different laws, and they do not observe the kings laws, and they that they should not be allowed to live, Ahasuerus knows he has heard that before and agrees with Haman. The ears of the Persians were already poisoned against the Jews before Haman ever said what he said in Est 3.8. The bottom line is, the work has been stopped until the second year of the reign of Darius, king of Persia. He is the son of Ahasuerus and Esther according to some commentaries (Artscroll Tanach Series, Mesorah Publications, “Ezra”, p.129).

Ezra 5.1-17 tells us that work on the Temple resumed and Haggai the prophet gave direct encouragement to build (Hag 1.2-10). Zechariah also had a word that waas spiritually directed to the exiles, notably Zerubbabel and Ezra. So, we see the prophets were with them in this work and that is a very important concept to understand. However, Tattenai, the governor over the regions beyond the River (Euphrates), Shethar-bozenai and some colleagues wanted to know why the work had resumed (v 3). He was told that they were not in rebellion but that “the eye of God” was upon the elders of the Jews (v 5) and they were not going to stop till a report went to Darius. They were not going to be intimidated by what the governor and these leaders said.

A copy of this report is found in Ezra 5.7-17 and it asked the king to search the records. He would find that the Jews were given permission to build the Temple by King Cyrus. In the meantime, they were going to keep building because the government worked slow (like today) and they could also pray to God that he would guide Darius in his decision.

So, in Ezra 6.10-12 we learn that Darius issued a decree to search for the decree of Cyrus. A scroll was found and the text is found in Ezra 6.3-5. Darius replies to Tattenai in Ezra 6.6-12 and he backs up the intentions of Cyrus to allow the Jews to build the Temple, and says that no one is to hinder or violate the edict or a timber will be taken from his house and they will be impaled on it, and his house will become a refuse dump. In all of this we see the hand of Yehovah. We see that the greatest and strongest empire on earth at the time commanded that the Temple of God be finished (v 12).

In Ezra 6.13-18 we learn that the Temple was indeed finished and dedicated through the “prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. It was completed on the third day of Adar, and it was the sixth year of the reign of Darius (four years from Hag 1 and Zech 1). Then Israel (those of the ten tribes), the priests and the Levites and the rest of the exiles celebrated and dedicated the Beit Ha Mikdash (House of Kedusha) with joy (v 16). They offered 100 bulls, 200 rams, 400 lambs, and as a Korban Chata (sin offering) 12 male goats were offered corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel. They appointed the priests and the Levites according to the mishmarot (divisions, courses) for the avodah (services) as it is “written in the book of Moses (Lev 21.8; Num 3.16, 18.23…note it was not according to an “oral” law).”

Ezra 6.19-22 says that the priests and the Levites purified themselves, and this would have been through the ashes of the Red Heifer. Then they slaughtered the Passover for all the exiles. There were some from the ten tribes that had returned also and they joined in the festival. It also says that there were those “who had separated themselves from the impurity of the nations of the land to join them” to eat the Passover. These were possibly non-Jews who believed (v 21). This verse is important because it corrects an impression one might get from Ezra 4.1-3 that the Jewish people excluded non-Jews. A non-Jewish believer was always given an open door to worship Yehovah, like Rahab, Ruth and Cornelius found out.

They also observed the festival of Unleavened Bread with joy and the heart of the king of “Assyria” was turned toward them by Yehovah. His name is Darius Artaxerxes and he is king of the Persians but he is called the king of Assyria because he had conquered the Assyrians. This is one of his many titles.

So, let’s deal with the phrase “impurity of the nations.” Jer 10.2 talks about the “way of the nations” involving idolatry. These practices included bestiality, Baal/Asherah worship and sexual perversions among other things (Mic 1.13; 2 Chr 33.6-7). We know that Judah had fallen into idolatry before they were exiled. It was like God was saying, “You want idols? I will give you idols. I am going to send you to the center of idolatry” and off they went to Babylon. While there they were exposed to all sorts of perversions, harlotry and idol worship. Israel got so sick of it that after the return from Babylon, this type of idolatry and idols were never a problem.

But, does the “impurity of the nations” still apply today? Yes, it does. Believers today are still confronted with the same issues they were, and we are surrounded by idolatry. The “harlot” (false religion) is portraying herself as the “virtuous woman” (a Torah-based faith in Yeshua). We have the birth of Yeshua perverted into Christmas with all its pagan roots (Deut 16.21; Jer 10.1-5; Isa 65.11). The festival of Bikkurim (First Fruits of the Barley) has been replaced by Easter with all its pagan roots. We also have Valentine’s Day which descends from the worship of Aphrodite and Venus, and has sexual “love” as the theme. These deities are related to the worship of Asherah. Cupid is the illegitimate son of Aphrodite and he is the god of lust. New Year’s Day was an ancient pagan day of worship and has nothing to do with the biblical new year’s day called Rosh Ha Shanah. The days of Lent are taken from the practice of “weeping for Tammuz” as seen in Jer 44.15-19. We haven’t even touched on Halloween or Sunday (Sol Invictus or the “invincible sun” is worshiped on the “day of the sun”) and how Christianity is more related to Mithraism than Judaism.

But people will say, “We don’t worship like the pagans. We turned these pagan festivals into God’s festivals and gave them biblical themes. Well, all that is a smoke screen. A rose by any other name is still a rose. Job 14.4 says, “Who can bring a clean thing out of the unclean? No one!” Jer 10.1-5 may not be talking about a Christmas tree literally, but it carries the same idea. It is a tree cut down, decorated and used in idolatry. God has his “tree of life” which is the Torah (Gen 2.8-9; 3.22-24; Prov 3.13-18, 11.30) and idolatry has its tree of life. The biggest problem in the faith today is we’ve learned the ways of the nations and merged the true worship of God with the Baalim and the Asherim, and false religions have given them new names. Yehovah would rather have us worship Satan outright than to falter between two opinions (Rev 3.16; Zeph 1.12; Luke 18.21; Matt 6.24).

We can’t tell you what was or was not allowed by God. What we can tell you is that which was given to pagan worship was not allowed, and that was the deciding factor. If we are not to learn the ways of the nations or Gentiles, then what were we to learn? We are to learn the ways of Yehovah given to Israel (Rom 9.1-5; 1 Cor 11.1-2).

We will pick up in Ezra 7.1-5 in Part 4.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Ezra-Part 2

In Ezra 2.1-70 we have a list of those who returned with Ezra. In Ezra 2.1-2 we have those who were closely associated with him, and they were called the “children of the province” and this means the province of Judah. Zerubbabel was the governor and he bore the Persian title of “Tirshatha” (Ezra 2.63). There were twelve people who came with Zerubbabel. Nahamani’s name is omitted in Ezra but is included in Neh 7.7, and this alludes to the twelve tribes. There are two names that many will recognize and they are Nehemiah and Mordechai. It is not known whether these two are the same people in the book of Nehemiah and Esther, but there are those who believe they are. If so, they came with Zerubbabel and then went back to Persia at a later date.

Ezra 2.3-35 contains a list of the families returning to Judah and Jerusalem. This list is just the heads of the families, with the number of males in that family. The total number would be more because they are listed by the family leaders. Then in Ezra 2.36-60 we have a list of the priestly families, Levites and Temple workers are given, plus the children of Solomon’s servants. The Temple Servants are called the “Nethanim” and they were Gibeonites whose ancestors deceived Joshua. Their employment was to minister to the Levites and work for the Temple.

Now, this list of those who are coming back from Babylon is teaching us something. We know that the Lord is stirring up the hearts of the people to return back to the land (1.5). They took advantage of the opportunity to “come out of Babylon.” This alludes to Torah-based believers in Yeshua whose hearts have been stirred to come out of religious Babylon.

In Ezra 2.61-63 we learn that there were people who claimed to have a priestly lineage but could not prove it through a genealogy. They were not allowed to eat of the Most Holy Things (Kodshai Kodashim) until they could consult with the Urim V’ Thummim. This is also spoken about in Neh 7.63. Evidently, they did not have this item at this time, along with other things that were in the First Temple.

In Ezra 2.65 we learn about the male and female singers. The Levitical women could participate as singers, but not in the Temple courts on the Duchan where the Levitical choir sang on the three steps. There had to be at least twelve singers on the Duchan to sing in the Temple.

In the Mishnah, Arakhin (vows of valuation) 2.6 it says, “There were never less than twelve Levites standing on the platform (duchan), and their number could be increased without end. None that was not of age could enter the Temple court to take part in the Temple service save only when the Levites stood up to sing; and they did not join in the singing with harp and lyre, but with the mouth alone to add spice to the music. R. Eliezer B. Jacob says: They did not help to make up the required number, nor did they stand on the platform; but they used to stand on the ground so that their heads were between the feet of the Levites; and they used to be called the Levites Tormentors.” They were called tormentors because they sang so well.

There are some rabbis who believe that women did enter the Temple court, called the Azarah. There was a gate on the north side called the Women’s Gate. They believe that the women entered through that gate to enter the Azarah. On the other hand, women also entered this gate to partake of the food that was set apart for the priest’s family, so that was the reason they called it the Women’s Gate. The priestly women came to a room on the north side of the Azarah to eat of the Kodshai Kodeahim (Most Holy) and the Kodshai Kelim (Holy) offerings. The Kodshai Kodeshim were the sin and guilt offering and could only be eaten in the Temple, but the Kodshai Kelim could be eaten within the walls of Jerusalem.

There is another reason that women were not allowed into the Azarah and it had nothing to do with sexism, but it did have something to do with paganism. Paganistic cults (meaning worship) were based on two things. The first thing was it was based on war and survival, and the second thing was it was based on the economy, centering on fertility. The priest and the priestess were prostitutes and homosexuals in pagan temples. God didn’t want that impression so women were not allowed into the inner courts. True worship was about so much more. It is totally separate from the pagan concept.

However, women sang when coming to the festivals and they sang at weddings, funerals and other occasions. They also worked with the men to tutor the younger Levites in the music of the Temple. They gave voice lessons and helped with the music. We have seen that the younger Levites would join the Levitical choir to add “sweetness” to the sound. If women were in the Levitical choir, you wouldn’t need the young voices to reach the high notes.

The people who arrived in the land gave offerings to rebuild the Temple (v 7). They gave freely and according to their ability. Paul may have had this in mind when he wrote the same thing in 1 Cor 16.2 and 2 Cor 8.3. After exile there seems to have been a large Jewish presence in the land as promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. During the exile, Judea was uninhabited however. The land kept its sabbaths and was not worked for seventy years. As a result, the land was empty until the exiles came back.

Ezra 3.1-3 deals with with restoration of the services (Avodah) and it is a very prophetic chapter. The people gathered together in the seventh month of Tishri according to the Religious calendar to Jerusalem. Neh 7.73 says the same thing. The Altar was rebuilt by a High Priest named Yeshua the son of Jozadak, and he is also called Joshua in Zech 6.11-12. This is prophetic because Yeshua the Messiah will be the first high priest after the return of the Jewish people after the Birth-pains, and he will rebuild Ezekiel’s Temple (Ezek 40 through 48). Notice that they builot it in Jerusalem.

They could have reasoned, like many people do today, that they were “the Temple” and the Temple and the Altar could have gone anywhere. After all, where the people were, that was where the true Temple is anyway, right? Wrong. In Hebrew thought based on the Torah, there was only one place to rebuild it, and that place was Jerusalem, on God’s “holy mountain” (Psa 2.6, 99.9; Isa 2.2-3; Mic 4.1-3).

Yeshua the son of Jozadak is the grandson of Seraiah the high priest who was put to death by Nebuchadnezzar in 2 Kings 25.18-21. Notice that they built the Altar before the Temple was rebuilt, and that is an important concept to remember. They understood the spiritual significance of the Altar. It was where sin was dealt with and where the common man could come and meet and conduct his business with Yehovah. Only the priests could enter the Sanctuary building. They needed to resume the korbanot like the Korban Olah and the Tamid as it is written the Torah. So we learn that there can be no Temple without the Altar, but there can be an Altar without a Temple. We also know they built this Altar on the foundations of the previous Altar, on the exact spot. We have already discussed the history of this spot in other teachings.

In Ezra 3.4-7 we learn that they celebrated the festival of Sukkot and they offered the appropriate korbanot (v 4). During their exile, the Jewish people were unable to offer any korbanot or keep any festivals because that could only be done in Jerusalem, at the Temple, with a priesthood, Altar and the holy things. After this, they gave money for the masons and carpenters on order to build the Temple (v 7).

Ezra 3.8-13 tells us that they began to work on the Temple with great joy in the second month (Iyar), which was the same month Solomon’s Temple was started (1 Kings 6.1). They also assigned Levites who were twenty years old and above to oversee the work (1 Chr 23.24). The Torah stated that the Levites were to start their work at thirty years of age (Num 4.1-37), but David changed that because they were no longer in the wilderness at the direction of Yehovah.

Then they laid the foundation of the Temple and there was an elaborate ceremony. The priests were dressed in their priestly robes, the musicians were ready for music and what they sang was possibly the Hallel (Psa 113-118) and the Great Hallel (Psa 136). This scene greatly resembled the scene in 2 Chr 5.13-14 but with lesser numbers. However, this gave the people hope that the Temple would be rebuilt again.

There was, however, a mixed reaction to all of this among the people. The men who had seen the First Temple wept because it just wasn’t the same, and many things had changed (v 12). There was no Ark of the Covenant, no divine fire, no Shekinah or king, or a palace for the king just south of the Temple. There was no Mercy Seat (Kipporet), pot of manna, Aaron’s rod, spirit of prophecy or the Urim V’ THummim. Solomon had spent much more on the First temple, so the kedusha on this Temple was not seen as the same, and it was diminished. The people could not distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the weeping of the people, and the sound could be heard from far away.

But regrets over the past is never productive. It can paralyze us in our present work. The prophets also warned against despising this Temple because it was not at the same level (Hag 2.1-9; Zech 4.8-10). Many shouted for joy also, and these were the younger ones who had never seen the Temple at all sitting on the site of so much history. So, there were many mixed emotions. There is also another thing to remember. Messiah himself would come to this Temple bringing the ultimate redemption of not only mankind, but also the creation.

Now, we have an eschatological picture in Ezra 3.1-6. First off, we see that the first high priest after the restoration and return of the people to begin Temple worship was a priest named Yeshua (v 2). This alludes to the fact that Yeshua the Messiah will be the high priest when worship begins in Ezekiel’s Temple after the restoration and return of the believers back to the land in the Second or Messianic Redemption.

Prophetically, we know that the Birth-pains are 2520 days long, and the first half will be 1260 days and the second half will be 1260 days. We also know that Yeshua will return on Yom Kippur at the end of the seven years. That means the Birth-pains will begin around a Yom Kippur. The Atid Lavo (Lord’s Day, Seventh Day, Sabbath of God, Millennium, etc) is also known as the Day of the Lord. This is the last one thousand years of the seven thousand year plan of God.

The first day of that last one thousand year Day of the Lord is Tishri 1, or Rosh Ha Shanah (Head of the Year). Ten days later we have the beginning of the Birth-pains on Yom Kippur. We believe that the Altar will be set up on Mount Moriah by Tishri 1 and the sacrifices will begin on Tishri 1, year 6001 from creation, just like they did in Ezra 3.1-6. We also believe that the Natzal, or the catching away of the believers to heaven, will also happen on Tishri 1, year 6001 from creation, possibly the same day that the sacrifices begin on the Altar in Jerusalem. The Altar must be built and cleansed at least seven days prior to it being used, so that means believers will see this process going on in Jerusalem. Those that understand what is going on will know that the Natzal could be near (1Thes 4.13 through 5.4). For the next few days after the Natzal (rapture), many other events will occur, like the destruction of Babylon (USA), the salvation and anointing of the 144,000 and their return to the land, and the identification of the False Messiah. Ten days later, on Yom Kippur, the Birth-pains will begin when the False Messiah signs a military treaty with Israel.

In Part 3 we will pick up in Ezra 4.1-24.

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