Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 7

We are going to go back to the Sotah ceremony in Num 5.11-31 to pick up some additional information. We are going to take a look at how this ceremony may have played a role in the life of Miriam, the mother of Yeshua. We will be using as a source for this study of the Sotah of Miriam the Mishnah, tractate “Sotah” and the book by Alfred Edersheim called “The Temple: Its Ministry and Services” p. 361-365.

We know from Isa 7.14 that a “virgin” will give birth to a son, and it would be a “sign.” So, what was the “sign” that Miriam was a virgin if this prophecy applied to Yeshua? We have touched on this concept earlier but we are going to get into more detail. First, we know that Yochanon Ha Matvil (John the Immerser) was conceived around the end of June (Luke 1.5-38), after Zachariah came home after serving his week in the Temple according to his division of Abiyah. We know when his division served because of the order of service given in 1 Chr 24.10.

Joseph’s reaction to Miriam’s “news” is seen in Mat 1.18-25. She informs him that she is pregnant. She conceived six months after Elisheva (Elizabeth) did with Yochanan, making it the month of Kislev when Yeshua was conceived, around Chanukah. Yochanon is born three months later, around Passover and Yeshua is born six months after that, around the festival of Sukkot. Now, the Sotah portion of Scripture was read in the synagogues (Num 5.11-31) between Sukkot and Chanukah. We are looking for the “sign” of Isa 7.14.

A young woman having a baby was not a “sign” for anyone to look at. It was very common. What is significant is Miriam went to the home of her cousin Elisheva. Zachariah was older and a respected priest, both were called righteous in Luke 1.6 in the sight of God. Miriam went to the house of a respected tzaddik immediately after the angelic visit and stayed three months, or until Passover (Luke 1.56-57).

We know there is a ceremony in the Torah that could prove whether a woman is a virgin or not, and that ceremony is called the Sotah, meaning “one who has strayed.” We are going to take a look at the Sotah ceremony of Miriam, but there is no record of this in the Scriptures. We are presenting this as a way she could have shown everyone that she was a virgin according to Isa 7.14.

The Sotah ceremony was no longer practiced and done away with around 70 AD by Yochanon Ben Zakkai. This ceremony was associated with the Temple, and with the Temple destroyed, it could no longer be done. It will return with the next Temple. There are many other ceremonies associated with the Temple that cannot be done today, including the festivals, picking of lots, biblical leprosy, the Nazarite vow and much more. We know that the time in the wilderness was a supernatural environment, and so was the Temple.

There were two types of Sotah. First, there was the Sotah with no definite evidence. Second, there was the Sotah with some immoral behavior, and there is some evidence, like being pregnant. This is what Miriam was. She is called a “presumptive Sotah.” Sotah 1.1 in the Mishnah says that the husband must warn her before two witnesses, and he may make her drink the bitter waters on the evidence of one witness or his own evidence that she has gone aside in secret with another.

Sotah 1.3 tells us how he must deal with her. He should bring her to the court in that place and they appoint for him two talmidim of the sages, lest he has a connection with her on the way. Did Miriam volunteer for this by going to Zachariah and Elisheva as two witnesses to her behavior up to the festival, and to her credibility? Zachariah is an elder kohen and respected, so she may have volunteered for the Sotah by going to their house in order to see she was a virgin. They certainly would have believed her story because the same angel came to them, and Elisheva conceived in her old age, a miracle at the other end of the age scale. This visit is no small thing and it means something.

The Mishnah tells us the husband would take the suspected wife to the court of his town. They would designate two learned men to accompany him to prove he does not cohabit with her on the way. Sotah 1.4 says they would bring her up to the “great court” and admonish her like they would a witness in a capital case. They would say, “My daughter, much sin is wrought by wine, much by light conduct, much by childishness, and much by evil neighbors; do you behave for the sake of his great name, written in holiness, that it be not blotted out through the water of bitterness?” And they would speak before her words which neither she nor the family of her father’s house are worthy to hear. In other words, they try to instill the fear of God in her.

We are going to see that they will write the name of God (YHVH-Yehovah) on the parchment that was put into the waters of bitterness, and she will drank it. She will have the opportunity to say she is guilty. If she does, they write a bill of divorce (Get) and she is divorced. If she says she is innocent, they take her up to the Eastern Gate, which is opposite of the Nicanor Gate in the Court of the Women. This gate is called the “Gate of the Just” or pure. The ashes of the Parah Adamah (Red Heifer) are there and it was where they purify the Metzora (leper) and a woman after childbirth (Lev 12). So, let’s move on to more of the ceremony.

The Torah says that the husband shall bring his wife to the priest, and shall bring as an offering for her one-tenth of an ephah of barley flour; he shall not pour oil on it, nor put frankincense on it, for it is a grain offering of jealousy, a grain offering of memorial, a reminder of iniquity. This is symbolic of bringing her deeds to God’s remembrance. Then she is brought before the Lord at the Nicanor Gate of the Temple.

The priest takes water in an earthen-ware vessel and he shall take some of the dust that is on the floor of the Temple and put it into the water. The woman stands before the Lord and they let her hair down, and they place the grain offering of memorial into her hands. In the hand of the priest is the water of bitterness that brings a curse. The priest has her recite an oath and says to the woman, “If no man has lain with you and if you have not gone astray into uncleanness, being under the authority of your husband, be immune to this water of bitterness that brings a curse; and if you, however, have gone astray, being under the authority of your husband, and if you have defiled yourself, and a man other than your husband has had intercourse with you” then the priest shall have the woman swear with the oath of the curse, and the priest shall say to the woman, “The Lord shall make you a curse and an oath among your people by the Lord making your thigh waste away and your abdomen swell, and this water that brings a curse shall go into your stomach and make your abdomen swell and your thigh waste away.” And the woman shall say, “Amen, Amen” (meaning “faithfully true” or “I agree”).

The priest shall then write these curses on a scroll, and he shall wash then off into the water of bitterness (Num 5.19-22). The priest takes the grain offering of jealousy from the woman’s hand and he shall wave the grain offering before the Lord and brings it to the altar; and the priest shall take a handful of the grain offering and he offers it up in smoke on the altar. Afterward, he shall make the woman drink the water.

When that is done, then it shall come about if she has defiled herself and she has been unfaithful to her husband, the water that brings a curse shall go into her and cause bitterness, and her abdomen would swell and her thigh waste away, and the woman will become a curse among her people. However, if the woman has not defiled herself and is clean, she will be free of any of these symptoms and she will conceive children.

It is possible that Miriam volunteered for this ceremony. It would have been a powerful sign to the priests and to the people because she had to appear before the Sanhedrin. They would have had a record about this in the Temple that anyone could have checked if they wanted to disprove Yeshua’s messianic claims and to show he was a false prophet, and that his mother was not a virgin. But they couldn’t produce that evidence because if Miriam went through this ceremony, nothing happened to her and she did conceive other children.

Joseph did not require this of her because the angel had already told him what was going on (Matt 1.19-25). She had talked to Zachariah and Elisheva and they knew Messiah was coming. The angel had visited Zachariah and was told the Messiah was coming, and their son Yochanon would be “Elijah” who would come before the coming of the Messiah. This ceremony would have happened in the Temple. We know that Zachariah was deaf and dumb until Yochanon was named at his circumcision (Luke 1.59-64).

Miriam did not need to convince Joseph because he knew she was a virgin and was told as much by an angel that he should not be afraid to take Miriam as his wife because that which has been conceived in her was by the Ruach Ha Kodesh. She would bear a son and they were to call him Yeshua, for shall save his people from their sins. This fulfilled the prophecy in Isa 7.14. Was the ceremony a sign to everyone that this was true? Yeshua claimed to be the Messiah, and you don’t see the priests, scribes or any Temple officials contest the virginity of his mother. Could there have been a record in the Temple of her voluntary submission to the Sotah ceremony?

We will pick up with our next Torah portion in Part 8.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 6

Num 7.1-59 deals with the dedication of the Mishkan and the Altar. This portion is read at Chanukah because of the concept of “dedication” of the Temple and Altar. This portion also alludes to the 144,000 because each tribe is represented and each tribe brought the exact same thing for twelve days in a row. One would think this would be boring but this chapter has more commentary written about it than any other chapter in the Torah.

This Torah portion is long because it includes seventy verses on the same gifts. It repeats the same thing over and over. What does that mean? It means that many of our deeds are “repeats” of all the generations in the past. Many are repeats from yesterday, yet God loves them and cherishes each one. He wants us to bring the same acts of kindness, mercy, justice, compassion and forgiveness. This also teaches us to avoid “one upmanship” and trying to outdo one another. That is prideful and boastful. This is about gifts. They will go through the blessings of each tribe, then go through the gifts to find clues in these gifts. What do the gifts mean to that tribe?

For example, let’s look at Issachar. Issachar’s blessing from Jacob in Gen 49.14-15 says that they could carry “burdens” and were strong in the Torah. 1 Chr 12.32 says they had insight into the Torah and were devoted to study. So, the silver dish full of flour (bread = word) meant something to them. Man does not live by bread alone (Deut 8.3). To another tribe, the silver bowl with seventy shekels alluded to the seventy souls that went into Egypt in the First Redemption. To another, it was the seventy judges, or the seventy nations of the world. To another it was Abraham’s age at the Covenant between the Halves in Gen 15.

The Torah repeats itself twelve times here, for each tribe. This also teaches that each tribe is stamped with its own special meaning. The next thing we can do is look at the numbers given. For example, twelve is the number of teaching, one hundred and thirty was the age of Jacob when he entered Egypt, ten is the number of judgment, and so on. Another thing we can do is look at what a ram, a bull or a lamb signified. Then look at the metals used. What does gold and silver signify? For some help you can go to our teaching on “Idioms, Phrases and Concepts ” on this site for some information, but this information is quite common in other sources. For example, a ram is symbolic of the “leader of the flock.” A bull is symbolic of vigor, virility and violence. Gold symbolizes deity and the kivod (glory) of God. Silver symbolizes redemption. Our teaching on this has a list you can go down in alphabetical order to find some basic meanings.

The value of a gift is determined by the giver. Although these were the same, they had value assigned to it by each tribe individually. One of the hallmarks of spiritual maturity is to be able to give, but we must also learn how to receive. That is a true test for some people. Some people will not take a gift or help from anyone. That is prideful and not a good attitude to have. People need to receive gifts as well as they give gifts. The difference is this. When giving a gift the attention is on you, the giver. People look at what the gift is and say, “Oh, what a wonderful gift you gave.” On the other hand, when you receive a gift the attention is not on you. We like the idea that “we don’t accept charity from nobody.” That is the American spirit isn’t it. We like to think of ourselves as “self-made” people, but in reality, we all have received help along the way. Giving a gift is easy for some, but receiving a gift can be another story.

In Numbers 7.12 it is time for the tribes to come forward and give their gifts. But why did Judah go first? Why did they come in this particular order? Well, Judah was the first to enter the Red Sea and he was the first to come to the aid of Benjamin in Gen 44.18. Benjamin will return this act of kindness in the drama found in the book of Esther. Judah (the Jews) in Persia was on the brink of destruction because of the evil proclamation of Haman. Up steps Queen Esther, who is from the tribe of Benjamin, and she steps forward to save her people this time. So in this case, Benjamin rescues Judah. Also, the name Judah has the name of God in it (Yehudah) and this name will eventually be put on all the descendants of Jacob.

Nachshon is not called “prince” (or leader) here because that title belongs to the Messiah, who will come from Judah. All the other tribes had a “prince” or a “leader” come forward with the gifts. No tribe outdid the other. There was unity in this. The tribes are putting their seal of approval on the Mishkan and the Altar, and God is establishing a theocracy. In Rev 7.5 Judah is first again when the 144,000 is called. So, this order is according to function and their calling. In Revelation, they groan over the evil they see and God begins to establish a theocracy again on the earth, beginning with the twelve tribes, twelve thousand from each tribe.

In the Messianic Kingdom there will be a covenant of peace (Ezek 37.26, 39.25; Isa 54.9-10; Jer 31.31-34). There will be life, prosperity and blessings. Do we want to see the Lord? At that time you will be able to see him. He will be right there looking at you, and he will smile. He knows you and we know him. The Messianic Kingdom is known as the Atid Lavo (Future or Coming Age). The world will be much different than it is now, and we haven’t even gotten to the Olam Haba yet.

The dedication of the Mishkan and the Altar in Num 7 is a tremendous thing. The Temple and the Altar are going up again in the very near future, and it will relate to this chapter. It is ironic that most people don’t look forward to this theologically. Secular Jews don’t want it because “it will start a war.” That’s right, it will, just like the Lord said it would. Orthodox Jews have said if the Temple services, the altar and the korbanot started they would have to reexamine Judaism because what they do is not according to the teachings of Moses, and they would need to make massive changes.

Most Christians have no concept about this at all and they don’t even know what is coming, or the ramifications. They don’t believe any of this is even relevant or necessary for today, in fact, they will be against it for the most part. A famous Christian author who was hailed a “prophecy expert” said that the Temple was the Abomination of Desolation in one of his books. On top of all this, we have secular people in the world who have no idea about it. On top of all this we have the issue of animal offerings in this day and age. That will be quite the scene to sort out. But a Temple, an Altar and the offerings are coming and this chapter will again play a vital role.

We will pick up here in Part 7.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 5

Num 6.1-21 deals with the instruction of the Nazarite. Nazarite comes from the Hebrew word “nazair” meaning “consecrated” or “separated.” This is a voluntary separation from drinking wine, vinegar, grape juice or grapes. They are not to shave their head or go near the dead. The length of the vow varied. It could be a few days or a lifetime. Paul had a Nazarite vow and came out of it by cutting his hair in Acts 18.18. In Acts 21.15-26 it says he came to Jerusalem and to the Temple to give the required animal offerings and other korbanot when the Nazarite vow is finished (Acts 21.23-26). Now, this is around 58 AD and nearly 30 years after Yeshua resurrected and ascended to Heaven. So, let’s go over a few things here.

If the “law” has been done away with and we are not “under the law” why is Paul and the early Messianic believers following the Torah, going to the Temple and offering animal sacrifices (Acts 21.23-26)? Paul and the other believers who offered animal sacrifices here, at the urging of James and the elders, were not doing something that was uncommon. They were not doing this “for show” so they could win over the unbelieving Jews. Paul said he was specifically coming to the Temple to “bring alms to my nation and to present offerings” (Acts 24.17). If Yeshua told them they were not under the law and it has been done away with, Paul and the First Century believers didn’t believe him, and didn’t listen. Even Peter said he remained Torah observant when it came to eating unclean animals in Acts 10.14. The vision he sees is not about permitting the consumption of unclean foods, its about not calling any man unclean (Acts 10.28-35). The fact is, Yeshua never told them the Torah has been done away with and that they were “free from the law” as many teach today. That is a lie and it cannot be supported by Scripture.

Now, getting back to the Nazarite vow. If you are defiled by accident, you would cut your hair and you brought a korban. Then you would start again. When your time is up, you would shave your head, bring the required korbanot and your hair was burned in the fire that was under the fellowship offering (Num 6.18). That is what Paul is doing in Acts 18.18 and Acts 21.15-26. In Num 6.2 it says, “When a man or a woman makes a vow.” What is a vow? A vow brings the future into the present reality using words.

For example, when we vow to do something, our future is pulled down into the present and the reality of the vow is created, and people will treat you as your vow indicates. Time no longer has meaning. Our words have created a new reality, not only for now, but the future. We speak a vow, and it is done. Breaking a vow is painful because we tear reality apart. The Lord requires us to keep vows because we have changed his creation. It is a different place because of our words. Spiritually, what does the law of the Nazarite teach us? It teaches that greatness can be achieved in the smallest of life’s decisions, not the ultimate “big” leap. The Nazir did not have but a few, simple requirements to achieve the great level of kedusha to God (Num 6.8). Communicating with ones family, commitment to Torah, kindness, mercy, justice are small kinds of meaningful actions we can do. Greatness is available by making small steps.

Next we are going to talk about the Priestly Blessing found in Num 6.22-27. There are many traditions concerning it. This is the biblical way to bless people, “speak” the name of God on them (Num 6.27). The blessing comes in three parts and six lines and “you” is mentioned sis times. In Hebrew, this very poetical and it has a structure. Line one has three words and fifteen letters. Line two has five words and twenty letters. Line three has seven words and twenty-five letters. When the priests gave this blessing in the Temple, they were on the steps leading to the Sanctuary building and their backs were to the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim (Holy of Holies). You did not turn your back on God in the Temple, but in this instance they did, but why? This blessing was from the Lord through the priests. It was an inheritance. The name of God “Yehovah” is mentioned three times. We believe that it alludes to the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

You will notice that the Lord does not tell the kohanim to bless the people using their own words, but to use the exact form given here. That is because Yehovah is the one blessing the people. This concept can also be seen when the Levitical choir sang. They stood on what is called the Duchan in the azarah (courtyard). Their backs were to the Sanctuary also. This also conveyed the idea that the Lord was speaking to the people through the choir in the words that were sung. The Torah prescribed that only the sons of Aaron were allowed to give this blessing, so let’s look at it briefly.

It begins with the words, “May Yehovah bless you and keep you.” The word “bless” is “bareka” and it means to protect, bring contentment, happiness, health and prosperity. The word “keep” is “V’yishmereka” and the root is “shammar” meaning to guard. The second part is “May Yehovah shine his face on you and be gracious to you.” This means while he is looking at us he is our light. In the desert, the face was oiled and it shined. To be gracious is “Vi’chuneka” and it means to fulfill your prayer. It is related to the word “chanan” meaning healing, help, refuge, strength and rescue.

The third part is “May Yehovah lift up his face to you and give you peace.” To lift his countenance to you means “to take a long look to see what our needs are” Of course, the word “peace” is “shalom” and this ultimately alludes to eternal life. It is a gift and we cannot get this gift by just going out to get it (John 1.13).

As we have said before, you could not turn your back on God in the Temple. But, we also mentioned that the priests reciting this blessing did because the blessing was coming from God. It is the same way with the priests on the Duchan when they were singing. The Psalm was coming from God to the people.

In Num 6.27 it says they were to “invoke” God’s name Yehovah on Israel. The way this is sung today they use “Adonai” in place of Yehovah, but that is not invoking the name of God on the people. His name is Yehovah and we have established that in a previous teaching on the name of God.

Why are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob called “Yehudim” (Jews)? The word “Yehudim” comes from the word “Yehudah” (Judah) and it is spelled with a yod (y), hey (h), vav (v), dalet (d) and hey (h). Take the dalet (d sound) out and you have Yehovah (YHVH). When you say “Jews” (Yehudim) it is related to “Yehudah” and you are invoking the name of Yehovah on Israel. That is why there is the concept of Replacement Theology. They want God’s name on them (a sign of ownership) and they want this blessing, but without all that “Torah” stuff. Yehudah (Judah) means “praise” and it is the same thing as saying “halleluyah.” That’s why Yehudah has taken prominence as the name for Israel.

Replacement Theology wants the blessing but not the curse. That is why certain denominations within Christianity say they are the true “Jews” (Yehudim) and teach that they have replaced Israel. They teach that the blessing belongs to them, but the curses belong to Israel. Now, Christianity will reach out to Jews and say they want to bless Israel, and that is a nice thing to do, but they also want to turn the Jews into Christians, which isn’t too nice. However, these Christians have no intention of turning from their ways to follow the Torah either. It’s only a one sided deal here. They want the Jews to forsake the Torah like they do, go to church on Sunday like they do, accept a Jesus” that is foreign to the Scriptures like they do, they want them to eat forbidden things like they do, they want them to keep Christmas and Easter like they do. In other words, forsake the Torah like they do. But by trying to get Jews to forsake the Torah, they are actually setting them up for failure (Deut 28.15-68).

In Part 6 we will pick up here and begin with Num 7.1-59 and the dedication of the Mishkan.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 4

One of the concepts we are going to see in Numbers is that it deals with the sins of the mouth. The proper use of speech is important. One example of this is found in Num 5.11-31 in what is called “The Sotah” which deals with a wife suspected of adultery. This is a ceremony that was done in the Mishkan, and later the Temple. It is linked to the ceremony of the Parah Adumah (Red Heifer), the cleansing of a leper and the Azazel on Yom Kippur in several ways.

In the Sotah, the wife is suspected of adultery and she is taken “before the Lord” at the Temple. She is to drink “bitter waters” (5.24) and this is a mixture of water from the Kior and the dust from the Temple (or Mishkan) floor. She would swear that she was not guilty of adultery, but if she was, she would suffer harmful effects. The words of the oath (5.21-24) were written on a scroll and were blotted out in water, which she drank. If guilty, physical deformities could develop, and she was cursed, and eventually die (5.27).

There was no ceremony like this for a man because the woman was a picture of Israel who has been unfaithful to her husband and will drink bitter waters. If she confesses she can be reconciled, if she doesn’t, then she is cursed. This ceremony is not done if caught in the act, as seen in John 8.1-11, that was a trick. In most cases, the people involved were stoned, with the witness who saw them throwing the first stone. In biblical law, there was no capital punishment for a crime if there was not at least two eye witnesses, and they had to be credible. The couple involved were warned before committing the act and they went ahead and committed the act anyway.

The next question is this. If one was a witness to adultery and the act, what were they doing there to begin with? That was the question in John 8.7. Nobody wanted to throw the first stone as a witness because it seems whoever was there did not want to admit it because they were trying to “set-up” Yeshua. They already knew the reputation of the woman, that’s why they used her. Maybe one of their own Pharisee brothers from the house of Shammai was the man with her. Maybe they knew more than that. And where was the man caught with the woman?

Israel has been guilty of spiritual adultery. The bridegroom (Yeshua) has the right to take his bride into this trial by ordeal. This trial by ordeal is called the Birth-pains of the Messiah. Yeshua is saying, “You reject me and are guilty of spiritual adultery. I was the one that made the covenant at Sinai with you and you have broken it. Are you willing and prepared to take this test? She will say, “Amen, Amen” (5.22). This is the first time “Amen” is used in the Scriptures and it is the signal that she is now ready for the test.

Now, this ceremony has another application and it involves the birth of Yeshua. We know that Isa 7.14 is a prophecy a bout the birth of the son of Isaiah, but it also alludes to the birth of Yeshua. The word for virgin in Isa 7.14 is “almah” and it means a virgin or a young woman. In the case of Isaiah’s wife, she was a young woman who gave birth to a son and this prophecy is discussed in Isa 7.10 to 8.3. But almah was also going to apply to Miriam and she was going to have to be a virgin, so that is why the Lord chose that word for this prophecy in Isa 7.14. It was going to have numerous applications and this word can be used several ways. So the sign to Isaiah that God was going to deliver Judah from the two kings (Isa 7.1-13) was his wife (a young woman-“almah”-Isa 8.3) was going to give birth to a son. But, what was the “sign” to Miriam, Joseph and everyone else in regards to Yeshua? A virgin would conceive and give birth, but how could you prove that the woman who gave birth to the Messiah was a virgin?

In Luke 1.21-56 we have the story of Miriam and how she became pregnant, before she ever knew a man. We learn that she immediately goes to stay with Zacharia and Elizabeth after the angelic visit (Luke 1.39). They were priests (Luke 1.5) and she stays with them for three months (Luke 1.56) and then returns home. Why did she do that? Maybe it was because she was supervised by Elizabeth and nobody left her alone, especially with Joseph. At three months, she would be showing. Now, Mary was betrothed to Joseph and he found out that Miriam was pregnant. Joseph was a “tzaddik” or a “righteous man” and he did not want to disgrace Miriam, so he was going to divorce her privately. But an angel appeared to him and told him to not be afraid to take Miriam as his wife. The child within her was conceived by the power of God. That was a hard one to comprehend at first, one would imagine, but in faith Joseph married her, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to Yeshua. Now, that is the basic story we all know, but the question is this. How could she prove to Joseph and others that she did not commit adultery and that she was truly a virgin according to the prophecy about the Messiah? She could volunteer for the Sotah test!

It is at least possible that this is exactly what she did. She was staying with a well respected priestly family and she could have gone to the Temple and submitted herself to this ceremony. That would explain some of her strange behavior after the announcement that she was going to give birth to the Messiah. By submitting herself to this ceremony, it would have been the greatest “sign” that the child within her was indeed conceived by the power of God and not man to anyone who investigated the claims that Yeshua was the Messiah. This ceremony would have been on record because they kept such records in the Temple. Anyone who doubted the origins of Yeshua and his claims could have gone into the Temple records and done the research that his mother went through the Sotah ordeal on such and such a date and has survived to that very day, meaning she was telling the truth. You will notice that there is not one recorded incidence in the Scriptures where anyone came to Miriam and called her a liar! We don’t know that she did this, but we do have a built-in mechanism in the Torah to prove that she was a virgin at the time of Yeshua’s birth.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 3

How these tribes were camped and their names will teach us about the Redemption. There were three tribes camped on the east. There was Issachar (my hiring, servant), Judah (praise) and Zebulon (to dwell). This teaches us that his star was seen in the east before his birth (Num 24.17; Matt 2.1) the Messiah came the first time as a “servant” from the tribe of Judah and “dwelt” among men (John 1.14). The tribes on the west are Benjamin (son of the right hand), Ephraim (fruitful) and Manasseh (to forget). Messiah will come as a “son of the right hand” (Matt 26.64) and his kingdom will be “fruitful” and he will cause us “to forget” the past troubles.

So, if the tribes on the east and west teach about the coming of Messiah, then the tribes on the north and south teach about the False Messiah. The tribes on the north are Asher (to prosper), Dan (to judge) and Naphtali (sweetness drips). The False Messiah will come and “prosper” (Dan 11.36) but fall eventually. Asher is a related word to Asshur, the home of Nimrod. The False Messiah may come from the tribe of Dan according to many scholars, but he will be “judged.” He will be a great orator at first, and “sweet word’s” will drip from his mouth (Dan 7.11, 20). Isa 14.13-14 says that Satan (the power behind the False Messiah) desires to sit in the recesses of the “north” where God sits The tribes on the south are Gad (a troop, related to the word for “invade”), Reuben (see, a son) and Shimon (to hear). The False Messiah will come as a “troop and will invade” Israel, Jerusalem and the Temple. He will proclaim himself the “son” of God (1 Thess 2), but he will be defeated when Yeshua comes, and his followers will “hear” charges at the judgment “south” of Jerusalem at a place called Tophet (Isa 66.24; Matt 25.31-46).

When you take the totals of each side, in four parts, it forms a cross. On the west there were 108,100 people (Num 2.24). This is the shortest side, corresponding to the top of the cross. The tribes on the south were 151, 450, and the tribes on the north were 157, 600. These are the most equal and correspond to the part of the cross where Yeshua’s arms/hands were. The tribes on the east added up to 186,400, the longest side, and corresponded to where the legs went.

They did not camp like a mob like you see in the movies, but it had order and organization. They had to make it easy to go outside the camp to the latrines and to gather wood, etc. So, each side camped long-wise in order to do this. That means they camped in four parts around the Mishkan. In Num 23.10 it says that Balaam said, “Who can count the dust of Jacob or number the fourth part of Israel?” In Num 22.41 it says that Balak took Balaam up to a high mountain and he saw from there “a portion of the people” or the end of the camp. He saw the fourth part of the camp and he couldn’t even count them. What part of the camp was it? Probably the east portion with 186,400 people plus. Remember, these numbers are only the warriors, not everyone.

So, the way they camped was eschatological and the camp formed a cross. If you had a drone and could fly over the camp, you could see it like God did. Israel camped in four corps and twelve divisions. We will also notice that the three tribes that camped together had relationships to each other. The tribes on the east (Judah, Issachar, Zebulon) are sons of Leah. The tribes on the south (Reuben, Shimon, Gad) are Leah’s sons and a son from her maid Zilpah (Gad). The tribes on the west (Ephraim, Benjamin, Manasseh) are descendants of Rachel. The tribes on the north are Dan, Asher, Naphtali) are the sons of the two maids Bilhah (Dan, Naphtali) and Zilpah (Asher). The duties of the Levites (Gershon, Kohath and Merari) are discussed in Num 3.25-39), so let’s move on to the next portion.

This portion is called “Naso” which means “to elevate” and this alludes to “lifting up the head” to be counted, and this portion covers Num 4.21 to 7.89. The census began in 4.1 with Kohath and it now continues with Gershon and Merari. The Levites were to be 30 years old up to 50 years old. They entered the “service” (tzava meaning warfare) to do the work (melakah) of the tent of meeting (ohel moed). Their duties were seen as spiritual warfare.

This Torah portion is the longest in the Torah (176 verses) and it continues with the duties of the Gerhsonites. It has more commentary that just about any other Torah portion. There will be six different topics discussed and we will do an overview as we have said before.

Why is this portion called “Naso” meaning to lift or elevate? They are “lifting” up the heads of the Levites in order to number them. Why is the word “also” used of Gershom in Num 4.22? They were not to feel left out or less important just because they weren’t carrying the “important stuff” or had the less glamorous jobs. This is also called “Naso” because the Levites were to “lift up” the Mishkan (4.25). There is a lesson here.

The order of God’s people is that those that “lift up” the Mishkan or do the work of the Mishkan should be lifted up by others,too. There has to be cooperation and we are told to “take up one another’s burdens” (Gal 6.2). No problem is insignificant. We may think someone’s problems are meaningless, but that doesn’t make them go away. When we lift up the burdens of another we are like a Levite lifting up the Mishkan of God, because that is what the body of Messiah is.

Num 5.1-10 tells us how to deal with an unclean issue. We are told that it must be dealt with quickly. In a congregation, this may involve a conflict of some sort. We must remember that they are our brothers and sisters, not an enemy. The conflict can be based on a misunderstanding, nothing willful. We must try to treat others the way the Lord treats us. Sin must be “put out” especially if it is unrepentant. What we are going to see in Numbers is that it will deal with the sins of the mouth, and the proper use of speech will be important.

In Part 4 we will pick up in Num 5.11-31 and a ceremony called the Sotah which deals with a woman suspected of adultery. This ceremony could also be related to the birth of Yeshua as we will explain.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 2

Numbers 2 begins to tell us the story about the arrangement of the camp into four corps. Why is this important? Because we learn in Gen 1.2 that the natural state of creation was chaos, not order. The Torah tells us that the maintenance of order is not a natural act, it is an act of the will, all the time. When we are not engaged in something then chaos will soon follow. Look at a house that is not properly maintained. In a short time it will look very run down and chaotic.

The arrangement of the camp not only talks about order, but it alludes to biblical eschatology, or in other words, the study of the Messiah and the Redemption. We will develop this out later. Now, how many warriors are there at this point? They had 603,550 according to Num 1.46 and 2.32. There were 500,000 in Operation Desert Storm and at the height of the war in Vietnam. If you were a little desert town or tribe and you saw this horde coming your way you might be a little afraid. Then you begin to hear the rumors about what happened to Pharaoh and Egypt, and now you are very afraid.

Israel was organized and they have power, numbers and leadership. Being in this camp meant “life.” Being outside of this camp meant “death.” Now, that is an important concept that needs to be remembered because it will relate to many Scriptures because being put out of the camp meant death. No enemy could penetrate them and they could move as a unit. This unit was made up of four corps with twelve divisions. Units win wars, not individuals.

Num 1.54 says, “Thus the sons of Israel did; according to all which the Lord had commanded, so they did.” That is the definition of humility right there. They know their place. This Torah portion describes the arrangement of the tribes, so what’s the big deal?

Tradition says that God arranged the tribes according to how the twelve sons carried Jacob out of Egypt in Gen 50.6-11. We have already shown you how this procession followed the same basic path Moses would take leading Israel to Canaan in Concepts in Genesis. Already, the people are clear about their place in the tribes of Israel.

The lesson here is to know your place and anything else doesn’t work. Arrogance is like idol worship. True humility means living with the reality that nothing else matters except doing the right thing. Humble people are not dependent on the opinion of others. Doing the right thing isn’t always popular or consistent with or ego needs. An arrogant person is not concerned about right and wrong, only himself and how things will turn out for them. The attitude is, “I am all that counts.” Humility knows its place. If you are in a position to lead, then lead. If not, defer to others and follow. The problem, as we shall see, comes when others want to usurp a position where they don’t belong. When others want to lead and they are not sent to lead, can cause problems unless the true leaders steps up and fulfills his role. Humility can be found in Num 1.1. Can you find it?

The desert symbolizes emptiness. That means to receive the Torah (instruction) we must first “open up” to the living waters. To shrink back, you are no longer in the wilderness, or desert, but a “deserter.” Why did the Lord wait till the second year to number the tribes and put them under separate banners? Because the central focal point that would rally the tribes was the Mishkan and the services. It was not completed until just before Passover of the second year. When we unite around the Torah, Messiah and the service of God, then our differences complement one another and help us reach our goal, which is to know Yehovah (Jer 9.23-24).

In the book of Numbers, or “B’Midbar” (in the wilderness), we learn some lessons about congregational life. When we go camping with someone, we learn some things about each other. It can build unity when you know someone. It’s like going through boot camp with someone. You get to know what the other person is made of. That’s why Marines feel a kinship to other Marines even if they don’t know them. They have been through the same tough times. Class reunions can be like that. One can form bonds with people and you want to see them again. On the other hand, if one does not form these bonds you don’t go camping with them or to class reunions.

Congregational life should be like that. The word used for Israel in the wilderness is “kahal” or “assembly” (Deut 9.10, 10.4, 18.16). They were an assembled congregation. They had to serve one another, creating bonds. They helped one another through tough times, worked on projects together and fought the same battles. How can we tell we are “in the wilderness?”

We will get lonely with no signs from the Lord on what to do. Its easy to get lost and our “tracks” will disappear fast. We think we won’t survive without a map or compass. We have no water and are aimless. Everybody goes through it, so hang in there. Keep praying, studying and keep well watered on the Word of God. You will come out of it eventually. A man was once asked to come up with a statement that would fit any occasion. He thought for a minute and then said, “This too will pass.” Being in the wilderness may be exactly where you should be but it won’t be forever. There is a line from the movie “Ten Commandments” with Charlton Heston. Moses has been taken to the wilderness and let go by Pharaoh. He is struggling to survive and the narrator says, “And he was led into the wilderness where holy men and prophets are purged and cleansed, until after all human strength is gone, he made as strong as metal and is ready to be used in the service of his Maker.”

We can learn a lesson from B’Midbar to help us if we are starting a bible group or congregation, our “flag or tribe” so to speak. First, the road must be mapped out. The stones are removed from the way and all involved know their place. Next, you identify the leaders. They are the “sons of God” like the leaders in Num 1.5-45 were “sons” of someone. We must always use the principles of theocracy (The Lord is the head). Then we set up a routine and make it obvious. Set the the standards and order to that routine, like meeting times, what the service will look like and who does what, and when. Organization avoids anger and offending someone. You must always stay mobile and be prepared to move. The Lord has taught us basic routines in the services. You can go into any Torah based congregation that keeps the Sabbath and commandments and feel right at home. There is a unity and a bond.

In Num 2.1-34 we have the account on how Israel camped around the Mishkan. We will have three tribes camping on the east, west, north and south. How these tribes camped and their names will be very eschatological, and we will pick up there in Part 3. We will tell you which tribe was where and how their names relate to prophecy about the coming of the Messiah and the False Messiah in the Day of the Lord.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Numbers-Part 1

We are going to study some overall concepts found in the Book of Numbers. In a Hebrew Bible, this book is called “B’Midbar” which means “In the Wilderness.” This book is also called “Chumash Ha Pekudim” or the “Book of Counting.” It will pick up where Exodus left off. This book is full of lessons learned so that we do not repeat the same mistakes (1 Cor 10.4). We have the Torah given to the people of Israel and now God is establishing the government.

Again, we are not going to go verse by verse and get into massive detail, that will be for another time, but we are going to give some ways you can look at significant portions and then do a further study. We will bring out some basic concepts we feel are important to understand this book and all of the Scriptures for that matter. We will break this book down by Torah portions.

The first Torah portion is called “B’Midbar” meaning “In the Wilderness.” It goes from Num 1.1 to 4.20. Right off, we can see in verse 3 that the Lord wants to count his people like a good shepherd would after some traumatic experience. This will be the third census, and second one in a year. The first one was before they left for Egypt in Exo 1.5. The second one was before they left Egypt for the wilderness in Exo 12.37.

A “counting” tells us that each individual is unique but they are also a part of something bigger. There will be a contribution that they will need to make. Each of us are individuals, but we belong to a family unit, and a “tribe” also. Numbers are not meaningless to a shepherd.

Now, look at the title? What has happened over the last year or so? They have been delivered from Egypt and are now in the wilderness, they have actually heard the voice of God and lived, they have received the Torah, there has been the Golden Calf incident, the priesthood has been established and the Mishkan built, the services and the korbanot have begun. That is a big change compared to what they were used to. Now they are preparing to move into Canaan, and a workforce and an army is established. As a result, there are lessons we need to learn through this book.

First of all, who were these people? They had witnessed the out-right miracles of God in ways never before seen. They have seen the power of God, like no other generation. However, they were stiff-necked, complainers and obstinate and they opposed Moses and rebelled. In other words, they were like us. They were not unique or different than we are and their struggles are our struggles. They needed to recognize and accept their total dependence on the Lord, and this is our obligation, too. They needed to listen to God and his rules and regulations, so do we. What did they do sometimes? They invented creative ways to get around what he has said that allowed them to do what they wanted to do, rather than just obey him. Sound familiar? We do the same thing.

There will also be a prophetic application to this “in the wilderness” experience because it will happen again when Israel flees into the wilderness during the Birth-pains (Rev 12.1-17). Also, the Lord is numbering the people for an inheritance, war and work. Why does the Lord say he spoke to Moses “in the wilderness” in verse 1? We already know where they were.

There is something that prevents people from learning the Torah and it is called “kap’dan.” It is being fussy, rigid, unaccommodating and people like that cannot learn and study. They have to have everything right, like the temperature, mood, music, lights, seats and so on. A “kap’dan” is one who is easily offended. In order to learn and absorb Torah we must be the opposite of a kap’dan. We need to be adaptable, not rigid and accommodating, like a wilderness. We should not be thinking too highly of ourselves, able to drink in the waters of life.

We also begin to see a military structure being built in Chapter 1. We have leaders of the tribes (“Nasi Matot”) and we have divisions called “alphay” (thousands). Each tribe is a “mishmar” (division). Three tribes make up a “corps” and Israel had four corps, made up of twelve divisions. Each division was made up of “mishpocha” (families) and each family was made up of households (squads). They had to come together and carve out an existence in the wilderness.

One of the things the Torah teaches us is organization. We have the story of Noah and the Ark, Abraham ran a large household. When Joseph was in Egypt he was very organized. Just look at the story of Creation. The universe is very organized and we set our time according to it. The Mishkan and it construction was organized. The Avodah (services), the priesthood, the agricultural system with the Yovel and the Shemitah was organized, and the list goes on. So, this Torah portion is no exception. The nation had to be organized. They were not going to be in the wilderness forever, they were going into the land. Here is another concept associated with the word “wilderness.” In Hebrew, it is “midbar” and we know they received the Torah (the Word of God) in the wilderness. The word “midbar” has the same root in Hebrew as “m’dabehr” meaning “to speak.”

The leaders will be 20 to 50 years old and Levi was numbered from one month old and they will not be listed among the rest of the tribes (1.47). The people needed to be trained for battle. Just because God was leading them into the promised land doesn’t mean they didn’t have to fight for it. David believed he could defeat Goliath but he wasn’t being presumptuous. He had to go down to the Valley of Elah and meet him. He also picked up five stones to throw with his sling. Why five? That has been discussed over and over again and there are many interpretations like the five books of Torah, or the five giants killed (2 Sam 21.22). But it can be as simple as this, in case he missed.

The Lord is initiating his form of government called a “Theocracy.” This form of government has the Lord at the head and servants are delegated to perform certain functions, carrying out his will. The father is the head of the family. Other fathers who can take on added responsibility for other families takes on that position. This goes on until they are organized under one head. These “heads” don’t stand alone. They are the “sons” of another. Their honor always points up, and what they did reflected back on their fathers. We have “names” but we are the “sons of our father.” That is what a theocracy is. When we believed, we became the sons of Yehovah, and in the Father’s house (1.18). What we do reflects on him.

So, Israel has a law and now they have a government being organized here. We have a similar organization in Rev 7.4-8 with the 144,000. The Lord has a routine and duties that need to be assigned. There is a setting up and a setting down while in the wilderness. Why was Levi singled out? Because they defended Dinah (Gen 34.25) and stood with Moses at the Golden Calf incident. The Mishkan was very important. The kedusha that was on Mount Sinai could now travel with them into the land. The tribe of Levi was dedicated to defending it. We know it was an expensive building and expertly crafted, but that is not why nit was important. The Mishkan had the kedusha of God, the Shekinah, in their midst. They took care of the Mishkan because this connection between God and man should not be broken, it was that important.

Everyone has their place, their own “row to hoe.” Each tribe had their own flag. It was not like in America, a “melting pot” under one flag. This is because each individual is unique and each group is part of the whole. Everyone had something unique to offer. The Lord doesn’t want everyone to be the same. There were tribal connections, as we see here. These tribal connections were very important and we will see this later with King David as he organizes the kingdom. No special status was given for personal merits, abilities and scholarship. The purpose for this organization in our Torah portion is clear.

There are millions of people in this wilderness that needed get organized and they had to know “what flag” they were under (know their place). A change that is anticipated and planned for isn’t too bad, but imagine if everyone did what was right in their own eyes? God called the moves and how to do it. Every tribe had their own load to carry and their own role. No jealousy or striving for their own glory and status is seen here.

In Part 2 we will pick up here and begin to talk about the arrangement of the camp into four corps. This will also have an eschatological meaning.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts on the Name of God-Conclusion

The Yom Kippur war broke out on Oct 6, 1973. The Syrians invaded Israel in a surprise attack, although Israel was warned by Jordan it was coming but that warning fell on deaf ears. At 2 pm, everyone was in the synagogues or participating in Yom Kippur services somewhere when the attack began. It was difficult, and Syria invaded with fourteen hundred tanks against Israel’s one hundred and forty-four tanks.

As the war went on, this got worse because Iraq, Morocco, the Jordanians (reluctantly) and the Saudis got involved. It was an Arab alliance to take Israel out. A tank brigade called the Barak Brigade of Israel got wiped in the first few days. The Syrians attacked with a three-pronged attack, attacking the north, south and the central part of the Golan Heights. The attacks in the south and central parts of the Golan were successful. They broke through and the Syrian tanks had reached a pointy that overlooked the Galilee.

From there they could move right into Israel, cutting the nation in half and move into Tel Aviv. There was nothing to stop them. But they did a curious thing. They stopped. Why did Syria stop? They were 12 miles from where Israel stored their tactical nukes. The answer is, nobody knows why. It seems the Syrian command structure dictated that they had to wait for the northern prong to break through and catch up.

The decisive battle was in this northern area of the Golan. What does fourteen hundred tanks look like? The Nazis invaded the Soviet Union with two thousand tanks across a 900 mile front. Syria invaded Israel with fourteen hundred tanks across a 50 mile front. It was one of the greatest tank battles in history. The major battle took place in what is called the “Valley of Tears.” It was named by Israel because of the tears of the Syrians. Israel was outnumbered 15 to 1. They held off the Syrians for four days. How did they do it? Why did the Syrians stop in the south and central parts of the Golan?

After four days, there were three tanks still fighting in the northern section of this valley. To the south there was a hill called Booster Hill, and there were four tanks there, for total of seven. They held off hundreds of Syrian tanks. Reinforcements finally arrived after four days, and now they had thirteen tanks. These tanks were pieced together from existing tanks that were damaged. The crews had already been fighting.

The Syrians turned around and retreated. The few Israeli tanks chased them back to Syria. This is a fulfillment of Lev 26.8, “Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall before you by the sword.” Seven tanks survived, they fought the 7th Syian Division, in the seventh Hebrew month of Tishri, on the seventh day of the week, from the 77th Tank Battalion, of the 7th Israeli Armored Brigade, after 77 hours of battle.

There is a war memorial to the 7th Armored Brigade and the memorial says, “Behold Yehovah, he comes with fire and like a tempest his chariots.” The word for “tank” in Hebrew is “Merkavah” or “chariots” (Isa 66.15). The emblem for this brigade has the letters “ayin, zayin” in Hebrew at the bottom for “77” and it is pronounced “Oz” meaning “strength” as in “Migdal Oz” (Strong Tower) in Prov 18.10. Remember David and the stones that killed Goliath? They came from Migdal Oz. But this still does not explain what happened.

Why did the southern and central units of the Syrian army proceed and push through? There is an Israeli documentary that was made about this called “Zero Hour.” It was made by Orthodox Jews. In the documentary it said that the victory came because “people began to recognize the holy name of God.” During an investigation and debriefing of a captured Syrian commander, he said in response to a question as to why they stopped in the Golan Heights, “I would like to see you cross the Syrian line if you saw an entire row of white angels standing on the mountain line, and a white hand from heaven motioning you to stop. I stopped.”

Israel has fought Syria before anciently. 2 Kings 6.8-17 describes an incident. Israel knew what Syria was going to do. They thought they had a spy among them. But they realized that Israel had a prophet among them named Elisha and he was telling the king of Israel what the Syrian king was saying and planning. So, they try to kidnap Elisha in Dothan, and they surrounded the city with horses and chariots (tanks). Elisha had a servant who said “What are we going to do?”

So Elisha said there are more with us than with them. He then prayed for the eyes of the servant to be “opened” using the name of Yehovah. Yehovah opened his eyes and he saw the mountain and it was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. Is this what happened in 1973?

Now, we need to be intellectually honest about this. Many have used other names of God, like Yahweh, Yahveh, Yahuah and the like and will have a hard time changing to another. But, here is the thing we need to keep in mind. In the Karaite community there is a tradition and they have a concept called, “Search the Scriptures well and do not rely on any man’s opinion.” In other words, don’t just blindly follow what we say, or anybody. Even if we are right, then you are basing your relationship with God on what we say, rather than on what God says for yourself.

Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t use other resources like books, tapes, videos, the Internet and other things, but we need to check them out as we use them. True biblical discernment will play a major role here. Check out the evidence for yourself on the name of God being Yehovah. If we are wrong, and you go out and just repeat what we say without doing your homework, its your fault.

That Karaite concept is also a fundamental concept found in the Scriptures. We are to check the oracles of God about what anyone says (Acts 17.11). Check out the Hebrew Bible to see how the name is written for yourself. You can see the Aleppo Codex, Leningrad Codex and other sources for yourself on the Internet. So far, there has been 1000 Hebrew sources for the name of God being Yehovah. You can see the name with full vowels written in the oracles of God, the best ones available. Once you are convinced and convicted about Yehovah, then call upon him using his name. Start learning all you can about that name from people who know what they are talking about. The Scriptures say, “Our help is in the name of Yehovah, the maker of heaven and earth” (Psa 124.8); “I am Yehovah, that is my name; and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images” (Isa 42.8); “The name of Yehovah is a strong tower (migdal oz); the righteous run to it and are safe” (Prov 18.10).

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts on the Name of God-Part 8

The Aleppo Codex and other Masoretic manuscripts were written in Tiberius, Israel. That is a very interesting bit of information because we are told that during the time of the Second Temple there were three manuscripts of the Scriptures in the Temple. They were called the “Temple Courtyard Manuscripts.” We are even told there was a guild of scribes called the “Temple Courtyard Proofreaders” who would take Bibles written anywhere in the world that were brought to Jerusalem and compare them with these three Temple Courtyard Manuscripts.

We know that two of these manuscripts survived the destruction of the Temple, and one was brought to Rome because Josephus mentions it. It was kept in the palace of the Emperor. The other one according to a third century rabbi is called the “Manuscript of Maon.” Why is it called by this name? Because this rabbi says “Today it is Beit Maon.” As it turns out, Beit Maon is up on the hill overlooking Tiberius, just a few miles. The scribes are based in Tiberius and they are copying the Aleppo Codex that matches these proto-Masoretic Dead Sea Scrolls of over 1000 years earlier. They are writing it right next door to the place where one of the Temple manuscripts survived to at least the third century AD.

Some will say that the Jews who copied the Scriptures “invented” the vowels out of their hearts. They also say they falsified the consonants, but let’s stick to the vowels for now. One of the evidences that this is not true is in Lev 23.4, which says, “These are the appointed times of Yehovah, which you shall proclaim them (otam).” We are to proclaim the festivals at the time God appointed them. This became a big point of conflict at the end of the first century, in the time of Rabbi Akiva. There was a rabbi who was the head of the Sanhedrin named Gamaliel II. He is the grandson of the Gamaliel in the book of Acts, Paul’s teacher. Two witnesses came before him to testify they had seen the new moon. He accepted their testimony and proclaimed the beginning of the month and were able to set Yom Kippur.

Rabbi Joshua was sitting in the back and he knows the witnesses were lying. He decided that he could not observe Yom Kippur based on the testimony of these two witnesses. We would celebrate Yom Kippur with his family alone, one day after everyone else. Gamaliel ordered Rabbi Joshua to appear before him on the day Rabbi Joshua believed to Yom Kippur, and to publicly desecrate that day. This is how religious men think. They talk about “unity” but what they really mean is “uniformity.” Rabbi Joshua doesn’t know what to do, so he seeks advice because he can’t go to Gamaliel on the day he knows is Yom Kippur because of Lev 23.4 He does not know what to do.

Rabbi Akiva comes along and tells Rabbi Joshua not to worry, he will interpret this away for him. He changes the vowels in “otam” (them) to read “atem” (yourselves). Now it can read “You shall proclaim yourselves.” That means that whenever you proclaim those days, even if you are mistaken, etc, God has no other times than what you yourself proclaim. This is based on a change of the vowels. This is a key component in rabbinical thinking. They think they have the authority based on Lev 23.4 to make the festivals whenever they want them to be. This is how Hillel II came along in 359 AD and made up what is now the Jewish Calendar. He used the best science he had at the time but it was been outdated for 1600 years. We can go outside for ourselves and see the new moon, and we can see the Jewish Calendar is several days off. Why is this important? This happened about the year 90 AD, and what Rabbi Akiva did was change the vowels of “otam” to “atem.”

Now, which way do you think they read this in the synagogues? They read it as “otam.” That’s because Rabbi Akiva can make any interpretation he wants, but he did not have the ability or authority to change the vowels. They were fixed in stone, even in 90 AD. So, don’t let anyone tell you that the scribes made up the vowels.

There is a list of the twelve stones in the breastplate of the High Priest. One of those stones in Exo 28.17 and 39.10 called “bareket.” It means “emerald” or “carbuncle.” When the word “bareket” appears in Ezekiel 28.13 this word is vocalized as “barkat.” Why is that important? Because every Jew at that time knew the book of Exodus. If you are going to vocalize it, you would say it the way it was in Exodus. This shows that the scribes were not just making up the vowels but they were prescribing a pronunciation tradition that went back to the time of Moses and Ezekiel. It preserved how this word was pronounced.

There was a mayor of Jerusalem named “Nir Barkat” or is it “Bareket?” Some call him Nir Barkat, and some call him Nir Barekat because that is the way they heard it in the synagogue when the book of Exodus is read. So, there are differences in pronunciation but the vowels are the same. If the scribes were just making it up they would have written “barkat” with the vowels markings in Ezekiel.

We will conclude this teaching on the Name of God next time.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts on the Name of God-Part 7

We have all heard of the story about David and Goliath in the Valley of Elah (1 Sam 17), but there is more to this story than what has been usually taught. First of all, it is going to relate to the name of God Yehovah. When most tell the story, they read about how Goliath insulted the name of God but don’t know what they name is. David gets angry, but he can’t use the armor and conventional weapons of the army. Remember, Israel only had two swords in the whole army, one for Saul and one for Jonathan (1 Sam 13.22). Because the Philistines had iron weapons, they liked to fight close, so David was going to avoid that and use what God taught him to use, his sling, a long range weapon.

In the past he used it against a lion and a bear. He realizes that God had prepared him to face Goliath and protect the flock of God. He picks up five smooth stones. Why did he pick up five stones? He had five stones in case he missed. Just because God prepares you doesn’t mean everything goes perfect. He was humble enough about this situation to not get too presumptuous. However, here are some other views on the five stones. The word “rock” is mentioned five times in 2 Sam 22 (v 2, 3, 32, 47 twice). Also, four other giants were killed in 2 Sam 21.22. Moses wrote the five books of the Torah and Psalms is divided into five books, many of which were written by David. The statue of Nebuchadnezzar was destroyed by a rock in Dan 2.45. David was prepared to miss five times and die, but he was going to do the right thing anyway.

In 1 Sam 17.45-47 David says to Goliath, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of Yehovah of the armies, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day Yehovah will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that Yehovah does not deliver by sword or spear; for the battle is Yehovah’s and he will give you into my hands.” How many 17 year old boys could give a speech like that today, let alone cut off the head of someone. David was no “snowflake” looking for stress free zones.

He was not going to let this man insult the God of Israel, and he was prepared to die for that, but he was going to do something. Where did the rocks in the brook in the Valley of Elah come from? The brook is trailed back to a place called Migdal Oz, meaning “strong tower.” Prov 18.10 says, “The name Yehovah is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and is safe.” Remember the people that ran into St Paul’s Chapel and were safe on September 11, 2001? God’s name YHVH was written two times on that church? Now David comes against Goliath in the name of Yehovah and uses a rock (symbolic of Messiah) from a place called the strong tower (Migdal Oz) to kill Goliath. Using the theme of five smooth stones, here are “five smooth stones” concerning the Aleppo Codex.

First, there is the Aleppo Codex and the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Dead Sea Scrolls are about 1000 years older that the Aleppo Codex. The earliest scrolls are from about 300 BC. However, the Dead Sea Scrolls are not identical when you compare them. Some are copied carefully and some not so carefully. There is a category of scrolls that have been proofread, and you know because when you read them you will come across a word and see a little letter above the line. This tells you that there is a missing letter. The letter is only missing when you compare it to the Aleppo Codex. Now, just for informational purposes, a codex is a manuscript in book form and a scroll is a scroll.

The Aleppo Codex is about 1000 years younger than the Dead Sea Scrolls. Something had to exist back then that was the source of the Aleppo Codex (more on that in Part 8). Scholars call them the Proto-Masoretic Scrolls. The Masoretic Text is the Jewish version of the Bible, and that existed in some form or another in the Second Temple Period. Most of the Dead Sea Scrolls do not have that characteristic, they are copied haphazardly. They are not what Jews considered authoritative texts of Scripture of that period. The Aleppo Codex was considered by Jews at that time be be an authoritative text of Scripture.

The second stone is that it “looks like an angel wrote it.” That is the reasoning of scholars and scientists of Scripture. When you look at the Masoretic notes on the side, they tell you how to copy Scripture. When they look at other Masoretic texts of that period, 95 % of them match the Masoretic notes. The Aleppo Codex matches these notes 100 %. Most scholars only need the Aleppo Codex. The sad apart is that one-third of the Aleppo Codex is missing. In those missing sections they have to look at 50 or 60 other manuscripts to fill in, comparing what they say. With the Aleppo Codex they only need one manuscript. That is how accurate it is.

The third stone involves the Karaites and the Rabbinical Jews. In that period there was a split between the two groups. Why is that important? Because these groups didn’t trust one another when it came to matters of the Faith. But, what they all agreed upon was the Aleppo Codex as an authoritative source for the Scriptures. Now, if the Rabbinical Jews (called Rabbanites) took a text and just made up letters and vowels, the Karaites would have never gone for it, and vice versa. Both groups knew in the 9th century that it was accurate and an authoritative text of Scripture, and according to them, went back to the time of the Prophets.

The fourth stone is about Maimonides, also called Rambam for short. Rambam used the Aleppo Codex and gave his stamp of approval on it. The fifth and final stone is that the Aleppo Codex is a Karaite manuscript, and the Leningrad Codex is a Rabbinical Jewish manuscript. We had mentioned before that it was Written by a scribe named Aaron Ben Asher in 894 in Tiberius. These two manuscripts are two witnesses for the name of Yehovah. This means that Yehovah is not some sectarian opinion or version, but both opposing views agreed it was Yehovah and transmitted this name from sage to talmid (student) once every seven years, and the true pronunciation “slipped out” with both of these groups. Maybe that was a complete accident, but we believe it was by the Lord’s design. He wanted his name and how to pronounce it to come out.

In Part 8 we will pick up here and begin to discuss how the Aleppo Codex may be tied to three Second Temple Scrolls called the “The Temple Courtyard Manuscripts.” Two of these scrolls survived the destruction of the Temple.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts on the Name of God-Part 6

There are other top Masoretic manuscripts with the name of God written out with full vowels along with the Aleppo Codex (924 AD). One thing first, the Aleppo Codex has missing pages due to a fire in 1947. The Arabs saw no value in it and discarded it. Most of the Codex was found but it has missing pages. We also have the Leningrad Codex (1005 AD); the British Library Or 4445 (920-950 AD); the Cairo Codex of the Prophets (895 AD); the Damascus Crown Sassoon 507 (10th Century) and Sassoon 1053 (10th Century). These are key manuscripts.

In the Leningrad Codex, YHVH is written with full vowels in Lev 25.17, “So you shall not wrong one another, but you shall fear God; for I am Yehovah your God.” The British Library Or 4445 has full vowels in Lev 22.9, “They shall therefore keep my charge so that they may not sine because of it, and die thereby because they profane it; I am Yehovah who sanctifies you.”

In the Cairo Codex of the Prophets, in Ezek 7.4 it says, “For my eyes will have no pity on you, nor shall I spare you, but I shall bring your ways down on you, and your abominations will be among you, then you will know I am Yehovah.” In the Damascus Crown Sassoon 507, in Deut 6.4-5 it says, “Hear O Israel, Yehovah is our God, Yehovah is one. And you shall love Yehovah your God with all your heart.” Three times it is written fully! Yeshua said this was the greatest commandment of all in Matt 22.35-40. In the Damascus Crown Sassoon 1053, in Exo 10.9, it says, “And Moses said, “We shall go with our young and our old; with our sons and daughters, with our flocks and our herds we will go, for we must hold a feast to Yehovah.”

The most accurate manuscript is the Aleppo Codex by Aaron Ben Asher. It turns out that there are two manuscripts written by Aaron Ben Asher’s father. His name was Moshe Ben Asher. Now we know where Aaron learned to do manuscripts. The Ben Asher family of scribes go back to at least 650 AD. The father Moshe wrote the Cairo Codex of the Prophets in 895 AD, but there is a second Moshe Ben Asher manuscript which is in the Russian National Library in St. Petersburg. That location has over 1500 Bible manuscripts and many are from this early period. Ivri 2-B-88 from 908 AD was written by Moshe Ben Asher and it also had God’s name written out with full vowels.

Our Bibles came from the work of the Ben Asher family of scribes in Tiberius between 600 and 1000 AD. There was a rival family of scribes called the Ben Naftali family, but some say there are no Ben Naftali manuscripts anymore, so says the current wisdom. However, there are two Ben Naftali manuscripts, and until Hebrew manuscripts were digitalized, very few people knew they existed. One is from the Russian Library, Ivri 2-B-5 and the other is Ivri 2-B-63. Both of these have the full vowels of God’s name written out as Yehovah.

So, not only do we have it in the Ben Asher family of scribes but we also have it in their rivals work. They both knew the name was pronounced “Yehovah.” They were also a part of this Jewish conspiracy of silence that did not want the people to know or speak the name. In their head they know it, but in their hand they put in the full vowels. The earliest dated manuscript from 894 AD in the Russian National Library is Ivri 2-B-100. This was part of the personal Bible of Saadia Gaon, who was the leading rabbi of the 9th and 10th century. He literally was the lead rabbi in the world. He defended Judaism against the Karaites and is considered a hero in Rabbinic Judaism. His name is in the manuscript of his Bible and this Bible has the full vowels of God’s name as Yehovah.

Aaron Ben Asher was a Karaite. The Karaites maintain that all the commandments handed down to Moses by God were recorded in the written Torah without an additional Oral Law. As a result, the Karaite Jews do not accept as binding the written collections of the oral tradition in the Mishnah or Talmud. The Cairo Codex of the Prophets is in the Karaite Synagogue in Cairo today.

The great opponent of the Karaites, Saadia Gaon, has Yehovah in his Bible. This is not some crazy Karaite “thing” about the name, it is found in the Bible of the leading rabbi in Judaism of the 9th and 10th century. We have two completely different witnesses who were not colluding to create some kind of falsehood. The Vatican even has a manuscript called “Hebrew 448” (1100 AD) which says in Gen 21.33, “And there he called on the name of Yehovah the everlasting God.” The name is written with full vowels.

Now, we have mentioned before that there are over 1000 manuscripts with the name Yehovah in them. There are people who are searching available manuscripts and are finding YHVH written with full vowels, and there are 1010 as of 2018. This name has been a secret for over 1000 years and these manuscripts go back to 894 AD. When the scribes put in the full vowels it is consistently read as Yehovah. There are three different types of vowel pointing. They are the Tiberian, Babylonian and the Land of Israel. All the “schools” of vowel pointing say Yehovah.

The 1000th manuscript found with the name says, “and serve in the name of Yehovah” (Deut 18.5). Later on in the manuscript in Deut 18.15 it has YHVH written with full vowels saying, “Yehovah your God will raise up to you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.” This clearly refers to Yeshua as the Shaliach of the Second Redemption. This name is important for all people (Psa 148.13; Mal 1.11).

Now, there is a misunderstanding out there of the name Yehovah. There are people who are teaching that “Hovah” means “destruction.” If you look into Strong’s Concordance, which is the extent of their Hebrew knowledge, there is a word “hovah” that means “destruction.” So, in their limited Hebrew knowledge, they say Yehovah means “O hail, destruction.” That is not how Hebrew, or English, works. For instance, if you say” assume” you are not saying to make an “ass” out of “u” and “me.” Assume comes from the Latin “Assumere.” It has nothing to do with “ass” but only sounds like it. Assume has as much to do with the word “ass” as Yehovah has to do with the word “hovah.” It is sickening to tie in the two. Why would anyone strip the “yod” (‘) from YHVH and turn it into “destruction?”

God’s name clearly comes from the words “hayah, hoveh and yihyeh” which are three forms of the Hebrew verb “he was, he is, he that will be.” If you take “hoveh” from that root it doesn’t mean “destruction” but “she is.” Why tie it to a completely different word? This is done by people who do not know Hebrew. There is no connection between the name Yehovah and the word hovah because they are from two unraleted Hebrew roots: HYH “to be” and HVH “destruction.” The beauty of “hayah, hoveh and yihyeh” is it means “to be” and when you add the Hebrew letter “Yod” (‘), it means “he was, he is and he is to be” or in other words, Yehovah. The book of Hebrews and the book of Revelation both say that about God (Heb 13.8; Rev 1.4,8). For more information on this, go to “Nehemiah’s Wall” and the article “A Disastrous misunderstanding of the name Yehovah.”

Now, let’s look at the exact same five names. If a “YHV” (yod, hey, vav) appears at the beginning of a name, it is pronounced “Yeho” as in Yehoshua, Yehonatan, Yehoachaz, Yehochanan and Yehotzadak. If the “YHV” (yod, hey, vav) appears at the end of a name it is pronounced “Yahu” as in Yeshayahu, Natanyahu, Achazyahu, Chananyahu, Tzadakiyahu. These five names mean the same thing, even if it begins with “Yeho” or ends with “Yahu.” Now, the name of God begins with a “YHV” (yod, hey, vav) so it is “Yeho” and that is what they find in the Hebrew manuscripts.

There is a verse in Prob 18.10 that says “The name of Yehovah is a strong tower (Migdal Oz), the righteous run into it and are safe.” On September 11, 2001, as the terrorists were destroying the towers of men, they proclaimed the name of their false god. At that very moment in Israel, the true pronunciation of YHVH was being revealed to be proclaimed in the earth, from the Aleppo Codex.

A strong tower, like a “keep” in castles, is the last refuge when everything else fails. His name is like that to us. Now, there is an example of this concept associated with September 11. 2001. There is a church in New York City, right next to ground zero. It is called St. Paul’s Chapel of the Trinity. When the two towers collapsed, this chapel was untouched even though it was 0.2 miles from the WTC. It was built in 1766 and George Washington attended it when he was in New York, it was the capital. People ran into this chapel as debris was crashing all around them, and found refuge.

The reason it is relevant is because at the front of the chapel is a sculpture of Mount Sinai. At the bottom of it there is the Ten Commandments, and up at the top of Mount Sinai, with light coming out of it, was the name of God in Hebrew (YHVH). The man who designed this is Pierre Charles L’Enfant, who did the basic design for Washington, DC. How many churches have the name of God written in Hebrew at the front? Not many. On top of that, on one of the arches, God’s name YHVH appears again. Is it possible that this is a fulfillment of not only Prov 18.10, but Exo 20.24 where it says, “In every place that I cause my name to be mentioned, I will come to you and bless you.” People literally ran into a place where the strong tower of God was, not the strong tower of men that was crashing down, and found safety.

In Part 7 we will pick up here.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts on the Name of God-Part 5

We have been talking about Rabbinical Jewish sources for the name, but what about Biblical sources? So, we are going to look at the Aleppo Codex. The Aleppo Codex is the most accurate copy of the Bible in existence. It was written in 924 AD by Aaron Ben Asher in Tiberius and it was endorsed for its accuracy by Maimonides. Along with the Leningrad Codex, it contains the Ben Asher masoretic tradition.

To this day, when they want to print a Bible in Hebrew, they base it on the Aleppo Codex. God’s name is written 6,827 times in the Aleppo Codex. Nehemiah Gordon is a Karaite Jew and was a proofreader for a Hebrew Bible using the Aleppo Codex and he had been praying for years to know how to pronounce the name of God (YHVH). So the following account is his story on how he discovered the true pronunciation of the name and it is an important story to tell.

Gordon had heard all the different variations on how to pronounce the name of God just like everyone else has. He heard Yahweh, Yahveh, Yehuah and all the others. Each had good arguments but at the end of the day, how would he know which one is true? His prayer was to see it in the oracles of God, the Bible, the Scriptures, preserved by the master scribes. He wanted to see how it was written in these early “vocalized” manuscripts (with the vowels).

He was working on his Masters Degree in 2001, and he had a research position which was with the Hebrew University Bible Project. He would have photographs and printed pages to proofread the Aleppo Codex. It was common knowledge at that time that the name of God was written with the vowels from “Adonai.” But, that was factually untrue by what he saw. He had access not only to the Aleppo Codex, but he also had access to the Leningrad Codex. It was obvious that the name did not have the vowels of Adonai. By the way, you can get the Aleppo Codex and the Leningrad Codex on-line now.

What it had was two vowels written, and a third vowel was missing from the name. YHVH had to have a vowel marking associated with those first three letters, and one was missing. It was intentionally missing on a repeated basis, both in the Aleppo Codex and the Leningrad Codex. No reader could read it the way it was written. But he still had his prayer to know how to read the name. He did not want that information based on a man’s theory, but how it was preserved by the scribes. However, the scribes didn’t preserve it so it could be pronounced.

As Gordon was doing his proofreading he would come across the name YHVH and one of the vowels was missing. Then one day he found the name with all the vowels. The missing vowel was there. It was in Ezek 3.12 which says, “Then the Spirit lifted me up and I heard a great rumbling sound behind me, ‘Blessed be the glory of the Lord in his place.'” He looked at YHVH in that verse (Lord) and it had a full set of vowels, and it was pronounced Yehovah.

At that moment, Gordon gets a phone call that told him that a plane had just flown into the World Trade Center in New York. The date was September 11, 2001. He thought that it was a fluke accident. He did not have the Internet or a Smart phone so he thought it was a small plane that had an accident. It had happened before with the Empire State Building.

He put down the phone and he was not thinking about the accident. What he was thinking about was whether or not the YHVH he found with the vowels written out was a fluke. He had just found the full vowels in the name, in the Aleppo Codex, the most accurate manuscript in the world. So, he decided to quit working and just look for YHVH, to find a second witness. So he goes over page after page, word for word. Then he finds the vowels missing again whenever he comes across where the name was.

After about 15 minutes of this, he comes across another verse in Ezek 28.22 which says, “Thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I am against you, O Sidon, and I shall be glorified in your midst. Then they will know that I am the Lord when I execute judgments in her.'” He finds the full vowels in the first instance of YHVH there. When YHVH appears next to Adonai you are to read it as Elohim (God). At that moment he gets a second call saying a second plane just flew into the World Trade Center. Now he realizes that this was no accident in New York, and he realizes that finding the name YHVH with full vowels was not an accident either. It was not a fluke.

It took time to process both things that were happening. Two years later he was talking to a friend about all this and the friend asked him if he realized the significance of the timing. Gordon honestly said he didn’t. He missed the forest because of the trees. He was told by his friend that at the exact moment these terrorists flew those planes into the two towers, they shouted out the name of their god. They proclaimed the name of their god at the exact moment that the Creator of the Universe was revealing his name. He wanted his name known and allowed Nehemiah Gordon to find it.

Needless to say, Gordon struggled with this because in Jewish thought they don’t get into the “spiritual” but only “the facts.” But this was clearly the hand of God. He found out that the Aleppo Codex contains the name written out six times. There was only two in the book of Ezekiel. If he had been working on other books that day, like Jeremiah, he would not have come across any of them. If he had been working in the book of Isaiah, he would have found one, not two. It was only in Ezekiel that he could have found two in the span of time it took for those two planes to strike the towers. As those terrorists were proclaiming the name of their god, Yehovah was revealing how to proclaim his name (Deut 32.3; Exo 33.19; Psa 20.7; Heb 2.12; Ezek 39.7; Rom 9.17). This was clearly the hand of God and the timing was unmistakable. Others have seen these vowel markings but never made the connection, or pointed them out, and certainly not with the timing that accompanied any revelation to it.

The Leningrad Codex has the name written 6,828 times, and the name was written with full vowels 50 times. The Leningrad Codex is second only to the Alepo Codex in importance. The thing is, nobody connected it together until September 11, 2001. Gordon was looking for an answer to a prayer, and not according to the traditions of men or some hypothesis. He wanted an answer according to the oracles of God the way it was preserved by the Hebrew scribes (Rom 3.1-2). Until one asks that question, you can be staring it right in the face and not see it.

How can you place the name of God on someone in a blessing and not know how to say the name (Num 6.22-27)? It is a fact that it is written as “Yehovah.” The name has been discovered in over 1000 manuscripts now (as of 2018). We will have more on that later. Other references in the Alepo Codex with the name written out is 1 Kings 8.11, “For the glory of Yehovah filled the house of Yehovah.” The second time Yehovah is used in this verse it does not have the vowels and it is basically unpronounceable in Hebrew. Another one is 2 Kings 20.9, “And Isaiah said, ‘This shall be the sign to you from Yehovah; that he will do the things he has spoken: shall the shadow move forward ten steps or go backwards ten steps?'”

In Part 6 we will begin with a listing of other top Masoretic manuscripts with the full vowels written in the name.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts on the Name of God-Part 4

We don’t need to go to Gnostic, Christian, Pagan or Latin sources because the Jews had rabbis who knew the name.
There is another source that confirms this, written in 1450 AD. It was written by a rabbi named Joseph Ibn Tsayach. He wrote a book that was never printed or copied. There is only one book, the one written by Ibn Tsayach. In this book he is answering a series of questions through letters. Question 43 says, “A certain sage has been uttering the name according to its letters and a certain rabbi rebuked him for this. But the sage was stubborn in his actions.” That tells us that someone knew how to say the name openly, and others recognized it as being correct, in the 15th century.

But scholars say, “The Jews didn’t know the name” but that is not true. There are 16 rabbis who have said the name is Yehovah. These 16 rabbis are from all over the Jewish world, from Spain to Israel, Poland to Egypt. Some go back to 1300 and some to the 20th century. One is Ovadia Yosef, the Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel from 1973 to 1983. In one of his books he states that the name of God is Yehovah.

When you search the same data bases of Jewish writings, you will not find the name Yehovah (100,000 books from Bar Elon University). Now, if 16 rabbis say the name is Yehovah, and the tens of thousands of other rabbis don’t, that means the name was intended to be a secret and never meant to know this. If you read 100,000 books we would probably never know this, but thanks to computers and certain programs, these can be searched.

One of these 16 rabbis is Menachem Tziyon in the 14th century and he said in a commentary on Gen 3.15, “This is my name forever” (Exo 3.15). There is also a secret here received by tradition in the words of ‘This is my name forever (L’Olam), for they are the vowels of the Great Name.'” Is this a hint? Did God mean that when he spoke this to Moses? Probably not, but this rabbi in the 14th century is saying he knew the secret and it was passed on to him as a way to remember the name. The vowels of “forever” in Exo 3.15 (“Le Olam”) were the vowels for the Name of God. Then Rabbi Tziyon goes on to say, “It’s mnemonic ‘Who in the sky (shachak) can measure up to you'” (Psa 89.6). A mnemonic is an acronym that helps us remember something. The mnemonic is the word “shachak” for sky. Shachak is an acronym for the vowels Sheva, Cholam and Kamatz, the vowels in YHVH (Yehovah). In other words, if you take the first letters of the vowels markings (SH,CH,K) it forms the acronym Shachak (sky).

So, this rabbi has told us that it is the vowels of “Le’Olam” (forever) and its the vowels represented by the word SHaCHaK (Sheva, CHolam, Kamatz). Rabbi Tziyon says later that these are the words of the man who revealed the secret to him. Now, we don’t know if he stood ankle deep in the water as in the ceremony we discussed earlier, but he participated in the trail of transmission of the name. The “devices” that were taught to him will help remember how to say YHVH (Yehovah). There is no way to get it wrong when you have the same vowels in Le’Olam that are in God’s name (Le’Olam/Yehovah). This is just one rabbi out of at least 16 that say the name is Yehovah.

Another rabbi is Rabbi Sofer, and he is considered the greatest grammarian of the 17th century. Rabbi Tziyon was a “mystic” but Sofer is a grammarian. He wrote a letter to Meir Maharam of Lublin saying that when YHVH is read in the World to Come its vowels will be “Shachak.” Remember what we said previously on Psa 89.6 and the word for sky. This tells us YHVH is pronounced “Yehovah” and not Yahweh, Yahveh, Yehuah or anything else. Those names have not been found. This is saying that YHVH is pronounced with the Sheva (e), the Cholam (o) and the Kamatz (a) vowel markings, pronounced Yehovah.

In a response to Rabbi Sofer in a letter, Meir Maharam of Lublin said, “Know, my beloved, how extremely difficult it is to put things like this in writing and even more so a letter sent about from place to place….concerning the vowels of the Tetragrammaton, which are Sheva, Cholam, Kamatz” (Meir Maharam of Lublin, 1608). He openly states it and he isn’t even disputing this fact. He doesn’t know who will read this letter, so it is hard to say this, but you say the name of God as Yehovah. That’s what he is saying.

He goes on to say, “I found in the words of my grandfather…our teacher Rabbi Asher (Lemel), head of the Beit Din of Krakow…he wrote a holy book called “Emek Ha Brachah” but because of its immense holiness it was never printed…that it not be used by those who are not worthy.” This is what it says in Chapter 34, “Concerning the Tetragrammaton…its vowels received from Sinai are Sheva, Cholam Kamatz.” There is no room for Yahweh, Yahveh or anything else according to these men.

The book, “Emek Ha Brachah” was never printed and we only have the quotes from the authors grandson. Meir Maharam of Lublin ends his letter by saying, “I have one request, that you hide this letter in a pure and holy place and not allow it to be passed around here and there.” When he died in 1616, his talmidim printed the letter and that is how we have it today. We were never meant to see this letter, it was to remain a secret.

There is a rabbi named Rabbi Jacob Bachrach in 1896 who wrote, “If the vowels in the Tetragrammaton were indeed the vowels of Adonai, precision would have required putting a chataf-patach under the yod for the aleph of Adonai.” The vowels of YHVH are not the vowels of Adonai, and this rabbi says that teaching is nonsense. He continues, “According to the rulings that have come down to us, there is no prohibition from the Torah to speak the name the way it is written. However, the custom not to pronounce the name the way it is written is very old…thus…it is not right to pronounce the name, but there is no prohibition from the Torah. There was a time, and there shall again be a time (a time when all peoples, all of them, will call on the name of Y”Y, and Y”Y will be one and his name one)…for this tradition of reading what is not written (1.e. Adonai) will be completely abolished and then we will all read it the way it is written (Yehovah).”

In Part 5 we will pick up here.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts on the Name of God-Part 3

The most important verse to the Jewish people is Zech 14.9 where it says, “Yehovah shall be king over the whole earth and on that day Yehovah will be one and his name one.” The meaning is, in the end times, all mankind will call on that name. Another verse is Zeph 3.9, “For then I will give to the peoples purified lips (a pure language and belief, confession), that all of them may call on the name of Yehovah, to serve him shoulder to shoulder (as with a yoke).” In the Talmud (Pesachim 50a) it says, “This world is not like the World to Come. In this world the name is written Yehovah and read Adonai, but in the World to Come, it will be one, written Yehovah and read Yehovah.”

Let’s look at Acts 2.21 where Peter says, “And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” This is a very important verse and part of the narrative of what happened at Shavuot. In the context of that event 53 days after the death of Yeshua, what does “the Lord” mean? How do we know what he means? Does he mean Yeshua? Does he mean YHVH? We could have lengthy debates on this if we only had this verse in Acts 2.21 to go on. However, we have another verse in Joel 2.32 that says, “And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of Yehovah will be delivered.” That is the name Peter is saying to call on, he is quoting this verse and speaking in Hebrew. This is 100 or so years before Rabbi Teradion was killed for speaking the name in public by the Romans.

Where did the pronunciation of God’s name as Yahweh (or Yahveh) come from? Some say the “vav” is a “wa.” They say there is no “v” sound in Hebrew and somehow the “v” comes from German. Where do they get that idea? Many people who were Jews in Europe spoke Yiddish (“Yid” in German is Jewish). It is a dialect that is eighty-percent German, ten percent Hebrew and five percent from other languages. So, some think that is why.

But, how do we know how to pronounce anything in Hebrew? So, in the 1800’s scholars went around to the Jewish world and documented how they pronounced every letter. This was before there was communication among these communities. They didn’t even know the other communities existed and this was before the Internet. They found that the pronunciations were identical. It didn’t matter if they were from France, Germany or Kurdistan. They all pronounced Hebrew the same.

When they got to the “vav” there were two traditions. One said the vav was a “v” sound and the other said it was a “wa” sound. Most said “v” and the “wa” basically came from Arabic speaking Jews. When the Arab speaking Jews read Hebrew they said “v” however. The “v” sound exists in the letter “bet.” An example of this is “Jacob” in English. In Hebrew it is “Ya’acov” with a “bet” at the end (“v” sound). The only dispute is the sixth letter “vav” and there is no question that Jews pronounced it as a “v.” God’s name was never Yahweh. Nehemiah Gordon in his book “Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence” says on Page 69, “Yahweh is based on a second-hand Samaritan tradition reported by a 5th Century Christian author named Theodoret of Cyrus who didn’t know Hebrew and was writing in Greek.” So, some say Yahweh is a Christian view. No Jew ever said the name that way and it is never spelled that way in the manuscripts. But, what do the rabbis say the name is?

There is a conspiracy among the rabbis to hide the pronunciation and that is the premise for the book,”Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence” by Nehemiah Gordon. and this conspiracy is mentioned in the Talmud. It says that “the Sages transmit the four-letter name to their disciples once in a seven-year period” (Babylonian Talmud, Kiddushin 71a, Rabbah Bar Bar Chanah-250-300 AD). By the year 250 AD, Jews were no longer speaking the name. It had been forbidden by the Romans and there was an interval. The prohibition was also to prevent people from healing in the name.

There are rabbis in Jewish literature who have written that the name is Yehovah (“God’s name is not Yahweh” video by Nehemiah Gordon, minute 8:15). The vowel marks for Yehovah are the “sheva” (“e” sound); the cholam (“o” sound) and the Qamatz (“a” sound). The reason the rabbis don’t look for these things but continue saying “Our rabbis didn’t know how to pronounce the name” is because there is a rabbi around 1750 that said, “The vowels of the name itself are hidden…its vowels are the secret of the tetragrammaton” (Elijah of Vilna). The consonants are known (YHVH), but he is saying the vowels are the secret, and hidden.

As a result, people assume they didn’t know the vowels, but is that what he is saying? No, it isn’t. He is saying they are “hidden” and he doesn’t say he doesn’t know what they are. So, sources interpret Elijah of Vilna as saying people don’t know how to pronounce the name because the vowels are hidden. When you look at what Elijah of Vilna is saying, it doesn’t claim to say nobody knew, or he didn’t know. He said the vowels were “hidden.” If that was all you had, you could argue back and forth about whether they knew or didn’t know. Is there a trace about this ceremony of transmitting the name every seven years in Jewish literature somewhere?

There is a book called “The Book of the Divine Name” by Eleazar of Worms. It was written in 1226 AD but the book was never printed, but it was copied in 2014. This book was considered so secret it remained in handwritten form even after it could have been printed (13th to the 21st century). The book describes the exact same thing described in the Talmud, but a thousand years after Rabbi Bar Bar Chanah said the name was transmitted to disciples every seven years in 250 AD.

Eleazar describes an elaborate ceremony where a rabbi and a talmid (disciple) go through a purification process. They fast and then go into a mikvah of water. They then put on white clothes and then do something that seems a little strange at first. They will stand up to their ankles in water. Then it says the rabbi opens his mouth in awe and says, “Blessed are you, Yehovah, God of Israel. You are one and your name is one.” That is referring to Zech 14.9 which we have discussed earlier. Now, there comes a time when in the life of a believer that you realize the name of God is all over the Bible, but you didn’t know how to pronounce it. This verse is one of those verses.

Then the rabbi says, “You commanded us to hide your great name.” But, where did God ever command that? He didn’t, but it can be found in the Oral Law, which isn’t oral anymore because it has been written down. After this there were several blessings and then it says the rabbi and his disciple would place their eyes on the water and then speak the name together, quoting Psa 29.3, “The voice of Yehovah is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders, Yehovah is over many waters.” They understand this verse as saying, “The sound of Yehovah is upon the waters.” At that moment, the rabbi has spoken his name and the talmid (student) heard it and now they speak it together to make sure the talmid heard it correctly.

This was something the rabbis were doing in 1226 AD. So, the idea that the Jews may have known the name in ancient times, but not anymore, is false. That idea is not consistent with Jewish sources. Most scholars don’t know about these sources because they are “buried” somewhere. Joseph Dan is a professor who wrote about “The Book of the Divine Name” in a 6000 page series. In Vol 6, p. 561, he says that this isn’t just some theoretical thing but this is something Rabbi Eleazar did. This is an actual ceremony this rabbi participated in. What this tells us is we don’t need to go to Gnostic, Christian, Pagan or Latin sources. The Jews had rabbis who knew the name.

In Part 4 we will pick up here.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts on the Name of God-Part 2

YHVH has been found in over 1000 Hebrew manuscripts as of 2018, with the full vowels (more on that later). The point is, the scribes knew the name, have always known the name, and were intent on hiding how to pronounce the name. Every once in awhile, a scribe would “slip up” and put in the full vowels (sheva, cholam, kamatz), which is an easy mistake to make. Over time, they started putting the missing vowel “o” (cholam) all the time, especially when it was being printed, like the Rabbinic Bible of 1524, where it appears most of the time with full vowels.

Now, there are some who will say, “The Jews were so meticulous in transcribing the Scriptures that to say they deliberately left out the vowels is far fetched.” Well, first of all, the way the name normally appears in the Masoretic text is with the vowels missing. That’s just the way it is. The common explanation is by Gesenius who says that the vowels in YHVH are actually the vowels in the Aramaic word for HaShem, but there is no evidence for that, he made it up.

They were meticulous, but if the name YHVH is used over 1000 times and only a couple of times it had the full vowels (like in the British Oriental 4445 manuscript), that is still very meticulous. If you look at human DNA, it has mutations more frequently than what these scribes did in copying the name.

However, in the Leningrad Codex, in a verse in Psalms, it says, “YHVH” and in the Aleppo Codex it is “Adonai.” That is a huge difference. That is why YHVH is used 6,828 times in the Leningrad Codex and 6827 times in the Aleppo Codex. We are not talking about vowels but four consonants. It happens. So, a vowel is missing, except once in awhile it has full vowels (sheva, cholam, kamatz). Those full vowels always spell “Yehovah.” Those full vowels are never Yahweh, Yahveh, Yehowah, Yehuah or whatever name people think it is.

Even in Rabbinic literature the name has “slipped out.” There are over eleven rabbis today who say the name is pronounced Yehovah. But, the manuscript evidence now is more important than what the rabbis say, in our opinion. Individual rabbis have other pronunciations. The fact is, the rabbis are hiding the name and they are not proclaiming it from the mountain tops.

The name Yehovah (YHVH) means, “Who was, who is, who is to come.” It is a combination of three forms of this Hebrew root: Hayah (he was), Hoveh (he is) and Yihyeh (I will be). Heb 13.8 and Rev 1. 4, 8, 19 says this. Yeshua actually says he is Yehovah. He existed in the past, exists now ans always will exist. This idea is combined in the Gospels and Epistles with the phrase “Alpha and Omega” (Aleph-Tav in Hebrew), meaning the “first and the last” and so on. This is a Hebraic way of saying “eternal.”

Exo 3.14-15 tells us that God said in Hebrew, “Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” or “I will be.” It is an explanation for his name YHVH in verse 15 (Yehovah). There are those who say, “God told me in a dream (or a vision, etc) his name is Yehvah (or Yahuah, or Yahweh).” Who are we to dispute that, but, based on the information we have in the ancient Hebrew manuscripts, solid logic on the Hebrew language by people who know, and reasoning within the rules of Hebrew, we believe the name is Yehovah. We don’t have a recording of Moses on Mount Sinai, but we do have is a transcript of that conversation. If God speaks to you and he says it is something else, don’t listen to us. But you must discern that it was truly God speaking.

In the Lord’s Prayer, it says in Hebrew “Yishkadesh Shimcha.” It means, “May your name be sanctified.” It is a call to do something. If we are to sanctify the name of God, what is his name? When you ask people, “What is his name” you will get El Shaddai, El Elyon, and many other titles, very beautiful. However, he only has one name. That is the name he gave to Moses in Exo 3.15.

The forefathers of the Hebrews worshiped many gods. Abraham’s father Terah did. In Egypt there were many gods and Pharaoh even said he did not know the God Moses was speaking about. So, Moses really wanted to know “What name should I say?” (Exo 3.13). The answer was in Exo 3.15, “Thus shall you say to the children of Israel; “YHVH, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, this is my memorial-name to all generations.” That name is Yehovah. If you have another way of saying his name search it out for yourself. According to the Hebrew manuscripts it is Yehovah. How do we know that name is relevant today? Exo 3.15 says, “forever.” Are we still in “forever?” L’Olam in Hebrew means for the duration of the universe. Olam also has the same vowels as Yehovah. Good way to remember if one ever forgot, forever! This name is for everyone (Psa 148.11-13).

In the original 1611 King James Version, the title page has the name written with the vowel markings at the top of the page in Hebrew. It is preserved in seven places in the KJV. The translators said if they write “Lord” it won’t make any sense. One example is Psa 83.18. Most other translations have “the Lord.” This changes the meaning. In most bibles, the name Yehovah is written as “the Lord” in all caps. This name appears 6,828 times. That is more than all the titles of God put together. So, we know this name is important. The reason we don’t see the name in our bibles is the English translators learned how to translate Hebrew from the rabbis. They told the English translators about the tradition that said whenever you see the name of God (YHVH), you read it as “Lord” (Adonai). However, in Hebrew the name is there. This is tradition, not Scripture.

There is an older tradition that predates the current tradition that says, “A man is required to greet his fellow using the Name” (Mishnah, Berachot 9.7). So, this was the original Jewish tradition and it predates not using the name. This tradition of using the name in a greeting is based on Ruth 2.4 where it says, “Behold, Boaz was coming from Bethlehem and he said to the harvesters, ‘Yehovah (YHVH) be with you!’ And they said to him, ‘Yehovah bless you!'” That was the tradition in ancient Israel. Yeshua will be coming in that name, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord (Yehovah)!”

There is a tomb in Galilee of a man named Rabbi Hananiah Ben Teradion. It is not marked on any maps, it is not a secret, but you have to look for it. This rabbi was murdered during the reign of Hadrian and burned at the stake. He was wrapped in a Torah scroll and burned. The Talmud says it was because he spoke the name of God the way it was written. When he was teaching and he came upon the name YHVH, he proclaimed Yehovah. The Romans had banned the speaking of the name.

R. Teradion had a daughter named Beruriah (we have mentioned her before in other teachings). She was the wife of Rabbi Meir, and she was a sage and a scholar, and is quoted in the Talmud (Berakot 10a; Eruvin 53b; Pesachim 62b). She is also mentioned in the Tosefta (Keilim Kamma 4.9; Keilim Metzia 1.3). She is credited for the saying, “Hate the sin but love the sinner” among other wise sayings. The prohibition of the name came shortly after this. They saw a threat and adapted. They did not think this would last forever, but just till Messiah comes, which could be next week, they thought. Well, Messiah has come and the prohibition does not apply.

In Part 3 we will pick up here.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts on the Name of God-Part 1

Before we move on in the Tanak, our next study in Tanak Foundations will be a study of the personal name of God or Tetragrammaton (four-lettered name of God). We are going to begin with the proper pronunciation of this four-lettered name (YHVH) based on current scholarship and the discovery of the name in over 1000 Hebrew manuscripts with full vowels. This will get us off to a good start in this teaching, leaving no doubt as to what the proper pronunciation is. The reasons why this is important will be brought out later in the teaching.

We will be using various sources in this series, but primarily Nehemiah Gordon’s videos on the name of God on YouTube. Mr. Gordon has also written several books on the subject. One is called “The Hebrew Yeshua vs. the Greek Jesus” and another one is called “Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence.” Another book called “A Prayer to Our Father: The Hebrew Origins of the Lord’s Prayer” also touches on it and it is co-authored by Keith Johnson. Mr. Johnson also has a book called, “His Hallowed Name Revealed Again” and is a good source.

Nehemiah Gordon is a Karaite Jewish scholar and a graduate of Hebrew University. He has a Master’s Degree in Biblical Studies and a Bachelor’s degree in Archaeology. He has worked as a translator on the Dead Sea Scrolls and a researcher deciphering ancient Hebrew manuscripts. He is a prominent individual in the Karaite Jewish community and is active in the Hebrew origins of Christianity and interfaith dialogue. He is also a speaker in churches and synagogues all over the world and leads tours to Israel. Keith Johnson has a Maters of Divinity degree and was the former chaplain for the Minnesota Vikings and a United Methodist pastor. We are going to look at the evidence found so far and make a decision based on that evidence. We are not going to “gerrymander” the evidence to say what we want it to say like they do in politics.

The rabbis have many traditions, and one of them is that Jews are forbidden to speak the name of God. They will say “Adonai” or “Hashem.” Then the people grow up thinking that way. It is the same way in the Messianic Community because they follow Jewish tradition for the sake of following Jewish tradition. They don’t know any better at first. The rabbis also teach that it may be forbidden now to speak the name, but when Messiah comes it will be permissible. Well, the Messiah has come and so we are going to pronounce it. This prohibition on speaking the name cannot be found in the Torah, but it is a late tradition. In fact, there are verses that show that people greeted each other pronouncing the name (Ruth 2.4) and a blessing was done saying the name (Nun 6.22-27). A Rabbi was burned at the stake by the Romans in the Second Century for speaking the name. His name was Haninah Ben Teradion. Emperor Hadrian did not want the Jews speaking the name or following and teaching Torah.

The plan was to get everyone to say “God” so that they could pull a “bait and switch” and say everyone is following the same “God.” Like today, everyone says “God” or “Lord” and think that is the name of God. However, any title can apply to any “god” of today. But, when you use the personal name of God (Yehovah), then everyone knows who you are referring to. The word “Lord” can apply to any God (example “My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison is about a Hindu god), but Yehovah can only apply to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So, Jewish tradition said that people were forbidden to say YHVH for internal reasons. By 250 AD or so it was well understood that you did not say the name. However, not everyone agreed with that or complied with it. A document from the 1500’s says a rabbi was rebuked for speaking the name. The assumption is Jews don’t know the name, but in reality they do. The Jewish sources have it but they won’t speak it, but it is there.

The name is pronounced “Yehovah” with the accent on the third syllable (“His Hallowed Name Revealed Again” page 151). This name appears in the Tanak 6,827 times, so it appears more than all the titles of God combined (Elohim, Adonai, El Shaddai, etc). So, we can see right off it is an important name. Even the Gospels and Epistles reveal it was important. The prohibition of later times is often “projected backwards” to the time of Yeshua when there was no prohibition.

There is a term called “Theophonic Names.” This is where a name has the name of God in it. For instance, Yehoshaphat (Yehovah is judge), Yehoram (Yehovah on high), Yehoahaz (Possession of Yehovah) are theophonic names. This has the name of God at the beginning. There are also theophonic names with it at the end, like Yeshayahu (Isaiah meaning “Yehovah saves”). It is similar to Yehoshua (Joshua) only switched around. The name “Yeshua” is a shortened form of “Yehoshua.” Names with Yehovah in them will have “Yeho” at the beginning and
Yahu” at the end.

There are exceptions. Judah is “Yehovah Odah.” Most languages have what is called “Dissimilation.” It is the opposite of “Assimilation.” Dissimilation is when you have two similar sounds, and it creates a difference to avoid having two sounds. So, Yeho-odah becomes Yehudah. The name Yeshua is an example of this (Yehoshua). In the Second Temple period the “”Hey” (H sound) was not pronounced very hard, so Yehoshua became “Yoshua” and Hebrew doesn’t like “o” and “oo” clusters. So, Yoshua by dissimilation becomes “YeSHUA” with a shortened “e” sound. Yehu is another one. His full name never appears (Yehohu) so it becomes “Yohu” but Hebrew doesn’t like the “o” or “oo” clusters, so it becomes Yehu. In English we basically have the same thing. Do not is “don’t” and can not becomes “can’t” and so on.

What most of us don’t realize until you study a language at a university is that dictionaries are descriptive, not proscriptive. In other words, they describe what scholars find. It wasn’t like somebody was writing a biblical book and so they said, “I am looking for a word that means such and such and so I am going to a dictionary.” There were no dictionaries or lexicons anciently. They wrote what they wrote. Later, people will go to look at a word in its context and don’t always get it right. When we look at a concordance or lexicon we can’t assume the definition found there is correct. Their definition is the end process of interpreting the verse. Here is a problem. We will go to these sources not realizing that and we think we have the definition and the meaning of a verse. That is backwards and the opposite way to do it.

What the author of a concordance or lexicon was supposed to do was to go to the verse, figure out what the word means, and compare it with the same word in other verses (and there may be other meanings), then give a definition in a lexicon. Concordances pull definitions out of nowhere, the same with lexicons. The reason there is a question on how to pronounce the name of God is because Jewish tradition going back 1800 years had a prohibition to speak that name. The name was preserved, but it was preserved “underground.” When someone did speak it in the 1500’s they were condemned.

The name Yeshua is a shortened form of the name Yehoshua (Joshua). Because Joshua the son of Nun and Yehoshua the son of Yehozadak is called “Yeshua” there has never been a question on how it was pronounced. There are verses in the Tanak with the name Yeshua (Jeshua in English) in it such as: 1 Chr 24.11; 2 Chr 31.15; Ezra 2.6; Ezra 3.2; Neh 7.11; Ezra 2.40; Neh 7.43; Ezra 8.33; Neh 3.19; Neh 10.9; Neh 8.7, 9.4-5; Neh 12.8; Neh 8.17 and Neh 12.24. You can see right there in English how to say it. When people say that Yeshua should be pronounced “Yahshua” or “Yahushua” don’t know what they are talking about. They are inventing a name. Anyone in the First Century knew how to say his name, and it was Yeshua. We have already given you a list of Scriptures where Yeshua (“Jeshua” in English Bibles) is written. So, the name Yehoshua becomes Yeshua in the First Temple period.

So now we come to the Greek period and Hellenistic Jews in Galilee said “Yesua” because there is no “sh” sound in Greek. In Greek, names end in “ou” or “us.” So, Yesua becomes “Yesous” or “Yesus.” This name has nothing to do with Zeus. They have found ossuaries with the name “Yeshua” on the side and “Yesus” on the other. There is no “J” sound in Greek either. When it was written with a “J” nobody said “Jesus” but “Yesus.” But, over time, people who didn’t know Greek or Latin said “Jesus” like it is said today. It is the Greek form of the Hebrew Yehoshua.

When the English bible came along they were copying the German, and in the German today the “J” is pronounced with a “Y” sound, so “Jehovah” was “Yehovah.” Some people teach that the name “Jesus” is related the Greek god “Zeus” but it has nothing to do with the name Zeus. They aren’t even spelled the same in Greek. Only in the made up language found in the Sacred Name movement is “Jesus” related to “Zeus.”

In Part 2 we will begin to take an extended look into the name Yehovah (YHVH).

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 Leviticus-Conclusion

The last Torah portion in Leviticus is called “B’Chukatai” meaning “in my statutes” (Lev 26.3 to 27.34). There are several Torah portions that strike “terror” in the heart of every believer and this is one of them because it deals with the blessing and the curse. This portion and the one at the end of Deuteronomy takes on the style of a rebuke.

This last portion in Leviticus calls on man to walk in the Torah in spirit (essence) and in deeds. God will reward those who walk in “my statutes” (26.3-13), but will also punish disobedience (26.14-39). The blessings begin with an aleph in Hebrew and end with a tav (the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet). The curses begin with a vav and ends with a heh, the last two letters of God’s name Yehovah (YHVH). God is a judge and demands judgment. We have a choice.

There are reasons things happen. This is a basic understanding of any “god.” Reward and punishment is related to the truth and its consequences. There are blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. That is why these verses and those in Deut 28.6 to 29.8 strike fear in the hearts of any believer in this God.

Christianity gets around all that by saying “We aren’t under the law anymore. We have been set free from the curses and we have all the blessings under Jesus.” But, that is not what the Scriptures teach. It is very easy to understand and God has not changed. The basic proposition in verses 14-39 is, “If you do not obey me, I will curse you.” Now, there is a word used here seven times (26.21, 23, 24, 27, 28, 40, 41) and nowhere else in the Torah. That word is “keri” and it means “against me” or “contrary.” God is personally involved here.

When a person believes God is merely “there” but not actively involved in their life, they feel less responsible to him and his plans. However, if we believe he is there and plays a role in the events of our life, we will be more inclined to “work” with him, which means we first “hear” and “obey.” The only manual that claims to know and teach that is the Torah. God’s providence is not a concept but a reality. The biggest curse of all is to have no sense at all of being part of a curse!

The First Temple was destroyed and the people were exiled, but they returned after 70 years. Then the Messiah came, the rightful heir to the throne of Israel, and they killed him. The Second Temple was destroyed and the people exiled. Some were taken to Egypt in ships by orders of Titus. This began a cycle of inquisitions, pogroms, persecutions and the Holocaust. Only in recent times have we seen the Jewish people come back to the land. In the middle of all this is the blessing. The land will not accept the presence of our enemies and will not produce. This is yet another proof of God’s divine hand on the land. No nation has been successful working the land. But when the Jewish people began to return, it began to flourish again. Here is an application of God’s hand in eschatology based on this portion in Leviticus.

The Babylonian Captivity ended in 536 BC, with 360 years remaining of the judgment in years (430 years total). These years are based on Ezek 4.3-6 (390 years for the north and 40 years for the south). The Lord says if they do not repent they will be punished “seven more times” in Lev 26.21-28. So, the captivity began in 606 BC and ended in 536 BC after 70 years (Jer 25.11). 360 years remain of the 430, multiplied seven times because they did not repent and rejected Yeshua, equals 2520 years (2520 times 360 years is 907,200 days). Now, take 907,200 and divide it by 365.25 and it comes out to 2483.8 years. Subtract 536.4 (when Israel returned) from 2483.4 and it comes to 1947.4. Adjust for no year (“0”) between 1 BC and 1 AD and you come to 1948.4, or May 1948 when Israel became a nation again.

But, we hear “God rejected Israel” because of unbelief. However, their religious instruction is baased in Replacement Theology. If you believe the commandments in the Torah as spoken by Moses, you will not believe in Replacement Theology. However, sooner or later, you will meet opposition. They will hold you responsible for their unbelief. The Torah teaches us about God and we are to know him (Jer 9.23). These commandments will separate you from the world (Deut 4.1-8).

The more you know him, the more you want to keep the commandments. Legalism is defined as keeping man’s commandments. Keeping God’s commandments is called obedience. The purpose of the commandments is to know the Lord (1 John 2.1-4). They do not make you righteous or justify you before God, that is another work of God. If the commandments separate us from the world to God, then not keeping them separates you from God to the world.

Do we want to get “exiled?” Then don’t keep the Torah and say “we aren’t under the law.” Do we want to be “confused?” Then don’t keep the commandments of God. Do we want to be “lawless” and have Yeshua say to us, “I never knew you?” Then don’t keep them (Matt 7.21-23). Truth be told, we resist authority. Remember how we felt when we first believed? Then we heard about “commandments” and we didn’t like the “obey” part. People are told all that “has been done away with” and all we had to to is “love.” But, we can’t say we love the Lord and disobey his commands. We can’t say we love the Lord and disregard his Sabbath. He is Lord of the Sabbath! We can’t say we love our neighbor and steal from him, lie about him and hate him.

1 John 2.3-4 says, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. The one who says ‘I have come to know him’ and does not keep his commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him.” Now go to Matt 7.21-23 and read where it says, “Not everyone who says to me on that day (when Messiah comes) ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of my Father (Torah) who is in Heaven. Many will say to me on that day “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons, and in your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness (Greek word for lawlessness here is “anomos” meaning “against or no Torah”).”

We don’t keep the commandments if we don’t know him. Something happens to us when the presence of God comes into our hearts-it changes us. We want to obey and our nature changes. We see the blessings and we want life, and we are motivated to learn. But, most people give the Lord “lip service.” How do we know we know the Lord? We keep and teach the commandments of the Lord. If we teach “church” commandments, you know the church. If we teach man’s commandments, we know man. Religious people and religions want us to keep their commandments.

Two thousand years ago there was a conflict between the Jewish religious leaders (in particular the Pharisees from Beit Shammai) and God/Yeshua. These religious leaders were not following Moses, but they had new commands called the “Oral Law” (tradition). Yeshua said in Matt 22.29, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures or the power of God.”

Rabbinical Judaism didn’t start until after Yeshua. The architect for it was a man named Yochanon Ben Zakkai, who was 63 years old when Yeshua died, meaning he knew Yeshua and rejected him as Messiah, and his teachings. Ben Zakkai died in 90 AD (120 years old). The oldest known documents on what was done in the First Century is the Gospels and Epistles. They are older than the Mishnah and the Talmud. And just like Rabbinical Judaism, you won’t find “the faith” in many Christian churches either because they changed the nature of God, the covenants, the Messiah, the Basar (gospel), the commandments, the festivals, the dietary laws and much more.

Jer 31.31-34 contains what is known as the “new covenant.” Verse 31 says that the Torah will be written on the heart of a believer. This will be written so deep down in our hearts that we will know the Lord. If we want too to know someone, walk with them and spend time with them. We need to listen to what they say and be interested in what they are doing. If you are reading this and you are not sure you know “this God” because your behavior and beliefs do not match up with the Torah, and you realize you are not obeying him, here is what you should do.

Ask yourself, “How is my Mishkan set up?” Have you met the priest (Yeshua) at the door? Is there a fire (the cross/redemption) on your altar? Does your Menorah have light (understanding of the word)? Is there bread on your table (the Word of God)? Is there incense (prayer) on the golden altar? Are the commandments of God (Torah) in your ark (heart)? If not, confess your sins and iniquities and turn (“teshuvah”) to the Lord and begin to walk with him through his commandments. Show your faith (emunah) by your works (Hebrew “mitzvot” meaning commandments).

In closing, there is a tradition (not all tradition is bad if it does not violate a commandment) that after a portion of Scripture is studied, the following is recited: “Chazak, chazak, venit’chasek” which means, “Be strong, be strong, let us be strengthened.” We have received instruction from the Book of Leviticus. It is to make us stronger in the Lord, so stand up in that strength and rise up to the next level.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Leviticus-Part 23

Now we are going to look at some prophetic applications for the Smemitah and the Yovel. In Gen 6.3 it says that God will not always strive with man, but his years will be 120 years. We know that the Yovel is every 50 years (Lev 25.10). If you multiply 50 times 120 you have 6000. This alludes to the 6000 years of the Olam Ha Zeh, which is followed by the 1000 years of the Atid Lavo/ Day of the Lord.

When Yeshua came and read from Isa 61.1-2 (Luke 4.16-20) in the synagogue, many do not realize that this portion of Isaiah is the haftorah for the Torah reading “Nitzavim” (Deut 29.9-30.20). These verses from Isaiah talk about the Yovel, which is described as a complete rest. The captives (slaves) were set free, all debts were cancelled and liberty was proclaimed. The land rests during the seventh and the eighth years (49 and 50). Yeshua stopped reading in Luke 4.19 where it says, “to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” This portion would not be fulfilled in his first coming, but will be when he comes the second time.
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Isa 37.30-32 says, “This will be the sign for you: you shall eat this year (seventh year) what grows of itself, in the second year (eighth year) what springs from the same, and in the third year (the first year of the new shemitah) sow, reap, plant vineyards, and eat their fruit.” The context here is Assyria had invaded Israel, and they were coming into Judah to Jerusalem. Nothing could stop them but the Lord had promised to defeat them so that not even an arrow would fall on Jerusalem. This is a promise that Assyria would be defeated by Yom Kippur, when the Yovel 50 year period ended.

This is a picture of the Russian invasion of Israel and tells us that Russia will be defeated by Yom Kippur, and the nation will accept Yeshua as the Messiah because they cried out to him in their distress and he delivered them from Russia. Israel is set free as they enter into the fourth year of the Birth-pains and they will never turn away from the Lord again (Ezek 39.22; Isa 10.12).

We know Yeshua returns on a Yom Kippur to Jerusalem, at the sound of the great trumpet (Shofar Ha Gadol) that is blown on Yom Kippur. In the first century, Israel had lost track of the Yovel years due to the Babylonian Captivity when the tribes were taken out of the land. Because of that, the ram’s horn (yovel) was blown every Yom Kippur by the first century to make sure it was blown on the Yovel as commanded in the Torah. As a result, the “great trumpet” became an idiom for Yom Kippur and that is why we know that Yeshua will return to Jerusalem on Yom Kippur (Matt 24.29-31). These verses are a picture of the “release” when the Messianic Kingdom arrives on earth.

Yehovah is also telling us in Lev 25 that we can’t just suck the land dry (or ourselves), but rest is very important and a key issue. One of the concepts for the Sabbath is rest, or no work. This alludes to the fact that we enter the rest of the Lord in Yeshua without works, it is a free gift, by his grace, through faith (emunah). It is not a work of our own (no work).

One of the concepts alluded to in the word “rest” is the Hebrew “Menuchah” which also means rest. It carries the idea of “completion.” To rest on the Sabbath does not necessarily mean physical rest. It means to have a sense of completion. When the Sabbath comes, be complete in what you need to have done. Don’t leave things “hanging” and then stress about it. However, rest can also allude to our physical lives. Even the animals we use for work were to rest.

One of the main things people deal with today is stress. Stress is the inability to feel a sense of completion or rest. The commandments are given to promote life (Deut 30.6). Have you ever heard, “Hard work never killed anyone?” But it does. The problem is we need to learn how to have “menuchah” (rest). If we don’t, stress can cause indigestion, dreariness, fatigue and strain. It can kill us.

If a man has to sell his property due to debt, his family, friends or brothers were supposed to buy the land back and give it back to him. They were to “redeem” him. The blood relative who did this is called the “goel” or “kinsman redeemer.” The Book of Ruth deals with this concept.

If you lived in a walled city, this didn’t apply because it was considered a permanent dwelling, except for the Levite. They were commanded to live in 48 cities throughout the land called “Levitical cities.” If they sold their house it could be redeemed because they had to live in those cities. At the Yovel, it comes back to the Levite, plus they had 2000 cubits of pasture land all around the city walls to graze their animals. If a house did not belong to a Levite in a walled city, you could buy it and own it forever. It did not revert back at the Yovel.

This put a lot of pressure on the people to dispense and spread out through the land and not live in a walled city. It caused them to take responsibility for one another when someone got into some financial issues. Let’s look at Exo 21.1-6.

A person sells his land, but he can’t redeem the land because he hasn’t, or can’t, save the money. You could sell yourself into “servitude” and your value was determined up to the next shemitah (sabbatical year). If the sabbatical year was five years away, you could sell yourself for five years. You surrendered all your decision making about finances to your “master.” You come under the control of your master.

Now, the biblical concept of a “slave” is that of a hired man or woman. They were not to be mistreated or abused. You were not to be severe (Exo 21.20-21). The master had to treat you the same way as his own children. You ate the same food and he housed you as his own. You could choose who you wanted to serve and this took you out of the economic system, paying back your debt. When the sabbatical year came, you were free to go. But if the master gave you a wife you could not take her with you, or any of your children (Exo 21.4).

If you thought this was a good arrangement, and you liked serving this master, the Torah allowed to you to make the decision to stay because of love for your master. This is called the “Law of the Bond Servant.” The Torah (and the Scriptures) is a book of “boundaries and declarations.” If the servant wanted to stay, they made a public declaration that he loved his master and chose to stay with him on his own (not forced). His ear was pierced with an awl to the doorpost of the master’s house. What is this telling us spiritually?

We owe a debt to the Lord we can’t even begin to pay. He has given us everything (family, wife, children, house, job, etc). We recognize this and we realize this is a good situation, and the household of Yehovah is a good household to belong to. He is a good master. All our debts are paid, so we choose to be a bond servant of Yeshua.

When Messiah comes, the great shofar will be blown on Yom Kippur because it is like the Yovel. The dead have come to life and all debts have been cancelled. The whole concept of the Messianic Kingdom is consistent with this system. In the Torah, this applied only in the land. In the future it will apply worldwide. The whole economic system will be different under Yeshua. This will lead to “menuchah” (rest) and there will be less stress and indebtedness.

In Part 24 we will pick up in the next Torah reading called “B’Chukatai” (in my statutes).

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Leviticus-Part 22

With the background we have established in Part 21, let’s look at Lev 25. The people are getting ready to come into the land and the owner (God) is putting restrictions on it (the land). Every seven years the land was to rest from cultivation (if you were a farmer). This is called a “Shemitah” (release). Israel was “evicted” out of the land to Babylon for neglecting that command.

Every fifty years all debts were cancelled and the land rested two years (year 49 and 50). A great shofar (Shofar ha Gadol) was blown on Tishri 10 (Lev 25.9, or Yom Kippur) and this is called the Yovel (ram’s horn). One could move back to ancestral lands again. This will have a role when Yeshua returns at the sound of the great trumpet (shofar) in Matt 24.29-31. The exiles will return back to their ancestral lands from all over the world.

Every generation could be debt free every fifty years and the wealth was redistributed and the poor were elevated. Now, you could sell your property but you were only selling the number of harvests expected from the land to the next Yovel (Lev 25.16). For example, if you sold the land and you made ten thousand dollars off the land a year, and there were 10 years left to the Yovel, the price of the land was one hundred thousand dollars. This was the system that the Lord set up. It was really a form of leasing rather than selling. At the end of the Yovel, the land went back to the ancestral owners.

Economic deprivation is the source of many of the problems we have today. Every fifty years in Israel those problems were solved. The books were cleared and the next generation was not strapped with debt like today. In the spiritual, we don’t belong to ourselves. The Lord created us and chose us before the foundation of the world (Eph 1.4) and called us to him and gave us life. We belong to him. He has put restrictions on us to prove ownership and these restrictions are called Torah commands.

One of those restrictions concerned what to eat in Lev 11. These are food laws just like in Eden. Another restriction was rest on the Sabbath. Keeping the Sabbath designated who your God is. It is called “sign” in Exo 31.12-17. This sign of the Sabbath says that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the creator, including us. Our life is not ours because we were created by God. Recognizing his authority over us is why we follow the Torah. His position is God and our position is we are his created beings. If we don’t follow the Sabbath we are not sending forth the “sign.”

For example, Yeshua said, “You claim to follow God, however, you reject the Son. Therefore, you don’t believe the Father. If you reject me, you reject the Father (Luke 10.16; Matt 10.33). In fact, he said that one cannot claim to follow the commandments and make up new ones. That means they were following a different God with different commandments. You can’t serve two masters (Matt 6.24) and Elijah said the same thing (1 Kings 18.21). If we claim to follow the Son, but reject the Father’s commandments, you have rejected the Son. The Torah commands are the commandments of Yeshua.

These six year cycles of days and years, with a seventh day or year as a Sabbath, is alluding to the seven thousand year plan of God (Psa 9.4; Talmud, Sanhedrin 97a; 2 Pet 3.8). Lev 25.20-22 is one of those verses that prove that the Bible is the word of God, and is true. If we wrote the Scriptures, would we put these verses in there? These verses, read, “But you say ‘What are we going to eat on the seventh year of we do not sow or gather in our crops?’ Then I will so order my blessing for you in the sixth year that it will bring forth the crop for three years. When you are sowing the eighth year, you can still eat old things from the crop, eating the old until the ninth year when its crop comes in.”

One cycle with a lack of food and that was it, starvation. Letting the land rest every seventh year was not done to replenish the soil. If you wanted to do that, you would plant for two years and let it rest one year. After six years it yielded the greatest crop and harvest, enough for three years. That just doesn’t make sense in modern agriculture, but that proves that this was written by a God who rules over nature. Let’s look at another angle to this. Israel is God’s down payment on the earth. A contract is in place (Torah) and we have evidence he runs it. Payment has been made to redeem it through the kinsman redeemer, the Goel, named Yeshua. Those that recognize that he is the rightful owner will recognize he is the master of the house. Those that do not recognize this does not recognize he is their master and their God.

That is the fundamental issue here. The Sabbath is the ongoing proof who owns us and the creation. It is an ongoing sign or ownership. So, how could one prepare for the seventh and eighth year (v 18-21) if you can’t work? The Lord will provide three crops the sixth year. They had to trust God to feed them. God promised to give us out continual daily bread. He will cause the increase to be enough to cover that period.

But we dispute his ownership. We don’t like the idea that he has a right to put restrictions on us. We want him to be like us, we want to “negotiate.” What it really comes down to is either there is a God or there isn’t, and both cases are frightening. Most of us turn God “on or off” depending on when we need or not need him. But things don’t work that way. The concept of Teshuvah (repentance) is “turning to God. We need to turn the switch on to God and leave it there.

What we do ripples through other people. Exo 20.5-6 says our iniquities will ripple through the third and fourth generations and if we love him his lovingkindness will ripple to the thousandth generation. We would like to think that we are a plant, but we are a branch. We came from someone else to produce fruit. If it is a bad tree, the branches produce bad or no fruit. If it is a good tree, the branches produce good fruit.

There are things bigger than us. A person may only see one Yovel in his entire life, two if you were born at the right time. These periods are miraculous cycles, on a miraculous land for a miraculous people brought about by a miraculous God. We must understand who is supplying our needs, who owns the and controls the land and who controls our lives.

In Part 23, we will look at some prophetic applications for the Shemitah and the Yovel.

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Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Leviticus-Part 21

The Lord’s commandments make it clear who we follow. The Sabbath is seen as a building block to all the commandments. The Sabbath is how we know what God we follow. The seven day week is a “constant” all over the world and every calendar operates on that premise. The communists tries to change the seven day week into a ten day week, but it didn’t work. The word “week” in Hebrew is “shavuah” meaning a “seven.” God, through Moses, through the Jewish people, authenticated what was already understood in creation and mankind.

Replacement Theology Christianity (which covers most denominations) has decreed that it doesn’t apply. It’s ironic that they advocate the great principles of God and that he is the creator, and yet they themselves disregard “the sign” that he is the creator, the Sabbath (Exo 31.12-17). We are not taking issue with Replacement Theology Christianity or Sunday keepers, but if we don’t come to terms with the Sabbath we don’t have the building block to observe anything else God has. We must know what a “Shabbat” (Hebrew for Sabbath) is so that we can understand the Scriptures.

We complain all week that we need “rest” and then when the Sabbath comes, we don’t rest, or have that sense of “completion.” People will say, “I’m under grace” and then turn another day into their “sabbath” and one that God never intended. Islam has Friday, Judaism and Torah-based believers have Saturday, and Christians have Sunday. Now, if anyone took a look at all three, and then looked at the Scriptures, which day is in line with what God said?

Remember the definition of “blasphemy?” It is calling something “holy” (has a kedusha) when it isn’t, and calling something “unholy” (without a kedusha) when it is. The first thing the Lord called holy (has a kedusha) was the Sabbath (Gen 3.1-3). Christianity says it isn’t, and that is blasphemy. These festivals are blueprints for the Redemption. Whose voice are we going to listen to, the rabbis and pastors or to God? Because we don’t understand the writings of Moses (Torah), we don’t understand the words of Yeshua (John 5.39-47).

In a church, you can attend for fifty years and not be required to do anything. Not so with the Lord and his Torah (instruction). We need to listen to what the Lord “speaks” (Emor). You can look at Christians and not see much of a difference with what the world does. They keep the same festivals the world does, they eat the same foods the world does, and they do not observe the Sabbath and the world doesn’t either. One fast food restaurant closes on Sunday and the Christians think this is great and virtuos, but how does the Lord see it? They are wide open on the day he said to cease from your labors. But when you follow the Lord as instructed in the Torah (Torah means instruction, not law), people know exactly what God we serve and whose commandments we follow and what voice we are listening to. We don’t have to say a word.

These festivals in Lev 23 teach prophecy and eschatology. Pesach (Passover) teaches his burial, Hag Ha Matzah (Unleavened Bread) teaches his burial. Hag Ha Bikkurim (First Fruits) teaches his resurrection. Shavuot (Pentecost) teaches the coming of the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) upon the Kahal (the promised eschatological congregation of the Messiah). Counting the Omer teaches about the journey to Sinai. Yom Teruah (day of the awakening blast of the shofar, also called Rosh Ha Shannah, or head of the year) teaches the coming of Yeshua in the Natzal (plucking up, the “rapture” or the gathering). Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) teaches about the coming of Yeshua to the earth and Jerusalem and the defeat of the False Messiah. Sukkot (Booths) yeaches about the Messianic Kingdom.

For more detail on these festivals, go to “All Teachings” on the menu of this website and scroll down to all the teachings listed there on the festivals, the seven thousand year plan of God and any eschatological teaching you may find there. You will find much more information on how these festivals apply to prophecy and eschatology, and in more detail.

Lev 25.1 to 26.2 is the Torah portion called “Behar” which means “in the mountain (Sinai).” Moses is on the mountain and something is agreed to up there. This is the shortest Torah portion and the Lord is telling Moses “this is how it is.” It is short because Moses has no input and God wasn’t interested in his opinion. Right off we see a system of “sevens” (sabbaths) continued from Lev 23. We have the Sabbatical year and the Yovel after forty-nine sabbatical years. During the Sabbath year (seventh), the land was to lie fallow and no cultivation. This tells us that the land was not an absolute possession of man.

This is going to be hard to believe but the sabbatical year (Lev 25.1-7) and the Yovel (Fiftieth year, called “jubilee” in most Bibles-Lev 25.8-55) is related to God as creator, and it related to our role as mankind to that creator. So, let’s look at these verses a little closer.

The Sabbath originated in creation (Gen 2.4) and so does man, marriage, life, animals, plants, matter, the land, energy, the universe and so on. If those apply today, then so does the Sabbath. When God “rested” it carries the idea in English that he was tired, but that is incorrect. It carries the idea of “completion.” God wasn’t tired, he was “done.” That concept is very important and must be kept in mind when observing the Sabbath. We should have the sense of “completion.” We know the Sabbath was made for man (Mark 2.27) and it is man and the land that needs rest.

Whoever is the owner of the land can put restrictions on it. If you lease your house to someone, you can put whatever restrictions you want on the tenants (no pets, no smoking, etc). God gave Adam restrictions in Gan Eden and he told them not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (a food law by the way). This showed Adam that he was not the owner of the garden. But Adam did eat from that tree, and he was evicted from the garden for violating the restrictions of the property.

With that as a background, we will pick up here in Part 22 with Lev 25.

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