Observances, Ceremonies and Customs-Part 3

In Lev 12.1-8 we read about the recovery of a mother after childbirth. She cannot cohabit with her husband for seven days if the baby is a male, and for 14 days if the baby is female. After the birth is called the first stage. In the second stage, she cannot eat sacred food or enter the Temple for 33 days if a boy, and 66 days if a girl. After this time period, she offers a korban in the Temple. Today, there is no Temple, no korban or second stage. This command in Lev 12.1-8 is also very eschatological.

In verse 2, the woman is a type of Israel (Rev 12) who gives birth to a son (Messiah). She is unclean (man was unclean after Adam) for 33 days if a male (Yeshua was “cut off” at age 33) and she cannot enter the Temple (just like Adam could not enter the Garden (The Temple was seen as a miniature Eden). If the baby was a female (Israel rejected the testimony of the “bride” and the kahal and received double punishment) the mother (Israel) is unclean for 66 days (The Jewish revolt that destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem started in 66 AD). After her days are completed (2000 years of the Yomot Mashiach) she brings a lamb for an olah and a pigeon or turtledove for a chata’at (Yeshua) to the priest at the doorway (Israel will repent and turn to Yeshua-Ezek 39.22) and she shall be cleansed. This is just an example of how we can look at these commandments and find the Messiah and eschatology in them.

Next we are going to talk about what is called the “Pidyon ha Ben” or “redemption of the son.” This does not apply to anyone who is not Jewish. In Exo 13.15 God spared the first-born from death at the first Passover. In Num 18.15-16 he said that five shekels was to be paid to a Levite if you have a first-born son from the womb. The five shekels was to be paid to the Levite on the 31st day after the son was born. This releases the son from service that was to be the duty of the first-born son (Num 3.11-13). This command is related to the Exodus because all of this was to be taught in detail. Passover would last till dawn many times, with the theme of redemption through the lamb being emphasized. If you don’t redeem your child, he is “given” to God, as in the case of Hannah and Samuel in 1 Sam 1.11-23. Her husband had sons from another wife, but Samuel was her first born.

Despite the mother’s role, the obligation to redeem the first born son rested on the father. If he failed, the first born did it when he reached maturity (age 13). The father is responsible for implementing all the religious and social functions of the family as the head of the house. This included circumcision, redemption of the son, education, marriage and professional training. As far as the Levite’s role in the redemption of the son, any Levite with a good reputation could receive the five shekels. It was a source of income for them, even after the Temple was destroyed, and one of the only sources of income with tithing gone. The service for the redemption of the son can be found on page 1034 of the Hertz Siddur. Another term for “Pidyon ha Ben” is “Yeshua ha Ben” because redemption is linked to salvation (Hebrew “Yeshua”). Now, what do you think the people thought of when they heard the name “Yeshua?” They thought of the redemption.

Next we are going to discuss what is called a “Bar Mitzvah” which means “son of the commandments.” This a term for an adult Jewish male. The modern ceremony comes from the thirteenth century. In the Talmudic (time of Yeshua) and the Gaonic (600 to 1000 AD) era there were no special rites, but there would be an “aliyah” (going up to read the Torah) along with five other men around the age of 13. The boy was obligated to keep the commandments and was considered an adult. Girls were considered an adult at 12 years old (Talmud, Yoma 82a). The distinction in the first century hinged on the time of the onset of puberty. Puberty is established by the growth of two pubic hairs, the 14th year in males and the 13th year in females (Ezek 16.7). The determining factor in adulthood is puberty, not age. In the absence of pubic development, one remains a minor. Early development prior to 12-13 years old are considered abnormal, and it does not signal adulthood. A “minor” male was called a “katan” and a “minor” female was called a “katanah.” The peak of intellectual development is reached at age 20 in both sexes. Therefore, heavenly punishment is not affected on young people under 20 (Talmud, Shabbat 89a). This was the “age of accountability” and there was no such thing as “teenagers” in the Scriptures. We invented that concept. Young people mature and the Lord is patient with them.

Pre-Bar Mitzvah rites included fasting on Yom Kippur at age 12, with prayers following for the boy to be a scholar and doer of good deeds. Tefillin was worn by the 13th birthday on weekdays, during morning prayers. By age 10, they knew the Tanach, and by “know” it means all four levels of interpretation (verses can have 3-4 meanings) and every letter was studied and interpreted. At age 10 to 13 they began to study the Mishnah (a commentary on the Tanach), and at age 13-15 they studied the Gemora (a commentary on the Mishnah). This education is the responsibility of the father. The mother can teach him, but the father was responsible.

The current Bar Mitzvah ceremony developed due to anti-Semitism and persecution in 13-14 century Europe. Europe was a mess and they had many superstitions, both among Christians and Jews. They thought if they had this ceremony, it might protect the boy from this persecution and pogroms. Usually, this ceremony was held on a Monday or a Thursday, but this will eventually change to the Sabbath. Bar Mitzvah banquets were not done till the 16th century because lavish banquets were not allowed till then. In Part 4, we will pick up here and begin to discuss marriage, and we will be covering all the concepts associated with it. We will discuss the earliest marriages and their simplicity to what this has evolved into today. Some of you will be shocked when you compare what is done in many places today with what is presented in the Scriptures, but there will be a lot to learn.

Posted in Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

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