Temple 101-The Place (ha Makom)

In Gen 28.10-22 we have the story of Jacob fleeing his brother Esau and he comes to a mountain to stay the night. In 28.11 the word “place” is used three times. In Hebrew, the word is “makom” and it is an idiom for God. It also says that he placed a “stone” under his head to rest and he has a dream. A ladder is set up and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. He sees the Lord standing above the ladder and tells Jacob that he is the God of his fathers and he will protect Jacob wherever he goes.

Jacob wakes up and says “surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it.” He was afraid and said ” how awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God and this is the gate of heaven.” He anointed the stone he slept on and set it up as a pillar and called the name of that place Bethel, which means “house of God” and he departs. What is the meaning here.

Jacob stays on a mountain that is called Mt Moriah (meaning teaching, fear, myrrh-all alluding to the Temple) and this will be the future site of the Temple. He rests on a “stone” which is a picture of the Messiah (Gen 49.24; Deut 32.4; 1 Cor 10.4). Jacob comes to the Messianic Kingdom and he rests in Messiah. We see a ladder and this is very significant. It carries the idea of ascending to a higher plane. Man ascends and God descends. During the feast of Sukkot this is acted out on the literal mountain where Jacob saw the vision.

During the day there is a ceremony called “Beit ha Shoevah” which means “house of the water-pouring.” The men of Israel “ascend” into the Court of the Priests for the ceremony. At night, the priests “descend” to the Court of the Women for a ceremony called “Simchat beit ha Shoevah” which means “rejoicing in the house of the water-pouring.” There was much rejoicing at this time and it is said that you never saw rejoicing until you saw this. Now, we read that Jacob “anointed” the stone with oil and the word for “anoint” is “mashiach” where we get the word “messiah” from.

This stone is picture of the “chief cornerstone” that the builders (Jewish leaders) rejected (Psa 118.22). He calls it the “house of God” and “the gate of heaven” where this “ladder” begins. There is a Hebrew concept called “Jerusalem on high” which parallels the physical Jerusalem on earth. This is where the concept of the New Jerusalem in Rev 21 comes from.

In John 1.43-51, Yeshua is going into the Galilee and he finds Phillip and tells him to “follow me.” Phillip finds Nathanael and tells him they have found the Messiah. Nathanael rejects that idea because Yeshua is from Nazareth. When Yeshua saw Nathanael walking towards him he says “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile.” Nathanael asks “how do you know me?” and Yeshua says “before Phillip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

Now Yeshua has just said he saw Nathanael as a righteous man (no guile) and in the Kingdom of God (under the fig tree is an idiom the Messianic Kingdom-Micah 4.1-4; 1 Kings 4.25; Zech 3.10). Nathanael understands what Yeshua is saying with these idioms and says that he is “the Son of God” and “King of Israel” which is what is a Hebrew parallelism because the kings of Israel were seen as “sons of God (1 Chr 17.11-13; 1 Chr 28.6). Yeshua says you believe because I said “I saw you under the fig tree?” He tells him he shall see “the heavens opened (idiom for new revelation) and the angels “descending and ascending upon the Son of Man.” Let’s look at this. He is clearly saying that he is the ladder of Jacobs dream.

A ladder is something that is suspended between heaven and the earth. This is what Yeshua did at the cross. He was suspended and he connected heaven and earth. A Torah scroll is seen as a ladder with spindles called the “trees of life” and it connects God to man. The numerical value of “Sinai” (where it was given) is 130, the same for ladder. The first letter of the Hebrew alphabet (aleph) is seen as a ladder. In John 14.6 it says that no man “comes to the Father but through me.” In other words, Yeshua is the ladder on whom we ascend in order to come to the Father, who is in heaven.

So, Jacob has this dream where the place for the House of God (the Temple) will be and where the ladder (Yeshua and the cross) will be also. In Deut 12.11 it says “then it will come about that the “place” (makom) in which the Lord your God shall choose for his name to dwell, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, with your tithes and the contribution of your hand, and all your choice votive offerings which you shall vow to the Lord.” There will be place where God will put his name and it is there that you will worship (the Temple). Well, the place for Gods name is written in the valleys around Jerusalem literally. The name of God is symbolized by the letter “shin” in Hebrew. It is the first letter of some of his names like “Shalom” and “Shaddai.”

Now, if you look at a topographical map of Jerusalem, especially an old one in your Bible, you will see three valleys. The Valley of Hinnom is to the west of the city and winds around to the south. The Tyropean Valley runs through the city, meeting the Hinnom in the south. The Kidron Valley runs east of the city to the south where it meets the Hinnom southeast of Jerusalem. These three valleys form the letter “shin”, the name of God. So, God literally has put his name on Jerusalem (Deut 12.11; 1 Kings 8.29; 2 Chr 6.6). It is there that that the House of God will be built and through Jacobs dream it was first revealed. We have the place.

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

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