They Shall Look Toward Me Whom They Have Pierced

They Shall Look Toward Me Whom They Have Pierced
By
James Scott Trimm

We read in the prophet Zechariah:

And I will pour upon the house of David,
and upon the inhabitants of Yerushalayim,
the spirit of grace and of supplication.
And they shall look unto Me, whom they pierced through,
and they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for his only son:
and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness
for his firstborn.
(Zech. 12:10 HRV)

In the Talmud Rabbi Dosa (who lived around 250 CE) teaches regarding Zech. 12:10:

What is the cause of the mourning [of Zech. 12:12]–…
It is well according to him who explains that
the cause is the slaying of Messiah the son of Joseph,
since that well agrees with the Scriptural verse:
And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced,
And they shall mourn for him as one mourns for his
only son. (Zech. 12:10)
(b.Sukkot 52a)

In fact the Targum Jonathan to Zechariah also identifies this one being pierced in Zechariah 12:10 as the “Messiah ben Ephraim”.

Lets look at a key phrase from this verse in the Hebrew:

והביטו אלי את אשר דקרו

“And they shall look toward me whom they pierced.”

have pierced
they
whom<—–toward
me
And
shall look
they
דקרואשראתאליוהביטו

Although many attempts have been made to translate this passage in other ways, the Hebrew is obvious. The article את points to the next term אשר דקרו “whom they have pierced” as receiving the action of the verb והביטו “and they shall look” while the preposition אלי must be understood “toward me” as the final י indicates the first person “me”.
Now lets look at how this was translated in the Aramaic Peshitta Tanak:

whom
have pierced
they
at
him
toward me shall look they
דדקרובמןלותידנחורון

Note that the Aramaic translation adds the phrase “at him” to the passage.  This is because the Aramaic translator was attempting to translate the Hebrew word for word into Aramaic.  In his quest for such a word for word translation, he attempted to translate the untranslatable Hebrew word את with “at him” במן so as to convey the idea of a pointer to “whom they pierced” as the direct object.  The Hebrew word את is a preposition which is unique to Hebrew and which points to the next word or phrase as the direct object receiving the action of the verb.  In this case the word indicates that the ”whom they pierced” is receiving the action of  ”and they shall look toward me”.  The Aramaic translator has added ”at him” so at to connect ”whom they pierced” with ”they shall look toward me”. 

whom have pierced they at him shall look they
דדקרובמןדנחורון

Note that the Aramaic as it appears in Jn. 19:37 differs from the Peshitta Aramaic of Zech. 12:10 only by one word.  This Aramaic reading omits the phrase ”toward me” and retains only ”at him”.  Either Yochanan or the scribe of the Aramaic text of Zech 12:10 which served as his source text, seems to have found the phrase “toward me at him” to be redundant and thus omitted the phrase ”toward me”.  This shift from “toward me” to “at him” could only have occurred in the Aramaic text of Yochanan 19:37 and been translated into the Greek text of John 19:37.  Thus pointing to the Aramaic origin of the book of Yochanan and explaining the shift in the reading of this verse.


Now if we look at Zech. 12:10 in context we will see that the speaker here is YHWH:


 The saying of YHWH concerning Israel…
I [YHWH] will seek to destroy all of the nations
that come against Jerusalem.
And I will pour upon the house of David
And upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
The Spirit of grace and of supplication;
And they shall look toward me whom they pierced
And they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for his only son…
(Zech. 12:1, 9-10)

So we see that:

1.      “Me” the speaker is YHWH.
2.      YHWH (“Me”) is being looked upon.
3.      The one receiving the action of being pierced is the “Me” being looked upon.
4.      Therefore the one being pierced here is YHWH.

Many translations have bent over backwards to try to avoid this reading.  For example the JPS (1917) text has:

“And they shall look unto Me because they have thrust him through.”

And the Hebrew Publishing Company 1916 text has:

“and they shall look unto me for every one whom they have pierced”

As we have said above the Hebrew word ET את is an untranslatable Hebrew preposition which points to the next word or phrase as the direct object which receives the action.  While often Hebrew is very ambiguous, here is could not be more specific in saying that the one being pierced is the one being looked upon.  These Rabbinic versions are aimed at making the one looked upon be YHWH and the one being pierced as being someone else.  Another translation that mistranslates Zech. 12:10 is the Jehovah’s Witnesses “New World Translation” which reads:

and they will certainly look to the One
whom they pierced through

These translators do not have the luxury of making the one “looked upon” and the one “pierced” be different because Yochanan 19:37 makes it clear that they are the same.


Their only “way out” has been to wrongly translate אלי ”toward me” as “to the One”.  This translation is intended to avoid the problem presented to Jehovah’s Witnesses (who reject the idea that Messiah was YHWH incarnate) by a text that plainly says that the “Me” (YHWH) is being both looked upon and pierced.  Since Yochanan identifies the one pierced as well as the one looked upon as Yeshua, the JW’s must find some way to prevent this from being YHWH.   They do so by mistranslating אלי as “to the One”.  In reality the אל means “toward” and the י suffix is the first person indicator.  This י cannot mean simply “the One” but must mean “Me”.  This is clear to any first year Hebrew student.


What is especially interesting is that those who wish to avoid the clear meaning of Zech. 12:10 cannot agree together on what it is supposed to say instead. This is because they are all trying to make it say something other than what the Hebrew text actually does say.

The rent is due and we must raise at least $500 by the end of the day tomorrow (12/31/2019).

As you know we have been digging ourselves out of a budget shortfall.  As I have said to you many times, I look on this work as a co-operative one with me, and all of you combining our resources together in order to get the job done of helping to teach this great truth to all in the world who will listen. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for your continued support, you are the ones who make it all possible by your contributions and your prayers for our work. I truly appreciate your help in every way.

If you can make a one time donation of $500 or $1,000 dollars to support this work.


Donations can be sent by paypal to donations@wnae.org.

Donations can also be made out to “Nazarene Judaism” and sent to:

Nazarene Judaism
PO Box 471
Hurst, TX 76053

And don’t forget to join the conversations at the NazareneSpace Social Network

Emergency Alert

The rent is due and we must raise at least $500 by the end of the day tomorrow (12/31/2019).

As you know we have been digging ourselves out of a budget shortfall.  As I have said to you many times, I look on this work as a co-operative one with me, and all of you combining our resources together in order to get the job done of helping to teach this great truth to all in the world who will listen. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for your continued support, you are the ones who make it all possible by your contributions and your prayers for our work. I truly appreciate your help in every way.

If you can make a one time donation of $500 or $1,000 dollars to support this work.


Donations can be sent by paypal to donations@wnae.org.

Donations can also be made out to “Nazarene Judaism” and sent to:

Nazarene Judaism
PO Box 471
Hurst, TX 76053

And don’t forget to join the conversations at the NazareneSpace Social Network

The Channukah Martyrs as Types of the Messiah

The Channukah Martyrs as Types of Messiah
by
James Scott Trimm

We read in 4th Maccabees concerning the martyrs under Antiochus Epiphanies:


[7] I could prove to you from many and various examples that reason is dominant over the emotions,
[8] but I can demonstrate it best from the noble bravery of those who died for the sake of virtue, Eleazar and the seven brothers and their mother.
[9] All of these, by despising sufferings that bring death, demonstrated that reason controls the emotions.
[10] On this anniversary it is fitting for me to praise for their virtues those who, with their mother, died for the sake of nobility and goodness, but I would also call them blessed for the honor in which they are held.
[11] For all people, even their torturers, marveled at their courage and endurance, and they became the cause of the downfall of tyranny over their nation. By their endurance they conquered the tyrant, and thus their native land was purified through them.
(4Macc. 1:7-11)


[24] When they saw that he was so courageous in the face of the afflictions, and that he had not been changed by their compassion, the guards brought him to the fire.
[25] There they burned him with maliciously contrived instruments, threw him down, and poured stinking liquids into his nostrils.
[26] When he was now burned to his very bones and about to expire, he lifted up his eyes to God and said,
[27] “You know, O God, that though I might have saved myself, I am dying in burning torments for the sake of the law.
[28] Be merciful to your people, and let our punishment suffice for them.
[29] Make my blood their purification, and take my life in exchange for theirs.”
[30] And after he said this, the holy man died nobly in his tortures, and by reason he resisted even to the very tortures of death for the sake of the law.
[31] Admittedly, then, devout reason is sovereign over the emotions.
(4Macc. 6:28-29)

[17] The tyrant himself and all his council marveled at their endurance,
[18] because of which they now stand before the divine throne and live through blessed eternity.
[19] For Moses says, “All who are consecrated are under your hands.”
[20] These, then, who have been consecrated for the sake of God, are honored, not only with this honor, but also by the fact that because of them our enemies did not rule over our nation,
[21] the tyrant was punished, and the homeland purified — they having become, as it were, a ransom for the sin of our nation.
[22] And through the blood of those devout ones and their death as an expiation, divine Providence preserved Israel that previously had been afflicted.
[23] For the tyrant Antiochus, when he saw the courage of their virtue and their endurance under the tortures, proclaimed them to his soldiers as an example for their own endurance,
(4Macc. 17:21)


These martyrs were a type [allegorical symbol] of the Messiah.  They brought redemption to Am-Yisrael (the People of Israel) by overcoming the Yetzer Ra (Evil Inclination).


To begin with, it is important to understand the two inclinations.  We read in Genesis 2:7:


And YHWH Elohim formed (YETZER) man of the dust of the ground,and breathed into his nostrils the breath (NISH’MAT) of life; and man became a living soul (nefesh).
(Gen. 2:7)


In the original Hebrew of this verse, the word YETZER (which can also mean “freewill” or “inclination”) is spelled with two YUDs (Y’s) when it should be spelled with one.  The Talmud observes:


R. Nahman b. R. Hisda expounded:
What is meant by the text, Then the Lord God
formed [va-yetzer] man? [The word va-yetzer] (Gen. 2:7)
is written with two yods, to show that God created
two inclinations, one good (tov) and the other evil (ra).
(b.Ber. 61a)


It has been taught: R. Jose the Galilean says,
The righteous are swayed by their good inclination, as it says,
My heart is slain within me. (Ps. 109:22)
The wicked are swayed by their evil inclination, as it says,
Transgression speaks to the wicked,
methinks, there is no fear of God before his eyes. (Ps. 36:1)
Average people are swayed by both
inclinations, as it says, Because He stands at
the right hand of the needy, to save him from them
that judge his soul. (Ps. 109:31)
Raba said: People such as we are of the average.
(b.Ber. 61b)


We read in the Wisdom of Ben Sira:
It was He who created man in the beginning.
And He left him in the power of his own inclination (Heb: yetzer).


If you will, you can keep the commandments,
and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice.
He has placed before you fire and water:
Stretch out your hand for whichever you wish.
(Sira 15:14-16)


We read in 4Maccabees:


21 Now when Elohim fashioned man, he planted in him emotions and inclinations,
22 but at the same time he enthroned the mind among the senses as a sacred governor over them all.
23 To the mind he gave the Torah; and one who lives subject to this will rule a kingdom that is temperate, just, good, and courageous.
(4Macc. 2:21-23)


As Philo of Alexandria wrote:


“For these passions are the causes of all good and of all evil; of good when they submit to the authority of dominant reason, and of evil when they break out of bounds and scorn all government and restraint.”
(Life of Moses 1; VI, 26)


These martyrs mentioned in 4Maccabees were types of Messiah, because they physically redeemed their people by overcoming the Yetzer Ra in their martyrdom.  They, thru the Torah in their minds, used reason to overcome their emotions.


7:1 For like a swift ship captain, thus was the mind of the aged Eleazar. By way of the steering of the fear of Eloah, his thought was leading, over the great sea of torture and emotions.
7:2 And while threats and tortures of the Tyrant were coming upon him, and tumultuous waves of tribulation.
7:3 And in no way did he turn the rudder from fear of Eloah until he voyaged and arrived to the haven of victory that does not die.
7:4 No city besieged ever held out against mighty vassals coming against its walls and its various parts like this. He was dressed in all the armor. For while his soul was suffering, consumed by torture, and by tribulation, and by burning, he conquered the tribulation because of his mind was fighting with the shield of truth.
(4th Maccabees 7:1-4)


How Messiah Defeated the Yetzer Ra

This correlates with the redemption of Messiah through his defeat of the Yetzer Ra. In tractate Sukkah the Talmud records that there was a debate between Rabbi Dosa and other Rabbis concerning the meaning of Zechariah 12:12.  The Talmud says:

What is the cause of the mourning [mentioned in Zech 12:12]?
R. Dosa and the Rabbis differ on the point. One [Rabbi Dosa] explained, The cause is the slaying of Messiah the son of Joseph, and the other [the Rabbis] explained, The cause is the slaying of the Evil Inclination.

It is well according to him who explains that the cause is the slaying of Messiah the son of Joseph, since that well agrees with the Scriptural verse, And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for his only son (Zech. 12:10).

But according to him who explains the cause to be the slaying of the Yetzer Ra (Evil Inclination), is this [it may be objected] an occasion for mourning? Is it not rather an occasion for rejoicing? Why then should they weep? — [The explanation is] as R. Judah expounded: In the time to come the Holy One, blessed be He, will bring the Evil Inclination and slay it in the presence of the righteous and the wicked. To the righteous it will have the appearance of a towering hill, and to the wicked it will have the appearance of a hair thread. Both the former and the latter will weep; the righteous will weep saying, ‘How were we able to overcome such a towering hill!’ The wicked also will weep saying, ‘How is it that we were unable to conquer this hair thread!’ And the Holy One, blessed be He, will also marvel together with them, as it is said, Thus says the Lord of Hosts, If it be marvelous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in those days, it shall also be marvelous in My eyes.
(Sukkah 52a)

However, when we understand the how the destruction of the Yetzer Ra is achieved, we will see that there is in reality no conflict between the view of Rabbi Dosa (not only Rabbi Dosa, but the Targum Jonathan to Zech. 12:10 which agrees with Dosa’s view) and the view of the Rabbis.

Another exposition of the text, ‘ My beloved is like a gazelle ‘:
Israel, explained R. Isaac, said to the Holy One, blessed be
He: ‘ Sovereign of the Universe! Thou hast told us that Thou
wilt come to us first.’ ‘ My beloved is like a gazelle ‘; as the
gazelle appears and then disappears, so the first redeemer
appeared and then disappeared. R. Berekiah in the name of R.
Levi said: Like the first redeemer so will the final redeemer be.
The first redeemer was Moses, who appeared to them and then
disappeared. For how long did he disappear from their sight?
R. Tanhuma said: Three months; accordingly it is written, And
they met Moses and Aaron, etc. (ib. V, 20).2 The final
redeemer will also appear to them and then disappear.
(Midrash Rabbah Bamidbar 11:2)

We read in Exodus:

13 And Moshe said unto the people, Fear you not. Stand still, and see the salvation of YHWH, which He will work for you today! For whereas you have seen the Egyptians today, you shall see them again, no more, forever.
14 YHWH will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.
(Ex. 14:13-14 HRV)

Therefore we have a picture of the “salvation of YHWH” in Exodus 14:19-29

19 And the angel of Elohim, who went before the camp of Yisra’el, removed, and went behind them. And the pillar of cloud removed from before them, and stood behind them.
20 And it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Yisra’el. And there was the cloud and the darkness here, yet gave it light by night there: and the one came not near the other all the night.
21 And Moshe stretched out his hand over the sea. And YHWH caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all the night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.
22 And the children of Yisra’el went into the midst of the sea upon the dry earth, and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.
23 And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them into the midst of the sea; all
Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.
24 And it came to pass in the morning watch, that YHWH looked forth upon the host of the Egyptians, through the pillar of fire and of cloud, and discomfited the host of the Egyptians.
25 And He took off their chariot wheels, and made them to drive heavily, so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Yisra’el, for YHWH fights for them against the Egyptians.
26 And YHWH said unto Moshe: Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the waters may come back upon the Egyptians; upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.
27 And Moshe stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its strength when the morning appeared. And the Egyptians fled against it, and YHWH overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.
28 And the waters returned and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, even all the host of Pharaoh that went in after them into the sea: there remained not so much as one of them.
29 But the children of Yisra’el walked upon dry land, in the midst of the sea, and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.
(Ex. 14:19-29 HRV)

Philo writes of this:

(2.265) Again, when you see, amid the wars and disasters of life, the merciful hand of God and his favorable power held over you and standing in defense of you, be silent yourself; for that champion stands in no need of any assistance. And there are proofs of this fact recorded in the sacred writings; such, for instance, as the verse, “The Lord will fight for us, and ye shall be Silent.” (Ex 14:14.)
(2.266) And if you see the genuine offspring and the firstborn of Egypt destroyed, namely desire, and pleasures, and pain, and fear, and iniquity, and mirth, and intemperance, and all the other qualities which are similar and akin to these, then marvel and be silent, dreading the terrible power of God;
(Philo; Dreams Book 2; 40; 265-266)

So Philo sees an allegory here where the “Egyptians” represent “desire, and pleasures, and pain, and fear, and iniquity, and mirth, and intemperance, and all the other qualities which are similar and akin to these.” In other words Philo sees the Egyptians as representing the sin-nature which the Rabbis call the Yetzer Ra, the Evil inclination.

 So Philo sees an allegory here where the “Egyptians” represent “desire, and pleasures, and pain, and fear, and iniquity, and mirth, and intemperance, and all the other qualities which are similar and akin to these.” In other words Philo sees the Egyptians as representing the sin-nature which the Rabbis call the Yetzer Ra, the Evil inclination.  The first redeemer (Moses) delivered us from the Egyptians, but the second redeemer (the Messiah) would deliver us from the Evil Inclination.

Ramban (Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman) (1194-1270 C.E.) wrote one of the most authoritative Torah commentaries in Rabbinic Judaism. He says on this topic:

And YHWH your Elohim will circumcise your heart (Deut.
30:6) It is this which the Rabbis have said, “If someone comes
to purify himself, they assist him” [from on High]. The verse
assures you that you will return to Him with all your heart and
He will help you.

This following subject is very apparent from Scripture: Since
the time of Creation, man has had the power to do as he
pleased, to be righteous or wicked. This [grant of free will]
applies likewise to the entire Torah period, so that people can
gain merit upon choosing the good and punishment for
preferring evil. But in the days of the Messiah, the choice of
their [genuine] good will be natural; the heart will not desire
the improper and it will have no craving whatever for it. This
is the “circumcision” mentioned here, for lust and desire are
the “foreskin” of the heart, and circumcision of the heart
means that it will not covet or desire evil.

Man will return at that time to what he was before the sin of
Adam, when by his nature he did what should properly be
done, and there were no conflicting desires in his will, as I
have explained in Seder Bereshit.

It is this which Scripture states in [the Book of] Jeremiah
31:30], Behold, the days come, says YHWH, that I will make a
new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of
Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their
fathers ..etc. But this is the covenant that I will make with the
house of Israel after those days, says the Eternal, I will put my
Law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it.
This is a reference to the annulment of the evil instinct and to
the natural performance by the heart of its proper function.
Therefore Jeremiah said further, and I will be their Elohim,
and they shall be My People; and they shall teach no more
every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying:
‘Know YHWH; ‘for they shall all know Me, from the least of
them to the greatest of them.

Now, it is known that the imagination of man’s heart is evil
from his youth and it is necessary to instruct them,
but at that time it will not be necessary to instruct them
[to avoid evil] for their evil instinct will then be completely
abolished. And so it is declared by Ezekiel, A new heart
will I also give you, and a new spirit will I put within you;
and I will cause you to walk in My statutes . (Ezekiel 36:26)

The new heart alludes to man’s nature, and the [new] spirit to
the desire and will. It is this which our Rabbis have said : “And
the years draw nigh, when you shall say: I have no pleasure in
them; these are the days of the Messiah, as they will offer
opportunity neither for merit nor for guilt,” for in the days of
the Messiah there will be no [evil] desire in man but he will
naturally perform the proper deeds and therefore there will be
neither merit nor guilt in them, for merit and guilt are
dependent upon desire.
(Ramban on Deut. 29:6)

Thus we learn that the death and defeat of the Yetzer Ra is the direct result of the work of Messiah. The mourning in Zechariah 12:12 is for the the death of the Messiah, but the death of Messiah also results in the death and defeat of the Yetzer Ra, thus Rabbi Dosa and the other Rabbis can actually be understood to agree.
And now we see how the Martyrs of 4th Maccabees are a type of the Messiah. because they also overcame the Yetzer Ra in their martyrdom.

As you know we have been digging ourselves out of a budget shortfall.  As I have said to you many times, I look on this work as a co-operative one with me, and all of you combining our resources together in order to get the job done of helping to teach this great truth to all in the world who will listen. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for your continued support, you are the ones who make it all possible by your contributions and your prayers for our work. I truly appreciate your help in every way.

If you can make a one time donation of $500 or $1,000 dollars to support this work.


Donations can be sent by paypal to donations@wnae.org.

Donations can also be made out to “Nazarene Judaism” and sent to:

Nazarene Judaism
PO Box 471
Hurst, TX 76053

And don’t forget to join the conversations at the NazareneSpace Social Network

Check out the Latke recipe for Channukah at the new Messianic Home Space at NazareneSpace!

Channukah and the Message of 4th Maccabees

Channukah and the Message of 4th Maccabees
By
James Scott Trimm

As Channukah is coming to a close this year, I wanted to take a moment to explore the meaning of 4th Maccabees.

So often at Channukah we recall the “Channukah Story” and read the accounts of 1st Maccabees and 2nd and 2nd Maccabees, but we often run out of time before getting to the very deep material in 4th Maccabees. 

4th Maccabees elaborates on the Channukah martyrs spoken of in Second Maccabees.  Specifically Eleazar, who refused to eat meat that had even been represented as having been offered to idols, but was not, lets his actions mislead others into idolatry (See 2Maccabees 6:18-31 & 4Maccabees chapters 5-7).  And the account of Hannah and her seven sons, who refused to pay homage to Antiochus Epiphanies (See 2Maccabees 7;  4th Maccabees chapters 8-19 and b.Gittin 57b in the Talmud).   

4th Maccabees reveals how these martyrs were able to remain true to Torah, despite being tortured and ultimately killed for their testimony. 

The core teaching of 4th Maccabees draws upon a deep understanding of Genesis 2:7 in the Torah, which says:

And the YHWH Elohim formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Gen. 2:7)

The Hebrew word for “formed” is yetzer which can also mean “inclination” or even “freewill.”  However in Genesis 2:7 in the Hebrew, the word yetzer is spelled with to “yuds” yyetzer.  The Talmud has an interesting comment about this nuance in the Hebrew of this verse:

R. Nahman b. R. Hisda expounded:
What is meant by the text, Then the Lord God
formed [va-yetzer] man? [The word va-yetzer] (Gen. 2:7)
is written with two yods, to show that God created
two inclinations, one good (tov) and the other evil (ra).
(b.Ber. 61a)

It has been taught: R. Jose the Galilean says,
The righteous are swayed by their good inclination,
as it says, My heart is slain within me. (Ps. 109:22)
The wicked are swayed by their evil inclination,
as it says, Transgression speaks to the wicked,
methinks, there is no fear of God before his eyes.
(Ps. 36:1) Average people are swayed by both
inclinations, as it says, Because He stands at
the right hand of the needy, to save him from them
that judge his soul. (Ps. 109:31) Raba said: People
such as we are of the average.
(b.Ber. 61b)

Likewise we read in the Wisdom of Ben Sira:        

It was He who created man in the beginning.
And He left him in the power of his own inclination (Heb: yetzer).
If you will, you can keep the commandments,
and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice.
He has placed before you fire and water:
Stretch out your hand for whichever you wish.
 (Sira 15:14-16)

4th Maccabees gives us an important insight on this as well, saying:

21 Now when Elohim fashioned man, he planted in him emotions and inclinations,
22 but at the same time he enthroned the mind among the senses as a sacred governor over them all.
23 To the mind he gave the Torah; and one who lives subject to this will rule a kingdom that is temperate, just, good, and courageous.
(4Macc. 2:21-23)

As the first century Jewish writer Philo of Alexandria said:

“For these passions are the causes of all good and of all evil; of good when they submit to the authority of dominant reason, and of evil when they break out of bounds and scorn all government and restraint.”
(Life of Moses 1; VI, 26)

According to 4th Maccabees, the Channukah Martyrs were able to endure to the end and hold to their testimony in the face of torture and death, because their rational mind was in the drivers seat, and their emotions were in the passenger’s seat. 

This does not mean emotions are a bad thing, to the contrary, emotions subject to the rational mind (the Neshoma) that is the good inclination and the cause of all good in this world.  But when our emotions are in the drivers seat and our rational mind is in the passenger’s seat, that is the evil inclination.

So let us learn this lesson from 4th Maccabees and the Channukah martyrs this Channukah.

As you know we have been digging ourselves out of a budget shortfall.  As I have said to you many times, I look on this work as a co-operative one with me, and all of you combining our resources together in order to get the job done of helping to teach this great truth to all in the world who will listen. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for your continued support, you are the ones who make it all possible by your contributions and your prayers for our work. I truly appreciate your help in every way.

If you can make a one time donation of $500 or $1,000 dollars to support this work.


Donations can be sent by paypal to donations@wnae.org.

Donations can also be made out to “Nazarene Judaism” and sent to:

Nazarene Judaism
PO Box 471
Hurst, TX 76053

And don’t forget to join the conversations at the NazareneSpace Social Network

Check out the Latke recipe for Channukah at the new Messianic Home Space at NazareneSpace!

Channukah, Paul and Meat Offered up to Idols

Channukah, Paul and Meat Offered up to Idols
By
James Scott Trimm

Well it is Channukah time and so it is a very good time to discuss the subject of meat offered up to idols

In Acts 15 we are told that Gentiles do not need to be circumcised in order to be saved, but that they must still keep certain minimum levels of Torah observance even as they continue to go to synagogue on the Sabbath and learn the rest of the Torah. 

Among these four minimum commandments was to “abstain from things offered up to idols” (Acts 15:20, 29 & 21:25)

Furthermore in the Book of Revelation, the Assembly at Thyatira is condemned for eating things offered up to idols.

Paul discusses the issue of eating meat that has been offered up to idols in 1Cor. 8 & 10:

The fact is that Paul clearly agrees that one may not knowingly eat meat offered up to idols (1Cor. 8:1-13; 10:7, 14-28).

The halachic issue Paul questions, is whether or not one must ask, when purchasing meat, whether or not it has been offered to idols. Paul argues (based on Ps. 24:1=1Cor. 10:26, 28) that meat is not actually altered by the idol but that eating such meat appears to others to endorse the idol to which it was offered.

If meat is advertised as having been offered to idols, then believers may not eat it, since this would appear to endorse the idol. However, since the idol has no real power over the meat, believers are not required to ask, since this would imply that the believer believed that the idol had power over the meat, thus ascribing power to the idol and endorsing idolatry by acknowledging the idol’s alleged power.

Paul summarizes his argument as follows:

But if a man should say to you, that this is that which is sacrificed,
you should not eat: for the sake of the one who told you
and, because of conscience.
(1Cor. 10:28 HRV)

A basis for Paul’s argument here can be found in the story of the martyr Eleazar in 2Maccabbes.

Eleazer was a prominent Jew under the Helene rule. A day came when all of the Jews were to show their loyalty by eating meat offered to idols at a public feast. Eleazar was not willing to do so, but because of his prominence, the authorities offered to allow him to sneak kosher meat into the feast and eat it instead, thus only appearing to eat meat offered up to idols. Eleazer refused, knowing that this would appear to endorse idolatry, despite the fact that the meat would be kosher. As a result Eleazar was executed.  (2Maccabees 6:1-29).

This account demonstrates that eating meat offered to idols is wrong, not because of the meat itself, but because of the implied endorsement of the idolatry.

Therefore, Paul’s interpretation does not conflict with Acts 15 but actually implies a very strict interpretation, by which eating kosher meat would also be forbidden, if the meat were falsely advertised as having been offered to an idol.

The question has been posed: why would these people be buying meat from anything other than a Kosher butcher? Why would they be buying meat at the gentile market-place anyway?

OK now for an Aramaic word study. Paul writes:

Whatever is sold in the shambles (מקלון), that eat,
asking no questions for conscience sake:
(1Cor. 10:25)

The answer lies in the Aramaic word which appears in 1Cor. 10:25 where the KJV has “shambles”.

I often find that it sheds light on a passage when I research a key Aramaic word which appears in the Aramaic “New Testament” to see how that Aramaic word is used in the Targums, Talmuds and Zohar.

This Aramaic word (MAKLON) appears in the Talmud as follows:

Rab said: Meat which had disappeared from sight is forbidden.  An objection was raised. Rabbi says: Where the meat stalls (מקולין) [kept by gentiles are supplied with meat by] Israelite butchers, any meat found in the possession of the gentile is permitted! — It is different where it is found in the possession of the gentile.
(b.Hullin 95a)

The Talmud uses this word here to describe meat-stands run by Gentiles but where Jewish butchers are used. This section of Talmud proposes several hypothetical situations involving such markets and lays out debates by various Rabbis as to whether the meat from such a market should be presumed kosher or not.

There is not conflict between Paul’s statements here, Acts 15 and Jewish law as expressed in the Talmud.  One may not knowing eat meat that has been offered up to idols.  However, when buying meat that has not been advertised as having been offered up to idols, one should not ask. 

As you know we have been digging ourselves out of a budget shortfall.  As I have said to you many times, I look on this work as a co-operative one with me, and all of you combining our resources together in order to get the job done of helping to teach this great truth to all in the world who will listen. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for your continued support, you are the ones who make it all possible by your contributions and your prayers for our work. I truly appreciate your help in every way.

If you can make a one time donation of $500 or $1,000 dollars to support this work.


Donations can be sent by paypal to donations@wnae.org.

Donations can also be made out to “Nazarene Judaism” and sent to:

Nazarene Judaism
PO Box 471
Hurst, TX 76053

And don’t forget to join the conversations at the NazareneSpace Social Network

Check out the Latke recipe for Channukah at the new Messianic Home Space at NazareneSpace!

Till He Come and Cause Righteousness to Rain : Insights on Yeshua’s Channukah Message

Till He Come and Cause Righteousness to Rain

(1Macc. 4:46 Heb. and Hosea 10:12)

Insights on Yeshua’s Channukah Message

ByJames Scott Trimm


Shalom Chaverim,

Well I have recently published the Hebrew text of 1Maccabees (which has never before been translated into English), and I found a passage which sheds great light on Yeshua’s Channukah teaching in John 10:22f.

Now according to the Greek version of 1Maccabees, upon building a new alter the people took the stones from the profaned alter and not knowing what to do with them they stored them “in a convenient place on the Temple mount” until a prophet would come and tell them what to do with the stones:

43  Who cleansed the sanctuary, and bare out the defiled stones into an unclean place.
44  And when as they consulted what to do with the altar of burnt offerings, which was profaned;
45 They thought it best to pull it down, lest it should be a reproach to them, because the heathen had defiled it: wherefore they pulled it down,
46  And laid up the stones in the mountain of the temple in a convenient place, until there should come a prophet to shew what should be done with them.
(1Macc. 4:43-46 KJV)

The Hebrew version of 1Maccabees has a slightly different reading here:

43 And they cleansed the Temple which they defiled by their idols and by their abominations and he removed the stones which were unclean from the unclean place.
44  And it was given to his heart to offer up offerings and sacrifices upon the alter which was ruined to them.
45 And they decided to destroy it lest it bring reproach to them for the people defiled it. And they tore down the alter and destroyed it.
46 And they placed those stones in a secret [place] of the Mount until he comes and cause righteousness to rain, and he stored them there.
(1Macc. 4:43-46 HRV)

This phrase “till He come and cause righteousness to rain” which appears in place of the phrase “until there should come a prophet to shew what should be done with them” is taken verbatim from Hosea 10:12:

Sow to yourselves according to righteousness; reap according to mercy. Break up
your fallow ground, for it is time to seek YHWH: till He come and cause righteousness to
rain upon you.
(Hosea 10:12 HRV)

Whereas the Greek refers only to the coming of a prophet, the original Hebrew refers to the coming of YHWH as depicted in Hosea 10:12.

In Yochanan (John) 10:22-23 we read:

Now the Feast of Chanukkah was held
in Yerushalayim and it was winter.  And
Yeshua was walking in the Temple, in the
porch of Shlomo.

In Yoch. 10:24 the Judeans want Yeshua to reveal to them whether or not he is the Messiah:

24 And the Judeans gathered around Him and were saying to Him, How long will you
hold us? If you are the Messiah, tell us in the open.
(John 10:24 HRV)

And Yeshua answers:

25 Yeshua answered and said to them: I told you, and you did not believe. And the
works that I do in the Name of My Father, bear witness about Me.
26 But you do not believe, because, you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.
27 My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow Me.
28 And I give them eternal life, and they will not perish, forever: and no man will pluck
them from My hands.
29 For My Father who gave to Me from all, is great, and no man is able to pluck them
from the hand of My Father.
30 I and My Father are one.
(John 10:25-30)

The Judeans were pressing Yeshua to prove he was Messiah by telling them what to do with the profaned stones.  Yeshua answered by claiming to be the fulfillment of the prophecy in 1Maccabees 4:46 and Hosea 10:12 that YHWH Himself “would come and cause righteousness to rain” and as the Greek tanslator of 1Maccabees paraphrased “there should come a prophet to shew what should be done with them.”.

Their reaction was to take up these very stones preparing to stone Yeshua with them:

31 And again the Judeans took up stones to stone Him.
32 Yeshua said to them: I have shown you many good works from My Father: because
of which work, do you stone Me?
33 The Judeans said to Him, We do not stone You because of good works, but because
You have blasphemed: and being a son of man, have made Your nefesh [to be] Eloah.
(John 10:31-33)

They were basically saying, “Oh yea, we’ll show you what to do with these stones!”  To which Yeshua responded:

34 Yeshua said to them: Is it not thus written in your Torah, I have said that You are
Elohim? (Ps. 82:6)
35 If He called those [people] elohim, because the word of Eloah was with them and the
Scripture is not able to be broken,
36 To Him whom the Father sanctified and sent to the world, do you say, You
blaspheme … because I told you that I am the Son of Eloah?
37 Though I do the works of My Father, you do not believe Me.
38 But if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works: that you might know
and believe that My Father is in Me, and I am in My Father.
(John 10:34-38 HRV)

Their reaction was to attempt to seize him:

39 And they wanted to seize Him again, but He escaped from their hands.
40 And He went to the crossing of the Yarden, to the place where Yochanan had been
previously when He was immersing, and He stayed there.
41 And many men came to Him and were saying that Yochanan did not even do one
sign: but everything that Yochanan said concerning this man, is true.
42 And many had trust in Him.
(John 10:39-42 HRV)

It is important to realize that Yeshua was withdrawing to Yochanan the Immerser’s Community, a split from the nearby Qumran community.  This community would be much more open to his message?  Why?

In ancient Israel (and in Israel today) there were two growing seasons, one in the Fall and one in the Spring. This resulted in two clusters of Harvest Festivals, commonly called the “Fall Feasts” and the “Spring Feasts”. In Scripture these two growing seasons are called the former (YOREH Strong’s 3138) and latter (MILKOSH Strong’s 4456) rain (since the growing seasons are tied to the two rainy seasons). Thus we read in the Torah:

11 But the land, where you go over to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinks
water as the rain of heaven comes down.
12 A land which YHWH your Elohim cares for. The eyes of YHWH your Elohim are
always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.
13 And it shall come to pass, if you shall hearken diligently unto My commandments
which I command you this day, to love YHWH your Elohim, and to serve Him with all
your heart and with all your soul,
14 That I will give the rain of your land in its season–the former rain and the latter rain
that you may gather in your grain, and your wine, and your oil.
(Deut. 11:11-14 HRV)

Jeremiah writes:

23 But this people has a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted, and gone.
24 Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear YHWH our Elohim, that gives the
former rain and the latter in due season; that keeps for us the appointed weeks of the
harvest.
25 Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good
from you.
(Jer. 5:24 HRV)

Hosea clearly takes this terminology into a prophetic, symbolic way. The context here is the hiding of the Face of YHWH for two days, followed by a resurrection on the third day! The context has to do with the Ten Tribes becoming “Lost” (i.e. “not My people”) and then returning in the last days:

1 Come, and let us return unto YHWH: for He has torn, and He will heal us; He has
smitten, and He will bind us up.
2 After two days will He revive us; on the third day, He will raise us up, that we may
live in His presence.
3 And let us know–eagerly strive to know YHWH. His going forth is sure as the
morning, and He shall come unto us as the rain–as the latter rain that waters the earth.
(Hosea 6:1-3 HRV)

Thus we see a parallel between the former and latter rain, the two comings of Messiah and the two Houses of Israel.

In Hosea 10:12 Hosea urges the House of Israel to repent and return and again uses the imagery of “rain”. But e see that He will “rain” “righteousness”:

12 Sow to yourselves according to righteousness; reap according to mercy. Break up
your fallow ground, for it is time to seek YHWH: till He come and cause righteousness to
rain upon you.
(Hosea 10:12 HRV)

The first Nazarene Nasi, Ya’akov HaTzadik (James the Just) saw in this passage an allegorical reference to the two comings of Messiah, the first coming to die and be resurrected on the third day.

Ya’akov ties this in with the martyrdom of the “righteous [one]” (the “Just” (same word in Hebrew), the Son of Elohim in Wisdom of Solomon:

[10] Let us oppress the poor righteous man, let us not spare the widow, nor reverence the ancient gray hairs of the aged.
[11] Let our strength be the law of justice: for that which is feeble is found to be nothing worth.
[12] Therefore let us lie in wait for the righteous; because he is not for our turn, and he is clean contrary to our doings: he upbraideth us with our offending the law, and objecteth to our infamy the transgressings of our education.
[13] He professeth to have the knowledge of Elohim: and he calleth himself the child of the Lord.
[14] He was made to reprove our thoughts.
[15] He is grievous unto us even to behold: for his life is not like other men’s, his ways are of another fashion.
[16] We are esteemed of him as counterfeits: he abstaineth from our ways as from filthiness: he pronounceth the end of the just to be blessed, and maketh his boast that Elohim is his Father.
[17] Let us see if his words be true: and let us prove what shall happen in the end of him.
[18] For if the just man be the Son of Elohim, he will help him, and deliver him from the hand of his enemies.
[19] Let us examine him with despitefulness and torture, that we may know his meekness, and prove his patience.
[20] Let us condemn him with a shameful death: for by his own saying he shall be respected.
(Wisdom 2:10-20 KJV)

Ya’akov brings Hosea 6:1-3; 10:12 and Wisdom 2:10-20 together writing:

6 You have condemned and killed the just, and he did not stand against you.
7 But, my brothers, be patient until the coming of YHWH: as the husbandman who
waits for the precious fruit of his ground, and is patient for them until he receives the
early and latter rain.
8 Thus also be patient and establish your hearts: for the coming of our Adon draws nigh.
(Ya’akov (James) 5:6-8 HRV)

But the language 1Maccabees and Hosea use introduces us to the most amazing passage on this topic, Joel 2:23. The context here is the ultimate restoration of Israel in the last days, and here YHWH will send the “latter rain”:

22 Be not afraid, you beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for
the tree bears its fruit; the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength.
23 Be glad then, you children of Tziyon, and rejoice in YHWH your Elohim: for He
gives you the former rain in just measure. And He causes to come down for you, the rain:
the former rain, and the latter rain, at the first.
(Joel 2:22-23 HRV)

The phrase “the former rain in just measure” could also be translated from the Hebrew “Teacher for Righteousness”! In other words the Hebrew could also be read:
23 Be glad then, you children of Tziyon, and rejoice in YHWH your Elohim: for He
gives you the Teacher for Righeousness. And He causes to come down for you, the rain:
the former rain, and the latter rain, at the first. 

No doubt the ancient Essenes wrongly identified their founder with these passages, thus calling him simply “The Teacher of Righteousness”.

Messiah was the true “Teacher for Righteousness” which was prophesied to come twice, like the former and latter rains.

Now lets look at a passage from Zechariah:

1 Ask you of YHWH rain, in the time of the latter rain; even of YHWH that makes
lightnings. And He will give them showers of rain; to every one, grass in the field.
(Zech. 10:1 HRV)

Here we are told that at the time of the Feasts we are to ask YHWH for the “rain”. We are to ask and look for the return of the Messiah at the time of the Feasts!

Now the original Channukah was a belated Sukkot celebration (Sukkot being a “former rain” feast” and YOREH meaning “former rain”).  Thus Yeshua was claiming in John 10 to be the YOREH or 1Macc. 4:46 & Hosea 10:12, the fulfillment of Sukkot and the first of the two comings of YHWH.

Like Judas and the Maccabees Yeshua was driven out of Jerusalem and went to the Wilderness of Judea, only returning when He would come and cleanse the Temple shortly before his crucifixion, thus fulfilling Channukah as well.

As you know we have been digging ourselves out of a budget shortfall.  As I have said to you many times, I look on this work as a co-operative one with me, and all of you combining our resources together in order to get the job done of helping to teach this great truth to all in the world who will listen. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for your continued support, you are the ones who make it all possible by your contributions and your prayers for our work. I truly appreciate your help in every way.

If you can make a one time donation of $500 or $1,000 dollars to support this work.


Donations can be sent by paypal to donations@wnae.org.

Donations can also be made out to “Nazarene Judaism” and sent to:

Nazarene Judaism
PO Box 471
Hurst, TX 76053

And don’t forget to join the conversations at the NazareneSpace Social Network

Check out the Latke recipe for Channukah at the new Messianic Home Space at NazareneSpace!

Judah Maccabee and Baptism for the Dead

Judah Maccabee and Baptism for the Dead
By
James Scott Trimm

I am writing this blog during Channukah. While studying 2Maccabees, I find this passage about actions Judas Maccabee took on behalf of his men who had been killed in battle:

43 And when he had made a gathering throughout the company to the sum of two thousand drachms of silver, he sent it to Jerusalem to offer a sin offering, doing therein very well and honestly, in that he was mindful of the resurrection:
44 For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should have risen again, it had been superfluous and vain to pray for the dead.
45 And also in that he perceived that there was great favour laid up for those that died godly, it was an holy and good thought. Whereupon he made a reconciliation for the dead, that they might be delivered from sin.
(2Maccabees 12:43-45 KJV)

This brings us to a controversial statement by Pual:

And if not, what will those who are immersed do for the dead,
if the dead do not rise? Why are they immersed for the dead?
(1Cor. 15:29 HRV)

In the past I have taught that Paul is here referring to the Jewish practice called TAHARAH, the ceremonial washing of a dead body before burial. In this “baptism for the dead” the deceased is placed on a special board called a “taharah-board” washed and then “baptized” either by immersion in a mikveh or by pouring a continuous stream of nine kavim (usually three buckets).

However, as I have studied it deeper. in the Aramaic, this passage cannot be referring to the TAHARAH ritual. The key word here in the Aramaic is “for” in the phrase “for the dead”. This word in the Aramaic is KH’LAF (חלף) which literally means “on behalf of” or “instead of”. It cannot refer to the TAHARAH because in this ritual, the dead body itself is immersed, and in the ritual described by Paul in the Aramaic, someone else is being immersed on behalf of, or instead of, the dead person.

This brings us to a statement the fourth Century “Church Father” Epiphanius makes about the Cerenthians. The Cerentians were a very early Jewish-Gnostic offshoot from the Nazarenes and Ebionites. In his section on the Cerenthians, Epiphanius writes:

From Asia and Gaul has reached us the account [tradition] of a certain practice, namely that when any die without baptism among them, they baptize others in their place and in their name, so that, rising in the resurrection, they will not have to pay the penalty of having failed to receive baptism, but rather will become subject to the authority of the Creator of the World. For this reason this tradition which has reached us is said to be the very thing to which the Apostle himself refers when he says, “If the dead rise not at all, what shall they do who are baptized for the dead?”
(Panarion 1.28.6).

This is especially interesting because In the very next section of Panarion, Epiphanius begins to discuss the Nazarenes (the original Jewish followers of Yeshua) with this opening statement:

“After these [the Cerenthians] come Nazoraeans, who originated at the same time or even before, or in conjunction with them or after them. In any case they were their contemporaries. I cannot say more precisely who succeeded whom. For, as I said, these were contemporary with each other, and had similar notions.”
(Panarion 1:29:1)

So the evidence is now very hard to deny:

  1. In 2 Maccabees 12:43-45 we read of prayers and sacrificial offerings made on behalf of the dead.
  2. The Aramaic phrase Paul uses in 1Corinthians 15:29 can only refer to immersion on behalf of the dead.
  3. Epiphanius records that the ancient Nazarenes “had similar notions” to the ancient Cerenthians, that the Cerenthians practiced a ritual whereby “when any die without baptism among them, they baptize others in their place and in their name” and that this very ritual “is said to be the very thing to which the Apostle himself refers” to in 1Corinthians 15:29.

It seems undeniable that the dead must be able to receive some benefit from prayers, sacrificial offerings and even ritual immersions made on their behalf!

As you know we have been digging ourselves out of a budget shortfall.  As I have said to you many times, I look on this work as a co-operative one with me, and all of you combining our resources together in order to get the job done of helping to teach this great truth to all in the world who will listen. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for your continued support, you are the ones who make it all possible by your contributions and your prayers for our work. I truly appreciate your help in every way.

If you can make a one time donation of $500 or $1,000 dollars to support this work.


Donations can be sent by paypal to donations@wnae.org.

Donations can also be made out to “Nazarene Judaism” and sent to:

Nazarene Judaism
PO Box 471
Hurst, TX 76053

And don’t forget to join the conversations at the NazareneSpace Social Network

Check out the Latke recipe for Channukah at the new Messianic Home Space at NazareneSpace!

Immortality of the Soul and the Afterlife

Immortality of the Soul and the Afterlife
By
James Scott Trimm



What happens when we die?  Many Christians believe we find ourselves as angelic beings in heaven, strumming on harps and hanging around on clouds.  This is, of course, totally unscriptural, and totally ignores the biblical doctrine of the resurrection.  On the other hand some Millerites (Millerites are Christian and para-Christian groups which descend from the teachings of William Millar, including SDA, The old Worldwide Church of God, the Jehovah’s Witnesses etc.) teach the doctrine of Soul Sleep.  But this doctrine is also not Scriptural.


The Immortality of the Soul

Belief in the immortality of the Soul has always been a foundational belief of Judaism. 

Josephus writes of the Pharisees of the first century: “They say that every soul is imperishable” (Josephus Wars 2.8.14) and “They hold the belief that an immortal strength belongs to souls” (Josephus Ant. 18.1.3).

And as Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan has written: “One of the foundations of our faith is the belief in the immortality of the soul, and in life after death.” (The Soul; Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan)

Rabbi Kaplan explains that the immortality of the soul is an inescapable conclusion of the premise that Elohim is omniscient (all knowing).  He writes:

But what happens to the real you — the human personality? What happens to all this information — the memories, thought patterns and personality traits? When a book is burned, its contents are no longer available. When a computer is smashed, the information within it is also destroyed.

What happens to all this information — the memories, thought patterns and personality traits?

Does the same thing happen when a person dies? Is the mind and personality irretrievably lost?

We know that God is omniscient. He knows all and does not forget. God knows every thought and memory that exists within our brains. There is no bit of information that escapes His knowledge.

What, then, happens when a person dies?

God does not forget, and therefore all of this information continues to exist, at least in God’s memory.

(An allusion to this is also found in the Kaballah. Gan Eden or Paradise is said to exist in the sefirah of Binah — the divine understanding. This may well be related to the concept of memory. Souls, on the other hand, are conceived in the sefirah of Daas — knowledge. One may say that while we live, we exist in God’s knowledge; after death we exist in His memory.)

We may think of something existing only in memory as being static and effectively dead. But God’s memory is not a static thing. The sum total of a human personality may indeed exist in God’s memory, but it can still maintain its self-identity and volition, and remain in an active state.

This sum total of the human personality existing in God’s memory is what lives on even after man dies…
(Immortality and the Soul; Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan)


The Soul Sleep Error

Before I give a theology concerning the afterlife, I must first respond to some of the “proof texts” used by those who advocate a theology known as “Soul Sleep”.  This is a theology that teaches that a man’s soul ceases to exist at death, until his resurrection, at which time the righteous have immortality, while the souls of the wicked are destroyed in Gey Hinnom, and again cease to exist.

One passage cited to support the Soul Sleep doctrine is Genesis 3:19 “dust you are, dust you shall become”.  Of course if “dust you shall become” means we are unconscious or cease to exist in the afterlife then “dust you are” would means that we are unconscious or do not exist now.  And obviously an argument that proves to much, proves nothing at all.

Proponents of this theology often cite various verses from Ecclesiastes to support their position.  However the purpose of Ecclesiates is not to give Elohim’s revelation on the subjects it treats, but to explain how things appear without the light of Elohim.  Thus we read in the early verses of the book:

I Kohelet have been king over Yisra’el in Yerushalayim.  And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven; it is a sore     
task that Elohim has given to the sons of men to be exercised therewith.  I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.
That which is crooked cannot be made straight; and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.  I spoke with my own heart, saying: ‘Behold, I have gotten great wisdom, more also than all that were before me over Yerushalayim’; yes, my heart has had great experience of     wisdom and knowledge.  And I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly–I perceived that this also was a striving after wind.  For in much wisdom is much vexation; and he that increases knowledge increases sorrow.
(Eccl. 1:12-18 HRV)

For example “all is vanity” (Ecc. 1:14) is not Elohim’s revelation on the subject of life, but a pessimistic statement about what life seems like without Elohim’s revelation.  Throughout the book of Ecclesiastes Solomon uses the phrases “under heaven” and “under the sun” to emphasize the context of his statements.  In this context the book stresses how that, apart from Elohim’s revelation, a man’s life seems no more significant than an animals, that his death seems no different, and that we can see no afterlife.  For example:

I said in my heart: ‘It is because of the sons of men,
that Elohim may sift them, and that they may see that
they themselves are but as beasts.’
For that which befalls the sons of men befalls beasts;
even one thing befalls them; as the one dies, so dies
the other; yes, they have all one breath; so that man
has no pre-eminence above a beast; for all is vanity.
All go unto one place; all are of the dust,
and all return to dust.
(Eccl. 3:18-20 HRV)

For the living know that they shall die; but the dead
know not any thing, neither have they any more
a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
(Eccl. 9:5 HRV)

Note that if we understand Ecc. 3:20 “all return to dust” means that there is no afterlife, then “all are dust” in the same verse, would have to mean we are not alive now!  And if the same interpretation is applies to all of Ecc. 9:5 then “neither have they any more a reward” would mean that there is no reward in the afterlife for any man.

Another book used to “prove” the doctrine of soul sleep is the book of Job.  The book of Job is similar to the book of Ecclesiastes, as much of the books contains the words of Job and his friends, but in the book YHWH rebukes Job’s unenlightened words saying:

1 Then YHWH answered Iyov, out of the whirlwind, and said:
2 Who is this that darkens counsel, by words without knowledge?
3 Gird up now your loins like a man: for I will demand of you, and declare you unto Me.
(Job 38:1-3 HRV)

Citing Job’s word’s in the Book of Job to support Soul Sleep is to make an uninformed use of the text of the book of Job. Another passage often cited to support “Soul Sleep” is Psalm 146:4 “his thoughts are lost”.  The Hebrew word for “thoughts” in Ps. 146:4 is עשתנות can also be translated “counsels”.  It means that what thoughts that person might have shared with the world are lost. 


What the Hell?

There are three words translated “Hell” in most English Bibles, however “Hell” may not be the best translation for all or any of these words.  Let us examine these three words one at a time, and in the process, see what we may learn about the afterlife:


What is She’ol?

The first Hebrew word we will discuss is She’ol which the Greek texts render as “Hades.”  Some have taught that the Hebrew word “She’ol” (commonly translated “Hell”) should be simply understood as a Hebrew word for “grave” or “pit”.  However the Hebrew word She’ol always appears in the feminine form and NEVER has a definite artical in any of its many appearances in the Tanak. Therefore it is almost certain that SHE’OL is a proper noun, the name of a place.  As the Encyclopedia Judaica states:

“Several names are given to the abode of the dead, the most common being She’ol—always feminine and without the definite article—a sign of proper nouns.  The term does not occur in other Semitic languages, except as a loan word from Hebrew She’ol, and its etymology is obscure.”
(Encyclopedia Judaica; Article “Netherworld” p. 996)

In the Tanak the word SHE’OL is often contrasted with “Heaven” (Job 11:8; Ps. 139:8; Amos 9:2). According to the Tanak the wicked and godless nations go to SHE’OL (Ps. 9:17) According to Psalm 86:13 the soul goes to SHE’OL. According to Proverbs 15:24 SHE’OL can be avoided. In Prov. 23:14 a soul is delivered from SHE’OL. In Is. 57:9 a soul is lowered to SHE’OL.

So SHE’OL would seem to be the proper name of a place which may be contrasted with Heaven to which souls go and from which they may be delivered.

The First Century Jewish Historian Josephus describes the Pharisees as having a belief in this place of pre-resurrection afterlife.  He writes of the Pharisees:

“They hold the belief that an immortal strength belongs to souls, and that there are beneath the earth punishments and rewards for those who in life devoted themselves to virtue or vileness, and that eternal imprisonment is appointed for the latter, but the possibility of returning to life for the former”
(Josephus Ant. 18.1.3)

According to Ezek. 31:16-18 Gan Eden (The Garden of Eden) was cast into SHE’OL (Ezek. 31:16-18).  Thus Gan Eden has become a compartment within She’ol, where the righteous await the resurrection.

The Book of Enoch describes this compartmentalized place of the pre-resurrection afterlife as follows:

1 And thence I went to another place, and he showed me toward the west a large and high mountain of hard rock.
2 And there was in it four hollow places, deep and wide and very smooth. How smooth are the hollow places and deep and dark to look at.
3 Then Rafa’el answered, one of the set-apart angels who was with me, and said unto me: ‘These hollow places have been created for this very purpose, that the spirits of the souls of the dead should assemble therein, yea that all the souls of the children of men should assemble here.
4 And lo these are the pits for their imprisonment; they have been fashioned in this way till the day of their judgment and till the time of the end of the great judgment and till the time of the end of the great judgment, which is to be made against them.
5 ‘ There I saw the spirit of a dead man making suit, and his voice went forth to heaven crying unceasingly and making suit.
6 And I asked Rafa’el the watcher and set-apart one who was with me, and I said unto him: ‘This spirit which makes suit, whose is it, whose voice goes forth and makes suit to heaven?’
7 And he answered me saying: ‘This is the spirit which went forth from Abel, whom his brother Cain slew, and he makes his suit against him till  his seed is destroyed from the face of the earth, and his seed is annihilated from among the seed of men.’
8 Then I asked regarding it, and regarding all the hollow places: ‘Why is one separated from the other?’
9 And he answered me and said unto me: ‘These three have been made that the spirits of the dead might be separated. And such a division has been make (for) the spirits of the righteous, in which there is the bright spring of water.
10 And such has been made for sinners when they die and are buried in the earth and judgment has not been executed on them in their lifetime.
11 Here their spirits shall be set apart in this great pain till the great day of judgment and punishment and torment of those who curse for ever and retribution for their spirits. There He shall bind them for ever.
12 And such a division has been made for the spirits of those who make their suit, who make disclosures concerning their destruction, when they were slain in the days of the sinners.
13 Such has been made for the spirits of men who were not righteous but sinners, who were complete in transgression, and of the transgressors they shall be companions: but their spirits shall not be slain in the day of judgment nor shall they be afflicted from thence.’
14 Then I blessed YHWH of glory and said: ‘Blessed be my Master, YHWH of righteousness, who rules for ever.’
(1Enoch 22:1-14)

Yeshua himself gives us a peek into the pre-resurrection afterlife in his account of El’azar and the rich man:

19 Now there was one rich man and he wore linen and purple, and everyday, he was luxuriously merry.
20 And there was one poor man, whose name was El’azar: and he lay at the gate of that rich man, stricken with sores.
21 And he desired that his belly be filled, from the crumbs that fell from the table of that rich man: but even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 Now time passed, and that poor man died, and the angels carried him to the bosom of Avraham: and also that rich man, died and was buried.
23 And while tormented in she’ol, he lifted up his eyes from afar, and saw Avraham, and El’azar in his bosom.
24 And he cried with a great voice and said, My father Avraham, have mercy on me.  And send El’azar to dip the tip of his finger in water, and to moisten my tongue for me, for behold, I am tormented in this flame.
25 Avraham said to him, My son, remember that you received your good during your life, and El’azar his bad: and now, behold, he is resting here, and you are tormented.
26 And with all these things, a great gulf is placed between us and you, so that those who want to pass over from here to you, are not able, nor from there, to pass over to us.
27 Then he said to him, I beg of you, my father, that you send him to the house of my father,
28 For I have five brothers. Let him go and testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment!
29 Avraham said to him, They have Moshe and the prophets: let them hear them.
30 And he said to him, No, my father Avraham, but if a man from the dead would go to them, they would repent.
31 Avraham said to him, If they will not hear Moshe and the prophets, even if a man would rise from the dead, they would not believe him.
(Luke 16:19-31 HRV)

Some have tried to dismiss this account as a mere parable.  However Yeshua does not introduce this account as a parable.  Instead he tells us “there was one rich man” and “there was one poor man” so as to tell us that these men actually existed and these events actually occurred.  However even if we were to accept that this account is a mere parable, the elements of the parable must be rooted in truth or the parable would be meaningless.  For example in the parable of the seed, seed sown in the various types of ground does in fact react in the same manner described in the parable.  A net cast into the sea does in fact bring forth fish.  The basic aspects of this account therefore, even if they are a parable, must be true.  Even if the events were meant as a parable, to be a valid parable with valid meaning, the events have to be events that at least COULD have happened.

In this account Yeshua describes Sheol as having at least two compartments, one is a place of rest, which he calls “The Bosom of Avraham” the other is not named, but is a place where one is “tormented in flame”.  We are told that the two are separated by “a great gulf” so that souls cannot cross from one to the other.


Souls are Conscious and Aware in She’ol

Of course the above passages have already demonstrated that souls are conscious and aware while in Sheol (thus the conversation between Avraham and El’azar in Luke 16:19-31 and Abel making suit in 1Enoch 22).  There are, however, several more:

9 And when He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar, the nefeshot [souls] of those who were killed because of the Word of Eloah, and because of the testimony of Yeshua that they had.
10 And they cried with a great voice and said, How long, YHWH, Set-Apart and True, do You not judge and require our blood of the inhabitants of the earth?
11 And there was given to each and every one of them a white robe. And it was said that they should rest for the period of a short time until it should be ended–even their fellows and their brothers who were about to be killed, as also they [had been].
(Rev. 6:9-11 HRV)

This agrees with a Rabbinic tradition recorded in the Talmud. that the chamber of departed souls is under the throne:

It was taught, R. Eliezer said: The souls of the righteous are hidden under the Throne of Glory, as it is said, yet the soul of thine Lord shall be bound up in the bundle of life.
(b.Shabbat 152b)

This passage from Revelation also recalls material from 2Esdras (in the Apocrypha):

In 2Esdras 4 Ezra asks the angel Uriel how long it will be until the judgment.:

[33] Then I answered and said, “How long and when will these things be? Why are our years few and evil?”
[34] He answered me and said, “You do not hasten faster than the Most High, for your haste is for yourself, but the Highest hastens on behalf of many.
[35] Did not the souls of the righteous in their chambers ask about these matters, saying, ‘How long are we to remain here? And when will come the harvest of our reward?
[36] And Jeremiel the archangel answered them and said, `When the number of those like yourselves is completed; for he has weighed the age in the balance,
[37] and measured the times by measure, and numbered the times by number; and he will not move or arouse them until that measure is fulfilled.'”
[38] Then I answered and said, “O sovereign Lord, but all of us also are full of ungodliness.
[39] And it is perhaps on account of us that the time of threshing is delayed for the righteous — on account of the sins of those who dwell on earth.”
[40] He answered me and said, “Go and ask a woman who is with child if, when her nine months have been completed, her womb can keep the child within her any longer.”
[41] And I said, “No, lord, it cannot.” And he said to me, “In Hades [Sheol] the chambers of the souls are like the womb.
[42] For just as a woman who is in travail makes haste to escape the pangs of birth, so also do these places hasten to give back those things that were committed to them from the beginning.
[43] Then the things that you desire to see will be disclosed to you.”
(2Esdras 4:33-43 RSV)


What is Gey Hinnim?

The next Hebrew word we will look at is Gey Hinnom sometimes abbreviated as Gehenna which the Greek transliterates into the Greek texts as “Gehenna”.

GEY HINNOM was a vally just outside of Jerusalem (Joh. 15:8; 18:16; Neh. 11:30; Jer. 19:2, 6) where pagans had offered up their own children to Ba’al and Molech (2Kn. 23:10; 2Ch. 28:3; 33:6; Jer. 7:31-32; 19:2, 6; 32:35). In the first century all of the refuse of the city was cast into GEY HINNOM and burned there.

In the Mishna GEY HINNOM is contrasted with Gan Eden and with the World to Come as the place where the wicked go (m.Avot 5:19-20; m.Eduy. 2:10) . The Talmud also contrasts GEY HINNOM with Heaven as a place where the wicked go (b.Ber. 28a). According to the Talmud GEY HINNOM is huge (b.Pes. 94a) and has seven compartments (b.Sotah 19b).

Josephus describes this place when he writes:

“They say that every soul is imperishable, but that only those of the righteous pass into another body, while those of the wicked are, on the contrary, punished with eternal torment
(Josephus Wars 2.8.14)

“They hold the belief that an immortal strength belongs to souls, and that there are beneath the earth punishments and rewards for those who in life devoted themselves to virtue or vileness, and that eternal imprisonment is appointed for the latter, but the possibility of returning to life for the former”
(Josephus Ant. 18.1.3)

Yeshua alludes to Gey Hinnom as follows:

43 Now, if your hand offends you, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed, than while you have two hands, to go to Gey-Hinnom,
44 <Where their worm does not die and their fire does not go out.>
45 And if your foot offends you, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, than while you have two feet, to fall into Gey-Hinnom,
46 <Where their worm does not die and their fire does not go out. >
47 And if your eye offends you, pluck it out. It is better for you that you enter the Kingdom of Eloah with one of your eyes, than while you have two eyes, to fall into Gey-Hinnom of fire,
48 Where their worm does not die, and their fire does not go out.
(Mark 9:43-48 HRV)

The phrase “their worm does not die” is taken from the last verse of Isaiah:

And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have rebelled against Me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched, and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.
(Isaiah 66:24 HRV)

According to Yeshua this verse of Isaiah speaks of Gey Hinnom.  No doubt Yeshua draws this connection from the Targum to this verse which reads:

And they shall go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men, the sinners, who have rebelled against my Word: for their souls shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched; and the wicked shall be judged in Gehinnom, till the righteous shall say concerning them, we have seen enough.
(Isaiah 66:24 Targum Jonathan)

Notice that the Targum which Yeshua clearly alludes to here, paraphrases “their worm shall not die” with “their SOULS shall not die” indicating the immortality of the souls in Gey Hinnom, and by implication eternal torment in “Hell”.

There is actually some debate in the ancient Jewish sources as to whether Gey Hinnom is a place of eternal torment, or whether souls sent there would eventually be released.

Some sources seem to point to Gey Hinnom as a place of eternal torment.  As shown above the Targum Jonathan to Isaiah 66:24 speaks of Gey Hinnom as a place where the soul does not die.  One passage in the Talmus tells us:

When Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai fell ill, his disciples went in to visit him. When he saw them he began to weep. His disciples said to him: Lamp of Israel, pillar of the right hand, mighty hammer! Wherefore weepest thou? He replied: If I were being taken today before a human king who is here today and tomorrow in the grave, whose anger if he is angry with me does not last for ever, who if he imprisons me does not imprison me forever and who if he puts me to death does not put me to everlasting death, and whom I can persuade with words and bribe with money, even so I would weep.
(b.Ber. 28b)

But while Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai  speaks of eternal punishment, Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Yochanan ben Nuri held the view that the judgment of Gey Hinnom was only a temporary judgment:

Rabbi Akiva declared… The Judgment of the ungodly in Gehena is twelve months, for it is said, And it will be from one month until its [same] month (Is. 66:23-24).  Rabbi Yochanan ben Nuri says: From Passover to Shavuot, for it is said from one sabbath until its next Sabbath.  
(m.Eduyot 2:10)

It is for this reason that many Rabbinical books (Such as the common English edition of the Tanya) render Gey Hinnom into English with the word “Purgatory” rather than “Hell”.

Yet another passage of Talmud teaches that punishment in Gey Hinnom is temporary in some cases, yet eternal in others:

Wrongdoers of Israel who sin with their body and wrongdoers of the Gentiles who sin with their body go down to Gehinnom and are punished there for twelve months. After twelve months their body is consumed and their soul is burnt and the wind scatters them under the soles of the feet of the righteous as it says, And ye shall tread down the wicked, and they shall be as ashes under the soles of your feet. But as for the minim and the informers and the scoffers, who rejected the Torah and denied the resurrection of the dead, and those who abandoned the ways of the community, and those who ‘spread their terror in the land of the living’, and who sinned and made the masses sin, like Jeroboam the son of Nebat and his fellows — these will go down to Gehinnom and be punished there for all generations, as it says, And they shall go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men that have rebelled against me etc.
(b.Rosh HaShanna 17a)

If some souls are ultimately freed from Gey Hinnom after they are purged and purified in Gey Hinnom, it might explain certain passages.

We read in 2nd Maccabees:

43 And when he had made a gathering throughout the company to the sum of two thousand drachms of silver, he sent it to Jerusalem to offer a sin offering, doing therein very well and honestly, in that he was mindful of the resurrection:
44 For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should have risen again, it had been superfluous and vain to pray for the dead.
45 And also in that he perceived that there was great favour laid up for those that died godly, it was an holy and good thought. Whereupon he made a reconciliation for the dead, that they might be delivered from sin.
(2Maccabees 12:43-45 KJV)  

This certainly implies that the eternal future of the dead, prior to the resurrection, may as yet be undetermined, that souls in Sheol, might yet be redeemed.

This might also shed some light on a statement Yeshua makes concerning Gey Hinnom:

22 But I tell you, that whoever shall be enraged against his brother, he will be condemned to the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, You are nothing: he will be condemned to the council of the synagogue. And whoever says to him, You impious one: he will be condemned to the fire of Gey Hinnom.
23 And if you present your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you:
24 Leave your offering there before the altar, and go you first, to atone to your brother, and then come and give your offering.
25 Come to terms with your adversary quickly, while you are with him on the way: lest HaSatan deliver you up to the judge, and the judge deliver you up to the officer, and you be cast into the jail.
26 Amen, I tell you, you will not go out from there, until you have paid the last penny.
(Matt. 5:22-26 HRV see also Luke 12:58-59)

Here the “jail” (verse 25) is certainly Gey Hinnom (verse 22), but why does Yeshua add the statement “you will not go out from there, until you have paid the last penny.” (verse 26)?  In keeping with the Jewish traditions presented herein, is Yeshua not implying that, at least in some cases, Gey Hinnom is a temporary state?

If so “blasphemy of the Ruach HaKodesh” would be one of the sins for which Gey Hinnom would be inescapable, as Yeshua says:

31 And therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven the sons of men: but the blasphemy which is against the Spirit will not be forgiven.
32 And every man that says a word against a son of man, it will be forgiven him. But he that says a word against the Ruach HaKodesh, it will not be forgiven him: neither in this world, or in the world to come.
(Matt. 12:31-32 HRV)

It must be understood that this “temporary” Gey Hinnom, is not the temporary Gey Hinnom taught by the Soul Sleep doctrine, as these souls do not end their time in Gey Hinnom by being annihilated out of existence, (this is impossible, as we have already shown, the soul is inherently eternal) and as the Targum says “their soul does not die.”  Instead these souls are released, not annihilated.   Of course the concept of a temporary stay in Gey Hinnom vs. a permanent stay there creates many questions.  Who is the temporary stay for?  Do the unredeemed have an opportunity to become redeemed in Gey Hinnom?  Is this the meaning of “for this reason was the goodnews proclaimed to them which are dead” (1Kefa 4:6)?   Or are saved persons who have been unrighteous (not Torah Observant) purged in Gey Hinnom before they enter Gan Eden? 


What is Tachti?

One final word translated as “hell” in the KJV is Greek Torturous (Heb: Tachti) which appears in only one verse:

For if Eloah did not spare the angels who sinned,
but cast them down to takh’ti,
and delivered them into chains of darkness
to be reserved for judgment,
(2Kefa 2:4 HRV)

Takhti refers to the lowest parts of a pit, and in this case the lowest compartment of She’ol.  This compartment is reserved only for fallen angels and not for human souls.


Bringing it Together


Upon death the soul goes into SHE’OL.  The souls of the wicked go to a compartment known as Gey Hinnom while the righteous are kept in another compartment GAN EDEN which had been cast into SHE’OL (Ezek. 31:16-18). In between the two is a great fixed gulf (Luke 16:26). The souls of the dead await the resurrection in SHE’OL when they are reunited with their bodies and spirits at the resurrection. At that time GAN EDEN (or PARDES) is moved into the World to Come (the New heavens and the new Earth) (Rev. 2:7; 21:1; 22:2) while SHE’OL is cast into the lake of Fire (GEY HINNOM (Rev. 20:14)).

As you know we have been digging ourselves out of a budget shortfall.  As I have said to you many times, I look on this work as a co-operative one with me, and all of you combining our resources together in order to get the job done of helping to teach this great truth to all in the world who will listen. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for your continued support, you are the ones who make it all possible by your contributions and your prayers for our work. I truly appreciate your help in every way.

If you can make a one time donation of $500 or $1,000 dollars to support this work.


Donations can be sent by paypal to donations@wnae.org.

Donations can also be made out to “Nazarene Judaism” and sent to:

Nazarene Judaism
PO Box 471
Hurst, TX 76053

And don’t forget to join the conversations at the NazareneSpace Social Network

Check out the Latke recipe for Channukah at the new Messianic Home Space at NazareneSpace!

Why Do We Add a Light for Eight Nights?

Why Do We Add a Light for Eight Nights?
By
James Scott Trimm



Why do we light eight lights, adding a light for each day of Channukah?

Actually, the question of whether to begin lighting with one light and proceed, adding one each night, until there are eight on the eighth night of Chanukah or do just the opposite, begin with eight lights and end with one, was a matter of debate when Yeshua was just a child. In fact, it was one of the famous “machlokot,” or disagreements, between two of the great sages of Israel, Hillel and Shammai, as recorded in the Talmud:

Our Rabbis taught: The precept of Hanukkah [demands] one light for a man and his household;  the zealous [kindle] a light for each member [of the household]; and the extremely zealous, — Beth Shammai maintain: On the first day eight lights are lit and thereafter they are gradually reduced; , but Beth Hillel say: On the first day one is lit and thereafter they are progressively increased. ‘Ulla said: In the West [Palestine] two amoraim, R. Jose b. Abin and R. Jose b. Zebida, differ therein: one maintains, The reason of Beth Shammai is that it shall correspond to the days still to come, and that of Beth Hillel is that it shall correspond to the days that are gone; but another maintains: Beth Shammai’s reason is that it shall correspond to the bullocks of the Festival; whilst Beth Hillel’s reason is that we promote in [matters of] sanctity but do not reduce.

Rabbah b. Bar Hana said: There were two old men in Sidon: one did as Beth Shammai and the other as Beth Hillel: the former gave the reason of his action that it should correspond to the bullocks of the Festival, while the latter stated his reason because we promote in [matters of] sanctity but do not reduce.
(b.Shabbat 21b)

Within Rabbinic literature we have record of over 350 disputes between the School of Hillel and the School of Shammai. Generally Shammai gave the stricter interpretation, while Hillel’s understandings were more relaxed.

The Zohar (in Zohar (Ra’aya Meheimna) 3:245a) tells us that the positions of the House of Shammai were rooted in GEVURAH (“severity”) while the positions of the House of Hillel were rooted in CHESED (“grace”/”mercy”)

This is very significant. In Mark’s account of Yeshua’s summary of the Torah (Mk. 12:28-33) A “scribe” comes to question Yeshua. In Matthew’s account this “scribe” is identified as a Pharisee (Mt. 22:34-36). According to Mark’s account this Pharisee not only agreed with Yeshua’s summary of Torah and repeated it adding:

…and to love his neighbor as himself,
is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.
(Mt. 12:33b)

It is not unlikely from this context that the Pharisee was quoting a now-lost saying of Hillel here. In making this statement the Pharisee, who apparently was from the School of Hillel, was pointing to Hosea 6:6:

For I [YHWH] desire mercy (CHESED), and not sacrifice;
and the knowledge of ELOHIM more than burnt offerings.

This Pharisee seems to have identified “love your neighbor” of Lev. 19:18 with the CHESED of Hosea 6:6. Remember the relaxed halachic positions of the School of Hillel were based on CHESED, it is indeed likely that Hosea 6:6 served as a proof text for many of their halachic rulings, since this passage assigns a halachic weight to CHESED. We also find Yeshua using Hosea 6:6 in support of his relaxed halachic rulings regarding the Shabbat (Mt. 12:7 = Hosea 6:6) here Yeshua argues from Hosea 6:6 that CHESED is of greater weight than the sacrifices. Since CHESED out weighs sacrifice, and sacrifice out weighs Shabbat, then CHESED out weighs Shabbat.

It seems that both Yeshua and Hillel emphasised love for all men, taught the “golden rule” and had many of their halachic rulings rooted in CHESED (“mercy”).

When we add a candle each day for each of the eight days of Channukah, it represents the expanding nature of CHESED (mercy) as opposed to the contracting nature of GEVURAH (severity).

As you know we have been digging ourselves out of a budget shortfall.  As I have said to you many times, I look on this work as a co-operative one with me, and all of you combining our resources together in order to get the job done of helping to teach this great truth to all in the world who will listen. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for your continued support, you are the ones who make it all possible by your contributions and your prayers for our work. I truly appreciate your help in every way.

If you can make a one time donation of $500 or $1,000 dollars to support this work.


Donations can be sent by paypal to donations@wnae.org.

Donations can also be made out to “Nazarene Judaism” and sent to:

Nazarene Judaism
PO Box 471
Hurst, TX 76053

And don’t forget to join the conversations at the NazareneSpace Social Network

Check out the Latke recipe for Channukah at the new Messianic Home Space at NazareneSpace!

Channukah , Pardes and the Books of the Maccabees

Channukah , Pardes and the Books of the Maccabees

By James Trimm



The Channukah story is found in the Apocrypha in the four Books of the Maccabees.  Interestingly these four books recount the Channukah story on each of the Four levels of understanding known in Judaism as PaRDeS.

PARDES

The Hebrew/Aramaic word PARDES is spelled in Hebrew and Aramaic without vowels as PRDS. PaRDeS refers to a park or garden, esp. the Garden of Eden. The word appears three times in the Aramaic New Testament (Lk. 23:43; 2Cor. 12:4 & Rev. 2:7).  The word PRDS is also an acronym (called in Judaism “notarikon”) for:

[P]ashat  (Heb. “simple”)

[R]emez  (Heb. “hint”)

[D]rash  (Heb. “search”)

[S]od  (Heb. “hidden”)

These are the four levels of understanding the scriptures. Each layer is deeper and more intense than the last, like the layers of an onion.


PASHAT

The first level of understanding is PASHAT (simple). The Pashat is the literal meaning. It is similar to what Protestant hermeneutics calls “Grammatical Historical Exogesis” and also similar to what Protestant Hermeneutics calls “The Literal Principle.”

The PASHAT is the plain, simple meaning of the text; understanding scripture in its natural, normal sense using the customary meanings of the words being used, in accordance with the primary exegetical rule in the Talmud that no passage loses its PASHAT (b.Shab. 63a; b.Yeb. 24a). While there is figurative language (Ps. 36:7) symbolism (like Rom. 5:14); allegory (like Gal. 4:19-31) and hidden meanings (like Rev. 13:18; see also 1Cor. 2:7) in the Scriptures, the first thing to look for is the literal meaning or PASHAT.

The following rules of thumb can be used to determine if a passage is figurative and therefore figurative even in its PASHAT:

When an inanimate object is used to describe a living being, the statement is figurative.  (Example: Prov. 18:10)
When life and action are attributed to an inanimate object the statement is figurative.  (Example: same example Prov. 18:10)
When an expression is out of character with the thing described, the statement is figurative.  (Example: Ps. 17:8)

PASHAT is the keystone of Scripture understanding. If we discard the PASHAT we lose any real chance of an accurate understanding, left with a no-holds-barred game of pure imagination in which we are no longer objectively deriving meaning from the Scriptures (exogesis), but subjectively reading meaning into the scriptures (eisogesis) (see 2Pt. 1:20-21; 1Tim. 4:3-4). Thus Talmud twice warns us: “No passage loses its PASHAT” (b.Shab. 63a; b.Yeb. 24a).


REMEZ

The next level of understanding is called in Hebrew REMEZ (hint). This is the implied meaning of the text. Peculiarities in the text are regarded as hinting at a deeper truth than that conveyed by its PASHAT.

An example of implied “REMEZ” meaning may be found in Ex. 21:26-26-27 where we are told of our liability regarding eyes and teeth. By the “REMEZ” understanding we know that this liability also applies to other body parts.


DRASH

Another level of understanding the Scriptures is called in Hebrew “drash” meaning “search”, this is the allegorical, typological or homiletical application of the text. Creativity is used to search the text in relation to the rest of the Scriptures, other literature, or life itself in order to develop an allegorical, typological or homiletical application of the text. This process involves eisogesis (reading of the text) of the text.

Three important rules in utilizing the drash level of understanding a scripture are:
[1] A drash understanding can not be used to strip a passage of its PASHAT meaning, nor may any such understanding contradict any PASHAT meaning of any other scripture passage. As the Talmud states “No passage loses its PASHAT.” (b.Shab. 63a; bYeb. 24a)

[2] Let scripture interpret scripture. Look for the scriptures themselves to define the components of an allegory. For example use Mt. 12:18-23 to understand Mt. 13:3-9; Rev. 1:20 to understand Rev. 1:12-16; Rev. 17:7-18 to understand Rev. 17:2-8 etc.

[3] The primary components of an allegory represent specific realities. We should limit ourselves to these primary components when understanding the text.

EXAMPLES OF DRASH UNDERSTANDINGS:      Mt. 2:15 on Hosea 11:1
Mt. 3:11 on Is. 40:3
Rom. 5:14 (14-21) on Gen. 3:1-24
I Cor. 4:6
Gal. 4:24(21-31) on Gen. 17-22
Col 2:17
Heb. 8:5 on priesthood
Heb. 9:9, 24 on the Tabernacle
Heb. 10:1 on the Torah
Heb. 11:19 on Gen. 22:1f
1Pt. 3:21 on Gen. 6-9


SOD

The final level of understanding the Scriptures is called in Hebrew “SOD” meaning “hidden”. This understanding is the hidden, secret or mystic meaning of a text. (See I Cor. 2:7-16 esp. 2:7). This process often involves returning the letters of a word to their prime-material state and giving them new form in order to reveal a hidden meaning. An example may be found in Rev. 13:18 where the identity of the Beast is expressed by its numeric value.


THE FOUR GOSPELS

The Four Gospels each express one of these four levels of understanding of The Gospel according to the Hebrews. Each also expresses a different aspect of the Messiah and
corresponds to each of the four faces of the living beings in Ezekiel 1.

The Pashat Gospel is Mark. Mark presents the Messiah as the servant (the
servant who purifies the Goyim in Is. 52:13, 15) the “my servant the
Branch” of Zech.3:8 who is symbolized by the face of the Ox in Ezekiel 1
(the Ox being a servant, a beast of burden). Mark does not begin with an
account of the birth of Messiah as do Matthew and Luke because, unlike the
birth of a King, the birth of a servant is unimportant, all that is
important is his work as a servant which begins with his immersion by
Yochanan. Thus Mark’s simplified account omits any account of Yeshua’s
birth or preexistence and centers on his work as a servant who purifies
the Goyim.

The Remez Gospel is Luke. Luke wrote a more detailed account for the High
Priest Theophilus (a Sadducee). The Sadducees were rationalists and
sticklers for details. Luke presents Yeshua as the “Son of Man” and as
“the man whose name is the Branch” (Zech
6:12) who is presented as a High Priest and is symbolized by the face of
the man in Ezekiel 1. Luke wants to remind by remez (by implication) the
High Priest Theophilus about the redemption of the filthy High Priest
Joshua (Zech. 6) and its prophetic foreshadowing of a “man” who is a
Messianic “Priest” and who can purify even a
High Priest.

The Drash Gospel is Matthew. Matthew presents his account of Yeshua’s life
as a Midrash to the Pharisees, as a continuing story tied to various
passages from the Tanak (for example Mt. 2:13-15 presents an allegorical
understanding of Hosea 11:1).. As a drash level account Matthew also
includes a number of parables in his account. Matthew presents Messiah as
the King Messiah, the Branch of David (Jer. 23:5-6 & Is. 11:1f) symbolized
by the face of the lion in Ezekiel 1.

The Sod Gospel is Yochanan (John). Yochanan addresses the Mystical Essene
sect and concerns himself with mystical topics like light, life, truth,
the way and the Word. Yochanan includes many Sod interpretations in his
account. For example Yochanan 1:1 presents a Sod understanding of Gen.
1:1. Yochanan 3:14; 8:28 & 12:32 present a Sod understanding of Num. 21:9
etc.).


THE FOUR BOOKS OF SOLOMON

Now lets look at these levels in relation to the four books of Solomon:

1. Ecclesiastes is written on the PASHAT level. Solomon was inspired by Elohim to write a book about how the world appears without the revelation of Elohim “under the sun” or “under heaven”. This book is not YHWH’s revelation on the subjects it touches, but YHWH’s revelation of how those subjects seem to mean WITHOUT YHWH’s revelation.

2. Proverbs is written on the REMEZ level. This book digs deeper and implies the revelation of YHWH, examining its topics in light of that revelation.

3. The Song of Solomon is written on the Drash level and gives an allegory of YHWH and his relationship to Israel as His bride.

4. The Wisdom of Solomon “hidden” in the apocrypha (“Apocrypha means “hidden”) this book deals with much deeper subjects of the light of YHWH’s revelation.


THE FOUR BOOKS OF THE MACCABEES

Finally there are the Four Books of the Maccabees. These give the story of Channukah.  Channukah is the Jewish holiday which celebrates the rededication of the Temple after it had been defiled by Antiochus Epiphanies. This festival celebrates the victory of the Jewish rebels known as the “Maccabees” over the Greco-Syrians who had outlawed Torah observance and were attempting to force all Jews to embrace Greek Paganism and Greek customs. The exploits of the Maccabees are to be found in the four Books of the Maccabees.

These four books give the Channukah story on each of the four levels of understanding known as PaRDeS:

PASHAT
1st Maccabees gives the plain simple account using only seven chapters to cover the same material covered in all 2Maccabees

REMEZ
2nd Maccabees digs into the details not included in 1Maccabees.

DRASH
3rd Maccabees tells a related story of another persecution some fifty years earlier in Egypt under Ptolemy, which illustrates the same point.

SOD
4th Maccabees is a treaty making the case that the Torah is divine reason, and as such is supreme and thus the mind is sovereign over emotions.

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