Messiah in the Lost Books of the Tanak
The Letter of Baruch
As we covered in part 1 of this series there are over three hundred Messianic prophecies in the Tanak. In part 1 we covered a Messianic Prophecy in the Wisdom of Solomon (in the Apocrypha). In Part 2 we will cover an important Messianic prophecy you may never have heard of, found in the Book of Baruch. Baruch was the Scribe of Jeremiah. The Book of Baruch is another book found among those known as the Apocrypha. These are books which are considered canonical by all pre-Protestant Christian churches. They are cited by authors of the so-called “New Testament” frequently, and quoted by the so-called “Church Fathers” right along side the others.
We read in the Book of Baruch:
29 Who has gone up into heaven, and taken her [wisdom]
and brought her down from the clouds?
30 Who has gone over the sea, and found her,
and will buy her for pure gold?
This is a reference back to the Torah where we read:
9 And YHWH your Elohim will make you over-abundant in all the work of
your hand, in the fruit of your body, and in the fruit of your cattle,
and in the fruit of your land, for good; for YHWH will again rejoice
over you for good, as He rejoiced over your fathers,
10 If you shall hearken to the voice of YHWH your Elohim, to keep His
commandments and His statutes which are written in this Book of the
Torah; if you turn unto YHWH your Elohim with all your heart, and with
all your soul.
11 For this commandment which I command you this day, it is not too
hard for you, neither is it far off.
12 It is not in heaven, that you should say: `Who shall go up for us
to heaven, and bring it unto us, and make us to hear it, that we may
13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should says: `Who shall go
over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, and make us to hear it,
that we may do it?’
14 But the word if very near unto you, in your mouth, and in your
heart, that you may do it.
15 See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil,
16 In that I command you this day to love YHWH your Elohim, to walk in
His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statues and His
ordinances; then you shall live and multiply, and YHWH your Elohim
shall bless you in the land where you go in to possess it.
Then a few lines later Baruch writes:
37 Afterward she appeared upon earth and lived among men.
4:1 She is the book of the commandments of Elohim,
and the Torah that endures forever.
All who hold fast will live,
and those who forsake her fast will die.
The Torah has long been recognized in Judaism as a living entity through which YHWH created the Heavens and the Earth. As we read in the Midrash Rabbah:
The Torah declares: ‘I was the working tool of the Holy One, blessed be He.’ In human practice, when a mortal king builds a palace, he builds it not with his own skill but with the skill of an architect. The architect moreover does not build it out of his head, but employs plans and diagrams to know how to arrange the chambers and the wicket doors. Thus Elohim consulted the Torah and created the world, while the Torah declares, IN THE BEGINNING GOD CREATED (I,1), BEGINNING referring to the Torah, as in the verse, YHWH made me as the beginning of His way (Prov. VIII, 22).
(Genesis Rabbah 1:5)
This is just what the original followers of Yeshua believed of the Messiah “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14):
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Eloah, and the Word was Eloah.
2 This was in the beginning, with Eloah.
3 Everything existed through Him, and without Him, not even one thing existed of that which existed.
4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5 And the Light brought light into the darkness, and the darkness did not over take it.
6 There was a man sent from Eloah, whose name was Yochanan.
7 This man came for a witness, that he might bear witness to the Light: that every man might believe through him.
8 He was not the Light, but came that he might bear witness to the Light.
9 For He was the light of truth, that which lights every man who comes into the world.
10 He was in the world, and the world was by His hand: and the world did not know Him.
11 He came to His, and His did not receive Him.
12 But those who did receive Him, those who believed in His Name, He gave power that they should be sons of Eloah:
13 Those who, neither by blood, nor by the will of flesh, nor by the will of man, were begotten, but by Eloah.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt with us, and we saw His glory: as the glory of the only begotten who is from the father, who is full of grace and truth.
(John 1:1-14 HRV)
Furthermore the first century Jewish writer Philo writes that “The Word” (Logos) and the Messiah are one and the same:
“The head of all things is the eternal Word (Logos) of the eternal God, under which, as if it were his feet or other limbs, is placed the whole world, over which He passes and firmly stands. Now it is not because Messiah is Lord that He passes and sits over the whole world, for His seat with His Father and God but because for its perfect fullness the world is in need of the care and superintendence of the best ordered dispensation, and for its own complete piety, of the Divine Word (Logos), just as living creatures (need) a head, without which it is impossible to live.”
(Q&A on Exodus, II, 117)
Let us now look at a passage of the Ketuvim Netzarim which Christians have totally misunderstood, Romans 10:4. It appears in the most Christian translations to say that “Christ is the end of the law”. The Aramaic word used for “end” here is SAKA. Back in 1893 when James Murdock S.T.D. (A Christian) translated the Aramaic Peshitta into English for the first time, he translated this word as “aim”. He noted the original Aramaic word in the margin and further defined it “end, scope, summary”. This Aramaic word is used in the Rabbinic literature to mean “number” “sum” or “total”. In the Babylonian Talmud this word is used as follows “…the SUM of pupils for a teacher in the primary class is twenty five” (b.Bat. 21a) The root verb for this Aramaic noun means “to calculate, count, sum up” or “to look out for, to hope for”.
With this Aramaic word, Paul is saying, not that the Messiah is the TERMINATION of the Torah, but that Messiah is the aim, goal, scope, summary, number, total and sum of the Torah! Paul is saying that the Messiah is the Torah. Messiah is the sum of the Torah.
Rom 10:5 then continues with:
For Moses thus wrote of the righteousness that is by the Torah that `he who does these will live by them.’
Remember now, Paul has just said that the Messiah is the sum of the
Torah, and now he is quoting the Torah to prove that “life” comes from the Torah.
Then in Rom. 10:6-8 Paul continues:
And of the righteousness that is by trust, he thus says: `Do not say in your heart: who has ascended to heaven’ (Deut. 30:12) and brought down the Messiah? `And who has descended’ to the depth of She’ol `and brought up’ (Deut. 13:13) the Messiah from among the dead? But what does it say? `The answer is near to you, to your mouth and to your heart,’ (Deut. 30:14) which is the word of trust that we proclaim”
Now Christian commentators have taken Paul to be contrasting “the righteousness that is by the Torah” (Rom. 10:5) with “the righteousness that is by faith” (Rom. 10:6) to prove that Messiah is the “end”/”termination” of the Law as stated in Rom. 10:4.
There are several problems with this interpretation.
To begin with, we have already shown that Paul’s point in Rom. 10:4 is not that Messiah is the termination of the law, but that Messiah is the goal and sum of the Torah.
Secondly Rom. 10:5 and Rom 10:6f both quote passages from the Torah to prove their points.
Thirdly, these commentators totally mangle the point Paul is making in
When Paul was teaching the Bereans in Acts 17, we are told that they checked “the Scriptures” to see if what Paul said could be found there, and Paul said they were more noble than others he had taught, for doing this. Now the only Scriptures they had at the time were those of the Tanak (“Old Testament”) so Paul would look to the passages he cites from the Tanak to see that we are applying his words accurately as they are in the Tanak.
So lets be good Bereans and look at the portion of Torah Paul actually quotes in Rom. 10:6-8, see what it actually says in context, and see how Paul is using it. Paul is quoting from Deut. 30:12-14.
Now the first and most important point is that in Deut. 30:12-13 it is the Torah that we do not have to have brought down to us, but in Paul’s citations in Rom. 10:6-7 it is the “Messiah” who does not have to be brought down to us. Paul is applying his logic that Messiah is the sum of the Torah from Rom. 10:4 (thus reaffirming that we are
correct in our understanding of SAKA in Rom. 10:4).
In Baruch that which is brought down from heaven in Deut. 30:12-13 is personified Wisdom (compare 1Cor. 1:24 ) which is identified with an incarnation of the Torah itself having come down to earth to dwell with men.
Moreover, when Paul says “the answer is near to you, to your mouth, and to your heart, which is the word of trust that we proclaim” (Rom. 10:8) Deut. Says “But the WORD is very near unto you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it” (Deut. 30:14). So the “answer” and the “word of trust/faith” in Rom. 10:8 is the “word” in Deut. 30:14, but in Deut. 30:14 that “word” is CLEARLY the Torah! In other words Rom. 10:8 might be understood “the TORAH is near to you, to your mouth, and to your heart, which is the TORAH of trust/faith that we proclaim”.
Fourth, we find that Deut. 30:15-16 parallel the meaning of Lev. 18:5 so that we can see that Paul is citing these two passages together, not because he is contrasting them, but because they teach the same thing!
Finally if we look back to Rom. 10:6 which is quoting Deut. 30:12 and we look closely at the phrase Paul quotes “who shall go up for us to heaven” in the original Hebrew of Deut. 30:12, and if we take the first letter of each word to from a new word (this is a technique known as “Notarikon”) then we spell the Hebrew word MILAH (which can mean “word” or “circumcision”) and if we take the last letter of each word we find the name YHWH, so hidden and imbedded in this Hebrew phrase is the phrase “Word of YHWH”. Paul’s point is that both the Messiah and the Torah are the “Word of YHWH”.
Just as the Tanak identifies the Torah as the Way (Deut. 9:12; 11:22-28; 30:15-16) the Truth (Ps. 119:142, 151) the Life (Deut. 32:46-47) the Light (Prov. 6:23; Ps. 119:105; Is. 8:20; 51:4) and the Word (Is. 1:10; 2:3) the Ketuvim Netzarim identifies Yeshua as the Messiah as the Way, the Truth, the Life (Jn. 14:6) the Light (Jn. 8:12; 1:4-5, 9; 3:19; 9:5; 12:35-36, 46; 14:6) and the Word (Jn. 1:1-3; 14-18; Rev. 19:13). Because the Messiah is the Torah itself incarnate which “appeared on earth and lived among men” (Baruch 3:29).
(to be continued)
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