Yochanan Chapter 1

James Trimm’s Nazarene Commentary on Yochanan Chapter 1

Yochanan wrote:

בראשית היה הדבר והדבר היה אצל האלהים ואלהים הוא היה הדבר זה היה בראשית אצל האלהים. כל הדברים נעשו בו ומבלעדיו לא נעשה דבר מכל אשר היה.  בו היו החיים והחיים היו אור האשים. והאור היה זורח באפלות והאפלות לא הכלוהי

In the beginning was the word, and the word was with Elohim and the word was Elohim. All things were made by Him, and without Him nothing was made from all that is. In him was the life, and the life was the light of men. And the light was shining in the darkness and the darkness could not contain it.
(Yochanan 1:1-5)


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Elohim, and the Word was Elohim.
(Yocnanan 1:1)

The Zohar gives some important light on the “Word” as found in the opening verses of Yochanan. In the portion of Zohar in question, Rabbi El’azar (the son of Shimon bar Yochai) is giving an exposition on the passage “Lift your eyes on high and see: Who created these?” (Isaiah 40:26) His father, Shimon bar Yochai interrupts him saying:

Rabbi Shim’on said, “El’azar, my son, cease your words, so that the concealed mystery on high, unknown to any human, may be revealed.”

Rabbi El’azar was silent.

Rabbi Shim’on wept and paused for a moment. Then he said, “El’azar, what is these? If you answer, ‘Stars and constellations,’ they are always visible there and were created by What, as it is said: By the Word (Davar) of YHWH the heavens were made (Psalms 33:6). As for things concealed, such would not be referred to as these, for that word indicates something revealed. This mystery was only revealed one day when I was at the seashore. Elijah came and asked me, ‘Rabbi, do you know the meaning of Who created these?’ I answered, ‘These are the heavens and their array, the work of the blesssed Holy One. Human beings should contemplate them and bless Him, as is written: When I beheld Your heavens, the work of [2a] Your fingers, the moon and stars that You set in place,… YHVW our Lord, how majestic is Your name throughout the earth! (Psalms 8:4, 10).

“Elijah said to me, ‘Rabbi, the Word (מִלָּה) was concealed with the blessed Holy One, and He revealed it in the Academy on High. Here it is:

‘When Concealed of all Concealed wished to be revealed, it produced at first, a single point, which ascended to become thought. Within, it drew all drawings, graved all engravings, carving within the concealed holy lamp a graving of one hidden design, holy of holies, a deep structure emerging from thought called מי (Mi), Who, origin of structure. Existent and non-existent, deep and hidden, called by no name but Who.

‘Seeking to be revealed, to be named, it garbed itself in a splendid, radiant garment and created אלה (elleh), these. אלה (Elleh) attained the name: these letters joined with those, culminating in the name אלהים (Elohim). Until it created אלה (elleh), it did not attain the name אלהים (Elohim). Based on this mystery, those who sinned with the Golden Calf said “אלה (Elleh), These are your gods, O Israel!” (Exodus 32:8). Just as מי (Mi) is combined with אלה (elleh), so the name אלהים (Elohim) remained for all time. And upon this mystery the world is built.”

Then Elijah flew off; I did not see him. From him I discovered the Word (מִלָּה), whose mysterious secret I have demonstrated.”

R. Eleazar and all the companions came and prostrated themselves before him, weeping for joy and saying, ‘If we had come into the world only to hear this we should have been content.’
(Zohar 1:1b-2a)

In this section of Zohar Elijah appears and reveals the Mystery of the Word which was taught in the “academy on high”, that when the “Concealed of concealed” (the Infinite One, Eyn Sof) wished to be revealed, Eyn Sof garbed itself in a splendid, radiant garment (generally identified by commentators as the Ten Sefirot). Here the Zohar identifies that splendid, radiant garment as the Davar/Millah (Word).

The concept of the “Word” (Greek: Logos; Targum Aramaic: Memra; Zohar Aramaic: Millah; Syriac Aramaic: Milta Hebrew: Davar) already had a very special and unique meaning in the Second Temple Era. The LOGOS/MEMRA was a very important concept in the Second Temple Era, and if we are to understand what Yochanan (John) is saying, we must understand this concept.

Abraham’s Faith was in the MEMRA

In Genesis 15:6 we read concerning Avraham:

“And he believed in YHWH, and He counted it to him for righteousness.”
(Gen. 15:6)

The official Targum to this verse paraphrases:

 “And he believed in the Word (Memra) of YHWH. And He counted it to him for righteousness.”
(Gen. 15:6 Targum Onkelos)

And Targum Psedo-Jonathan has:

“And he believed in YHWH, and had faith in the Word (Memra) of YHWH, and He reckoned it to him for righteousness.”
(Gen. 15:6 Targum Pseudo-Jonathan)

Philo of Alexandria made a very interesting comment about this verse (Gen. 15:6):

“It is best, therefore, to trust in God, and not in uncertain reasoning, or unsure conjectures. “Abraham trusted in the Lord, and it was counted to him for Righteousness” (Gen. 15:6) And Moses governed the people, being testified to that he was faithful with his whole house. But if we distrust our own reason (LOGOS, Word), we shall prepare and build ourselves a city of the mind which will destroy the truth.”
(Philo of Alexandria; Allegorical Interpretation, III, 228)

So Abraham’s faith was a rational faith, but what does this really mean?

The Word is Logic

The Greek word LOGOS is the word from which we get our English word “Logic”.

The Hebrew word for “WORD” is DAVAR which means “word, thing, matter” and comes from the same root as DIVRA (reason, cause) and implies logic.  There are several examples in the Tanak:

But as for me, I would seek unto El, and unto Elohim would I commit my cause (“reason” DIVRA):
(Job 5:8)

I said in my heart, It is because (“for this reason” AL-DIVRAT) of the sons of men that Elohim may sift them: and that they may see, that they themselves are but as beasts.
(Ecc. 3:18)

In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: Elohim has made even the one, as well as the other, to the end that ( “to the logical conclusion that”) AL-DIVRAT) man should find nothing after him.
(Eccl. 7:14)

I counsel you, Keep the king’s command: and that, in regard ( “for this reason” AL-DIVRAT) of the oath of Elohim.
(Ecc. 8:2)

The Memra is the Mind of YHWH

It is important to understand the MEMRA is the very expression of the Mind of YHWH.  Philo of Alexandria makes this case as follows:

IV. We must mention as much as we can of the matters contained in his account, since to enumerate them all is impossible; for he embraces that beautiful world which is perceptible only by the intellect, as the account of the first day will show: (16) for God, as apprehending beforehand, as a God must do, that there could not exist a good imitation without a good model, and that of the things perceptible to the external senses nothing could be faultless which wax not fashioned with reference to some archetypal idea conceived by the intellect, when he had determined to create this visible world, previously formed that one which is perceptible only by the intellect, in order that so using an incorporeal model formed as far as possible on the image of God, he might then make this corporeal world, a younger likeness of the elder creation, which should embrace as many different genera perceptible to the external senses, as the other world contains of those which are visible only to the intellect. (17) But that world which consists of ideas, it were impious in any degree to attempt to describe or even to imagine: but how it was created, we shall know if we take for our guide a certain image of the things which exist among us. When any city is founded through the exceeding ambition of some king or leader who lays claim to absolute authority, and is at the same time a man of brilliant imagination, eager to display his good fortune, then it happens at times that some man coming up who, from his education, is skilful in architecture, and he, seeing the advantageous character and beauty of the situation, first of all sketches out in his own mind nearly all the parts of the city which is about to be completed–the temples, the gymnasia, the prytanea, and markets, the harbour, the docks, the streets, the arrangement of the walls, the situations of the dwelling houses, and of the public and other buildings. (18) Then, having received in his own mind, as on a waxen tablet, the form of each building, he carries in his heart the image of a city, perceptible as yet only by the intellect, the images of which he stirs up in memory which is innate in him, and, still further, engraving them in his mind like a good workman, keeping his eyes fixed on his model, he begins to raise the city of stones and wood, making the corporeal substances to resemble each of the incorporeal ideas. (19) Now we must form a somewhat similar opinion of God, who, having determined to found a mighty state, first of all conceived its form in his mind, according to which form he made a world perceptible only by the intellect, and then completed one visible to the external senses, using the first one as a model.

V. (20) As therefore the city, when previously shadowed out in the mind of the man of architectural skill had no external place, but was stamped solely in the mind of the workman, so in the same manner neither can the world which existed in ideas have had any other local position except the divine reason (Logos) which made them; for what other place could there be for his powers which should be able to receive and contain, I do not say all, but even any single one of them whatever, in its simple form? (21) And the power and faculty which could be capable of creating the world, has for its origin that good which is founded on truth; for if any one were desirous to investigate the cause on account of which this universe was created, I think that he would come to no erroneous conclusion if he were to say as one of the ancients did say: “That the Father and Creator was good; on which account he did not grudge the substance a share of his own excellent nature, since it had nothing good of itself, but was able to become everything.” (22) For the substance was of itself destitute of arrangement, of quality, of animation, of distinctive character, and full of all disorder and confusion; and it received a change and transformation to what is opposite to this condition, and most excellent, being invested with order, quality, animation, resemblance, identity, arrangement, harmony, and everything which belongs to the more excellent idea.
(Philo; On Creation IV, 15b-V, 22)

The Memra Permeates the Universe Biding it Together

Solomon identifies the Word with Wisdom speaking

1 “O God of my fathers and Lord of mercy,
who hast made all things by thy word,
2 and by thy wisdom hast formed man,
to have dominion over the creatures thou hast made,
(Wisdom of Solomon 9:1-2 RSV)
And earlier he writes concerning Wisdom:
6 For wisdom is a kindly spirit and
will not free a blasphemer from the guilt of his words;
because God is witness of his inmost feelings,
and a true observer of his heart, and a hearer of his tongue.
7 Because the Spirit of the Lord has filled the world,
and that which holds all things together knows what is said;
(Wisdom of Solomon 1:6-7 RSV)

Philo of Alexandria says of the Word (Greek: Logos):

for all other things are intrinsically and by their own nature loose; and if there is any where any thing consolidated, that has been bound by the word of God, for this word is glue and a chain, filling all things with its essence. And the word, which connects together and fastens every thing, is peculiarly full itself of itself, having no need whatever of any thing beyond.
(Philo; Who is Heir of all Things? 188)

And he says of the Law, which he elsewhere identifies  with the Word:

(8) If therefore any one wishes to escape from the difficulties of this question which present themselves in the different doubts thus raised, let him speak freely and say that there is nothing in any material of such power as to be able to support this weight of the world. But it is the eternal law of the everlasting God which is the most supporting and firm foundation of the universe. (9) This it is which, being extended from the centre of the borders, and again from the extremities to the centre, runs through the whole unsubdued course of nature, collecting all the parts and binding them firmly together; for the father who created them has made it the indissoluble bond of the universe. (10) Very naturally and appropriately therefore, all earth will not be dissolved by all water, which the bosom of the earth contains, nor will fire be extinguished by air, nor again will air be burnt up by fire, since the divine law establishes itself as a boundary to all these elements, like a vowel among consonants, so that the universe may, as it were, be harmonious in concert with the music expressed by letters; persuasion, by its own authority, putting an end to the threatening conflicts of contrary natures.
(Philo; Concerning Noah’s Work as a Planter 8-10)

Gershom Scholem writes of the Word:

…the memra– the paraphrase used in the Targumim, the Aramaic Bible translations, to refer to God’s word. The memra is not merely a linguistic device for overcoming the problem of biblical anthropomorphisms; it has theological significance in its own right. The memra….is, as Abelson correctly puts it. “a world-permeating force, a reality in the world of matter or mind, the immanent aspect of Elohim, holding all things under its omnipresent sway.”
(On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead: Basic Concepts in the Kabbalah, by Gershom Scholem pg 181-182)

He here refers to the monumental work by J. Abelcon in which he writes:

“…the Memra has, to the minds of the Targumic authors, some real theological connotation…. it connotes the manifestation on earth and among men of several aspects of -Divine power, goodness, wisdom and justice. The “Word” is a world-permeating force, a reality in the world of matter or mind, the immanent aspect of God holding all things under its omnipresent sway.”
(The Immanence of God in Rabbinic Literature by J. Abelson; p. 159; 1912)

The Memra is the Torah and the Rational Order of the Universe

Philo taught that the universe is an effect that must have a cause, i.e. a Creator, and that this Creator has a preference for order as opposed to chaos, as expressed by the order of the universe itself.  Philo speaks of Moses account of the Creation saying:

(3) And his exordium, as I have already said, is most admirable; embracing the creation of the world, under the idea that the law corresponds to the world and the world to the law, and that a man who is obedient to the law, being, by so doing, a citizen of the world, arranges his actions with reference to the intention of nature, in harmony with which the whole universal world is regulated. (4) Accordingly no one, whether poet or historian, could ever give expression in an adequate manner to the beauty of his ideas respecting the creation of the world; for they surpass all the power of language, and amaze our hearing, being too great and venerable to be adapted to the sense of any created being.
(On Creation 1-4)

Elsewhere Philo writes:

…for he [Moses] was not like any ordinary compiler of history, studying to leave behind him records of ancient transactions as memorials to future ages for the mere sake of affording pleasure without any advantage; but he traced back the most ancient events from the beginning of the world, commencing with the creation of the universe, in order to make known two most necessary principles. First, that the same being was the father and creator of the world, and likewise the lawgiver of truth; secondly, that the man who adhered to these laws, and clung closely to a connection with and obedience to nature, would live in a manner corresponding to the arrangement of the universe with a perfect harmony and union, between his words and his actions and between his actions and his words.
(On the Life of Moses 2, 48)

To Philo Natural Law is revealed in the very order of the universe, which is the Creator’s work, and thus reveals the will of the Creator.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul also addresses this concept that Natural Law is revealed in the very order of the universe, which is the Creator’s work, and thus reveals the will of the Creator.

[17] For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
[18] For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
[19] Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
[20] For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
[21] Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
[22] Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
[23] And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
[24] Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
[25] Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
[26] For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
[27] And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
[28] And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
[29] Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
[30] Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
[31] Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
[32] Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
(Romans 1:17-32 KJV)

And after a few other words he says:

[13] (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
[14] For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
[15] Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
[16] In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
(Romans 2:13-16 KJV)

The Memra was the Creator

This “Word of YHWH” was, according to Targum Jonathan, the Creator:

And the Word [Memra] of YHWH created man in his likeness,
in the likeness of YHWH, YHWH created,
male and female created He them.
(Targ. Jonathan Gen. 1:27)

This idea is also put forward in the Jerusalem Targum:

And the Word [Memra] of YHWH said to Moses:
“I am He who said unto the world ‘Be!’ and it was:
and who in the future shall say to it ‘Be!’
and it shall be.” And He said: “Thus you shall say
to the children of Israel: ‘I Am’ has sent me to you.”
(Jerusalem Targum Ex. 3:14)

The Fragmentary Targum of the Torah also expresses that the Word of YHWH was the Creator:

The first night, when the “Word of YHWH”
was revealed to the world in order to create it,
the world was desolate and void,
and darkness spread over the face of the abyss
and the “Word of the Lord” was bright and illuminating
and He called it the first night.
(Fragmentary Targum Ex. 12:42)

That the Word of YHWH was the Creator can also be seen in the Tanak itself:
By the Word (DAVAR) of YHWH were the heavens made,
and all the hosts of them by the Spirit of His mouth.
(Ps. 33:6)

The Memra is the Image of Elohim

Philo’s concept of the “Word” (Logos) is the “image of Elohim” which served as the pattern for the creation of man in Gen. 1:26-27. Philo writes:

…For God does not seem to have availed himself
of any other animal existing in creation as his model
in the formation of man; but to have been guided,
as I have said before, by his own Word (Logos) alone…
(Philo; On Creation XLVIII (139))

But the divine Word (Logos) which is above these
does not come into any visible appearance,
inasmuch as it is not like to any of the things
that come under the external senses,
but is itself an image of God,
the most ancient of all the objects of intellect
in the whole world, and that which is placed
in the closest proximity to the only truly existing God,
without any partition or distance being interposed
between them:
(On Flight and Finding XVIII (101))

Now, Bezaleel, being interpreted, means God in his shadow.
But the shadow of God is his Word (Logos), which he used
like an instrument when he was making the world.
And this shadow, and, as it were, model, is the archetype of other things. For, as God is himself the model of that image which he has now called a shadow, so also that image is the model of other things,
as he showed when he commenced giving the law to the Israelites,
and said, “And God made man according to the image of God.”[Gen. 1:26] as the image was modeled according to God, and as man was modeled according to the image, which thus received the power and character of the model.
(Allegorical Interpretations III 96)

For if it was necessary to examine the mortal body
of the priest that it ought not be imperfect through
any misfortune, much more was it necessary to look
into his immortal soul, which they say is fashioned
in the form of the living God. Now the image of God
is the Word (Logos), by which all the world was made.
(The Special Laws I, 81)

What is the man who was created? And how is that man
distinguished who was made after the image of God? (Gen. 2:7).
This man was created as perceptible to the senses,
and in the similitude of a Being appreciable only by the intellect;
but he who in respect of his form is intellectual and incorporeal,
is the similitude of the archetypal model as to appearance,
and he is the form of the principal character;
but this is the Word (Logos) of God, the first beginning of all things,
the original species or the archetypal idea,
the first measure of the universe.
(Q & A on Gen. I, 4)

Why is it that he speaks as if of some other god,
saying that he made man after the image of God,
and not that he made him after his own image? (Gen. 9:6).
Very appropriately and without any falsehood
was this oracular sentence uttered by God,
for no mortal thing could have been formed
on the similitude of the supreme Father of the universe,
but only after the pattern of the second deity,
who is the Word (Logos) of the supreme Being;
since it is fitting that the rational soul of man should bear it
the type of the divine Word (Logos); since in his first Word (Logos)
God is superior to the most rational possible nature.
But he who is superior to the Word (Logos) holds his rank
in a better and most singular pre-eminence, and how could
the creature possibly exhibit a likeness of him in himself?
Nevertheless he also wished to intimate this fact,
that God does rightly and correctly require vengeance,
in order to the defense of virtuous and consistent men,
because such bear in themselves a familiar acquaintance
with his Word (Logos), of which the human mind is
the similitude and form.
(Q & A on Gen. II 62)

This parallels what we read in the Targum:

And the Word (Memra) of YHWH
created man in his likeness,
in the likeness of YHWH, YHWH created,
male and female created He them.
(Targ. Jonathan Gen. 1:27)

The Memra is the Covenant Maker

The Word was also the covenant maker. For example the Noachdic covenant was between the Word and all mankind:

And YHWH said to Noah,
“This is the token of the covenant
which I have established between My Word [Memra]
and between all flesh that is upon the earth.
(Targum Onkelos Gen. 9:17)

The Word also made the Abrahamic covenant as Targum Onkelos also paraphrases:
And I will establish my covenant
between My Word [Memra] and between you…
(Targum Onkelos Gen. 17:7)

The Word of YHWH was also the giver of the Mosaic Covenant and the Torah as the Jerusalem Targum (as quoted above) makes the Torah giver “the Word of YHWH” in Ex. 20:1. It was to th e Word that Jacob turned to for salvation:

Our father Jacob said: “My soul does not wait for salvation
such as that wrought by Gideon, the son of Joash,
for that was but temporal; neither for a salvation
like that of Samson, which was only transitory;
but for that salvation which You have promised to come,
through Your Word unto Your people, the children of Israel;
for your salvation my soul hopes.”
(Targum Jonathan Gen. 49:18)

The Memra is Messiah

The Targums also identify this Memra as the Messiah:

Behold, my servant, the Messiah, whom I bring,
my chosen in whom one delights:
as for my Word [MEMRA], I will put my Holy Spirit upon Him;
He shall reveal my judgment unto the nations.
2 He shall not cry aloud, nor raise a clamor,
 and He shall not lift up His voice in the street.
3 The meek who are like a bruised reed He shall not break,
and the poor who are as a glimmering wick with Him, He will not quench:
He shall bring forth judgment unto truth.
4 He shall not faint nor be weary,
till He have established judgment in the earth;
and the isles shall wait for His Torah.
(Targum Jonathan to Isaiah 42:1-4)

Likewise Philo of Alexandria identified the Logos as the Messiah:

“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)


The same was in the beginning with Elohim.
(Yochanan 1:2)

The Word was with Elohim (1:1) and this is repeated here. The Hebrew word which appeared here for “with” was אצל which can mean, “with” “next to” or even “an emanation of”  (as it is used in Kabbalah) For example in the Zohar:

He then proceeded: ‘A king had several buildings to be erected, and he had an architect in his service who did nothing save with his consent (Prov. 8:30). The king is the supernal Wisdom above, the Middle Pillar is the king below: Elohim is the architect above, being as such the supernal Mother, and Elohim is also the architect below, being as such the Divine Presence (Shekinah) below. Now a woman may not do anything without the consent of her husband. And all the buildings were created through his Emanation (אצלות), the Father said to the Mother by means of the Word,, “let it be so and so”, and straightway it was so, as it is written, “And he said, Elohim, let there be light, and there was light”: i.e. one said to Elohim, let there be light: the master of the building gave the order, and the architect carried it out immediately; and so with all that was constructed in the way of emanation (אצלות).”
(Zohar 1:22a).

Yochanan is telling us that the Word was an emanation of Elohim.


All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
(Yochanan 1:3)

All things were made through him.  Gen. 1:1 reads:




ELOHIM creates the heavens and the earth through את (ALEF and TAV)  Revelation refers to Messiah as the ALEF (א) and the TAV (ת) (Rev. 1:11; 22:13)

The ALEF and the TAV is the ALL. The first and last letter of the Hebrew Alphabet.

All things fall into two logical categories, things that were made, and things that were not made. The Word must fall into the category of things that were not made, since the Word created all created things.


In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

in him was life – He is the Torah incarnate, and the Torah is life:

46 And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which you shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this Torah.
47 For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life: and through this thing you shall prolong your days in the land, whither you go over Jordan to possess it.
(Deut. 32:46-47)

the light of men – The Hebrew word for “light” is אור The א is for Abba (Father) (אבא) the ר is for Ruach (Spirit) (רוח) and the ו connecting the two was originally (in PaleoHebrew) a pictograph of a nail. Moreover, in the name יהוה the Zohar recognizes the י as representing “Father” the ה as representing “Mother” and the ו as representing the “Son of Yah”.

The “light of men” is understanding, not literal light, but that light which is perceptible only to the intellect. Similarly Philo writes:

…and above all he spread light, being the seventh thing made; and this again was incorporeal, and a model of the sun, perceptible only to intellect, and of all the lightgiving stars, which are destined to stand together in heaven. (30) And air and light he considered worthy of the pre-eminence. For the one he called the breath of God, because it is air, which is the most life-giving of things, and of life the causer is God; and the other he called light, because it is surpassingly beautiful: for that which is perceptible only by intellect is as far more brilliant and splendid than that which is seen, as I conceive, the sun is than darkness, or day than night, or the intellect than any other of the outward senses by which men judge (inasmuch as it is the guide of the entire soul), or the eyes than any other part of the body. (31) And the invisible divine reason (logos, word), perceptible only by intellect, he calls the image of God. And the image of this image is that light, perceptible only by the intellect, which is the image of the divine reason, which has explained its generation. And it is a star above the heavens, the source of those stars which are perceptible by the external senses, and if any one were to call it universal light he would not be very wrong; since it is from that the sun and the moon, and all the other planets and fixed stars derive their due light, in proportion as each has power given to it; that unmingled and pure light being obscured when it begins to change, according to the change from that which is perceptible only by the intellect, to that which is perceptible by the external senses; for none of those things which are perceptible to the external senses is pure.
(Philo; On Creation 29b-31)

The Zohar also comments upon this light (in Gen. 1:3-5) applying it to the Son of Yah (The union of the supernal Father and Supernal Mother)

The Zohar says:

(בראשית א) יְהִי אוֹר וַיְהִי אוֹר. כֵּיוָן דְּאָמַר יְהִי אוֹר, אֲמַאי כְּתִיב וַיְהִי אוֹר, דְּהָא בְּוַיְהִי כֵן סַגְיָא. אֶלָּא, יְהִי אוֹר, דָּא אוֹר קַדְמָאָה, דְּאִיהוּ יְמִינָא, וְאִיהוּ לְקֵץ הַיָּמִין. וַיְהִי אוֹר, דְּמִימִינָא נָפִק שְׂמָאלָא, וּמֵרָזָא דִּימִינָא נָפִק שְׂמָאלָא, וְעַל דָּא וַיְהִי אוֹר, דָּא שְׂמָאלָא.

מִכָּאן דְּוַיְהִי קַדְמָאָה דְּאוֹרַיְיתָא, בְּסִטְרָא דִּשְׂמָאלָא הֲוָה. וּבְגִין כַּךְ לָאו אִיהוּ סִימָן בְּרָכָה. מַאי טַעְמָא. בְּגִין דְּבֵיהּ (נ”א דמניה) נָפַק הַהוּא חֹשֶׁךְ דְּאַחֲשִׁיךְ אַנְפֵּי עָלְמָא. וְסִימָנָא דָּא כַּד אִתְגְּלֵי רָזָא דְּעֵשָׂו וְעוֹבָדוֹי, בְּהַאי וַיְהִי הֲוָה, דִּכְתִּיב (בראשית כה) וַיְהִי עֵשָׂו אִישׁ יוֹדֵעַ צַיִד. אִתְקָיָּים בְּוַיְהִי אִישׁ יוֹדֵעַ צַיִד, לְפַתָּאָה בְּנֵי עָלְמָא, דְּלָא יַהֲכוּן בְּאֹרַח מֵישָׁר.

וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים אֶת הָאוֹר כִּי טוֹב, דָּא אִיהוּ עַמּוּדָא דְּקָאִים בְּאֶמְצָעִיתָא, וְקָאִים וְאָחִיד בְּסִטְרָא דָּא, וּבְסִטְרָא דָּא. כַּד הֲוָה שְׁלִימוּ דִּתְלַת סִטְרִין, כְּתִיב בֵּיהּ כִּי טוֹב, מָה דְּלָא הֲוָה בְּהָנֵי אַחֲרָנִין, בְּגִין דְּלָא הֲוָה שְׁלִימוּ עַד אוֹר תְּלִיתָאָה, דְּאַשְׁלִים לְכָל סִטְרִין, וְכֵיוָן דְּאָתָא תְּלִיתָאָה דָּא, כְּדֵין אַפְרִישׁ מַחֲלוֹקֶת דִּימִינָא וּשְׂמָאלָא, דִּכְתִּיב וַיַּבְדֵּל אֱלהִים בֵּין הָאוֹר וּבֵין הַחֹשֶׁךְ.

Why, it may be asked, was it necessary to repeat the word “light” in this verse? The answer is that the first “light” refers to the primordial light which is of the Right Hand, and it is destined for the “end of days”; while the second “light” refers to the Left Hand, which issues from the Right.
The next words, “And God saw the light that it was good” (Gen. 1:4), refer to the pillar which, standing midway between them, unites both sides, and therefore when the unity of the three, right, left, and middle, was complete, “it was good”, since there could be no completion until the third had appeared to remove the strife between Right and Left, as it is written, “And God separated between the light and between the darkness.”
(Zohar 2:167a)

וַיַּרְא אֱלהִים אֶת הָאוֹר כִּי טוֹב דָּא עַמּוּדָא דְאֶמְצָעִיתָא כִּי טוֹב אַנְהִיר עֵילָא וְתַתָּא וּלְכָל שְׁאָר סִטְרִין בְּרָזָא ידו”ד שְׁמָא דְּאָחִיד לְכָל סִטְרִין. וַיַּבְדֵּל אֱלֹהִים וְגו’ אַפְרִישׁ מַחְלוֹקֶת לְמֶהֱוֵי כֹּלָּא שְׁלִים.

AND GOD SAW THE LIGHT THAT IT WAS GOOD. This is the Middle Pillar: Ki Tov (that it was good) threw light above and below and on all other sides, in virtue of YHWH, the name which embraces all sides.
(Zohar 1:16b)

The right and left pillars are assigned as Mother and Father, the middle pillar, which balances the feminine and masculine characteristics from the male and female sides, is identified in the Zohar as “the Son of Yah”. The Zohar says:

שכו קרוב מאח רחוק דהיינו עמודא דאמצציתא דאיהו בן יה

Better is a neighbor that is near, than a brother far off.
This neighbor is the Middle Pillar in the Godhead, which is the Son of Yah.
(Zohar 2:115b)


And the light was shining in the darkness and the darkness could not contain it.
(Yochanan 1:5)

Philo writes:

And after the shining forth of that light, perceptible only to the intellect, which existed before the sun, then its adversary darkness yielded, as God put a wall between them and separated them, well knowing their opposite characters, and the enmity existing between their natures. In order, therefore, that they might not war against one another from being continually brought in contact, so that war would prevail instead of peace, God, burning want of order into order, did not only separate light and darkness, but did also place boundaries in the middle of the space between the two, by which he separated the extremities of each. For if they had approximated they must have produced confusion, preparing for the contest, for the supremacy, with great and unextinguishable rivalry, if boundaries established between them had not separated them and prevented them from clashing together,
(On Creation 33)

The light in these verses is the light of men, perceptible only to the intellect. It is understanding. The darkness, therefore, is the lack of light, or lack of understanding. It is ignorance. Ignorance can never overtake understanding, just as darkness can never overtake light. Messiah is the incarnation of the Light.


That was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world.
(Yochanan 1:9)

The Word is the true light. All understanding that comes into this world, comes by the Word (Logic). Thus Maimonides writes: “Accept the truth from whatever source it comes.” (Maimonides; Introduction to the Shemonah Peraqim)

Ben Zoma would say:
Who is wise? He who learns from everyone. As is stated (Psalms 119:99): “From all my teachers I have grown wise”;
(m.Avot 4:1)

This is a paradox. One who is wise, can learn from any man. Embedded in this teaching, is the virtues not just of wisdom, but also of justice. Justice involves viewing other persons equally, as we would have them view ourselves. (I will discuss this in more detain, in a blog on the virtue of Justice coming days). We must weigh the views of others objectively.

Simcha Ben Shmuel of Vitry in his commentary to this passage observes that that King David was himself characterized by his willingness pay attention to any man who came to teach him something:

A WISE MAN: It is he who is ready to learn even from his inferiors. With such readiness, if his inferior should present him with a wise view, he will not be ashamed to accept it and will not treat his words with contempt. This was characteristic of David, King of Israel, who said, “…I would pay attention to any man who came to teach me something”
(Simcha Ben Shmuel of Vitry).

This was also a characteristic of Moses when Jethro came to him with a Word of Wisdom, that he should share the responsibility of judging the people with the Elders (Ex. 18)

Rabbi Jonah, in his commentary to Ben Zoma’s saying teaches us:

The Gentile philosophers say that even if a person were to know everything [as it were], if he does not want to increase his knowledge, he is not a wise man but a fool…. On the other hand one who passionately loves to increase his wisdom, may be called a wise man even if he were to know nothing. Only this way can you attain true wisdom and discover the will of God. It is to this Ben Zoma is referring when he says that the wise man is he who learns from all men, that is to say, so passionately loves learning that he is ready to ask anyone when he has a question, even individuals with limited knowledge…. This may be compared to a man who lost a small object. Will he not hunt for it everywhere?”
(Rabbi Jonah)

He who is wise, will listen to what others have to say objectively, and exercise discernment, separating truth from error. As we read from Rabbi Meir:

“Rabbi Meir ate the date and threw away the seeds; he found a pomegranate, and partaking of the fruit, he rejected the rind.” (b.Chagigah 15b)

The Greek philosophers, especially the Stoics, had a concept of the Logos (Word) but not the complete revelation of the Word as the Messiah. The concept of the Logos was very important to the Stoics. To them, the Logos was the rational mind which permeates the universe.

Justin Martyr wrote concerning Socrates opposition to the immoral behavior ascribed to the Greek gods:

And when Socrates endeavored, by true reason (Logos) and examination, to bring these things to light, and deliver men from the demons, then the demons themselves, by means of men who rejoiced in iniquity, compassed his death, as an atheist and a profane person, on the charge that “he was introducing new divinities;” and in our case they display a similar activity. For not only among the Greeks did reason (Logos) prevail to condemn these things through Socrates, but also among the Barbarians were they condemned by Reason (or the Word, the Logos) Himself, who took shape, and became man, and was called Jesus Christ;
(Justin Martyr; 1st Apology 5)

That truth which Socrates taught, was, like all truth, from the Logos, though Socrates did not have a full revelation of the Logos.

Today Stoicism is thought of as a Greek philosophy with roots in the writings of Plato and Aristotle. But in ancient times, millions of Jews saw this as a Hebraic philosophy, naturally arising from the Torah and other Jewish Scriptures. These ancient Hebrews believed that either the Greek philosophers had copied many of their ideas from the Torah, or that they had discovered the same ideas by observing nature, that had been revealed in the Torah. For example Alexandrian Jewish writer Aristoblus, wrote in the Second Century BCE:

“It is evident that Plato imitated our Torah and that he had investigated thoroughly each of the elements in it. For it had been translated by others before before Demetrius Phalereus, before the conquests of Alexander and the Persians.”
(Aristoblus; Fragment 3; quoted in Eusebius 12:12:1f)

“And it seems to me that Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato with great care follow him [Moses] in all respects. They copy him when they say they hear the voice of God, and they contemplate the arrangement of the universe, so carefully made and so unceasingly held together by God.
(Aristoblus; Fragment 4; quoted in Eusebius 13:13:4)

Moreover, Philo of Alexandria maintains that the founder of Greek Stoicism, Zeno, had derived at least one of his maxims from the Torah:

And Zeno, as much as any one else, being under the influence of virtue, ventures boldly to assert that the wicked have not a right to any equality of speech towards the virtuous; for he says, “Shall not the wicked man suffer if he contradicts the virtuous man?” Therefore the wicked man has not a right to freedom of speech as respects the virtuous man.
(Every Good Man is Free 53)

After some analysis, Philo writes of this maxim:

But Zeno appears to have drawn this maxim of his as it were from the fountain of the legislation of the Jews, in the history of which it is recorded that in a case where there were two brothers, the one temperate and the other intemperate, the common father of them both, taking pity on the intemperate one who did not walk in the path of virtue, prays that he may serve his brother, conceiving that service which appears in general to be the greatest of evils is the most perfect good to a foolish man, in order that thus he may be deprived of his independence of action, so as to be prevented from misconducting himself with impunity, and that he may be improved in his disposition by the superintending management of him who is appointed to be his master.
(Every Good Man is Free 57)

Philo here refers to Genesis 27:38-40

[38] And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? bless me, even me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept.
[39] And Isaac his father answered and said unto him, Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above;
[40] And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.
(Gen. 27:38-40 KJV)

The ancient Hebraic Stoic document “On the Supremacy of Reason” (known also as 4th Maccabees) seeks to prove it’s philosophy by citing various passages from the Torah and other Jewish Scriptures.

The ancient Jewish writer Philo of Alexandria, in his expositions on the Torah, continually finds Stoic philosophy being brought forth by Moses.

And in his for Stoic paradoxes, the Jewish sage Ben Zoma cites a passage from the Tanak to support each of his propositions.

On the other hand, Paul is probably speaking of the Stoics when he writes:

Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made…. When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them.
(Romans 1:20; 2:14-15 RSV)

Whether the Greek philosophers copied Stoicism from the Hebrews, or merely discovered the same Stoic philosophy by observing Creation, or some of both, Hebraic Stoicism can absolutely be seen as arising from the ancient Hebrew Scriptures.


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 1:14 HRV)

And the Word became flesh Just as the Zohar teaches (see notes to 1:1) that when Eyn Sof chose to garb itself, it garbed itself in the Word (That is, the Sefirot), Yochanan tells us that the Word garbed itself in flesh.

There are various views of the incarnation in Christendom. The view held by the Nestorians seems likely to be the closest to that of the ancient Nazarenes, which may explain why the Toldot Yeshu identifies Nestor with the Nazarenes.

and dwelt with us, The Greek word for “dwelt” here is ἐσκήνωσεν a form of the Greek verb σκηνόω skénoó which has a direct relationship to the Hebrew verb שכן the root of the Hebrew word משכן “Tabernacle”. The Syriac (Old Syriac and Peshitta) uses a different verb root (גן) however the שכן root, normally takes the nuance “to nest” in Aramaic (As in Mark 4:32, the only place where this verb is used in the Peshitta New Testament) in fact the verb is so intolerable for this use, that where the Hebrew uses the verb (as in Gen. 9:27) the Aramaic translation of the Peshitta uses a different verb. Thus we can conclude that the original Hebrew of Yochanan 1:14 had the verb שכן here, invoking imagery of the Tabernacle (משכן).

the only begotten [light] We read in the Zohar:

(1)  And Elohim said Let there be light, and there was light (Gen 1:3).
(2) From here is the beginning for finding treasures, how the world was created in particular.
(3) For until now, it was general, and it then returns to speaking in general terms so that it will be general, specific, general.
(4) Until now everything was suspended in the air by the secret of Ayn Sof.
(5) Once its power spread into the upper temple, the secret of Elohim, ‘utterance’ is written, “And Elohim said,” for above utterance is not written in particular, even though “In the beginning” is an utterance, it does not say, “and He said.”
(Zohar 1:16b)

The Zohar is saying that up until this point the Torah has given only generalities but not specifics as to how the world was created.  In addition there is a double meaning in the actual Aramaic, that up until this point the universe had only a general existence without specific parts.  The text points out that the first statement in the Torah “In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth…” although it is not preceded by the words “And Elohim said” is still regarded as a creative utterance.  (The tradition of the Zohar is that the universe was created by ten utterances, each corresponding to the ten sefirot.  While the phrase “He said” appears only nine times in the creation account, the first phrase of Torah is said to be an utterance as well).

The Zohar continues:

(6) This, “and He said,” establishes questions and knowledge.
(7) “And He said,” a power that was raised and lifted up silently, from the mystery of Ayn Sof, in the mystery of thought.
(8) “And he said,” now the temple begat, of that which she conceived from the holy seed, and she begat silently, and that which was begotten was heard from without, and the one giving birth gave birth silently and was not heard at all; once that which went forth from it went forth, a voice was made that was heard from without.
(9) “Let there be light.” Everything that emerged went forth by this mystery.
(Zohar 1:16b)

Here we are told just how the light was begotten.  A power was raised and lifted up silently from within the very mind of Ayn Sof (the Infinite One) as a “holy seed” into the heavenly Temple from which it was begotten.

Like Yochanan, the Zohar tells us that everything (all creation) came into existence through this “light” which was begotten.

The Zohar continues:

(10)  Yehi (יהי) (let there be) concerns the mystery of the Father and Mother symbolized by the letters Yod He became now a starting-point (symbolized by the second Yod) for further extension.
(Zohar 1:16b)

Here we are told that the Hebrew word Yehi (יהי) “let there be” points to the mystery of the begetting of the light.  The first two letters spell YAH יה and consist of the letters yud י and heh ה.  We are told that these two letters represent the Father and the Mother, and that the second yud י represents the light which was the starting point of creation.

So now when you read the first fourteen verses of Yochanan you will understand what it means when it identifies the Messiah as the “light” and as the “only begotten” and says that “Everything existed through Him, and without Him, not even one thing existed of that which existed.” Just as the Zohar tells us that “Everything that emerged went forth by this mystery.”

Messiah is the Son of Yah, the only begotten, the Ki Tov, the light, the Middle Pillar of the Godhead, and everything which emerged in creation went forth through Him.

Such is the testimony, not only of Yochanan, but of the Zohar as well.

The Word became flesh – As we have seen above (in commentary to Yochanan 1:1-5) the Word (Logos) is (in part) reason, understanding, logic. The book of 4th Maccabees is also known as “On the Supremacy of Reason (Logos). The point of this book, is that reason has power over the emotions.

3 If, then, it is evident that reason [Logos] rules over those emotions that hinder self-control, namely, gluttony and lust,
4 it is also clear that it masters the emotions that hinder one from justice, such as malice, and those that stand in the way of courage, namely anger, fear, and pain.
(4Maccabees 1:3-4


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)

And as Philo of Alexandria concluded:

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

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).

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)

The Messiah was the very incarnation of the Word/Reason (Davar/Memra/Logos) which has the power to overcome the evil inclination. (See Commentary on Zech 12:11-14)

who is full of grace and truth. – Recalling the words of Torah, concernming YHWH’s presence at the giving of Torah:

1 And YHWH said unto Moshe, Hew you two tablets of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which you broke.
2 And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present yourself there to me in the top of the mount.
3 And no man shall come up with you, neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount; neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount.
4 And he hewed two tablets of stone like unto the first; and Moshe rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as YHWH had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tablets of stone.
5 And YHWH descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of YHWH.
6 And YHWH passed by before him, and proclaimed, YHWH, YHWH, ELohim, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in grace (chesed) and truth (emet),
7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.
(Exodus 34:1-7)


For the Torah was given by Moshe, and grace and truth came by Yeshua the Messiah.
(John 1:17)

In John 1:17 the KJV reads:

For the law was given by Moses,
but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
(John 1:17 KJV)

While I normally italicize quotes. in the above case I did not. This was so that I could preserve the fact that the KJV italicizes the word “but” in this verse. When a word in the KJV appears in italics, it means that word does not actually appear in the ancient manuscripts, but was added in the KJV English.

In this case, adding the word “but” completely changes the meaning of this verse. The KJV reading contrasts the “law” with “grace and truth” as if these are diametrically opposed ideas.

Instead, this verse should be read as we read it in the Aramaic of the Old Syriac:

דנמוסא ביד מושא אתיהב

וטיבותא ושררא ביד ישוע משיחא הוא

Because the Torah through Moshe was given

And grace and truth is through Yeshua the Messiah.

In this case the word “and” does appear in the Aramaic. In this verse we have a case of synonymous poetic parallelism in which Moshe is parallel to Yeshua the Messiah and Torah is parallel to “grace and truth”.

This verse builds upon the previous verse and it’s relationship to Exodus 34:6 (see notes above).

What is Grace?

There are two words for “grace” in the Hebrew Tanak. The first word is CHEN (Strong’s 2580/2581) which means “grace or charm”. The other word is CHESED (Strong’s 2616/2617 ) which carries the meaning of “grace, mercy or undue favor.”

These two words closely parallel the meanings of the two Greek words used for grace in the Greek Bible. These are CHARIS (Strong’s 5485/5463) which means “grace or charm” and ELEOS (Strong’s 1651/1653) meaning “grace, mercy or undue favor.”

Obviously Hebrew CHEN = Greek CHARIS and Hebrew CHESED = Greek ELEOS. Now the KJV tends to translate CHEN/CHARIS as “grace” but tends to translate CHESED/ELEOS as “mercy”. Now when we think of “grace” in biblical terms we are usually thinking of the concept of CHESED/ELEOS “undue favor”.

Now if we follow with the KJV translation scheme then it appears that there is much more grace in the New Testament than the Tanak, since CHEN only appears 70 times in the Tanak while CHARIS appears 233 times in the New Testament. But remember, the concept of “undue favor” is actually CHESED/ELEOS. CHESED appears 251 times in the Tanak, while ELEOS appears only 50 times in the New Testament. If anything there is far more “grace” in the Tanak than in the New Testament.

Now let us turn to the Tanak to get a better understanding of what grace really is. According to the Scriptures there is a close connection between “grace” and the “fear of YHWH”:

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his grace (CHESED)
toward those who fear him.
(Psalm 103:11)

Oh let those who fear YHWH say,
“His grace (CHESED) is everlasting.
(Psalm 118:4)

By grace (CHESED) and truth
iniquity is atoned for,
and by the fear of YHWH
one keeps away from evil.
(Proverbs 16:6)

And the fear of YHWH, according to the Tanak, includes Torah observance:

…that he may learn the fear of YHWH his God,
to keep all the words of this Torah
and these statutes, to do them:
(Deut. 17:19)

…that they may hear, and that they may learn,
and fear YHWH your God,
and observe to do all the words of this Torah.
(Deut. 31:12)

Therefore there is clearly no conflict between grace and Torah. In fact the Torah is closely connected to grace.

(For more on this topic see my earlier blog Faith, Grace and Torah)

What is Truth?

What is Truth? The Pslamist says:

Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and your Torah is truth.”
(Psalm 119:142)

You are near, O YHWH, and all your commandments are truth.”
(Psalm 119:151)


Yochanan 1:17 is not contrasting the Torah that Moshe gave us with the “grace and truth” that Messiah gave us. This verse is expressing through the common Hebrew poetry device of poetic parallelism, that the “grace and truth” which Messiah came to give is the Torah that Moshe also gave us!


No man has seen Elohim at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the innermost parts of the Father, he has declared him.
(Yochanan 1:18)

No man has seen Elohim at any time

This passage reaches at an apparent contradiction in the Tanak.  On the one hand the Tanak maintains that no man can see YHWH and live:

But He [YHWH] said, “You are unable to see My face, For no man does see Me and live. ( Ex. 33:20) (see also Col. 1:15; 1Jn. 4:12 & 1Enoch 14:19-21)

Yet many Tanak passages recount cases in which a person or persons did in fact see YHWH:

And YHWH appeared to Abram…  (Gen. 12:7; see also Acts 7:2)

And YHWH appeared to him [Abraham]… So he lifted his eyes and looked, and saw three men. (Gen. 18:1-2)

…I have seen Elohim face to face, and my life is preserved (Gen. 32:30)

…El who appeared to you…   …Elohim appeared to him… And Elohim appeared to Ya’akov… (Gen. 35: 1, 7, 9)

…he [Moshe] was afraid to look at Elohim. (Ex. 3:6)

  …and they saw the Elohim of Yisrael, and under His feet like a paved work of sapphire stone… He [Elohim] did stretch out His hand… and they saw Elohim… (Ex. 24:9-11)

Then I shall take away My hand and you shall see My back, but  My face shall not be seen. (Ex. 33:23)

 …I [YHWH] appear in the cloud… (Lev. 16:2)

…You, YHWH, are seen eye to eye… (Num. 14:14)

…we have seen Elohim. (Judges 13:22)

…I [Isaiah] saw YHWH sitting on a throne… (Is. 6:1)

…on the likeness of the throne was a likeness as the appearance of a man…this was the likeness of the appearance of the esteem of YHWH… (Ezek. 1:26-28)

I was looking… the Ancient of Days was seated. His garment was white… (Dan. 7:9)

It is understood in Judaism that Eyn Sof, being infinitely large, cannot be seen, but that when someone in the Tanak “saw” YHWH they were actually seeing Adam Kadmon.  For example the “appearance of a man” on the throne in Ezekiel 1:26-28 is understood to be Adam Kadmon. 

According to Genesis man was created in the “image of Elohim”.  This “image of Elohim” was a manifestation of the Godhead which served as a model for Adam.

…the form (image) of G-d in which He created man is actually G-d’s blueprint form for man. This “form” or “blueprint” consisted of God’s first thought in creation, and hence the highest level of creation. This is referred to as “Adam Kadmon” (Primeval Man). – Bahir; Kaplan edition p. 95

“Adam Kadmon” means “before Adam” and refers to the “image of Elohim” after which we were created. Gershom Scholem writes:

In His active manifestations, the Godhead appears as the dynamic unity of the Sefiroth, portrayed as the “tree of the Sefiroth,” or the mystical human form (‘Adam Kadmon), who is none other than the concealed shape of Godhead itself. – On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead; Basic Concepts in the Kabbalah; p. 39

However, the Sefiroth do not appear only in the shape of the tree. They also appear in the form of Primal Man (‘Adam Kadmon),which corresponds to that of earthly man. – ibid p. 43

Adam Kadmon, however, was not just the image of Elohim. He was actually Elohim himself, as Gershom Scholem writes:

…God entered into the form of the Adam Kadmon…- Kabbalah by Gershom Scholem p. 116

The Sefirot are layed out as Adam Kadmon with Keter as the head, Chokhmah and Binah represent the right and left lobes of the brain. Gevurah and Khesed represent the hands, Tiferet the heart. Yesod represents the reproductive organ. Hod and Netzah represent the legs and Malkut represents the feet.

The Adam Kadmon was “the likeness like the appearance of a man” which Ezekiel saw upon the throne (Ezek. 1:26) in his Merkavah vision (vision of the divine throne-chariot).

This therefore is the invisible image of YHWH which is the Messiah:

…the Messiah, who is the likeness of Elohim. (2Cor. 4:4)

[his Son] who is the image of the invisible Elohim… (Col. 1:15)

[the Son] who is the radiance of his glory, and the image of his being… (Heb. 1:3)

the only begotten Son – The Peshitta has “only begotten Eloah” while the Old Syriac has “only begotten Son”.  Greek manuscripts also differ on this reading.  only begotten – Aramaic: יחידא yichidaya – The Aramaic form of the Hebrew word יחיד which appears in Gen. 22:2 where Isaac is Avraham’s “only” son.

See comments on “only begotten” under Yochanan 1:14.

which is in the innermost parts of the Father – The Word was not created (see 1:3) but had been eternally existent within Elohim. As we read in the Bahir concerning the “Light”:

Rabbi Berachiah said:  What is the meaning of the verse (Genesis 1:3), And God said, “’Let there be light,’ and there was light”?  Why does the verse not say, “And it was so”?  What is this like?  A king had a beautiful object.  He put it away until he had a place for it, and then he put it there.  It is therefore written, “Let there be light, and there was light.”  This indicates that it already existed.
(Bahir 1:25)


19 And this is the witness of Yochanan: when the Judeans from Yerushalayim sent to him cohenim and Levites to ask him, Who are you?
20 And he confessed and did not refuse: but confessed, I am not the Messiah.
21 And they asked him again, Who then are you, Eliyahu? And he said, I am not. Are you a prophet? And he said, No.
22 And they said to him, Then who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent [us]? What do you say about yourself?
23 He said, I am a voice that cries in the wilderness, Make smooth–the way of YHWH, as Yesha’yahu the prophet has said.
24 And those who were sent were from the P’rushim.
25 And they asked him and said to him, Why then do you immerse, if you are neither the Messiah, nor Eliyahu, nor a prophet?
26 Yochanan answered and said to them, I immerse with water: but among you stands One, whom you do not know.
27 This is the One, who will come after me–yet was before me: the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to loose.
(Yochanan 1:19-27 HRV)

are you, Eliyahu? And he said, I am not. Based on the promise of a return of Eliyahu before the “the Great and Terrible Day of YHWH” (Mal. 4:5). Yochanan’s manner of dress (Makr 1:6) resembeled that of Eliyahu (2Kings 1:8). Yocahanon flatly denies this identification, however in the Synoptics this identification is made by Yeshua (Mk. 9:13). It is possible that Yochanan is denying being literal Eliyahu, while Yeshua identifies him as a typological Eliyahu. The fact that the question came up, implies that at least some Jews accepted the doctrine of gilgul (reincarnation) as early as the Second Temple Era.

Are you the Prophet? I.e. the Prophet like Moshe promissed in Deut. 18:18-19.

24 And those who were sent were from the P’rushim. This is the reading of the Peshitta and the Greek. The Old Syriac omits rference to Pharisees here and simply says “and they were sending”.

Many use the term “Pharisee” as a slur. Yet, not only did Paul plainly proclaim in the present tense “I am a Pharisee” (Acts 23:6), but if we read the Scriptures carefully, we can see that it is revealed that Yeshua was also a Pharisee.

Yochanan tells us that when he says “among you… stands…. One, who will come after me–yet was before me: the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to loose” he is speaking to a group of Pharisees who have come to him! And Yeshua was one of them! If we accept the reading of the Peshitta and the Greek, Yochanan is telling us Yeshua was a Pharisee!

This comes as a shock to many Christians who have a poor understanding of what it means to be a Pharisee.

Part of the reason for this is that the Christian understanding of what a Pharisee is has been defined by Christian commentators, not by Pharisaic sources. As a result, in Christian culture, the word “Pharisee” has come to be used idiomatically to mean “hypocrite”.

I recall some years ago seeing a Reverend Twistruth comic strip several years ago in which the Reverend had just been teaching on the parable of the Pharisee and the Plebian. He asked a church lady to close with a prayer and she begins “Thank you Lord for not making me like that Pharisee…”

Of course Rabbinic Judaism is the modern descendant of Phariseeism. If one wants a good understanding of what Phariseeism taught, one should look to primary sources of the actual teachings of the Pharisees, the Mishna, the Talmuds and the early Midrashim.

Upon the invasion of Jerusalem and the Babylonian captivity the monarchy of Israel was brought to an end. When the Babylonian captivity finally ended and exiles returned, Ezra reestablished the council of Elders:Ezra 7:25; 10:14, 16) which immediately began making halachic decisions (Ezra 10:10-19). This body became known as the Great Assembly.

The Mishna records the foundations of Pharisaic Judaism as follows:

Moses received Torah at Sinai and handed it on to Joshua, Joshua to the elders, the elders to the prophets, the prophets handed it on to the men of the Great Assembly…
(m.Avot 1:1)

This was a body of 120 Elders and is said to have introduced a regular order of prayers including the Shemoneh Esreh (eighteen benedictions) which eventually evolved into the Siddur. The Great Assembly collected the sacred writings and determined which books were to be regarded as canonical.

We do not know much more about the Great Assembly. We do know that one of the last members of this counsel was “Simon the Righteous” (219-196 B.C.E.). The Mishna says:

Simeon the Righteous was of the remnants of the Great Assembly. He used to say, “On three things the world stands: On the Torah, On the [Temple] Service, and on acts of piety (chasidim).
(m.Avot 1:2)

Ben Sira calls him “the leader of his brothers and the pride of his people.” (Sira 50:1) and dedicates an entire chapter to his good reputation. Simon was the earliest post-biblical sage cited in the Mishna. Simon was succeeded as High Priest by his son Onias III of whom we read in 2 Maccabees:

While the holy city was inhabited in unbroken peace and the laws were very well observed because of the piety of the high priest Onias and his hatred of wickedness.
(2 Maccabees 3:1)

About this time Antiochus Epiphanies rose to power over Israel and at about this same time period the High Priesthood passed from Onias III to his brother Jason by way of corruption:

…Jason the brother of Onias obtained the high priesthood by corruption, promising the king at an interview three hundred and sixty talents of silver and from another source of revenue, eighty talents… he at once shifted his countrymen over to the Greek way of life… and introduced new customs contrary to the Torah.
(2 Maccabees 4:7-8, 10, 11)

Jason’s High Priesthood was illegitimate and not regarded as valid as we read in 2Maccabees:

…Jason, who was ungodly and no high priest…
(2 Maccabees 4:13)

The corruption of the High Priesthood and the banishment of the true High Priest must have forced the disbandment of the Great Assembly.

At this time (175-140 BCE) many who wished to remain true to Torah escaped into the wilderness (1 Maccabees 1:62-64; 2:29) These refugees became know as the Chassidim (pious ones) (1 Maccabees 2:42-43).

While we know little about these Chassidim, they were probably led by a certain Antigones of Soko. The Mishnah says of him:

Antigones of Soko received [Torah] from Simeon the Righteous. He used to say, “Be not like servants who serve their master for the sake of wages, but be like servants who serve their master with no thought of a wage – and let the fear of Heaven be upon you.”
(m.Avot 1:3)

The name “Chassidim” probably came from their devotion to the teaching of Simon the Righteous, that “CHASSIDIM” is one of the three things upon which the world stands.

The term CHASSEDIM is related to the same root as CHESED meaning “grace, mercy, loving kindness, charity”. You might say this was as “grace” movement.

One of Antigones’ talmidim (disciples, students), a certain Zadok, apostatized and formed the Sadducee sect (I laid this out in detail in my recent article “Paul argues Talmud Before the Sanhedrin).

The main line of Antigones’ talmidim went on to establish the body we know as the Pharisaic Sanhedrin (not to be confused with the political Sanhedrin that contained both Pharisees and Sadducees). In fact two of his talmidim went on to become the first Nasi and Av Beit Din of this Sanhedrin.

In other words Pharisaic Judaism was the succession of the Chassedim and the main line of Judaism. (The word “Pharisee” means “separate” and may well refer to the fact that the Chassidim had separated themselves from Jason’s corrupt apostasy from true Judaism). This was a CHESED (grace) based movement proceeding from the teachings of Simon the Righteous and Antigones of Soko.

Before proceeding let us therefore seek to understand the point of Antigones’ teaching:

“Be not like servants who serve their master for the sake of wages, but be like servants who serve their master with no thought of a wage – and let the fear of Heaven be upon you.”

Antigones taught that we should observe Torah not as one trying to earn something, but as one who serves a master because he sincerely wants to from inside, out of respect and love for Elohim. He taught that Torah Observance meant nothing unless ones heart was right. Without this inner CHESED, Torah Observance was an empty outer expression, works without faith. This was the foundation of Pharisaic Judaism!

The earliest generations of the Pharisaic movement were known as the Zuggot (pairs). Hillel and Shammai were the last two “pairs” to lead the Pharisee Sanhedrin. The rift between them was so great that Shammai, who was known for his bad temper, forced Hillel to sit and listen to him at the point of his sword, as though he were his student. (b.Shab. 17a) The result was a complete split of Phariseeism into two Houses: The House of Shammai (the stricter school) and the House of Hillel (the less-strict school).

From this point forward the only Pharisee Sanhedrin we know of was led, not by “pairs” but by Hillel’s descendents.

Pharisees at this time polarized into two schools of thought: The School of Shammai and the School of Hillel. The two schools held differing view on many halachic issues and argued throughout the first century. Eventually the School of Hillel prevailed in these arguments and serves as the foundation of modern Rabbinic Judaism. There are also many important connections between the School of Hillel and the ancient sect of the Nazarenes.

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 Hillels understandings were more relaxed. According to the Zohar (Ra’aya Meheimna 3:245a) The School of Shammai was based on GEVURAH (“severity”) while the School of Hillel was based on CHESED (“grace”/”mercy”).

A classic example of the conflict can be seen in one of the first passages of the Mishna, which records a conflict between the two houses over how to recite the Shema:

The House of Shammai says: In the evening one should recline in order to recite the shema, and in the morning they should stand. As it is written “when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Deuteronomy 6:7)
But the House of Hillel says: Everyone may recite the Shema in his own way, as it is written: “And you shall go by the way” (Deuteronomy 7:7)

(m.Berachot 1:3)

Note that the House of Shammai were concerned primarily with the outward expression, with whether one was standing or reclining, while the House of Hillel were less concerned with such outward expression and much more concerned with the way in which one recited the Shema, that they made it their own way, that they meant it and walked in it. Note the difference in emphasis of the two houses.

Hillel was more concerned with the inner man, while Shammai was more concerned with the outer man. Hillel was concerned with the Spirit of the Law, while Shammai was more concerned with the Letter of the Law.

This overriding concept of sincerity is also found in the Mishna in tractate Menachot:

“…all are the same, the one who offers much and the one who offers little, on condition that a man will direct his intention to Heaven.”
(m.Menachot 13:11)

You can imagine that a movement founded on sincerity of heart, would have no tolerance for hypocrisy. The Talmud lists Hypocrites as one of four classes who will not receive the presence of the Shekhinah:

R. Hisda also said in the name of R. Jeremiah b. Abba: Four classes will not recieve presence of the Shechinah, — the class of scoffers, the class of liars, the class of hypocrites, and the class of slanderers. `The class of scoffers’ — as it is written, He withdrew His hand from the scoffers.(Hosea 7:5) `The class of liars’ — as it is written, He that telleth lies, shall not tarry in my sight.(Ps. 101:7) `The class of hypocrites’ — as it is written, For a hypocrite shall not come before him.(Job 13:15) `The class of slanderers — as it is written, For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee,'(Ps. 5:5) [which means] Thou art righteous, and hence there will not be evil in thy abode.
(b.San. 103a)

The Talmud however does recognize a problem with hypocrisy among the ranks of the Pharisees:

King Jannai said to his wife’, `Fear not the Pharisees and the non-Pharisees but the hypocrites who are the Pharisees; because their deeds are the deeds of Zimri but they expect a reward like Phineas.’
(b.Sotah 22b)

It is this problem that Yeshua addresses when he criticizes hypocrisy among the Pharisees. Sincerity of heart is supposed to be the defining characteristic of the foundations of Pharisaic Judaism, Pharisaic Judaism stripped of its core principle became hollow. I believe this is what Yeshua meant when he said:

“You are the salt of the earth, and if the salt has lost its savor, how will it be salted? It is afterwards good for nothing, but to be cast aside, and trampled by men.”
(Matthew 5:13)

Note in Matthew Yeshua says:

“…they [hypocrites] delight to stand in the assemblies and at the corners of the streets to pray, that men may see them.”
(Matthew 6:5)

Some wrongly imagine that this is a blanket attack on a Pharisaic practice. In reality a similar condemnation appears in the Talmud “‘One who says the Tefillah so that it can be heard is of the small of faith’.” (b.Ber 24b)

Yeshua continues his attack on hypocrites saying:

“And when you pray, multiply not your words like the Goyim do…”
(Matthew 6:7-8)

Like verse 5 many mistakenly take this verse as a reference to Jewish liturgy. In fact the Pharisaic Mishna itself contains a similar instruction for behavior when praying:

Rabbi Simeon says: “Be meticulous in the recitation of the shema and the Prayer. And when you pray, don’t treat your praying as a matter of routine. But let it be a [plea for] mercy and supplication before the Omnipresent, blessed be He…”
(m.Avot 2:13)

Yeshua continues his criticism of “hypocrites” saying:

“…they begrime and disfigure their faces that they may appear in the sight of men to fast… when you fast anoint your head and wash your face…”
(Matthew 6:16-18)

Here Yeshua is not condemning a Pharisaic practice but an Essene practice as Josephus writes of the first century Essenes:

They think oil is defilement; and if one of them is anointed without his own approbation, it is wiped off his body; for they think to be sweaty is a good thing…
(Josephus; Wars; 2:8:3)

Yeshua continues his criticism of hypocrites saying:

“lay up for yourselves stores in heaven, where caterpillar and moth waste not, and where thieves do not steal, for just where your store is, there your heart will be also.”
(Matthew 6:19-21)

A similar teaching appears in the Talmud with very similar wording:

Our Rabbis taught: It is related of King Monobaz that he dissipated all his own hoards and the hoards of his fathers in years of scarcity. His brothers and his father’s household came in a deputation to him and said to him, ‘Your father saved money and added to the treasures of his fathers, and you are squandering them.’ He replied: ‘My fathers stored up below and I am storing above, as it says, Truth springeth out of the earth and righteousness looketh down from heaven. My fathers stored in a place which can be tampered with, but I have stored in a place which cannot be tampered with, as it says, Righteousness and judgment are the foundation of his throne. My fathers stored something which produces no fruits, but I have stored something which does produce fruits, as it is written, Say ye of the righteous [zaddik] that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat of the fruit of their doings. My fathers gathered treasures of money, but I have gathered treasures of souls, as it is written, The fruit of the righteous [zaddik] is a tree of life, and he that is wise winneth souls. My fathers gathered for others and I have gathered for myself, as it says, And for thee it shall be righteousness [zedakah]. My fathers gathered for this world, but I have gathered for the future world, as it says, Thy righteousness [zedakah] shall go before thee, and the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.’
(b.Baba Batra 11a)

When Yeshua criticized Pharisees for hypocrisy he was challenging Pharisees to return to the Chassidic roots of Pharisaic Judaism. He was encouraging Pharisees to return to their foundational teachings, the Tanak and the teachings of Simon the Righteous and Atigones of Soko.

Yeshua was teaching CHESED, he was teaching Chassidism and he was teaching the values of Antigones of Soko. He was teaching us that we should not keep Torah as one wishing to earn something, but as one who has a sincere heart and inner desire to serve YHWH out of sincere love and respect for our Father.

In fact the ironic thing is that by this measure it is Christedom which is hypocritical. Talk to a Christian about Torah Observance and invariably they will respond that they do not have to keep Torah to be saved, and therefore they do not need to keep Torah. They are as ones only concerned with doing what they get paid for, and not as one serving YHWH simply out of love and respect for Him.

When Yeshua was criticizing hypocrisy among Pharisees, he was calling for a return to authentic Pharisaic Judaism, which is why Paul was able to say confidently “I am a Pharisee” (Acts 23:6)

There is an interesting parallel in the teachings of a later movement that also took on the name Chassidic and whose founder the Baal Shem Tov (c. 1750) taught that Judaism must be centered not simply around doing the Torah, but around feeling the Torah.

Now in closing I want to emphasize that the early Nazarenes also had deep roots in Essene Judaism.

Our Messiah was bringing together Pharisaic and Essenic Judaism. He was introducing Hillel style halachic teachings to Esseneism and introducing Essene Apocalyptic teaching to Pharisaic Judaism.


And on the day that followed, Yochanan saw Yeshua, who was walking toward him, and said, Behold, the lamb of Eloah who takes away the sin of the world.
(Jn. 1:29)

1:29  Lamb of Eloah – A reference to the Suffering Servant Messiah of Is. 52:7-53:12 who is “led as a lamb to the slaughter” (Is. 53:7) who is “pierced for our transgressions” (Is. 53:5).  He is typified by the Passover Lamb who’s blood redeems the firstborn (Ex. 12). 

who takes away the sin of the world– At the time of Messiah’s birth, his mother Miriam (Mary), following instructions from YHWH, names Messiah “Yeshua” (the Hebrew word for “salvation”).  Matthew writes:

And behold she will bear a son, and you will call his name Yeshua; for he will save his people from all their sins. (Matt. 1:21)

Here is the answer to our question.  Messiah came to save us from all of our sins.  Thus Yochanan (John) spoke of Messiah saying:

And on the day that followed, Yochanan saw Yeshua, who was walking toward him, and said, Behold, the lamb of Eloah who takes away the sin of the world.
(Jn. 1:29)

Messiah came to save us from our sins, to take away the sins of the world.  That is what “Salvation” is and what we need to be “saved” from.  Moreove this is not a “New Testament” idea, this is an idea drawn right out of the Tanak (“Old Testament”):

Behold, YHWH’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear; But your iniquities have separated between you and your Elohim, and your sins have hid His face from you, that he will not hear. (Isaiah 59:1-2)

Now that we know that “sin” is what Messiah came to deliver (save) us from, we must understand just what “sin” is.  Simply put, sin is falling short of observing tht Torah.  As the Tanak says:

And if any one sin, and do any of the things which YHWH has commanded not to be done, though he know it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity.
(Lev. 5:17)

But Yahu took no heed to walk in the Torah of YHWH, the Elohim of Yisra’el, with all his heart; he departed not from the sins of Yarov’am, with which he made Yisra’el to sin.
(2Kings 10:31)

With my whole heart have I sought You; O let me not err from Your commandments.
Your word have I laid up in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
(Ps. 119:10-11)

Perhaps the clearest definition of “sin” is given in the “New Testament” itself:

Whoever commits sin transgresses also the Torah,
for sin is the transgression of the Torah.
(1Jn. 3:4)

So simply put, “sin” may be defined as “transgression of the Torah”.  Messiah, then, came to rescue (save) us from transgression of the Torah (Mt. 1:21) and to “take away Torah transgression” (Jn. 1:29). 

So simply put, “sin” may be defined as “transgression of the Torah”.  Messiah, then, came to rescue (save) us from transgression of the Torah (Mt. 1:21) and to “take away Torah transgression” (Jn. 1:29). 

This is exactly what Scriptural “salvation” is all about, don’t trust a thing that I say, look these Scriptures up for yourself!  Elohim wants to rescue you from transgressing the Torah by taking away Torah transgression!


It is evident in these verses, that Yochanan actually had a community living in the area of his ministry, most likely a break away from the nearby Essenes of Qumran, where Yeshua first meets and chooses some of his first Talmidim.

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