Yochanan Chapter 10

James Trimm’s Nazarene Commentary on Yochanan Chapter 10


23 And Yeshua was walking in the Temple, in the porch of Shlomo.
24 And the Judeans gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, How long will You hold us? If You are the Messiah, tell us in the open.
25 Yeshua answered and said to them: I told you, and you did not believe. And the works that I do in the Name of My Father, bear witness about Me.
26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me:
28 And I give them eternal life, and they will not perish, forever. And no man will pluck them from My hands.
29 For My Father who gave to Me from all, is great, and no man, is able to pluck them from the hand of My Father.
30 I and My Father are one.
31 And again the Judeans took up stones to stone Him.
32 Yeshua said to them: I have shown you many good works from My Father. Because of which work, do you stone Me?
33 The Judeans said to Him, We do not stone You because of good works, but because You have blasphemed, and being a son of man, have made Your nefesh [to be] Elohim.
34 Yeshua said to them: Is it not thus written in your Torah? I have said that you are Elohim. (Ps. 82:6)
35 If he called those [people] elohim because the word of Elohim was with them, and the Scripture is not able to be broken,
36 To Him–whom the Father sanctified and sent to the world–do you say, You blaspheme? Because I told you that I am the Son of Elohim?
(Yochanan (John) 10:23-36 HRV)

What does this very controversial passage mean?  Yeshua says “I and my Father are one” (Yn. 10:30) and when the Judeans respond by threatening to stone him for “blasphemy”, Yeshua defends himself by quoting Psalm 82:6.

Some have attempted to explain this quotation by referencing Rabbinic sources that explain “Elohim” in Psalm 82:6 as simply meaning “judges” or “angels” and not Elohim.  However, if this is the real meaning of Psalm 82:6 in this context, then Yeshua would have been taking the passage completely out of context, as he uses the passage, not to justify a claim of being a judge or angel, but a claim of being one with the Father.

Lets look at Psalm 82:

1 A Psalm of Asaf. (82:1) Elohim stands in the assembly of El; in the midst of the
elohim He judges:
2 How long will you judge unjustly, and respect the persons of the wicked? Selah
3 Judge the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute:
4 Rescue the poor and needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.
5 They know not, neither do they understand; they go about in darkness. All the
foundations of the earth are moved.
6 I said, You are Elohim, and all of you, sons of Elyon.
7 Nevertheless you shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.
8 Arise, O Elohim; judge the earth: for You shall possess all nations.
(Psalm 82:1-8 HRV)

Yeshua’s citation of Psalm 82:6 brings to mind a passage found in the Dead Sea Scroll document known as the Melchizedek Document (11Q13) which cites Psalm 82:1.  11Q13 speaks of this Messiah as a figure called “Melchizedek.” In this document Is. 61:2 is quoted with “Melchizedek” substituted for YHWH. Furthermore the terms EL and ELOHIM are in 11Q13 applied to the Melchizedek/Messiah figure.

11Q13 Col. 4-9 quotes Is. 61:1-2 but substitutes “the year of Melchizedek’s favor” for “the year of YHWH’s favor” thus identifying the Melchizedek figure with YHWH in this passage. 11Q13 goes on to say:

…as it is written about him [Melchizedek] in the Songs of David, “ELOHIM has taken his place in the council of EL; in the midst of the ELOHIM he holds judgment” (Ps. 82:1) Scripture also says about him [Melchizedek], “Over it take your seat in the highest heaven; EL will judge the peoples” (Ps. 7:7-8)
(11Q13 Col. 10-11)

The text of 11Q13 goes on to apply the passage “Your ELOHIM reigns” (Is. 52:7) to Melchizedek finally concluding: “Your ELOHIM (Is. 52:7) is Melchizedek, who will deliver them from the power of Belial.” (11Q13 Col. 24-25)

The Melchizadek figure of 11Q13 would free the captives (Is. 61:1-2) and through the Day of Atonement will “atone for all the Sons of Light”.

As shown above. The Melchizadek Document quotes Psalm 82:1 in reference to its identification of the Messiah with the terms YHWH, EL and Elohim.

Is it a complete coincidence, then, that Yeshua quotes Psalm 82:6 to support his claim that he is one with the Father? What does Psalm 82:6 really mean?  How does it support Yeshua’s claim?

The answer lies in Genesis 2:7: Then YHWH Elohim formed man of the dust of the earth, and breathed into hisnostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.(Gen. 2:7 HRV) Man is a spark of the Divine, a fragment of Elohim (see comments to Genesis 2:7)

In the Tanya of the Rebbe Zalman we read likewise:

The second soul of a Jew is truly a part of G-d above (Job 31:2), as it is written, “And He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,” (Gen. 2:7) and “Thou didst breathe it [the soul] into me.” (Morning Prayer b.Berachot 60b)
(Tanya; Likutei Amarim Chapter 2)

In the Tanya, this second soul is called the Nefesh Elohit (נפש אלהית)  and is in conflict with the animal soul.

When Psalm 82:6 says “you are Elohim” it means that you are a fragment of Elohim.  You have within you a spark of the Divine, a Nefesh Elohit.  But we don’t act like it, we judge unjustly because we know not, neither do we understand that we are elohim, but we wonder around in darkness (Ps. 82:2-5).

But it is not YHWH’s intent that we wonder in darkness forever.  The prophet Zechariah writes:

9 And YHWH shall be King over all the earth. In that day, shall YHWH be One, and His Name one.
(Zech. 14:9 HRV)

If YHWH will me One “in that day” then what is YHWH now?  Right now, YHWH is fragmented, because we are all fragments of YHWH, but the time will com when YHWH will once again be One.  This is called the “lifting up of the sparks.”  It is a great work of refinement and sanctification.  And this is why Yeshua referenced Psalm 82:6 to support his own claim of being one with the Father.

The Fall of Adam, was absolutely essential to this process of the lifting up of the sparks and of our sanctification. We read in the Torah concerning the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge:

And out of the ground made YHWH Elohim, to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.(Gen. 2:9)

The Jewish commentator Nachmanides comments on this passage saying:

…You may think the serpent was lying to her [saying “you shall be as gods”] (in Gen. 3:5), but our tradition admits he told the truth; and see “the YHWH Elohim said, ‘Now that the man has become like one of us knowing good and bad’” (Gen. 3:22).  The explanation that seems best to me is that man would have done what was naturally proper for him to do, just like the heavens and all their host, surely, reliably, and without emotion; but the fruit of that tree engendered will and desire, so that those who ate it could choose a thing or its opposite, good or bad.  That is why it was called “the tree of knowledge of good and bad,…”

Nachmanides refers back to this very insightful comment in his commentary on Deuteronomy 30:6

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

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

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

It is this which Scripture states in [the Book of] Jeremiah 31:30], ‘Behold, the days come,’ says YHWH, ‘that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers ..etc. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Eternal, I will put my Law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it.

This is a reference to the annulment of the evil instinct (yetzer ra) and to the natural performance by the heart of its proper function. Therefore Jeremiah said further, and I will be their Elohim, and they shall be My People; and they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying: ‘Know YHWH; ‘for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.’

Now, it is known that the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth and it is necessary to instruct them, but at that time it will not be necessary to instruct them [to avoid evil] for their evil instinct (yetzer ra) will then be completely abolished. And so it is declared by Ezekiel, ‘A new heart will I also give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will cause you to walk in My statutes.’ ” (Ezekiel 36:26)
The new heart alludes to man’s nature, and the [new] spirit to the desire and will. It is this which our Rabbis have said : “And the years draw nigh, when you shall say: I have no pleasure in them; these are the days of the Messiah, as they will offer opportunity neither for merit nor for guilt,” for in the days of the Messiah there will be no [evil] desire in man but he will naturally perform the proper deeds and therefore there will be neither merit nor guilt in them, for merit and guilt are dependent upon desire.”

Nachmanides makes some very insightful comments to these verses.  To begin with, he points out that the Jewish tradition is that the Serpent did not lie in saying “you shall be as elohim” for we read later in Psalm 82:6 “you are elohim”.  (This does not mean that the Serpent was not deceptive, he was deceptive in questioning the word of YHWH “Did Elohim really say?” and in saying “you shall not die”. But his statement “you shall be as elohim” was not a lie, as attested to in Psalm 82:6.)

It seems that the Fall of Adam was absolutely essential for our sanctification.