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1Corinthians and the Counting of the Omer PART 1

1Corinthians and the Counting of the Omer
PART 1
By James Trimm



Back in 2010 while studying the book of 1st Corinthinans I saw something I had never seen before. The Book of 1stCorinthians was written shortly after Passover, as Paul criticizes the handling of a recent seder at Corinth (1Cor. 5) and looks forward to the coming Shavuot (1Cor. 16:8). This letter is written during the counting of the omer and that theme prevails throughout the letter.

The counting of the omer is described in the Torah as follows:

15: And you shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete:
16: Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and you shall offer a new meat offering unto YHWH.
17: Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto YHWH.
(Lev. 23:15-17)

The counting of the omer begins at the firstfruits wave sheaf offering during Passover and ends with the firstfruits wave loaf offering at Shavuot.

The first counting of the omer marked the time from the exodus from Egypt and redemption of the firstborn to the receiving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai.

At the time of the death of Messiah the counting of the omer marked the time from the resurrection of Messiah to the outpouring of the Ruach HaKodesh in Acts chapter 2.


IT STARTS WITH PASSOVER

The counting of the omer begins with Passover and Paul begins 1st Corinthians with a discussion of the Yayin HaMeshumar, the wine that has been kept in its grapes since creation for the great Messianic Feast (see my article at:http://nazarenejudaism.com/?page_id=654

Paul again addresses the Passover in 1Cor. 5 even saying “our Pesach is the Messiah, who was slain instead of us, Because of this, let us observe the feast…” (1Cor. 5:7-8).

Again in 1Cor. 11 Paul addresses the Sader discussing Yeshua’s Sader at the time of his death and stressing that our hearts be right in receiving the elements of the sader (1Cor. 11:20-34)

In 1Corinthians 12:13 Paul alludes again to the Yayin HaMeshumar and the Passover wine when he says “And all of us drank of one spirit.”

Finally Paul alludes to the firstfruits offering of the counting of the omer when he says in 1Cor. 15:20 “Messiah has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep”.


TAKING STOCK

The counting of the omer is traditionally a time of taking stock of ourselves. It is a time of reckoning. It marks the time of preparing to receive the Torah, and of preparing to receive the outpouring of the Ruach HaKodesh. In fact the Hebrew word for “count” can also mean “reckon”.

It was during the time of the first counting of the omer that Moshe wrote Psalm 90 (and 91) in which he writes:

8 You have set our iniquities before You; our secret sins in the light of Your
countenance.
9 For all our days are passed away in Your wrath: we bring our years to an end as a tale
that is told.
10 The days of our years are threescore years and ten, or even by reason of strength,
fourscore years. Yet is their pride, but travail and vanity: for it is speedily gone, and we
fly away.
11 Who knows the power of Your anger and Your wrath, according to the fear that is
due unto You?
12 So teach us to number our days: that we may get us a heart of wisdom.
(Ps. 90:8-12 HRV)

In the past I have spoken of the first three chapters of Revelation and their connection to the counting of the omer. According to the Aramaic text of Revelation the vision of Rev. 1 takes place on “the first day” (Rev. 1:10 HRV). In this vision Yochanan sees seven menorahs each of which would have seven branches totaling 49 branches. These represent seven assemblies and they represent a counting of the omer from the first day (the day of the firstfruits offering during Passover, i.e. the morrow after the Sabbath) to the day of Shavuot. In the following two chapters Yochanan writes seven letters to these seven assemblies giving them each a reckoning or accounting.

1Corinthians is very much about a reckoning of the of the assembly of Corinth in much the same way that the seven letters to seven assemblies in Rev. 2-3 are such a reckoning. One need only look over this letter to see that the entire letter is a reckoning and criticism of the assembly at Corinth. Note especially the criticism of the handling of the sader in 1Cor. 5 and the encouragement of self reckoning in taking the sader in 1Cor. 11.


GETTING READY TO RECEIVE THE RUACH HAKODESH

Messiah tells his Talmidim during the counting of the omer:

For John truly immersed with water; but you shall be immerseded with the Ruach HaKodesh not many days hence…
But when the Ruach HaKodesh comes upon you, you will receive power (KHAILA)…
(Acts 1:5, 8)

The Aramaic word here is KHAILA, which means, “power, miracles, authority”. This is the very Aramaic word, which the Peshitta Tanak uses to translate Hebrew GEVURAH in 1Chron. 29:11 (the Tanak text from which the lower seven sefirot are derived) and is obviously associated with the sefirah called GEVURAH.

The gematria (numerical value) of KHAILA is 49 (7 x 7). This is the same as the gematria of the MAT ”the rod” of Aaron and Moses, which was so closely related to many of their “miracles”.

Khaila includes the power to perform “miracles”:

And Eloah was doing great miracles (KHAILA)
by the hand of Paul.
(Acts 19:11)

And the power to exercise authority over spirits and shedim (demons):

And Yeshua called his twelve and gave them power (KHAILA) and authority over all the spirits and shedim and to heal sickness.
(Luke 9:1)

The word Khaila in Aramaic can also denote “courage” and may therefore also indicate the strength to endure trials, tribulation and torture. Thus Khaila can also refer to a supernatural ability to endure these tortures, like the martyrs of 2nd and 4th Maccabees.. As such Khaila is especially associated with the Armor of Elohom.

Khaila is often exercised (like healing) through the evocation of the “Names of Power” which are discussed below. Khaila is associated with the left hand of Adam Kadmon and thus it is often exercised in connection with a ritual of laying on of hands, especially when exercising authority over shedim (demons).

Paul tells us that the effecting of Khaila comes from “the hearing of faith” (Gal. 3:5) because this gift flows from the gift of faith, a gift which itself manifests itself in Torah observance.

There is a good example in the Torah of this gift being expressed in the effecting of miracles when YHWH, through Moshe parts the red sea (Ex. 14:16-22). It was also manifest when David, through his Psalms, drove a shed out of Saul (1Sam. 16:14-23) and when Toviyah exercised Khaila over the shed Asmodeus (Tobit 6). Finally Khaila was exercised by Eleazar and Hanna and her seven sons, when they endured the tortures inflicted upon them by Antiochus Epiphanies (2Macc. 6:18-31; 7:1-42; 4Macc.).

The outpouring of the Ruach HaKodesh event of Acts chapter two was a repetition of an event that took place at the first Shavuot (Shavuot is the aniversary of the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai). According to the Midrashim when the Torah was given at Mount Sinai the Torah message was divided up into the seventy languages of the Gentiles:

"Elohim's voice, as it was uttered, split into seventy voices,
into seventy tongues [leshonoth], so that all the nations should understand."
(Midrash from Exodus Rabbah 5:9)

The Talmud says:

“Every phrase which issued from the mouth of the All-powerful divided itself into the seventy languages.”
(b.Shabbat 88b)

The Midrash also describes this event in even more detail:

In the occasion of Matan Torah [the giving of the Torah], the Bnai Yisrael [children of Israel] not only heard Hashem's Voice but actually saw the sound waves as they emerged from Hashem's mouth. They visualized them as a fiery substance. Each commandment that left Hashem's mouth traveled around the entire Camp and then to each Jew individually, asking him, "Do you accept upon yourself this Commandment with all the halochot [Jewish law] pertaining to it?"
Every Jew answered "Yes" after each commandment. Finally, the fiery substance which they saw engraved itself on the luchot [tablets].
(The Midrash Says; Rabbi Moshe Weissman. Benei Yakov Publications (1980) p. 182)

Thus the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh and the manifestation of tongues in Acts chapter 2 was a repetition of the gift of Torah and the manifestation of tongues that took place then.

Paul speaks in 1Corinthians 12:13 of being immersed by the Ruach HaKoesh because this is what happens at the end of the first counting of the omer in Exodus and also at the time of Messiah’s death in Acts 2.

The Book of 1Corinthians encourages us to spend the counting of the omer in self reflection of our worthiness to drink the Yayin HaMeshumar (1Cor. 11:27-28) for one is drinking in the Ruach (1Cor. 12:13).


THE SEFIROT AND THE THREE GARMENTS OF THE SOUL

There is also a parallel between the counting of the omer and the sefirot of the Tree of Life. Of course the root word for sefirot comes from the Hebrew verb “to count” and the sefirot are themselves the qualities and characteristics which we have as being made in the image of YHWH.

In the Siddur (traditional liturgy) during the counting of the omer on each of the 49 days a combination of each of the seven lower sefirot is recited and meditated upon. The first day is “CHESED that is in CHESED” the second day is “GEVURAH that is in CHESED” and so on until over 49 days all 49 (7x7) combinations have been recited.

Concerning the manifestations of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) Paul writes:
 
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each man, as it is profitable for him.
8 There is a word of wisdom that is given for it by the Spirit: and for another, a word of
knowledge by the same Spirit,
9 For another, has trust by the same Spirit; for another, gifts of healing by the same
Spirit,
10 And for another, power, and for another, prophecy, and for another, discerning
of the Spirit, and for another, kinds of tongues, and for another, the interpretation
of tongues.
11 Now all these [things], the same Spirit works and distributes to every man as He wills.
(1Cor. 12:7-11 HRV)

These nine manifestations fit neatly into three groups which correspond perfectly with the Chasidic teaching of the “Three Garments of the Soul”.  The Baal Shem Tov taught that the Soul has three garments, these are three ways in which the nefesh elokit (divine soul) expresses itself in this world:

“And Hashem spoke to Moshe saying: Speak to the B’nai Yisrael and say to them, When  you come over the Yarden into the land of Canaan, then shall appoint for yourselves cities that will be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer who kills an person unintentionally shall flee thereto. And they shall be to you cities for refuge from the avenger…” (Bamidbar 35:9-12.)

Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev taught in the name of the Baal Shem Tov, that the three cities of refuge (there were three cities of refuge on each side of the Jordan) represent the three garments of the soul: thought, speech and action.

And as Rebbe Zalman writes in the Tanya:

In addition, every divine soul (nefesh elokit) possesses three garments, viz., thought, speech and action, [expressing themselves] in the 613 commandments of the Torah. For, when a person actively fulfils all the precepts which require physical action, and with his power of speech he occupies himself in expounding all the 613 commandments and their practical application, and with his power of thought he comprehends all that is comprehensible to him in the Pardes of the Torah— then the totality of the 613 "organs" of his soul are clothed in the 613 Commandments of the Torah.
(Tanya; Likutei Amarim; Chapter 4)

These three garments of the soul are derived from the Torah:
But the word is very near unto you:
in your mouth and in your heart,
that you may do it.
(Deut. 30:14 HRV)

Likewise the three manifestations of the Spirit follow this same pattern of the three garments:

The manifestations of the Word of Wisdom, Discerning of the Spirit and the Word of Knowledge are the Ruach manifesting itself through the garment of thought.

The manifestations of Power, Faith and Gifts of Hearing are the Ruach manifesting itself through the garment of action.

And the manifestations of Tongues, Prophecy and Interpretation of Tongues are the Ruach manifesting itself through the garment of speech.

The Ruach HaKodesh is manifested through the three garments by which our nefesh elokit (divine soul) is expressed in this world.

In Part two of this blog (coming soon) I will discuss each of the nine manifestations of the Ruach HaKodesh as they parallel the upper nine of the ten sefirot.

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(Wednesday May 3rd),

We must raise $2,5OO over the next week.

If you believe in the work we are doing here then now is the time.



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