Emergency Alert!

We need your help today! We have not gotten a donation since last Wednesday and we must raise at least $450 by the end of the day today, or our account will plunge into the negative and trigger a cascade of returned items and fees.

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

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

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

Or click HERE to donate

Yeshua and the Apostasy in Second Temple Era Judaism

Yeshua and the Apostasy in Second Temple Era Judaism
By
James Scott Trimm

As I have shown elsewhere, the Original followers of Yeshua (the sect of the Nazarenes) were an unlikely union of School of Hillel Pharisees and Essenes.

Sons of Light

Like the Essenes, Yeshua and his original followers, believed that Judaism had fallen into apostasy (this did not mean it should be scrapped in favor of creating a new, non Jewish religion). For this reason the Essenes called themselves “Sons of Light” and non-Essenes “Sons of Darkness”. And for this same reason, Yeshua and his original followers also called themselves “Sons of Light” (Lk. 16:8; Jn. 12:36; Eph. 5:8; 1Thes. 5:5).

Likewise the Essenes called the Pharisees “brood of vipers”

When Yochanan called the Pharisees and Sadducees that came to be immersed by him “generation of vipers” (Matt. 3:7; Lk. 3:7) he was simply employing common Essene terminology for the Pharisees (whom the Essenes called “Wall Builders”).  The Damascus Document states of the “Wall Builders”:

Also they have corrupted their Holy Spirit, and with blasphemous language they have reviled the statutes of Elohim’s covenant, saying, “They are not well-founded.” They continually speak abhorrent things against them. “All of them are kindlers and lighters of brands” (Isa. 50:11); “the webs of a spider are their webs and the eggs of a viper are their eggs” (Isa. 59:5) Whoever touches them shall not be clean.
(Dam. Doc. 5, 13-14)

…about whom Elohim said: “Their wine is the venom of vipers, and the cruel poison of asps” (Deut. 32:33)
(Dam. Doc. 8, 9-10)

Later Yeshua also invoked this same language in reference to certain Pharisees (Matthew 12:34; 23:33).

And just as the Essenes called the Pharisees “white-washers” (Damascus Document 8, 12) similarly Yeshua called certain Pharisees “whited sephulchers” (Matt. 23:27) and Paul called Ananias (a Sadducee) a “whited wall” (Acts 23:3).

The Three Traps of Belial

The Essenes taught that Israel had fallen into apostasy, and specifically what they called the “Three Traps of Belial”, as we read in the Damascus Document:

But in the present age Belial is unrestrained in Israel, just as God said by Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, saying, “Fear and pit and snare are upon you, dweller in the land” (Is. 27:17). The true meaning of this verse concerns the three traps of Belial about which Levi son of Jacob said that Belial would catch Israel in, so he directed them towards three kinds of righteousness. The first is fornication; the second is wealth; the third is defiling the sanctuary. Whoever escapes from one is caught in the next; and whoever escapes from that is caught in the other.
(Damascus Document 4, 13-19)

The problem is that, while the Essenes recognized that there had been an apostasy, they their attempt at restoration was just as errant in many ways, as it resulted in the Under the Law teaching, that elevated the importance of Sabbath observance above human health and life, and the Works of the Law teaching, that taught that salvation could be earned thru keeping certain purity regulations.

Isaiah 29 and the Apostasy

Yeshua quotes Isaiah 29:13 in a debate he had with a certain group of Pharisees in Matthew 15.  Many who attack Jewish tradition and the Oral Law cite Yeshua’s words in Matthew 15:1-9 (and paralleled in Mark 7:1-13) concerning the “traditions of men.”  These commentators argue that the “traditions of men” which Yeshua speaks of in this passage are either the traditions of the Talmud, Oral Law, or Jewish traditions in general.

But lets examine these verses to see if they can accurately be applied to the Jewish traditions of the Talmud.

1 Then came near to Him scribes and P’rushim from Yerushalayim, saying,
2 Why do your talmidim transgress the decrees of the elders? For they clean not their hands when they eat bread.
3 But He answered them and said: And why do you transgress the commandments of Elohim–by means of your decrees?
4 Is it not written in your Torah from the mouth of Elohim, Honor your father and your mother?(Ex. 20:12; Deut. 5:16) And moreover written, And he that curses his father and his mother will surely die? (Ex. 21:17; Lev. 20:9)
5 But you say, Whoever says to father and mother, It is all an offering–[KORBAN] whatever of mine might profit you,
6 And he honors not his father and his mother. Thus have you made void the commandments of Elohim, on account of your judgments.
7 You hypocrites! Yesha’yahu did well indeed to prophesy concerning you, saying,
8 This people honors Me with their mouth and with their lips, but have removed their heart far from Me.
9 And their fear of Me, is a commandment learned of men.(Isa. 29:13)
(Matt. 15:1-9 HRV)

Now there are some important things we can immediately clean from these verses:

1. Yeshua is addressing a specific group of Pharisees whom he has encountered here, and not Phariseeism in general.
2. Yeshua is not criticizing “tradition” in general, but only “traditions of men” and specifically only “traditions of men” which conflict with the written Torah.

Now Yeshua gives us a very specific example of one of these “traditions of men,” a tradition that says that a man who makes a vow that his father or mother might not benefit from anything of his, even though this dishonors their mother or father.

Now interestingly exactly this question is dealt with in one of the many debates recorded in the Talmud.  We read in the Mishna Nedarim 9:1:

R. Elieazar says: they open a vow for a man by reference to the honor of his father or mother. and the sages prohibit.
said R. Tzadok: before they open a vow for him by reference to his father or mother let them open his vow by reference to the honor of HaMakom.  
If so there will be no vow.
But the sages concede to R. Elieazar, that in a matter that is between him and his mother or father they loose his vow by reference to his father or mother.”
(m.Nedarim 9:1)

Here the exact same question is here debated.  (It is interesting to note that both Matthew 15 and the Talmud (m.Nedarim 9:1 and b.Nedarim 64a-64b) debate this same issue, but it is only the Talmud which gets criticized.)

The question is which commandment is weightier: the commandment to keep all of your vows (Num. 30:3(2)) or the commandment to honor your mother and father (Ex. 20:12; Deut. 5:16).  What happens when there is a conflict between these two commandments and one must break one to keep the other?

Now for a complete understanding of this section of Talmud (m.Nedarim 9:1 and the Gemara at b.Nedarim 64a-64b) see my video “Talmud For Beginners Lesson One”.

It is sufficient here to show that the sages of the Talmud agreed that the type of vow that Yeshua discusses (one which involves “a matter that is between him and his mother or father”) is loosed (and therefore should not be kept) if it dishonors ones mother on one’s father.

So Yeshua and the Talmud agree with each other against the “traditions of men”.  For anyone to try to identify the “traditions of men” of Matthew 15 (and Mark 7) with the traditions of the Talmud, the Oral Law, or Jewish tradition in general, is either dishonest or very shoddy scholarship.

Yeshua’s point here is that a tradition that conflicts with the written Torah should not be kept, a point with which any Orthodox Rabbi would agree.

The “Traditions of Men” spoken of in Matthew 15 (and Mark 7) are not the Oral Law, the Talmud or Jewish traditions in general.  In this case the Sages of the Talmud stand with Yeshua in opposing “Traditions of Men” that conflict with the written Torah, even in the specific example Yeshua gives in these verses.

14 Therefore behold, I will again do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder. And the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the prudence of their prudent men shall be hid.
(Isaiah 29:14 HRV)

The Talmud relates an understanding of this verse taught by Rab (Abba Arikha (175–247 CE)) who taught:

…for Rab said: The Torah is destined to be forgotten in Israel, because it is said, Then the Lord will make thy plagues wonderful: (Dt. 28:59) now, I do not know what this wonder is, but when it is said, Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder [and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish],(Is. 29:14) it follows that this wonder refers to Torah.
(b.Shabb. 138b)

Rab taught that this portion of Isaiah speaks of an apostasy from the Torah.  The Talmud goes on to comment upon Rab’s teaching:

Our Rabbis taught: When our Masters entered the vineyard at Yabneh, they said, The Torah is destined to be forgotten in Israel, as it is said, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. And it is said, And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it. (Amos 8:11f) ‘The word of the Lord’ means halachah,’ ‘the word of the Lord’ means ‘The End’; ‘the word of the Lord’ means prophecy. And what does ‘they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord’ mean? Said they, A woman is destined  to take a loaf of terumah and go about in the synagogues and academies to know whether it is unclean or clean, and none will know whether it is clean or unclean. But that is explicitly stated, All food which may be eaten […shall be unclean]? (Lev. 11:34) Rather to know whether it is a first degree or a second degree [of uncleanness], and none will know. But that too is a Mishnah. For we learnt: If a [dead] creeping thing is found in an oven, the bread within it is a second, because the oven is a first? — They will be in doubt over what R. Adda b. Ahabah asked Raba: Let us regard this oven as though it were filled with uncleanness, and let the bread be a first? He replied, We do not say. Let us regard this oven as though it were filled with uncleanness. For it was taught: You might think that all utensils become unclean in the air space of an earthen vessel: therefore it is stated, whatsoever is in it shall be unclean… all food therein which may be eaten: food and liquids become unclean in the air space of an earthen vessel. It was taught. R. Simeon b. Yohai said: Heaven forfend that the Torah be forgotten in Israel, for it is said, for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed. Then how do I interpret, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it? They will not find a clear halachah or a clear Mishnah in any place.
(b.Shabb. 138b)

So the Rabbis understood the apostasy of Isaiah 29 to be that mentioned in Amos 8:11-12 which reads:

11 Behold, the days come, says the Adonai YHWH, that I will send a famine in the land: not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of YHWH.
12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east: they shall run to and fro to seek the word of YHWH, and shall not find it.
(Amos 8:11-12 HRV)

And the Rabbis understood this not to refer to the written Torah but to the halachah derived from the written Torah. And this is exactly the way Yeshua understood Isaiah 29:13-14 as well!

The Talmud goes on to present a related teaching from Rabbi Jose ben Elisha:

It was taught. R. Jose b. Elisha said: If you see a generation overwhelmed by many troubles, go forth and examine the judges of Israel, for all retribution that comes to the world comes only on account of the Judges of Israel, as it is said, Hear this, I pray you ye heads of the house of Jacob, and rulers of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment, and pervert all equity. They build up Zion with blood and Jerusalem with iniquity. The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money; yet will they lean upon the Lord, etc. (Mic. 3:9-11) They are wicked, but they place their confidence in Him Who decreed, and the world came into existence. Therefore the Holy One, blessed be He, will bring three punishments upon them answering to the three sins which they cultivate, as it is said, Therefore shall Zion for your sake be ploughed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest. (Mic. 3:12) And the Holy One, blessed be He, will not cause His Divine presence to rest upon Israel until the wicked judges and officers cease out of Israel, for it is said, And I will turn my hand upon thee, and thoroughly purge away thy dross, and will take away all thy tin. And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning, etc. (Is. 1:25f)
(Shabbat 139a)

So Rabbi Jose sees this apostasy of Isaiah 29:13-14 likewise as manifesting itself through apostate judges (members of the Sanhedrin) who give apostate rulings (and therefore apostate halacha).

There is much more written in this portion of Talmud on this subject which is worthy of study, but the key point I want to make here is that the sages of the Talmud and Yeshua both understood this portion of Isaiah to refer to an apostasy from true and correct halacha, that the Rabbinic authorities themselves would apostatize from a true and proper understanding of the Torah.

One key difference is that Yeshua saw this apostasy from sound halacha as already taking root by his day.  It was not Pharisaic traditions and oral law in general that he opposed, as his halacha in Matthew 15 concerning oaths (as shown above) agrees with the ruling we find in the Talmud.  However he also saw and criticized bad halacha that certain Pharisees were teaching in his days.  However the Rabbis that re-established the Pharisaic Sanhedrin at Yavneh (90 CE) saw it as yet future (b.Shabbat 138b).  It is also interesting to note that even the Talmud sees an eventual apostasy of Rabbinic Judaism.

(For more on Isaiah 29 and the Apostasy see my Commentary on this Chapter of Isaiah)

Yeshua gave us the principles by which we can restore true halacha, and I have laid out and explained each of these principles Here: הַדֶּרֶךְ לָלֶכֶת (The Way to Walk)

We need your help today!

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

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

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

Or click HERE to donate


The Sadducees: Their Origin and Beliefs

The Sadducees: Their Origin and Beliefs
By
James Scott Trimm

It has become necessary to set the story straight from the anachronistic historic revisionism of the Gordonites, to set the story straight that the Sadducees were not early Karaites, and that Yeshua and his original followers were neither Karaites nor Sadducees.

In a recent blog, I documented the origin of the Karaites in the 8th Century CE.

In this blog I want to share the origin of the Sadducees and their beliefs, so as to make it clear that they were not Karaites (which did not yet exist) and that neither Yeshua or his original followers were Sadducees.

The Sadducees (Tzadokim) were founded by a certain Zadok. Zadok was a talmid (disciple) of Antigonus of Soko who misunderstood his teaching. Antigonus taught:

“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 Mishna Avot of Rabbi Natan tells us how Zadok misunderstood the teachings of Antigonos:

Antigonos of Soko had two students. They would con his teachings by rote and then teach the other students… They started to question the meaning of this teaching. They asked themselves why our teachers taught this way. Is it possible that a worker could function faithfully all day long and not receive his just wage at the end of the day? [They reasoned that] if our teachers were sure that there is another world and a resurrection of the dead they would not have worded their teaching in this way. They seceded from Torah and two schismatic schools derived from them: Sadducees and Boethusians. The Sadducees were named for Zadok and the Boethusians for Boethos…
(Mishna Avot of Rabbi Natan 1:3)

Zadok misunderstood Antigonos’ teaching. He wrongly concluded that since we should no keep Torah to gain a reward, that there must not be any reward. Zadok concluded that there is no reward to be obtained in the afterlife, nor any punishment to be avoided. The Sadducees believed that there is no afterlife and no resurrection. As Josephus writes:

But the doctrine of the Sadducees is this: That souls
die with the bodies….
(Josephus; Antiquities 18:2:4)

Matthew writes:

…the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection…
(Matt. 22:23)

And as we read here in Acts:

For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection,
neither angel, nor spirit…
(Acts 23:8)

Now it was hard enough to square these doctrines with the written Torah, but it was absolutely impossible to square them with the Oral Torah, because this was a complete departure from prior Jewish tradition. Thus the Sadducees were forced to reject Jewish tradition (Oral Law) so that they could concentrate only on squaring their strange new doctrine with the Written Torah only.

The first century writer Josephus writes:

“…the Pharisees have delivered to the people a great many observances by succession from their fathers, which are not written in the law of Moses; for that reason it is that the Sadducees reject them, and say that we are to esteem those observances to be obligatory which are in the written word, but are not to observe what are delivered from the tradition of our forefathers…”
(Josephus; Ant. 13:11:6)

The Sadducees had to reject the Oral Law. They did not believe in a resurrection or an afterlife. They had rejected the things that Judaism has always held to. It was hard enough to make their views compatible with the Written Torah, it was easier for them to simply reject the Oral Torah out of hand. In fact they had to reject the Oral Law if they wanted to reject any understanding of the written Torah that included a resurrection and an afterlife!

The Sadducees were definitely not Karaites, which did not yet exist, because the Karaites do believe in angels and an afterlife.

Yeshua and his original followers were not Sadducees, but appear to have been an unlikely union of School of Hillel Pharisees (Paul even stated “I am a Pharisee” (Acts 23:6)) and “Sons of Light” Essenes. Neither of these groups rejected the concept of Oral Law.

The Gordonites have engaged in an anachronistic voyage into historical revisionism in trying to transform Yeshua and his original followers into Kartaites.

We need your help today!

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

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

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

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The Origin of the Karaites in the 8th Century CE

The Origin of the Karaites in the 8th Century CE
By
James Scott Trimm

The following are taken from two old Jewish History books which were in my father’s library, and which I inherited many years ago:

“The Karaite Movement – Mahomed did not succeed in converting the Jews, but nevertheless the indirect influence of the faith he preached, helped perhaps a little by communal disputes, did produce a distinct sect among the Jews about the middle of the eighth century…. A party in Islam rejected the stricter traditions of the Sunnah and a party among the Jews about the same date, grew openly impatient with the Rabbinical ruling of the Talmud.  Rebellion of any sort is catching, and there can be little doubt that each set of grumblers helped the other… The man who first gave expression to the Jewish discontent with tradition was a certain Anan, son of David, a native of Babylon.  Anan had a personal grievance of his own, a position which gives a certain point of eloquence to any general sense of injury.  He had wished to be made ריש גלותא. But the election had come and gone, and he had been passed over; and worst slight of all, a younger brother of his own had been appointed to the office.  So Anan, disappointed of being patriarch of his people, and of leading them on the old orthodox road, determined to become their spokesman and advocate in a new direction.”

(Outlines of Jewish History by Lady Magnus Revised by M. Friedlander, Ph. D.  Second Revised Edition, Philadelphia; Jewish Publication Society of America, 1890)

“Anan Ben David was a learned Jew of high station in Babylonia.  Indeed he was heir of the Prince of the Exile.  But about the year 762, when it came his turn to succeed to that office, the rabbis of the day elected his younger brother in his stead… And when Anan found he had been cheated out of what he considered his birthright, the commotion raised by him rocked the whole Jewish world.  A new sect, almost a new religion was founded by him.  Anan declared war on the Talmudic Law, taxing it with being all false and ridiculous.”

(Stranger than Fiction; A Short History of the Jews from the Earliest Times to the Present Day; By Lewis Brown; New York; The Macmillan Company; 1932; p. 200-201)

There were no Karaites in the first century. Yeshua and his original followers were not Karaites, they were an unlikely union of School of Hillel Pharisees and Essenes. The efforts by Nehemiah Gordon and others to paint Yeshua and his original followers as Karaites is a blatantly anachronistic venture into historical revisionism.

We must raise at least $500 by the end of the day today! This includes a medication for my wife for which our cost is $372!

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

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

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

Or click HERE to donate

Emergency Alert!

We must raise at least $500 by the end of the day today! This includes a medication for my wife for which our cost is $372!

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

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

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

Or click HERE to donate

The Three Pillars of the Godhead (Part 3)

The Three Pillars of the Godhead (Part 3)
By
James Scott Trimm

In Part 1 I showed the concept of the Three Pillars of the Godhead with the Middle Pillar as the Son of Yah, the Word the Image of Elohim and the Messiah. In Part 2 I showed the concepts could be found in the writings of Philo of Alexandria in the first Century. In Part 3 I will show that these same ideas can be found in the Ketuvim Netzarim (Writings of the Nazarenes, the so-called “New Testament” such that this concept fits their writings like a glove.

In the Ketuvim Netzarim these Three Pillars are referred to as the Father, Son, and Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit):

Go you therefore, and teach all nations, immersing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Ruach HaKodesh:
(Matthew 28:19)

Despite what you may have read or been told, our best evidence is that this is an original part of Matthew (See my blog Does Matthew 28:19 Really Say “The Father, Son and Holy Spirit”?)

In Yochanan 5:26 the Aramaic text of the Old Syriac and Peshitta gives us an Aramaic term for the three elements of the Godhead:

For as the Father has life in his K’NUMA; so has he given to the Son to have life in his K’NUMAH;
(John 5:26)

The Peshitta appears to be using this word to distinguish the three members of these Three Pillars of the Godhead is much the same way that the Zohar (in Part 1) used the word Gaun)

Each of these three can be seen separately in the Ketuvim Netzarim:

How much more shall the blood of Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to Elohim, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living Elohim?
(Heb. 9:14)

Here the blood of Messiah (the Son) is offered through the Spirit (Ruach HaKodeh) to some third element also being called Elohim (obviously the Father).

And in Matthew 3:16

16 And Yeshua, when he was immersed, went up straightway out of the water: and, behold, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of Elohim descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
17 And behold a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
(Matthew 3:16)

Here Yeshua is the Son, the Ruach HaKodesh is descending upon him like a dove, and a voice from Heaven is speaking and says “This is my beloved Son”.

There is no need to make the case that the Father is Elohim, this much is obvious.

There can be no doubt that the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) is YHWH, for we read in the Torah:

YHWH alone did lead him,
And there was no strange god with Him.
(Deut. 32:11)

While Isaiah speaks of this same event saying:

…The Spirit of YHWH caused them to rest;
So did You lead Your people…
(Is. 63:14)

And again we read in the Torah:

But when Moshe went in before YHWH that He might speak with him, he took the veil off, until he came out…
(Ex. 34:34)

And Paul elaborates on this writing:

But when any man from them should turn to YHWH, the veil is lifted from him. Now YHWH himself is spirit, and where the Spirit of YHWH is, there is freedom. But all of us, with open faces, behold the magnificence of YHWH as in a mirror, and we are being changed into that likeness from glory to glory as by YHWH the Spirit.
(2Cor. 3:16-18)

And:

3 But Kefa said, Hananyah, why has HaSatan filled your heart to lie to the Ruach HaKodesh, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
4 Whiles it remained, was it not your own? and after it was sold, was it not in your own power? why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men, but to Elohim.
(Acts 5:3-4)

And:

If any man defile the Temple of Elohim, him shall Elohim destroy; for the Temple of Elohim is holy, which Temple you are.
(1Cor. 3:17)

With:

What? know you not that your body is the Temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of Elohim, and you are not your own?
(1Cor. 6:19)

Some teachers have tried to reduce the Ruach HaKodesh to a mere impersonal “force”.  However, it is clear from the Scriptures that that the Ruach has many qualities that are not characteristic of an impersonal force. The Holy Spirit speaks (Acts 8:29; 10:19; Jn. 15:26; 2Pt. 1:21); have emotions (Is. 63:10; Eph. 4:30) can be insulted (Heb. 10:29) intercedes (Rom. 8:26) testifies (Jn. 14:26) leads (Rom. 8:14) commissions (Acts 13:4), commands (Acts 8:29); wills (1Cor. 12:11) and gives understanding (1Cor. 2:10-11).

Just as the two outer pillars are known in Rabbinic Judaism as the “Father” and “Mother” (And the Zohar refers to the “Supernal Mother” at least 34 times), the ancient Nazarenes understood the Ruach HaKodesh to be a sort of Heavenly Mother.

The ancient Nazarenes used an apocryphal Gospel called The Goodnews according to the Hebrews, which taught this very idea. While this apocryphal Gospel is now lost, several quotes from it have survived in the writings on the ancient “Church Fathers.” One of these quotes, found in Jerome’s commentary on Isaiah, tells the story of Yeshua’s immersion (baptism) this way:

And it came to pass when the Lord was come up out of the water, the whole fount of the Holy Spirit descended and rested upon him, and said to him, “My Son, in all the prophets was I waiting for you that you should come, and I might rest in you.
For you are my rest, you are My firstborn son, that reigns forever.”
(Jerome- On Is. 11:2)

Here it is the Ruach HaKodesh, not the Father, who is calling Yeshua “My Son” apparently referring to Psalm 2:7 (see also Acts 13:33; Heb. 1:5; 5:5).

In another passage the Gospel according to the Hebrews is even more clear.  In this passage (cited by both Origen and Jerome) Yeshua is quoted as saying:

“Even so did my Mother, the Holy Spirit, take me by one of my hairs and carry me away to the great mountain Tabor.” (Compare Ezkl. 8:3)
[Origen- On Jn. 2:12; Hom. on Jer. 15:4; Jerome- On Micah 7:6; On. Is. 40:9; On Ezkl. 16:13]

For more on this see my blog My Mother the Ruach HaKodesh

As I have shown in a recent blog The Deity of Messiah in the Scriptures, the Ketuvim regularly cites passages from the Tanak that are clearly speaking about YHWH and applies these to the Messiah.

Just as the Son of Yah as the Middle Pillar, unites the right and left sides, the Ketuvim Netzarim presents the Messiah as the “fullness of the Godhead:

For in him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
(Col. 2:9)

The Image of Elohim

We were created in the image of Elohim (Gen. 1:26-27; 1Cor. 11:7). This Image of Elohim is an invisible image of attributes, which make up the godhead (Col. 1:15; Rom. 1:27).

“What may be known of Elohim is manifest in them [mankind] his invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead…”
(Rom. 1:19)

Then in Rom. 1:26-28 we are told that those who fail to perceive these things may fall into the errors of Homosexuality and Lesbianism. So when in creation were Elohim’s invisible attributes manifested in man and made clearly seen. The answer is in the Torah, in Gen. 1:26, 27 where we read:

26 And Elohim said: Let us make man in our image; after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.
27 And Elohim created man in His own image: in the image of Elohim created He him; male and female created He them.
(Gen. 1:26-27 HRV)

Just as the Son of Yah, as the Middle Pillar of the Godhead in Rabbinic Judaism unites the other two Pillars as the Image of Elohim which served as the model for our creation (as does Philo of Alexandria), so also does the Ketuvim Netzarim present the Messiah as that Image of Elohim:

In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious good news of Messiah, who is the image of Elohim, should shine unto them.
(2Cor. 4:4)

13 Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
15 Who is the image of the invisible Elohim, the firstborn of every creature:
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
(Col. 1:13-17)

Who being the brightness (Heb: Zohar) of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
(Hebrews 1:3)

Messiah as the Word

Just as did our Rabbinic sources and Philo of Alexandria in parts 1 and 2, the Ketuvim Netzarim identifies the Messiah as the Word:

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Elohim, and the Word was Elohim.
2 The same was in the beginning with Elohim.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5 And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
6 There was a man sent from Elohim, whose name was Yochanan.
7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
9 That was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of Elohim, even to them that believe on his name:
13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of Elohim.
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
(John 1:1-14)

And he was clothed with a vesture, dipped in blood: and his name is called the Word of Elohim.
(Rev. 19:13)

Just as Philo of Alexandria (in Part 2) saw the Word as a Heavenly High Priest, In Hebrews Chapter 7 the Messiah is pictured as a Hevenly High Priest. And just as Philo (in Part 2) saw the Word as a Paraclete, in 1John 2:1-2 the Messiah is also identified as a Paraclete.

These concepts line up far to well for this to be a mere coincidence. The same things are being taught in all three cases.

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The Three Pillars of the Godhead (Part 2)

The Three Pillars of the Godhead (Part 2)
By
James Scott Trimm

In Part 1 I I explained the Jewish concept if the Three Pillars of the Godhead as found in the Zohar and other Rabbinic literature. In Part 2 I will document that these are not late ideas, but are ideas that can be dated back to the first Century and can be found in the writings of the first Century Jewish writer, Philo of Alexandria.

Philo’s Triad

Philo wrote of an idea virtually identical to the concept of Eyn Sof presented in Part 1. On the one hand, he saw Elohim as beyond man and far removed from the finiteness of this universe. He refers to this concept in Greek as TO ON (that which exists) and TO ONTOS ON “that which alone truly exists”. This concept of Elohim is conceived as virtually outside this universe with no real contact with it. This unknowable Elohim appeared from Ex. 20:21.

(7) Do not, however, think that the living God, he who is truly living, is ever seen so as to be comprehended by any human being; for we have no power in ourselves to see any thing, by which we may be able to conceive any adequate notion of him; we have no external sense suited to that purpose (for he is not an object which can be discerned by the outward sense), nor any strength adequate to it: therefore, Moses, the spectator of the invisible nature, the man who really saw God (for the sacred scriptures say that he entered “into the Darkness,” (Ex. 20:21.) by which expression they mean figuratively to intimate the invisible essence), having investigated every part of every thing, sought to see clearly the much-desired and only God; (8) but when he found nothing, not even any appearance at all resembling what he had hoped to behold; he, then, giving up all idea of receiving instruction on that point from any other source, flies to the very being himself whom he was seeking, and entreats him, saying, “Show my thyself that I may see thee so as to know Thee.”(Ex. 33:13.) But, nevertheless, he fails to obtain the end which he had proposed to himself, and which he had accounted the most all-sufficient gift for the most excellent race of creation, mankind, namely a knowledge of those bodies and things which are below the living God. (9) For it is said unto him, “Thou shalt see my back parts, but my face shall not be beheld by Thee.”(Ex 33:23.) As if it were meant to answer him: Those bodies and things which are beneath the living God may come within thy comprehension, even though every thing would not be at once comprehended by thee, since that one being is not by his nature capable of being beheld by man. (10) And what wonder is there if the living God is beyond the reach of the comprehension of man, when even the mind that is in each of us is unintelligible and unknown to us? Who has ever beheld the essence of the soul? the obscure nature of which has given rise to an infinite number of contests among the sophists who have brought forward opposite opinions, some of which are inconsistent with any kind of nature.
(On the Change of Names 7-10)

…they never attribute any of the properties of created beings to him [the Living God]. (62) Now to these disciples, that principal assertion in the sacred oracles is especially well adapted, that “God is not as man,” but neither is he as heaven, nor as the world; for these species are endued with distinctive qualities, and they come under the perception of the outward senses. But he is not even comprehensible by the intellect, except merely as to his essence; for his existence, indeed, is a fact which we do comprehend concerning him, but beyond the fact of his existence, we can understand nothing.
(On the Unchangableness of God 61-62)

Philo also taught a concept of emanations from Eyn Sof similar to the concept of the Sefirot discussed in Part 1:

“The primal existence is God, and second the God-Word”
(Allegorical Interpretation II, 86)

The Creator of the world sends out His powers from an eternal and invisible place”
(Q&A on Genesis, II, 48)

Philo raises the question:

…regarding its Creator, asking of what sort this Being is so difficult to see, so difficult to conjecture. Is He a body or incorporeal or something exalted above these? Is He a single nature… Or a composite Being?…and seeing that this is a problem hard to pursue, hard to take in by thought, he prays that he may learn from God Himself what God is.
(Flight and Finding, 164)


Philo doesn’t answer this question here, but he does answer these questions elsewhere. In On the Confusion of Tongues, 62, He calls God “incorporeal” and in a later section, he describes God as a “Triad” (Trinity). He refers to God as “…the Lord God of three natures…”(Philo; On the Change of Names II, 11).

(12) but in order that the human race may not be wholly destitute of any appellation which they may give to the most excellent of beings, I allow you to use the word Lord as a name; the Lord God of three natures–of instruction, and of holiness, and of the practice of virtue; of which Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob are recorded as the symbols*.
(On the Change of Names 12)

…it is reasonable for one to be three and for three to be one, for they were one by a higher principle… …in the place of one, He makes the appearance of a triad [trinity]… He cannot be seen in his oneness without something [else], the chief Powers that that exist immediately with him… the Creative, which is called “Elohim” and the Kingly, which is called “Lord”… he begins to see the sovereign, holy, and divine vision in such a way that a single appearance appears as a triad, and the triad as a unity.
(Philo; Questions on Genesis, IV, 2)

According to Philo God appears as a Triad — himself and his two Powers: Creative and Ruling. To the “purified soul,” however, God appears as One.

… the Father of the universe, who in the sacred scripture is called by his proper name, ‘I am that I am’; and the beings on each side are those most ancient powers which are always close to the living God, one of which is called his Creative Power, and the other his Royal Power. And the Creative Power is God, for it is by this that he made and arranged the universe; and the Royal Power is the Lord, for it is fitting that the Creator should lord it over and govern the creature. Therefore, the middle person of the three, being attended by each of his powers as by body-guard, presents to the mind, which is endowed with the faculty of sight, a vision at one time of one being, and at another time of three; …
(Abr. 119-123).

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as Symbols and Gen. 18

(12) but in order that the human race may not be wholly destitute of any appellation which they may give to the most excellent of beings, I allow you to use the word Lord as a name; the Lord God of three natures–of instruction, and of holiness, and of the practice of virtue; of which Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob are recorded as the symbols.
(On the Change of Names 12)

In the Zohar we read:

Who were the “three men”? They are Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…”
(Zohar 1:98b)

This does not mean that Abraham Isaac and Jacob appeared before Abraham. In the Kabbalah= Abraham, Isaac and Jacob represent the Three Pillars of the Godhead, as we read in the Bahir:

Through the merit of Abraham who was worthy of the attribute of Kindness (CHESED), Isaac was worthy of the attribute of Terror (PACHAD), Jacob was worthy of the attribute of Truth, which is the attribute of Peace.
(Bahir 137)

Abraham… was worthy and took Kindness (CHESED) as his attribute, as it is written “Kindness to Abraham” (Mic. 7:20). Isaac… was worthy and took the attribute of Strength (GEVURAH), which is called Terror (PACHAD). It is thus written “And Jacob swore by the terror of Isaac his father.” (Gen. 31:53)… Abraham is above and Isaac is below him, you will be in the center and take all three. What is the center? It is peace , as it is written “You give truth to Jacob” (Mic. 7:20). Truth is identical with peace, as it is written “Words of peace and truth” (Est. 9:30) It is also written “For peace and truth will be in my days” (2Kn. 20:19)
(Bahir 190)

(Kindness, Truth/Peace and Strength/Terror are terms commonly used to refer to the Three Pillars.) Throughout this chapter the scribes altered several occurrences of YHWH to “Adonai” (verses 3, 22, 27, 30, 31 and 32). These are six of the 134 places where the scribes altered Adonai to YHWH, all in this one chapter. Philo says of these “three men”:

…the one in the middle is the Father of the universe, who in the sacred scriptures is called by his proper name, I am that I am; and the beings on each side are those most ancient powers which are always close to the living God, one of which is called his creative power, and the other his royal power. And the creative power is God, for it is by this that he made and arranged the universe; and the royal power is the Lord, for it is fitting that the Creator should lord it over and govern the creature. (122) Therefore, the middle person of the three, being attended by each of his powers as by body-guards, presents to the mind, which is endowed with the faculty of sight, a vision at one time of one being, and at another time of three;
(On Abraham XXIV 121b-122a)

The Word

Philo says that the Word reconciles the two sides:

…the Divine Word (Logos)…fills all things and becomes a mediator and arbitrator for the two sides….from the Divine Word (Logos), as from a spring, there divide and break forth two powers. One is the creative through which the Artificer placed and ordered all things. This is named “God”. And the royal, since through it the Creator rules over created things. This is called “Lord” And from these two powers have grown the others. For by the side of the creative power there grows the propitious of which is named “beneficial” while (besides) the royal the legislative, of which is aptly named “punitive”. And below these and beside them is the ark.”
(Philo on Q&A on Exodus, II.68)

Philo gave a very detailed description to the Word (Logos). To Philo the Word was the creator:

As therefore the city, when previously shadowed out in
the mind 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
Logos (Word) which made them…
(Philo; On Creation V (20))

Philo taught that the Word (Logos) was the shadow of Elohim and was the instrument of creation.

…But the shadow of God is his Logos (Word),
which he used like an instrument when he was
making the world.
(Philo; Allegorical Interpretation III XXXI (96))

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)

To Philo, it was the Word to whom the ancients petitioned and prayed, for example Philo writes:

But Hagar flees out of shame. And a proof of this is, that the angel, that is the WORD of God, met her, with the intent to recommend her what she ought to do, and to guide her in her return to her mistress’s house. For he encouraged her, and said unto her: “The Lord has heard the cry of thy humiliation,” which you uttered, not out of fear, nor yet out of hatred. For the one is the feeling of an ignoble soul, and the other of one which loves contention, but under the influence of that copy of temperance and modesty, shame.
(On Flight and Finding (5))

The Word is the Son of God

Philo Writes of the Word (Logos):

For there are, as it seems, two temples belonging to God; one being this world, in which the high priest is the divine Word, his own firstborn son. The other is the rational soul, the priest of which is the real true man,
(On Dreams 215)

And if there be not as yet any one who is worthy to be called a son of God, neverthless let him labour earnestly to be adorned according to his Firstborn Word, the eldest of his angels, as the great archangel of many names; for He is called, “the Authority”, and “the Name of God”, and “the Word”, and “man according to God’s image”, and “He who sees Israel”. . . For even if we are not yet suitable to be called the sons of God, still we may deserve to be called the children of his eternal image, of his most sacred Word; for the image of God is his most ancient word.
( On the Confusion of Tongues XXVIII:146-147)

Thus, indeed, being a shepherd is a good thing, so that it is justly attributed, not only to kings, and to wise men, and to souls who are perfectly purified, but also to God, the ruler of all things; and he who confirms this is not any ordinary person, but a prophet, whom it is good to believe, he namely who wrote the psalms; for he speaks thus, “The Lord is my shepherd, and he shall cause me to lack Nothing;” (Ps. 23:1.) and let every one in his turn say the same thing, for it is very becoming to every man who loves God to study such a song as this, but above all this world should sing it. For God, like a shepherd and a king, governs (as if they were a flock of sheep) the earth, and the water, and the air, and the fire, and all the plants, and living creatures that are in them, whether mortal or divine; and he regulates the nature of the heaven, and the periodical revolutions of the sun and moon, and the variations and harmonious movements of the other stars, ruling them according to law and justice; appointing, as their immediate superintendent, his own right reason (Logos), his first-born son, who is to receive the charge of this sacred company, as the lieutenant of the great king; for it is said somewhere, “Behold, I am he! I will send my messenger before thy face, who shall keep thee in the Road.”(Ex. 23:20.)
(On Husbandry 50-51)

The Word as Heavenly High Priest

Moreover Philo’s Word was a “priest” whom he compares to Melkizadek:

XXVI. (82) But Melchisedek shall bring forward wine instead of water, and shall give your souls to drink, and shall cheer them with unmixed wine, in order that they may be wholly occupied with a divine intoxication, more sober than sobriety itself. For the Word is a priest, having, as its inheritance the true God, and entertaining lofty and sublime and magnificent ideas about him, “for he is the priest of the most high God.”{38}{Genesis 14:18.} Not that there is any other God who is not the most high; for God being one, is in the heaven above, and in the earth beneath, and there is no other besides Him.”{39 {Deuteronomy 4:39.} But he sets in motion the notion of the Most High, from his conceiving of God not in a low and grovelling spirit, but in one of exceeding greatness, and exceeding sublimity, apart from any conceptions of matter.
(“De Allegoriis Legum,” iii. 26).

The fourth and last of the points which we proposed to discuss, is the appointing as a period for the return of the fugitives the death of the high priest, which, if taken in the literal sense, causes me great perplexity; for a very unequal punishment is imposed by this enactment on those who have done the very same things, since some will be in banishment for a longer time, and others for a shorter time; for some of the high priests live to a very old age, and others die very early, and some are appointed while young men, and others not until they are old. And again of those who are convicted of unintentional homicide, some have been banished at the beginning of the high priest’s entrance into office, and some when the high priest has been at the very point of death. So that some are deprived of their country for a very long time, and others suffer the same infliction only for a day, if it chance to be so; after which they lift up their heads, and exult, and so return among those whose nearest relations have been slain by them. This difficult and scarcely explicable perplexity we may escape if we adopt the inner and allegorical explanation in accordance with natural philosophy. For we say that the high priest is not a man, but is the Word (Logos) of God, who has not only no participation in intentional errors, but none even in those which are involuntary.
(On Flight 106-108)

(For more on this topic, including a connection with the Dead Sea Scrolls, see my recent blog After the Order of Melchizedek (Part 2) )

The Word as a Paraclete

Philo also describes the Word (Logos) not only as the “Son” of the “Father” but as a PARACLETE who is “perfect in all virtue” and procures “forgiveness of sins” as well as a “supply of unlimited blessings”:

…the twelve stones arranged on the breast in four rows of three stones each, namely the logeum, being also an emblem of that reason (Logos, Word) which holds together and regulates the universe. For it was indispensable that the man who was consecrated to the Father of the world, should have as a paraclete, his son, the being most perfect in all virtue, to procure forgiveness of sins, and a supply of unlimited blessings;
(Life of Moses II, 133-134)

(For more on this topic see my blog The Two Paraklitas: The Messiah and the Ruach HaKodesh )

The Word is the Messiah

Now here is perhaps the most amazing thing, Philo believed this “Word” (Logos) and the Messiah to be one and the same:

“The head of all things is the eternal Word (Logos) of the eternal God, under which, as if it were his feet or other limbs, is placed the whole world, over which He passes and firmly stands. Now it is not because Messiah is Lord that He passes and sits over the whole world, for His seat with His Father and God but because for its perfect fullness the world is in need of the care and superintendence of the best ordered dispensation, and for its own complete piety, of the Divine Word (Logos), just as living creatures (need) a head, without which it is impossible to live.”
(Q&A on Exodus, II, 117)

Conclusion

In Part 2 we have learned that the idea of the Three Pillars of the Godhead, with the Son who is the Word being the Middle of that triad as well as the Messiah, exists not only in the Zohar and other Rabbinic writings, but in the first Century writings of Philo of Alexandria as well. Moreover Philo also identifies this Word, as a heavenly High Priest and as a Paraclete.

In Part 3 I will show how all of these ideas also fit the statements in the Ketuvim Netzarim (The so-called “New Testament”) like a glove. This cannot be a coincidence. These ideas are Jewish ideas, they are first Century ideas and they fit the Ketuvim Netzarim too well to be a coincidence.

Our rent must clear our account Tuesday night, we need your help today!

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

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

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

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The Three Pillars of the Godhead (Part 1)

The Three Pillars of the Godhead (Part 1)
By
James Scott Trimm

This blog will be in three parts. Part 1 will establish that the concept of the Three Pillars of the Godhead with the Middle Pillar being the Son of Yah and the Word, are Jewish ideas that can be found in the Zohar and other Rabbinic literature. Part two will demonstrate that these same ideas can be found in the writings of the first Century Jewish writer Philo of Alexandria, demonstrating that these ideas existed in Judaism in the Second Temple Era. Part three will then make the case that these same ideas existed among the Nazarenes and can be found in the Ketuvim Netzarim (the so-called “New Testament”).

There is an important reason for presenting the three parts in this manner. If one should say that these ideas are not “Jewish” then Part 1 establishes that they are very much Jewish. If one should then say that they are late ideas not found in Judaism in the time of the Nazarenes (the original followers of Yeshua) then Part 2 proves that these ideas existed in the writings of Philo of Alexandria in the first Century. If one should say “sure these ideas are in Philo, but they are Hellenistic” then Part one demonstrates they are in fact Jewish. Moreover Part three will demonstrate that these ideas fit the statements in the Ketuvim Netzarim too well to be ascribed to coincidence. The three parts together make a case that fits like a glove and cannot be written off as non-Jewish, late, Hellenistic or a coincidence.

The Three Pillars

Lets begin with the concept of Eyn Sof (sometimes spelled Ayn Sof).

Eyn Sof means “without border” and refers to Elohim as being the Infinite One who is beyond definition (definition being another word for border) is beyond human comprehension. Eyn Sof is therefore unknowable. In Judaism the unknowable Eyn Sof is contrasted with the Image of Elohim, which emanates from Eyn Sof and through which we can relate. Aryeh Kaplan writes concerning this distinction:

In general none of the names of God refer to … Ayn Sof, which means the Infinite Being, or simply, the Infinite. The names used in scripture and elsewhere merely refer to the various ways through which God manifests Himself in creation. The name Elohim, which is used throughout the first chapter of Genesis, refers to the manifestation of delineation and definition…. This is the significance to the Torah’s statement that God formed man “In the image of God” (Genesis 1:27). Note that the word “God” here is Elohim. This is because man parallels the delineating forces that define creation.
(Sefer Yetzirah; p. 7-8)

The Zohar describes the difference between Eyn Sof and the Image of Elohim this way:

Before He gave any shape to the world, before He produced any form, He was alone, without form and without resemblance to anything else. Who then can comprehend how He was before the Creation? Hence it is forbidden to lend Him any form or similitude, or even to call Him by His sacred name, or to indicate Him by a single letter or a single point… But after He created the form of the Heavenly Man, He used him as a chariot wherein to descend, and He wishes to be called after His form, which is the sacred name “YHWH”
(Zohar 2:42b)

At times this can create some miscommunication, because terms like YHWH and Elohim can be used to refer either to Eyn Sof, or to the Image of Elohim.

Likewise we use the same type of language in our own lives. Two men may be standing in a room. One may point at a picture on the wall of George Washington and say “That is George Washington.” And he would be completely correct. On the other hand the man next to him may say “No, that is not George Washington, that is only the image of George Washington.”

In Jewish mysticism the ten Sefirot are ten emanations, or attributes, through which Eyn Sof (The Infinite One) manifests Himself in the universe:

“Ten Sefirot of nothingness, ten and not nine, ten and not eleven…” (Sefer Yetzirah 1:4a)

“Ten Sefirot of Nothingness. Their end is imbedded in their beginning and their beginning in their end, like a flame in a burning coal. For Adon is singular, He has no second. And before one, what do you count?” ( Sefer Yetzirah 1:7)

The Zohar teaches concerning YHWH and His Sefirot, which it calls “crowns”, that “He is they and they are He” “like the flame and the coal” referring back to this passage from the Sefer Yetzirah:

The Holy One, blessed be He, has produced ten holy crowns above wherewith He crowns and invests Himself, and He is they and they are He, being linked together like the flame and the coal.
(Zohar 3:70b)

Aryeh Kaplan explains this passage of the Sefer Yetzirah this way:

The Sepher Yetzirah likens this to a “flame bound to a burning coal”. A flame cannot exist without the coal, and the burning coal cannot exist without the flame. Although the coal is the cause of the flame, the flame is also the cause of the burning coal. Without the flame there would not be a burning coal. Since cause cannot exist without effect, effect is also the cause of cause.”
(Sefer Yetzirah, the Book of Creation; Aryeh Kaplan, p. 57)

Gersom Scholem writes of this Zohar passage:

Most of the early kabbalists were more inclined to accept the view that the Sefirot were actually identical with God’s substance or essence. This is stated in many documents from the 13th century, and stressed later in the school of R. Solomon b. Adret, and particularly in the Ma’arekhet ha-Elohut, which was followed in the 16th century by David Messer Leon, Meir ibn Gabbai, and Joseph Caro. According to this view, the Sefirot do not constitute “intermediary beings” but are God Himself. “The Emanation is the Divinity,” while Ein-Sof cannot be subject to religious investigation, which can conceive of God only in His external aspect. The main part of the Zohar also tends largely toward this opinion, expressing it emphatically in the interchangeable identity of God with His Names or His Powers: “He is They, and They are He” (Zohar, 3, 11b, 70a).”
(Kabbalah; Gersom Scholem; p. 101)

The most important and well known scheme of depicting the sefirot arranges them as a tree with three columns. The right column represents the spiritual force of expansion. The left represents its opposite, restriction. The middle column is the balance and synthesis between these opposing tendencies.

Each of these ten sefirot fall into three columns or “pillars”. The Zohar describes these Three Pillars in a commentary on Genesis 1:4 which reads “Then Elohim said, “Let there be light; and there was light. And Elohim saw that the light was good…” (Gen. 1:4).

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)

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)

These three pillars are depicted in the Sefer Yetzirah as follows:

Twenty-two foundation letters: three Mothers, seven Doubles, and twelve Elementals. The three Mothers, Alef Mem Shin, their foundation is the pan of merit, the pan of liability, and the tongue of decree deciding between them.
(Sefer Yetzirah 2:1)

The three Mothers, Alef Mem Shin, their foundation is the pan of merit, the pan of liability, and the tongue of decree deciding between them.
(Sefer Yetzirah 3:1)

Three Mothers, Alef Mem Shin, in the Universe are air, water, and fire. Heaven was created from fire, earth was created from water, and the air decides between the fire and the water.
(Sefer Yetzirah 3:4)

The Zohar sheds light on this, connecting these three with the Shema:

The [profession of] unity that every day is [a profession of] unity
is to be understood and to be perceived. We have said in many places
that this prayer is a profession of Unity that is proclaimed:

”Hear O Yisrael, YHWH“ first, [then] “Eloheynu” [and] “YHWH” they are all One and thus He is called “One”.

Behold, these are three names, how can they be one? Is it because we call them one? (literally: And also concerning the proclamation that we call them one?). How these are one can only through the vision of the Holy Sprit be known. And these are through the vision of the closed eye (or the hidden eye) To make known that these three are one. And this is the mystery of the voice that is heard. The voice is one. And is three GAUNIN: fire and air and water. And all these are one in the mystery of the voice.

And also here “YHWH, Eloheynu, YHWH” these are One. Three GAUNIN that are One. And this is the voice of the act of a son of man in [proclaiming] the Unity. And to which he sees by the Unity of the “All” from Eyn Sof (the Infinite One) to the end of the “All”. Because of the voice in which it is done, in these are three that are one.

And this is the [profession] of the daily profession of Unity that is revealed in the mystery of the Holy Spirit.

And there are many GAUNIN that are a Unity, and all of them are true, what the one does, that the other does, and what that one does, the other does.
(Zohar 2:43)

(The Aramaic word GA’UN (sing.)/GAUNIN (plural) comes from the word for “color” and refers to an “aspect, element, substance, essence”. )

Thus the Zohar understands the Sh’ma to mean that YHWH, Elohim and YHWH are three GA’UNIN.

The Son of Yah

The two outer Pillars are known as the Father and Mother, while the Zohar identifies the Middle Pillar as the Son of Yah:

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)

What is the significance of “be-mispar”?
The Holy One, blessed be He, has a son, whose glory
shines from one end of the world to another. He is a great
and mighty tree, whose head reaches heaven, and whose roots
are set in the holy ground, and his name is “Mispar” and his
place is in the uppermost heaven… as it is written, “The heavens
declare (me-SaPRim) the glory of God” (Ps. 19:1).
Were it not for this “Mispar” there would be neither hosts
nor offspring in any of the worlds.
(Zohar 2:105a)

This passage of Zohar was intended to recall a passage from the Bahir:

Why are they called Sephirot? Because it is written (Ps. 19:2),
“The heavens declare (me-SaPRim) the glory of God.”
(Bahir 125)

The Image of Elohim

Now we read in the Torah:

26 And Elohim said: Let us make man in our image; after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.
27 And Elohim created man in His own image: in the image of Elohim created He him; male and female created He them.
(Gen. 1:26-27 HRV)

What does this mean?  Let US make man in OUR image?

The Zohar gives a very interesting answer:

And Elohim said, Let us make man (Gen. 1:26).  The secret (SOD) is to them who fear him (Ps. 25:14)…

That most reverend Elder opened an exposition of this verse by saying ‘Simeon Simeon, who is it that said: “Let us make man?” Who is this Elohim?’ With these words the most reverend Elder vanished before anyone saw him.

R. Simeon, hearing that he had called him plain “Simeon”, and not “Rabbi Simeon”, said to his colleagues: ‘Of a surety this is the Holy One, blessed be He, of whom it is written: “And the Ancient of days was seated” (Dan. VII, 9). Truly now is the time to expound this mystery, because certainly there is here a mystery which hitherto it was not permitted to divulge, but now we perceive that permission is given.’

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  (aziluth), the Father said to the Mother by means of the Word (amirah), “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.
(Zohar 1:22a)

The Zohar understands “US” and “OUR” to be reflected in the “male and female” image of Elohim  mentioned in verse 27 and these are here referred to as “the Father” and “the Mother” just as YHWH is expressed as a Father (Mal. 1:6; Is. 63:16; 64:7) and as a Mother (Is. 66:13) in the Tanak.  (YHWH as a “Mother” is the “Comforter in Is. 66:13 which is the Holy Spirit in Jn. 14:16-17, 27; 15:26; 16:7).

The Male and Female image of Father and Mother are the Elohim which is the “Architect above” while the “architect below” is the “Elohim below” or the “king below” and identified as the “Middle Pillar”.  Elsewhere the Zohar identifies the Middle Pillar as the “Son of Yah”.

The Word

In the introduction portion of the Zohar (Haqdamat Sefer Zohar) there is a very deep discussion of Isaiah 40:26. I wish I had time to fully explain this exposition to you. This is my second draft of this blog. In the first draft, I started to do just that, and then realized that I was having to explain so much background information to make it understandable, that the subject I really wanted to cover, was getting lost in the mix.

To summarize the setting, Rabbi El’azar is giving an exposition on the passage “Lift your eyes on high and see: Who created these?” 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, theWord (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 Targums were Aramaic paraphrases of the books of the Tanak. Throughout the Targums we read of this entity called the “Word” (Aramaic: MEMRA). On many occasions the Targums paraphrase YHWH with the phase “Word of YHWH” and on some occasions the Word (MEMRA) is mentioned in the paraphrase where YHWH is not mentioned. The term is applied to YHWH in Targum Onkelos 179 times, the Jerusalem Targum 99 times and Targum Pseudo-Jonathan 321 times.

The eminent Kabbalah Scholar Gershom Scholem writes of the Memra:

…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)

In Gen. 19:4 the Tanak has:

Then YHWH caused to rain upon S’dom and upon Amora,
brimstone and fire from YHWH, out of heaven.

The Hebrew grammar here indicates that one YHWH rains fire from another YHWH) But Targum Jonathan substitutes “The Word of YHWH/the LORD” for the first of the two YHWHs as follows:

And the Word of the YHWH caused to descend
upon the peoples of Sodom and Gommorah,
brimstone and fire from the YHWH in heaven.

In another example the Torah has:

Ex. 24:1a (YHWH is the speaker, see Ex. 20:1-2)
Now He [YHWH] said to Moses, “come up to YHWH…”

But Targum Jonathan paraphrases the speaker in Ex. 20:1 with the substitution “the Word [Memra] of YHWH” in place of “YHWH.”

And the Word of the Lord spoke all these glorious words…

So it would seem that one of these entities called “YHWH” in these Torah passages was actually understood by the Targumists as being the “Word of YHWH.” It was, according to Targum Onkelos, this Word of YHWH that Abraham trusted in:

And Abraham trusted in the Word [Memra] of YHWH,
and He counted it to him for righteousness.
(Targum Onkelos Gen. 15:6)

Moreover Abraham prayed in the name of the Word of YHWH:

And Abraham worshiped and prayed
in the name of the Word [Memra] of YHWH,
and said, “You are YHWH who does see, but You cannot be seen.”
(Jerusalem Targum Gen. 22:14)

Note that here Abraham prays “in the name of the Word of YHWH” to the YHWH who “cannot be seen.” Here two YHWHs are very apparent. Abraham is praying in the name of the Word of YHWH but is praying to the YHWH who cannot be seen. This idea is reinforced elsewhere as follows:

And Hagar praised and prayed
in the name of the Word [Memra] Of YHWH
who had revealed Himself to her…
(Jerusalem Targum Gen. 16:3)

It was this Word of YHWH that Jacob also trusted in:

And Jacob vowed a vow, saying,
“If the Word [Memra] of YHWH will be my support,
and will keep me in the way that I go,
and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,
so that I come again to my father’s house in peace;
then shall the Word [Memra]of YHWH be my God.
(Targum Onkelos on Gen. 28:20-21)

King David also urged Israel to trust in the Word of Yah as the Targum of Psalm 62 reads:

Trust in the Word of Yah at all times,
O people of the house of Israel!
Pour out before Him the sighings of your heart;
Say, God is our trust forever.
(Targum on Psalm 62:9)

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 of YHWH were the heavens made,
And all the hosts of them by the Spirit of His mouth.
(Ps. 33:6)

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 the 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)
That the Word of YHWH is the savior is expressed elsewhere:
But Israel shall be saved by the Word of YHWH
with an everlasting salvation…
By the Word of YHWH shall all the seed of Israel be justified…
(Targum Jonathan Is. 45:17, 25)
But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah,
and I will save them by the Word of YHWH, their God.
(Targum Jonathan Hosea 1:7)

The Word is the Messiah

We read in the Targum to Isaiah:

1 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)

Notice that were the Masoretic Text says:

Behold My servant, whom I uphold;
My chosen, in whom My soul delights;
I have put My spirit upon him,
he shall make the right to go forth to the nations.
(Is. 42:1)

The Targum reads:

1 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.
(Targum Jonathan to Isaiah 42:1)

It is clear in Isaiah 42:1 that the chosen one in whom YHWH has delight in this verse is the same as the one whom has YHWH’s Spirit upon Him. In the Targum it is the Messiah who is identified as this chosen one in whom YHWH delights, and it is the MEMRA (“Word”) who has YHWH’s Spirit upon Him. Therefore the Targum identifies the Messiah as one and the same with the MEMRA

The Three Pillars of the Godhead (Part 2)

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